Tuesday 10th of December 2019

the undemocratic deep state of america...

deep state  What American constitutional government most urgently needs at present is for our Madisonian institutions—the presidency, the Congress, and the courts—to wrest back control of national security policy from an unelected and increasingly rogue national security establishment. 

That ominous challenge to constitutionalism was on full display with the recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by retired Admiral William McRaven, in which he brashly warned that unless Trump jumped aboard the Forever War bandwagon, he must be removed, and “the sooner the better.” The U.S. must have a policy, McRaven said, that protects “the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny.” 

How did we get to the point where a former senior military officer calls for the removal of a duly elected president because he doesn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Rohingyas? McRaven’s op-ed represents something new in American politics: the assertion that an elected president is illegitimate unless he works to spread our “ideals of universal freedom and equality” through military action and alliances. McRaven also argued that it is “the American military…the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press,” all unelected institutions, that now embody the true American civic religion and protect its “ideals.” 

Even though President Trump’s promises to end wars and question expensive alliances were quite popular with the electorate, in the view of many in the national security establishment, elections do not bestow constitutional legitimacy. They assume instead that their “ideals” and belligerent foreign policy represent the true animating principles and governing force of the nation. To question them is tantamount to an “attack” on America “from within.” 

While the rank-and-file military are among the most patriotic of Americans and show unwavering support for the Constitution, there is a huge class of elite national security bureaucrats who, whatever they may say on ceremonial occasions, believe they are above the Constitution. 

Wait a minute, you say, this is hyperbole. The Constitution provides for civilian control of the military and other national security institutions. The problem is that in practice the Constitution does no such thing. As Samuel Huntington pointed out, the constitutional oversight of the military establishment by elected civilians is fractured, non-linear, and tenuous. The president is commander-in-chief, a title more than a function, and Congress controls the purse strings, the power to declare war, and the confirmation of senior national security nominees. The National Guard reports to presidents and governors. Anyone watching a general, admiral, or CIA director testify before Congress is aware that the national security establishment has more than one boss. Who in the civilian government is ultimately in control? Everyone and no one.

Huntington points out that, when the Constitution was framed, there was no real concern about controlling the military, and the intelligence community did not even exist. The military arts were not highly specialized and militia officers were typically members of the political establishment who were elected or appointed by local legislatures. Military leaders like George Washington were part and parcel of the political culture of the ruling class. There simply wasn’t a danger of a rogue national security establishment in 1789, and for all their sagacity, the Framers of the Constitution did not foresee the emergence of one.

In the mid-19th century, all this changed. Militaries became highly specialized and officers became professional soldiers. A martial culture was developed that was distinct from politics. Military “academies” were founded to inculcate this new culture and to teach the new specialties within the military arts. As a result, Huntington argued, presidents needed more “objective” control of national security institutions. When Generals McClellan and McArthur famously questioned the national security decisions of their presidents, Lincoln and Truman fired them respectively. But the tradition that the national security establishment must take orders from the president is a political, not a constitutional, precedent, and it is breaking down. 

Tufts law professor Michael Glennon points out in a recent essay in Humanitas that the Cold War brought something new and ominous in military-civilian relations. The national security bureaucracy became so large and omnipotent that the Madisonian branches of government became something like the British House of Lords, symbolically important but in reality without much power. The executive, legislature, and judiciary became a kind of Potemkin village, with real national security power lodged in, as Glennon describes it, “a largely concealed managerial directorate, consisting of the several hundred leaders of the military, law enforcement and intelligence departments.” As this bureaucracy grew, Glennon argues, “those managers…operated at an increasing remove from constitutional limits and restraints, moving the nation slowly toward autocracy.”

Glennon also points out that, prior to Trump, there was an unwritten pact between the bureaucracy and the Madisonian government: never publicly disagree. While national security policies have long been crafted and maintained by deep state bureaucracies, everyone played along and told the public these were the result of “intense deliberations.” Yet a few people noticed that, whether under Republican or Democrat administrations, national security policies never really changed, intelligence operations were never disrupted, and even peacenik-seeming presidential candidates became warlike presidents. For decades, neither elected officials nor bureaucratic leaders publicly acknowledged that American national security policy was being run by what Glennon describes as a “double government,” with elected officials largely impotent. 

However, with the staggering intelligence failure that was 9/11 and two protracted and losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some have begun to question whether the “grown-ups” in the national security bureaucracy are even competent. Trump gave voice to those concerns in the 2016 campaign, and the result has been a breakdown in the Cold War truce between the two components of the double government. Leaders of the national security establishment, who know they have real power, took precautions in the unlikely event of a Trump victory and then proceeded to try to overturn Trump’s election. When they failed, they partnered with Congress to have Trump removed through impeachment, taking full advantage of the fractured nature of civilian control of national security institutions. Impeachment witnesses, such as Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, have been unanimous in their implicit belief that the foreign policy of the United States should be managed by a professional class of bureaucrats, not by the elected president.

The American constitutional order is thus in great peril. Those obsessed with getting rid of the president should consider that, were Trump to be removed, it could be the constitutional equivalent of Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon.

Call Donald Trump cartoonish and erratic, but he also happens to be the duly elected president of the United States. And while we must admire the selfless service of so many in the national security establishment, as citizens, we also have the right to ask people like William McRaven: who elected you?

William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at The Catholic University of America. His latest book is Democracy and Imperialism, published by the University of Michigan Press.


a higher cost of living? bullshit...

Last week, Russian President Putin announced that amid NATO’s plans to add an additional $100 billion in defence spending in 2020, Moscow could afford to actually make cuts in its defence budget, since its own military modernisation programme had already passed the peak of outlays required.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg provided an explanation as to why the North Atlantic Alliance was continuing to ramp up its defence spending even though the combined spending was already an estimated 20 times higher than that of Russia.

“When it comes to these figures and numbers, we are an effective alliance and we have effective armies, but the cost level is much higher, reflecting just a higher standard of living,” Stoltenberg said, speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday.

“If you compare salaries and costs across NATO allies and Russia, of course their [NATO’s] cost levels are higher. And therefore, when you compare these budgets at market prices, and common currencies, then you get those conclusions you are referring to, but that doesn’t reflect less efficiency. But it reflects, to a large extent, differences in cost levels,” the secretary general added.

According to Stoltenberg, the NATO alliance will continue to “invest as much as needed to make sure that we have credible deterrence and defence.”

The NATO chief’s remarks follow comments he made late last month, where he explained that although the alliance already spent over $1 trillion on defence in 2018, and was planning to spend an additional $100 billion in 2020, the alliance needed to “keep up our efforts” to increase budgets further still, including by assuring that all members committed the necessary 2 percent of GDP or more to defence.

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/military/201911201077359165-stoltenberg-reveals-why-nato-is-spending-twenty-times-more-on-defence-than-russia/?

 

NATO is an American business outlet (IF MY MEMORY IS CORRECT, 22 per cent of the US economy is WEAPONRY RELATED). Please read:

a shop front for US weapon manufacturers... in welcolme to nato, by jens stoltenberg...

it is much worse there...

 

By David R. Hoffman


Hampton and Clark: 50 years gone, never forgotten

 

One of the most frequent criticisms I receive whenever I write articles drawing attention to the racial, social, legal, political, and/or economic injustices in the United States is, "Why don't you write about 'such-and-such' country, because it is much worse there."


After reading such remarks, I often wonder what these critics would think if one of their loved ones was murdered, and the prosecutor told them, "Sorry, my office doesn't prosecute murderers who only kill one person, because there are worse murderers who kill more than one."


The point being, I am aware there are countries more unscrupulous than the United States, and these critics are free (and, in fact, I would encourage them) to write their own articles about them. 


But I am also aware that many, if not most, of the leaders in these countries make no pretense about their actions.  This is not a defense of these leaders, but instead an observation that, when you know the tactics of your enemy, you can also know what to expect when challenging them.

 

During America's civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s, many activists expressed these same sentiments, arguing that it wasn't the rabid racist that was most to be feared, but the person who pretended to be your "friend," patting you on the back with one hand while waiting to stab you with the other.

America is a land of myths that have, for the most part, been successfully pawned off as reality.  But, every so often, cracks appear in the veneer.  For example, America claims that "nobody is above the law."  Yet, during the administration of "Nobel Prize" winning Barack Obama, people who exposed the torture used by the CIA during the so-called "war on terror" were zealously prosecuted for violating "national security" laws, while the torturers themselves, the architects of it, and those who destroyed evidence depicting it, not only went unpunished, but, in some cases, were actually rewarded for their deeds:  One is currently a professor of law at a prestigious university; another is a federal judge; and, perhaps most egregious of all, a third is now head of the CIA.

America also claims that it is a bastion of "human rights," and, in that alleged "spirit," the United States Senate, in 2009, began "investigating" the CIA's use of torture.  Yet, while many so-called "developing" countries were actually convicting and imprisoning torturers and human rights abusers, the United States government basically said in its final report that "the CIA was a naughty boy, but we're not going to do a damn thing about it, except classify this report so the American public can't read it."

America further claims that its citizens cannot be deprived of "life, liberty, and property" without "due process of law."  But tell that to sixteen-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, an American citizen who, in 2011, was killed in an American orchestrated drone strike. 


But even that wasn't enough.  To outdo Obama, Donald Trump, in 2017, ordered a commando "raid" that killed Abdulrahman's eight-year-old sister Nawar, who was also an American citizen.


Strange how the so-called "war on terrorism" is making it difficult to discern who the real terrorists truly are.


But those familiar with history already knew that all these myths had been shattered fifty years ago (on December 4, 1969) in an apartment in Chicago.  It was on that day that Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leader of the Peoria Chapter, were extrajudicially executed.


As I said in my Pravda.Report article, Why "Black Lives Matter" Matters, (October 18, 2019), groups that advocate for social change often face obstacles both internally and externally that can dilute their effectiveness, and even destroy them completely.  And the Black Panther Party (BPP) was no exception.


Formed during the late 1960s, the Panthers favored Malcolm X's doctrine of self-defense "by any means necessary," over Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s advocacy of non-violent resistance.


Their emphasis on global revolution, and acceptance of members of all races, earned them the ire of many Black Nationalist groups who believed the Panthers were not focused enough on issues unique to African-Americans.



There is some merit to this argument, since many successful revolutions throughout history did little to improve the plight of racial, religious, and/or ethnic minorities, and in some cases even made their situations worse.


In fact, one of the myths of the American revolution is that it sought to fulfill the dream that "all men are created equal."  Yet, these words so sanctified in the Declaration of Independence not only failed to include women, but this Declaration also denounced "merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions."


And even the more sanctified United States Constitution, in its original form, considered slaves, for the purpose of discerning the number of federal representatives each state would have, to be only three-fifths of a human being-a hypocrisy in and of itself since, for all other purposes, slaves were considered to be property with, as Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney said in 1857, "No rights which the white man was bound to respect."


As a former police officer stated in the documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the law enforcement community was not particularly alarmed by the militant rhetoric of the Panthers until white college students started to repeat it.  It was then that the BPP's emphasis on global revolution and acceptance of members from all races fueled the ire of J. Edgar Hoover, the racist director of the FBI, who labelled the Black Panther Party "Public Enemy Number One," causing many of the Bureau's illegal COINTELPRO tactics to be directed against Panther leaders like Hampton and Clark (for more information about these tactics, please see my article Go Ask the Panthers, Pravda.Report, March 12, 2007).


 

Read more:

Читайте больше на https://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/144118-hampton_clark/

 

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flushing politics...

Americans are in the midst of a toilet-flushing epidemic, according to the president.

Speaking to the press on Friday, with the hammer of impeachment poised to fall and countless domestic and international crises to consider, Donald Trump took on a pressing enemy: poor water pressure caused by conservation laws.

“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water,” Trump said while talking with business owners about what he called ‘‘commonsense” steps to end overregulation.

The government, Trump said, was investigating: “We’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers,” he said, prompting listeners to picture him staring as hard as he could at a tap.

 

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/06/trump-says-people-flush-...

 

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