Tuesday, May 17, 2011
On Death Squads, Wet Work, and the Expansion of Mercenary Recruitment and Armies
Donald Rumsfeld really seemed to be the one who kick-started the current Imperial fashion for blitzkrieg, death squads, and armies of mercenaries roaming the world, killing and destroying at will, insinuating themselves with established governments, overthrowing and replacing uncooperative ones, and generally making mincemeat of such old fashioned and quaint concepts as "law" and "Nuremberg" and "stability" and such.
As Condoleeezzzzaaa Rice put it, "It's the birth pangs of the new...." Well, she said the New Middle East, but it's really an overturning of and replacement of the previous world order with something else again, something nastier, far more brutal, and vastly uglier than any set of rules we've lived under since, oh, I don't know, the late 19th Century-early 20th.
It is a New Imperium, of course.
When I hear or read people say we are witness to the decline or the death of the American Empire, I have to laugh somewhat morbidly. No, that's not what we're witnessing I point out. What we've been seeing is the decline and death of the Republic.
The Empire is fine; the Republic is being extinguished before our very eyes. This is the course of governance we've been on since the installation of George W. Bush on the White House Throne, completely without basis in the Constitution and Law. It was a straight out usurpation by the Supreme Court under the guidance of rightist -- indeed fascist -- ideology through Scalia's influence and that of the Government's "sponsors."
That isn't you and me. That is a select group of mostly cranky and in some cases insane billionaires who have bought and paid for this government and believe they have the absolute right to direct it to their preferred purposes.
Which obviously include War, Empire, and unbridled predation on the whole wide world.
You and I are at best merely impediments.
At worst, we are nothing but parasites to be disposed of as quickly and efficiently as.... disease organisms.
As more and more Americans wake up to this reality, they simply don't know what to do about it -- if anything can be done about it.
We fret quite a bit about the seemingly endless string of Imperial wars of aggression our government has launched or been engaged in since the advent of the Busheviks on the Throne, but we tend to ignore or forget about the now almost routine employment of Death Squads in the form of JSOC and Navy SEALS (among others) -- hailed as Heroes of course for their recent liquidation of The Devil Himself (and some others) in Pakistan -- the continuing Wet Work of our dauntless drones and their long-distance pilots, and the employment and deployment of mercenaries, paramilitaries and quasi-governmental forces everywhere.
All of which has become Doctrine, as the Whole Wide World is the Battlefield, and all peoples are potential insurgents to be put down, or failing that to be engaged profitably and productively for both sides... forever.
Forever and a day.
The Imperial Wars of Aggression are actually punctuation marks in the ongoing -- forever -- campaign of global murder and destruction that has become The Way of Modern America. It's a bloody form of expansionism that's been a hallmark of The American Way from the beginning, but has now become global in extent. There is no limit to the sights set by our Imperial Overseers, no sense of constraint. When Everywhere is The Battlefield and All Peoples are potential Enemies, there is no end -- there can be no end -- to expansionism.
Unless it is brought to an end by an outside force, rather like the British Empire ground to a halt and then went into precipitous reverse thanks to the Outside Force of two world wars as well as the determination of their subject peoples to be free of British control and the determination of their domestic population not to be further exploited to pay for their Betters' overseas adventures.
That's the thing. Any Imperial expansion is ultimately paid for by both the exploitation of colonial and the domestic populations.
The relentless campaign of the Rs to substantially reduce the standard of living of most Americans has as its primary objective paying for the Cause of Empire -- after all, the "defense and security" budget increases, doubles and redoubles, while the People's Budget is incrementally squeezed and reduced under current plans. There is no limit to the amount of treasure that can and will be devoted to the Cause of Empire, but strict limits must be imposed on the People's well-being to pay for it. Simple.
It happens under every Imperial regime.
The exploitation of the colonial peoples is even worse, of course, and they pay for the Imperial Adventure not only in treasure and dignity but in their own and their children's blood. Endless rivers of it.
Erik Prince, after all, has set up a new bloody shop in Abu Dhabi and is forming his mercenary Colombian and South African troopers into a force capable of countering the supposed expansionism of the Other Devil, Iran.
The Government of the United States is on an Imperial path and can't seem to get off. The People are on a very different path and can't seem to influence the Government sufficiently to force it to change course.
The Government is hardly even bothering to sell its path to the People any more; it simply imposes its Will, and the People be Damned. It's shocking but hardly unusual.
And of course The Shock is the mechanism through which domestic rule by the Imperial faction is to be maintained. It works.
We are left to ponder what can be done about this state of affairs. Or rather if anything should be done about it. We rail and fuss about it and we ignore it and try to get on with our lives under diminished circumstances, but Americans don't rise up in any large-scale and sustained manner, and except for a tiny fringe minority, there is no general call to "Restore the Republic."
To his credit, Obama from his Throne has actually tried to restore the Congress to its rightful position of authority under the Constitution, but the results have been mixed at best. For one thing, the Throne is not about to relinquish its authority to conduct its various forms of bloody diplomacy as it sees fit. On the other hand, Congress has shown neither a propensity nor an ability to utilize its authority (whether inherent or granted from On High) for positive -- or shall we say "progressive" -- ends. This is the continuing flaw in representative democracies. The Government and the People grow farther and farther apart and as their interests diverge, the ability of the People to interfere with the Government's desires is extinguished. The forms of representative self-government may remain in place, but the reality is that Government is transformed into an Autocracy, and it follows its own path, not that of the People.
That's basically what happened to Rome all those centuries ago. Thanks to the efforts of Augustus, the forms of the Republic remained in place for centuries after they ceased having a serious function. Nevertheless, elections continued uninterrupted, the Senate still met and debated, and many of the political positions of the Republic were maintained, even as they were either irrelevated or they were absorbed into the Imperial orbit.
As far as the People were concerned, it didn't really matter. Their situation did not improve no matter what happened in the cloisters and the palaces of the Empire, and for some, no doubt, the advent and invasions of the Barbarian Hordes from the East were less unwelcome than we might imagine. At least it was something different, and who knew, it might just be "better."
That's the path we're on. Whether We the People can actually influence it -- let alone change it -- or not is still in dispute.
If Our Rulers have any say in the matter, we won't.