Friday, September 5, 2008

Sobriety & the U.S. Presidential Race

No, this is not a post about alcoholism, and the only drunkenness to which it might refer is the manic inebriation that comes with the exercise of great power.

As the U.S. presidential race settles into its pattern of opposing camps supposedly at great odds, especially every four years -- of conservative against liberal, hawk against dove, progressive versus reactionary -- it is good to be reminded that underneath all of the hullaballoo (and I agree it's hard not to be caught up in it, as detestable as Bush's GOP has been these last seven years), that nothing about this race will really change how the U.S. is run, or rather who runs it.

Along those lines, I'd like to refer to a succinct statement of this issue from Chris Floyd, who himself quotes the insightful Gore Vidal. Reading the following, inspired by Floyd's coverage of the U.S. intervention into Somalia and the subsequent human rights disaster that has followed, is like a splash of cold water, of stone cold sobriety regarding both the festivities and inanities of the past two convention weeks.
It's clear that no nation on earth will be allowed to organize its own society as it wishes, or work out its own internal conflicts, if the American elite decides they have some financial or strategic interest in the matter. The only nations immune to this power-mad interventionist philosophy are those who can strike back hard enough to upset the elite's apple cart. And thus we have Bush's "war on terror" -- which is, as we've often noted, simply an escalation of the long-running, bipartisan foreign policy of the "National Security State" that has ruled America for 60 years.

This year marks the anniversary of this coup d'etat: the 1947 "National Security Act." Writing on the 50th anniversary of this supplanting of the Republic, Gore Vidal wrote:
Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: The White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders.

Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized economy only IF he first "scared the hell out of the American people" that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The perpetual war began. Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congress and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media.

Now, with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous phase. Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues... we bomb, invade, subvert other states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine..."
Here's another link for the Vidal quote. And for those who forgot what it's all about, here's another link to a time and place we forgot, but never left.

For more on Somalia, see my piece from earlier this year, Worse than Darfur: U.S. Proxy War in Somalia

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