ARE WE LIVING UNDER A MILITARY COUP?

The lengthy article behind this LINK poses an interesting, yet frightening scenario. The author leads the reader through the past 85 years of U.S. history, providing many incidents and facts that make it very difficult to disagree that this nation has indeed experienced a coup.

An excerpt: “The part of this improbable administration that’s not a reality TV show centered on an infantile billionaire plutocrat is the anchor represented by Chief of Staff John Kelly (above left) — along with Defense Secretary James Mattis (above right) and Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (right). If this were a Herb Block cartoon from the 1970s, they’d be a very stolid rhinoceros standing in the midst of Oval Office wreckage with words on its flank that read NATIONAL SECURITY STATE.”

The National Security Act of 1947 codified the reality of the imperial American military for the baby-boom generation and beyond. The War Department became the Defense Department; the CIA we know today was formed from the Office of Strategic Services. The 1947 NSA document amounted to a formal re-arrangement of the country’s priorities coming out of WWII — when the victorious United States of America became the “leader of the free world.” We forget that before World War Two changed everything, the US military was a shadow of what it was to become…

Masha Gessen wrote about this press conference in The New Yorker in a piece titled ‘John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup.’ It put the word coup into the discussion over the Trump White House. Gessen’s point is, ‘The [October 19th] press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like.’

Coup is defined in my dictionary as, one, coup d’etat, ‘an illegal seizure of power’; two, ‘a successful stroke or move’; and three, a Native American term for ‘touching an armed enemy in battle as a deed of bravery.’ Gessen’s piece emphasized the ‘language of the military coup.’ She’s not saying a coup has occurred; just that, in this millennial moment of encroaching authoritarianism, the mindset and language of the coup is, here, being employed from inside the White House in response to questions about an embarrassing and still unexplained debacle in Niger. US military involvement in Africa– at a time the Chinese are virtually colonizing areas in Africa — is currently a major National Security state issue. As with much of our Pentagon’s activities over the past 70 years, secrecy rules and satisfying explanations are rare.

I’d define coup in this case as a potentially ‘illegal seizure of power’ in the form of a slowly unfolding, unresolved constitutional crisis that sticks over time. Like the oft-cited frog being boiled to death in a pot of water rising in temperature very slowly. Center right Times columnist David Brooks had a column recently in which he compared Trump USA to Berlusconi Italy and how, once democracy has been sullied by a right-wing populist like Berlusconi (or Trump), getting democracy back within its previous (constitutional) lines is difficult to impossible. Some like to call the 2000 election of George W. Bush a “coup” legitimized by a conservative Supreme Court. Whatever one calls the 2000 election, it did put a permanent stain on US democracy. I have no doubt in this age of “fake news” and sophisticated PR that an unresolved constitutional crisis cum coup in Washington D.C. would be spun by info wizards as a pro-American, patriotic event. All this, of course, has helped ratchet up political polarization to new heights.

We don’t hear much about the 1933 American ‘coup’ — here, put in quotes because it was always ambiguous and it was thwarted. The plot has effectively been deep-sixed into historical oblivion. Why might that be? Might it be because it amounted to just another example of the dirty little secret that hovers over everything in America: the power of money married to the power of violence?

The 1933 coup plot was funded by Wall Street money in hopes of subverting the power of Franklin Roosevelt, a leader deemed by many wealthy men of the time to be a traitor to his blue-blood class. Had the whistle not been blown on the plot by a Marine general named Smedley Butler, it could have succeeded in politically crippling FDR and his New Deal government. Had it gone differently, it could have changed history. (The 1933 coup attempt is described by Jules Archer in a 1973 book titled The Plot to Seize the White House. Also, The History Channel produced a 41-minute documentary on the plot.)

The kind of coup in question, here, is not the classic Third World coup. The 1933 coup and the coup represented by General Kelly and the 70-year-old National Security State exists in the realm of Hayman’s “carefully crafted set of legal fictions” contributing to a mythic ‘natural order.’ The same way we don’t obsess all the time about our mortality, we easily forget we don’t live in a state of nature; instead, we live in an artificial culture constructed by human beings that too often amounts to power talks and compassion walks. We have the government human beings have created — democratically or otherwise. Again, this is something left-leaning antiwar activist are particularly sensitive to, since for many decades we’ve lived under the rule of an effective military coup about which we continue to delude ourselves — like that online writer at This Ain’t Hell — that it all conforms to the US Constitution. Civilians may rule in the sense civilian politicians created The National Security Act Of 1947, but it’s a form of rule that has capitulated power to the military and the military’s raison d’etre, killing and destroying things to solve problems. And as many well know, once the killing and destruction is loosed and Martin Luther King’s image of a perpetual cycle of increasing violence is engaged, it brings Smedley Butler’s little booklet to mind:

‘War is a racket. It always has been.'”

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2018/03/19/are-we-living-under-a-military-coup

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