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THE ARROGANCE OF POWER April 25, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Care has to be exercised in judging human actors, but judge them we must. Democracy, for example, is not only a social technology for decision making, but implicitly suggests that power be accountable, albeit in reality concentrated in free hands.

What seems to be the case in Australian political history, and elsewhere, is that war has had a significant influence in organizing the agenda, the participants, and processes of decision making. For example, constitutional change is rare, but long lasting, significant change was achieved in 1941. Critics of those who propose this theory suggest that there are other causes, such as economic policy. I suppose the circumstances created by the Depression cannot be ignored. Still, it seems to me, that once control of the national economy has been established, as it was by the uniform taxation, the consolidation of political power follows.

What is exceptional about the United States is that government seems immune to this point of the money power, and when principal institutions are in danger of failing as they were at the transition of Bush-Obama administrations large amounts of money can be found to bail them out. Other nations, such as Greece, Ireland and others are not so fortunate even under the protection supplied by the European Union. Austerity rather than structural change has become the policy prescription.

Real protection, or so it is believed more on the basis of assumption rather than evidence, is provided by the means and actions of violence. So that the governments of Britain and France, following in the wake of St Louis, feel no constraint in the crusade against a Libyan Government they were once happy to deal and recognize. So who now cares about the United Nations, now a mechanism of means rather than common goals and the common good of human kind?

Violence is never without economic reality. Most obvious this is expressed in the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned about with some insider insight. Chalmers Johnson in discussing “the empire of bases” as well described what he referred to as “military keynesianism.” Gareth Porter points that successful requires winning resources for preferred projects, a reality for all large organizations.

Whatever the intentions or philosophy, or even their psychology of power, of the founders of the American Republic in North America in the late eighteenth century, the President, especially as commander in chief, was never intended to assume the powers of Charles I. And yet that seems to be what has happened.The assumptions of power of the Bush years, especially executive war making, torture and incarceration have been continued by the Obama Administration, attributable in part to the man management skills of the Pentagon players, and guiding hand of the insider Robert Gates, within the matrix of power. And woe betide those you make the Chief Executive angry. In summary, that seems to be what has happened in the case of Bradley Manning.

The public face has to be one of teeth, ears and a personal disposition. And yet the mask can slip. The kindly jackals of the mass media do not leap to attack, largely because they are a pack of guard dogs for the established way of doing business. At least the slips and their significance are noticed, and analysis as declared secrets can be disseminated through other channels.

The after dinner impromptu interview following the fundraiser at St Regis Hotel in San Francisco can be seen via UK Friends of Bradley Manning. President Obama is clearly heard to say: “He broke the law”. So the contention that the Chief Executive has now become the Chief Magistrate is not an exaggeration in this instance. So the moral of the story: do not anger the Emperor.

ELSEWHERE:

Kevin Zeese explains that a fair military tribunal trial is now not possible following the president’s remarks. Can it be possible, as David Swanson suggests, that Bradley Manning will not be given a trial – or released?

Glenn Greenwald reviews the latest release of documents relating this time to the decision made by Obama for indefinite detention at the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

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