Blowback – could our military become a threat to America?

Expansion of a nation’s armed forces when its internal cohesion is weakening (i.e., in an era of State decline) risks an autoimmunine response.  Read closely, because this is too hot to spell out. 

Update:  The 3 excepts give describe the most likely danger as individuals turning against our regime, not the military as a whole.  Here’s a biological analogy:

Autoimmume Disease:  Failure of an organism’s defenses to recognize its own constituent parts as self, resulting in an immune response against its own tissues.  See Wikipedia for more information.

Yes, it can happen to us.  Slight indications of early symptoms are already in the news.  We can look forward to more articles like these.  And even more if (when) we demobilize from our Middle East wars.

  1. Oklahoma City war veteran accused of selling bombs to gang members“, The Oklahoman, 25 December 2008
  2. On War #290: Blowback Revisited“, Defense and the National Interest, 3 February 2009
  3. Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW, this site, 31 May 2008

Another powerful aricle, but subscription only:  “Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military“, By Jeff Sharlet, Harper’s Magazine, May 2009.

This is one of a large number of posts on the FM site exploring the decline of the America political regime, of which this might be one aspect.  Links to others appear at the end.


(1)  Oklahoma City war veteran accused of selling bombs to gang members“, The Oklahoman, 25 December 2008 — Excerpt:

Police spent the day searching the house of a decorated, two-tour Iraq war veteran on Tuesday to investigate a tip that the former soldier was said to have been making explosive devices to sell to gang members, according to a probable cause affidavit.  Steven Andrew Jordal, 24, was an infantry tank specialist in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2007. He received the Army’s Good Conduct medal, along with several other medals, badges and ribbons, the military confirmed.

Oklahoma City police took interest in Jordal when they received a tip he was selling improvised explosive devices to criminals.

For as little as $100, Jordal was making the same kinds of weapons he saw used against his fellow soldiers in the Iraqi deserts and selling them on the streets of Okalahoma City to gang members and known criminals, according to the document.

(2)  William Lind explains what this might mean in “On War #290: Blowback Revisited“, Defense and the National Interest, 3 February 2009 — Excerpt:

This is not the first such report I have seen. Shortly after my initial column ran, I received a letter from a reader in Poland with a news story that Polish police were being attacked and killed with IEDs.

If we read these stories merely as accounts of the spread of a technology, IEDs, we read them too narrowly. American and other foreign troops in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan are learning more than how to make IEDs and how effective they can be. They are learning by direct observation how a place works when the state disappears.

To the large majority of American and European soldiers, this is a lesson in horror. They return home thankful they live in a place where the state endures. The last thing they want is to see their native country turn into another Iraq or Afghanistan.

But a minority will learn a different lesson. They will see statelessness as a field of opportunity where people who are clever and ruthless can rise fast and far. They look upon themselves as that kind of people. They will also have learned it is possible to fight the state, and how to do so. The effectiveness of IEDs is part of that lesson; so are the power and rewards that come to members of militias and gangs. In their own minds, and perhaps in reality, they will have found a new world in which they can hope to thrive.

There is a parallel here with what the men who fought in the trenches on the Western Front in World War I learned. For most, it was the worst time in their lives. Their experience is captured by All Quiet on the Western Front. But a minority found it the best time of their lives. Their book is Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel. It was these men, looking to re-create that tremendous experience, who made up the Brownshirts of the S. A. Their very name, Storm Troopers, originated in what they had done during the war. They came home determined to create a different Germany, and they did.

As I have argued both in these columns and elsewhere, if we want to avoid importing 4GW into the United States, we need to isolate ourselves from 4GW overseas. We need a defensive, not an offensive, grand strategy. So long as we enmesh ourselves in Fourth Generation wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan – will the Obama administration add Somalia and Sudan to the list? – we will increase the danger we should seek most to avoid, the horror of 4GW on our own soil. That is the Fourth Generation’s strategic IED, and if it ever goes off in America, we will all get blown up.

(3)  Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW, this site, 31 May 2008 — There are two dimensions to this discussion, only one of which I mention (for obvious reasons).

Private Military Companies (aka mercenaries, in a new form for the age of 4GW)

The historian Michael Roberts observed that military revolutions throughout history coincided with the rise and sometimes dominance of mercenaries. After 500 years of Great Nations efforts to control or eliminate mercenaries, the modern rise of mercs perhaps began with the creation of private firms, such as Executive Outcomes in 1989, from veterans of the South Africa Special Forces after the regime change there.

In the Iraq War US has greatly accelerated the formation and income of mercenaries – or, as many prefer to be called, Private Military Corporations. The dangers of this have already become apparent. Our finest troops now have an alternative market in which to sell their skills, one paying far more than America. It will likely move beyond our control, as markets usually do. We have created a conflict between our soldiers’ patriotism and their families’ needs, a challenge whose dimensions cannot yet be seen – only imagined. At the very least, we’re now bidding against ourselves in Iraq.

Worse, many years have passed since building patriotism was an important goal in most American schools, or a vital force in the overwhelming majority of American homes. Let’s not kid ourselves that patriotism arises autonomously, magically in every soldiers’ hearts. Once the Iraq War ends, what do they do? Re-enlist for a fraction of the current pay, or find another employer? Once a soldier kills for a dollar, unconnected to a national army, an invisible but real line has been crossed. Inevitably many of our finest will eventually be working outside of our control; some will work directly against us

Furthermore, knowledge moves with people. Hundreds of years of State-developed of tactics and training will become available to our 4GW enemies, those with the wit to take advantage of this opportunity. Only small numbers need “defect” for this to occur. Much of our most advanced military technology is also available to all. That is, everyone with the necessary money.

That some American mercs will serve our enemies is a near certainty. El Cid, hero of the Reconquista (d. 1099), worked as a mercenary for both Christian and Muslim rulers, although apparently never against Castilian interests. Mohammed II hired Christians, such as Urban of Hungary, to forge and operate the great cannon that broke the triple walls of Constantinople in 1453. Countless other examples can be cited throughout history. For more on this see “The new condottieri and US policy: The Privatization of Conflict and its implications“, Eugene B. Smith, Parameters (Winter 2002).

Militia can become the nucleus of mercenary forces. They provide training without the intensive indoctrination of conventional military forces. Their local focus and local leaders allow development of allegiance to something other than the central state.

Decline of the State

Both the rise of mercenary units from our own armies and the creation of militia are large steps toward the decline of the State, as seen by Martin van Creveld. They represent two aspects of the same centrifugal forces. Armies form the core of the modern state, some of whose elite soldiers now spin off to operate on their own. The armed but unorganized citizenry might coalesce to form militias in order to provide for the common defense, previously a core function of the State. Here we see the possible end of the State’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force, end of the era established in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia.


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest about this topic:

Loyalty to America’s political regime comes from knowledge and love of the Constitution:

  1. Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  2. The Constitution: wonderful, if we can keep it, 15 February 2008
  3. Congress shows us how our new government works, 14 April 2008
  4. See the last glimmers of the Constitution’s life…, 27 June 2008
  5. Remembering what we have lost… thoughts while looking at the embers of the Constitution, 29 June 2008
  6. Another step away from our Constitutional system, with applause, 19 September 2008
  7. What comes after the Consitution? Can we see the outlines of the “Mark 3″ version?, 10 November 2008

36 thoughts on “Blowback – could our military become a threat to America?”

  1. Short answer: sure.
    Medium answer: not the dog closest to the sled.
    Longer answer: uniformed service members swear to support and defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. The number of people who have served and returned to civilian life have got to outnumber your article #3 threat by a couple of orders of magnitude. As long as the oath is good and the Second Amendment remains intact, the large scale theft undertaken by the 111th Congress and the Administration are a greater concern.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not share your faith in American’s oaths, based on my considerable experience watching people swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and ” and to stay married “until death do us part”. As for the former, juries should award Oscars not verdicts in civil and criminal proceedings. As for the latter, nothing need be said.

    As for numbers, rot often starts with a single apple and spreads with astonishing swiftness.

  2. England, under Cromwell, went through just this sort of thing. Following that, the British emphasized the navy, which – being located offshore – could do no domestic harm.
    Fabius Maximus replies: The context of this is not accurate. The civil war did not result from having a large standing army that turned against the Monarchy. They built the New Model Army as part of their civil war. And when Cronwell died the army melted away, without trouble.

  3. I have talked to a number of veterns recently and all are worried about the socialist ie, that iws communist government being put into this country. the obams crowd has started the usual demonization campaign against veterns. Many, if not most of these have weapons and are willing to use them is support of their oath to defend and support the nation azgainst all enemies, foreign and domestic.
    what will probably happen is the traitor party will do something real stupid, that will make the affair of Koresh look like a sunday school party. the veterans will them start a civil war, with [probably the open or covert assistance of the military.
    Look at Spain and Chile for recent cases, In each case the military straightened out the nation and then turned control to an elected government.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have citations to support “obams crowd has started the usual demonization campaign against veterns.” So far as I can tell US military and foreign policy is unchanged so far.


    So far, Americans have somehow avoided the scourge of landmines, this cannot last. I eagerly await the day an airstrike is called in on American citizens, on US soil, by agents of the US government. Domestic surveillance by satellite is here, UAVs will be here soon, and armed UAVs are the natural extension.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You mean when the government calls in a second airstrike on US soil against US citizens. From the Wikipedia entry about the history of Philadelphia.

    The radical back-to-nature group called MOVE formed in 1972 and tension soon developed with the city. The first major clash occurred in 1978 at the group’s Powelton Village headquarters resulted in the death of a police officer and nine MOVE members were sent to prison. The second major clash occurred in 1985 when a stand off occurred at the group’s new headquarters in Southwest Philadelphia. The stand off ended when police dropped a satchel bomb from a helicopter on the house. The bomb set off a fire that killed eleven MOVE members, including five children, and destroyed sixty-two neighboring houses.

    The equipment available to police in 1985 was far more primative than today. Now they have SWAT teams and heavy equipment. And, as seen in WACO, the military will pitch in no matter how trivial the circumstances.

  5. Major Scarlet

    this idea completely ignores the culture of the US and the military. i’ve been in 22 years and don’t know anyone that would support over-throwing our government. i certainly wouldn’t and i wouldn’t support any officer that gave me that command. an order like that would most likely cause a civil war between the military.. not unlike what happened during the war for independence and the civil war where some fought for either side. about 20% of our ranks are hardcore democrats. i know some of them.

    i find it hard to follow the logic of using veterans in a militia and an isolated incident like Jesus Killed Mohammad to create a hypothesis for anything.
    Fabius Maximus replies: It’s a commonplace of history. The Founders worried about it. a lot. To posit that something so common cannot happen here shows extraordinary confidence. Esp after a long discussion including My Lai, where US solidiers obeyed orders to do extraordinary things.

  6. As long as the state continues down the road it’s on, it will eventually become problem but for the opposite reasons. Being a former military officer myself I take the oath very seriously. And there are many like me. The oath states,

    “I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”
    (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)

    My wife is also a former military officer. Her brother and father also. Our daughter is enlisted in the reserves. My uncles served in Vietnam. My father and step father served in Korea. I could go on but I think you get the point.

    But who determines the enemy? Some members will see government policy that comes into conflict with the Constitution as defining the domestic enemy. Some will be opportunists using their training to create mayhem.

    I may be a hopeless romantic but I still believe that there is time to reform and send the United States in the proper direction using the ballot box. It’s alot of work and effort but worth it. And if any former military personel who want to create mayhem for self serving purposes then they will more than likely encounter people like me.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Who determines the enemy? This does to the analogy of an autoimune disease given in the post.

  7. Fabius Maximus replies: The context of this is not accurate. The civil war did not result from having a large standing army that turned against the Monarchy. They built the New Model Army as part of their civil war. And when Cronwell died the army melted away, without trouble.

    Explain Pride’s Purge.. More points for you to consider:
    a) Cromwell’s dismissal of the Rump.
    b)The Levelers
    c)The interaction between the Levelers and the New Model Army with respect to The Agreement of the People.

    Also consider:

    After the war ended in 1651 in Royalist defeat, some resumed their former criminal activities as highwaymen; many of high social origin had few other options because their family estates had been ruined or seized. Moreover, they achieved a feeling of revenge by robbing supporters of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian cause. Army training had also increased their skills in the arts of concealment and ambush.

    Alongside them emerged a new class of highwaymen, consisting of army deserters and ex-soldiers. Born of poor parents, they had no education. In addition, many had been brutalised by the war and were uncouth, foul-mouthed and with a tendency to violence. Eventually, the majority met their inevitable fate at the hands of the hangman at Tyburn. Nevertheless, they were swiftly replaced by others and so the process continued throughout most of the following century.

    Fabius Maximus replies: Pride’s Purge, the military coup d’état in English history, was the last stage of a civil war. Which is why I said that the context was unlike our own. Cromwell’s army melted away without further political trouble.

    Your second point is highly relevant to this discussion if we downsize the US military during a severe economic downturn. As I said in the excerpt from “Militia”, our most skilled soldiers could sell their skills elsewhere. On the other hand, some small fraction of main line troops might turn to crime.

  8. electrophoresis

    The various comments expressing disbelief that the U.S. military would overthrow the American government represent extraordinarily simplistic thinking. That’s not how it works. The single greatest expansion of the U.S. military is occurring via the militarization of American police departments along with the concomitant move to confer on private security forces (i.e., rent-a-cops in your local mall all the way up to private armies like Blackwater, now renamed Xe, soon perhaps to be renamed The Praetorian Guard) all the powers of regular police, who in turn have been given most of the powers accorded troops in a foreign war zone.

    Consider: what is the difference between the powers given to police today, and U.S. troops in Iraq?

    U.S. troopsa in Iraq have carte blanche to kick in doors unannounced and, if they believe hostiles are present, to kill everyone in the house. No investigations, no charges. American police have carte blanche to kick in doors unannounced with no-knock warrants and, if they believe criminals are present, to kill everyone in the house. A token investigation is sometimes made. If an innocent citizen fires back with a legally registered handgun, the innocent citizen is put on trial for murder, even if the cops made a mistake and kicked in the wrong door in the wrong house. Defendeing yourself with a legally registered handgun may be the only option other than letting yourself be killed by police who have broken down the door to the wrong house.

    At checkpoints, Iraqis have no rights. If they are perceived as resisting or refusing to obey orders of U.S. troops in any way, all occupants in an Iraqi car will be machine-gunned to death. At U.S. checkpoints, American motorists have no rights. If they are perceived as resisting or exercising their rights under the consitution to refuse search and/or arrest by U.S. police in any way, all occupants of the American car will be tasered, beaten, pepper-sprayed, and often shot to death.

    Innocent bystanders are often shot to death during raids by U.S. troops on suspected Iraqi insurgent strongpoints. The troops suffer no legal penalites. Innocent bystanders are often shot to death during raids by U.S. cops on suspected drug houses. The cops suffer no legal penalties, or, at most, a mismedeanor charge. Sometimes — as when the DEA sniper Len Horiuchi gunned down an unarmed woman holding a baby at Ruby Ridge — the murderer with a badge receives a medal for his heroism.

    Where is the difference? When American police treat American citizens the same way U.S. troops in Iraq treat suspected Iraqi insurgents, using the same military machine guns, the same military SWAT tanks, the same military tear gas, the same military body armor, the same military sniperscopes, in what sense are the American people being treated any differently than the insurgents in Iraq?

    And when your government treats you the same way the U.S. military treats suspected insurgents in Iraq, isn’t it fair to say that your government has in effect has been taken over by anti-American forces hostile to its own citizenry and inimical to the contitution of the united states?

    The big untold story here is that private security cops are getting all these same powers and paramilitary weapons too. There’s a big push on right now to arm private security forces with paramilitary weapons, to train them in paramilitary tactics, and to give them the same kinds of abusively unconstitutional powers the police now enjoy — i.e., the power to stop anyone, without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion, to search people with a warrant, and if any resistance is encountered, to legally murder the subject of the search.

    The commenters here seem to imagine that America will slide into fascism vai a “7 Days In May” scenario, where mirror-sunglassed generals will overtly stage a coup to take over the White House. But that’s not how it works in real life. In the real world, the police and military and pirvate security forces all converge toward a paramilitary model with unlimited powers — they can all stop anyone ont hes treet, demand to see their papers, and if their papers are not in order, the person gets hauled away for torture, or is shot or beaten to death on the spot. This is what we’re rapidly heading toward in America. Indeed, in many respects, we have already arrived. If you are stopped by a police officer, any effort to exert your constitutional rights may result in your death.

    The peculiar and fascinating aspect of this rapid move toward a paramilitary police state is the fact that it’s coccurring “under the radar,” so to speak — police are getting more and more powers not by legislation, but simply because the police exert increasingly abusive and unconstitutional force against innocent citizens, and no one objects.

    It would indeed prove simple to arrest this slide into a paramilitary police state if mirror-sunglasses generals threatened the White House with tanks. We could arrest the treasonous generals, put them on trial, and fix everything. But when hundreds of thousands of local police continually beat and tase to death and shoot innocent unarmed civilizans for no reason at checkpoints, and during mistaken no-knock drug raids, whom do you put on trial then? All the abusive police? There are too many of them, we don’t have enough courtrooms or jail cells. Moreover, much of the American populace seems to approve of police beating to death and tasing to death innocent people.

    The theory seems to be that “if the police stopped them, they must have had a reason.” In other words, accusation = guilt, and suspicion = punishment. If a police officer finds your behavior suspicious, this now seems to trigger a new legal doctrine that upon mere supicion it become legal for a police officer to murder an innocent civilian. What’s particularly interesting is the fact that exercising your constitutional rights and refusing to submit to a warrantless search appears to be the primary indicator of “suspicious behavior.”

    This produces a fascinating Catch-22 of the kind encountered in Soviet Russia under Stalin. Accasionation by the KGB was proof of guilt, and refusal to confess to false charges required punishment — torture, deportation to the gulag, etc. We’ve moved on to the torture part of the Soviet system, but we don’t yet have internal gulags. As the prison population continues to swell, I predict that’s next.

    Another key indicator of aparamilitary police state is that it charges its citizens with “un-Soviet behavior” and puts people on trial for peculiar pseudo-crimes like “hooliganism” and “insulting the dignity of hte state.” Oddly enough, we currently have a group of American citizens on trial for (in effect) “hooliganism,” a charge for which no evidence seems to be required, and for which no defense can be mounted, since it is so vague. Please note: commenters who rush in to denounce the Minnesota 8 as “violent protesters” miss the fact that these 8 people were charged with terrorism before they had a chance to protest. They were arrested in their homes befote the Republican National Convention.

    Analogies with Cromwell’s military takeover in Britain seem incorrect, insofar as that conflict centered around religious issues. The extraordinary powers now being conferred on private security forces shows that in America, the takeover of our government by paramilitary police state elements derives from economic considerations. As Mussolini pointed out, the unification of the corporate and paramilitary police state apparatus indicates fascism, not a religious conflict.

    The elephant in the room which no one has mentioned is the DHS. If you examine its budget growth so far, it has a doubling time of 6 years. This puts the DHS roughly at par with the Pentagon on budget outlays within the next 18 years. Do you think that as the DHS budget skyrockets, it won’t magically find an ever-increasing number of domestic “enemies” from which to protect America? How long before the DHS mobilizes SWAT tanks and paramilitary SWAT teams to take down music downloaders? Or kids who pirate Nintendo games? Or hippies who grow organic food contrary to Monsanto’s interests?

    Oops, wait, the hippies growing organic food have already been raided by a SWAT team

    All this talk about “reform by the ballot box” seems beside the point. The militarization of police and private security forces is not subject to your vote. It is occurring right now as a result of internal policies in police forces throughout America, and because of decisions by prosecutors in local communities, which are not open to debate and which you cannot affect. This is not some coup by sinister Pentagon colonels from the top down. It’s grassroots fascism percolating from the ground up.

  9. This is an inherent danger, not new at all(Roman history and the *whole* history is entirely “blowback” history), constantly on the minds of those in power. The last case of serious insubordination was MacArthur. At present there is nobody similar in view. When and if the forces will get scaled down, as it seems inevitable for lack of money, attention will be needed, but that will not happen in the next 4 years.

  10. I understand the danger. I don’t understand the reason why would military be interested in taking over. And if it is not for military, then why would the ruling class try to suspend constitution? Constitution doesn’t present any danger for them and doesn’t limit their power.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Think of the military as individuals, some of whom in effect defect against our regime — not as a unitary entity (which is a different class of event).

  11. Wayne Conrad

    “Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have citations to support “obams crowd has started the usual demonization campaign against veterns.” So far as I can tell US military and foreign policy is unchanged so far.”

    GR may be referring to the tempest surrounding the leaked DHS document, Righting Extremism: Current Economic and Political CLimate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. From the bottom of p. 2:

    The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

    Fabius Maximus replies: First, was this leaked? I thought it was declassified and released. Second, it was released to the public on 7 April. I doubt it was initiated by Obama or any of his appointees, as DHS does not move that fast. Most likely this was initiated and prepared by career cilvil servants during the Bush Administration.

  12. Given electrophoresis’ interesting comments, one might argue that veteran agitator/actors are less a threat and more a possible agent of forcing reform, albeit through a low-level form of civil war.

  13. electrophoresis

    @urthshu – an even more provocative possibility involves the use of Iraqi IEDs and insurgency tactics against local police by returning gang members and other felons once discharged from the U.S. army. This of course will demand a proportionate (read: paramilitary) response from the police. See “Army reports sharp increase in felony waivers“, Army Times, 29 August 2007 — Excerpt:

    “Evidence of gang culture and gang activity in the military is increasing so much an FBI report calls it “a threat to law enforcement and national security.” The signs are chilling: Marines in gang attire on Parris Island; paratroopers flashing gang hand signs at a nightclub near Ft. Bragg; infantrymen showing-off gang tattoos at Ft. Hood.”

    1 in 5 army recruits is now a felon. As the U.S. military degenerates and as our unwinnable wars proliferate, standards must be lowered to maintain recruitment goals. Also see
    * “Crip walking in Baghdad“, posted at Jack and Jill Politics, 31 July 2007.
    * “Army Reports Sharp Increase In Felony Waivers“, VetVoice, 22 April 2008

    So the danger from the army to civilians comes from both sides — army vets who become militarized cops, and other army vets who become militarized gang members.

    Add a dash of militarized private security forces and a pinch of paramilitary Mexican drug violence leaking across the border from their ex-Mexican-army ex-antiterror cartel-employed assassins (The Zetas), and you’ve got an explosive situation.

  14. FM: “Militia The ultimate Defense Against 4GW” – 31 May, 2008

    Summary: This essay sketches out what might be our most reliable defense against 4GW — a militia. Militia have deep roots in western history, and many of these advantages can work for America today. Militia also are problematic for several reasons. These issues must be considered when designing their recruitment, training, and organization.

    One FM reply to a comment questioning use of militias:

    We can only guess at these things, but I doubt that arming and training citizens will lead to civil war. This suggests a fear like that traditionally held by partricians about the rabble, that arming them will lead to war and chaos (not that this applies to your comment, but it is a common view — both today and throughout history). I trust our citizens. … I think we, collectively, are our best defense of the Consitution, our political regime and society, against “all enemies foreign and domestic.”

    FM, correct me if I’m wrong. My points:
    1) Article quoted was in depth, well reasoned, addressed good, bad, ugly, BUT DID NOT come down on side of one ex military guy going into gang or selling weapons as indicator of “might be” indicator of US ruin, NOR did you seem concerned with decline into Facism, or “militarization” to our demise. Why the “only one side” of your discussion?

    2) I read Bill Lind religiously, agree with a lot he writes. But don’t buy his logic of “protect the castle” stated in the last paragraph.

    3)As to article on DNI, what does a story (valid???) about some troops under fire have to do with this at all? What they did(?) was just stupid, nothing more nor less.

    4) Ever here of William Porter Gale? Decorated Army Col left behind by MacArthur in Phillipines to work guerrilla effort. Retired came home, and eventually became preacher, started Identity, taught “techniques” to followers who eventually began Ayran Nation. Has this bad apple with military expertise and his speech (and supposedly very good) led to your “blowback?” Then why would a guy selling guns be indicator of anyrthing but what it was – a crime.

    5) Yes there are plenty of stories of “bad cops” (and bad folks in miliary)On quick look found 1.8M entries on Google on heroic action by police. One story on anything is just that – one story. In today’s IT environment, if you believe it, you can find supporting evidence.

    I’m not buying what you’re selling. Nor electro’s 1400+ “slide into facism.” Long term impact of 4GW and our ability to take care of ourselves, learn, unlear, relearn too important for that. (I ony violated your rules by 200)
    Fabius Maximus replies: Let’s see if I can explain.

    (1) The “Militia” article was about militia, and how they might be a more reliable support for America than a large standing army engaged in foreign wars (as seen in the excerpt from comments that you quote). The excerpt in the post was about standing armies, and echoed concerns about them going back to the Founders, and centuries further back in English political thought. I am not the first to worry about this.

    (2) Your examples are from our past, when the US State was strong and vital. My speculations look forward, to the possibility of a 21st century era characterized by the decline of the State (as discussed by Martin van Creveld in Rise and Declien of the State (1999). In such an era, some things that were rare become common. Some trivial problems become serious.

    (3) You do not need to “buy this”. This site is about things on the edge of the known. As Shakespeare said, the future is an unknown country — all we can do is speculate about it.

  15. In reply to my comment #1:
    “Fabius Maximus replies: I do not share your faith in American’s oaths, based on my considerable experience watching people swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and ” and to stay married “until death do us part”. As for the former, juries should award Oscars not verdicts in civil and criminal proceedings. As for the latter, nothing need be said.”
    Fabius–you freely equate oaths sworn between two people with variable levels of reinforcement with oaths sworn by many, with broad spectrum reinforcement in the UCMJ, uniforms, activities, etc. This is not to dismiss your point out of hand, but to note that there are differences as well as similarities.

    Mr. Beakly in #14, item 4) points out a good counter-example. Aryan Nations remains marginalized. Which does not dismiss your point, but underscores the lack of fertility in US soil (at the moment) for substantial insurgency. The chief destabilizer remains the current Congress/Administration, not veterans.
    Fabius Maximus replies: All oaths are by individuals. Also, this post discusses what happens once individuals leave the miltiary — no longer having the “broad spectrum reinforcement” you cite.

    Beakly’s is not a counter-example, as this post looks forward to what might be a very different era for America. The 21st century can differ from the 20th, as the 20th differed from the 19th (which saw a major rebellion, aided by large elements of the US military).

  16. Major Scarlet

    FM.. the current historical record of My Lai is that a Lieutenant was the planner and executor of the massacre. that is hardly a good example of a military rising up to over-throw a government. if we want to throw out a series of infinite possibilities coupled with an infinite time line, anything could happen. so at some point you would be proven correct.
    Fabius Maximus replies: It is false to say that the Lieutenant was the “planner and executor” of the massacre, on several levels. First, Calley gave orders which were obeyed. He and his men were, in a literal sense, the executors — not just Calley. So much for such orders would not be obeyed.

    Second, there is considerable (but not definitive) evidence that Captain Ernest Medina gave the orders. Although he was found innocent, “Several months after his acquittal, however, Medina admitted that he had suppressed evidence and had lied to Colonel Henderson about the number of civilian deaths.[32]” (source), which casts a cloud over his testimony.

  17. Fabius,

    If a 4GW warfare contingent sprang up in response to an growing authoritarian government in the US, who should we fear more, or less? Who would be right, or wrong?

    I am not arguing necessarily with your premise, particularly because you made a point in the comments of stating this something that MIGHT be. As Yoda might say, always in motion is the future. As events unfold, what we thought impossible may surprise us.

    My concern is that you are looking at it through one lens; self-interested vets deciding to remake the country for their benefit in a insurgent coup d’état.

    As pointed out in all of this discussion, however, there are many examples of how the government has taken violent action of questionale legitimacy against its own citizens, and its police forces are arming itself more heavily.

    Candidate Obama, while campaigning, talked about creating a civilian ‘defense force’ with the resources and power equal to the US military. What would THAT look like, I wonder, and what would be its purpose, first stated, and then how could it morph into something even more insidious.

    My point is, if we truly examine the options, if we are truly looking at the possibilities for the future, 4GW in this country could be scourge or salvation, depending on WHAT it was trying to tear down.

    What’s that Chinese curse; “May you live in interesting times”?
    Fabius Maximus replies: The “decline of the State” does not imply a “growing authoritarian government in the US.” Many governments have fallen during periods of weakness, esp during a period of rising troubles. Decline of the State just means a decrease in peoples’ love for the State, that it is replaced by others in their hearts. There is much evidence this is already happening, although in early stages.

  18. Electrophoresus: wonderful comment! Not too many seem to have picked it up here, probably because it’s a matter of POV (if you’re worried about creeping Communism in the federal government, you’re probably comforted by the “strong individuals” on the local police force.

    I lay the blame for the spread of private militias on Bush policies, but perhaps, since it’s a market phenomenon, as FM observes, the causes are broader than that. The American desire to fight wars without (official) casualties is one such cause. The CIA precedent of black-budget paramilitaries is another. The forces driving privatization of government services is another.

    Overall, the long-term failure of the economic system to deliver necessary goods and services in an equitable way to the population as a whole has produced an unstable society in which suppression of the domestic population is more and more likely. The military, private militias, gangs, drug cartels, religious fundamentalism, foreign enemies and pop culture, merge in a symbiotic way to create the core virus of fascism — the fearful, conformist individual psyche.

  19. Make that third airstrike against US citizens. Again from Wikipedia, under “Battle of Blair Mountain”:
    On orders from the famous General Billy Mitchell, Army bombers from Maryland were also used to disperse the miners, a rare example of Air Power being used by the federal government against US citizens. A combination of gas and explosive bombs left over from the fighting in World War I were dropped in several locations near the towns of Jeffery, Sharples and Blair. At least one did not explode and was recovered by the miners; it was used months later to great effect during treason and murder trials following the battle.

    Yes, the US Army used poison gas bombs against striking coal miners.

    From the Wikipedia entry about Battle of Blair Mountain:

    By 29 August 1921, battle was fully joined. Chafin’s men, though outnumbered, had the advantage of higher positions and better weaponry. Private planes were hired to drop homemade bombs on the miners. On orders from the famous General Billy Mitchell, Army bombers from Maryland were also used to disperse the miners, a rare example of Air Power being used by the federal government against US citizens. A combination of gas and explosive bombs left over from the fighting in World War I were dropped in several locations near the towns of Jeffery, Sharples and Blair. At least one did not explode and was recovered by the miners; it was used months later to great effect during treason and murder trials following the battle.

  20. Publius Cornelius Scipio

    Check out “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012” by Charles Dunlap Jr in Parameters, Winter 1992-92. Fictional for now, but addressing some of your concerns. Link here:

    I share Fabius’ lack of faith in oaths. An oath is only as good as the person mouthing the words. For example, read the Hippocratic oath, then compare it with how many doctors actually behave. Cognitive dissonance, anyone? When the stakes become high, oaths cease to have meaning.

    One major turning point in Roman history occurred with the advent of client armies. Client armies owed primary loyalty to the commanding general, not the state (the generals paid better). This initially brought civil war between Marius and Sulla, and resulted in military rule of Rome by Augustus decades later. The de facto military dictatorship of Augustus was welcomed by both the senatorial class and the Roman populace at large for the very fact that domination by one faction meant no civil war. A reading of Syme’s “The Roman Revolution” is instructive for anyone wanting a narrative of how a military takeover of a state occurs.

  21. senecal: “if you’re worried about creeping Communism in the federal government, you’re probably comforted by the “strong individuals” on the local police force.”

    Not exactly. Most of the folks I read on the Right are worried deeply about both.
    Fabius Maximus replies: The “strong individual” stuff sounds like nonsense to me. But I am concerned by the growing militarization of the police, esp the increased use of SWAT teams — and the increased incidence of clearly excess force (up to and including incidence of legalized unjustified murder).

  22. Ralph Hitchens

    Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep…. After all, Hitler was a disgruntled war veteran.

    There may well be a lot of pissed-off mofos in the ranks, coming home from the sandbox, but it looks like the guy in Oklahoma City didn’t get too far before being ratted out, and so far as anyone knows the roads in Poland have not become IED danger zones. Sometimes its a canary in the mine, most of the time it’s just a one-time flareup. We’re a world of soft targets and anyone can make a bloody splash like McVeigh, the kids at Columbine, or that guy at Virginia Tech. But that doth not a rebellion make. To my mind the greatest danger to our domestic tranquility is what’s left of the Republican party, with all their rhetoric about “real Americans” versus the rest of us. That’s just irresponsible.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Yep, folks tend to see their political opponents as “the greatest danger to our domestic tranquility.” Many Republicans see folks like you the same way as you see them. My opinion of both sides is here.

  23. anna nicholas

    At what point would an elected gov become totally irrelevent , because it had passed so many of its duties to private/foreign /global companies ? Or , what would happen if UK or US ,in honesty ,elected a communist or fascist gov ? ( cf Spanish Civil War , Hamas , Nepal ).

  24. Whoopsie Daisy

    Well, it seems that the Federal government has a rich history of the use of airpower against Americans. We may be headed there again, take a look at some of the stories from the Tulsa race riots shortly after WWI:

    Numerous accounts described airplanes carrying white assailants firing rifles and dropping firebombs on buildings, homes, and fleeing families. The planes, six biplane two-seater trainers left over from World War I, were dispatched from the nearby Curtis Field (now defunct) outside of Tulsa.[8] White law enforcement officials later claimed the sole purpose of the planes was to provide reconnaissance and protect whites against what they described as a “Negro uprising.”[8] However, eyewitness accounts and testimony from the survivors confirmed that on the morning of June 1, the planes dropped incendiary bombs and fired rifles at black Tulsans on the ground.[8]

    Even one white newspaper in Tulsa reported that airplanes circled over Greenwood during the riot. That account, however, had the planes working in conjunction with the police department to survey the riot.[citation needed]

    Several groups of blacks attempted to organize a defense, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of whites and weapons. Many blacks, conceding defeat, surrendered. Still others returned fire, ultimately losing their lives.

    As the fires spread northward through Greenwood, countless black families continued to flee. Many died when trapped by the flames.

  25. Robert Petersen

    I don’t buy the “decline of the state”-theory. Yes, you can certainly argue that state power has been eroded because of globalization and for other reasons, but it doesn’t mean the United States – or any European country for that matter – is on its way to become Somalia. A few vets from foreign wars joining a gang or becoming bikers like Hells Angels doesn’t create an earthquake. This is rather an old problem in a new form, which we see time and time again. It is like the idea (made popular by Hollywood) that every participant in the Vietnam War is a wacko vet armed with a Black & Decker who dreams of drilling holes in his own kids. If this was only halfway true the United States would have declared martial law a long time ago. That said I don’t claim many vets don’t have trouble adjusting to a civilian life, but that certainly doesn’t make them terrorists or gang-members.

    I would rather say that state power is changing, which on one hand is enhancing non-state groups or networks, but on the other hand also makes the governments stronger. If you want to discuss “blowback” look for the real threat: Watch the decline of civil liberty, the constant rise of the national security state, the idea that you can wage eternal and secret war to spread liberty and freedom, the acceptance of torture and surveillance. A couple of years ago general Tommy Franks predicted, that another large scale terrorist attack could create a dictatorship in the United States. As far as I can tell the whole security apparatus is in place and ready to strike. The beauty of it is that it won’t be perceived as an assault on democracy, but instead as the protection of democracy against terrorists.

    If you buy the “decline of the state”-theory it simply doesn’t matter, because the attempt to create a dictatorship would fail. But I can’t see why. Fear-mongering about the coming anarchy will only accelerate the process of eroding freedom. I don’t think that is what men like van Creveld want but that will be the result. If people should choose between order and chaos they will always choose order.

  26. Fabius, it seems that the ordinary people in this country agree with you. When playing by the rules no longer makes sense, then bad things can happen. This country was founded upon the principle of applied violence, and, historically, it can get pretty hairy when no one trusts the Government. Combat tactics aren’t ever forgotten, and high explosives (IEDS) aren’t difficult. So, perhaps Napolitano was right? If enough pressure is put on the situation, then something will blow. By the way, I’ve really enjoyed your screeds.

  27. Robert P: you said what I was trying to say, better. The danger is the growing power of the state, its capture by the corporate class, its retreat behind a permanent state of emergency, its suspensions of civil liberties, its remoteness from and lack of responsibility to ordinary citizens.

  28. electrophoresis

    Ralph Hitchens remarked: To my mind the greatest danger to our domestic tranquility is what’s left of the Republican party…

    The Republican party has about as much power right now as a bug in a jar. To my mind, the greatest danger to our domestic tranquility is politics. I don’t mean “politics as usual,” I mean just plain politics.

    So many basic parts of the American system are so badly broken that we need to fix ’em stat. Politics gets in the way of that. What do I mean by “basic parts of the American system”?

    American elections are broken (see the 2000 and 2004 elections — we still haven’t fixed this broken system, still don’t have audit trails, still use e-vote machines that drop votes or give ’em to the wrong candidate). There’s a simple fix: move to an all-mail paper ballott like Oregon’s. We just don’t want to.

    Wall Street is totally corrupt and broken. We still haven’t sent any of the principal players, like Moody’s bond rating agency, to jail. The criminals who stole America blind are in charge of the bailout. We know how to fix this, we just don’t want to.

    Our military is broken. We can’t win wars and we can’t build weapons that work and recruitment has plummeted and the Pentagon is in an economic death spiral, gobbling our entire budget and turning America into a new soviet-style militarized garrison state. We know how to fix this: scale back America’s overseas interventions, cut back on our military, shut down the weapons procurement projects. We just don’t want to.

    Our financial system is broken. It’s still legal to charge people 391% interest on payday loans. We know how to fix this: put usury laws back on the books to prevent unlimited interest rates, as every other civilization for the last 5000 years has done. We just don’t want to.

    Our transportation system is broken. America still guzzles 25% of the world’s oil and it’s typical for people like my neighbors to have 3 family members and 4 cars. We know how to fix this, by imposing a huge gasoline tax and passing laws banning SUVs and by funding mass transit. We just don’t want to.

    Our criminal “justice” system is broken. We know how to fix this — legalize drugs, punish police who violate the constitution, strike most of the current blue laws off the books, shut down atrocities like mandatory minimum sentences and convicting people on the testimony of jailhouse snitches. We just don’t want to.

    Our higher education system is broken. We know how to fix this — pass laws regulating the cost of college and instead of letting college professors regulate themselves, impose some supervision on them. We just don’t want to.

    Our health care system is broken. We know how to fix this — smash the AMA cartel, regulate big pharma so they can’t spend 50% of their profits on marketing instead of R&D, and institute single-payer universal health care. We just don’t want to.

    The unchecked growth of government is out of control. We know how to fix this — start repealing laws (like the drug laws, the USA PAtrioT Act, the laws “legalizing” warrantless surveillance, etc.) and shutting down agencies. The BATF and DHS and TSA and DEA would be a good place to start. We just don’t want to.

    The unchecked growth of corporate power is out of control. We know how to fix this — pass a law rescinding the grant to corporations of the same legal rights as a person. We just don’t want to.

    None of these trends can continue for very much longer. There’s going to be a systemic breakdown. I don’t when, and I don’t know what form it will take, whether national bankruptcy, a military coup, collapse into a neo-Soviet-style police state, breakup of the United States into separate political entities, a civil war, mass riots and social fragmentation into a Somalia-type failed state, or simply devolution into such persistent gridlock that we wind up like the “-stan” countries in Eastern Europe where the state becomes impotent and gangsters run everything and no one pays any attention to the law. But we can’t go on like this. The trends are too unsustainable.

    As long as we persist in blaming one another or trying to rally around one or another political party instead of fixing our broken institutions, that’s the biggest danger to our domestic tranquality, as far as I can see. I voted for Obama but right now he is pushing most of these unsustainable trends right in the direction of maximum collapse (Afghan war widens into Pakistan, single-payer health care off the table, bigger U.S. military-industrial complex, TARP, escalating the drug war, more warrantless wiretapping, habeas corpus still abolished at places like Bagram airbase, etc.) so right now Obama and the Democrats are far more dangerous than the Republicans. But the entire “village” of elite political insiders within the Washington D.C. beltway is the biggest danger to our domestic tranquility because it refuses to allow reform. Political parties don’t matter, the D.C. beltway system itself is broken. As William S. Lind has pointed out:

    “These foreign policy failures and military defeats – or even more embarrassing `victories’ – become just two of a larger series of crises, including the economic crisis (depression followed by runaway inflation), foreign exchange crisis (collapse of the dollar), political crisis (no one in the Establishment knows what to do, but the Establishment offers the voters no alternative to itself), energy crisis, etc. Together, these discrete crises snowball into a systemic crisis, which is what happens when the outside world demands greater change than the political system permits. At that point, the political system collapses and is replaced by something else.”

  29. It seems to me that American’s have always had a paranoia about the evils of state government. As the U.S. government itself was established, in reaction against European models, to be intentionally weak. No standing army, states rights, tripartite checks and balances, and etc. were designed to keep government in check. This is in evidence throughout American society and it’s exceptionalist history of rejecting socialist platforms of nationalization of resources, economic regulation, unionization, universal health care, education and the like.

    The problem with such an outlook is that it creates a false narrative of our unique “freedom” (relative to other states) that is invented and propagated by powers outside of or invisible, but yet controlling government authority.

    If as in our case, the government network of power is intentionally weak then the other major networks of power – the economic elite, the military, the church, and the ideological aristocracy will assume the task and fill the void that weak government create. Because all human interaction is social and will in effect (always) be controlled by the above mentioned organizational networks of power. When the government fails to preform its duties and functions of regulating the other networks – it is deferring its power to those other networks. And its when those other networks gain full control of government functions (as opposed to the reverse) that we get into serious trouble. Because when the economic, the military, and the religious networks become the government, they make all the rules, and we go from being a citizen to being a subject.

    From this perspective, the right authoritarian alliance fears government power because they want the other economic, military and religious powers to trump federal government. The political left looks toward government to mediate and regulate the power of the other three. Which is of course why the right loved Bush’s actual flirtation with fascism (until its military and economic wings fell off) and the left have no real fears of Obama’s big government plans.

  30. Very interesting articles, and interesting essay about militias from last year. I suppose that your idea to create militias could be useful in some ways. To be honest, though, I’m against this idea, at least as outlined.

    In your essay you said:

    The primary battleground about which we should worry is the domestic one. Today that means foreign terrorism, perhaps by recent immigrants. In the future we might face powerful non-state organizations using violence to gain either economic power (”criminals”, non-trinitarian conflict) or political objectives (terrorists and insurgents waging 4GW).

    We already have had militias being formed for the express purpose of keeping immigrants out, for a few years now. (Jim Glichrist’s Minutemen Project, the separate but related Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, & all the state/regional chapters.) I suppose you could say that these groups are much like an immune response. But to continue with the metaphor, to my mind they are more like an allergy — a counterproductive immune response to a substance which does not truly threaten the host organism. These groups have not been successful in repelling immigrants from the country, but they have been successful in putting everyone a little more on-edge.

    The problem is that the immigration is caused by regional problems and trade policies. The regional issues would require regional cooperation to fix. The problematic trade policies are set by economic elites. I’ve seen nothing from the Minutemen to suggest that they even understand this, much less have a solution beyond sitting on the border shooting at latinos.

    On a deeper level, the entire idea of having militias in a modern state seems counterproductive to me. As you said, they can be a centrifugal force. Seems like they tend to break a nation up into separate regions (check out this site advertising for a secession of Texas, and the pro-militia language there).
    Fabius Maximus replies: We do not have militias in this country. We have private gangs calling themselves militia. There is no relationship between the two concepts. They could call themselves Marines, but that would not make them Marines.

  31. electrophoresis – you’ve done a good job identifying some key problems, yet despite saying the biggest issue is politics itself most of your proposed solutions are about increasing State power through passage of laws.

    Which might be fine if the government enforced any of the laws they’ve already got on the books. Or obeyed any of them. Or if one of the problems wasn’t Leviathanesque government authority to start with.

    For myself, I’m to the point where if “we wind up like the “-stan” countries in Eastern Europe where the state becomes impotent and gangsters run everything and no one pays any attention” I could regard that as a Good Thing. Scrap it all and rebuild.

  32. FM Reply to #30:

    We do not have militias in this country. We have private gangs calling themselves militia. There is no relationship between the two concepts. They could call themselves Marines, but that would not make them Marines.

    OK, then, I guess I misunderstood what you were getting at. Lets try this: how would this localized military you are advocating for differ from the military reserves that we have now?
    Fabius Maximus replies: This is all discussed at some length in the article. Much faster mobilization, local knowledge (which is of great value in 4GW), etc.

  33. Urthshu comments (#31) “electrophoresis – you’ve done a good job identifying some key problems, yet despite saying the biggest issue is politics itself most of your proposed solutions are about increasing State power through passage of laws”

    There’s a difference between laws written by corporations and lobbies, and laws instigated democratically by “we the people.” I take it that’s the kind of law electrophoresis is talking about when he says “we” dont want it.

    And “politics”, as presently practiced and institutionalized in the US, IS what stands in the way of democratic change. The two-party system is mainly a charade, a pageant of pseudo issues, disguising an underlying consensus on the issues of real importance that electrophoresis describes.

    AM: it’s nice to see you here. I liked your comment recently, on another site, about the link between conservative politics and approval of torture.

  34. Major Scarlet

    you are ignoring a relevant piece of the Mai Lai story. it was a member of the LTs unit that stopped him and reported what had happened. Also, his Battalion Commander knew something was wrong because of the high body count being reported and had started an inquiry in to what was going on in the village as it was happening.

    as i said before, many of the incidents you point out are statistical outliers in the military culture.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not see how that is relevant to my point about this story. As for your last point, your are of course correct. I do not say this represents the past or present of the US military, just one possible future if we experience a decline of the State.

  35. The primary reason people are worried about the military is that the financial oligarchs have seized control of the United States Government and have transferred massive amounts of wealth to a select few people via questionably constitutional means. If the military ever wakes up to this economic raping of the constitution and the people the law is supposed to protect, then the people in power have a real threat. No worries for the bankers though. I think West Point is considering changing the motto to “Duty, Honor, Banking System” so as not to confuse the plebes. All Americans outside of the system should consider themselves plebes, too. The military ethic is extremely strong and belief in civilian control is paramount among the military. This talk is a distraction from the real threat to our democracy sitting in plain view.

  36. For a description of what COULD happen go to ClubOrlov where, in some of his articles he documents what happened with the Soviet Union collapsed. Army, special forces, internal/external security people very quickly rose to the top of the new criminal (and societal) elites .. mainly because they were good at violence and organisation.

    Happen here in Aus or the US? well there was that report (sorry lost the link) about the police stopping people (in some obscure US county) and stealing all their money and valuables. And of course there is the famous Serpico issue, where the New York police ran a lot of criminal activity.

    Double edged sword armed forces and law & order forces. They can, and do, turn on you when things get bad.

    What limits/encourages this? Societal beliefs and elite behaviour (by setting a good/bad examples) and failing/unflinching desire to police themselves (one law for you and another for me … or appied evenly). Now the problem is that if at least some people believe that the elite is all corrupt and can do anything they want this give cart blanch to those down the pecking order. “They can do this so I will”.

    How long until some discruntled US vets, when the Govt money runs out, start becoming really good at crime? Or ex-CIA?

    That why Lind’s idea of militias is so relevent, they would be the best bulwark against this sort of thing. With this system in place then woe betide a police dept that (after their wages/pension/benefits are cut) decides to become ‘entrepreneurial’.

    Will it happen? Maybe, but also watch Petraeus – he has made no secret that he want to be President. If it is impossible at the ballot box then …..?
    Fabius Maximus replies: To say that examples of police corruption reveal something about America makes sense only if you assess its scale (frequence and magnitude), and compare it to the behavior of other nations’ police. Otherwise you have demonstrated that since the Fall some people behave in badly — which I suspect most of us knew already.

    There is probably some research on this. Having not seen any of this, my guess is that the police corruption in the US is no worse than in most developed nations, and far less than in most emerging nations.

    “For a description of what COULD happen go to ClubOrlov

    Perhaps so, but I lost interest after reading the 2nd article on the site: Change You Can Suspend Disbelief In, by Publius III, 22 April 2009. It is some sort of black humor about the extent of US liabilities, neither useful nor insightful. The key point about future liabilities is that they can be reduced (unlike debt from past spending, which is more difficult to deal with).

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