Summary: Yesterday we saw that since 1999 Americans have lost confidence in our major institutions — except for the military and police. today we imagine what the consequences of this might be. At the end are links to the other chapters in this series.
He is a man with a gun. He is a killer, a slayer. Patient and gentle as he is, he is a slayer. Self-effacing, self-forgetting, still he is a killer. … All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.
— D. H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)
We can already see the effects of this shift in our patterns of this. This article gives some valuable if disturbing evidence: “Americans Love a Good Killer“, John Grant, posted in the consistently excellent CounterPunch, 11-13 May 2012 — Please go there and read it in full. Excerpt:
This new US military doctrine based on sophisticated intelligence and secret homicide raids virtually anywhere is growing at a time our military is linking more and more with local, domestic police agencies. This phenomenon has the potential for serious civil liberties abuse. National borders are fading and life is becoming more and more globalized; burgeoning communications technologies ironically make us less socially cohesive. Add economic, religious and political polarization to the mix and the symbiosis between the military and local police becomes quite scary.
The ultimate dark question lurking in all this is: Are death squads within the domestic borders of the United States a possibility? Some will surely see such a question as hysterical — in both senses of the word. But for those who feel it can’t happen here, there’s the lesson of that mythic frog who doesn’t hop out of the pot because the temperature of the water is raised very slowly. For those on the right, there’s also the metaphor of Munich, which says if you appease the initial signs of oppressive force and don’t act against it, you’re certain to be screwed later.
Creeping Militarism Arriving On a Street Near You
Several recent stories suggest how very deep militarism has seeped into the post-9/11, Drug War-obsessed American culture. The Bush Administration’s decision to invade two countries and engage in counter-insurgency wars for ten years is front and center as part of the problem. War has consequences. In the case of Vietnam, it divided the nation.
The first story is about how returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are employing counter-insurgency tactics on the street in places like Springfield, Massachusetts. The enemy is drug gangs, the domestic suppliers of controlled substances illegally imported from places like South America. “Gang members and drug dealers operate very similarly to insurgents,” Massachusetts State Trooper Michael Cutone told the Times; he was a Green Beret in Iraq.
A second story is summed up in its headline: “U.S. Drug War Inside Honduras Waged Iraq-Style.” To interdict drug shipments from South America headed for the US, the US military has constructed three forward operating bases (or FOBs) in Honduras …
The third story recounts the warm reception fired General Stanley McChrystal is getting at Yale, where he has been hired to lecture on leadership. McChrystal, of course, is a proven master at two things: public relations (he was the one-star briefing officer during the Iraq Invasion) and the management of special operations units. He’s arguably the key person in the successful use of killer teams in Anbar Province — known colloquially as “the Salvadoran option” — which developed into the US military’s current special operations doctrine relying on assassin teams and drones to weaken and destabilize enemy leadership. The bin Laden hit was a highly publicized example of this; most examples are top secret.
General McChrystal is famous for a stark and ascetic lifestyle. When reduced to its crude fundamentals, General McChrystal’s leadership expertise amounts to controlling information from the US public and organizing killers. In the 1960s, a man like McChrystal would have faced protests on a college campus. Today, he’s a rock star. …
… It’s interesting to look at the issue as a hemisphere problem. In Latin America, the overlap between military and police forces has been notoriously problematic, with many instances of human rights abuses. US military trainers are now being deployed to places like Honduras to train the police and the military; and one of the things they preach is the separation of military and police functions. It’s ironic that those very separations are breaking down here in North America. We’re becoming more like Latin America as they become more like us.
“The Salvador option” was the informal name given to General McChrystal’s Special Operations “death squads” in Anbar Province in Iraq. In El Salvador such units were referred to as “paramilitary.” My dictionary defines “para-“ as “distinct from, but analogous to.”
Recently, York County, Pennsylvania, purchased a $296,000 up-armored Lenco Bearcat for its SWAT Team; the funds came from money and belongings seized from drug dealers. This kind of self-aggrandizing spoils system is notorious in police forces across the nation. The more property confiscated, the more sophisticated military equipment and weapons a department can buy. The problem is, if you buy a tank you naturally want to use it. The more military equipment and training you get, the more you will become a paramilitary unit — “distinct from, but analogous to” a military unit. …
About the author
John Grant is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper.
A Vietnam War veteran for 25 years John has been an active member of Veterans For Peace. For 11 years, he was president of the Philadelphia VFP chapter. He has taught documentary photography at Widener and Drexel Universities and for 9 years has taught creative writing to inmates in the Philadelphia Prison.
Other Chapters in this series
- A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, 14 May 2012
- A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, not the ones we need (part 2), 15 May 2012
- More evidence that the military is slowly cutting itself off from civilian control, 15 July 2012
For more information
See the FM Reference Page America’s military, and our national defense strategy.
For more information:
- A Washington Insider looks at America, but does not understand what he sees, 7 September 2011
- America is the new Rome. Late Republican Rome (not the best of times), 13 October 2011
- What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012