While I assumed that the national-security state would ultimately win its war against President Trump, I never figured that Trump would capitulate so soon and so completely.
But capitulate he has, and victory for the national security state, or what the mainstream is now calling the Deep State, is complete.
Recall that we are talking about the man, who as candidate for president, criticized and condemned President George W. Bush for starting a war with Iraq. Trump assured voters that he would never do such a dumb thing. He also said that he would never intervene in Syria. In his campaign, he issued so many intimations and insinuations suggesting that he was opposed to foreign empire, militarism, and interventionism that even a few libertarians began enthusiastically supporting him for president. After his election he also went to war against the national-security establishment and the Washington, D.C., establishment over their insistence on a second Cold War with Russia.
All that is now over. The independent, swamp-clearing candidate Trump has morphed into a loyal and subservient subject of the U.S. national-security state. He has appointed a host of military generals to serve as his advisers. He has promised a massive increase in military spending, notwithstanding the fact that the military’s budget is larger than the next 7 countries combined. He has unleashed the military to bomb and assassinate people in Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere as part of his “war on terrorism.” He has now initiated a war against Syria, a sovereign and independent nation, and without even the semblance of the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. He has made it clear that he intends to be a full-fledged intervener in the affairs of other nations. Most telling of all, of course, is that Trump has now fulfilled the wishes of the national-security establishment by abandoning his commitment to establish peaceful and friendly relations with Russia and instead making that nation a full-fledged adversary or enemy of the United States.
Many years ago, President Eisenhower warned Americans of the ever-growing power and influence of the national-security state or what he called “the military-industrial complex.” He pointed out that America now had an entirely new Cold War-era governmental structure, one that, he observed, posed a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.
Those warnings went unheeded and the national-security establishment grew ever more powerful and influential in the years since Eisenhower issued his warning. Today, the Pentagon and the CIA now wield the power to kidnap or assassinate anyone they want anywhere in the world. That includes Americans. If they do that, they know that nothing will happen to them. No federal grand jury will indict them for committing a felony. If one were to do so, any federal judge in the land would immediately dismiss it, no questions asked.
The same goes for the power to round people up, put them in concentration camps or military dungeons indefinitely without trial, and torture and abuse them. That includes Americans. That’s what the Jose Padilla case established, where the federal courts upheld the power of the military to do these things to American citizens.
Oh, and let’s not forget the mass surveillance schemes by the third leg of the national-security triumvirate, the National Security Agency — the NSA. Every American, just like everyone else in the rest of the world, must now live his life under the assumption that these people are monitoring and recording his emails and telephone calls.
Meanwhile, so many Americans continue to express their gratitude over how free they are. In their minds, all these totalitarian-like powers that the government wields over them are what make the citizenry free. This phenomenon brings to mind my favorite quote, by Johann Goethe: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
For anyone concerned about where we are as a nation, how we got here, and where we are going, I cannot recommend too highly two books.
The first is The War State: The Cold War Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex and The Power Elite, 1945-1963 by Michael Swanson. It is the best account I have ever read about the origins of the U.S. national security state.
The second is a book entitled National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon, who teaches law at Tufts University. This excellent book shows how the real power of the federal government is centered in the national-security sector, which permits the other three branches of the federal government to maintain a façade of being in charge.
Glennon will be one of the speakers at our upcoming June 3 conference, “The National Security State and JFK” at the Dulles Marriott, which is about 3 minutes away from Dulles Airport in northern Virginia. This might well be the most important, timely, and relevant conference in FFF’s 27-year history. We have pulled together a line-up of speakers who are among the most competent analysts of the national-security state in the country. They include Oliver Stone, Ron Paul, Stephen Kinzer, Douglas Horne, Peter Janney, David Talbot, Jefferson Morley, and Michael Glennon.
Ever since I began writing about the Kennedy assassination, there have been people who have asked me why the JFK assassination is still relevant given the passage of so many decades. The reason is simple: Prior to Trump, JFK was the last president to go to war with the national-security establishment over the future direction of the United States. Ever since Kennedy was assassinated, the power and influence of the CIA, the military-industrial complex, and the NSA have grown exponentially, as have the threats to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people, as JFK’s predecessor, President Eisenhower, warned.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, war with Syria and hostile relations with Russia mean, necessarily, more money, power, and influence for the CIA, the military, and the NSA.
Given Trump’s capitulation to the national-security establishment, it will be interesting to see what happens to those tens of thousands of pages of JFK assassination records that the national-security establishment insisted be kept secret until October 2017, when the JFK Records Act, which was enacted in 1992, mandates their release to the public. Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter who hosts JFKfacts.org, will be addressing that issue at our June 3 conference. The law mandates the release of those records, including redactions, unless — and it is a big “unless” — President Trump gives the CIA, Pentagon, or other federal agency another extension of time for continued secrecy, on grounds of “national security” of course. Don’t be surprised if another request for secrecy is made. There was a reason why these people wanted another 25 years of secrecy back in 1992. There is a distinct possibility that that reason still exists. Time will tell whether President Trump will capitulate on that issue as well.