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Hymn for a Broken Empire: Republican National Security Officials for Biden

If fodder is needed for the argument that a Deep State is running wild and determined to depose President Donald J. Trump, this will surely help. In a statement by self-titled “former Republican National Security Officials”, a hand-on-heart allegiance is made to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The authors are intent on moving the incumbent out of office, “profoundly concerned about our nation’s security and standing in the world under the leadership of Donald Trump. The President has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term.”

These former security officials, who include former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency Gen. Michael Hayden, see Joe Biden as the better horse. He has “the character, experience and temperament to lead this nation.” They might have their disagreements with him, but there would be “the time to debate those policy differences”. In the immediate future, Trump had to be ushered out of office to stop his “assault on our nation’s values and institutions.”

The message is regaled in the language of defending democracy, the very sort of fragile creature such individuals have not been averse to mutilating in the past. But it is also couched in terms of cod psychology. The term “unfit” is used four times. This lack of fitness was demonstrated by bad character, corrupt behaviour, the inability to lead “during a national crisis.”

What is particularly galling for the authors is that Trump dared interfere with the National Security Family, offices of the imperium that should run without disruption and melodrama. This mismanagement, as they term it, involved the dismissal or replacement “often by tweet” of “the secretaries of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, the Attorney General, the Directors of National Intelligence and the FBI, three National Security Advisors, and other senior officials in critical national security positions”.

The signers also take issue with the president’s spread of “misinformation”, the undermining of public health expertise, attacking officials at state and local level “and wallowing in self-pity.” He had demonstrated greater interest in re-election “than the health of the American people.”

Misinformation is a good point. Trump has been exceedingly inventive to the point of fiction in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. He takes of the root of conspiracy. But it is also worth noting that many of these former security officials who take issue with him were not averse to getting on the well-laden wagon of misinformation when it came to launching a war against Iraq in 2003. The administration of George W. Bush was stacked high with true believers allergic to the findings of UN weapons inspectors.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who put in an appearance at the Democratic National Convention just passed, gave a show of supreme mendacity on February 5, 2003, before the United Nations. “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” What was solid was the premature adjudication of the matter: Saddam Hussein had to go, and fictional weapons of mass destruction would do nicely as a pretext.

The result was the commission of what is loftily described as the “supreme international crime”: the crime against peace or what is sometimes, if awkwardly termed, a “war of aggression”. In 2005, criminologists Ronald Kramer, Raymond Michalowski and Dawn Rothe gazed forlornly at the US-led invasion of Iraq and concluded that it, and the subsequent occupation, violated international law. State crimes had been committed and “state officials responsible for the violations of law pursuant to the invasion and occupation of Iraq are guilty of war crimes.”

The signatories of this pro-Biden note also have their noses out of joint at Trump’s compromising of the Department of Justice, his libelling of federal judges, and those who “sought to uphold the law.” He insulated himself from accountability, fired officials who commenced investigations or testified against him, threatened whistleblowers, promised pardons for silence “and blocked prison time for a political crony convicted of lying on his behalf.”

Smelly stuff indeed, till you consider what took place in the Republic after September 11, 2001. During those dark years under GWB, the rule of law was given a right royal thrashing, and was barely able to walk after that. Warrantless surveillance of US citizens was conducted with the specific purpose of avoiding the law altogether. Torture was modish, given a shining light as a preferred method of military interrogation; inventive apologias and seedy justifications could be found through the DOJ for its use. The “Bush Six” – Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Douglas Feith – rode high on stallions of bare legality. The Central Intelligence Agency got bold and ugly with its Rendition Program. Guantanamo Bay became code for human rights violations and legal purgatory.

In 2005, Human Rights Watch suggested that the then-defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the chief US commander in Iraq and Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander of the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be investigated for allegations of torture. In 2011, HRW released a further report arguing for “a broad criminal investigation into alleged crimes committed in connection with the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the CIA detention program, and the rendition of detainees to torture.” To date, these dark retainers of executive power remain free to go about their business and whitewash a sullied era. The Obama administration ensured that no prosecutions would take place.

The vocal, boisterous defenders of a cause are bound to be those who have, along the way, fiddled and forfeited it. Be wary, claimed E. M. Forster in “What I Believe”, of the cohorts overly keen on causes. “I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I would have the guts to betray my country.” Trump has done his immodest bit to ransack an already soiled office. The precedent of a burgeoning imperial presidency, indifferent to caution and legality, eager to bloody the noses of adversaries, spy on citizens and evade the rule of law, was already there to emulate.

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20 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Only a naive fool would think that the USA (United States of Apartheid) would honour any commitment to come to the aid of any alleged ally in times of invasion of that ally by a third foreign power. Think East Timor 1974, when the Indonesian invasion resulted in American oil corporations getting oil survey rights to the North West Shelf that ultimately embarrassed Fishnets Downer and caused the Bernard Colleary and Witness K secret trials.

  2. Jack Cade

    NEC

    Yes. And getting rid of Saddam Hussein ‘ because he was an awful man’ overlooks the fact that Haiti has been led by awful men forever, under Uncle Sam’s nose. Uncle Sam didn’t remove Papa Doc.
    And the USA didn’t come into WW2 in Europe until they had forced Britain to ‘share’ its nuclear secrets and agree to dismantle its empire post-war.
    Without wishing to disparage the US merchant seamen who manned the ships and lost their lives in the Atlantic convoys, one of the few comments my RN father, and my merchant seaman uncle, ever made about the war in the North Atlantic were that the Liberty Ships the US sold to Britain – and which Britain was still paying for until the early 2000s – were ‘Shithouse, Jerrybuilt.’
    And no nation has ever broken more treaties than the USA.
    And those who hope the Biden-Harris government will be sweetness and light overlook the fact that the Democrats began the Korean and Vietnam wars, and Obama destroyed Libya.

  3. mark delmege

    Hillary destroyed Libya and with Biden ran a coup in Ukraine and his family made shed loads of cash. Those two countries amongst many others wont be arguing over the lesser of two evils.

  4. mark delmege

    I once read that a shared hate was good for cementing long term relationships. But the Americans have a choice between a near senile grafting sock puppet and a man whose only talent is the use of simple adjectives and its hard for me to imagine them collectively getting even 40% out on election day.

  5. New England Cocky

    @Jack Cade: Agreed. My TAFE welding teacher many years ago advised that the so-called US Liberty Ships were welded together at a contract rate per metre welded finished so that the welders, instead of filling the gaps between the hull plates with weld, would fill the gap with scrap steel and then weld over it to make it look correct welding. The North Atlantic storms were and are very unforgiving for any weakness in a ship’s hull and too many sank with great loss of life.

  6. Michael Taylor

    It would be a shame, mark, if only 40% of eligible voters cast a vote.

  7. leefe

    Michael Taylor:

    Given the way the Trumpsters are gutting the USPS, closing booths and indulging in other methods of voter suppression, 40% of those who should be able to vote actually managing to do so would be a triumph.

  8. Jack Cade

    News of yet another police atrocity (5 bullets in the back of a man climbing into his family-filled car) is indicative of a rancid culture and a decayed – not decaying – society. Just when Pence is TRUMPeting boosting the police and military as their aim for the next term.
    The problem is that Trump has a hard core of 33% in a country where only just above 60% voted last time. And that 33% will almost certainly turn out to a person. So the lack of appeal to progressives in the Democrats team could result in a landslide to Trump. And if he pulls off a naval contretemps with China in the next few months (which has been suggested is a Republican plan – and they only need to lie about it – it’s the American way) It could be game set and match.
    The Greens candidate is a plonker so there won’t be much leakage to them, maximising the Dems vote from neutrals, but the end of Trump is far from certain.

  9. A Commentator

    The author must be very proud of the contribution made by his old political ally, Julian Assange, to the election of Trump. The timing of the leaking of the emails made sure Hilary Clinton had no opportunity to effectively respond. And. great!! Now Trump is president!

    Congratulations to Assange and his running mates!

  10. guest

    Dr Binoy Kampmark’s catalogue of US crimes, lies and deception merely convinces me that Trump is the embodiment of that kind of evil. As his niece claims, he is the most dangerous man in the world.

  11. Jack Cade

    Guest

    The US has been at war, but for a handful of years, throughout its entire history. Almost always at their own instigation.
    If they didn’t speak a form of English we’d see them for what they really are.

  12. Michael Taylor

    leefe, if it were a fair election I believe those 40% would not only send Trump packing, but also flip the Senate.

    But removing Trump from the White House won’t be easy. He’s determined to stay – and he won’t let an election loss deter him.

  13. Michael Taylor

    Jack, your reference to their form of English reminds me of a funny story. I apologise to Dr Binoy for being off-topic, but I couldn’t resist:

    At their first press conference in America the Beatles were asked how come they spoke with an English accent yet sang with American accents. 😳😳

    I kid you not.

    (I thought, as a Liverpudlian, you might appreciate that one). 😀

  14. Jack Cade

    Michael

    Nice one!
    They were also warned that Detroit had vowed to stamp on the Beatles and Macca said ‘Yeah? Well, we ‘re gonna stamp on Detroit’.’
    The US press had got used to the polite pretty boys, disparagingly called ‘Bobby this and Bobby that.’ by Jerry Lee Lewis. ‘Thank God for the Beatles,’ he said. ‘They cut the effing Bobby this and Bobby that down like wheat in a field.’

  15. Michael Taylor

    I heard something similar, Jack. He also said (not the exact words); “Thank God for the Beatles. They blew all this rubbish away.”

  16. Michael Taylor

    In other big news, Jack, SPP has won his appeal. 😀

    PS: We really should stop meeting like this. 😁

  17. mark delmege

    (correction) I’m sure they will get more than 40% but the winner might not get 30% of eligible votes – but then who knows what will happen between now and then.

  18. Michael Taylor

    Anything can happen, mark.

    It’s odd the attitudes, depending on whether voting is compulsory or not. In Australia they do everything they can to encourage people to vote. In the US – where voting is optional – they do whatever they can to prevent you from voting.

    I actually think there’s going to be a good turnout in the US this year.

  19. Matters Not

    Re – they do whatever they can to prevent …. Presumably the ‘they’ to which you refer is the GOP? For the Democrats, it’s their abiding concern. Although Pelosi has been of the view, at times, that the main effort ought to be on ‘conversion’ or ‘winning’ of those who will vote without urging. Generally. however, the ‘progressives’ see getting citizens out to vote is the way forward.

  20. Jack Cade

    Matters Not and Michael

    The USA was reportedly discovered by a man whose family name was Colon; voted in as President a man whose name means Fart; and is largely governed by arseholes.
    Consistent if nothing else.

    And Michael

    They had to let PP off in a week where Lynch was forgiven for snotting an opponent.

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