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No need for their kind of takeover. Not subtle enough for American consumption.


Posted on May 17, 2007, Printed on May 18, 2007 | Originally at AlterNet

During the time the Vietnam war was in full swing, Edward Luttwak wrote a seminal book on the phenomena of overthrowing governments, Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook. In defining the attributes of a typical coup, Luttwak explains:

A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.

Let that definition rattle around your brain for a moment.

When we think of coups, our mental image tends to be populated by medal-festooned lapels of banana republic military commanders, surrounded by gun toting militias riding around in jeeps, in a location somewhere south of the equator. Obviously, that is not an accurate picture. A coup is typically a partnership between civilian politicians (usually, but not always, by the party in opposition to the current government) and sympathetic military commanders. Contrary to popular concept, the “use of military or other organized force is not the defining feature of a coup d’état”. It can be argued, though, that co-opted military command of civilian authority and positions is integral to consolidation of power in a coup environment.

With yesterday’s appointment of General Lute as the war czar, there are more active duty military commanders involved in the operational control of America’s war and intelligence efforts than ever before. Additionally, James Comey’s remarks this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the race to John Ashcroft’s hospital bed to authorize the warrentless wiretap program, we get a small peek behind the curtain of how the Bush regime has operated, time and time again, outside the bounds of (at least) propriety and (potentially) beyond the confines of constitutional authority.

The confluence of several events over the past year or so lead to the question: did a true coup d’état occur in the U.S., and we missed it? …

Since the time that George Bush came to power in the contested election of 2000, many have opined that the Supreme Court decision in Bush -v- Gore was, in fact, a coup. Legal historians will certainly be arguing the finer points of the SCOTUS decision long after most of us are dead. However, a coup in the classic sense requires that fundamental changes occur to both the power structure of a government and the precepts of enabling documents and legislation (for example, constitutional interpretations).

Setting aside the constitutionality and use of presidential signing statements and all of the other challenges to constitutional authority that have occurred in the past 6 years, let’s just take a quick look at the recent militarization of the heretofore civilian infrastructure of the U.S. government:

Item: In an unprecedented presidential appointment, active duty General Michael Hayden was installed as director of the CIA in 2006.

Item: General David Petraeus makes the rounds in Washington, and updates political leaders on progress / lack thereof in Iraq. George Bush holds a press conference, and invokes Petraeus’ name no less than 12 times. He also implores, “Let the commanders do their job”. Some would argue that Bush is abdicating his authority (and responsibility) as Commander in Chief for the prosecution of war.

Item: 11 GOP congressmen hold a frank conversation with Bush, telling him that he has no clothes (or credibility). They’ll “only believe General Petraeus”.

Item: Active duty generals are going on record (at least anonymously) telling journalists that they’ll “revolt against the regime” in September if the regime is still sticking with the surge into 2008.

Item: General Petraeus denies that he has come under pressure from President Bush or other political leaders to paint a false or skewed picture of the U.S. military campaign in Iraq:

“I am not being pressured by the president to say anything,” Petraeus told reporters after 3 hours of back-to-back briefings of House and Senate members on the situation in Iraq. “I am not going to be pressured by political leaders of either party.”

Item: Lt. Gen. Lute is selected as the Bush regime’s “war czar”, in an apparent direct contravention to the constitution of the United States and the powers of the executive branch. Thoroughly unreported in the U.S. legacy media (or even the progressive new media) is that Lute views the internet as a battleground in the war on terror.

Either Gen. Petraeus is being set up as the biggest patsy in history, or he’s already taken over. He’s basically been anointed as the “honest broker” and ombudsman between the Bush regime and congress. Everyone is deferring to him, and it doesn’t seem as if much of anyone is questioning Gen. Lute’s new job, either. The civilian cabinet position of Secretary of War was deprecated in 1947, but it seems that it’s now been resurrected, and that a military guy is running the show. General Hayden is running the intelligence apparatus of the United States, and holds no allegiance to the civilian legislative branch, even though that branch was required to confirm him (another GOP rubber stamp job in 2006).

It’s acceptable to squirm in your chair a little bit. Perhaps “coup” is too strong of a word, but clearly, the Bush regime has consolidated the executive branch’s hold over the military, and the military’s current influence over day-to-day decision making at the highest levels of government is pretty much unprecedented in U.S. history.

Perhaps more to the point, it’s really bothersome because I don’t think we can click those ruby slippers and go back to Kansas again, Dorothy…

Richard Blair is a Philadelphia area freelance writer and the blogmaster of All Spin Zone.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers//52019/

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