What Kind of Country Have We Become?

As always political analyst and journalist (one of very few left in this country) Glenn Greenwald hits the nail on the head in his Thursday Sept. 3 blog post “The looming political war over Afghanistan.” Here is an excerpt:

“A country that turns itself into a war-fighting state, a militarized empire, is choosing what kind of country it wants to be. And as long as that continues, everything else — wild expansions of executive power, the explicit rejection of the rule of law for elites, a continuous erosion of civil liberties, ever-expanding secrecy justifications, supreme empowerment of a permanent national security class whose power transcends elections — are all necessary and inevitable by-products. As Thomas Jefferson observed in an 1810 letter to Ceasar Rodney: “In times of peace the people look most to their representatives; but in war, to the executive solely.” Jefferson was assuming “war” was a temporary state of affairs; where, as with us now, it’s the permanent reality, the effect is far greater. As long as a President is waging wars and trying to control the world through military force, he desperately needs the CIA, the military, the entire National Security State apparatus, and thus cannot “change” policies of secrecy, civil liberties, privacy and the like — even if he wanted to.

“That’s why being in a state of endless war doesn’t merely raise discrete questions of this policy or that; it changes the character of the nation. Whether to continue our massive National Security State and general imperial behavior (unsustainable in any event) is at least as important a question in the debate over Afghanistan as specific questions raised by the war itself….

“‘Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…. No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.'” — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795:

“We have “continual warfare”; Madison couldn’t have been clearer about the inevitable outcome of that.”

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  1. Thank you!As someone who shares your abhorrence of the government being run as "the executive solely," I've got to say it's so nice to see someone who's still playing the same tune with the new administration as with the old. It's been amazingly frustrating to watch what used to be moral issues (like war or civil liberties) stop being issues the moment somebody from the other side got elected.Heck, the about-face on the morality of torture once it came out that the Democrats were fully briefed was enough to turn my stomach. TORTURE IS WRONG (unless it's our folks who approved it, in which case it's legit).Ah well, like I said on Rachel's blog: too much of this is bad for my blood pressure. Keep on keeping on, man!

  2. Thanks. It's nice to hear a sane voice. Yes, it would be despicable for us to play partisan politics over issues as crucial and biblical as human rights. Thanks for your encouragement.

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