Friday, March 24, 2006
Eternal vigilence being the price of liberty, Americans -- who spent decades wargaming a Soviet invasion and have taken more recently to daydreaming about "ticking bomb" scenarios -- should cast at least an occasional thought toward the only truly existential threat that American democracy might face today. We now live in a unipolar world, after all, in which conquest of the United States by an outside power is nearly inconceivable. Even the best-equipped terrorists, for their part, could dispatch at most a city or two; and armed revolution is a futile prospect, so fearsomely is our homeland secured by police and military forces. To subdue America entirely, the only route remaining would be to seize the machinery of state itself, to steer it toward malign ends -- to carry out, that is, a coup d'etat.
When the far right used to say such things -- remember the black helicopter crowd? -- liberals denounced them as crazies when and if they gave them any thought at all. What has changed to cause one of America's leading pop intellectual magazines to raise a scenario it would have mocked a few years ago? Feel free to offer your speculations in the comments.
In the meantime, reflect upon this bit from the same issue, a factoid from the Harper's Index:
Percentage of Americans who say they trust the military, the presidency, and the Congress, respectively: 74, 44, 22.
Does this make Harper's speculation more or less absurd?
Wow. That's just so bizarre that it makes me want to read the article. I mean, I used to play "Paranoia," but these people are living it.
It reminds me of Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican from California who warned in the waning days of the Nixon Administration that Tricky Dick was planning a coup. No one took him seriously, either....
"We now live in a unipolar world, after all, in which conquest of the United States by an outside power is nearly inconceivable."
If true, would that be a bad thing?
"Even the best-equipped terrorists, for their part, could dispatch at most a city or two"
Oh, that's comforting, only 1 or 2 cities, you hope it isn't your city!!
"the only route remaining would be to seize the machinery of state itself, to steer it toward malign ends -- to carry out, that is, a coup d'etat."
Now who do you suppose could do that considering how we're living in a police state.
Tigerhawk, don't think you've missed a thing since you dropped your subscription.
"Even the best-equipped terrorists, for their part, could dispatch at most a city or two..."
If that happens, please don't complain if the surviving Americans turn Mecca and Tehran into glass. It's only a city or two.
What goes around comes around. Back in the early 60's there was a book and movie Seven Days in May, staring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster: Plot Outline: US military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack. President John F. Kennedy admired the novel so much that he allowed Frankenheimer to film outside the White House.
Well, it couldn't happen in this generation. But ... standing militaries are something to watch out for, particularly if they start adopting partisan affiliations, or military service becomes a necessary gateway to political office.
That's part of what makes the Chickenhawk argument so insidious, and civil/military relations so interesting. It's also why, where public, political criticism of policy by retired officers is admirable and helpful, public criticism of policy by serving officers needs must be stepped on.
Mycroft, you are of course correct in all you've said.
The "chickenhawk" argument fascinates me, in that the left seems to be saying by it that decisions about war and peace should be left to the military. It is really quite astonishing, if you think about it.
I think he's wrong. Think China. China has been amassing missles by the truckload. CW says they are short-range, but they run significant numbers of ports around the world and have significant presence in Panama. U.S. population is about 290 million, China's is about 1.2 billion - The chinese could lose our entire population in casualties and it would be about 25% of their own. A couple of years ago, a chinese official made that exact observation, implying that calculation was part of chicom planning. If anyone thinks that the U.S. is unconquerable, they need to reexamine our capabilities VS chinese capabilities. What happens to our dispersed armies, navies, and air forces if the chinese decide to "go"? What if world-wide transportation networks are so disrupted that they cannot coalesce into a force of opposition? What if the chinese have figured all of that into their planning, as well?
How much ship commerce comes into U.S. ports from china every day? Would the chinese coordinate an attack on Tiawan with sneak assaults from container vessels masquerading as commerce but with missles on them, to destroy port and naval capability to counter the chinese invasion(s)? We have so few carrier groups. I know they are formidable, but the chinese have always based use of military on numbers and being able to overwhelm their opponents with massed attacks. Could a Nimitz-based carrier task force survive a suicidal chinese nuke or two? We only have 22 B-2 bombers and they are based in Missouri. They only get moved to Diego Garcia (or other appropriate bases) for planned missions. Could they be sabotaged out of usefulness? I am sure that gun-owning americans would fight. Could the battles be pyrhic enough (chinese getting here) to give them a chance? Sorry for ranting on - but these are some of the things going through my head ...
Speech given by Chinese Minister of Defense (party secretary and poliburo member) in early 2005, detailing and supporting the chinese need for "living space", the envy/coveting of America (specifically) for the acquisition of said living space, and the justification of use of lethal bio weapons to cleanse the space of people so that chinese can move into it. China "needs" to do this, to "revitalize". Harsh.
But the term “living space” (lebensraum) is too closely related to Nazi Germany. The reason we don’t want to discuss this too openly is to avoid the West’s association of us with Nazi Germany, which could in turn reinforce the view that China is a threat.
Yeah, but what happens if your super-secret plan for world domination gets plastered all over the internet? Kinda takes away the element of surprise, I'd think.