A Self-Perpetuating Machine for US Insecurity: Welcome to the National Security State of 2015

The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men.

=Randolph Bourne:

The moment war is declared, . . . the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government’s disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.

==Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Assault on Civil Liberties (Andrew P. Napolitano) 

As 2015 begins, let’s take a trip down memory lane.  Imagine that it’s January 1963.  For the last three years, the United States has unsuccessfully faced off against a small island in the Caribbean, where a revolutionary named Fidel Castro seized power from a corrupt but U.S.-friendly regime run by Fulgensio Batista.  In the global power struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union in which much of the planet has chosen sides, Cuba, only 90 miles from the American mainland, finds itself in the eye of the storm.  Having lost Washington’s backing, it has, however, gained the support of distant Moscow, the other nuclear-armed superpower on the planet.

In October 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower instituted an embargo on U.S. trade with the island that would, two years later, be strengthened and made permanent by John F. Kennedy.  On entering the Oval Office, Kennedy also inherited a cockamamie CIA scheme to use Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro.  That led, in April 1961, to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in which, despite major Agency support, the exiles were crushed (after which the CIA would hatch various mad plots to assassinate the new Cuban leader).  What followed in October 1962 was “the most dangerous moment in human history” — the Cuban missile crisis — a brief period when many Americans, my 18-year-old self included, genuinely thought we might soon be nuclear toast.

Now, imagine yourself in January 1963, alive and chastened by a world in which you could be obliterated at any moment.  Imagine as well that someone from our time suddenly invited you into the American future some 52 Januaries hence, when you would, miracle of miracles, still be alive and the planet still more or less in one piece.  Imagine, as a start, being told that the embargo against, and Washington’s hostility toward, Cuba never ended.  That 52 futile years later, with Cuba now run by Fidel’s “younger” brother, 83-year-old Raul, the 11th American president to deal with the “crisis” has finally decided to restore diplomatic relations, ease trade restrictions, and encourage American visitors to the island.

Imagine being told as well that in Congress, more than half a century later, a possible majority of representatives remained nostalgic for a policy that spent 52 years not working.  Imagine that members of the upcoming 2015 Senate were already swearing they wouldn’t hand over a plug nickel to the president or the State Department to establish a diplomatic mission in Havana or confirm an ambassador or ease the embargo or take any other steps to change the situation, and were denouncing the president — who, by the way, is a black man named Barack Obama — as a weakling and an “appeaser-in-chief” for making such a move.

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via A Self-Perpetuating Machine for US Insecurity: Welcome to the National Security State of 2015.

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