A Harbinger of Totalitarianism

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the past ten years or so an increasingly large number of tenured
professionals in both the military and law enforcement communities
have taken early retirement. So devastating has this unprecedented
exit from the ranks been that the Air Force has offered significant
financial bonuses to pilots in a vain effort to maintain its combat
readiness. Similar situations are being experienced in other branches
of the military. And although less noticeable because of its multiple
and varied jurisdictions, law enforcement has experienced an even
greater problem.

little has been written about this retreat from service has been
generally linked to the financial disparities between the public
and private sector. Now we recognize that money is a significant
motivational factor in our society. Yet to think it is the sole
motive of such long term professionals, is to do a real injustice
to those who serve, labeling them as simply mercenaries, just in
it for the buck – nothing more.

is more important, and certainly more convincing, is the private
commentary from these men themselves; who out of ear-shot of the
ever present media, will in moments of candor disclose some very
politically-incorrect facts. Facts whose very existence compels
the ever watchful guardians of ideological purity to withhold them
from the public.

reveal commands to provide logistical support to persons and Governments
complicit in everything from genocide to international drug trafficking.
At the same time these professionals wonder why our occupying troops
remain barracked in over one hundred self-governing and mostly peaceful
countries around the world. Here at home they recoil in dismay knowing
that the actions of average America citizens are increasingly criminalized
by aggrieved-group legislation. While simultaneously observing that
the powerful heads of those same aggrieved-groups engage with impunity
in multi-million dollar shake-down operations. There is therefore
amongst such men a widespread feeling of betrayal. A sense that
they are being forced to carry out policy that flies in the face
of a lifetime of moral learning.

particularly those in more confined and restricted positions; have
interpreted this as a matter of personal rancor. They feel that
they have essentially been forced out due to some ill defined malevolence
from above. Others, those whose positions have allowed them to adopt
broader more concrete perspectives, and see as it were the bigger
picture, don't tend to personalize the issue. They in fact see it
for what it is, a slow but markedly deliberate effort on the part
of government to displace moderates and traditionalists, and place
into positions of power a more radical and ideologically motivated

the simplest terms this politicization, with "affirmative-action"
hiring and promotion1 being one of the more obvious and odious examples,
has resulted in organizations that are less effective, and perhaps
more importantly, less representative of the views of a free people.

has happened is not an imaginary betterment through diversity, but
that military and law enforcement, those organs of state authority
and power, have experienced an unprecedented politicization. An
alarming and direct attempt to de-democratize these institutions
and to make of them armed agents of ideological control.

such dramatic changes fomented in the Agricultural Department or
Park Services, it would be cause for concern. Military and law enforcement
agencies are however those organs of governance that are exclusively
empowered to compel and control through the use of deadly force.
In many societies and throughout history, such organizations, as
often as not, use their military powers in the suppression of their
own people; therefore such disturbing changes must be viewed with
uncommon alarm.

also that as our society continues to fragment, the traditional
norms and mores that compel compliance are also breaking down. Thus
an increasingly radical government can no longer maintain control
based primarily on traditional western morally grounded social sanctions;
since such beliefs fly in the face of new governing ideologies.

as governments do not go to war out of strength, but out of weakness,
(the strong government being able to accomplish its goals by other
means). So too are more authoritarian methods of social control
signs both weakness and alienation. Anyone visiting fortress Washington
DC can certainly bear witness to this fact.

with longer memories will recall that every Soviet police and military
command had a political officer. One whose official authority was
at least equal to that of the normal commanding officer's, and as
a practical matter – superior. The underlying reason for this
was of course to maintain ideological purity, and to ensure that
orders, no matter how repugnant to common morality, (or common sense)
would be carried out.

if there was one moment in time where the existence of the Soviet
government could be said to have teetered on the razor's edge. It
was on the cool night of 20 August 1991; when military tank units
refused orders by hard-liners of the State Committee for the State
of Emergency to open fire2 on the thousands of Muscovites who heroically
gathered at the Russian parliament building to cry out for freedom.
Instead they joined with family and friends, supported Yeltsin and
the non-communists, and in doing so issued in the fall of the Soviet's

question must be asked: what would have happened if those close
cropped young tank crews had obeyed orders and murdered their own
people? What if they would have cast aside family, ethnic and cultural
bonds, as their Communist bosses had commanded? If they had been
more ideological pure communists, better indoctrinated, politicized
and compliant, the Soviet Union might well stand today.

is of course difficult to murder one's own kith and kin. The Soviets
knew this as do our political commissars. CIA documents3 tell us
that the communist hard-liners were far more successful in their
use of violence in January of 1991, when troops of the elite KGB
Alfa detachment – plus the so-called OMON or Black Berets assaulted
and killed peaceful Lithuanians and Latvians. This "success"
was due in no small measure to the fact that these troops were ideologically
and ethnically different from their victims, in this case renegade
ethnic Russians and Poles from the Latvian Interior Ministry.

the U.S. government, increasingly isolated from the people and their
traditional values, and compelled by an alien ideological imperative
at least as old and bloody as the French revolution; has, as have
the Soviets' and others before and after them, chosen to subjugate
the people in order to save them. To rule the ignorant masses, and
with an iron fist to mold them, in order to achieve some Clintonesque/Hollywood
version of ideological utopia. And not coincidentally, gain for
themselves power and riches greater than the Emperors, Kings, and
Lords of lore and old.

spent some twenty years in law-enforcement as a student, practitioner
and professor; I find this Soviet-like aspect of government's policy
more alarming than any other. Is it a descent into paranoia to see
such dramatic command-staff changes as a harbinger of totalitarianism?
Or is it a fool's denial of fact to see them as not?

  1. Army Publications and Printing Command, Equal Employment Opportunity
    and Affirmative Action, Document Number: AR 690-12.
  2. Three persons were shot after a fire-bomb was thrown at a tank.
  3. History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence
    Agency, 1999: At
    Cold War's End: US Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern
    Europe, 1989-1991

A. Starr writes from Oberlin, Ohio.

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