Arrival of the American Garrison State

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

The
Pentagon is proposing the creation of a four-star command to oversee
federal troops engaged in "homeland defense" activity
on American soil. While CINC regional chiefs have long coordinated
deployments overseas, none exist for North America. Soon, however,
the circle will be complete, and the noose will be around our necks.

Supporters
defend this proposal as a way to "streamline" the command
system. We should have learned by now that making government more
efficient and effective only makes it easier for that institution
to transgress against the rights of the people.

Traditionally,
Americans have been wary of using the military for domestic law
enforcement. The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. 1385) enshrines
this principle into law. Article One, Section Eight, Clause Twelve
of the Constitution attempts to curb the ability of the executive
to wield domestic standing armies, by stipulating that appropriations
for the military cannot be extended at any one time beyond a two-year
period. Few Americans stop to think about the Third Amendment, ostensibly
still in force, which prohibits the government from quartering soldiers
in the peoples' homes. Taken together, these laws indicate that
the aversion to standing armies is a well-established and justified
part of the American way of life.

The
military is not in our homes yet, but they are roaming about the
country, and they are in our neighborhoods. Delta Force and Night
Stalker types have terrorized a number of American communities over
the years, conducting SWAT-like "training" with live ammunition
near residential areas, including in Kingsville, Texas during the
1999 domestic program, "Operation Last Dance." Extensive
sales of military equipment, including armored personnel carriers
and concussion grenades, to local and state police departments have
also taken place.

On
another front, a bill re-instituting the draft made its way into
Congress just before the New Year, HR 3598 IH, the "Universal
Military Training and Service Act of 2001." The militarization
of American society is apparently of greater importance to our leaders
than recognizing that the government was not granted the authority
to conscript citizens into service, especially in light of the Thirteenth
Amendment's prohibition of involuntary servitude. From a market
perspective, even the military should realize that a draft would
be contrary to its own interests. A draft would cause military pay
rates to stagnate and even plummet, since Congress would no longer
feel pressure to enact pay raises when they can just press more
people into service. This logic is lost on our leaders, however,
as they lay the groundwork for the Garrison State.

Since
9/11, our leaders have turned the fear of the American people into
a blank check to create a global prison camp. Should the reader
suspect this an exaggeration, consider that we may never see a blatant
headline one morning in the newspaper stating, "President Declares
Police State, End to Constitution." Rather, the only headlines
heralding the coming of the American Garrison State will be buried
deep in the hindmost pages, telling us, "Pentagon Seeks Creation
of Four Star Command for North America." This is incrementalism,
where our leaders silently slip each puzzle piece into place, one
at a time.

Incrementalism
provides the government with plausible deniability about its end
game, making it easier for its defenders to characterize libertarian
warnings as "paranoia." Not that this necessarily implies
a conscious conspiracy at work—it is a well-known feature of any
government to expand infinitely, however well intentioned this growth
might be, unless checked by the vigilance of the people. Post 9/11,
the vigilance of the people seems more scarce than usual, as they
rush to cling to a State-provided security blanket.

If
you say of the coming Garrison State, "it'll never happen,"
ask yourself if you can be certain of that, since history shows
that many unlikely and strange things do happen. Ask yourself what
President Hillary Rodham Clinton might do with her newfound powers
in 2008. Recall Lord Acton's famed quote: power corrupts, and absolute
power corrupts absolutely. Are you willing to take such risks with
the precious jewel that is this Republic?

February
1, 2002

Paul
Fallavollita [send him mail]
holds an M.A. in political science from Purdue University. He
has written for LewRockwell.com, EtherZone, Enter
Stage Right, OpinioNet, Spintech, and The American
Partisan.

LRC
needs your support. Please donate.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts