States Commission on National Security, or Hart-Rudman Commission,
came into its well-earned own recently (April 18) with the re-airing
on C-SPAN of a program originally seen on January 31, 2001.
Co-Chairman Warren Rudman introduced the festivities, saying
that the Commission’s goal was cohesive and coordinated strategic
planning (in more or less those words). He then summarized the
Seven Points of the Commission’s Credo.
in rhyme, Senator Gary Hart, averred, that a Homeland Security
Agency was needed to meet “inevitable” terrorist attacks on
US soil. Senator Pat Roberts said that such attacks were a matter
of “not if, but when.” And Senator Ike Skelton recalled
that DCI Tenet had reported, the previous year, that attacks
place at this confab fell to Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of
the House, and chief sparkplug of the whole project. Gingrich
noted the support of President Bill Clinton for the endeavor,
as did other speakers. Indeed, one of the first meetings mentioned
had consisted of Clinton, Gingrich, General Charles G. Boyd,
and Erskine Bowles.
be grateful to C-SPAN for showing, once again, this interesting
bit of political theater. For one thing, the program establishes
a timeline for that controversial word “imminent,” much as it
shows, once and for all, that high-toned Establishment figures
expected – or said they expected – “attacks” on
US soil, well before 9/11, the day the Defense Department failed
to defend anything. Coming in the wake of the 9/11 hearings,
the Clarke testimony, etc., C-SPAN ought to have had quite few
viewers for this re-run.
will be losing a safe bet, if they don’t get some mileage out
of this bit of old TV footage. Or maybe not: according to an
old joke, you can’t convict a thief in a certain state, because
you can’t find twelve people there who think that stealing is
wrong; and it may be that not too many prominent Democrats think
that empire and the “soft” police state that comes with it
– are wrong. I hope I am wrong here, even if John (“I Was Just
A Kid in 1971”) Kerry has given us little comfort, so far, in
some good pieces about the Hart-Rudman Commission archived on
the worldwide web, most notably a three-part series, “Homeland
Security Act: The Rise of the American Police State,” by Jennifer
Van Bergen, of the radical website truthout, and “Rise of the
Garrison State” by William F. Jasper of the John Birch Society.
This is the kind of Left/Right alliance that we
C-SPAN coup is only one of many recent disclosures which
raise an awkward question: if all these high-placed, clandestine,
in-the-loop, top-top, secret-secret people “knew” and said there
would be “attacks,” how is that so little was done about the
matter, except for saddling us – after the fact with yet another
post-constitutional federal bureaucracy? I think the moment
has come for an ideological interrogation of the sundry reports
issued by the Hart-Rudman outfit in the years 1998-2002.
Biographical Sketch of the Hart-Rudman Commission
life of the US Commission on Homeland Security (Hart-Rudman)
ran from 1998 to 2001. The ever-watchful Council on Foreign
Relations helped inspire it and a cadre of Congressmen and Senators,
including Newt Gingrich and Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman
were central figures. On its own evidence, the Commission was
“chartered” by the Secretary of Defense (William S. Cohen).
It held its first meeting in October 1998.
to the Co-Chairs Hart and Rudman, the commissars I mean Commissioners
were Anne Armstrong, Norm Augustine, John Dancy, John Galvin,
Leslie Gelb, Newt Gingrich, Lee Hamilton, Lionel Olmer, Donald
Rice, James Schlesinger, Harry Train, and Andrew Young. The
Commission’s work came forth in three phases. Phase I dealt
with global changes bearing on post-Cold War US foreign policy,
and is enshrined in the September 1999 report, “New World Coming.”
Phase II resulted in the paper, “Seeking a National Strategy:
A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom.”
Finally, Phase III’s “Road Map for National Security,”
issued on February 15, 2001, spelled out a mob of institutional
changes needed to achieve American security, happiness, global
prosperity, and the lot.
whole thing looks, on the face of it, like a lot of Center/Center
Right, Cold War Liberal/Neo-Con jobbery, it is well worth studying
the details, if only to find the various devils. I shall begin
with the Phase III report and come back around to the ideological
foundations buried in the longer of two 1999 documents.
remarking, that the Commission’s chief recommendation – establishment
of a federal Department of Homeland Security became law in
the wake of 9/11, and other proposals made in the Phase III
document may be coming to life one by one. But Homeland Security
plans abounded in the 1990s,
and it does not seem that the Homeland Security Department
now in existence owes more to the Hart-Rudman proposals than
it may to other, competing models. Indeed, Hart-Rudman fans
have said – and are saying today – that the administration of
George W. Bush failed to heed their good counsel in timely fashion
or in detail, etc., etc.
Homeland Security is a many-headed monster with many forebears.
the post-Hart-Rudman Independent Task Force sponsored by the
Council on Foreign Relations issued a report in late 2002, “America
– Still Unprepared, Still in Danger,”
that states in its very title that not enough has been
done by the Bush administration to address the concerns of the
Homeland Security folk.
in this essay is to tease out some characteristic ideological
hallmarks of the post-Cold War “moment” as concretized in the
Hart-Rudman reports. The themes we shall find are broadly shared
by those dwelling within the US Establishment.
The Hart-Rudman Wish List of Early 2001
III report, “Road Map for National Security,”
announced flatly that, “mass-casualty terrorism directed
against the U.S. homeland” had become a “serious and growing
concern.” It followed, that there was a pressing need for a
cabinet-level National Homeland Security Agency to provide
for defense of American soil, “as the U.S. Constitution itself
ordains”! (See pp. vi, viii-ix.) In 112 pages of sustained text,
the writers of the report set out an ambitious, full-bore plan
of “institutional redesign” in the now hallowed tradition of
the National Security Act of 1947 and NSC-68.
R&D funding was needed, the writers said, along with budget
trimming to be achieved, in particular, through “outsourcing.”
In addition, the writers wanted “fast-track” weapons procurement
and greater “expeditionary capabilities” Cynicism about government
service should be met head-on with a National Service Corps
and a “pure entitlement” G.I. Bill (xvi). (See pp. x-x, xii-xvi.)
Reforms aimed at creating a more supine Congress were aired.
(See pp. xvii ff.)
a sudden interest in “defense” of actual Americans and their
property at home, tied up in a bundle with a lot of Tofflerite,
futurist waffle and much invocation of the less-than-believable
democratic peace theory (democracies never attack democracies
– and So what? one might well ask). (See pp. 2-9).
against American citizens on American soil, possibly causing
heavy casualties, are likely over the next quarter century,”
actual defense “should be the primary national security
mission of the U.S. government.” Well, if memory serves, Messrs.
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay already sang that song in 1787-1788,
and if the US government and its advisors only learned the tune
in early 2001, what exactly have they been doing in between?
(See p. 10.) One wonders why the writers even bother with their
hand waving in the general direction of the Constitution. Something
about legitimacy, I guess.
continue: “in many respects, the Coast Guard is a model homeland
security agency given its unique blend of law enforcement, regulatory,
and military authorities that allow it to operate within, across,
and beyond U.S. borders” (p. 17). Stop and let that sink in:
Law enforcement, regulatory, and military authorities within,
across, and beyond U.S. borders. I think we can forget about
all those silly old limits on power deriving from Magna Charta
and other unimportant traditions.
are soon off and running with demands for better cooperation
of post-constitutional federal agencies with state and local
police, as well as the “better human intelligence” (p. 22) –
of which we now hear so much. “The National Guard, whose origins
are to be found in the state militias authorized by the
U.S. Constitution, should play a central role…” (p. 25). I have
italicized a phrase illustrating the seeming constitutional
indifference and historical ignorance of the reportisti.
(Pssst! fellows, the states and their militias existed before
wish to fix Congress, much as one “fixes” a household pet, so
that the Executive with the acquiescence and help of Congress
can fix national security and thus the whole world (pp. 26ff).
Rumsfeld, Deutch, Bremer Commissions are mentioned in footnote
19, p. 27. Two of those names are of interest these days.
section calls for “Recapitalizing America’s Strengths in Science
and Education.” In language recalling the vintage corporate
liberalism of Clark Kerr, we hear much of human capital, the
“capacity of the U.S. government to harness science in the service
of national security,” and a “knowledge-based future”! But,
alas, unless Uncle Samuel regains his rightful share of Research
and Development, tragedy awaits (pp. 30-31).
but I thought the feds had enough to do already, what with their
outcome-based foreign policy.)
more money is needed and we must “rationalize R&D investment”
(pp. 32-33). Showing, perhaps, the influence of the Tofflers
on Newt Gingrich and others, the report dwells much on new technologies,
said to be as big a deal as atomic energy was in 1945-46 (p.
37). To meet the future, fraught with peril and bright with
promise, we shall need “more scientists and engineers, including
four times the current number of computer scientists” (p. 38).
Naturally, we need a National Security Science and Technology
Education Act on the Cold War model (p. 41).
more math and science, more money for teachers, more public-private
partnerships, “incentives to choose science and math careers,”
and more infrastructure support (pp. 42-45). It’s 1959 again,
and the moral equivalent of Sputnik menaces our Radiant Future.
All these programs require capital, human and otherwise, and
right here in Free Enterprise America we have long since realized
that only Federal accumulation of capital can hope to
save the day. It is the Occidental Mode of Production.
education for better labor battalions! The socialist road to
free markets! The centralized path to democracy!
we come to the detailed sketch of “Institutional Redesign.”
The US lacks, it seems, a strategic-theoretical framework, and
all its institutions must be overhauled, especially the stodgy
old State Department. We need, for example, five Under Secretaries
of State for imperial management, and a new policy network.
The NSC has too much to do, and should be reined in. (See pp.
and bureaucratic scores are being settled here, of which we
mere citizens are not fully aware.
want Defense Department reorganization, faster procurement,
more planning, internal “competition,” reduction of infrastructure
through outsourcing, more innovation, better auditing, etc.
(pp. 63-74), but they could have saved themselves much time
by reading Ludwig von Mises’s Bureaucracy and taking
off from the infamous two-major-wars-at-a-time concept, the
writers call for “rapid, forced-entry response capabilities,”
better intelligence about everything, more “tailored” conventional
forces, and better “expeditionary capabilities” in view
of possible “humanitarian and constabulary operations” (pp.
75-77, my italics).
the US cannot “without qualification” recognize space “as a
global commons” (p. 79) and of course we need “deployment of
a space-based surveillance network” (p. 81), which is a roundabout
way of saying the US doesn’t see space “as a global commons.”
come to intelligence. As might be expected, we must recruit
more human intelligence and the DCI must have more authority
(pp. 82-83). We shall have the best spying ever, “consistent
with respecting Americans’ privacy” (p. 84). What a relief.
when we require better bureaucrats, the US is “on the brink
of an unprecedented crisis of competence in government,” for
without the “single overarching motivation” provided by the
much-missed Cold War, “worrisome cynicism” and a “lowered regard”
for serving the state abound (pp. 86-87). Thus we must have
“a national campaign to reinvigorate and enhance the prestige
of service to the nation” (p. 88, their italics).
read Mises, Hayek, Weber, and Rothbard on bureaucracy, and spare
us these Neo-Jacobin appeals. They weren’t any fun the first
few times, and they aren’t much fun today.
note with alarm, that “military life and values are… virtually
unknown to the vast majority of Americans” (p. 87). There is
a name for this horrible condition: it is called “peace,” or
at least relative peace.
up human capital, the report writers wish to broaden the National
Security Act to support “social sciences, humanities, and foreign
languages in exchange for military and civic service to the
nation” (p. 89) – insert martial music here.
is a worthy government program. The feds encouraged blind faith
in credentialism, took over higher education, and drove up its
costs via subsidy, and now they offer to “fix” it through
indentured servitude to the state. As they say in the Guinness
commercial, “Brilliant!” Soon the “will work for food” signs
will disappear, and we’ll see disheveled guys along the Interstates
sporting ones that read, “will serve empire for graduate degree.”
it is a shame to shoot people without being able to shout, “Lie
down or die” in Arabic, Pashto, Amharic, or Akkadian.
call for relaxing ethics rules in federal service. One naturally
wonders for whom this was included. Richard Perle? In general,
hiring should be streamlined, with fewer peaks into the FBI
files of importante security honchos (pp. 91-93). FBI
files are just for the peasants.
complain that whereas baby boomers “heeded President Kennedy’s
call to government service in unprecedented numbers,” the selfish
Generation X-ers have not (p. 97). It has always mystified me
that so many of my generation heeded the call of Camelot, but
no matter. Add twenty points for the X-ers.
we need a National Security Service Corps (p. 101). The Armed
Forces need more “quality people,” better incentives, more college
recruitment, grants and scholarships, better military promotion
and retirement, and more G.I. Bill entitlements. Someone must
improve the pay scales of NCOs (pp. 102-108). We must also reinvigorate
“the citizen soldier” ideal, an item which at least sheds light
on Gary Hart’s otherwise inexplicable “turn” to republican theory.
section that might have been called “Towards a More Gelded Congress,”
calls for a “bicameral, bipartisan working group,” (p. 110)
which presumably can bypass all that silly business about formal
declarations of war. Informing a few “key” Congressmen is as
good as a declaration of war, isn’t it? It is close enough for
word” informs us that all the above-named program activities
are necessary to “ensure American national security and global
leadership over the next quarter century”! (p. 116) Naturally
one wonders, Why? And the question arises, What if the two things
are incompatible? This brings us to the deeper ideological foundations
of the Road Map.
World Coming,” 15 Sept. 1999: An Ideological Bonanza
Phase I document is not the short report, but the much longer
one, “New World Coming: American Security in the 21st
Century, Supporting Research and Analysis,”
which weighs in at about 140 pages. It is very interesting
for our purposes.
begin with the unfortunate “diffusion of power” in the world,
while taking a swipe at the excessive Demo-Hegelian optimism
of Francis Fukuyama. Science and technology, and global economy
are mooted, along with the “prospect of an attack on U.S.
cities.” Hobbes is quoted, and no doubt, rightly so. The
writers take up a mighty social engineering methodology and
espouse a “definition of national security [which] must include
all key political, social, cultural, technological, and economic
variables that bear on state power and behavior.” These “variables”
will be weighed somehow.
History, they say, “is made” – doubtless a veiled reference
to Nicolò Machiavelli, always a favorite in such musings as
these, and often a clue that we are dealing with certified Straussians
(pp. 1-3, my italics).
one, “Global Dynamics,” tells us the future’s ahead (who could
doubt it?). It is also both familiar and enigmatic, abuzz with
“human activity,” and don’t forget “social reality” with its
“multiple and interactive sources.” Miniaturization, information
technology, biotechnology, micro-electronics, and the Cyber
Revolution take their bows, as do rising speed of communication
and falling costs, “personal infospheres,” stem-cell research,
clever sensors, cheap energy, and nanotechnology. On the other
hand, “demand for fossil fuels will grow” and science will be
“increasingly wedded” to technological innovations and the latter
will be wedded more “to industry than to government labs” (pp.
pseudo-mathematical social “science” that might embarrass Auguste
Comte, breaks bread with Low Church Darwinism: “Many new technological
advances will be based on bio-mimicry – the deliberate attempt
to capitalize on what nature has learned through millions
of years of evolution” (p. 8, my italics).
Stuff is both good and bad and will be hard to control. Techno-stimulation
may cause more ADD in kids. Women’s issues in Third World targets
– I’m sorry, countries are mentioned. Virtual communities
may replace real ones and “our public sphere may contract”;
but, on the other hand, “local communities could flourish in
reaction….” (See pp. 11-14.)
decentralization is probably not a genuine interest of the Commissioners.
writers expect to see more “flat, non-hierarchical organization,”
less privacy, weakened borders, ethnic labor stratification,
and other changes, which could be good or bad. Social leveling
will threaten vested interests and new adversary ideologies
may arise, as well as a “post-modern state” and new “forms of
integration and fragmentation.” Human nature is mentioned (pp.
we come to “Global Economics” and such matters as human capital
and education. On the down side, “capital markets and trade
may well be exploited by others for purposes at odds with U.S.
interests,” while at the same time, we shall see larger capital
flows, more and new participants, “niche production” (this is
new?), and industrial and service restructuring. This
is all, as per Newt, somehow radically “different” from other
periods of economic improvement. (See pp. 21-23)
globalwhatsit may provoke resistance by “reactionary forces”
and we may see neo- protectionism, regional blocs, and “global
culture conflict.” The whole thing begins to read like a Soviet-era
propaganda tract, with the US leading the historic bloc of Progressive
Forces toward the End of History (but on a different train schedule
than Fukuyama’s). US performance is held to be “crucial to avoid
a systemic crisis” (pp. 24-27).
things weren’t sufficiently alarming, we are told that the whole
world economy hangs on “willingness of the private capital markets
to continue their primary role in circulating savings from capital
rich countries to capital poor ones.” This will work “unless
major countries suck up too much of the world’s investment
capital” (my italics). The writers quickly canvass China, India,
Brazil, issues of “integration and regulation,” and the “volatility
of capital markets” with “important security implications.”
International monetary policy remains a bother because of “capital
mobility, the existence of independent monetary policies, and
an inclination to fixed or at least stable exchange rates –
that seems impervious to permanent settlement.” The knowledge
revolution is creating “greater disparities” of wealth between
and within nations. The US and others will want to “control
and regulate dual-use technology for military-security reasons”
this dynamism, so to speak, only the Great Helmsmen in
Washington-on-Potomac can keep the earth from leaving its orbit
and flying to a fiery death in the sun.
as these new challenges are arising, globalwhatsit may lessen
“emotional attachment to the state” – especially where there
is “no obvious physical or ideological threat.” States may become
less legitimate but subject – at the same time to greater
demands for aid from interest groups or the public generally,
just when states have less leverage over economic life. As the
writers put it, “[t]he potential exists for millions of individual
decisions to shape the future without the mediation of existing
political institutions.” Here one wishes to commend the Commission
for almost discovering economic science; but having flirted
with a real insight, the writers turn on their heel and announce
that now the state’s role “is even more vital” somehow
(pp. 35-37, italics in original).
rests on “domestic peace, economic well-being, and security
from external threats”! Is state sovereignty in decline? The
reportisti continue: “For some, globalization… may be
a vehicle to transcend the system of state sovereignty, seen
to be the font of the war-system that plagues humanity. Globalization
thus represents for some the withering away of the state by
the advent of other means.” And yet certain states will
endure in some form (pp. 38-39).
take up demographic challenges, Indonesia, US triumph in the
Cold War, literacy, and mass education. They seem troubled that
First Worlders are less keen these days to die for the state:
“since life is no longer so ‘cheap,’ casualties have become
far more expensive.” And of course all the tumult described
in preceding sections leads folk to “religion or ideology to
explain change”! Thus the road to much-awaited secularization
has proven rockier than expected. (See pp. 39-45)
looming uproar raises issues of security. New wars will occur
and internal violence “could reach unprecedented levels” leading
to refugee crises. Terrorists will be more loosely organized.
Add to this the inexplicably wrong-headed belief here
and there that the US wields “its power with arrogance
and self-absorption,” and we may be in for a real backlash.
Thus, “the United States should assume it will be a target of
terrorist attacks against its homeland using weapons of mass
destruction. The United States will be vulnerable to such
strikes” (pp. 46-48, italics in original).
will try to acquire modern weaponry and some states will seek
“to compete asymmetrically,” using “relatively inexpensive
systems intended to deny the United States the advantages that
naturally accrue with technological superiority” (pp. 49-50,
italics in original).
materials made at “dual-use facilities” remain a concern and,
therefore, one imagines, the bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical
factory was just a case of justifiable caution. The writers
introduce “non-state actors” along with the threat of Strategic
Information War (pp. 50-52).
its mega-colossal weapons systems, the US is vulnerable. Slipping
into the passive voice, the writers say that, “weapons will
be deployed in pace.” One wonders who would do that. The “irrationality”
of rogue states and “misperception” could lead to “the problem
of inverted deterrence ” – that unacceptable situation
in which the US might have to refrain from attacking another
state. Coming as we do from a higher culture, the bad actors’
“resort to extreme violence – often against civilian populations
– will doubtless surprise and shock us in the future as it has
in the past” (pp. 53-56, italics in original). Doubtless.
naïveté of ours up to the work of our conformist media.
two, “A World Astir,” the Commission’s writers take up regional
analysis. There could be Big Trouble in Europe. Russia is problematic.
The best bit is how the writers define the civilized “west”
(footnote 124, p. 59): “west” = “free-market democratic countries
whose intellectual origins are to be found in the Renaissance
and the Enlightenment” – Christianity having, apparently, played
no civilizing role worth remarking. They worry that “fears”
may lead to immigration restrictions in the EU and ask if Eastern
and Central Europe can “rebuild the social safety nets” they
had under communism (pp. 60-61).
take up futurology once more. In one possible future, market-based
liberal democracies do well, but NATO is uncertain and so is
Russia. Of course the Balkans are trouble. In a worse future,
“renationalization” sets in to protest the pain of “meeting
economic targets,” imposed, one imagines, by the IMF. In this
future, the EU might be undemocratic further comment
is needless. Here, too, North African refugees pour into Europe
and, accordingly, the “far right” prospers. Russia falters,
turns fascist or national-socialist. The Balkans get worse (pp.
turn to Asia. The usual “science-based technologies” are mentioned.
China is on the rise. Asians may adjust to democracy
on their own terms. Bigger Asian recession could “lead to virulent
anti-Americanism” followed by US protectionism. The writers
note that, China will need “5.2 million barrels of oil per day
by 2020.” China needs watching; China needs to get right with
“intellectual property”! China could go corporatist and nationalist
and, thus, become “hostile” to the US. China would then need
balancing and the US would need bases for containing China (pp.
71-78). The writers do not say this, but an improved US chokehold
on world oil supplies would give US policymakers greater leverage
requires saying that history and/or God has picked the United
States to make sure the right future comes about.
offer some thoughts on Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and North
Korea. Everywhere, it seems, the US must be “an engaged balancer.”
They turn to the “Greater Near East” consisting of Arabs, Israel,
Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and the subcontinent (India and
Pakistan). Pakistan’s nukes and Iranian ambitions to have nukes
are mentioned (pp. 80-83).
the Greater Near East there are younger, growing populations
and corresponding tumult. The writers again remark that “Chinese
dependence on both Persian Gulf and Caspian oil will grow sharply.”
In footnote 152 (p. 85), they mention Al-Jazira as a progressive
force! (Times change, I suppose.) Islam is capable of modernization,
they say. A “semi-independent [!] Palestinian state” and “a
regime change in Syria” are much wanted. Arab “rentier states,”
whose revenues come from oil, port fees, etc., and which reward
their backers with patronage, are a problem because they have
never scaled the heights of modern citizenship as found
in advanced western welfare-warfare states (pp. 84-93).
express fear lest the US pull back from Middle East due to public
unwillingness to “support expeditionary military deployments”
Africa with growing urbanization and possible humanitarian crises
(pp. 95-101), followed by the Americas. Latin American trade
with the US is growing, but societies there need the usual “accountability,
transparency [!], and consistency.” The writers note that a
Mexican collapse would be bad for us. Likewise, Canada’s collapse
would be “alarming to contemplate” (pp. 102-115).
three, the writers take up “The U.S. Domestic Future.” They
fret about social cohesion, our growing but aging population
(immigrants and natives, respectively). They worry that healthcare
“will compete with other spending” including “defense and foreign
policy.” As Hispanics increase, Blacks will become irritable.
The writers further fret about American higher education (too
many foreign math and science majors) and single parent households.
They announce that biotechnology “is rapidly developing the
potential to change human nature itself in fundamental ways”
(pp. 116-120, my italics).
the American New Man, slated to replace Soviet Man? In rejecting
Fukuyama, the Hart-Rudman commission has transcended him. Hart
and Rudman look in the mirror and gaze upon Hart and Negri with
their theses on immanent, omnipresent, and metaphysically annoying
pen wielders worry that perceptions about fairness of “income
distribution” may cause trouble, especially since real wages
have been stagnant for fifteen years. This is dangerous because
social cohesiveness, “will,” and “civic consciousness form the
bedrock of national power.” Americans, still have “shared ideals,”
but “fragmentation” is a possibility. The writers bemoan lower
rates of voting, greater cynicism, less July 4th
hoopla, and less public worship of the US state, as the World
War II generation “passes from the scene” Such trends could
lead to less individual self-sacrifice for the Common Good as
defined by bureaucrats. On the upside, Americans see America
as “exceptional” and are “positively disposed toward themselves”
and most still support intervention. Even so, “isolationism”
remains a menace and a return to military conscription may be
required. Then again, conscription “might limit an active foreign
policy.” Happily, though, Americans will “sacrifice… if they
believe that fundamental interests are imperiled” (pp. 122-130).
for all their social science, are speculating about and not
predicting the future, but whatever happens, they believe
that more state power and greater public spending will save
the day, provided the people can be kept in line.
four, “Worlds in Prospect,” alludes to Nietzsche and contingency
(more Straussian giveaways?). A good future resting on the “democratic
peace” and “transparency” is contrasted with a bad future involving
nationalism and neo-protectionism, which tends to show just
as William Appleman Williams, Gabriel Kolko, Immanuel Wallerstein,
and others held that Cold War “anti-communism” was actually
directed at any nationalist withdrawal from the US economic
orbit. Another bad future of “Division and Mayhem” might witness
the rise of “private non-state militaries,” decline of the
UN, and division of the world between the democratic peace “zone”
and a “zone of chronic trouble” (pp. 131-135).
section recapitulates what is by now the only possible response
to all this alarmism and speculation: US military-political
control of the world. 21st century will see more
“episodic posses of the willing” and fewer “traditional
[!] World War II-style alliance systems.” This calls for “stealth,
speed, range, unprecedented, accuracy, lethality, strategic
mobility, superior intelligence, and the overall will and ability
to prevail” (pp. 140-141, my italics). The report ends on the
note that the US “will need to find a proper balance between
activism and self-restraint” (p. 152).
Think Imperially, Secure Locally
Mind At Bay
has been to find a window into the mind and worldview of a cross-section
of the beloved US elite; to see how they think about the world
and their role in it. This matters to the rest of us, because
they claim a right to drag us, willing or not, into their projects
As we have
seen, the Hart-Rudman Commissioners warned repeatedly of attacks
on Americans and their property, on US soil, attacks said to
be “likely,” “imminent,” a “serious and growing concern,” i.e.,
inevitable. This was a rather constant refrain. But why should
a commission, whose membership reflected the US official mind,
show a sudden interest in actual defense, when we have had a
War Department since George Washington and, even better, a “Defense
Department” since 1947, which, one might think, had the defense
of American soil well in hand? Indeed, the sheer artificiality
of the “homeland” security concept is puzzling at first.
Hell else were these people ever licensed to defend? I suppose
they could answer that they were so busy defending South Korea,
Israel, reliable Third World despotisms, particular oil companies,
and the like, they clean forgot to defend the home counties.
were essentially saying that, yes, we are putting Americans
in danger (nudge, nudge), but it just can’t be helped. Hence
the bizarre blend of complacency and alarm that can be seen
in the Hart-Rudman Reports. Critics have lately raised some
interesting but narrow questions Should the Bushies, or anyone
else, have twigged that something was up on a particular day?
Who knew whatever they knew and when did they know it? These
are worth answering but don’t go to the heart of it. The prospect
of intra-elite verbal bloodbath has its appeal, but such a discussion
will skirt fundamental issues.
Liberal Corporatist Crisis of Legitimacy
shades of Hobbes, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and Leo Strauss brooded
over the outcome, Court Intellectuals of the Establishment,
as represented by the Hart-Rudman Commission, wrestled with
a number of issues which they saw as quite pressing: loss of
state prestige, unwillingness of the people to sacrifice for
the state, social or political “fragmentation,” fear of a new
“isolationism,” and so on. To this was added, as we have seen,
a peculiarly American form of Gnostic dreaming about changing
preferred answers to these big questions, as well as to the
practical matter of terrorist attacks, serve as proof of Randolph
Bourne’s famous aphorism: “War is the health of the State.”
With unerring instinct, they took up the cause of managerial
reform and sketched out a mammoth project of renewed state building
via institutional reform, with the Coast Guard as their working
model. But the housekeeping details of institutional “reform”
are not as important as the underlying policy goals and assumptions.
Speed, and Lethality
to the applied side, it must be granted that these people are
not stupid and their assessment of the dangers to which they
have exposed their countrymen by their Griff nach der
Weltmacht (“grasp for world power”) was probably fairly
realistic. This is one area where we might expect them to be
honest, especially when they talk to one another, largely out
of earshot of the peasants and petty bourgeoisie who elect some
US demands for absolute security and for utter “openness” on
the part of others, including the universal Open Door for American
trade and investment,
and given a determination to achieve these goals by force,
when needed, our leaders have in fact made us enemies that we
never needed. They have also managed to give hostage to the
Marxist notion that “capitalism” requires imperialism.
Anyway, now that “we” have these foes, the US elite rightly
fears that Total War, which they helped invent, will
come home to roost.
they have found for us may not play by their rules. Hence all
the talk about the grave insult of “inverted deterrence” and
the threat of “asymmetric warfare.” After Vietnam, the US Establishment
learned characteristic “lessons” – not to lower their
expectations of world dominance, but to develop new tools for
technical problem solving very much in the American pragmatic
tradition. Better bombs, better guidance systems, better human
intelligence, and maybe some language lessons.
on the “Economic” Causes of World Disorder
to official – or at least semi-official doctrine as expressed
in the Hart-Rudman Reports, far-reaching “changes” and dynamism
are at work and the US is out riding global fences and keeping
order in the face of the “tumult” resulting from inexorable
“economic” inevitabilities. This resort to a kind of economic
reductionism is interesting but may not make us any wiser. If,
as a well-known theorem in economics has it, both parties to
a voluntary exchange benefit, then why should more trade lead
to unhappiness and tumult?
a sociologist who is himself a consultant to the US military,
writes that the Hart-Rudman Commission’s “proposition that globalization
will produce a backlash that will be the fundamental security
challenge to the United States has little empirical evidence
to support it.” “The commission might have done better,” he
adds, “to examine the specific situations likely to foster extremist
opposition to the U.S. Government…. [R]ather than an ‘ideological’
or ‘religious’ reaction to globalization, or a deep clash of
cultures, what we may be witnessing is a nationalist response
to American assertiveness in the world…. And these nationalist
rages are likely to be responses to quite specific actions
on the part of United States.”
hit! But for the Commission to consider that anyone outside
the US has a point of view, or that actions disliked by the
US could ever be caused by US provocation, was clearly outside
the scope of their inquiry.
comments, mild as they are, find indirect support elsewhere.
A team of political scientists concluded in 1981, that a good
many Third World conflicts “are defensive in nature: they are
all brought about by the aggressive expansionism of the state,”
especially where “states are still involved in the primitive
accumulation and centralization of power resources.” They suggest
that, “over a relatively long period of time state expansion
will generate violent conflict” and thus “it is the progression
toward greater order itself that produces much of the relatively
greater violence we find in new states.” And here comes the
kicker: “the evidence strongly suggests that the rate of economic
development is related to both the rate of state expansion and
collective violence in a way that runs contrary to the way postulated
by the dominant view on such matters.” Further, “state expansion
seems to produce much more violence than economic growth…. Rather
than state expansion being an antidote for the violence produced
by economic modernization, our rather limited evidence shows
that it is economic modernization which is the antidote to the
violence produced by state expansion.”
words, state building is bad enough when left to the locals,
who run the state or live under it. To the extent that the US
government just can’t hold back from interfering in others’
conflicts, we are forced to ask whether or not it is US foreign
policy that destabilizes the world. “Globalization” – if by
that we could be allowed to mean a natural expansion of voluntary
trade and the unfolding of a more complex, worldwide capital
structure – hardly enters into it.
in passing, that the Commission’s idea that economic growth,
in and of itself, causes mass discontent and violence, owes
something to the ingrained suspicion of the market characteristic
of US Court Intellectuals, whether they descend from Marxists,
New Dealers, or Mr. Lincoln’s mercantilists. They do seem, however,
to understand markets heavily regulated, controlled, and politically
manipulated by people like themselves.
Comfy Chair of Homeland Security Studies
wish to bring American universities even more into the service
of the state than they are already. We need more math, science,
linguistics, etc., they cry. Better education for empire abroad
and empirical collectivism at home!
brings us to the status of Homeland Security as an applied social
science. As Andrew Gyorgy noted in 1943: “a few months after
Hitler came to power, a special chair of ‘National Defense Science’
was created for [Ewald] Banse at the Technical University of
Brunswick, a bestowal of official approval on his theories.”
Banse was a paladin of the German school of geo-strategy or
geopolitics, a field, in Gyorgy’s words, “of an all-embracing
character. It is a new science ignoring strategic impossibilities
and willing to exploit militarily any phase of human life, any
reality of the natural or man-made world.” He notes that, “all
other branch sciences of Geopolitik, such as geography,
economics, the study of politics, medicine, law, communications,
and national psychology, converged” in “the new science of national
“As devised and planned by German geostrategists,” modern war
consists of “ideological, psychological, economic, and military
warfare.” With air power added, war “became totalitarian not
merely in its ultimate goal of world conquest, but even in its
methods, in an exploitation of all known human sciences and
technological inventions.” And thus: “Military campaigns today
are the end, not the beginning, of the struggle. Ideological,
psychological and economic war, as variant forms of the same
power struggle, usually preceded any kind of military action.
Total war has militarized peace and, paradoxically, to a certain
extent demilitarized war itself.”
of warfare aims “to create confusion and foment uprisings.”
Further: “Once this initial ‘conspiracy’ framework is laid,
the power of totalitarian propaganda warfare is turned on the
victim in a manner that is bewildering to local public opinion
in critical areas.” In addition, “[a]n energetic press and ‘loud’
radio-propaganda campaign is helpful not only in directly threatening
the enemy but also in covering up the more significant internal,
fifth column activities of German agents abroad.” (Unfortunately
for these theorists, the “music” of AC/DC was not available
as part of the “‘loud’ radio-propaganda campaign.”)
Gyorgy notes that, “[s]ecrecy and speed are perhaps the most
characteristic watchwords and features of geo-strategic argument,”
along with maximum use of air power.
this puts one in mind of Hart-Rudman’s “stealth, speed, and
lethality,” and having taken a tour through the Reports, I think
we might agree that the Commissioners and their researchers
have worked on a similar scale, using similar methods,
to those of the German geopolitical thinkers. Before “moral
equivalence” and other complaints pop up, I concede that the
German social-scientific planners of the 1930s and ’40s had
different goals than their US counterparts, then or now. On
the other hand, the techniques and the mindset are much the
same across a range of subject matter, and techniques and mindsets
have consequences that can undercut their supposed neutrality.
Those who claim to have good intentions and yet adopt certain
techniques – and with nothing better than utilitarianism as
a moral guide – may find themselves dragged along by their techniques
to unexpected places.
often happens, where the American mind is at work, that technique
displaces announced ends, these surprises can materialize fairly
quickly. It can also be asked whether or not global “openness”
to American trade and influence is of such overriding importance,
that it can routinely “justify” US military excursions abroad.
The answer, I suspect, is No, and that would go twice for delusional
exercises like imposing “democracy” by military violence.
case, the embrace of Total War is much the same in the two cases
under discussion, whatever the differing goals of the states
involved. I do not think that the costs of Total War – in morals,
politics, blood, and money – can be brushed aside as lightly
as some may think, via consequentialist speculations.
That Became an Assumption That Became a Prison
of the war/peace distinction, noted above, erodes the line between
foreign and domestic provision of security.
Hart-Rudman Phase III Report put it: “Notwithstanding the post-Sputnik
dangers of a nuclear missile attack from afar, U.S. national
security policy in the 20th century has been something
that mainly happened ‘there,’ in Europe or Asia or the Near
East. Domestic security was something that happed ‘here,’ and
it was the domain of law enforcement and the courts. Rarely
did the two mix. The distinction between national security policy
and domestic security is already beginning to blur, and in the
next quarter century it could altogether disappear” (p. 130).
we are on this topic, it is worth recalling that just as so
many US interventions are now referred to as “police actions,”
the logical corollary the militarization of domestic
police work - has been underway for several decades.
effectively willed this supposedly “given” erosion of
the boundary between internal and external security. It is a
clear case of striving for a certain results for many decades
and then proclaiming, once they are achieved, that the Fates
did it, and that the cumulative decisions of specific policymakers
had nothing to do with it. The pretence of inevitability is
ideologically necessary, but no more convincing for that.
is, however, perfect, if one’s goal is state building, whether
for its own sake or for the sake of the goodies power can deliver.
The classes who never much believed in bills of rights the
police, executive officials, including the military, and not
a few legislators can only regard this moment of creative
destruction with favor. If we cannot usefully distinguish between
war and peace, then Mr. Lincoln’s much-advertised “war powers”
– already a conceptual muddle apply at all times, the American
Revolution was a waste of time, and we are living through the
final stages of a slow-motion coup.
of the radical historian William Appleman Williams used to fault
him for failing to produce a document with “Open Door” written
all over it, for every instance in which he said that a US policymaker
had promoted that policy. He replied, quite reasonably, that
somewhere between 1898 and 1938 the Open Door had gone from
an interest-based policy to an ideology about whose foundations
the policymakers no longer needed to think. In this, US policymakers
have resembled their foreign collectivist opponents far more
than they have admitted.
Open Door conception of trade, every place in the world must
be open to American business, and this arrangement is ours by
right, for if we cannot have access everywhere, we shall
wither on the vine and sink into economic nonfeasance. It is
hard to square this vision with Richard Cobden’s and John Bright’s
notion of free trade, but no matter, we are all right-wing Keynesians
and Chicago School Hobbesians now. If defending this particular
vision of global “openness” and (alleged) “free trade” requires
the effective creation of empire, that outcome is acceptable
to advocates of the Open Door.
the Hart-Rudman Reports make clear, to sustain this policy,
we shall have to adopt domestic police-state methods to confront
the dangers the policy itself has generated. Thus, “we” need
a mild police state at home so that “we” can go on having an
informal, overseas empire that “we” don’t need in the first
place – at least on other readings of economic theory and the
facts of world politics. If the going gets tougher abroad
in the long haul, the supposed mildness of the domestic security
organs could become quite academic.
people were essentially saying that, yes, we have been putting
Americans in danger, but it just can’t be helped. Their meditations
on homeland security combined an amazing complacency with palpable
panic, a mixture that Garet Garrett once called “a complex of
vaunting and fear.”
And what was the ground of the panic? Taking their writings
at face value, it was the fear of a terrorist attack on American
soil; but it was also the fear that if the peasants, shopkeepers,
and other rabble ever noticed why America has enemies
willing to attack us at home, they might want to discuss the
empire, the Open Door, and other such items.
Hart-Rudmanisti say, in effect, “Leaving all the background
noise to one side, give us more money and power so we may protect
you at home, with only a modest reduction of your liberties,
from these dangers that someone has created.”
just not good enough. We want a discussion of precisely those
things that are normally left to one side. We shall not get
it from anyone within the Establishment, whose main alternatives
right now are the nice, moderate (Rockefeller-sponsored) imperialism
of the CFR types and the armed-for-bear, “invade the world”
program of the Neo-Conservatives.
unite! You have nothing to lose but your conventional wisdom.