The Downing Street Memo explains in brisk understated English what I didn’t fully understand when I worked for Secretary Rumsfeld and Dough Feith in the Pentagon in 2002 and early 2003.
Like a morning cup of tea in a friendly chair with nothing to do but gaze out a window at birds around a feeder, the memo is pleasantly comforting.
Yet, as Robert Shetterly and others have pointed out, accountability for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the war gamers is not likely. At this time, impeachment for Bush and Cheney is politically impossible. A successful impeachment, or any accountability for the executive branch requires a certain balance of political power. Optimistically envisioned by the Founders, this balance was tenuous even in the early years of the Republic. George W. Bush said it best after the 2004 elections with "[my] accountability moment has passed."
Today we have not even a shadow of the Nixon or Clinton era political and media power competition. Instead, we see only unbalanced power, unbalanced perspective, unbalanced minds. A warped political-media borg warning us that resistance is futile.
The mass state, while obscenely expensive, dangerous and even ridiculous, is the present reality of the United States. Imminent federal biometric ID cards courtesy of the REAL ID Act are just one more symbol of this ongoing massification and American totalitarianism. The Congress won’t impeach — to impeach its heart, its hands, or its head is to commit suicide. A pleasant fantasy for the rest of us, but that is all.
Interestingly, the Downing Street Memo is actually being reported by CNN and FOX News. It is being discussed in the major papers. Congress intends to examine it.
Hearing it mentioned on the half hour by CNN Headline News has not dispossessed me of the belief that a state suicide is impossible.
Thus, my gentle thoughts are increasingly turning to murder. Murder of the state. In self-defense, of course!
LRC’s Butler Shaffer, eminently wise as always, points out that "we would be better advised to confront our own existential cowardice. Political leaders amass power only through our moral exhaustion; they are strong only because we have allowed ourselves to become weak."
To murder the state you need strong citizens who understand their rights, have honed their abilities and stocked their mental and physical arsenal, and have adopted the quiet determination and moral confidence that often appears as fearlessness, but is not.
We might take a lesson from the growing Iraqi insurgency and the response of that nation nearly destroyed by our pretext-laden invasion and the American neo-Jacobin possession of that country.
The U.S. Army wonders about the robustness and fluidity of the hard to catch and harder to kill insurgents. Clearly, all Iraqi insurgents do not swear allegiance to any single creed or leader. Understanding this and dealing with Fourth Generation warfare is not Washington’s forte.
It remains wrong and immoral to demonstrate our government’s arrogance, greed and incompetence each dreadful day in Iraq. But it is a helpful demonstration for patriotic Americans at home.
How do the Iraqi insurgents do it? How are they defending themselves from the oppressive U.S. managed state in Baghdad? How are they killing it?
They know what they don’t want, and have made a personal commitment to resist it.
They are living at reduced standards, not only within or under their means but often proudly and creatively so, relying upon and strengthening extended networks of family and friends as they do.
The majority of Iraqis are angry, hurt, underemployed and under extreme stress. Yet most have not rejected or blamed God. Most retain a devotion to a religion, that like most, gathers its believers together, studies great and holy men and women, and attempts to explain human suffering while simultaneously embracing an all powerful God, whose creatures include both beasts of the field and the American enemy.
They don’t trust the central government in Baghdad. They judge the American state’s intent solely from the American state’s actions, never its words.
They are wary of state efforts at law enforcement, and work hard to stay out of its dangerous and lumbering way.
They love their country, and have no intention of permanently leaving its future in the hands of either the Americans or beholden U.S. allies in the region, be they of Saudi, Kuwaiti, Turkish or Israeli persuasion.
Some resist passively, some actively. They don’t understand everything that is happening, but most Iraqis have decided to pursue one or more of the countless paths of resistance to the state. Iraqis, like Russians and East Europeans before them, honed these skills under Saddam Hussein, as we hone our skills today in early totalitarian America.
All are qualified to resist. None are excluded.
French-born composer and musician Nadia Boulanger, a major influence on American music in the 20th century, once said:
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.
"Liberty" is also a concept George W. Bush favors. He said "liberty" fifteen times in his 2005 inaugural speech, second only to his 25 mentions of "freedom." Bush didn’t specifically advocate the murder, or even the restraint, of the state. On the other hand, perhaps he did.
The way ahead is clear. We should promote our Great Leader’s love of liberty and resist, resist, resist!