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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: USA Coup

Power Grab
Dean Borok

The U.S. press corps is pathetically myopic. They have the depth and consistency of processed cheese slices, knowing nothing of American history and even less than nothing about the lessons of world history.

Six years ago the press acted in concert to promote the Iraq war. Remember CNN’s Wall of Heroes, where they posted the photos of service people participating in the “liberation” of Iraq? Now, having shifted with the political wind, they are excoriating Bush and his gang for having lured the country into that mess. Hey, one out of two ain’t bad, right? Currently they are laughing up their sleeve at Dick Cheney for sticking his neck out and vocally defending Bush administration decisions to invade Iraq and torture Arab prisoners. I am not going to leap to the defense of al-Queda terrorists who were tortured. On the other hand, average Iraqi insurgents who fought the occupation, not to mention people randomly detained or denounced over personal enmities, should never have been subjected to those methods.

They had nothing to do with terrorist strikes against the U.S. Some did nasty things against the U.S. occupation, but they were prisoners of war, and as such were entitled to the presumption of humane treatment as dictated by the Geneva Convention. This is all beside the point. Cheney is not interested in the Iraq war or treatment of prisoners. He is building a political base for the future. Cheney’s vision for the future of American politics does not include a provision for parliamentary democracy. He is setting himself up as a future strongman, having more to do with Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco than with any American historical figure. Cheney is setting himself up as the focus for the disaffected rump of the obsolete American establishment that is being displaced by the Obama Revolution, the bankers, industrialists, hereditary ruling classes, social conservatives and reactionary intellectuals who are no longer running things, which they imagine to be their hereditary right.

The Republicans cannot regain supremacy at the polling booth under the current circumstances and the Obama clique is moving fast on all fronts to consolidate power. What’s left for them? Coup d’état. I have been harping on this since even before the election and I have not yet gained any traction, but it doesn’t make it any less immediate. Cheney’s vision of politics is of the hardball variety. His concept of democratic institutions can best be summarized by Adolph Hitler’s response when reminded of the moral authority of the Catholic Church: “How many divisions does the Pope command?” he quipped.

When Cheney was vice-president he spent most of his time hiding out in undisclosed locations for fear of assassination. That is how he conceives of politics, as a fight to the death. Fortunately for Obama, the armed forces are engaged on the other side of the world. But there are still enough units left in the U.S. to occupy Washington, New York and parts of California. If you combine them with the substantial rump of unabashedly reactionary elements in the civilian population and media establishment, you have the makings of a very effective power grab.

Let me briefly run down a partial list of popularly elected governments that were overthrown by right-wing coups in the last century: Chile, Guatemala, Thailand, Iran, Brazil, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy and Burma. In France, President Charles de Gaulle narrowly escaped being deposed and assassinated by elements of the army after he expressed his determination to achieve a peace agreement in Algeria. Anybody who believes it can’t happen in the U.S. is taking the shortsighted view of historical development. This country is young and it has not yet experienced the full gamut of political evolution that older countries have been forced to endure. Let’s hope it doesn’t – at least in our lifetime. But this, I believe, is Cheney’s ambition, to mobilize the disinherited ruling class oligarchy and push for permanent power.

I admire Barack Obama’s intelligence and I am hoping that it is not eclipsed by a naïve presumption that just because he has majority support he is home free. He needs to play the political game as it is played in other countries and keep an eye on his loyal opposition. I certainly do not advocate nefarious methods like electronic surveillance or wiretaps, but he needs to keep track of whom Cheney is meeting and what he is discussing. Given the enormous stakes in play, he needs to keep his finger on the pulse of the military and intelligence communities for signs of unhealthy or destructive tendencies. Basically what he needs is a political intelligence apparatus that is loyal to him personally. That is only prudent domestic politics. (How his resumption of trials in Gitmo will play out is another story).
© Dean Borok May 15th 2009

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