A brief history of the modern presidency and impeachment
Monday, 6 January 2020
What is the de facto role of the modern presidency throughout history? If we examine the actions taken by all US presidents in the modern era, and let the common denominators be the ultimate measure, then the answer would be to preside over organized violence. This is certainly true from a theoretical perspective as well, since the existence of the State is dependent upon having a monopoly on violence. Additionally, if political action rather than political rhetoric is understood as the gold standard of future behavior, then the executive branch will pursue the following policies, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election:
- Order military action overseas that will result in the killing of civilians;
- Supply weapons that will be used to kill children overseas;
- Increase military spending;
- Expand the GWOT domestically and internationally;
- Influence other governments by shaping the outcome of foreign elections;
- Covertly support jihadists;
- Hide the monumental financial fraud at the Pentagon;
- Allow the crimes of the previous administration to go unlitigated by “returning to normalcy”, “ending the long national nightmare”, or “turning the page”
Examples of the political action listed above are high crimes, but the mainstream press and the establishment describe them as, “leadership”, or “hard choices”. Any politician who attempts to reach the top rung of the political game while threatening the status quo will be de-legitimized in a systematic fashion by some combination of the press and the establishment, and will not be able to wield power of any significance on the world stage. Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Tulsi Gabbard are contemporary examples of this phenomenon (the anti-war Right effectively disintegrated with the retirement of Ron Paul from Congress). The actions pursued by presidents in the modern era outlined above, importantly, have never been used let alone discussed within the establishment, as grounds for impeachment. War crimes, maybe, but not enough to even censure a president.
Trump is an interesting case study in this regard. The press ironically supported (albeit covertly) giving him airtime for financial reasons during the 2016 elections as he beat the populist, anti-war drums, giving voice to the anti-NAFTA working class of America, while simultaneously being disgusted by him; while the establishment immediately began to prevent any efforts at rapprochement with Russia or North Korea. The question of who is driving US foreign policy is a difficult one, as Trump’s rhetoric is as out of sync with other departments within the government, as well as with itself, often contradicting his own previous statements. We are at a turning point in American domestic political strategy, for this is the first time that a president is ostensibly being impeached because of foreign policy related actions – in order to benefit his domestic political agenda. And like the previous impeachment of Bill Clinton, this ultimately fruitless process will only serve to increase his popularity; and in the present case, will increase Trump’s chances of re-election.
With the release of the Afghan Papers, like the Pentagon Papers of yesteryear, one might be under the impression that sunlight has indeed reached the far away and hidden recesses of the national security state. However, upon even a cursory reading of the documents themselves, you will find the familiar lamentations of means, not ends of the forever-war in the prized Heartland. Also ignored, is the illegal US war in Syria, where the US pressured the OPCW, according to a growing number of whistleblowers inside the OPCW, to create a doctored report that bolstered the US assertion that chemical weapons were used in Syria against civilians by, you guessed it, President Bashar Al Assad, the devil himself. This of course resulted in the US launching missiles (illegally) into Syria (a war crime). Ostensibly, this is now an impeachable offense, since we are now taking foreign policy actions into account when deciding to judge the fitness of a sitting president to serve the nation. The irony is too rich to even sneak a whiff of the aroma emanating from the thin patina of respectability of the Dems, and Pelosi in particular, who remained dutifully silent after being fully briefed on the US torture program during Bush II’s tenure. Iran has a slightly different cast.
Agent provocateurs in the soft power realm have proven unsuccessful for decades at regime change in Iran, which has caused the US to utilize its economic and military assets in order to destabilize Shiite and Slavic countries in favor of Sunni extremists like ISIS, which have effectively pursued a strategy of tension throughout the Middle East on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and its own interests, in line with the toppling of 7 countries in 5 years strategy outlined in the “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” 1996 policy paper written by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.” Parenthetically, despite pronouncements to the contrary, these Shiite and Slavic countries are primarily responsible for the defeat of ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq. On a fundamental level, one must applaud, with some measure of ironic amazement, the “transparency” of the Trump Administration, for intentionally or unintentionally, it has clearly articulated the intent of the executive branch through a combination of its rhetoric, actions, or inaction.
Cases in point include the direct admission of the following: the US is in Syria for oil and geostrategic dominance, what’s good for Israel is good for the US, the US assassinates political and military leaders through covert action. This last example has come into stark relief recently, with the assassinations of Iranian and Iraqi military leaders General Qassem Soleimani (the equivalent of the US Vice President) and Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (along with a few others), while meeting in Baghdad on a diplomatic mission with Saudi leaders in the region to end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions across the Middle East (vehemently denied by the US); about which neoconservative Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the chutzpah to assert the Israeli legal justification of the Bethlehem Doctrine, a broad interpretation of the legality of pre-emptive war (Bush II déjà vu). It is also worth mentioning that the diplomatic meeting that General Soleimani was attending, with Iraq serving as the host country, took place at the behest of the Trump Administration, adding to the nature and depth of subversion of international law by the United States.
This military action is consistent with the “Clean Break” policy of the US and Israel, and has nothing to do with Trump attempting to distract his domestic audience from the impeachment hearings, or him making a reckless foreign policy decision. Trump has given permission to the national security state to pursue its agenda. The hawks and doves within the national security state debate these issues on means grounds, not ends. Accordingly, the refrain from all corners has been that the death of these military leaders was clearly just, but the wisdom of the timing and overarching strategy of such an action are what is at issue.
As US influence wanes across the world, its efforts at regime change have become more transparent. The Russiagate Scandal was one such blunder. Russiagate has amounted to the Salem Witch trials of the modern age, with every MSM talking head seeing “Russian influence” wherever they look. Russian troll farms buying Facebook ads is the Radio Shack homemade transistor radio version of what the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is doing globally as we speak. For the unacquainted, the NEA was the brainchild of CIA director William Colby, under Reagan, whose stated purpose was to overtly do what the CIA does covertly; meaning they help to bring about political changes in foreign governments so as to align those governments with US interests by shaping the outcomes of elections, and thus policy. Most recently, the NEA has been hard at work attempting to overthrow the Bolivian and Venezuelan presidents; the latter narrowly escaping an assassination attempt via a drone attack, which was coordinated by former National Security Advisor John Bolton. This should all begin to sound quite familiar by now.
In practice, the current state of the American system of the rule of law, checks and balances, and representative government has almost completely divorced itself from the legal principles of the US Constitution, as sufficient numbers of parallel systems are in place to circumvent the Bill of Rights in favor of authoritarian rule; so that at some point, for example, it will not simply be the case that US companies are helping China to lay down the infrastructure to require its citizens to submit to facial recognition in order to use cell phones and the internet, it will eventually become US policy to require such things of its own citizens.
Impeachment has always been an ironic phenomenon by its very nature – at least in practice. The petty crimes, the banal activities of political treachery, the low crimes if you will, those are what is free to be held up to an ignorant populace and described as a threat to The Republic. The high crimes, replete with violent abstractions like “human trafficking”, “working poor”, or “civilian casualties” are quietly swept under the rug with the dutiful cooperation of establishment media and everyone else trying to keep their seat at the table in Washington. This is in part able to take place because of historical amnesia, rank hypocrisy, and lying.
The high crimes which embody the very nature of the presidency are sometimes too profoundly self-evident to warrant comment. Accordingly, impeachment fights occur on the ideological battleground, not power politics. It is also important to remember that ideological fights are for public consumption. Arguing right-left politics is better than a front row seat to Hamilton. Fights over systemic and institutional corruption at the highest level are so quickly silenced that they rarely have a chance to enter the public consciousness of the vast majority of citizens who pay very little attention to anything beyond more immediate and personal concerns. If a true political and legislative cleansing was to take place in America, who would be left to preside over the kakistocracy?
The impeachment of President Trump is little more than a political game, designed to give cover to the moderate left against the far left. There is no real substantive concern about Trump’s abuse of executive power vis-à-vis national security; not when, at the same time as the impeachment process marches forward, Dems voted to approve the 2020 NDAA with no limitations on the executive (in fact it expanded them), and increased the military budget.
If the Nuremberg Laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”
~ Noam Chomsky