Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Our Imperial Presidency

Regardless of who holds the office, America's Imperial Project and its Imperial Presidency are due for a grand reckoning.

While elections and party politics generate the emotions and headlines, the truly consequential change in American governance has been the ascendancy of the Imperial Presidency over the past 75 years, since the end of World War II.

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the Constitution grants the President extraordinary but temporary powers in wartime. With the power to declare war granted solely to Congress, this dangerous (in the Founders' view) expansion of Executive power was tolerated because it was temporary and necessary in the fast-moving emergency of war.

Congress has declared war a total of five times, while U.S. armed forces have been deployed in conflicts 300 times. So in 295 conflicts out of 300, the president had sole discretion. Various stamps of Congressional approval of these wartime powers have been given over the decades, but these are more for show than actual limits on presidential powers.

The extraordinary powers granted to President Roosevelt in World War II did not expire at the end of the war. Rather, the powers of the presidency expanded along with the National Security agencies which rose to unprecedented power in the Cold War era of 1945 - 1991. The entire alphabet soup of the National Security State--CIA, NSA, DIA, etc.--serve the president, not Congress, which has been relegated the role of toothless oversight.

Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s 1973 book, The Imperial Presidency , introduced the term Imperial Presidency into the American lexicon.

While historians have documented the rise of Executive power at the expense of the legislative branch and pundits have wrung their hands over this concentration of vast, often secret power in the presidency, nobody within the status quo has addressed the core reason behind the rise of the Imperial Presidency: America's Empire requires a CEO/Emperor as a simple operational reality.

You can't run a global military / commercial / diplomatic empire with a slow-moving legislative body; you need a dynamic CEO (chief executive officer) with essentially unlimited powers to do whatever it takes to run the empire.

Empires need an emperor, and this is the history of post-WW2 America. As the victor, the U.S. emerged with a global reach and power that can only be described as imperial. While the USSR soon gained military parity with nuclear weapons and vast tank armies aimed at Western Europe, the commercial empire was solely American.

While some cheered America's global empire and others shouldered it as a necessary Cold war burden, the status quo relished the immense expansion of centralized bureaucratic and executive powers.

An Imperial President requires the Imperial machinery of global hegemony, and so the National Security State replaced the elected government as the real power. For a peek behind the curtain of the Imperial Presidency's powers, please read The Enemies Briefcase: Secret powers and the presidency. (via Cheryl A.)

The last time the U.S. Congress pushed back against the Imperial Presidency and Security Agencies was 45 years ago, in 1975. In response to the domestic over-reach of the ImperialPresidency (Watergate) and the security agencies (COINTELPRO, etc.), the Church Committee undertook the first comprehensive review of the presidency's expansive secret powers and the secret powers wielded by the National Security State.

The domestic abuses of power by the FBI and CIA included the blatantly illegal COINTELPRO programs aimed at destroying the anti-war / civil rights movements in the 1960s and early 1970s.

We know from the Church Committee reports that the FBI and CIA broke numerous federal laws and violated every constitutional limit on their powers as a matter of daily policy. The abuses of power were not the work of rogue agents or even rogue agencies; the abuses were SOP (standard operating procedures) for the Imperial machinery of the presidency and the security agencies that served the essentially unlimited power of the Imperial presidency.

For more on COINTELPRO, please read War at Home: Covert action against U.S. activists and what we can do about it and/or Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom.

Empires arise, evolve and collapse just like nations. Edward Luttwak's insightful book The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third outlines the three stages of Empire.

Luttwak describes the first stage of expansion thusly:

"With brutal simplicity, it might be said that with the first system the Romans of the republic conquered much to serve the interests of the few, those living in the city--and in fact still fewer, those best placed to control policy."

The second stage spread the benefits of Empire much more broadly:

"During the first century A.D., Roman ideas evolved toward a much broader and altogether more benevolent conception of empire... men born in lands far from Rome could call themselves Roman and have their claim fully allowed, and the frontiers were efficiently defended to defend the growing prosperity of all, and not merely the privileged."

The third stage is one of rising inequality:

"In the wake of the great crisis of the third century, the provision of security became an increasingly heavy charge on society, a charge unevenly distributed, which could enrich the wealthy and ruin the poor. The machinery of empire now became increasingly self-serving, with its tax collectors, administrators and soldiers of much greater use to one another than to society at large."

That line describes the American state and central bank (the Federal Reserve) perfectly. As the Imperial Presidency's powers have expanded to the top of the S-Curve, so too has self-serving greed supported by everyday abuses of power reached new heights.

Who's benefited mightily from Imperial over-reach? As the chart below indicates, the top 1% of America's power elite has benefited to a degree that's unmatched around the world. The military-industrial sector has prospered (see chart below) as have the agencies of the National Security State. As for the bottom 99%: suck it up, debt-serfs and tax donkeys: yours is not to make a reply or reason why, yours is to do and die.

Regardless of who holds the office, America's Imperial Project and its Imperial Presidency are due for a grand reckoning. Empires require an emperor, and perhaps America will finally tire of its self-serving Empire and its Imperial Presidency.






My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisofEasy Salon #28: Today's show is brought to you by the letter K(leptrocracy) (1 hr)


My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook coming soon) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Richard M. ($10/month), for your outrageously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.   Thank you, Bob T. ($5/month), for your magnificently generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Terms of Service

All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.


Our Privacy Policy:


Correspondents' email is strictly confidential. This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by a third-party advertising network (Investing Channel) may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising; if you wish to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising, please go to Opt out of interest-based advertising (The Network Advertising Initiative). If you have other privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact advertisers directly. Websites and blog links on the site's blog roll are posted at my discretion.


PRIVACY NOTICE FOR EEA INDIVIDUALS


This section covers disclosures on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for users residing within EEA only. GDPR replaces the existing Directive 95/46/ec, and aims at harmonizing data protection laws in the EU that are fit for purpose in the digital age. The primary objective of the GDPR is to give citizens back control of their personal data. Please follow the link below to access InvestingChannel’s General Data Protection Notice. https://stg.media.investingchannel.com/gdpr-notice/


Notice of Compliance with The California Consumer Protection Act


This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by a third-party advertising network (Investing Channel) may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising. If you do not want any personal information that may be collected by third-party advertising to be sold, please follow the instructions on this page: Do Not Sell My Personal Information


Regarding Cookies:


This site does not collect digital data from visitors or distribute cookies. Advertisements served by third-party advertising networks such as Investing Channel may use cookies or collect information from visitors for the purpose of Interest-Based Advertising; if you wish to opt out of Interest-Based Advertising, please go to Opt out of interest-based advertising (The Network Advertising Initiative) If you have other privacy concerns relating to advertisements, please contact advertisers directly.


Our Commission Policy:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I also earn a commission on purchases of precious metals via BullionVault. I receive no fees or compensation for any other non-advertising links or content posted on my site.

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP