Imperialism and Fascism are on
the Rise in the USA
by Rodrigue Tremblay, July 4th,
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this
land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy._- James
Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President and author of the U.S.
When fascism comes to America, it will
be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross._- Sinclair Lewis,
(It Can't Happen Here, 1935)
Unhappy events abroad have retaught us
two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The
first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if
the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where
it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in
its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual,
by a group, or by any other controlling private power._- Franklin
D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd US President
An empire is a despotism, and an emperor
is a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it
is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For, although
the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be
registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary
in an empire._- John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President
I'm the commander in chief, see, I don't
need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say things. That's
the interesting part about being president. Maybe somebody needs
to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like
I owe anybody an explanation._- George W. Bush, quoted in Bob
Woodward's book Bush at War
It may be partly a consequence of the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the perceived rising
external threat coming from fanatical Islamists, but it is undeniable
that imperialism abroad and fascism at home are on the rise in
21st Century America. This is amazing because, along with totalitarian
communism, these were precisely the two most disastrous political
diseases of the 20th Century against which the United States and
other democracies fought. They led to two world wars and turned
the 20th Century into the most murderous century in the history
of mankind. Such a development is important for the United States,
but it is also of paramount importance for all the other democracies,
because if the United States, which has one of the best democratic
constitutions in the world, falls to a form of benign totalitarianism,
what is the fate of democracy elsewhere?
Before we proceed, let us define a few
terms. Indeed, what is imperialism? What is fascism? And what
is totalitarianism? What is democracy?
Firstly, imperialism is the use of force
in international relations outside the realm of international
law and the requirements of self-defense, with the purpose of
taking control of foreign countries, their populations and their
resources, and with the express intention of changing their cultures
or systems of government. The best book on imperialism is J.A.
Hobson's Imperialism: A Study (1902).
Secondly, fascism is a political regime
that is characterized by a high degree of concentration of power
in the state, in one political party or in one person, accompanied
by a messianic and belligerent form of nationalism, by the usurpation
of legislative and judicial prerogative by the executive branch
of the government, by the suppression of individual freedoms at
home, by the worshipping of national symbols such as flags, and
by a rise of militarism and the pursuit of military expansions
abroad, often so as to avenge some perceived humiliation. One
of the best books on fascism is Robert O. Paxton's The Anatomy
of Fascism (2004).
Thirdly, totalitarianism is a broad concept
concerning the exercise of power by one party or one person within
a country through force, while being unrestrained by laws or by
rules. Perhaps the best book on totalitarianism is Hannah Arendt's
The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958).
Finally, democracy is a form of government
where the citizens' preferences are paramount in adopting public
policies and where people elect a government of the people, by
the people and for the people. It rests on the rule of law, the
decentralization and separation of powers, and the protection
of fundamental liberties and individual rights. It is the antithesis
of imperialism, fascism and all types of totalitarianism. A classic
analysis of American-style democracy is Alexis de Tocqueville's
Democracy in America (1835).
Now, let us look at a few facts and events
that have recently taken place in the United States. When they
are placed together to form a whole, they form a powerful political
and legal framework that could allow President George W. Bush
or any other politician to run the United States by decree rather
than by the will of the people.
First, there is the September 2002 Neocon
imperialist doctrine adopted by the Bush-Cheney administration
that was used to launch the March 2003 illegal military invasion
of Iraq. This was done according to the imperialistic "Bush
Doctrine" of pre-emptive wars,1 of international unilateralism,
and of American assertive military supremacy around the world.
According to this hubristic foreign policy doctrine, the United
States could invade any country, especially in the Middle East,
in order to impose a local democratic government friendly to the
United States and its allies. The occupied country would then
become a model to other countries which would adopt the same type
of political regime and the same policies. We all know how this
new imperialistic doctrine has fared in Iraq and what have been
its disastrous consequences.
The 2002 Bush Doctrine, in asserting the
right for the U.S. to invade other nations for vague reasons of
social engineering, nation building or regime change, represents
a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations
Charter's ban on wars of aggression, both strongly supported by
American leaders sixty years ago. For example, the Nuremberg Charter
stipulates that "To initiate a war of aggression is not only
an international crime, it is the supreme international crime."
As for the U.N. Charter, its Preamble says that it has been established
"to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."
Second, in a manner somewhat reminiscent
of the regime of Adolf Hitler suspending the right of habeas corpus
in Germany on February 28, 1933, the Bush-Cheney regime also suspended
the right of habeas corpus in the United States. Indeed, on October
17, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law S.3930, the
Military Commissions Act, a law that cancels the right of habeas
corpus for foreigners accused of terrorism and for both Americans
and foreigners who have been designated as "enemy combatants"
by the Executive branch. Under this law, any individual, citizen
or non-citizen, can be deprived of the protection of due process
at the whim of the Executive branch, and be imprisoned indefinitely
without legal recourse. The United States is probably the only
country in the world where the right of habeas corpus has been
suspended and yet is still being called a 'democratic' country.
Third, the Defense Authorization Act of
2006 (H.R. 1815), passed by Congress on September 30 2006, and
signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006,
empowers the president to impose martial law in the event of a
terrorist "incident," if he or other federal officials
perceive a shortfall of "public order". The resort to
martial law could come, for example, as a response to a terrorist
attack, but it is not excluded that it could be imposed if some
antiwar protests were to get unruly or after any major political
disturbance. Since the current Bush-Cheney administration got
away with declaring a war abroad on a pretext, what would prevent
them from imposing martial law at home also on a pretext?
Fourth, let us consider that when Congress
passed the Insurrection Act in 1807, the purpose was to severely
restrict the president's ability to deploy the military within
the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, tightened
these restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone
who used the military within the U.S. without the express permission
of Congress. Indeed, its Section 1385 (Use of Army and Air Force
as posse comitatus), as later amended, states that "Whoever,
except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by
the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of
the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to
execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned
not more than two years, or both".
These protections are all gone now. Indeed,
the adoption of the John Warner National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122) changed the name of the key
provision in the statute book from "Insurrection Act"
to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act."
While the U.S. Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president
could deploy troops within the United States only "to suppress,
in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination,
or conspiracy", the new law allows the president not only
to declare martial law and rule by decree, but it also gives the
president the power to take charge of United States National Guard
troops without the states' governors' authorization. The law also
expands the list of such permissible cases for martial law to
include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public
health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition"
- and such "condition" is not defined or limited in
scope. All the safeguards against the use of the military at home
have been removed in favor of new powers being given to the president
to do so nearly at his whim.
Fifth, the National Security and Homeland
Security Presidential Directive, signed by President George W.
Bush on May 4, 2007, an event that was generally not covered by
U.S. mainstream media or discussed by the U.S. Congress, goes
even further and declares that in the event of a "catastrophic
event", the president can become what is best described as
a de facto dictator: "The President shall lead the activities
of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government."
Sixth, on March 15, 2004, the National
Security Agency's wire-tapping and domestic spying program, without
proper judicial supervision, was authorized by the Bush-Cheney
White House, without Justice Department approval and over the
objections of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. This was an
illegal program of domestic spying, because it violated the 1978
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a panel
of judges to hear wiretap requests in secret. When a government
begins to violate the law, there is no way of knowing in advance
where this will lead and how far it will go. It is an open field.
And seventh, there is the practice of
submitting detainees to torture and to other degrading treatments
despite the clear obligation not to do so under international
law and under U.S. law. It is truly amazing that the Bush-Cheney
White House had to be reminded by the Supreme Court, in June 2006,
that it had to abide by the Geneva Conventions. It seems they
could not figure that out by themselves.
These are seven ominous developments among
the most serious, some having gone nearly unnoticed within the
United States, but which would have the Fathers of the U.S. Constitution
turning in their graves, if they could see what has been done
to their work. Technically, there is still a fair amount of personal
liberty and freedom in the United States for the average person,
but this could change at the drop of a hat, or more likely, at
the stroke of a pen. Over the last six years, the Bush-Cheney
administration has been unmistakably shifting the USA toward imperialism
and toward fascism.
This is not to deny that we live in dangerous
and taxing times, but Americans should pray that no major catastrophic
event occur under George W. Bush's watch, because all the necessary
apparatus has been set into place to suspend liberties and freedoms
and impose a fascist-like regime upon the American people when
the pretext presents itself. This is a sobering thought.
Bush's March 20, 2003 Iraq War was a preventive
war, not a pre-emptive war. However, the Bush administration,
in its September 19, 2002 so-called "Bush Doctrine"
document, asserted that they were ready to "act preemptively",
"to forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries."
Also, when they raised the issue of the "mushroom cloud",
they justified (wrongly, I agree) their coming war as a pre-emptive
one, not as a preventive one. So, in its official political vocabulary,
the Bush-Cheney regime has pretended that the Iraq War was a pre-emptive
one, even if legally it was not..
Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at email@example.com.
Check Dr. Tremblay's coming book The Code for Global Ethics.
Read other articles by Rodrigue, or visit Rodrigue's
Democracy in America