by Jacob G. Hornberger
The Tea Party’s political shake-ups of the Republican establishment are undoubtedly causing no small amount of consternation among big-wigs in the Pentagon, the CIA, State Department, and other agencies and departments within the U.S. government.
As of now, the Tea Party is primarily complaining about out-of-control federal spending, debt, taxation, and the prospect of hyperinflation on the horizon. But there is always the possibility that it might figure out that the only solution to these problems is to dismantle and abolish the things that such money is spent on.
That raises a danger that James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, warned about, one that every American would be wise to ponder and be prepared for.
Here is what Madison said: “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended.”
Madison was referring to the old Roman Empire, whose characteristics were similar in many respects to the U.S. Empire today — out of control spending and debt and monetary debauchery, produced not only by the empire’s welfare state but also by its extensive warfare state and military empire that extended far beyond Rome, just like the U.S. Empire, which maintains some 6,000 bases here at home and more than 700 bases overseas in some 130 countries.
In order to keep the Roman citizenry submissive and pacified, the Empire kept them dependent on welfare and entertainment, much like the U.S. government does with its Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, subsidies, and other welfare. In Rome, they called it “bread and circuses.”
Periodically, however, anger and outrage among the citizenry over the taxes, spending, debt, and inflation needed to support the empire’s welfare-warfare state drove people to the verge of rebellion and revolt.
That’s when government officials would resort to what Madison warned about. They would provoke some sort of war or crisis because they knew that the Roman people would immediately bury their anger, outrage, rebellion, and revolt, and rally to the government out of a sense of patriotism.
Would the U.S. government, including the Pentagon and the CIA, do such a thing? Of course they would. In fact, that’s the point that Madison was making — that that would be one danger of a standing army in the United States, which he and other Founding Fathers ardently opposed.
Think back to the so-called attack at the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. What did the Pentagon announce? “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!” And it was that “attack” that President Johnson used to secure a congressional resolution that led to the senseless sacrifice of almost 60,000 American men. Of course, we now know that there was no attack, but instead simply an attempt to provoke the North Vietnamese to attack U.S. vessels operating in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Herman Goering elaborated on the point that Madison made: “Naturally the common people do not want war…. the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
Don’t forget that the Nazis justified their attack on Poland by falsely claiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!”
Also, don’t forget how Adolf Hitler secured the suspension of civil liberties with the Enabling Act — by claiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!” after the terrorist attack on the Reichstag.
If the Tea Party begins calling on the U.S. government to end the Pentagon’s occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and to dismantle the Pentagon’s overseas military empire and the military industrial complex here at home, what would be a likely way to provoke a war or another serious crisis to quell Tea Party rebellion?
The most obvious choice is, of course, Iran. Throughout the 1990s, the focus of the Empire was almost exclusively on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Once the Empire ousted Saddam from power, its focus turned to Iran, the Empire’s newest official nation-state enemy, along with terrorism, after U.S. foreign policy generated the 9/11 attacks.
But another option is Mexican drug lords. If the U.S. government begins to squeeze them, it is entirely possible that the drug lords will retaliate with bombs in U.S. federal buildings along the border or assassination of state or local law-enforcement agents, DEA officials, or federal judges.
In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might already be preparing the American people for such a contingency by referring to the Mexican drug lords as “insurgents.”
In the event of such a terrorist attack, you can already hear Clinton, President Obama, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials exclaiming, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked! We’re innocent! We’ve done nothing to provoke this! Rally to your government in its wars on terrorism and drugs!”
Let’s hope that the Tea Party and other Americans finally realize that the only solution to America’s financial and economic woes lies in dismantling, not reforming, the U.S. welfare-warfare empire. But let’s also be prepared for how empires quell such rebellions.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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