By Bruce Fein, Jan 23 2023
In 1971, President Richard Nixon famously declared, “We are all Keynesians now,” shorthand for the idiocy that the best and the brightest can outfox the laws of supply and demand to optimize wealth and prosperity. Wage and price controls and companion government initiatives to engineer the economy ensued until persisting in the stupidity became prohibitive.
In his July 4, 1821, address to Congress, secretary of state John Quincy Adams celebrated the American Republic and its renunciation of Empire. A Republic glorifies liberty and the march of the mind. An Empire glorifies the armored knight and domination for the sake of domination. The secretary of state underscored that a Republic does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy but resorts to force only in self-defense.
But the species naturally inclines towards Empire. The overwhelming majority are philosophically empty. Their self-esteem or self-identity lies in power for the sake of power at all costs to fill lives of quiet desperation.
Soon visions of Empire began dancing in the heads of the American people and their political leaders. It first found expression in the 1840s to justify the indefensible Mexican-American War under the vacuous banner of “Manifest Destiny.” Manifest to whom? How does the manifestation appear? Through horoscopes, the entrails of animals, Chinese fortune cookies? Ulysses Grant condemned the war “as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”
To steal a march on time, we effectuated a counterrevolution against the Republic to embrace a monarch-like presidency on the installment plan over the ensuing 170 years. Senator Albert J. Beveridge’s exaltation of our conquest of the Philippines was illustrative of the American Empire’s predicates that were displacing the Republic’s voiced by John Quincy Adams:
“The Philippines are ours forever, ‘territory belonging to the United States,’ as the Constitution calls them. And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. And we will move forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to their burdens but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength and thanksgiving to Almighty God that He has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.”
Of course, you can’t have an Empire without a Caesar who embodies secrecy, energy, and dispatch. The Roman Senate gave birth to Empire by routine grants of absolute power to dictators to defeat alleged enemies. Thus, notwithstanding the Constitution, the United States President came to be endowed with limitless power reducing Congress and the Supreme Court to ink blots. Among other things, the President plays prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill any person on the planet based on secret, uncorroborated suspicion that the target might threaten national security with no accountability to the American people, Congress, or the courts. The Godfather would be jealous. Ponder national security advisor and secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s grousing to President Gerald Ford in 1975: “[I]t is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.”
We are now all claques of the American Empire. There is no debate about our warfare state. There is no debate about our surveillance state. There is no debate about our multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-security complex. But we refuse to acknowledge what all the world can see and confronts daily.
The myopia or mental derangement shines through in a Washington Post column authored today by the editor of National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru: “How Biden succeeds by shrinking the presidency.”
Mr. Biden has not surrendered an iota of presidential power. He has repeatedly threatened to initiate war against China if it attacks Taiwan and Russia if it invades one square inch of NATO territory in violation of the Declare War Clause of the Constitution. (In 2007, Mr. Biden vowed to lead impeachment against President George W. Bush if he attacked Iran without a congressional declaration of war). President Biden, like his predecessors, substitutes executive agreements and executive orders for treaties and legislation, invokes executive privilege and state secrets to operate secret government, claims immunity from indictment or prosecution as a sitting president, and appoints White House advisors wielding more power than Cabinet secretaries, e.g., chief of staff, without Senate confirmation.
Depend upon it. House Republicans will shrink from challenging President Biden over raising the debt ceiling in exchange for downsizing government. They are claques of the Empire like the rest of Americans and defaulting on our debt obligations would mark the beginning of the end.