By PAULINE EASTON
One of the jobs of the presidency of the United States is to preserve the union, which requires uniting the military bureaucracy. This bureaucracy, which has grown to massive proportions, is part of the state machinery that exists from one presidency to the next. It is the state and its monopoly on use of force that ensures the continuity of the rule by the financial oligarchs and narrow private interests that have seized control of the U.S. state. While governments change from one election to the next, today, at a time when the existing institutions for governance — for example, Congress, political parties, elections — are dysfunctional and no longer serve to resolve conflicts, the inability to unite the military bureaucracy poses an increasing threat to the union itself. Calls issued by generals and sections of the military indicate what happens when the military itself becomes politicized and does not see itself represented by the president who is also commander-in-chief. Many of the statements from military personalities as well as others call for following the Constitution when and if the military is to be deployed against the people of the United States. What they tend to cover up is that its very deployment in violation of the Constitution shows that the Constitution is no longer the Authority in the United States.
When various generals and military officials, mostly retired, speak out against the president, in this case Donald Trump, it is contrary to military standards requiring military officials to remain neutral so as to ensure their commitment to whoever becomes commander-in-chief. They swear oaths of loyalty to the Constitution, not to the president. For some time since the neo-liberal anti-social offensive was unleashed in the mid-eighties and narrow private interests started directly competing to take over the state power, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the top commanders of the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force — have been making public statements about the actions of the president. For example, before the current unfolding events, in response to the statements made by Trump about demonstrations and violence by Nazis and the KKK in Charlottesville, North Carolina in August 2017, statements by military commanders were seen as an open rebuke of Trump. News reports emphasized that the statements “indicated deep unease in the Pentagon” and a “dramatic break with precedent” of no public statements by the military that contradict the president.
Of course, the impression created is that the military upholds the U.S. Constitution, which is presumably not racist to the core. What’s more, the military is notorious for its brutal racism, within its ranks and towards the peoples of the world. Soldiers are routinely trained to view peoples subjected to U.S. aggression as less than human, with various racist epithets used as part of this. Whipping up intolerance and hatred so as to convince soldiers to slaughter “the enemy” is considered a necessary part of military training. This shows that the aim of the comments made by military personalities is hardly to stand against the racism that has imbued the U.S. state and its military “since 1775,” and has been and remains integral to its genocide against Indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans and now African Americans and peoples targeted abroad, in all countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Furthermore, it covers up that today not a few of the police, military units and special services deployed across the United States to attack immigrants, migrants and African Americans are directly under Northern Command “to safeguard the security of the United States.”
The statements and policies pushed by Trump are certainly destructive of the civil power and show the desperation of the narrow private imperialist interests to destroy whatever they cannot control. But the statements which purport to defend the civil power as enshrined in the Constitution are also desperate because such a civil power clearly no longer exists. It was set up to protect private property interests from the get-go and has now been usurped by the cartels and coalitions who run the show today.
There are all kinds of comments about racism from rulers whose main job is to hide the truth of the matter to divert attention from the fact that the U.S. ruling class is imbued with racism and organizes racist attacks and funds and arms Nazis and the KKK and military groups so as to maintain their rule and preserve their union. Just like the violence in Charlottesville two years ago, the treatment of Blacks and minorities in the United States are a state-organized provocation which serves to set the people fighting amongst themselves while letting the state off the hook.
Thanks to the resistance struggle of the people this is not succeeding.
At the same time, the statements by top-ranking military officials and politicians reveal the deep disunity and conflicts within the ruling circles. This also indicates the grave danger of civil war and potentially broader imperialist war.
Aggressive war is one means past presidents have used in their attempts to unite the bureaucracy. But the contradictions within the ranks of the oligarchs over control of the decision-making power are so sharp that even this is no longer effective and now the attacks on the American people themselves are escalating. This too will fail to solve the current problems the rulers face, which is why every effort is being made by the rulers to preserve the union and its constitutional form, while imposing a government of police powers, concentrated in the presidency. The façade of democracy and civilian rule is to remain but the governing institutions for that are being eliminated, making the ability to sustain the rule increasingly difficult and unpredictable.
For the people this poses the necessity to organize on a basis which is consistent with the needs of the times and what is revealed, which is that the people need to vest the decision-making power in themselves. Today it is their resistance which sets a new direction for political affairs. The problem is not choosing sides among the rulers or defending an outdated Constitution that enshrines slavery and protects property rights, not human rights. Organizing work today strives to create a democracy of the peoples’ own making, where the people control the decision-making power.
The U.S. Constitution is not the defender of the rights of the peoples. It is in the service of the enemies of the peoples both at home and abroad. To present the conclusion that the attacks on Black people and the military response to protests and calls for justice show the necessity to defend the Constitution, is a ploy to deprive the people of their own political power. The aim is to divide the people further to play into the hands of the U.S. ruling class. There is no use debating Trump’s irrationality and incoherence because such debates do not give rise to a modern democratic personality. On the contrary, they serve to perpetrate the narrative that under current state arrangements, someone better can be elected and pass good policies. It serves to perpetuate the disempowerment of the people.
A grave situation is facing the U.S. working class and broad masses of the people of all nationalities. It requires a sober assessment and serious analysis of the situation so as to differentiate between the enemies of the people and their friends, between those whose aims are to liberate the people and those whose aims are to tighten their shackles. All those who want to see justice done are rising as one. They are condemning the atrocities of the state as well as the criminalization of politics in attempts to frustrate efforts to divert and split the people’s struggle for genuine peace, freedom and democracy. In a democracy created by the people themselves, not alleged representatives of the people, people of all backgrounds will enjoy equality and rights as defined by themselves on a modern basis. Modern institutions of government and a modern constitution can be developed in the course of the struggle for the political empowerment of the people.
The massive demonstrations taking place at this time are evidence of the fact that it is the resistance movement that will find the way forward. This movement brings people together from all walks of life and backgrounds in a common cause for peace, justice and democracy. It is proof that we are one humanity engaged in one struggle and that we will prevail.
1. For the U.S., the issue of uniting the military bureaucracy is particularly important because there is not a single, unified military. Rather, there are contending branches that both collude and compete for resources and power. There are also the many armed agencies within the country, like those at the border, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and many others, as well as the highly militarized police forces created since 9/11, all of which are ultimately under Northern Command. These all must be kept in check and united behind the presidency, something which thus far Trump is not succeeding in doing.
2. “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks,” General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, tweeted on August 16, 2017. “It’s against our values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.”
Marine Commandant General Robert B. Neller tweeted on August 15, 2017 that there is “no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps.” Admiral John Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, on August 13, 2017 posted a statement on Twitter and Facebook that called the events in Charlottesville “shameful” and “unacceptable.” He said, “The Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred.”
General David L. Goldfein, chief of staff of the Air Force, tweeted August 16, 2017 that he stood “together with my fellow service chiefs in saying that we’re always stronger together.”
3. See Who Said What about the current events below:
Who Said What
TML Weekly, June 6, 2020 • No. 20