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UQ Wire: The Rise of the American Police State (2)

Unanswered Questions: Thinking For Ourselves
Presented by…

Homeland Security Act: The Rise of the American Police State
(Part 2 of a Three Part Series)

The Rise of the American Police State Part One

By Jennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t | Report

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Cheney's Plan for Global Dominance

One does not need to look into the Council on Foreign Relations, however, to discover the hidden agenda behind the Homeland Security Act. David Armstrong recently wrote a detailed article for Harper's Magazine on "Dick Cheney's Song of America: Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance."1

Armstrong reviewed the "Defense Planning Guidance" reports issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense while Cheney was the secretary under Bush I and thereafter.

Jasper links the Homeland Security Department to "one of several unprecedented efforts to centralize military and law enforcement power in the executive branch," and notes Bush's June 1st speech at West Point in which he introduced the doctrine of "defensive intervention" (more commonly called "preemptive strikes").

David Armstrong echoes this conclusion when he states that the West Point speech was part of Cheney's "perpetually evolving work" which "will take its ultimate form ... as America's new national security strategy."

"The plan," according to Armstrong, "is to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful."

Armstrong muses that the Plan "is disturbing in many ways, and ultimately unworkable. Yet it is being sold now as an answer to the 'new realities' of the post-September 11 world, even as it was sold previously as the answer to the new realities of the post-Cold War world." He says "Cheney's unwavering adherence to the Plan would be amusing, and maybe a little sad, except that it is now our plan."

Armstrong tracks Cheney's evolving work from the initial idea of America's need to project a military "forward presence" around the world, shifting from the policy of global containment in order to manage "less-well-defined regional struggles and unforeseen contingencies" to the doctrine of preemptive military force with nuclear weapons. He notes the shift from a threat-based defense strategy to a capability-based assessment.

The capability-based assessment of military requirements became a key theme of Cheney's plan. Capability-based: because we can. The inanity of this approach is well-illustrated by singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke in her 1995 song "War" -

It's the American way, the new world order
We hold these truths to be self-evident
In the American day, you must give and I shall take,
And I will tell you what is moral and what's just
Because I want, because I will, because I can, so will I kill.

Behind Cheney's doctrines was a deep fear and suspicion of the Soviets that was shared by Colin Powell, who as Ronald Reagan's national security adviser began working on this Plan in the late 1980s, and by Paul Wolfowitz, then undersecretary of defense for policy.

When the Plan was leaked in March 1992 to the New York Times, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden criticized its proposal of "a global security system where threats to stability are suppressed or destroyed by U.S. military power."

Wolfowitz might have us believe that the Cheney Plan is a brilliant anticipation of the terrorist attacks. Wolfowitz asked in a 1996 editorial: "Should we sit idly by with our passive containment policy and our inept covert operations, and wait until a tyrant possessing large quantities of weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated delivery systems strikes out at us?"

The Council on Foreign Relations, on the other hand, refers to the Hart-Rudman Commission as the "now famous Commission on National Security that warned of such a terrorist attack three years ago."

These boastings, however, ignore what Armstrong's article so clearly reveals: the dangerous course these doctrines promote.

From national unity to state control.

From clear separations between foreign and domestic intelligence activities under the CIA charter of 1947 ("the Charter") and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, in clear deference to the United States Constitution's Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment requirements, to wholesale merging of these activities, in violation of the Charter, the obvious intent of FISA, and the Constitution.

From military "base force" and a tentative "forward presence" to "preemptive strikes" and "unwarned attacks."

As Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way said: "It's truly astonishing. It seems that we're forgetting everything we learned in the 1970's."2 And, as Armstrong notes: "This country once rejected "unwarned" attacks such as Pearl Harbor as barbarous and unworthy of a civilized nation." Armstrong further states that we "also once denounced those who tried to rule the world."

The Plan, finally, envisions unilateral action without alliances. Coalitions are relegated to "ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted." Where it cannot get others to agree with its goals or decisions, the United States will "act independently" to address "selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends." Coalitions "must not determine the mission." American interests, according to the Plan, include "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to U.S. citizens from terrorism."

Now, if we claim that Persian Gulf oil is one of our primary interests and we are the only ones who can determine our mission, no wonder we are worried about "terrorist" threats from the Middle East.

Gary Hart, himself, noted in an article in the current (December 16th) issue of The American Prospect: "A major U.S. invasion of a Muslim country would almost certainly trigger serious attempts to kill Americans." He asks: "Are we ready for the virtually certain retaliatory terrorist attacks on our homeland if we invade Iraq?"

The importance of these concerns cannot be overemphasized. Yet, they are hardly discussed in the press. Nor do these discussions begin to consider the various violations of international law that the United States would be committing, and already has committed, under Bush administration current and anticipated measures - nor the potential effects of these on our safety.3


1 - David Armstrong, "Dick Cheney's Song of America: Drafting a plan for global dominance," pp. 76-83, Harper's Magazine, October 2002 (Vol. 305, No. 1829).

2 - David Johnston "The Administration Begins to Rewrite Decades-Old Spying Restrictions,"

3 - I will be discussing these issues in depth in an upcoming article.


Jennifer Van Bergen is a regular contributor to TruthOut. She has a J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, is a contributing editor of Criminal Defense Weekly, an adjunct faculty member of the New School Online University, a division of the New School for Social Research, and an active member of the ACLU.

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