Thank you, Walt Disney Production, for the two rams bellowing endlessly at their echo in Brother Bear. That scene illustrates today’s political environment perfectly. Click here and see if you agree. Or, as Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, perhaps, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
On the other hand, the politics playing out today could well signify the end of America’s aspirations we old-timers remember and for which we fought. That is the stuff the big brains need to ponder. My mental ramble is through the forest of the Deep State.
What is the Deep State? Why does its environment, The Swamp, exist? The framers of the Republic are either writhing in their graves or rolling in laughter, as they are the very individuals who set the process in motion. The Deep State and The Swamp exist because of the Democracy Transform. A Fourier Transform takes the frequency domain through a magic portal of mathematics and transforms it into the time domain (and back). By comparison, The Democracy Transform takes the will of individual voters through a magic portal to a Republic (and back). Each Transform offers benefits and, if not monitored properly, potentially fatal flaws. The Fourier Transform allows for excellent signal analysis. The disadvantage is the inherent compromise between frequency and time resolution. The Democracy Transform allows ‘The People’s Voice’ across and through the elected government. The inherent compromise is the bureaucracy created by The People’s Voice, which becomes the ‘Keeper of Institutional Historical Knowledge’. Unmonitored or uncontrolled, it forms its own, separate, unelected branch of government. Individual elements come to believe they have ‘The Answer’. These individuals fight hard to make their world view reality irrespective of the will of The People. The Deep State is a disparate collection of people, and The Swamp is the environment in which they are resident.
If we review the inherent compromise in the Democracy Transform, we find a range of personalities but not much individual evil. The individuals who choose to be actors in the Deep State probably believe they are doing the right thing. The result, however, is chaos as The People fight (through their votes) to right the Republic. There is a great deal of buoyancy, but no self-righting mechanism in our Constitution. If non-elected members of the government assume control either through covert or direct action, the equations of the Democracy Transform become unpredictable. There are many examples throughout America’s short 243-year history. And, in many cases, it was a consequence of elected officials not wishing to be responsible for their actions. The elected officials delegate to a handy workforce available to do the dirty day-to-day work. In all cases, there is either a passive ignorance of history or an active snubbing of history’s lessons. We all make choices.
Cloaked in secrecy, the Tehran Conference convened in November 1943. FDR, Churchill, and Stalin met to discuss the conditions for the end of WWII. During a dinner discussion, Stalin proposed killing 50,000 German military officers. Only Churchill erupted in anger and walked out citing a crime against humanity. It took some doing and Stalin’s rolling back the condition under the guise of Soviet humor to get Churchill back to the table. One stubborn, intractable, old man kept morality alive that day.
President Eisenhower formalized the process for Deep State development. “The National Security Act of 1947 added covert operations coupled with ‘plausible deniability’ to the mix of collecting and analyzing data. Covert operations weaponized the agency. Now, not only could the CIA convert data into information it could, at the behest of the president through the State Department, act on it with impunity; the CIA had become a tactical weapon.”
President Bush enacted the Patriot Act, allowing secret courts and all manner of loss of freedoms and privacy under the guise of terrorism: 1.1 Title I: Enhancing domestic security against terrorism; 1.2 Title II: Enhanced Surveillance procedures; 1.3 Title III: Anti-money-laundering to prevent terrorism; 1.4 Title IV: Border security; 1.5 Title V: Removing obstacles to investigating terrorism; 1.6 Title VI: Victims and families of victims of terrorism; 1.7 Title VII: Increased information sharing for critical infrastructure protection; 1.8 Title VIII: Terrorism criminal law; 1.9 Title IX: Improved intelligence; 1.10 Title X: Miscellaneous. Under President Obama, the National Defense Authorization Act was reauthorized with several potentially awesome opportunities for the ‘Deep State’ to grow stronger.
One such well-documented member of the Deep State was Major General Edward Geary Lansdale, a force of nature during his career. Never heard of him? Not surprising. Lansdale was a complicated player, committed to the United States, yet determined that he knew what was best for the country. Lansdale died in 1984. At the end of his career he wrote The Midst of Wars. In that book he detailed an approach to retain control of third-world nations by exporting ‘the American Way’ “through a blend of economic aid and efforts at ”winning the hearts and the minds of the people.” Sound familiar? Yet this same individual with his ideology violated and violently manipulated countries’ leadership.
As you read the next excerpt, it’s important to note that Kashii was a Japanese soldier and Yamashita’s driver so, theoretically, he knew where Yamashita buried the gold. Severino Garcia Diaz Santa Romana was a Philippine national trying to discover the location of the gold.
John Simpkin, Spartacus Educational historian, writes, “According to Sterling Seagrave, Lansdale was sent by General Charles Willoughby to the Philippines after the war. Lansdale “joined the torture sessions of Major Kojima Kashii “as an observer and participant”. As Seagrave explains: “Since Yamashita had arrived from Manchuria in October 1944 to take over the defense of the Philippines, Kojima had driven him everywhere.”
In charge of Kojima’s torture was an intelligence officer named Severino Garcia Diaz Santa Romana (Santy). He wanted Major Kojima to reveal each place to which he had taken General Tomoyuki Yamashita, where bullion and other treasure were hidden.” Ray Cline argues that between 1945 and 1947 the gold bullion recovered by Santy and Lansdale was moved by ship to 176 accounts at banks in 42 countries. Robert Anderson and CIA agent Paul Helliwell set up these black gold accounts “providing money for political action funds throughout the noncommunist world.”
Later Lansdale would return to ‘help’ the Philippines establish a U.S. friendly government through direct interference. He also directly and violently interfered in Vietnam and Cuba. He was, at various times, loved and hated by an assortment of presidents. There is an excellent piece on the National Security Archive about Cuba and Operation Mongoose, that provides new insight based on recently declassified documents.
Lansdale was the perfect Deep State operator. While Lansdale stated he believed in truth, justice, and the American way, his actions stated that the ends justified the means. He never relinquished his belief system irrespective of foreign policy decisions of the elected officials. He just went deeper or became more visible over the decades. Major General Lansdale did not perceive a conflict.
I was honored to work in the Swamp for several decades. During that time, I struggled through several administrations. There were areas in every administration I disagreed with one or more of the challenges I addressed as part of the machinery. Some administrations took the US in a direction I felt was wrong. My choice was to voice my opinion as effectively as I could. Were I over-ridden, I saluted smartly and got the job done. When I was directed to perform an illegal function, I just flatly refused. I believed the government could not force me to do anything illegal. Although there was pressure, there was never any retribution for this course of action. In one notable case, both my company and the local government project office backed my decision against the Washington, D.C. swamp denizens.
It is the nature of the Democracy Transform beast. Piece by piece, over the decades and centuries, the elements of the Democracy Transform equations are corrupted as mostly well-meaning elected officials to dodge responsibility and transfer it to selected bureaucrats. Unelected people make more and more decisions for the American people. The American people become more and more impotent. The Democracy Transform is unbalanced, but not for the first time. We live in interesting times.