This post from Patrick Lawrence at The Scrum is actually more than a month old but it contains a video where Aaron Good, author of American Exception: Empire and the Deep State:
comments on his thesis and explains the intellectual path that led him to develop it. Prominent among his influences is the work of C. Wright Mills, notably The Power Elite, an enduring classic in its field that suggested to Good the structure of the national security state as we have it today. We also discuss Good’s take on postwar American history and his thoughts on the likely way ahead for our troubled republic.
Good concludes with a declaration of his optimism. We were not surprised, having got to know him in the course of our collaboration. As we conversed we couldn’t help thinking of Gramsci’s much remarked mot, “Optimism of the will, pessimism of the mind.”
I'm posting the link for those who appreciate Good's work but may have missed this video.
American Exception isn't referring to American Exceptionalism. The Exception as an idea in political science has dubious, notorious origins with Karl Schmidt, who was the philosophical, druidical godfather of the Nazis and later became a Nazi himself. He wrote that "whenever the state faces an emergency, it really can't be bound by laws that would restrict its conduct in responding to the emergency."
Schmidt was a mentor to the father of American neoconservatism, Leo Strauss and I think that's a notable parallel. I think that after WW2, when the US decided to embark on global empire, it realized that if it wanted to pretend to be a democracy, it would need to be able to break laws with impunity to practice the kind of foreign policy it wanted "to protect the world from communism", which is another way of saying "to make the world hospitable to capitalism" and that is probably their main motivation.
For more on the Straussians, see this piece by Thierry Meyssan, there's some familiar names there.
The national security state has acted like a Schmidtian sovereign, except it does so covertly, and that's the difference between the Nazi Schmiidt version of the Exception and the American one.
C. Wright Mills looked at the powerful forces that gave rise to the Nazis, which were connected to cartels and economic elites in Germany, and looked at how something like that could happen in the US and you could have a top-down system - the people in the middle and the bottom basically don't have any power; the power resides at the top betwen the organizations that control the economy, i.e., Wall Street; the government, i.e., the political directorate; and the military. That's the tripartite power structure that Mills lays out.
The power elite was the people who ran these institutions and they were so unified in their thinking they became a uniform top-down form of despotic power and democracy was becoming a farce. So he was hashing these things out (before his death) but he didn't know the half of how much got decided in secret.
Peter Dale Scott picked up where C. Wright Mills left off. Some of what he's written is timeless like an essay he wrote in the 70s on parafascism about how the US rescued all these Nazis and created a global network of transnational repression.
The Deep State I define in simple terms as all those institutions that allow for top-down rule in a nominal democracy. Or it can refer to those most secretive, clandestine elements of the state that can intervene with overriding power to effect things like the Kennedy assassination.
The national security state arises and it's pretty much created along the lines specified by Wall Street super-elites, so the legmen for the richest people in the world. And they create this national security state that's going to set up a global empire and manage it, all in the name of anti-communism, which is different way of saying in the name of capitalism.
I think subverting democratic institutions and cutting the citizenry more or less out of decisions affecting the country's direction was more premeditated in some circles, and I don't think everyone was privvy to what the people at the top thought. I think the way Bretton Woods was initially designed and some of these institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and the UN, there are elements of altruism and New Deal democratic idealism. But they were taken over incrementally by these avaricious capitalistic corporate forces.
The blueprint for American imperialism after WW2 is laid out in the War and Peace Studies Project, a State Dept.-sanctioned venture carried out by the Council on Foreign Relations. This is Wall Street's think tank, mostly run by Rockefeller at the time. The VP of the study, one of the main people carrying it out, was Allen Dulles.
Dulles wrote a section on security and sovereignty for the W&P Project that is still classified. Peter Dale Scott and others think in this section he actually called for something like a CIA because he was an OSS person; and that he had plans to basically set up a new, I don't want to say Axis but essentially that the US would take over management of the Anti-Comintern Pact ("an anti-Communist pact concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan").
That sounds dramatic but Dulles personally negotiated the surrender of Nazis who should have been war criminals, this was a treasonous thing by him, it violated direct orders of Roosevelt, and these guys get brought into the clandestine apparatus of the US right away.
They rehabilitate all these fascists in Japan and Italy and Germany and these guys have become part of the new system under American auspices. So basically the two Axis countries, these bulwarks on either side of Eurasia, get folded into this new US empire of Western capitalism, which is going to be neocolonialism instead of regular colonialism. You have to call it a fascist project to take over the world more or less.
They were able to keep Henry Wallace off the ticket in 1944 through chicanery and was replaced by Harry Truman, a product of the machine politics of Kansas City who was corruptible, a loyal machine guy. He embodies the way you can become successful just by doing what the powerful want.
Mosaddegh in 1953 was the earliest CIA covert operation where they straight-up overthrew a government, but the plan was initiated by the oil companies. The Seven Sisters oil cartel had essentially effected an embargo of Iranian oil. They controlled all the shipping and everything else and were basically able to disallow Iran from exporting its oil which caused economic crisis in the country.
The CIA was using people it knew to try to get the policy authorized but couldn't under Truman. As soon as Eisenhower took office they started planning for it because they knew he rode to office on a wave of oil cash. So it was finally approved.
So these forms of manipulating and overthrowing democracies in other countries not only give enormous wealth to the oligarchs in the US but gives them techniques and assets to use on the American public. These methods were deployed in the 1960s where basically regime change and clandestine dirty tricks came home to the US and they wiped out the left in the US just like they wiped out the left everywhere they could.
William Appleman Williams argued that once the US had gone from sea to shining sea, the frontier was closed; and without westward expansion there was a crisis about what would allow the US to deal with issues that had been traditionally solved by the frontier and allowing surplus population to go west. This had served as a pressure valve for the problems of capitalism in the already settled parts of the US.
It's a question of what the US economy is going to do. Are they going to build up their domestic market, restructure the economy, have certain aspects of the economy more centrally planned along democratic lines? Or are they going to go outward and look to expand economically and deal with economic pressures that way? And that's what they decided to do.
Some of the earliest American capitalists, some of the earliest American industrial centers like the Lowell Mills in Massachusetts, they were paid for in opium money. The US used to sell Turkish opium to China, that's how the people who built Yale got all their money, the first railroad in the US was paid for with opium money. That's how the Delano family got its money, the Forbes family, Henry Cabot Lodge. This was international trade, essentially drug dealing.
On how it evolved up through the Reagan years: One way to look at it is as a straight line, as a locomotive. They decide to forge this locomotive as WW2 breaks out and that they're going to go for global empire and then certain people stand in the way, like Henry Wallace, who's knocked off the tracks like a cow caught by the train's cattle guard. In the 1950s, with the Dulles brothers running the State Dept and the CIA, Eisenhower is pretty much the cheerful locomotive engineer.
JFK's assassination led to enormous changes because he was pulling out of Vietnam. He had already issued orders for all planning to effect a withdrawal that would be completed by the end 1965. He gets killed, the Vietnam policy gets reversed and the Vietnam War has an enormous impact on US history because it destroys the Bretton Woods system.
After much chicanery involving oil prices and the Volcker shock what you end up with is this new system where the US has control of the global currency and it's not connected to anything tangible like gold, it's a currency the US can produce as much of as it wants.
By the time Reagan takes office this gives the US more power than any empire in history because it can finance all its military operations at a deficit and the inflation that this should cost is exported to other countries because they all hold dollars as their reserve currency. It's replaced gold which gives the US enormous powers to pursue whatever policies it wants domestically and internationally.
So in the 80s and 90s the US was really unrestrained and it leads to this hubris of the neocons and Project for the New American Century to try to go for full spectrum dominance. We're seeing the end of it because you generate your own opposition.
there doesn't seem to be anything here