Saturday, September 15, 2007

Petraeus: American Caesar?

The scuttlebutt is that the General in command of the legendary "Surge" in Iraq is being groomed for a Presidential run:

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.

His able defence of the "surge" in US troop numbers in Iraq as a success before Congress this week has made him the best-known soldier in America. An articulate, intelligent and energetic man, he has always shown skill in managing the media.

But General Petraeus's open interest in the presidency may lead critics to suggest that his own political ambitions have influenced him in putting an optimistic gloss on the US military position in Iraq .

Justin Raimondo sez:

President Petraeus – presumably inaugurated after a Democratic interregnum – is auditioning to play the role of the Republicans' Bonaparte. It is an indication of just how far down that path we have gone that hardly anyone finds this shocking.

With the ascension of what Lew Rockwell trenchantly calls "red-state fascism" as the official ideology of the GOP – with its valorization of all things military married to an aggressive foreign policy – a general at the helm of the ship of state would signal the beginning of a new era in American politics: the age of the Caesars.

The groundwork has already been laid: George W. Bush – with his aggressive aggrandizement of executive power at the expense of the other two branches of government – has all but crowned himself Emperor. As this country morphs from a republic into an empire, what better symbol of the new militarism than a military man in the White House? As President, Petraeus would embody the Bushian concept of the "unitary presidency."

Of course, as Raimondo correctly notes, Petraeus' ascension to the throne will depend on the degree to which the ballyhooed "Surge" works in securing Iraq as a US colony. True, there have been generals before in the White House, but the American Zeitgeist (and in particular the Zeitgeist among the elite political and economic classes) was much different back then. We're Empire now - if not officially in name, at least in practice; as such a military man with some political savvy would be attractive to this era's elites. That the dude has some baggage - let's just say if you follow the links I've already provided in addition to Raimondo's that the guy has some corruption issues - will make him fit right in over in DC.

Raimondo does end on an ominous note:

President Petraeus? Such talk is indicative of just how far from reality the debate over the Iraq war has taken us. And this is key to understanding the reason for our looming defeat: our strategy is based, not on military necessity, but political considerations – and it cannot be otherwise, unless, of course, we achieve the dream of the red-state fascists and become a military dictatorship. In which case, we'd have a Supreme Leader at the helm, with the power to not only oversee strategy and tactics, but also to commandeer the resources required to carry them out, without benefit of congressional interference. Under any regime, of course, some degree of popular support for its policies is required, but an American Caesar would have less trouble on this front – forgetting, for the moment, the possibility of an American Brutus …

This is not something the War Party likes to openly broach, although occasionally you'll find examples of the more rabid dead-enders blurting out the truth, yet it isn't hard to imagine circumstances that would loosen their inhibitions and let them come out of the closet, so to speak. Another terrorist attack, an alleged internal threat of rebellion, a massive antiwar movement that threatens to provoke civil disorder in the wake of an attack on Iran, Syria, or some other target – draw up your own scenario, and you'll find that you don't need to depend on a willing suspension of disbelief.

Anyone with any remotely libertarian sensibilities will realize just how dark this current decade has already been and how much darker the next several years promise to be. To paraphrase the late Hunter S. Thompson, Big Darkness is coming soon.

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