Democracy Lost?

Snippet of a possible conversation overheard:  “So, who won the Game?”
“You know, I don’t know, but Democracy was losing pretty badly when I fell asleep…”

It almost goes without saying that this is no longer a Democracy, these United States.  Never mind the “fake news” President, Donald Trump:  America’s not been a Democracy for a very long time — if, indeed, it ever was a…democracy.  This has been the case since at least 1945, 1917, or, quite possibly, even as far back as 1776.

Beyond the powdered wigs of our founding Patriarchs, ancient Athens has always been seen as the cradle of textbook Democracy. However, the textbooks tend to under-emphasize the fact that the ancient Athenians held Slaves before they held elections, just like many of their modern counterparts in the breakaway republic of colonial America.  In theory, of course, Democracy does not require a Slave economy; neither does it necessarily sanction a War-making economy that brazenly embraces foreign entanglements while waving a false Flag of “We the People.”

Consider the current kerfuffle over the illegal American troop presence in Syria, for example.  What are American soldiers doing in Syria in the first place, and how did they get there?  They certainly weren’t invited by Bashar al-Assad, who remains the internationally recognized ruler of Syria.  Instead, American troops were covertly inserted into Syria in 2014 or 2015 — the record is unclear — behind the backs of the American People and its Congressional representatives — not to mention the Syrian government and its People.  Only in 2018 did it become a minor news item that the United States military ruled over one-third of sovereign Syrian territory, much to the surprise of many American politicians and the Public they pretend to represent.

Who’s in charge is hard to say, as the situation’s so fluid, so malleable, so “Syrian…”  In any case, it appears that the United States has had more than a hand — plus many Libyan arms — in fomenting the regime-change war against al-Assad that’s been destroying Syria since 2011.   No matter what the Anarchy’s going on in Syria, this example of continuing American combat operations in the Persian Gulf region points to a persistent pattern of un-democratic decision-making by American policymakers since at least 1945.

1945 is a somewhat arbitrary date.  However, after the atomic bomb-punctuated victory over the Japanese in 1945, a decision was made to keep the United States on a permanent war footing.  Like the decision to use “The Bomb” itself, this post-War forging of our National Security State was hammered out behind closed doors, well beyond the eyes and ears of the American public.  “We the People” were never consulted, but merely informed, loud speaker style, after the fact — a fact dressed-up in the paranoid shades of a new-and-improved “Red Scare.”

By way of this fresh “Red Scare,” the villainous menace of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan was magically morphed into an aggressive fear of our most recent ally, the Communist — or “Red” — Soviet Union.  And, what an all-encompassing fear it was, as totally mind-numbing as the genocidal war that preceded it.  Two atomic bombings later and the trick was turned.  Our Russian ally was now the unusually evil enemy, hell-bent on World domination.  What a truly arbitrary state of affairs, then, in 1945!

Since 1945, our education system has emphasized the exceptional, self-evident, and manifestly destined qualities of the American brand:  and the Brand prayed on, no questions asked.  We deal in unconditional assertions, not medieval disputations. Because we so deal, whether it’s New or Monroe’ld, we more or less own the World.  In a word, domination’s been the post-War American deal.

Now, if you were born after 1980, you probably don’t remember the Communist threat to our way of life.  By the 1980s, our most hell-fire and brimstone fight with actual Communists had been air-brushed out of American consciousness.  Which is a strange thing to report, because that fight had occurred pretty much right off the post-War bat.

In fact, tens of thousands of American soldiers were overrun by hundreds of thousands of Chinese Communists in late 1950 in the Northern reaches of the Korean Peninsula.  Things got so bad that the American brass considered using nuclear weapons to save the day.  In the event, they stayed with napalm as their genocidal weapon of choice.  (Question:  did the United States drop more tons of napalm on Korea or Vietnam?  Per-square-year, the answer is — Korea.  That’s the kind of question American school kids never get asked.)

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, all I ever heard about Korea was — less than a pin drop.  There was the popular TV sit-com “M.A.S.H.,” of course, which was more or less understood to be an allegory of Vietnam, because America had been trained to forget Korea, our Manchurian Candidate’s War, as if the Second World War had never ended.  And the Brand prayed on:  Murder, She Wrote. So, through the long, savage dissonance of Vietnam, the Korean “police action” — as Hiroshimatomic bomb-dropper Harry Truman infamously called it — was forgotten, like the exceptional American had gotten his dance steps all wrong in this new-fangled, “We Dropped the Bomb, Twice!” kind of world.

So Vietnam, and, since then, Afghanistan, that rock-and-poppy strewn Asian expanse that sunsets Empires.  These undeclared war days, the idea of American Democracy’s looking more and more like an opioid dream.

Yes:  it’s Afghanistan again, like a hangover that won’t go away.  Holy hair-of-the-dogs of War we keep sending over there, but doesn’t the American Afghan policy bear all the needle marks of a drug addiction?  We are now 18 years into this undeclared war dependency; as in Korea and Vietnam, the Pentagon’s still calling the shots over the heads of the American citizenry.  A real, working Democracy would have called a referendum on this sorry sack of military adventurism years ago.  The Afghan War’s always been a dog that won’t hunt — unless all it’s doing is sniffing for drugs.

The record for Democracy since 1945, then, is pretty sketchy.  It shows that American Democracy’s morphed into a ceremonial mask stretched ever thinner over an unaccountable War-Making Apparatus, as if the “War to Save — and now Expand — Democracy!” we’ve all been whipped up to keep fighting during the last century is really about saving the “War Machine” instead.

On a lighter note:  It may be a bit late in the post-War day, but there are signs that more people, the perpetually sleepy People, are waking up to the dissonance of living in, and paying for, a War Machine State disguised as a Democracy.  Hillary Clinton’s recent attack on “anti-regime-change-war” candidate Tulsi Gabbard, for example, shows that the Death Star’s getting slightly rattled that Gabbard’s “heresy” is garnering even what little attention the Mainstream Media actually grants it.  There’s obviously a Big Wave out there for something more than more War…

By the way:  Did someone finally find Democracy in the Persian Gulf?

Todd Smith lives, writes, and observes the Brave New World Order in St. Louis. He can be reached at Read other articles by Todd.