Skip to Content

Are We Living Under a Military Coup?

An Ironically Patriotic Essay

The kind of coup in question, here, is not the classic Third World coup. The 1933 coup and the coup represented by General Kelly and the 70-year-old National Security State exists in the realm of Hayman’s “carefully crafted set of legal fictions” contributing to a mythic “natural order.” The same way we don't obsess all the time about our mortality, we easily forget we live our lives in an arbitrary, artificial culture constructed by human beings that too often amounts to power talks and compassion walks. Our government was created by human beings -- democratically or otherwise, complete with all the self-serving, delusional instincts of humanity. Again, this is something left-leaning antiwar activist are particularly sensitive to, since currently, and for many decades, we’ve lived under the rule of an effective military coup (Hayman's "abrogation" of the Constitution) about which we continue to delude ourselves. We're like that online writer at This Ain’t Hell deluding ourselves it all conforms to the great US Constitution, now ensconced under glass in an expensive, Disney-like tourist trap I often drive past in center city Philadelphia. Civilians may rule in the sense civilian politicians created The National Security Act Of 1947, but it’s a form of rule that has capitulated power to the military and the military’s raison d’etre, killing and destroying things to solve problems in the service of continued domination of the world. The instruments of nationalistic befoggery and PR ably contradict this, of course. But once the killing and destruction is loosed, Martin Luther King’s image of a perpetual cycle of increasing violence becomes the operative principle. Which brings Smedley Butler's little booklet to mind:

"War is a racket. It always has been."

Some will say it's silly for someone like me -- a 70-year-old jaundiced Vietnam veteran covered by Medicare for his prostate cancer -- to look at my country this way? What an ingrate! Is it silly to imagine that a nation as powerful as the United States with such a promising constitution might be able to change course after devoting the parallel 70 years of my insignificant life to an imperial militarism that has created enemies and resentment around the world? Defenders of the reign will say, maybe that's true, but the resentment is centered in the ranks of losers and terrorists. We're winners and we want to stay that way. For me it all went wrong after I served that imperial militarism as a stupid 19-year-old volunteer in Vietnam. I was even given a medal for locating Vietnamese kids just like me operating radios in the jungle. I'd locate them so they could be killed by our what Butler called "fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction." It took a while, but I realized my war was not only a "racket"; it was an imperial crime.

story | by Dr. Radut