March 23, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Michael McGehee:
That’s a line from Rage Against the Machine’s song Fistful of Steel. This song plays in the back of my mind with each column I write. It is astounding how much noise we find in the New York Times on a daily basis. And as loud as the “paper of record” is—with as much noise as it generates—it’s silence is deafening.
Case in point: President Obama’s recent Executive Order—National Defense Resources Preparedness that was issued on March 16, 2012. Even if there is nothing in the works to actually implement this, and it’s all just some sort of psyop, it’s still very alarming. But what is more alarming is that the New York Times, has not even mentioned this order . . . that was signed a week ago! Not one word. It’s also worth pointing out that neither has the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or USA Today.
President Obama’s executive order states that,
The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.
Nothing new here. The U.S. economy has long relied on state protectionism and intervention, a sort of corporate-state fascism that is often carried out under the banner of “national defense.” It is widely known that the war economy of World War Two pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Following the war there were concerns that the economy could slide right back into it.
In the spring of 1950 the White House’s National Security Council said that “there are grounds for predicting that the United States and other free nations will within a period of a few years at most experience a decline in economic activity of serious proportions unless more positive governmental programs are developed than are now available.” And in the same document— NSC68—it goes on to talk about the decline in industrial production and increased unemployment, but the kinds of “positive governmental programs” the NSC had in mind was not renewable energy, mass public transportation, free housing, education, health care, etc., but “a build-up of the economic and military strength of the United States.” That is to say, the permanent war economy.
A year before NSC 68, Business Week ran a piece titled “From Cold War to Cold Peace” where it argued for “military pump-priming”: “Military spending doesn’t really alter the structure of the economy. It goes through the regular channels. As far as business is concerned, a munitions order from the government is much like an order from a private customer.” And that’s just it, “a munitions order from the government” boosts demand, where as such “an order from a private customer” would likely not exist.
And in January of 1948 Fortune magazine noted that,
[The U.S. aircraft industry] is today producing at a rate that is less than 3 per cent of its wartime peak. . . . [An industry spokesperson] speak frequently of “free enterprise,” but they speak just as frequently of “long-range planning.” It is crystal clear to them that they cannot live without one kind or another of governmental support — yet “subsidy” is a shocking word to them. . . Its respected heads . . . freely play the game of nagging and chiding the government, but it then transpires that their reproaches are made because the government has not gone far enough toward stating “clearly and frankly” its “obligation to help develop new and improved air transports and efficient networks of air transportation,” as well as fostering new programs for military planes. . .
Every one of these proposals acknowledges the inability of unaided “private” capital to venture any deeper into the technological terra incognita of the aircraft industry. Every one acknowledges that only the credit resources of the U.S.A. are sufficient to keep the aircraft industry going: to enable it to hire its engineers, buy its materials, pay wages to its labor force, compensate its executives — and pay dividends to its stockholders. The fact seems to remain, then, that the aircraft industry today cannot satisfactorily exist in a pure, competitive, unsubsidized, “free-enterprise” economy. It never has been able to. Its huge customer has always been the United States Government, whether in war or in peace.
Returning to President Obama’s executive order, we read that to maintain America’s “superiority” President Obama requires various government agencies to
assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel
be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements.
Where the “adequate resources” are located, and what the “actions necessary” to acquire them are is not stated. But when Obama’s order also mentions how “the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services,” you start to get an idea: the “adequate resources” are overseas, and they will be taken by force.
One likely reading of the passage is it is a threat directed at Iran. With tensions rising and Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, this could be President Obama’s way of upping the ante. And it is puzzling that the New York Times has failed to comment on this.
Another interesting passage worth the Time’s attention was when President Obama said, “The authority of the President,” allows him “to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense,” even on issues “with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer,” as well as “with respect to all forms of energy,” “health resources,” “water resources,” “to all forms of civil transportation,” and even includes “all other ["Commerce"] materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.”
While the U.S. government has played a defining role in the building up and protecting the economy in the past, this is considerably different. President Obama is talking about a much more centrally planned role for the state; a virtual GOSPLAN (an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Planirovaniyu, which was the Soviet economic planning system).
The President’s order not only calls for “[t]he Secretary of each agency” to ”plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense” for “emergency” conditions, but also under “non-emergency conditions.”
President Obama is not talking about such a wide-reaching plan for emergency purposes only, but even under “peacetime.” Which begs the question: Is this order also a forecast for economic trouble as the European economy worsens, and possibly spills over into the U.S.?
We even read that “this order may be used” by Homeland Security “to support programs [... ] including civil defense and continuity of Government.” Naturally, the programs and methods of doing so are not elaborated on. Where is the media outrage at the president positioning himself to declare martial law (even in so-called “peacetime”)?
And of course the collusion between government and Wall Street will continue, and is about more than an effort to
foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness
—but also to further enrich and empower the financial system that is dominating not only America’s economy, but the global economy too: “To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense [...] is authorized [...] to guarantee loans by private institutions.”
As government agencies position to takeover a wide spectrum of the economy under the banner of “national defense”—even under times of peace—one of their functions is to protect against “current or projected shortfalls of resources.” Which they will do in ways that gives more and more taxpayer money to Wall Street.
It is possible that the comment on ”shortfall of resources” may be another aspect of the threat directed at Iran. It could also be about peak oil, or peak water. President Obama’s order does mention control of “energy” and “water resources.”
I am not that shocked by President Obama’s executive order, especially since the (escalated) rise of the national security state since 9/11. What I am shocked by is the media silence. The press did not fail to at least mention the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, or even Attorney General Holder’s recent argument about the right to kill Americans without due process of law. And when the President of the United States issues an executive order declaring his authority to create a military draft system, and to takeover planning pretty much the entire economy in order to ensure access to vital resources, and to maintain our “superiority,” you really would think that the New York Times would say something, anything. Even if it is their typical bad reporting. Alas, that is not the case.
That it’s not just the Times, but other mainstream news sources too, is even more troubling. I honestly don’t understand. When thinking about how an editor from the Financial Times was surprisingly honest when they recently wrote that, “Behind their journalistic missions, most news organisations have always been commercial operations that sell audiences to advertisers,” I try to keep that in mind when making sense of how the media does or does not cover certain issues. But I must confess: I struggle to understand how the media’s silence on President Obama’s executive order would have an adverse effect on their profits, or their ability to sell advertisers to their readers. So I don’t think that’s it. I don’t know what it is, and I am hesitant—or maybe scared—to follow the white rabbit down the conspiracy hole.