The national security state is the enemy of America and Americans, not their protector, and that is why Trump should systematically kill it. Trump should attack the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA with the executive powers of running the government that he possesses. He should attack their supporters in Congress, Republican and Democrat, and attack their media allies. Trump should put the Pentagon and the military on notice that he, as Commander-in-Chief, will not prosecute permanent war across the globe for such vain excuses as anti-terrorism and democracy.
Trump’s presidency is being attacked in force by the national security state. His responses have been scattered, weak, unprincipled and inconsistent. The national security state is politically savvy, experienced, coordinated, and entrenched. It aims to control Trump and/or displace him, so that its programs and policies continue to dominate America.
Trump has only partially and spasmodically recognized the enemy, which is not only America’s enemy but also his own and that of his presidency. He adulated the military unconditionally, rather than taking command of it with his own purposes in mind. He mistakenly thought that a friendly speech at the CIA headquarters would ease his path. He appointed many military people and gave them a free hand.
Lacking a clear vision of what is wrong with the U.S. government, which at this historical juncture includes its takeover by the national security state, Trump has not formulated a plan to lay siege to it and destroy its power. He has actually given the national security state his support in many ways. His sniping around the edges accomplishes almost nothing toward the goal of killing the national security state. That’s a goal he does not yet recognize, has not yet articulated and has done nothing yet to implement.
Although Trump has responded to charges of collusion with Russia, he and his associates now face an indefinitely prolonged investigation led by Robert Mueller, who has assembled a team directly to attack Trump and company at any and all of its vulnerable points. Trump is being backed into a corner. If Trump believed in and endorsed a principled attack on the national security state, he could sell it to America. He could then get Mueller’s investigation terminated, because that investigation is solely a creature of the national security state. It is another head of the Hydra. Trump failed to see the underlying problem. He failed to handle it earlier through his own systematic offensive.
Trump should go public in major speeches that articulate a clear goal of killing the national security state. Tweets are at best subsidiary to a comprehensive plan. Trump should bring out a plan that decimates the national security state. He should then campaign across America and focus squarely on building peaceful relations with Russia and China. From this prime goal, peaceful relations with Iran and withdrawing from Middle East and Central Asian meddling follow naturally.
Trump should confront the national security state openly and across the board. He should attack comprehensively, on all fronts, because the national security state is vulnerable on many fronts. Trump needs to attack the institutions that comprise the national security state, that is, the funded agencies, their powers and their capacity to set agendas and make policies. He has to take away their power to establish policies on their own and without being accountable to him and the American people.
It would be easy for Trump to get America behind him in attacking the national security state. This is because it’s a tremendous pit of privileges, favors and corruption. It drains resources from Americans. It destroys rights. It makes the world a much less safe place. It’s busy building up phantasms and creating new fake enemies. It’s destroying societies and states worldwide. It’s increasing blowback against America. It’s busy subverting American government from within. It completely distorts domestic politics. It’s a secret government within a government. It’s not accountable.
But Trump has a thoroughly mixed approach to the national security state, such that he cannot decide to destroy it without altering other of his strong beliefs and policies. Trump has supported the national security state in important ways. His unwavering support of Israel and Saudi Arabia plays into the hands of his enemy at home, the national security state. His anti-Iran policy, his anti-terrorism focus, and his overly strong support of militarized police reinforce the national security state.
The president has the power to sequester funds. He has the power of the veto. He has a platform from which to pressure members of Congress. He has the power to hire and fire within the Executive branch of government. He can speak out against the corrupt practices of career government appointees who rotate from government to industry to lobbying to foundations and think tanks.
The fact of the matter is that Trump is being attacked by the national security state and it will do everything to destroy him and the people around him. As matters now stand, he will lose power and effectiveness or even leave office. His best defense at this point is to attack and attack strongly, to confront without hesitation and to give no quarter. He has nothing to lose by such an attack. However, Trump is conflicted because he supports important facets of the national security state.
The lifeblood of the national security state is the prevalent idea, iterated continually, that it’s needed to provide Americans with security against enemies. Trump himself has reinforced this idea. This idea is false, and that is a major point of vulnerability of the national security state. The fact of the matter is that the national security state undermines the security of Americans. This has been very easy to see ever since 9/11. The latter tragedy itself would not have occurred had it not been for the activities of the national security state.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.