Monday, April 09, 2007

The imperial presidency is not a disease; it is a symptom

It’s easy to think that our problems started when George W. Bush was appointed president by the United States Supreme Court in 2000. However, according to Andrew Bacevich, (photo) Professor of International Relations at Boston University, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, “The imperial presidency [of the Bush Administration] is not a disease; it is a symptom.”

In a must-read article, The Semiwarriors, Bacevich takes us back to post-World War II when James Forrestal, the First Secretary of Defense, coined the term “’semiwar’…to promote permanent quasi mobilization as the essential response to permanent global crisis.” He concludes, “From Forrestal’s day to the present, semiwarriors have viewed democratic politics as problematic. Debate means delay.”

For those of us who hope that the election of a Democratic president plus a Democratic-controlled Congress will make a difference, Bacevich dashes these hopes: “Will the errors and excesses of the Bush Administration spell the demise of the imperial presidence? Don’t count on it….none of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances….The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them.”

Bacevich ends his article, “In an age of the citzen as consumer-spectator, Americans care enough to complain, but not nearly enough to act. Long live the emperor.”

I first heard about Andrew Bacevich at Tomdispatch.com. Tom interviews Bacevich
here (Part I, The Delusions of Global Hegemony) and here (Part II, Drifting Down the Path to Perdition). I respect this man, but I hope I live long enough to prove Bacevich wrong, i.e., that Americans care enough to act.

(photo from Google Image: American Academy)

1 comment:

Ann said...

Gail, I'll go so far as to agree with Bacevich that "The imperial presidency is not a disease; it is a symptom," but I add my voice to yours in wanting to prove him wrong about the ultimate outcome.

It is interesting to me that there is an article in "Women's Voices" this month, "Luv and Politics" by Betina Mansbach, that agrees at least with the premise of the problems of the presidency being a symptom of our society's lack of health.

Have we reached the time of the fall of the US empire? Consumerism and a permanent semiwar seem to have replaced ethics and responsibility. Meanwhile, we keep working to improve ethics and promote the rethinking of important issues.

Gail, sometimes I think we may be the sound of "one hand clapping," but then I realize that there are two, wait three, wait, even more of us, and collectively we CAN and WILL make positive changes.

Keep blogging, keep doing what you do, and the sound of one hand clapping will someday soon be deafening.