The Middle Class & Imago Dei: Why the Middle Class is a Godly Foundation for Freedom & Prosperity

Why is there a Middle Class?

I grew up thinking of the middle class as just a natural part of any society, that there was a normal spread of the poor, the middle, and the rich in any society.  I thought that the middle class was lacking in the early eras of Western Civilization because we had not yet become rich enough as a culture. 

I was puzzled by people who wrote about the “rise” of the middle class as a new thing, almost unique to the West.  Why the West?  Didn’t every culture at least potentially have a middle class?  It was probably Rodney Stark’s two books, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, and then, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery, which triggered my thoughts in the following direction, but there had been vague inklings in years prior. 

In the middle of July, 2012, I awoke with Stark and several other sources percolating in my mind, with a startling and thrilling new thought: the Middle Class is designed by God for a purpose, having to do with the Image of God, the Imago Dei

This does not mean that all middle class persons are Godly, far from it.  The unGodly middle classers will themselves torpedo their own class.  We are to be obedient to God to keep His blessings.  When we disobey, His blessings become unavailable—by our own actions. 

The middle class, I had come to recognize, is the fundamental engine which has driven Western economic success, and, indirectly, politics and government.  The middle class is the engine which has lifted up whole national economies.  The rich do not do that, or only rarely.  They were in control and had slaves to do their bidding.  There were two basic classes, (1) the rich and powerful, and (2) the poor, divided between the slaves and everyone else. 

A college history professor told the story of a Roman emperor (I do not recall which) who was having demonstrated before him a road-laying machine invented by one of his subjects.  It apparently worked impressively, and would thus be a wonderful tool for the road-building Romans.  But, he told the inventor, “Burn it!”   When asked why, the emperor replied, “What would I do with all my slaves?” 

The emperor (along with probably everyone else) did not expect “progress” or “betterment” of the lives of people, other than that obtained by force of arms or inheriting a fortune.  Might made right.  The thought of betterment just did not occur among pagan cultures.  Slaves were to be slaves, that was the way it was.  Social levels were pretty much in cement—if the upper class had anything to do with it.  They wanted stability, not freedom.  There was no concept of the grinding poverty of the poor ever changing.  The rich had no incentive to make life better for the poor.  Their incentive was stability in their culture, not change.  Change agents were heretics to be gotten rid of.  The investment of the powerful was in keeping the status quo. 

There have been, of course, “small business” men and women since the first village markets.  But much of it was by barter, with no or little banking system, and thus could never develop the wealth which began in the Middle Ages.  And, most importantly, there was little or no sense of personal value—as would have a child of God. 

All this was true because in paganism there is no such thing as the Image of God in which we are made and loved, as we meet in the Bible. 

Church & State

But after Constantine made Christianity legal, things began to move in a different direction.  The struggles between Church and State were partly about the sovereignty of God over all civil government, and the growing notion that came to fruition in the pre-Reformation centuries, that (as John Wycliffe put it) God wants a government of, by, and for the people, later echoed by Abraham Lincoln. 

1215 saw the signing of the Magna Carta, forced on King John by his barons, to limit the tyrannical power of the king.  The Archbishop of Canterbury was involved in the writing of the document.  It was the first time the authority of an English king had been forcibly limited by his own subjects.

The Magna Carta had a trickle down effect as citizens below the rank of baron also began to claim rights under the king, leading eventually to the principle that “a man’s house is his castle”, and that no person could be arbitrarily punished by the state. 

The growth in the academic world during the Middle Ages of a freemarket of ideas would eventually support the notion of universal individual freedom, still yet a long way off.  This freemarket of ideas became institutionalized in the newly forming universities of the great cities of Europe. 

Out of these universities sprung science, a combination of the Hebraic world of particular things, history, and a rational world built by a rational God wedded to the gift of abstract thinking developed by the Greek philosophers.  The blend resulted in science—a culturally supported freemarket of ideas, research, and a level playing field in which anyone might express his viewpoints, and not be shot at dawn if he lost the debate.  And then an increasing development of technology (ships, weapons, new plows, pianos, clocks, horse harnesses, etc.), mostly unheard of in pagan cultures (see the two books above by Rodney Stark).

The key behind all this was the uniquely Biblical belief that all men were created equal, that we all stand equally before God, so all equally before any government on earth, and are therefore equally free to engage ourselves in productive enterprises for the benefit of ourselves, our families, and our society.  Lower and lower classes began demanding the freedoms being gained by those “above” them.  Contrary to the typical pagan attitude, the world was deemed rational, orderly, and improvable.  Life could get better, not only politically, but physically and financially as we developed new ways of constructing and manufacturing.  

All of this was generated out of the Biblical moral and spiritual framework which valued time, space, and the sacramental life where the physical revealed (not hid or destroyed) the spiritual, the Image of God.  Most of this new energy came from the bottom up, not from the power-pyramid top down.  Individuals and families were set free by this new resource to be creative.  So long as this took place within the Judeo-Christian framework, it was understood that individuals were a part of that larger community, the Kingdom of God, which the Church was to represent.  People came to be respected and respectable because they were well off and capable—independently of their prior social status.  The new Entrepreneurial Middle Class was forming—because the law and the grace of God were significantly (if not perfectly) respected. 
  

Is Capitalism Selfish?

The notion that capitalism is selfish is foolishness.  Capitalism cannot be selfish, only people can be.  But good and generous people can be capitalists.  The mere fact of making money is no more selfish than growing a crop, or than raising taxes from those who do make money.  The issue is whether the actors act honestly and intelligently for themselves and for the whole community. 

Freemarket capitalism is one of the great barriers to the most selfish and destructive of all forms of government— centralization in the hands of a few or a class.  Capitalism becomes evil for the most part when it buys out politicians and co-opts the coercive force of government in its favor.  But that is no longer capitalism, it might be called corporate monopolism, as we see all through the West.  A government properly limited to being referee and run by honest citizens would be the best proof against that kind of evil.  The separation of commerce and state is just as important as the proper separation of church and state.  And for the same reasons, the danger of the abuse of power.  

Taking care of oneself and one’s family is not selfish, any more than putting on one’s own oxygen mask in an airplane before helping one’s child.  One can be of assistance to others only to the degree that he is healthy and capable of doing so.  Capitalism vastly increases that ability, and tends to disperse the wealth throughout the market rather than concentrate it.  The primary wrongful concentrator of wealth is civil government unlimited by the law of God.   The powerful among the pagans did not redistribute wealth in a healthy manner, and neither do secular “liberals”.   Judeo-Christians, if they are obedient to the law of God, will limit government as in the American Constitution, and set free the market to run its own affairs, with government only as referee. 

In the Old Testament, God is continually urging the people, as in Deuteronomy 8:18, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day.”  See also Joshua 1:1-9.   God wants to confirm His covenant with us, in which He promises to make us flourish.  That is part of the meaning of the law being made for man, not man for the law.  Following the law naturally and organically leads to success.  Just like following the directions for maintaining your automobile.   

And in the New Testament, we hear Jesus telling the disciples, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these [material blessings] will be yours as well” (Matthew 6:25-33).   Spiritual obedience leads to material success.  That is not true in the foolish sense of thinking that God is obligated to honor our requests.  Success comes from obedience, following the way of the cross, not from our “claiming it” from God.  There are no claims we can make on God.  Obedience might lead through very tough times, especially when repentance is required.  But in the end, it leads to success in all the ways which God has promised in His covenant with us—the Kingdom, all the riches of heaven.   

The socialist/communist solution to economic problems gives the economic power into the hands of those who already own (or want to own) all the weapons (the government), a perfect prescription for tyranny (as in “the perfect storm”).  All of the available evidence tells us that the concentration of power into the hands of any group or person will end, not in a just and righteous redistribution of wealth, but in the concentration of wealth into the hands of those with the power.  Power must be distributed in order to keep the wealth distributed—as in the separation of powers and federalism upon which our constitution is formed.   

Government centralizers are enemies of God, of the American Constitution, and thus of we, the people.  That is true, as the founders of America stated, because we humans are not angels, and need “help” in loving one another.  The only effective antidote to the concentration of power is the law and the grace of the living God which dictates the separation and dispersion of power and authority.  
   

The Rise & Fall of the Middle Class

 Napoleon derisively called the English “a nation of shopkeepers”, i.e., unfit to make war on France, in contrast to themselves as the cultured and civilized, and so, one supposes, themselves the elite with the right to make war on whomever they so desired (as Napoleon murderously did).  But it was those “shopkeepers”, those entrepreneurs, who kept producing better ships, weapons, and other goods which enabled Britain to dominate the world for a century.  And it was Napoleon, whose government was centralized around himself, who put the newly growing middle class again in certain peril. 

The British (et al) defeated Napoleon, but lost their lead in the economic race, because, as with George III, they would not support the freedoms of the rising middle class in America and so lost America.  Americans understood that their economic (as well as political and spiritual) freedoms were from God, not from George III. 

The genius of entrepreneurship thus shifted to America, the new land of the free and home of the brave, where, for perhaps the first time in history, the common man could own land securely and outright, not as renting a plot in the king’s realm, but full ownership.  He could then use his land as secure collateral for a bank loan to start a farm or business.  Fueled by such advantages, the entrepreneurial enterprise took off all across America.  Newly freed individuals were having a very successful go at producing the “good society”.  

It could have worked, not perfectly but substantially, had the people kept their covenant with God as indicated in the Declaration of Independence.  They understood themselves to be separating from George III to become more rightly dependent upon and obedient to God Himself.   “No king but Jesus!” proclaimed the Presbyterian clergy.  

But, sadly, it does not appear that the arrival of the middle class was understood by many, even in America, as a gift from God, and that God, not secularism, was bringing civilization to a new level of maturity, based on the principle of equality in the Image of God.  Too many Christians had misunderstood and rejected the Biblical cooperation between spiritual and material, and saw politics and economics as “unspiritual”.  They wanted to be “spiritual” in a manner that was not Biblical.  It came to be called “pietism”.  The Christians were thus unable to keep the powerhouse of the rising economy united with their God-given limited government for a free people.  Christians failed to see and proclaim that it was God, not a secular economic and political structure, that was blessing them materially. 

So, by the end of the 1800’s, the whole process was being successfully secularized, due largely to the failure of Christians to defend their case in public, and to the newly-recast-by-secularists “positivist” law which rejected God as  the source of all government authority.  It had taken over a millennia for the notion of the equality of all men everywhere to effectively challenge the pagan belief that the strong can and should rule the weak, that slavery is natural, and that might makes right.  It took less than a century in the West for it to be shredded. 
   

The French Revolution

The negative reaction had begun with a vengeance in the late 1700’s.  The ink had hardly dried on the American Constitution. 

The French rejection of God, intended nor not, meant the rejection also of individuality in any healthy sense.  The atomized secular individual is easy prey for centralized government.  It might have been largely the newly emerging French middle class, who were champing at the bit for freedom and saw both Church and State as their enemies.  They did not see that the proper wedding of Church and State would be their best friend, and so the French middle class became its own worst enemy. 

Americans saw it differently.  Only God can unite we, the people, in a substantial manner— by way of moral and spiritual consensus, to hold government on a tether so as to keep our freedoms from the ever-present danger of power-centralization.  That was why the rise of the middle class in America was so productive.  America began with the first substantial beginnings of that proper relation between Church and State, where the Church is the moral and spiritual teacher and the worship leader, but in a freemarket of ideas where it has to compete for adherents (that same freemarket which Christians began in the Middle Ages). 

In that arrangement, the government holds the gun of enforcement, but is tied by the Constitution to using the gun only as directed by the morally and spiritually informed public through their elected representatives.  That was the basic foundation of a government limited for the freedom of the people.  The Church part as worship leader and moral teacher was absolutely essential.  Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution could have been written by a non-Biblical people. 

The French Revolution was a counter-attack not just against the tyrannies of a decadently Christian Europe, it was in effect, even if not intended, a counter-attack against the growing freedom of the people.  That was evident from the very process of the French Revolution from one butchery to the next.  Despite their claims to be against the tyranny of the Church and royalty, they inspired a far more repressive tyranny, which did not take long to deploy itself in the form of Communism, the absolute centralization of all freedoms into the hands of the now secular central few. 

Communism was never about redistributing to the poor, other than for the “useful idiots” who believed such things, as Lenin himself said.  Communism is about redistribution fromboth the middle class and the poor, and from those rich who disagree, into the pockets of the centralized few.  A whole new aristocracy of secular sheer brute power—all for our good, of course. 

Communism has never been “for the people”.  Like Islam, it has flourished only under coercive centralization, by force.  No surprise that communism and Islam work so often together.  Communism has never been supported substantially by “the people” uprising to throw off the chains of capitalism.  Capitalism, under the law and grace of God and under a properly limited government, is by far the most effective and most just redistributor of wealth ever invented— which communism claims to be. 

It was Antonio Gramsci, a 1930’s Italian communist, who wrote the playbook, not for military takeover of the world as dictated by Lenin and Stalin, but by the long slow march through the cultural institutions, exactly what is happening today— with the Church and politicians stubbornly oblivious.  Or in cahoots.   (See also Yuri Besmenov, ex-KGB agent, interviewed by G. Edward Griffin.)
  

Equality of Results? or of Opportunity?

The French Revolution and its offspring put the unifying of the human race right back into the hands of the powerful, not into the hands of the righteous under God.  And that means the end of the middle class.  There are the rich and powerful and there are the poor and weak.  It is no accident that the central enemy of Communism is the middle class under God.  No centralized government, whether from the right, center, or left, can allow the free dynamism of a healthy middle class.  The middle class under God is a powerful block to tyranny.  Under the law and grace of God is how America was founded. 

Government-given equality is equality-of-results.  Government is unable to give equality-of-opportunity because that equality is based on the love of God for His people, the ability and right to be themselves by being made in the Image of God.  That ontological personal security, standing on the omnipotent Hand of God, hearing the commanding Word of God, is what sets individuals free to be productive in a cooperative and loving way.  The world cannot give that security (it is called “salvation”).   

Equal results requires massive coercion and control because a free people will not willingly line up in regimented rows of equal results.  Forced equal results thus drives out freewill equal opportunity.  Equal opportunity comes from the freewill moral and spiritual consensus of the people which allows each of them to participate in the community life as they believe God or their conscience to be leading them.  That freemarket of ideas again.  Their value and security as human beings (established by God) undergirds their participation, which is what gives it such power.  That is why all tyrants make war on Biblical religion. 

Without that affirmation of personhood from God, the fallen in the world must beg, borrow, or steal their sense of value from someone in the world.  Civil government is glad to pretend that it can give it, but is not capable of giving any person his value because government is not the creator of its citizens.  It is the creature of, and thus to be the servant of, the citizens under God. 
    

America becoming a “3rd-World” Nation

Over the 1900’s, we began to hear about “3rd world” nations, who, we thought, needed to be blessed by our shiny new secularized “liberal democracy“.  Liberal democracy (which is neither liberal nor democratic) is supposed to be the secular version of what God had given us, God no longer being thought essential to the project of the good life. 

“Blessing” Iraq that way was part of the justification for invading Iraq, and other meddlings abroad.  But so-called liberal democracy has rejected and lost what God had given America, the spiritual energy of a people free to be themselves under the law and grace of God, not under the say-so of their wanna-be human masters.  So the “3rd world” cannot be rescued by liberal democracy, which only puts them under a new and more competent overlord, now equipped with mind-control, and with surveillance and incarceration techniques beyond all previous imagination. 

We hear (perhaps accurate) predictions of America becoming a 3rd world country, due to our financial disabilities falling back into the poverty-ridden state of affairs.  The capacity for a people to generate wealth by capitalism depends on their having a dependable money and banking system, and a dependable government which referees honestly.  And those conditions require a moral commitment and consensus by the people— which only God can give. 

We in America lost both of those in any effective manner probably early in the 1900’s, at least by the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, beginning possibly as early as the war between the states.  Lawyers and politicians had by the 1850’s begun to make law without regard to the law of God—positivist law which claims to owe no allegiance to either the law of God or any other law higher than the government itself.  Positivist law effectively gutted the Constitution of its authority and legitimacy, which should have been considered an act of treason, but the watchmen in the Biblical towers were asleep somewhere in a poppy field. 

3rd world nations are those which have not yet raised up a middle class independent enough to govern their own decisions about the creation of wealth.  They still live under a government which controls from the top down, generally for its own benefit, not that of the people. 

Our present administration under Barak Obama is a long jump in that direction.  He is a government centralizer, and thus an enemy of God, of the Constitution, and of we, the people.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote of (and to) George III, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”   George III had not done nearly the damage which Obama and his handlers are doing.  They are moving America as close to communism as they can get it, openly, right in front of our eyes, and in the process, necessarily eroding the middle class, whom they want closely under government control.  Thus the middle class is reduced to poverty and the rich become corporate monopolists. 
   

Unity, Freewill, & Coercion 

Civil government is primarily (and rightly) about coercion.  Everything government does, it does at gunpoint.  We rarely see the gun when we agree with and obey the laws.  Some things ought to be coerced, such as keeping contracts, protection against robbery, murder, invasion, etc.  But only a few things ought to be coerced, which is why righteous government is severely limited.  Some things ought never be coerced, such as religion, education, health care, and welfare—prime targets of centralizers because they can be made into powerful tools of control—as ever communist knows.  Centralized government will try to coerce all of these, not to bless the people but to bless themselves with its control over them. 

Government produces nothing, so it can give only what it has taken away from someone else, which means, for example, welfare and generosity at gunpoint— what ought to be an obvious self-contradiction.  Government can give only through coercion.  But it is not rightly, and should not become, either a redistributor of wealth nor a producer of goods.  Its rightful role is primarily as referee in the game of life for the producers and consumers— which means that it may not play in the game. 

With the Biblical model, the unity of the people comes from their freewill decision to love and obey God and to love one another just as they love themselves.  With the secular/pagan model, there is no moral order, so unity of the people must be maintained by threat and coercion.  Top down coercion of equal results means the end of middle class entrepreneurship because the power of Godly entrepreneurship comes from the bottom up and from within, from one’s relationship to God which sets one free to be creative.  This kind of entrepreneurship is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Civil government cannot give that gift of unity or entrepreneurship.  The American Declaration of Independence is thus the theological underpinning for all American civil government.
  

At a Crossroads

Europe has already chosen the wrong path.  America is at the same cross roads.  The forces of government centralization, mainly through government schooling, have captured the minds of our people, and pacified/neutralized/paralyzed most of those who disagree with them.  It will remain that way until the people, under the law and grace of God, are willing to confront, openly and vigorously, the government with that law and grace.

With God, no situation is hopeless, but we are far behind the 8-ball, and it will take a spiritual renewal in the Church of God to change things.  We face a spiritual far more than an economic or political problem.  That means the reconversion of the Church before the politicians.  The Moral Majority of some years ago, and many other attempts by Christians to change things ran aground on just these issues.  They should have aimed at the reconversion of their churches before reconversion of the politicians.  A 3rd-world country is one where the people have not yet been set free by the law and grace of God to manage their own prosperity.  That is what America is becoming because the Church, by and large, does not see the public realm as any of its business.  God does not agree. 

We will not have the right people in government until we have the right people in the pulpits and at the altars of America and as heads of their families— to raise up the right people for government and commerce.  We need a renewed black-robed regiment, like the Presbyterian preachers who proclaimed, to the dismay of the British under George III, “No king but Jesus!”.   Families and churches are the smithies where Godly souls are forged. 

That is again why centralized government makes war to subdue both of them.  “Public education”, taken out of the hands of parents, from birth to grave is the project of centralizers to reduce family and church to its own will.  Government control of education will subvert or destroy the freemarket of ideas because the governors will educate the people to reelect them.  Education then becomes a closed loop, mind-control, not a process open to exploring the truth. 

But, the centralizers know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.  We must rebuild a Church that does know, so that it can set the record straight on why God has given us a middle entrepreneurial class and a limited government.  The two go together.  God wants us to obey Him so that He can confirm His covenant.   No country needs to remain (or become) a 3rd-world country, but to change things requires submission to God. 

St. Peter was ministering in Rome, which was turning violent against Christians.  He was on his way out of Rome when the risen Jesus met him and asked, “Petrus, quo vadis?”  “Peter, where are you going?”   Peter understood and turned around back to Rome where he was later crucified upside down.  The path to success is not always easy, but it is always possible.  For the obedient, God will confirm His covenant with America (Bible, Declaration, and Constitution). 

America, quo vadis? 

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Where is the Outrage? Part 2.

So Mr. Holder was particularly foolish to claim that “the Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning—when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear”. Self-defense never applies to a putative assailant’s mere “planning”. That Jones may be thinking very hard about killing Smith does not allow Smith to kill Jones in purported “self-defense”. Rather, there must be hostile action by Jones, actually taking place, that is capable of causing death or severe bodily injury to Smith at that moment. Self-defense is justified only “when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear” to the victim. Before “the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear”—that is, when one or more of those variables is not known—self-defense is premature, because the proof of its necessity is absent.

(b) By hypothesis, in any situation in which self-defense with deadly force is justifiable, capture of the assailant is not feasible. If it were, then the use of deadly force would be contra-indicated. But that the capture of some suspected “terrorist” is not feasible is, by itself, no justification for an “official homicide”. One wonders how very extraordinary the circumstances would have to be for the impossibility of capturing some suspected “terrorist” to be a plausible excuse for an “official homicide”. For instance, if capture of the “terrorist” were not feasible because no one knew where he was, he obviously could not be targeted for an “official homicide”. If his location were known, but so inaccessible that no one could get at him to effect his capture, how would he be able to mount an attack on the United States—by some form of remote control over a “weapon of mass destruction”? And would any “terrorist” sufficiently sophisticated to have devised, built, and planted such an infernal machine simply wait, hunched over the plunger of the firing-device in some squalid hut in Obscuristan (or Cleveland, Ohio, for that matter), long enough to be targeted for a “hit” by a sniper firing an Accuracy International rifle chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, by a cruise missile, or by a death-dealing drone? Besides, if the “terrorist’s” location and plan were known—which information would be necessary in order to carry out an “official homicide”—would not the location of his infernal machine likely also be known, so that it could be disarmed? Plainly, Mr. Holder would have been more credible if he had provided some real-life examples—if any there be—of “terrorists” known to have posed actual “imminent” threats to the United States when their captures were not feasible.

(c) Contrary to Mr. Holder’s assertion, “official homicides” of Americans must comply, not “with * * * four fundamental law of war principles”, but with one. And that one absolutely excludes “official homicides”.

Recall Mr. Holder’s statement that “[w]e are a nation at war”. Assuming for the purposes of argument that this is true as a matter of fact, those rogue American citizens who (in Mr. Holder’s words) “have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country” are, in the Constitution’s words, as a matter of law committing “Treason” by “levying War against the[ United States], or * * * adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”. U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cl. 1. This is “the law of war”—and the only “law of war”—to which every American “terrorist” is subject. If an individual American is “levying War against the[ United States]”, the constitutional law of “Treason” applies. And because the constitutional law of “Treason” applies to such a situation, no other “law of war” (or “law” of any other kind) can apply, except insofar as it perfectly embodies, enforces, or is at least is consistent with the law of “Treason”.

Now, the law of “Treason” requires that “[n]o Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court”. U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cl. 1. “No Person.” “Treason”, of course, is a “crime”. “The trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury”; and “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury”. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 3 and amend. VI. So, to be “convicted” of “Treason”, a “Person” must have “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury”, at which the evidence includes, at the minimum, “the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or * * * Confession in open Court”. Is it not self-evident that a “Person” who is killed on the mere suspicion of “Treason” is thereby effectively “convicted of Treason” in the most palpable and permanent manner possible? And, that being so, is it conceivable that, having set out an elaborate judicial procedure and strict evidentiary standards in explicit terms, the Constitution nonetheless left to implication a power in the President to circumvent and effectively negate the law of “Treason” by killing outright any and all “Person[s]” merely suspected of “Treason”, without trial or sufficient evidence (indeed, with perhaps no competent evidence at all)? But these questions answer themselves.

So, once again, one sees upon the very face of the Constitution the refutation of Mr. Holder’s position. Yes, “‘[d]ue process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security”. For “when it comes to national security” against “Treason”, the Constitution explicitly mandates “judicial process”, and only “judicial process”, not some bastardized “due process” that would have been far more familiar to Bugsy Siegal and Albert Anastasia than to James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

At this point, one should hope, sufficient reason, authority, and common sense have been marshaled to put paid to Mr. Holder’s complaint that “the use of th[e] loaded term [‘assassination’] is misplaced”. Because no legal basis exists for killing out of hand American citizens who “levy[ ] War against the[ United States]”, “assassination” is a perfectly descriptive and justifiable term for what is going on.

5. To be sure, at one point in his address Mr. Holder seemed to limit the reach of the doctrine of “official assassinations”: to wit, “an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful”. But from everything else he said (discussed above), the permanent limitation of these “operation[s] using lethal force [to] a foreign country” cannot be expected. And certainly nothing in the doctrine of “official assassinations” itself, or in the pseudo-constitutional apologies Mr. Holder presented on its behalf, suggests that it can or will be so geographically confined. After all, “national security” surely applies in “the homeland”. And the President may exercise his powers as “Commander in Chief” as well within the United States as outside. If the President may order “official assassinations” of American citizens suspected of “terrorism” when they are found outside of the United States, why cannot he order such assassinations when the targets are inside of the country?

In addition, Mr. Holder denied that

the Executive Branch has—or should ever have—the ability to target any such individuals without robust oversight. Which is why, in keeping with the law and our constitutional system of checks and balances, the Executive Branch regularly informs the appropriate members of Congress about our counterterrorism activities, including the legal framework, and would of course follow the same procedure where lethal force is used against United States citizens.

The self-evident fallacy in this assurance is that no “checks and balances” could prove to be of any value to a target of an “official assassination” after his death. To be meaningful, a “check”—in the sense of a mechanism capable of causing “a sudden stoppage of a course of action”—would need to prevent the killing, until some further constitutional process might determine whether it were justified.

Beyond that, if the “checks and balances” operated only ex post facto, would the Executive Branch: (i) identify its victims; (ii) admit that their deaths resulted from “official homicides”; (iii) provide evidence establishing at least a prima facie case of “national self-defense” to justify those killings; and (iv) identify everyone who had ordered and committed the killings, and waive any “official immunity” they might claim, so that they could be prosecuted or sued for damages if the evidence of “self-defense” turned out to be insufficient? After all, if those who incited, ordered, and perpetrated these homicides honestly believed themselves to be satisfying the standards of “national self-defense” in doing so, what would they have to fear from full disclosure? One suspects that Hell will freeze over before Mr. Holder, or anyone else in the Administration, proposes any such requirements.

The major demerit in Mr. Holder’s promise of “robust oversight” is the one endemic to all forms of political “oversight” within the government: namely, quis custodes custodiet? Who will oversee the overseers, and impose penalties when the oversight is not conducted properly? Why should Americans trust some “oversight” committee of Congress any more than the rogue officials of the Executive Branch the committee is to “oversee”? Every relevant indicium should convince any observer of the General Government that, for as long as runs the memory of any living man, Congress has conducted little to no effective “oversight” of the Executive Branch, the Administrative State, the Military-Industrial Complex, or the Federal Reserve System’s banking cartel—even as this country has been led into economic collapse, as foreign military adventures have proliferated, and as the Executive Branch has claimed the power to kill without trial any American on whom it chooses to pin some opprobrious label. In the course of all of Congress’s “oversight” throughout the years, have the officials called upon to testify always told the truth, or been compelled to do so when they balked? When their lies or other abuses were exposed, were those officials impeached, convicted, and removed from their positions? Was the legislation under color of which they perpetrated their wrongdoing repealed or radically revised? Were the agencies or programs they misused terminated, defunded, or reorganized? No, no, and once again no!

And what if the Executive Branch were to “inform[ ] the appropriate members of Congress about * * * counterterrorism activities” by providing for Congressional “oversight” the names of American citizens who had been killed out of hand as suspected “terrorists”, “enemy combatants”, and so on? Congress’s approval of such a proscription list would amount to an ex post facto “Bill of Attainder”—which would be worse than a “Bill of Attainder” Congress itself unconstitutionally drew up in the first place, because in the latter case: (i) Congress would determine who should be included in the “Bill of Attainder”, and (ii) Congress could change its mind before the “Bill of Attainder” passed, or might repeal the “Bill of Attainder” before it was put into fatal effect.

And even with such information in hand, what could Congress do if it disapproved of the proscription list, in whole or in part? Ask the Messiah in the Whitened Sepulcher on Pennsylvania Avenue to resurrect the victims? Moreover, assuming for purposes of argument that strong disapproval from Congress would have some chastening effect upon officials in the Executive Branch, what if the Executive Branch “inform[ed] the appropriate members of Congress about * * * [American] counterterrorism activities” that were instigated by some foreign nation or some international or supra-national organization—in the manner that Secretary of Defense Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey recently told Congress it might be informed when the President involves American Armed Forces in foreign military adventures on the say-so of some foreign interests? Would hot words from Congress faze bureaucrats in some foreign country, or in some international or supra-national organization, or simply provide further evidence of Congress’s impotence, irrelevance, and inanity?

6. Of course, at the end of the day, one does not need to be a constitutional scholar, but only to be possessed of common sense, to know that the very people who claim the power to kill their fellow citizens without trial, on the basis of mere suspicions, are the very last people who should ever be allowed to wrap their hands around the instruments through which such a power could be exercised. That is, such a claim of homicidal power, by itself, should be deemed sufficient to support a permanent disqualification from public office of any and every individual asserting it.

Yet, as grotesque as are the claims of the Executive Branch to the power to perpetrate “official assassinations”, perhaps even more disquieting is the utter lack of outrage on the part of the general public. True enough, if sixty years ago someone had predicted with perfect accuracy the actual sequence of steps by which the General Government would degenerate into the homicidal para-military police state that confronts this country today, would such an individual not have been considered a fit candidate for sedation in a mental institution? Nonetheless, actual events have validated such a prediction, in spades. Where, though, are the mass protests? Where are the marches in Washington, D.C., and in the States’ capitals? Nowhere. And why? Is it because, over the last sixty years, ordinary Americans have become inured to “official assassinations”? For example, could any thinking person be found today who would deny that Lee Harvey Oswald—just the most famous of the many individuals who ended up prematurely and violently dead because of their connections with the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—was the victim of an “official assassination”? What about the atrocity at Waco? Would any thinking person describe that as other than an “official assassination” en masse—and of women and children who could not possibly have been guilty of any crime deserving of any punishment, let alone death? Were not these killings perpetrated within the United States? Were not the paw prints of rogue officials of the General Government all over the crime scenes? So perhaps “more of the same” today is, as the wag said, just “déjà vue all over again”.[1]

Well, it may in fact be “déjà vue”, but in a most perverse sense. The old saying, “those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”, does not apply only to ancient history. Not that long ago—in 1934 to be precise—Adolf Hitler first openly asserted his supposed personal authority as Führer to order executions of Germans without trials, licensing himself to preempt and overrule the courts under the style of “the supreme judge of the German people”. The German Army’s General Staff imprudently supported him in these murderous pretensions, because his first “official assassinations” eliminated the dangerously radical and corrupt leadership of the Sturmabteilung (“the Storm Troopers” or “SA”), which threatened the Army’s martial supremacy. See John W. Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918-1945 (London, England: Macmillan and Company Limited, 1964), at 304-332. And every thinking person in the entire world knows where that seemingly isolated incident led. Yet, nonetheless, Americans are well on their way to repeating it, once again verifying the cynical wisdom of the old adage that “the only thing one learns from history is that no one ever learns anything from history”.

Sadly, Americans have proven to be a race of political Rip van Winkles. Intoxicated with materialism, they dozed off in the 1950s, and now that the kick of jackboots has rudely awakened them, they find themselves in 1984. But this situation, although dire, is not beyond correction. The Constitution prescribes what is “necessary to the security of a free State”—namely, “well regulated Militia”.

If “necessary to the security of a free State”, they must be even more necessary to the existence of “a free State”; for “a free State” must exist before it can be made secure. Self-evidently, too, the existence of “a free State” depends upon the existence its people. “[A] free State” cannot exist when some purportedly superior authority claims to exercise a power to commit “official assassinations” of anyone and everyone whom it declares to be an “enemy”. So the very first purpose of the Militia must be to preserve the lives of the people against “official assassinations”, as well as all other potentially fatal dangers—which, of course, makes perfect sense, inasmuch as the Militia are the people. But for the Militia to perform this vital function, they must exist—that is, they must be organized, armed, disciplined, and trained in the several States, whose institutions they are. Which will never happen until We the People demand it of their State legislators.

So far, however, even the threat of being “officially assassinated” has not stirred Americans to such action in their own legal, political, and physical self-defense. Let us hope that the reason is not to be found in the adage, “whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”. For part one click below.

 


 

1. The examples of Oswald and Waco further expose the flaw in Mr. Holder’s contention that the government’s supposed inability to capture a suspected “terrorist” somehow justifies an “official assassination”. In Oswald’s case, he was in custody when he was assassinated. Indeed, it was because of his capture that he was killed. He had already announced to the press that he was nothing but a “patsy”, and was sure to spill the beans on his intelligence-agency connections rather than take the fall as “the lone gunman”. So he had to be silenced. In the case of Waco, the Branch Davidians were as good as in custody—totally surrounded in their complex, isolated from outside assistance, with no means of escape. No attack on them was necessary. Rather, they could simply have been left confined there, until they ran out of food and were compelled by hunger to give themselves up. So, the mass “official assassination” was set in motion in spite of their capture. Apparently, once again, rogue public officials felt the need to eliminate embarrassing witnesses to their own wrongdoing. One could also add the assassination of “Osama” (whoever the victim actually was) to this list. Under the circumstances as they have been described, any competent team of kidnappers could have taken that individual alive, strongly sedated him, and delivered him—just as they supposedly delivered his dead body—to a waiting ship. But no one was eager for “Osama” (whoever he might have been) to start talking where the public could hear. Thus, on the basis of these notorious precedents, no suspected “terrorist” could ever presume that, even if captured, he would not be assassinated anyway.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on April 9, 2012, on NewsWithViews.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

Signs of Things to Come

There is trouble in the Mideast and trouble in the Midwest. A serious drought threatens crops in the American Midwest while in the Middle East, a Saudi informant for Debka-Net-Weekly says, “It is already decided.” The United States will attack Iran in the fall. Another Debka story, dated July 12, says “The first week of October is now tagged as decision-time for attacking Iran.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in The Atlantic, doesn’t think there will be an attack on Iran. He describes a parade of U.S. officials arriving in Israel for “top-level consultations.” A short while ago Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in Israel, followed by Obama’s national security advisor, and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “The number of top American officials visiting Jerusalem is outmatched only by the number of American warships already in the Persian Gulf,” wrote Goldberg. Since negotiations have stalled with Iran, Obama is sending what Goldberg calls “the Summer 2012 Please-Don’t-Bomb-Iran Tour, starring the Obama Administration, now on stage in Jerusalem.”

The claim that Goldberg and others make is that an Israeli attack against Iran would strengthen the Iranian clerical regime, instead of weakening it. Some analysts believe that a surprise strike against Iran would make Iran appear in a sympathetic light – as the victim of U.S. imperialism or Zionist aggression. Therefore, it is best to do nothing. Continue to negotiate, etc. Others believe that a strike against Iran would rally those Iranians who oppose the regime, leading to its overthrow and freedom for the Iranian people.

What are Iran’s leaders saying about all this? A few days ago the Iranian leadership vowed to back any nation that fights America or Israel. “The oppressors – and at the helm of it America and the Zionists – have been taken by surprise by the [Arab Spring] movement and are trying with all their power to control it,” said the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a recent speech. “However, if the Islamic nations resist the conspiracies, then it is guaranteed that they will be victorious over the world oppressors.”

The U.S. has responded to this defiance by imposing a new round of sanctions against Iranian and other companies that support Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. At the same time, the United States is embarked on a buildup of forces in the Gulf. On July 11, the Los Angeles Times reported, “U.S. deploys sea drones to Persian Gulf to clear Iranian mines.” According to the Times story, “Reopening the strait could take the Navy and its allies five to 10 days, officials said. But even a temporary disruption of tanker traffic could cause global oil prices to soar and spark widespread economic turmoil.”

The global economy is on the edge. On Saturday I spoke with a friend in Lisbon, Portugal. He said that unemployment there was 17 percent. Neighboring Spain has an unemployment rate over 24 percent. Greece has 21 percent. All countries are suffering to some extent, and recovery is either shaky or not happening. What the world wants now is a smooth ride. And the Midwest, perhaps as much as the Mideast, is promising the opposite. Consider what lies behind the following Reuter’s headline: “Drought parches more of U.S. Midwest, crops suffer.” So far this is the biggest drought in 25 years, and it might get worse. This drought will affect methanol production, food exports, domestic food prices, and more. Presently, almost two-thirds of the nine-state Midwest region is suffering drought. Unless the region gets significant rainfall by August 1 there will be crop failures. (See also, the U.S. Drought Monitor.)

According to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, “Dryness and drought have been increasing both in extent and intensity across much of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, the Corn Belt region, the middle and lower Mississippi Valley, and much of the Great Plain. Drought is likely to develop, persist or intensify across these areas.” According to CNN, 1,000 counties in 26 states are natural disaster areas. About 61 percent of the lower 48 states are affected. Half the pastures and ranges are in poor or very poor condition. Not only is the United States suffering from drought, but other countries such as India have been suffering drought conditions (See the Global Drought Monitor).

It is worth noting that in 2008 Prof. William Alexander of the University of Pretoria wrote a paper titled, “The Likelihood of a Global Drought in 2009-2016.” In this paper Alexander described problems with the Global Warming hypothesis. Instead of Global Warming, Alexander believes we are headed for Global Cooling – which means global drought. Alexander noted, “This prediction model is based on the thoroughly studied, synchronous linkage between periodic solar activity and the hydro-meteorological processes…. The likelihood of prolonged, severe droughts from next year onwards is very real.” Noting the impact of the Great Depression Drought, Alexander wrote: “As I write these notes there is a considerable volume of international Internet traffic expressing concerns relating to the lack of solar activity during the past year and the possibility that the world may be entering an ice age.”

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on July 16, 2012. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Dr. Ted Baehr Responds to the DARK KNIGHT Massacre

In a statement today, Christian media scholar and family values advocate Dr. Ted Baehr responded to the news of the shooting massacre of at least a dozen people early this morning in Aurora, Colo. at a midnight showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:

“The shooting at the midnight showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will be blamed on many things.

“One reporter who called me this morning blamed it on violence in movies. Certainly, violence in movies, television, and video games has had a tremendous impact on society. Over 500,000 studies, capped by the latest Dartmouth University study, show that violence in the media influences susceptible youths to commit violence. That said, most people are not susceptible. Most are just desensitized or scared.

“Another reporter blamed it specifically on the Batman movies. Yet, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is nowhere near as violent as the last Batman movie, and Batman himself tells Catwoman not to shoot to kill in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. The message of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is justice and self-sacrifice. The villains and the killers in the movie are the ‘socialist left-wing Occupy Wall Street power to the people’ villain Bane and his compatriots, who are clearly shown to be wrong, evil and bad, and who get their comeuppance. Also, it would have been almost impossible for this killer in Colorado to have even seen the new Batman movie before the 12:30 screening.

“Some people will blame it on guns, although countries that have tried hard to crack down on guns, like England, are now finding that knives and head butting are out of control. Thus, it isn’t the head-butting or the knives, but the fact that people are stewing in the juice of their own wickedness, because, as the Bible says, they don’t know the loving God who gave us a way of salvation through Jesus Christ from the wickedness of the human heart.

“Some people will blame poverty, or a lack of education. But, James Holmes, the alleged killer, was getting his doctorate in neuroscience and came from an upper middle class family!

“People will look at every possible reason – maybe some will ponder the fact that Holmes was a Democrat and hated the anti-socialist message of the movie.

“Actually, none of these reasons answer the question ‘Why.’ The fact is that this is an evil act committed by an evil person, who did not know the truth of Jesus Christ that would set him free from such wickedness. The answer is not more laws, the answer is not to banish movies, nor neuroscience programs, nor weapons that can be used to protect, but rather to get the Word of God out. Because ‘faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:17).’

“I used to be on the radical left, but Jesus Christ got hold of me, and I’ve tried to live my life every day by enjoying Him, using the power of God’s Holy Spirit. As the Word of God says in Galatians 5:22-23, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’

“If you ban the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ from society, including the education system, you’re not banning God; you’re banning goodness, justice, truth, peace, kindness, joy, gentleness, self-control, and love.”

11

Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including “The Culture-Wise Family” with legendary entertainer Pat Boone, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Study of Culture, Media, and Mass Entertainment at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.

This article was originally published on MovieGuide on July 20, 2012. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Hypnotic Contraption

The three main agents of the globalization process, as we saw in a previous article, are not species of the same genus: one is a group of governments, the other an international community of billionaires, the third a religious culture without borders, scattered even throughout enemy territory.

Only the first can be described in the usual terms of geopolitics, but insofar as the project of the Russian Empire expands into a “Eurasian empire,” any attempt to define it geopolitically encounters insurmountable obstacles. Since the Eurasian dominion also encompasses Islam, it borders on the comic that the great Russian strategist Aleksandr Dugin presents the contest for power in the world as a struggle between “land empires” and “maritime empires,” classifying “Eurasia” among the first, and the United States in the second group.

On the one hand, Islam, after having occupied its surrounding territories with great ease, achieved world-wide projection as a maritime power above all. In the second half of the ninth century—Paolo Taufer writes in his magnificent study “Islamic Expansionism Yesterday and Today—“all the major shipping routes were in fact controlled by the Muslims: from the Strait of Gibraltar to the South China Sea, from the ports of Egypt which communicate with the Red Sea to Syria.” As to Russia (then USSR), its power in the twentieth century was based less on the strength of their armies than on the active presence of the Communist Party and the Soviet secret service in all nations and continents. There was nothing “terrestrial” in the sprawling expansion of the Kremlin in Africa or Latin America. I cannot believe that Nikita Khrushchev’s soldiers brought on foot the missiles they installed in Cuba in 1962. The fight between the Land and Sea is not valid not even as a symbol, since a symbol only works when it bears within itself, synthetically, a multitude of actual facts, not fiction. The Eurasian empire is not a symbol, is a Sorelian myth—which is the same as saying: a huge carrot dangled on a stick to entice a donkey, a hypnotic contraption designed to put millions of idiots in pursuit of a future that will never be what it promises.

If the mission of an intellectual in dark times is to name names, to exorcise empty words, and change stupefying slogans for an accurate representation of the state of affairs, pro-Eurasian intellectuals fail miserably in fulfilling their duty. All they can claim as a mitigating factor is that the strategists of the two other globalizing blocks have also become notable less for their realism than for their prodigious ability to cloak the world under the projective image of their respective interests.

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published in the Brazilian newspaper Diário do Comércio on March 7, 2011, and translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.

Where is the Outrage? Part 1.

On 5 March 2012, Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder presented an address at the Northwestern University School of Law (Chicago, Illinois), in which he defended the Obama Administration’s claim—and, if the truth be told, the Bush and Clinton Administrations’ claims, too—that the President of the United States, in his capacity of “Commander in Chief”, may order, approve, or condone “official assassinations” of American citizens, simply because someone in the military or civilian bureaucracy deems those individuals to be “terrorists”, “enemy combatants”, “enemy belligerents”, or somehow “associated forces” of various “terrorist” groups. Mr. Holder objected to “call[ing] such operations ‘assassinations’”, because “[a]ssassinations are unlawful killings”, whereas (according to him) “the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful”. Unfortunately—or, in light of the impossibility of the task he set himself, predictably—Mr. Holder failed to present a plausible defense of this position. Quite the contrary: He provided compelling evidence for the opposite conclusion.

1. The premise of Mr. Holder’s address is that “[w]e are a nation at war”. Who “we” might be he did not specify. Perhaps by “we” he referred to himself and his cronies in the Administration. Certainly “we” cannot be equated with WE THE PEOPLE. For Congress has not “declare[d] War” on any foreign nation since World War II, as the Constitution requires. See U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 11. And Congress could not “declare War” on international “terrorists”, who are “non-state actors” (to use the fashionable jargon)—let alone on “terrorism”, which is a tactic, not a country, a person, or even a thing. Indeed, Mr. Holder himself conceded that “[w]e are at war with a stateless enemy”. That being true, constitutionally speaking the so-called “war on terrorism” makes about as much sense as a “War” as does “the war on crime”, “the war on drugs”, or “the war on obesity” (in none of which, at least so far, has any Administration claimed the power to kill suspected “stateless enem[ies]” out of hand). But, for purposes of argument, one may accept Mr. Holder’s contention, and agree that some rogue Americans are, in fact, “waging war”—or, to use the proper constitutional phrase, “levying War”—against the United States. See U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cl. 1. As will become apparent, however, this fact does not help Mr. Holder at all.

2. Mr. Holder did make clear, though, that the Administration’s policy of “official homicides” (rather than “official assassinations”, in deference to his sensitivity on the matter of nomenclature) is aimed at Americans in America. At one point in his address, he asserted generally that “[o]ur legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan. Indeed, neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan.” So apparently “the battlefields” are everywhere. At other points, he asserted more specifically that “there are people currently plotting to murder Americans, who reside in distant countries, as well as within our own borders”; that “it is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats we face come from a small number of American citizens who have decided to commit violent acts against their own country from abroad; and that “it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted”. Well, if some of these rogue Americans “reside * * * within our own borders”, and “are currently plotting to murder Americans”, and their “current[ ] plotting” justifies their “being targeted” for “official homicide”, then one must presume that they will be “targeted” right here, where they are, in “the land of free and the home of the brave”, rather than somewhere else where they are not and may never be. Surely the heroes and heroines within the “national-security” bureaucracy will not allow this “plotting” to come to bloody fruition simply because the perpetrators “reside * * * within our own borders”. Indeed, that they do “reside * * * within our own borders” should make their neutralization that much more urgent. After all, as Mr. Holder himself maintained, although “[i]t is preferable to capture suspected terrorists and to bring captured terrorists to justice”, “we must also recognize that there are instances where our government has the clear authority—and * * * the responsibility—to defend the United States through the appropriate and lawful use of lethal force”. And where should this “authority” and “responsibility” be exercised, if not in “the homeland” itself?

3. Mr. Holder did concede that, although “United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted”, “it does mean that the government must take into account all relevant constitutional considerations with respect to United States citizens—even those who are leading efforts to kill innocent Americans”. Nonetheless, having appealed to “all relevant constitutional considerations”, he then focused on only one: “Of these [constitutional considerations], the most relevant is the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which says that the government may not deprive a citizen of his or her life without due process of law”. Perhaps it is overly pedantic to expect the Attorney General of the United States, while addressing an audience at a major law school, to have recalled that the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause is not limited to “a citizen”, but extends instead to every “person”, alien as well as citizen, without distinction.

If so, then surely it risks asking too much to expect that he would also have noticed the clause in the Fifth Amendment which precedes the Due Process Clause at the very head of the Amendment, and provides that “[n]o person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger”. Although some cases of alleged “terrorism” may “aris[e] in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia”, to simplify analysis they may be set to one side. In all other—purely civilian—cases, “terrorism” and kindred “plot[s] to murder Americans” or “to commit violent acts” are “capital, or otherwise infamous crime[s]” for which “[n]o person shall be held to answer * * * unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury”. Self-evidently, a “person” who is killed by government agents on the mere suspicion of actually having committed, let alone simply plotting to commit, “a capital, or otherwise infamous crime” is “held to answer for * * * [that] crime” in the most decisive manner imaginable—yet without “a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury”, let alone the trial by jury to which such “a presentment or indictment” would entitle him. See U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 3 and amend. VI.

Even more “relevant constitutional considerations”, though, are to be found in the provisions of the Constitution that ban “Bills of Attainder”. U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 3 and § 10, cl. 1. As I have already touched on this subject in my NewsWithViews commentary “Death Squads”, I shall refer the reader there for the details.

That Mr. Holder said nothing about “a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury” or about “Bills of Attainder” perhaps betrayed merely a light and careless approach to his duties. For the first rule of analysis where “due process of law” is concerned is that “[w]e must examine the Constitution itself to see whether th[e] process [at issue] be in conflict with any of its provisions”. Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land and Improvement Company, 59 U.S. (18 Howard) 272, 277 (1856) (emphasis supplied). The real reason for Mr. Holder’s apparently slipshod legal scholarship, one suspects, was neither ignorance nor insouciance, but instead art. By focusing solely on the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, he was able to appeal to the notion that

[t]he Supreme Court has made clear that the Due Process Clause does not impose one-size-fits-all requirements, but instead mandates procedural safeguards that depend on specific circumstances. In cases arising under the Due Process Clause—including a case involving a U.S. citizen captured in the conflict against al Qaeda—the Court has applied a balancing approach, weighing the private interest that will be affected against the interest the government is trying to protect, and the burdens the government would face in providing additional process.

Unfortunately for Mr. Holder, especially as applied to the case of “official homicide”, the Supreme Court’s theory that “procedural safeguards * * * depend on specific circumstances” is basically nonsense.

Actually, in any case, invocation of “a balancing approach” is gibberish unless one can specify what sort of laboratory scale, calibrated against what standard of measure, is to be employed. Similarly, to talk of “weighing the private interest * * * against the interest the government is trying to protect” is senseless unless one can specify the units of measure to be employed. In the Supreme Court’s system, no one knows what the point of “balance” is, or with what units of measure “interests” are to be “weighed”, until one reads the Court’s opinion, in which the ad hoc result of the “balancing” is announced. There being no fixed point of “balance” and no fixed units of “weight”, in no case is the result either verifiable or falsifiable—and therefore the entire system must be condemned as utterly unscientific. It is not constitutional, either, because rather than being based upon fixed standards and objective methods that yield reproducible results, it is unpredictable, subjective, and arbitrary. And meant to be so. The purpose of “balancing” and “weighing” “interests” is to enable the Justices to make up “due process of law” as they go along.

They even call this rigamarole the “gradual process of judicial inclusion and exclusion, as the cases presented for decision shall require”. Davidson v. City of New Orleans, 96 U.S. 97, 104 (1878). A process that allows for both “inclusion and exclusion”, though, enables the Justices to circumvent constitutional restraints in the guise of enforcing them. Every student of law knows that changes in procedures (“due process”) can have extremely deleterious effects on the substantive rights those procedures are supposed to protect. “A right without a remedy is as if it were not. For every beneficial purpose it may be said not to exist.” United States ex rel. Von Hoffman v. City of Quincy, 71 U.S. (4 Wallace) 535, 554 (1867). Accord, Poindexter v. Greenhow, 114 U.S. 270, 303 (1885); Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 163 (1803). The requirement of a “presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury” mandates two particular judicial procedures; and the prohibition of “Bills of Attainder” prohibits a specific legislative procedure. Obviously, this requirement and this prohibition are not subject to “a balancing approach”, to “weighing”, or to “inclusion and exclusion”. The constitutional language “[n]o person shall be held to answer” and “[n]o Bill of Attainder * * * shall be passed” leaves nothing to “balance”, nothing to “weigh”, and certainly nothing to exclude. It is categorical and absolute. Which, one suspects, is why Mr. Holder chose to say absolutely nothing about it.

The short answer to quibbles about “due process”, however, is that, despite Mr. Holder, where “official homicides” are concerned “procedural safeguards [do not] depend on specific circumstances”. When the Fifth Amendment declares that “[n]o person shall * * * be deprived of life * * * without due process of law” it incorporates into “due process of law” every requirement of “due process” to be found elsewhere in the Constitution. So, “due process of law” includes “[n]o person[’s] * * * be[ing] held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury”, and no person’s being the subject of a “Bill of Attainder”. One could go further, and point out that the Fourth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of the people”—that is, of all Americans—“to be secure in their persons * * * against unreasonable * * * seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing * * * the persons * * * to be seized”. Self-evidently, if no “persons” may even be “seized” without judicial “Warrants * * * upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation”, how may any “persons” be simply killed out of hand, with no prior judicial involvement at all? Is homicide not the most extreme form of “seizure[ ]” of a “person[ ]” imaginable? Or one could also ask whether an “official homicide” of some individual, with no prior judicial determination of guilt, does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. For death is certainly a “punishment”. And that is it imposed on the basis of mere suspicion should make it both “cruel and unusual” as a matter of law, in light of the many times the Constitution mandates some sort of judicial process before any supposed “Crime” may be investigated, charged, or tried, let alone actually punished. See U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 3; amends. IV, V, and VI. Or one might ask, if “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States”, how can a régime of “official assassinations” without trial, let alone conviction, be allowed to “exist within the United States”? See U.S. Const. amend XIII (emphasis supplied). Those condemned to “slavery [ ]or involuntary servitude”, after all, at least remain alive. But stressing these additional points would merely bring owls to Athens.

4. Mr. Holder contended that

the President is [not] required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. * * * “Due Process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.

Of course, this sort of argument begs the question. The truism “not all cows are Jersey cows, but all Jersey cows are cows” does not, by itself, tell us what kind of a cow is standing before us (or what kind of bull, either). So, too, with “due process”. That there may be forms of “due process” which are not “judicial process” does not tell us whether “official homicides” require “judicial process”, some other sort of “due process”, or perhaps no “process” at all.

On the other hand, Mr. Holder was accidentally correct in his statement that “the President is [not] required to get permission from a federal court before” engaging in an “official homicide”—for “federal court[s]” have no authority whatsoever to give permission, or absolution, for an “official homicide”. One can search Article III of the Constitution until his eyes go blind without finding the slightest suggestion that the Supreme Court can authorize “official homicides”. The Constitution does invest “[t]he judicial Power * * * in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish”. U.S. Const. art. III, § 1. And it delegates to Congress the corresponding power “[t]o constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court”. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 9. But, in “constitut[ing such] Tribunals” (as in the exercise of all of its other powers), Congress may not disregard the Constitution’s absolute prohibition of “Bills of Attainder” by purporting to delegate a power it does not have to make anyone the subject of an “Attainder”. (Except in one situation: Congress may make “Attainder of Treason” a “Punishment [for] Treason”; but that “Punishment” may be imposed only after a “Person * * * shall be convicted of Treason”. U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cls. 2 and 1.)

As his key argument, Mr. Holder contended that

an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles. For part two click below.

The evaluation of whether an individual presents an “imminent threat” incorporates considerations of the relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States. * * * [T]he Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning—when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear. * * * Whether the capture of a U.S. citizen terrorist is feasible is a fact-specific, and potentially time-sensitive, question. It may depend on, among other things, whether capture can be accomplished in the window of time available to prevent an attack[.] * * *

Of course, any such use of lethal force by the United States will comply with the four fundamental law of war principles governing the use of force.

(a) In using the term “imminent threat”, Mr. Holder was attempting to bring “official homicides” within the ambit of the privilege of self-defense. In this, he failed. A true “imminent threat” does not provide the victim of an attack with time for “a thorough and careful review” of the situation. If time for any “review”—especially “a thorough and careful” one—is available, the threat is not “imminent”; and a plea of self-defense cannot be sustained. Similarly for “considerations of the relevant window of opportunity to act”. If the threat is “imminent”, the victim cannot, and need not, bother himself with such “considerations”. He must act then and there, immediately, or suffer the consequences of the attack. If he can stop to weigh such “considerations”, a plea of self-defense cannot be sustained. Self-defense, after all, is born of urgent necessity, not lucubration. Most importantly, self-defense never involves a determination of “the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks”. Self-defense always arises in the present, aimed at “heading off [a] disastrous attack[ ]” taking place at that very moment. If “future disastrous attacks” are at issue, the matter is one of “preemptive homicide” or “preventive homicide”, not self-defense.

(End of Part 1)

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on April 9, 2012, on NewsWithViews.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

New Middle East For Old

With financial troubles in many countries, an armed conflict between Iran and the West would be inopportune. President Barack Obama, who seeks re-election this year, hopes for an agreement with Iran. At present, Obama is bending over backward to accommodate the Iranians. He knows what a war in the Middle East might do to gasoline prices, and he knows what gasoline prices might do to his hopes for re-election. Besides Iran, there is also a crisis in Syria where up to 20,000 have been killed in the course of a bloody civil war. The West would like to facilitate an end to the Assad regime, over the objections of Russia and Iran.

As everyone knows, the Iranians are refusing to give up their nuclear program. From all appearances, the six power talks, to be held in Moscow (June 18-19), will probably not achieve much. Iranian officials say their nuclear program is peaceful, and they insist that everyone accept and believe in this peacefulness. Those that know the regime best, like former Revolutionary Guardsman Reza Kahlili, say the regime in Tehran is the opposite of peaceful. According to Kahlili, Iran’s leaders want to ignite a nuclear war in order to facilitate an Islamic apocalypse. “The only true avenue to lasting peace in the Middle East,” says Kahlili, is to “help bring about a free and democratic Iran.” Of course, this is not going to happen. The West isn’t positioned for such a gamble. The Iranian government knows this, and that’s why they are becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. Last April the Iranian newspaper Kayhan, which is under the direct supervision of the Office of the Supreme Leader threatened: “If the U.S. strikes Iran with nuclear weapons, there are elements which will respond with nuclear blasts in the centers of America’s main cities.”

Tehran’s threat implies an Iranian nuclear capability. It also implies the possibility of nuclear terrorism, relying on Islamic terror networks. Of course, the statement is defensive in nature, and must be understood as such. Yet it acknowledges a nuclear capability. This is exactly the kind of capability the West would not like Iran to have. The Israeli’s, especially, are growing desperate about the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. Many are frightened by the prospect.

In a recent interview, Israeli vice premier and former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon said during an interview with Haaretz, “Let me say one thing to you in English, because it is very important for English speakers to understand it: We are not bluffing. If the political-economic pressure is played out … and Iran continues to hurtle toward a bomb, decisions will have to be made.” Ya’alon is under no illusion about Iran’s readiness to retaliate, especially against Isreal: “If anyone, no matter who, decides to take military action against Iran’s nuclear project, there is a high probability that Iran will react against us, too, and will fire missiles at Israel.” And those missiles might be armed with chemical or biological warheads. If Israel and Iran begin exchanging missiles, nobody knows how it would end – but we can guess. According to Jane’s Information Group, Israel has between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads. Some of these can be mounted on cruise missiles carried by Dolphin-class submarines. Israel’s land-based delivery system, the Jericho 3 missile, has a range of nearly 8,000 kilometers. If Iran started a biological/chemical missile war with Israel, the retaliation would be withering. One may doubt, indeed, the clerics’ readiness for martyrdom. Yet there is a crisis more immediate, which may soon eclipse the Iran crisis.

According to a June 16 DEBKAfile report, U.S. military intervention in the Syrian Civil War may be inevitable. The Americans want President Bashar al-Assad to step down. That happens to be a big problem for President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Putin favors the Assad government, a longtime client of Moscow and ally of Iran. As the chief arms supplier to Syria, the Russians have recently sent attack helicopters to the Assad regime. The United States strongly objected with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issuing a statement. “We have confronted the Russians about stopping their arms shipments to Syria,” said Clinton, who thinks the conflict could escalate “dramatically.”

Perhaps the most alarming report comes from Aaron Klein, who reports that the Russians are warning the Assad regime that if “the coming counterinsurgency … is not successful in the next 4-6 weeks, Syria should be prepared for war.” Although Klein admits confusion regarding the meaning of Russia’s warning, the language is clear enough. The DEBKAfile report (above) provides the answer: “The intervention [by Americans] will happen. It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’” Market watchers should take note. Intervention in Syria may be coming, and it isn’t likely to be a picnic. It has long been suspected that Syria manufactures Sarin, Tabun, VX and mustard gas. According to businessinsider.com, Syria is “loaded up on all kinds of missiles, weapons of mass destruction, a solid air force, and enough Cold War relics to fill a dozen Air-and-Space museums.” Then there is the question of what kind of support the Iranians or Russians might provide Syria.

It is surprising to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on Moscow to cut ties with Assad. Clinton probably does not sympathize with Russia’s loyalty to a longtime ally. After all, Obama ditched Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Why shouldn’t Putin ditch Assad? It should be obvious by now that the Kremlin does not pick allies on the basis of their human rights records. Russia plays a strategic game, and if it suits Russia to defend Assad then Assad will be defended. In all probability, however, Assad is not important enough for Russia to risk a war on unfavorable terms. Russia’s game is a long game, requiring patience. Let the Americans squander their political capital and military resources on an Arab Spring that may bring radical Islamic regimes to power across the Middle East. If the Russians simply wait, together with their Chinese and Iranian friends, the regimes that come to power in Syria, Egypt and Libya might be more anti-Western than the regimes they replaced.

Jeffrey Nyquist is the President of the Strategic Crisis Center and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

This article was originally published on Financial Sense on June 16, 2012. The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

The Duping of America: How the KGB-FSB Has Turned America Against Herself

If there is one obvious thing, it is that the predominant narrative in the media, show business, and intellectual circles, when it is not already determining the course of political events, will eventually determine it, sooner or later.

In the United States, the prevailing narrative has been echoing, point by point, for at least three decades without mentioning the source or, of course, copying its style the speech of the anti-American propaganda that has been circulated by the government of the USSR since the end of World War II.

There is no charge, no disparaging myth, no defamatory stereotype that has not been both absorbed by the major opinion-forming agencies in America and passed on to the population as a genuine made-in-USA product, as a common sense datum, or as a spontaneous belief of good people. From the cases of McCarthy, Alger Hiss, and Rosenberg on, there has been no Soviet lie that was not joyfully endorsed by the establishment and that has not ended up being contradicted by irrefutable documentary evidence thirty or forty years later, too late for its political effects to be reversed (see Ronald Radosh, The Rosenberg File, 1997; E. Stanton Evans Blacklisted by History, 2007; Christina Shelton, Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, 2012).

As the raw material of these shams always appear refashioned in a local language adapted to the usual feelings of the American public, nobody, or almost nobody, remembers to track down its origin. However, anybody who did it would have to end up agreeing with what Malachi Martin once said: that over the last century there has been only one acting force on the international scene, the USSR. All the other characters have had no initiative of their own: they confined themselves to adapting, hastily and clumsily, to situations created by the Soviet scene directors, whose calculations both anticipated and took advantage of the other characters’ reactions.

Everything that has been sold, praised, and criticized as “anti-Communism” in the West has never gone beyond a belated and weak response from stunned victims to a comprehensive, long-term strategy, whose scope they barely came to catch a glimpse of.

Few things illustrate the notion of “passive response” so clearly as the American policy of “containment,” which sought to set boundaries to the expansion of the Soviet empire, a policy which, at the time, Western narrow-mindedness praised as a masterpiece of strategic genius and Communist hypocrisy, barely suppressing its laughter, condemned as the epitome of Yankee imperial intrusion. All this policy managed to do was tie the hands of the West itself, while the USSR freely spread its tentacles throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, and, of course, the highest spheres of the American intellectuality and media.

But perhaps the masterpiece of pathetic helplessness was the Western governments’ insistence on the false cleverness which sought to play “left-wing anti-Communists ”against the URSS. They did this in the hope of dividing the Communist hosts, when in fact all those things that democratic leftists proposed had been already integrated into the Soviet plans for the grand farce of the “fall of the USSR,” which in less than a decade would transfigure the seemingly death of the Communist movement into a triumphant resurrection and a succession of spectacular victories (see Jean-Francois Revel, Last Exit to Utopia: the Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era, 2009), included among them, not long afterwards, the election of one of its most faithful servants for the presidency of the United States.

Even the most legitimate conservatives insist on seeing the left-oriented transformations of American society and politics as a result of indigenous processes, a consequence of the agency of their execrated liberals, and they will not admit that the latter have never, ever taken the intellectual initiative in any of these processes, but have merely echoed and passed on to others, in the traditional language of democracy, the slogans and clichés of the international Communist propaganda. Mesmerized by a kind of cognitive patriotism, the cream of American conservatism imagines that in its homeland resides the creative source of everything good and bad that happens in the world, and in so doing, it ends up casting upon the genuine authors of those transformations a protective cloak of invisibility. Obsessively committed to escaping the accusation of  being “conspiracy theorists,” those devoted guardians of Americanism cling to those explanations that seem more credible to the general public, that is, credible precisely to those people who are the least qualified to give an opinion on matters so complex and labyrinthine. For fear of becoming an object of laughter to the ignorant, conservatives purposely lower themselves to the level of average stupidity, sacrificing their intelligence in a ritual of self-castration at the altar of respectable appearances.

Do you want another example of this? Testimony after testimony, document after document prove that Muslim radicalism has not sprung spontaneously from the Islamic society, Islamic culture, but was created by the Soviet intelligence services and is still fed and monitored by Russian agents (read Ion Mihai Pacepa at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/218533/russian-footprints/ion-mihai-pacepa and Claire Berlinski at http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/103576/the-cold-wars -arab-spring). Nevertheless, the U.S. government continues to treat Vladimir Putin as a most trustworthy partner, while conservative intellectuals produce tons of piously Christian rhetoric to cast the blame for terrorism on thirteen-centuries-old Koranic traditions, helping the action of the KGB-FSB get under Islamic camouflage, which, precisely, was in that agency’s plans from the outset.

Olavo de Carvalho is the President of The Inter-American Institute and Distinguished Senior Fellow in Philosophy, Political Science, and the Humanities.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was translated from the Portuguese by Alessandro Cota and originally published on USA Survival News on June 27, 2012.