“Our” Deep State


Peter Van Buren

In this article, Peter uses his 24-year State Department experience to examine the “Deep State” meme  based on his background and using his satirical literary style. Andrew Bacevich, with a military background, rounds out the same theme in this article.

The “Deep State” meme has been kicking around for several decades as more of a ‘consparicy theory’ then it merits.  Both writers bring this idea into the real time of reality not theory. Americans need to understand that these are real forces that are subverting our democracy. With Trump’s election we are faced with a militarized administration cabinet (three-plus generals) and the remainder of appointments billionaires or ideologues who support this reality of the “Deep State” running the country, not the citizenry through their elected representatives. – Ed.

I want to scare the hell out of you.

People talk of the Deep State, a kind of shorthand to refer to the entrenched parts of the government, particularly inside the military, intelligence, and security communities, who don’t come and go with election cycles. The information they hold, and their longevity, allows them to significantly influence, perhaps control, the big picture decisions that change the way America works on a global scale. Who the enemies are, where the power needs to be applied, which wars will start and what governments should fall.

One of the features of the Deep State is that it prefers to work behind the scenes, in the shadows if you like. The big name politicians are out front, smiling for the cameras, and the lesser pols have to tend to the day-to-day stuff of government. The Deep State doesn’t trouble itself with regulating agriculture or deciding which infrastructure bill to fund. That is in large part why there will never be a full-on coup; why would the Deep State want to take on responsibility for the Department of Transportation?

When the Deep State does accidentally expose itself, it is often by accident, such as in the panic right after 9/11 when the president was sitting around reading a children’s book while Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld were calling the shots. Same for in the 1980s when a set of cock-ups exposed U.S. arms sales to Iran to pay for U.S. proxy forces in Central America while with U.S. support the Saudis paid for jihadists to fight in Afghanistan, laying the early groundwork for what would become the War on Terror.

Ignore the Man behind the Curtain…

Forget for a moment what you think of their actions, but pay attention: both our domestic intelligence service (the FBI) and our overseas intelligence service (the CIA) played significant roles in our election. Still not sure what the Deep State is? It’s that.

Forget what you “agree” with, and focus on what happened. In July the FBI exonerated Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing in connection with her private email server. Yep, there was highly classified material, but that didn’t matter. Nope, the Russians and/or everybody else never hacked into her server, and nobody on her staff ever clicked Podesta-like on a phishing link. Nothing to see here. And then in October the FBI swung again and said well maybe there was something to see, buried conveniently on known-idiot Anthony Weiner’s laptop already in their possession. Funny about that. Anybody seen once marked-to-go places Huma Abedin lately?

As for the CIA, they managed to leak like Grandpa’s adult diapers throughout the campaign that Trump and Putin… something. Trump owes money to Russia. Trump’s computers communicate with Russia. Trump’s advisors work for Russia. Trump wants to build hotels in Russia. When none of that really stuck, it turned out the hacks into the DNC servers were done by Russians — in cahoots with arch-villian Julian Assange — ordered personally by Putin to elect Trump. All because Trump was Putin’s stooge, as the argument completed its circle.

If Trump could not be defeated, he would be delegitimized. Overnight the left/liberals/progressives/whatever turned into red-blooded supporters of the CIA and 21st century Cold Warriors, with anyone from that one asshole on Facebook you argue with to Pulitzer-prize winning journalists who disagree, labeled as Russian stooges, spies, fellow travelers and the like.

The result? A new Cold War, sold to the American people over the course of about a month.

And Now for Something Completely…

When the Soviet Union collapsed and the old Cold War wrapped up, there was left a gaping hole for the Deep State. They nearly literally had nothing to do. Budgets were being cut, power in Washington defused. 9/11 was a helpful and timely accident; the War on Terror would provide the much-needed Cause to blow up spending and reconstruct status and power.

And the War on Terror started off with great promise for the Deep State, dovetailing nicely with long-sought Conservative projects such as remaking the Middle East and controlling the Persian Gulf. The future was wide open, Afghanistan a stupid but necessary prelude to the real first act in Iraq.

But despite the power of the Deep State, mistakes are made and nature finds a way. The War on Terror became a global clusterf*ck. Failures accumulated: Iraq and Afghanistan, of course. Libya, Syria, the messy Arab Spring, relations with Pakistan. You can’t really trust any of those folks to get it, we want a war that doesn’t end but looks good. Beheadings on TV simply stir people up at home and there is not much we can do about them.

Now, to be fair to the War on Terror, it had a good run. It normalized domestic spying and the omni-presence of security everywhere in America, and set up a nice bureaucracy to manage all that in Homeland Security. It got Americans used to see armed military, and militarized cops, on the streets.

But what was needed was a global struggle that made us look like we were winning without it ever ending.

If only there was some sort of model for that…

That Good Ol’ Cold War

The Russians. Every American fear rolled into one guy, Putin, who might as well come from a Hollywood super-villian workshop. Unlike messy terrorists, who wanted, whatever, Sharia or a Caliphate, damn foreign words, Russia wanted old-fashioned territory, stuff on maps like Crimea and the Ukraine that mattered not a whit to America, but could be played domestically as Struggles for Freedom (C). The Russkies had troops with actual uniforms, and all the old propaganda materials were laying around. The Russians also knew how to play ball, blasting back through their RT and Sputnik channels nobody really watches but are right there to label as threats to our democracy. The Russian version of the Deep State knows a good deal when they see one, too.

Clinton was the perfect figurehead, already warm friends with one of the last desiccated Cold Warriors, Henry Kissinger, and already more than predisposed to cast the Russians into their role. Trump, well, he didn’t seem to get it, and, when it was becoming clearer he might win, he needed to be made to get it. The Deep State appeared to have some internal dissension; that publicly popped up when it appeared the FBI and CIA were not sure which horse to back in the latter days of the campaign and how to do it. Hey, mistakes were made, sorry, even the Deep State is human, kinda.

Roots that Go Very Deep

Well, it was messy and dragged on past the actual election, but everything is settled now. The intelligence report that just came out made things clear: Russia is the bad guy, Trump now the cuck of the Deep State, things are back to “normal.” Funding will pour into the military, intelligence, and security communities. Since the war will be a cold one, the U.S. can declare periodic victories just like in the old days over things like the Olympics, chess matches, dissidents saved, spy stuff We Can’t Tell You About but will leak out anyway. We can have proxy wars and skirmishes that seem like huge deals but can usually be managed in scope. Any troublemakers at home, in or out of the White House, can be labeled Russian sympathizers on CNN and Maddow and dealt away quickly.

Overall, the 1950s weren’t that bad now were they?

This article originally appeared on Peter’s We Meant Well Blog.

7 thoughts on ““Our” Deep State

  1. Alluding to the 1950s (and the hysterical Red-baiting tactics of the Republican Party during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations), Peter Van Buren wrote:

    “Any troublemakers at home, in or out of the White House, can be labeled Russian sympathizers on CNN and Maddow and dealt away quickly.”

    The “dealing away” (i.e., marginalizing, if not eliminating, sane alternative views) now takes place not just on CNN and MSNBC, etc., but the PBS Newshour, too. Check out the following excerpts from the most recent “Shields and Brooks” — ostensibly Left-Right – “analysis” segment:

    JUDY WOODRUFF: “We had the news today — on top of all the confirmation that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election, today, we learned — and we talked about it earlier on the show — David, that General Michael Flynn had phone conversations with the Russian ambassador in December, several of them.” [emphasis on key terms added]

    What news?
    What confirmation?
    What interference?
    What learning?

    Somehow the English language has become meaningless gibberish in “elite” circles of U.S. political opinion.

    As I recall, the U.S. election took place on November 8th. How does any conversation between any Russian and any American in December, a month after the election, interfere with the election that took place a month previous? I mean, do these people have the slightest degree of common sense or connection to reality? This one little passage certainly answers that question in the negative for me.

    But it gets worse, with the ostensible “leftist,” Mark Shields, going full-tilt Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy on us :

    MARK SHIELDS: “It just doesn’t — it doesn’t fit. I have to say, Judy, I am perplexed, and I think an increasing number of Republicans are perplexed and actually nervous about Donald Trump and Russia, nervous in the sense that he is gratuitously giving Democrats the national security advantage, that they’re standing up for the country.”

    “Standing up”? It looks more like falling flat on their faces, to me. The Democrats — traditional door mats for the Republicans to wipe their fascist feet on — have now become the nation’s more right-wing Wall Street war party? And that constitutes an “advantage” for the Democrats who just lost elections at all levels all over the country because they betrayed their working-class, anti-war base on the supposition that big money corporate donors from Wall Street and Silicon valley would somehow purchase votes from suburban Republicans who, like every other lock-step Republican, wouldn’t vote for a Democrat — and most especially a Clinton — under any conceivable circumstances? “Advantage”? It looks to me like the cynical Republicans just handed that ticking time bomb off to the Democrats just before it blew up in everyone’s faces. For their part, the stupid Democrats still can’t figure out what happened when they seized that Corporate money and foreign policy “advantage” in a pocketbook, populist election year.

    I could go on at length ridiculing Mark Shields, David Brooks, and the PBS Newshour — along with CNN, MSNBC, and every other major corporate media outlet — but why bother? By and large, the U.S. electorate has completely lost interest in our government’s lies and “Russia screwed us again” scapegoating. If this foaming-at-the-mouth hysteria doesn’t abate soon, and if the Democratic Party doesn’t ditch moneybags Chuck Schumer (in the Senate) and Nancy Pelosi (in the House) for someone familiar with the desperate American working class, I wouldn’t want to bet on America’s future. Delusion seldom makes a good basis for figuring out what to do next.

  2. Mike..You do have the patience to listen to that crap on MSM and enlighten us. Thanks for that. I don’t have the patience.
    You make this reference to the Republicans,
    “………Republicans to wipe their fascist feet on……”
    I believe that is a a legitimate description of that Party and they have been heading in that direction for the last 40 years relying more on divisive issues rather than sound policy issues to garner support from the citizenry. As the ta policies that both the Democrats and Republicans put in place made millionaires into billionaires and the masses into debt slaves the billionaires are now able to not only buy the political class outright but feed right wing propaganda directly into the ears of the masses.
    Unfortunately they have also infected progressives (leftists) to eschew that word as not acceptable or polite in describing them. It is alright for them to call Sanders a “Marxist” or even a “Communist” but how could they.,the upright Republicans, be Fascists? After all they are the Party of Christ with a few Jews hanging on.. Let’s keep “Fascism” in the lexicon.! They are a full blown Fascist Party now ..
    Fascism I saw face to face in our country in 1939 with the German American Bund and William Dudley Pelley’s Silver Shirts parading through the streets and Father Coughlin on Sunday radio. IT CAN HAPPEN HERE!
    I, and 16 million other young Americans had to spend our youth for the next four years helping to rid the world of that scourge. The price was high. Over 500,000 Americans and 20,000,000 Russians dead plus others. Fascism is a death wish come true.

  3. Chris Floyd, at his blog, Empire Burlesque (15 January 2017), has a rather unimpressed view of the factional squabbles now obsessing the 1% courtiers infesting our Versailles Palace in the swamps of Northern Virginia. Those vying for power and influence among themselves pose no real danger to the so-called “State”, but they do, of course, represent a dire threat to the tax-paying American citizen, as usual. Not so much “deep” as shallow and venal. See: Sitzkrieg on the Potomac: The Phony War Between Trump and the Deep State.

    As Chris Hedges said the other day on RT’s “Watching the Hawks” program: the American people had a choice between fascism and neo-liberalism and went with the former as the only way of avoiding the latter. Some choice. Pure economic desperation, certainly, but Trump got the nod because he seemed to somehow have noticed that “jobs” and “incomes” thing. Not that the usual corporate-tax-and-regulation-cutting Republicans will do anything but make things worse for the declining working class and impoverished unemployed, but the top of the pyramid should do just fine. A phony “war” indeed.

    • Another interesting take on things by Chris Floyd, wondering why civil-rights icon John Lewis has such an easy time blaming Donald Trump and the Russians — instead of the “liberal” Democratic Party of Bawl and Pillory Clinton — for the lack of civil-rights and economic progress among America’s African American population. See: Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell at Empire Burlesque (17 January 2017).

      On a related note, what with over 2 million Americans in jail — over half of them on drug-related charges — I have to question eight years of an African American president — you know, Barack Hussein Obama — dispatching U.S. soldiers and marines to guard opium producing poppy fields in Afghanistan. See:
      Exciting Investment Opportunity in Afghanistan! Record Returns Expected!. I found many more on-line reports of this sordid “policy” but this one will serve as an introduction to the great care and compassion that President Obama and the U.S. military have shown for the drug-ravaged African American community so beloved of civil-rights icons like John Lewis who insist that “standing up to the Russians” will somehow accomplish — what?

      I didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or You-Know-Her, since I don’t vote for Wall Street pimps and/or War whores. Ever. Nonetheless, I will say that the political rookie Trump looks to have won the duopoly puppet show “election” by whatever foul means that Americans seem prepared to tolerate. I really can’t say if that makes him any more “legitimate” than South Carolina Representative John Lewis; but certainly, the “liberal” Democratic Party did nothing to effectively contest the many U.S. election irregularities. Why should they? After all, they and the corporate media arrogantly assumed that You-Know-Her would win in any event. What a shock when that didn’t happen. Shit! The Russians screwed us all — and the African American community in particular — again. At least, if we listen to Representative John Lewis, a genuine civil-rights advocate from a long time ago.

      I understand the accepted use of the term “Deep State,” but, personally, I have trouble associating the concept of “deep” with the superficial, shallow, and transparently corrupt U.S. government; unless we interpret the word in the sense of “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Semper Fi, Marines. Keep those poppies growing and that heroin flowing — into the veins of your fellow Americans. Your outgoing African American “commander in brief” salutes you.

  4. The Deep State and corruption are closely connected. The Mafia and corruption are closely connected. Interesting that shortly after it was revealed that the Mafia was not a conspiracy theory all attention was turned to terrorism, taking the heat – and public attention – off the Mafia.

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