|I'm now 120 pages into Zbgniew Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard" and one thing quickly becomes apparent to the perceptive reader: just how irrelevant democracy is in America.
"The Grand Chessboard" is Brzezinski's 1998 gameplan for how America can achieve global hegemony. It's a cogent and perceptive analysis of world geopolitics that forthrightly discusses the goals and strategies of the world's nations. It's like reading the brilliantly devised strategy of a master Risk or Diplomacy boardgame player as they figure out where to move their pieces and how best to form aggrandizing alliances.
The book begins, as do most, with certain unstated assumptions, the primary one here being that America has a right and necessity to pursue global hegemony. It's a grand historical narrative in which people don't exist, only countries do. It is a tale of boardroom diplomats moving pieces around a board, completely removed from the flesh-and-blood men, women, and children who happen to inhabit these countries, and for whom whatever dreams of self-determination they may entertain don't even enter the picture.
And the more you read the more you begin to realize that this is how the world is run. When the world's "great" leaders have their G8 and Davos conferences they are devising policies and their strategic implementations from the highest levels, with no consideration for what the people themselves may want and think. It is the world run from above, not from below. (And, as such, necessarily requires the tools of enforcement to do so. "The further and further away geographically decisions are taken, the more scope you have for incredible injustice." -Arundhati Roy)
Bill Moyers has discussed the Shadow Government of America at length. And here we have Brzezinski's book presenting an insider's view of how they see the world. (It is, in all honesty, a fascinating read.)
And then you think about the people who have been running American since WWII and you take a quick look at the list of names in key administrative positions going back to Truman, and you notice that the same names appear over and over again, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background. Criminals like Poindexter, hardcore authoritarians like Abrams and Negroponte, crooks like Cheney, genocidalists like Kissinger, running dogs like Powell. It quickly becomes apparent that policy in America is determined by a handful of powerful men answerable to nobody. There's a chain of key policy players that runs from John Foster Dulles and Prescott Bush through Kissinger and Brzezinski to Cheney and Perle. (And, let's not forget the shadowy Bush family dynasty itself.) The same figures are always in the background, setting the direction for America's ship of state. Any danger that could potentially alter this course is resolved through various agencies, whether by selective assassinations of influential people (JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Salvadore Allendre, Rafael Trujillo, Olof Palme, Orlando Letelier, etc.), overturning or disrupting democracies that refused to be client states (Panama, Indonesia, Greece, Guatemela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, etc.), or pre-emptive foreclosure of challenges to the status quo (eg, using dirty politics to eliminate challengers to elective office, using effective propaganda techniques to frame the terms of debate, etc.).
America is nothing but a Multinational Corporation with a tenured Board of Directors, who every so often have to allow the plebs to pick between two hand-chosen senior administrators that pass muster. ("Passing muster", in this case, means that the actor can fit into the red shirt without flubbing their lines too much.) The only practical difference when new actors are chosen to fill their roles is how much they'll turn the rudder on the ship of state. The destination is always the same (ie, corporate global hegemony), but the tack may be different.
The nominees who are ordained to run for the slots are chosen with this in mind. Just think about it — how else do you account for a fucking loser like Kerry getting chosen over Kucinich, or even Dean? How else do you account for a loser like GW Bush getting picked over McCain? How else do you account for Nader being so viciously vituperated whenever he enters the fray (regardless of whatever you may think of him — in a healthy and functioning democracy he would be allowed to be heard); or the complete media-blackout of worthy candidates like Kucinich? And yet some billionnaire "populist" inbred like Ross Perrot gets to participate in the debate? And clinically insane candidates, like Pat Robertson, are not only taken seriously, but actually have a serious chance to be the republican's candidate for president?
For one thing, the Board only allows promotion from within the company; outsiders, like Nader and Kucinich, aren't even invited for an interview with HR — because they would turn the ship around. Basically, since the Board has two competing factions jockeying for control of the Company it is they who get to determine who their candidates will be. That's why pre-ordained, insider candidates like Kerry and Bush will always ultimately prevail against ostensible "grassroots" nominees like Dean and McCain. And because the Company's bylaws states that new administrators must be chosen by the stockholders every four years the two factions of the Board doll up their chosen nominees and put on a dog-and-pony show to lure the voters to allow their faction a chance to implement their strategy for the Company for the next four years.
(What's the goal of the Company? Simply to increase the size of the bank accounts of the Board of Directors and their nepotistic supporters.)
BushCo, (un)surprisingly enough, is a threat to the power elite because they're turning the rudder too much as they try to slake their insatiable greed. They are currently involved in a hostile takeover of the Board, and this is making the Board nervous:
The Bush administration has proved itself to be an insular group of inept, dishonest and dangerous CEO's of the corporation known as America. They have become very bad for business and the Board of Directors is now taking action. Make no mistake, the CIA works for "The Board" - Wall Street and big money. The long-term (very corrupt and unethical) agenda of the Board, in the face of multiple worsening global crises, was intended to proceed far beyond the initially destructive war in Iraq, toward an effective reconstruction and a strategic response to Peak Oil. But the neocons have stalled at the ugly stage: killing hundreds of thousands of people; destroying Iraq's industrial and cultural infrastructure as their own bombs and other people's RPGs blow everything up; getting caught running torture camps; and making the whole world intensely dislike America.
These jerks are doing real damage to their masters' interests.
Brzensink's next book directly addresses this issue to try to tack the ship back to course; meanwhile Gabriel Kolko does the same, but from the other side of the aisle in his cogent analysis that concludes with the assertion that BushCo may actually prove better for the world than Kerry.
Brzenski represents one strategy the Board wanted to pursue. BushCo represented the other. And as you read Brzenski's book, and then refer to BushCo's own blueprint for the New American Century, you realize the extent to which the entire Iraqi adventure was merely a matter of implementing a policy drawn up by one faction of the Board prior to their election. 9/11, WMD, the whole UN approval bullshit — all smoke and mirrors used to provide cover for BushCo's big play on the Risk gameboard. Do you think democracy means anything to them? Or to the Board of Directors running MurkaCo?
America's modern (entire?) history is primarily one of politics in the Boardroom between two factions, each trying to get their turn at the helm of ship of state. The factions may bitterly contest the route to get there, but both agree what kind of ship it is and where it's heading. Currently, there's a dust up in the boardroom as BushCo makes its power grab.
Be that as it may, the farcically painful "elections" America endures are, ultimately, a dog-and-pony show where each faction's candidates will say anything they wish to get them elected — it just doesn't matter in the end, because the Board will always get what it wants.
I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponet won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say, 'No.' And they'll push, and I'll say, 'No.' And they'll push again, and I'll say to them: 'Read my lips: No new taxes!'
—US President George Bush, campaign promise before raising taxes
He kept us out of war!
—US President Woodrow Wilson, re-election campaign promise before plunging America into WWI
Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of today.
—US President Theodore Roosevelt 
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist...We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
—US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address
If voting really changed anything it would be illegal.
[cross posted at Inspector Lohmann and excerpted at American Samizdat]