To Preserve the Peace, or the State?
by EDWARD CLINE
September 20, 2012
Everything done by the Obama administration since its inauguration in January 2009, every word, every gesture, every silence, every dog-and-pony show, has been to preserve the peace - of the state. In this endeavor, the public peace - or, as our Founders might have called it, the public "general welfare," that is, the non-coercive, civilized trade between civilized men - has been largely secondary in consideration by this administration, and often at mortal odds with its primary task of preserving the state.
The state must not only retain its power over the people, over the economy, over the actions of its citizens, but expand its powers in order to perpetuate its powers. In too many instances, those actions have had a distinctive, signature nihilistic intent.
What is the state? A state is to be distinguished from a nation. A nation is a geographically identified patch of the earth populated by citizens of a particular political suasion and culture. A nation's government may have some control over its citizens' actions. Good fortune would have the state exercise its monopoly on force to retaliate only against those who initiate force against any of its citizens, and against foreign aggressors and aggression.
The stewards of the state, with good fortune, would know that their task was to preserve the public peace in that fashion, and not to preserve the state for the sake of the state alone. They would know that to violate that understanding would be to behave as criminals and foreign aggressors behaved. The stewards would abhor any suggestion that they act otherwise, and oppose with vehemence any proposal that they act contrary to their mandate.
A state acting on the converse premise would take any action necessary to preserve itself and expand its powers. A state exists for its own sake and a state that does so must necessarily act against the "general welfare" or peace of the nation. A state moved by such a premise cannot remain in stasis, that is, as a state arrested at a certain point in growth. It must move and act to justify its existence, to the populace, to itself, even to other states or nations. No state founded on such a premise says to itself or to its citizens: thus far and no farther. For if it did, questions would arise about the powers it has appropriated to itself. Such a policy would serve to undermine its alleged legitimacy.
Hitler did not mean it when he repeated that he had made his last "territorial demand." He was compelled, by the nature of his rule, to invade and seize the lands and resources of Germany's neighbors.
After Mohammad's death in the 7th century, his successors were compelled, by the nature of Islam's ideology, to conquer as much of the Mideast as possible.
The state, however, must advance in an environment of peace, that is, without significant internal opposition, encountering no controversies, no stumbling blocks, no distracting issues. All constitutional, civil, and social roadblocks must be removed. This is what happened in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Mao's China, Mussolini's Italy, and Chavez's Venezuela. At the same time, it must have an enemy, a nemesis, or something that threatens its existence, a reason to solicit or require the support of the citizens, whose livelihoods or existence are alleged to be in peril were the state jeopardized or attacked.
One key element of statism is to make citizens dependent on the state for their sustenance, and to convince the citizenry that they are the state, and that any proposal to nullify a state's power over them imperils them, as well. After all, they are the state.
It would be annoyingly pedantic, not to say redundant, to itemize every action taken by the Obama administration these last four years. Such a list would go on for pages, perhaps for as many pages as the text of Obamacare. Most significant of late has been the government's official response to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the military assault on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and assault that resulted in the murder of our Libyan ambassador and three other Americans.
Without going into details about the nature and purpose of those attacks - other observers have exposed the lies and cover-ups of the causes and consequences of those attacks - the violation of the sanctity of embassy and consulate property and of the taking of American lives on the pretext of the denigration of Islam and its icon, Mohammad, serve to rationalize for this administration the further abridgement of the First Amendment of the Constitution. This has been an unarticulated goal of the current administration from day one of its tenure. Less attention has been paid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's hand-holding with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for the last few years than to Obama's economic policies.
To preserve the state, all significant opposition must be silenced. If the current administration is ideologically pragmatic to enable the advancement of political Islam, it must quash all criticism of Islam, just as it wishes to quash all criticism of its other statist policies. As other observers have pointed out, the new "enemy" of the state is freedom of speech, or the truth, or the facts.
Diana West, in her article "Obama Administration Breaches the First Amendment" (September 17) reported,
The first response actually preceded the mayhem in Cairo when the U.S. Embassy, having suspended regular business in anticipation of the planned movie protest, posted on its website on Sept. 11: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."
The administration publically disavowed the statement, yet did not repudiate it. This was because the administration endorses the policy of not "hurting" the religious feelings of Muslims, and of not "denigrating" Islam, everywhere, anywhere, and at any time.
But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the embassy message to "deplore" free speech. Clinton said: "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
This is speaking with a forked tongue. The administration agrees with Muslim Brotherhood, which does not speak with a forked tongue. Its spokesmen are quite forthright:
Reuters reported that Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood," asked the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take legal action in the United States against makers of a film attacking the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, the official state news agency said on Wednesday."
"Mursi had requested the mission take 'all legal measures,' the MENA agency said, without giving further details on what that might involve," Reuters added.
The Wall Street Journal reported, without realizing it, that Obama repeated President George W. Bush's policy on Islam, that the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi were the work of "extremists" and "killers," not the result of a viral ideology:
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
Yes, the violence was "senseless," but "senseless" in the context of it not having been necessary. All the Egyptians and Yemenis and Libyans and Afghanis and Australian Muslims needed to do is put those "Islam Will Dominate" signs and American flags and Zippo lighters away and wait for the administration to implement the United Nations ban on all criticism of Islam and erase the First Amendment. Ambassador Chris Stevens became a "martyr" in the war against freedom of speech. That is all.
The official government line ever since 9/11/2001 has been that Islam is a "religion of peace," no threat to anyone not a Muslim, and that it has been "hijacked" by "extremists," "radicals," "fundamentalists," and "misunderstanders." If Barack Obama is going to blame Bush for anything, it is this fallacious policy of closing one's eyes to the true, totalitarian nature of Islam. He perpetuates it every time he opens his mouth about Islam and the Mideast.
But Obama has a totalitarian, nihilist streak in him as wide as the Mississippi. Some observers had claimed that he is not a Marxist ideologue. Perhaps he isn't. Then all one call him is a Marxist pragmatist, because his domestic policies are colored pink throughout. He won't nationalize the car industry, but let it limp on with massive bailouts that don't save the industry. His chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernard Bernanke, recently announced another "bailout" of the economy which the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have scarred and slashed with their fiscal policies worse than the Cat Woman's steel claws. The Business Spectator wrote:
As part of the open ended nature of the bond purchases, the Fed has committed to buying $40 billion of mortgage backed securities per month. In a Fed first, and this is the highlight of the Fed statement, "if the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases and employ its other policy tools as appropriate".
However, the taking of the lives of public servants is horrendous. The taking of the personal lives daily in Egypt, Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, merits no comment or consideration. Agents of the state were brutally murdered. The state is blind or indifferent to the brutal murders of thousands of people who are not public servants. This slaughter has been going on for the last 1,400 years.
As soon as a totalitarian has consolidated his power and won the approval of the citizenry, freedom of speech is the first casualty. When Hitler ascended the dais of power, all newspapers were gagged and it was made a crime to criticize the state. Any paper not towing the Party line was raided, its presses smashed, its editors and journalists arrested and sent to concentration camps. This has been the drill in every nation that has traded its freedoms for the "security" of the state.
There is Obama's state to preserve, and the Islamic state to spread. Between them, for the moment, there is a symbiosis in ends and means. Daniel Greenfield noted in his brilliant if plaintive column, "The Price of a Koran," that today's policymakers are not the stuff that made the American Revolution possible:
Muslims are equally willing to pay the price in blood for slavery, their own slavery and ours, for a book of slavery, written by an owner and abuser of slaves, who created a religion of slaves, where the optimal position was to stand on as many people as possible while reaching for heaven.
The men who fought to make us free placed value on their lives. The men who fight to enslave us place little value on their own. Whatever material pleasures they enjoy in this life, little girls, hashish and wealth, will be vastly improved upon in the afterlife. And they buy their way into that afterlife by killing us, as they have been doing for over a thousand years.
Each of their murders imposes their religion on us. They impose their notion of what is important and what isn't important. Twenty years ago no one would have cared a fig for a burned Koran or a cartoon of Mo. Today either one earns you an accusation of endangering the lives of American soldiers and inciting violence. Dress up as Zombie Mohammed and Judge Mark Martin will tell you that in a Muslim country you would get the death penalty. That's not the way it works here. Yet.
What difference should it make to Americans that the material pleasures enjoyed by our wannabe censors are free jet planes to fly to Europe and Martha's Vineyard and reelection rallies and interminable rounds of golf and rubbing shoulders and getting "jiggy" with rap artists and singers who can't sing?
A new term is entering the coinage of politically correct speech: "responsible speech." It is employed by the administration and by the Islamic advocates of selective censorship. Cyrus McGoldrick, an official of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said last Sunday on Iranian TV that,
Few protestors likely even saw the video, said McGoldrick, civil rights director for CAIR's New York chapter. "And I don't think it's about the film at all, really, I think that people are tired. People have had enough of what is seen by them, what looks to them like America's war on Islam. And this is one of the symptoms of that."....
Americans enjoy "allegedly a freedom of speech, a freedom of expression -political expression and religious expression," he explained. "And of course, that comes with it some rights, but also, of course, some responsibilities."
Obama's goal is to preserve the peace - of the state. His state, too, needs Lebensraum. It needs the mandate of the citizens in whose name he wishes to expand the powers of the state. It can't expand if citizens are objecting to his endless demands for more space and powers. He must convince the electorate that their peace of mind and sustenance and well-being depend on his actions.
To that end he must silence those who demand in turn to be left alone to pursue their own peace of mind, sustenance, and well-being.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.