29 January 2017

The NSC Shake-Up and Shockwaves Across Washington

At the end of World War II the United States created the National Security Council or NSC as a means to re-organise the nature of the American war machine and national defense. The nuclear age and the era of total war had changed the nature of 'defense'.
Standing armies and a techno-industrial sector were now essential to the way in which modern war would be fought and power maintained. The Military-Industrial Complex was in the process of being created and through the NSC (it could be argued) it would now have a place at the table. The council ostensibly headed or guided by the National Security Advisor consists of top cabinet officials and is also staffed by various appointees who usually come from the military-industrial and academic establishments. This ruling mechanism operates largely outside of congressional oversight or accountability.

The Constitutional mandate of Congressional declaration of war was viewed as obsolete. In the new era decisions would have to be made in a moment and to subject war powers to political debate was unthinkable. The president was vested with new authority. The Imperial Presidency was facilitated in large part by the creation of the NSC. The military was re-organised, the Joint-Chiefs and Secretary of Defense were created. This was to facilitate a unified operational command, to synthesise operations at the highest level within the purview of the president's direct authority. The Joint-Chiefs also took on the role as top-tier military advisors.
The National Security Act which generated the NSC also created the CIA which completely re-organised the nature of the intelligence gathering and covert action. The new agency was given unprecedented power and functioned as the president's secret army. Again, largely outside congressional oversight the CIA and the NSC as a whole became something of a Praetorian Guard for the new imperial presidency.
Today at the end of January, shockwaves are erupting across Washington DC. Donald Trump has effectively removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from his permanent seat on the council. He is not completely removed but will only be relied on an ad hoc basis. In addition the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has likewise been removed. This is the cabinet position created by Bush that effectively supplanted CIA oversight over the whole of the intelligence community. The intelligence agencies have now lost their permanent position within the NSC.
For those within the Washington Establishment this is nothing less than a stunning move. And to add insult to injury Trump has appointed the newly created position of White House Chief Strategist to the council. This newly created position is held by Steven Bannon former head of Breitbart News. This represents a re-orientation of power.
There are many in Washington who will view these moves as endangering the security of the United States.
Others will view this as a stage in 'cleaning house' and the breaking of the Establishment. The Anti-Establishment types who like Trump will frame this as 'draining the swamp', but in reality it's a consolidation of power. The president is consolidating power within the ruling apparatus.
Everyone is currently focused on the immigration ban and the chaos at the airports.

This is a far bigger story.

4 comments:

  1. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/01/30/White-House-says-CIA-added-to-Trumps-National-Security-Council/1831485807518/

    Now the DCIA (Pompeo) is back on the NSC. This is not (yet) a reinstatement of the DCIA as DCI but it's definitely a slap to the face of the DNI and will surely aggravate the DCIA/DNI tensions that already exist.

    Divide and conquer?
    Establishment Civil War?

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  2. The chaos continues. Trump keeps changing his positions, shifting on health-care, and then back. He's starting to shift vis-à-vis Russia and now maybe Assad?
    What's going on with Bannon? Did he displease the master? Is Trump feeling the pressure?
    He's been talking crazy about North Korea but the media's not giving that its due. Instead it's Russia, Russia, Russia.
    Erik Prince is a vile evil man and no doubt up to his neck in dark schemes, but even the Seychelles meeting is not really a big deal. It's only a big deal IF you consider Russia to be pure evil or something along those lines. The media is doing all it can to portray them thus.
    It was just before the inauguration and as some have pointed out the ONE good thing Trump has tried to do is defuse the dangerous situation with Moscow. You would think some Establishment folks would be happy because a big part of the Trump-Russia agenda is to isolate Iran... for war.
    But even that appears to be failing. Trump increasingly is turning against Moscow. Haley today was blaming Russia for not properly reigning in Assad. Wow, if Russia is to be held accountable for ally-actions then why isn't anyone holding the US accountable for al-Sisi, Trump's new buddy?

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  3. I think a pertinent question to ask is: how much power does Trump really have? It's clear that he's vastly underestimated the complexity of the Presidential office and is unsure how to deal with different factions and power bases that are clearly vying against each other for control over him.

    The footage of the former Merrill Lynch CEO Ron Regan telling Ronald Reagan to hurry up and conclude a speech comes to mind.

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  4. There appears to be something of a civil war.

    He's meeting with the leader of China... and yet apparently they don't even have a China team put together yet, let along a unified coherent policy.

    He can do a lot of damage but on the other hand a lot of bureaucrats, departments heads etc... are at present wielding a great deal of power.

    It's all volatile though.

    Yeah, I remember that video of Regan and Reagan. Of course Reagan spent half his presidency napping. He was not engaged. He was just rolled out to give speeches and delegate. Factions of the Deep State were able to almost openly run his presidency.

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