Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change

Quite an interesting thesis.  But I think Glennon discounts the third leg. Partisan political machinery.  (Glennon hand waves it away).  I think if the double was in control we would have seen things done much differently in  Iraq (the withdrawal and lack of SOFA), Libya (no ground forces and "leading from behind"), Syria (lack of full support to the resistance two years ago and not just the lame non-lethal assistance), the Syrian chemical weapons "red line," and now the late move to "train and equip" the rebels and the "anything but Bush" strategic direction in Iraq and Syria, just to name a few.  No, I think President Obama owns all those and that illustrates the elected leadership is calling the shots with the support of and blessing of the partisan political machinery.  Yes everything rests on politics, every national security action is a political action or must be understood from the political perspective but it is the partisan political class that makes the double government (or perhaps a "triple government.") I know from an Asian perspective that the Asia advisers in the administration have no standing with the President and his key circle of advisers because none of them came through the "crucible" of the 2008 and 2012 president election campaigns  (except for Mark Lippert the new Ambassador to Korea for which Korea is very happy).  Maybe our republic has shifted from the three branches - executive, legislative and judicial to the elected, the shadow bureaucracy (the "self governing national security apparatus") and the partisan political machine.

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.
The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon
By Jordan Michael Smith
  |    OCTOBER 19, 2014


THE VOTERS WHO put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.
But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.
Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.
Glennon cites the example of Obama and his team being shocked and angry to discover upon taking office that the military gave them only two options for the war in Afghanistan: The United States could add more troops, or the United States could add a lot more troops. Hemmed in, Obama added 30,000 more troops.
Glennon’s critique sounds like an outsider’s take, even a radical one. In fact, he is the quintessential insider: He was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA. And he’s not a conspiracy theorist: Rather, he sees the problem as one of “smart, hard-working, public-spirited people acting in good faith who are responding to systemic incentives”—without any meaningful oversight to rein them in.
How exactly has double government taken hold? And what can be done about it? Glennon spoke with Ideas from his office at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. This interview has been condensed and edited.
IDEAS: Where does the term “double government” come from?
GLENNON:It comes from Walter Bagehot’s famous theory, unveiled in the 1860s. Bagehot was the scholar who presided over the birth of the Economist magazine—they still have a column named after him. Bagehot tried to explain in his book “The English Constitution” how the British government worked. He suggested that there are two sets of institutions. There are the “dignified institutions,” the monarchy and the House of Lords, which people erroneously believed ran the government. But he suggested that there was in reality a second set of institutions, which he referred to as the “efficient institutions,” that actually set governmentalpolicy. And those were the House of Commons, the prime minister, and the British cabinet.

IDEAS: What evidence exists for saying America has a double government?

Continued at the link below)

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