Exposing the myth of American power

Lots of conspiracy theorists, anti-imperialists and many of those who have positioned themselves as leaders of America’s diverse movements of dissent — truth be known — are unwittingly the most loyal supporters of the status quo.

How so?

The power before which they valiantly declare the truth, is a power which in their eyes is so mighty, it is utterly impervious to these acts of defiance.

Empire is denounced mostly and most vociferously by those who believe their denunciations will be of no effect.

Successes in this quixotic struggle are not measured by changes in law or social transformations. They are reduced to symbolic forms — an interruption in a Senate hearing or a good turnout for a demonstration. Fighting the good fight has less to do with pursuing victories than it has with simply showing up.

Those who wrap themselves in the flag and those who burn it are equals when they elevate American power and see the U.S. government as an indomitable force.

For that reason, I have always believed that there is nothing more instructive about the way government works than the occasional detailed view of its malfunction — the moments where we catch a precious glimpse behind the facade of power.

The latest example comes courtesy of the Secret Service, the men and women who zealously guard the very heart of American power — at least in the movies.

The Associated Press reports: Secret Service officers chasing a Texas Army veteran across the White House lawn in September figured they had him cornered when he encountered the thick bushes on the property.

To their surprise the bushes were no match for the fence-jumper, who dashed into the executive mansion through a pair of unlocked doors, knocking aside an officer physically too small to tackle him. She would then fumble with her own equipment as the man carrying a knife ran deep inside the president’s home, according to a Homeland Security review of the Sept. 19 incident.

The incident occurred shortly after 7 p.m., only minutes after President Barack Obama and his daughters, along with a guest of one of the girls, left the White House aboard Marine One on their way to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where Obama and his family were to spend the weekend. First lady Michelle Obama had traveled separately to Camp David and was not at home.

The folly of errors and missteps by Secret Service officers were revealed in a nine-page summary of the government’s investigation of the break-in at the White House by a disturbed Army veteran.

The government determined that lack of training, poor staffing decisions and communication problems contributed to the embarrassing failure that ultimately led to the resignation of the head of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson. The report did not specify any disciplinary actions.

The new report said Omar Gonzalez, 42, cleared the fence where a trident, or ornamental spike, was missing. An officer in the joint operations center who tried to raise the alarm was unaware his warnings weren’t being broadcast to uniformed officers stationed at the executive mansion.

Some officers at a gate on Pennsylvania Avenue failed to see the fence-jumper because their view was obstructed by a construction project. A Secret Service canine officer parked on the White House driveway was using the speaker function on his personal cellphone without his radio ear piece, and a second, tactical radio was stashed away in his locker as the intruder made his way into the secure area.

Two officers wrongly assumed Gonzalez wouldn’t be able to get through thick bushes on the property, the report said. Another officer posted on the portico outside the wooden White House doors mistakenly assumed the doors were locked.

The intruder was able to run into the building before a female officer seated just inside could lock a second set of doors.

That officer tried twice to take Gonzalez down but was unable to because she was smaller than him. She reached for her metal baton but mistakenly grabbed a flashlight. As she dropped the light and drew her gun, the intruder made his way into the East Room before heading back down a hallway on the State Floor deep within the White House.

Gonzalez was eventually tackled by another officer, who was helped by two plainclothes agents just finishing a shift, the report said.

Investigators also said members of an emergency response team didn’t know the layout of the White House and hesitated to go into the mansion after the break-in.

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2 thoughts on “Exposing the myth of American power

  1. TColwell

    And how does supporting the catastrophic Western intervention in Libya not make you a “loyal supporter of the (imperialistic) status quo” ?

  2. Paul Woodward Post author

    It was the anti-interventionists who clearly, unequivocally, supported the status quo in Libya, finding nothing problematic in the prospect of Gaddafi remaining in power by crushing a popular uprising. What has had catastrophic consequences was the swiftness with which the West disengaged, without facing the fact that Libya had no prospect of developing politically unless the militias were first disarmed and disbanded. Those who imagine that minus NATO’s involvement, Libya would now be a haven of tranquility are indulging in an idle fantasy.

    The great “success” for the anti-interventionists has been Syria, where the absence of direct Western military engagement prior to this September has limited the war in no other way than by its name. Three years of war, a quarter million dead, three million refugees, half the population displaced, and all of that happened without it becoming our war — which is why I think many Americans who call themselves antiwar should be more honest and make it clear that their opposition is really confined to American wars.

    Ever hear any anti-interventionists protesting against Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria? No? Neither did I.

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