Once again, the dispiriting spectacle of the American media in full campaign cry is upon us, as coverage of the 2004 presidential race begins in earnest. But this time around, the usual inanities, inaccuracies and insipidities have a more melancholy flavor, an almost elegiac feel. It's like watching priests of a dead cult, vacantly enacting their rituals in a ruined temple whose gods have been broken, desecrated and cast down.
The difference from past campaigns lies in the media mandarins' sad belief that there will actually be a genuine, open, presidential election in November 2004. This childlike faith stems, of course, from their equally fallacious conviction that the United States did not suffer a coup d'etat in December 2000 at the hands of an extremist faction of elites.
Although the installation of second-place finisher George W. Bush was engineered in a wholly unprecedented and unconstitutional manner -- from the illegal purging of more than 90,000 eligible, predominantly black voters from the Florida rolls by Jeb Bush to the violent mobs of Republican congressional staffers paid by George Bush to break up the vote recounts in Miami to the threats of military insurrection muttered by Bush Family factotum General Norman Schwarzkopf to the use of Republican-paid ex-CIA operatives to "correct" 15,000 Florida absentee ballots to the Supreme Court ruling that unlawfully halted the Florida recount by citing a totally fictitious deadline for final tallies, down to the congressional session that officially "ratified" the election result, held in an half-empty chamber lacking the legally required quorum -- America's media leaders insist there was no coup because power was transferred "without tanks in the streets."
But of course, a classic coup is "not necessarily assisted by either the intervention of the masses or, to any significant degree, by military-type force." It's an inside job, carried out by factions within the elite. Who says? The man who literally wrote the book on the subject: right-wing guru -- and Pentagon advisor -- Edward Luttwak.
In 1968, Luttwak penned "Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook," which could be the text of the 2000 Bush campaign, as John Dee reports in Lumpen magazine. Drawing on the extensive experience of the CIA in such pranks, Luttwak says that "a coup consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." True coupsters "want to seize power within the present system" [his italics], then use the existing lines of authority and habits of obedience inherent in legitimate government to advance their own illegitimate aims.
Propaganda and false patriotism are key coup ingredients. Luttwak says a coup's "information campaign" must "reassure the general public by dispelling fears that the coup is inspired by extremist elements, and to persuade particular groups that the coup is not a threat to them. The first aim will be achieved by manipulating national symbols and by asserting our belief in the prevailing pieties." United we stand!
Meanwhile, Luttwak explains, opponents of the coup must be painted as isolated cranks, "a few misguided or dangerous individuals," unable to "move on" and accept the wonderful new reality. Reports of opposition must be "withheld" whenever possible; failing that, they must be marginalized and belittled, because "news of any resistance against us would act as a powerful stimulant to further resistance by breaking down this feeling of isolation."
We know that Bush never reads any book that doesn't have pictures of goats in it, but it's clear that Dick Cheney has had a well-thumbed copy of Luttwak's handbook in his back pocket for years. The 2000 coup was carried out along Luttwakian lines by a small group of ideologues and elitists -- the latter drawn largely from the energy and defense industries -- seeking to advance their illegitimate aim of global domination by military force and control of the world's energy resources.
These objectives were no secret. Since 1992, Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and a gaggle of other dominionists now in power aired their plans publicly via a web of corporate-funded pressure groups. These documents -- including their chilling call in September 2000 for a "new Pearl Harbor" to shock Americans into supporting rapacious dominion schemes -- provided a blueprint that the coup-makers have followed with remarkable fidelity. The truth was there for anyone to see. But it was ignored by the dim-witted, well-wadded corporate media -- whose owners, drooling over Bush promises of mega-mergers and deregulation, were easily persuaded that the takeover "was not a threat to them."
It's dangerously naive to believe that such a gang, coming to power in such a fashion, will allow a legitimate electoral contest to take place next year. They have too much to lose. They haven't expended so much effort -- and so many thousands of innocent lives -- to build this vast engine of repression and profit only to turn it over to Howard Dean or John Kerry, just because the stupid American people say so.
So yes, there will be an "election" -- with conventions, debates, ads, voting, the whole schmeer. But as Josef Stalin once said: "It's not the votes that count, it's who counts the votes." And in 2004, most votes will be "counted" by paperless, unverifiable, eminently hackable computer systems, privately owned and secretly programmed by Bush supporters from the Religious Right and the military-intelligence complex.
Again, this is no "conspiracy theory"; it's all out in the open -- for anyone who cares to look. Next week, we'll do just that. Stay tuned.
© Copyright 2002, The Moscow Times. All Rights Reserved. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/09/12/120.html