UNDERSTANDING America is not difficult. All it requires is a grasp of the central fact that the business of America is business, * and of such mildly esoteric matters as the MICE, the hobgoblin, and government by oligarchy, inscrutable deity and revolving door.

Richard Condon said it has been clear since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected President, that Americans will believe anything. He was wrong about that; for nearly four centuries, some nice people have believed that the deity has a major role in running the country. Hence the hilarious notion that the USA is a moral nation, a ‘shining city on a hill’, rather than the kleptocracy it patently is.

We name the guilty man: John Winthrop, an English Puritan who arrived in Massachusetts Bay in 1630 and made it a theocracy, i.e. the deity is the supreme civil ruler.

‘Godliness’ in ‘civilised’ people was and is a useful pretext for stealing property from ‘savages’.

In Organized Crime and American Power: A History (University of Toronto Press, 2001), British historian Michael Woodiwiss defines organised crime as systematic criminal activity for money or power. He says it has been deeply embedded in politics and law at least since the Roman Empire, and hence that we should look beyond the Mafia to the powerful and respectable.

Woodiwiss has thus made a good deal of history and journalism obsolete. The British Empire, for example, was largely a criminal enterprise based on theft of land and trade in human beings.

In The Legal 100: A Ranking of the Individuals Who Have Most Influenced the Law (Citadel, 1998), Professor Darien McWhirter says John Locke “laid the philosophical foundation for the legal and governmental system that developed in the United States”.

Locke, who placed 16th, was a Whig conspirator who had a hand in overthrowing the British monarch in 1688. The event was called the Glorious Revolution, possibly because corrupt Whig oligarchs correctly anticipated extorting glorious sums of money over the next century.

Locke tried to justify the revolution in Two Treatises of Government (1690). He said citizens — obviously not including women, Indians and Negroes — have certain natural rights, including a sacred right to property (after they have stolen it), and can legitimately overthrow any government which does not protect those rights.

The right not to be lied to

But no government can possibly protect citizens’ every right, including the right not to be lied to. Locke thus gave the US a duty to overthrow any government judged to be unsound, particularly on US business.

US Vice-President Richard Cheney has a gloss on Locke. Ron Suskind says in The One Percent Doctrine (Simon & Schuster, 2006) that Cheney holds that if there is a 1% chance that some entity will do the US a mischief, the US has a right to take pre-emptive action against that entity. The percentage effectively means carte blanche. 

Alexander Hamilton placed 2nd in The Legal 100. McWhirter says he was “America’s first great business lawyer …  he saw …  the connection between banking, industry, and national power. [He] launched America on course toward becoming the world’s greatest industrial power”.

As noted below, US politicians, industrialists, judges, and the Central Intelligence Agency (Terrorist Div.) have taken Hamilton’s view that the business of America is business to its logical conclusion. 

Hamilton favoured government by oligarchy. He told a constitutional convention in 1787: “The people … seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore [the rich and well-born] a distinct permanent share in government … Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy.”

The convention did not formally accept oligarchy, corrupt or otherwise, perhaps on the ground that some things are better left unsaid, but did adopt it by the back door, which may explain why US politicians are always blathering on about democracy.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution ratified in 1789 says the President, “with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … public ministers”. Since Cabinet members are appointed rather than elected, clever people can shuffle round a revolving door of business and government forever. In 2006, George Bush Snr had been on the shuffle for 40 years, Donald Rumsfeld for 37, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley for 34, and Cheney for 32. 

Hamilton’s protégé, Chief Justice (1801-35) John Marshall, left a useful precedent for pinstriped organised criminals. Article II Section 4 of the Constitution says the President can be removed for bribery, but he effectively found that bribery is an acceptable tool of business.

Fletcher v Peck (1810) concerned huge land grants procured by bribing politicians and judges. Chief Justice Marshall, a former major land speculator, voted the straight Locke/Hamilton ticket: business is business; a contract is a contract, even when obtained by crime.

He even said: “It would be indecent in the extreme, upon a private contract between two individuals, to enter into an inquiry respecting the corruption of the sovereign power of a state.”

Historian Gustavus Myers said Fletcher v Peck was the first of a long line of court decisions ‘validating grants and franchises of all kinds secured by bribery and fraud’. Michael Woodiwiss says success in business in the later 19th century went to those “best able to bribe, blackmail, extort, exploit, and intimidate”.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed

Ida Tarbell, the great disclosure journalist, reported in 1904 that John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil became dominant by “force and fraud”, and that similar methods were “employed by all sorts of businessmen, from corner grocers up to bankers. If exposed, they are excused on the ground that this is business”. Or “bidness”, as Mafiosi call it.

H.L. Mencken said in 1920:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

The great 1945-89 hobgoblin was the menace of deity-free communism. The terrorist arm of the CIA arm used it as a pretext to force other countries to be nice to US business. 

The US is prudent not to allow its operatives to be subject to the International Criminal Court. William Blum, a former State Department officer and author of Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Zed 2003), has said:

“Between 1945 and 2005 the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes … In the process, the U.S. caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.”

Michael Swan’s 1998 poem, Apology for the British Empire, applies no less to Imperial Washington:   

It’s not enough
To beat our breasts and grieve.
To those we hanged and shot,
We freely grant
A posthumous reprieve.

The Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICE) is also known as the MCC (Military Corporate Complex) and the War Party. Two old soldiers knew that the MICE, the hobgoblin and the oligarchy are Siamese triplets joined at the hip, if such is possible.

General Douglas Macarthur said in 1957:

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil … to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded [by the Defense Department].”

President Dwight Eisenhower said three days before he left office in 1961:

“ … we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence … by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

You can’t beat a 25-year quagmire to maximise MCC profits. Secretary of State Dean Acheson redefined a French colonial war in Vietnam as a war against the hobgoblin on Monday 8 May 1950. He said US taxpayers would finance the war.

President Jack Kennedy had an exit strategy from Vietnam. He said that after he was re-elected in 1964, he would simply install a government which would ask the US to leave, but he was assassinated in 1963. The last US officials did not leave until 1975.

Merchants of death

Mainstream organs of the US media barely mention the MICE. This need not surprise; corporations largely own the organs. As George Seldes said in Witness to a Century (Ballantine, 1987), Watergate was the only major US scandal properly reported. I sometimes idly wonder whether Nixon had to go because he favoured détente, and the MICE don’t.

Current MICE include sundry merchants of death, politicians in both parties, the War Department, Star Wars suppliers, Boeing, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, the Carlyle Group (in which George Bush Snr has an interest), and Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Mrs Lynne Cheney was a Lockheed director 1994-2001. On the revolving door principle, her husband was Secretary of Defense 1989-1993, chief executive of Halliburton 1995-2000, and has been Vice-President since 2001. John Nichols, author of Dick, the Man Who Is President (New Press, 2004), said of Cheney:

“As Secretary of Defense, he laid the groundwork for privatizing vast areas of the military. That … dramatically increased the number of private-sector firms that recognize that it is in their interest for this country to be constantly at war. We now have the most muscular pro-war lobby in the history of the country; they are not just pushing for a particular war, they are for war in general. Halliburton is just the worst example of a far greater crisis.”

Ron Suskind says Washington insiders refer to Cheney as Edgar, from Edgar Bergen (1903-78), a ventriloquist (and father of Candice) who had a slow-witted puppet, Mortimer Snerd. On Tuesday, 11 September 2001, an inscrutable deity and/or Mr Osama bin Laden gave the Snerd administration a grand new hobgoblin, terrorism, and the MICE the agreeable prospect of a permanent war on terror.

Jean-Paul Sartre said terrorism is the atom bomb of the poor. A war on poverty might help defeat terrorism, but Edgar and Snerd chose a war on Iraq, and Tony Blair and the Australian statesman distressingly referred to as Jackie the Lackey, joined them.

The United Nations charter allows force only in self-defence or when the Security Council authorises force to counter an imminent threat. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was thus stating the obvious when he said the war is illegal, but he diplomatically did not add Talleyrand’s observation when Bonaparte had the Duc d’Enghien shot in 1804: “This is worse than a crime; it’s a blunder.”

The invaders either did not learn the lesson of Vietnam, or did not care. The lesson is that the US understood force but the locals understood politics: the US would tire before North Vietnam ran out of people prepared to yield up their lives, even if it took a couple of million.

John Winthrop lives! When Bob Woodward asked Bush if he had consulted his father before going to war, he replied: “He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice; there’s a higher Father that I appeal to.”

The trouble is that Muslims further inflamed by the invasion also appeal to a higher Father. Both sides may thus be rushing headlong into the 17th century, or more precisely to 23 May 1618, when the Third Defenestration of Prague started the last great religious war.

That war lasted 30 years. We may hope the human race lasts as long.

*Readers can fill in their own blanks, e.g. the business of US politics is business; the business of US foreign policy is business; the business of Tasmania is felling trees, the business of Tasmanian politics is … etc. etc.

Evan Whitton

Woodiwiss has thus made a good deal of history and journalism obsolete. The British Empire, for example, was largely a criminal enterprise based on theft of land and trade in human beings.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution ratified in 1789 says the President, “with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … public ministers”. Since Cabinet members are appointed rather than elected, clever people can shuffle round a revolving door of business and government forever. In 2006, George Bush Snr had been on the shuffle for 40 years, Donald Rumsfeld for 37, National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley for 34, and Cheney for 32. 

Hamilton’s protégé, Chief Justice (1801-35) John Marshall, left a useful precedent for pinstriped organised criminals. Article II Section 4 of the Constitution says the President can be removed for bribery, but he effectively found that bribery is an acceptable tool of business.

H.L. Mencken said in 1920:  “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”