In response to a military coup in Thailand this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying: “There is no justification for this military coup. While we value our long friendship with the Thai people, this act will have negative implications for the U.S.-Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military.”
Who is Kerry kidding? The U.S. national-security state loves military dictatorships for the precise reason given by Thailand’s military dictators as the justification for their coup: establishing order and stability within the country.
That’s the primary purpose of a powerful standing army within a country — its ability to suppress protests against an all-powerful government that is oppressing the citizenry. If enough people begin protesting against the all-powerful government, all that the privileged classes have to do is trot out the military to start the round-ups, incarceration, torture, assassinations, disappearances, and executions, all in the name of establishing “order and stability” within the country.
In fact, that’s why America’s Founding Fathers opposed a standing army for the United States. It’s also why President Eisenhower warned the American people about the dangers that the military-industrial complex pose to America’s democratic processes. It’s also why President Truman, thirty days after the Kennedy assassination, authored an op-ed in the Washington Post that talked about the sinister nature of the CIA.
Look at Egypt, which has long been governed by an omnipotent national-security state, one that has no reservations about suppressing dissent against Egypt’s omnipotent national-security state. That powerful apparatus has been built up and fortified for decades with U.S. taxpayer money and armaments, along with mutual friendships and training exercises between the U.S. military and the Egyptian military.
When the Egyptian military dictators recently ousted the democratically elected president of the country, U.S. officials issued the same type of mild, superficial criticism that Kerry has now issued against the military dictators in Thailand.
But the actuality is that U.S. officials love what happened in Egypt. That was confirmed by the refusal of U.S. officials to cut off U.S.-provided funds and armaments and their decision to actually resume aid to the dictatorship.
That’s because U.S. officials, especially those in the Pentagon and CIA, believe in this way of life. They build up military dictatorships. They install them into power. They support them. They partner with them. After all, in their minds, the military is just doing what it is supposed to do: establish “order and stability” within the country.
It’s not the first time. Think back to Chile in the early 1970s, when the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department worked together to destroy Chile’s democratic system and install in its stead one of the most brutal military dictatorships in history. Round-ups, rapes, disappearances, and murders of tens of thousands of innocent people—that is, people whose worst “crime” was believing in socialism or communism.
The U.S. national-security establishment loved the Pinochet regime. That’s why they helped to install it and why they funded it, partnered with it, and worked closely with it. In the minds of U.S. officials, Pinochet’s military dictatorship was establishing “order and stability” within Chile.
It was no different in Guatemala, where the CIA smashed the country’s democratic system and installed a brutal military dictatorship in its stead. That led to a civil war that lasted decades and left hundreds of thousands of people dead. In the minds of U.S. officials, the military dictatorship they installed was just establishing “order and stability.”
As a New York Times op-ed today states, “Anyone who has followed Thai history should know that military rule is not the answer to the country’s problems.”
Military rule is not the answer to any country’s problems. Too bad U.S. officials fail to understand that.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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