On December 9, 1789, Thomas Erskine, as the editor of A Treasury of the World’s Great Speeches [New York: 1954] says, “pointed out the consequences of empire.” He addressed a jury in London, contemplating the behavior of the recent Governor General of British India, Warren Hastings, subject to impeachment proceedings before the British Parliament.
I am driven in defense of my client to remark that it is mad and preposterous to bring to the standard of justice and humanity the exercise of a dominion founded upon violence and terror. It may and must be true that Mr Hastings has repeatedly offended against the rights and privileges of Asiatic government, if he was the faithful deputy of a power which could not maintain itself for an hour without trampling upon both. He may and must have offended against the laws of God and nature if he was the faithful viceroy of an empire wrested in blood from the people to whom God and nature had given it; he may and must have preserved that unjust dominion over timorous and abject nations by a terrifying, overbearing, insulting superiority, if he was the faithful administrator of your government , which, having no root in consent or affection — no foundation in similarity of interests — nor support from any one principle which cements men together in society, could only be upheld by alternate stratagem and force.
Barack Obama is the Warren Hastings of our day. He is the United States imperator, the official invested with the responsibility of maintaining the present Empire which spans the globe, in the interests of the people of this country.
The consequence of this is, that he is obliged to preside over an abolition of all of the Constitutional rights and privileges of citizens of that same empire, since what is maintained by force and violence abroad will only be sustained by the same means at home. You cannot, as Erskine so eloquently indicated, break the natural laws common to all of humanity and preserve the nicest distinctions of Parliamentary legislation.
If England, from a lust of ambition and dominion, will insist upon maintaining despotic rule over distant and hostile nations, beyond all comparison more numerous and extended than herself, and gives commission to her viceroys to govern them with no other instruction than to preserve them, and to secure permanently their revenues, with what color of consistency or reason can she place herself in the moral chair, and affect to be shocked at the execution of her own orders; adverting to the exact measure of wickedness and injustice necessary to their execution, and complaining only of the excess as the immorality, considering her authority as a dispensation for breaking the commands of God, and the breach of them only punishable when con tray to the ordinances of man?
The assassination of Anwar Aw-laki, and the subsequent assassination of his 16-year-old son, unquestionably mark President Barack Obama as a modern tyrant, breaking the natural law — let alone the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — with impunity. The eloquent folksinger and Vietnam vet Chris Floyd explains the circumstances we face today.
As the empire’s chief sycophant, Thomas Friedman, once put it, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
You can’t really put it any plainer than that. The only path to prosperity is through domination by armed force. Others must die, must suffer, must quake in fear, to preserve our comfort. This is Modern American Militarism in a nutshell: the ruling ideology and national religion of American society today.
Anything or anyone who threatens this dominance — or just disagrees with it, or simply wants to be left alone by it — is automatically judged an enemy of the imperial state. You must accept the system. You cannot question it. The beliefs or religion or ideology of the resister (or perceived resister) do not matter in the slightest. Even the impact of the resistance doesn’t matter. It is resistance that is the crime.
It is not enough that you obey; you must be seen to obey. You must obey cheerfully, without complaint — just ask any of thousands and thousands of your fellow citizens who hav been tasered or beaten or arrested for failing to show due deference to a police officer or security guard or any of the many other heavily armed figures out there who can stop us, hold us, put us away — or put us down — on the merest whim.