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December 19, 2006

Carnation Revolution?

-- by John Emerson

At this point I'm hoping for a tacit sitdown strike by the military. They almost seem to be a more likely source of resistance than the Democrats. Certainly a more likely source than the media, which is made up of people very much like Bush: "Look good, repeat slogans, be loyal to the program."

Without the media, mass resistance is unlikely to happen, and in the wake of the Vietnam War mass resistance was publicly discredited and jokified by a well-planned disinformation campaign. Even though the Iraq war now has only about 20% approval, a fair chunk of the 80% disapproving are super-hawks worse than Bush, and the militant anti-war group is very, very small.

Bush's actions have partially discredited the principle of civilian control of the military. Behind that principle has always been fear of a military coup d'etat, or of free-lance military aggression by loose-cannon generals, but there have also been times when generals have been accused of fighting too timidly . McClellan in the Civil War is the example neocons always use -- but WII Germany on the Russian Front is more apropos today. We're hoping that the military will restrain and neutralize our incompetent Armageddonist Commander in Chief.

The "Carnation Revolution" in Portugal in 1974 is an example of good military men who resisted bad civilians. This event has been forgotten by history because it was successful and almost bloodless, but it deserves much more attention. A fascist dictatorship was brought down by a military mutiny, and nothing bad happened afterwards. (I'm grasping at straws, of course.)

The Democrats have been steadily improving, but not fast enough, and in time of war Congress has almost no leverage over the CinC anyway (as Bush keeps reminding us). The only thing that will work at this point would be strong, forthright attacks on the war, backed by the threat of impeachment -- this issue can't be nickel-and-dimed with quibbles and reasonable responses like Reid's.

And it can't be done in a civil way any more, either. The people who brought us this war (including the media people and think-tank spokesmen) have to be removed from their positions of power or influence, and their reputations have to be destroyed. They can't maintain their credibility if the war is seen for what it is, and their own careers are more important to them than anything that happens to anyone else.

But what are the chances?

Posted by John Emerson at December 19, 2006 9:05 AM

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Comments

I'd say close to zero, but I've been known to be wrong before. I think it's all too likely that the new Democratic leadership will be influenced by the pundits in DC. Or even worse, the "moderate, bipartisan" faction of the Democratic party might align with the Republicans to form a coalition government.

I hope that the principle of civil control of the military isn't abandoned overall by this particular failure. To take the optimistic view, it might be possible for this to represent the democratic process correcting its mistakes -- something that seldom happens under dictatorship. The democratic process sometimes goes wrong, as do dictatorships, but the democratic process has a reasonable chance of correcting its course.

Posted by: John M 307 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2006 10:04 AM

Not until two years from now. Democracy really has failed.

CinC powers have always been relatively free of the normal checks and balances, and ever since 1941 they've been becoming more absolute. The repeatedly-asserted Bush-Gonzales doctrine states that the CinC has essentially absolute power. Bush hasn't even had to declare a State of Emergency yet, and once he does that he'll be home free.

Posted by: John Emerson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2006 10:24 AM

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