Posted by: Harold Knight | 07/28/2010

Street-level Bureaucrats, Gen. Boykin, and—mercifully—Roger Williams

it is the will and command of God

it is the will and command of God

Your wealthy are full of violence;
your inhabitants speak lies,
with tongues of deceit in their mouths.

Micah 6:12

No American with any awareness of reality would question that the Rand Corporation, the National War College, the Department of Defense, and the CIA (in no particular order), along with innumerable other government agencies, military departments, defense contractors, and organizations the existence of which you and I cannot even know control our life together as a political entity and make sweeping decisions on a daily basis that control our personal lives as well.

Wikileaks has demonstrated that plowing through the continents (not piles, hills, or mountains, but continents) of verbiage, memos, top-secret studies, and classified documents produced by the military machinery that controls our “democracy” would consume the time and efforts of all Americans for the foreseeable future.  But when we had read, cataloged, and filed those billions of documents, we would know little more than we know now. We would still be in thrall to people who gather information they think is pertinent to whatever martial end they already believe is in our best interest to pursue. They continue to analyze that information from the point of view they have already decided is best. And they make decisions they deem in the best interest of our “security”—the same decisions they would have made without the information or the analysis.

Academic databases are chock full of “peer reviewed” articles on security, terrorism, insurgency, counterinsurgency, counter terrorism, intelligence. The vast majority of these articles are written by “scholars” who have spent their entire lives in the gathering, analyzing, and deciding (what was pre-determined) business. A typical biographical note at the end of one of these articles reads, “[The author] is a US government analyst who has focused on low-intensity conflict issues for much of his career. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, the Defense Intelligence College, and the National War College” (1).

To an army (literally) of government analysts, we have sold ourselves for not much more than the biblical “mess of pottage.” Recent radio chatter questioned who could possibly have access to the 90,000 documents Wikileaks released. That’s very simple: the “government analysts” who have graduated from Wake Forest University (in reality, they are more likely to have graduated from Georgetown University—students of Bruce Hoffman) and the Defense Intelligence College and the National War College. Our future is decided by “street-level bureaucrats” (2) working together to find evidence to support policies already in place.

Americans are so trusting of our government (at least of the military “security” apparatus) that seldom is any of this process challenged. I certainly can’t take on Bruce Hoffman. The whole system is so incestuously entrenched it can probably never be changed. It boggles my poor tired brain and makes me very tired—I have no interest in participation in the revolution that would be necessary to change what has become our political structure.

However, our personal reactions to the war machine and to the obliteration of truth, both by the institutions of government and by the individuals they comprise, are—I think—matters of life and death.

In a simpler time (prior to the Mexican-American War in 1845) James Russell Lowell wrote a poem widely used in Protestant American hymnals. I assume not many of the good christian folk who have sung it realized they were singing a protest against the military establishment of the United States.

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

On July 2, 2010, General Jerry Boykin (Ret.), interviewed online by Pastor Skip Heitzig, said,

What we are not seeing first and foremost is the fact that Islam is not religion. It is a totalitarian way of life. There is a religious component. But we still treat it as a first amendment issue when in fact it is a totalitarian way of life. And when you think Islam you need to think Sharia law. . . .  It is a legal system more than anything else, with a religious component. And people simply do not understand that. And consequently, Skip, we still treat it as a first amendment issue. (3)

General Boykin is a former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. He also served in the CIA as Deputy Director of Special Activities.  He is a graduate of Virginia Tech, with a Masters Degree from Shippensburg College. He has been schooled at the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College.

support for the capability of searching for the meaning of life

support for the capability of searching for the meaning of life

That the policies crafted by our street-level bureaucrats are anti-Islam hardly needs saying. Pointing out the many fronts on which our government is fighting “Islamic Extremism” is to state the obvious. My guess is that at least half of Americans believe that American Muslims, particularly American Muslims who are of Arabic descent, are terrorists. All of them. This belief is the result of incestuous “analysis” by graduates of the National War College.

General Boykin, schooled at the Army War College, carries a cachet of rightness and righteousness about him that many (most?) Americans would accept without question.

And they would be woefully misguided and mistaken.

Gathering sources that I have been studying for seven years, trying to find the exactly correct refutation of General Boykin’s evil distortion of the truth, and re-starting this writing a dozen times has nearly driven me to despair of ever writing what I want to say—what I know someone (a multitude of someones) needs to say.

The irrational, politically-motivated hatred of Islam in this country . . . .

I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Can anyone but an old fool say that watching his friends and neighbors destroy themselves by fear and hatred breaks his heart? I am enough of a sentimental old fool to say it.

General Boykin is simply completely dead wrong. America is in no danger from Sharia law. The street-level bureaucrats are responsible for allowing this myth to perpetuate itself.

Roger Williams, one of my heroes among the founding fathers, said

. . . .it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries. . . . (4)

Martha Nussbaum, Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago says, writing of Roger Williams,

Sometimes, imprisonment is subtle, almost hidden: the words in a nation’s constitution may be promising, extending basic entitlements to all citizens on a basis of equality, but the interpretation of these entitlements is so narrow that groups of citizens are not really able to select some crucial activities. . . . Williams sees that protection and support for the capability of searching for the meaning of life in one’s own way is no small matter: it requires careful protective action on the part of the State. . . . Williams insists that, nonetheless, politics and public life can and do have a moral character, because there is an ethical space we can share as citizens who differ about ultimate religious matters. (5)

Protection and support for the capability of searching for the meaning of life in one’s own way is no small matter. The “ground-level bureaucrats” and retired generals have a responsibility—more important than their gathering and analyzing “intelligence.” It is to defend the rights of all Americans.

And we all have a responsibility—to speak out loudly and (if necessary) defiantly when they don’t.

“Once. . . comes the moment to decide!”

_____________
(1) Krause, Lincoln B. “Playing for the breaks: insurgent mistakes.” Parameters 39.3 (2009): 49+.
(2) May, Peter J., and Soren C. Winter. “Politicians, managers, and street-level bureaucrats: influences on policy implementation.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 19.3 (2009): 453+
(3) “First Friday for July.”  The Connection With Skip Heitzig. Connection Communications. July 2, 2010. Web. 25 Jul 2010.
(4 ) Roger Williams, “The Bloudy Tenent Of Persecution” (1644).
(5) Nussbaum, Martha C. “Foreword: constitutions and capabilities: ‘perception’ against lofty formalism.” Harvard Law Review 121.4 (2008): 4+.

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