Syria – An American Tragedy
On Day One the U.S. Secretary of State, a man who never uses ten words if a hundred will do, announces before the world the decision of his Commander-in-Chief – for this is the correct name of an American President, chosen by universal franchise – to bomb Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civilians. This was indicated as that point of excess in genocide, with already two million refugees, which meant a halt to the shi’a Iranian regime of Syria, upheld by Russia.
On Day Two, the Russian counterpart, already intellectually humiliated into defending the Assad regime’s brutal massacres in the name of real-politic, announced the proposal that Assad would hand over his massive reserve of chemical weapons to the U.N.
Brilliantly, in one move, posing as peaceful, Russia totally redesigned the American game plan but also re-wrote the power balance in the Middle East, finally granting dominance to a Russian-shi’a axis stretching from Iran up through Syria to Lebanon and Palestine. At the same time Assad, as head of state, was established in a kind of permanence, necessary to overview the disarmament protocols.
On Day Three, the American President was left helpless, out-maneuvered and out-classed by his Russian fellow-President, chosen there by his own universal franchise.
In the meantime, his Secretary of State went blundering on – and we thought Hillary Clinton was bad!
The background to all this – which was nothing less than the total collapse of an American hold over the Middle East in policy and power – had been the media echoed cacophony of open government debate in Washington. Open committees, ministers and military, were all closely questioned in TV-covered debate. It was, we were assured, the glorious evidence of democracy. The open discussions, the polls, the cross-party approach – we were told it was democracy in action. Alas – this was true!
If one looks beyond the disaster of this breaking news – it becomes clear that something has gone irreparably wrong.
The American experiment is finally unraveling – not with a bang but a whimper.
What is the cause of this debacle? Put in structural terms it is quite simple. The Senate is not the Senate.
Let us go back to the beginning.
When George Washington entered the army he wrote: ‘My life is grafted onto the fate of Rome.’ The so-called Founding Fathers of America were obsessively determined to shape the new Republic on the pattern of Rome. In 1776 the Great Seal of the United Sates declared in Latin the birth of a ‘novus ordo seclorum’.
Interestingly, that is now meant to mean something different today from then. It meant ‘a new world order’, it could also mean a new long-lasting order. In modern French ‘un arbre seculair,’ is an ancient tree, a century old. It did not, but now does mean a new secular order, that is atheist!
The Congress was housed in the Capitol and the upper chamber of government was named the Senate. The Roman eagle became the national bird.
Madison, in ‘Federalist No. 63’ wrote: ‘History informs us of no long lived republic which had not a Senate.’ To both Madison and Hamilton the Senate was modelled on the Roman Senate to protect private property from democratic majority control.
The Roman Constitution, according to the historian, Polybius, was a mixed constitution, melding into one, three political groupings, the monarchic, the aristocratic and the democratic. It was this balance between the educated elite and the people ruled by consular, never monarchic authority, that gave political tension and dynamic to the Republic.
Here is a summation from Adam Ferguson’s masterwork, ‘The Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic’:
“The consuls were destined to the command of armies; but while at Rome, seemed to have the highest prerogative in the administration of all civil and political affairs. They had under their command all the other offices of state, except the tribunes of the people, and they alone could move the Senate on any subject of deliberation …. they were vested with high degrees of discretionary power over all the troops of the commonwealth, composed of Roman citizens or allies. ….
The Senate suffered no money to be issued without their own decree, or the warrant of the consul in actual service. ….
All crimes and disorders that were committed among the free inhabitants of Italy, or municipal allies of the state, came under the jurisdiction and determination of the Senate. All foreign embassies were received or dispatched and all negotiations were conducted by this body. In such matters the people did no more than affirm or reverse what the Senate, after mature deliberation, had decreed, and for the most part gave their consent as a matter of form; insomuch, that while persons who observed the high executive power of the Consul, considered the state as monarchical; foreigners, on the contrary, who resorted on public business to Rome, were apt to believe it an aristocracy vested in the Senate.
The people, notwithstanding, had reserved the sovereignty to themselves, and, in their several assemblies, exercised the power of legislation, and conferred all the offices of state.”
Polybius gave categoric definition to the Senate in his Histories: Book 6 chpt. 13:
“The Senate’s most important role is that it controls the treasury, in the sense that it is responsible for all state revenues and almost all expenditure …. Moreover, outside Italy, it is the Senate’s business to send missions to arbitrate disputes, offer advice, make demands, accept submissions, and declare war.”
It is clear that there is a structural fracture between the primal model of the Roman Republic as interpreted and carefully applied by the American authors of the new vast territory of the United States and our present day disintegrating edifice. What went wrong?
Prior to the deconstruction of the Republic, the American/Roman Republic an event of great historical proportions took place, although ignored or forgiven by the Imperialist Europe which, guiltily, preferred to look away. This was, following a hundred years of war, famine and genocide, the final crime against the original Amerindian nations. From 1887-1903 the Indian lands set aside as prison settlements, called Reservations, shrank from 154 million acres to 48 million. This completed the American phase of conquest with which it had begun. Now the emergent rulers of America could move to dismantle the boasted new freedom.
In 1913 the U.S.A. introduced the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This legalised the Federal power to tax the citizens. In one move they abolished the fiduciary independence of the separate states.
This was followed in the same year, 1913, by the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which removed the power of the State legislatures to appoint Senators and transferred their selection to direct popular election. Thus the Federal centre power was intensified to permit it to pursue its military republican role as invader and expander of power, but at the same time it had removed the elite’s protection of wealth, the independent Senate, leaving the masses free, one day, to claim that wealth.
So it was from 1918-1945 that America, Federal America, pursued its goal of expansion and empire. As long as war was imposed the masses could be held in check. On the day expansion halted, the dialectic of democracy would reach out and make its claim. The programme was global. World War One under American narrative saw ended the Empires of Russia, Germany, Austria and Turkey. World War Two at last put an end to the hated enemy, Britain. The only empire remaining – the U.S.A. After the ’45 ending of war, disintegration began, piece by piece, each attempt at expansion floundered. Korea was half a victory. Viet Nam an ignominious defeat. Iraq left behind an anarchy, a political and military disaster which wrecked America’s vast economy. Finally, came Afghanistan, a decade of humiliation for the military High Command, loss of world standing, and a generation of war veterans ready for civil war.
One must return to Polybius’ understanding of the original Roman role of the Senate. The Senate’s task was primarily the control and expenditure of the State’s wealth. It was the seat of the Republic’s wealth.
Today – the Senate is not the Senate. It is not picked by the ruling elite and it is penniless. The modern senator is a common wage-earner. Fiduciary power is owned by a new class of private banking, and commodity distribution and ownership.
None of these is elected by even an elite franchise.
A further glance at the Roman Senate will totally unmask the ludicrous role of the current American Senate in the sheer helplessness facing it in the Syrian crisis.
Here is the Roman Senate in action, as retold by Adam Ferguson:
“It appears that the members of the Senate, in rotation, had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with that world which they were destined to govern.
The senate itself, though, from its numbers and the emulation of its members, likely to embarrass affairs by debate, delay, and the rash publication of all its designs, in reality possessed all the advantages of decision, secrecy, and despatch, that could be obtained in the most select executive council. This numerous assembly of Roman statesmen appear to have maintained, during a long period, one series of consistent and uniform design; and kept their intentions so secret that their resolutions, for the most part, were known only by the execution.
The king of Pergamus made a journey to Rome, in order to excite the Romans to a war with his rival, the King of Macedonia. He preferred his complaints in the senate, and prevailed on this body to resolve on the war; but no part of the transaction was public till after the King of Macedonia was prisoner at Rome.”
The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic. Book II. ch. I.
So, it would appear that today, just over two hundred years from the inception of the American Republic, the experiment has failed. In the Reservations the Navaho are practicing again their ancient war-dances, and the Mexicans are already moving North.