James Madison, Militarism, and the Motives of the Radical Jihadists.

On a surprise trucking mission from Aspen to Carbondale this morning, I was listening to the Con Man ask questions about radial Jihadism, including an obvious question: “Why do they hate us?”

A caller had called in with three quotes from James Madison.  I was surprised to draw a connection from the radio show to two books that I recently read.  Neither one was specifically about Madison, but both contained new information that I had digested.

One book is Undaunted Courage, by Stephen E. Ambrose,  and the other is Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson.

In Undaunted Courage, Madison was the Secretary of State to President Thomas Jefferson.  As president,  Jefferson provided a vision to his cabinet:  to ensure that the United States would have sovereignty from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and that no European power would pose a threat to that.  Simply put: North America belongs to the United States, and no army of Britain, France, or Spain would be tolerated near her borders. (Obama was recently quoted, as claiming to provide “a vision” for his cabinet to carry out.  To my amusement, this quote was highly criticized by right wing talk radio.  I will let you draw your own conclusions)

In fact, when Madison traveled to France to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans (Jefferson never imagined the entire Lousiana territory was up for sale at the time) from France, Madison also carried a message from Jefferson to Napoleon.  That message informed him that should France station a single soldier in New Orleans, the United States would consider it an official act of war.

Now, back to the question of the day:  Why do the radical Jihadists hate us?  Could it be because of our presence in the Middle East?  Jefferson had a Manifest Destiny about the soverignty of the United States in North America (which is why Napoleon, being the smart man that he was, assumed that the American pioneers were going to spread out all over Louisiana anyway, so he might as well make some money off of it). Our federalism was designed to be the opposite of the imperialism of European Nations.

However, now the United States has military bases in over 30 countries across the globe!  This includes Germany, Austrailia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Britain, and Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.  (Surpring to me: not in Mexico.  Not surprising to me: not in France!)

How would you feel if there was a Colombian military base in Nebraska?  How about an Egyptian base in New York?  A Japanese base in California?  Israelis in Colorado?!

“Hell no!” is what any sensible citizen of any nation will say.  Could you imagine?   With that said: what is our place to station troops in another country?  Jefferson would be appalled at such an idea.

In Nemesis, the author opens up about “Militarism and the Breakdown of Constitutional Government”, claiming “The United States has been continuosly engaged in or mobilized for war since 1941.”

Johnson (as well as the caller on Conniff’s show) quotes Madison:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Madison also said:

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.


Madison knew the threat of militarization (and fear that the U.S. would ever be in control of another military dictator such as King George III), which is why he and his peers incorporated a very important balance of power in the Nation’s governing document.  According to the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, and the President is the commander in chief of the military.

However, the Bush Doctrine changed all that.   This power was stripped away from the Legislative Branch and rewarded to the Executive Branch, thus throwing the fragile balance of powers defined by the Constitution.  The President can now use the military, (as well as CIA operations designated as so “top secret” that they cannot even disclose budget spending dollars to Congress!) to preemptively strike against any sovereign nation believed to be harboring “terrorists”.

Putting the final straw on the militarization outrage is the most striking, shocking, and appalling news to me this week: The Pentagon’s plan to deploy 20,000 troops in the U.S. for domestic security. Specifically, the 3rd Infantry, 1st Brigade — a combat brigade!

This act ensures that the President will have the resources necessary to enforce martial law instantaneously, at any time, for any reason.  On January 20th, Madison’s fears will be realized when George W. Bush transfers a military dictatorship over to Barack H. Obama.

We may as well have just burned the last copy of the U.S. Constitution.



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5 Responses to “James Madison, Militarism, and the Motives of the Radical Jihadists.”

  1. El Dudo Says:

    My Struggle

    After a tough day of recuperation, both from intentional pain, i.e. hung over, and unintentional pain, i.e. shoulder reconstructive surgery, I looked forward to my saving grace…a chew. I soon stop by my local grocer,
    “A tin of Skoal mint please”, I say.
    “Why sure thing young man, might I check your ID”, replies the clerk
    “But of course. Here you go, I believe everything should be in order”
    Ah, there it was in my hand, then in my pocket, “hmm better place it somewhere more secure.” breast pocket…right side. “Not going anywhere now’ I thought. Onward to thanksgiving dinner, tally ho! Turkey…yum, cranberries…yum, but what I really wanted was the crisp clean tasty, taste of loosely cut tobacco, swimming in mint, awaiting the porous skin of my inner lip.
    “By the way…” my cousin asks, “are you still dipping?”
    “But of course” I reply “Lets share in a good chew”
    Eep, can’t sneak past the parents to head outside for a chew, sad because I am 27, definitely can’t do it in the open. Not a problem, after all I waited the whole day, I can wait a little longer. With dinner closing and the hours remaining waning, I head to my final destination, Frankfurt, Illinois. There partaking in the usual activities of drinking and laughing and nipping some King Henry, I have to admit I forgot about my chew. Probably because I smoked a few cigarettes and having gotten my nicotine fix, didn’t feel too much like having one. In retrospect, probably because I felt horrible the next day from smoking cigarettes, I should have forgone the cigarettes and had a chew.
    “Got to be on my way” I say,
    seeing as the last train leaves in a mere hour and because I felt as though I put in a good days work of eating and drinking and bullshitting. Got my coat…check, backpack…check, ipod…check, condo keys…check, tin of Skoal Mint…negative. The only problem was I didn’t realize that last ‘negative check’ until I was well on my way back fucking home.
    “Damn it!!! Its okay, its okay…I’ll just pick one up on my way home, hee hee, not a problem.”
    An hour later I am swinging by the CVS,
    “Tin of Skoal mint Please” I say
    “Why sure thing young man, might I check your ID’ replies the clerk
    ‘But of course…hmmm, there seems to be a problem here…wait a sec…maybe here….no, not that pocket either”
    “Ahem, maybe the book bag young man”
    Wallet, front pouch, sitting there plain as day,
    “Ha ha, silly me.” Whew, close one “Here you go, I believe everything is in order”.
    I scurry home, wait about five minutes, plop on the couch, break the seal on the tin, give it a couple quick flicks with the finger, open the lid and…
    “What the fuck, the bastard sold me pouches.”
    At this point I could cry. The following day, I sat lamenting woefully at the bus stop that I have not had my chew; my attempts to rip open the pouches and pour the contents in to the container ended very badly. Let’s just say there is a mess waiting for me to clean up at home. Sitting, waiting, wondering how I got to this point I happen to glance up the street. Now I never head up that way and I am not sure what made me look in the first place, but there it was…a Walgreen’s, and only three blocks down and a half a block over.
    “That’s less than half a mile!” I yell to the person next to me.
    A quick jaunt across the street, “Don’t worry about the cars, they’ll stop for you” I think to myself. A scurry up the block and in less than ten minutes I am there. Huffing and puffing of course but there none the less.
    “A Tin of Skoal Mint Please” I say
    “Why sure thing young man, might I check your ID” replies the clerk
    “But of course. Here you go; I believe everything should be in order”
    “Wait these are pouches, don’t you have any long cut?” I ask with a sinking feeling in my heart.
    “I don’t know, let me check” replies the clerk “We have Fine Cut” he says a minute later.
    “No, that won’t do. I want a Tin of Skoal Mint Long Cut. Wait…what is that there?” looking at the 10 pack of what has to be fresh Skoal Mint.
    “Oh, I didn’t see that there. Here you go.”
    “No!” I cry “These are pouches…again!” The clerks looks slightly confused at my “again” remark.
    “Well, I am sorry, but I don’t think I have any Skoal Mint” the clerk states curtly. I could tell he was getting tired of my whining.
    I look down; I think a tear fell to the counter top. I can’t leave now, to go home defeated and alone, without my Skoal Mint Long Cut, can I? What to do, oh what to do? There are no other stores close by nor anything on the way home.
    “Hey hurry up!’ says the kind gentleman behind me.
    The natives are getting restless I sense. Have to think of something fast. Ha ha…I have got!! I look up from the counter, face squarely to the clerk, didn’t forget to wipe the tear from your eye and…
    “A Tin of Skoal Spearmint Please”

  2. Adam Reiner Says:

    El Dudo,

    In tough economic times like these, one in desperation may be forced to resort to “da Grizz”.

  3. Erik J. Awesome Says:

    I think they mainly hate us because of the fucked up interpretation of their religion, which happens in ANY religion. You think those oddball fundamentalists in Kansas wouldn’t hesitate to curbstomp my athiest ass if I went there?

  4. AK Says:

    Hey Adam!
    I read the bulk of your writings here…the technical stuff was over my head, but here is my response to your question regarding the jihadists…

    First and foremost, I believe, that they hate us because we are allies to Israel, whom they hate with a “thousands of years” old passion due to religious tenets, (Mohammad & Abraham). Secondly, they also hate, almost as passionately, our country’s freedoms and democracy. And lastly, they hate our prosperity due to capitalism. (If it weren’t for capitalism, we probably wouldn’t be the entrepenurial success we are today!)

    As for our “occupation” in other countries, I think you are missing the point here. As you note the countries, they are mostly ones that were involved in previous wars where we were the victors and/or the peace-keepers. We are there for peace-keeping reasons now, not aggression. It reminds me of the misconstrued statement by John McCain when he said something to the effect of staying in Iraq for 100 years. It was NOT to fight the Iraqi war for 100 years, it was to maintain peace. The other countries that you mention want us there and when asked to leave, we leave. With this country’s capabilities to annihilate others via atomic/nuclear war (Nagasaki & Hiroshima), we now choose to be the peace-keepers, not the imperialists we are accused of being. (Look up the history on Nagasaki & Hiroshima – the bomb was dropped to end the war swiftly and save countless of Americans fighting, sad fact but never used again. The ratio of lives lost to lives saved is staggering, but I don’t remember what it is exactly. The pilot for the Enola Gay passed away somewhat recently and was quoted as saying he didn’t hesitate when ordered to drop the bomb and had no regrets because of the American lives saved).

    America is unfortunately seen in many areas of the world in a bad light. But the countries that appreciate what we do are out there. When we were in St. Thomas, a local cab driver told us how much he loved the USA and hoped to one day live here…he said when he was a boy and lived on a different small island, it was destroyed by a hurricane and the only country that came to their aid was the United States. We send millions (probably trillions!) of dollars to so many countries, but we are “imperialists” – doesn’t compute with me. If we were imperialists, we wouldn’t be advocating democracy; wouldn’t we just drop a nuclear bomb on them and be done with them?

    Thanks for asking me to respond…hope I didn’t bore you with my opinions!

  5. little nell Says:

    ASPEN — A construction problem delaying the opening of Aspen’s most luxurious timeshare project now threatens to nullify several multimillion-dollar sales, according to a lawsuit. Four parties that have signed contracts to purchase

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