OIL ON WATER
Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
June 24, 2010
OIL ON WATER
Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
As readers of my commentaries are well aware, I have often pointed to the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a prime example of how America’s present “homeland-security” regime—from the Department of Homeland Security itself, through FEMA, to many of the State and Local emergency-management and law-enforcement agencies that the DHS has coopted “from the top down”—falls woefully short of the mark, and why as a practical matter that whole top-heavy apparatus should be replaced as the Constitution requires with revitalized “Militia of the several States”, immediately if not sooner. Well, now, with the eruption of raw petroleum from BP’s well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, America is confronted with a disaster besides which Katrina may perhaps be remembered as little more than a few rainy days. A disaster that, unlike Katrina, will not blow away in a little while. A disaster that, unlike Katrina, will not leave behind only damage to property that can be repaired relatively quickly and easily. Rather, this disaster threatens to load upon the Gulf States—and probably upon all of the United States, in one way or another—a super- industrial-strength physical and environmental mess that will fester for a long time to come.
If events unfold according to the estimates of the more pessimistic experts, the damage will be pervasive, extensive, intensive, and persistent in the Gulf States, and perhaps up the East Coast of the United States and even beyond. Obviously, if these dire prognostications are anywhere near accurate, America must deal with the flood of crude oil and its inevitable consequences, immediately and effectively, before things get entirely out of hand. The question is: “How?” Emergency assistance of all kinds for people in the Gulf States will be necessary—but who will provide it; and, perhaps more to the point, who will actually deliver it to the victims most in need? The clean-up will require a staggering amount of human effort—but where are sufficient “boots on the ground” to be found? And eventual return to a state of living approaching “normalcy” will demand massive short- and long-term readjustments, remediation, rebuilding, and even rethinking of the local economies in the affected regions—but in what way can America insure that the primary beneficiaries of this work will be the people in the region, not simply public officials, government employees and contractors, politicians, and assorted special-interest groups trying (as they always do) to gouge abusive political and monetary profits from human misfortune and misery?
If proper constitutional Militia existed in the Gulf States, their citizens would know the answers to these questions already. Indeed, the necessary work would be well in hand. More than that, maybe—no, not just “maybe”, but almost surely—this catastrophe would have been averted, or at least mitigated, because the political power of the Militia in the States directly affected by the drilling of oil wells in the Gulf would have deterred incompetent public officials in the Disgrace of Columbia from allowing the petrobarons to conduct their operations without properly thought-out, proven, and doubly, triply, or even quadruply redundant safety procedures. And had a major accident occurred anyway, the Militia would now be putting irresistible pressure on the General Government and BP to consult the best minds in the field—even if they happened to come from Russia. The Militia would have asked and would be asking hard questions. They would have demanded and would be demanding straight answers. And if those answers had not been or were not forthcoming, the Militia would have taken and would take corrective action on their own, rather than sitting idly by while their own communities were devastated, perhaps irreparably.
But, of course, there were and are no proper constitutional Militia in the Gulf States (or in any of the several States, for that matter). And “homeland security” still depends, as it did during and after Katrina, upon the DHS and its appendages. Well, there is no use crying over milk spilt in the past, when crude oil pouring out of the ocean floor in the present is the problem. Now, America needs to smell the benzene, to wake up, to wise up, to get up off her rear end, and to use this mess as a reason and the context in which to revitalize the Militia in the affected States, and then in the country as a whole. Americans need to become as wise as the Chinese, for whom (as a matter of their written language at least) every “crisis” contains both a “danger” and an “opportunity”.
Revitalizing the Militia in the Gulf States is the best choice for turning this opportunity to good account. Anyone with an IQ one point higher than his age can understand why the DHS will not solve the present set of problems, any more than it solved the far-less-extensive and far-less consequential set of problems that arose out of Katrina. Today’s problems will not be solved—at least in time—by electing new Members to Congress in November of this year, either, because: (i) the composition of Congress cannot be expected to change sufficiently to bring that institution to its full constitutional senses; and even if that did happen, (ii) America would still be saddled with Mr. Obama, constitutionally illiterate and indecisive in his own right but nonetheless capable of vetoing legislation as the ostensible President until 2013. And today’s problems certainly will not and can not be solved by “secession” (or some other pie-in-the-sky political pipedream), because, if the affected States were to “secede” in the context of an economic collapse such as the oil eruption threatens, they could hardly make “secession” work (assuming for purposes of argument that it were otherwise workable).
These problems can, however, be solved by the people of the Gulf States themselves, because those people are on the scene; fully appreciate what the problems are; know why they need and how they want to solve those problems; are aware of the individuals and organizations amongst themselves who and which have the knowledge, skills, and experience to tackle the job; and above all else have the very strongest incentives for solving the problems quickly, efficiently, and permanently—because they will have to live with the solutions, good or ill. So, the sooner the Militia are revitalized in the Gulf States, they sooner the people can set to work, and the sooner the work will be done.
This, however, is not the course of action that the deep thinkers among the “homeland-security” hierarchy are now contemplating. Quite the contrary. Very recently, the United States Northern Command published a report by one Major Dale Greer, entitled “Units make history with Air Force’s first homeland defense ORI” (3 June 2010, originally to be found at <www.northcom.mil/home.html>). This “operational readiness inspection” (ORI), held at Gulfport, Mississippi, from 16 through 23 May last, “‘has validated a unit’s wartime capability to defend the homeland by fighting an enemy on U.S. soil’”, the report quoted Colonel Greg Nelson as concluding.
“As with traditional ORIs”, the report explained, “this one tested the ability of each unit to mobilize Airmen and equipment, fly to a remote site, operate in a hostile environment, defend against enemy attacks, and reploy back home”—except that “[u]nlike traditional ORIs, in this one the participants were tasked with supporting civil authorities while fighting an unconventional foe in the United States. * * * The ORI scenario that played out in Mississippi required” Air Force personnel “to launch theater aircraft and medical evacuation sorties across the Gulf Coast region, supporting U.S. Northern Command missions and civil authorities, while foiling multiple attacks by well-organized terrorists.”
“‘[T]his [ORI] marked the first time that any Air Force unit has been wartime validated in support of the security and defense of the United States of America [on domestic territory]. That’s huge,’ Nelson said.
“Col[onel] Dan Dagher * * * agreed. ‘ * * * If an attack on the homeland happens, we will be the first responders. Americans can sleep better knowing that the [Air Force] can provide defense support to civil authorities in the United States, and that the very survival of thousands of . . . Americans rests on our now-tested ability to immediately respond and perform mass-casualty medical evacuations after a chemical attack.’”
Those who do not discount the merciful intervention of Providence in human affairs should be willing to accept the possibility that the simultaneity of this ORI and the BP oil disaster—each of which just happens to involve a kind of “chemical attack” “across the Gulf Coast region” that is simulated or actually occurs in the same “real time”—is merely coincidental. Even if that is the case, this ORI reflects the Armed Forces’ anticipation of serious troubles ahead, what and how extensive they may be, and how to handle them. And one should commend them for at least trying to be ready.
Nonetheless, some discordant notes sound in this orchestration. Do Americans really want their regular Armed Forces to be “the first responders” at home in times of crisis? Are Americans willing to accept the presumptive militarization of their country: namely, that every serious domestic emergency will be treated as a proper occasion for some variant of military intervention, even to the extent of the imposition of “martial law”? And who, in the context of a purely domestic crisis, would be the “unconventional foe” and the “well-organized terrorists” to be found in such numbers “across the Gulf Coast region” (or anywhere else within the United States) as to require suppression by the Armed Forces? As I have pointed out in my commentary “Going to the Roots of the Problem”, this “unconventional foe” could be made up of hundreds of thousands, even tens of millions, of average Americans driven—justifiably, one might argue—to desperation by the incompetence and even criminal stupidity (or stupid criminality) of their leaders. Indeed, this is the scenario of economic collapse as the consequence of a breakdown of America’s faulty monetary and banking systems—followed by massive social dislocations, political chaos, and the attempted imposition of a para-military police state—about which I have been warning for years. The present oil disaster simply threatens to catapult this country over that cliff at a velocity faster than I had anticipated, because it may strike a sudden, unanticipated, and perhaps fatal blow not only at the regional economy of the Gulf States but also at the national economy at a time when the entire financial system is shaking itself to pieces as the result of entirely independent causes.
Of course, no one should lightly attribute to anyone in America’s Armed Forces a desire to employ a domestic crisis as a pretext for setting up a national para-military police state. On the other hand, one should point out that, in light of the magnitude of the catastrophe that is pouring out of the bowels of the Gulf of Mexico and the destruction from which could put this country’s economy into an irreversible tail-spin, the Armed Forces by themselves could never muster enough “boots on the ground” to restore order, let alone enough people in those “boots” competent to set this country back on the road to economic, political and social stability.
The Armed Forces could be uniquely useful, though, in assisting the rapid revitalization of the Militia. In constitutional principle, the Armed Forces and the Militia should always be working in tandem, albeit with the Militia in the forefront domestically, because (as the Second Amendment declares) the Militia and only the Militia are “necessary to the security of a free State”. At home, the Militia should always be “the first responders”. But they cannot respond at all until they have been revitalized. To that end, they will have to rely to some degree on the Armed Forces.
The Armed Forces are perfectly situated to supply instructors and basic equipment to the first units of the Militia as they are enrolled, trained, and deployed. And retirees from the Armed Forces—in the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, or simply as patriotic individuals—would be uniquely valuable as Militia advisors, trainers, leaders, and core members. One would anticipate that if Colonel Nelson were involved in such an ORI (or whatever the process might be called), he would agree that “[t]hat’s huge”.
It may be, as Colonel Dagher said, that “Americans can sleep better knowing that [the Air Force] can provide defense support to civil authorities in the United States”. But one suspects that the average American would surely sleep even more soundly knowing that he and other Local people have been thoroughly trained and equipped to take care of themselves and their own communities in the very likely event that the Armed Forces simply cannot respond to a crisis in their own back yards.
Well, State and Local public officials—well, State and Local politicians looking towards the 2010 and 2012 elections—well, Mr. Obama, as ostensible “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”—well, Mr. and Mrs. America...here is the crisis—the danger and the opportunity—washing up in all its black horror on America’s beaches. Now what do you intend to do about it?
In particular, what can readers of this commentary do? If you live in one of the Gulf States—and even if you live somewhere else—you can contact your State legislators, governors, leading political figures, and opinion makers and encourage them to start the process of revitalizing their States’ Militia. After all, we are all in this together. The immediate problem has started in and will first likely devastate the Gulf Coast, but its consequences—particularly if they are severe—will surely spread throughout the country, with the inexorability of oil on water. So mobilizing Americans for the solution cannot be limited to the Gulf. And the Constitution tells us how to do it.
© 2010 Edwin Vieira, Jr. - All Rights Reserved
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Edwin Vieira, Jr., holds four degrees from Harvard: A.B. (Harvard College), A.M. and Ph.D. (Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), and J.D. (Harvard Law School).
For more than thirty years he has practiced law, with emphasis on constitutional issues. In the Supreme Court of the United States he successfully argued or briefed the cases leading to the landmark decisions Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, and Communications Workers of America v. Beck, which established constitutional and statutory limitations on the uses to which labor unions, in both the private and the public sectors, may apply fees extracted from nonunion workers as a condition of their employment.
He has written numerous monographs and articles in scholarly journals, and lectured throughout the county. His most recent work on money and banking is the two-volume Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution (2002), the most comprehensive study in existence of American monetary law and history viewed from a constitutional perspective. www.piecesofeight.us
He is also the co-author (under a nom de plume) of the political novel CRA$HMAKER: A Federal Affaire (2000), a not-so-fictional story of an engineered crash of the Federal Reserve System, and the political upheaval it causes. www.crashmaker.com
He can be reached at his new
The Armed Forces are perfectly situated to supply instructors and basic equipment to the first units of the Militia as they are enrolled, trained, and deployed.