The German National Socialists used the term Gleichschaltung to describe the “coordination” or “synchronization” of all government functions by centralizing power in the Chief Executive. This process was carried out through a series of executive decrees supposedly authorized by the 1933 Enabling Act, formally known as the “Law for Removing the Distress of People and Reich.”
The September 14, 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force” has served a similar function for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. That measure has been invoked to justify the war in Iraq, the institutionalization of torture, the presidential designation of individuals as “unlawful enemy combatants,” the summary execution of suspected terrorists by means of unmanned Predator drones, and other tyrannical exercises of presidential “authority” in the context of the “war on terror.”
Yesterday (January 11), Barack Obama added another critical element to the architecture of wartime presidential dictatorship by signing an executive order establishing a “Council of Governors” for the supposed purpose of strengthening federal-state “partnership” in military and homeland security affairs.
The body would consist of a bipartisan panel of ten state governors who will “meet at the call” of various executive functionaries, including the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to assist the Supreme Leader in carrying out the “synchronization” — again, what the Nazis called Gleichschaltung — “and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States.”
According to an official White House press release, this new body will be invaluable in the effort to “relieve the distress of the people and Reich.” No, not really; the statement actually said that the Council “will provide an invaluable Senior Administration forum for exchanging views with State and local officials on strengthening our National resilience and the homeland defense and civil support challenges facing our Nation today and in the future.” Which, come to think of it, is pretty much the same thing.
Taken by itself, this executive order does little more than add another layer of bureaucracy dealing with the use of the National Guard. It should be remembered, however, that in 2006 Congress turned the National Guard into something akin to a Praetorian Guard to be used — whether at home or abroad — as the president desires. This helps explain an obvious and ominous change in the Guard’s definition of its mission and responsibilities, which include hands-on involvement in domestic law enforcement.
It’s also worth pointing out that this new Council represents yet another avenue through which the president can circumvent congressional resistance to military adventurism, in the highly unlikely event that such resistance were to coalesce.
While it’s true that Obama’s executive order will not immediately result in troops flooding our cities and detention camps springing from the soil, it represents a critical milestone on the road to undisguised dictatorship.