In Part One of this article we posed the question of whether we might see economically induced rioting in the streets this summer, and if so, would the Army be called in to mitigate. We suggested it was quite possible, on both counts.
And, indeed, as it turns out, economic riots certainly are already taking place in the United States, just as they have already taken place in Iceland and France. As the economic downward spiral continues, and as more and more people realize that they cannot make ends meet, the sense of frustration infecting the body politic is increasingly threatening to burst at the seams. So far, it is limited to those already in dire straits, simply seeking to reduce their overall outlay on things like housing, as reported in this article by OpEdNews.com:
Just this past Saturday, 5000 people showed up in South Florida, hoping to apply for subsidized housing benefits. The officials only had 3000 application forms. This Miami Herald article reports that "scuffles" occurred. CNN reports that people "desperate for housing" showed up, that mace was used that"fights broke out." And CNN shows a wall of police cars, with police wearing riot gear.
As important as a roof over one's head -- and one's family's head -- may be, a clamor for subsidized housing is far from as critical as things may get. More critical, may be what might happen when it's not just cheaper housing that's at stake. What may happen when it's a matter of accessing food for your family, or clean water? How might people react, if confronted with an economy where the mean unemployment rate soars into double or even triple digits, accompanied by zero growth and inflation triggered by government money-printing. Even in an America stupefied by cheap Budweiser and Monday Night Football, it's tough to imagine the barricades not being manned if the Bud were to stop flowing and the cable company were to send Big Moe the uninstaller around to yank the intravenous sports fix.
Riots might be the least of it.
And yet, many observers -- including some here on Newsvine -- are concerned that rioting is exactly what the mythical 'powers that be' are hoping for. There are those, often branded as conspiracy theorists, but becoming more prophet-like daily - and thus being given due attention -- who urge the frustrated citizenry not to riot. Do not, they say, give them an excuse to use force, or worse. Do not give them what they want.
So how likely is it that the Army would be unleashed on a frustrated populace that's run out of alternatives? How likely is it that people will riot, giving those holding the leash their opportunity?
Certainly, as we pointed out in last instalment, the authorities (whoever they are) are planning for it. They believe it's at least possible, and they are getting ready for it:
The First Raiders will spend 2009 as the first active-duty military unit attached to the U.S. Northern Command since it was created. They will be based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and focus primarily on logistics and support for local police and rescue personnel, the Army says.
The plan is drawing skepticism from some observers who are concerned that the unit has been training with equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks.
Observers? Let's find an example. Let's read what one of these observers, Terry Bressi, a blogger featured on Freedom's Phoenix, has to say to those who believe that it's unlikely that the Army's administrative masters -- ostensibly our elected representatives -- would ever unleash the dogs of war in the streets of America's cities, against American taxpaying citizens:
While some will undoubtedly chastise me for insinuating that civilian authority would ever misuse U.S. military forces against the American people, we only need look back to post-Katrina New Orleans to get a taste of what to expect
In case our collective memory, fuelled by our own concerns about the oncoming economic hurricane, has gotten hazy, Ms Bressi includes an embedded YouTube video showing Louisiana National Guard members confiscating firearms, an action much later ruled by the courts to have been illegal.
Certainly, U.S. troops have been pressed into service before, and not only is there a plan for doing it again, there's an entire policy infrastructure in place. When the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), in its 'Strategy for Homeland and Civil Defense', refers to support of civil authorities by the military, it defines that support as ""DoD support, including federal military forces, the Department's career civilian and contractor personnel, and DoD agency and component assets, for domestic emergencies and for designated law enforcement and other activities." (note also the reference to contractor personnel, which would include the recruitment of Blackwater, as was done during the Katrina response).
The overall plan for this support is executed under the aegis of an Operations Plan called 'Garden Plot', which includes a guidance publication covering "planning, deployment, employment and redeployment of federal military resources involved in countering domestic civil disturbances". In this plan, military assistance to government agencies for civil disturbance operations are termed "Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS)."
We note that this is not referring to the response to nuclear or biological incidents, which was touted as one of the major reasons for the creation of NorthCom in the first place, as discussed in our previous instalment. No, MACDIS refers specifically and exclusively to civil disturbances.
It is a contingency taken so seriously by the military and their masters that it warrants its own entry in the DoD acronym list.
When it comes to planning, the military mind prefers strength in depth. Scenarios, counter-scenarios, contingencies, risk assessments...their wargaming and speculations are excruciatingly detailed. So, we shouldn't be surprised to find that they have prepared for eventualities beyond beyond civil unrest motivated by economic crisis.
In August 2007, at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America summit at Montebello, Quebec, the Bush administration finalized agreements that not only militarized the handling of pandemic response under the auspices of NorthCom, but also ceded authority for response management to a plethora of international agencies and away from state and U.S. laws.
For years, far-right, fundamentalist and survivalist elements have been raising the spectre of United Nations troops on American soil as a precursor to New World Order, but they have mostly been dismissed as fringe speculations. With the Montebello agreement, however, there is now a smoking gun that documents -- on paper -- a theoretical foundation for those notions.
The SPP plan gives primacy for avian and pandemic influenza management to plans developed by the WHO, WTO, U.N. and NAFTA directives – not decisions made by U.S. agencies.
The U.N.-WHO-WTO-NAFTA plan advanced by SPP features a prominent role for the U.N. system influenza coordinator as a central international director in the case of a North American avian flu or pandemic influenza outbreak.
Over the longer term, there are many more events that could provoke a military deployment within CONUS, up to and including displacements resulting from global warming, which one senior DoD planner calls a "threat to the world 'greater than terrorism" -- complete with mega-droughts, widespread famine, and rampant rioting."
So, economically motivated civil unrest, pandemic emergency, global warming; clearly, there are no shortage of triggers for the militarization of law enforcement functions in the U.S.
Why is this, really? Is it as straightforward as proponents claim? Is the inclusion of military powers into the domestic law enforcement regime just being contemplated for the benefit of society in general? Or is there a more cynical -- even sinister agenda at work?
One way we can investigate is to consider who stands to gain? To ask, in whose interest is it that the trigger gets pulled?
Recent coverage may have shined a light on this question, but it has raised as many questions as it has answered.
These questions -- who, specifically, are those who stand to gain and what is their plan -- we will discuss in detail in the Part 3 of this article, coming soon.