Review (Guest): American Coup – How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Censorship & Denial of Access, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

cover american coupWilliam M. Arkin

4 out of 5 Stars. We Live in “Forever-War”

By Amazon Customer on September 22, 2013

Essentially: We now live in a time of “forever-war.”

The worry about the government instituting martial-law is sooo 1990’s because we now truly live a martial life. And we’ve accepted it. There is no “over there” anymore when it comes to the militarization of our lives. Over there is here. We live to assist the government in everything. See something, say something. And the bottom-line of everything that the government does in the name of national security is not to serve, protect, or assist you but to preserve itself. It’s all part of the Continuity of Government (COG) and it’s been in place for many years but it spectacularly grew into the multi-headed hydra immediately after 911.

No one and nothing is now immune to the shadow of the umbrella of government entities that “protect us” in the name of national security as fully 10% of the population of the United States (30 million persons) are astoundingly connected in one way or another to the Department of Defense. Arkin describes in specifics (most of it inefficient, bumbling, and embarrassing) the dual system of the government in protecting its continuity: a public system made up of laws and elected officials, and a hidden system made up of plans and appointed experts, unimpeded by Constitutional hampers.

Arkin writes near the end of the book of the expanding effect on all of our lives:

“Suffice it to say that whatever the threats, they are ubiquitous and unrelenting. At home, the enemy is not just Muslim Americans or Arab Americans or Somalis or Palestinians or Middle Easterners or those of the Muslim faith. It is illegal Mexicans. It is drug lords and smugglers and gangs and organized crime and the sex trade. It is foreign visitors and students and overcurious tourists. It is sovereign citizens and white supremacists. It is disgruntled school kids with access to guns. There are the incarcerated, the lone wolves, and the mentally ill. There are libertarians, antiglobalizers, environmentalists, Occupy and Tea Party activists, constitutional oath-keepers and survivalists, hackers and copyright stealers, the antiwar and the antigovernment. There are those who are just evil and those who are macabre attention seekers. Those are those who don’t pay taxes, who want to keep their guns, who insist on living off the grid, who won’t vaccinate their children, who don’t want their library cards scrutinized or their internet activity tracked, or who insist on drinking unpasteurized milk. Precisely because constitutionally no one group can be targeted as such, government attention has to be equally applied to everyone, everyone potentially and equally a threat, a vast universe of potential dots, enemies of the state being not only those who take up arms or perform treasonous acts, but also those who insist on preserving ungoverned space in the ubiquitous martial landscape, where at home is already assumed to be over there, and over there, right here at home.”

Detailed case studies of the steady progression of military expansion into our everyday lives through our governments (local, state, and federal) are provided from the Revolutionary War up to 911, Hurricane Katrina, and Sandy Hook. Any type of civilian or natural disruption is immediately deemed to be the venue for military maneuver as precedents are set and local control is superseded. Citizens are increasingly required to be registered, licensed, and screened to simply volunteer their help or services in an emergency.

The uncorrected advance proof copy I received in a Goodreads giveaway is actually 233 pages long, with an additional 112 pages of notes. It is concretely dense, not in size or weight, but in content. I really wasn’t prepared for that, going into it with the idea that it was just another one of those books I could flip through but the facts presented pulled me in.

There were times however that it was just too too much. The most painful example is the use of extremely long sentences filled with numerous acronym-toting factual examples that were separated into thoughts with the profuse use of semicolons. It left me too often with crossed eyes. I won’t bother with an example because I swear, I marked off a hundred quotations to provide but I think I’ll scrap them as it would be too ironic to make this review as long and packed with details and examples as this book is. Suffice it to say, Arkin leaves nothing uncited or unsourced. His facts are as hard-hitting and surprising as his sources are varied and believable.

There is nothing conspiratorial in “American Coup.” No one is blamed. He doesn’t point at individuals who are setting out to take away your rights. He sees it as all being done with fair intentions. It is a “process” underway, a system that is perpetually growing. The military describes it understatedly as “mission creep.”

The author is a serious and respected expert, especially among the people he reports on; he was one of them. The only thing that is shadowy in this book is the offering of any solution to what is occurring/has occurred. It’s my belief that this is because there is no solution. Arkin vaguely alludes to an effort at understanding Constitutional intents and ideas but at this point, I think he, like most Americans, lives with a cognitive dissonance. It’s apparent he’s well-steeped in history and I’d think he’s smart enough to know there’s no turning back. Power doesn’t relinquish itself so easily. This book is best served as a “record” of what happened.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful

By Clif Steinberg on September 22, 2013

Format: Kindle Edition

William Arkin is an essential voice for those interested in understanding the complicated landscape of the modern U.S. government. In this important work he illuminates a mostly unknown and unseen driving force in halls of power in the U.S., and describes how we have come to this point. With a great writing style, and the ability to weave together facts and concepts into a meaningful but disturbing tapestry, Mr. Arkin has produced an excellent book. Get it, read it, and pass it on to anyone you know who has an interest in modern civics.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful

By LF on September 10, 2013

Format: Hardcover

This book has really got me thinking about who is behind the drive to war in Syria and why the NSA feels like it needs to collect everything on everyone. If Arkin is right that there is an XYZ operating between the lines of the constitution then we surely need to look much closer at what goes on in Washington regardless of who is president. It’s also a pretty good read with entertaining anecdotes.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful

By Stephen on January 18, 2014

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

Be warned: this is not a “beginner’s level” book. You must understand- at least to an extent- the way the government works. Arkin uses professional language and treats the reader as someone who understands American civics and American government. To clarify, I just graduated with a major in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, I took multiple classes on the Constitution, and I am now in the Navy, yet I still spent a decent amount of time doing outside research to get clarification on what Arkin was saying. This is not to say I know it all, only to warn you that it can be a difficult book.

That being said, this is a good book and it is well worth the time it takes to read it. If you are interested in the inner workings of the US government and are willing to put in the time to do a little research into certain things on the side, I highly recommend it.

When government officials are sworn in, be it FBI, Department of State, etc., they take an oath to defend and uphold the CONSTITUTION. They do not swear to protect the president, the federal government, or even the people of the United States. They swear to protect the Constitution of the United States. However, as Arkin makes clear throughout the book, the federal government is willing to do anything, including destroying the Constitution, in order to maintain security through an infinite number of “what-ifs”. Some seem logical; others not so much. Either way, you decide whether you are fine with the government impeding on your civil liberties in order to maintain the security of the nation (and as Arkin makes clear throughout the book, the continuity of the government and the “XYZ”, which are ultimately more important in their eyes).

I do my best to answer questions on these, so feel free to ask.

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