Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Of Patriotism and the Army of a King

Just imagine for a moment, if you will, being asked to honor the veterans of a King's private and enriched army in your own country where the ones we've long honored have looked like these men and women.

Photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

At Frameshop, Jeffrey Feldman speaks out about Blackwater and the telltale signs of President Bush setting up the kind of army that acts as if it is his own. What does "patriotism" mean when you can clearly see the American tradition of constitutional power being turned over, as a farmer treats the fallow soil of his fields, and the seeds of a privatized army loyal only to a President and his particular foreign policy are sown?

To whom and to what do we owe our patriotism? Do we owe it to longstanding American and democratic tradition ... or do we owe it to the army of one man who appears to deem himself king over a land that has adopted freedom through a careful system of checks and balances as its hallmark of continuity?


Blackwater and its kind are different. They are not just soldiers, not just police. They are lines of loyalty bought, paid for and hidden from public view by the obfuscating jargon of Federal budgets. Their loyalty is sternly vertical, extending through the CEO to the President in a perfect reinvention of vassal obligation.

Blackwater may be 'boots on the ground' in Iraq or Katrina, but in political terms they are an extension of the king's body.

Royal power extends from the king to the people, from top down, but it cannot unfold if the army belongs to the people and not to the king. As Machiavelli described it, mercenaries and auxiliary armies can help extend rule for a short period of time, but for the will of the prince to become the will of the state, the king must make the army 'his own.'

Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop: The Prince