Thursday, July 24, 2008

Split Authoritarian Personality

Reading an NYT story about police departments' complaints about being forced to spend too much time and money on "anti-terror" activities by Homeland Security, I was struck by some inconsistencies in the Administration's frankly authoritarian style. "Frankly" because it is an article of faith in the Bush-Cheney crowd that the executive lost too much power in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam mid-70s. There is a political agenda behind this mythology as it serves to justify the actions of the Nixon/Ford Republican administrations as well as the current one.
Anyway, here's the inconsistency: we are constantly hearing that the administration believes that military policy ought to be set by "officers on the ground," that is by the professional military. (Another problem with this line is that it shields to some extent the civilian politicians in the White House from being accountable for what is after all their war policy.) But this hands-off approach to administering security apparently doesn't extend to the police. That's too bad, since the approach of countries such as Germany, that have approached anti-terror measures more from a police perspective than a military one, has had significant success in rolling up terror networks. But we have a split-authoritarian personality here.

3 comments:

Marti said...

Germany has only one police force, which is heavily bureaucratized, where all commands come from high above. As a result, the "officers on the ground" have no say; same with the rest of western European countries.

Anderson Brown said...

Yes, and both American and German militaries are heavily bureaucratized as well, but my point was not about decentralized vs. centralized command, rather that the German approach of viewing terrorism as a police problem rather than a military problem has been more efficient and less destructive to national interests than the Bush "send in the marines" response. Hey Marti, are you from Colegio?

Marti said...

Ok gotcha.

From Colegio? No, I don't know what that is. I'm not from PR. I'm originally from Barcelona.