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Another New Book Available: States of the Union, The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023

Mount Greylock Books LLC has published States of the Union: The History of the United States through Presidential Addresses, 1789-2023.   St...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Trickle-Down Ecoomy in Crisis

For many decades now we have been hearing about the shift in the American economy from a manufacturing-based one to a service economy, and about the growth of income inequality.   I'm not going to take the time this morning to look up figures, but we all know that these shifts are very real.  Now, the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic is showing us what this means.

A large part of our working population has been earning its living providing personal services to the rest of us.  Restaurant workers have prepared and served millions of meals a day.  Airline and hotel workers moved us around the country and provided places for us to stay, while rental car clerks and cleaners made local transportation available.  The staffs of gyms gave us places to exercise, and massage therapists and acupuncturists helped us feel better.  Hair and nail salons improved our appearance.  Growing numbers of Uber and Lyft drivers moved us around urban areas.  And even health care--one of our very largest industries--provided a steady stream of services that, under the pressure of the pandemic, have turned out to be quite optional.  The same could even be said of much of the staffs of residential colleges and universities.  Their employers, it turns out, can at least make a show of performing their truly critical functions without them.  Because of COVID-19, which encourages us to avoid close contact with strangers--and particularly with strangers who have a lot of close contact with other strangers--millions of these jobs have at least temporarily ceased to exist.  With or without formal restrictions, many of them, I suspect, will be very slow to come back.  People simply will not indulge themselves in luxuries at the risk of a serious or even fatal illness--especially the elderly, who in our society are such a big part of the market for such luxuries.  Stories are already appearing in the press blaming the well-off for the failure of the economy to bounce back, but their failure to spend is not really their fault.  My own bank account has grown in the last few months because I can't spend much money on restaurants, movies, or, most important of all, travel.  Many friends report the same.

All this shows, I think, that we have, in a very real sense, a trickle-down economy.  We need a well-off class of people (and corporations) to finance the restaurants, travel, and so on that keep so many people employed. When the better-off cut back, others suffer.  This would not have been the case in a largely agricultural society, clearly, and even in an industrial one, a cutback in production hurt the ownership and managerial class as well as the workers. 

What is to be done?  In the long run, one might conclude, we need better health care for all, and a much better public health system, to reduce vulnerability to disease and make it possible to respond more quickly and effectively to new epidemics.  This is quite achievable.  The US now has suffered 387 COVID-19 deaths per million people; Germany, which is more urban and therefore more intrinsically vulnerable,  has suffered 108.  Our economy depends on our ability to interact without fear to an extent that we had not realized.  In the short run, we may need drastic measures to allow our suddenly huge unemployed population to live.  It would make sense to me for a substantial portion of my surplus income to go into an emergency tax, thence to be distributed as long-term unemployment benefits while the economy recovers.  Universal Basic Income sounded like a fringe idea just a few months ago; it looks more like a necessity now.

The stock market, meanwhile, has recovered in large part from its initial disastrous fall, despite one of the most spectacular increases in unemployment in US history.  That confirms something I've been thinking for some years now: our financial establishment, the guardians of the largest part of our economy, regards the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath as a triumph.  They have learned how to ope with any grave shock to asset prices, whether caused by trillions of dollars in bad investments (as in the 2000s) or by a sudden, drastic fall in output (now.)  In either case the Fed can simply pump enough trillions of dollars in the markets to keep them up.  Only time will tell whether this is a workable long term strategy, or a new kind of macroeconomic Ponzi scheme that carries new and even greater dangers with it. I don't know.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Turning Point in the Supreme Court?

Last week, as its term draws to a close, The Supreme Court handed down two surprising and critical decisions.  By a 6-3 decision, it brought LGBT Americans within  the protection of the Civil Rights Act with respect to job discrimination, on the grounds that firing a man because he is in a long term relationship with another man (for example) constitutes sex discrimination, since the company would not have fired him had he been a woman.  Then, in a closer 5-4 decision, the Court threw out the Trump Administration's attempt to repeal DACA, the Obama Administration's program that protected US inhabitants who had come to the country illegally at a very early age. Chief Justice Roberts joined the liberal quartet of Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor in both cases, and Justice Gorsuch wrote the opinion in the employment discrimination case.  In my opinion, these decisions will turn out to be a turning point, of sorts, in our great political crisis.  As such, they remind me of three forgotten decisions handed down on March 29, 1937, which signaled the end of a very different court's resistance to the New Deal.

During Franklin Roosevelt's first term, an aged Supreme Court, filled with justices who had been shaped by their youth during the Gilded Age, had emerged as the major obstacle to New Deal legislation.  Ranging in age from 77 to 58 when FDR took office in 1933, many of them believed firmly in corporate personhood, which gave corporations the rights of individuals under the 14th amendment, and absolute liberty of contract, which ruled out state or federal regulations of wages or hours.  During Roosevelt's first term they struck down the National Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, another law designed to give farmers mortgage r
rm.  He still had not had a single opportunity to appoint a justice himself.

In November 1936, Roosevelt won re-election and even larger majorities in Congress by one of the greatest margins in American history.  Significant in many ways, that election also gave the Democratic Party--which had now thanks to FDR became the preferred party of black Americans--Congressional majorities that did not depend upon white southerners, and segregationists joined economic conservatives in their alarm over what Roosevelt might now do.  In the wake of his re-election he decided, without consulting the Congress, to propose a new law that would allow him to appoint a new supreme court justice every time a justice failed to retire at the age of 70--which six members of the current court had declined to do,  A storm of controversy erupted, kicking off a six-month legislative battle.  Before it had gotten very far, however, the Supreme Court--led by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, a progressive Republican--took the hint.

On March 29, 1937, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld three pieces of legislation.  The first upheld a state minimum wage act, undoing 20 years of precedent.  The second let stand a new law to provide mortgage relief for the nation's distressed farmers, and the third upheld a new law regulating the rights of labor in the critical railroad industry, and foreshadowing a later New Deal victory i the Wagner Act case.  Just two months later, one aged justice retired, and FDR replaced him with Alabama New Dealer Hugo Black, who became one of the greatest and most liberal justices ever to sit on the court.  FDR's court packing plan failed disastrously and his hold over Congress on domestic issues was broken forever, but the court never overruled a significant piece of New Deal legislation again.

Over the last five decades the Supreme Court has become perhaps our most critical political battleground.  Both liberals and conservatives have successively depended on it to establish some of their most cherished policy goals, including school integration, affirmative action, the reapportionment of state legislatures, abortion rights, and gay rights (for Democrats), and expanded Second Amendment rights, an end to restrictions of campaign spending, and a rollback of civil rights protections and abortion rights (for Republicans.)  This development in my opinion has been a disaster for American democracy, since it has put critical decisions in the hands of nine unelected persons rather than in the political branches of our governments.  With the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to join Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, it seemed possible that the Republicans were in a position to push through their whole agenda on all these fronts.

The 6-3 decision on gay rights, written by Gorsuch and joined in by Roberts, shows that that will not happen.  At some level the court majority has obviously realized that gay rights are here to stay and that that is a good thing, too.  I had expected before this that the court would take a forthcoming opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the abortion issue to the states, but now I am not so sure.  In 1937, a narrow court majority had been marching in lockstep, allied to the minority of Americans who totally rejected government intervention to regulate the economy--and they decided to give way before the clear electoral verdict of the American people the previous fall.  In 2020, for some time, Republican-appointed judges had marched in lockstep to implement a conservative Republican social agenda that majorities of Americans do not support.  This week they refused to continue doing so.  They also imposed in the DACA case a limit on the Trump Administration's capricious uses of executive power.

The gay rights decision tends to confirm what I have predicted here at least since late 2015--that the liberal side will win on social issues in this crisis, while the conservative side consolidates its victories on economic ones.  Where that leaves the country in the long run I do not know, especially as the government's failure effectively to handle multiple crises becomes more and more apparent every day.  But victory on social issues--the ones which the Democratic Party has cared about by far the most--remains important, and it is gratifying that Supreme Court justices, whose power is now at an all-time high, still refuse to have all their opinions dictated by militants within the party of the president who appointed them.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Where We Are Going

The nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd are bringing a particular era of race relations in the United States to a climax.  The police in America kill near three people a day, or 1000 a  year, year in and year out.  The plurality of them are white, but the percentages of black and Hispanic victims are higher than their percentages in the population.  I did some investigation some months ago of a database the Guardian compiled of all the shootings in 2016, but I think I only made it through about 100 of them.  Three kinds of situations seemed to bring most of them about.  Domestic violence calls--including calls to report a mentally ill person severely acting out--were one.  The second involved some kind of crime in progress, including a traffic violation--more commonly a moving violation such as speeding.  The third involved attempts to serve a warrant.  In all of these cases, the shooting took place after the suspect either threatened the police with some kind of weapon (according to them, anyway) or refused to obey them in some other way, including simply by fleeing.  I came away thinking that police training and tactics seemed to be the biggest problem that needed to be addressed if we wanted to reduce such shootings.  It is interesting and depressing to note that another 50 Americans have been killed by police since George Floyd's death on May 26, according to the database in the Washington Post, but we have heard little or nothing about the vast majority of those cases.  Police budgets are being cut in cities around the country, and many have proposed cutting back the role of the police or even eliminating them altogether.  Those cuts and proposals will cause a great deal of controversy and I certainly can't predict what their ultimate outcome will be.  I hope all this may lead to more attention to other problems in our criminal justice system, such as the way high bail forces defendants to plead guilty.  That is happening in some jurisdictions and it could spread to others.

Two other things not directly related to police behavior, however, are happening.  First, the pressure to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces seems finally to have become overwhelming.  Some have already been forcibly taken down, and many, if not most, of the others soon will be.  This will include some of the statues in the US Capitol, of which each state has provided two for over a century.  It was rather astonishing even in the decades after the Civil War that states such as Mississippi would choose to send statues of men who defied the government of which the Capitol was a key role, but they did.  At least one state, Arkansas, is already replacing its statues, and I hope others do too.  I also think that the military installations named after Confederate generals will be renamed.  That issue has divided President Trump even from his own party, and I think there's a good chance that he will have to abandon his opposition.  These are very welcome developments, finally confirming, 155 years after Appomattox, that the right side won the war.  

Meanwhile, institutions such as media outlets and corporations are adopting a principle that has ruled colleges and universities for some time. That principle holds that much of the injustice of racism consists in the emotional harm it inflicts upon its targets, and that white people must therefore defer to nonwhites when they protest that any policy, symbol, or even published idea strikes them as racist.  An editor at the op-ed page of the New York Times lost his job because black reporters on the paper felt that a column he published by a U.S. Senator, a coming man within the Republican Party, put them at physical risk, because it called for the deployment of troops in American cities. A number of other jobs have been lost because of tweets or remarks deemed insensitive.  HBO Max has dropped Gone From the Wind from is lineup because it includes racial stereotypes and a relatively positive view of slavery.  I have done a number of posts here over the years about the postmodern ideology which such steps represent, and now is not the time to repeat them. The consequences of this development will emerge in months and years to come.

While all this is happening, our most powerful economic institutions such as the big banks and our new super-retailers are gaining even more power relative to their competitors, escaping scot free, so far, from the consequences of one of the most severe economic downturns in American history.  The problem that the whole bottom half of our income distribution faces--regardless of race--will only get worse.  The Republican Party will try to ignore it, while many within the Democratic Party will continue to treat it primarily as a problem of racism--which in my opinion it is not.  

The rapidity with which one issue comes out of nowhere to dominate cable news, only to disappear in favor of another, is one of the characteristics of our time.  In the last six months we have lived through the impeachment crisis, the climax of the Democratic primary campaign, the pandemic, the economic crisis, and now, the crisis over race and police behavior.  We still have no idea how bad our economic crisis is, and it could easily take center stage again before the election. So could the pandemic.  Both the pandemic and the racial crisis have established Donald Trump as an irresponsible outlier even among many in his own party, and the chances of his re-election appear to be dropping.  That is very welcome.  I  hope a new President will be able to find a common purpose in one or more of the crises that we now face.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Graham Allison revisited

Graham Allison, whom I did not know personally at the time, was one of the biggest influences on my graduate education at Harvard and my subsequent career.  Then a graduate student in Government, he belonged to an informal symposium called the May Group, after the historian Ernest May, who became my own dissertation adviser.  Another key figure in the group was the political scientist Richard Neustadt, Allison's adviser, who became a dear friend of mine.  Allison's masterpiece, Essence of Decision, which appeared just as I began graduate school in 1971, tried to summarize what the May group had learned about how governments made policy, both in theory and in fact.  To do so, he drew on what was then known about the Cuban Missile Crisis, with respect to decision making in both Moscow and Washington.

Allison built the book around three different models of governmental behavior.  The first, the rational actor model, was in a sense the most critical, because it represented what most people tended to think about governments, but quickly became, in the context of the book, a straw man.  Borrowing, perhaps, from microeconomics, historians and political scientists tended to assume that government leaders knew what they wanted and found the most efficient way to try to get it.  The actions of governments all traced back to a single plan.  Rational actor models dominated discussions of nuclear strategy in those days, as well as of more general analyses of Communist behavior.  They also dominated the argument over US Cold War strategy, on both the traditional anti-Communist and the newer revisionist sides.

Moving to Soviet and American moves in the missile crisis, Allison showed that a second model--Model II, the organizational process model--did a lot more to explain what the two sides actually did during the crisis. Model II focused on bureaucratic routines, or SOPs, which determined what parts of governments did, and how they did it.  US intelligence had recognized Soviet missile bases in Cuba because they looked exactly like similar bases in Europe.  Confronted with a new threat from Cuba, the Pentagon simply handed the President their existing war plan, combining sustained air strikes with a full scale invasion.  The Navy followed SOPs for blockades after the President ordered a quarantine.  I became convinced that organizational routines hold the key to understanding almost any large institution in the modern world--and I learned that those routines increasingly come to reflect the interests of the organization itself, rather than a broader rational goal which the organization was originally founded to pursue.  That insight has rarely let me down.

Model III, the governmental politics model, fit neatly on top of Model II.  The senior officials in the American government who met daily in the famous ExCom during the missile crisis represented bureaucracies--with the exception of the President and his brother the Attorney General, whose own bureaucracy played no role--but also brought their own views to the table.  Their critical decisions grew out of the interplay of their views and personalities, and who favored a certain course of action became just as important as what the course of action was.  Many years later, Ernest May and Philip Zelikow laid that whole process bare in their remarkable book, The Kennedy Tapes, which published transcripts of almost all the Excom meetings. Allison used Robert Kennedy's memoir 13 Days to show how an alliance of the President, RFK, Robert McNamara, and a few others had managed to avoid war, but he did not know that on the critical Saturday of the crisis, an even smaller group had agreed that Robert Kennedy would assure the Soviet Ambassador that the US would shortly remove its nuclear missiles in Turkey if the Soviets agreed to remove theirs from Cuba. McGeorge Bundy, the National Security adviser, revealed that in the late 1980s in his book, Danger and Survival.

Models II and III provided me with a framework for my dissertation on relations among Germany, Britain, and France on one side, and the new states of Eastern Europe on the other, which became Economic Diplomacy and the Origins of the First World War.  Neither then nor in later books such as American Tragedy and No End Save Victory did I ever use Allison's models explicitly, but I always tried to answer the kinds of questions that he had asked.  Meanwhile, from the beginning of my teaching career to the end, I assigned Essence of Decision whenever I could. The students in my freshman seminar on the origins of the First World War read it halfway through the semester and a couple of hundred students read it (or at least, were supposed to) as the reading period assignment in my lecture course on international politics, 1870-1970.  And I know that many of them, like me, never saw the world the same way again.

Surrounded as I was in the 1970s by people who had become familiar with Allison and gotten used to putting his ideas into practice, I thought that they would become a permanent part of the academic landscape.  I was wrong.  By 1990, although he remained at the JFK School of Government as a professor and dean, his book had become just another shooting star that had flashed across the sky.  Political scientists became more dedicated to rational actor models than ever, with rare exceptions.  Actually learning about what bureaucracies did, and why, was too much work.  Historians meanwhile lost interest in the real workings of governments completely.  All this makes me feel very lucky to have been exposed to him when I was.

The other day, one of my former Harvard students asked me on Facebook whether Allison could explain the Trump administration.  I gave it some thought.  Trump has undoubtedly introduced a whole new style of governing into American history, one that Allison did not specifically address. The deviations from Allison's models that he represents, however, still reveal a lot about his administration and its significance.

Trump, as I have said many times, simply cannot be viewed as a rational actor.  He lacks the attention span to absorb enough facts to make an informed decision about anything.  I have in the last few weeks been at work on a very narrowly focused history of the American presidency, and I have been struck, reading the annual messages of Presidents from Washington to (so far) Andrew Jackson, how frequently they specifically refer to the need to keep passion in check, and the critical importance of a well-educated citizenry in a democracy.  Trump on the other hand has literally nothing to offer but strong emotions--love for his followers, hatred of his enemies, and a boundless (but thereby illusory) self-confidence.  He rarely measures what he does against actual results--if has done it, it must be good.

Meanwhile, Trump for more than three years has been either subverting or ignoring the bureaucracies that he inherited.  While some of them have functioned without interference, his appointees have transformed others.  The EPA now tries to promote pollution of many kinds.  The Justice Department under William Barr transforms the guilty into the innocent, and vice versa. Homeland Security and ICE have new missions and new leadership.   Most notably, the whole foreign policy making structure centered on the National Security Council appears to have broken down.  Trump does not even consult it on major foreign policy decisions, and he has delegated enormous authority to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who seems to operate on his own.

Since models I and II (see above) play little role in Trump administration policy-making, model III reigns supreme.  Policy emerges from unequal battles among individuals, in which Trump concentrates on remaining supreme.  He has fired anyone of any independence of mind whom he has appointed and is now almost entirely surrounded by sycophants who will accept his own view of reality.  Drs. Fauci and Birx, tasked with huge responsibilities in the midst of a pandemic, obviously understand that they must try to do their jobs without contradicting him in public.  The Trump presidency has offered an opportunity to men like Mike Pompeo and William Barr, who share his arrogance and hatred and have won their way into positions of enormous power by doing his bidding.  To find an analogy for this kind of system in western history, one would have to go back at least to early modern Europe, when monarchs and noblemen ruled the world without reference to the needs of their peoples.  Even within that context, however, Trump would stand out as a disastrous ruler.

Allison, thus, still allows us to understand how our government is working, even though our government has abandoned the principles and policies of 60 years ago.  How our nation has abandoned them, at least to the extent that he could be elected and reshape the government in his image in the first place, is a subject for another day.  The increasing supremacy of emotion, however--never more on display that in the last two weeks--has in my opinion a great deal to do with it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Thank you, General

Let me begin by reposting something I wrote here on November 3, 2019--that is, exactly seven months ago.  

Last week I attended a talk by General James Mattis (ret.), the former Secretary of Defense, at the JFK School in Cambridge.  General Mattis is a history buff, and he talked a great deal about how history can enhance your perspective and help you make better decisions.  His host was Prof. Graham Allison, the head of the school's applied history project, whose roots I helped grow myself about 40 years ago.  He also talked about the crisis in our democracy and the problems of tribalism and partisanship.  He did not specifically discuss his tenure as secretary of defense, although he alluded more than once to the great difficulty of making or executing any coherent policy in this administration.

I decided to participate in question time.

I began by introducing myself as a former member of the Strategy and Policy Department in Newport. "General," I said, "I share you concerns about the crisis in our democracy.  Recently it seems to have entered another phase.  During the next year, both the House and Senate and the American people will have to decide whether our President should continue in office.  One critical question bearing on their decision--and I don't think that it should be a partisan political question--relates to his intellectual and managerial competence and whether he is really capable of doing the job.  It seems to me that men like you, and General McMaster, and General Kelly, and Mr. Tillerson have a lot of information bearing on that point.  Whether or not you want to comment on this now, I hope that some of you will take an opportunity in the next year to make the information you have available to the Congress and the public so that they may make a more informed decision."  (That's a paraphrase but it is certainly very close to what I said.)

The general replied emphatically, making clear that he had already settled this question in his own mind.  The American military, he said, has a non-political tradition going back to the Newburgh conspiracy during the Revolutionary War.  It must not set itself up as some kind of Praetorian guard.  I certainly did not think that I was asking him to do that.  I suspect that if Donald Trump were a serving officer commanding a battalion in General Mattis's division, that he would understand that he had to be relieved, but he still feels that his years of military service debar him from exercising his rights as a citizen to pronounce upon his fitness as commander in chief.

General Mattis, then, refuses for his own reasons to enter into a discussion of whether Donald J. Trump can adequately perform the duties of President of the United States.  Yet the issue of why that question isn't at the forefront of our political discussion generally, and why it seems very unlikely that it will be the specific basis for an article of impeachment, goes well beyond his personal views of the duties of military officers.  It goes to the question of whether the citizens of the United States now have enough understanding of, or belief in, our government, to make it work effectively.  I feel more and more forced to believe--by evidence--that they do not.

The Constitution grew directly out of the Enlightenment, the intellectual movement of the 18th century that held that human reason could, and should, order human affairs.  It also reflected the experience of the unwritten British constitution, which it incorporated in many ways.  Many of the words used in our constitution--including "impeachment"--can only be understood with reference to British precedents.  It also reflected the experience of Greek city states and the Roman empire, which the founders had studied, and which come up in some of the federalist papers.  Today, only lawyers--not students of history--know anything about British legal and constitutional precedents, and almost no one knows anything about the political history of ancient Greece and Rome.  Our fellow countrymen, I would suggest, do not know about this history of legislative inquiry as a check on executive power. They see only a war between a Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican president in which they will take sides.

Our federal government as it evolved during the twentieth century is also a child of the Enlightenment, reflecting the idea that impartial bureaucracies can regulate our economy and provide public services that we all need.  Neither Donald Trump nor the Republican Party, however, still believes in that model of government, and the President does not even believe in the role of the modern foreign policy and defense establishment which has taken on so many responsibilities around the world.  The Republican party has been unraveling the achievement of the Progressive era and the New Deal for the last 40  years, and the Democratic party has joined in this process on crucial occasions.  Bernie Sanders, who must remember Franklin Roosevelt's death, and Elizabeth Warren, who learned about some of the problems the New Deal tried to solve during her legal career, still believe in this model of government, but how many voters do?  How many of them care that the Trump Administration is ignoring much of the bureaucracy and turning some of it--such as the EPA--into obedient servants of the corporate America that they were designed to regulate?  Going further, how many Americans--especially better-off Americans--have a real commitment to the public educational system that Betsy DeVos is trying to dismantle?  And how many of us believe in the interventionist foreign policy that has wasted so much blood and treasure and wreaked so much havoc around the Middle East since 2001?  That last cohort of skeptics includes yours truly.  Those of us who remain devoted to American ideals of politics and government are standing for what was, and what they feel could be again--not for what its.

Last but not least, in the last half century we have lost our belief in the superiority of reason, rather than emotion.  The emotional and moral restraint of the American people struck foreign observers like Tocqueville in the 19th century, and they saw it as critical to our democracy. In the civil war, the passionate, emotional aristocrats of the South lost to the more rational merchants and teachers of the North.  Now the screen has replaced the printed page as the primary medium of the circulation of information, and the educational system--especially at the highest levels--no longer forces young people to learn the experience of spending many hours with books.  Without the right training, few Americans can make sense of our complex government and our complex world. 

Donald Trump would never have won the Republican nomination, much less the general election, if a good majority of Americans still understood and believed in our system of government.  And because we now lack any non-partisan belief in our system of government, the impeachment inquiry will most probably lead to impeachment by the House, followed by trial and acquittal by the Senate.  20 Republican Senators would have to vote to remove him to reach 67 votes, and I do not see how that could happen at this point.  That will leave Donald Trump's fate--and the nation's--in the hands of American voters.  Elizabeth Warren remains my candidate, but I regret that she released a detailed plan for Medicare for all.  I support that policy in principle, but it seems very unlikely, in our current climate, that she can convince more than a small minority of voters, at this point, that she can make this happen and that it will be a good idea.  Some restoration of trust in our system and some sense of common national purpose must come before such a sweeping change, however right and necessary it may be.  The previous great crisis of our national life--the revolutionary and constitutional period, the Civil War, and the era of the Depression and the Second World War--played that role. Our own crisis has completely failed to do so.  We must begin the work of restoration calmly, patiently, and slowly.

Now let me post the statement that General Mattis issued today.

In Union There Is Strength

"I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled.
The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of
the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are
rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that
all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a
small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of
thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to
our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to
support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops
taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to
violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to
provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with
military leadership standing alongside.

"We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that
our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we
should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare
occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we
witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—
between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground
that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and
the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are
a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders
who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with
a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more
forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a
hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to
militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common
purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before
the law.

"Instructions given by the military departments to our troops
before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi
slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American
answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to
surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not
try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.
Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of
three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the
consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite
without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it
to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our
promise; and to our children.

"We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a
renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic
has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the
ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in
hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their
lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their
country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive
authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and
hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our
Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better
angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.
Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to
the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country
admired and respected at home and abroad."

Thank you, General.