Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tracing the Genesis of the Swamp

By Troy Smith  December 26, 2020

Much has been made of the Washington, D.C. "swamp" over the last four years.  The vast apparatus of power that is now consecrated in the federal government is certainly immense and a far cry from what the Founders envisioned.  It contains programs and agencies that work for both domestic and foreign goals.

The question of how the swamp came to be has no one particular answer.  Some can be laid at the feet of the 20th-century Progressives during the Roosevelt-Wilson era.  Other expansions of power originated with the New Deal.  Certainly, the last quarter-century has seen its fair share of new agencies, policies, and expansions of government.  However, one particular moment deserves its own focused attention if we are to truly understand the vast apparatus that is the swamp and the rationale for its creation from a national defense perspective: the National Security Act of 1947.

It was post-WW2.  The United States under President Truman had challenging questions to deal with: how do we move forward in a postwar world?  How do we deal with the Soviet threat?  What should the role of government and the military be in a rapidly technologically changing world?  To help deal with these troubles, the National Security Act of 1947 thrust into existence the National Security Council, the CIA, and with the first secretary of defense (among other positions, departments, etc.) as various agencies were morphed, merged, and created anew.  In thinking about national security, the CIA itself was divided into two camps — one led by Richard Helms, who wanted the agency to be a purely information-gathering service, and the other led by Frank Wisner, who wanted covert actions to be used to alter political events to our favor (Weiner, p. 11).  Eventually, it would become both.  The information-gathering, in theory, would help the U.S. no longer be blind to world events or reliant upon the British to gather intel, thus allowing the NSC to formulate strategic and tactical planning, and the remodeled Defense Department would be better equipped to implement those plans............To Read More.....


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