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Herb Rothschild Jr.: The powers that be

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness ...”

— Paul, Ephesians 6:12

I’ve rarely written about Donald Trump in this column. Indeed, I’ve urged you not to concentrate so much of your attention on him. What I’ve asserted repeatedly is that we should attend to the U.S. pursuit of global domination, which endures even as our imperial power dwindles. The America that his followers want Donald Trump to make great again is the leviathan that grew through successive presidencies beginning with Harry Truman.

For more than seven decades, that leviathan has never stopped crushing the hopes of people around the globe, never stopped murdering them in their thousands and tens of thousands. The death toll has varied from one administration to another, but it’s not likely that Ronald Reagan killed more people than Jimmy Carter, or that Donald Trump’s tally has yet equaled Barack Obama’s.

What I’ve realized, thanks to the writings of the late Walter Wink, is that we must struggle with the spirit that rules the Oval Office, not the individuals who occupy it. Let me explain, lest you think I’ve ceded my critical intelligence to a fundamentalist Christian cult.

Imagine you have sought and secured a job. On your first morning a man (they’re all men) comes into your office and tells you that you now control a clandestine organization with thousands of members who at your bidding will undermine some governments no matter how democratic and prop up others no matter how tyrannical, who will buy some politicians and arrange for the murder of others, who will suppress dissent or sow discard, and for these actions you’ll be accountable to no one. That’s the CIA.

And then comes a group of men in uniform who tell you that you have at your command an assemblage of instruments of destruction larger and more powerful than you could have ever imagined, and that there are people around the world trained and ready to use them at your command, and in many countries they’re currently using them. That’s the U.S. military.

And, finally, a man enters along with another who carries a strange case and stands silently behind him, and the first man tells you that in that case is a coded mechanism that, whenever you want, can initiate the launch of weapons from land, sea and air that will put an end to the human race. That’s the U.S. nuclear command.

What will you do? Will you revel in your new power or flee in horror? Or will you even understand that what just entered your office, indeed, what was there long before you came, was a demonic spirit tempting you to serve it? Perhaps only Richard Nixon understood, and it seemed to gladden him. My sense is that the others had little clue they were doing the bidding of the cosmic powers of this present darkness. Carter and Obama are nice people. So was Reagan. So was George H.W. Bush. They killed their thousands and their tens of thousands and thought they were serving their country.

Only if we elect a president who recognizes the spirit of the office and grapples with it until it surrenders its vast power over life and death will we save our world through electoral politics. “Anyone but Trump!” won’t change our culture of domination.

Herb Rothschild’s column appears in the Ashland Tidings every Saturday.