Peter Van Buren on a Handy Definition of the ‘Deep State’

I ran into this, from Caitlin Johnstone, and thought it worth sharing:

The term “deep state” does not mean “Democrats and Never-Trumpers” as Republican pundits would have you believe, nor does the term refer to any kind of weird, unverifiable conspiracy theory. The deep state is in fact not a conspiracy theory at all, but simply a concept used in political analysis for discussing the undeniable fact that unelected power structures exist in America, and that they tend to form alliances and work together in some sense. There is no denying the fact that plutocrats, intelligence agencies, defense agencies and the mass media are both powerful and unelected, and there is no denying the fact that there are many convoluted and often conflicting alliances between them. All that can be debated is the manner and extent to which this is happening.

The deep state is America’s permanent government, the U.S. power structures that Americans don’t elect. These power structures plainly have a vested interest in keeping America’s Orwellian surveillance structures in place, as evidenced by the intelligence community’s menacingly urgent demand for FISA renewal back in December. If there’s any thread to be pulled that really could make waves in the way Official Washington (hat tip to the late Robert Parry) operates, it is in the plot holes between the bipartisan scramble toward unconditional surveillance renewal and the highly partisan battle over exposing the abuse of those very powers.

If we’re going to see a gap in the bars of our cages, that’s a great place to keep our eyes trained, so keep watching. Watch what happens in a partisan war where both parties have a simultaneous interest in revealing as little of the game as possible and exposing the other party. Things could get very interesting.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

7 thoughts on “Peter Van Buren on a Handy Definition of the ‘Deep State’”

  1. Well before the term “deep state” came into play, we simple used the the word “they”, to describe the powers that be. But it all amounts to the same thing. “They” are the people who call the shots behind the scenes, some in government and some who simply have enough money and or influence to craft policy.

  2. Part of this power structure is the Israel Lobby and because of its financial clout can be considered the most powerful. To such a degree that all US foreign policy revolves around Israel. e.g. the Kurd support which is “ordered” by Israel.

  3. There is little value in claiming the deep state is not a conspiracy theory. You can say there’s a deep state by definition, but it’s very easy to treat it as a highly structured concentration of power with a well defined decision center and then you will end up with the default conspiracy position: everything that happens is controlled by a hidden power pulling the strings.

    So in order not to ruin the usage of ‘deep state’ it has to be specified and documented. An example of this is

    Otherwise, it turns into conspiracy thinking whether you agree with it or not.

    1. Conspiracy theorist is a term coined by the CIA to discredit someone who questions the assertions of known liars.

      1. Conspiracy theories assumes a hidden hand behind events. On the one hand these things happen. On the other hand because it’s hidden you can make up the biggest bullshit and nobody can ever prove your wrong. So conspiracy theories are really a bullshitfactory. That’s why conspiracies deserve their bad name.

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