Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Review of Regime Survival Formations


All totalitarian regimes require a loyal inner cadre of political hatchet men.  Those men and women are typically protected, guarded and even surveilled by a form of military force or secret police that is bound to the "Dear Leader" by blood, by deed or some other bonding ritual or social tie.  Examples are legion, and I will cover a few here to establish patterns that I believe will become increasingly apparent in America as the Regime becomes more...obstinate.  The concept of the Praetorian Guard goes back to Roman times, and is discussed here.  Yes, a Wikipedia link, but it is concise and makes my point.   Ask yourself if any of these patterns are exhibited in today's American military, para military and political formations.  Without any further ado, let's get into the meat of the matter of how Extortionist Rentier States survive.  We know it is not on good looks and charm.

The Iraqi Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard. Also here .  Note that the Iraqi leadership recruited from areas that were loyal to him through blood ties and the flow of resources to them from him.  This pattern is repeated throughout history.  The Republican Guard, an elite unto itself, did not commingle with SRG.  The SRG was paid better than RG, divisions were actively fomented between RG and SRG formations.
This is from a public CIA report on iraqi Intelligence & Security forces.  Mukhabarat is Arab for "Intelligence"

 It is worth noting here that in most any society or nation outside the modern West, it is the Intelligence Officer (S2)who is superior in billet to the Operations Officer (S3), an inversion of the S2/S3 relationship in a Western force.  This is for several reasons, as the S2 in a 3rd world unit is usually closely tied to the Commanding Officer through blood/tribe/business.  The 2 in such situations handles much of the business of a formation.  By business, I mean exactly that... the payroll skim, the black marketing of parts, weapons, dispensing of favors and disposing of problems/people.  They are the hatchet men.  Note the heavy presence in Regime survival forces of intelligence formations and functions.

The GESTAPO and Schutzstaffel is too easy, so we go German with the Stasi.  The Stasi represented perhaps the apex of the modern surveillance state before the digital age fully engulfed the world.  It is estimated that 1 in 7 East Germans worked for Stasi either as payroll or as informants.  It was a supremely effective and terrifying force, but even it could not stay the hands of time.  Its headquarters in Berlin is now a museum of remembrance and research.  They will be the subject of a future article, as it is this model that America seems most likely to pursue in my opinion.  It is less direct than the over the top Iraqi SRG and similar forces, what it lacked in massed military firepower it more than made up for in social pervasiveness.
Old school, analog social network analysis:

The Oprichniki ->NKVD -> KGB ->SVR... seems the Russians just can't get enough of this.  Ivan the Terrible formed the Oprichniki as a force to sniff out and sweep away subversion.  The symbols of that office were a dog's head and a broom.  They were such sweethearts, they ran half of his empire as Ivan's personal property.  They decimated the city of Novgorod.  The follow on iterations are all effectively interchangeable, they all were brutal, had large military components separate from the regular forces and were utterly ruthless in carrying out duties.  If America fails with a digital Stasi model, they will take this as the next option.  Less subtle, but more certain if the population is "uppity".
Felix says, "Be watchful and alert!"... shades of DHS "See Something, Say Something" campaign.
Any Russian linguists interested in translating that?

A brief thought... if you changed DHS title to "People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", would its function change?  What of those regional fusion centers?

Amazon Purchase Link for "The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics"

     In looking into this abyss for the article, I found much material that is ripe for your exploitation.  It all regards political science and Regime survival.  I placed the links below, they are all from esteemed academic circles, so the quality in scholarship is there.  In closing, no list of Regime survival organizations would be complete without mentioning the bizarre case of North Korea.  That is such an odd duck, I may save them for another time.
In The Dictator's Handbook, Bueno de Mesquita and Smith state five rules that leaders should use to stay in power: (1) The smaller the winning coalition the less people to satisfy to remain in control. (2) Having a large nominal selectorate gives a pool of potential people to replace deserters in coalition. (3) Maintain control of revenue flows to redistribute to your friends. (4) But only pay friends enough that they will not consider overthrowing you and at the same time little enough so that they depend on you. (5) Don't take your friends' money and redistribute it to the masses.

     In closing, tyrannical regimes have several different but similar paths to trod upon when they create regime protection/survival units.  I suggest to you that you take your own observations from within your own sphere and ask, "is only a certain group getting promoted?"  "Why?"  That may be an issue of performance, or it may be driven by something less wholesome.  They will often create rival units that will vie for the attention and resources of the Dear Leader.  Anyone who has been through an airport recognizes the TSA arm of DHS as largely a jobs program for various streaks of cretins who can be assumed loyal to the regime (it gave them a job, meaning, a uniform and power... of course they'll vote for it in lockstep).

     Candidates for Regime survival unit status are several.  Look to the D.C. area, take your pick.  Regime survival units by necessity must be essentially co-located.  Marine barracks, 8th & I?  CBIRF in Maryland?  HMX-1 in Quantico?  D.C. National Guard is probably the most ethnically homogeneous, politically monolithic military force in Washington, D.C.  I frankly don't cheer this on, it makes the pit in my stomach howl.

     Look inside your own units, your hierarchies of who and what happens.  Look for the personal connections between the Officers and the politicians... it may be as simple as knowing they are both from the same city/town and have more than a passing history.  Look for the hand picked proteges to pop up in PR photos at various progressive organizations and events.  You will be surprised at who you will see with whom, and the steep rank gradient involved.  Those operate as coded public declarations of "hands off".  Go take a look at some various association web pages and newsletters and tell me I'm off base.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This scares the pants off me, but I fear you are correct. The creep of the surveillance state and willingness of the "people" to rat on each other for "badthink" is commonplace now.
Trying not to feel doomed about it all. :-(