No small irony attended the announcement by FBI Director Louis Freeh on July 4 of last year that his bureau was establishing a “legal attache” office in Moscow, and not only because the agency of the U.S. government historically responsible for counterespionage had finally penetrated the capital city of its old adversary. July 4, as antiquarians may remember, is Independence Day, and what was being announced on this particular occasion was yet another quiet step away from the concepts of national independence, autonomy, and sovereignty—not, to be sure, quite as large a step as NAFTA, GATT, or the transfer to the United Nations of command over American troops and the power to order the United States to go to war, which came later in the summer with the invasion of Haiti, but a definite step nonetheless and an important one. Unlike the traditional observation of July 4, however, there were no fireworks, save in the pyrotechnic oratory with which the new chief globo-cop sought to edify his audience.
“We have no time to waste,” Judge Freeh puffed. “The enemy has already broken through the gates,” and the creation of the Russian branch of the “legal attache” office—known as “LEGATS” in the Global Newspeak that is now replacing real languages—was by no means unprecedented. Unveiled near the conclusion of a 10-day tour of the capitals of Eastern Europe, the LEGATS on the Volga was in fact the 22nd FBI office to be established abroad for the ostensible purpose of keeping tabs on drug smugglers, terrorists, white collar criminals, ethnic cleansers, octogenarian janitors from Dachau, white racialists who refuse to spy for the BATF, indoor smokers, unlicensed religious crackpots, gunowners who buy more than one gun a month, businessmen who clean up swamps on their own property, and other dangerous and unsavory folk whose worldwide wickedness purportedly transcends the capacities of poor little old sovereign megastates to bring them to heel. With his fellow bureaucrat Thomas Constantine of the Drug Enforcement Administration and some 20 other law enforcement potentates from the Justice and Treasury departments. Judge Freeh oozed about the “beginnings of a global strategy against organized crime” and sternly intoned that “organized crime groups are working to supplant governments, and any government that ignores the fact does so at its own peril.” All that was missing from the well-orchestrated performance was a picture of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu to lend concrete detail to Judge Freeh’s adumbrations of a vast, sinister, and all but invincible criminal conspiracy against civilization itself.
It has long been recognized that ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union the architects of the “New World Order” have searched for a new enemy. Saddam Hussein was and periodically continues to be useful for mobilizing troops when the incumbent President needs a quick war to see him through an election or to take the proletarians’ minds off a celebrity homicide trial grown tiresome, but Hussein and similar Hitleroids are never sufficiently convincing to justify the long-term structural planning the global leviathan needs. Nor, by themselves, are the various drug cartels, terrorist gangs, secret societies of Nazi war criminals plotting to clone each other and take over the planet next Thursday, or any of the other pathetic stock villains with which the masses are manipulated into believing we still have serious enemies and therefore still need a megastate to protect us against them.
But if you lump all these odd characters together, call it “organized crime,” and claim that only new heights of governmental power on a global scale can control or contain or otherwise save us from the organized criminals, then you’re in business. That, of course, is what Judge Freeh and his platoon of megacrats were up to in their junket to Eastern Europe last summer. The depiction of global organized crime as a “threat” against which the United States and other nations must pool their joint resources is in part driven by the self-interest of aging professional Gold Warriors and an elite of national security managers who in the absence of threats to national security would be forced to sell real estate and insurance. Thus, Roy Godson and William Olson of the National Strategy Information Geuter (NSIG), a stable of Reaganite Gold Warhorses in the I970’s and 80’s, have now turned their energies from crafting apologies for the intelligence services to thinking up plausible rationales for pretending that we really need to fear pimps and drug peddlers in Burma and Thailand. “Global networks” of criminal gangs, they argue, “provide mobility, an effective communications infrastructure and international connections for criminal enterprise,” and according to a cover story by Leslie Alan Horvitz in Insight magazine last summer, these “networks” deal in illicit goods and services in the same way as multinational corporations. “Godson and Olson estimate that international crime rings outperform most Fortune 500 companies.”
Well, no doubt they do, but the existence of transnational crime is hardly new—it was known in the modern world at least as long ago as the Caribbean pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries—and hardly constitutes a valid reason for centralizing law enforcement powers in new transnational structures. Pirates like Blackbeard and his comrades were dealt with summarily by the fleets and citizens of sovereign nations, and it never occurred to anyone in those days to pretend that it was necessary to set up new transnational bureaucracies to perform functions that existing national governments could and did perform. But of course a legitimate concern over transnational crime is not the only, and maybe not even a real, rationale for creating global police. The Insight article also quoted liberal Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, not exactly an old Gold Warrior, who held hearings on international crime last year and who sounds like a National Review editor of the 1950’s contemplating communism. “The overall international organized crime threat to our interests is more serious than we had assumed,” Senator Kerry trembles. “Organized crime is the new communism, the new monolithic threat.”
But of course organized crime, even at its worst, is in no sense a “monolithic threat.” It is a loose conglomerate of not-very-bright gangsters looking for a quick buck who are more often at each other’s throats than those of law-abiding Americans or even congressmen and senators. Yet it is convenient to present international organized crime as a “monolithic threat” because only if it is such could an equally monolithic global bureaucracy be created to handle it. It is just such a transnational monolith that people like Senator Kerry want to create as part of the governing apparatus of the New World Order.
It makes sense for the embryonic global government to have its own police force, and already the legal foundations of global law enforcement have been established through the U.N. Genocide Convention and the creation of other “international crimes.” The United Nations has already set up tribunals for the trial of war crimes in the Balkans and Rwanda. Of course, what the architects of the global police are seeking is neither real justice nor real security, but a precedent, a clear case in which the horrors of the crimes inflame public imagination to the point that extralegal intervention by the “international community” seems justified and can then serve as a model for future regularization of such intervention as a routine. In both the Rwandan and Haitian interventions last year, the Clinton administration came close to establishing a basis for just such action in the future in far less notorious cases.
The globalization of law enforcement, however, is merely an extension of the nationalization of law enforcement that the managerial left has pursued since at least the 1930’s in this country. One of the long-standing liberal complaints against J. Edgar Hoover has always been that he “ignored” or “denied the existence” of organized crime in the United States, and probably today most Americans, even conservatives, share this criticism of the man who built the FBI up from a seedy, incompetent, highly politicized, and outright crooked reservoir of Republican veterans of Teapot Dome in the 1920’s into the world’s foremost law enforcement agency at the time of his death. Hoover may well have been too quick to deny the existence of organized crime, but behind this denial there was a principled opposition to the centralizing trend of the national state. As his biographer Richard Girl Powers writes: “When the FBI killed a Dillinger, it was because local authorities had been unable to deal with the criminal before he finally did something that came under federal jurisdiction, and not because the overall situation was a federal responsibility. The national crime problem, according to Hoover’s formulation, was a local one; the FBI could help by giving the local police technical assistance and by furnishing them with a model of professionalism.”
It was in fact Hoover’s lifelong battle to prevent the total usurpation of law enforcement by the national government, and as early as 1933 he wrote in a memorandum to Franklin Roosevelt’s first Attorney General, Homer Cummings, a zealous pusher of nationalization, that “it is perhaps not overlooked, but it is certainly under-emphasized, that the [crime] problem is a State one.”
Indeed, the foremost crusaders against organized crime since the 1930’s have consistently been on the political left—Estes Kefauver and Robert Kennedy—and their crusade has generally exploited the sensationalism of organized crime to enhance federal police powers. In Hoover’s early days, most organized crime, aside from Prohibition Era bootlegging, which fell under the jurisdiction of a separate federal agency, was by its very nature local, in the form of the vice traffic—gambling, prostitution, and narcotics—and extortion. Neither the FBI nor most of the rest of the federal government had any more jurisdiction or business intervening in the cities and states to enforce the laws of those localities than the United States has in intervening in Russia and Rwanda to enforce theirs. The demand for the bureau to “get involved” in the “fight against organized crime” thus reduced to a simple demand that local and state authority be pushed aside as corrupt and inefficient and that the power of the federal megastate replace it with the integrity and competence characteristic of swollen bureaucracy. As it turns out, this was precisely the argument mounted by Judge Freeh himself in Senate testimony last spring, when he remarked, in the breathless tones characteristic of him, that “More must be done, because we cannot allow the same kinds of mistakes to be made today . . . that were made in responding to the threat of gangsterism that swept through the United States in the twenties and thirties.” There is, then, a precise parallel between the efforts to nationalize law enforcement in the earlier period, efforts successfully thwarted by Hoover, and the efforts today to globalize the same functions of government.
Thus, neither the “war” against organized crime waged by the federal government since the I920’s nor the incipient “war” against international crime today is really concerned with crime. What they both represent is merely the continuing quest for centralized power—first on the national level against states and localities, second on a global, transnational level against the nation-state itself—by bureaucratic elites that have now acquired the skills and technologies that enable them to disengage from their own nations and cultures and to grasp for autonomous power on a worldwide scale. The incessant refrain of both phases of centralization is the lie that the smaller, local, and national governments of the Old American Republic are not competent to fight the really tough, smart, big, well-heeled, and vicious criminals that plague us today and that only the really tough, smart, big, well-heeled, and vicious megastate can go toe-to-toe with the global Napoleons of Crime that haunt the imaginations of Hollywood screenwriters and the ghostwritten testimony of congressional hearings.
Yet there is virtually no evidence that greater centralization of law enforcement is any more efficient at stopping crime than the United Nations has been in preventing and punishing genocide. After 60 years of increasing federal intrusion into law enforcement, we have cities through which it is not safe to walk in broad daylight, and all the congressional crime bills and federal gun control laws have done and will do nothing to make them safer. Now we are told that even the nation-state itself is as obsolete as local and state autonomy and that only by setting up a supernational power, over which neither local and state nor even American authorities will exercise control, can the new “enemy,” the ubiquitous and immortal “monolithic threat,” of global crime be expelled from our gates. We have heard it all before, and those of us who remember what Independence Day is supposed to represent will be no more eager to sign up in the global war on crime than in any of the other and no less fraudulent wars the megastate has declared against the enemies it invents for its own purposes.