The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the attack on U.S. Democracy, by Peter Dale Scott
The American Deep State is the third book published by Professor Scott via Rowman and Littlefield’s War and Peace series, his first two being published in 2003 (Drugs, Oil, and War) and 2010 (The American War Machine) respectfully. The War and Peace library published by Rowman and Littlefield is described by one of its contributors, Mark Selden, as examining the “nature and dynamics of war in all historical periods and in regional and comparative perspective. Works in the series will consider the logic of war, the scale of destruction, and the efforts to limit and end war that have long been central to the human agenda” (http://markselden.info/Book-Stories). In this regard, Scott’s latest work does not disappoint. However, unlike the other contributors to the series, Scott’s primary concern is the ‘deep politics/history’ of war and how such politico-history – focusing on the United States – has affected both domestic and international relations. Many elements of the book are updated, extended, and refined versions of his Road to 9/11 (2007) [e.g., the research into Ali Mohamed and Continuity of Government], and The War Conspiracy (2009) [e.g., the similarities between the JFK assassination and other ‘deep events’, i.e. 9/11], but they do not take away from the importance of those previous volumes.
I have to say from the start that it’s difficult to understate the importance and brilliance of The American Deep State. I must also declare that I’m not a completely objective reviewer. I’m currently a research student at a university in the UK and my topic and research interests overlap and parallel with those of Scott’s, and I’m sure I will be drawing from his writings a great deal for my own thesis. Furthermore, I communicate with Peter on a semi-regular basis (on average once a month) via social media, usually sharing news stories and pieces I believe will be of interest and use for his own research. And Peter has informed me that one of the articles I shared with him was used in the book, which he thanked me for. However, these biases are, I feel, minor ones and should not prevent me from analysing The American Deep State to the best of my abilities.
Scott published a few of his chapters in the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus over the course of half-a-year in 2014, all of which I have read. Thus, I found myself rereading many of the points I had learnt previously. But this did not hamper the profound impact of the research and analysis presented by Scott throughout the book. Of particular importance and interest to me are chapters 4-6, where Scott shows without a shadow-of-a-doubt that elements within, what he terms, the U.S. ‘deep state’ have protected key individuals in al-Qaeda; which in turn has allowed terrorist attacks to be carried out. This analysis can be combined with his research in chapter 13 which highlights how key U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and presumably their own deep elements, have been themselves not only protecting but financing al-Qaeda. This leads Scott to his conclusion that the Global War on Terrorism has been ‘falsified’ and is ‘self-generating’, much the same as the War on Drugs.
Scott has again slightly modified his definition and understanding of what he means by the ‘deep state’ (now referring to the deep state in a more similar capacity as deep politics – ‘not a structure but a system, as real and as powerful as a weather system’), and introduces the long awaited international dimension, which he terms the ‘supranational deep state’. Though I could speak about these much needed concepts further, I shall refrain from doing so right now as I am planning to do more in-depth research into them for my own work at a later date, and the issues are rather complex to layout with any authority in such a review.
As always, the editing and writing quality are superb, though others have accused Scott of being overly detailed and dry in his analysis, I can assure you that The American Deep State, though thoroughly referenced, is not these things. And now I must conclude with the sombre part of this review, the tough reality that such a wonderful book will barely be discussed or read by those who need to read it most.
I have now been in higher education for the best part of five years, and I am currently pursuing postgraduate research in the UK, all of which has focused on the disciplines of political theory, political science, and most of all international relations. And, having gone through multiple universities and courses, I have yet to find one academic who has even heard of Peter Dale Scott, let alone read any of his works. I don’t say this to harm Scott’s reputation, but to highlight the silence and ignorance of those in academia studying and teaching politics and international relations who, by not engaging with Scott’s work, have left their own fields in dire straits. Anyone who reads Scott’s work will have to come to terms with the fact that both domestic and international politics do not work the way one is taught they work in university. The facts, cold and hard, challenge and contradict the narratives given to the public by politicians and academics alike.
I must reiterate how important this book is, not just to Americans, of which I am not, but to all citizens that live in this world and who have inevitably been affected by the effects of the U.S. deep state and the supranational one that accompanies it. The library series title ‘War and Peace’ is prudent in this sense: the status quo of American hegemony and its self-generating wars could well lead to further destruction on a global scale; though peace is possible, one cannot be sure that it is probable, not unless we as informed citizens try our hardest to achieve peace through truth.
The poem at the end of the book is extremely moving and poignant; one of the best I’ve read by Scott. Though Scott leaves the reader with some hope, the daily news cycle says otherwise. We should try our hardest to be optimistic; in such dark times, hope (or faith, as Scott prefers) might be one’s only light.