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Raising the spectrum of the deep state

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The term often used means a very different thing in countries like Pak. But when Donald Trump uses it for the United States, he does it as a ploy to distract from his failures.

A friend, based in the United States, recently joked that he had never heard so many Pakistanis (in the United States) use the word Deep State as much as they did since the recent American presidential elections. The polls were won by Democratic Party candidate John Biden. My friend clarified that the term mentioned was mainly used by Pakistani Americans who actually voted for President Donald Trump.

Even though exit polls published by the New York Times show that a majority of Asians voted for Biden (63%), up to 31% of them voted for Trump. According to my friend, a majority of them included Pakistanis who thought Trump was good for the current coalition government in Pakistan led by center-right Prime Minister Imran Khans PTI.

Opposition parties in Pakistan have increasingly insisted that some state institutions installed Khan in an election held in 2018 and used him as a puppet. Pakistan has a history of state institutions influencing political outcomes, sometimes by direct intervention and sometimes by influencing election results.

This is why my friend sounded sarcastic, as he added that he had not once heard the term deep state from the Americans-Pakistanis (who voted for Trump) when discussing the political arrangement. current in Pakistan. The term deep state, now circulated so frequently by Trump supporters, has been proliferated by the defeated president himself, who accuses the US deep state of engineering of his electoral defeat.

Trump has so far provided no evidence of this and looks a lot like an archetypal conspiracy theorist. The difference between the United States and Pakistan in this context is the fact that there is now sufficient evidence in the latter country to build a documented history of the overt involvement of states in influencing political issues outside of its obligations. constitutional. So, what is a deep state?

The scholar Matthew Wills says the term is a translation of the Turkish phrase, derin devlet. Author and scholar Ryan Gingeras writes that Deep State generally refers to some sort of parallel system of government in which unofficial or unacknowledged individuals play an important role in the implementation of state policy. According to Gingeras, the idea of ​​a deep state can be traced to the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire.

Gingeras writes that the underground forces were recruited from paramilitary and criminal elements by the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP), the party that ousted the Ottomans in 1923. For much of the 20th century, opponents of the CUP claimed the party had established an underground network of military officers and their civilian allies who for decades suppressed anyone considered a threat to the secular order established in Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatrk. Dexter Filkins, in a March 2012 article for The New Yorker, writes that the former Prime Minister of Turkey (now President), Recep Erdogan, was extremely nervous when he was first elected as Prime minister in 2003 because he believed that since being a candidate for an Islamic party (albeit moderate) the Turkeys Deep State would never allow him to rule.

But nothing like that happened. His party has continued to win elections since the early 2000s and the only coup attempt his government faced in 2016, according to Erdogans’ own admission, was mounted by a faction of the army influenced by an underground Islamic group.

There is nothing secret about how, after 1923, the Turkish military continued to interfere directly and indirectly in Turkish politics, and the country’s justice and bureaucracy are committed to securing the Turkish republic. layman of Kemals. For this military regime, candidates supported by the army and constitutional courts were used. But there was no hidden agenda, as such, though men like Erdogan believed dark forces were at work and would overthrow him. Interestingly, all the talk about the Deep State vanished from his rhetoric once he consolidated his power.

So what does this imply? In many countries, some powerful state institutions are interfering in political processes, but increasingly this is done shamelessly. This has always been justified as a necessary measure to reduce political chaos, but now the interfering state institutions are using social and electronic media to gain support for their actions in this regard. Again, there is nothing underground about this. There has always been a state within a state in most modern nation states.

Recently, Pakistani opposition leader Nawaz Sharif used the phrase “state above state”. This is probably because he knows that the fact that Pakistan has a state within a state is now commonplace and that he wouldn’t say anything new. So he wanted to point to a much deeper unease. According to his account, the state within the state, which is no longer entirely hidden, now faces a challenge from within.

But what about the United States? Does he have a deep state that Trump believes helped Biden hijack the election? In the January 27 edition of Business Insider, American scholar Rebecca Gordon writes that the idea of ​​a sinister deep state in the United States, popularized by Trump throughout his presidency, is somewhat different from the way which is understood in most other countries. According to Gordon, rather than referring to a parallel system of government operating outside official channels, for Trump the deep state is government.

For Trump, any state or government institution that blocks one of its orders is working for a deep state. For him, elements within the national and international intelligence agencies of the Americas, like the FBI and the CIA, were also working for the deep state. In November 2019, former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin joked about Trump’s constant use of the phrase. In a radio interview, McLaughlin said: There is no deep state. What people think of as the deep state is just the US public service, social security, the people who fix the roads, health and social services.

In his 2016 book The Deep State, American author and former Republican Assistant to the United States Congress, Mike Lofgren, wrote that the Deep State is not a secret, conspiratorial cabal. It is a state within a state that is hiding in plain sight, and its operators operate primarily in the light of day.

As I explained earlier, there is really nothing underground about what is meant by deep state. His actions are open because he wants to impose the fact that he will guarantee his interests in a political arrangement. Governments negotiate a space for themselves with the state as long as that space is not openly violated by state institutions in an unconstitutional manner.

If and when this is the case, the government has the constitutional tools to push back the state as much as it can, or just give in and get on the same page just to survive. This is common in most countries. But what if the government begins to see its own elements in concert with the so-called deep state, as Trump saw it? I’m afraid this is then nothing more than an illusion, or simply a cynical ploy to blame something sinister, intangible, and largely imaginary, for its own failures.

(Courtesy: Dawn)

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