Deep State In The United States

In the United States, the concept of a deep state is an entity which has been alleged to be involved in a coordinated effort by career government employees and others to influence state policy without regard for democratically elected leadership.[1][2][3] It has frequently been dismissed by journalists and academics as a conspiracy theory.[4][5][6][7] The term, which was originally used to refer to sophisticated shadow governments in countries like Turkey and post-Soviet Russia, has also been used in American political science to refer to entrenched government institutions wielding power, without necessarily implying a conspiracy.[8][9] The term has been used in numerous titles about the U.S. government written by, for example, Marc Ambinder, David W. Brown, Peter Dale Scott and Mike Lofgren.

In the mid-2010s, the term gained popularity in some circles during the 2016 U.S. presidential election in opposition to establishment Republican and Democratic candidates and has also been used in 2017 during the Trump administration.[10]

Definition in political science

Deep state has been defined in 2014 by Mike Lofgren, a former Republican U.S. congressional aide, as "a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process."[11][12]

In The Concealment of the State, professor Jason Royce Lindsey argues that even without a conspiratorial agenda, the term deep state is useful for understanding aspects of the national security establishment in developed countries, with emphasis on the United States. Lindsey writes that the deep state draws power from the national security and intelligence communities, a realm where secrecy is a source of power.[13]Alfred W. McCoy states that the increase in the power of the U.S. intelligence community since the September 11 attacks "has built a fourth branch of the U.S. government" that is "in many ways autonomous from the executive, and increasingly so."[14]

Twentieth-century US Presidents

The "deep state" is often associated[by whom?] with the "military-industrial complex" cited by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address, in which he stated: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."[15] Mike Lofgren has claimed the military-industrial complex is the private part of the deep state.[16] However, Marc Ambinder has suggested that a myth about the "deep state" is that it functions as one entity; rather, that parts of the "deep state" are "often at odds with one another."[17]

President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 has spawned many theories, some of which invoke a "deep state." Such theories have been promoted by authors such as Peter Dale Scott.

Twenty-first-century US Presidents

While many have pointed out that President Barack Obama's alleged lack of success in acting on his campaign promises may be attributed to obstruction by elected members of US Congress,[18][19][20][21] others persist in attributing such obstruction to the "deep state", including Tufts University professor, Michael J. Glennon.[22][23] Mike Lofgren has also argued, without offering evidence, that Obama was pushed into the Afghanistan "surge" in 2009 by the "deep state", in a 2014 essay entitled Anatomy of the Deep State.[24]

Donald Trump supporters use the term to refer to their allegations that intelligence officers and executive branch officials guide policy through leaking or other internal means.[25][10] According to a July 2017 report by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, "the Trump administration was being hit by national security leaks 'on a nearly daily basis' and at a far higher rate than its predecessors encountered".[26] The term's conspiracy-theory nature has made it popular on conservative and right-wing news outlets sympathetic to the Trump administration, including Breitbart News.[27] Such theories have been dismissed as largely myth by The New York Times[28] and The Observer.[29]

Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, have both made allegations about a deep state.[30][31][32] Some Trump allies and right-wing media outlets have alleged that former president Barack Obama is coordinating a "deep state" resistance to Trump.[30][33] The growth of this narrative within the White House has been linked to Trump's allegation that Obama wiretapped his telephone during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Trump administration confirmed in court filings on 1 September 2017 that it had no evidence to support Trump's claim.[34]

While the belief in a "deep state" is popular among Trump, his supporters and the Trump administration, it has been repeatedly dismissed as a conspiracy theory[35] by those who argue, for example, that leaks about the Trump administration lack the organization of "deep states" in other countries, and that the use of the term in the U.S. could be used to justify the suppression of dissent.[36][30]University of Miami Professor Joseph Uscinski says, "The concept has always been very popular among conspiracy theorists, whether they call it a deep state or something else." [37]

In the Foreign Affairs political journal, Jon D. Michaels has discussed Trump and the "deep state", arguing that the theory has limited relevance in United States. He suggests that it is more useful when observing developing countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, and points out that the United States' governmental structure is more transparent, egalitarian and rule-bound. [38]

See also


  1. ^ Ambinder, Marc; Grady, D.B. (2013). Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Wiley. ISBN 978-1118146682. 
  2. ^ Michael J. Glennon (2014). "National Security and Double Government" (PDF). Harvard National Security Journal. 5. 
  3. ^ Jordan Michael Smith (October 19, 2014). "Vote all you want. The secret government won't change.". The Boston Globe. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Michael Hafford (2017-03-09). "Deep State: Inside Donald Trump's Paranoid Conspiracy Theory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved . 
  6. ^ Oliver Willis (2017-03-09). "The Alex Jones influence: Trump's "deep state" fears come from his conspiracy theorist ally and adviser". Salon. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ "'Deep State' is the latest US conspiracy theory you need to know about". New Zealand Herald. 2017-03-10. Retrieved . 
  8. ^ The State: Past, Present, Future Bob Jessop, page 224, December 2015 John Wiley & Sons
  9. ^ New Directions in Criminological Theory Steve Hall,Simon Winlow page 229
  10. ^ a b Amanda Taub (February 16, 2017). "As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a 'Deep State' in America". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State". 2014-02-21. Retrieved . 
  12. ^ The State: Past, Present, Future Bob Jessop, page 224, December 2015 John Wiley & Sons
  13. ^ [The Concealment of the State] Jason Royce Lindsey, 2013 pages 35-36
  14. ^ Scahill, Jeremy (2017-07-22). "Donald Trump and the Coming Fall of the American Empire". The Intercept. Retrieved . 
  15. ^ "Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation". Retrieved . 
  16. ^ ""Deep State" Truthout Interview -". 2016-02-22. Retrieved . 
  17. ^ Ambinder, Marc; Ambinder, Marc (2017-03-10). "Five myths about the deep state". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved . 
  18. ^ "Guantanamo Bay: How the White House lost the fight to close it". The Washington Post. 23 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Republicans' mindless obstruction has helped create something far worse". The Washington Post. 11 March 2016. 
  20. ^ "Democrats condemn GOP's plot to obstruct Obama as 'appalling and sad'". The Guardian. 26 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Senate Votes to Block Obama's Climate Change Rules". The New York Times. 17 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Vote all you want. The secret government won't change. - The Boston Globe". 2014-10-18. Retrieved . 
  23. ^ "Background Briefing with Ian Masters". FD Media. Retrieved . 
  24. ^ Lofgren, Mike (2014-02-21). "Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State". Retrieved . 
  25. ^ Ishaan Tharoor (February 1, 2017). "Is Trump fighting the deep state or creating his own?". The Washington Post. 
  26. ^ Crowley, Michael (September-October 2017). "The Deep State Is Real". Politico Magazine. Retrieved . 
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ Taub, Amanda; Fisher, Max (February 17, 2017). "As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a 'Deep State' in America". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017. 
  29. ^ Rebellion Brews in Washington--But American 'Deep State' Is Only a Myth, John R. Schindler, The Observer, 22 February 2017
  30. ^ a b c Julie Hirschfeld Davis (March 6, 2017). "Rumblings of a 'Deep State' Undermining Trump? It Was Once a Foreign Concept". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ Phillip Rucker, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker (March 5, 2017). "Inside Trump's fury: The president rages at leaks, setbacks and accusations". The Washington Post. 
  32. ^ Winter, Jana; Groll, Elias (2017-08-10). "Here's the Memo That Blew Up the NSC". Foreign Policy. Retrieved . 
  33. ^ David Weigel (March 7, 2017). "Trump and Republicans see a 'deep state' foe: Barack Obama". The Washington Post. 
  34. ^ "Justice Department: No evidence Trump Tower was wiretapped". CNN. 3 September 2017. 
  35. ^ Stanage, Niall (June 5, 2017). "THE MEMO: Is Trump a victim of the 'deep state'?". The Hill. 
  36. ^ David A. Graham (February 20, 2017). "Why it's dangerous to talk about a deep state". The Atlantic. 
  37. ^ "How the "deep state" conspiracy theory went mainstream". Newsweek. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  38. ^ Michaels, Jon D. Trump and the Deep State. Foreign Affairs. September 2017.

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