When you’re in LA, heading into the Valley, you’d likely be following Ventura Blvd. or the 101 for some time until you find the I405, which passes right next to the Sherman Oaks Galleria. There, if at that intersection you were to turn and head south on Sepulveda, just one block down, you’d see the front door to the recording studio of Coast To Coast AM Radio, the beacon of paranoia and conspiracy theories that keep Alex Jones flush with cash, and help listeners indulge in their fantasies of fighting the New World Order or imagining the wicked sex lives of those working to advance it in great detail. Currently, the biggest thing now emanating from it is one of the most boneheaded conspiracy theories to see the light of day: Jade Helm. If you were to listen to the conspiracy’s proponents, the puppet masters secretly pulling the world’s strings are staging an exercise on imposing martial law on the United States. After announcing this exercise for public awareness and releasing maps of where the exercises will be held instead of, you know, going out there and just imposing said martial order, or even practicing in complete secrecy.
Remember the mission to kill Osama bin Laden and how no one knew it will happen until there was an announcement in the news that the mission was carried out? Even the soldiers whose days were spent practicing for it had to guess who they were going after until the last minute. If you believe the “deathers” that there was either no such as bin Laden or that he was just a CIA operative, even then the announcement seemed like it came out of nowhere. This is why huge, sensitive military operations are classified. You need an element of surprise. Why is the military broadcasting its takeover of the Southwest when it could just do it within a few days? It has just about all the assets it needs already in place. Likewise, martial law is really only necessary in a situation when you fear massive anti-government unrest, which unlike hyperventilating partisan blowhards and Chicken Littles of AM radio will tell you, isn’t exactly brewing in the U.S. So what would be the point of forcibly pacifying an already peaceful, friendly population?
But despite the complete lack of sense, logic, and reason behind the Jade Helm theory, there’s been an effort by a few token contrarians to somehow justify a kernel of legitimacy to a concern of a government takeover of a population that’s actively participating in said government with no sensible reason not borrowed from conspiracy klaxons. Instead of approaching this conspiracy for what it is, these writers are trying to weave in the specter of police militarization, which while an important and perfectly legitimate concern in its own right is totally inapplicable here. I’m not sure if they’re doing it for the hits, so the right keywords will show up during a search on Google News according to their editors, or because they’re just looking for a transition to their new best read topic, but we end up with with the following exonerations of pathological paranoia…
We live at a time when the Pentagon distributes surplus military equipment to small-town police forces; when cops present themselves to the public as soldiers fighting a war; when officials respond to unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore with curfews and … illiberal, heavy-handed tactics. It’s not crazy to complain about militarization. The conspiratorial version of the complaint literalizes it: A genuine shift in how people are policed becomes a plot to impose martial rule.
Notice how the complaints are about the militarization of police and the deafness of judges and courts to local abuses. But the military is not the police. It doesn’t kill people during traffic stops, it doesn’t patrol the streets, it doesn’t handle riots, and its job is to deter and kill the enemies of the country it serves. We can argue how much of Jade Helm should be classified or the level of detail SOCOM should provide about how it spends its cash and trains its operators, but the fact of the matter is that special forces do our most classified and sensitive missions, so if there are any places in the military budget that are opaque by necessity, it has a good case for being one such spot. Talking about what it does too much can give enemy groups insights into tactics and weapons, meaning already difficult operations will become even harder to pull off. No, we don’t have to trust the government about everything it says, but we should at least think through what we distrust most and pick reasonable objections to reasonable issues, not just scream that the sky is falling when Alex Jones and his ilk need a boost in viewership and cash flow.