Don’t be too quick to dismiss idea of deep state

Experts have researched, written about it.

In Summary
  • It can only catapult one to victory when competitors are neck to neck.
  • For the people of Kenya to send a strong signal to the ‘system’, they need to give overwhelming support to any candidate the deep state opposes.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English professor, sees it “not as a structure, but a system, as difficult to define, but also as real and as powerful, as a weather system”

Prof Peter Kagwanja’s article, Deep state is a conspiracy theory and scapegoat of election losers, in the Sunday Nation of August 15, 2020, cannot go unchallenged. The comment, touching on the emotive issue of Kenya’s nascent democracy, exposed the author’s bias more than it represented facts and a true analysis of the situation.

According to Prof Kagwanja, Deputy President William Ruto “opened a can of worms when he alleged that the ‘deep state’ or ‘system’ might torpedo his 2022 presidential bid”. He was, however, quick to point out that Ruto was responding to a public comment by Raila Odinga’s brother, Oburu Odinga, to the effect that the opposition chief was assured of winning the 2022 presidential contest because this time round, he has the support of ‘the system’.

Both Ruto and Oburu seem to believe in the power of the deep state to dictate Kenya’s presidential electoral outcome. It is for Kenyans to judge who between them may have made remarks that could endanger peace and stability. Just to quote what each said:

Oburu: “Why have we always failed to get to State House despite winning the election through votes? It is because there is something we have been missing…it is called the system. Some people say the system is not important, but the system is very important. And now we are with Uhuru Kenyatta, whose is holding the system, we can be sure of victory.”

Ruto: “We are being told now, we are being threatened with the system or the deep state. That there are people who will steal votes from us even if we win. There are people sitting somewhere who will decide.”

While Oburu blatantly speaks of his brother Raila winning the 2022 election with the help of ‘the system’ and invokes the name of the president, Ruto merely expresses a belief widely held by Kenyans.

Kagwanja sees nothing wrong with Oburu’s remarks, but elects to accuse the DP of intending to cause electoral instability. Talk of selective amnesia.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent 20 years in Europe and the Middle East, observed in The American Conservative that “many of America’s leaders actually accept that there is an unelected, unappointed, and unaccountable presence within the system that actually manages what is taking place behind the scenes. That would be the American deep state.”

He quotes PS Karanja Kibicho saying ‘deep states’ only exist in totalitarian systems, not in democratic ones like Kenya. Kagwanja and Kibicho’s views are contrary to evidence available globally. The deep state is neither a paradox nor a preserve of the totalitarian states.

Carne Ross, the UK’s Iraq expert at the UN from 1997 to 2002, writing in The Observer in 2010, recounted his experience while giving testimony at the Sir John Chilcot Inquiry. He said, “This is not so much a problem with Sir John Chilcot and his panel, but rather with the government bureaucracy – Britain’s own ‘deep state’ – that is covering up its mistakes and denying access to critical documents.”

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has conducted an extensive study on the deep state. In his book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on US Democracy, he sees the deep state “not as a structure, but a system, as difficult to define, but also as real and as powerful, as a weather system.”

Further evidence of the existence of the deep state is provided by Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the New York Times best-selling author and television host who equates it to “those perverting constitutional American politics from the margin of the Washington Beltway-’ the security and surveillance apparatus, the war machine’.

Last, but not least, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent 20 years in Europe and the Middle East, observed in The American Conservative that “many of America’s leaders actually accept that there is an unelected, unappointed, and unaccountable presence within the system that actually manages what is taking place behind the scenes. That would be the American deep state.”

Finally, it is noteworthy that the deep state or the system can only catapult one to victory when competitors are neck to neck. For the people of Kenya to send a strong signal to the ‘system’, they need to give overwhelming support to any candidate the deep state opposes.