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Andrew Bacevich on The New American Militarism

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  “As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.”

Ron Paul


Introduction

New American militarism is connected with the desire to establish global neoliberal empire ruled by the USA (the dream of total world dominance). It became official policy  since the collapse of the USSR  and involves "heliocentric" view on foreign policy, when the USA is the center of the world order and other states just rotate around it on various orbits. The US population is by-and-large-completely brainwashed into this vision.

Opposition to the US militarism is almost non-existent due contemporary US popular culture infused with the language of militarism and American exceptionalism. As Bacevich  noted:

In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America’s uniformed military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honor, extraordinary technological aptitude and sheer decency of the nation’s defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of ‘virtuous men and perfect weapons’, as one reviewer noted. ‘All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.’ Indeed, in the contract that he signed for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad light.

The "New American militarism" or as it called "Neocon mentality" is not that different from the early Soviets militarism (of  Trotskyite variety), eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism toward other countries on the tips of bayonets.  Here the role of scientific socialism is played by neoliberal ideology. With the slogan "Transnational elite unite" and Davos style Congresses of the new   "Neoliberal International" of comprador elites. While converting other countries into neoliberal model using color revolution of direct military invasion or combination of both) are disguised as spread of "democracy".

In this new Crusade for world hegemony the key ideas of Trotsky Permanent Revolution remains intact -- a crusade for establishing new social system on all counties on the Earth. This is just Great Neoliberal Crusade, instead of Communist Crusade.  This new justification for Crusades has the same problems as two previous. But it does not matter as the key role of democracy here is the same as in quote "the goal justifies the means" 

Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. he avoids the term neoliberalism and did not try to explain new American militarism in terms of the quest for neoliberal empire expansion. But he is a very good observer and the books contain many insights into US elite thinking and blunders. Among them we can note two:

While all three books are excellent and raise important issues,  they overlap. Probably the most original and the most important on them is Washington Rules, were Bacevich attempts to explain "Permanent War for Permanent Peace" that the USA practice since the end of WWII. All three books have the same weaknesses: Bacevich does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion and "New American Militarism" and regime of permanent wars that the USA pursue since WWII.

He provide sharp critique of neocons, but never ask the question: which political forces brought those pathetic second or third rate thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle.

He also mistakenly believe that American people (who were completely estranged from any influence on nation's policies) bear some guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred of the largest US corporations. In other words he does not understand that the USA is yet another occupied country.

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War; War as a natural state of the USA since 1945

[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace

Professor Basevich

The foreign policy of the USA since 1945, but especially, after the dissolution of the USSR was and is "open militarism". Recently  John Quiggin  tried to define militarism is came to the following definition (crookedtimber.org):

100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative. Wikipedia offers a definition of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population in nearly every country in the world.

Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national interests

This new epidemic of the US militarism started after the dissolution of the USSR was called by Professor Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army)  it New American Militarism.

Bacevich's book  Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War  describe the "sacred trinity" of global US-led neoliberal empire:

Professor Bacevich had shown that the main driver of the US militarism is neocons domination of the US foreign policy, and, especially, neocons domination in State Department regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. They profess that the US that is uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq. And that establishing and maintaining the neoliberal empire is worth the price we pay as it will take the USA into the period of unprecedented peace.

Bacevich scored a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive "perpetual war for perpetual peace".

Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.

Lessons that President Obama is clearly never able to learn. In this sense his book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections that some may find very troubling as it suggest that the USA elite is suicidal and is ready to sacrifice the county for achieving its delusional goal of world domination.

Here is the summary from Bacevich - Washington Rules (2010) - Synopsis by Mark K. Jensen

UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII: September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m. 

Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).

Thesis

The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.

Introduction: Slow Learner

The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany (4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).

"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition" (10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century") and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of  global interventionism") together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).

In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).

This book aspires to

(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;

(2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;

(3) explain how itis perpetuated;

(4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;

and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).

The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the reining national security paradigm" (16-18).

Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.

As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).

It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23).

Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).

American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).

Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).

Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).

Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control

Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).

This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).

McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what they wanted" (66-72).

In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible" Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).

U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).

Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).

He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).

Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.

William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).

Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored" (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).

By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). And the end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).

Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity

The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "notretrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The new mission was not American defense but facilitation of a new world order (148-50). After 9/11 this pretense was dropped and "[a]ctivism became the watchword" (150, emphasis in original;150-52). Resorting to war became "notably more frequent and less controversial" in 1980-2000, finding "its ultimate expression in the Bush Doctrine of preventive war" (152-53). Americans "passively assented" (154).

Behind the scenes, the shape this took was struggled over by the officer corps and civilian semi-warriors pushing RMA(Revolution in Military Affairs) (154-64).Initially, U.S. élites held that victory in Iraq demonstrated that speed could be substituted for mass in military campaigns (165-75). But the experience of the occupation revealed this to be a fantasy (175-81).

Ch. 5: Counterfeit COIN.

Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, replacing "shock and awe" as "the Long War" replaced the "global war on terror," is the latest doctrinal effort to preserve the Washington rules (182-86). The so-called "surge" implicitly marked a quest for conditions allowing the U.S. to leave Iraq without admitting defeat (186-91).Gen. David Petraeus emerged as an advocate (and as salesman, through FM3-24, the manual he revised and which Bacevich insists is in its emphasis on narrative replete with postmodernism) of counterinsurgency doctrine as "a substitute [for warfare] suited to the exercise of great power politics in the twilight of modernity" (197; 191-97). Implicitly, the manual argues that "war as such . . . no longer worked" (198; 198-202). Petraeus took credit for progress in Iraq that he did not achieve (202-04).

The general with a Princeton Ph.D. was lionized with a view to normalizing war and lowering expectations, a view now embraced by the Obama administration(205-11). Proponents of global counterinsurgency (GCOIN) emerged, like John Nagl and Gen. Benet Sacolick (211-13). Obama embraced the GCOIN version of the Long War with Gen.Stanley McChrystal to carry it out in Afghanistan, forfeiting the opportunity to reassess American policy (213-21).

Ch. 6: Cultivating Our Own Garden.

Time-honored no-nonsense American pragmatism has turned into an absurdity-swallowing herd mentality (222-23). The problem set the U.S. faces has radically changed from the time of the early Cold War, but the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) that proposes to address them remains essentially the same (224-25).Eisenhower would have been appalled(225-26). The size of the Pentagon budget, the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the extent of overseas military presence cannot be justified(226-27).

These persist because of the interests they serve, not the mission the fulfill, and are likely to do so for sometime (228-30). Bacevich invokes George Kennan, William Fulbright, and Martin Luther King Jr. in urging that the U.S. needs a new approach, to model freedom rather than impose it (231-37). First and foremost, America should save not the world but itself (237).

Bacevich proposes a new trinity:

  1. the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests;
  2. soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil;
  3. force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War tradition (238-41).

The American public must shoulder its complicity in what has happened, fostered by an all-volunteer force and debt-financed budgets (241-47). It is tragic that Barack Obama, elected to institute change, has lacked the courage to alter the Washington rules, instead "choosing to conform" (247-49). "If change is to come, it must come from the people"(249). The need for education "has become especially acute" (249; 249-50).

Except from Macmillan

Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.

My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened. The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history. 

Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown.

A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.

.... ... ...

Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.

... ... ...

Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray

... ... ...

Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction: that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies, and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve as to believe that the American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom, not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.

The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.

Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.

The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.

Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner. Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and Berlin

My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was, after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy, which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted myself to ensuring that they remained inert.

Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War, my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity. In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard. After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform, that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.

Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.

History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead, it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions, while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially acute.

George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely. *

What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past, to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia. Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.

The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo. In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured what remains even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So, too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.

Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well. Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic five-sided building.

Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France, it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong. Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.

The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose, the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and exertions.

Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression; second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or "radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century. Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of the past decade have demonstrated.

To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise, the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American people.

Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense, the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War, thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.

In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore problems demanding attention here at home.

Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then real education just might begin.

In their article ‘The American Century’ Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now?" Conn Hallinan and Leon Wofsy outlined important reasons  of the inevitability of the dominance of chicken hawks and jingoistic foreign policy in the USA political establishment:

June 22, 2015 | fpif.org

U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?

There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we’re locked into seemingly irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?

The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world, but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms of “world order.”

While this illusion goes back to the end of World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed “American Century.” The idea that the United States had “won” the Cold War and now — as the world’s lone superpower — had the right or responsibility to order the world’s affairs led to a series of military adventures. It started with President Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on with George W. Bush’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration’s own misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.

In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions that drive this impulsive interventionism.

It’s this disconnect that defines the current crisis.

Acknowledging New Realities

So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to mind.

First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be dealt with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also holds for the resurgent danger of nuclear war.

Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict, terror, and human suffering. There’s no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.

Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent, including through alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into “friend” and “foe” according to our perceived interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests in the 21st century.

Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence is shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and Berlin, alternative centers of economic power are taking hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations and alliances are springing up: organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people); the Union of South American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.

Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and our infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional.

Short Memories and Persistent Delusions

But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us pause, our government continues to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate to the rest of the world.

The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are tapping neoconservatives like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem to forget that following this lot’s advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.

While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited, our government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant to find common ground in the fight against ISIS with designated “foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government, despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.

A “war first” policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. Though it’s attempted to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions with planned military realignments like the “Asia pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It’s also taken a more aggressive position than even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.

We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an “American Century.” International order cannot be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don’t learn to take our common interests more seriously than those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of war, there may well be no tomorrows.

Unexceptionalism

There’s a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy must confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the name of “American exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief that American politics (and medicine, technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.

Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact they’ve dropped from 1st place to 14th place in the number of college graduates. We’ve made students of higher education the most indebted section of our population, while falling to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those in the rest of the world.

Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more recent Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations studied.

The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate today as it was in the 1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.

But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning voices.

The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no other country in the world has the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview on others.

The United States did not simply support Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force in regions thousands of miles from its borders.

The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending. It has hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny bases called “lily pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at its height in 1895.

The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are “shadow wars” waged by Special Forces, armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of organized violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945.

The Home Front

The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.

According Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around $6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related items. The “official” defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn’t include such items as nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions a year in interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already paid out $316 billion in interest.

The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.

We spend more on our “official” military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11, we’ve spent $70 million an hour on “security” compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.

As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic inequality. The poor and working millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth — continues to plague our homeland.

The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to levels that many dictators would envy. The Senate torture report, most of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus that runs the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.

Bombs and Business

President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that “the business of America is business.” Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in American foreign policy.

Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that its products don’t always emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn’t work. It’s over budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful corporations who have shoved this lemon down our throats.

Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals. Both combine to try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.

Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 “Carter Doctrine” — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:

 “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition with China. But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.

Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international tensions. It’s critically important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.

As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the impulse to respond by military means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.

Finding the Common Interest

These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.

There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise or transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social movements here and abroad respond to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in “American Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.

There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty, to rising messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.

Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of humanity, historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and survival. The need to change course is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity. Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around us.

After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience shows that elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public opinion in a way the political establishment could not defy.

The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about even as the basic character of society is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and other colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated in the United States. President Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small band of activists whose initial efforts were labeled “quixotic.”

There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger of the course we’re on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of the public — are beginning to say “enough” to war and military intervention all over the globe, and the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into “friend or foe.”

This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded into supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans agreed that “over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37 percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State began, those numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.

It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war, a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.

Making Space for the Unexpected

Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?

Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses negotiation, diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.

However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the candidates to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches further into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.

Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither — who sense the futility of the course we’re on. These voices have to be represented or the election process will be even more of a sham than we’ve recently experienced.

One can’t predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement suggests that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward, although a limited bilateral pact cannot substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian joint action that removed chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite fierce opposition from U.S. hawks and the Israeli government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long overdue — to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.

We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations. We are certain that there is much we’ve missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S. foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.

If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy, and encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great that finding common ground trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won’t all agree with each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern of political action.

So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do we consider the problem of power?

The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists to the potential influence of the general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure itself.

Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations came together to form Syriza, the political party that was successfully elected to power on a platform of ending austerity. Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the number-two party in the country — came out of massive demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots up. We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences in both countries demonstrate that there are multiple paths to generating change.

Certainly progressives and leftists grapple with the problems of power. But progress on issues, particularly in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn’t be conceived of as dependent on first achieving general solutions to the problems of society, however desirable.

... ... ...

Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear online at Dispatches From the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology professor and long-time political activist. His comments on current affairs appear online at Leon’s OpEd.

Another useful review is from  Gerard De Groot -- Andrew Bacevich's Washington Rules and John Dower's Cultures of War  Here are some highlights:

"...These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended. "
"...One is reminded of John Winthrop, who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning: Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the recalcitrant. "
"...Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster. "
"...Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed. "
September 12, 2010 | washingtonpost.com

WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path to Permanent War

This Story

By Andrew J. Bacevich

Metropolitan. 286 pp. $25

CULTURES OF WAR

Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq

By John W. Dower

Norton. 596 pp. $29.95

"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote in his autobiography. "Especially we ever-successful Americans -- conscious, intelligent, illuminating failures." What Steffens meant was that a people confident in righteousness need occasionally to be reminded of their fallibility. The past 50 years have produced failures aplenty -- the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam and Iraq among them. Unfortunately, as Andrew Bacevich and John Dower demonstrate, the light of failure has not penetrated the darkness of delusion. As a result, wars provide a repeating rhythm of folly.

"Washington Rules" and "Cultures of War" are two excellent books made better by the coincidence of their publication. In complementary fashion, they provide a convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. Steffens would have liked these books, specifically for the way they use past failures to explain the provenance of our current predicament.

Read "Cultures of War" first. It's not an easy book, but it is consistently perceptive. Dower examines Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Sept. 11 and the second Iraq War, drawing disconcerting linkages. Pearl Harbor and Iraq, he feels, demonstrate how otherwise intelligent leaders are drawn toward strategic imbecility. Both attacks were brilliantly executed in the short term, but neither paid sufficient attention to the long-term problem of winning a war. More controversially, Dower pairs Hiroshima with Sept. 11, both acts of terror born of moral certitude. Osama bin Laden and Harry Truman justified wanton killing with essentially the same Manichean rhetoric. Motives, context and scale might have been different; methods were not. For both leaders, the ability to separate good from evil made killing easy.

In 1941, Americans drew comfort from the stereotype of the irrational Oriental. They assumed that the Japanese would be easily defeated because they were illogical -- as their attack upon Pearl Harbor proved. That attack was indeed illogical (given the impossibility of defeating the United States in a protracted war), but it was not peculiarly Japanese. As Dower reveals, the wishful thinking, delusion and herd behavior within the court of Emperor Hirohito was a symptom of war, not ethnicity. The same deficiencies, in 2003, convinced those in the Oval Office that invading Iraq was a good idea.

Since the culture of war encourages patterned behavior, folly proliferates. This is the essence of the Washington rules that Bacevich elucidates. The rules dictate that protection of the American way of life necessitates a global military presence and a willingness to intervene anywhere. Power and violence are cleansed by virtue: Because America is "good," her actions are always benign. These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended.

The alternative, according to Bacevich, is not isolationism or appeasement, two politically loaded words frequently used to pummel those who object to Washington's behavior. He advocates, instead, a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent since it comes from a former soldier. Iraq and Afghanistan did not threaten America; in fact, those countries and the world have become more dangerous because of heavy-handed American intervention. Nor does North Korea pose a threat. Nor did Vietnam.

One is reminded of John Winthrop, who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning: Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the recalcitrant.

The power of virtue is Bacevich's most profound message. Instead of trying to fix Afghanistan's Helmand Province, he insists, Americans should fix Detroit and Cleveland. Instead of attempting to export notions of freedom and democracy to nations that lack experience of either, America should demonstrate, by her actions, that she is still a free, democratic and humane nation. Her real strength lies in her liberal tradition, not in her ability to kill.

Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster.

Those unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions have now pushed the United States into a new quagmire. Despite that predicament, both Dower and Bacevich try to end positively. "If change is to come, it must come from the people," argues Bacevich. Dower agrees. But these feeble attempts at optimism are the least convincing parts of two otherwise brilliant books. Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed.

Gerard De Groot is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and author of "The Bomb: A Life."

 Andrew Feldman review (Review Washington Rules - FPIF)

Army-officer-turned professor Andrew Bacevich makes the realist case against American expansionism.

By Andrew Feldman, August 26, 2010.

Print

For his first 40 years, Andrew Bacevich lived the conventional life of an army officer. In the military world where success depended on conformity, he followed the rules and “took comfort in orthodoxy…[finding] assurance in conventional wisdom.” Comfort, that is, until he had a chance to peer behind the Iron Curtain, and was shocked to find East Germany more third-world shambles than first-rate threat.

That experience, combined with the introspection that followed his subsequent retirement from the army, led Bacevich to reevaluate the relationship between truth and power. After having taken his superiors at their word for decades, he slowly came to understand “that authentic truth is never simple and that any version of truth handed down from on high…is inherently suspect. The exercise of power necessarily involves manipulation and is antithetical to candor.”

Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War is Bacevich’s fourth book on the subject of American exercise of power. This time, he takes up the question of the political calculations that have produced the basic tenets of American foreign policy since the beginning of the Cold War, examining how and why they came to exist and to survive all challenges to their supremacy.

Bacevich describes two components that define U.S. foreign policy.

These rules, Bacevich argues, are no longer vital to the existence of the United States, and have led to actions that threaten to break the army and bankrupt the treasury. Rather, they are kept in place by individuals who derive personal benefit from their continuance. Bacevich does not hesitate to blame a Washington class that “clings to its credo and trinity not out of necessity, but out of parochial self-interest laced with inertia.”

This is a theme that runs throughout the book: that those who make the rules also benefit from them, and thus their demands should always be regarded skeptically.

While abstaining from questioning the patriotism of past leaders, Bacevich is not reluctant to point out how many policies that were later widely embraced were originally trumpeted by ambitious men who had as much to gain personally by their acceptance as did the country:

The story of foreign policy, then, is not so much different than any government bureaucracy through which vast sums of money flow, and is driven as much by officials jockeying for status than by genuine concern for policy outcomes. Whether in disputes between the Army and the Air Force or the Pentagon and the White House, and whether over money or over purpose, different sectors of the national security establishment propose and promote new doctrines that necessitate increasing their budgets and enhancing their importance.

But Bacevich is not content to only blame leaders. In contrast to George Washington’s ideal of the citizen who would consider it his duty to actively serve his country, Bacevich finds today’s Americans “greedy and gullible,” pursuing personal gain in the stead of collective benefit. Any solution, he argues, must come from an awakened people who demand change from the people they put in office.

As for what that change should look like, Bacevich proposes a new credo and trinity. As a new mission statement, he offers: “America’s purpose is to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as reinterpreted with the passage of time and in light of hard-earned experience.”

As a new trinity, he suggests that “the purpose of the U.S, military is not to combat evil or remake the world but to defend the United States and its most vital interests…the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America…consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self defense.”

Bacevich writes in the short, clipped style with which he also speaks, presumably a legacy of his West Point education and decades in the military. His style allows for easy comprehension and neat packaging of his ideas, and readers will not get bogged down in flowery language.

Parts of Bacevich’s thinking require further scrutiny and remind readers of his self-identification as a conservative (lowercase “c”). Economically, he is no fan of stimulus spending, and socially he places blame on individual failings and personal flaws, choosing not to mention an unequal economic system that leaves tens of millions of Americans with barely the resources to take care of their families, much less have time to be informed and active citizens.

In fact, the emphasis throughout the book is on the fact that expansionism, at this particular moment, is not wrong but impossible. Bacevich is, after all, a realist when it comes to international relations theory, and though he happens to agree with liberal anti-imperials on many issues, it is often for different reasons.

However, debates over theory can wait for when the republic is in less immediate peril. This is the second work Bacevich has published under the auspices of the American Empire Project, a book series documenting America’s imperial adventures and their disastrous consequences. The contribution of conservative authors to this task is vital. They remind us that opposition to imperialism is hardly just a liberal cause, and in fact for much of American history was actually a rallying point for conservatives across the country.

Washington Rules is valuable for putting in print what those inside the military establishment don’t dare admit: that, even aside from moral concerns, U.S. international strategy is neither successful nor sustainable and maintained more by lies than by actual results. Bacevich can truly be said to be a realist in that he understand that leaders, when faced with the choice of admitting failure or lying, will almost always choose the latter.

Andrew Feldman is an intern with Foreign Policy In Focus.

 

The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism

Here is one Amazon reader review of he first book (Amazon.com David R. Cook Dave Cook's review of The Limits of Power The End of American E...)

Cliche or not, this is a "Must Read" book

By David R. Cook on August 15, 2008

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

This is the bluntest, toughest, most scathing critique of American imperialism as it has become totally unmoored after the demise of the Soviet Communist empire and taken to a new level by the Bush administration. Even the brevity of this book - 182 pages - gives it a particular wallop since every page "concentrates the mind".

In the event a reader knows of the prophetic work of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, you will further appreciate this book. Bacevich is a Niebuhr scholar and this book essentially channels Niebuhr's prophetic warnings from his 1952 book, "The Irony of American History". The latter has just been reissued by University of Chicago Press thanks to Andrew Bacevich who also contributed an introduction.

In essence, American idealism as particularly reflected in Bush's illusory goal to "rid the world of evil" and to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East or wherever people are being tyrannized, is doomed to failure by the tides of history. Niebuhr warned against this and Bacevich updates the history from the Cold War to the present. Now our problems have reached crisis proportions and Bacevich focuses on the three essential elements of the crisis: American profligacy; the political debasing of government; and the crisis in the military.

What renders Bacevich's critique particularly stinging, aside from the historical context he gives it (Bush has simply taken an enduring American exceptionalism to a new level), is that he lays these problems on the doorstep of American citizens. It is we who have elected the governments that have driven us toward near collapse. It is we who have participated willingly in the consumption frenzy in which both individual citizens and the government live beyond their means. Credit card debt is undermining both government and citizenry.

This pathway is unsustainable and this book serves up a direct and meaningful warning to this effect. Niebuhrian "realism" sees through the illusions that fuel our own individual behavior and that of our government. There are limits to American power and limits to our own individual living standards and, of course, there are limits to what the globe can sustain as is becoming evident from climate changes.

American exceptionalism is coming to an end and it will be painful for both individual citizens and our democracy and government to get beyond it. But we have no choice. Things will get worse before they get better. Bacevich suggests some of the basic ways that we need to go to reverse the path to folly. He holds out no illusions that one political party or the other, one presidential candidate or the other, has the will or the leadership qualities to change directions. It is up to American citizens to demand different policies as well as to govern our own appetites.

While this is a sobering book, it is not warning of doomsday. Our worst problems are essentially of our own making and we can begin to unmake them. But we first have to come to terms with our own exceptionalism. We cannot manage history and there are no real global problems that can be solved by military means, or certainly not by military means alone.

Without Exception
By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008

This is one of those books you might find yourself sitting down to read chapter and verse over and over again, only because the writing is so intelligent and so profound. "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," by Andrew Bacevich, is one of those works that will enthrall the reader with its insight and analysis.

According to the author, the US has reached its limit to project its power in the world. His rationale for this conclusion are three central crises we now face: economic and cultural, political, and military, all of which are our own making.

The first crisis is one of profligacy. Americans want more, whether it is wealth, credit, markets, or oil, without consideration for cost or how these things are acquired. There is complete apathy in what policies are being produced as long as they provide plenty.

The political crisis was born of our mobilization in World War II to meet the threat of tyranny, and from the Cold War to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union. Both gave rise to unprecedented presidential power, an ineffectual Congress, and a disastrous foreign policy. Bacevich contends that our legislature no longer serves their constituents or the common good "but themselves through gerrymandering, doling out prodigious amounts of political pork, seeing to the protection of certain vested interests" with the paramount concern of being re-elected. Our presidents have been willing accomplices in keeping the American dream or greed alive by using our military as part of a coercive diplomatic tool to feed and fuel the first crisis.

Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might. At the same time, the largest intelligence agencies in the world are created to afford us more security, but after seventy years are unable to defend our cities and buildings in the US while it worries about intrigues worldwide. Competition and rivalry lead to a lack of cooperation, intelligence, and security when it was needed most.

The third crisis is our military which has been employed to satisfy the neuroses of the first and second crises. The author puts much of the blame squarely at the feet of inept military leadership, which he believes has confused strategy with operations. Content with the resilience of the American fighting man or woman, he is scathing in his critique of their leadership finding them "guilty of flagrant professional malpractice, if not outright fraud." He illustrates how improvised explosive devices that cost no more than a pizza have checked a military that is designed for speed and maneuver--that was considered invincible.

Andrew Bacevich contends that nothing will change as long as Americans are told to go to Disney World instead of making sacrifices, as long as the same one half percent of our population continue to populate the military that the president sees as his personal army, as long as an apathetic public and an ineffectual Congress continue to make periodic, grand gestures of curbing presidential power, the United States will have reached the limits of its power and exceptionalism.

This book profoundly moved me, and I was impressed by the insight that Professor Bacevich could bring in such few pages. Passages of this book should be plastered in the halls and offices of Congress, as well as the West Wing.

This book really stands out as a jewel in a sea of mediocre publications by radio and TV personalities who think they know what they are talking about when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The difference is that Andrew Bacevich does

--without exception.

Also Recommended:

The New American Militarism

There are several very insightful reviews of Bacevich latest book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (2005) on Amazon. I strongly recommend to read them.

Bacevich argues that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of several social forces (and as such has significant social base):

For your convenience some of  them which I judge to be the most insightful are reproduced below:

Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517338-4, is the most coherent analysis of how America has come to its present situation in the world that I have ever read. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton. And he is retired military officer. This background makes him almost uniquely qualified to comment on the subject.

Bacevich admits to an outlook of moderate conservatism. But in ascribing fault for our plight to virtually every administration since W.W. II, he is even handed and clear eyed. Since he served in the military, he understands the natural bureaucratic instincts of the best of the officer corps and is not blinded by the almost messianic status that they have achieved in the recent past.

His broad brush includes the classic period, the American Revolution - especially the impact of George Washington, but he moves quickly to the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his direct descendants of our time, the Neoconservatives. The narrative accelerates and becomes relevant for us in the depths of the despair of Vietnam. At that juncture, neocon intellectuals awakened to the horror that without a new day for our military and foreign policy, the future of America would be at stake. At almost the same time, Evangelical Christians abandoned their traditional role in society and came to views not dissimilar to the neocons. America had to get back on track to both power and goodness. The results of Vietnam on American culture, society, and - especially - values were abhorrent to both these groups.

The perfect man to idealize and mythologize America's road back was Ronald Reagan. Again, Bacevich does not shrink from seeing through the surreal qualities brought to the Oval Office by Reagan to the realities beneath them. The Great Communicator transformed the Vietnam experience into an abandonment of American ideals and reacquainted America with those who fought that horrible war. Pop culture of the period, including motion pictures such as Top Gun and best selling novels by many, including Tom Clancy completely rehabilitated the image of the military.

The author describes how Evangelical leaders came to find common cause with the neocons and provided the political muscle for Reagan and his successors of both parties to discover that the projection of military might become a reason for being for America as the last century closed.

One of his major points is that the all volunteer force that resulted from the Vietnam experience has been divorced from American life and that sending this force of ghosts into battle has little impact on our collective psyche. This, too, fit in with the intellectual throw weight of the neocons and the political power of the Evangelicals.

Separate from but related to the neocons, Bacevich describes the loss of strategic input by the military in favor of a new priesthood of intellectual elites from institutions such as the RAND Corporation, The University of Chicago and many others. It was these high priests who saw the potential that technology provided for changing the nature of war itself and how American power might be projected with `smart weapons' that could be the equivalent of the nuclear force that could never be used.

So it was that when the war we are now embroiled in across the globe - which has its antecedents back more than twenty years - all of these forces weighed heavily on the military leaders to start using the force we'd bought them. The famed question by Secretary of State Madeline Albright to General Colin Powell: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" had to have an answer and the skirmishes and wars since tended to provide it.

Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.

It is in his prescriptions that the book tends to drift. The Congress must do its constitutionally mandated jobs or be thrown out by the people. Some of his ideas on military education are creative and might well close the gap between the officer corps and civilians that he points to as a great problem.

But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for those who wonder how we got to Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to this juncture. Where we go from here is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.

READ THIS BOOK

===This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)

In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.

Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.

How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.

  1. After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
  2. Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
  3. Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
  4. Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
  5. Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
  6. Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.

Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hotile to republican liberty."

K. Johnson:

 Relevant and Objective, January 3, 2007

Author Andrew Bacevich has superb credentials on military, diplomatic, and historical issues. A Vietnam Veteran, 25+ year career in the Army and now professor of International Relations, Bacevich is one of the few that has the experience *and* knowledge to dissect what has been occurring in American socio-political culture and society for the last several decades. Bacevich notes the current focus on the military to solve the world's problems and to promote America's interests is not the sole work of a President and Congress, but the combination of culture, mentality, political, and now primarily economic, interests. This book has tons of footnoting, which allows you to delve further into these issues on your own.

The author astutely reinforces the fact that the Militarist Mentality won't change, regardless of which political party is in control of the Executive and Houses of Congress in the United States. Here only some examples out of many:

Entry of the U.S. military into the Middle East:

THE CARTER DOCTRINE:

The Carter Doctrine was prescribed at the State of the Union Address in 1980. Another civilian prescription utilizing the military as medicine to alleviate and even cure, political symptoms. This Doctrine began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, specifically using the American military to enforce its economic interests and lifestyle dependence on oil. The Carter Doctrine was a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. It specifically stated that use of the military can and will be used to enforce U.S. economic interests.

At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:

"Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be declared as an assault on the vital interest of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (p. 181).

Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a adversary to check U.S interests. Today, that rival is gone.

Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American foreign policy interests in using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.

WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:

War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport. Live reports, video display, and laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to the civilian public at press conferences.

One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when reporting about American soldiers in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis 'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to a football game. Slogans such as "Shock and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members. "Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this propaganda.

Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:

Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action figure doll was created and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval Aviator" (p. 31).

Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week in War." More simulation of the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the "Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo of a soldier, his name, age, and hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home. Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and at times tearful family in their living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always wanted to help people."

The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, and in some enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public. To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion is often injected into the deceased soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military cemeteries around the world.

GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:

Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture, and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing. As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly reinforced to the public of all ages and socio-economic levels.

It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.

Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center 4) California Dreaming 5) Onward 6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense

"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty thinking is perpetuated by the electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners. The government intentionally steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and outcome of most *political* conflicts.

Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time show did not honor the "troops." He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the "troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered interests, like everyone else.

The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate foreign policy. The military just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's not the military nor the men and women serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in the governmental and corporate world who must be held accountable.

General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military after Vietnam. Civilians and politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political. History will be the judge.

This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current situation the United States is in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions made by upper-class civilians from the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.

Highly recommended and relevant to our contemporary times and our future.

Andrew Bacevich did excellent research and writing in this book. I'll think we'll be hearing a lot more of him. Hopefully He'll get more access to the public. If - the mainstream media allows it.

Robert S. Frey
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today, December 23, 2006

Andrew J. Bacevich's "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," should be read and considered carefully by every member of the national political leadership in the United States as well as by adult Americans in general. Bacevich brings impeccable credentials to his work in this book--professor of history and international relations at Boston University, West Point graduate, and veteran of the Vietnam conflict. His writing is engaging, insightful, and historically well anchored. Importantly, this work is highly accessible and eminently readable. The level of documentation is very valuable as well. Finally, the book is not about fault-finding and finger-pointing toward any one national figure or group.

What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical "meta-narratives" that are much more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional wisdom." A case in point is the periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American Militarism" carefully and credibly brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions, and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today. Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand and appreciate that the global projection of American military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors of the second half of the twentieth century.

Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
Brenau University

Dr. Lee D. Carlson

Interesting, insightful, and motivating, October 21, 2006

Why is it that some people, including this reviewer, are reluctant to criticize the writings or verbalizations of those Americans that have been or are currently in the military? This is particularly true for those officers and soldiers who have served in combat. To be critical of someone is who has faced such horror would be a sacrilege. Their opinions on subjects, especially those related to war and the military, are given much higher weight than those that have never been in the military. What is the origin of this extreme bias and does it not thwart attempts to get at the truth in matters of war and politics? If a war is illegal or immoral, are not the soldiers who participate in it themselves war criminals, deserving the severest condemnation?

The author of this book sheds light on these questions and gives many more interesting opinions on what he has called the 'new American militarism.' If one examines carefully American history, it is fair to say that Americans have been reluctant to go to war, preferring instead to settle conflicts via negotiation and trade agreements. Americans have been led to the horrors of war kicking and screaming, and breath a sigh of relief when they are over. Historically, Americans have applied extreme skepticism to those politicians, like Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to participate in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy." So if Americans are "seduced by war", as the author contends they have been in recent decades, an explanation must be found. It is tempting to say that they have been merely "brainwashed", and contemporary neuroscience lends some credence to this claim, but one must still be open to alternative explanations, and let the evidence determine the proper interpretation. Once the causes have been identified, it becomes necessary to find methodologies and strategies to counter these causes, lest we find ourselves in another unnecessary and brutal conflict, initiated by some who do not directly participate in it, and have no intention ever to do so.

This book is not a scientific study, but instead is a collection of opinions, mostly supported by anecdotal evidence, to support the author's thesis. On the surface his opinions do seem plausible, but one must still apply to his writings the same level of skepticism applied to other studies of the same kind. It does seem reasonable to believe for example that current attitudes about war are governed by the American failure in Vietnam, Carter's supposed ineptitude in dealing with the resulting loss in "self-esteem" of the American populace, and Reagan's exploitation or correction of this loss. But more evidence is needed to set such a conclusion in stone.

The author though is intellectually honest enough to admit that he has not obtained the "definitive version of the truth" on the new American militarism within the pages of his book. His words are more "suggestive than conclusive" he writes, and he welcomes criticism and alternative interpretations. Vietnam, oil and energy considerations, 9-11, and the media all have a role to play in the current American attitudes about war he argues. Further analysis though is needed, and cognizance must be made that all readers, including this reviewer, are embedded in the same culture as the author, and subjected to the same ideological, historical, and media pressures. We must be extremely cautious in our acceptance of what we find in print and indeed in all information outlets. And we must learn that soldiers, active duty or otherwise, are not infallible and must be subjected to the same criticism as any other citizen. This is again, very difficult to do, and this difficulty is perhaps the best evidence for the author's thesis.

R. Albin:

 Exceptional Polemic; 4.5 Stars, October 19, 2006

This concise and well written book is the best kind of polemic; clear, well argued, and designed to provoke debate. Bacevich is definitely interested in persuading readers of the truth of his views but his calm and invective free prose, insistence on careful documentation, and logical presentation indicate that his primary concern is promote a high level of discussion of this important issue. Bacevich argues well that a form of militarism based on an exaggerated sense of both American mission and American power, specifically military power, has infected public life. He views this militarism as both leading to unecessary and dangerous adventures abroad, epitomized by the Iraq fiasco, and corrupting the quality of domestic debate and policy making. Beyond documenting the existence of this phenomenon, Bacevich is concerned with explicating how this form of militarism, which he views as contrary to American traditions, came to be so popular.

Bacevich argues well that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of actions by a number of different actors including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals. For a variety of reasons, these sometimes overlapping groups converged on ideas of the primacy of American military power and the need to use it aggressively abroad. Bacevich devotes a series of chapters to examining each of these actors, discussing their motivations and actions, often exposing shabby and inconsistent thinking. Some of these, like the role of neoconservative intellectuals and the Religous Right, are fairly well known.

Others, like the behavior of professional military over the last generation, will be novel to many readers. Bacevich's chapters have underlying themes. One is the persisent occurrence of ironic events as the actions of many of these groups produced events counter to their goals. The post-Vietnam professional military attempted to produce a large, vigorous military poised to fight conventional, WWII-like, combats. This force was intended to be difficult for politicians to use. But as these often highly competent professionals succeeded to restoring the quality of the American military, the temptation to use it became stronger and stronger, and control escaped the professionals back into the hands of politicians as varied as Bush II and Clinton. Another theme is that politicians seized on use military force as an alternative to more difficult and politically unpalatable alternatives. Jimmy Carter is described correctly as initiating the American preoccupation with control of the Persian Gulf oil supplies, which has generated a great deal of conflict over the past generation. Bacevich presents Carter as having to act this way because his efforts to persuade Americans to pursue sacrifice and a rational energy policy were political losers. Ronald Reagan is presented as the epitome of this unfortunate trend.

Bacevich is generally convincing though, perhaps because this is a short book, there are some issues which are presented onesidely. For example, its true that Carter began the military preoccupation with the Persian Gulf. But, its true as well that his administration established the Dept. of Energy, began a significant program of energy related research, moved towards fuel standards for vehicles and began the regulatory policies that would successfully improve energy efficiency for many household items. No subsequent administration had done more to lessen dependence on foreign oil.

Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored the new militarism tended to converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate and relatively unstable coalition. The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal integrity of the Republican party and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.

An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army officer, and self-described cultural conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward by Leftist critics.

Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational but bound to be controversial and probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to change the nature of the discussion about these issues.

Adam Bahner
How Permanent Military Deployment Became Congruent With World Peace, June 29, 2006

In The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich contends that American culture and policy since the end of the Cold War has merged a militaristic ethos with a utopian global imaginary. He notes that American militarism is a "bipartisan project" with "deep roots" that even garner support on the political margins, with some leftist activists seeing a humanitarian mission for U.S. global military hegemony. He traces these roots to the worldview of Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned a globe "remade in America's image and therefore permanently at peace." Yet Wilson's view was moderated by a public and policy perception of war as an ugly, costly, brutal, traumatic and unpredictable last resort. This is corroborated by the massive military demobilizations that followed U.S. involvement in both world wars. Bacevich also points to works of popular culture, from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front to Oliver Stone's Platoon, that reflect on the inhumanity of war from World War I through Vietnam.

Bacevich sees a massive deviation from these historical trends after the end of the Cold War. While conceding that a permanent military mobilization was expected during the Cold War (from roughly NSC-68 to the fall of the Berlin Wall)--no significant demobilization followed. Forces slated for deactivation were quickly mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. No successful popular culture critiques of that war's brutality would emerge. The author sees the end of the cold war and Desert Storm as framing a period of "new American militarism" that breaks from historical precedent in several regards. He claims that since the 1988 presidential campaign, the character of the presidency has emphasized military more than civilian leadership. This contradicts previous presidents of military stature (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower) who obsessively positioned themselves as civilians. Post-Cold War military budgets have been dramatically larger despite no global adversary. The public has uncritically accepted a permanent military stance. The perception of war as ghastly and treacherous has been replaced with war as a clinical and technologically managed spectacle. The link between the covenant of citizenship and military service has been replaced by a specialized force of volunteers. The numbers of veterans serving in congress has steadily decreased since World War II. Bacevich correlates this with the shunning of military service by elites as the military has increasingly drawn from areas of the population that are poor and brown. Because of this, force is "outsourced" and in turn the stature of soldiers has dramatically increased through an infrastructure of praise by the majority who are not involved in military operations. Senior military officers have tremendous clout in politics, policy, and spending.

To understand this new militarism, Bacevich notes that it is point-for-point an inversion of Vietnam's military milieu. There, politicians up through the president framed themselves as civilians, officers felt out of touch with bureaucratic decisions, and war was perceived as carnal and bumbling. The book traces cultural responses to Vietnam that reformed the American relationship to militarism. As military leaders like Creighton Abrams sought to mandate broad political investment for military action by creating interdependence with reserves and to limit the criteria for deployment with the Weinberger doctrine, politicians like Ronald Reagan rehabilitated an American demoralization that peaked with Carter's failed Operation Eagle Claw by invoking popular culture mythologies like Rambo.

Bacevich is unabashedly religious. He ultimately couches America's outsourced and technocratic militarism as a departure from natural Gods in the pursuit of a scientistic idol that more perfectly regulates human affairs. He openly sees in this scientism the same flaw and outcome as Communism or Fascism. He suggests that affirmation of military service across economic privilege would raise the stakes of military engagements and help to contradict the cultural illusions that form the basis of American militarism. (That war is technical, distant, clinical, predictable, outsourced, humane, and everything contrary to what writers like Remarque tell us.) He meticulously synthesizes a new paradigm that relates the difficult subjects of military policy and popular sanction. In this regard, The New American Militarism is an exciting contribution to historical scholarship.

M. Ward:

The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs, February 4, 2006

Andrew J. Bacevichs', The New American Militarism, gives the reader an important glimpse of his background when he wrote that, as a Vietnam veteran, the experience baffled him and he wrote this book in an effort to "sift through the wreckage left by the war." After the Vietnam War, the author stayed in the military because he believed being an American soldier was a "true and honorable" calling. Bacevich states he is a devoted Catholic and a conservative who became disillusioned with mainstream conservatism. He also states that he believes the current political system is corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with genuine democracy.
Bacevich states that he tried to write this book using facts in an unbiased way. However, he cautions the reader that his experiences have shaped his views and that his views are part of this book. This is a way to tell the reader that although he tried to remain unbiased, his background and biases find voice in this book. I believe the authors warning are valid; he draws heavily upon his background and biases to support his thesis.

The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions" that have become part of the American conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy. According to Bacevich, American militarism has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military effectiveness that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing issues that have contributed to this state of affairs.
Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson administration. Wilson's vision was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the US as a `divine agent' to make the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if necessary.
Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due, in part, to the officer corps of the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do this by reversing the roles of the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The Weinberger and Powell doctrines were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions for the use of the US military in combat.

Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument for good and the time was right to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.

Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a Christian nation singled out by God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also a cultural and moral crisis threatening our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US from internal collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military would become the role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.

Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals whose main contribution was to bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich, they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative war' and reinforced American militarism.
Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of American militarism by wrapping militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using a political sleight-of-hand trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with a list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.

Bacevich seems to create a mosaic of conspiracy perpetrated by sinister actors aimed at deceiving an unsuspecting public as to the true nature of American militarism. Until the last chapter where Bacevich tells the reader that there is no conspiracy, it is very easy to believe there might be one lurking in the shadows. I was shocked when I reached Bacevich's recommendations. The contrast between his recommendations and the rest of the book is astounding. I was expecting highly provocative recommendations that would match the tone of the rest of the book. However, his recommendations were solid and well thought out...delivered in the calm manner one would expect from a political scientist. Nevertheless, in the end, Bacevich's message leading up to his recommendations were hard to swallow. I believe he wrote this book not to enlighten but to be provocative in order to sell books and build his status in academic circles. If Bacevich's aim was to build a convincing argument on a serious subject, he needed to be less provocative and more clinical.

David Friedman:
What is militarism? What is it, particularly as applied to today's America? West Point educated Andrew Bacevich opens his book with a concise statement: "Today as never before in their history Amercans are enthralled with military power. The global military supremacy that the United States presently enjoys . . . has become central to our national identity." This is the basic premise of The New American Militarism. Anyone who does not accept the accuracy of this statement, or is unconcerned about its implications should probably not read this book--it will only annoy them. For those, however, who are concerned about how militarism is increasingly seeping into our core values and sense of national destiny, or who are disturbed by the current glaring disconnect between what our soldiers endure "over there", and the lack of any sacrifice or inconvenience for the rest of us "over here", this book is a must-read.

Refreshingly, Bacevich approaches the new American militarism as neither a Democrat nor Republican, from neither the left nor the right. No doubt, those with a stake in defending the policy of the present Administration no matter how foolish, or in castigating it as the main source of our current militarism, will see "bias" in this book. The truth though is that Bacevich makes a genuine effort to approach his subject in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. He has earned the right to say, near the end of his book, that "this account has not sought to assign or impute blame." As a result, he is not stymied by the possibility of embarrassing one political side or the other by his arguments or conclusions. This leads to a nuanced and highly independent and original treatment of the subject.

In chronicling the rise of American militarism, Bacevich rightly starts with Wilson's vision of American exceptionalism: an America leading the world beyond the slaughterhouse of European battlefields to an international order of peaceful democratic states. But where President Wilson wanted to create such a world for the express purpose of rendering war obsolete, Bacevich notes that today's "Wilsonians" want to export American democracy through the use of force. He follows this overview with an insider's thumbnail history of American military thinking from Vietnam to the first Gulf war. He explains how the military in effect re-invented itself after Vietnam so as to make it far more difficult "to send the Army off to fight while leaving the country behind." Today's highly professionalized and elite force is largely the result of this thinking. In turn this professional military presented to the country and its civilian leaders a re-invented model of war: war waged with surgical precision and offering "the prospect of decision rather than pointing ineluctably toward stalemate and quagmire." Gulf War I was the triumphant culmination of this model. The unintended and ironic consequence, of course, was that war and the aggressive projection of American military power throughout the world came to be viewed by some in our nation's leadership as an increasingly attractive policy option.

The body of the book analyzes how the legitimate attempt to recover from the national trauma of Vietnam led ultimately to a militarism increasingly reflected in crucial aspects of American life. In religion he traces how a "crusade" theory of warfare has supplanted the more mainstream "just war" theory. In popular culture he discusses the rise of a genre of pop fiction and movies reflecting a glamorized and uncritical idealization of war (he examines "An Officer and A Gentleman", "Rambo: First Blood Part II", and "Top Gun" as examples). In politics he identifies the neo-conservative movement as bringing into the mainstream ideas that "a decade earlier might have seemed reckless or preposterous"; for example the idea that the United States is "the most revolutionary force on earth" with an "inescapable mission" to spread democracy -- by the sword if necessary. Bacevich calls these ideas "inverted Trotskyism", and notes that the neo-conservative movement shares with Mao the assumption that revolution springs "from the barrel of a gun".

Bacevich concludes his book with a pithy ten-point critique offered as a starting point for "a change in consciousness, seeing war and America's relationship to war in a fundamentally different way." Among his points are greater fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the Constituional provisions regarding war and the military, and increased strategic self-sufficiency for America. Perhaps the most important points of his critique are those about ending or at least reducing the current disconnect between er how we might reduce

Patrick Connor

Careful observers will note the abolute claims that lie under the surface of these criticisms. If you criticize anything about the United States, you're automatically anti-Bush. If you question the wisdom of viewing the military as a first-option in handling international problems, you're even worse: a liberal anti-Bush peacenick. History supposedly demonstrates that diplomacy never works with any "tyrant" (whatever that is), while war allegedly always work. It's just one stark claim after another, with never any gray area in the middle.

If you read the book, this "you're either with us or with the terrorists, either dream war or hate President Bush" mentality should remind you of something. It very closely resembles the description Bacevich gives of neoconservatism, which he says engenders a worldview that is constantly in crisis mode. Things are always so dire for neocons, Bacevich explains, that only two feasible options present themselves at any given time: doing what the neocons want (usually deploying military force in pursuit of some lofty but unrealistic goal), or suffering irreversible and potentially fatal setbacks to our national cause.

Is it really surprising that the reviews of this book from a neocon mindset are also the reviews giving one star to a book that sytematically critiques and upends neoconservatism?

In actuality, as many have pointed out already, Bacevich is "anti-Bush" only insomuch as he is anti-neoconservative. Bacevich openly states that he throws his full weight behind traditionally conservative issues, like small government and lower taxes. Indeed, he is a devoutly religious social conservative who himself severed twenty years in the Army officer corps. This is why his exposee on America's new militarism has so much credibility.

Since he was in the military, he knows that sometimes the military is necessary to handle situations that develop in the world. However he also understands that the military is often grossly unfit to handle certain situations. This is the main theme of his book. At its core, the story is about how, in response to Vietnam, military leaders worked frightfully hard to rebuild the military and to limit the freedom of starry-eyed civilians to use the armed forces inappropriately.

Their most important objective was to ensure that no more Wilsonian misadventures (like Vietnam) would happen. The officer corps did this by carving out a space of authority for the top brass, from which they could have unprecedented input in policy decisions, and be able to guide strategy and tactics once the military deployed into action. After ascending to a position of greater prominence, they implemented the "Weinberger Doctrine," followed by the "Powell Doctrine," both specifically tailored to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires. The Gulf War, claims Bacevich, saw the fruition of fifteen years of hard work to accomplish these reforms. And they worked beautifully.

However, the end of the last decade saw the Neo-conservatives challenge the status quo. And with the election of W. Bush, they were finally in a position where their ideas could again have a disproportionate influence on foreign policy. What we now have in Iraq is another military quagmire, where the solution must be political, but where military occupation renders political solutions impossible.

This story is about how the military profession emerged from the post-Vietnam wilderness, dazzled the world during the first Gulf War, then once again lost its independent ability to craft related policies with the arrival of Rummie and the neocons.

It's a fascinating story, and Bacevich relates it skillfully.

Andrew S. Rogers:

 Baedecker on the road to perdition, December 5, 2005

I was sorry to see Andrew J. Bacevich dismiss Chalmers Johnson's 2004 The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project) quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact), because I think these two books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed -- look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism" as heartily as I did "The Sorrows of Empire."

Bacevich's capsule summary of Johnson's work notwithstanding, both these books take the long view of America's international military presence and are quick to grasp one key point. As Bacevich notes on page 205, "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11. Further, it is counterproductive to think in these terms -- to assign culpability to a particular president or administration and to imagine that throwing the bums out will put things right."

In several insightful chapters, Bacevich traces the rise of militarism over the course of several administrations and many decades. A former Army officer himself, the author is particularly insightful in charting the efforts of the military's officer corps to recover from the stigma of Vietnam and reshape the *ethos* of the armed services as an elite intentionally separate from, and morally superior to, the society it exists to defend. But the officers are only one of the strands Bacevich weaves together. He also looks at the influence of the "defense intellectuals;" the importance of evangelical Christians and how their view of Biblical prophecy shapes their understanding of politics; the rise of (yes) the neo-conservatives; and even the role of Hollywood in changing America's understandings of the "lessons of Vietnam" and the re-glamorization of the military in films like "Top Gun."

The author is a sharp-eyed analyst, but also an engaging writer, and he gives the reader a lot to think about. I was intrigued, for example, by his discussion of how "supporting the troops" has become the *sine qua non* of modern politics and how doing so has replaced actual military service as an indicator of one's love of country. More fundamentally, his identification and analysis of "World War III" (already over) and "World War IV" (currently underway, and declared [surprisingly] by Jimmy Carter) struck me as a remarkably useful lens for interpreting current events.

In tying his threads together, Bacevich is not afraid to make arguments and draw conclusions that may make the reader uncomfortable. As the passage I quoted above makes clear, for example, someone looking for a straightforward declaration that "It's all Bush's fault!" will have to go someplace else. As a further implication of the above passage, Bacevich argues that the "defense intellectuals," the evangelicals, and even the neocons were and are doing what they believe are most likely to promote peace, freedom, and the security of the American people. "To the extent that we may find fault with the results of their efforts, that fault is more appropriately attributable to human fallibility than to malicious intent" (p. 207). Additionally, Bacevich is unashamed of his military service, holds up several military leaders as heroes, has some choice words for the self-delusions of leftist "peace activists," and even argues that federal education loans should be made conditional on military service.

This doesn't mean the president and his fellow conservatives get off much easier, though. Bacevich is roundly critical of Bush and his administration, including Colin Powell; dismisses the Iraq invasion ("this preposterous enterprise" [p. 202]); and in a move that will probably get him crossed off the Thayer Award nominations list, suggests officer candidates be required to graduate from civilian universities instead of West Point (his alma mater) or Annapolis -- intellectually-isolated institutions that reinforce the officer caste's separation from civil society.

So this book isn't one that will blindly reinforce anyone's prejudices. In part for that reason -- but mostly for its trenchant analysis, readable prose, and broad historical view -- I'm happy to list "The New American Militarism" as one of the best and most important books I've read in some time. Perhaps even since "The Sorrows of Empire."

Izaak VanGaalen:
 Militarism and Public Opinion, August 12, 2005

According to many of the custodians of public opinion, Andrew Bacevich has earned his right to a fair hearing. Not only is he a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative Catholic, he is a professor of international relations and a contributor to "The Weekly Standard" and "The National Review." Obviously, if he were a left-leaning anti-war Democrat and a contributor to, say, "The Nation," he wouldn't be taken seriously as a critic of American militarism - he would be merely another "blame-America-first" defeatist.

Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America has always gauged the size of its military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats receded. Not so after the fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater - by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling the globe and the American public seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing uneasy.

The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea, land, air, space or cyberspace." In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign policy tool. From 1989 (Operation Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations and a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military strength (the proverbial unipolar moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the idea of using military force to solve international problems. In earlier times, war was always an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.

War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also Vietnam and Korea the battlefield was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as moments of national unity to carry out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.

The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled professional who is undertaking socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards than the nation they serve.

In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military, but now even Democrats have thrown off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was actually arguing that Bush had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of the oppressed and that we should be assisting them in establishing more representative government.

But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their self-interest. That's probably why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will. This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion in the America on the use of military force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from this conservative ex-soldier. \

Douglas Doepke:

The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European peers, the American public never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now. This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that tells a forty-year tale of creeping over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator. Actually the trend has been in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival of military glory, contrived though it was.

Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru Norman Podhoretz and other elites got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of enthusiastic neo-cons charted a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All in all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing up the Will of the People, except for maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious means and noble end, nor do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets, eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's a practical problem here the crew is very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep John Q. Public supportive, especially with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on the beat and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition of minding-one's-own-business and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.

Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real Department of Defense, a revived Department of State, and a much more modest role in international affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few genuine conservatives around, (a breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book, especially the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up and conquest. But then that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily. At day's end, however, someone needs to inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature. With all its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the past indicate that, despite the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing your part.

Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional military officer. Professor Bacevich argues  that the US new militarism which emerged after the dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions by a number of different groups including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see New American Militarism).

Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz, in the current Harper's. You have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be subscribing to any publication whose work you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they included:

But Paul Wolfowitz was in a category of his own because he was the one who provided the highest-concept rationale for the war. As James Galbraith of the University of Texas has put it, "Wolfowitz is the real-life version of Halberstam's caricature of McNamara" [in The Best and the Brightest].

Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty that Wolfowitz thought the U.S. would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did a much more limited version of this assessment as an Atlantic article. As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from his one-time mentor, Albert Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United States could maximize stability for itself and others.

As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified version of his world-view. You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief sample (within fair-use limits):

With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....

Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military action against Iraq. Critics have chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.

In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's Precepts, and Iraq offered a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading Iraq stemmed from the need to validate that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.

Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge that he says Wolfowitz should now meet:
One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint yield results that differed so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly the strongest military in history produce a cataclysm?
 

Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination of honesty, courage, and wit to answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...

What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is that he wouldn't flinch from taking on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure, whatever you might choose to say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there. Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
 

Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But you don't have to know that to respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at some point rise to it.

For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see John Judis's piece in The New Republic.


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Old News ;-)

[Dec 09, 2018] Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military Reuters. EM: "Wow, this guy is clueless even by top-brass standards. For example: Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones." Moi: I assume this is intended for the great unwashed masses, to give them the impression that Google and the surveillance state are not joined at the hip.

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

Re: Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military

I will be more interested when the employees of a tech company revolt over the development of technology used to monitor workers or put them out of work. It is easier to oppose military projects because they smack of something out of The Terminator films while developments like Neo-Taylorism are not as obviously evil but are perhaps just as inhuman and socially destructive.

Molly , December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm

I'm involved with the Tech Workers Coalition, although I only speak for myself as a member. Some of my fellow members were involved in the Google organizing against project Maven, and also Dragonfly. In the last few months there have also been organized actions at Amazon and Salesforce in opposition to working with ICE. Various TWC members are also involved in partnering with food service and janitorial staff around worker organizing and improving working conditions. One of the efforts I'm starting to get involved with is a more organized network for mutual aid and disaster relief in the Bay Area, in the wake of this year's fire season.

Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people.

Tech culture, especially in Silicon Valley, teaches workers to identify with the company completely. At Google you are a Googler. At Pivotal you are a Pivot. We refer to each other this way, inside and outside of work. We are working against that conditioning when we organize, so starting with "Let's not build things that blow humans into burning bits" is helpful.

[Dec 09, 2018] Authoritarianism has always existed. But it hasn't always been clearly visible. Technology makes authoritarianism more powerful. Centralization and urbanization have served the purposes of the elite well

Neoliberalism as the new incarnation of the Animal Farm
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Disturbed Voter , December 8, 2018 at 7:56 am

Authoritarianism has always existed. But it hasn't always been clearly visible. Technology makes authoritarianism more powerful. Centralization and urbanization have served the purposes of the elite well.

People need information and communication. The inverted totalitarianism we live in, doesn't like that. It wants the Internet to implement that inverted totalitarianism (see China). They want everything (in a corporatist way) to be mandatory, except for what is forbidden. What has been revealed, and is being revealed, is that the current political-economic system isn't fit for purpose, human purpose.

So the real answer is like what is happening in France now...

rob , December 8, 2018 at 8:13 am

Attempting to blame the internet for the increasingly authoritarian world we live in is not seeing the forest through the trees. The internet is surely a tool used against humanity,That doesn't make it "bad". I would say the reason people can be fooled by these social media propaganda tactics, is precisely because the fourth estate is practicing such in depth propaganda campaigns, with all propaganda, all the time coverage on every other form of media as well. People have nowhere to turn.
Why do people think some russians posting on facebook and twitter skewed the electorate in this country than say nothing about:fox news,npr,cnn,rush limbaugh,hannity,the new york times, wall st journal,the weekly standard, time magazine,people magazine, etc.All of these organizations and all the others spout disinformation. every day.
And america's trend towards the authoritarian state has been accelerating since at least the national security act of 1947.as a national trend, whereas in the beginning of this countries existence, there have been authoritarian control of local districts by local groups, ie. whites over blacks, or whites over indians, or rich over poor immigrants, etc.
All the internet age and the "information age is doing, is changing the medium. the message is still the same. and there has always been resistance. now that resistance seems more futile, but is it?

Carolinian , December 8, 2018 at 9:35 am

Why do people think some russians posting on facebook and twitter skewed the electorate in this country than say nothing about:fox news,npr,cnn,rush limbaugh,hannity,the new york times, wall st journal,the weekly standard, time magazine,people magazine, etc.All of these organizations and all the others spout disinformation. every day.

Exactly. Our society is mainly shaped by its elites. And other than Twitter they are barely involved with the internet at all but rather get their news and attitudes from the NY Times or (in Trump's case) cable TV. Therefore rather than enhancing the always existing authoritarianism of "manufactured consent," the internet works to undermine it. This of course provokes much fingering of worry beads among the elite who see the mob and their pitchforks as real threats. The situation in France illustrates this phenomenon nicely and there have been calls by some to block Facebook in France so those yellow vests can't communicate with each other.

Diversity of opinion is a good thing, not bad, and some of us scan right leaning websites just to get a different view. The internet is not the problem. Powerful authoritarians are the problem.

Brooklin Bridge , December 8, 2018 at 10:34 am

In my own undoubtedly faulty memory of Animal Farm , Orwell characterized the devolution as "the nature of the beast" through his characters. That is (over and above the allegory of the Russian revolution/devolution), there are strong traits in human character that makes this devolution inevitable. We have the pigs; the aggressors, and the followers, and less savory characters, and the "never quite enough" wise annimal(s) and so on, working unwittingly together against the welfare of the whole making the end result seem precast. Not so much that we did nothing, as that we could do nothing.

1984 never really addressed that issue (or at least I don't remember it doing so), but from the start everything seemed inevitable, there was no discussion of any "might have been," that could have been an alternative to the dystopia of an engineered rivalry between two super-powers that worked off each other to maintain a compliant global society in hopeless mass psychological, never mind physical, irons.

But even assuming this inevitability was Orwell's own belief and intent in his writings (and not simply my misunderstanding of them), I agree with your point that we had plenty of warning, and not just Orwell, and that society as a whole too frequently took the easier road but with a lot of help and insistent guidance (manipulation) from our increasingly corrupt leaders and captains of industry (our own pigs).

Carolinian , December 8, 2018 at 11:52 am

Animal Farm was Orwell's best book IMO because it speaks to universal human tendencies even though the book was also about Stalin and Trotsky. 1984 was far fetched speculation based on, as it turned out, the short lived totalitarianism of figures like Hitler and Stalin. People assume we are living 1984 when it's really Animal Farm.

[Dec 09, 2018] Concentration of wealth drive inverted totalitarism and authoritarian tendencies in the society

Notable quotes:
"... Fear of loss drives the authoritarians. For an example, please consider the treatment of "Occupy." ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , December 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

No discussion in the article about concentration of wealth, and the aristocrats, generally authoritarian, who control the money.

For a reason to examine increasing authoritarian look no further than the increasing concentration, historically high, of money,

Fear of loss drives the authoritarians. For an example, please consider the treatment of "Occupy."

Bobby Gladd , December 8, 2018 at 4:17 pm

To your point, I recently watched the EPIX "Panama Papers" documentary. Highly recommended.

And, I just now finished episode 3 of the 4-part Showtime documentary "Enemies: the President, Justice & the FBI." Also recommended.

[Dec 09, 2018] Never forget that fascism is the natural defence mechanism of capital. After it is accrued, it must be defended

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberal doctrine leads to skyrocketing inequality, a swelling in the desperate and forgotten poor who are vulnerable to populist messaging and the idea of a strongman peddling easy answers to keep people safe as civil unrest increases. Fascism seeks power for power's sake and total control over the populace, and always cruelty to the marginalised, the 'others'. How all the right wingers hand-wringing over the idea of 'socialist communisms!!1!' can't see that, I don't know. ..."
"... All over the world, failed neoliberalism is being replaced by right-wing populist nationalism & I don't think "repairing democratic institutions" is at the top of their to-do list. ..."
"... I'm certainly in favour of greater nationalisation, especially of essential services. But around the world, neo-liberalism has morphed into neo-fascism and this is where the next fight must be. ..."
"... In social systems, natural selection favours cooperation. In addition, we are biased toward ethical behaviours, so cooperation and sharing are valued in human societies. ..."
"... The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts. ..."
"... No wonder you get fascist right wing insurgence in this climate! ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

CatPerson420 , 30 Oct 2018 23:18

Never forget that fascism is the natural defence mechanism of capital. After it is accrued, it must be defended. The current trend in global politics is not an anomaly but an entirely predictable outcome.

Neoliberal doctrine leads to skyrocketing inequality, a swelling in the desperate and forgotten poor who are vulnerable to populist messaging and the idea of a strongman peddling easy answers to keep people safe as civil unrest increases. Fascism seeks power for power's sake and total control over the populace, and always cruelty to the marginalised, the 'others'. How all the right wingers hand-wringing over the idea of 'socialist communisms!!1!' can't see that, I don't know.

It's too late for the US I fear, and time is rapidly running out for the UK if they don't pull their finger out and have another referendum before the self immolation of Brexit.

Rikyboy , 30 Oct 2018 23:07
All over the world, failed neoliberalism is being replaced by right-wing populist nationalism & I don't think "repairing democratic institutions" is at the top of their to-do list.

If Australia does swing the pendulum to the left, it, along with NZ, will be one of the few countries to do so. De-privatising will not be easy & will be met with a huge reactionary backlash. They'll need to tread very carefully if they want to stay in government.

jclucas , 30 Oct 2018 23:02
Neoliberalism may be dead but the neoliberals in the government will never admit it as they seamlessly transition to authoritarian nationalism with populist promises - and failure to deliver on them.

The neoliberal project was always a philosophical cover for crony capitalism that betrayed the public interest by rewarding vested interests for their patronage, perverted democracy, and served as a mechanism for perverting the natural function of an economy - to fairly distribute goods, resources, and services throughout society - to favor the welfare of the few over the many.

The self-interested culture of neoliberalism - the cult of the individual that denies the common good - pervades every aspect of Australia's life as a nation - business, politics, sport, education, and health - denying and crowding out public spirit, selfless service, and societal wellbeing.

For meaningful change to occur there must be a rebirth of the conception of the public good, and the virtue and necessity of acting to realise it.

However at this stage there is not a communal recognition of what the problem is let alone how to go about repairing it. For that to happen there must be a widely accepted narrative that naturally leads to the obvious actions that must be take to redress the damage done by the neoliberal con job: decreasing economic inequality, restoring democracy, and rebuilding a sense of common cause.

Piecemeal change will not be sufficient to enact the the sweeping transformation that has to occur in every department of life. It is not enough to tax multinationals, to have a federal integrity commission, to build a renewable future, or to move to proportional representation.

Someone, some party, some coherent philosophical perspective has to explain why it must be done.

BlueThird , 30 Oct 2018 22:57
It's certainly the case that the Liberal party, in particular, are now using ideas that fall outside and to the right of neo-liberalism, but it's also obviously the case that neo-liberalism and current Liberal thinking share the same underlying goal. Namely, the transfer of wealth and power towards a narrower and narrower group of people and corporations.

That suggests the death of neo-liberalism is coming about because – having done so much damage already – it's no longer capable of delivering the required results, and that we're moving into a new phase of the death spiral. I think that can also be seen in both the US (where Trump is using the identified problems of neo-liberalism to further the same basic agenda, but with less decorum and a larger cadre of useful idiots) and the UK (where there's still a very strong possibility that Brexit will be used as an excuse to roll back great swathes of social and democratic safeguards).

Perhaps even more worrying – given the latest reports on how we're destroying habitat as well as the climate, and how much of our biodiversity is in South America, particularly the Amazon – is that Brazil is how on a similar path.

The likelihood is that the Liberal party won't get away with what they have planned, but they – and the forces behind them – certainly won't stop trying. And unfortunately it's far from obvious that the Labor party will repudiate neo-liberalism anytime soon. That they signed up for the latest iteration of TPP is hardly a good omen.

Democratic re-engagement is the better way forward from neo-liberalism, but unfortunately I think it's unlikely to be the one that we end up taking.

All of that said, the deepest problem of all is the way in which democracy and government have been corrupted, often via the media, but typically at the behest of corporations, and if there is a way forward it has to be found in addressing those interactions

tolpuddler , 30 Oct 2018 22:28
I'm certainly in favour of greater nationalisation, especially of essential services. But around the world, neo-liberalism has morphed into neo-fascism and this is where the next fight must be.
slorter , 30 Oct 2018 22:19
Well we have had 3+ decades of the dogma!

In social systems, natural selection favours cooperation. In addition, we are biased toward ethical behaviours, so cooperation and sharing are valued in human societies.

But what happens when we are forced into an economic system that makes us compete at every level? The logical outcome is societal decline or collapse.

Perhaps the worst aspect of neoliberalism was its infection of the Labor party. This has left our social infrastructure alarmingly exposed.

The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts.

Globally, debt has forced policy convergence between political parties of differing ideologies. European center-left parties have pushed austerity even when ideology would suggest the opposite.

No wonder you get fascist right wing insurgence in this climate!

Thank you Richard Denniss we need to highlight this more and more and start educating the dumbed down population saturated with neoliberal snake oil!

[Dec 08, 2018] Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor. In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy,

Notable quotes:
"... Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism. ..."
Dec 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

jilles dykstra , says: December 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm GMT

@Bill Jones Interesting to read how these idealists agree with Christian Gerondeau, 'Le CO2 est bon pour la planete, Climat, la grande manipulation', Paris 2017

Gerondeau explains how many deaths reducing CO2 emissions will cause in poor countries, simply as an example how electricity for cooking will remain too expensive for them, so cooking is done on smoky fires in confined spaces.

" to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history." " To intentionally impoverish the world. To what end, I wonder ?

Anyone who knows anything about history is that the rich were always better off than the poor, in fact the very definition of rich and poor.
In this respect it never mattered if a society was capitalistic, communistic, or a theocracy, as Tibet was.

These idealistic idiots do not understand how they created the problem they now intend to solve with creating an even bigger problem, their example is the EU, the EU is following this policy for more than twelve years now, since 2005, when the EU grabbed power through the rejected EU 'consitution'.

Capitalism is no more than deciding between consumption and investment, Robinson Crusoë invested in a fishing net by temporarily reducing consumption, he did not go fishing, but made a fishing net, expecting that his investment would make it possible to eat more fish.

Capitalism never was benign, Chrustjow worked as a miner in a commercially exploited mine, where there was little regard for safety, he abhorred capitalism.

Dutch 17th century capitalistic commerce to the far Indies, east and west, was not benign. Typically a ship left Amsterdam, near the Schreierstoren, trans 'the tower for the crying', wives, mothers and girl friends, with 300 men aboard, and returned with 100. Most of those who died were common sailors, captain and officers had a far lower mortality, mainly better food.

Our East Indies commerce also was not much fun for the people in the East, in the Banda Sea Islands massacre some 30.000 people were killed, for a monopoly on pepper, if I remember correctly.

But, as the earth developed economically, there came room for also poor people getting lives beginning to look as worth living. Engels in 1844, hope the year is right, described the conditions of working people in GB, this resulted in Das Kapital.

This room for a better life for also the poor was not given by the capitalistic system

In their struggle for a better world for anyone the idealists wanted globalisation, level playing field, anyone should be welcome anywhere, slogans like this.
Globaliation, however, is the end of the nation state, the very institution in which it was possible to provide a better life. Anyone following me until here now can see the dilemma, the end of the nation state was also the end of protection by that state against unbridled capitalism.

As the idealists cannot give up their globalisation religion they must, as those who cannot give up the biblical creation story, find an ideological way out of their dilemma. My conclusion now is 'in order to save our globalisation religion we try to destroy economic growth, by making energy very expensive, in the hope of destroying capitalism'.

Alas, better, luckily, capitalism cannot be destroyed, those who invented the first furnaces for more or less mass producing iron, they were capitalists. They saw clearly how cheap iron would bring economic growth, the plow.

In the country where the CO2 madness has struck most, my country, the Netherlands, the realisation of the poverty that drastically reducing CO2 emissions will cause, has begun. If there really is madness, I wonder.

I indeed see madness, green leftists unable to make a simple multipiclation calculations about costs, but maybe mainly political opportunism. Our dictator, Rutte, is now so hated that he needs a job outside the Netherlands, in order to qualify, either at Brussels or in New York, with the UN, has to howl with the wolves.

At the same time, we have a gas production problem,, earthquakes in the NE, houses damaged, never any decision made to solve the problem, either stop gas production, or strenghten the houses, both expensive solutions.

So, in my suspicious ideas, Rutte now tries to improve himself, at the same time solving a problem: within, say ten years, the Netherlands functions without gas, and remains prosperous; the idea he tries to sell to us. In a few years time it will emerge that we cannot have both, prosperous, and zero emission, but the time horizon for a politician is said to be five years.

[Dec 08, 2018] Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

Highly recommended!
You can read online at epdf.tips
Dec 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Richard , Dec 7, 2018 2:50:07 PM | link

Came across this book which gives some excellent background to where we're at today:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Postmodern-Imperialism-Geopolitics-Great-Games/dp/098335393X

There may be a pdf available if you search.

"The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include:

This work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world's point of view, as it is the main focus of all the "Great Games"."

Jay Dyer discusses the book here, its strengths and weaknesses:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcmrBD4Ez2c

[Dec 04, 2018] Neoliberalism and Fascism The Stealth Connection

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a set of practices that favors entrepreneurs and corporations, supports--often below the radar--massive state subsidies for the corporate estate, presses for radical deregulation of private markets, treats labor as an abstract factor of production, celebrates the authority of courts governed by a neoliberal jurisprudence, hates collective social movements on the left, protects imperial drives, strives to render democracy minimal, and moves to dismantle or weaken unions, social security, public schools and universal voting if and when the opportunities arise. Fascism is a form of capitalism that dismantles democracy, pushes intense nationalism, pursues racism, deploys big lies systematically, attacks vulnerable minorities to energize its base, corrupts courts, drives to make the media its mouthpiece, places police and intelligence agencies under its wing, colludes with foreign dictatorships, welcomes vigilante groups beneath a veneer of deniability, and jacks up the intensity of cultural ruthlessness. ..."
"... Democracy in Chains ..."
"... MacLean's book, through a close review of an archive not studied before, reveals how the public neoliberal pronouncements by Buchanan between the 1970s and 2000s were soon matched by a set of covert plans and financial funding designed to bring neoliberalism to power by "stealth" strategies. Buchanan had come to see, as had others, that the neoliberal agenda was not apt to be enacted by democratic means. So he adopted a two-track model. ..."
"... MacLean's review of the ruthlessness and narcissism that marked the private and public persona of Buchanan, a review that invites attention to character affinities between him and Trump. Neither Buchanan, Trump, nor Charles Koch -- the latter another key figure in the Buchanan story -- thought highly of compromise. They play a hardball game. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, its critics know so well, periodically spawns the economic crises its hubristic devotees promise will not happen. It also works to foster voter suppression, unlimited dark campaign contributions, extreme gerrymandered districts, take away worker benefits, appoint judges at state and national levels governed by neoliberal jurisprudence, treat voter suppression tactics to be needed to eliminate phantom voter fraud, oppose affirmative action, to weaken labor unions, and attack universal health care. ..."
"... The old, all so familiar, Hayek story of how socialism and social democracy are always on the "road to serfdom" is a fairy tale that has not in fact occurred. The transition, however, from neoliberalism to virulent fascist movements has occurred before and could do so again. ..."
Dec 04, 2018 | www.commondreams.org

Neoliberalism is not fascism. But the fact that many famous neoliberals have been moved to support fascism to protect a regime from social democracy or socialism does give one pause. Hayek, Friedman, von Mises, among others, took such a turn under duress. They also had highly expansive views of what counted as a "socialist" threat.

Neoliberalism is a set of practices that favors entrepreneurs and corporations, supports--often below the radar--massive state subsidies for the corporate estate, presses for radical deregulation of private markets, treats labor as an abstract factor of production, celebrates the authority of courts governed by a neoliberal jurisprudence, hates collective social movements on the left, protects imperial drives, strives to render democracy minimal, and moves to dismantle or weaken unions, social security, public schools and universal voting if and when the opportunities arise. Fascism is a form of capitalism that dismantles democracy, pushes intense nationalism, pursues racism, deploys big lies systematically, attacks vulnerable minorities to energize its base, corrupts courts, drives to make the media its mouthpiece, places police and intelligence agencies under its wing, colludes with foreign dictatorships, welcomes vigilante groups beneath a veneer of deniability, and jacks up the intensity of cultural ruthlessness.

So the two are different. Are there, however, enough affinities between them to help explain how the former -- both in its leadership and its base of support--can migrate rapidly toward the latter during periods of stress? Stress that it often enough creates by its own hubristic market practices? Bearing in mind those noble neoliberals who today call out and hold out against Trumpism -- they are on welcome public display on the Nicole Wallace show on MSNBC--recent experience in the United States suggests that many other neoliberals, in a situation of public stress, too easily slide toward the latter. A whole bunch of neoliberal Republicans in the American Congress, after all, now support or tolerate policies and belligerent practices they did not before the era of Trump. Many do not merely do so because they are cowed by the danger of threats to them in Republican primaries -- they could, for instance, quit politics, or join the Democratic Party to stop aspirational fascism, or staunchly support the principles they embrace in those very Republican primaries and elections.

The recent book, Democracy in Chains , by Nancy MacLean, allows us to discern more closely how such slides and gallops can occur. It is focused on the life of a Nobel Prize winning neoliberal -- who often called himself a libertarian -- loved by the Mt Pelerin Society by the name of James Buchanan. I used to teach critically his book The Calculus of Consent in the 1980s. But MacLean's book, through a close review of an archive not studied before, reveals how the public neoliberal pronouncements by Buchanan between the 1970s and 2000s were soon matched by a set of covert plans and financial funding designed to bring neoliberalism to power by "stealth" strategies. Buchanan had come to see, as had others, that the neoliberal agenda was not apt to be enacted by democratic means. So he adopted a two-track model.

That two-track model is revealing. So is the fact that this refugee from Tennessee -- a former slave state and one that then imprisoned Blacks systematically to replace lost slave labor -- seldom mentioned the specific conditions of Blacks or women as he articulated his abstract defense of liberty. So, too, is MacLean's review of the ruthlessness and narcissism that marked the private and public persona of Buchanan, a review that invites attention to character affinities between him and Trump. Neither Buchanan, Trump, nor Charles Koch -- the latter another key figure in the Buchanan story -- thought highly of compromise. They play a hardball game.

The story starts, really, in Pinochet's Chile, where Buchanan helped that repressive regime impose economic reforms backed by constitutional changes that would make it next to impossible to reverse them. They were called them constitutional "locks and bolts". Buchanan never publicized the extensive role he played with Pinochet in Chile. Nor did he ever express public regret over its fascism, replete with prohibitions of free speech, practices of torture, and decrees making it illegal to organize dissident social movements.

Another key epiphany occurred in the 1980s in the States. Reagan's massive tax cuts, which were promised to spur rapid growth to pay for them, instead created deficits three times larger than those Jimmy Carter had bequeathed. A public reaction set in as the regime proposed to make radical cuts in Social Security and Medicare to make up the shortfall. But those plans failed. After that failure, Buchanan concluded, consonant with advice by Milton Friedman, that such entrenched programs could only be weakened and dismantled through disinformation campaigns. Democracy had to be squeezed. Why? The majority of "takers" will never accept open plans to curtail their benefits to reduce taxes on a minority of "producers". The takers, let's call them for starters workers, the poor and the elderly, don't even believe in "liberty"--meaning above all the freedom of entrepreneurs to roam freely in the market. So, you must pretend you are trying to save the very system you seek to unravel. Talk incessantly about its "crisis". Divide its supporters into older, retired members, who will retain benefits, and younger ones who will have them cut. Celebrate the virtues of private retirement accounts. Propose to have the wealthy be removed from the system, doing all these things until general support for the social security system weakens and you are free to enact the next steps -- steps not to be publicized in advance. Once you finally eliminate the system, people's general confidence in the state will wane more. And new initiatives can be taken -- again in a stealth manner -- with respect to Medicare, pollution regulations, climate change, unemployment insurance, and democratic accountability.

Buchanan, to make a long story short, first increasingly bought into disinformation campaigns and later joined the main financier of his Center at George Mason University, Charles Koch, to support a series of voter suppression programs, neoliberal court appointees, anti-labor laws, and intensely funded political campaigns to shift the priorities of the state. The guiding idea was not only to change the rulers but to change the rules which govern districting, court jurisprudence, voter access and the like. Liberty is for producers, not takers, as Milt Romney also said later when he thought he was speaking only to a closeted room full of producers.

Buchanan's abstract concern for market liberties, and the slanted liberties of association and speech they carried with them, never brought him to speak of the subjugated conditions of Blacks, women and other minorities in this society. The reason seems clear: their living grievances threaten abstract claims about a market system of impersonal rational coordination. The danger, to him, is mass democracy, which enlarges the power of "the state". When Buchanan worried about the state he didn't seem to mean Pinochet. He meant democratic processes through which the state is moved to support a collection of minorities who have been closed out of equality, participation, and representation. Buchanan, as did his hero Hayek, loved to think in abstractions, the kind of abstractions that cover up specific modes of suffering, grievance, and care under shiny terms. As MacLean also notes, Buchanan came to see that neoliberal (and libertarian) propaganda must aim at men more than women, because, on average, the latter are less predisposed to such messages.

The Koch/Buchanan alliance, consolidated through an Institute at George Mason University, soon became a Center to fund movements and generic models of reform on the Right as it informed American movers and shakers how to create constitutional "locks and bolts" in states and the federal government to secure desired reforms from dissident majorities once they were pushed through and their real effects became apparent. A stealth campaign, followed by opposition to "mob rule". Wisconsin, for instance, became a key laboratory under the regime of Scott Walker, both enacting draconian policies and pursuing constitutional changes to secure them from future majorities. To discern the severity of the stealth activities, consider how one of Buchanan's lieutenants, Charles Rowley, eventually turned against them. He became upset when a new Chair of the economics department summarily fired all untenured economists to replace them with a single breed of libertarians. As summarized by MacLean, two things above all dismayed Rowley, who retained his neoliberal outlook but opposed the stealth practices. "First the sheer scale of the riches the wealthy individuals brought to bear turned out to have subtle, even seductive power. And second, under the influence of one wealthy individual, in particular, the movement was turning to an equally troubling form of coercion: achieving its ends essentially through trickery, through deceiving people about its real intentions to go to a place which, on their own given complete information, they would not go." (p. 208) It's like saying "repeal and replace Obamacare" while planning only to make the first move. And then turn the same trick again in several other domains. Eventually, Buchanan himself grew wary of Koch, in a setting where two narcissistic, authoritarian men struggled to control the same Center. The money man won out. In Rowley's own words Koch, the billionaire donor, "had no scruples concerning the manipulation of scholarship."

Neoliberalism, its critics know so well, periodically spawns the economic crises its hubristic devotees promise will not happen. It also works to foster voter suppression, unlimited dark campaign contributions, extreme gerrymandered districts, take away worker benefits, appoint judges at state and national levels governed by neoliberal jurisprudence, treat voter suppression tactics to be needed to eliminate phantom voter fraud, oppose affirmative action, to weaken labor unions, and attack universal health care.

How many neoliberal Republicans called out Donald Trump, for instance, when he launched his presidential campaign by pretending insistently for six long years (with absolutely no evidence) that the first African American President held office illegally. Obama was guilty until proven innocent, according to that Donald Trump. How many stepped to the plate to acknowledge galloping climate change in the face of those who have called it a hoax against all the available evidence? What about the appointment of a judge who lied about his previous record, had trouble with his drinking and temper, and probably tried to rape a young girl when they were in high school? What about Trump's constant suggestions that minorities are guilty until found innocent, punctuated by assertions that men applying for high government positions and accused of harassment must be treated as innocent unless a court of law finds them guilty. Quiet whispers from neoliberals of regret and suspicion against Trumpism on these issues, by the way, do not cut the mustard. Neoliberal stealth tactics and neofascist Big Lies have moved too close together for comfort.

One thing that emerged out of the long-term two track campaigns of neoliberalism is a powerful wealth/income concentration machine joined to a series of precarious and suffering minorities, including so many urban Blacks and poor whites. With labor unions, too, caught in a squeeze. Donald Trump could then play on the prejudices and insecurities created; he thus found himself in a position to incite large segments of the white labor and lower middle classes to return to the old days, while retaining the support of a huge segment of the wealthy, donor class. The disinformation campaigns of the old neoliberal vanguard can too easily slide into the Big Lie campaigns Trump pursues in the service of White Triumphalism, intense nationalism, misogyny, the reduction of critical social movements to mob rule, and militant anti-immigration campaigns. The long time con man and money launderer has not, then, merely cowed a neoliberal elite that had pointed in a different direction. He has pulled its stealth campaigns into channels that most find more palatable than other social visions in circulation.

The memories of Hayek and Friedman in this respect return to haunt us. It need not surprise us, given MacLean's archival history, that the latest Trump Supreme Court appointee supports neoliberal policies in the domains of corporate deregulation, medical care, restrictive voter laws, limits on civil rights, gerrymandering and like while also trumpeting notions of a sovereign president so dear to the dark heart of Donald Trump -- the aspirational fascist who conspired with Russia to win an electoral college majority in 2016. We must light a candle for those noble neoliberals who resist the slide we are witnessing before our very eyes, as we also keep both eyes open with respect to the wider crossing between neoliberalism and neofascism.

The old, all so familiar, Hayek story of how socialism and social democracy are always on the "road to serfdom" is a fairy tale that has not in fact occurred. The transition, however, from neoliberalism to virulent fascist movements has occurred before and could do so again. The current fascist electoral campaign rallies by Donald Trump are designed to up the ante of charges against liberals and the Left by several decibel levels so that people will temporarily forget all the horrible things he has done and will do if Republicans keep both houses. They include halting or weakening the Mueller investigation, eliminating transgender rights, consolidating Trump control over intelligence agencies and the courts, reversing the remaining shreds of ObamaCare, upscaling attacks on universal voting, weakening the media, creating horrendous immigration laws, encouraging vigilante drives, and many other things yet. Drive someone to a voting precinct on election day and give them a copy of the MacLean book a week before you do. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

[Dec 03, 2018] Does any country on Earth has a democracy?

Notable quotes:
"... Have you been watching the news over the past few weeks where the clowns who supposedly represent us at Westminster were offering to take cash in brown envelopes for privileged access to the political system? ..."
"... Now we have the Prime Minister attending the Bilderberg Group meeting without any officials or Civil Servants to record what is going on. I suppose he needs to attend to get instructions from his bosses on how he must run his 'democracy'! ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | guardian.co.uk

LetsGetCynical -> Snookerboy , 8 Jun 2013 14:31

@ Snookerboy 08 June 2013 7:14pm . Get cifFix for Firefox .

Democracy = a political system in which citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally -- either directly or through elected representatives -- in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. Do we have this in the UK at the moment bearing in mind recent events (brown envelopes and Bilderberg Group to name but two)?

Does any country have this? With all due respect it is just words and sentiment. In my previous comment I said that No i didnt think we had true democracy and I dont think it (if there is such a thing) is achievable, not everyone would be satisfied it would be true democracy thus its legitimacy would be called into question.

In my mind its a bit like saying the best thing would be a "benevolent, incorruptible, sensible dictator", its a fantasy.

Politicians who are found to be on the take or are fiddling the public purse should be dismissed immediately and a by election called. Would stop it happening as much as I am sure we are only seeing the 'tip of the iceberg'.

Agreed and they should always be innocent until proven guilty and if found guilty of abuse of office they should be barred from public office indefinitely in my mind, as long as they break the law, not fudge the rules or whatever, which is also part of the problem. Hazel Blears and countless others was re-elected despite being reviled in the media as an expenses cheat.

So I assume you are happy for our PM to attend a secret meeting where nothing is ever released to the media or press about what is going on or discussed?

I am neither happy nor unhappy, it is a private event that the PM is invited to by a steering committee, I imagine the idea being they can discuss candidly without official airs, graces, platitudes and politician speak for a while, it doesnt particularly concern me.

J Snookerboy -> LetsGetCynical , 8 Jun 2013 14:14
@LetsGetCynical - Democracy = a political system in which citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally -- either directly or through elected representatives -- in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. Do we have this in the UK at the moment bearing in mind recent events (brown envelopes and Bilderberg Group to name but two)?

Politicians who are found to be on the take or are fiddling the public purse should be dismissed immediately and a by election called. Would stop it happening as much as I am sure we are only seeing the 'tip of the iceberg'.

So I assume you are happy for our PM to attend a secret meeting where nothing is ever released to the media or press about what is going on or discussed?

LetsGetCynical -> Snookerboy , 8 Jun 2013 13:55
@ Snookerboy 08 June 2013 6:31pm . Get cifFix for Firefox .

No, but then again what is a "true democracy"? Agreed they are bunch of clowns but then again who are the clowns that repeatedly vote for the same party regardless of what they say or do?

where the clowns who supposedly represent us at Westminster were offering to take cash in brown envelopes

Corruption is about as old as humanity itself, no "true democracy" will ever remove the human element and all the pros and cons that entails.

Now we have the Prime Minister attending the Bilderberg Group meeting without any officials or Civil Servants to record what is going on. I suppose he needs to attend to get instructions from his bosses on how he must run his 'democracy'!

Whether or not you argee or disagree with the conference, it is by invite only, they don't have to invite civil servants or journalists if they don't want to. And it does contain very powerful people, why would the PM not attend?

attend to get instructions from his bosses

I take it the waiters are under permanent surveillance in order to ensure they don't reveal the dastardly secrets about what Eric Schmidt "tells" Cameron to do? A bit fanciful in my opinion.

Snookerboy -> LetsGetCynical , 8 Jun 2013 13:31
@LetsGetCynical - Do you really believe that we live in a true democracy? Have you been watching the news over the past few weeks where the clowns who supposedly represent us at Westminster were offering to take cash in brown envelopes for privileged access to the political system?

Now we have the Prime Minister attending the Bilderberg Group meeting without any officials or Civil Servants to record what is going on. I suppose he needs to attend to get instructions from his bosses on how he must run his 'democracy'!

[Dec 01, 2018] Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

Dec 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [190] Disclaimer , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am GMT

I'm familiar with information retrieval tech and worked for a small non-U.S. search engine that was acquired by a major American search engine (not Google) in the late 20th century. I've kept up with things as much as one can do from the outside since then.

I do not buy the conspiracy angle here. I believe Google when they say that they are relying on automated algorithms.

You cannot really compare Google with any other search engine. DDG is a guy in his pajamas coding it all by himself (and I respect that). Bing on the other hand has a good team of talented information retrieval engineers, but they are nowhere near as well staffed as Google

In addition, a lot of Google's quirks derive from the fact that they are the big guys. Hackers and spammers and black hat SEOs target Google, looking for exploitable patterns. Nobody cares how they rank in Bing and DDG, so nobody targets them. Google thus has to plug the dike in all kinds of ways that the other search engines don't have to worry about.

Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some higher level component in their search software that is intended to combat black hat SEO is inadvertently skewing results in a way that seems to favor the left, in the same way that AI software tends to come to the conclusion that blacks commit a lot of crime and are not the best employees, although nobody programmed it to do that. And it is possible that when the skew is anti

Google Suggest was throwing out "Islamists are terrorists," "blacks are not oppressed," "hitler is my hero," "white supremacy is good," and so on.

Google is micro-gaslighting again, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review

Tyrion 2 , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am GMT

@anonymous It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/29/18117906/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-2017-life-expectancy

meh , says: November 30, 2018 at 10:22 am GMT
@Tyrion 2

It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

You are being remarkably obtuse.

Google is for the masses; what they do or don't do actually matters in terms of public perception.

Vox is for the policy elite and will make no impact on the public consciousness; it isn't meant for the masses.

Note that elite or specialist media have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and yet the topic has never made it out to the public consciousness or public discourse at large, nor has it had any reception in the political sphere beyond mere platitudes, which anyone who was not been paying attention to the topic would even understand.

Amusingly, though, if you do a Ctrl F on article you link to, the name "Sackler" nowhere appears.

The point is how the elites control the public discourse, by keeping certain topics obscure to the public at large, while the elites and their hired professionals and Mandarins talk amongst themselves; a discourse not meant for the larger public.

But anyway, no one ever said that no one at all in the mass media was talking about the opioid crisis; this is just your implied strawman.

The topic was Google; you are simply using a diversion, i.e., moving the goalposts to the media at large.

[Dec 01, 2018] In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada

Dec 01, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RobGehrke -> MonaHol , 30 Aug 2012 06:12

"What do you mean by claiming Hersh "cozys up" to MIC ppl? And what would be a specific example of a story he broke after doing that?"

Our Men in Iran?

"We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada," a former senior American intelligence official told me. ... In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/mek.html

His conversations with Lieutenant Calley are apparently what allowed him to break the My Lai massacre story as well, even though members of the military had already spoken out about it, and there had been already been charges brought. It just revealed the story to the general public, which prompted a fuller investigation and courts martial. I'm sure there are others.

So, obviously Hersh's "cozying up" (surely not the right term for it, though) is in the interests of raising public awareness of nefarious deeds, and is not scared of painting these organizations in a bad light, whereas Mazzetti's goal here seems to be to maintain his privileged access by providing favors - totally different motivations. It's rather easy to contrast the two, which "smartypants54" has even stated here.

Whatever the case, it's true that elements of the NYT have been mouthpieces more or less for government and corporate power for a long time. While I agree with Glenn about the faux cynicism perpetuating this kind of activity - "don't be naive, this is done all the time" - I can understand that it exists.

Such cynicism on the part of the public, rather than being an acknowledgment of acceptance and approval of such practices, can also be seen as part of a more radical critique of the corporate media in general, and the NYT particularly, in that such organizations - not that I totally agree with this - , by their very nature, can't be reformed and can never be totally effective checks on power because of the way they're structured, and who they answer to.

That's definitely not a reason to stop pointing it out, though.

[Dec 01, 2018] Whitewashing McCain's Support for the War on Yemen by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... not doing enough ..."
Nov 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Josh Rogin uses the Senate's 63-37 vote on S.J.Res. 54 earlier this week to make a very strange claim:

The Senate's stunning bipartisan rebuke of President Trump's handling of U.S.-Saudi relations shows that the internationalist, values-based foreign policy of the late senator John McCain still holds significant weight in both parties [bold mine-DL].

At the end of his career, McCain was one of the foremost defenders of U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen. I suppose it was fitting that he capped off a long career of supporting unnecessary and illegal wars by proudly supporting a truly indefensible one. When U.S. support for the war began in 2015, he and Lindsey Graham chastised Obama for not doing enough to help the Saudi coalition. Needless to say, he was an early and eager supporter of the intervention . When McCain was asked about the coalition's bombing campaign and the civilian casualties that it was causing, he denied that there were any. "Thank God for the Saudis," he once said , praising the kingdom for its role in fueling the war in Syria.

I commented on McCain's support for the war on Yemen in a post last year:

In addition to dismissing the civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate coalition bombing campaign, McCain has reliably recited Saudi propaganda to provide cover for the war while completely ignoring the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that their campaign has done so much to cause.

McCain was the champion of a particular strain of aggressive interventionism that relied on moralizing rhetoric to justify unjust actions. His foreign policy was "values-based" in the sense that he would use "values" language to rally support for attacking certain regimes, but when it came to applying the same standards to U.S. allies and clients McCain frequently became mute or turned into a cynical apologist on behalf of states aligned with Washington. That is certainly how he acted when it came to the Saudi coalition war on Yemen . Back when there were very few critics of the war in the Senate, McCain was one of their loudest opponents :

McCain incredibly described the Saudis as a "nation under attack" because of incursions into Saudi territory that were provoked by the Saudi-led bombing campaign. Graham portrayed the Saudis as victims of Yemeni "aggression," which has everything completely and obviously backwards. It requires swallowing Saudi propaganda whole to argue that the Saudis and their allies have been acting in self-defense, and that is what McCain and Graham tried to do. Both repeatedly asserted that the Houthis are Iranian proxies when the best evidence suggests that Iran's role in the conflict has always been negligible, and then justified their complete indifference to the consequences of the Saudi-led war by complaining about Iranian behavior elsewhere. Needless to say, the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade never once came up in their remarks, but I'm sure if they ever do mention it they'll blame it on Iran somehow.

McCain used many of the same cynical and dishonest arguments then that Trump administration officials use now. The senators that voted for S.J.Res. 54 were not following McCain's example and they were definitely not embracing the kind of foreign policy he supported. On the contrary, the success of the Sanders-Lee-Murphy resolution this week was as much a rebuke to McCain's foreign policy legacy as it was a rebuke to Trump's shameless Saudi First behavior. Opposition to the war on Yemen was something that McCain vehemently rejected, and it is simply and obviously wrong to credit McCain's foreign policy views for the antiwar victory that Sens. Sanders, Murphy, Lee, and their colleagues won this week. For the last twenty-five years, McCain never saw a U.S.-backed war he couldn't support, and that included the war on Yemen. When the Senate voted to advance S.J.Res. 54 on Wednesday, they were voting against the war that McCain had vocally backed for years.

Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Barack Obama , Yemen , Lindsey Graham , John McCain , Josh Rogin , Mike Lee , Saudi Arabia , Chris Murphy , Bernie Sanders , S.J.Res 54 .

about:blank

IranMan November 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Can anyone name a war McCain did not salivate about and support?

I can't.

He was a war criminal who did not live to see his shameful, warmongering legacy, exposed or discussed in public.

[Dec 01, 2018] Whitewashing McCain's Support for the War on Yemen

Notable quotes:
"... not doing enough ..."
Dec 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

about:blank

Daniel Larison

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.0568ee90c37ccf52b40a4b1e312811ff.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=DanielLarison&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1543642473725

Whitewashing McCain's Support for the War on Yemen By Daniel Larison November 29, 2018, 10:50 PM

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Gage Skidmore / Charles Haynes /Flickr Josh Rogin uses the Senate's 63-37 vote on S.J.Res. 54 earlier this week to make a very strange claim:

The Senate's stunning bipartisan rebuke of President Trump's handling of U.S.-Saudi relations shows that the internationalist, values-based foreign policy of the late senator John McCain still holds significant weight in both parties [bold mine-DL].

At the end of his career, McCain was one of the foremost defenders of U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen. I suppose it was fitting that he capped off a long career of supporting unnecessary and illegal wars by proudly supporting a truly indefensible one. When U.S. support for the war began in 2015, he and Lindsey Graham chastised Obama for not doing enough to help the Saudi coalition. Needless to say, he was an early and eager supporter of the intervention . When McCain was asked about the coalition's bombing campaign and the civilian casualties that it was causing, he denied that there were any. "Thank God for the Saudis," he once said , praising the kingdom for its role in fueling the war in Syria.

I commented on McCain's support for the war on Yemen in a post last year:

In addition to dismissing the civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate coalition bombing campaign, McCain has reliably recited Saudi propaganda to provide cover for the war while completely ignoring the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that their campaign has done so much to cause.

McCain was the champion of a particular strain of aggressive interventionism that relied on moralizing rhetoric to justify unjust actions. His foreign policy was "values-based" in the sense that he would use "values" language to rally support for attacking certain regimes, but when it came to applying the same standards to U.S. allies and clients McCain frequently became mute or turned into a cynical apologist on behalf of states aligned with Washington. That is certainly how he acted when it came to the Saudi coalition war on Yemen . Back when there were very few critics of the war in the Senate, McCain was one of their loudest opponents :

McCain incredibly described the Saudis as a "nation under attack" because of incursions into Saudi territory that were provoked by the Saudi-led bombing campaign. Graham portrayed the Saudis as victims of Yemeni "aggression," which has everything completely and obviously backwards. It requires swallowing Saudi propaganda whole to argue that the Saudis and their allies have been acting in self-defense, and that is what McCain and Graham tried to do. Both repeatedly asserted that the Houthis are Iranian proxies when the best evidence suggests that Iran's role in the conflict has always been negligible, and then justified their complete indifference to the consequences of the Saudi-led war by complaining about Iranian behavior elsewhere. Needless to say, the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade never once came up in their remarks, but I'm sure if they ever do mention it they'll blame it on Iran somehow.

McCain used many of the same cynical and dishonest arguments then that Trump administration officials use now. The senators that voted for S.J.Res. 54 were not following McCain's example and they were definitely not embracing the kind of foreign policy he supported. On the contrary, the success of the Sanders-Lee-Murphy resolution this week was as much a rebuke to McCain's foreign policy legacy as it was a rebuke to Trump's shameless Saudi First behavior. Opposition to the war on Yemen was something that McCain vehemently rejected, and it is simply and obviously wrong to credit McCain's foreign policy views for the antiwar victory that Sens. Sanders, Murphy, Lee, and their colleagues won this week. For the last twenty-five years, McCain never saw a U.S.-backed war he couldn't support, and that included the war on Yemen. When the Senate voted to advance S.J.Res. 54 on Wednesday, they were voting against the war that McCain had vocally backed for years.

Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Barack Obama , Yemen , Lindsey Graham , John McCain , Josh Rogin , Mike Lee , Saudi Arabia , Chris Murphy , Bernie Sanders , S.J.Res 54 .

about:blank

IranMan November 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Can anyone name a war McCain did not salivate about and support?

I can't.

He was a war criminal who did not live to see his shameful, warmongering legacy, exposed or discussed in public.

[Nov 30, 2018] America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan

Notable quotes:
"... other year of the war ..."
"... Enough Afghans either support the Taliban or hate the occupation, and managed, through assorted conventional and unconventional operations, to fight on the ground. And "on the ground" is all that really matters. This war may well have been ill-advised and unwinnable from the start. ..."
"... There's no shame in defeat. But there is shame, and perfidy, in avoiding or covering up the truth. It's what the whole military-political establishment did after Vietnam, and, I fear, it's what they're doing again. ..."
Nov 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

about:blank

America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan It is time to acknowledge this is more than political. We can lose on the battlefield, and it's happening right now. By Danny Sjursen November 30, 2018

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Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, sprint across a field to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 4, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan / released) There's a prevailing maxim, both inside the armed forces and around the Beltway, that goes something like this: "The U.S. can never be militarily defeated in any war," certainly not by some third world country. Heck, I used to believe that myself. That's why, in regard to Afghanistan, we've been told that while America could lose the war due to political factors (such as the lack of grit among "soft" liberals or defeatists), the military could never and will never lose on the battlefield.

That entire maxim is about to be turned on its head. Get ready, because we're about to lose this war militarily.

Consider this: the U.S. military has advised, assisted, battled, and bombed in Afghanistan for 17-plus years. Ground troop levels have fluctuated from lows of some 10,000 to upwards of 100,000 servicemen and women. None of that has achieved more than a tie, a bloody stalemate. Now, in the 18th year of this conflict, the Kabul-Washington coalition's military is outright losing.

Let's begin with the broader measures. The Taliban controls or contests more districts -- some 44 percent -- than at any time since the 2001 invasion. Total combatant and civilian casualties are forecasted to top 20,000 this year -- another dreadful broken record. What's more, Afghan military casualties are frankly unsustainable: the Taliban are killing more than the government can recruit. The death rates are staggering, numbering 5,500 fatalities in 2015, 6,700 in 2016, and an estimate (the number is newly classified) of "about 10,000" in 2017. Well, some might ask, what about American airpower -- can't that help stem the Taliban tide? Hardly. In 2018, as security deteriorated and the Taliban made substantial gains, the U.S. actually dropped more bombs than in any other year of the war . It appears that nothing stands in the way of impending military defeat.

Then there are the very recent events on the ground -- and these are telling. Insider attacks in which Afghan "allies" turn their guns on American advisors are back on the rise, most recently in an attack that wounded a U.S. Army general and threatened the top U.S. commander in the country. And while troop numbers are way down from the high in 2011, American troops deaths are rising. Over the Thanksgiving season alone, a U.S. Army Ranger was killed in a friendly fire incident and three other troopers died in a roadside bomb attack. And in what was perhaps only a (still disturbing) case of misunderstood optics, the top U.S. commander, General Miller, was filmed carrying his own M4 rifle around Afghanistan. That's a long way from the days when then-General Petraeus (well protected by soldiers, of course) walked around the markets of Baghdad in a soft cap and without body armor.

More importantly, the Afghan army and police are getting hammered in larger and larger attacks and taking unsustainable casualties. Some 26 Afghan security forces were killed on Thanksgiving, 22 policemen died in an attack on Sunday, and on Tuesday 30 civilians were killed in Helmand province. And these were only the high-profile attacks, dwarfed by the countless other countrywide incidents. All this proves that no matter how hard the U.S. military worked, or how many years it committed to building an Afghan army in its own image, and no matter how much air and logistical support that army received, the Afghan Security Forces cannot win. The sooner Washington accepts this truth over the more comforting lie, the fewer of our adulated American soldiers will have to die. Who is honestly ready to be the last to die for a mistake, or at least a hopeless cause?

Now, admittedly, this author is asking for trouble -- and fierce rebuttals -- from both peers and superiors still serving on active duty. And that's understandable. The old maxim of military invincibility soothes these men, mollifies their sense of personal loss, whether of personal friends or years away from home, in wars to which they've now dedicated their entire adult lives. Questioning whether there even is a military solution in Afghanistan, or, more specifically, predicting a military defeat, serves only to upend their mental framework surrounding the war.

Still, sober strategy and basic honesty demands a true assessment of the military situation in America's longest war. The Pentagon loves metrics, data, and stats. Well, as demonstrated daily on the ground in Afghanistan, all the security (read: military) metrics point towards impending defeat. At best, the Afghan army, with ample U.S. advisory detachments and air support, can hold on to the northernmost and westernmost provinces of the country, while a Taliban coalition overruns the south and east. This will be messy, ugly, and discomfiting for military and civilian leaders alike. But unless Washington is prepared to redeploy 100,000 soldiers to Afghanistan (again) -- and still only manage a tie, by the way -- it is also all but inevitable.

America's Disastrous Occupation of Afghanistan Turns 17 The War in Afghanistan is Enabling Pedophilia

The United States military did all it was asked during more than 17 years of warfare in Afghanistan. It raided, it bombed, it built, it surged, it advised, it everything. Still, none of that was sufficient. Enough Afghans either support the Taliban or hate the occupation, and managed, through assorted conventional and unconventional operations, to fight on the ground. And "on the ground" is all that really matters. This war may well have been ill-advised and unwinnable from the start.

There's no shame in defeat. But there is shame, and perfidy, in avoiding or covering up the truth. It's what the whole military-political establishment did after Vietnam, and, I fear, it's what they're doing again.

Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army officer and a regular contributor to Unz. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet .

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

[Nov 30, 2018] US Warlords now and at the tome Miill's Poer Elite was published

Highly recommended!
This is from 1999 and in 2018 we see that Mills was right.
Notable quotes:
"... Personnel were constantly shifting back and forth from the corporate world to the military world. Big companies like General Motors had become dependent on military contracts. Scientific and technological innovations sponsored by the military helped fuel the growth of the economy. ..."
"... the military had become an active political force. Members of Congress, once hostile to the military, now treated officers with great deference. And no president could hope to staff the Department of State, find intelligence officers, and appoint ambassadors without consulting with the military. ..."
"... Mills believed that the emergence of the military as a key force in American life constituted a substantial attack on the isolationism which had once characterized public opinion. He argued that "the warlords, along with fellow travelers and spokesmen, are attempting to plant their metaphysics firmly among the population at large." ..."
"... In this state of constant war fever, America could no longer be considered a genuine democracy, for democracy thrives on dissent and disagreement, precisely what the military definition of reality forbids. If the changes described by Mills were indeed permanent, then The Power Elite could be read as the description of a deeply radical, and depressing, transformation of the nature of the United States. ..."
"... The immediate consequence of these changes in the world's balance of power has been a dramatic decrease in that proportion of the American economy devoted to defense. ..."
"... Mills's prediction that both the economy and the political system of the United States would come to be ever more dominated by the military ..."
"... Business firms, still the most powerful force in American life, are increasingly global in nature, more interested in protecting their profits wherever they are made than in the defense of the country in which perhaps only a minority of their employees live and work. Give most of the leaders of America's largest companies a choice between invading another country and investing in its industries and they will nearly always choose the latter over the former. ..."
"... Mills believed that in the 1950s, for the first time in American history, the military elite had formed a strong alliance with the economic elite. ..."
May-June 1 1999, | prospect.org

Originally from: The Power Elite Now

... ... ...

The Warlords

One of the crucial arguments Mills made in The Power Elite was that the emergence of the Cold War completely transformed the American public's historic opposition to a permanent military establishment in the United States. In deed, he stressed that America's military elite was now linked to its economic and political elite. Personnel were constantly shifting back and forth from the corporate world to the military world. Big companies like General Motors had become dependent on military contracts. Scientific and technological innovations sponsored by the military helped fuel the growth of the economy. And while all these links between the economy and the military were being forged, the military had become an active political force. Members of Congress, once hostile to the military, now treated officers with great deference. And no president could hope to staff the Department of State, find intelligence officers, and appoint ambassadors without consulting with the military.

Mills believed that the emergence of the military as a key force in American life constituted a substantial attack on the isolationism which had once characterized public opinion. He argued that "the warlords, along with fellow travelers and spokesmen, are attempting to plant their metaphysics firmly among the population at large." Their goal was nothing less than a redefinition of reality -- one in which the American people would come to accept what Mills called "an emergency without a foreseeable end." "

War or a high state of war preparedness is felt to be the normal and seemingly permanent condition of the United States,"

Mills wrote. In this state of constant war fever, America could no longer be considered a genuine democracy, for democracy thrives on dissent and disagreement, precisely what the military definition of reality forbids. If the changes described by Mills were indeed permanent, then The Power Elite could be read as the description of a deeply radical, and depressing, transformation of the nature of the United States.

Much as Mills wrote, it remains true today that Congress is extremely friendly to the military, at least in part because the military has become so powerful in the districts of most congressmen. Military bases are an important source of jobs for many Americans, and government spending on the military is crucial to companies, such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which manufacture military equipment. American firms are the leaders in the world's global arms market, manufacturing and exporting weapons everywhere. Some weapons systems never seem to die, even if, as was the case with a "Star Wars" system designed to destroy incoming missiles, there is no demonstrable military need for them.

Yet despite these similarities with the 1950s, both the world and the role that America plays in that world have changed. For one thing, the United States has been unable to muster its forces for any sustained use in any foreign conflict since Vietnam. Worried about the possibility of a public backlash against the loss of American lives, American presidents either refrain from pursuing military adventures abroad or confine them to rapid strikes, along the lines pursued by Presidents Bush and Clinton in Iraq. Since 1989, moreover, the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe has undermined the capacity of America's elites to mobilize support for military expenditures. China, which at the time Mills wrote was considered a serious threat, is now viewed by American businessmen as a source of great potential investment. Domestic political support for a large and permanent military establishment in the United States, in short, can no longer be taken for granted.

The immediate consequence of these changes in the world's balance of power has been a dramatic decrease in that proportion of the American economy devoted to defense. At the time Mills wrote, defense expenditures constituted roughly 60 percent of all federal outlays and consumed nearly 10 percent of the U. S. gross domestic product. By the late 1990s, those proportions had fallen to 17 percent of federal outlays and 3.5 percent of GDP. Nearly three million Americans served in the armed forces when The Power Elite appeared, but that number had dropped by half at century's end. By almost any account, Mills's prediction that both the economy and the political system of the United States would come to be ever more dominated by the military is not borne out by historical developments since his time.

And how could he have been right? Business firms, still the most powerful force in American life, are increasingly global in nature, more interested in protecting their profits wherever they are made than in the defense of the country in which perhaps only a minority of their employees live and work. Give most of the leaders of America's largest companies a choice between invading another country and investing in its industries and they will nearly always choose the latter over the former.

Mills believed that in the 1950s, for the first time in American history, the military elite had formed a strong alliance with the economic elite. Now it would be more correct to say that America's economic elite finds more in common with economic elites in other countries than it does with the military elite of its own....

[Nov 27, 2018] The USA seized 100,000 patents from Germany postwar and blocked all mention of it in The London Conference 1953

Nov 27, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Tom Welsh , October 24, 2018 at 12:01

England may well be the only country in the world that is so snobbish about "trade" that, in spite of having rung up record numbers of fundamental scientific breakthroughs and engineering inventions, it has hardly earned any money at all from them.

If you really want to see a country "that treats a vacuum cleaner salesman like he's some sort of genius physicist", take a look at the USA. Half its immense wealth was built on pinching other people's ideas and "monetizing" them (a characteristically American word for a quintessentially American practice).

Tom Welsh , October 24, 2018 at 12:02

Two outstanding examples of American salesmen who have been treated like gods are Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Paul Greenwood , October 25, 2018 at 16:54

Yes they seized >100,000 patents from Germany postwar and blocked all mention of it in The London Conference 1953
http://www.wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/articles/patents.html

[Nov 27, 2018] US Foreign Policy Has No Policy by Philip Giraldi

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's memo on the Saudis begins with the headline "The world is a very dangerous place!" Indeed, it is and behavior by the three occupants of the White House since 2000 is largely to blame. ..."
"... Indeed, a national security policy that sees competitors and adversaries as enemies in a military sense has made nuclear war, unthinkable since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, thinkable once again. ..."
"... George Washington's dictum in his Farewell Address , counseling his countrymen to "observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all." And Washington might have somehow foreseen the poisonous relationships with Israel and the Saudis when he warned that " a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification." ..."
"... Cautious optimism may be better than none, but futile nonetheless. Bullying, dispossession, slavery and genocide constitute the very bedrock, the essence and soul of the founding of our country. ..."
"... Truth be told we simply know of no other kinder, gentler alternatives to perpetual war and destruction as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Normality? Not in my lifetime. ..."
"... Your CNI and 'If Americans Knew' informed me about Rand Paul's courageous move. I plan to call his office today to give him encouragement and call my Senators and Representative to urge them to support him (fat chance of that but I have to stick it in their face). ..."
"... America doesn't have a policy because America is no longer a real nation. It's an empire filled with diverse groups of peoples who all hate each other and want to use the power of the government for the benefit of their overseas co-ethnics. ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

President Donald Trump's recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that "Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests."The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to "bitch" status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it , are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the "leader of the free world."

Trump's memo on the Saudis begins with the headline "The world is a very dangerous place!" Indeed, it is and behavior by the three occupants of the White House since 2000 is largely to blame. It is difficult to find a part of the world where an actual American interest is being served by Washington's foreign and global security policies. Indeed, a national security policy that sees competitors and adversaries as enemies in a military sense has made nuclear war, unthinkable since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, thinkable once again. The fact that no one is the media or in political circles is even talking about that terrible danger suggests that war has again become mainstreamed, tacitly benefiting from bipartisan acceptance of it as a viable foreign policy tool by the media, in the U.S. Congress and also in the White House.

The part of the world where American meddling coupled with ignorance has produced the worst result is inevitably the Middle East...

... ... ...

All of the White House's actions have one thing in common and that is that they do not benefit Americans in any way unless one works for a weapons manufacturer, and that is not even taking into consideration the dead soldiers and civilians and the massive debt that has been incurred to intervene all over the world. One might also add that most of America's interventions are built on deliberate lies by the government and its associated media, intended to increase tension and create a casus belli where none exists.

So what is to be done as it often seems that the best thing Trump has going for him is that he is not Hillary Clinton? First of all, a comprehensive rethink of what the real interests of the United States are in the world arena is past due. America is less safe now than it was in 2001 as it continues to make enemies with its blundering everywhere it goes. There are now four times as many designated terrorists as there were in 2001, active in 70 countries. One would quite plausibly soon arrive at George Washington's dictum in his Farewell Address , counseling his countrymen to "observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all." And Washington might have somehow foreseen the poisonous relationships with Israel and the Saudis when he warned that " a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification."

George Washington or any of the other Founders would be appalled to see an America with 800 military bases overseas, allegedly for self-defense. The transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the military industrial complex and related entities like Wall Street has been catastrophic. The United States does not need to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that are armed to the teeth and well able to defend themselves. Nor does it have to be in Syria and Afghanistan. And

If the United States were to withdraw its military from the Middle East and the rest of Asia tomorrow, it would be to nearly everyone's benefit. If the armed forces were to be subsequently reduced to a level sufficient to defend the United States it would put money back in the pockets of Americans and end the continuous fearmongering through surfacing of "threats" by career militarists justifying the bloated budgets.

... ... ...

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests inform@cnionline.org .


anon [355] Disclaimer , says: November 27, 2018 at 5:38 am GMT

US foreign policy is controlled by a few key ethnic groups and (to a lesser degree) the military-industrial complex.
Justsaying , says: November 27, 2018 at 6:04 am GMT

but even small steps in the right direction could initiate a gradual process of turning the United States into a more normal country in its relationships with the rest of the world rather than a universal predator and bully.

Cautious optimism may be better than none, but futile nonetheless. Bullying, dispossession, slavery and genocide constitute the very bedrock, the essence and soul of the founding of our country.

To expect mutations -- no matter how slow or fast in a trait that appears deeply embedded in our DNA is to be naive. Add to that the intractable stranglehold Zionists and organized world Jewry has on our nuts and decision making. A more congruent convergence of histories and DNAs would be hard to come by among other nations. Truth be told we simply know of no other kinder, gentler alternatives to perpetual war and destruction as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Normality? Not in my lifetime.

Z-man , says: November 27, 2018 at 9:11 am GMT
Great article and I will spread it around.

Your CNI and 'If Americans Knew' informed me about Rand Paul's courageous move. I plan to call his office today to give him encouragement and call my Senators and Representative to urge them to support him (fat chance of that but I have to stick it in their face).

Hey, how about a Rand Paul-Tulsi Gabbard fusion ticket in 2024, not a bad idea, IMHO.

Going back to the Administration you can see the slimy Zionist hands of Steven Miller on all of those foreign policy statements. Trump is allowing this because he has to protect his flanks from Zionists, Christian or otherwise. He might be just giving Miller just enough rope to jettison him (wishful thinking on my part). Or he doesn't care or is unaware of the texts, a possibility.

anon [336] Disclaimer , says: November 27, 2018 at 9:26 am GMT
1. Because that defies human nature. See all of history if you disagree.

2. America doesn't have a policy because America is no longer a real nation. It's an empire filled with diverse groups of peoples who all hate each other and want to use the power of the government for the benefit of their overseas co-ethnics.

jilles dykstra , says: November 27, 2018 at 9:30 am GMT
The beginning of USA foreign policy for me is the 1820 or 1830 Monroe Declaration: south America is our backyard, keep out. Few people know that at the time European countries considered war on the USA because of this beginning of world domination. When I told this to a USA correspondent the reply was 'but this declaration still is taught here in glowing terms'.

What we saw then was the case until Obama, USA foreign policy was for internal political reasons. As Hollings stated in 2004 'Bush promising AIPAC the war on Iraq, that is politics'. No empire ever, as far as I know, ever was in the comfortable position to be able to let foreign policy to be decided (almost) completely by internal politics.

This changed during the Obama reign, the two war standard had to be lowered to one and a half. All of a sudden the USA had to develop a foreign policy, a policy that had to take into consideration the world outside the USA. Not the whole USA understands this, the die hards of Deep State in the lead.

What a half war accomplishes we see, my opinion, in Syria, a half war does not bring victory on an enemy who wages a whole war.
Assad is still there, Russia has airforce and naval bases in Syria.

Normally, as any history book explains, foreign policy of a country is decided on in secret by a few people. British preparations for both WWI and WWII included detailed technical talks with both the USA and France, not even all cabinet members knew about it. One of Trump's difficulties is that Deep State does not at all has the intention of letting the president decide on foreign policy, at the time of FDR he did what he liked, though, if one reads for example Baruch's memoirs, in close cooperation with the Deep State that then existed.

The question 'why do we not leave the rest of the world alone', hardly ever asked. The USA is nearly autarcic, foreign trade, from memory, some five percent of national income, a very luxurious position. But of course, leaving the rest of the world alone, huge internal consequences, as Hinckley explains with an example, politically impossible to stop the development of a bomber judged to be superfluous.

Barbara Hinckley Sheldon Goldman, American Politics and Government, Glenview Ill.,1990

Jim Christian , says: November 27, 2018 at 9:43 am GMT
Good luck. A fight over resources with the biggest consumer of resources, the People That Kill People and all their little buddies in the Alphabet Soup of Law Enforcement and Intelligence Depravity..

That could get a fella hurt. Ask Jack and Bob Kennedy.

Michael Kenny , says: November 27, 2018 at 10:10 am GMT
"The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Russia is now worse than it was towards the end of the Cold War". Classic American cold warrior mentality. The present-day Russian Federation is assimilated to the former Soviet Union.
Johnny Rottenborough , says: Website November 27, 2018 at 11:31 am GMT
Tragically for America, and the West in general, President Trump is unrecognizable from candidate Trump :

'This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not we the people reclaim control over our government. The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry Their financial resources are virtually unlimited, their political resources are unlimited, their media resources are unmatched, and most importantly, the depths of their immorality is absolutely unlimited.'

[Nov 26, 2018] The Bankruptcy of the American Empire Is Coming by Hunter DeRensis

The problem with this line of thinking is that the world is interested in the continuation of the current role of the dollar. That provides for the USA a safely valve.
The problem for the US empire is the Neoliberalism is no longer attractive ideology. So the USA is not only in troubles financially due to the level of dent, but also it is bankrupt ideologically. much like Bolsheviks in the USSR became in late 60th. The "church of neoliberalism" collapsed in 2008. So another 50 years or so and the USA might face the problems the USSR faced in late 80th. The neoliberalism--caused epidemics of narcoaddition reminds the USSR epidemics of alcoholism: people who feel that are not needed in the society tend to behave destructively toward themselves and their families.
Notable quotes:
"... Stein's Law at first glance might seem like a banal platitude. But we should be fully cognizant of its implications: an unsustainable system must have an end. The American empire is internally flawed, a fact that anti-imperialists both left and right should appreciate. ..."
"... The United States holds the most debt of any country in the history of the world. In fairness, when our debt-to-GDP ratio is factored in, there are many countries in far more perilous economic situations than the U.S. But there will come a tipping point. How much debt can the system hold? When will the cracks grow too big to hide? When will the foundation crumble? There's a great deal of ruin in a nation, said Adam Smith, and our ruin must ultimately come. ..."
"... Nobody can deal politically with demobilization, because the offshored economy eviscerated the one at home, at the same time that war economy became of outsized importance. The end of empire as a political choice is impossible, because of the economic dislocations it would incur, and that the dollar's invulnerable reserve purpose is only sustained now by empire militarism. Kicking the can so as collapse doesn't happen now is the political reality, a case of , "apres nous, le deluge." ..."
"... In Rome's case, incompetence in governing, coupled with the arrival of migrating tribes in a position to capitalize on that incompetence, were the causes of the collapse of the western empire. With America, it may be that our inability to curb our spending, combined with the futility of trying to control the remaining nations outside of our sphere of influence, will be what collapses us. ..."
"... the warmongers who seem intent on squandering our national wealth, lives and limbs of our service people, and national prestige on their designer wars. To discuss the etiology of their militarism is to vent the obvious. The 800-pound gorilla has not been contained quietly in the corner. ..."
"... Without a commodity base, the money stock is nothing more than bookkeeping entries -- numbers piled high upon other numbers. ..."
"... Well, I sure hope you're right, but color me skeptical. Our overlords seem to have little difficulty manipulating public opinion to their wishes. The strongest support for the "Global War on Terror" comes, geographically, from the regions that are sustaining the most deaths and maimings among their children. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are in the grip of the neoconservative ideology to agree that borders on the psychotic. ..."
"... For the better part of the post-WWII era (and prior), the US has been invading, pillaging, murdering, and basically doing its utmost to ensure the maximum number of dead and the minimum number of freedom of sovereign countries. ..."
"... From propping up genocidal fascists like Pinochet in Chile and the Military Junta in El Salvador, including death squads, to genocidal theocratic dictators in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the US and its deluded and primitive knuckle-dragging population was the pre-eminent hyperpower and Empire, yet no Americant would dare tell the truth and utter that word, 'Empire'. ..."
"... I hate to sound overly cynical but do the war profiteers even care? ..."
"... Clearly the author does not understand the power of the military industrial complex and the Empire it services. Choice between Social Security checks and the Empire? The Empire will win every time–let me put it as clearly as possible. ..."
"... Post-1970 cheap-labor immigration policies have already boosted the population of the United States by about 100 million and climbing. As Malthus pointed out, this is not a problem as long as the appropriate investments are being made to accommodate the increased number of people. ..."
Nov 20, 2018 | theamericanconservative.com

Herbert Stein was chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and is the father of the more well known Ben Stein. In 1976, he propounded what he called "Stein's Law": if something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Stein was referring to economic trends, but the same law applies just as much to foreign policy and the concept of empire.

Stein's Law at first glance might seem like a banal platitude. But we should be fully cognizant of its implications: an unsustainable system must have an end. The American empire is internally flawed, a fact that anti-imperialists both left and right should appreciate.

The United States' national debt is approaching $22 trillion with a current federal budget deficit of over $800 billion. As Senator Rand Paul often points out, bankruptcy is the Sword of Damocles hanging perilously close to Uncle Sam's neck. Outside of a handful of libertarian gadflies in Congress such as Paul, there is no serious political movement to curb the country's wayward spending. It would take some upset of multiple times greater magnitude than Donald Trump's 2016 victory to alter this course ;

The United States holds the most debt of any country in the history of the world. In fairness, when our debt-to-GDP ratio is factored in, there are many countries in far more perilous economic situations than the U.S. But there will come a tipping point. How much debt can the system hold? When will the cracks grow too big to hide? When will the foundation crumble? There's a great deal of ruin in a nation, said Adam Smith, and our ruin must ultimately come.

Is bankruptcy possible? As some Beltway economists remind us, no. Technically the government has the power to artificially create as many dollars as it needs to pay its debts. But this kind of hyper-inflation would deprive the U.S. dollar of any value and tank the global economy that trades with it. Simple failure to pay back our debt might even be a better scenario that such an inflationary hellscape.

When the world loses confidence in the American government's ability to pay its debt, or the interest rate on our debt becomes unsustainably high, choices will have to be made. No more kicking the can down the road, no more 10-year projections to balance the budget. Congress, in a state of emergency, will have to take a buzzsaw to appropriations. And the empire will be the first thing to go.


Stephen J. November 19, 2018 at 9:46 pm

The writer states: "What happens when American troops must be evacuated from all over the world because we can't afford to keep them there anymore? There's no debate, no weighing of options, and no choice. If the money isn't there, the money isn't there. Nothing could tie the hands of America's military more than a debt crisis. And if one happens, it will be in part because those same neoconservative intellectuals preached a multi-trillion-dollar global war to remake humanity in our image. Hubris leads to downfall."

Try telling that to the "neoconservative intellectuals" and warmongers that included Americans and their allies that gathered in Halifax, Canada a few of days ago. See pertinent article at link below:

November 18, 2018

"Are Taxpayers Funding Fallacies at a 'Forum' in Halifax"?

"The first plenary session of the 2018 Halifax International Security Forum examined how liberal states and institutions can continue to champion their values . The speakers were unanimous in their view that NATO remains an effective and unified institution."
https://halifaxtheforum.org/forum/2018-halifax-international-security-forum/friday-november-16/#agenda

When one reads the words above that mention "values" and "NATO", one wonders if the people attending this "Forum" are aware of the victims of their values. Or the reported evidence of: "The Diabolical 'Work' of NATO and its Allies " [read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/11/are-taxpayers-funding-fallacies-at.html

EliteCommInc. , says: November 19, 2018 at 10:01 pm
Well,

i am opposed to debt creation. But I just the following in the referenced paper on the Federal Reserve and the economy. http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/FRS-myth.htm

Note, "The Mathematical Flaw section.

THE "MATHEMATICAL FLAW"

"A popular theory about the Fed and money creation in the United States is built around the notion of a "mathematical flaw" inherent in introducing money by means of "lending" as opposed to "spending." This theory starts with the observation that money in the United States (and most other countries) is placed into circulation through the purchase of interest-bearing debt. . .

If debt must mushroom over time in order to keep the money supply from shrinking, according to this line of thinking, then the cost of doing business must rise faster each year, and so must prices. In short, it is argued, the money supply process demands that debt grow exponentially. As debt grows as a proportion of total production, so do interest payments. And as interest payments grow relative to the rest of real income, it is claimed, prices must rise faster as well.

This dilemma, the proponents argue, is the inherent problem that causes instability in the current banking system -- an instability that the authors believe to be responsible for the business cycle.

Most of those who advance this view believe that to correct the inherent instability in the current monetary system and simultaneously reduce inflation, the system of "debt" money must end. They argue that money must be spent into existence, or at least issued without charging interest.

This analysis is deficient on four counts. First, the banking system does not behave as presented above. The payment of interest on debts that arise through the money creation process will neither contract the money supply nor result in the growth of debt relative to the money supply. Second, there is no reason for the money supply to equal the sum of debt and interest. Third, debt is such a common and essential part of an economy, there is always plenty of it available for money creation without any need to encourage the creation of more. (The fourth reason, that interest costs are not the cause of inflation, is discussed in another section). "

it's an indepth article, but this section suggests that people like myself simply don't get how money works. What we have is not unstable, but rather reflects money circulation. That in order for money to flow throughout the system, lending must take place to money in supply.

I think that is the shortcut, I am still digesting the content. I am not convinced.

bkh , says: November 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm
The Globalists need a weakened America. A strong America is a threat to them. Americans are feeding off the slop given to them out of the trough of electronic media. It is laced with a hallucinogenic that all is fine and will get better with the right changes in DC. Those that have not fed out of that trough have been lulled to sleep by comfort.
kim powell , says: November 19, 2018 at 10:18 pm
When the so- called "conservatives" can explain how tax cuts produce more government revenue, I might vote them in. Sadly, the only people that ever point out that starting with the Reagan economy, it has been red ink as far as the eye can see, are those "liberal" politicians forced to scale back any ideas they may have. Rinse and repeat.
Fran Macadam , says: November 19, 2018 at 11:00 pm
Nobody can deal politically with demobilization, because the offshored economy eviscerated the one at home, at the same time that war economy became of outsized importance. The end of empire as a political choice is impossible, because of the economic dislocations it would incur, and that the dollar's invulnerable reserve purpose is only sustained now by empire militarism. Kicking the can so as collapse doesn't happen now is the political reality, a case of , "apres nous, le deluge."
Bill Taylor , says: November 20, 2018 at 12:13 am
It's not just money spent on troops abroad. It's the size of our defense spending. And what about borrowing one and a half trillion dollars to give tax cuts to the rich, gambling they would invest the money rather than buy back stocks. They bought back stocks.

javascript:false

Whine Merchant , says: November 20, 2018 at 4:15 am
It was during the first world war that the financial centre of the world quietly shifted from London to Wall Street. The mighty British Empire was at its peak a mere 12 years earlier, but the pressure of the trenches and unrestricted naval warfare started the decline that lead to the loss of Ireland, and later India and Singapore after WWII. Then the Suez humiliation, the loss of east Africa in the 1960s and finally Hong Kong, all within one lifespan.

The US is following this path, no matter how many red caps shout at rallies and expensive toys are given to the Pentagon.

All the while, 'One Belt – One Road' eats away at the US and supplants America's role on the world stage as the economic powerhouse. Pence was sent to APEC last week to avoid Trump being embarrassed by Beijing calling the tunes for east Asia. Soon, only India will be left to contain her economic and military rival over their contentious border.

John , says: November 20, 2018 at 6:26 am
Did it occur to the writer of this piece that our permeating military presence overseas serves no strategic presence in dealing with "enemies," but rather to intimidate host nations into remaining locked into continuing to use the dollar as the world's reseve currency? The reality is that pulling these troops out would be akin to the Romans pulling the limes back to the Rubicon. This is the inherent contradiction in all empires, that they are ultimately all built on foreign plunder and control, and can only continue to exist as long as they maintain that control until some internal or external factor causes their collapse.

In Rome's case, incompetence in governing, coupled with the arrival of migrating tribes in a position to capitalize on that incompetence, were the causes of the collapse of the western empire. With America, it may be that our inability to curb our spending, combined with the futility of trying to control the remaining nations outside of our sphere of influence, will be what collapses us. However, we are far too committed to our current course and trying to reverse direction at this point, given that it would inevitably be mismanaged and catastrophic, offers no real option. Reality will at some point catch up to us, but hopefully that day does not come within the lives of us or our children, or their children.

In the meantime, continuing to support the empire in its present state probably makes more sense than any other option, as unpalatable as it is. Only expanding upwards, creating a permanent presence in space, offers any new economic ground in the world, but there is only token support for this in the immediate gratification mindset of American policy makers.

Kent , says: November 20, 2018 at 6:44 am
1. Every penny, including interest payments, the government spends is always just "printed money". That money sits as deposits in the banking system.

2. After spending the money, the government gets most of it back in tax payments.

3.The rest gets hoovered up by trading that money for treasury bonds.

4. The federal government "just prints" today. It doesn't cause inflation because every dollar is returned to the government.

5. Ergo, the federal government has not debt. In the sense that you and I have debt. It works backwards from the way you think. Which is why we've been running deficits for decades and interest rates are at historic lows.

Our bankruptcy is moral. It is the willingness of the American people to to take up arms and murder people around the globe for the ill-gotten gains of a share holder class.

spite , says: November 20, 2018 at 7:49 am
Being financially bankrupt is one thing, such things can be dealt with if the will and the right attitudes are applied. The USA is however morally bankrupt (both "left" and "right"), on the world stage it is now nothing more than a thug (both "left" and "right" establishment), on the domestic front it is increasingly made up of an angry, hostile and fanatical population – this can clearly not last.
Mark Thomason , says: November 20, 2018 at 7:56 am
The fabulously rich empire of Spain managed to bankrupt itself with endless, useless, unwinnable wars. It has been done before. Spain wasn't first or last, just one of the best known. They didn't print money the world would take, they mined it, but the effect was the same, as was the way they just wasted it.
Uncle Billy , says: November 20, 2018 at 8:04 am
73 years after World War II, we still have large numbers of US Troops in Germany and Japan. Why? How long does this continue? 100 years? 200 years?
George Hoffman , says: November 20, 2018 at 8:10 am
As a Vietnam veteran (31 May 1967 -31 May 1968), the fall of Saigon on April 30,1975, was a wake-up call. It marked the end of our dreams of endless empire-building by a nation that had lost its major compass. The collective wars on terror now rival that foreign policy debacle. Yet war hawks continue to lobby for us to be the policeman for the world though they veil their hubris with "full spectrum dominance." As Chalmers Johnson warned us in his "Blowback" trilogy without a course correction, our empire will collapse from its own internal stress and contradictions. But despite the fall of Saigon, which clearly marked the end of the American century, we continued to feed the ravenous beast of the military/ industrial complex. And we still pursued demons overseas as Captain Ahab did chasing after that white whale in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." If the Vietnam War was a Greek tragedy, we are playing out what can only be considered a play from the Theater of the Absurd.
muad'dib , says: November 20, 2018 at 8:30 am

Ideologically motivated wars have led us to the precipice of financial disaster. American foreign policy must adopt a limited, highly strategic view of its national interest and use its remaining wealth sparingly and only when necessary. Realism can stave off national ruin.

Bull sh*t!!! Tax cuts for Billionaires staring in the eighties is how we got in this level of debt, Reagan/Bush took the National debt from 1 trillion in 1980 to 12 Trillion in 1992, not foreign wars (not that they helped), return to the tax rates of the 70's (brackets adjusted for inflation) and within a couple of decades, the national debt will be paid off.

PAX , says: November 20, 2018 at 8:45 am
This article suggests that the limitations to monetarizing military interventions may be our best hope to deter the warmongers who seem intent on squandering our national wealth, lives and limbs of our service people, and national prestige on their designer wars. To discuss the etiology of their militarism is to vent the obvious. The 800-pound gorilla has not been contained quietly in the corner. He is out and about, everywhere and in many guises. Are these folks prepared to pull the monetary edifice down on themselves and the rest of us? Push on TAC. Keep the truth that CNN and the mainstream media obscure, coming.
Jon , says: November 20, 2018 at 9:41 am
Or, business as usual. The national debt grows the budget deficit deepens and the polity is distracted by one military adventure after another. We are at the point where monetary value is nothing but an abstraction.

Millionaires become billionaires. And, their empires are made with paper not land. Economics no longer drives the arrangement of social bonds and the way people are governed. Without a commodity base, the money stock is nothing more than bookkeeping entries -- numbers piled high upon other numbers.

In this fantastically bloated world of paper or rather computer entries (that incessant stream of zeroes and ones) we cling to our ideological notions of how reality ought to be organized. No matter the crisis and no matter if the average worker carts home his daily wages in a wheelbarrow, the masses cling to their belief systems. And the elected will play their games of folly.

Should sobriety ever enter the picture as the article suggests could very well happen then we return to the counsel of Hjalmar Schacht and establish the equivalent of the Rentenmark. The debt is forgiven and we start this debauchery all over again. The military proceeds without interruption of its revenue flow to march on other capitals unless there is a realignment of power amidst the chaos of conflict.

What might be considered a sea change stemming from the mad rush to print money to pay debts will be nothing more than a tsunami clearing the ground of human settlement in specific areas without stirring human habitation elsewhere. The survivors will pick up the pieces and resume life back along the coast and along river banks. And ostriches will once more bury their heads in sand.

Fred Bowman , says: November 20, 2018 at 10:50 am
Well maybe when the Empire crashes, America can find her way back to being a Republic. Although truth be told, I think America will end up being Balkinized in the aftermath.
TomG , says: November 20, 2018 at 11:45 am
Mr. DeRensis, I sure hope you and Senator Paul can gain some traction against this insane foreign policy debacle of decades for all the citizens of this country's sake and for the worlds.
snapper , says: November 20, 2018 at 12:07 pm
As you note, when you borrow in your own currency, you can't default. You can always print money to pay the debts.

What you don't note, is that you don't need hyperinflation to get out of the debt problem. If the US was to average 5% inflation for 15 years, the real value of the debt would be more than halved.

Myron Hudson , says: November 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm
Thank you for this. Ironically, the USSR collapsed in main part because they spent themselves, militarily, into oblivion. It's long been obvious that we are hurtling towards the same cliff, but for some reason think that It Cannot Happen To Us.
fabian , says: November 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm
I agree with the author but I'm far from convinced that they'd chose retirees vs. military. Future will tell. After all they can "atomize" retirees. The reverse is not true. Elections? If you believe in them, be my guest.
Clyde Schechter , says: November 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm
"And the empire will be the first thing to go.

Just like its warfare state, the government's welfare state has plenty of internal calamities. But while it might be the preference of some megalomaniacal globalists to let the proles starve while preserving overseas holdings, it's not going to happen. What would transpire if Social Security checks stopped showing up in mailboxes and Medicare benefits got cut off? When presented with that choice, will the average American choose his social safety net or continued funding for far-flung bases in Stuttgart, Okinawa, and Djibouti? Even the most militaristic congressperson will know which way to vote, lest they find a mob waiting outside their D.C. castles."

Well, I sure hope you're right, but color me skeptical. Our overlords seem to have little difficulty manipulating public opinion to their wishes. The strongest support for the "Global War on Terror" comes, geographically, from the regions that are sustaining the most deaths and maimings among their children. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are in the grip of the neoconservative ideology to agree that borders on the psychotic.

The trend over time has been, if anything, to further expand the empire with ever increasing aggression. The public, meanwhile, supports whatever MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News, as the case may be, tells them to. The evisceration of our safety net will be sold as the necessary sacrifice to preserve the "homeland." We will be reminded of the glory days of World War II when the nation came together to accept material hardship to assure that the needs of the GIs would be met.

Why will it be different this time? I hope it will, but I don't see any reason to believe that. I hate to say this, but I think you are wildly optimistic here.

Adam , says: November 20, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Couldn't happen to a more deserving country. For the better part of the post-WWII era (and prior), the US has been invading, pillaging, murdering, and basically doing its utmost to ensure the maximum number of dead and the minimum number of freedom of sovereign countries.

From propping up genocidal fascists like Pinochet in Chile and the Military Junta in El Salvador, including death squads, to genocidal theocratic dictators in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the US and its deluded and primitive knuckle-dragging population was the pre-eminent hyperpower and Empire, yet no Americant would dare tell the truth and utter that word, 'Empire'.

You truly epitomize the quote, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"

ahzzh , says: November 20, 2018 at 5:36 pm
I hate to sound overly cynical but do the war profiteers even care? Im sure they would wrap themselves in the flag and wax poetic about the need to defend freedom and the American way ( through military activism of course), but they won't give up their lip lock on the gov't teat until it runs dry. By the time it hits the fan they will be safely ensconced in their hideaways protected from the worst of it by the dirty, bloody money they have bilked out of us.
cstahnke , says: November 20, 2018 at 8:41 pm
Clearly the author does not understand the power of the military industrial complex and the Empire it services. Choice between Social Security checks and the Empire? The Empire will win every time–let me put it as clearly as possible. These guys, if they have to will do ANYTHING to stay in power. They have no morality whatsoever and will grind us into flour and make muffins out of us before they give up their "security" budgets.
BraveNewWorld , says: November 20, 2018 at 10:28 pm
>"Congress, in a state of emergency, will have to take a buzzsaw to appropriations. And the empire will be the first thing to go."

That's an opinion but I am afraid not one I have much faith in. The Republicans are already planning a slaughter of benefits to prop up empire. The Dems will help out. The bottom line is politicians get rich from defense spending not helping the old and the poor.

Even if the government completely cut grandma's benefits and she had to live on the street she would still vote for her party if the poor were allowed to vote, because there are no Americans any more. Only Democrats and Republicans and they are as tribal now as any region of the Middle East.

John Blade Wiederspan , says: November 20, 2018 at 10:33 pm
I taught Macro Economics for a long time. Since the late 70's I lectured about the fact that Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Defense (including the V.A.), and interest on the national debt made up at least 80% of all Federal Spending. I would have never believed the debt and deficits could get as large as they are under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The Defense Budget is one large Federal jobs program for every congressional district and foreign aid to many foreign countries. The last number I saw, there are over 800 bases outside the United States. Everyone, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican should heed Ike's warning. The tragedy is no one will and nothing is going to change. What a nation this could be if it wasn't for the Military Industrial Political Complex. I'm now 70 and, to be honest, I have given up hoping I will ever see a change in fiscal behavior. More's the pity.
TG , says: November 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm
I hear you, but I think we have to realize that the real problem with the national debt is not the debt per se – it's the combination of our immigration and trade policies.

Post-1970 cheap-labor immigration policies have already boosted the population of the United States by about 100 million and climbing. As Malthus pointed out, this is not a problem as long as the appropriate investments are being made to accommodate the increased number of people.

But not only are we not making the needed investments to handle growing population, we are shipping our industrial base overseas! So we have more and more people, and less and less of a real (non-financial) economy to support them.

We have been handling this gap by running ever-increasing trade deficits. THAT is the problem. Because a debt that we owe ourselves, is not really an issue: we can always just wipe it out. A debt that we owe foreigners, in principle, is also not a problem: we can just stiff them. But if we depend on foreign imports for manufactured goods – and soon I think, even for food! – if we stiff our foreign creditors, and we can no longer run a trade deficit, that could be really really bad.

As John Maynard Keynes always pointed out, money is important, but never forget the real physical economy.

Carlton Meyer , says: November 21, 2018 at 5:20 pm
Few people realize that closing many overseas bases will help our military! Here is a list of outdated U.S. military bases overseas that can be promptly closed to save billions of dollars each year while shifting billions of dollars and thousands of jobs into the American economy. None of these closures require the construction of replacement facilities in the USA because they are mostly base and headquarters overhead fat that serve no purpose.

http://www.g2mil.com/OBCL.htm

Mark Krvavica , says: November 21, 2018 at 7:13 pm
The days of the American Empire are over because we live in a domestic Empire that we can't control, the latter is like the Soviet Union during the last years before the breakup and we should acknowledge this.
Last Rites , says: November 21, 2018 at 10:02 pm
"Congress, in a state of emergency, will have to take a buzzsaw to appropriations. And the empire will be the first thing to go."

Afraid not. There will be a threat – because there's always a threat, right? – and the threat will be so urgent as to take precedence over the needs of regular Americans, of whom there will be precious few anyway because of the tens of millions of aliens they've imported.

Our military has become a giant mouth demanding to be fed, and we're reaching the point that if it isn't fed, it will feed itself, because it can. It happened to Rome and can happen to us.

[Nov 25, 2018] Let s recap what Obama s coup in Ukraine has led to shall we?

Highly recommended!
CIA democrats of which Obama is a prominent example (and Hillary is another one) are are Werewolfs, very dangerous political beasts, probably more dangerous to the world then Republicans like George W Bush. But in case of Ukraine, it was easily pushed into Baltic orbit, because it has all the preconditions for that. So Nuland has an relatively easy, albeit dirty task. Also all this probably that "in five years we will be living like French" was pretty effective. Now the population faces consequences of its own stupidity. This is just neoliberal business as usual or neocolonialism.
Notable quotes:
"... populists on the right ..."
"... hired members of Ukraine's two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties ..."
"... Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment ..."
"... @snoopydawg ..."
"... @snoopydawg ..."
"... @gulfgal98 ..."
"... @gulfgal98 ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

Let's recap what Obama's coup in Ukraine has led to shall we? Maybe installing and blatantly backing Neo Nazis in Ukraine might have something to do with the rise of " populists on the right " that is spreading through Europe and this country, Hillary.

America's criminal 'news' media never even reported the coup, nor that in 2011 the Obama regime began planning for a coup in Ukraine . And that by 1 March 2013 they started organizing it inside the U.S. Embassy there . And that they hired members of Ukraine's two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties , Right Sector and Svoboda (which latter had been called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until the CIA advised them to change it to Freedom Party, or "Svoboda" instead). And that in February 2014 they did it (and here's the 4 February 2014 phone call instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to place in charge of the new regime when the coup will be completed), under the cover of authentic anti-corruption demonstrations that the Embassy organized on the Maidan Square in Kiev, demonstrations that the criminal U.S. 'news' media misrepresented as 'democracy demonstrations ,' though Ukraine already had democracy (but still lots of corruption, even more than today's U.S. does, and the pontificating Obama said he was trying to end Ukraine's corruption -- which instead actually soared after his coup there).

But wait there's more .... Remember that caravan of refugees making their way through Mexico? Guess where a number of them came from? Honduras. Yep. Another coup that happened during Obama's and Hillary's tenure.

Hard choices: Hillary Clinton admits role in Honduran coup aftermath

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a review of Henry Kissinger's latest book, "World Order ," to lay out her vision for "sustaining America's leadership in the world." In the midst of numerous global crises, she called for return to a foreign policy with purpose, strategy and pragmatism. She also highlighted some of these policy choices in her memoir "Hard Choices" and how they contributed to the challenges that Barack Obama's administration now faces.
**
The chapter on Latin America, particularly the section on Honduras, a major source of the child migrants currently pouring into the United States, has gone largely unnoticed. In letters to Clinton and her successor, John Kerry, more than 100 members of Congress have repeatedly warned about the deteriorating security situation in Honduras, especially since the 2009 military coup that ousted the country's democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. As Honduran scholar Dana Frank points out in Foreign Affairs, the U.S.-backed post-coup government "rewarded coup loyalists with top ministries," opening the door for further "violence and anarchy."

The homicide rate in Honduras, already the highest in the world, increased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011; political repression, the murder of opposition political candidates, peasant organizers and LGBT activists increased and continue to this day. Femicides skyrocketed. The violence and insecurity were exacerbated by a generalized institutional collapse. Drug-related violence has worsened amid allegations of rampant corruption in Honduras' police and government. While the gangs are responsible for much of the violence, Honduran security forces have engaged in a wave of killings and other human rights crimes with impunity.

Despite this, however, both under Clinton and Kerry, the State Department's response to the violence and military and police impunity has largely been silence, along with continued U.S. aid to Honduran security forces. In "Hard Choices," Clinton describes her role in the aftermath of the coup that brought about this dire situation. Her firsthand account is significant both for the confession of an important truth and for a crucial false testimony.

First, the confession: Clinton admits that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office. "In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico," Clinton writes. "We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot."

Clinton's position on Latin America in her bid for the presidency is another example of how the far right exerts disproportionate influence on US foreign policy in the hemisphere. up 24 users have voted. --

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment


aliasalias on Fri, 11/23/2018 - 6:16pm

Count on Wikileaks for the unvarnished truth

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg Obama, Hillary and the rest of that administration knew it was a coup because that was the goal.

"..4. (C) In our view, none of the above arguments has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution. Some are outright false. Others are mere supposition or ex-post rationalizations of a patently illegal act. Essentially: --
the military had no authority to remove Zelaya from the country;
-- Congress has no constitutional authority to remove a Honduran president;
-- Congress and the judiciary removed Zelaya on the