“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.”
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
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
[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace
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
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
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
global interventionism is used to achieve those ends.
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.
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).
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:
the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests;
soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil;
force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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
and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman
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.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in
the U.S.-Russian joint action that
chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite
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
"...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
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
"...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. "
"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist
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.
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
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
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."
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.”
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.
The first is what he dubs the “American credo,” which calls on “the United States — and the
United States alone — to lead save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.”
Second is what he calls the “sacred trinity,” which requires that the United States “maintain
a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projections,
and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.”
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:
General Curtis LeMay, who built a massive nuclear arsenal as head of Strategic Air
Allen Dulles, who backed coups across the globe as CIA director;
General Maxwell Taylor, who rode the idea of “flexible response” from retirement to
the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side, The Inside Story How The War on Terror Turned into a War on America's
Schlesinger, Arthur, "War and the American Presidency."
Mann, Thomas & Ornstein, Norman, "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How
to Get It Back on Track."
Zinni, Tony (Gen. Ret.), "The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and
Niebuhr, Reinhold, "The Irony of American History."
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
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.
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.
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.
Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun
is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
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.
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs, February
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
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.
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
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
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
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."
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
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. \
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
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
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:
Dick Cheney, who was becoming a comic-book churl by this stage of his public life;
Colin Powell, the loyal soldier, staffer, and diplomat whose "Powell Doctrine" and
entire life's work stood in opposition to the kind of war that he, with misguided loyalty, was
to play so central a role in selling;
Tony Blair, the crucial ally who added rhetorical polish and international resolve
to the case for war;
Donald Rumsfeld, with his breezy contempt for those who said the effort would be difficult
Paul Bremer, whose sudden, thoughtless dismantling of the Iraqi army proved so disastrous;
Condoleezza Rice, miscast in her role as White House national-security advisor;
George Tenet, the long-time staffer who cooperated with the "slam-dunk!" intelligence
assessment despite serious disagreement within the CIA;
and of course George W. Bush himself, whose combination of limited knowledge and strong
desire to be "decisive" made him so vulnerable to the argument that the "real" response to the
9/11 attacks should be invading a country that had nothing to do with them.
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
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
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.
"... ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What's Wrong With the Opium of the People . He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). ..."
Then Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, would be president of the United States, but the
Senate, probably, and the House of Representatives, certainly, would have remained under
In other words, had Hillary won, we would now have pretty much what we had when Barack Obama
was president – but with the executive branch less competently led and more packed with
Clintonite (neoliberal, liberal imperialist, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later) officials,
and with a Congress run by obstinate Republican troglodytes running roughshod over feckless,
slightly less retrograde Democrats.
Radical impulses would, of course, continue to stir throughout the general population but
notwithstanding widespread and deep popular support, to even less avail than before.
A Clinton presidency wouldn't make the blood of high-minded people boil, the way the Trump
presidency has done, though, for anyone with the courage to face reality squarely, it would be
nearly as painful to endure.
That pain would be much less constructive than the pain that is now so widely felt. Instead
of sparking anodyne "resistance," it would be drowned out in a sea of acquiescence.
In a word, Clinton's first term would be what a third Obama term would have been –
ratcheted down a few notches in the squelched "hope" and "change" departments.
By being African American, Obama stirred up plenty of hope and change illusions, especially
at first, in many, maybe most, sectors of the population. In other sectors, Obama's race
brought barely suppressed prejudices and resentments out into the open.
Because it soon became clear – not to everybody, but to everybody not willfully blind
– that, under Obama, little, if any, good would come, Obamaphilia eventually faded away;
the racism and nativism Obama's election boosted proved more durable.
Hillary, on the other hand, was anything but a beacon of hope – except perhaps to
those of her supporters whose highest priority was electing a woman president. Hardly anyone
else ever expected much good to come from her calling the shots.
In comparison with Obama, she wasn't even good at what she did. Despite a constant barrage
of public relations babble about how experienced and competent she is, this was widely
understood, even if seldom conceded.
She hadn't been much of a First Lady or Senator; among other things, she helped set the
cause of health insurance reform back a generation, and she supported the Afghanistan and Iraq
Then, as Secretary of State, she was at least partly responsible for devastating levels of
disorder and mayhem throughout North Africa (Libya especially), the Greater Middle East (not
just Syria), and elsewhere (Honduras, for example). But for her tenure at Foggy Bottom, there
would be many fewer refugees in the world today.
It is therefore a good bet that were she president now, Obama would be sorely missed –
notwithstanding his fondness for terrorizing civilians with weaponized drones, and for
deporting Hispanics and others with a zeal exceeding George Bush's.
Inasmuch as he did break a color line that seemed infrangible, it was impossible for persons
of good will not to root for the man. That would be like not rooting for Jackie Robinson. But
the fact remains: except in comparison to his rivals and to Trump, he was no prize.
Because it was clear to nearly everybody outside the Clinton propaganda circuit that, by
2016, there really was no "glass ceiling" holding women back, Hillary had nothing like that
going for her.
There were and are plenty of people of all ages and genders who would have liked to see a
woman elected president; the time for that is long past due. But, by the time Clinton became
the Democratic standard bearer, hardly anyone could truly believe that patriarchal attitudes or
rampant misogyny were significant factors standing in her way.
To be sure, the lingering effects of attitudes in place years ago have diminished the pool
of plausible female candidates. But then so too did the idea that Clinton was somehow entitled
to the office. Because that attitude was so deeply entrenched, few women wanted to cross
Nevertheless, there are women who, running on the Democratic line, could surely have
defeated Trump. An obvious example is Elizabeth Warren.
I am not alone in thinking that had the Democratic National Committee not rigged the
nomination process in Clinton's favor, Bernie Sanders would have become the party's nominee and
then gone on to defeat Trump. Warren's chances of winning the election were better still
– precisely because, she is a woman.
Clinton's problem was not her gender; it was her politics.
Even so, we would be a lot better off now had she won in 2016 -- not just because the evil
we know (too well!) is easier to deal with than the blooming buzzing confusion we ended up with
instead, but also because, despite her Russophobia and fondness for "military solutions," the
likelihood that the United States would blunder into a nuclear Armageddon would now be
Too bad therefore that she flubbed even more egregiously than those of us who saw through
the public relations myths about her accomplishments and competence thought possible.
Needless to say, in the alternative universe that Democrats and their media flacks have
concocted, they explain the election outcome differently. In their view, Hillary lost because
"the Russians" subverted our democratic institutions.
Or was it because James Comey, then the Director of the FBI, tipped that election to Trump
by refocusing attention on Clinton's emails as Election Day approached?
One would think that it would faze Democratic confabulators that, shortly after the election
was over, Comey rose to the top of Donald Trump's shit list – and was unceremoniously
fired. They really should get their story straight.
While they are sorting that out, they might also make an effort to be a tad less besotted
with the FBI. It is, to say the least, unseemly, even for faux-progressives, to cozy up to the
perennial scourge of every progressive tendency in the American body politic.
And it isn't just the FBI – Democrats nowadays are smitten with the entire national
security state apparatus, including the CIA and the NSA.
Democrats have always been that way to some extent, but, in the pre-Trump era, Republicans
were generally the more gung ho of our two semi-established parties.
For decades, Cold War anti-Communist paranoia endeared the FBI and the others to wide
swathes of the general public and to Republicans and Democrats alike. When a dearth of real
world Communists made that story line impossible to maintain, "Islamic terrorists" were on hand
to take their place.
These obsessions pair well with the right's passion for law and order – in other
words, for keeping the poor generally, and persons of color especially, down.
And so, being the more rightwing of the duopoly parties, Republicans, before Trump, were
especially besotted with the forces of order – from local police (for whom, black lives
don't really matter) on up (or is it down?).
Democrats have never had any real quarrel with any of this, but, being the "nicer" and more
reasonable of the duopoly parties, they were less inclined to go overboard.
It grieves me to say anything good about Donald Trump, but, to his credit, he did force
Republicans onto a less unreasonable track – not in general, but towards Russia, a
country with a nuclear arsenal so formidable that only maniacs would want to mess with it
In all likelihood, Trump's reasons are venal or otherwise nefarious, and have little if
anything to do with common sense. But anything that holds back the Doomsday Clock is
It is likely, though, that, before long, Republicans will revert back to their old ways.
Indeed, this is already happening: witness Trump's new "defense strategy" – aimed at
the old Cold War bugaboos, Russia and China.
The scare quotes are in order because there is no strategy there, and what Trump is
proposing has nothing to do with defense. It has everything to do, however, with giving free
rein to the Pentagon to squander monies that could be otherwise spent in socially useful ways,
and with stuffing the pockets of death merchants ("defense contractors") and those who feed off
the taxpayer money our political class throws their way.
Despite even this, Democrats remain the less odious duopoly party. On nearly all "issues,"
just about any Republican is worse than any Democrat; and the attitudes and instincts
Republicans evince are more execrable by far.
It should be born in mind, however, that the Democratic Party is, if anything, even more
responsible for Trump than the Republicans are.
Insofar as he has set political views and attitudes, they were forged in New York City,
under the aegis of Democratic Party politicians. And the Clintonite (neoliberal) turn in the
larger political culture created the conditions for the possibility of Trump, or someone like
him, rising to national prominence.
Democrats pulled this off by malignly neglecting the working class – and therefore
less well-off white voters, among others – and by euthanizing nascent left oppositions
that showed promise of challenging the economic supremacy and political power of the so-called
"donor class" and of capitalists generally.
Neoliberalism shifts power and resources from the state sector to private capital, it
encourages the globalization of trade, and it facilitates the free flow of capital around the
Its nostrums are integral to a form of class struggle aimed at weakening working class
opposition – largely, but not exclusively, by attacks on the labor movement.
The classical fascism of the interwar years took aim at workers' economic and political
organizations too – more directly, through violent frontal assaults. Neoliberalism works
more gently, through protracted wars of attrition. The consequences, however, are much the
The Clintons and Tony Blair and their counterparts in other countries make a show of their
progressivism – limiting their efforts, however, to cultural issues that do not
materially harm capitalists' interests.
Around election times, they even make nice with union leaders -- because they need the
resources and manpower they can still provide. But it is all a ruse, as workers and others know
Real fascists set out to intimidate workers' organizations; they liked bloodying noses.
Neoliberals take aim at workers' power in such subtle but far-reaching ways that they often
don't even realize that they have been had.
In the early days of the Regan era, Bertram Gross famously introduced the notion of
"friendly fascism." The GOP used to be the friendly fascist's natural home. These days,
however, Republicans are a lot nastier than they were in Reagan's time.
In recent years, the Tea Party and then Trump and the miscreants he has empowered have
accentuated the GOP's racist, nativist, and authoritarian side. It is not a fascist party in
the traditional sense, but the resemblances are more than a little worrisome.
And so, Reagan-style friendly fascism has largely disappeared from the Republican fold. But
for what has taken its place, this would be a reason to celebrate.
Meanwhile, the spirit of the "Reagan revolution" lives on in the other duopoly party
–where, thanks to the Clintons and others like them, efforts to keep "the donor class up"
and everyone else down continue in a seemingly more benign way.
The electoral consequences are predictable. The kinds of working class people whom Trump
derides – basically, everyone who is not white, male and straight – are, of course,
more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. But they are more likely still not to vote
Why would they when they have nothing to vote for ?
And, in large (mainly rural) swathes of the country, white working class men and the women
who stand by them will vote for anyone, even an obviously incompetent billionaire buffoon whose
policies will do nothing for them materially, provided only that he channels their resentments
at Clintonite policies and people.
However, malign neglect of an important segment of the working class is only partly
responsible for Trump. The absence of a genuine left is of far greater importance.
The reasons for its absence are many, and go far beyond the Democratic Party. Even so,
Democrats have a lot to answer for.
As it became increasingly clear that the Bush-Cheney wars launched after 9/11 were
responsible for enormous harm to people and to geopolitical stability, a peace movement took
shape that, by 2006, had become a force to be reckoned with.
At the same time, in anticipation of the 2008 election, the leadership of the Democratic
Party did its best to keep dissent in bounds. Their aim was to get Hillary Clinton elected
president, and they feared that political turbulence would upset their plans.
At the very least, with the House back under Democratic control in 2006, Democrats could
have initiated impeachment proceedings against George Bush; they had more than ample grounds.
Whether or not he would then have been removed from office, he and his subordinates would have
been impeded to some extent from doing at least some of the harm they went on to do.
But Nancy Pelosi and her co-thinkers in Congress put the kibosh on that idea. Their efforts
did not stifle the growing peace movement entirely, but it did take some of the wind out its
When it turned out that Obama was a stronger candidate than Clinton, and that the nomination
would go his way, leading Democrats adapted. Hillary was their favorite, but Obama had been
thoroughly vetted for corporate-friendliness and passed all the tests with flying colors. That
was good enough for them.
And so it fell to the Nobel laureate to put the peace movement definitively down, even as he
continued – temporarily even escalating -- the Bush-Cheney wars.
For too long and against too much contrary evidence, liberals took it for granted that Obama
was on the side of the angels. They therefore let pass the murder and mayhem he was responsible
After eight years of that, what little semblance of a genuine left there had been within the
Democratic Party's ambit found itself narcotized into oblivion.
An appetite for real opposition, even rebellion, existed within the general public; under
the pressure of events it was growing all the time. But, with our debilitating duopoly party
system in place, there was no political way out of the status quo.
Had Hillary won, that sad state of affairs would have continued, while the underlying
maladies that Trump exploited for the benefit of himself and his class would have continued to
And we would now likely be on the brink of even more appalling electoral outcomes than we
suffered through in 2010 and 2014, and in 2016, when the Trump phenomenon defied all
Paradoxically, though, with Trump's victory, the prospects for a better mainstream politics
actually improved. Trump is so manifestly unfit for the job he holds that his hold over the
White House and the Republican Party actually harms the right more than it helps it.
His ever expanding docket of impeachable offenses and his crude misogyny are doing the work
an organized left opposition would be doing, if only one existed -- creating space for popular
movements to develop.
It started with the Women's March, immediately after Inauguration Day, and has been growing
ever since; with women – black, brown, and white – leading the surge.
With midterm elections looming, the danger of cooptation is great -- Democrats, their media
in tow, are working overtime to make that happen. But thanks to Trump, things have gone too far
by now to be squelched entirely.
What Obama's victory did to the peace movement after 2008, a Hillary victory in 2016 would
have done ten times over to the several (mainly woman-led) insurgencies that were beginning to
take shape during the campaign.
With Trump in the White House, progressive women remain in the forefront of struggles to
change the world for the better. With Clinton there instead, their best efforts would be
swamped by anodyne campaigns led by well-meaning liberals of the kind that understandably rile
up the Trump base.
All things considered, it would have been better (less catastrophically awful) had Hillary
won. Even so, there is some reason to be grateful that she did not. Join the debate on
Facebook More articles by: Andrew Levine
Taking oil price to 30th or 40th is a strategic goal of the USA in relation to Russia. Listen at 3:30.
"... Appeasing interview with a shockingly cheap incompetent former CIA head Woolsey. If this man seriously represents the intellectual level of the CIA, then the USA will implode even faster than in ten years. ..."
"... You are exactly right. U$ politicians are uninformed, stupid, detached from reality, selfish and they think like schoolyard kids do. ..."
"... They are the product of the US society as a whole. ..."
"... Craig Murray nailed this issue stone dead for all time a few years ago, when he wrote:"[neo]liberal interventionism, the theory that bombing brown people is good for them". ..."
"... In the former The Ukraine, the Jewish Quisling oligarch dictator, Poroshenko, has been appointing foreigners to positions of power (SackOfShvilli is but one). He supported this by stating: "Ukrainians are too corrupt to rule themselves." When will we in America hear such a statement from our leaders to justify the appointment of Jews and paid Judaeophiles to all positions of power? ..."
"... I'm just waiting for Yevgeny Prigozhin to hold a press conference in Russia to claim that Hillary Clinton paid him to run the Internet Research Agency to besmirch her opponent- watch the fireworks :) It's all a hall of mirrors. ..."
"... The Internet Research Agency couldn't have possibly been more ineffective, which points to it's main purpose being to besmirch Trump (more more likely it was just an unimportant hobby of Prigozhin). ..."
"... Sure the United States has, they have been doing it since 1953 with the overthrow of Iran, to as recently as 2012 Russian Election, 2014 Ukraine Election, the UK referendum on 23 June 2016 on Brexit and currently trying to overthrow it this year. These are just a few and there is a very long list of other countries also. The United States in now in Russia and Hungry today meddling it their elections. Got to get the right people in office so they will cow-tow to the United States. ..."
"... What an admission! trump doesn't want more drilling for oil to Americans to use. It is for export and for foreign interference ..."
"... and if the price of oil would go down to 30/40$ that would make a unhappy input and so would be the saudis and you fracking industry would go down the toilet and thy will drag the banks with them. What a moron. And US oil companies would like that alot too ..."
Another tiresome, butthurt yank/wank? Between the new One Belt, One Road Chinese initiative, the Russians taking control of
ME oil production and the fact that america has NO answers to help it's declining empire, it would seem to the non-partisan observer
that america is well and truly f***ed. You must be talking about their debt expansionism, $20 TRILLION and rising by the second.
Thank you Mario......let's not forget Ukraine, Kosovo, Bosnia, the entirety of eastern Europe, the entirety of northern Africa,
Rwanda, the Congo, Venezuela, Chili, Guatemala, Panama, Jeeeeeeeze etc......
Russia condemned and defined as the enemy of America with laughably little evidence (effing Facebook posts being about the
extent of it) .... not a word about JEWISH MONEY controlling the entire political system in the USA. When Netanyahu gets 29 standing
ovations from Congress should that not have triggered an FBI "Investigation"? Nah ... nothing happening there. It is breathtaking
that THIS is the Alice-In-Wonderland world we inhabit.
Appeasing interview with a shockingly cheap incompetent former CIA head Woolsey. If this man seriously represents the intellectual
level of the CIA, then the USA will implode even faster than in ten years.
Yeah, that's hilarious. Join the murdering creep in a giggle, Laura, that's cute. Here's a global criminal who should have
been hung years ago for crimes against humanity. No one in their right mind would treat this creep with anything but contempt
and horror, let alone find him funny.
In the former The Ukraine, the Jewish Quisling oligarch dictator, Poroshenko, has been appointing foreigners to positions of
power (SackOfShvilli is but one). He supported this by stating: "Ukrainians are too corrupt to rule themselves." When will we
in America hear such a statement from our leaders to justify the appointment of Jews and paid Judaeophiles to all positions of
Are those ears or bat-wings? WOW! Yet another Jewe, pretending not be be. I guess he would say that the USA murdered all the
Indians and enslaved Africans 'for their own good' as well.
Talmudo-Satanism is the pernicious underlying ideology of the people who have taken over, not just the USA, but, lets face it,
the entire West.
Lets not forget that the U.$.A. meddled in Australia's election of the Whitlam Government. (And several governments there after
as soon as they realised they could get away with it an nothing would happen to them). The United States are a bunch of sick puppies;
really sick puppies the way they have treated Australia.
So much for being allies. With allies like the United States you don't need enemies (Unless the U.$. doctors them up for you
to force you to pay them more money for weapons and protection).
And it makes me sick that so many 'naive' people around the world keep falling for the SH*T that comes out of their mouths.
When dealing with the United States there are a few rules to follow. (Apologies to the innocent Americans out there but 'they'
allow their government to do some unspeakable horrors to the world.)
Rule One: If an American politician is speaking, then they are lying to you.
Rule Two: If an American Politician is quiet, they they want you to believe a lie.
Rule Three: If you have relations with the United States, you will be lied to.
And that goes for the entire planet no matter who the United States is speaking to.
Yes, nobody doubts that the US interferes with elections in other countries - we're the good guys, so this is ok :)
I'm just waiting for Yevgeny Prigozhin to hold a press conference in Russia to claim that Hillary Clinton paid him to run the
Internet Research Agency to besmirch her opponent- watch the fireworks :) It's all a hall of mirrors.
The Internet Research Agency couldn't have possibly been more ineffective, which points to it's main purpose being to besmirch
Trump (more more likely it was just an unimportant hobby of Prigozhin).
Sure the United States has, they have been doing it since 1953 with the overthrow of Iran, to as recently as 2012 Russian Election,
2014 Ukraine Election, the UK referendum on 23 June 2016 on Brexit and currently trying to overthrow it this year. These are just
a few and there is a very long list of other countries also. The United States in now in Russia and Hungry today meddling it their
elections. Got to get the right people in office so they will cow-tow to the United States.
Frederick the Great concluded that to allow governments to be dominated by the majority would be
disastrous: "A democracy, to survive, must be, like other governments a minority persuading a majority to let itself be led by
and if the price of oil would go down to 30/40$ that would make a unhappy input and so would be the saudis and you fracking
industry would go down the toilet and thy will drag the banks with them. What a moron. And US oil companies would like that alot too
MIC controls Trump, not the other way around. That's why Trump deflated just three months
after inauguration. He can tell all he wants, but his actions speak louder then his words. His
actions are typical neocon actions.
"... However inadvertently, Trump has thereby bestowed on the American people a singular gift, putting a presidential imprimatur on a point that critics have been making for years, to no avail. Pointing out that our post-9/11 wars have resulted in a multitrillion-dollar waste of lives and treasure represents easily the greatest achievement of his young administration. ..."
"... Now let's look at the rest of the story. I will claim that most US military adventures, since Korea has been a failure often with unintended consequences, squandering taxpayer dollars while the national infrastructure and national psyche crumble. Involving ourselves in Vietnam after the French abandoned it was a horrific mistake with the loss of many lives and the expenditure of immeasurable political and economic capital. Somebody tell me again what Bay of Pigs and Grenada accomplished? There have been numerous other short term in-and-out deployments of troops and materiel since Korea. See Wikipedia's "Timeline of United States military operations." ..."
"... Let's face it. The military-industrial complex continues to lead the country into deeply unfortunate places and situations. Let's tie all this back to the recent school massacre in Parkland FL, one of many in recent years. Military surplus has been given away by the federal government to build up highly militarized SWAT teams in cities, armed with tanks, missile launchers and automatic weapons. Citizens easily and quickly arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons, seizing on loopholes that regulate the buying of hand guns but not AK-15s, all because the NRA owns too many members of Congress. ..."
"... Let's go beyond Trump's simplistic pronouncement. The United States has been and is a bellicose and violent nation. Unfortunately, President Trump's words have been equally bellicose, especially toward North Korea. I have little faith that our country will dial back its aggressiveness under the Trump regime. ..."
In a typically offhand remark, President Trump the other day rendered his personal
assessment of our various post-9/11 wars, interventions, and punitive expeditions. "
Seven trillion dollars. What a mistake ," he said. "But it is what it is."
The seven trillion is merely a guesstimate, of course. No one, least of all the lords of the
Pentagon, really knows how much our sundry military campaigns, large and small, have cost. Yet
at this point, total expenditures certainly reach well into the trillions. And whatever the
current tally, that sum will inevitably increase as our wars drag on and as downstream
obligations – care for veterans, for example – pile up for decades to come.
That Trump himself should characterize those wars as mistaken represents a moment of plain
speaking rare in today's Washington. After all, as the current commander in chief, he owns that
mistake and its myriad consequences. We may doubt that the generals occupying senior positions
in his administration share their boss's assessment. Nor, in all likelihood, does the national
security establishment as a whole. Yet it qualifies as more than mildly interesting that the
individual exercising supreme authority views the entire enterprise as misbegotten.
Imagine the head of Planned Parenthood declaring herself a pro-lifer. Imagine Amazon CEO
Jeff Bezos criticizing the American penchant for conspicuous consumption. Imagine Tom Brady
announcing that his son will never play a brutal and dangerous sport like football. A sitting
American president characterizing ongoing American wars as mistaken is hardly less notable and
ought to command widespread public attention.
Imagine the head of Planned Parenthood
declaring herself a pro-lifer. Imagine Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos criticizing the American penchant
for conspicuous consumption. Imagine Tom Brady announcing that his son will never play a brutal
and dangerous sport like football. A sitting American president characterizing ongoing American
wars as mistaken is hardly less notable and ought to command widespread public attention. Of
course, Trump is an improbable source of truth. His many critics have become accustomed to
dismissing his every word as either false or hateful or simply bizarre. Yet in this instance, I
submit, he has uttered a genuine truth of profound importance.
Unfortunately, Trump's bottom line obscures the implications of that truth: "It is what it
is." There are at least two ways of interpreting that remark. The first is fatalistic: We're
stuck in a heckuva mess and there's no way of getting unstuck. The second is pragmatic: Here
are facts that we dare not ignore.
... ... ...
In Hans Christian Andersen's familiar tale "The Emperor's New Clothes," a young child states
the obvious: The monarch is naked. Now we have the emperor himself making a comparably
self-evident point: Our wars aren't working.
However inadvertently, Trump has thereby bestowed on the American people a singular gift,
putting a presidential imprimatur on a point that critics have been making for years, to no
avail. Pointing out that our post-9/11 wars have resulted in a multitrillion-dollar waste of
lives and treasure represents easily the greatest achievement of his young administration.
We tend to think that the story of that administration thus far has been one of ineptitude
combined with persistent scandal. Yet the real scandal will occur if the American people and
their elected representatives in Washington fail to treat Trump's verdict regarding our recent
wars with the respect and seriousness it deserves.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your candor. If for nothing else, on this score, we owe you
Andrew J. Bacevich is the author, most recently, of "America's War for the Greater
Middle East: A Military History."
Reubenhop 02/16/18 09:49 AM The
trouble is Trump criticizes these wars only because they are not his wars. He needs to be the
outsider who will do better than those that preceded him. But what does he do? He builds up
the military for future wars (even nuclear wars) and engages in dangerous saber rattling and
shows of strength. He learned nothing from his criticisms.
02/16/18 09:57 AM said this before: arm both sides with our most destructive weapons, nukes
included, withdraw from the midevil east and let them kill each other. problem solved in
probably less than a year.
MassGuy2 02/16/18 09:57 AM Another
big mistake we're continuing to make is paying for these wars without raising taxes. In
fact, Trump is lowering taxes. Its like a homeowner taking out an expensive loan to buy
something he can't afford, and then cutting back on his work hours. As long as these wars
are being funded by future debt, most Americans will not seriously question the need to
spend money on foolish wars. If Trump is really serious, he should propose taxes be
immediately raised to pay for these wars, bring back the draft, and scrap the volunteer
army. Then see how fast the American people demand good answers as to why we're fighting
CambridgeMAry 02/16/18 12:07 PM
I agree. Getting rid of the draft was a mistake, and it does not redound to the credit of
those who opposed the Vietnam War that most of their opposition to it evaporated when the
draft was abolished.
The draft during WWII applied to all men, including the sons of Members of Congress.
Hitler was devastating Europe, and attempting to bomb and strafe the UK into submission,
but the US did not really become involved until we were actually attacked at Pearl
Now, it is too easy for us to dismiss the dangers we send our service persons into
because "They volunteered."
no-name- 02/16/18 04:20
PM "Getting rid of the draft was a mistake, and it does not redound to the credit of
those who opposed the Vietnam War that most of their opposition to it evaporated when
the draft was abolished."
you're misinformed. there was strong and ever-growing opposition to the war until it
Eurydice9276 02/16/18 01:29 PM
Not at all defending Trump - but stating the obvious doesn't have to be an original
NinjaLibn 02/16/18 10:15 AM
I've long admired Andrew's insights and incisive writing. It would have been interesting to
hear his recommendations for disentangling ourselves from these wars.
02/16/18 10:51 AM Trump was almost right, and he did not go far enough. Bush 41's quick
in-and-out adventure in Kuwait makes some sense. Bush 41 and his advisors smartly realized
that a surgical removal of Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait would have few long term
Now let's look at the rest of the story. I will claim that most US military adventures,
since Korea has been a failure often with unintended consequences, squandering taxpayer
dollars while the national infrastructure and national psyche crumble. Involving ourselves
in Vietnam after the French abandoned it was a horrific mistake with the loss of many lives
and the expenditure of immeasurable political and economic capital. Somebody tell me again
what Bay of Pigs and Grenada accomplished? There have been numerous other short term
in-and-out deployments of troops and materiel since Korea. See Wikipedia's "Timeline of
United States military operations."
Let's face it. The military-industrial complex continues to lead the country into deeply
unfortunate places and situations. Let's tie all this back to the recent school massacre in
Parkland FL, one of many in recent years. Military surplus has been given away by the
federal government to build up highly militarized SWAT teams in cities, armed with tanks,
missile launchers and automatic weapons. Citizens easily and quickly arm themselves with
semi-automatic weapons, seizing on loopholes that regulate the buying of hand guns but not
AK-15s, all because the NRA owns too many members of Congress.
Let's go beyond Trump's simplistic pronouncement. The United States has been and is a
bellicose and violent nation. Unfortunately, President Trump's words have been equally
bellicose, especially toward North Korea. I have little faith that our country will dial
back its aggressiveness under the Trump regime.
MNMoore 02/16/18 12:00 PM Right.
Our economy is addicted to war. The goal is not to win the war. It is to sustain it.
"... Lockheed Martin, after all, gets nearly as much money from the US government as the State Department. CEO Marilyn Hewson is, by the reckoning of some analysts, as powerful as most US cabinet secretaries. ..."
Lockheed Martin, after all, gets nearly as much money from the US government as the
State Department. CEO Marilyn Hewson is, by the reckoning of some analysts, as powerful as most
US cabinet secretaries.
Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia has the gold medal quote on this – "
diplomacy is out; airstrikes are in. " From the F-35 on, Lockheed is a key facilitator of
airstrikes, and soaring demands for its products are leading to soaring revenue and rising
Reports on the company brag about "juicy" shipbuilding deals, and the money pouring in from
nuclear weapons upgrades. Lockheed Martin's status as a main seller of US arms and the US
obsession with growing its military seem to ensure that the company will remain rich, and
wildly influential, for years to come.
Here is an interesting article that points to the new American strategy with respect to Iran and central Asia. Iran is already
being attacked from West and East in the North. And central Asia is next. This might force Iran to pull back some forces from Syria
"... Putin is evil, Putin kills, Putin steals, bla bla bla!!! Putin is only guilty for not being America's vassal. The Russia bashing in MSM will cease by miracle if it becomes America's client state. Putin and Russia are presumed guilty of everything bad that happens in the world. ..."
"... No evidence is needed, high confidence is enough!! It is almost funny that a country like USA which has a long records of meedling and intervention in others countries internal affairs worlwide, now is losing reason about alleged russia meedling. ..."
For a very simple reason. The Deep Staters care first and foremost about themselves. They wanted Hillary to win, badly, but
were not willing to risk too much for her. James Comey in particular cares about James Comey. Remember, this is a guy who views
himself as a historical Religious Figure. He wanted to be able to serve out a full 10 year term. He wanted to please his Democratic
masters enough to avoid being fired by either Obama or Clinton, but not too much to gain excessive ire from Congress. He was afraid
that a Republican Congress under a future Clinton Administration would go after him tooth and nail if he "concealed" new evidence
against Clinton prior to the election - especially since he promised the Congress that he would inform them of new developments.
And Comey probably feared the worst as to what was in Wiener's email archive. When they finally went through that archive, and
failed to find much that was new, he must have breathed a sigh of relief - only to see the wrong person win the election.
The political system in the US is a near complete failure. On one hand the massive levels of corruption legalized in Citizen's
United give influence over political decisions to wealthy elites previously unseen outside of the deeply corrupted and criminal
Russian oligarchy. On the other hand and synergistic with the previous point, the least informed and most easily influenced of
people have votes equal in weight to highly informed, well-educated, expert and professional practitioners.
Rights guaranteed by a difficult-to-alter constitution combined with easily managed and easily created social media content
based on opaque sources of emotionally charged, unverified and unverifiable information have gained control over public opinion
(making alteration of our constitution even more difficult.)
And look at the fourth (Reagan, Bush, Bush, Trump) wave of Republican explosion of national debt under the banner of "fiscal
It is astounding how "A" can be so successfully marketed as "B."
I am afraid that once control of public opinion has been so successfully attained in our form of democracy/legalized-corruption
that there is no way to recover.
It is a sad state of affairs. I'd love to hear solutions.
Great piece by Merry. Not new, but worthy of repetition when presented clearly like this.
It does not matter what you call it, Deep State or something else. What Merry says about the threat it poses to what remnants
of democracy we have is true.
I prefer to call it the Imperial State since its highest priority is the US Empire, with domestic well-being simply an afterthought
or of no cosequence at all.
There is only ONE country that consistently "messes" in the politics of nearly every other country on the planet and that is
It is the USA Deep State. I challenge you to research the evidence, "hidden in plain sight", of these examples:
money that flowed into France and Italy elections after WW2;
2) overthrow of Greece elected pres in 1974 by US-friendly generals;
3) overthrow of Salvadore Allende in Chile 1973;
4) overthrow of Iran Mossadegh in 1953;
5) overthrow of neutral govt in Indonesia
in early '60s;
6) the massive money that flowed into Russia in 1996 to get Yeltsin re-elected;
7) the money and attention US put
into overthrowing legally elected govt in Ukraine in 2014.
That is just a VERY short list.
NO OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH HAS MAINTAINED THIS FRANTIC PACE OF MASSIVE INTERVENTIONS/MEDDLING/BRIBING/OVERTHROWING/BOMBING/INVADING/DEATH-SQUADing
FOREIGN POLITICAL SYSTEMS FOR 70 YEARS LIKE YOUR "GOOD OLE USA", powered by it's un-elected Deep State.
Putin is evil, Putin kills, Putin steals, bla bla bla!!! Putin is only guilty for not being America's vassal. The
Russia bashing in MSM will cease by miracle if it becomes America's client state. Putin and Russia are presumed guilty of everything
bad that happens in the world.
No evidence is needed, high confidence is enough!! It is almost funny that a country like USA which has a long records
of meedling and intervention in others countries internal affairs worlwide, now is losing reason about alleged russia meedling.
"... It was President Bill Clinton who moved NATO eastwards, abrogating a 1991 agreement with the Russians not to recruit former members of the Warsaw Pact that is at the root of current tensions with Moscow. And, while the U.S. and NATO point to Russia's annexation of the Crimea as a sign of a "revanchist" Moscow, it was NATO that set the precedent of altering borders when it dismembered Serbia to create Kosovo after the 1999 Yugoslav war. ..."
"... And it was President Barack Obama who further chilled relations with the Russians by backing the 2014 coup in the Ukraine, and whose "Asia pivot" has led to tensions between Washington and Beijing. ..."
"... Certainly the verbiage about Russia and China is alarming. Russia is routinely described as "aggressive," "revisionist," and "expansionist." In a recent attack on China, US Defense Secretary Rex Tillerson described China's trade with Latin America as "imperial. ..."
"... Russia's intervention in the Syrian civil war helped turn the tide against the anti-Assad coalition put together by the US. But its economy is smaller than Italy's, and its "aggression" is largely a response to NATO establishing a presence on Moscow's doorstep. ..."
"... China is, however, the US's major competitor and the second largest economy in the world. It has replaced the US as Latin America's largest trading partner and successfully outflanked Washington's attempts to throttle its economic influence. When the US asked its key allies to boycott China's new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with the exception of Japan, they ignored Washington ..."
"... Is this a new Cold War, when the U.S. attempted to surround and isolate the Soviet Union? There are parallels, but the Cold War was an ideological battle between two systems, socialism and capitalism. The fight today is over market access and economic domination. When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin America about China and Russia, it wasn't about "Communist subversion," but trade. ..."
"... For one, the big arms manufacturers -- Lockheed Martian, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics -- have lots of cash to hand out come election time. "Great power competition" will be expensive, with lots of big-ticket items: aircraft carriers, submarines, surface ships, and an expanded air force. ..."
"... This is not to say that the U.S. has altered its foreign policy focus because of arms company lobbies, but they do have a seat at the table. And given that those companies have spread their operations to all 50 states, local political representatives and governors have a stake in keeping -- and expanding -- those high paying jobs. ..."
"... Piling onto Moscow may have consequences as well. Andrei Kostin, head of one of Russia's largest banks, VTB, told the Financial Times ..."
"... Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com ..."
The Trump administration's new National Defense Strategy is being touted as a sea change in
U.S. foreign policy, a shift from the "war on terrorism" to "great power competition," a line
that would not be out of place in the years leading up to World War I. But is the shift really
a major course change, or a re-statement of policies followed by the last four
The U.S. has never taken its eyes off its big competitors.
It was President Bill Clinton who moved NATO eastwards, abrogating a 1991 agreement with
the Russians not to recruit former members of the Warsaw Pact that is at the root of current
tensions with Moscow. And, while the U.S. and NATO point to Russia's annexation of the Crimea
as a sign of a "revanchist" Moscow, it was NATO that set the precedent of altering borders when
it dismembered Serbia to create Kosovo after the 1999 Yugoslav war.
It was President George W. Bush who designated China a "strategic competitor," and who tried
to lure India into an anti-Chinese alliance by allowing New Delhi to violate the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. Letting India purchase uranium on the international market -- it was
barred from doing so by refusing to sign the NPT -- helped ignite the dangerous nuclear arms
race with Pakistan in South Asia.
And it was President Barack Obama who further chilled relations with the Russians by
backing the 2014 coup in the Ukraine, and whose "Asia pivot" has led to tensions between
Washington and Beijing.
So is jettisoning "terrorism" as the enemy in favor of "great powers" just old wine, new
bottle? Not quite. For one thing the new emphasis has a decidedly more dangerous edge to
In speaking at Johns Hopkins, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned, "If you challenge us,
it will be your longest and worst day," a remark aimed directly at Russia. NATO ally Britain
went even further. Chief of the United Kingdom General Staff, Nick Carter, told the Defense and
Security Forum that "our generation has become use to wars of choice since the end of the Cold
War," but "we may not have a choice about conflict with Russia," adding "The parallels with
1914 are stark."
Certainly the verbiage about Russia and China is alarming. Russia is routinely described
as "aggressive," "revisionist," and "expansionist." In a recent attack on China, US Defense
Secretary Rex Tillerson described China's trade with Latin America as "imperial. "
But in 1914 there were several powerful and evenly matched empires at odds. That is not the
While Moscow is certainly capable of destroying the world with its nuclear weapons, Russia
today bears little resemblance to 1914 Russia, or, for that matter, the Soviet Union.
The U.S. and its allies currently spend more than 12 times what Russia does on its
armaments–$840 billion to $69 billion -- and that figure vastly underestimates
Washington's actual military outlay. A great deal of U.S. spending is not counted as
"military," including nuclear weapons, currently being modernized to the tune of $1.5
The balance between China and the U.S. is more even, but the U.S. outspends China almost
three to one. Include Washington's allies, Japan, Australia and South Korea, and that figure is
almost four to one. In nuclear weapons, the ratio is vastly greater: 26 to 1 in favor of the
U.S. Add NATO and the ratios are 28 to 1.
This is not to say that the military forces of Russia and China are irrelevant.
Russia's intervention in the Syrian civil war helped turn the tide against the
anti-Assad coalition put together by the US. But its economy is smaller than Italy's, and its
"aggression" is largely a response to NATO establishing a presence on Moscow's
China has two military goals: to secure its sea-borne energy supplies by building up its
navy and to establish a buffer zone in the East and South China seas to keep potential enemies
at arm's length. To that end it has constructed smaller, more agile ships, and missiles capable
of keeping U.S. aircraft carriers out of range, a strategy called "area denial." It has also
modernized its military, cutting back on land-based forces and investing in air and sea assets.
However, it spends less of its GDP on its military than does the US: 1.9 percent as opposed to
Beijing has been rather heavy-handed in establishing "area denial," aliening many of its
neighbors -- Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan -- by claiming most of the South
China Sea and building bases in the Paracel and Spratly islands.
But China has been invaded several times, starting with the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1856,
when Britain forced the Chinese to lift their ban on importing the drug. Japan invaded in 1895
and 1937. If the Chinese are touchy about their coastline, one can hardly blame them.
China is, however, the US's major competitor and the second largest economy in the
world. It has replaced the US as Latin America's largest trading partner and successfully
outflanked Washington's attempts to throttle its economic influence. When the US asked its key
allies to boycott China's new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with the exception of
Japan, they ignored Washington .
However, commercial success is hardly "imperial."
Is this a new Cold War, when the U.S. attempted to surround and isolate the Soviet
Union? There are parallels, but the Cold War was an ideological battle between two systems,
socialism and capitalism. The fight today is over market access and economic domination. When
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Latin America about China and Russia, it wasn't about
"Communist subversion," but trade.
There are other players behind this shift.
For one, the big arms manufacturers -- Lockheed Martian, Boeing, Raytheon, BAE Systems,
Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics -- have lots of cash to hand out come election time.
"Great power competition" will be expensive, with lots of big-ticket items: aircraft carriers,
submarines, surface ships, and an expanded air force.
This is not to say that the U.S. has altered its foreign policy focus because of arms
company lobbies, but they do have a seat at the table. And given that those companies have
spread their operations to all 50 states, local political representatives and governors have a
stake in keeping -- and expanding -- those high paying jobs.
Nor are the Republicans going to get much opposition on increased defense spending from the
Democrats, many of whom are as hawkish as their colleagues across the aisle. Higher defense
spending -- coupled with the recent tax cut bill -- will rule out funding many of the programs
the Democrats hold dear. Of course, for the Republicans that dilemma is a major side benefit:
cut taxes, increase defense spending, then dismantle social services, Social Security and
Medicare in order to service the deficit.
And many of the Democrats are ahead of the curve when it comes to demonizing the Russians.
The Russian bug-a-boo has allowed the Party to shift the blame for Hillary Clinton's loss to
Moscow's manipulation of the election, thus avoiding having to examine its own lackluster
campaign and unimaginative political program.
There are other actors pushing this new emphasis as well, including the Bush
administration's neo-conservatives who launched the Iraq War. Their new target is Iran, even
though inflating Iran to the level of a "great power" is laughable. Iran's military budget is
$12.3 billion. Saudi Arabia alone spends $63.7 billion on defense, slightly less than Russia,
which has five times the population and eight times the land area. In a clash between Iran and
the US and its local allies, the disparity in military strength would be a little more than 66
However, in terms of disasters, even Iraq would pale before a war with Iran.
The most dangerous place in the world right now is the Korean Peninsula, where the Trump
administration appears to be casting around for some kind of military demonstration that will
not ignite a nuclear war. But how would China react to an attack that might put hostile troops
on its southern border?
Piling onto Moscow may have consequences as well. Andrei Kostin, head of one of Russia's
largest banks, VTB, told the Financial Times that adding more sanctions against Russia
"would be like declaring war."
This is how empires truly end. The empire loses legitimacy, in
the eyes of the populace. Mainly because the empire has to
accommodate all the subjugated cultures. The elections have
always been rigged. Nothing good happens to the establishment
when the corruption gets pointed out, even falsely. The only
viable solution would be a verifiable voting method. One that
ensures only legitimate ballots were cast, and every legitimate
vote was counted. The software would have to be open source.
The government should withhold no information from the
public. Secrecy, on the part of government, is always used for
the enrichment of the insiders. The notion of a secret ballot
implies a culture where people fear expressing themselves
freely. A result of political correctness. The politicians sell
themselves as 'tireless public servants', but immediately turn
into lazy, shiftless, gluttonous demagogues, once in office.
A legitimate electoral process would most likely mean an
immediate end to the careers of the likes of Pelosi, Schumer,
McCain, etc. In the private sector, employees have 90 days to
prove themselves capable, with performance reviews at least
annually. In government, they're given 4 years with no review.
The only way a republic can be democratic is if the populace
gets to vote on any legislation the president signs. That would
place far too much burden on congress, making it nearly
impossible to get anything but vital legislation passed.
These idiots have not figured out that they have lost
control of the narrative. Everything they say can, and will be
used against them, in the court of public opinion. They funded
the social media, and now, they are reaping that which they
have sown. They have most likely chosen 13 sacrificial goats,
who will plea bargain, to get out of prison, knowing that they
will spend even more time in prison, during the course of the
phony trial, in which they will make some sort of token court
appearance, for the sake of appearance of 'justice'.
If anything, recent weeks have offered remarkable evidence of just how
victorious this country's losingest commanders and their colleagues really are in our
nation's capital. In the bipartisan style that these days usually applies only to the U.S.
military, Congress has just settled on giving an extra $165 billion
to the Pentagon over the next two years as part of a formula for keeping the government open.
As it happens, the 2017 Pentagon budget was already as large as the defense spending of the next
nations combined. And that was before all those extra tens of billions of dollars ensured
that the two-year military budget (for 2018 and 2019) would crest at a total of more than
$1.4 trillion .
That's the sort of money that only goes to winners, not losers. And if this still seems a
little strange to you, given that military's
dismal record in actual war-fighting since 9/11, all I can say is: don't bring it up. It's
no longer considered polite or proper to complain about our wars and those who fight them or
how we fund them, not in an age when every American soldier is a " hero ," which
means that what they're doing from
Yemen , Syria to
Somalia , must be heroic indeed.
In a draft-less
country, those of us not in or connected to our military are expected to say "
thank you " to the warriors and otherwise go about our lives as if their wars (and the
they continue to generate abroad) were not a fact of global life. This is the definition of a
public. If you happen to be that rarest of all creatures in our country these days -- someone
in active opposition to those wars -- you have a problem. That means Stephanie Savell, who
co-runs the Costs of War
Project , which regularly provides well-researched and devastating information on the
spread of those wars and the money continually being
squandered on them, does indeed have a problem. It's one she understands all too well and
describes vividly today.
On January 8, 2018, former government advisor Edward Luttwak wrote an opinion piece for
Foreign Policy titled "It's Time to Bomb North Korea."
Luttwak's thesis is relatively straightforward. There is a government out there that may
very soon acquire nuclear-weapons capabilities, and this country cannot be trusted to
responsibly handle such a stockpile. The responsibility to protect the world from a rogue
nation cannot be argued with, and we understandably have a duty to ensure the future of
However, there is one rogue nation that continues to hold the world ransom with its nuclear
weapons supply. It is decimating non-compliant states left, right, and center. This country
must be stopped dead in its tracks before anyone turns to the issue of North Korea.
In August of 1945, this rogue nation dropped two atomic bombs on civilian targets, not
military targets, completely obliterating between 135,000 and
300,000 Japanese civilians in just these two acts alone. Prior to this event, this country
killed even more civilians in the infamous
firebombing of Tokyo and other areas of Japan, dropping close to 500,000 cylinders of
napalm and petroleum jelly on some of Japan's most densely populated areas.
Recently, historians have become more open to the possibility that dropping the atomic bombs
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not actually necessary to end World War II. This has also been
confirmed by those who actually took part in it. As the Nation
Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public
address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that 'the atomic bomb played
no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan ' Adm. William
"Bull" Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that 'the first
atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment . It was a mistake to ever drop it . [the
scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it
A few months' prior, this rogue country's
invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa also claimed at least one quarter of Okinawa's
population. The Okinawan people have been protesting this country's military presence ever
since. The most recent ongoing protest
has lasted well over 5,000 days in a row.
This nation's bloodlust continued well after the end of World War II. Barely half a decade
later, this country bombed North Korea into complete oblivion, destroying over 8,700 factories,
5,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals, 600,000 homes, and
eventually killing off as much as 20 percent of the country's population. As the Asia
Pacific Journal has noted, the assaulting country dropped so many bombs that they eventually
ran out of targets to hit, turning to bomb the irrigation systems, instead:
By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every
significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed. In the
spring of 1953, the Air Force targeted irrigation dams on the Yalu River, both to destroy the
North Korean rice crop and to pressure the Chinese, who would have to supply more food aid to
the North. Five reservoirs were hit, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, inundating
whole towns and laying waste to the essential food source for millions of North Koreans."
This was just the beginning. Having successfully destroyed the future North Korean
state, this country moved on to the rest of East Asia and Indo-China, too. As Rolling Stone's
has explained :
We [this loose cannon of a nation] dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam
from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win
'hearts and minds' that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease
– including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen
heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of
view, of course.
This country also decided to bomb Yugoslavia ,
Grenada before invading Iraq in the early 1990s. Having successfully bombed Iraqi
infrastructure, this country then punished Iraq's entire civilian population with brutal
sanctions. At the time, the U.N.
estimated that approximately 1.7 million Iraqis had died as a result, including
500,000 to 600,000 children . Some years later, a prominent medical journal attempted
to absolve the cause of this infamous history by refuting the statistics involved despite
the fact that, when interviewed during the sanctions-era, Bill Clinton's secretary of state,
Madeleine Albright, intimated that to this rogue government, the
deaths of half a million children were "worth it" as the "price" Iraq needed to pay. In other
words, whether half a million children died or not was irrelevant to this bloodthirsty nation,
which barely blinked while carrying out this murderous policy.
This almighty superpower then invaded Iraq again in 2003 and plunged the entire region
into chaos . At the end of May 2017, the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)
released a study
concluding that the death toll from this violent nation's 2003 invasion of Iraq had led to over
one million deaths and that at least one-third of them were caused directly by the invading
Not to mention this country also invaded Afghanistan prior to the invasion of Iraq (even
though the militants plaguing Afghanistan were
originally trained and financed by this warmongering nation). It then
went on to bomb Yemen, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and the
had one of the highest standards of living in the region. It had state-assisted healthcare,
education, transport, and affordable housing. It is now a lawless war-zone
rife with extremism where slaves are openly traded like commodities
amid the power vacuum created as a direct result of the 2011 invasion.
In 2017, the commander-in-chief of this violent nation took the monumental death and
destruction to a new a level by removing
the restrictions on delivering airstrikes, which resulted in thousands upon
thousands of civilian deaths. Before that, in the first six months of 2017, this country
over 20,650 bombs , a monumental increase from the year that preceded it.
Despite these statistics, all of the above conquests are mere child's play to this nation.
The real prize lies in some of the more defiant and more powerful states, which this country
has already unleashed a containment strategy upon. This country has deployed its own troops all
across the border
with Russia even though it promised in the early 1990s it
would do no such thing. It also has a specific policy of
containing Russia's close ally, China, all the while threatening China's borders with talks
of direct strikes on North Korea (again, remember it already did so in the 1950s).
This country also elected a president who not only believes it is okay to embrace this rampantly violent
militarism but who openly calls other
countries "shitholes" – the very same term that aptly describes the way this country
has treated the rest of the world for decades on end. This same president also reportedly once
asked three times in a meeting
, "If we have nuclear weapons, why don't we use them?" and shortly after proposed a policy to
remove the constraints protecting the world from his dangerous supply of advanced nuclear
If we have any empathy for humanity, it is clear that this country must be stopped. It
cannot continue to act like this to the detriment of the rest of the planet and the safety and
security of the rest of us. This country
openly talks about using its nuclear weapons, has used them before, and has continued to
use all manner of weapons unabated in the years since while threatening to expand the use of
these weapons to other countries.
Seriously, if North Korea seems like a threat, imagine how the rest of the world feels while
watching one country violently take on the rest of the planet single-handedly, leaving nothing
but destruction in its wake and promising nothing less than a nuclear holocaust in the years to
There is only one country that has done and that continues to do the very things North Korea
is being accused of doing.
Take as much time as you need for that to resonate.
Note: this article is part of a symposium included in the
March/April 2018 issue of the National Interest .
there's a Deep State. Why wouldn't there be? Even a cursory understanding of human nature tells
us that power corrupts, as Lord Acton put it; that, when power is concentrated and entrenched,
it will be abused; that, when it is concentrated and entrenched in secrecy, it will be abused
in secret. That's the Deep State.
James Burnham saw it coming. The American philosopher and political theorist
(1905–87), first a Trotskyist, then a leading conservative intellectual, wrote in 1941
that the great political development of the age was not the battle between communism and
capitalism. Rather, it was the rise of a new "managerial" class gaining dominance in business,
finance, organized labor and government. This gathering managerial revolution, as he called it,
would be resisted, but it would be impervious to adversarial counteractions. As the managerial
elites gained more and more power, exercised often in subtle and stealthy ways, they would
exercise that power to embed themselves further into the folds of American society and to
protect themselves from those who might want to bust them up.
Nowhere is this managerial elite more entrenched, more powerful and more shrouded in secrecy
than in what Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, augmented by
intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. That's where America's relentless drive for global
hegemony meshes with defense manufacturers only too willing to provide the tools of
Now we have not only a standing army, with hundreds of thousands of troops at the ready, as
in Cold War days. We have also permanent wars, nine of them in progress at the moment and not
one with what could even remotely be called proper congressional approval. That's how power
gets entrenched, how the managerial revolution gains ever greater force and how the Deep State
Few in the general public know what really happened with regard to the allegations of Trump
campaign "collusion" with Russia, or how the investigation into those troubling allegations
emerged. But we know enough to know we have seen the Deep State in action.
We know that U.S. agencies released an "Intelligence Community Assessment" saying that
Russia and President Putin were behind the release of embarrassing Democratic emails in a plot
to help Trump win the presidency. But we also know that it wasn't really a National
Intelligence Assessment (a term of art denoting a particular process of expansive intelligence
analysis) but rather the work of a controlled task force. As Scott Ritter, the former Marine
intelligence officer and arms-control official,
put it , "This deliberate misrepresentation of the organizational bona fides of the Russia
NIA casts a shadow over the viability of the analysis used to underpin the assessments and
judgments contained within." Besides, the document was long on assertion and short on evidence.
Even the New York Times initially
derided the report as lacking any "hard evidence" and amounting "essentially . . . to
It is an age-old statecraft technique to seek unity within a state by depicting an external
enemy or threat. Russia is the bête noire again, as it was during the Cold War years as
part of the Soviet Union. But the truth is Western states are challenged by internal
Ironically, by denying their own internal democratic challenges, Western authorities are
only hastening their institutional demise.
Russophobia -- "blame it all on Russia" -- is a short-term, futile ploy to stave off the day
of reckoning when furious and informed Western citizens will demand democratic restitution for
their legitimate grievances.
The dominant "official" narrative, from the US to Europe, is that "malicious" Russia is
"sowing division;""eroding democratic institutions;" and "undermining public trust" in systems
of governance, credibility of established political parties, and the news media.
This narrative has shifted up a gear since the election of Donald Trump to the White House
in 2016, with accusations that the Kremlin somehow ran "influence operations" to help get him
into office. This outlandish yarn defies common sense. It is also running out of thread to keep
Paradoxically, even though President Trump has rightly rebuffed such dubious claims of
"Russiagate" interference as "fake news" , he has at other times undermined himself by
subscribing to the notion that Moscow is projecting a campaign of "subversion against the US
and its European allies." See for example the National Security Strategy he signed
off in December.
Pathetically, it's become indoctrinated belief among the Western political class that
"devious Russians" are out to "collapse" Western democracies by "weaponizing disinformation"
and spreading "fake news" through Russia-based news outlets like RT and Sputnik.
Totalitarian-like, there seems no room for intelligent dissent among political or media
British Prime Minister Theresa May has chimed in to
accuse Moscow of "sowing division;" Dutch state intelligence claim Russia destabilized the
US presidential election; the European Union commissioner for security, Sir Julian King,
casually lampoons Russian news media as "Kremlin-orchestrated disinformation" to destabilize
the 28-nation bloc; CIA chief Mike Pompeo recently warned that Russia is stepping up its
efforts to tarnish the Congressional mid-term elections later this year.
On and on goes the narrative that Western states are essentially victims of a nefarious
Russian assault to bring about collapse.
A particularly instructive presentation of this trope was given in a recent commentary by Texan
Republican Representative Will Hurd. In his piece headlined, "Russia is our adversary" , he
claims: "Russia is eroding our democracy by exploiting the nation's divisions. To save it,
Americans need to begin working together."
Congressman Hurd asserts: "Russia has one simple goal: to erode trust in our democratic
institutions. It has weaponized disinformation to achieve this goal for decades in Eastern and
Central Europe; in 2016, Western Europe and America were aggressively targeted as well."
Lamentably, all these claims above are made with scant, or no, verifiable evidence. It is
simply a Big Lie technique of relentless repetition transforming itself into "fact" .
It's instructive to follow Congressman Hurd's thought-process a bit further.
He contends: "When the public loses trust in the media, the Russians are winning. When the
press is hyper-critical of Congress the Russians are winning. When Congress and the general
public disagree the Russians are winning. When there is friction between Congress and the
executive branch [the president] resulting in further erosion of trust in our democratic
institutions, the Russians are winning."
As a putative solution, Representative Hurd calls for "a national counter-disinformation
strategy" against Russian "influence operations" , adding, "Americans must stop contributing to
a corrosive political environment".
The latter is a chilling advocacy of uniformity tantamount to a police state whereby any
dissent or criticism is a "thought-crime."
It is, however, such anti-democratic and paranoid thinking by Western politicians -- aided
and abetted by dutiful media -- that is killing democracy from within, not some supposed
There is evidently a foreboding sense of demise in authority and legitimacy among Western
states, even if the real cause for the demise is ignored or denied. Systems of governance,
politicians of all stripes, and institutions like the established media and intelligence
services are increasingly held in contempt and distrust by the public.
Whose fault is that loss of political and moral authority? Western governments and
institutions need to take a look in the mirror.
The endless, criminal wars that the US and its European NATO allies have been waging across
the planet over the past two decades is one cogent reason why the public has lost faith in
grandiose official claims about respecting democracy and international law.
The US and European media have shown reprehensible dereliction of duty to inform the public
accurately about their governments' warmongering intrigues. Take the example of Syria. When
does the average Western citizen ever read in the corporate Western media about how the US and
its NATO allies have covertly ransacked that country through weaponizing terrorist proxies?
How then can properly informed citizens be expected to have respect for such criminal
government policies and the complicit news media covering up for their crimes?
Western public disaffection with governments, politicians and media surely stems also from
the grotesque gulf in social inequality and poverty among citizens from slavish adherence to
economic policies that enrich the wealthy while consigning the vast majority to unrelenting
The destabilizing impact on societies from oppressive economic conditions is a far more
plausible cause for grievance than outlandish claims made by the political class about alleged
Yet the Western media indulge this fantastical "Russiagate" escapism instead of campaigning
on real social problems facing ordinary citizens. No wonder such media are then viewed with
disdain and distrust. Adding insult to injury, these media want the public to believe Russia is
Instead of acknowledging and addressing real threats to citizens: economic insecurity,
eroding education and health services, lost career opportunities for future generations, the
looming dangers of ecological adversity, wars prompted by Western governments trashing
international and diplomacy, and so on -- the Western public is insultingly plied with corny
tales of Russia's "malign influence" and "assault on democracy."
Just think of the disproportionate amount of media attention and public resources wasted on
the Russiagate scandal over the past year. And now gradually emerging is the real
scandal that the American FBI probably colluded with the Obama administration to corrupt
the democratic process against Trump.
Again, is there any wonder the public has sheer contempt and distrust for "authorities" that
have been lying through their teeth and playing them for fools?
The collapsing state of Western democracies has got nothing to do with Russia. The
Russophobia of blaming Russia for the demise of Western institutions is an attempt at
scapegoating for the very real problems facing governments and institutions like the news
media. Those problems are inherent and wholly owned by these governments owing to chronic
anti-democratic functioning, as well as systematic violation of international law in their
pursuit of criminal wars and other subterfuges for regime-change objectives.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published
in several languages. He is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a
scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a
career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he
worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish
Times and Independent.
Anyone who believes MSM is totally indoctrinated since it has been proven over and over that
they won't tell the truth of the matter. The only REAL thing this country supplies or
produces is war. Most other industries have been outsourced and given subsidies to so, thus
taking American jobs from our lives. And now they want to take Social Security and Medicare
to PAY for our military buildup????
It is without a doubt true that the political class and their oligharchic owners are falling
and falling fast. They need a war to sustain their enrichment and attempted control of the
world. They have run out of potential victims , while on the home front the naive Amrikan is
starting to reject their nonsense. They can't really afford to take on China as they could
easily dump their US treasuries and sink the financing arrangements for a war. They would
like to stop the OBOR ; but how? Ah Russia. Smaller population but lethal in central Europe
and perhaps beyond. Good geographic position for cutting OBOR. After all why would anyone be
allowed to put in such a mega project and not let the US oligharchic class control it?
A big part of the problem with Washington DC is that they are ruled by the Rothschild
oligarchs and function first and foremost for Rothschild interests such as Israel and other
Rothschild programs. Washington is not focused on the states it was designed to serve.
Rothschild's and other oligarchs, fascists and the like control Washington crippling them.
Countries like China, Russia are making their own destinies while Washington languishes and
dissolves under a Rothschild fascist flag.
"Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security"
The above was the title to an article in The Hill, yesterday. The comment was attributed
to Dan Coates, DNI in testimony to Congress. To me, since elected officials CREATE the
federal debt, what the DNI is REALLY saying is that the elected officials are a dire threat
to national security. Their spending and fake borrowing from the Federal Reserve is the
threat-not Syria, Yemen, or other countries that have not attacked the US. The elected
officials, both Democrat and Republicans are on the way to destroying the US. Not Russia,
China, ISIS, or international terrorism.
I recently read a horrifying commentary by John Whitehead on the burgeoning sex trade in this
country where young girls are abducted and sold for sexual favors to deviants in every major
city in the US. Many of these girls are as young a three and four years old, and the average
age of these victims is 13! Thousands of missing children end up as sex slaves and are forced
to be with as many as 40 men a night.
This great evil has become extremely lucrative, and numerous monsters, both men, and women
are reaping billions of dollars from the unspeakable crime of destroying children's lives,
not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.
The West has reached a new level of rottenness. Moral decay is actively gnawing at the
very fabric of our society. The Cabal and its rampant criminality in Washington is a
reflection of this terrible decline we are witnessing around us.
The hypocritical cry and hue from our government officials about the terrible human rights
abuses in other countries as they seek to deflect the attention away from their own
criminality and murderous abuses at home and abroad is indeed sickening.
UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a suspicious plane crash in 1961. He
dared speak Truth to the Power. His quote from over 60 years ago is so relevant to what is
going on Today. It has spread like never before to affect the judgments of the Politicians,
the news media, and the Public.
-The Assembly has witnessed over the last weeks how historical truth is established; once
an allegation has been repeated a few times, it is no longer an allegation, it is an
established fact, even if no evidence has been brought out in order to support it.
American propaganda is scapegoating Russia to absolve Americans of responsibility for
creating their own political divisions.
Observing from CanaDa, this anti-Russia/Putin Propaganda is confirming this Vision of the
Future published 41 years ago.
On September 13, 1976, the major daily THE KANSAS CITY TIMES published this Vision of the
FUTURE: "He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the
election in November TO DO GOD'S BIDDING: To tell the world, from Kansas City, this country
has been found wanting and its days are numbered [...] He gestured toward a gleaming church
dome. "The gold dome is the symbol of Babylon," he said." [...] He wanted to bring to the
Public's attention an "idea being put out subtly and deceptively" by the government that we
have to get prepared for a war with Russia.
It's taken over 40 years, but that 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details
GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter. The World is finally waking up to see Trump
just may hasten "its days are numbered" part of the 1976 Public record.
The KANSAS CITY TIMES did a follow up report on ALL SOULS DAY, November 2, 1976. When the TV
movie 'THE DAY AFTER' Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust appeared in 1983,
most likely, I was the only Human on Earth, including the newspaper reporters, to note at the
END, the movie pauses at the very same picture frame THE KANSAS CITY TIMES chose for the ALL
SOULS DAY record 7 years earlier.
Any way you look at it, that HISTORICAL FACT is a confirming SIGN for our Generations, the
World has arrived at this point of Decision, of an "idea being put out subtly and
deceptively" by the government that we have to get prepared for a war with Russia."
Multitudes! Multitudes in the Valley of Decision. The Day of the LORD IS NEAR in the Valley
Not many will recognize, "this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered"
as the 1st two parts, of the 3 part 'Writing on the Wall" from Daniel 5 and the Captivity of
Babylon some 2600 years ago. The whole world saw The Writing on the Wall for the 1st TIME at
the same TIME, with the Global Financial Meltdown-Economic Pearl Harbour in September of
2008, even if the world does not recognize it as such.
The 3rd part of the Writing on the Wall tells of the decline of Babylon, the 1st Biblical
model of the Nation that reaches Imperial Military-Economic Superpower Status, and the rise
Ancient Babylon is now Iraq, and ancient Persia is now Iran.
The US is the latest, greatest of all the Nations reaching Imperial Military-Economic
Superpower Status in the 2600 year old Biblical Babylonian superstructure.
The TAIL struck the HEAD, causing the unravelling of the Earthly Babylonian superstructure
and infrastructure, ushering in the Law of the Jungle to the Middle East and this World.
The Iranian Revolution happened in 1979, 2-1/2 years after the record in the 1976 KANSAS
CITY TIMES Timeline.
All the chaos in the Middle East since then, including the carnage in Syria, is the
consequence of the vain attempt to reverse that God ordained, repeat of History, as a SIGN
for our Generations. http://ray032.com/2013/09/01/signs-of-the-times/
Bulldoze them Georgia Guidestones.
Erase that Denver Airport Artwork.
Send Lady Liberty back to France.
Neandertals, behaving badly.
Stars and Stripes gilded cheap pennant should be changed to Skull n Bones.
What the U.S. political and Deep State accused of Russia today is exactly what they
themselves have done to much of the world. Entire Wikipedia is not big enough to write about
the dirty tricks of the CIA and NSA.
Russia of course has no need to do what was accused. But they are surely laughing at being
accused. Indeed, keep the accusation coming. The more the accusations, the longer they last,
the more sure Russia know the corrupt terror empires of the west are going down.
Without firing a single shot. Now isn't that funny? Just ask the Chinese!
dubs Trump "the generals' president" because of his total capitulation to whatever the
current and former generals around him want:
Trump's generals have instead gone back to the future, restoring the model of a U.S.
military that faces no fiscal or strategic constraints, while preparing for a conflict -- a
conventional war with either or both of its nuclear-armed big power competitors -- that is
not just unlikely, but unwinnable.
While it is true that Trump voiced some objections to foreign wars long after they were over
or when it was no longer very risky to do so, it is important to remember that he was always in
favor of throwing more money at the military from the beginning of his campaign. He seized on
the nonsense talking point that the military had been "depleted" under Obama, and he has
continued to use it until now, and he made undoing the imaginary "depletion" one of the main
planks of his platform. Since Trump is a militarist, and since he now comes from the more
hawkish of the two parties, it was more or less a given that he would waste huge sums on higher
military spending while agreeing to the policies favored by Mattis, McMaster, et al. Add to
this his fetish for "strength" and "greatness," and you have a recipe for massive wasteful
spending on weapons and programs that the U.S. doesn't need. When there are already Pentagon
track of how they spend hundreds of millions of dollars , throwing more money at a huge
department with inadequate oversight is pure folly.
The increase in military spending that Trump has endorsed reflects his impulse to give the
military whatever they want. In addition to being completely unnecessary, higher military
indulge the Pentagon in all its worst habits:
The Pentagon budget request for 2019 puts the military on a course of spending unmatched
since the Reagan-era buildup, boosting the number of troops, warplanes and bombs, according
to documents and analysts.
But, defense analysts say, the $716 billion spending plan risks flooding too much money
into a Defense Department that may not spend it wisely.
"The risk is that when the budget is flowing freely, policy makers are usually reluctant
to make hard choices," said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank.
"While this is not a record increase, it comes on top of a budget that was already higher
than the peak of the Reagan buildup when adjusted for inflation [bold mine-DL]," Harrison
The fantasy claim that the military budget suffered significant reductions in the last
decade has been one of the standard hawkish criticisms of the previous administration, and
Trump takes that falsehood as gospel. The truth is that an already bloated military budget has
continued to grow, and Trump proposes to make it grow even faster. Everyone in Washington was
so desperate to have the generals rein in Trump that most of them never thought through what it
meant for Trump to be the military's unthinking yes-man.
"... anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build broader movements and especially oppose growing war-fever. ..."
"... Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance struggles for national sovereignty everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela and beyond. ..."
"... Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order. ..."
President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI
– only on a global scale. Trump's violation of international law includes collaboration
and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation of
Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people;
severe sanctions and threatened nuclear first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased
deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war to overthrow the
legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of
Venezuela; NATO missile and nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats
... .. ...
In the face of the national-political debacle local and regional movements became the
vehicle to support the struggles. Women organized at some workplaces and gained better
protection of their rights; African-Americans vividly documented and published video evidence
of the systematic brutal violation of their rights by the police state and effectively acted to
restrain local police violence in a few localities; immigrant workers and especially their
children gained broad public sympathy and allies within religious and political organizations;
and anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build
broader movements and especially oppose growing war-fever.
Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance
struggles for national sovereignty everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and
Venezuela and beyond.
Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a
positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In
an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and
crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two
directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse,
environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the
demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a
renewed moral order.
"... The liberals and Democrats and their allies in the FBI, political police and other elements of the security state apparatus
were deeply involved in an attempt to implicate Russian government officials in a plot to manipulate US public opinion on Trump's behalf
and corrupt the outcome of the election. However, the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have produced
no evidence of collusion linking the Russian government to a campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy in favor of Trump. This
is despite thousands of interviews and threats of long prison sentences against former Trump campaign advisers. Instead, they focus
their attack on Trump's early campaign promise to find common ground in improving economic and diplomatic ties between the US and Russia,
especially in confronting jihadi terrorists. ..."
"... The liberal-progressive FBI cohort turned into rabid Russia-bashers demanding that Trump take a highly aggressive stance against
Moscow, while systematically eliminating his military and security advisors who expressed anti-confrontation sentiments. In the spirit
of a Joe McCarthy, the liberal-left launched hysterical attacks on any and every Trump campaign adviser who had spoken to, dined with
or exchanged eyebrows with any and all Russians! ..."
"... The conversion of liberalism to the pursuit of political purges is unprecedented. Their collective amnesia about the long-term,
large-scale involvement by the FBI in the worst criminal violations of democratic values is reprehensible. The FBI's anti-communist
crusade led to the purge of thousands of trade unionists from the mid-1940's onward, decimating the AFL-CIO. They blacklisted actors,
screen writers, artists, teachers, university academics, researchers, scientists, journalists and civil rights leaders as part of their
sweeping purge of civil society. ..."
"... President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale. Trump's violation
of international law includes collaboration and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation
of Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people; severe sanctions and threatened nuclear
first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war to
overthrow the legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of Venezuela; NATO missile and
nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats against China ..."
"... Domestically, Trump's response to the FBI's blackmail has been to replace the original political leadership with his own version;
to expand and increase the police state powers against immigrants; to increase the powers of the major tech companies to police and
intensify work-place exploitation and the invasion of citizens' privacy; to expand the unleash the power of state agents to torture
suspects and to saturate all public events, celebrations and activities with open displays of jingoism and militarism with the goal
of creating pro-war public opinion. ..."
"... Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent
on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the
spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction,
there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction,
there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order ..."
Few government organizations have been engaged in violation of the US citizens' constitutional rights for as long a time and against
as many individuals as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Seldom has there been greater collusion in the perpetration of
crimes against civil liberties, electoral freedom and free and lawful expression as what has taken place between the FBI and the
US Justice Department.
In the past, the FBI and Justice Department secured the enthusiastic support and public acclaim from the conservative members
of the US Congress, members of the judiciary at all levels and the mass media. The leading liberal voices, public figures, educators,
intellectuals and progressive dissenters opposing the FBI and their witch-hunting tactics were all from the left. Today, the right
and the left have changed places: The most powerful voices endorsing the FBI and the Justice Department's fabrications, and abuse
of constitutional rights are on the left, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and famous liberal media corporations and public
The recently published Congressional memo, authored by Congressman Devin Nunes, provides ample proof that the FBI spied on Trump
campaign workers with the intent to undermine the Republican candidate and sabotage his bid for the presidency. Private sector investigators,
hired by Trump's rival Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, worked with pro-Clinton operatives within the FBI and
Justice Department to violate the national electoral process while flouting rules governing wiretaps on US citizens. This was done
with the approval of the sitting Democratic President Barack Obama.
The liberals and Democrats and their allies in the FBI, political police and other elements of the security state apparatus
were deeply involved in an attempt to implicate Russian government officials in a plot to manipulate US public opinion on Trump's
behalf and corrupt the outcome of the election. However, the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have
produced no evidence of collusion linking the Russian government to a campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy in favor
of Trump. This is despite thousands of interviews and threats of long prison sentences against former Trump campaign advisers. Instead,
they focus their attack on Trump's early campaign promise to find common ground in improving economic and diplomatic ties between
the US and Russia, especially in confronting jihadi terrorists.
The liberal-progressive FBI cohort turned into rabid Russia-bashers demanding that Trump take a highly aggressive stance against
Moscow, while systematically eliminating his military and security advisors who expressed anti-confrontation sentiments. In the spirit
of a Joe McCarthy, the liberal-left launched hysterical attacks on any and every Trump campaign adviser who had spoken to, dined
with or exchanged eyebrows with any and all Russians!
The conversion of liberalism to the pursuit of political purges is unprecedented. Their collective amnesia about the long-term,
large-scale involvement by the FBI in the worst criminal violations of democratic values is reprehensible. The FBI's anti-communist
crusade led to the purge of thousands of trade unionists from the mid-1940's onward, decimating the AFL-CIO. They blacklisted actors,
screen writers, artists, teachers, university academics, researchers, scientists, journalists and civil rights leaders as part of
their sweeping purge of civil society.
The FBI investigated the private lives of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, even threatening their family members. They illegally
spied on and infiltrated civil liberties organizations, and used provocateurs and spies in anti-war groups. Individuals lives were
destroyed, some were driven to suicide; important popular American organizations were undermined to the detriment of millions. This
has been its focus since its beginning and continues with the current fabrication of anti-Russian propaganda and investigations.
President Trump: Victim and Executor
President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale. Trump's violation
of international law includes collaboration and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation
of Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people; severe sanctions and threatened nuclear
first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war
to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of Venezuela; NATO missile
and nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats against China .
Domestically, Trump's response to the FBI's blackmail has been to replace the original political leadership with his own version;
to expand and increase the police state powers against immigrants; to increase the powers of the major tech companies to police and
intensify work-place exploitation and the invasion of citizens' privacy; to expand the unleash the power of state agents to torture
suspects and to saturate all public events, celebrations and activities with open displays of jingoism and militarism with the goal
of creating pro-war public opinion.
In a word: From the right to the left there are no political options to choose from among the two ruling political parties. Popular
political movements and mass demonstrations have risen up against Trump with clear justification, but have since dissolved and been
absorbed. They came together from diverse sectors: Women against sexual abuse and workplace humiliation; African-Americans against
police impunity and violence; and immigrants against mass expulsion and harassment. They staged mass demonstrations and then declined
as their 'anti-Trump' animus was frustrated by the liberal-democrats hell-bent on pursuing the Russian connection.
In the face of the national-political debacle local and regional movements became the vehicle to support the struggles. Women
organized at some workplaces and gained better protection of their rights; African-Americans vividly documented and published video
evidence of the systematic brutal violation of their rights by the police state and effectively acted to restrain local police violence
in a few localities; immigrant workers and especially their children gained broad public sympathy and allies within religious and
political organizations; and anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build broader movements
and especially oppose growing war-fever.
Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance struggles for national sovereignty
everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela and beyond.
Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent
on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to
the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction,
there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction,
there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order
"... Last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted that while West Africa "has long been a transit zone for cocaine and heroin trafficking, it has now turned into a production zone for illicit substances such as amphetamines and precursors" and that drug use "is also a growing issue at the local level." Meanwhile, heroin trafficking has been on the rise in East Africa , along with personal use of the drug. ..."
"... In the spring of 2001, American experts concluded that a ban on opium-poppy cultivation by Afghanistan's Taliban government had wiped out the world's largest heroin-producing crop. Later that year, the U.S. military invaded and, since 2002, America has pumped $8.7 billion in counternarcotics funding into that country. A report issued late last month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction detailed the results of anti-drug efforts during CENTCOM's 16-year-old war: "Afghanistan's total area under opium cultivation and opium production reached an all-time high in 2017," it reads in part. "Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer and exporter, producing an estimated 80% of the world's opium." ..."
"... While AFRICOM and, to a lesser extent, CENTCOM have made changes in how they track counternarcotics aid, both seemingly remain hooked on pouring money into efforts that have produced few successes. More effective use of spreadsheets won't solve the underlying problems of America's wars or cure an addiction to policies that continue to fail. ..."
More troubling than the findings in the IG's report or CENTCOM's apparent refusal to heed
its recommendations may be the actual trajectory of the drug trade in the two commands' areas
of responsibility: Africa and the Greater Middle East. Last year, the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime
noted that while West Africa "has long been a transit zone for cocaine and heroin
trafficking, it has now turned into a production zone for illicit substances such as
amphetamines and precursors" and that drug use "is also a growing issue at the local level."
heroin trafficking has been on the
East Africa , along with personal
use of the drug.
Even the Pentagon's Africa Center for Strategic Studies is sounding an alarm. "Drug
trafficking is a major transnational threat in Africa that converges with other illicit
activities ranging from money laundering to human trafficking and terrorism," it
warned last November. "According to the 2017 U.N. World Drug Report, two-thirds of the
cocaine smuggled between South America and Europe passes through West Africa, specifically
Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo. Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania
are among the countries that have seen the highest traffic in opiates passing from Pakistan and
Afghanistan to Western destinations." As badly as this may reflect on AFRICOM's efforts to
bolster the counter-drug-trafficking prowess of key allies like Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria, it
reflects even more dismally on CENTCOM, which oversees Washington's long-running war in
Afghanistan and its seemingly ceaseless
counternarcotics mission there.
In the spring of 2001, American experts concluded
that a ban on opium-poppy cultivation by Afghanistan's Taliban government had wiped out the
world's largest heroin-producing crop. Later that year, the U.S. military invaded and, since
2002, America has pumped
$8.7 billion in counternarcotics funding into that country. A report issued
late last month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction detailed the
results of anti-drug efforts during CENTCOM's 16-year-old war: "Afghanistan's total area under
opium cultivation and opium production reached an all-time high in 2017," it reads in part.
"Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer and exporter, producing an estimated
80% of the world's opium."
In many ways, these outcomes mirror those of the larger counterterror efforts of which these
anti-drug campaigns are just a part. In 2001, for example, U.S. forces were fighting just two
enemy forces in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Now, according to a recent
Pentagon report , they're battling more than 10 times that number. In Africa, an official
five prime terror groups in 2012 has expanded, depending on the Pentagon source, to more
20 or even closer to
Correlation doesn't equal causation, but given the outcomes of significant counternarcotics
assistance from Africa Command and Central Command -- including some $500 million over just
three recent years -- there's little evidence to suggest that better record-keeping can solve
the problems plaguing the military's anti-drug efforts in the greater Middle East or Africa.
While AFRICOM and, to a lesser extent, CENTCOM have made changes in how they track
counternarcotics aid, both seemingly remain hooked on pouring money into efforts that have
produced few successes. More effective use of spreadsheets won't solve the underlying problems
of America's wars or cure an addiction to policies that continue to fail.
160 billion plus 160 billion are pretty serious money. money that were stolen from ordinary Americans.
PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a
theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money
alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern
heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000
population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter
plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000
people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at
all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. (cited from
The Age of Lunacy The Doomsday Machine naked
"... The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to "rebuild." And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism. ..."
"... Perhaps you've heard of the expression, "Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave." Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those "sailors" an enormous boost in the loose change they're carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely? ..."
The new Congressional budget boosts military spending in a
big way . Last night's PBS
News report documented how military spending is projected to increase by $160 billion over
two years, but that doesn't include "overseas contingency funding" for wars, which is another
$160 billion over two years. Meanwhile, spending for the opioid crisis, which is killing
roughly 60,000 Americans a year (more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War), is set at
a paltry $6 billion ($25 billion was requested).
One thing is certain: Ike was right about the undue
influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex.
The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to "rebuild." And, sure, there
are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be
restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war
spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and
even more disastrous military adventurism.
Even if you're a supporter of big military budgets, this massive boost in military spending
is bad news. Why? It doesn't force the military to think . To set priorities. To define limits.
To be creative.
Perhaps you've heard of the expression, "Spending money like drunken sailors on shore
leave." Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those
"sailors" an enormous boost in the loose change they're carrying, trusting them to spend it
William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen
years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.
"... The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold War. We could've ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn't say anything publicly in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It's a visionary speech. It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there ..."
"... PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ..."
"... two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch, he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world. The exact wrong message. ..."
"... Did Eisenhower speak for it or did Dulles speak for it? Was Eisenhower the militarist or was Dulles the militarist? In many ways, the '50s was a very, very dangerous time. And there were so many harebrained schemes that were going on. ..."
"... The great independent journalist I.F. Stone mentioned that the word for lunar, for moon, in Latin is Luna. And he said, we should have a new department in the cabinet and call it the Department of Lunacy because of the crazy ideas that were being promulgated at the time. ..."
"... Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis is very important because now we're going through the Korean Missile Crisis, and if Trump has his way, we'll also go through the Iranian Missile Crisis. And the last time we were this close to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What happens there is that Khrushchev, in order to try to accomplish two things, or three things, really. ..."
"... And so, we were planning, we had the plans in place to overthrow the Cuban government, number one. Number two, Khrushchev wanted a credible deterrent. The Americans learned, Kennedy says, "Let's find out what the reality of the Missile Gap is." And he has McNamara do the study. We find out that there is a Missile Gap. By October of '61, we find out that there is a Missile Gap, and it's in our favor. The United States is ahead between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 over the Soviet Union in every important category. ..."
"... He said, "We would've definitely destroyed Cuba and probably wiped out the Soviet Union as well." So, that's how close we came at this time. Which is again, as Robert Gates, another hawk, warns, "The United States should not invade Syria," he said. "Or should not bomb Syria because haven't we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, that whenever these things happen, you never know what the consequences are going to be. It's always the unintended consequences that are going to get you." ..."
"... It takes two to tango. The idea that the US is solely to blame for the continuation of the Cold War, or that the US is solely to blame for a revival is Soviet/Russian propaganda. Great powers are aggressive, and rarely circumspect. ..."
"... And given Churchill's anathema toward Communism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular, and given that he was the architect of the Cold War from the West I find the idea of him being a peacenik to be bizarre. ..."
"... They do not appreciate that there are different manifestations of both economic models. (Neoliberalism is eating us alive.) They do not appreciate that communism was probably the salvation of both post-war Russia and China. They conflate socialism with communism, view high taxes as communistic, and ignore that the countries with the highest standard of living are quite socialist. ..."
"... Ike was so right about the Military-Industrial complex, and yet we have only enabled it to grow to the point that it dominates every political decision – every law – every regulation in ways that ensure weapons are expended so more can take their place; and more weapons need to be developed because the boogeyman out there (pick a regime) probably, maybe, could be building an even nastier weapon. Make no mistake, Sputnik was viewed as evidence that the Russians already had better weapons and that they would take over "outer space" and we would thus be at their mercy. Back in the 60s the US did worry that communism was working better than capitalism, and that fear enabled a lot of foreign policy (gunboat diplomacy). ..."
"... Capitalism has fatal flaws, but we should all thank Communism died the way it did. ..."
"... not like capitalism didn't murder a few proletarians if murder is the standard, both are condemned ..."
"... the vast bulk of provocations and exacerbations in that now-reprised Cold War were a pas de deluxe, not mostly driven by our own insane US leaders, like the ones discussed in small detail in the post. Conveniently ignoring the whole escalation process of the Exceptional Empire doing the "policies" of the Dulleses and their clan, the craziness of stuff like the John Birchers and the McCarthy thing, and the madness of MAD (which I believe was a notion coined by that nest of vipers called RAND, that "we have to be understood to be insane enough to commit suicide, to kill the whole planet, for the 'deterrent effect' of Massive Retaliation (forget that the US policy and military structure very seriously intended a first strike on the Evil Soviets for quite a long time, and are now building "small nukes" for 'battlespace use' as if there are no knock-on consequences.) ..."
"... Russia suffered 20 million dead in WW II, pretty much won that war against fascism, and the leaders there get dang little decrepit for being (so far) so much more the "grownups in the room" in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that our idiot rulers are playing. Go look up how many times, however, beyond that vast set of slapstick plays that led to the "Cuban Missile Crisis", the human part of the world skated up, by combinations of accident and error, to getting its death wish. And the main impetus for the nuclear "standoff" has been the US and the "policies" forwarded by "our" insane rulers and militarists. ..."
"... Guys, I generally treasure the NC comments section, and I am not singling anyone out, but some of the rhetoric here is starting to remind me of ZeroHedge doomp&rn. Let's please recover some perspective. ..."
"... Every year of human history since the expulsion from Eden will let us cherry pick overwhelming evidence that the lunatics were running the asylum. Or that every generation of our forebears gleefully built our civilization atop heaps of skulls of [insert oppressed groups here]. ..."
"... Such faith we have in ourselves, and such little evidence other than maybe a couple of world wars and long histories of the loonies playing stupid with whole populations, that we don't need to worry about the concentrated efforts of the sociopathic lunatics to rise to positions of great power and do stupid stuff. ..."
"... "It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there" Was he subsequently co-opted, or BSing? ..."
"... But that doesn't help the millions who would die on the peninsula. Further, whats known as a Nuclear Famine could still occur, which would be pretty damn devastating for civilization, even if mankind itself manages to survive. ..."
"... Science is about doubt and skepticism. That's what the scientific process is. Doubt a nuclear winter: Ok, I'll bite. We have examples – Large Volcanic eruptions, and we have the year without a summer sometime in the 1830s I believe – that is in recorded History. The we searched to archeological record for more evidence, and found large die-offs following a layer of volcanic dust. Again and again, I believe. Quoting scientists who "doubt nuclear winter" requires more examination: ..."
"... Humanity might survive as a species but not as an idea. Am about halfway through the Ellsberg book and, yes, it does make Dr. Strangelove look like a documentary. Current thinking does not seem much changed. ..."
"... Something missing from the sequence of events here is that the main reason that the Kremlin put nuclear missiles in Cuba was the fact that more than 100 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961 by the US, thus cutting down any reaction time by Moscow to minutes in case of a US attack. ..."
"... The main – unacknowledged – part of the climb down from the Cuba missile crisis was that as Russia pulled its nuclear missiles out of Cuba, the US would do the same in Europe. It cooled things down again until Reagan was electe ..."
"... I had forgotten that the 50s had just as many crazies as present times – the Dulles brothers, Curtis LeMay, Edward Teller, J. Edgar Hoover – really scary people and probably founding members of the deep state. ..."
"... The Jupiter missile agreement was a secret at the time. Kennedy wanted to minimize the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. The subsequent presence of Pershings and Tomahawks in Europe (but not Turkey) was a reaction to the mobile IRBMs deployed by the Soviet Union. Which they still have. France and Britain have their own independent deterrents. Which is just as well, since the Pershings and Tomahawks were traded away as part of START/SALT. ..."
"... The more recent escalation of NATO into E Europe, the Baltics and the Ukraine are a definite violation of the spirit of the Cuban Missile Crisis agreement, and are pure aggression against a Russia that was seen as too weak to do anything about it until they did do something about it in 2014. ..."
"... An aggressive NATO is something I view with horror. One does not poke the bear. But Kissinger (the German) and Berzhinski (the Pole) are fanatically anti-Russian. They made up for the passing of Churchill. ..."
"... LeMay had suggested that we should perhaps wipe out the Soviet Union before they had the chance to catch up to us in nukes. It was an era ruled by fear of nuclear war–a fear that was unleashed by the use of the bomb in Japan. Truman and Byrnes (the latter in a meeting in his hometown–my hometown) rejected calls by some of the Los Alamos scientists to share the nuclear secrets with the Russians and forestall this arms race or so they hoped. ..."
"... This isn't accurate. Stalin tried repeatedly and even towards the end, desperately, to sign a treaty with the Britain and France. They rebuffed him because [he was a] Commie. He signed up with Hitler only after those efforts had clearly failed. It was a self-preservation move. It probably did buy him less time than he thought. But let's not kid ourselves: Hitler's first move otherwise would have been to the East. What were later the Allies would have been delighted to see him take over the USSR. This was why British aristos were so keen on Hitler, that he was seen as an answer to Communism and therefore "our kind of man". ..."
"... General LeMay was responsible for the death of a fifth (some say a third) of the North Korean population by saturation bombing with napalm, was he not? A third? Isn't that one in three? ..."
"... Additional books that shed light on both leaving the new deal behind and the Cuban missile crisis are (1) "The Devil's Chessboard" by Talbot and (2) "JFK and The Unspeakable" by Douglass. The first is mostly about Allen Dulles but has interesting chapters on McCarthy, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc. It is reasonably well foot-noted. The second is about the assassination and has loads of detail about the missile crisis and its power players. It is meticulously foot-noted. ..."
Jerri-Lynn here: Lest anyone be deluded into thinking that the current lunacy of Trump foreign policy is unprededented and ahistoric,
part eight of
Real News Network series on Undoing the New Deal reminds us this simply isn't so.
That series more generally discuses who helped unravel the New Deal and why. That was no accident, either. In this installment,
historian Peter Kuznick says Eisenhower called for decreased militarization, then Dulles reversed the policy; the Soviets tried to
end the cold war after the death of Stalin; crazy schemes involving nuclear weapons and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba put the
world of the eve of destruction.
Three things I've seen recently made me think readers might appreciate this interview. First, I recently finished reading
Stephen Kinzer's The Brothers
, about the baleful consequences of the control over US foreign policy by Dulles brothers– John Foster and Alan. These continue to
reverberate to today. Well worth your time.
Over the hols, I watched Dr. Strangelove again. And I wondered, and this not for the first time: why has the world managed to
survive to this day? Seems to me just matter of time before something spirals out of control– and then, that's a wrap.
Queued up on my beside table is Daniel Ellsberg's
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of
a Nuclear War Planner . Haven't cracked the spine of that yet, so I'll eschew further commentary, except to say that I understand
Ellsberg's provides vivid detail about just how close we've already come to annihilation.
PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network, I'm Paul Jay. We're continuing our series of discussions on the Undoing of the New
deal, and we're joined again by Professor Peter Kuznick, who joins us from Washington. Peter is a Professor of History, and Director
of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. Thanks for joining us again Peter.
PETER KUZNICK: My pleasure, Paul.
PAUL JAY: So, before we move on to Kennedy, and then we're going to get to Johnson, you wanted to make a comment about Eisenhower,
who made a couple of great sounding speeches about reducing military expenditure but I'm not sure how much that actually ever got
implemented. But talk about this speech in, I guess, it's 1953, is it?
PETER KUZNICK: Yes. The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military
spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the
Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold
War. We could've ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration
debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold
a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn't say anything publicly
in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It's a visionary speech. It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at
his best, and he says there
PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a
theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber
is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half
million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I
repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
PETER KUZNICK: This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.�
What a great speech and the Soviets were thrilled. They republished this. They reprinted it. They broadcast it over and over, and
then two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch,
he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world.
The exact wrong message.
And so, it's sort of like Trump, where Tillerson says something sane and then Trump will undermine it two days later when it comes
to North Korea. The same thing happened in 1953 with Eisenhower and Dulles. We're really much more on the same page, but if you look
at the third world response, you've got the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, and the third world leaders are all saying,
"We have to be independent. We have to be neutral." They say, "It is insane to spend all these dollars and all these rubles on the
military when we need money for development."
PAUL JAY: So, what went on with Eisenhower, making that kind of speech? He's not known for any big increase in social spending
domestically. He helps build, as you said, the military industrial complex, especially the nuclear side of it. So, what was that
speech about, and then how does he allow Dulles to contradict him two days later?
PETER KUZNICK: That's one of the mysteries. That's why writing books on the debate, what was going on in that administration.
Did Eisenhower speak for it or did Dulles speak for it? Was Eisenhower the militarist or was Dulles the militarist? In many ways,
the '50s was a very, very dangerous time. And there were so many harebrained schemes that were going on.
We talked a little bit about Sputnik but one of the proposals after that was to blast a hydrogen bomb on the surface of the moon
to show the world that we really are the strongest. And they talked about putting missile bases on the moon, and then the idea was
to have the Soviets respond by putting their own missile bases on the moon. We could put ours on distant planets, so that we could
then hit the Soviet bases on the moon. The great independent journalist I.F. Stone mentioned that the word for lunar, for moon,
in Latin is Luna. And he said, we should have a new department in the cabinet and call it the Department of Lunacy because of the
crazy ideas that were being promulgated at the time.
This comes across, really, with the nuclear policies. So, when McGeorge Bundy asks Dan Ellsberg in 1961 to find out from the Joint
Chiefs what would be, how many people would die as a result of America's nuclear launch in the event of a war with the Soviet Union,
the Pentagon comes back with the idea that between 600 and 650 million people would die from America's weapons alone in our first
PSYOP. And that doesn't even account for nuclear winter, which would have killed us all, or the numbers who would be killed by the
Soviet weapons. That includes at least 100 million of our own allies in Western Europe.
We are talking about a period the lunacy and insanity was captured best by Stanley Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove in 1964. That policy
was so close to what was actually occurring at the time. Did Eisenhower speak for this? When Eisenhower wanted to, one of his visions
was for planetary excavation using hydrogen bombs. People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare.
PAUL JAY: They used to have tourism to go look at nuclear tests outside of Las Vegas and people would sit just a few miles away
with sunglasses on.
PETER KUZNICK: And we sent American soldiers into the blast area, knowing that they were going to be irradiated. Yeah, the irrationality
in these times. People are going to look back at the Trump administration and if we're here later, maybe they'll laugh at us. If
we survive this period, they'll laugh. They'll look back and say, "Look at the craziness of this period." Well, if you look at the
history of the '50s and early '60s, you see a lot of that same kind of craziness in terms of the policies that were actually implemented
at the time, and the ones, for example, one of the ideas was to melt the polar ice caps using hydrogen bombs. We wanted to increase
polar melting. We wanted to increase the temperature on the planet by exploding nuclear bombs.
PAUL JAY: And this was to do, to what end?
PETER KUZNICK: For what end? I'm not sure. I mean, one-
PAUL JAY: Well, they may get their way, the way things are heading right now. They may get that.
PETER KUZNICK: And one of the things from Trump's National Security speech was to not talk about, or to say that global warming
is not a National Security concern as Obama and others had believed it was. But they wanted to actually redirect hurricanes by setting
off hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere in the path of the hurricane, so they could redirect hurricanes. They wanted to build new harbors
by setting off hydrogen bombs. They wanted to have a new canal across the, instead of the Panama canal, with hydrogen bombs and reroute
rivers in the United States.
I mean, crazy, crazy ideas that was considered American policy. And actually, it was the Soviets who saved us because Eisenhower
wanted to begin to do these programs, but the Soviets would not allow, would not give the United States the right to do that because
there was a temporary test ban in the late 1950s. And Eisenhower would have had to abrogate that in order to begin these projects.
PAUL JAY: Okay. Let's catch up. So, we had just, the last part dealt with some of Kennedy. We get into the 1960s. Kennedy is as
preoccupied with the Cold War, the beginning of the Vietnam War, Cuba, the Missile Crisis. And we had left off right at the moment
of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Give us a really quick recap because I think on this issue of militarization and former policy, we kind
of have to do a whole nother series that focuses more on that. We're trying to get more into this issue of the New Deal and what
happened to domestic social reforms in the context of this massive military expenditure. But talk a bit about that moment of the
Cuban Missile Crisis.
PETER KUZNICK: Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis is very important because now we're going through the Korean Missile Crisis,
and if Trump has his way, we'll also go through the Iranian Missile Crisis. And the last time we were this close to nuclear war was
during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What happens there is that Khrushchev, in order to try to accomplish two things, or three things,
One is to, he knows the United States is planning an invasion of Cuba. The United States had been carrying out war games, massive
war games, 40,000 people participating in these war games. Like now, we're carrying out war games off the Korean coast. And the war
game that was planned for October of '62 was called Operation Ortsac. Anybody who doesn't get it? Certainly the Soviets did. Ortsac
is Castro spelled backwards.
And so, we were planning, we had the plans in place to overthrow the Cuban government, number one. Number two, Khrushchev
wanted a credible deterrent. The Americans learned, Kennedy says, "Let's find out what the reality of the Missile Gap is." And he
has McNamara do the study. We find out that there is a Missile Gap. By October of '61, we find out that there is a Missile Gap, and
it's in our favor. The United States is ahead between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 over the Soviet Union in every important category.
Still, the pressure was to increase America's missiles and so, the Strategic Air Command in the Air Force wanted to increase
our missiles by 3,000. McNamara figures that the least number he can get away with is to increase our intercontinental ballistic
missiles by 1,000 even though we're ahead 10 to 1 already at that point. The Kremlin interpreted that, and said, "Why is the US increasing
its missiles when it's so far ahead of us?" They said, "Obviously, the United States is preparing for a first strike against the
Soviet Union." That was the Kremlin interpretation. It needed a credible deterrent.
They knew that, initially they thought, "Well, the fact that we can take out Berlin will be a credible enough deterrent. The Americans
will never attack." Then they realized that that wouldn't be a sufficient deterrent to some of the hawks in the American military,
the Curtis LeMays, who had a lot of influence at the time. Or before that, the Lemnitzers. And so, they decide, "Well, we've got
to put missiles in Cuba, which is a more credible deterrent."
And the third is that Khrushchev wanted to appease his hawks. Khrushchev's strategy was to build up Soviet consumer economy. He
said, "The Soviet people want washing machines. They want cars. They want houses. That's what we need." And so, he wanted to decrease
defense spending and one of the cheap ways to do that was to put the missiles in Cuba. So, they do that foolishly. It's a crazy policy
because they don't announce it. It's very much like the movie Strangelove, where Khrushchev was planning to announce that the missiles
were in Cuba on the anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. That was coming up in a couple-
PAUL JAY: You mean Dr. Strangelove, meaning what's the point of a doomsday machine if you don't tell people you've got it?
PETER KUZNICK: As Strangelove says, "Well what's the point of the doomsday machine if you don't announce that you have it?" And
then, the Americans didn't, the Soviets didn't announce that they had the, if they had announced that the missiles were there, then
the United States could not have invaded Cuba the way the military wanted. They could not have bombed Cuba. It would've been an effective
deterrent, especially if they announced that also, that the missiles were there, that the warheads were there and that they also
had put 100 battlefield nuclear weapons inside Cuba.
That would have meant that there was no possibility of the United States invading and that the deterrent would've actually worked.
But they didn't announce it. And so, the United States plans for an invasion and we got very close to doing so. But again, the intelligence
was abysmal. We knew where 33 of the 42 missiles were. We didn't find the other missiles. We didn't know that the battlefield nuclear
weapons were there. We didn't know that the missiles were ready to be armed.
And so, the United States was operating blind. We thought that there were 10,000 armed Soviets in Cuba. Turns out, there were
42,000 armed Soviets. We thought that there were 100,000 armed Cubans. Turns out, there were 270,000 armed Cubans. Based on the initial
intelligence, McNamara said, "If we had invaded, we figured we'd suffer 18,000 casualties, 4,500 dead." When he later finds out how
many troops there actually were there, he says, "Well, that would've been 25,000 Americans dead." When he finds out that there were
100 battlefield nuclear weapons as well, he doesn't find that out until 30 years later, and then he turns white, and he says, "Well
that would've meant we would've lost 100,000 American Troops." Twice as many, almost, as we lost in Vietnam.
He said, "We would've definitely destroyed Cuba and probably wiped out the Soviet Union as well." So, that's how close we
came at this time. Which is again, as Robert Gates, another hawk, warns, "The United States should not invade Syria," he said. "Or
should not bomb Syria because haven't we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, that whenever these things happen,
you never know what the consequences are going to be. It's always the unintended consequences that are going to get you."
Which we learned in Cuba. We learned in Iraq and Afghanistan or we should've learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, Trump
hasn't learned it and we had better learn before we do something crazy now in Korea.
PAUL JAY: All right, thanks, Peter. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
It takes two to tango. The idea that the US is solely to blame for the continuation of the Cold War, or that the US is
solely to blame for a revival is Soviet/Russian propaganda. Great powers are aggressive, and rarely circumspect. The existence
of nuclear weapons, was what prevented either the US or the Soviet Union/Russia from attacking each other. Otherwise the sport
of kings would have continued as usual.
And given Churchill's anathema toward Communism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular, and given that he was the
architect of the Cold War from the West I find the idea of him being a peacenik to be bizarre.
It's always that word, "communism", isn't it? As long as that word is used, everything is justifiable. If you look at it closely,
it would seem that the Russians have discovered that communism is every bit as susceptible to corruption as capitalism. Communism
has been, in fact, MORE discredited than capitalism (for now.) With Russia on the other side of the planet, what would be the
harm in letting whatever failed ideologies they have fail like Kansas failed? As Jesus might say, "Ah Ye of little faith."
The vast majority of Americans today have no idea what communism is. Most cannot even thing about communism in terms of it
being just another economic system different from capitalism. (No, it is slavery!) They do not appreciate that there are different
manifestations of both economic models. (Neoliberalism is eating us alive.) They do not appreciate that communism was probably
the salvation of both post-war Russia and China. They conflate socialism with communism, view high taxes as communistic, and ignore
that the countries with the highest standard of living are quite socialist.
In many cases, Americans vote against their own interests just because some pol labels a new social program as communist so
he can give his new bill and edge.
Ike was so right about the Military-Industrial complex, and yet we have only enabled it to grow to the point that it dominates
every political decision – every law – every regulation in ways that ensure weapons are expended so more can take their place;
and more weapons need to be developed because the boogeyman out there (pick a regime) probably, maybe, could be building an even
nastier weapon. Make no mistake, Sputnik was viewed as evidence that the Russians already had better weapons and that they would
take over "outer space" and we would thus be at their mercy. Back in the 60s the US did worry that communism was working better
than capitalism, and that fear enabled a lot of foreign policy (gunboat diplomacy).
Trump is anything if he is not politically and strategically a dim wit. Thus he probably buys into the communist boogeyman
scenario common in our culture. He is likely attracted to the economic stimulus that more guns and less butter offer in the short
run. Our problems seems to hinge on leaders who limit their action to the short run, and the long run (ensuring survival of the
human species?), well, they never get around to that.
I would not be so loving over the "communistic ideals". My great grandparents were murdered for the fact that one was a postal
office manager, another was a sock factory owner. Believe what you want, but communism is far from just an economic theory.
Communism, once you force the politics into the economic theory, is this: equality of all men, regardless of abilities, and
damn if you started off well because everything will be taken from you. Your life is not your own, your family is not your own,
your work is not your own: it belongs to the state.
Capitalism has fatal flaws, but we should all thank Communism died the way it did.
Yaas, it's just Putin friendly propaganda, that's all. Let us persuade ourselves that the vast bulk of provocations and
exacerbations in that now-reprised Cold War were a pas de deluxe, not mostly driven by our own insane US leaders, like the ones
discussed in small detail in the post. Conveniently ignoring the whole escalation process of the Exceptional Empire doing the
"policies" of the Dulleses and their clan, the craziness of stuff like the John Birchers and the McCarthy thing, and the madness
of MAD (which I believe was a notion coined by that nest of vipers called RAND, that "we have to be understood to be insane enough
to commit suicide, to kill the whole planet, for the 'deterrent effect' of Massive Retaliation (forget that the US policy and
military structure very seriously intended a first strike on the Evil Soviets for quite a long time, and are now building "small
nukes" for 'battlespace use' as if there are no knock-on consequences.)
How does one break the cycle of ever-increasing vulnerability and eventual destruction, that includes the extraction and combustion
and all the other decimations of a livable planet? how to do that when the Imperial Rulers are insane, by any sensible definition
of insanity? And the Russians sure seem to be wiser and more restrained (barring some provocation that trips one of their own
Doomsday Devices that they have instituted to try to counter the ridiculous insane provocations and adventures of the Empire?
Maybe revert to "Duck and cover?" Or that Civil Defense posture by one of the Reaganauts, one T.K. Jones, who wanted Congress
to appropriate $252 million (1980 dollars) for Civil Defense, mostly for SHOVELS: in the firmly held belief that "we can fight
and win a nuclear war with the Soviet Union:"
Three times Mr. Jones – or someone speaking in his name – agreed to testify. Three times he failed to appear. The Pentagon
finally sent a pinch-hitter, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle. But the Senate wants Mr. Jones. It wants an authoritative
explanation of his plan to spend $252 million on civil defense. Evidently, most of that money will go for shovels.
For this is how the alleged Mr. Jones describes the alleged civil defense strategy: "Dig a hole, cover it with a couple
of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top. It's the dirt that does it."
Mr. Jones seems to believe that the United States could recover fully, in two to four years, from an all-out nuclear
attack. As he was quoted in The Los Angeles Times: "Everybody's going to make it if there are enough shovels to go around."
Dig on, Senator Pressler. We're all curious.
Russia suffered 20 million dead in WW II, pretty much won that war against fascism, and the leaders there get dang little
decrepit for being (so far) so much more the "grownups in the room" in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that our idiot rulers are playing.
Go look up how many times, however, beyond that vast set of slapstick plays that led to the "Cuban Missile Crisis", the human
part of the world skated up, by combinations of accident and error, to getting its death wish. And the main impetus for the nuclear
"standoff" has been the US and the "policies" forwarded by "our" insane rulers and militarists.
"Tu Quoque" is an especially weak and inapposite and insupportable argument in this context.
SPOT ON! IF Robby Mook and the gang can stir up a Russian frenzy from hell based on nothing more than sour grapes, and IF what
we know about the deep state is only the tip of the iceberg, and IF the media is largely under the control of the 'Gov, THEN a
logical human must at least be open to the possibility that there is also such a thing as American propaganda, must (s)he not?
Guys, I generally treasure the NC comments section, and I am not singling anyone out, but some of the rhetoric here is
starting to remind me of ZeroHedge doomp&rn. Let's please recover some perspective.
Every year of human history since the expulsion from Eden will let us cherry pick overwhelming evidence that the lunatics
were running the asylum. Or that every generation of our forebears gleefully built our civilization atop heaps of skulls of [insert
oppressed groups here].
Yet during the Cold War, there were plenty of prominent people calling out the McCarthys and Lemays of the world as loons (and
behind the Curtain, even Stalin was removed from key posts before his death). Guess what, sane generally wins out over the mad
king. The arc of history indeed bends toward justice, though never without sacrifice and diligent truthseeking. The ones to worry
about are the snake oil merchants, who pee on our shoes and tell us it's raining.
Such faith we have in ourselves, and such little evidence other than maybe a couple of world wars and long histories of
the loonies playing stupid with whole populations, that we don't need to worry about the concentrated efforts of the sociopathic
lunatics to rise to positions of great power and do stupid stuff.
Yes, this is what the world gets when technological advancement is combined with a socio-economic system that rewards sociopathic
tendencies. A system advanced by propaganda (disguised as entertainment and education) backed up with the barrell of a gun and
This article is not scary enough. Find out that in 1983 there was almost a nuclear war. Both sides have a first strike strategy
and a Russian general thought that actions of Reagan were getting ready for the first strike and he was going to strike first.
And during the Cuban missile crisis, Russian subs had nuclear weapons on them and we dropped low level depth charges on them and
we didn't know that they were armed.
This is a very long interview of Daniel Ellsberg in Seattle on Jan 9, 2018.
Now that everyone, except many in the USA, knows that when the USA changes a government that the country is ruined, this may
have forced North and South Korea to get together.
Ellsberg says that any nukes used in the Korean Peninsula would result in at least 1 million dead and while 60 million in WWII
were killed during the course of the war, with nukes that many cold be killed in a week. And then, nuclear winter would finish
off the rest of us.
To be fair, there are now doubts among scientists that Nuclear Winter as classically described would even be a thing.
But that doesn't help the millions who would die on the peninsula. Further, whats known as a Nuclear Famine could still
occur, which would be pretty damn devastating for civilization, even if mankind itself manages to survive.
Science is about doubt and skepticism. That's what the scientific process is. Doubt a nuclear winter: Ok, I'll bite. We
have examples – Large Volcanic eruptions, and we have the year without a summer sometime in the 1830s I believe – that is in recorded
History. The we searched to archeological record for more evidence, and found large die-offs following a layer of volcanic dust.
Again and again, I believe. Quoting scientists who "doubt nuclear winter" requires more examination:
List them, together with their credentials and "donor$."
You can google nuclear winter early enough. And yes, there are scientists who are skeptical for various reasons. The only group
that has written a paper on it in recent years is composed of some of the same scientists who originally proposed it and they
think it is real.
Reasons for skepticism include doubt about the amount of smoke that would be produced. And the volcano and asteroid comparisons
are imperfect because the details are different. People used to talk about volcanic dust, and now it is mostly sulfuric acid droplets.
With asteroids the initial thought was the KT boundary layer represented trillions of tons of submicron size dust and then Melosh
proposed ejects blasted around the world heated the upper atmosphere and ignited global fires and created soot and then his grad
student Tamara Goldin wrote her dissertation saying the heat might not be quite enough to do that and then people suggested it
was ( I won't go into why) and others suggested the bolide hit sulfur layers .
The point is that there is not a consensus about the detailed atmospheric effects of either large asteroid impacts or of super
volcanoes like Toba and yet we do have some evidence because these things happened. We don't have an example to study in tge geologic
record where hundreds of cities were hit simultaneously with nuclear weapons.
I could go on, but I don't want to give the impression I have a strong opinion either way, because I don't. But I think the
case for global warming is overwhelming because vastly more people are working on it and it is happening in front of us. It is
not just computer models.
Forget possible nuclear winter, the economic effects alone would be worth 10 Lehman brothers (2008 meltdowns). And then the
knock on effects would cause other knock on effects like other wars. Even without a nuclear winter, civilization would probably
collapse within 18 months anyway.
All this, while true, only change the details not the results. The Chicxulub impact almost certainly exterminated the
majority of then living species, and the Toba Supervolcano probably almost caused our extinction. That suggest throwing massive
amounts of anything into the atmosphere is not good.
As a student I would like to know the details, but in practice, it's like arguing whether a snow storm or a blizzard killed
someone. Humanity as a species would probably survive a nuclear war okay, but many(most?) individuals as well as our planetary
civilization would be just as dead. The numbers dying would be slightly different is all.
Humanity might survive as a species but not as an idea. Am about halfway through the Ellsberg book and, yes, it does make
Dr. Strangelove look like a documentary. Current
thinking does not seem much changed.
Something missing from the sequence of events here is that the main reason that the Kremlin put nuclear missiles in Cuba
was the fact that more than 100 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961
by the US, thus cutting down any reaction time by Moscow to minutes in case of a US attack.
The main – unacknowledged – part of the climb down from the Cuba missile crisis was that as Russia pulled its nuclear missiles
out of Cuba, the US would do the same in Europe. It cooled things down again until Reagan was elected.
I had forgotten that the 50s had just as many crazies as present times – the Dulles brothers, Curtis LeMay, Edward Teller,
J. Edgar Hoover – really scary people and probably founding members of the deep state.
The Jupiter missile agreement was a secret at the time. Kennedy wanted to minimize the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. The
subsequent presence of Pershings and Tomahawks in Europe (but not Turkey) was a reaction to the mobile IRBMs deployed by the Soviet
Union. Which they still have. France and Britain have their own independent deterrents. Which is just as well, since the Pershings
and Tomahawks were traded away as part of START/SALT.
The more recent escalation of NATO into E Europe, the Baltics and the Ukraine are a definite violation of the spirit of
the Cuban Missile Crisis agreement, and are pure aggression against a Russia that was seen as too weak to do anything about it
until they did do something about it in 2014.
An aggressive NATO is something I view with horror. One does not poke the bear. But Kissinger (the German) and Berzhinski
(the Pole) are fanatically anti-Russian. They made up for the passing of Churchill.
Just recently Russia deployed more nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
Maybe something to do with all those special forces NATO keeps stationing on the Russian border?
And all the a -- -oles who Command and Rule, and most of the commentariat and punditry, all treat these affairs as if they
are playing some Brobdingnagian Game of Risk ™, where as with Monopoly (which was originally intended to teach a very different
lesson) the object of the game is all about TAKING OVER THE WHOLE WORLD, WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA an idiotic froth on top of an ever more
dangerous brew of exponentially increasing,and largely ignored, mutual if often asymmetric, deadly vulnerability.
Stupid effing humans and their vast stupid monkey tricks
LeMay had suggested that we should perhaps wipe out the Soviet Union before they had the chance to catch up to us in nukes.
It was an era ruled by fear of nuclear war–a fear that was unleashed by the use of the bomb in Japan. Truman and Byrnes (the latter
in a meeting in his hometown–my hometown) rejected calls by some of the Los Alamos scientists to share the nuclear secrets with
the Russians and forestall this arms race or so they hoped.
So no the crazy didn't start with Trump and Trump had even advocated we make nice with the Russians until the Dems, their remnants
at State and Defense and the press forced him to change course (on threat of impeachment). The elites who have gained more or
less permanent power over the direction of this country are a threat to us all.
Anyhow, thanks for the above post. Those who forget history ..
Different world. The first generation of nuclear weapons had yields (around 20-30Kt) that were comprehensible in terms of conventional
bombing, which of course would have required many more aircraft but was also much more efficient per tonne of explosives. For
the formative years after 1945, therefore, people thought of nuclear weapons as weapons in the classic sense and, at that time,
nobody really knew that much about the effects of radiation and fallout. This all changed with the advent of the hydrogen bomb,
but even then it took a long time for the likely catastrophic effects of the use of such weapons in large numbers to sink in.
Nuclear technology, and both delivery and guidance systems, evolved far more quickly than rationales for their use could be found.
Indeed, you can say that the Cold War was a period when nuclear powers found themselves acquiring weapons with technologies that
couldn't actually be used, but couldn't be un-invented either. Enormous intellectual effort went into trying to provide post-hoc
rationales for having these weapons, some of it very ingenious, most of it wasted.
Don't forget the role of paranoia either. NSC-68, the report that formalized US strategy during the Cold War, reads today like
the ravings of a group of lunatics, seeing, almost literally, Reds under the beds. And if Stalin was dead, the Soviet leadership
had just gone through a war which had cost them almost 30 million dead, and any, literally any, sacrifice was worth it to make
sure that they prevented another war, or at least won it quickly.
US military casualties in WW2: 407,300
US civilian casualties in WW2: 12,100
USSR military casualties in WW2: estimated by various sources [see the footnotes] between 8,668,000 to 11,400,000.
USSR civilian casualties in WW2: 10,000,000 [plus another 6-7 million deaths from famine, a line in the table that is completely
blank for the US]
Simply put, for every American that died, somewhere between a thousand to two thousand of their Russian counterparts were killed.
And somehow people in the US were convinced and worried that Russia wanted to start yet another war when they still hadn't finished
burying the dead from the last one.
1. Stalin made his pact with the devil that gave Hitler free rein to invade Poland and France. Hitler then invaded Russia from
Poland as the jumping off point. Stalin miscalculated big-time.
2. Invaded countries always have many more civilian countries than un-invaded ones.
3. Germany started WW II only 20 years after the end of WW I that also slaughtered 2 million German soldiers. Past losses generally
does not appear to impact the decision-making of dictators regarding new wars. So it would have been irrational for the West to
think that the USSR had no intent to expand its borders. That was the blunder that France and Britain made in 1938-39. However,
the paranoia did get extreme in the Cold War.
This isn't accurate. Stalin tried repeatedly and even towards the end, desperately, to sign a treaty with the Britain and
France. They rebuffed him because [he was a] Commie. He signed up with Hitler only after those efforts had clearly failed. It
was a self-preservation move. It probably did buy him less time than he thought. But let's not kid ourselves: Hitler's first move
otherwise would have been to the East. What were later the Allies would have been delighted to see him take over the USSR. This
was why British aristos were so keen on Hitler, that he was seen as an answer to Communism and therefore "our kind of man".
The Poles have been the Germans and Russians chewtoy ever since it was completely partitioned. All the countries immediately
around Russia have been horribly abused by Russia. Putin is doing his country no favors by reminding everyone of that. He can
cow them into submission, but like the American government is finding, just because they are doesn't mean they cannot cause trouble.
Heck, the current Great Game could be said to have started with the Soviet-Afghanistan War.
Going into the war every country was unprepared and unwilling to fight and had difficulty choices. The German military
itself was not prepared. It was Hitler's choice to start when and where and by 1938 everyone knew it. Hitler was surprised that
France and Great Britain honored their guarantee to Poland.
As evil as Stalin's regime was, and his invasion of Poland was just as bad as Hitler's at first, I don't think most people
really understood just how evil the Nazis were and what they were planning on doing for Germany's living space. It was worse than
anything that Stalin did and between the Ukrainian famine, the Great Purges, the takeover of the Baltic States, the invasion of
Finland, etc he did serious evil.
Additional books that shed light on both leaving the new deal behind and the Cuban missile crisis are (1) "The Devil's
Chessboard" by Talbot and (2) "JFK and The Unspeakable" by Douglass. The first is mostly about Allen Dulles but has interesting
chapters on McCarthy, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc. It is reasonably well foot-noted. The second is about the assassination and has
loads of detail about the missile crisis and its power players. It is meticulously foot-noted.
Trump has been bellicose re NK and Iran, but I see him as resisting the Syrian adventure, while cia plus military hawks pushing
Dems today are real hawks, itching to confront Russia in both Syria and Ukraine the latter another place trump may be resisting
hawks, the area has been quiet since the election, I.e. since dems were in charge.
It's an odd thought that in some theaters trump may be the sane one
Yaas, nothing is happening in Ukraine, all is quiet on the Eastern Front of NATO:
http://ukraine.csis.org/ Nuland has gone on to other conquests, and all
that. The CIA and War Department have lost interest in that Conflict Zone. Nothing is happening. You are getting sleepy. Sleepy.
Yeah, the title of this post would lead one to believe that their is something uniquely horrible about Trump's foreign policy.
From anything I can detect, her bellicose statement about a no-fly zone in Syria and her abject destruction of Libya, HRC's FP
would have been even worse.
If she had been elected, we might already be in a ground war with the Russians in Syria. The only hopeful sign is that while
Trump spends his day watching TeeVee, State, DOD, and CIA are all working at cross purposes and getting in each other's way.
Foreign policy? We have a foreign policy? If anybody finds it, will they please explain it to me?
I almost never comment, although I rely on NC for most of my news and blood pressure control. You are a treasure.
May I recommend another book – "All Honorable Men" – by James Stewart Martin. Published in 1950 and shortly thereafter all
bookstore copies were hoovered-up and burned by the CIA. It might have been referenced in one of the RNN segments, but I haven't
slogged through all of them yet.
You can get a hardback at Amazon for a mere $298. An i-book is cheaper.
After reading "The Brothers," and "The Devil's Chessboard," I considered starting a non-profit using GPS technology – Piss-on-their-Graves.org.
The Forbidden Bookshelf series by Open Media
is fantastic. Sadly for dinosaurs like me, it is mostly ebooks, but they do the occasional hard copy reprints, and since much
in the series would be out of print without Open Media, even the ebooks are great to have.
And it is interesting to see how many bothersome books just go away even without any "censorship" even with the First Amendment
being the one right courts have consistently, and strongly, enforced.
This article reminded me of an interesting/disturbing thing I saw on tv last night – a local news show had a bit on what to
do in case of nuclear attack!
Boomers & older probably remember the drill: go to the basement or innermost room of the house, have 72 hours of food & water
stashed & don't go outside for at least 3 days, etc. (yeah, that's the ticket).
Thought I was having a flashback to the 60's
Of course the best advice I ever heard on the subject was "Squat down, put your head between your knees & kiss your sweet [rear
Well, as I recall they were trying to give us the illusion of control so that we would not go all nihilistic or into a drunken
fatalistic stupor. I don't know if telling people, like little JBird, that the bombs might start dropping anytime in which case
you're just f@@@@d would have done any good.
One interpretation of the Cold War, that I found revealing, was that the two "opposing" militaries colluded to magnify the
threat so as to pump up their respective budgets. So both were essentially conning their own governments – and putting the whole
world at risk in the process.
Of course, another big factor, equally obvious at the time, was (and is) that world "leaders," elected or not, can't resist
the temptation to play chess with live pieces. They don't seem to care that people wind up dead, or that occasionally they put
the whole world in danger.
Having served in the first Cold War, it simply is beyond my comprehension that the Democrats restarted it all over again. Even
weirder are the neo-con proponents of a First Strike. If the USA wins, at least one or two major cities (if not all) will be destroyed.
New Zealand becomes the sequel to "On the Beach". We are in the same position as Germany in the 1930s except we know that the
world war will destroy us. Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of
Eastern Syria surrounded by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?
Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of Eastern Syria surrounded
by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?
Why they are needed to fight the evil-doers of course! Anything to protect our Freedom and the American Way. Now, ifyou keep
asking these inconvenient questions, then "they" might start asking if you support the terrorists.
It's like when my half blind aged mother, and her possibly weaponized cane, is scrutinized as a possible al-Qaeda terrorist
with a super hidden weapon, and I ask why it's 9/11 and the very bad people might hurt us.
"People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare."
Yeah. In 1992 my wife was serving as the QA Mgr for the Nevada Test Site (NTS) nuke remediation project contractor. In 1993
a successful FOIA filing unearthed the Alaskan "Project Chariot." One of the brilliant Project Plowshare ideas was the potential
utility of nuke detonations to carve out deep water harbors (they now deny it), so they took a bunch of irradiated soil from NTS
and and spread it around on the tundra 130 miles N of the Arctic circle on the coast of the Chukchi Sea to "study potential environmental
The nuke "dredging" idea went nowhere, so they just plowed the irradiated crap under the surface, where it remained secret
until the FOIA revelation decades later. DOE told my wife's company "go clean this shit up" (Eskimo tribes were freaking after
finding out), so off goes my wife and her crew to spend the summer and fall living in tents guarded by armed polar bear guards
(they had to first plow out a dirt & gravel runway, and flew everyone and all supplies in on STOL aircraft). They dug the test
bed area all up (near Cape Thompson), assayed samples in an onsite radlab, put some 30 tons of "contaminated" Arctic soil in large
sealed containers, barged it all down to Seattle, loaded it on trucks and drove it all back down to be buried at NTS.
Your tax dollars.
She looked so cute with her clipboard, and her orange vest, steel toed boots and hardhat.
As a teenager I read in a newspaper a proposal to use nuclear blasts to form a canal that would bring the sea to the middle
of Australia and form an inland sea from which water could be drawn. We already had nuclear weapon being tested here (
) so there was no appetite for ideas like this.
"... The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response. ..."
One consequence of the Trump-Russia fixation is the overshadowing of the far-right agenda
that Trump and his Republican allies are carrying out, including, inexorably, policies that
undermine the narrative of Trump-Russian collusion. But as that narrative is also used as a
cudgel against Trump's presidency, it is worth asking if some of those policies are now even a
In December, Trump
authorized the sale of new weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed
separatists. President Obama had rejected the arms shipments, "fearing that it would only
escalate the bloodshed," as The New York Times noted in 2015. Trump had also opposed such a move during the
campaign, but was swayed by lobbying from
advisers and congressional neoconservatives
observed Andrew Weiss , a Russia expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, "I see this discussion [on Trump-Russia] as fitting within a broader effort by people
within the national security bureaucracy to box Trump in on Ukraine."
The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the
Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the
1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in
It is a fear-laden document, relentlessly portraying the world as fraught with existential
danger to US national security.
Russia and China, as with two other recent strategic policy papers out of Washington, are
again painted as adversaries who must be confronted with ever-greater US military power.
The latest NPR asserts that since the last
such review in 2010, "America confronts an international security situation that is more
complex and demanding than any since the end of the Cold War."
It is clear from reading the 74-page document that Russia and China are the main source of
security concern for the Pentagon – albeit the reasons for the concern are far from
convincing. Indeed one might say downright alarmist.
Washington accuses Russia and China of pursuing nuclear weapons development which is
threatening. It accuses Russia in particular of violating arms controls treaties and
threatening American allies with its nuclear arsenal. There are several other such
unsubstantiated claims made by the Pentagon in the document.
Russia and China
responded by condemning the aggressive nature of the Pentagon's latest doctrine, as they
have done with regard to two other recent strategic papers published by the Trump
It is deplorable that Washington seems to go out of its way to portray the world in such
bellicose terms. The corollary of this attitude is the repudiation of diplomacy and
Washington, it seems, is a hostage to its own imperative need to generate a world of hostile
relations in order to justify its rampant militarism, which is, in turn, fundamental to its
The lamentable, even criminal, danger of this strategy is that it foments unnecessary
tensions and animosity in world relations. Russia and China have repeatedly called for normal,
multilateral relations. Yet, remorselessly, Washington demonizes the two military powers in
ways that are retrograde and reckless.
The Pentagon's latest nuclear doctrine goes even further in its provocations. Based on
dubious accusations of Russia's threatening behavior ("annexation of Crimea", "aggression in
Ukraine"), the Pentagon has declared it will rely more on nuclear force for "deterrence".
That can be taken as a warning that Washington is, in effect, lowering its threshold for
deploying nuclear weapons. It overtly states that it will consider use of nuclear weapons to
defend American interests and allies from "nuclear and conventional threats". The language is
chilling. It talks about inflicting "incalculable" and "intolerable" costs on "adversaries".
This is nothing short of Washington terrorizing the rest of the world into conforming to its
Another sinister development is that Washington has now declared that it will be acquiring
"low-yield" nuclear weapons . These so-called "mini-nukes" will again lower the threshold for
possible deployment of nuclear warheads in the misplaced belief that such deployment will not
escalate to strategic weapons.
What's disturbing is that the US is evidently moving toward a policy of greater reliance on
nuclear force to underpin its international power objectives. It is also broadening, in a
provocative and reckless way, what it considers "aggression" by other adversaries, principally
Russia. Taken together, Washington is increasingly setting itself on a more hostile course.
Some 57 years ago, in 1961, then US President Dwight Eisenhower gave a farewell address to
the nation in which he issued a grave forewarning about the growing control of the
"military-industrial complex" over American life. Back then, the American military-industrial
complex could disguise its insatiable appetite with the pretext of the Cold War and the "Soviet
Today, the American federal government spends about $700 billion a year on military –
over half its discretionary budget. The US spends more on military than at any time during the
Cold War – in constant dollar terms.
The US military-industrial complex has become a voracious monster way beyond anything that
Eisenhower may have feared. It is no longer a threat merely to American life. It is a threat to
the life of the entire planet.
Objectively, the US has no foreign enemy endangering its existence; neither Russia nor
China. Not even North Korea, despite its anti-American rhetoric, poses a direct threat to the
The Pentagon – on behalf of the military-industrial complex – is stretching
credulity when it depicts the world as a more threatening place. Fingering Russia and China is
In order to try to shore up its scare-mongering with a semblance of credibility, the
Pentagon is escalating the rhetoric about nuclear weapons and the need to deploy them. There is
no objective justification for this nuclear posturing by the US, only as a way to dramatize
alleged national security fears, in order to keep the military-industrial racket going.
The despicable danger from this retrograde Cold War strategy is that the US is recklessly
pushing the world toward war and possibly nuclear catastrophe.
Fortunately, Russia and China have highly developed military defenses to keep American
insanity in check. Nevertheless, American belligerence is pushing the world to combustible
The problem is that American rulers have become a rogue state. The American people need to
somehow sack their rogue rulers and their military madness, and return the nation to a
Until then, Russia and the rest of the world must be on guard.
After 16 years of war in Afghanistan, experts have stopped asking what victory looks like
and are beginning to consider the spectrum of possible defeats.
All options involve acknowledging the war as failed, American aims as largely unachievable
and Afghanistan's future as only partly salvageable. Their advocates see glimmers of hope
barely worth the stomach-turning trade-offs and slim odds of success.
"I don't think there is any serious analyst of the situation in Afghanistan who believes
that the war is winnable," Laurel Miller, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, said
podcast last summer, after leaving her State Department stint as acting special
representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This may be why, even after thousands have died and over $100 billion has been spent, even
after the past two weeks of shocking bloodshed in
Kabul , few expect the United States to try anything other than the status
It is a strategy, as Ms. Miller described it, to "prevent the defeat of the Afghan
government and prevent military victory by the Taliban" for as long as possible.
Though far from the most promising option, it is the least humiliating. But sooner or later,
the United States and Afghanistan will find themselves facing one of Afghanistan's endgames --
whether by choice or not.
"... The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively. ..."
"... These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." ..."
"... If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains. ..."
"... In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them. ..."
"... Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers ..."
"... Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs. ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case. ..."
"... Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/ ..."
"... A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security? ..."
"... God help the poor people of Syria. ..."
"... thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass... ..."
"... Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups ..."
"... A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong. ..."
"... The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous. ..."
"... They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard. ..."
"... So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning ..."
"... Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well. ..."
"... I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc. ..."
"... This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well. ..."
"... Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks). ..."
"... In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix. ..."
"... That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group. ..."
"... "The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. ..."
"... Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards". ..."
"... Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII. ..."
"... We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes. ..."
"... I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far. ..."
The Borgist foreign policy of the administration has little to do with the generals.
To comprehend the generals one must understand their collective mentality and the process that raised them on high as a collective
of their own. The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically
thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively.
These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of
their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board."
If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for
more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective
self image as warrior chieftains.
In Obama's time they were asked what policy should be in Afghanistan and persuaded him to reinforce their dreams in Afghanistan
no matter how unlikely it always was that a unified Western oriented nation could be made out of a collection of disparate mutually
In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the
leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose
Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they
see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them.
Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War
College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they
are a collective of narrow thinkers. pl
IMO, this conformism pervades all institutions. I saw when I worked in banking and finance many moons ago how moving up the
ranks in any large organization meant you didn't rock the boat and you conformed to the prevailing groupthink. Even nutty ideas
became respectable because they were expedient.
Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of
going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs.
You remind me of an old rumination by Thomas Ricks:
Take the example of General George Casey. According to David Cloud and Greg Jaffe's book Four Stars, General Casey, upon learning
of his assignment to command U.S. forces in Iraq, received a book from the Army Chief of Staff. The book Counterinsurgency Lessons
Learned from Malaya and Vietnam was the first book he ever read about guerilla warfare." This is a damning indictment of the degree
of mental preparation for combat by a general. The Army's reward for such lack of preparation: two more four star assignments.
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers."
I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they
have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case.
" in 2000-2001
the Taliban government –with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) – implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium
production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production
of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meager 185 tons. It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government
for its successful opium eradication program. The Taliban government had contributed to literally destabilizing the multibillion
dollar Worldwide trade in heroin.
In 2017, the production of opium in Afghanistan under US military occupation reached 9000 metric tons. The production of opium
in Afghanistan registered a 49 fold increase since Washington's invasion. Afghanistan under US military occupation produces approximately
90% of the World's illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin. Who owns the airplanes and ships that transport heroin
from Afghanistan to the US? Who gets the profits?"
---A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production
and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and
Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security?
There needs to be a 're-education' of the top, all of them need to be required to attend Green Beret think-school, in other
words they need to be forced to think outside the box, and to to think on their feet. They need to understand fluid situations
where things change at the drop of a hat, be able to dance the two-step and waltz at the same time. In other words they need to
be able to walk and chew gum and not trip over their shoe-laces.
By no means are they stupid, but you hit the nail on the head when you said 'narrow thinkers'. Their collective hive mentality
that has developed is not a good thing.
thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or
only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point...
you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends
with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass...
i like what you said here "conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They
actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." - that strikes me as very true
- conformist group thinkers... the world needs less of these types and more actual leaders who have a vision for something out
of the box and not always on board... i thought for a while trump might fill this bill, but no such luck by the looks of it now..
As a young person in eighth grade, I learned about the "domino theory" in regard to attempts to slow the spread of communism.
Then my generation was, in a sense, fractured around the raging battles for and against our involvement in Vietnam.
I won't express my own opinion on that. But I mention it because it seems to be a type of "vision thing."
So, now I ask, what would be your vision for the Syrian situation?
Westmoreland certainly, Macarthur certainly not. This all started with the "industrialization" of the armed forces in WW2.
we never recovered the sense of profession as opposed to occupation after the massive expansion and retention of so many placeholders.
a whole new race of Walmart manager arose and persists. pl
The idea of the Domino Theory came from academia, not the generals of that time. They resisted the idea of a war in east Asia
until simply ordered into it by LBJ. After that their instinct for acting according to guidance kicked in and they became committed
to the task. Syria? Do you think I should write you an essay on that? SST has a large archive and a search machine. pl
I am talking about flag officers at present, not those beneath them from the mass of whom they emerge. There are exceptions.
Martin Dempsey may have been one such. The system creates such people at the top. pl
Your usual animosity for non-left wing authority is showing. A commander like the CENTCOM theater commander (look it up) operates
within guidance from Washington, broad guidance. Normally this is the president's guidance as developed in the NSC process. Some
presidents like Obama and LBJ intervene selectively and directly in the execution of that guidance. Obama had a "kill list" of
jihadis suggested by the IC and condemned by him to die in the GWOT. He approved individual missions against them. LBJ picked
individual air targets in NVN. Commanders in the field do not like that . They think that freedom of action within their guidance
should be accorded them. This CinC has not been interested thus far in the details and have given the whole military chain of
command wide discretion to carry out their guidance. pl
"I am not sure that I understand what makes a Borgist different from a military conformist." The Borg and the military leaders
are not of the same tribe. they are two different collectives who in the main dislike and distrust each other. pl
Trump would like to better relations with Russia but that is pretty much the limit of his attention to foreign affairs
at any level more sophisticated than expecting deference. He is firmly focused on the economy and base solidifying issues like
The medical profession comes to mind. GP's and specialists. Many of those working at the leading edge of research seem much wider
thinking and are not locked into the small box of what they have been taught.
Combat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are
thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.
There is more to life than breach and clear. Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is
engaged instead of just the heel.
A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that
they are born for greatness and can do no wrong.
The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think
up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser)
than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.
They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When
the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the
reality of the world as it is now.
Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.
So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into
social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term
memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps
a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing
the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and
taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.
I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness
along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change
the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.
One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.
"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."
The military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure.
It could not function as a collection of individuals.
This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.
That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it
is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook,
I might consider them more creative than us.
This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable
to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box.
Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces.
John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards
describes this very well.
Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking)
organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).
In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's
Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous
Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.
Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists.
The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.
(mainly the analytical parts of ) intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything.
Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest
in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes
(in silver and/or blood).
It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The
Jester performed such a role. Also think of the
Emperors New Clothes . The current trend
of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail
IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking
is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.
I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this
I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say
of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)
Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you
say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks? In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.
"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to
accept the reality of the world as it is now."
That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at
odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries
to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.
I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy
to miss the overview.
Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without
being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.
By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks,
but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)
Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.
Apparently, according to the last US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford, from 2014-17 US has spent 12 Billion on Regime change in Syria.
IMO, combinedly Iran and Russia so far, have spent far less in Syria than 12 billion by US alone, not considering the rest of
her so called coalition. This is a war of attrition, and US operations in wars, are usually far more expensive and longer than
"The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through
2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country.
This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after
war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD
It may "demand" it - but does it get it? Soldiers are just as human as everyone else.
I'm reminded of the staff sergeant with the sagging beer belly who informed me, "Stand up straight and look like a soldier..."
Or the First Sergeant who was so hung over one morning at inspection that he couldn't remember which direction he was going down
the hall to the next room to be inspected. I'm sure you have your own stories of less than competence.
It's a question of intelligence and imagination. And frankly, I don't see the military in any country receiving the "best and
brightest" of that country's population, by definition. The fact that someone is patriotic enough to enter the military over a
civilian occupation doesn't make them more intelligent or imaginative than the people who decided on the civilian occupation.
Granted, if you fail at accounting, you don't usually die. Death tends to focus the mind, as they say. Nonetheless, we're not
talking about the grunts at the level who actually die, still less the relatively limited number of Special Forces. We're talking
about the officers and staff at the levels who don't usually die in war - except maybe at their defeat - i.e., most officers over
the level of captain.
One can hardly look at this officer crowd in the Pentagon and CENTCOM and say that their personal death concentrates their
mind. They are in virtually no danger of that. Only career death faces them - with a nice transition to the board of General Dynamics
at ten times the salary.
All in all, I'd have to agree that the military isn't much better at being competent - at many levels above the obvious group
of hyper-trained Special Forces - any more than any other profession.
That is well put.most important is the grading system that is designed to fix a person to a particular slot thereby limiting his
ability to think "outside the box" and consider the many variables that exist in one particular instant.
Creative thinking allows
you to see beyond the storm clouds ahead and realize that the connectedness of different realities both the visible and invisible.
instance the picture of the 2 pairs of korean skaters in the news tells an interesting story on many levels. Some will judge them
on their grade of proffiency, while others will see a dance of strategy between 2 foes and a few will know the results in advance
and plan accordingly
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and
deep. STEM is enormously useful to us but seems to be a risky when implanted in shallow earth.
These narrow "but deep" thinkers were unable to grasp the nature of the Iraq War for the first couple of years. They thought
of it as a rear area security problem, a combat in cities problem, anything but a popular rebellion based on xenophobia and anti-colonialism
The IED problem? They spent several billion dollars on trying to find a technology fix and never succeeded. I know because they
kept asking me to explain the war to them and then could not understand the answers which were outside their narrow thought. pl
War College selectees, the national board selected creme de la creme test out as 50% SJs (conformists lacking vision) in Myers-Briggs
terms and about 15% NTs (intellectuals). To survive and move upward in a system dominated by SJs, the NTs must pretend to be what
they are not. A few succeed. I do not think Mattis is an intellectual merely because he has read a lot. pl
Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing
I tried to encourage them to "think backwards".
My favorite example was a Japanese fisherman who recovered valuable ancient Chinese
pottery. Everyone knew where an ancient ship had sunk, but the water was too deep to dive down to the wreck. And everyone knew
the cargo included these valuable vases. And the fisherman was the first to figure out how to recover them. He attached a line
to an octopus, and lowered it in the area, waited awhile, and pulled it up. Low and behold, the octopus had hidden in an ancient
Chinese vase. The fisherman was familiar with trapping octopuses, by lowering a ceramic pot (called "takosubo") into the ocean,
waiting awhile, then raising the vase with octopus inside. His brilliance was to think backwards, and use an octopus to catch
the original GBS were recruited in the 50s to serve in the OSS role with foreign guerrillas behind Soviet lines in th event
of war in Europe. Aaron Bank, the founder, recruited several hundred experienced foreign soldiers from the likely countries who
wanted to become American. By the time we were in VN these men were a small fraction of GBs but important for their expertise
and professionalism. pl
Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck
me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of
industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII.
We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization.
The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big
Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and
so it goes.
I note many Borgs... Borgism if you will. An organizational behavior that has emerged out of human nature having difficulty adapting
to rapidly accelerating complexity that is just too hard to apprehend in a few generations. If (as many commenters on STT seem
to...) one wishes to view this in an ideological or spiritual framework only, they may overlook an important truth - that what
we are experiencing is a Battle Among Borgs for control over their own space & domination over the other Borgs. How else would
we expect any competitive, powerful interest group to act?
In gov & industry these days, we observe some pretty wild outliers... attached to some wild outcomes. Thus the boring behavior
of our political industries bringing forth Trump, our promethean technology sector yielding a Musk (& yes, a Zuckerberg).
I find it hard to take very seriously analysts that define their perspective based primarily upon their superior ideals & opposition
to others. Isn't every person, every tribe, team or enterprise a borglet-in-becoming? Everybody Wants to Rule the World ... &
Everybody Must Get Stoned... messages about how we are grappling with complexity in our times. I just finished reading Command
& Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far.
Unfortunately, I would
not be amazed if reckless, feckless leaders changed the status quo. I was particularly alarmed hearing Trump in his projection
mode; "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity, without a major event where people pull together,
that's hard to do.
But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing." It
strikes me that he could be exceptionally willing to risk a Major Event if he felt a form of unity, or self-preservation, was
in the offing. I pray (& I do not pray often or easily) that the Generals you have described have enough heart & guts to honor
their oath at its most profound level in the event of an Event.
Another springs to mind: James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) was once part of the NASA team building the first probe to
go to Mars to look for signs of life. Lovelock didn't make any friends when he told NASA they were wasting their time, there was
none. When asked how he could be so sure, he explained that the composition of the Martian atmosphere made it impossible. "But
Martian life may be able to survive under different conditions" was the retort. Lovelock then went on to explain his view that
the evolution of microbial life determined the atmospheric composition on Earth, so should be expected to do the same if
life had evolved on Mars. Brilliant backwards thinking which ought to have earned him the Nobel prize IMHO (for Gaia). Lovelock,
a classic cross-disciplinary scientist, can't be rewarded with such a box-categorized honor, as his idea doesn't fit well into
Another example of cross-disciplinary brilliance was Bitcoin, which has as much to do with its creator's deep knowledge of
Anthropology (why people invented & use money) as his expertise in both Economics and Computer Science.
This is they key to creative thinking in my view - familiarity with different fields yields deeper insights.