“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 light.
The "New American militarism" or as it called "Neocon mentality" is not that different
from the early Soviets militarism (of Trotskyite variety), eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism toward other
countries on the tips of bayonets. Here the role of scientific socialism is played by neoliberal ideology. With the slogan
"Transnational elite unite" and Davos style Congresses of the new "Neoliberal International" of comprador elites. While
converting other countries into neoliberal model using color revolution of direct military invasion or combination of both) are disguised
as spread of "democracy".
In this new Crusade for world hegemony the key ideas of Trotsky Permanent Revolution remains intact -- a crusade for establishing
new social system on all counties on the Earth. This is just Great Neoliberal Crusade, instead of Communist Crusade. This new
justification for Crusades has the same problems as two previous. But it does not matter as the key role of democracy here is the same
as in quote "the goal justifies the means"
Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. he avoids the term neoliberalism and did not try to explain new
American militarism in terms of the quest for neoliberal empire expansion. But he is a very good observer and the books contain many
insights into US elite thinking and blunders. Among them we can note two:
While all three books are excellent and raise important issues, they overlap. Probably the most original and the most important
on them is Washington Rules, were Bacevich attempts to explain "Permanent War for Permanent Peace" that the USA practice since the end
of WWII. All three books have the same weaknesses: Bacevich does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion
and "New American Militarism" and regime of permanent wars that the USA pursue since WWII.
He provide sharp critique of neocons, but never ask the question: which political forces brought those pathetic second or third rate
thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle.
He also mistakenly believe that American people (who were completely estranged from any influence on nation's policies) bear some
guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred of the largest US corporations. In other words he does not understand
that the USA is yet another occupied country.
[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 definition (crookedtimber.org):
100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the catastrophe of the Great War and
the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments
about who know more of the historical detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave
us the War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative.
Wikipedia offers a definition of militarism which, with the
deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political
class, and much of the population in nearly every country in the world.
Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and
be prepared to use it aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national interests
This new epidemic of the US militarism started after the dissolution of the USSR was called by Professor Bacevich (who is former
colonel of the US army) it New American Militarism.
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
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
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"
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
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
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.
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;
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
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 tradition (238-41).
The American public must shoulder its complicity in what has happened, fostered by an all-volunteer force and debt-financed budgets
(241-47). It is tragic that Barack Obama, elected to institute change, has lacked the courage to alter the Washington rules,
instead "choosing to conform" (247-49). "If change is to come, it must come from the people"(249). The need for education "has
become especially acute" (249; 249-50).
Except from Macmillan
Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable:
He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the
time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.
My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began
in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army
I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous
of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found
ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking
the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened.
The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was
hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and
Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history.
Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended.
A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily
as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy,
defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin
offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant,
belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown.
A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed,
yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable
phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came
the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.
.... ... ...
Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled
part of the undeveloped world.
... ... ...
Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German
cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything
was brown and gray
... ... ...
Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction: that American power manifested a
commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals.
That American power, policies, and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength
from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant for interventionism had
become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness
to expend lives and treasure in distant places testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period,
the United States had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned to units
in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life and liberty; rather, threats to life and
liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve
as to believe that the American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had been committed
in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf
as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent
to any dilution of American power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom,
not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.
The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and habits that defined American globalism,
implemented by the national security apparatus within which I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement,
isolationism, and catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman had adhered. For
me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.
Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although the great rivalry between
the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile
Crisis, stocking our basement with water and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.
The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered a lineup and a scorecard.
That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans,
passionately loved freedom was, for example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and
evil answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.
Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected the conception of the Cold War
as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner. Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs,
the doubts that eventually assailed me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena
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
Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.
History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead, it posed perplexing riddles. Easily
the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain?
Had I been insufficiently attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions, while
simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars with Iraq when American vainglory reached
impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet
that was the lesser half of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What I thought
I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially acute.
George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary—above
all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found
an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris
of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global war on terror" without the foggiest
notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by
slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled
strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered
as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely. *
What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional wisdom, substituting a new Manichean
paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would
not suffice. Yet arriving at even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past, to
sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed to do. Doing so meant shedding habits
of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional
loyalties induce myopia. Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept certain
things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education accessible. Over a period of years, a
considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional
wisdom is simply wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics is flush with such
people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory
notes. It's not only demeaning but downright foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential
and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which
the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition
combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from
The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with
responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo. In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and
the United States alone—to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn
of what he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global leadership. Writing
in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert
upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured
what remains even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American global primacy,
resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that
the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American
Century.) So, too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.
Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal their fidelity to this creed.
Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office.
Question its claims and your prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty
Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose the purposes for which they would
bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well. Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of
American statecraft. With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion
(often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed
by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense.
Prior to World War II, Americans by and large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility.
In the wake of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American identity. By the midpoint
of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic five-sided building.
Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions veiled in secrecy, its reach extending
around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large
saw the concentration of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing armies as
a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them to lavish resources on the armed forces. During
the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a
position of overall primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper of national
debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate to global leadership. Every great military
power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France, it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals
of the Revolution. For Great Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a network
of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong. Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and
Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve
The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States
has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has
enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service
professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important elements of
continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require
the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing
or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose, the
other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship
between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's
vast requirements and exertions.
Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political
party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that
consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules.
As used here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people who, whether acting
officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons
of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national
security state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising
the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists,
fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also
reaches beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television
networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's
Kennedy School of Government.
With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world. My purpose in writing
this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and
the trinity in which it finds expression; second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and
who loses and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain views privileged
while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves have lost whatever utility they may once
have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue
for readmitting disreputable (or "radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status
quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked two decades ago in Berlin. The
Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed.
The United States has drawn down the stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command
less respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving the world, much less remaking
it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century. Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient
wherewithal to sustain a national security strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite
a policy of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled the United States into
a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of the past decade have demonstrated.
To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly evident. Although those most
deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise, the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun
to unravel. Attempting to prolong its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the
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
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
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
In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound consequences for both foreign
and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions that drive this impulsive interventionism.
It’s this disconnect that defines the current crisis.
Acknowledging New Realities
So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to mind.
First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our tensions with Russia in Eastern
Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change
and environmental perils have to be dealt with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also
holds for the resurgent danger of nuclear war.
Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict, terror, and human suffering.
There’s no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through
much of the world.
Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international cooperation, old and
disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military
advantage on every continent, including through alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into “friend” and “foe” according
to our perceived interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests in the 21st century.
Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence is shifting and giving rise to
national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and
Berlin, alternative centers of economic power are taking
hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations and alliances are springing up: organizations like the
BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people);
the Union of South American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.
Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic consequences of prolonged
war and interventionism. We shell out
over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and our
infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become virtually
Short Memories and Persistent Delusions
But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us pause, our government continues
to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate to the rest of the world.
The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle
East, leading presidential candidates are
tapping neoconservatives like John Bolton
and Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the
answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem to forget that following this lot’s advice
was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.
While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited, our government makes wide
use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops
back into Iraq to confront the
religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion
of Iraq. Reluctant to find common ground in the fight against ISIS with designated “foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings
to allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine barbarity. Elsewhere, the
U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government, despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its
horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.
A “war first” policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former Vice President
Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman John McCain. Though it’s attempted
to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions with planned military realignments like the “Asia
pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It’s also taken a more aggressive position than even
other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.
We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an “American Century.” International order cannot be enforced by a
superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don’t learn to take our common interests more seriously than those that divide
nations and breed the chronic danger of war, there may well be no tomorrows.
There’s a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy must confront: that U.S. culture
is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the name of “American exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief
that American politics (and medicine, technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the
belief is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.
Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact they’ve dropped from 1st
place to 14th place in the number of college graduates. We’ve made students of higher education the most indebted section
of our population, while falling to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic
Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those in the rest of the world.
Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health care systems in 2000, the United
States was ranked 37th. In a more recent
Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations studied.
The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to hold a bake sale
to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate today as it was in the 1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy,
and massive military budgets over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.
But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” two powerful ideological
sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning voices.
The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no other country in the world has
the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview on others.
The United States did not simply support Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de facto acceptance. When the
U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of
projecting that kind of force in regions thousands of miles from its borders.
The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending. It has hundreds of overseas bases,
ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa,
Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny bases called “lily
pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has some
800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at its height in 1895.
The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been at war almost continuously
since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan,
Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are “shadow wars” waged by Special Forces,
armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of organized violence, the U.S. has engaged
in close to 80 wars since 1945.
The Home Front
The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.
According Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — including
the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around
One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related items. The “official” defense budget of some
half a trillion dollars doesn’t include such items as nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security,
nor the billions a year in interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already paid out
$316 billion in interest.
The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.
We spend more on our “official” military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing
and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11,
we’ve spent $70 million an hour
on “security” compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.
As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic inequality. The poor and working
millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are
a horrific reminder of how deeply racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth —
continues to plague our homeland.
The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to levels that many
dictators would envy. The Senate torture report, most of
it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus that runs
the most extensive Big Brother
spy system ever devised.
Bombs and Business
President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that “the business of America is business.” Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate
interests play a major role in American foreign policy.
Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions lobbying Congress and state
legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that its products don’t always emulate on the battlefield. The
F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn’t work.
It’s over budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful corporations who
have shoved this lemon down our throats.
Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals. Both combine to try to control
energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.
Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the U.S. always reserves the right to
use military force. The 1979 “Carter Doctrine” —
a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis
the Middle East:
“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital
interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition with China. But if push comes
to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines,
South Korea, and Australia.
Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international tensions. It’s critically
important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.
As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations will vie for spheres of influence,
and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined
— and the impulse to respond by military means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more
that some governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.
Finding the Common Interest
These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.
There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise or transformation of a capitalistic
system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social
movements here and abroad respond to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in “American
Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.
There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty, to rising messianic violence,
and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but
between regional powers. A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.
Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of humanity, historic experience and
current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and survival. The need to change course is not something that can be
recognized on only one side of an ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity.
Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around us.
After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience shows that elections, important
as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of
civil rights and social equality, advances have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public
opinion in a way the political establishment could not defy.
The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican administrations, when a stalemate
on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about
even as the basic character of society is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and
other colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated in the United States. President
Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small
band of activists whose initial efforts were labeled “quixotic.”
There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger of the course we’re on. Many Republicans,
Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of the public — are beginning to say “enough” to war and military intervention
all over the globe, and the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into “friend or foe.”
This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded into supporting the use of force.
In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans
agreed that “over-reliance on military
force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37 percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the
hysteria around the Islamic State began, those
numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.
It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into acceptance of another
military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater
now among Americans and worldwide than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual
war, a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.
Making Space for the Unexpected
Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?
Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses negotiation, diplomacy, and
international cooperation over the use of force.
However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the candidates to challenge U.S.
foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the
crisis of foreign policy lurches further into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.
Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither — who sense the futility of
the course we’re on. These voices have to be represented or the election process will be even more of a sham than we’ve recently
One can’t predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement suggests that necessity can
override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward, although a limited bilateral pact
cannot substitute for an essential
international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian joint action that
removed chemical weapons from Syria,
and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite
fierce opposition from U.S. hawks and the Israeli
government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long overdue — to
restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Despite
shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.
We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations. We are certain that there is
much we’ve missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S. foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it
is not carried out in the interests of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.
If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy, and encourage dissent
and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great that finding common ground trumps any particular interest.
We also know that we won’t all agree with each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future.
No coalition around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern of political action.
So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do we consider the problem of power?
The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists to the potential influence of the
general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure
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,
... ... ...
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
"...These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly everywhere, the pursuit of
security has become open-ended. "
"...One is reminded of John Winthrop,
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are
upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence.
From that mission emerged the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along
the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning: Aspire to greatness, but
remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the
hill and ram ideals down the throats of the recalcitrant. "
"...Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet
meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting,
noted how "the question hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions
and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster. "
"...Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an unwinnable and
certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness
has prevailed. "
"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist
Lincoln Steffens wrote in his autobiography. "Especially
we ever-successful Americans -- conscious, intelligent, illuminating failures." What Steffens meant was that a people confident in
righteousness need occasionally to be reminded of their fallibility. The past 50 years have produced failures aplenty -- the Bay
of Pigs, Vietnam and Iraq among them. Unfortunately, as Andrew Bacevich and John Dower demonstrate, the light of failure has not
penetrated the darkness of delusion. As a result, wars provide a repeating rhythm of folly.
Rules" and "Cultures
of War" are two excellent books made better by the coincidence of their publication. In complementary fashion, they provide a
convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. Steffens would have liked these books, specifically for the way they
use past failures to explain the provenance of our current predicament.
Read "Cultures of War" first. It's not an easy book, but it is consistently perceptive. Dower examines Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima,
Sept. 11 and the second Iraq War, drawing disconcerting linkages. Pearl Harbor and Iraq, he feels, demonstrate how otherwise
intelligent leaders are drawn toward strategic imbecility. Both attacks were brilliantly executed in the short term, but neither
paid sufficient attention to the long-term problem of winning a war. More controversially, Dower pairs Hiroshima with Sept. 11, both
acts of terror born of moral certitude. Osama bin Laden and Harry Truman justified wanton killing with essentially the same Manichean
rhetoric. Motives, context and scale might have been different; methods were not. For both leaders, the ability to separate good
from evil made killing easy.
In 1941, Americans drew comfort from the stereotype of the irrational Oriental. They assumed that the Japanese would be easily
defeated because they were illogical -- as their attack upon Pearl Harbor proved. That attack was indeed illogical (given the impossibility
of defeating the United States in a protracted war), but it was not peculiarly Japanese. As Dower reveals, the wishful thinking,
delusion and herd behavior within the court of Emperor Hirohito was a symptom of war, not ethnicity. The same deficiencies,
in 2003, convinced those in the Oval Office that invading Iraq was a good idea.
Since the culture of war encourages patterned behavior, folly proliferates. This is the essence of the Washington rules that Bacevich
elucidates. The rules dictate that protection of the American way of life necessitates a global military presence and a willingness
to intervene anywhere. Power and violence are cleansed by virtue: Because America is "good," her actions are always benign. These
rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly everywhere, the pursuit of security has
The alternative, according to Bacevich, is not isolationism or appeasement, two politically loaded words frequently used to pummel
those who object to Washington's behavior. He advocates, instead, a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent
since it comes from a former soldier. Iraq and Afghanistan did not threaten America; in fact, those countries and the world have
become more dangerous because of heavy-handed American intervention. Nor does North Korea pose a threat. Nor did Vietnam.
One is reminded of John Winthrop,
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are
upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence.
From that mission emerged the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe.
Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning: Aspire to greatness,
but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down
from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the recalcitrant.
The power of virtue is Bacevich's most profound message. Instead of trying to fix Afghanistan's
Helmand Province, he insists, Americans should fix Detroit
and Cleveland. Instead of attempting to export notions of freedom and democracy to nations that lack experience of either, America
should demonstrate, by her actions, that she is still a free, democratic and humane nation. Her real strength lies in her liberal
tradition, not in her ability to kill.
Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet
meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the
meeting, noted how "the question hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored
assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster.
Those unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions have now pushed the United States into a new quagmire. Despite that
predicament, both Dower and Bacevich try to end positively. "If change is to come, it must come from the people," argues Bacevich.
Dower agrees. But these feeble attempts at optimism are the least convincing parts of two otherwise brilliant books. Barack Obama
once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable
war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed.
Gerard De Groot is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and author of "The Bomb: A Life."
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
That experience, combined with the introspection that followed his subsequent retirement from the army, led Bacevich to reevaluate
the relationship between truth and power. After having taken his superiors at their word for decades, he slowly came to understand
“that authentic truth is never simple and that any version of truth handed down from on high…is inherently suspect. The exercise
of power necessarily involves manipulation and is antithetical to candor.”
Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
is Bacevich’s fourth book on the subject of American exercise of power. This time, he takes up the question of the political calculations
that have produced the basic tenets of American foreign policy since the beginning of the Cold War, examining how and why they came
to exist and to survive all challenges to their supremacy.
Bacevich describes two components that define U.S. foreign policy.
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
General Curtis LeMay, who built a massive nuclear arsenal as head of Strategic Air Command;
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
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
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
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
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 Ideals."
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 Purpose."
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 problem.
But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for those who wonder how we got to
Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to
this juncture. Where we go from here is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.
READ THIS BOOK
===This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but
in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences
and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a
career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center
for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but
who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration
and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism,
Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious
intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely
the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.
Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness
and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and
inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging
war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic"
to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about
thirty years to emerge in its present form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.
How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended,
but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to
be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and
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
Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense
analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane
war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance
created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
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"
Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a adversary to check U.S interests.
Today, that rival is gone.
Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American foreign policy interests in
using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.
WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:
War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport. Live reports, video display, and
laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to the civilian public at press conferences.
One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when reporting about American soldiers
in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis 'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to a football
game. Slogans such as "Shock and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members.
"Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this propaganda.
Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:
Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham
Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action
figure doll was created and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval
Aviator" (p. 31).
Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week in War." More simulation of
the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the "Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo
of a soldier, his name, age, and hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home.
Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and at times tearful family in their
living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always wanted to help people."
The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen
Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal,
because somehow, and in some enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public.
To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion is often injected into the deceased
soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military
cemeteries around the world.
GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:
Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture, and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing.
As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly
reinforced to the public of all ages and socio-economic levels.
It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.
Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center 4) California Dreaming 5) Onward
6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense
"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty thinking is perpetuated by the
electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners.
The government intentionally steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic
and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and outcome of most *political* conflicts.
Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time show did not honor the "troops."
He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the "troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered
interests, like everyone else.
The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate foreign policy. The military
just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's
not the military nor the men and women serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in
the governmental and corporate world who must be held accountable.
General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military after Vietnam. Civilians and
politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political.
History will be the judge.
This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current situation the United States is
in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions
made by upper-class civilians from the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.
Highly recommended and relevant to our contemporary times and our future.
Andrew Bacevich did excellent research and writing in this book. I'll think we'll be hearing a lot more of him. Hopefully He'll
get more access to the public. If - the mainstream media allows it.
Robert S. Frey
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today, December 23, 2006
Andrew J. Bacevich's "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," should be read and considered carefully
by every member of the national political leadership in the United States as well as by adult Americans in general. Bacevich brings
impeccable credentials to his work in this book--professor of history and international relations at Boston University, West Point
graduate, and veteran of the Vietnam conflict. His writing is engaging, insightful, and historically well anchored. Importantly,
this work is highly accessible and eminently readable. The level of documentation is very valuable as well. Finally, the book
is not about fault-finding and finger-pointing toward any one national figure or group.
What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical "meta-narratives" that are much
more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional
wisdom." A case in point is the periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian
Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American Militarism" carefully and credibly
brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions, and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of
Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important
patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today. Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand
and appreciate that the global projection of American military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors
of the second half of the twentieth century.
Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
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
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 oil.
Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored the new militarism tended to
converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate
and relatively unstable coalition. The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain
Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal integrity of the Republican party
and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.
An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army officer, and self-described cultural
conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward by Leftist critics.
Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational but bound to be controversial and
probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to change the nature of the discussion about these issues.
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 4, 2006
Andrew J. Bacevichs', The New American Militarism, gives the reader an important glimpse of his background when he wrote that,
as a Vietnam veteran, the experience baffled him and he wrote this book in an effort to "sift through the wreckage left by the
war." After the Vietnam War, the author stayed in the military because he believed being an American soldier was a "true and honorable"
calling. Bacevich states he is a devoted Catholic and a conservative who became disillusioned with mainstream conservatism. He
also states that he believes the current political system is corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with genuine democracy.
Bacevich states that he tried to write this book using facts in an unbiased way. However, he cautions the reader that his experiences
have shaped his views and that his views are part of this book. This is a way to tell the reader that although he tried to remain
unbiased, his background and biases find voice in this book. I believe the authors warning are valid; he draws heavily upon his
background and biases to support his thesis.
The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers,
and military institutions" that have become part of the American conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy.
According to Bacevich, American militarism has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military
effectiveness that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing issues that have
contributed to this state of affairs.
Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson administration. Wilson's vision
was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the
US as a `divine agent' to make the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces
in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if necessary.
Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due, in part, to the officer corps of
the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do
this by reversing the roles of the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish
the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The Weinberger and Powell doctrines
were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions for the use of the US military in combat.
Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument for good and the time was right
to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.
Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a Christian nation singled out by
God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also
a cultural and moral crisis threatening our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US
from internal collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military would become the
role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.
Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals whose main contribution was to
bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich, they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative
war' and reinforced American militarism.
Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of American militarism by wrapping
militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using
a political sleight-of-hand trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with a
list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.
Bacevich seems to create a mosaic of conspiracy perpetrated by sinister actors aimed at deceiving an unsuspecting public as
to the true nature of American militarism. Until the last chapter where Bacevich tells the reader that there is no conspiracy,
it is very easy to believe there might be one lurking in the shadows. I was shocked when I reached Bacevich's recommendations.
The contrast between his recommendations and the rest of the book is astounding. I was expecting highly provocative recommendations
that would match the tone of the rest of the book. However, his recommendations were solid and well thought out...delivered in
the calm manner one would expect from a political scientist. Nevertheless, in the end, Bacevich's message leading up to his recommendations
were hard to swallow. I believe he wrote this book not to enlighten but to be provocative in order to sell books and build his
status in academic circles. If Bacevich's aim was to build a convincing argument on a serious subject, he needed to be less provocative
and more clinical.
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
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
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy,
and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project) quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact),
because I think these two books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed --
look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism" as heartily as I did "The Sorrows
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
Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America has always gauged the size of its
military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats
receded. Not so after the fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater
- by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling the globe and the American public
seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing uneasy.
The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea, land, air, space or cyberspace."
In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign
policy tool. From 1989 (Operation Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations
and a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military strength (the proverbial unipolar
moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the idea of using military force to solve international problems. In
earlier times, war was always an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.
War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also Vietnam and Korea the battlefield
was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as
moments of national unity to carry out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.
The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled professional who is undertaking
socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards
than the nation they serve.
In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military, but now even Democrats have thrown
off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was
actually arguing that Bush had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal
Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of the oppressed and that we should
be assisting them in establishing more representative government.
But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their self-interest. That's probably
why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will. This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion
in the America on the use of military force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from
this conservative ex-soldier. \
The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European peers, the American public
never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now. This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that
tells a forty-year tale of creeping over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich
refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator. Actually the trend has been
in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival of military glory, contrived though it was.
Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru Norman Podhoretz and other elites
got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of
enthusiastic neo-cons charted a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All in
all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing up the Will of the People, except for
maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious
means and noble end, nor do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets, eager
to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's a practical problem here the crew is
very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep
John Q. Public supportive, especially with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on
the beat and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition of minding-one's-own-business
and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.
Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real Department of Defense, a revived
Department of State, and a much more modest role in international affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few
genuine conservatives around, (a breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book,
especially the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up and conquest. But then
that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily.
At day's end, however, someone needs to inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature.
With all its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the past indicate that, despite
the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the
alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing your part.
Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional military officer. Professor
Bacevich argues that the US new militarism which emerged after the dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions
by a number of different groups including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians,
resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see New American
Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz,
in the current Harper's. You
have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be
subscribing to any publication whose work
you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they
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 or long;
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 Brightest].
Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty that Wolfowitz thought the U.S.
would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did a much more limited version of this assessment
as an Atlantic article.
As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from his one-time mentor,
Albert Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United
States could maximize stability for itself and others.
As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified version of his world-view.
You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief sample (within fair-use limits):
With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others saw as an option you, Paul, saw
as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....
Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military action against Iraq. Critics have
chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.
In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's Precepts, and Iraq offered
a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading
Iraq stemmed from the need to validate that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.
Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge that he says Wolfowitz
should now meet:
One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint yield results that differed
so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly
the strongest military in history produce a cataclysm?
Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination of honesty, courage, and wit to
answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf
of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...
What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is that he wouldn't flinch from taking
on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure,
whatever you might choose to say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted
that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so that we might extract from it something
of value in return for all the sacrifices made there. Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But you don't have to know that to
respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at some point rise to it.
For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see
Judis's piece in The New Republic.
20190116 : Corporatism is the control of government by big business. This is what we have in the USA today. The main difference between corporatism and fascism is the level of repressions against opposition. Corporatism now tales forma of inverted totalitarism and use ostracism instead of phycal repressions ( Jan 16, 2019 , profile.theguardian.com )
"... Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets. ..."
"... "It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people." ..."
"... The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow the pain. ..."
"... But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress. Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent ..."
"... Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing. ..."
"... Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered by social programs. ..."
"... In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember. ..."
"... "We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'" ..."
"... "When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us. Poor people feel abandoned." ..."
On the ragged streets of the shantytown across the road, where stinking outhouses sit alongside shacks fashioned from rusted sheets
of tin, families have surrendered hopes that sewage lines will ever reach them.
They do not struggle to fashion an explanation for their declining fortunes: Since taking office more than three years ago, President
Mauricio Macri has broken with the budget-busting populism that has dominated Argentina for much of the past century, embracing the
grim arithmetic of economic orthodoxy.
Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting
Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the
power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets.
"It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people."
The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away
from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble
is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow
Mr. Macri's supporters heralded his 2015 election as a miraculous outbreak of normalcy in a country with a well-earned reputation
for histrionics. He would cease the reckless spending that had brought Argentina infamy for defaulting on its debts eight times.
Sober-minded austerity would win the trust of international financiers, bringing investment that would yield jobs and fresh opportunities.
But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress.
Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the
same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and
joblessness is stuck above 9 percent.
Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing.
Far beyond this country of 44 million people, Mr. Macri's tenure is testing ideas that will shape economic policy in an age of
recrimination over widening inequality. His presidency was supposed to offer an escape from the wreckage of profligate spending while
laying down an alternative path for countries grappling with the worldwide rise of populism. Now, his presidency threatens to become
a gateway back to populism. The Argentine economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck
above 9 percent. Poverty afflicts a third of the population. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times
As the October election approaches, Mr. Macri is contending with the growing prospect of a challenge from the president he succeeded,
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who faces a
series of criminal indictments for corruption . Her unbridled spending helped deliver the crisis that Mr. Macri inherited. Her
return would resonate as a rebuke of his market-oriented reforms while potentially yanking Argentina back to its accustomed preserve:
left-wing populism, in uncomfortable proximity to insolvency.
The Argentine peso lost half of its value against the dollar last year, prompting the central bank to lift interest rates to a
commerce-suffocating level above 60 percent. Argentina was forced to secure a $57 billion
rescue from the International
Monetary Fund , a profound indignity given that the fund is widely despised here for the austerity it imposed in the late 1990s,
turning an economic downturn into a depression.
For Mr. Macri, time does not appear to be in abundant supply. The spending cuts he delivered hit the populace immediately. The
promised benefits of his reforms -- a stable currency, tamer inflation, fresh investment and jobs -- could take years to materialize,
leaving Argentines angry and yearning for the past.
In much of South America, left-wing governments have taken power in recent decades as an angry corrective to dogmatic prescriptions
from Washington, where the Treasury and the I.M.F. have focused on the confidence of global investors as the key to development.
Left-wing populism has aimed to redistribute the gains from the wealthy to everyone else. It has aided the poor, while generating
its own woes --
corruption and depression in
Brazil , runaway inflation and financial ruin in Argentina. In Venezuela, uninhibited spending has turned the country with the
world's largest proven oil reserves into a land where
children starve .
Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered
by social programs.
In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country
has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember.
"We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We
never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'"
... ... ...
In the beginning, there was Juan Domingo Perón, the charismatic Army general who was president from 1946 to 1955, and then again
from 1973 to 1974. He employed an authoritarian hand and muscular state power to champion the poor. He and his wife, Eva Duarte --
widely known by her nickname, Evita -- would dominate political life long after they died, inspiring politicians across the ideological
spectrum to claim their mantle.
Among the most ardent Peronists were Néstor Kirchner, the president from 2003 to 2007, and his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner,
who took office in 2007, remaining until Mr. Macri was elected in 2015.
Their version of Peronism -- what became known as Kirchnerism -- was decidedly left-wing, disdaining global trade as a malevolent
force. They expanded cash grants to the poor and imposed taxes on farm exports in a bid to keep Argentine food prices low.
As the country's farmers tell it, Kirchnerism is just a fancy term for the confiscation of their wealth and the scattering of
the spoils to the unproductive masses. They point to Ms. Kirchner's 35 percent tax on soybean exports.
"We had a saying," Mr. Tropini says. "'For every three trucks that went to the port, one was for Cristina Kirchner.'"
reduction in export taxes.
"You could breathe finally," Mr. Tropini, the farmer, says.
He was free of the Kirchners, yet stuck with nature. Floods in 2016 wiped out more than half of his crops. A drought last year
wreaked even more havoc.
"This harvest, this year," he says, "is a gift from God."
But if the heavens are now cooperating, and if the people running Buenos Aires represent change, Mr. Tropini is critical of Mr.
Macri's failure to overcome the economic crisis.
A weaker currency makes Argentine soybeans more competitive, but it also increases the cost of the diesel fuel Mr. Tropini needs
to run his machinery. High interest rates make it impossible for him to buy another combine, which would allow him to expand his
In the first years of Mr. Macri's administration, the government lifted controls on the value of the peso while relaxing export
taxes. The masters of international finance delivered a surge of investment. The economy expanded by nearly 3 percent in 2017, and
then accelerated in the first months of last year.
But as investors grew wary of Argentina's deficits, they fled, sending the peso plunging and inflation soaring. As the rout continued
last year, the central bank mounted a futile effort to support the currency, selling its stash of dollars to try to halt the peso's
descent. As the reserves dwindled, investors absorbed the spectacle of a government failing to restore order. The exodus of money
intensified, and another potential default loomed, leading a chastened Mr. Macri to accept a rescue from the dreaded IMF.
Administration officials described the unraveling as akin to a natural disaster: unforeseeable and unavoidable. The drought hurt
Money was flowing out of developing countries as the Federal Reserve continued to lift interest rates in the United States, making
the American dollar a more attractive investment.
But the impact of the Fed's tightening had been widely anticipated. Economists fault the government for mishaps and complacency
that left the country especially vulnerable.
.... ... ...
Among the most consequential errors was the government's decision to include Argentina's central bank in a December 2017 announcement
that it was raising its inflation target. The markets took that as a signal that the government was surrendering its war on inflation
while opting for a traditional gambit: printing money rather than cutting spending.
... ... ...
The government insists that better days are ahead. The spending cuts have dropped the budget deficit to a manageable 3 percent
of annual economic output. Argentina is again integrated into the global economy.
"We haven't improved, but the foundations of the economy and society are much healthier," said Miguel Braun, secretary of economic
policy at the Treasury Ministry. "Argentina is in a better place to generate a couple of decades of growth."
... ... ...
Their television flashes dire warnings, like "Danger of Hyper Inflation." Throughout the neighborhood, people decry the sense
that they have been forsaken by the government.
Trucks used to come to castrate male dogs to control the packs of feral animals running loose. Not anymore. Health programs for
children are less accessible than they were before, they said.
Daisy Quiroz, 71, a retired maid, lives in a house that regularly floods in the rainy season.
"When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us.
Poor people feel abandoned."
... ... ...
Daniel Politi contributed reporting from Buenos Aires. Peter S. Goodman is a London-based European economics correspondent.
He was previously a national economic correspondent in New York. He has also worked at The Washington Post as a China correspondent,
and was global editor in chief of the International Business Times. @
Iran's envoy to the United Nations has called on the international community to end "unlawful destabilizing measures" by the US,
declaring that while Iran does not seek war, it "reserves the right to counter any hostile act."
Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi has condemned continuing US provocations that culminated Thursday morning in the
downing of an American surveillance drone by the Iranian air force over Hormozgan province.
The drone "had turned off its identification equipment and [was] engaged in a clear spying operation," Ravanchi confirmed in a
letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that the aircraft had ignored "repeated radio warnings" in order to enter
Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
In a pointed critique of President Trump's foreign policy leadership, Senate Minority Leader
Chuck Schumer stated to members of the press Thursday that "the American people deserve a
president who can more credibly justify war with Iran."
"What the American people need is a president who can make a much more convincing case for
going to war with Iran," said Schumer (D-NY), adding that the Trump administration's corruption
and dishonesty have "proven time and time again" that it lacks the conviction necessary to act
as an effective cheerleader for the conflict.
"Donald Trump is completely unfit to assume the mantle of telling the American people what
they need to hear in order to convince them a war with Iran is a good idea.
One of the key duties of the president is to gain the trust of the people so that they feel
comfortable going along with whatever he says. President Trump's failure to serve as a credible
advocate for this war is yet another instance in which he has disappointed not only his
colleagues in Washington, but also the entire nation."
Schumer later concluded his statement with a vow that he and his fellow Democrats will
continue working toward a more palatable case in favor of bombing Iran.
"... "Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory, threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life," said Bolton, warning that America's fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of force as soon -- and as hard -- as possible. ..."
"... "The only thing these Westerners understand is violence, so it's imperative that Iran sends a clear message that they won't be walked over. Let's not forget, the U.S. defied a diplomatically negotiated treaty for seemingly no reason at all -- these are dangerous radicals that cannot be reasoned with. ..."
Demanding that the Middle Eastern nation retaliate immediately in self-defense against the
existential threat posed by America's military operations, National Security Adviser John
Bolton called for a forceful Iranian response Friday to continuing United States aggression.
"Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory,
threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life," said Bolton, warning that
America's fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and
alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of
force as soon -- and as hard -- as possible.
"The only thing these Westerners understand is violence, so it's imperative that Iran sends
a clear message that they won't be walked over. Let's not forget, the U.S. defied a
diplomatically negotiated treaty for seemingly no reason at all -- these are dangerous radicals
that cannot be reasoned with.
They've been given every opportunity to back down, but their goal is total domination of the
region, and Iran won't stand for that."
At press time, Bolton said that the only option left on the table was for Iran to launch a
full-fledged military strike against the Great Satan.
Bolton is just Albright of different sex. The same aggressive stupidity.
"... Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob... ..."
"... How to describe US foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate. ..."
"... Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity. ..."
"... Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors' policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela. ..."
"... "If we have to use force, it is because we are America: we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us." ..."
"... Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People's Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe. ..."
"... Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those most affected -- hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world's industrialized national states. ..."
"... Albright's assumption that members of The Blob were far-seeing was matched by her belief that the same people were entitled to make life-and-death decisions for the entire planet. ..."
"... The willingness to so callously sacrifice so many helps explain why "they" often hate us, usually meaning the U.S. government. This is also because "they" believe average Americans hate them. Understandably, it too often turns out, given the impact of the full range of American interventions -- imposing economic sanctions, bombing, invading, and occupying other nations, unleashing drone campaigns, underwriting tyrannical regimes, supporting governments which occupy and oppress other peoples, displaying ostentatious hypocrisy and bias, and more. ..."
"... At the 1999 Rambouillet conference Albright made demands of Yugoslavia that no independent, sovereign state could accept: that, for instance, it act like defeated and occupied territory by allowing the free transit of NATO forces. Washington expected the inevitable refusal, which was calculated to provide justification for launching an unprovoked, aggressive war against the Serb-dominated remnant of Yugoslavia. ..."
"... Alas, members of the Blob view Americans with little more respect. The ignorant masses should do what they are told. (Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently complained of public war-weariness from fighting in Afghanistan for no good reason for more than seventeen years.) Even more so, believed Albright, members of the military should cheerfully patrol the quasi-empire being established by Washington's far-sighted leaders. ..."
"... When asked in 2003 about the incident, she said "what I thought was that we had -- we were in a kind of a mode of thinking that we were never going to be able to use our military effectively again." ..."
"... For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal of Albright and her peers in The Blob. ..."
Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob...
How to describe US foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem
Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily -- invading two nations, bombing and droning several others,
deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist
violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues
to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical "caliphate" the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.
Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to
be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States
and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears
convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.
Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors' policies. For
instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military
and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and
even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.
U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben
Rhodes dismissed as "The Blob." Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob's defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United
Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.
First is overweening hubris. In 1998 Secretary of State Albright declared that
"If we have to use force, it is because we are America: we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than
other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."
Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson
administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People's
Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against
Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with
Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe.
U.S. officials rarely were prepared for events that occurred in the next week or month, let alone years later. Americans did no
better than the French in Vietnam. Americans managed events in Africa no better than the British, French, and Portuguese colonial
overlords. Washington made more than its share of bad, even awful decisions in dealing with other nations around the globe.
Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never
passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if
outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those
most affected -- hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon
of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world's industrialized national states.
The U.S. record since September 11 has been uniquely counterproductive. Rather than minimize hostility toward America, Washington
adopted a policy -- highlighted by launching new wars, killing more civilians, and ravaging additional societies -- guaranteed to
create enemies, exacerbate radicalism, and spread terrorism. Blowback is everywhere. Among the worst examples: Iraqi insurgents mutated
into ISIS, which wreaked military havoc throughout the Middle East and turned to terrorism.
Albright's assumption that members of The Blob were far-seeing was matched by her belief that the same people were entitled to
make life-and-death decisions for the entire planet. When queried 1996 about her justification for sanctions against Iraq which had
killed a half million babies -- notably, she did not dispute the accuracy of that estimate -- she responded that "I think this is
a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." Exactly who "we" were she did not say. Most likely she meant
those Americans admitted to the foreign policy priesthood, empowered to make foreign policy and take the practical steps necessary
to enforce it. (She later stated of her reply: "I never should have made it. It was stupid." It was, but it reflected her mindset.)
In any normal country, such a claim would be shocking -- a few people sitting in another capital deciding who lived and died.
Foreign elites, a world away from the hardship that they imposed, deciding the value of those dying versus the purported interests
being promoted. Those paying the price had no voice in the decision, no way to hold their persecutors accountable.
The willingness to so callously sacrifice so many helps explain why "they" often hate us, usually meaning the U.S. government.
This is also because "they" believe average Americans hate them. Understandably, it too often turns out, given the impact of the
full range of American interventions -- imposing economic sanctions, bombing, invading, and occupying other nations, unleashing drone
campaigns, underwriting tyrannical regimes, supporting governments which occupy and oppress other peoples, displaying ostentatious
hypocrisy and bias, and more.
This mindset is reinforced by contempt toward even those being aided by Washington. Although American diplomats had termed the
Kosovo Liberation Army as "terrorist," the Clinton Administration decided to use the growing insurgency as an opportunity to expand
Washington's influence. At the 1999 Rambouillet conference Albright made demands of Yugoslavia that no independent, sovereign state
could accept: that, for instance, it act like defeated and occupied territory by allowing the free transit of NATO forces. Washington
expected the inevitable refusal, which was calculated to provide justification for launching an unprovoked, aggressive war against
the Serb-dominated remnant of Yugoslavia.
However, initially the KLA, determined on independence, refused to sign Albright's agreement. She exploded. One of her officials
anonymously complained: "Here is the greatest nation on earth pleading with some nothingballs to do something entirely in their own
interest -- which is to say yes to an interim agreement -- and they stiff us." Someone described as "a close associate" observed:
"She is so stung by what happened. She's angry at everyone -- the Serbs, the Albanians and NATO." For Albright, the determination
of others to achieve their own goals, even at risk to their lives, was an insult to America and her.
Alas, members of the Blob view Americans with little more respect. The ignorant masses should do what they are told. (Former National
Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently complained of public war-weariness from fighting in Afghanistan for no good reason for more
than seventeen years.) Even more so, believed Albright, members of the military should cheerfully patrol the quasi-empire being established
by Washington's far-sighted leaders.
As Albright famously asked Colin Powell in 1992:
"What's the use of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" To her, American military personnel
apparently were but gambit pawns in a global chess game, to be sacrificed for the interest and convenience of those playing. No
wonder then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell's reaction stated in his autobiography was: "I thought I would
have an aneurysm."
When asked in 2003 about the incident, she said "what I thought was that we had -- we were in a kind of a mode of thinking
that we were never going to be able to use our military effectively again." Although sixty-five years had passed, she
admitted that "my mindset is Munich," a unique circumstance and threat without even plausible parallel today.
Such a philosophy explains a 1997 comment by a cabinet member, likely Albright, to General Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Hugh, I know I shouldn't even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out
Saddam is a precipitous event -- something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s
fly low enough -- and slow enough -- so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?" He responded sure, as soon as she qualified
to fly the plane.
For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash
murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal
of Albright and her peers in The Blob.
Anyone of these comments could be dismissed as a careless aside. Taken together, however, they reflect an attitude dangerous for
Americans and foreigners alike. Unfortunately, the vagaries of U.S. foreign policy suggest that this mindset is not limited to any
one person. Any president serious about taking a new foreign-policy direction must do more than drain the swamp. He or she must sideline
"... Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext for war. ..."
"... U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members. The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia. ..."
"... It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations were saying in private. ..."
"... "Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'" Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii] ..."
"... As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern. ..."
"... Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section of the text states: ..."
"... Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region. ..."
"... Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months, Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii] ..."
"... The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air. ..."
"... The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii] ..."
"... Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise. ..."
"... Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People , and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period , published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org . Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich ..."
Twenty years have passed since the U.S.-orchestrated NATO attack on Yugoslavia. As the United States readied its forces for
war in 1999, it organized a peace conference that was ostensibly intended to resolve differences between the Yugoslav government
and secessionist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo on the future status of the province. A different scenario was being played out behind
the scenes, however. U.S. officials wanted war and deliberately set up the process to fail, which they planned to use as a pretext
The talks opened on February 6, 1999, in Rambouillet, France. Officially, the negotiations were led by a Contact Group comprised
of U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill , European Union envoy Wolfgang Petritsch , and Russian diplomat Boris Mayorsky
. All decisions were supposed to be jointly agreed upon by all three members of the Contact Group. In actual practice, the U.S. ran
the show all the way and routinely bypassed Petritsch and Mayorsky on essential matters.
Ibrahim Rugova , an ethnic Albanian activist who advocated nonviolence, was expected to play a major role in the Albanian secessionist
delegation. Joining him at Rambouillet was Fehmi Agani , a fellow member of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright regularly sidelined Rugova, however, preferring to rely on delegation members from
the hardline Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had routinely murdered Serbs, Roma, and Albanians in Kosovo who worked for the government
or opposed separatism. Only a few months before the conference, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled out his organization's vision
of a future Kosovo as separate and ethnically pure:
"The independence of Kosovo is the only solution We cannot live together. That is excluded." [i]
Rugova had at one time engaged in fairly productive talks with Yugoslav officials, and his willingness to negotiate was no doubt
precisely the reason Albright relegated him to a background role. Yugoslav Minister of Information Milan Komnenić accompanied the
Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet. He recalls,
"With Rugova and Fehmi Agani it was possible to talk; they were flexible. In Rambouillet, [KLA leader Hashim] Thaçi appears
instead of Rugova. A beast." [ii]
There was no love between Thaçi and Rugova, whose party members were the targets of threats and assassination attempts at the
hands of the KLA. Rugova himself would survive an assassination attempt six years later.
The composition of the Yugoslav delegation reflected its position that many ethnic groups resided in Kosovo, and any agreement
arrived at should take into account the interests of all parties. All of Kosovo's major ethnic groups were represented in the delegation.
Faik Jashari , one of the Albanian members in the Yugoslav delegation, was president of the Kosovo Democratic Initiative and an official
in the Provisional Executive Council, which was Yugoslavia's government in Kosovo. Jashari observed that Albright was startled when
she saw the composition of the Yugoslav delegation, apparently because it went against the U.S. propaganda narrative. [iii] Throughout
the talks, Albright displayed a dismissive attitude towards the delegation's Albanian, Roma, Egyptian, Goran, Turkish, and Slavic
U.S. mediators habitually referred to the Yugoslav delegation as "the Serbs," even though they constituted a minority of the members.
The Americans persisted in trying to cast events in Kosovo as a simplistic binary relationship of Serb versus Albanian, disregarding
the presence of other ethnic groups in the province, and ignoring the fact that while some ethnic Albanians favored separation, others
wished to remain in multiethnic Yugoslavia.
After arriving at Rambouillet, the secessionist Albanian delegation informed U.S. diplomats that it did not want to meet with
the Yugoslav side. Aside from a brief ceremonial meeting, there was no direct contact between the two groups. The Yugoslav and Albanian
delegations were placed on two different floors to eliminate nearly all contact. U.S. mediators Richard Holbrooke and Christopher
Hill ran from one delegation to the other, conveying notes and verbal messages between the two sides but mostly trying to coerce
the Yugoslav delegation. [iv]
Luan Koka, a Roma member of the Yugoslav delegation, noted that the U.S. was operating an electronic jamming device.
"We knew exactly when Madeleine Albright was coming. Connections on our mobile phones were breaking up and going crazy." [v]
It is probable that the U.S. was also operating electronic listening equipment and that U.S. mediators knew everything the delegations
were saying in private.
Albright, Jashari said, would not listen to anyone.
"She had her task, and she saw only that task. You couldn't say anything to her. She didn't want to talk with us and didn't
want to listen to our arguments." [vi]
One day it was Koka's birthday, and the Yugoslav delegation wanted to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere with U.S. mediators,
inviting them to a cocktail party to mark the occasion.
"It was a slightly more pleasant atmosphere, and I was singing," Koka recalled. "I remember Madeleine Albright saying: 'I really
like partisan songs. But if you don't accept this, the bombs will fall.'" [vii]
According to delegation member Nikola Šainović ,
"Madeleine Albright told us all the time: 'If the Yugoslav delegation does not accept what we offer, you will be bombed.'"
Šainović added, "We agreed in Rambouillet to any form of autonomy for Kosovo," but sovereignty remained the red line. [viii]
From the beginning of the conference, U.S. mediator Christopher Hill "decided that what we really needed was an Albanian approval
of a document, and a Serb refusal. If both refused, there could be no further action by NATO or any other organization for that matter."
[ix] It was not peace that the U.S. team was seeking, but war.
As the conference progressed, U.S. negotiators were faced with an alarming problem, in that the Yugoslav delegation had accepted
all of the Contact Group's fundamental political principles for an agreement, balking only at a NATO presence in Kosovo. On the other
hand, the secessionist delegation rejected the Contact Group's political principles. Something had to be done to reverse this pattern.
On the second day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the Yugoslav delegation with the framework text of a provisional
agreement for peace and self-rule in Kosovo, but it was missing some of the annexes. The Yugoslavs requested a copy of the complete
document. As delegation head Ratko Marković pointed out,
"Any objections to the text of the agreement could be made only after an insight into the text as a whole had been obtained."
Nearly one week passed before the group received one of the missing annexes. That came on the day the conference had originally
been set to end. The deadline was extended, and two days later a second missing annex was provided to the Yugoslav delegation.[x]
When the Yugoslavs next met with the Contact Group, they were assured that all elements of the text had now been given to them.
Several more days passed and at 7:00 PM on February 22, the penultimate day of the conference, the Contact Group presented three
new annexes, which the Yugoslavs had never seen before. According to Marković, "Russian Ambassador Boris Mayorsky informed our delegation
that Annexes 2 and 7 had not been discussed or approved by the Contact Group and that they were not the texts drafted by the Contact
Group but by certain Contact Group members, while Annex 5 was discussed, but no decision was made on it at the Contact Group meeting."
The Yugoslav delegation refused to accept the new annexes, as their introduction had violated the process whereby all proposals had
to be agreed upon by the three Contact Group members. [xi]
At 9:30 AM on February 23, the final day of the conference, U.S. officials presented the full text of the proposal, containing
yet more provisions that were being communicated for the first time. The accompanying note identified the package as the definitive
text while adding that Russia did not support two of the articles. The letter demanded the Yugoslav delegation's decision by 1:00
PM that same day.[xii] There was barely time enough to carefully read the text, let alone negotiate. In essence, it was an ultimatum.
Quite intentionally, U.S. mediators included provisions in the final version of the text that no sovereign nation could be expected
to accept. Neoliberal economic interests are always front and center when U.S. officials are involved, and they surely were not unaware
of Kosovo's abundant reserves of mineral resources, ripe for exploitation. The first point in Article 1 of the Economic Issues section
of the text states:
"The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles."
Western investors were favored with a provision stating that authorities shall "ensure the free movement of persons, goods, services,
and capital to Kosovo, including from international sources." [xiii] One may wonder what these stipulations had to do with peace
negotiations, but then the talks had far more to do with U.S. interests than anything to do with the needs of the people in the region.
The document called for a Western-led Joint Commission including local representatives to monitor and coordinate the implementation
of the plan. However, if commission members failed to reach consensus on a matter, the Western-appointed Chair would have the power
to impose his decision unilaterally. [xiv] Local representatives would serve as little more than window-dressing for Western dictate,
as they could adopt no measure that went against the Chair's wishes.
The Chair of the Implementation Mission was authorized to "recommend" the "removal and appointment of officials and the curtailment
of operations of existing institutions in Kosovo." If the Chair's command was not obeyed "in the time requested, the Joint Commission
may decide to take the recommended action," and since the Chair had the authority to impose his will on the Joint Commission, there
was no check on his power. He could remove elected and appointed officials at will and replace them with handpicked lackeys. The
Chair was also authorized to order the "curtailment of operations of existing institutions." [xv]Any organization that failed to
bend to U.S. demands could be shut down.
Chapter 7 of the plan called for the parties to "invite NATO to constitute and lead a military force" in Kosovo. [xvi]The choice
of words was interesting. In language reminiscent of gangsters, Yugoslavia was told to "invite" NATO to take over the province of
Kosovo or suffer the consequences.
Yugoslavia was required "to provide, at no cost, the use of all facilities and services required" by NATO. [xvii]Within six months,
Yugoslavia would have to withdraw all of its military forces from Kosovo, other than a small number of border guards. [xviii]
The plan granted NATO "unrestricted use of the entire electromagnetic spectrum" to "communicate." Although the document indicated
NATO would make "reasonable efforts to coordinate," there were no constraints on its power. [xix] Yugoslav officials, "upon simple
request," would be required to grant NATO "all telecommunication services, including broadcast services free of cost." [xx]NATO could
take over any radio and television facilities and transmission wavelengths it chose, knocking local stations off the air.
The plan did not restrict NATO's presence to Kosovo. It granted NATO, with its "vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free
and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia]." [xxi] NATO would be "granted
the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tools, or charges." [xxii]
The agreement guaranteed that NATO would have "complete and unimpeded freedom of movement by ground, air, and water into and throughout
Kosovo." Furthermore, NATO personnel could not be held "liable for any damages to public or private property." [xxiii] NATO as a
whole would also be "immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal," regardless of its actions anywhere
on the territory of Yugoslavia. [xxiv]Nor could NATO personnel be arrested, detained, or investigated. [xxv]
Acceptance of the plan would have brought NATO troops swarming throughout Yugoslavia and interfering in every institution.
There were several other objectionable elements in the plan, but one that stood out was the call for an "international" (meaning,
Western-led) meeting to be held after three years "to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo."[xxvi] It was no mystery
to the Yugoslav delegation what conclusion Western officials would arrive at in that meeting. The intent was clearly to redraw Yugoslavia's
borders to further break apart the nation.
U.S. officials knew the Yugoslav delegation could not possibly accept such a plan.
"We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept," Madeleine Albright confided to a group of journalists, "because
they needed a little bombing." [xxvii]
At a meeting in Belgrade on March 5, the Yugoslav delegation issued a statement which declared:
"A great deceit was looming, orchestrated by the United States. They demanded that the agreement be signed, even though much
of this agreement, that is, over 56 pages, had never been discussed, either within the Contact Group or during the negotiations."
Serbian President Milan Milutinović announced at a press conference that in Rambouillet the Yugoslav delegation had "proposed
solutions meeting the demands of the Contact Group for broad autonomy within Serbia, advocating full equality of all national communities."
But "agreement was not what they were after." Instead, Western officials engaged in "open aggression," and this was a game "about
troops and troops alone." [xxix]
While U.S. officials were working assiduously to avoid a peaceful resolution, they needed the Albanians to agree to the plan so
that they could accuse the Yugoslav delegation of being the stumbling block to peace. U.S. mainstream media could be counted on to
unquestioningly repeat the government's line and overlook who the real architects of failure were. U.S. officials knew the media
would act in their customary role as cheerleaders for war, which indeed, they did.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook revealed the nature of the message Western officials were conveying to the Albanian delegation
when he said,
"We are certainly saying to the Kosovo Albanians that if you don't sign up to these texts, it's extremely difficult to see
how NATO could then take action against Belgrade." [xxx]
Western officials were practically begging the secessionists to sign the plan. According to inside sources, the Americans assured
the Albanian delegation that disarmament of the KLA would be merely symbolic and that it could keep the bulk of its weaponry so long
as it was concealed. [xxxi]
Albright spent hours trying to convince Thaçi to change his mind, telling him:
"If you say yes and the Serbs say no, NATO will strike and go on striking until the Serb forces are out and NATO can go in.
You will have security. And you will be able to govern yourselves." [xxxii]
That was a clear enough signal that the intent was to rip the province away from Yugoslavia and create an artificial state. Despite
such assurances, Thaçi feared the wrath of fellow KLA members if he were to sign a document that did not explicitly call for separation.
When U.S. negotiators asked Thaçi why he would not sign, he responded:
"If I agree to this, I will go home and they will kill me." [xxxiii]
This was not hyperbole. The KLA had threatened and murdered a great many Albanians who in its eyes fell short of full-throated
support for its policy of violent secession and ethnic exclusion.
Even NATO Commander Wesley Clark , who flew in from Belgium, was unable to change Thaçi's mind. [xxxiv] U.S. officials were exasperated
with the Albanian delegation, and its recalcitrance threatened to capsize plans for war.
"Rambouillet was supposed to be about putting the screws to Belgrade," a senior U.S. official said. "But it went off the rails
because of the miscalculation we made about the Albanians." [xxxv]
On the last day at Rambouillet, it was agreed that the Albanian delegation would return to Kosovo for discussions with fellow
KLA leaders on the need to sign the document. In the days that followed, Western officials paid repeated visits to Kosovo to encourage
the Albanians to sign.
So-called "negotiations" reconvened in Paris on March 15. Upon its arrival, the Yugoslav delegation objected that it was "incomprehensible"
that "no direct talks between the two delegations had been facilitated." In response to the Yugoslavs' proposal for modifications
to the plan, the Contact Group informed them that no changes would be accepted. The document must be accepted as a whole. [xxxvi]
The Yugoslav position, delegation head Ratko Marković maintained, was that "first one needs to determine what is to be implemented,
and only then to determine the methods of implementation." [xxxvii]The delegation asked the Americans what there was to talk about
regarding implementation "when there was no agreement because the Albanians did not accept anything." U.S. officials responded that
the Yugoslav delegation "cannot negotiate," adding that it would only be allowed to make grammatical changes to the text. [xxxviii]
From the U.S. perspective, the presence of the Yugoslav delegation in Paris was irrelevant other than to maintain the pretense
that negotiations were taking place. Not permitted to negotiate, there was little the Yugoslavs could do but await the inevitable
result, which soon came. The moment U.S. officials obtained the Albanian delegation's signatures to the plan on March 18, they aborted
the Paris Conference. There was no reason to continue engaging with the Yugoslav delegation, as the U.S. had what it needed: a pretext
On the day after the U.S. pulled the plug on the Paris talks, Milan Milutinović held a press conference in the Yugoslav embassy,
condemning the Paris meeting as "a kind of show," which was meant "to deceive public opinion in the whole world." [xxxix]
While the United States and its NATO allies prepared for war, Yugoslavia was making last-ditch efforts to stave off attack, including
reaching out to intermediaries. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos contacted Madeleine Albright and told her that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milošević had offered to engage in further negotiations. But Albright told him that the decision to bomb had already
been made. "In fact," Pangalos reported, "she told me to 'desist, you're just being a nuisance.'" [xl] In a final act of desperation
to save the people from bombing, Milutinović contacted Christopher Hill and made an extraordinary offer: Yugoslavia would join NATO
if the United States would allow Yugoslavia to remain whole, including the province of Kosovo. Hill responded that this was not a
topic for discussion and he would not talk about it. [xli]
Madeleine Albright got her war, which brought death, destruction, and misery to Yugoslavia. But NATO had a new role, and the United
States further extended its hegemony over the Balkans.
In the years following the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, NATO was intent on redefining its mission. The absence
of the socialist bloc presented NATO not only with the need to construct a new rationale for existence but also with the opportunity
to expand Western domination over other nations.
Bosnia offered the first opportunity for NATO to begin its transformation, as it took part in a war that presented no threat to
Bombing Yugoslavia was meant to solidify the new role for NATO as an offensive military force, acting on behalf of U.S. imperial
interests. Since that time, NATO has attacked Libya, and engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a variety of nations
in Africa. Despite NATO's claim that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the record shows otherwise.
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People, however, are supposed to have brains and are expected to be cognizant of what's
happening around them and able to assess its implications on their wellbeing. Unfortunately,
this rarely is the case, which may add credence to the theory that by settling into early
agrarian communities, humans became more caring and supportive of each other, thus undermining
the successful natural selection process by retaining idiot genes!
It is not as though the concept of danger is a new phenomenon. Ever since humans got over
the fear of carnivorous beasts and learnt how to kill them, they have concentrated on killing
each other. Hegemonic tendencies have existed for thousands of years; as early as the Sumerians
and Assyrians and continued through to the colonization monsters of the past few hundred
STATUS OF HEGEMONY
Hegemonies come in different sizes; small, medium and big; an amusing "pecking order" whose
interaction can be observed on the daily news broadcasts. It also comes in different styles;
softly spoken but treacherous, generous with economic assistance but containing hidden strings
to hang you, belligerent with a viscous warmongering streak and lastly, schizophrenic;
oscillating between all the previous styles. There are also the would-be-hegemons if given half
More recently, the hegemony arena has, though knock-out matches, been narrowed down to one
grand hegemon and a couple of runners-up, and the heat is now rising as the final tournament
approaches – Let us hope it will not be too bloody and Armageddon-ish.
Despite that, many nations continue to dream of becoming hegemons. But at the same time,
they continue to concentrate on their 'white dots' and disregard the likelihood that they are
already in the crosshairs of a bigger hegemon.
They seem oblivious to the hegemonic ploys that undermine their political and economic
structures through unending sanctions, onerous trade or military treaties, contemptuous
disregard for local and international laws, negative and false news reporting, regime change
tactics, false flag incidences, scaremongering, and outright threats that are occasionally
translated into destructive military action. Like the proverbial deer, they are frozen in the
headlights of the oncoming speeding car and wait until it is too late to save themselves.
What happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia, Grenada,
Venezuela, Argentine, Brazil, Cuba, Greece, Iran, North Korea and many other places are only
the tip of the iceberg. What is likely to happen elsewhere is still being baked in the oven and
will come out once done and ready. What is surprising is that, not only were the signs written
on all the walls but, again, the victims failed to comprehend the messages and continued to
stare at their 'white dots'!
Southeast Asia, South China Sea, Ex-Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South & Central
America and Africa are all candidates for destabilization and possible splintering into smaller
pieces – especially those that exhibit economic weakness or cracks in their demographic,
ethnic, religious makeup and are rife with internal disharmony.
Even the European EU is now beginning to feel the brunt of the hegemon pressure of tariff
and sanctions threats. Japan, Mexico, India and Canada too, have just got a taste of an ear
pinching to remind them to dance to the grand hegemon's tune. Who is left? Not even
What about the runner-up hegemons? What about the smaller hegemons? Well, all hegemons have
the same strain of nasty genes. However, they are dormant and only begin to grow as their
host's power increases. This, most likely, is a genetic relic from the early human
hunters-gatherers' need for viciousness to survive. Maybe natural selection and/or wisdom will
eventually weed out those nasty genes, but don't bet your farm or country on it.
Not necessarily, because all hegemons (big and small) also suffer from the same weaknesses
and dis-harmonies that beset their victims, although they cunningly keep them secret. Powerful
mass media and propaganda are used extensively to camouflage all the ills that would otherwise
stumble their seemingly confident and steady footsteps. This means that they are as also
vulnerable to the same ploys that they have repeatedly used on others.
Also, history confirms that all empires eventually collapse and disappear, regardless of how
long they last. Some lasted over a thousand years, which may sound too long, but in the modern
world of technology, digital communications, social media and financialized economies, the
average lifespan of hegemons has been drastically cut short.
Empires and hegemons generally start with a strategic vision of expansion and moderate
usurpation of other nations' resources; then, gluttony takes over at a rapidly increased
But as the world and its resources are limited, they sooner or later bump into and clash
with other hegemons; and are forced to change their tactics. As matters heat up, their tactics
not only become shorter and shorter-term, but become ad hoc not fully thought through and, even
haphazard – until they begin to shoot themselves in the foot.
This usually is an early sign of their demise (compare this to the Roman/Byzantine, Safavid
Iran and Ottoman empires and their confusion with multi-front wars – in addition to their
poor governance systems and economic mismanagement).
WHAT TO DO
In all events, we cannot wait out the hegemons to die out as the dinosaurs did; it would
take far too long.
More realistically, we can address the modern hegemonic world threat via a two-pronged
approach. The first is individual effort and the second is collective action.
Individual effort means to treat the sources of weakness and internal disharmony that make
individual countries susceptible to hegemonic ploys. This requires the recreation of the
governance systems to tackle all the maladies that drag nations down, including poor economic
policies, corruption, inequality, ineffective representative systems, etc.
In short, seal the cracks that invite enemies to destabilize a country. It is not easy but
is certainly better than being sucked dry off your freedom, resources and future.
As for collective action, this means getting together with other small and medium nations to
form groups/alliances that can stand up to hegemons and resist, at least, their economic
sanctions and threats. The Non-Aligned Movement was, and still is a good idea, but needs more
teeth. Alternatively, new and more practical types of groupings could be envisaged and created
– always conditional that no one nation, big or small, is allowed to become the group's
Dominoes may be flimsy and unstable, but if laid in parallel rows and columns and closely
bonded (zero-spaced), they become much more difficult to topple. So, don't be a lone domino
dumbly staring at your 'white dots'!
I don't see the cracks being filled. I certainly don't see them being filled by
government. On the local level, our county has grown form a modest system that typically ran
out of money before the year was out to a behemoth. Now the support staff outnumbers the
teachers in our schools. The sheriff's office is massive. The child services center is huge.
The salaries get better and better. The pensions get better. And, the taxes go up. The county
is feeding off the retirees that have flooded in from the North. The fun starts when the
Northern pension plans fail and the boomer die off kills the golden calf.
The the push will be to raise taxes to sustain a bloated bureacracy.
As Hegemonies expand, the costs to maintain the expansion eventually outweigh the
financial rewards (look how much has been blown on Afghanistan). This is funded by neglecting
the infrastructure and systems that made the Hegemonic entity powerful in the first
Hegemonies, as they reach peak expansion find that the costs of further expansion, let
alone retaining their current Vassal entities exceeds their return on investment inflicting
deficits. They rot from within as infrastructure decays and its citizens see no benefit. When
a Hegemony needs to use as much tyranny to ensure that its vassal states and its own citizens
are compliant...... its days are numbered.
Until mankind relearns what made civilization possible (cooperation), then there's no
hope. That's why Russia is advancing the Rule of Law (harmonious cooperation), and China,
advancing OBOR (Economic liberation), in order to avoid the usual causes of conflict,
They've both been there (empires), done it (hegemony), and got bruised badly too..
It'd be very difficult to practice hegemony now, in a densely interconnected world, but
that doesn't mean nations won't possess some influence over others, influence being the key
word, like a man's girlfriend possesses influence over him, or vice versa, but raw hegemony?
Anyhow, what really ails humanity, is alienation from Divinity. Rich, famous, and powerful
people have been known to terminally end their mortality despite having it all..
Our mission, is to restore that connection, so we can finally wake up, and ascend to
explore, and multiply amongst the stars. But first things first, charity begins right here,
on planet home, cheers...
The coming 'paradigm shift', means the West and all its debt will metamorphize into
Oceania, continue to fake its hegemony, and fool its population into thinking that they still
are, what they once were.
There are three big reasons why. First, the rise of the internet, which undermined traditional newspaper revenue models,
especially classified ads. Second, the Great Recession, which tanked employment of all kinds. Third and most importantly, the
rise of online monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
It raises a question: How can we stop these corporate behemoths from strangling the life out of American journalism? A good place
to start would be breaking up the tech giants, and regulating the online advertising market to ensure fair competition.
Spending on digital advertising is
the traditional sort in 2019 for the first time, and you will not be surprised to learn where that money is going.
Last year, Google alone was estimated to make
than $40 billion
in online advertising with
billion of that coming from news content
, according to a new report from the News Media Alliance. That is nearly as much as
the $5.1 billion the entire American news industry earned in online ads. What's more, Google "only" accounts for
of the online ad market. Facebook makes up another 22 percent -- an effective duopoly that has only been partially
disrupted by (who else?) Amazon, which has moved aggressively into the market over the last few years and now takes up 9 percent.
That is why journalism has continued to flounder even as the broader economy has improved a lot, and why even digital native
to keep their heads above water. For instance, as Josh Marshall of
Talking Points Memo
Google runs the major ad market (DoubleClick), is the largest purchaser on that market (through Adexchange),
privileged access to all the valuable data thus obtained. Its "monopoly control is almost comically great," he writes -- and
that's just one company. Just as online ad revenue got to the point where it might replace print ads, internet behemoths have
sucked up a huge majority of it, leaving news companies to fight over scraps, or desperately pivot to alternative revenue models
like video content or subscriptions.
Remarkably, there appears to be some bipartisan support for regulatory action to give news companies a leg up. Hearings are
scheduled on Tuesday for a bill which would grant news companies an exemption to antitrust law,
, "allowing them to band together in negotiations with online platforms."
This would probably be worth trying, but it's likely not nearly aggressive enough. The journalism industry is fragmented,
damaged, and cash-poor, and would surely struggle to compete with Google and Facebook even if it could coordinate properly. It's
telling that only Amazon --
gargantuan, hugely profitable tech colossus -- has managed to compete even a little.
A better approach would be to simply break up and regulate these companies. Following American antitrust law, force Alphabet
(Google's parent company) to break all its major parts into separate companies -- Google for search, YouTube for video,
DoubleClick for ads, Analytics for audience analysis, and so on. Do the same for Facebook, forcing it to split off Instagram and
Then regulate the online ad market. It is outrageous for one company to both run the major ad market and have first bite at sales
on that market, because it puts other sellers and buyers at an unfair disadvantage -- as Marshall notes, "the interplay between
DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practice." Breaking DoubleClick out into a different company would solve
that particular instance of abuse of market power, but it probably wouldn't be the end of it. An online ad sales platform (like
many internet businesses) has high fixed costs but very low marginal costs -- meaning it costs a great deal to set up all the
servers and networks, but almost nothing to serve one additional ad. Once a company has achieved massive scale, like Google has
with DoubleClick, it has an ever-increasing advantage over any would-be competitors. That's the classic definition of a natural
monopoly, which if left to its own devices will certainly abuse its market power just like
Therefore, abuse of market power should be banned outright with
mandating equal prices for equal services across the whole online ad business -- either that, or
DoubleClick should be nationalized outright and run as a public utility.
For many years, Big Tech had a glossy reputation, portraying itself as the vanguard of a new high-tech future where fancy gadgets
and websites would solve all our problems. It turns out it is just another grubby corporate sector, ruthlessly seeking profit no
matter who or what gets trodden underfoot in the process. It's long since time we brought these companies to heel. Cracking them
up and regulating their markets is a good place to start.
"... The internet, as Yasha Levine showed us in an admirable and unfortunately neglected book last year, was always envisioned by the military industrial complex responsible for its creation as a tool for surveillance. ..."
"... It should come as no surprise that neoliberal capitalism, the only system with even more global reach than the American armed forces (with which big tech is increasingly allied anyway), would turn it to the very purpose for which it was designed. There was never going to be another way. ..."
"... We can insist on disclosure, but nobody is ever going to read through those terms of service documents. We can also attempt to limit the relationship between digital advertising and free social media services, but the latter could not exist without the former. Nor could the unlimited amount of "content" produced by wage slaves or unpaid amateurs. ..."
"... The fact that hundreds of companies know virtually everything about me because I use technologies that are all but unavoidable for anyone who participates in modern life is terrifying. ..."
"... I wonder how many other people now think that the old arrangement -- in which we took photos with real cameras and paid people at department stores to make prints of them and shared them in the privacy of our homes with people we really love, and had beautifully clear conversations on reliable pieces of hardware, and paid for newspapers that offered good wages to their writers and editors thanks to the existence of classified ads -- was so bad. ..."
Nothing in our conversations about the pros and cons of the modern internet seems to me more
naïve than our complaints about privacy.
... ... ...
The problem is that Facebook is not really a bookstore in this analogy -- at least not in
any straightforward sense. To understand what they do you have to imagine a chain for whom
selling books is not really the point; the books, which are rather enticingly free, are only
there to give the store's owners a sense of what you might be interested in, information that
they then sell to other companies that will in turn try to hawk everything from clothing to
medicine to political candidates. If you think the neat blue website pays engineers hundreds of
millions of dollars to let you share dog scrapbooks and spy on your old high-school classmates
out of the goodness of its founders' hearts, you're delusional.
But the issues go well beyond any single platform or website. The internet, as Yasha
Levine showed us in an admirable and unfortunately neglected book last year, was always envisioned by the
military industrial complex responsible for its creation as a tool for surveillance.
It should come as no surprise that neoliberal capitalism, the only system with even more
global reach than the American armed forces (with which big tech is increasingly allied
anyway), would turn it to the very purpose for which it was designed. There was never going to
be another way.
This doesn't necessarily mean that we have to live with the status quo. It is possible to
imagine a future in which the moral hazard of putting all the information available from search
engines and email use into the hands of private corporations disappeared. Instead of Google and
Gmail we could have a massive Library of Congress search engine and a free -- with paid
upgrades available for those who need additional storage -- Postal Service email platform. I
for one would not mind entrusting Uncle Sam with the knowledge that the phrase beginning with
"M" I am most likely to search for information about is "Michigan football recruiting."
The sad truth, though, is that these things have already been tried . Very few people remember now
that the post office once attempted to get into the email business and made various attempts to
keep digital commerce within the purview of the government rather than in the hands of private
corporations. These efforts failed time and again, often due to Silicon Valley lobbying
efforts. (Internal incompetence was also an issue: imagine paying $1.70 per email
This problem might be solved easily enough if those corporations had no say in the matter,
like the coal companies under the post-war Labour government in Britain. But even if forcibly
nationalizing search, email, and other basic internet services now seems like the ideal
solution, it would involve the most radical use of government power since the New Deal. I doubt
there is a single member of Congress who would even entertain the idea. What does that leave
with us? A box of Band-Aids for some gaping wounds. We can insist on disclosure, but nobody
is ever going to read through those terms of service documents. We can also attempt to limit
the relationship between digital advertising and free social media services, but the latter
could not exist without the former. Nor could the unlimited amount of "content" produced by
wage slaves or unpaid amateurs.
I don't mean to sound unduly cynical. The fact that hundreds of companies know virtually
everything about me because I use technologies that are all but unavoidable for anyone who
participates in modern life is terrifying.
I wonder how many other people now think that the old arrangement -- in which we took
photos with real cameras and paid people at department stores to make prints of them and shared
them in the privacy of our homes with people we really love, and had beautifully clear
conversations on reliable pieces of hardware, and paid for newspapers that offered good wages
to their writers and editors thanks to the existence of classified ads -- was so bad.
In the future we should be more mindful of the power of technology to destroy things we
value. But how many of those things are still left?
"... "A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225). ..."
The premise of this book is to say what most of the world's public has probably been thinking since the War on Terror began,
or that it is a "war for natural resources -- and that terrorism has little to do with it. Once the military became mechanized,
oil quickly became the most sought-after commodity on the planet, and the race for energy was eventually framed as a matter of
John Maszka argues that the "oil conglomerates" are the real "threats to national security". Demonizing "an entire religion"
is a repercussion of this policy. My own research in Rebellion as Genre a few years ago also attempted to point out the misuse
of the term terrorism in its current application, or as a weapon against one's enemies rather than as a reference to a type of
attacks intended to terrorize. Governments that accuse others of terrorism while legitimizing their own "acts of violence" as
"retributive" are clearly breaking human rights agreements and their stated commitments to freedom.
Maszka's perspective is of particular interest because he teaches this subject at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu
Dhabi, and has published widely his criticisms of the War on Terror, including Terrorism and the Bush Doctrine.
Many of the books I have read on terrorism from American supporters of this pro-War on Terror doctrine are troubling in their
references to spreading Christianity and other similarly questionable ideologies, so it is refreshing to hear from somebody with
a fresh perspective that is more likely to bring about world peace. The preface acknowledges that this book contrasts with the
bulk of other books in this field. It also explains that it focuses primarily on two "Islamic militant organizations -- al-Qaeda
and the Islamic State".
He explains that perception has a lot to do with who a country is willing to commit violence against, giving the example of
Nazis being able to commit violence on Jews in the Holocaust because of this blindness. Thus, violence against Muslims by the
West in the past two decade is shown as possibly a new Holocaust where the militaries are carrying out orders because Muslims
have been demonized.
Terrorism has historically been the work of a few extremists, or terms like "war" or "revolution" is employed to describe large
groups of such fighters; so it is strange that the West has entered the War on Terror with entire Muslim-majority countries, killing
so many civilians that it is not a stretch to call these Holocaust-like.
The Islamic State targets Muslims as well, also showing dehumanized traits that are even harder to explain (x-xi). The preface
also acknowledges that the author will be using "contractions and anecdotal digressions" as "intentional literary devices", shooing
the standard scholarly style (this is troubling for me personally, as I'm allergic to digressions, but at least he tells readers
what to expect).
As promised, Chapter One begins with a poet's story about the Tree of Life, then discusses the Boston Marathon bombings from
the perspective of the author as he worked in Kyrgyzstan, and goes off on other tangents before reaching this conclusion -- the
marathon's bombers were not terrorists: "They had no political aspirations. They weren't attempting to obtain concessions from
the government or provoke a reaction. They simply believed that they were 'wave sheaves' -- first fruits of God -- and that they
would be instrumental in ushering in the apocalypse" (5).
This conclusion explains the relationship between all of the digressions across this section, so these digressions were necessary
to prove this point, and thus are suitable for a scholarly book. And this is exactly the type of logical reasoning that is missing
in most of the oratory on terrorism. The entire book similarly uses specific acts of supposed terrorism to explain what really
happened and working to understand th motivations of the actors.
Since the author's digressions into his own life are typically very relevant to the subject, they are definitely helpful: "I
was stationed in Riyadh at an American military base that was attacked by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber" (135).
It would actually be unethical if Maszka did not explain that he has been personally affected by al-Qaeda in this context;
and since he has seen this War as a civilian living in the affected countries and as a member of the military that is attaching
these "terrorists", his opinions should be trustworthy for both sides. Given how emotional writing this book with detachment and
carefully crafted research must have been for somebody who has been bombed, it is only fitting that the final chapter is called,
"The Definition of Insanity."
And here is the final chapter:
"A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also
a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for
Very powerful words that are justly supported. I would strongly recommend that everybody in the West's militaries who is responsible
for making decisions in the War on Terror read this book before they make their next decision. Who are they shooting at? Why?
Who is benefiting? Who is dying? Are they committing war crimes as serious as the Nazis? If there is any chance these allegations
are true what kind of a military leader can proceed without understanding the explanations that Maszka offers here? This would
probably also work well in an advanced graduate class, despite its digressions, it will probably help students write better dissertations
on related topics.
@ 71 b4real
"Do you really believe those bankers with their terminals and wingtip shoes are telling the
boys with the billion dollars of weaponry what to do?"
Simple answer: Yes. US weapons sales in 2018 were worth $192 billion. Total miltary budget
in 2018 was $650 billion. That does not add up to even a trillion which is a paltry sum when
compared to about $30 trillion sloshing around US banks and fund management companies.
Let's take the example of the world's biggest arms producer – Lockhead Martin. The
State Street Corporation (fund management) holds 16.6% of the shares of Lockhead Martin,
Capital World Investors (California) hold 7.7%, Vanguard Group 7% and BlackRock Inc. 6.7%.
That means 4 fund management companies own 38% of the stock of Lockead Martin. These guys
with the wingtip shoes can fire the entire management team of Lockhead Martin at the drop of
The finance, insurance and real estate sector accounted for 20% of US GDP in 2016
(Forbes), which means approximately $18 trillion. You may argue that real estate has little
to do with bankers but every sale needs a mortgage and private equity has moved into real
estate in a big way over the last decade.
It should also be recalled that the man who created the CIA and ran it for over a decade -
Allen Dulles - was a Wall Street lawyer.
"... Its political benefit: minimizing the number of U.S. "boots on the ground" and so American casualties in the never-ending war on terror, as well as any public outcry about Washington's many conflicts. ..."
"... Its economic benefit: plenty of high-profit business for weapons makers for whom the president can now declare a national security emergency whenever he likes and so sell their warplanes and munitions to preferred dictatorships in the Middle East (no congressional approval required). ..."
"... Think of all this as a cult of bombing on a global scale. America's wars are increasingly waged from the air, not on the ground, a reality that makes the prospect of ending them ever more daunting. The question is: What's driving this process? ..."
"... In a bizarre fashion, you might even say that, in the twenty-first century, the bomb and missile count replaced the Vietnam-era body count as a metric of (false) progress . Using data supplied by the U.S. military, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries in 2016, the bulk of them in Iraq and Syria. Against Raqqa alone, ISIS's "capital," the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 20,000 bombs in 2017, reducing that provincial Syrian city to literal rubble . Combined with artillery fire, the bombing of Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to Amnesty International . ..."
"... U.S. air campaigns today, deadly as they are, pale in comparison to past ones like the Tokyo firebombing of 1945, which killed more than 100,000 civilians; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that year (roughly 250,000); the death toll against German civilians in World War II (at least 600,000); or civilians in the Vietnam War. (Estimates vary, but when napalm and the long-term effects of cluster munitions and defoliants like Agent Orange are added to conventional high-explosive bombs, the death toll in Southeast Asia may well have exceeded one million.) ..."
"... the U.S. may control the air, but that dominance simply hasn't led to ultimate success. In the case of Afghanistan, weapons like the Mother of All Bombs, or MOAB (the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. military's arsenal), have been celebrated as game changers even when they change nothing. (Indeed, the Taliban only continues to grow stronger , as does the branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan.) As is often the case when it comes to U.S. air power, such destruction leads neither to victory, nor closure of any sort; only to yet more destruction. ..."
"... Just because U.S. warplanes and drones can strike almost anywhere on the globe with relative impunity doesn't mean that they should. Given the history of air power since World War II, ease of access should never be mistaken for efficacious results. ..."
"... Bombing alone will never be the key to victory. If that were true, the U.S. would have easily won in Korea and Vietnam, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. ..."
"... Despite total air supremacy, the recent Iraq War was a disaster even as the Afghan War staggers on into its 18th catastrophic year. ..."
"... No matter how much it's advertised as "precise," "discriminate," and "measured," bombing (or using missiles like the Tomahawk ) rarely is. The deaths of innocents are guaranteed. Air power and those deaths are joined at the hip, while such killings only generate anger and blowback, thereby prolonging the wars they are meant to end. ..."
"... A paradox emerges from almost 18 years of the war on terror: the imprecision of air power only leads to repetitious cycles of violence and, even when air strikes prove precise, there always turn out to be fresh targets, fresh terrorists, fresh insurgents to strike. ..."
"... Using air power to send political messages about resolve or seriousness rarely works. If it did, the U.S. would have swept to victory in Vietnam. In Lyndon Johnson's presidency, for instance, Operation Rolling Thunder (1965-1968), a graduated campaign of bombing, was meant to, but didn't, convince the North Vietnamese to give up their goal of expelling the foreign invaders -- us -- from South Vietnam. ..."
"... Air power is enormously expensive. Spending on aircraft, helicopters, and their munitions accounted for roughly half the cost of the Vietnam War. ..."
"... Aerial surveillance (as with drones), while useful, can also be misleading. Command of the high ground is not synonymous with god-like "total situational awareness ." ..."
"... Air power is inherently offensive. That means it's more consistent with imperial power projection than with national defense ..."
"... Despite the fantasies of those sending out the planes, air power often lengthens wars rather than shortening them. ..."
"... Air power, even of the shock-and-awe variety, loses its impact