“As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot
stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility
while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about
the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining
an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot
pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city
swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those
of the rest of the world combined.”
New American militarism is connected with the desire to establish global neoliberal empire ruled
by the USA (the dream of total world dominance). It became official policy since the collapse
of the USSR and involves "heliocentric" view on foreign policy, when the USA is the center of
the world order and other states just rotate around it on various orbits. The US population is by-and-large-completely
brainwashed into this vision.
Opposition to the US militarism is almost non-existent due contemporary US popular culture infused
with the language of militarism and American exceptionalism. As Bacevich noted:
In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with
heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have
managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America’s uniformed
military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical
Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honor, extraordinary technological aptitude and
sheer decency of the nation’s defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of ‘virtuous
men and perfect weapons’, as one reviewer noted. ‘All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance
and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired.
Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.’ Indeed, in the contract that he signed
for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad
The "New American militarism" or as it called "Neocon mentality"
is not that different from the early Soviets militarism (of Trotskyite variety), eager to spread
the blessings of Scientific Socialism toward other countries on the tips of bayonets. Here the
role of scientific socialism is played by neoliberal ideology. With the slogan "Transnational
elite unite" and Davos style Congresses of the new "Neoliberal International" of comprador
elites. While converting other countries into neoliberal model using color revolution of direct military
invasion or combination of both) are disguised as spread of "democracy".
In this new Crusade for world hegemony the key ideas of Trotsky Permanent Revolution remains intact
-- a crusade for establishing new social system on all counties on the Earth. This is just Great Neoliberal
Crusade, instead of Communist Crusade. This new justification for Crusades has the same problems
as two previous. But it does not matter as the key role of democracy here is the same as in quote "the
goal justifies the means"
Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. he avoids the term neoliberalism
and did not try to explain new American militarism in terms of the quest for neoliberal empire expansion.
But he is a very good observer and the books contain many insights into US elite thinking and blunders.
Among them we can note two:
While all three books are excellent and raise important issues, they overlap. Probably the
most original and the most important on them is Washington Rules, were Bacevich attempts to explain
"Permanent War for Permanent Peace" that the USA practice since the end of WWII. All three books have
the same weaknesses: Bacevich does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion
and "New American Militarism" and regime of permanent wars that the USA pursue since WWII.
He provide sharp critique of neocons, but never ask the question: which political forces brought
those pathetic second or third rate thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy
and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle.
He also mistakenly believe that American people (who were completely estranged from any influence
on nation's policies) bear some guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred
of the largest US corporations. In other words he does not understand that the USA is yet another occupied
[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace
The foreign policy of the USA since 1945, but especially, after the dissolution of the USSR was and
is "open militarism". Recently John Quiggin tried to define militarism is came to the following
100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the
catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged
down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical
detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the
War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative.
Wikipedia offers a definition
of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory
and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population
in nearly every country in the world.
Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain
a strong military capability and be prepared to use it
aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national
This new epidemic of the US militarism started after the dissolution of the USSR was called by Professor
Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army) it New
global interventionism is used to achieve those ends.
Professor Bacevich had shown that the main driver of the US militarism is neocons domination of the
US foreign policy, and, especially, neocons domination in State Department regardless of whether Republicans
or Democrats are in power. They profess that the US that is uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide
foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II,
Vietnam, and Iraq. And that establishing and maintaining the neoliberal empire is worth the price we
pay as it will take the USA into the period of unprecedented peace.
Bacevich scored a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this
scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States
into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive "perpetual war for perpetual peace".
Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this
scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States
into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions
take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility
to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants --
and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence,
to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on
a policy of global interventionism.
Lessons that President Obama is clearly never able to learn. In this sense his book
Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections
that some may find very troubling as it suggest that the USA elite is suicidal and is ready to sacrifice
the county for achieving its delusional goal of world domination.
UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII:
September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan
Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).
The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American
foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration
of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration
to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.
Introduction: Slow Learner
The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in
the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany
(4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War
he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).
"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition"
(10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history
shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century")
and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United
States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection,
and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism")
together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).
In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the
main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks
and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks
and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on
Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).
This book aspires to
(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;
(2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;
(3) explain how itis perpetuated;
(4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;
and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).
The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the
reining national security paradigm" (16-18).
Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.
As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen
above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz.
that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles,
and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).
It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain
a worldwide network of bases (22-23).
Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture
in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called
this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).
American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came
about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential
administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).
Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34).
More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).
Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA
playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into
a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes
to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and
LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American
anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay
of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).
Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control
Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle
led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional
forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).
This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited
aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).
McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced
the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what
they wanted" (66-72).
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible"
Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but
Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).
U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this
(albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).
Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy
turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest
in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).
He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain
the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).
Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.
William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15).
A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued
in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic
and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment,
mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious
damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).
Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored"
(127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent
verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The
War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus
that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).
By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election
"sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). And the end of the Cold War posed
no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).
Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity
The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "notretrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The new mission
was not American defense but facilitation of a new world order (148-50). After 9/11 this pretense
was dropped and "[a]ctivism became the watchword" (150, emphasis in original;150-52). Resorting to
war became "notably more frequent and less controversial" in 1980-2000, finding "its ultimate expression
in the Bush Doctrine of preventive war" (152-53). Americans "passively assented" (154).
Behind the scenes, the shape this took was struggled over by the officer corps and civilian semi-warriors
pushing RMA(Revolution in Military Affairs) (154-64).Initially, U.S. élites held that victory in
Iraq demonstrated that speed could be substituted for mass in military campaigns (165-75). But the
experience of the occupation revealed this to be a fantasy (175-81).
Ch. 5: Counterfeit COIN.
Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, replacing "shock and awe" as "the Long War" replaced the "global
war on terror," is the latest doctrinal effort to preserve the Washington rules (182-86). The so-called
"surge" implicitly marked a quest for conditions allowing the U.S. to leave Iraq without admitting
defeat (186-91).Gen. David Petraeus emerged as an advocate (and as salesman, through FM3-24, the
manual he revised and which Bacevich insists is in its emphasis on narrative replete with postmodernism)
of counterinsurgency doctrine as "a substitute [for warfare] suited to the exercise of great power
politics in the twilight of modernity" (197; 191-97). Implicitly, the manual argues that "war as
such . . . no longer worked" (198; 198-202). Petraeus took credit for progress in Iraq that he did
not achieve (202-04).
The general with a Princeton Ph.D. was lionized with a view to normalizing war and lowering expectations,
a view now embraced by the Obama administration(205-11). Proponents of global counterinsurgency (GCOIN)
emerged, like John Nagl and Gen. Benet Sacolick (211-13). Obama embraced the GCOIN version of the
Long War with Gen.Stanley McChrystal to carry it out in Afghanistan, forfeiting the opportunity to
reassess American policy (213-21).
Ch. 6: Cultivating Our Own Garden.
Time-honored no-nonsense American pragmatism has turned into an absurdity-swallowing herd mentality
(222-23). The problem set the U.S. faces has radically changed from the time of the early Cold War,
but the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) that proposes to address them remains essentially the same (224-25).Eisenhower
would have been appalled(225-26). The size of the Pentagon budget, the size of the U.S. nuclear
arsenal, and the extent of overseas military presence cannot be justified(226-27).
These persist because of the interests they serve, not the mission the fulfill, and are likely
to do so for sometime (228-30). Bacevich invokes George Kennan, William Fulbright, and Martin Luther
King Jr. in urging that the U.S. needs a new approach, to model freedom rather than impose it (231-37).
First and foremost, America should save not the world but itself (237).
Bacevich proposes a new trinity:
the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests;
soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil;
force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War
The American public must shoulder its complicity in what has happened, fostered by an all-volunteer
force and debt-financed budgets (241-47). It is tragic that Barack Obama, elected to institute
change, has lacked the courage to alter the Washington rules, instead "choosing to conform"
(247-49). "If change is to come, it must come from the people"(249). The need for education "has
become especially acute" (249; 249-50).
Except from Macmillan
Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young
man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes
to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination.
All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.
My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with
precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not
long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time
in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most
famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end
of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the
communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter
den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened.
The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted.
Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the
Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary
Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on.
The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans
who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date—
1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity,
tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle
of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those
parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted,
then heroically overthrown.
A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War
II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the
"long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third
parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating
events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.
.... ... ...
Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire,
East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.
... ... ...
Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything
with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted
pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray
... ... ...
Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction:
that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed
and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies,
and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength
from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant
for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict
America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places
testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States
had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned
to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life
and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such
an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve as to believe that the
American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had
been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast
Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had
simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American
power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom,
not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.
The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and
habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which
I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and
catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman
had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.
Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although
the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable
anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water
and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.
The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered
a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our
Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for
example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil
answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.
Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected
the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner.
Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed
me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and
My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was,
after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those
days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required
curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the
history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy,
which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste
of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted
myself to ensuring that they remained inert.
Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War,
my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity.
In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard.
After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself
on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental
life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform,
that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson
that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike
journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly
accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab
one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.
Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.
History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead,
it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly
misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently
attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions,
while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars
with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I
had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half
of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What
I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially
George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition.
Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes
of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving
nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and
hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global
war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won,
and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords.
During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled
strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the
worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely.
What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional
wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking
the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at
even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past,
to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed
to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I
had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia.
Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept
certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education
accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had
to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply
wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics
is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to
engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright
foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring
form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of
statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global
dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply
embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.
The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and
charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo.
In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save,
liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what
he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global
leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow
citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence
for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured what remains
even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American
global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place
in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied
for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So,
too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.
Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal
their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence
to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your
prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty
Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose
the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well.
Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard
to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion
(often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of
global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities
staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and
large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake
of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American
identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic
Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions
veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in
Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration
of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing
armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them
to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about
falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall
primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper
of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate
to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France,
it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great
Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a
network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong.
Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying
on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.
The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order
altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered
to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the
armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals.
Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important
elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials
of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence,
to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats
by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose,
the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and
police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility
to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and
Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy
regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House.
From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines
the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used
here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by
people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state.
Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial
branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security
state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various
agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to
select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired
military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches
beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and
major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic
entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this
world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of
the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression;
second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses
and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain
views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves
have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious
and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or
"radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status
quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked
two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and
power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the
stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less
respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving
the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century.
Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security
strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy
of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled
the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of
the past decade have demonstrated.
To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly
evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise,
the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong
its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American
Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially
if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense,
the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been
the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to
America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War,
thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for
the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary
to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.
In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which
the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided
an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and
the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether
for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore
problems demanding attention here at home.
Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting
to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications
of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness
to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then
real education just might begin.
In their article ‘The American Century’ Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now?"
Conn Hallinan and
Leon Wofsy outlined important
reasons of the inevitability of the dominance of chicken hawks and jingoistic foreign policy in
the USA political establishment:
U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global
challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?
There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.
Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative
nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we’re locked into seemingly
irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed
powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating
cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?
The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world,
but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous
military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms
of “world order.”
While this illusion goes back to the end of World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse
of the Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed “American Century.” The idea
that the United States had “won” the Cold War and now — as the world’s lone superpower — had the
right or responsibility to order the world’s affairs led to a series of military adventures. It started
with President Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on with George W.
Bush’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration’s
own misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.
In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound
consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions
that drive this impulsive interventionism.
It’s this disconnect that defines the current crisis.
Acknowledging New Realities
So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to
First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our
tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling
crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be dealt
with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also holds for
the resurgent danger of nuclear war.
Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict,
terror, and human suffering. There’s no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated
problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.
Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international
cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the
major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent, including through
alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into “friend” and “foe” according to our perceived
interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests
in the 21st century.
Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence
is shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated
global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and Berlin,
alternative centers of economic
power are taking hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations
and alliances are springing up: organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South
Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people); the Union of South
American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.
Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous
domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out
over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and
our infrastructure crumbles.
Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional.
Short Memories and Persistent Delusions
But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us
pause, our government continues to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate
to the rest of the world.
The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light
of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are
tapping neoconservatives like
and Paul Wolfowitz
— who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders
seem to forget that following this lot’s advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first
place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.
While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited,
our government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops
back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State
(ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant to find common
ground in the fight against ISIS with designated “foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to
allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine
barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government,
despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.
A “war first” policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives
like former Vice President
and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman
Though it’s attempted to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions
with planned military realignments like the “Asia
pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It’s also taken a
more aggressive position than even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.
We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an “American Century.” International
order cannot be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don’t learn to take
our common interests more seriously than those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of
war, there may well be no tomorrows.
There’s a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy
must confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the
name of “American exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief that American politics (and medicine,
technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief
is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.
Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact
they’ve dropped from 1st place to 14th place in the number of college graduates.
We’ve made students of higher education the most indebted section of our population, while falling
to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic
Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those
in the rest of the world.
Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health
care systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more recent
Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations
The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the
Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate today as it was in the
1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets
over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.
But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and
“un-American,” two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning
The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no
other country in the world has the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview
The United States did not simply support Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia
into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar
Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force
in regions thousands of miles from its borders.
The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending.
It has hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo
and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny
bases called “lily
pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson
estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at
its height in 1895.
The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans
have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were
major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some
were quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are “shadow wars” waged by Special Forces,
armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of organized
violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945.
The Home Front
The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.
According Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan
and Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around
$6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related
items. The “official” defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn’t include such items as
nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions
a year in interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already
paid out $316 billion
The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.
We spend more on our “official” military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human
Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11,
spent $70 million an hour on “security” compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.
As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic
inequality. The poor and working millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic
problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply
racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth —
continues to plague our homeland.
The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security
state to levels that many dictators would envy. The
Senate torture report, most
of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus
the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.
Bombs and Business
President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that “the business of America is business.”
Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in American foreign policy.
Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions
lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that
its products don’t always emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the
most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn’t work. It’s over
budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful
corporations who have shoved this lemon down our throats.
Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals.
Both combine to try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil
and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.
Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the
U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 “Carter
Doctrine” — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin
America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:
“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded
as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled
by any means necessary, including military force.”
It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition
with China. But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests
of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.
Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international
tensions. It’s critically important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward
alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.
As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations
will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international
relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the impulse to respond by military
means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some
governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.
Finding the Common Interest
These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.
There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise
or transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential
for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social movements here and abroad respond
to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in “American
Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.
There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty,
to rising messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only
the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear exchange
between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.
Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of
humanity, historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and
survival. The need to change course is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an
ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity.
Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around
After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience
shows that elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant
change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances
have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public opinion in
a way the political establishment could not defy.
The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican
administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition
could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about even as the basic character of society
is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and other
colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated
in the United States. President Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs
has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small band of activists whose initial
efforts were labeled “quixotic.”
There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger
of the course we’re on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of
the public — are beginning to say “enough” to war and military intervention all over the globe, and
the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into “friend or foe.”
This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded
into supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans
that “over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37
percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State
numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force,
46 percent opposed it.
It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public
into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS,
disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it
has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war,
a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.
Making Space for the Unexpected
Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?
Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses
negotiation, diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.
However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the
candidates to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even
most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches further
into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.
Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither
— who sense the futility of the course we’re on. These voices have to be represented or the election
process will be even more of a sham than we’ve recently experienced.
One can’t predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement
suggests that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward,
although a limited bilateral pact
substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in
the U.S.-Russian joint action that
chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite
from U.S. hawks and the Israeli government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long overdue
— to restore diplomatic
relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there
is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.
We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations.
We are certain that there is much we’ve missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S.
foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests
of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.
If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy,
and encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great
that finding common ground trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won’t all agree with
each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition
around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern
of political action.
So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do
we consider the problem of power?
The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists
to the potential influence of the general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as
well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure itself.
Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations came together to form Syriza, the political party
that was successfully elected to power
on a platform of ending austerity. Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the number-two party
in the country — came out of massive demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots
up. We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences in both countries demonstrate
that there are multiple paths to generating change.
Certainly progressives and leftists grapple with the problems of power. But progress on issues,
particularly in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn’t be conceived of as dependent
on first achieving general solutions to the problems of society, however desirable.
... ... ...
Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear
online at Dispatches From
the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology professor and long-time political activist. His comments
on current affairs appear online at Leon’s
"...These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly
everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended. "
"...One is reminded of
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill,
the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American
mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged the idea
of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along
the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning:
Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon,
worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the
"...Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation
in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation
is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question hovered
for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions
and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster.
"...Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules
by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped,
have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed. "
"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist
wrote in his autobiography. "Especially we ever-successful Americans -- conscious, intelligent, illuminating
failures." What Steffens meant was that a people confident in righteousness need occasionally to
be reminded of their fallibility. The past 50 years have produced failures aplenty -- the Bay of
Pigs, Vietnam and Iraq among them. Unfortunately, as Andrew Bacevich and John Dower demonstrate,
the light of failure has not penetrated the darkness of delusion. As a result, wars provide a repeating
rhythm of folly.
Rules" and "Cultures
of War" are two excellent books made better by the coincidence of their publication. In complementary
fashion, they provide a convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. Steffens would
have liked these books, specifically for the way they use past failures to explain the provenance
of our current predicament.
Read "Cultures of War" first. It's not an easy book, but it is consistently perceptive. Dower
examines Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Sept. 11 and the second Iraq War, drawing disconcerting linkages.
Pearl Harbor and Iraq, he feels, demonstrate how otherwise intelligent leaders are drawn toward
strategic imbecility. Both attacks were brilliantly executed in the short term, but neither
paid sufficient attention to the long-term problem of winning a war. More controversially, Dower
pairs Hiroshima with Sept. 11, both acts of terror born of moral certitude. Osama bin Laden and Harry
Truman justified wanton killing with essentially the same Manichean rhetoric. Motives, context and
scale might have been different; methods were not. For both leaders, the ability to separate good
from evil made killing easy.
In 1941, Americans drew comfort from the stereotype of the irrational Oriental. They assumed that
the Japanese would be easily defeated because they were illogical -- as their attack upon Pearl Harbor
proved. That attack was indeed illogical (given the impossibility of defeating the United States
in a protracted war), but it was not peculiarly Japanese. As Dower reveals, the wishful thinking,
delusion and herd behavior within the court of Emperor Hirohito was a symptom of war, not ethnicity.
The same deficiencies, in 2003, convinced those in the Oval Office that invading Iraq was a good
Since the culture of war encourages patterned behavior, folly proliferates. This is the essence
of the Washington rules that Bacevich elucidates. The rules dictate that protection of the American
way of life necessitates a global military presence and a willingness to intervene anywhere. Power
and violence are cleansed by virtue: Because America is "good," her actions are always benign.
These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly
everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended.
The alternative, according to Bacevich, is not isolationism or appeasement, two politically loaded
words frequently used to pummel those who object to Washington's behavior. He advocates, instead,
a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent since it comes from a former
soldier. Iraq and Afghanistan did not threaten America; in fact, those countries and the world have
become more dangerous because of heavy-handed American intervention. Nor does North Korea pose a
threat. Nor did Vietnam.
One is reminded of
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon
a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the
American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged
the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the
globe. Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration
and warning: Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged
a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down
the throats of the recalcitrant.
The power of virtue is Bacevich's most profound message. Instead of trying to fix Afghanistan's
Helmand Province, he
insists, Americans should fix Detroit and Cleveland. Instead of attempting to export notions of freedom
and democracy to nations that lack experience of either, America should demonstrate, by her actions,
that she is still a free, democratic and humane nation. Her real strength lies in her liberal tradition,
not in her ability to kill.
Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation
in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation
is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question
hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored
assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady
course toward disaster.
Those unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions have now pushed the United States
into a new quagmire. Despite that predicament, both Dower and Bacevich try to end positively. "If
change is to come, it must come from the people," argues Bacevich. Dower agrees. But these feeble
attempts at optimism are the least convincing parts of two otherwise brilliant books. Barack Obama
once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an
unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been
illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed.
Gerard De Groot is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
and author of "The Bomb: A Life."
For his first 40 years, Andrew Bacevich lived the conventional
life of an army officer. In the military world where success depended on conformity, he followed
the rules and “took comfort in orthodoxy…[finding] assurance in conventional wisdom.” Comfort, that
is, until he had a chance to peer behind the Iron Curtain, and was shocked to find East Germany more
third-world shambles than first-rate threat.
That experience, combined with the introspection that followed his subsequent retirement from
the army, led Bacevich to reevaluate the relationship between truth and power. After having taken
his superiors at their word for decades, he slowly came to understand “that authentic truth is never
simple and that any version of truth handed down from on high…is inherently suspect. The exercise
of power necessarily involves manipulation and is antithetical to candor.”
America’s Path to Permanent War is Bacevich’s fourth book on the subject of American exercise
of power. This time, he takes up the question of the political calculations that have produced the
basic tenets of American foreign policy since the beginning of the Cold War, examining how and why
they came to exist and to survive all challenges to their supremacy.
Bacevich describes two components that define U.S. foreign policy.
The first is what he dubs the “American credo,” which calls on “the United States — and the
United States alone — to lead save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.”
Second is what he calls the “sacred trinity,” which requires that the United States “maintain
a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projections,
and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.”
These rules, Bacevich argues, are no longer vital to the existence of the United States, and have
led to actions that threaten to break the army and bankrupt the treasury. Rather, they are kept in
place by individuals who derive personal benefit from their continuance. Bacevich does not hesitate
to blame a Washington class that “clings to its credo and trinity not out of necessity, but out of
parochial self-interest laced with inertia.”
This is a theme that runs throughout the book: that those who make the rules also benefit from
them, and thus their demands should always be regarded skeptically.
While abstaining from questioning the patriotism of past leaders, Bacevich is not reluctant to
point out how many policies that were later widely embraced were originally trumpeted by ambitious
men who had as much to gain personally by their acceptance as did the country:
General Curtis LeMay, who built a massive nuclear arsenal as head of Strategic Air
Allen Dulles, who backed coups across the globe as CIA director;
General Maxwell Taylor, who rode the idea of “flexible response” from retirement to
the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The story of foreign policy, then, is not so much different than any government bureaucracy
through which vast sums of money flow, and is driven as much by officials jockeying for status than
by genuine concern for policy outcomes. Whether in disputes between the Army and the Air Force
or the Pentagon and the White House, and whether over money or over purpose, different sectors of
the national security establishment propose and promote new doctrines that necessitate increasing
their budgets and enhancing their importance.
But Bacevich is not content to only blame leaders. In contrast to George Washington’s ideal of
the citizen who would consider it his duty to actively serve his country, Bacevich finds today’s
Americans “greedy and gullible,” pursuing personal gain in the stead of collective benefit. Any solution,
he argues, must come from an awakened people who demand change from the people they put in office.
As for what that change should look like, Bacevich proposes a new credo and trinity. As a new
mission statement, he offers: “America’s purpose is to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations
expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as reinterpreted with the passage
of time and in light of hard-earned experience.”
As a new trinity, he suggests that “the purpose of the U.S, military is not to combat evil or
remake the world but to defend the United States and its most vital interests…the primary duty station
of the American soldier is in America…consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should
employ force only as a last resort and only in self defense.”
Bacevich writes in the short, clipped style with which he also speaks, presumably a legacy of
his West Point education and decades in the military. His style allows for easy comprehension and
neat packaging of his ideas, and readers will not get bogged down in flowery language.
Parts of Bacevich’s thinking require further scrutiny and remind readers of his self-identification
as a conservative (lowercase “c”). Economically, he is no fan of stimulus spending, and socially
he places blame on individual failings and personal flaws, choosing not to mention an unequal economic
system that leaves tens of millions of Americans with barely the resources to take care of their
families, much less have time to be informed and active citizens.
In fact, the emphasis throughout the book is on the fact that expansionism, at this particular
moment, is not wrong but impossible. Bacevich is, after all, a realist when it comes to international
relations theory, and though he happens to agree with liberal anti-imperials on many issues, it is
often for different reasons.
However, debates over theory can wait for when the republic is in less immediate peril. This is
the second work Bacevich has published under the auspices of the American Empire Project, a book
series documenting America’s imperial adventures and their disastrous consequences. The contribution
of conservative authors to this task is vital. They remind us that opposition to imperialism is hardly
just a liberal cause, and in fact for much of American history was actually a rallying point for
conservatives across the country.
Washington Rules is valuable for putting in print what those inside the military establishment
don’t dare admit: that, even aside from moral concerns, U.S. international strategy is neither successful
nor sustainable and maintained more by lies than by actual results. Bacevich can truly be said to
be a realist in that he understand that leaders, when faced with the choice of admitting failure
or lying, will almost always choose the latter.
Andrew Feldman is an intern with Foreign Policy In Focus.
This is the bluntest, toughest, most scathing critique of American imperialism as it has become
totally unmoored after the demise of the Soviet Communist empire and taken to a new level by the
Bush administration. Even the brevity of this book - 182 pages - gives it a particular wallop since
every page "concentrates the mind".
In the event a reader knows of the prophetic work of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr,
you will further appreciate this book. Bacevich is a Niebuhr scholar and this book essentially channels
Niebuhr's prophetic warnings from his 1952 book, "The Irony of American History". The latter has
just been reissued by University of Chicago Press thanks to Andrew Bacevich who also contributed
In essence, American idealism as particularly reflected in Bush's illusory goal to "rid the world
of evil" and to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East or wherever people are being tyrannized,
is doomed to failure by the tides of history. Niebuhr warned against this and Bacevich updates the
history from the Cold War to the present. Now our problems have reached crisis proportions and Bacevich
focuses on the three essential elements of the crisis: American profligacy; the political debasing
of government; and the crisis in the military.
What renders Bacevich's critique particularly stinging, aside from the historical context he gives
it (Bush has simply taken an enduring American exceptionalism to a new level), is that he lays these
problems on the doorstep of American citizens. It is we who have elected the governments that have
driven us toward near collapse. It is we who have participated willingly in the consumption frenzy
in which both individual citizens and the government live beyond their means. Credit card debt is
undermining both government and citizenry.
This pathway is unsustainable and this book serves up a direct and meaningful warning to this
effect. Niebuhrian "realism" sees through the illusions that fuel our own individual behavior and
that of our government. There are limits to American power and limits to our own individual living
standards and, of course, there are limits to what the globe can sustain as is becoming evident from
American exceptionalism is coming to an end and it will be painful for both individual citizens
and our democracy and government to get beyond it. But we have no choice. Things will get worse before
they get better. Bacevich suggests some of the basic ways that we need to go to reverse the path
to folly. He holds out no illusions that one political party or the other, one presidential candidate
or the other, has the will or the leadership qualities to change directions. It is up to American
citizens to demand different policies as well as to govern our own appetites.
While this is a sobering book, it is not warning of doomsday. Our worst problems are essentially
of our own making and we can begin to unmake them. But we first have to come to terms with our own
exceptionalism. We cannot manage history and there are no real global problems that can be solved
by military means, or certainly not by military means alone.
By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
This is one of those books you might find yourself sitting down to read chapter and verse over
and over again, only because the writing is so intelligent and so profound. "The Limits of Power:
The End of American Exceptionalism," by Andrew Bacevich, is one of those works that will enthrall
the reader with its insight and analysis.
According to the author, the US has reached its limit to project its power in the world. His rationale
for this conclusion are three central crises we now face: economic and cultural, political, and military,
all of which are our own making.
The first crisis is one of profligacy. Americans want more, whether it is wealth, credit, markets,
or oil, without consideration for cost or how these things are acquired. There is complete apathy
in what policies are being produced as long as they provide plenty.
The political crisis was born of our mobilization in World War II to meet the threat of tyranny,
and from the Cold War to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union. Both gave rise to unprecedented
presidential power, an ineffectual Congress, and a disastrous foreign policy. Bacevich contends
that our legislature no longer serves their constituents or the common good "but themselves through
gerrymandering, doling out prodigious amounts of political pork, seeing to the protection of certain
vested interests" with the paramount concern of being re-elected. Our presidents have been willing
accomplices in keeping the American dream or greed alive by using our military as part of a coercive
diplomatic tool to feed and fuel the first crisis.
Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology
of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project
power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might.
At the same time, the largest intelligence agencies in the world are created to afford us more security,
but after seventy years are unable to defend our cities and buildings in the US while it worries
about intrigues worldwide. Competition and rivalry lead to a lack of cooperation, intelligence, and
security when it was needed most.
The third crisis is our military which has been employed to satisfy the neuroses of the first
and second crises. The author puts much of the blame squarely at the feet of inept military leadership,
which he believes has confused strategy with operations. Content with the resilience of the American
fighting man or woman, he is scathing in his critique of their leadership finding them "guilty of
flagrant professional malpractice, if not outright fraud." He illustrates how improvised explosive
devices that cost no more than a pizza have checked a military that is designed for speed and maneuver--that
was considered invincible.
Andrew Bacevich contends that nothing will change as long as Americans are told to go to Disney
World instead of making sacrifices, as long as the same one half percent of our population continue
to populate the military that the president sees as his personal army, as long as an apathetic public
and an ineffectual Congress continue to make periodic, grand gestures of curbing presidential power,
the United States will have reached the limits of its power and exceptionalism.
This book profoundly moved me, and I was impressed by the insight that Professor Bacevich could
bring in such few pages. Passages of this book should be plastered in the halls and offices of Congress,
as well as the West Wing.
This book really stands out as a jewel in a sea of mediocre publications by radio and TV personalities
who think they know what they are talking about when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The difference
is that Andrew Bacevich does
Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side, The Inside Story How The War on Terror Turned into a War on America's
Schlesinger, Arthur, "War and the American Presidency."
Mann, Thomas & Ornstein, Norman, "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How
to Get It Back on Track."
Zinni, Tony (Gen. Ret.), "The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and
Niebuhr, Reinhold, "The Irony of American History."
For your convenience some of them which I judge to be the most insightful are reproduced below:
Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War,
Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517338-4, is the most coherent analysis of how
America has come to its present situation in the world that I have ever read. Bacevich, Professor
of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University,
is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton.
And he is retired military officer. This background makes him almost uniquely qualified to comment
on the subject.
Bacevich admits to an outlook of moderate conservatism. But in ascribing fault for our plight
to virtually every administration since W.W. II, he is even handed and clear eyed. Since he served
in the military, he understands the natural bureaucratic instincts of the best of the officer corps
and is not blinded by the almost messianic status that they have achieved in the recent past.
His broad brush includes the classic period, the American Revolution - especially the impact of
George Washington, but he moves quickly to the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his direct descendants
of our time, the Neoconservatives. The narrative accelerates and becomes relevant for us in the depths
of the despair of Vietnam. At that juncture, neocon intellectuals awakened to the horror that without
a new day for our military and foreign policy, the future of America would be at stake. At almost
the same time, Evangelical Christians abandoned their traditional role in society and came to views
not dissimilar to the neocons. America had to get back on track to both power and goodness. The results
of Vietnam on American culture, society, and - especially - values were abhorrent to both these groups.
The perfect man to idealize and mythologize America's road back was Ronald Reagan. Again, Bacevich
does not shrink from seeing through the surreal qualities brought to the Oval Office by Reagan to
the realities beneath them. The Great Communicator transformed the Vietnam experience into an abandonment
of American ideals and reacquainted America with those who fought that horrible war. Pop culture
of the period, including motion pictures such as Top Gun and best selling novels by many, including
Tom Clancy completely rehabilitated the image of the military.
The author describes how Evangelical leaders came to find common cause with the neocons and provided
the political muscle for Reagan and his successors of both parties to discover that the projection
of military might become a reason for being for America as the last century closed.
One of his major points is that the all volunteer force that resulted from the Vietnam experience
has been divorced from American life and that sending this force of ghosts into battle has little
impact on our collective psyche. This, too, fit in with the intellectual throw weight of the neocons
and the political power of the Evangelicals.
Separate from but related to the neocons, Bacevich describes the loss of strategic input by the
military in favor of a new priesthood of intellectual elites from institutions such as the RAND Corporation,
The University of Chicago and many others. It was these high priests who saw the potential that technology
provided for changing the nature of war itself and how American power might be projected with `smart
weapons' that could be the equivalent of the nuclear force that could never be used.
So it was that when the war we are now embroiled in across the globe - which has its antecedents
back more than twenty years - all of these forces weighed heavily on the military leaders to start
using the force we'd bought them. The famed question by Secretary of State Madeline Albright to General
Colin Powell: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if
we can't use it?" had to have an answer and the skirmishes and wars since tended to provide it.
Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need
for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for
our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic
expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national
energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.
It is in his prescriptions that the book tends to drift. The Congress must do its constitutionally
mandated jobs or be thrown out by the people. Some of his ideas on military education are creative
and might well close the gap between the officer corps and civilians that he points to as a great
But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for
those who wonder how we got to Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in
grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to this juncture. Where we go from here
is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.
READ THIS BOOK
===This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation
with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that
belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his
book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career
officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director
of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative
who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with
what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies,
is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing
militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political
party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics
as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but
society at large, is enthralled with all things military.
Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades
our national consciousness and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized
military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in
terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long
considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing
a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image,
with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present
form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.
How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution:
"the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking
fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters
he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.
After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set
about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer
Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative
of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society
and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic
class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our
national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun
is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would
have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on
earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction,
a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military
Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and
technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance
created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle
Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the
geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap
gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most
important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self
interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more
lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the
latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.
Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned
that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises
and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country
of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious
to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hotile to republican liberty."
Relevant and Objective, January 3, 2007
Author Andrew Bacevich has superb credentials on military, diplomatic, and historical issues.
A Vietnam Veteran, 25+ year career in the Army and now professor of International Relations, Bacevich
is one of the few that has the experience *and* knowledge to dissect what has been occurring in
American socio-political culture and society for the last several decades. Bacevich notes the
current focus on the military to solve the world's problems and to promote America's interests
is not the sole work of a President and Congress, but the combination of culture, mentality, political,
and now primarily economic, interests. This book has tons of footnoting, which allows you to delve
further into these issues on your own.
The author astutely reinforces the fact that the Militarist Mentality won't change, regardless
of which political party is in control of the Executive and Houses of Congress in the United States.
Here only some examples out of many:
Entry of the U.S. military into the Middle East:
THE CARTER DOCTRINE:
The Carter Doctrine was prescribed at the State of the Union Address in 1980.
Another civilian prescription utilizing the military as medicine to alleviate and even cure, political
symptoms. This Doctrine began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, specifically using
the American military to enforce its economic interests and lifestyle dependence on oil. The Carter Doctrine was a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. It specifically
stated that use of the military can and will be used to enforce U.S. economic interests.
At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:
"Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be
declared as an assault on the vital interest of the United States of America, and such an assault
will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (p. 181).
Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a
adversary to check U.S interests. Today, that rival is gone.
Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American
foreign policy interests in using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.
WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:
War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport.
Live reports, video display, and laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to
the civilian public at press conferences.
One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when
reporting about American soldiers in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis
'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to a football game. Slogans such as "Shock
and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members.
"Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this
Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:
Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed
as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted
from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action figure doll was created
and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and
Naval Aviator" (p. 31).
Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week
in War." More simulation of the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the
"Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo of a soldier, his name, age, and
hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home.
Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and
at times tearful family in their living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always
wanted to help people."
The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept
is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to
a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, and in some
enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public.
To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion
is often injected into the deceased soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult
of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military cemeteries around the
GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:
Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture,
and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing. As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble
concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly reinforced to the public
of all ages and socio-economic levels.
It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.
Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center
4) California Dreaming 5) Onward 6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense
"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty
thinking is perpetuated by the electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely
effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners. The government intentionally
steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic
and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and
outcome of most *political* conflicts.
Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time
show did not honor the "troops." He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the
"troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered interests, like everyone else.
The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate
foreign policy. The military just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist
civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's not the military nor the men and women
serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in the governmental
and corporate world who must be held accountable.
General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military
after Vietnam. Civilians and politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation
is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political. History will be the judge.
This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current
situation the United States is in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately
they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions made by upper-class civilians from
the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.
Highly recommended and relevant to our contemporary times and our future.
Andrew Bacevich did excellent research and writing in this book. I'll think we'll be hearing
a lot more of him. Hopefully He'll get more access to the public. If - the mainstream media allows
Robert S. Frey
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today,
December 23, 2006
Andrew J. Bacevich's "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," should
be read and considered carefully by every member of the national political leadership in the United
States as well as by adult Americans in general. Bacevich brings impeccable credentials to his
work in this book--professor of history and international relations at Boston University, West
Point graduate, and veteran of the Vietnam conflict. His writing is engaging, insightful, and
historically well anchored. Importantly, this work is highly accessible and eminently readable.
The level of documentation is very valuable as well. Finally, the book is not about fault-finding
and finger-pointing toward any one national figure or group.
What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical
"meta-narratives" that are much more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events
and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional wisdom." A case in point is the
periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian
Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American
Militarism" carefully and credibly brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions,
and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of
the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important
patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today.
Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand and appreciate that the global projection of American
military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors of the second half
of the twentieth century.
Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
Dr. Lee D. Carlson
Interesting, insightful, and motivating, October 21, 2006
Why is it that some people, including this reviewer, are reluctant to criticize the writings
or verbalizations of those Americans that have been or are currently in the military? This is
particularly true for those officers and soldiers who have served in combat. To be critical of
someone is who has faced such horror would be a sacrilege. Their opinions on subjects, especially
those related to war and the military, are given much higher weight than those that have never
been in the military. What is the origin of this extreme bias and does it not thwart attempts
to get at the truth in matters of war and politics? If a war is illegal or immoral, are not the
soldiers who participate in it themselves war criminals, deserving the severest condemnation?
The author of this book sheds light on these questions and gives many more interesting opinions
on what he has called the 'new American militarism.' If one examines carefully American history,
it is fair to say that Americans have been reluctant to go to war, preferring instead to settle
conflicts via negotiation and trade agreements. Americans have been led to the horrors of war
kicking and screaming, and breath a sigh of relief when they are over. Historically, Americans
have applied extreme skepticism to those politicians, like Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to participate
in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy." So if Americans are "seduced by war", as
the author contends they have been in recent decades, an explanation must be found. It is
tempting to say that they have been merely "brainwashed", and contemporary neuroscience lends
some credence to this claim, but one must still be open to alternative explanations, and let the
evidence determine the proper interpretation. Once the causes have been identified, it
becomes necessary to find methodologies and strategies to counter these causes, lest we find ourselves
in another unnecessary and brutal conflict, initiated by some who do not directly participate
in it, and have no intention ever to do so.
This book is not a scientific study, but instead is a collection of opinions, mostly supported
by anecdotal evidence, to support the author's thesis. On the surface his opinions do seem plausible,
but one must still apply to his writings the same level of skepticism applied to other studies
of the same kind. It does seem reasonable to believe for example that current attitudes about
war are governed by the American failure in Vietnam, Carter's supposed ineptitude in dealing with
the resulting loss in "self-esteem" of the American populace, and Reagan's exploitation or correction
of this loss. But more evidence is needed to set such a conclusion in stone.
The author though is intellectually honest enough to admit that he has not obtained the "definitive
version of the truth" on the new American militarism within the pages of his book. His words are
more "suggestive than conclusive" he writes, and he welcomes criticism and alternative interpretations.
Vietnam, oil and energy considerations, 9-11, and the media all have a role to play in the current
American attitudes about war he argues. Further analysis though is needed, and cognizance must
be made that all readers, including this reviewer, are embedded in the same culture as the author,
and subjected to the same ideological, historical, and media pressures. We must be extremely cautious
in our acceptance of what we find in print and indeed in all information outlets. And we must
learn that soldiers, active duty or otherwise, are not infallible and must be subjected to the
same criticism as any other citizen. This is again, very difficult to do, and this difficulty
is perhaps the best evidence for the author's thesis.
Exceptional Polemic; 4.5 Stars, October 19, 2006
This concise and well written book is the best kind of polemic; clear, well argued, and
designed to provoke debate. Bacevich is definitely interested in persuading readers of
the truth of his views but his calm and invective free prose, insistence on careful documentation,
and logical presentation indicate that his primary concern is promote a high level of discussion
of this important issue. Bacevich argues well that a form of militarism based on an exaggerated
sense of both American mission and American power, specifically military power, has infected public
life. He views this militarism as both leading to unecessary and dangerous adventures abroad,
epitomized by the Iraq fiasco, and corrupting the quality of domestic debate and policy making.
Beyond documenting the existence of this phenomenon, Bacevich is concerned with explicating how
this form of militarism, which he views as contrary to American traditions, came to be so popular.
Bacevich argues well that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of actions
by a number of different actors including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals
and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense
intellectuals. For a variety of reasons, these sometimes overlapping groups converged
on ideas of the primacy of American military power and the need to use it aggressively abroad.
Bacevich devotes a series of chapters to examining each of these actors, discussing their motivations
and actions, often exposing shabby and inconsistent thinking. Some of these, like the role of
neoconservative intellectuals and the Religous Right, are fairly well known.
Others, like the behavior of professional military over the last generation, will be novel
to many readers. Bacevich's chapters have underlying themes. One is the persisent occurrence of
ironic events as the actions of many of these groups produced events counter to their goals.
The post-Vietnam professional military attempted to produce a large, vigorous military poised
to fight conventional, WWII-like, combats. This force was intended to be difficult for politicians
to use. But as these often highly competent professionals succeeded to restoring the quality
of the American military, the temptation to use it became stronger and stronger, and control
escaped the professionals back into the hands of politicians as varied as Bush II and Clinton.
Another theme is that politicians seized on use military force as an alternative to more difficult
and politically unpalatable alternatives. Jimmy Carter is described correctly as initiating the
American preoccupation with control of the Persian Gulf oil supplies, which has generated a great
deal of conflict over the past generation. Bacevich presents Carter as having to act this
way because his efforts to persuade Americans to pursue sacrifice and a rational energy policy
were political losers. Ronald Reagan is presented as the epitome of this unfortunate trend.
Bacevich is generally convincing though, perhaps because this is a short book, there are some
issues which are presented onesidely. For example, its true that Carter began the military preoccupation
with the Persian Gulf. But, its true as well that his administration established the Dept. of
Energy, began a significant program of energy related research, moved towards fuel standards for
vehicles and began the regulatory policies that would successfully improve energy efficiency for
many household items. No subsequent administration had done more to lessen dependence on foreign
Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored
the new militarism tended to converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by
a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate and relatively unstable coalition.
The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain
Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal
integrity of the Republican party and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.
An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army
officer, and self-described cultural conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward
by Leftist critics.
Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational
but bound to be controversial and probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to
change the nature of the discussion about these issues.
How Permanent Military Deployment Became Congruent With World Peace, June 29, 2006
In The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich contends that American culture and policy
since the end of the Cold War has merged a militaristic ethos with a utopian global imaginary.
He notes that American militarism is a "bipartisan project" with "deep roots" that even garner
support on the political margins, with some leftist activists seeing a humanitarian mission for
U.S. global military hegemony. He traces these roots to the worldview of Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned
a globe "remade in America's image and therefore permanently at peace." Yet Wilson's view was
moderated by a public and policy perception of war as an ugly, costly, brutal, traumatic and unpredictable
last resort. This is corroborated by the massive military demobilizations that followed U.S. involvement
in both world wars. Bacevich also points to works of popular culture, from Erich Maria Remarque's
All Quiet On The Western Front to Oliver Stone's Platoon, that reflect on the inhumanity of war
from World War I through Vietnam.
Bacevich sees a massive deviation from these historical trends after the end of the Cold War.
While conceding that a permanent military mobilization was expected during the Cold War (from
roughly NSC-68 to the fall of the Berlin Wall)--no significant demobilization followed. Forces
slated for deactivation were quickly mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. No successful popular
culture critiques of that war's brutality would emerge. The author sees the end of the cold war
and Desert Storm as framing a period of "new American militarism" that breaks from historical
precedent in several regards. He claims that since the 1988 presidential campaign, the character
of the presidency has emphasized military more than civilian leadership. This contradicts previous
presidents of military stature (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower) who obsessively positioned themselves
as civilians. Post-Cold War military budgets have been dramatically larger despite no global adversary.
The public has uncritically accepted a permanent military stance. The perception of war as ghastly
and treacherous has been replaced with war as a clinical and technologically managed spectacle.
The link between the covenant of citizenship and military service has been replaced by a specialized
force of volunteers. The numbers of veterans serving in congress has steadily decreased since
World War II. Bacevich correlates this with the shunning of military service by elites as the
military has increasingly drawn from areas of the population that are poor and brown. Because
of this, force is "outsourced" and in turn the stature of soldiers has dramatically increased
through an infrastructure of praise by the majority who are not involved in military operations.
Senior military officers have tremendous clout in politics, policy, and spending.
To understand this new militarism, Bacevich notes that it is point-for-point an inversion of
Vietnam's military milieu. There, politicians up through the president framed themselves as civilians,
officers felt out of touch with bureaucratic decisions, and war was perceived as carnal and bumbling.
The book traces cultural responses to Vietnam that reformed the American relationship to militarism.
As military leaders like Creighton Abrams sought to mandate broad political investment for military
action by creating interdependence with reserves and to limit the criteria for deployment with
the Weinberger doctrine, politicians like Ronald Reagan rehabilitated an American demoralization
that peaked with Carter's failed Operation Eagle Claw by invoking popular culture mythologies
Bacevich is unabashedly religious. He ultimately couches America's outsourced and technocratic
militarism as a departure from natural Gods in the pursuit of a scientistic idol that more perfectly
regulates human affairs. He openly sees in this scientism the same flaw and outcome as Communism
or Fascism. He suggests that affirmation of military service across economic privilege would raise
the stakes of military engagements and help to contradict the cultural illusions that form the
basis of American militarism. (That war is technical, distant, clinical, predictable, outsourced,
humane, and everything contrary to what writers like Remarque tell us.) He meticulously synthesizes
a new paradigm that relates the difficult subjects of military policy and popular sanction. In
this regard, The New American Militarism is an exciting contribution to historical scholarship.
The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs, February
Andrew J. Bacevichs', The New American Militarism, gives the reader an important glimpse of
his background when he wrote that, as a Vietnam veteran, the experience baffled him and he wrote
this book in an effort to "sift through the wreckage left by the war." After the Vietnam War,
the author stayed in the military because he believed being an American soldier was a "true and
honorable" calling. Bacevich states he is a devoted Catholic and a conservative who became disillusioned
with mainstream conservatism. He also states that he believes the current political system is
corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with genuine democracy.
Bacevich states that he tried to write this book using facts in an unbiased way. However, he cautions
the reader that his experiences have shaped his views and that his views are part of this book.
This is a way to tell the reader that although he tried to remain unbiased, his background and
biases find voice in this book. I believe the authors warning are valid; he draws heavily upon
his background and biases to support his thesis.
The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous
conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions" that have become part of the American
conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy. According to Bacevich, American militarism
has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military effectiveness
that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing
issues that have contributed to this state of affairs.
Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson
administration. Wilson's vision was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed
the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the US as a `divine agent' to make
the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces
in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if
Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due,
in part, to the officer corps of the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession
of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do this by reversing the roles of
the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish
the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The
Weinberger and Powell doctrines were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions
for the use of the US military in combat.
Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument
for good and the time was right to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea
of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.
Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a
Christian nation singled out by God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed
the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also a cultural and moral crisis threatening
our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US from internal
collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military
would become the role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.
Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals
whose main contribution was to bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich,
they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative war' and reinforced American militarism.
Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of
American militarism by wrapping militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using
labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using a political sleight-of-hand
trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with
a list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.
Bacevich seems to create a mosaic of conspiracy perpetrated by sinister actors aimed at deceiving
an unsuspecting public as to the true nature of American militarism. Until the last chapter where
Bacevich tells the reader that there is no conspiracy, it is very easy to believe there might
be one lurking in the shadows. I was shocked when I reached Bacevich's recommendations. The contrast
between his recommendations and the rest of the book is astounding. I was expecting highly provocative
recommendations that would match the tone of the rest of the book. However, his recommendations
were solid and well thought out...delivered in the calm manner one would expect from a political
scientist. Nevertheless, in the end, Bacevich's message leading up to his recommendations were
hard to swallow. I believe he wrote this book not to enlighten but to be provocative in order
to sell books and build his status in academic circles. If Bacevich's aim was to build a convincing
argument on a serious subject, he needed to be less provocative and more clinical.
What is militarism? What is it, particularly as applied to today's America? West Point educated
Andrew Bacevich opens his book with a concise statement: "Today as never before in their history
Amercans are enthralled with military power. The global military supremacy that the United States
presently enjoys . . . has become central to our national identity." This is the basic premise
of The New American Militarism. Anyone who does not accept the accuracy of this statement, or
is unconcerned about its implications should probably not read this book--it will only annoy them.
For those, however, who are concerned about how militarism is increasingly seeping into our core
values and sense of national destiny, or who are disturbed by the current glaring disconnect between
what our soldiers endure "over there", and the lack of any sacrifice or inconvenience for the
rest of us "over here", this book is a must-read.
Refreshingly, Bacevich approaches the new American militarism as neither a Democrat nor Republican,
from neither the left nor the right. No doubt, those with a stake in defending the policy of the
present Administration no matter how foolish, or in castigating it as the main source of our current
militarism, will see "bias" in this book. The truth though is that Bacevich makes a genuine effort
to approach his subject in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. He has earned the right
to say, near the end of his book, that "this account has not sought to assign or impute blame."
As a result, he is not stymied by the possibility of embarrassing one political side or the other
by his arguments or conclusions. This leads to a nuanced and highly independent and original treatment
of the subject.
In chronicling the rise of American militarism, Bacevich rightly starts with Wilson's vision
of American exceptionalism: an America leading the world beyond the slaughterhouse of European
battlefields to an international order of peaceful democratic states. But where President Wilson
wanted to create such a world for the express purpose of rendering war obsolete, Bacevich notes
that today's "Wilsonians" want to export American democracy through the use of force. He follows
this overview with an insider's thumbnail history of American military thinking from Vietnam to
the first Gulf war. He explains how the military in effect re-invented itself after Vietnam so
as to make it far more difficult "to send the Army off to fight while leaving the country behind."
Today's highly professionalized and elite force is largely the result of this thinking. In turn
this professional military presented to the country and its civilian leaders a re-invented model
of war: war waged with surgical precision and offering "the prospect of decision rather than pointing
ineluctably toward stalemate and quagmire." Gulf War I was the triumphant culmination of this
model. The unintended and ironic consequence, of course, was that war and the aggressive projection
of American military power throughout the world came to be viewed by some in our nation's leadership
as an increasingly attractive policy option.
The body of the book analyzes how the legitimate attempt to recover from the national trauma
of Vietnam led ultimately to a militarism increasingly reflected in crucial aspects of American
life. In religion he traces how a "crusade" theory of warfare has supplanted the more mainstream
"just war" theory. In popular culture he discusses the rise of a genre of pop fiction and movies
reflecting a glamorized and uncritical idealization of war (he examines "An Officer and A Gentleman",
"Rambo: First Blood Part II", and "Top Gun" as examples). In politics he identifies the neo-conservative
movement as bringing into the mainstream ideas that "a decade earlier might have seemed reckless
or preposterous"; for example the idea that the United States is "the most revolutionary force
on earth" with an "inescapable mission" to spread democracy -- by the sword if necessary. Bacevich
calls these ideas "inverted Trotskyism", and notes that the neo-conservative movement shares with
Mao the assumption that revolution springs "from the barrel of a gun".
Bacevich concludes his book with a pithy ten-point critique offered as a starting point for
"a change in consciousness, seeing war and America's relationship to war in a fundamentally different
way." Among his points are greater fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the Constituional
provisions regarding war and the military, and increased strategic self-sufficiency for America.
Perhaps the most important points of his critique are those about ending or at least reducing
the current disconnect between er how we might reduce
Careful observers will note the abolute claims that lie under the surface of these criticisms.
If you criticize anything about the United States, you're automatically anti-Bush. If you question
the wisdom of viewing the military as a first-option in handling international problems, you're
even worse: a liberal anti-Bush peacenick. History supposedly demonstrates that diplomacy never
works with any "tyrant" (whatever that is), while war allegedly always work. It's just one stark
claim after another, with never any gray area in the middle.
If you read the book, this "you're either with us or with the terrorists, either dream war
or hate President Bush" mentality should remind you of something. It very closely resembles the
description Bacevich gives of neoconservatism, which he says engenders a worldview that is constantly
in crisis mode. Things are always so dire for neocons, Bacevich explains, that only two feasible
options present themselves at any given time: doing what the neocons want (usually deploying military
force in pursuit of some lofty but unrealistic goal), or suffering irreversible and potentially
fatal setbacks to our national cause.
Is it really surprising that the reviews of this book from a neocon mindset are also the reviews
giving one star to a book that sytematically critiques and upends neoconservatism?
In actuality, as many have pointed out already, Bacevich is "anti-Bush" only insomuch as he
is anti-neoconservative. Bacevich openly states that he throws his full weight behind traditionally
conservative issues, like small government and lower taxes. Indeed, he is a devoutly religious
social conservative who himself severed twenty years in the Army officer corps. This is why his
exposee on America's new militarism has so much credibility.
Since he was in the military, he knows that sometimes the military is necessary to handle situations
that develop in the world. However he also understands that the military is often grossly unfit
to handle certain situations. This is the main theme of his book. At its core, the story is about
how, in response to Vietnam, military leaders worked frightfully hard to rebuild the military
and to limit the freedom of starry-eyed civilians to use the armed forces inappropriately.
Their most important objective was to ensure that no more Wilsonian misadventures (like Vietnam)
would happen. The officer corps did this by carving out a space of authority for the top brass,
from which they could have unprecedented input in policy decisions, and be able to guide strategy
and tactics once the military deployed into action. After ascending to a position of greater prominence,
they implemented the "Weinberger Doctrine," followed by the "Powell Doctrine," both specifically
tailored to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires. The Gulf War, claims Bacevich, saw the fruition of
fifteen years of hard work to accomplish these reforms. And they worked beautifully.
However, the end of the last decade saw the Neo-conservatives challenge the status quo. And
with the election of W. Bush, they were finally in a position where their ideas could again have
a disproportionate influence on foreign policy. What we now have in Iraq is another military quagmire,
where the solution must be political, but where military occupation renders political solutions
This story is about how the military profession emerged from the post-Vietnam wilderness, dazzled
the world during the first Gulf War, then once again lost its independent ability to craft related
policies with the arrival of Rummie and the neocons.
It's a fascinating story, and Bacevich relates it skillfully.
Andrew S. Rogers:
Baedecker on the road to perdition, December 5, 2005
I was sorry to see Andrew J. Bacevich dismiss Chalmers Johnson's 2004
of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact), because I think these two
books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed
-- look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism"
as heartily as I did "The Sorrows of Empire."
Bacevich's capsule summary of Johnson's work notwithstanding, both these books take the long
view of America's international military presence and are quick to grasp one key point. As Bacevich
notes on page 205, "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global
empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11. Further, it is
counterproductive to think in these terms -- to assign culpability to a particular president or
administration and to imagine that throwing the bums out will put things right."
In several insightful chapters, Bacevich traces the rise of militarism over the course of several
administrations and many decades. A former Army officer himself, the author is particularly insightful
in charting the efforts of the military's officer corps to recover from the stigma of Vietnam
and reshape the *ethos* of the armed services as an elite intentionally separate from, and morally
superior to, the society it exists to defend. But the officers are only one of the strands Bacevich
weaves together. He also looks at the influence of the "defense intellectuals;" the importance
of evangelical Christians and how their view of Biblical prophecy shapes their understanding of
politics; the rise of (yes) the neo-conservatives; and even the role of Hollywood in changing
America's understandings of the "lessons of Vietnam" and the re-glamorization of the military
in films like "Top Gun."
The author is a sharp-eyed analyst, but also an engaging writer, and he gives the reader a
lot to think about. I was intrigued, for example, by his discussion of how "supporting the troops"
has become the *sine qua non* of modern politics and how doing so has replaced actual military
service as an indicator of one's love of country. More fundamentally, his identification and analysis
of "World War III" (already over) and "World War IV" (currently underway, and declared [surprisingly]
by Jimmy Carter) struck me as a remarkably useful lens for interpreting current events.
In tying his threads together, Bacevich is not afraid to make arguments and draw conclusions
that may make the reader uncomfortable. As the passage I quoted above makes clear, for example,
someone looking for a straightforward declaration that "It's all Bush's fault!" will have to go
someplace else. As a further implication of the above passage, Bacevich argues that the "defense
intellectuals," the evangelicals, and even the neocons were and are doing what they believe are
most likely to promote peace, freedom, and the security of the American people. "To the extent
that we may find fault with the results of their efforts, that fault is more appropriately attributable
to human fallibility than to malicious intent" (p. 207). Additionally, Bacevich is unashamed of
his military service, holds up several military leaders as heroes, has some choice words for the
self-delusions of leftist "peace activists," and even argues that federal education loans should
be made conditional on military service.
This doesn't mean the president and his fellow conservatives get off much easier, though. Bacevich
is roundly critical of Bush and his administration, including Colin Powell; dismisses the Iraq
invasion ("this preposterous enterprise" [p. 202]); and in a move that will probably get him crossed
off the Thayer Award nominations list, suggests officer candidates be required to graduate from
civilian universities instead of West Point (his alma mater) or Annapolis -- intellectually-isolated
institutions that reinforce the officer caste's separation from civil society.
So this book isn't one that will blindly reinforce anyone's prejudices. In part for that reason
-- but mostly for its trenchant analysis, readable prose, and broad historical view -- I'm happy
to list "The New American Militarism" as one of the best and most important books I've read in
some time. Perhaps even since "The Sorrows of Empire."
Militarism and Public Opinion, August 12, 2005
According to many of the custodians of public opinion, Andrew Bacevich has earned his right
to a fair hearing. Not only is he a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative
Catholic, he is a professor of international relations and a contributor to "The Weekly Standard"
and "The National Review." Obviously, if he were a left-leaning anti-war Democrat and a contributor
to, say, "The Nation," he wouldn't be taken seriously as a critic of American militarism - he
would be merely another "blame-America-first" defeatist.
Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America
has always gauged the size of its military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the
Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats receded. Not so after the
fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater
- by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling
the globe and the American public seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing
The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea,
land, air, space or cyberspace." In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has
given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign policy tool. From 1989 (Operation
Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations and
a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military
strength (the proverbial unipolar moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the
idea of using military force to solve international problems. In earlier times, war was always
an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.
War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also
Vietnam and Korea the battlefield was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the
advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as moments of national unity to carry
out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.
The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled
professional who is undertaking socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military
personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards than the nation they serve.
In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military,
but now even Democrats have thrown off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running
for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was actually arguing that Bush
had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal
Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of
the oppressed and that we should be assisting them in establishing more representative government.
But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their
self-interest. That's probably why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will.
This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion in the America on the use of military
force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from this
conservative ex-soldier. \
The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European
peers, the American public never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now.
This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that tells a forty-year tale of creeping
over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich
refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator.
Actually the trend has been in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival
of military glory, contrived though it was.
Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru
Norman Podhoretz and other elites got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical
passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of enthusiastic neo-cons charted
a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All
in all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing
up the Will of the People, except for maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears
none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious means and noble end, nor
do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets,
eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's
a practical problem here the crew is very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions
of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep John Q. Public supportive, especially
with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on the beat
and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition
of minding-one's-own-business and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for
themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.
Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real
Department of Defense, a revived Department of State, and a much more modest role in international
affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few genuine conservatives around, (a
breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book, especially
the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up
and conquest. But then that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number
of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily. At day's end, however, someone needs to
inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature. With all
its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the
past indicate that, despite the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected
and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing
Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional
military officer. Professor Bacevich argues that the US new militarism which emerged after the
dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions by a number of different groups including
our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent
Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see
New American Militarism).
Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz,
in the current
Harper's. You have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be
to any publication whose work you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in
the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they included:
Dick Cheney, who was becoming a comic-book churl by this stage of his public life;
Colin Powell, the loyal soldier, staffer, and diplomat whose "Powell Doctrine" and
entire life's work stood in opposition to the kind of war that he, with misguided loyalty, was
to play so central a role in selling;
Tony Blair, the crucial ally who added rhetorical polish and international resolve
to the case for war;
Donald Rumsfeld, with his breezy contempt for those who said the effort would be difficult
Paul Bremer, whose sudden, thoughtless dismantling of the Iraqi army proved so disastrous;
Condoleezza Rice, miscast in her role as White House national-security advisor;
George Tenet, the long-time staffer who cooperated with the "slam-dunk!" intelligence
assessment despite serious disagreement within the CIA;
and of course George W. Bush himself, whose combination of limited knowledge and strong
desire to be "decisive" made him so vulnerable to the argument that the "real" response to the
9/11 attacks should be invading a country that had nothing to do with them.
But Paul Wolfowitz was in a category of his own because he was the one who provided the
highest-concept rationale for the war. As James Galbraith of the University of Texas has put it,
"Wolfowitz is the real-life version of Halberstam's caricature of McNamara" [in The Best and the
Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty
that Wolfowitz thought the U.S. would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did
a much more limited version of this assessment
as an Atlantic article. As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from
his one-time mentor, Albert
Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United States could maximize stability for itself and
As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified
version of his world-view. You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief
sample (within fair-use limits):
With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others
saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to
seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....
Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military
action against Iraq. Critics have chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The
criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.
In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's
Precepts, and Iraq offered a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate
the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading Iraq stemmed from the need to validate
that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.
Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge
that he says Wolfowitz should now meet:
One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint
yield results that differed so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen
the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly the strongest military in history
produce a cataclysm?
Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination
of honesty, courage, and wit to answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample
the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...
What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is
that he wouldn't flinch from taking on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict
his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure, whatever you might choose to
say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted
that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so
that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there.
Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But
you don't have to know that to respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at
some point rise to it.
For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see
John Judis's piece in The New Republic.
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 )
"... Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her ..."
"... Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn. ..."
"... The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you should all agree with Gabbard here. ..."
Tulsi Gabbard has recently launched a new attack on New World Order agents and ethnic
cleansers in the Middle East, and one can see why they would be upset with her. She said:
" We must stand up
against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up
new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and
hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy, our security, and destroying our
It is too early to formulate a complete opinion on Gabbard, but she has said the right thing
so far. In fact, her record is better than numerous presidents, both past and present.
As we have documented in the past, Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran, and she knew what
happened to her fellow soldiers who died for Israel, the Neocon war machine, and the military
industrial complex. She also seems to be aware that the war in Iraq alone will cost American
taxpayers at least six trillion dollars.
 She is almost certainly aware of the fact that at least "360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan
veterans may have suffered brain injuries."
Gabbard is smart enough to realize that the Neocon path leads to death, chaos, and
destruction. She knows that virtually nothing good has come out of the Israeli narrative in the
Middle East -- a narrative which has brought America on the brink of collapse in the Middle
East. Therefore, she is asking for a U-turn.
The first step for change, she says, is to "stand up against powerful politicians from both
parties" who take their orders from the Neocons and war machine. These people don't care about
you, me, the average American, the people in the Middle East, or the American economy for that
matter. They only care about fulfilling a diabolical ideology in the Middle East and much of
the world. These people ought to stop once and for all. Regardless of your political views, you
should all agree with Gabbard here.
 Ernesto Londono, "Study: Iraq, Afghan war costs to top $4 trillion," Washington
Post , March 28, 2013; Bob Dreyfuss, The $6 Trillion Wars," The Nation , March 29,
2013; "Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Trillion, Could Grow to $6 Trillion, Says Watson
Institute Study," Huffington Post , May 14, 2013; Mark Thompson, "The $5 Trillion War
on Terror," Time , June 29, 2011; "Iraq war cost: $6 trillion. What else could have
been done?," LA Times , March 18, 2013.
 "360,000 veterans may have brain injuries," USA Today , March 5, 2009.
"We must stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage, new
places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy,
our security, and destroying our middle class."
That why war is called racket, And that's why dominance of military-industrial complex turns
any country in neo-fascist state. Still people can fight this cancer, even if changes are not
"... It is easy for them to make the recommendation to head into to war for two very simple reasons. The first is that it will not require any personal sacrifice. The other reason is that it will not require any sacrifice of those closest to them. ..."
It is easy for them to make the recommendation to head into to war for two very simple
reasons. The first is that it will not require any personal sacrifice. The other reason is
that it will not require any sacrifice of those closest to them.
And I say this as a Veteran that also thought Iraq was a good idea back in 2001. The
difference is that I then went there to serve. As a result I have learned hard fought
lessons. Tucker is spot on. Maybe the follow up article can be a piece that discusses why we
need more "combat" Veterans up in the beltway. And it is good that more veterans are now
serving in Congress but not all are combat veterans.
The USA state of continuous war has been a bipartisan phenomenon starting with Truman in Korea and proceeding with Vietnam,
Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and now Syria. It doesn't take a genius to realize that these limited, never ending
wars are expensive was to enrich MIC and Wall Street banksters
"... Yes the neocons have a poor track record but they've succeeded at turning our republic into an empire. The mainstream media and elites of practically all western nations are unanimously pro-war. Neither political party has defined a comprehensive platform to rebuild our republic. ..."
The one thing your accurate analysis leaves out is that the goal of US wars is never what the media spouts for its Wall Street
masters. The goal of any war is the redistribution of taxpayer money into the bank accounts of MIC shareholders and executives,
create more enemies to be fought in future wars, and to provide a rationalization for the continued primacy of the military class
in US politics and culture.
Occasionally a country may be sitting on a bunch of oil, and also be threatening to move away from the petrodollar or talking
about allowing an "adversary" to build a pipeline across their land.
Otherwise war is a racket unto itself. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable,
and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. "
― George Orwell
Also we've always been at war with Oceania .or whatever that quote said.
Yes the neocons have a poor track record but they've succeeded at turning our republic into
an empire. The mainstream media and elites of practically all western nations are unanimously
pro-war. Neither political party has defined a comprehensive platform to rebuild our
Even you, Tucker Carlson, mock the efforts of Ilhan Omar for criticizing AIPAC and
I don't personally care for many of her opinions but that's not what matters:
if we elect another neocon government we won't last another generation. Like the lady asked
Ben Franklin "What kind of government have you bequeathed us?", and Franklin answered "A
republic, madam, if you can keep it."
@Wally Yea, John
McCain was a truly historic person. So far, he was the only person in history who managed to
totally disable an American aircraft carrier. Of course, he was not found guilty of anything:
after all, having Admirals for your dad and granddad counts for something in squeaky-clean
"... So how did Trump finally get the liberal corporate media to stop calling him a fascist? He did that by acting like a fascist (i.e., like a "normal" president). Which is to say he did the bidding of the deep state goons and corporate mandarins that manage the global capitalist empire the smiley, happy, democracy-spreading, post-fascist version of fascism we live under. ..."
"... Notwithstanding what the corporate media will tell you, Americans elected Donald Trump, a preposterous, self-aggrandizing ass clown, not because they were latent Nazis, or because they were brainwashed by Russian hackers, but, primarily, because they wanted to believe that he sincerely cared about America, and was going to try to "make it great again" (whatever that was supposed to mean, exactly). ..."
"... Unfortunately, there is no America. There is nothing to make great again. "America" is a fiction, a fantasy, a nostalgia that hucksters like Donald Trump (and other, marginally less buffoonish hucksters) use to sell whatever they are selling themselves, wars, cars, whatever. What there is, in reality, instead of America, is a supranational global capitalist empire, a decentralized, interdependent network of global corporations, financial institutions, national governments, intelligence agencies, supranational governmental entities, military forces, media, and so on. If that sounds far-fetched or conspiratorial, look at what is going on in Venezuela. ..."
"... And Venezuela is just the most recent blatant example of the empire in action. ..."
Maybe Donald Trump isn't as stupid as I thought. I'd hate to have to admit that publicly,
but it does kind of seem like he has put one over on the liberal corporate media this time.
Scanning the recent Trump-related news, I couldn't help but notice a significant decline in the
number of references to Weimar, Germany, Adolf Hitler, and "
the brink of fascism " that America has supposedly been teetering on since Hillary Clinton
lost the election.
I googled around pretty well, I think, but I couldn't find a single
editorial warning that Trump is about to summarily cancel the U.S. Constitution, dissolve
proclaim himself Führer . Nor did I see any mention of Auschwitz , or any other Nazi
stuff which is weird, considering that the Hitler hysteria
has been a standard feature of the official narrative we've been subjected to for the last two
So how did Trump finally get the liberal corporate media to stop calling him a fascist? He
did that by acting like a fascist (i.e., like a "normal" president). Which is to say he did the
bidding of the deep state goons and corporate mandarins that manage the global capitalist
empire the smiley, happy, democracy-spreading, post-fascist version of fascism we live
I'm referring, of course, to Venezuela, which is one of a handful of uncooperative countries
that are not playing ball with global capitalism and which haven't been "regime changed" yet.
Trump green-lit the attempted coup purportedly being staged by the Venezuelan "opposition," but
which is obviously a U.S. operation, or, rather, a global capitalist operation. As soon as he
did, the corporate media immediately suspended calling him a fascist, and comparing him to
Adolf Hitler, and so on, and started spewing out blatant propaganda supporting his effort to
overthrow the elected government of a sovereign country.
Overthrowing the governments of sovereign countries, destroying their economies, stealing
their gold, and otherwise bringing them into the fold of the global capitalist "international
community" is not exactly what most folks thought Trump meant by "Make America Great Again."
Many Americans have never been to Venezuela, or Syria, or anywhere else the global capitalist
empire has been ruthlessly restructuring since shortly after the end of the Cold War. They have
not been lying awake at night worrying about Venezuelan democracy, or Syrian democracy, or
This is not because Americans are a heartless people, or an ignorant or a selfish people. It
is because, well, it is because they are Americans (or, rather, because they believe they are
Americans), and thus are more interested in the problems of Americans than in the problems of
people in faraway lands that have nothing whatsoever to do with America. Notwithstanding what
the corporate media will tell you, Americans elected Donald Trump, a preposterous,
self-aggrandizing ass clown, not because they were latent Nazis, or because they were
brainwashed by Russian hackers, but, primarily, because they wanted to believe that he
sincerely cared about America, and was going to try to "make it great again" (whatever that was
supposed to mean, exactly).
Unfortunately, there is no America. There is nothing to make great again. "America" is a
fiction, a fantasy, a nostalgia that hucksters like Donald Trump (and other, marginally less
buffoonish hucksters) use to sell whatever they are selling themselves, wars, cars, whatever.
What there is, in reality, instead of America, is a supranational global capitalist empire, a
decentralized, interdependent network of global corporations, financial institutions, national
governments, intelligence agencies, supranational governmental entities, military forces,
media, and so on. If that sounds far-fetched or conspiratorial, look at what is going on in
The entire global capitalist empire is working in concert to force the elected president of
the country out of office. The US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Denmark,
Poland, the Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina have officially recognized
Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, in spite of the fact that no one elected
him. Only the empire's official evil enemies (i.e., Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and other
uncooperative countries) are objecting to this "democratic" coup. The global financial system
(i.e., banks) has frozen (i.e., stolen) Venezuela's assets, and is attempting to transfer them
to Guaido so he can buy the Venezuelan military. The corporate media are hammering out the
official narrative like a Goebbelsian piano in an effort to convince the general public that
all this has something to do with democracy. You would have to be a total moron or hopelessly
brainwashed not to recognize what is happening.
What is happening has nothing to do with America the "America" that Americans believe they
live in and that many of them want to "make great again." What is happening is exactly what has
been happening around the world since the end of the Cold War, albeit most dramatically in the
Middle East. The de facto global capitalist empire is restructuring the planet with virtual
impunity. It is methodically eliminating any and all impediments to the hegemony of global
capitalism, and the privatization and commodification of everything.
Venezuela is one of these impediments. Overthrowing its government has nothing to do with
America, or the lives of actual Americans. "America" is not to going conquer Venezuela and
plant an American flag on its soil. "America" is not going to steal its oil, ship it "home,"
and parcel it out to "Americans" in their pickups in the parking lot of Walmart.
What what about those American oil corporations? They want that Venezuelan oil, don't they?
Well, sure they do, but here's the thing there are no "American" oil corporations.
Corporations, especially multi-billion dollar transnational corporations (e.g., Chevron,
ExxonMobil, et al.) have no nationalities, nor any real allegiances, other than to their major
shareholders. Chevron, for example, whose major shareholders are asset management and mutual
fund companies like Black Rock, The Vanguard Group, SSgA Funds Management, Geode Capital
Management, Wellington Management, and other transnational, multi-trillion dollar outfits. Do
you really believe that being nominally headquartered in Boston or New York makes these
companies "American," or that Deutsche Bank is a "German" bank, or that BP is a "British"
And Venezuela is just the most recent blatant example of the empire in action. Ask yourself,
honestly, what have the "American" regime change ops throughout the Greater Middle East done
for any actual Americans, other than get a lot of them killed? Oh, and how about those bailouts
for all those transnational "American" investment banks? Or the billions "America" provides to
Israel? Someone please explain how enriching the shareholders of transnational corporations
like Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin by selling billions in weapons to Saudi Arabian
Islamists is benefiting "the American people." How much of that Saudi money are you seeing?
And, wait, I've got another one for you. Call up your friendly 401K manager, ask how your
Pfizer shares are doing, then compare that to what you're paying some "American" insurance
corporation to not really cover you.
For the last two-hundred years or so, we have been conditioned to think of ourselves as the
citizens of a collection of sovereign nation states, as "Americans," "Germans," "Greeks," and
so on. There are no more sovereign nation states. Global capitalism has done away with them.
Which is why we are experiencing a "neo-nationalist" backlash. Trump, Brexit, the so-called
"new populism" these are the death throes of national sovereignty, like the thrashing of a
suffocating fish before you whack it and drop it in the cooler. The battle is over, but the
fish doesn't know that. It didn't even realize there was a battle until it suddenly got jerked
up out of the water.
In any event, here we are, at the advent of the global capitalist empire. We are not going
back to the 19th Century, nor even to the early 20th Century. Neither Donald Trump nor anyone
else is going to "Make America Great Again." Global capitalism will continue to remake the
world into one gigantic marketplace where we work ourselves to death at bullshit
jobs in order to buy things we don't need, accumulating debts we can never pay back, the
interest on which will further enrich the global capitalist ruling classes, who, as you may
have noticed, are preparing for the future by purchasing luxury
underground bunkers and post-apocalyptic compounds in New Zealand. That, and militarizing
the police, who they will need to maintain "public order" you know, like they are doing in
France at the moment, by
beating, blinding, and hideously maiming those Gilets Jaunes (i.e., Yellow Vest) protesters
that the corporate media are doing their best to demonize and/or render invisible.
Or, who knows, Americans (and other Western consumers) might take a page from those Yellow
Vests, set aside their political differences (or at least ignore their hatred of each other
long enough to actually try to achieve something), and focus their anger at the politicians and
corporations that actually run the empire, as opposed to, you know, illegal immigrants and
imaginary legions of Nazis and Russians. In the immortal words of General Buck Turgidson, "I'm
not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed," but, heck, it might be worth a try, especially
since, the way things are going, we are probably going end up out there anyway.
C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist
based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play
Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23 , is
published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant Paperbacks. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org .
"... However, he was one of the few politicians initially supporting the Iraq invasion to later express profound public regret over his decision , and went on to become a consistent advocate for ending regime change wars and Washington's military adventurism abroad. As part of these efforts, he was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute. ..."
Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. died at the age of 76 on Sunday after an extended illness for which was a granted a leave of absence from
Congress last year.
The Republican representative for North Carolina's 3rd congressional district since 1995 had initially been a strong supporter
of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even became well-known for getting french fries renamed as "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria
as a protest against French condemnation of the US invasion.
... ... ...
However, he was one of the few politicians initially supporting the Iraq invasion to later express profound public regret
over his decision , and went on to become a consistent advocate for ending regime change wars and Washington's military adventurism
abroad. As part of these efforts, he was an original Board Member of the Ron Paul Institute.
Remembering Jones as a tireless advocate of peace, Ron Paul
notes that he " turned
from pro-war to an antiwar firebrand after he discovered how Administrations lie us into war . His passing yesterday is deeply mourned
by all who value peace and honesty over war and deception." The Ron Paul Institute has also called him "a Hero of Peace" for both
his voting record and efforts at shutting down the "endless wars".
By 2005, Jones had reversed his position on the Iraq War. Jones called on President George W. Bush to apologize for misinforming
Congress to win authorization for the war. Jones said, "If I had known then what I know today, I wouldn't have voted for
Jones went on to become one of the most antiwar members of Congress, fighting for ending US involvement in Afghanistan,
Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Also the BBC describes Rep. Jones' "dramatic change of heart" concerning the Iraq war starting in 2005, after which he began reaching
out to thousands of people who had lost loves ones in combat.
Rep. Walter Jones led an effort in the House to call French Fries "Freedom Fries" instead, but came to profoundly regret his role
in supporting Bush's war.
Noting that "no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq" and that the war was justified by the Bush administration based
entirely on lies and false intelligence, the BBC describes:
At the same time, Mr Jones met grieving families whose loved ones were killed in the war. This caused him to have a dramatic
change of heart, and in 2005 he called for the troops to be brought home.
He spoke candidly on several occasions about how deeply he regretted supporting the war, which led to the deaths of more than
140,000 Iraqi and American people.
"I have signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who've lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,"
he told NPR in 2017. "That was, for me, asking God to forgive me for my mistake."
In total he represented his district for 34 years, first in the North Carolina state legislature, then in Congress. He took a
leave of absence last year after a number of missed House votes due to declining health.
"... The 1940s are the point where the permanent military industrial complex that we know of today starts to take hold. Slightly later it got the name by which we call it today thanks to a speech by President Eisenhower at the very tail end of his presidency in 1961. Sadly Mr. Eisenhower did nothing to stop the growth of the war-machine only choosing to warn us about it with nearly no time left in office. One would have expected bold action from a man known for his bravery and cunning ..."
"... Washington chose to go with "Global Hegemon" America and has not looked back. But at this point massive military spending still required some sort of reason to spend hundreds of billions per year. Iraq and Afghanistan were enough justification to keep millions of men in uniforms on bases all over the world mostly doing pushups and cleaning the toilets in a "global war on terror". ..."
"... Since war is no longer necessary to justify the MIC the US is much more free to not engage in warfare. In fact war is completely unnecessary. At some point advertisements for automobiles had to stop mentioning their superiority to horses. We are at the same point with the MIC. Politicians and the mainstream media do not need to search for/create enemies because they are no longer needed. The US military is to be forever massive and expensive and profitable and it may even become very peaceful because of this. Why work when you can make billions doing virtually nothing? ..."
The US Military
Industrial Complex no longer needs neither actual wars nor the threat of war for its own survival.
This factor could actually change dynamic of this institution/bureaucracy in our lifetimes and it
may actually be changing as we speak.
Very often something will evolve and become ubiquitous to the degree that we forget its
Putting a dead tree in your house on Christmas is a good example, few people think
of why this is done, they just do it because it has been done for a long time and thus seems
completely natural and important to do so every year. A justification for doing it is no longer
needed, it is something done by default. In some ways the necessity to start questionable wars of
luxury is much like that Christmas tree – an odd tradition that is not of an importance or value
In order to break this down we need to go back to the start.
It is hard for people in our times, especially foreign people to understand the fact
that the United States was not a massive military power until WWII.
Today sole hyperpower
was at a time not that long ago a much different nation militarily and foreign policy speaking. In
1914 at the start of the Great War in Europe the territorially massive United States had a total
armed forces of
From 1776 until that point the manpower of US forces was minimal by
. That America of those times was an isolated self-focused America that
many today long for. When the US entered WWI shedding the binds of its isolationist tendencies it
bulked up to nearly 3,000,000 soldiers by the end of 1918. However, directly after the Great War
finally ended the military severely deflated itself back down much closer to its original size.
"The Good War" in the 1940's was the final nail in the isolationist coffin
American forces would forever remain in the millions of men after the defeat of Germany and Japan
by the Allies.
The 1940s are the point where the permanent military industrial complex that we know of
today starts to take hold.
Slightly later it got the name by which we call it today thanks
to a speech by President Eisenhower at the very tail end of his presidency in 1961. Sadly Mr.
Eisenhower did nothing to stop the growth of the war-machine only choosing to warn us about it with
nearly no time left in office. One would have expected bold action from a man known for his bravery
The ideological justification for retaining a massive US military in peacetime was
A global Communist threat seemed like something grand enough to be worth
throwing away a large portion of America's traditional (and very successful) identity.
As time went on wars of questionable origins in Korea and Vietnam continued to provide proof of
the need for massive military spending and continued expansion.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90's American forces could have (in theory)
reduced in size as there was no longer any real geopolitical competitor to the US.
a "turning point" moment when America could possibly have gone back to being the America that was
and scaled down to a few hundred thousand men under the umbrella of a few thousand nuclear warheads
and enough billions of dollars to make sure that the US would never "fall behind" from a weapons
But this was not to be.
Washington chose to go with "Global Hegemon"
America and has not looked back. But at this point massive military spending still required some
sort of reason to spend hundreds of billions per year. Iraq and Afghanistan were enough
justification to keep millions of men in uniforms on bases all over the world mostly doing pushups
and cleaning the toilets in a "global war on terror".
Now there is a new "Russian threat" that is hard for politicians to define or prove
exists but is just juicy enough for them it is still call for increasing defense spending or build
system X in European country Y that they can't find on a map.
As we can see since WWII, the US military has gone from dealing with direct threats
(Germany, Japan) to direct threats via proxy (The Soviet Union in Korea/Vietnam) to overinflated
threats (Iraq, Afghanistan) to fake threats (today's Russia).
I would argue and even offer
that at this point there is no political means nor will to ever go "back" to the isolated America.
That America as a concept is dead and both the politicians and the public understand and support
the US having a massive military. No threat is needed any more as having a massive military is no
longer even a question. It is a default position like seeing the world as round – only a tiny
handful of lunatics of zero influence could argue otherwise and debating with them is pointless.
Furthermore as we have seen any politician who goes against the military industrial
complex (MIC) is deemed a traitor and "against the troops".
This current state of things is actually very good from the standpoint of peace and America's
Since war is no longer necessary to justify the MIC the US is much more free to
not engage in warfare. In fact war is completely unnecessary.
At some point advertisements
for automobiles had to stop mentioning their superiority to horses. We are at the same point with
the MIC. Politicians and the mainstream media do not need to search for/create enemies because they
are no longer needed. The US military is to be forever massive and expensive and profitable and it
may even become very peaceful because of this.
Why work when you can make billions
doing virtually nothing?
"... Now the Times acknowledges: "The price tag, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased spending on veterans' care, will reach $5.9 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2019, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Since nearly all of that money has been borrowed, the total cost with interest will be substantially higher More than 2.7 million Americans have fought in the war since 2001. Nearly 7,000 service members-and nearly 8,000 private contractors-have been killed. More than 53,700 people returned home bearing physical wounds, and numberless more carry psychological injuries. More than one million Americans who served in a theater of the war on terror receive some level of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs." ..."
"... Kagan has a great deal invested in the Afghanistan war. He and his wife Kimberly served as civilian advisers to top generals who directed the war and elaborated the failed strategies of counterinsurgency (COIN). He has been a vociferous supporter of every US war and every escalation, arguing most recently for the US military to confront Russian- and Iranian-backed forces in Syria. ..."
"... A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women ..."
"... Aside from costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, the US war has left women, like the entire population, under worse conditions than when it began. Two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, and 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16. ..."
"... The attempt by the likes of Smeal and leading elements within the Democratic Party to cloak the bloodbath in Afghanistan as a crusade to "liberate" women and promote "democracy" is itself a criminal act. ..."
"... Afghanistan is a shitshow due to elite meddling. This editorial was nothing more than virtue-signaling to those that still hate war. But the anti-war movement is effectively dead anyway. There are anti-war people, but no anti-war movement. That's the crowd that the New York Times was appealing to. This is a stunt; nothing more. ..."
"... It was USA imperialism (under Carter and Brzezinski) which first had made Afghanistan a hell for women, but colonial feminists do not care for the facts. ..."
"... That is very true. "Death by a thousand cuts" was Brzezinski's scheme to destroy the Soviet Union in Central Asia. A few years ago, he was interviewed by a journalist from PRC who asked if he had any regrets with all the destruction and death it caused. Brzezinski said, "None". ..."
An editorial published by the New York Times on February 4 titled "End the War in Afghanistan" has provoked a backlash from prominent
supporters of the decades-long US "war on terrorism" and the fraud of "humanitarian intervention."
The Times editorial was a damning
self-indictment by the US political establishment's newspaper of record, which has supported every US act of military aggression,
from the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the US wars for regime change in Libya
and Syria beginning in 2011.
The editorial presents the "war on terror" as an unmitigated fiasco, dating it from September 14, 2001, when "Congress wrote what
would prove to be one of the largest blank checks in the country's history," i.e., the Authorization for Use of Military Force against
Al Qaeda and its affiliates, which is still invoked to legitimize US interventions from Syria to Somalia, Yemen and, of course, Afghanistan.
On the day that this "blank check" was written, the Times published a column titled "No Middle Ground," which stated "the Bush
administration today gave the nations of the world a stark choice: stand with us against terrorism, deny safe havens to terrorists
or face the certain prospect of death and destruction. The marble halls of Washington resounded with talk of war."
It continued, "The nation is rallying around its young, largely untried leader-as his rising approval ratings and the proliferation
of flags across the country vividly demonstrate "
This war propaganda was sustained by the Times, which sold the invasion of Afghanistan as retribution for 9/11 and then promoted
the illegal and unprovoked war against Iraq by legitimizing and embellishing the lies about "weapons of mass destruction."
With the first deployment of US ground troops in Afghanistan, the Times editorialized on October 20, 2001: "Now the nation's soldiers
are going into battle in a distant and treacherous land, facing a determined and resourceful enemy. As they go, they should know
that the nation supports their cause and yearns for their success."
Now the Times acknowledges: "The price tag, which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increased spending on veterans'
care, will reach $5.9 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2019, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Since nearly
all of that money has been borrowed, the total cost with interest will be substantially higher More than 2.7 million Americans have
fought in the war since 2001. Nearly 7,000 service members-and nearly 8,000 private contractors-have been killed. More than 53,700
people returned home bearing physical wounds, and numberless more carry psychological injuries. More than one million Americans who
served in a theater of the war on terror receive some level of disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs."
The massive loss of life, destruction of social infrastructure and vast human suffering inflicted by these wars on civilian populations
are at best an afterthought for the Times. Conservative estimates place the number killed by the US war in Afghanistan at 175,000.
With the number of indirect fatalities caused by the war, the toll likely rises to a million. In Iraq, the death toll was even higher.
What does the Times conclude from this bloody record? "The failure of American leaders-civilians and generals through three administrations,
from the Pentagon to the State Department to Congress and the White House-to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to
be studied for generations. Likewise, all Americans-the news media included-need to be prepared to examine the national credulity
or passivity that's led to the longest conflict in modern American history."
What a cowardly and cynical evasion! Three administrations, those of Bush, Obama and Trump, have committed war crimes over the
course of more than 17 years, including launching wars of aggression-the principal charge leveled against the Nazis at Nuremberg-the
slaughter of civilians and torture. These crimes should not be "studied for generations," but punished.
As for the attempt to lump the news media together with "all Americans" as being guilty of "credulity" and "passivity," this is
a slander against the American people and a deliberate cover-up of the crimes carried out by the corporate media, with the Times
at their head, in disseminating outright lies and war propaganda. The Times editors should be "prepared to examine" the fact that
journalistic agents of the Nazi regime who carried out a similar function in Germany were tried and punished at Nuremberg.
The Times editorial supporting a US withdrawal reflects the conclusions being drawn by increasing sections of the ruling establishment,
including the Trump administration, which has opened up negotiations with the Taliban. It is bound up with the shift in strategy
by US imperialism and the Pentagon toward the preparation for "great power" confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
The Times ' call for an Afghanistan withdrawal has provoked a heated rebuke by defenders of the "war on terrorism" and "humanitarian
intervention," who have denounced the newspaper for defeatism. Such a withdrawal, a letter published by the Times on February 8 argued,
would "accelerate and expand the war," "allow another extremist-terrorist phenomenon to emerge," and "result in the deaths and abuse
of thousands of women."
The signatories of the letter include Frederick Kagan, David Sedney and Eleanor Smeal.
Kagan has a great deal invested in the Afghanistan war. He and his wife Kimberly served as civilian advisers to top generals
who directed the war and elaborated the failed strategies of counterinsurgency (COIN). He has been a vociferous supporter of every
US war and every escalation, arguing most recently for the US military to confront Russian- and Iranian-backed forces in Syria.
Likewise Sedney, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, now working
at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Married to a top lobbyist for Chevron who worked extensively
in Central Asia, he has his own interests in the continuation of US military operations in the region.
Smeal is the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMD) and a former president of the National Organization for Women
(NOW), who is widely described as one of "the major leaders of the modern-day American feminist movement."
A leading figure in the Democratic Party, Smeal is no Jane-come-lately to the filthy campaign to promote the war in Afghanistan
as a "humanitarian" exercise in promoting the rights of women. In 2001, Smeal and her FMD circulated a petition thanking the Bush
administration for its commitment to promoting the rights of women in Afghanistan. After the bombing began on October 7, she declared,
"We have real momentum now in the drive to restore the rights of women." A few days later, she and representatives of other feminist
organizations showed up at the White House to solidarize themselves with the US war.
Urging on the conquest of Afghanistan, she wrote, "I should hope our government doesn't retreat. We'll help rip those burqas off,
I hope. This is a unique time in history. If you're going to end terrorism, you've got to end the ideology of gender apartheid."
Aside from costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women, the US war has left women, like the entire population,
under worse conditions than when it began. Two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate,
and 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16.
Recent reports suggest that the maternal death rate may be higher than it was before the war began, surpassed only by South Sudan.
While USAID has poured some $280 million into its Promote program, supposedly to advance the conditions of Afghan women, it has done
nothing but line the pockets of corrupt officials of the US-backed puppet regime in Kabul.
The attempt by the likes of Smeal and leading elements within the Democratic Party to cloak the bloodbath in Afghanistan as a
crusade to "liberate" women and promote "democracy" is itself a criminal act.
On October 9, two days after Washington launched its now 17-year-long war on Afghanistan and amid a furor of jingoistic and militarist
propaganda from the US government and the corporate media, the World Socialist Web Site editorial board posted a column titled "Why
we oppose the war in Afghanistan." It rejected the claim that this was a "war for justice and the security of the American people
against terrorism" and insisted that "the present action by the United States is an imperialist war" in which Washington aimed to
"establish a new political framework within which it will exert hegemonic control" over not only Afghanistan, but over the broader
region of Central Asia, "home to the second largest deposit of proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world."
The WSWS stated at the time: "Despite a relentless media campaign to whip up chauvinism and militarism, the mood of the American
people is not one of gung-ho support for the war. At most, it is a passive acceptance that war is the only means to fight terrorism,
a mood that owes a great deal to the efforts of a thoroughly dishonest media which serves as an arm of the state. Beneath the reluctant
endorsement of military action is a profound sense of unease and skepticism. Tens of millions sense that nothing good can come of
this latest eruption of American militarism.
"The United States stands at a turning point. The government admits it has embarked on a war of indefinite scale and duration.
What is taking place is the militarization of American society under conditions of a deepening social crisis.
"The war will profoundly affect the conditions of the American and international working class. Imperialism threatens mankind
at the beginning of the twenty-first century with a repetition on a more horrific scale of the tragedies of the twentieth. More than
ever, imperialism and its depredations raise the necessity for the international unity of the working class and the struggle for
These warnings and this perspective have been borne out entirely by the criminal and tragic events of the last 17 years, even
as the likes of the New York Times find themselves compelled to admit the bankruptcy of their entire record on Afghanistan, and their
erstwhile "liberal" allies struggle to salvage some shred of the filthy banner of "human rights imperialism."
"The failure of American leaders -- civilians and generals through three administrations, from the Pentagon to the State Department
to Congress and the White House -- to develop and pursue a strategy to end the war ought to be studied for generations. Likewise,
all Americans -- the news media included -- need to be prepared to examine the national credulity or passivity that's led to the
longest conflict in modern American history."
What the New York Times should propose is a Nuremberg-style trial for the war criminals responsible for the genocide of millions,
the devastation of of the Middle East and Africa, and the looting of the US Treasury by war profiteers and the political duopoly.
If these criminals are NOT held accountable for their actions NOTHING will be learned and the violence, death and destruction
"The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law, acted as Head of State or responsible
government official, does not relieve him from responsibility under international law."
Eleanor Smeal's comment about "ripping off those burqas" in Afghanistan reminds me of Louisiana congressman John Cooksey's post-9/11
suggestion that police should pull over and question anyone with ''a diaper on his head''. Both use religious intolerance to increase
the power of the state.
There are always elements that are gung ho for war. And I'll agree that the number was abnormally high for Afghanistan. But I
do think the majority still reluctantly agreed to the war as a necessary measure to fight "terrorism" as the more-than-likely-to-be-a-false-flag
9/11 event was very fresh in everyone's mind.
Afghanistan is a shitshow due to elite meddling. This editorial was nothing more than virtue-signaling to those that still
hate war. But the anti-war movement is effectively dead anyway. There are anti-war people, but no anti-war movement. That's the
crowd that the New York Times was appealing to. This is a stunt; nothing more.
What's more interesting is that the liberal elites will probably do their best to continue on with the war. But either way,
the USA will likely lose. In fact, it's already lost the war. The Taliban have won this one. That the elitists can't see that
shows just how far gone they are.
That is very true. "Death by a thousand cuts" was Brzezinski's scheme to destroy the Soviet Union in Central Asia. A few years
ago, he was interviewed by a journalist from PRC who asked if he had any regrets with all the destruction and death it caused.
Brzezinski said, "None".
"I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics
charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more than
a little merit." As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
"... Still, I find myself wondering: If a proposed troop drawdown in Afghanistan qualifies as a "mistake," as O'Hanlon contends, then what term best describes a war that has cost something like a trillion dollars, killed and maimed tens of thousands, and produced a protracted stalemate? ..."
"... And, if recent press reports prove true, with U.S. government officials accepting Taliban promises of good behavior as a basis for calling it quits, then this longest war in our history will not have provided much of a return on investment. Given the disparity between the U.S. aims announced back in 2001 and the results actually achieved, defeat might be an apt characterization. ..."
I don't wish to imply that political leaders and media outlets ignore our wars altogether.
That would be unfair. Yet in TrumpWorld, while the president's performance in office receives
intensive and persistent coverage day in, day out, the attention given to America's wars has
been sparse and perfunctory, when not positively bizarre.
As a case in point, consider the op-ed
that recently appeared in the New York Times (just as actual peace talks between the
U.S. and the Taliban seemed to be progressing
), making the case for prolonging the U.S. war in Afghanistan, while chiding President Trump
for considering a reduction in the number of U.S. troops currently stationed there. Any such
move, warned Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, would be a "mistake" of the first
The ongoing Afghan War dates from a time when some of today's recruits were still in
diapers. Yet O'Hanlon counsels patience: a bit more time and things just might work out. This
is more or less comparable to those who suggested back in the 1950s that African Americans
might show a bit more patience in their struggle for equality: Hey, what's the rush?
I don't pretend to know what persuaded the editors of the Times that O'Hanlon's
call to make America's longest war even longer qualifies as something readers of the nation's
most influential newspaper just now need to ponder. Yet I do know this: the dearth of critical
attention to the costs and
consequences of our various post-9/11 wars is nothing short of shameful, a charge to which
politicians and journalists alike should plead equally guilty.
I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics
charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more
than a little merit. Even more striking than Trump's critique is the fact that so few members
of the national security establishment are willing to examine it seriously. As a consequence,
the wars persist, devoid of purpose.
Still, I find myself wondering: If a proposed troop drawdown in Afghanistan qualifies as
a "mistake," as O'Hanlon contends, then what term best describes a war that has cost something
like a trillion dollars, killed and maimed tens of thousands, and produced a protracted
Disaster? Debacle? Catastrophe? Humiliation?
And, if recent press reports prove true, with U.S. government officials accepting
Taliban promises of good behavior as a basis for calling it quits, then this longest war in our
history will not have provided much of a return on investment. Given the disparity between the
U.S. aims announced back in 2001 and the results actually achieved, defeat might be an apt
Yet the fault is not Trump's. The fault belongs to those who have allowed their immersion in
the dank precincts of TrumpWorld to preclude serious reexamination of misguided and reckless
policies that predate the president by at least 15 years.
You have to compare Trump with the alternative. The D's /progs make war on free speech,
attack the presumption of innocence, want essentially uncontrolled mass immigration and
relentlessly push in the direction of war with Russia. Add their cynical Russiagate
hoax-witch hunt for further illustration
of the danger they present. As many have said, Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
"I take it as a given that President Trump is an incompetent nitwit, precisely as his critics
charge. Yet his oft-repeated characterization of those wars as profoundly misguided has more
than a little merit."
I'm with Bacevich on the insanity of Endless War, but I question why he has to denigrate
Trump in his lead in. The cynical side of me believes that Bacevich thinks he has to be a
Trump-hater if he is to be listened to.
Hey Andrew sir Democracy is messy. But DJT is on your team and the MSM/Liberal
progs/Neocons aren't. Worth reflecting on
@fnn "As many have said,
Trump is the symptom, not the disease"
Actually, Trump is the microbe not the virus. He's the opportunistic microbe that attaches
itself to a sick and diseased body-politic. As to symptoms, they are borne by society
at-large and now manifest themselves in the majority of Americans who one way or the other
are "Lost in TrumpWorld"
"If America Turns to Fascism, Populism Will Be at Its Heart."
Several months ago, I wrote a book review (see Internet Review of Books and my review of
"Fascism: Why Not Here?" by Brian E. Fogarty) about a political history that has made me think
ever since. (Title quote is taken from Fogarty's excellent book http://internetreviewofbooks.com/mar10/fascism.html
Lately, I keep seeing similar ideas popping up--mostly in response to the anti-intellectual,
folksy, populist appeal of people such as Sarah Palin and up-and-coming Tea Party types.
Aw, heck, who couldn't appreciate drinkin' a beer with a politician? That's what we want
from those guys n' gals. We don't want them to be smarter than us or anythin', right? You
Call me a snob (and I've been called a "snotty liberal elitist," lately, which I thought was
very funny, actually, and it made me laugh an elitist snort of triumph); I really don't
I demand more; I demand wisdom, good ideas, and a wide understanding of international
politics as well as history; I demand people who can speak without dropping their g's (because
that slangy, folksy gibberish just sounds, frankly, slow).
Working with profoundly gifted kids (as I like to do) is like attending the smartest
cocktail party you were ever invited to--sans cocktails. It's a tennis match of fascinating
ideas about absolutely everything; it makes me hopeful for the future, and it challenges and
amuses me at the same time.
I don't feel that way when I watch any of these populist politicians on the news. Rather, I
feel a sinking, ill feeling...could people really be that stupid? Apparently, yes, in some
cases, they are.
But I actually think there's a way out: it boils down to education and spreading the
Jon Meacham's editorial this week in NEWSWEEK (7/12/2010, "The Right Kind of American
Populism") speaks to exactly the same issues.
He explains how "...in the age of [Andrew] Jackson, American populism was about money;
later, in the age of George Wallace and Richard Nixon, it became more about culture...Given the
clinical economic and political facts of the hour, we should be living through a Jacksonian era
of hostility to the rich and the well connected. Those whom Jackson called "the humble members
of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers" ought to be generating substantial political
pressure to exact reparations from, and impose severe new regulations on, the plutocratic
few...And yet the pitchforks are being brandished not to encourage government to curb the
excesses of the elite but to warn the citizenry that the government has turned into a
socialistic threat to free enterprise."
Meacham (with whom I do not always agree) nailed it, I think; the bottom line is that the
"humble members" of society have been inundated with propaganda and fear-mongering lies by the
very people who profit by keeping them down.
Will they wake up and realize it and fight back (I mean "fight" in a good way--by
Will government prove its viability by doing good for the people--finally?
Maybe if that happens--if people let it happen--they will finally wake up and realize who's
really been keeping them poor and oppressed and away from the American Dream.
Maybe it's the "plutocratic few," but maybe it's also themselves.
Intelligence agencies like CIA is a threat to "normal" societies as they tend to acquire
power with time and tail start wagging the dog. Mechanism of control are usually subverted and
considerable part of their activities is dome without informing "supervisory" structures.
In the USA sometimes CIA monitor Congress communications and tries to coerce them like was the case when the torture program was revealed. In other words intelligence agencies are the core
neofascist structures in modern society and as such represent a distinct danger.
"... Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. ..."
"... The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad. ..."
"... Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves. But they are pimps. ..."
"... Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought. ..."
"... The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. ..."
"... Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth? ..."
...The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations:
weltanschauungskrieg -- "world view warfare." As good students, they had learned many
tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward
Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and
had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose
raison d'etre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the
In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological
warfare," a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration
of U.S. propaganda, then and now. Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then
getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare
programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose
fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and
people around the world. And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this
propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S.
("Operation Paperclip") by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make
sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot's The Devil's
Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America's Secret Government , an
extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).
This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission's
JFK assassination story. The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all
its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase "conspiracy
theory" to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret
document -- CIA Dispatch
1035-960 -- was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and
writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy's murder by the national
security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Today, the tide
is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are
demanding that the truth be told. Even the
Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.
The CIA Exposed -- Partially
But back in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, some covert propaganda programs run by the CIA
were "exposed." First, the Agency's sponsorship of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, through
which it used magazines, prominent writers, academics, et al. to spread propaganda during the
Cold War, was uncovered. This was an era when Americans read serious literary books, writers
and intellectuals had a certain cachet, and popular culture had not yet stupefied Americans.
The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary
and intellectual elites. Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book,
The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters , and Joel Whitney
followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, with
particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris
Then in 1975 the Church Committee hearings resulted in the exposure of abuses by the CIA,
NSA, FBI, etc. In 1977 Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire -- "The CIA and the
Media" -- naming names of journalists and publications ( TheNew York Times, CBS
, etc.) that worked with and for the CIA in propagandizing the American people and the rest of
the world. (Conveniently, this article can be read on the CIA's website since presumably the
agency has come clean, or, if you are the suspicious type, or maybe a conspiracy theorist, it
is covering its deeper tracks with a "limited hangout," defined by former CIA agent Victor
Marchetti, who went rogue, as "spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the
clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely
on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting -- sometimes even
volunteering -- some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts
in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never
thinks to pursue the matter further.")
Confess and Move On
By the late 1970s, it seemed as if the CIA had been caught in flagrante delicto and
disgraced, had confessed its sins, done penance, and resolved to go and sin no more. Seeming,
however, is the nature of the CIA's game. Organized criminals learn to adapt to the changing
times, and that is exactly what the intelligence operatives did. Since the major revelations of
the late sixties and seventies -- MKUltra, engineered coups all around the world,
assassinations of foreign leaders, spying on Americans, etc. -- no major program of propaganda
has been exposed in the mainstream media. Revealing books about certain CIA programs have been
written -- e.g. Douglas Valentine's important The Phoenix Program being one -- and
dissenting writers, journalists, researchers, and whistleblowers (Robert Parry, Gary Webb,
Julian Assange, James W. Douglass, David Ray Griffin, Edward Snowden, et al.) have connected
the U.S. intelligence services to dirty deeds and specific actions, such as the American
engineered coup d'état in Ukraine in 2013-14, electronic spying, and the attacks of
September 11, 2001.
But the propaganda has for the most part continued unabated at a powerful and esoteric
cultural level, while illegal and criminal actions are carried out throughout the world in the
most blatant manner imaginable, as if to say fuck you openly while insidiously infecting the
general population through the mass electronic screen culture that has relegated intellectual
and literary culture to a tiny minority.
Let me explain what I think has been happening.
Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed
to anticipate world events. But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing,
and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm
of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized
criminals. They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are
deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own
propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations.
The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes
are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the
CIA and own the media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence
to the nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is
propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.
Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who
pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and
independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps
analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends. They come from different
fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies,
linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities. They are often intelligent
but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil's work. But
they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil's bank. They often
belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and
esteem themselves. But they are pimps.
... ... ...
Methods of Propaganda
Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as
well as short-term and long-term. Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that
you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer
resist the pressure. Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop -- and the inattentive recipients of the
propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don't know it, and then when an event
bursts into the news -- e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate -- they have been
so softened that their assent is automatically given. They know without hesitation who the
devil is and that he must be fought.
The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and
weaknesses that can be exploited when needed. Certain events can be the triggers to induce the
victims to react to suggestions. When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight
suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance. The gun
goes off, and the entranced one can't remember why (see: Sirhan Sirhan). This is the goal of
mass hypnotization through long-term propaganda: confusion, memory loss, and automatic reaction
Intelligence Pimps and Liquid Screen Culture
When the CIA's dirty tricks were made public in the 1970s, it is not hard to imagine that
the intellectual pimps who do their long-range thinking were asked to go back to the drawing
board and paint a picture of the coming decades and how business as usual could be conducted
without further embarrassment. By that time it had become clear that intellectual or high
culture was being swallowed by mass culture and the future belonged to electronic screen
culture and images, not words. What has come to be called "postmodernity" ensued, or what the
sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls "liquid modernity" and Guy Debord "the society of the
spectacle." Such developments, rooted in what Frederic Jameson has termed "the cultural logic
of late capitalism," have resulted in the fragmentation of social and personal life into
pointillistic moving pictures whose dots form incoherent images that sow mass confusion and do
... ... ...
Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/
But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing, and do the bidding of
their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc. They are the action arm of these
financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals. They
have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the
drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in
conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations. The corporate mass
media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these
media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the
media. And while their ostensible raison d'ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the
nation's civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is
propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d'états at home and abroad.
Very entertaining. Now tell us how all this works. And what the CIA gets out of it. I
mean they surely don't do it for nothing do they? Does the CIA Director get rich for working
for 'masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc'? Or is everyone under a giant Satanic Cult
in the sky and the CIA is their headquarters on earth?
Under "The CIA Exposed" could have mentioned Philip Agee's "Inside the Company" as he was the
Edward Snowden of his day.
Interestingly, CIA agent Miles Copeland, Jr., the father of the drummer of the British
band "The Police", said the book was "as complete an account of spy work as is likely to be
published anywhere" and that it is "an authentic account of how an ordinary American or
British 'case officer' operates
" Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for
the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations
industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d'etre from the start was to serve the
interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.
In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as "psychological warfare," a
phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S.
propaganda, then and now."
The Yank propaganda machine always was an alliance between WASP Elites and Jews. Always.
The Yank WASPs knew that Brit and British Commonwealth WASPs had done the same thing: make
alliance to rule the world, which featured – not a bug but a feature – new ways
to use psy ops to pervert the vast majority of white Christians they ruled.
Until that is understood, which means accepting that WASP culture itself is a problem as
big as Jews and Jewish culture, all that is done in opposition to all that is horrendously
wrong today is wasted time and energy.
FOX The CIA is a British creation, just like Israel's Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General
The CIA is a pure WASP Elite creation. It always has served the interests of the WASP
Elite, in the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere as well the US. And the CIA always has
served the interests of Jews and Israel, because that makes perfect sense for WASP culture,
which was formed fully, completed, by the Judaizing heresy Anglo-Saxon Puritanism.
Judaizing heresy guarantees pro-Jewish politics and culture.
Sean, Who else, is here first with the CIA line, "CIA works for the president!" CIA
shoehorned that into the Pike Committee report right after Don Gregg visited the committees
and gave them an ultimatum: back off or it's martial law.
Then Sean mouths a bit of bureaucratic bafflegab about feasibility.
The feasibility of CIA crime is a product of CIA impunity. So next Sean feeds you more CIA
boilerplate by trying to pathologize anyone who's aware of CIA impunity through formal legal
pretexts in municipal law. John Bolton, Trump's CIA ventriloquist, had one prime directive as
unauthorized UN ambassador: remove any reference to impunity from the Summit Outcome
Document. To that end he submitted 600+ NeoSoviet amendments to paralyze the drafting
That's how touchy CIA is about its impunity. CIA is the state, with illegal absolute
sovereignty because they can kill you or torture you and get away with it.
If you're John Kennedy, if you're Robert Kennedy, if you're Dag Hammarskjöld, if
you're Judge Robert Vance. No matter who you are.
"... The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel ..."
"... Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy ..."
"... Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability to minimize the effects of the economic war ..."
"... So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of the West rushed to follow the decision. ..."
"... Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance. ..."
Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is
apure sample of neoliberal barbarism . Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted,
more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic
disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.
Right after the elections, we supported that the
gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same
establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.
In 2017 , Trump bombed Syria for the first time, resembling the lies that led us to the Iraq war disaster. Despite the fact that
the US Tomahawk missile attack had zero value in operational level (the United States allegedly warned Russia and Syria, while the
targeted airport was operating normally just hours after the attack), Trump sent a clear message to the US deep state that he is
prepared to meet all its demands - and especially the escalation of the confrontation with Russia.
Indeed, a year later, Trump built a pro-war team that includes the most bloodthirsty, hawkish neocons. And then, he ordered a
second airstrike against Syria, together with his neocolonial friends.
In the middle of all this 'orgy' of pro-establishment moves, Trump offered a controversial withdrawal of US forces from Syria
and Afghanistan to save whatever was possible from his 'anti-interventionist' profile. And it was indeed a highly controversial action
with very little value, considering all these US military bases that are still fully operational in the broader Middle East and beyond.
Not to mention the various ways through which the US intervenes in the area (training proxies, equip them with heavy weapons, supporting
the Saudis and contribute to war crimes in Yemen, etc.)
And then , after this very short break, Trump returned to 'business as usual' to satisfy the neoliberal establishment with a 'glorious'
record. He achieved a 35-day government shutdown, which is the
"longest shutdown in US history"
Trump conducted the longest experiment on neoliberals' ultimate goal: abolishing the annoying presence of the state. And this
was just a taste of what Trump is willing to do in order to satisfy all neoliberals' wet dreams.
And now, we have the Venezuela issue. Since Hugo Chavez nationalized PDVSA, the central oil and natural gas company, the US empire
launched a fierce economic war against the country. Yet, while all previous US administrations were trying to replace legitimate
governments with their puppets as much silently as possible through slow-motion coup operations, Trump has no problem to do it in
And perhaps the best proof for that is a statement by one of the most warmongering figures of the neocon/neoliberal cabal, hired
by Trump . As John Bolton cynically and openly
" It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and
produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela. "
Therefore, one should be very naive of course to believe that the Western imperialist gang seriously cares about the Venezuelan
people and especially the poor. Here are three basic reasons behind the open US intervention in Venezuela:
The imperialists want to grab the rich oil fields for the US big oil cartel, as well as the
natural resources , particularly gold (mostly for the Canadian companies).
Venezuela must not become an example for other countries in the region on social-programs policy, which is mainly funded by
the oil production. The imperialists know that they must interrupt the path of Venezuela to real Socialism by force if necessary.
Neoliberalism must prevail by all means for the benefit of the big banks and corporations.
Venezuela must not turn to cooperation with rival powers like China and Russia. Such a prospect may give the country the ability
to minimize the effects of the economic war. The country may find an alternative to escape the Western sanctions in order to fund
its social programs for the benefit of the people. And, of course, the West will never accept the exploitation of the Venezuelan
resources by the Sino-Russian bloc.
So, when Trump declared the unelected Juan Guaido as the 'legitimate president' of Venezuela, all the main neoliberal powers of
the West rushed to follow the decision.
This is something we have never seen before. The 'liberal democracies' of the West - only by name - immediately, uncritically
and without hesitation jumped on the same boat with Trump towards this outrageously undemocratic action. They recognized Washington's
puppet as the legitimate president of a third country. A man that was never elected by the Venezuelan people and has very low popularity
in the country. Even worse, the EU parliament
approved this action
, killing any last remnants of democracy in the Union.
Yet, it seems that the US is finding increasingly difficult to force many countries to align with its agenda. Even some European
countries took some distance from the attempted constitutional coup, with Italy even
veto EU's decision to recognize Guaido.
Donald Trump is the personification of an authoritarian system that increasingly unveils its true nature. The US empire makes
the Venezuelan economy 'scream hard', as it did in Chile in 1973. The country then turned into the first laboratory of neoliberalism
with the help of the Chicago Boys and a brutal dictatorship. So, as the big fraud is clear now, neoliberalism is losing ground and
ideological influence over countries and societies, after decades of complete dominance.
This unprecedented action by the Western neoliberal powers to recognize Guaido is a serious sign that neoliberalism returns to
its roots and slips towards fascism. It appears now that this is the only way to maintain some level of power.
Does the European Union generate external instability?
The historic achievement of peace within a Europe of universal norms is belied by the external
instability engendered by violent and incoherent interventions.
By Branko Milanovic
The European Union is justly admired for making war among its members impossible. This is no
small achievement in a continent which was in a state of semi-permanent warfare for the past
It is not only that we cannot even imagine the usual 19th and 20th century antagonists, such
as France and Germany, going to war ever again. The same is true of other, lesser-known
animosities which have led periodically to bloodlettings: between Poles and Germans, Hungarians
and Romanians, Greeks and Bulgarians. Unthinkable is also the idea that the United Kingdom and
Spain could end up, regarding Gibraltar, in a reprise of the Falklands/Malvinas war.
But creating geopolitical stability internally has not, during the last two decades, been
followed by external geopolitical stability along the fringes of the union. Most of the big EU
member states (UK, Poland, Italy, Spain) participated, often eagerly, in Operation Iraqi
Freedom, which led to the deaths of some half a million people, destabilised the middle east
even further and produced Islamic State.
Then, seemingly not having learned from this fiasco, France and Italy spearheaded another
regime change, this time in Libya. It ended in anarchy, another civil war, two competing
governments and a UN Security Council deadlocked for years to come -- since it is clear that
China and Russia will not in the foreseeable future vote to allow another western military
The wars along the long arc from Libya to Afghanistan, in which EU powers participated, were
the proximate cause of large refugee flows a few years ago, which continue even now. (As I have
written elsewhere, the underlying cause of migration is the large gap in incomes between
Europe, on the one hand, and Africa and the 'greater middle east', on the other, but the sudden
outbursts were caused by wars.)
The next example of generating instability was Ukraine, where the then government of Viktor
Yanukovych, having only postponed the signing of an EU agreement, was driven out of power in
2014 in a coup-like movement supported by the union. It is sure that a reasonable
counterfactual, with the same EU-Ukraine agreements being signed and without a war in eastern
Ukraine and with Crimea still part of Ukraine, would have been much preferable to the current
situation, which threatens to precipitate a war of even much greater dimensions.
Finally, consider Turkey, in an association agreement with the European Economic Community
since 1963, and thus in a membership-awaiting antechamber for more than half a century. The
initial period in power of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was marked by pro-European policies, a
desire to create an 'Islamic democracy', in the mould of the Christian democracies of Italy and
Germany, and civilian control over the army. But realisation that, because of its size and
probably because of its dominant religion, Turkey would never be recognised as part of Europe
led Erdoğan, gradually, to move in an altogether different direction -- with an almost
zero chance that he would come back to his original pro-European stance.
The endless waiting period, with similarly protracted negotiations over what are now 35
chapters which need to be agreed between candidate countries and all 28 (or soon 27) members,
is what lies behind the frustration with the EU in the Balkans. Long gone are the days when
Greece could become a member after a couple of months (if that) of negotiations and an
agreement between the French president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and the German
chancellor, Helmut Schmidt. The European bluff -- it neither has the stick nor the carrot --
albeit long hidden behind the veil of negotiations, was recently called by the Kosovo
leadership, when it engaged in a trade war with Serbia. The EU could express its 'regrets' but
it was squarely ignored. In the past, nether Kosovo nor any other Balkan state would have dared
to defy Europe so openly.
Slow and hesitant
It all means that Europe needs a much better thought-out external policy with respect to its
neighbours. There are already some signs that it is moving in that direction but it is doing so
too slowly and hesitantly. A multilateral compact with Africa is needed to regulate migration
from a continent with the fastest rising population and lowest incomes. Much more European
investment -- in hard stuff, not conferences -- is needed. Rather than complaining about
China's Belt and Road initiative, Europe should imitate it -- and, if it desires to counteract
Chinese political influence, invest its own money to make more African friends. A similar set
of much more proactive policies is required within the framework of the Mediterranean
initiative, while military options in the region should be forsworn no less clearly than they
are within the union.
When it comes to the potential members, as in the Balkans or the western republics of the
former Soviet Union, interminable talks should be replaced by either special association with
no expectation of EU membership or clearer, time-limited negotiations leading to membership.
Both would manage expectations better and avoid the build-up of resentment and frustration.
The most important challenge is the relationship with Turkey. The EU does not have a
blueprint for a Turkey after Erdoğan; nor can it offer anything to the Turkish secular
opposition, as it is not clear within itself whether it wants Turkey in or out. It should be
rather obvious that a European Turkey, with its vast economic potential and influence in the
middle east, would be a huge economic and strategic asset. Such a Turkey would also behave
differently in Syria and in Anatolia, because it would have an incentive to follow European
This rethinking of the EU's neighbourhood policy thus calls, in short, for three things:
greater economic aid to Africa, no support for wars or regime change, and much clearer rules
and time-limits for membership talks.
Perhaps, you ascribe to the EU successes that it did not create.
The formation of the EU is not the vehicle that created, nor sustained, the uneasy peace.
I suggest it was the resolution of WW2 that has determined the current state of
I fear that the formation of the EU, in the end, will be the cause of a re-instigation of
the age old skirmishes that have plagued the world, as you say, for two millennia.
The destruction of the Middle East by the West, not just the EU but the US, is a
foolishness of biblical proportions.
The EU's disposition of Greece and Brexit are red flags that the EU is an unsustainable
contrivance that will eventually, come undone. The mercantilist wars between France, England,
Spain, Germany, Italy, etc, may rise again. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
CIA Was Aiding Afghan Jihadists Before the Soviet Invasion
Sadiq Posted on
February 05, 2019 February 1, 2019 Originally, there were four parties involved in the
Afghan conflict which are mainly responsible for the debacle in the Af-Pak region. Firstly,
the former Soviet Union which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Secondly, Pakistan's
security agencies which nurtured the Afghan jihadists on the behest of Washington.
Thirdly, Saudi Arabia and the rest of oil-rich Gulf states which generously funded the
jihadists to promote their Wahhabi-Salafi ideology. And last but not the least, the Western
capitals which funded, provided weapons and internationally legitimized the erstwhile
"freedom fighters" to use them against a competing ideology, global communism, which posed a
threat to the Western corporate interests all over the world.
Regarding the objectives of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, the then
American envoy to Kabul, Adolph "Spike" Dubs, was assassinated on Feb. 14, 1979, the same day
that Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US embassy in Tehran.
According to recently
declassified documents of the White House, CIA and State Department, as reported by Tim
Weiner for The Washington Post , the CIA was aiding Afghan jihadists before the
Soviets invaded in 1979.
President Jimmy Carter signed the CIA directive to arm the Afghan jihadists in July 1979,
whereas the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December the same year. That the CIA
was arming the Afghan jihadists six months before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan has been
proven by the State Department's declassified documents; fact of the matter, however, is that
the nexus between the CIA, Pakistan's security agencies and the Gulf states to train and arm
the Afghan jihadists against the former Soviet Union was formed several years before the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Historically, Pakistan's military first used the Islamists of Jamaat-e-Islami during the
Bangladesh war of liberation in the late 1960s against the Bangladeshi nationalist Mukti
Bahini liberation movement of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman – the father of current prime
minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and the founder of Bangladesh, which was then a
province of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan before the independence of Bangladesh in
Jamaat-e-Islami is a far-right Islamist movement in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh –
analogous to the Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt and Turkey – several of
whose leaders have recently been hanged by the Bangladeshi nationalist government of Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed for committing massacres of Bangladeshi civilians on behalf of
Pakistan's military during the late 1960s.
Then, during the 1970s, Pakistan's then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began aiding
the Afghan Islamists against Sardar Daud's government, who had toppled his first cousin King
Zahir Shah in a palace coup in 1973 and had proclaimed himself the president of
Sardar Daud was a Pashtun nationalist and laid claim to Pakistan's northwestern
Pashtun-majority province. Pakistan's security establishment was wary of his irredentist
claims and used Islamists to weaken his rule in Afghanistan. He was eventually assassinated
in 1978 as a result of the Saur Revolution led by the Afghan communists.
Pakistan's support to the Islamists with the Saudi petrodollars and Washington's
blessings, however, kindled the fires of Islamic insurgencies in the entire region comprising
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Soviet Central Asian States.
The former Soviet Union was wary that its forty-million Muslims were susceptible to
radicalism, because Islamic radicalism was infiltrating across the border into the Central
Asian States from Afghanistan. Therefore, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December
1979 in support of the Afghan communists to forestall the likelihood of Islamic insurgencies
spreading to the Central Asian States bordering Afghanistan.
Even the American President Donald Trump
recently admitted : "The reason Russia invaded Afghanistan was because terrorists were
going into Russia; they were right to be there." Incidentally, Trump also implied the reason
why Soviet Union collapsed was due to the economic burden of the Soviet-Afghan War, as he was
making a point about the withdrawal of American forces from Syria and Afghanistan.
Notwithstanding, in the Soviet-Afghan War between the capitalist and communist blocs,
Saudi Arabia and the rest of Gulf's petro-monarchies took the side of the capitalist bloc
because the former Soviet Union and Central Asian states produce more energy and consume
less. Thus, the Soviet-led bloc was a net exporter of energy whereas the Western capitalist
bloc was a net importer.
It suited the economic interests of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries
to maintain and strengthen a supplier-consumer relationship with the Western capitalist bloc.
Now, the BRICS countries are equally hungry for the Middle East's energy, but it's a recent
development. During the Cold War, an alliance with the industrialized Western nations suited
the economic interests of the Gulf countries.
Regarding the motives of the belligerents involved, the Americans wanted to take revenge
for their defeat at the hands of communists in Vietnam, the Gulf countries had forged close
economic ties with the Western bloc and Pakistan was dependent on the Western military aid,
hence it didn't have a choice but to toe Washington's policy in Afghanistan.
In the end, the Soviet-Afghan War proved to be a "bear trap" and the former Soviet Union
was eventually defeated and was subsequently dissolved in December 1991. It did not collapse
because of the Afghan Jihad but that was an important factor contributing to the dissolution
of the Soviet Union.
Regardless, more than twenty years before the declassification of the State Department
documents as mentioned in the aforementioned Washington Post report, in the 1998
interview to the alternative news outlet The CounterPunch Magazine , former
National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, confessed that the
president signed the directive to provide secret aid to the Afghan jihadists in July 1979,
whereas the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan six months later in December 1979.
Here is a poignant excerpt from the interview: The interviewer puts the question: "And
neither do you regret having supported the Islamic jihadists, having given arms and advice to
future terrorists?" Brzezinski replies: "What is most important to the history of the world?
The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation
of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
Despite the crass insensitivity, one must give credit to Zbigniew Brzezinski that at least
he had the courage to speak the unembellished truth. It's worth noting, however, that the
aforementioned interview was recorded in 1998. After the 9/11 terror attack, no Western
policymaker can now dare to be as blunt and forthright as Brzezinski.
Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused
on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and
On Twitter and from the Senate floor, Paul made clear his distaste for McConnell's amendment
that warns that "the precipitous withdrawal of United States' forces from either country could
put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security."
Paul, a non-interventionist, instead hailed Trump for being "bold enough and strong enough"
to end the war in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The
senator argued there was no longer a military mission for U.S. troops to remain. He called
McConnell's amendment an "insult" to Trump.
"How do you leave precipitously after 17 years?" Paul asked. "We are no longer fighting
anyone who attacked us on 9-11."
Paul called the amendment -- which McConnell authored and is widely viewed as a rebuke to
Trump's plans to withdraw troops from the two countries -- a product of a "war caucus" that
Paul said includes Republicans and Democrats.
Read more here:
McConnell has been careful not to
criticize Trump, instead focusing on some Democratic opposition. But the amendment cleared the
Senate 90 minutes after Paul spoke with a 70 to 26 vote and support from senators from both
McConnell labeled the provision as an "opportunity for senators to go on the record about
what the United States should be doing in Syria and Afghanistan."
He'd made his views clear: "I believe the threats remain. ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be
defeated. And American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions
Trump came under sharp criticism from his own party after claiming in a tweet in December
that the U.S. had defeated ISIS in Syria and that he was ordering a "full" and "rapid"
withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defended
the amendment and criticized the press for casting it as a rebuke to Trump.
"This is the process working the way it was intended to, for the (president) to raise these
issues and then discussions take place," Risch said.
The freezing of Venezuelan gold by the Bank of England is a signal to all countries out of
step with US interests to withdraw their money, according to economist and co-founder of
Democracy at Work, Professor Richard Wolff. He told RT America that Britain and its central
bank have shown themselves to be "under the thumb of the United States."
"That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that
they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it's not the safe
place as it once was," he said.
This was true in 2015 for Syria. Now this is true for Venezuela... So one can expect iether chemical attack opposition from Madura
government or "Snipergate" in EuroMaydan style. Or may some some more sophisticated, more nasty "false flag" operation in British style
like Skripal poisoning.
It will be interesting if Madura manage to survive despite the pressute...
"... Sorry but you're wrong. The funding a training of rebel forces by the west has done exactly what is was intended to do, mainly destabilise an entire region, sell billions in extra arms, introduce extra anti-terrorism laws in the west, create more fear and panic, then destabilise Europe through the mass-migration. This was the plan and it worked! ..."
"... To the great disappointment of those of us who voted for Obama, the first time out of hope for change, and the second time out of fear for someone even worse, he is a weak and chameleonic leader whose policies are determined by the strongest willed person in the room. Recall that he was also "talked into" bombing Libya! ..."
"... This isn't Bay of Pigs; its a bloated military trying to figure out what to do with its extra cash. Financially, it doesn't matter if the program is a failure. The cost is minuscule for the budget they have. ..."
"... Bush reached the Oval Office not because he was bright, for indeed he was not, he reached the Oval Office because he was dumb enough not to realise he was clearly easily manipulated, believed in neoliberalism and was rich and rich backers and a rich Dad. ..."
"... In Iran, we have a saying which says; take off a Mullah's turban and you will find the words "Made in England" stamped on his head. ..."
"... ISIS/ISIL is a creation of the US in an attempt to remove Assad. The long-term goal being to isolate Iran before going in there for the natural resources. ..."
"... The White House statement specifically refers to the "Syrian opposition". That's the term we use to describe anti-government forces. This recruitment and training programme has gone awry because the people originally recruited would have been anti-Assad. Now the Obama administration has tried to change the same people to fighting to ISIS instead. No wonder there's only "four to five" left. This is one big fustercluck! ..."
"... The CIA has probably been the greatest destabalising force in the world since the second world war and seem like more a subsidiary of the weapons trade than a government department. ..."
Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect
better results the next time?
As pretty much everyone who was paying attention predicted, the $500m program to train and arm "moderate"
Syrian rebels is an unmitigated, Bay of Pigs-style disaster, with the head of US central command
admitting to Congress this week that the year-old
program now only has "four or five" rebels fighting inside Syria, with dozens
more killed or captured.
Even more bizarre, the White House is
claiming little to do with it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest attempted to distance Obama from the program, claiming that
it was actually the president's "critics" who "were wrong." The
New York Times reported, "In effect, Mr Obama is arguing that he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to
combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment."
This bizarre "I was peer pressured into sending more weapons into the Middle East" argument by the president is possibly the most
blatant example of blame shifting in recent memory, since he had every opportunity to speak out against it, or veto the bill. Instead,
this is what
Obama said at the time: "I am pleased that Congress...have now voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train
and equip the opposition in Syria."
But besides the fact that he clearly did support the policy at the time, it's ridiculous for another reason: years before Congress
approved the $500m program to arm the Syrian rebels, the CIA had been running its own separate Syrian rebel-arming program since
at least 2012. It was
reported prominently by the New York Times
at the time and approved by the president.
In fact, just before Congress voted, Senator Tom Udall
told Secretary of State
John Kerry, who was testifying in front of the foreign relations committee, "Everybody's well aware there's been a covert operation,
operating in the region to train forces, moderate forces, to go into Syria and to be out there, that we've been doing this the last
two years." In true Orwellian fashion, Kerry responded
at the time: "I
hate to do this. But I can't confirm or deny whatever that's been written about and I can't really go into any kind of possible program."
Also conveniently ignored by Congress and those advocating for arming the rebels was a
study the CIA did at the time showing that arming rebel factions against sitting governments almost always ends in disaster or
You'd think whether or not the current weapons-running program was effective – or whether any similar program ever was – would
have been a key factor in the debate. But alas, the CIA program is never mentioned, not by politicians, and not by journalists. It's
just been conveniently forgotten.
It is true that perhaps the best advocate for why we never should've armed the Syrian rebels to begin with came from President
Obama himself. He told the
New Yorker in early 2014 that "you have an opposition that is disorganized, ill-equipped, ill-trained and is self-divided. All
of that is on top of some of the sectarian divisions." Critically,
he cited that same above-mentioned
Very early in this process, I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency
in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn't come up with much.
He didn't mention the CIA's already-active weapons-running program. Why he didn't stick to his guns since he supposedly was weary
of getting the US military involved in yet another quagmire
it could not get out of is beyond anyone's comprehension. Instead, he supported Congress's measure to create yet another program
that sent even more weapons to the war-torn region.
Per usual, Republicans are taking the entirely wrong lessons from this disaster, arguing that if only there was more force then
everything would've worked out. Marco Rubio exclaimed
during the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday that if we armed the rebels earlier – like he allegedly wanted, before
voting against arming them when he had the chance – then the program would've worked out. Like seemingly everyone else in this
debate, Rubio has decided to ignore the actual facts.
Sadly, instead of a debate about whether we should continue sending weapons to the Middle East at all, we'll probably hear arguments
that we should double down in Syria in the coming days and get US troops more cemented into a war we can call our own (that still
to this day has not been authorized by Congress). There are already reports that there are
US special operations forces on the ground in Syria
now, assisting Kurdish forces who are also fighting Isis.
When the vicious and tragic cycle will end is anyone's guess. But all signs point to: not anytime soon.
Oliver2014 19 Sep 2015 21:27
" Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and
expect better results the next time? "
Because the US doesn't understand the culture of the people it meddles with.
The US goes in with a messianic belief in the righteousness of its objective. This objective is framed in naive terms to convince
itself and the people that it's motives are benevolent - such as "we must fight communism" or "we will bring democracy to Iraq"
or "Saddam Hussein is an evil man who uses chemical weapons on his own people and hence must be ousted" or "Assad is an evil man
who is fighting a civil war with his own people".
As a superpower it feels compelled to interfere in conflicts lest it be seen as impotent. When it does not interfere, as in
WW2, things do indeed get out of control. So it's damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.
The CIA did not understand Afghan history of fighting off invaders when it was arming the Mujaheddin and that after the Soviets
were defeated it would perceive the Americans as invaders and not as liberators who were there to bring them democracy and teach
them that growing poppy was bad. (Like alcohol in the 1930s, a national addiction problem cannot be solved on the supply side
- as the CIA and DEA learnt in South America.)
Bush Sr. was right when he left Saddam alone after bloodying his nose for invading Kuwait because he understood that Saddam
was playing a vital Tito-esque role in keeping his country and the neighborhood in check. He had no WMDs but wanted his adversaries
in the region to believe otherwise. If Saddam were alive today we wouldn't have an Iraq problem, an ISIS problem, an Iran problem
and a Syria problem.
Smedley Butler 19 Sep 2015 21:12
"Why he didn't stick to his guns since he supposedly was weary of getting the US military involved in yet another quagmire
it could not get out of is beyond anyone's comprehension."
Maybe it's because he hasn't stuck to his guns on anything during the entire time he's been President. He always takes the
path of least resistance, the easy way out, and a "conservative-lite" position that tries to satisfy everyone and actually satisfies
What an utter disappointment.
DavidEG 19 Sep 2015 20:01
The Machiavellian machinations of the empire become less relevant with every passing day. It's Europeans now who are eating
sweet fruits of "mission accomplished". And they may rebel, and kick out last remnants of their "unity", and sacred NATO alliance
PamelaKatz AndyMcCarthy 19 Sep 2015 18:33
Obama said the US would take 10,000 Syrian refugees. When I heard this, I thought surely a zero must be missing from this figure.
And what no one has publicly mentioned is the immigration process for these few will require at least a year of investigative
PamelaKatz jvillain 19 Sep 2015 18:15
The largest manufacturers and global distributors of weaponry are the US, the UK, France, Russia and China, in that order.......
also known as the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. One should read the UN Charter, which states the purpose and
parameters for forming this international organization. The word 'irony' comes to mind.
ID108738 19 Sep 2015 17:36
Saddam Hussein was a friend while he gassed the Iranians, then he invaded Kuwait; as long as Bin Laden