“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.
The fact that 99.9% of neocons are chickenhawks and never experienced the level of sufferings
the wat inflicts on people is defining chanracteristic of all US neocons. Especially female
neocon -- a unique US breed.
"... At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. ..."
"... The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine ..."
"... We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do. ..."
"... The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one's will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one's own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one's will. ..."
"... For America's voluntarist order, whether these events as described are true in the objective sense is of no more importance than whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You will recall that, just prior to the Iraq invasion, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah some 83 times in order to oblige him to confess a nonexistent connection between Saddam's Iraq, al-Qaeda, and chemical weaponry. That is voluntarism in action right there. "We're an empire now and we create our own reality." It was not a one-off. It is now the norm to make sure the facts are fixed to match the desired policy. ..."
"... Voluntarism is the fruit of an anti-civilization, and of a technological way of knowing, as the great Canadian philosopher George Grant put it, that bears a striking resemblance to what C.S. Lewis described in his pre- Nineteen Eighty-Four ..."
At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based
purely and simply on the will. The distinguishing characteristic of voluntarism is that it
gives pride of place to the will as such, to the will as power, the will abstracted from
everything else, but especially abstracted from the good. The notion of the good is necessarily
inclusive of the whole, of all sides. Concern exclusively for oneself goes by a different
The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was
expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in
New York Times Magazine on October 17, 2004:
We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying
that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities,
which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you,
all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
This oft-quoted statement is naively assumed to have been the expression of a single moment
in American politics, rather than a summation of its ethos by one of its shrewder and more
self-aware practitioners. The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one's will on
global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped,
still less something that should condition one's own actions and limit them in any way. Truth
is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one's will.
We can see this voluntarism at work among our forebears. The Skripal affair in Britain led
to almost immediate action -- the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States
alone -- well before the facts of this dubious incident, which has led to zero deaths, could be
established. Indeed, when the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested first
establishing what had happened and only then acting, he was widely accused of weakness. When
one is "history's actor," action mustn't be delayed. That, after all, is the whole point.
The suffering of innocents should always concern us. But in Syria, the facts regarding who
is the guilty party, including in this latest case of a gas attack in Douma, are very far from
having been established. What's more, though reputable investigators such as Hans Blix and
MIT's Theodore Postol have cast serious
doubt on the reliability of the evidence linking such attacks to Assad's government,
official accounts in the U.S. proceed as if there is not the slightest controversy about the
For America's voluntarist order, whether these events as described are true in the objective
sense is of no more importance than whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You
will recall that, just prior to the Iraq invasion, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah some 83
times in order to oblige him to
confess a nonexistent connection between Saddam's Iraq, al-Qaeda, and chemical weaponry.
That is voluntarism in action right there. "We're an empire now and we create our own reality."
It was not a one-off. It is now the norm to make sure the facts are fixed
to match the desired policy.
Voluntarism is the fruit of an anti-civilization, and of a technological way of knowing, as
the great Canadian philosopher George Grant put it, that bears a striking resemblance to what
C.S. Lewis described in his pre- Nineteen Eighty-Four anti-utopia That Hideous
Strength . In that novel, the institution called N.I.C.E., like the U.S. foreign policy
establishment today, is essentially a voluntarist bureaucracy run by men without culture,
trained in technical sciences and sociology-like "disciplines" and "law" understood in a purely
formalistic sense, who assume human affairs are understandable as aggregates of facts without
value. Such "men without chests" (Lewis's phrase) live in a world where the good and the true
have forever been severed of their mutually defining link. The resulting, essentially
irrational world they inhabit is one that has only one logic left: that of will and power.
It is an American empire where we create our own reality, the mirror image of ourselves, and
it is indeed precisely hideous. If the builders of empire continue to get their way, it may all
soon enough come to a violent and ignominious end. Historians, if they still exist, will marvel
at our folly.
Paul Grenier, an essayist and translator who writes regularly on
political-philosophical issues, is founder of the Simone Weil Center for Political
For another outstanding account of 'a technological way of knowing', check out Jacques
Ellul's 'The Technological Society'.
Not only was this incident fabricated, it was known the preparations were known in
advance. I remember reading an article two weeks before Douma about the preparations for the
fabrication. Felix Somary was quite right in writing in July 1914 that "the information
available to insiders, and precisely the most highly placed among them, is all to often
misleading" (quoted in Jim Rickards "The Road to Ruin").
Volunteerism, voluntarism, the mysterious workings of the "will," we're famous for all of it,
but this is not so uniquely American, Rove's comment reminds me of something that Tolstoy
might put in Napoleon's mouth, actually. Pride, plus the tunnel-vision typical of
technocrats, academics, specialists
Karl Rove is a man without a chest–a "chickenhawk," a proud and willful man puffed
up on ignorance and willpower, wrecking the world–and nothing more than that, unless he
wills it to be.
"... This popular question completely misses the point. The US attack on Syria is a clear and indisputable war crime against a sovereign country regardless of whether Syria used a chemical weapon in driving the Washington supported terrorists from Douma. ..."
"... It is unlikely that the UN Security Council will condemn Washington, which pays 25% of the UN's budget. Moreover, the Security Council is loaded up with Washington's vassals, and they will not vote to censure their liegelord. ..."
"... Putin is wasting his time taking the matter to the Security Council, unless his purpose is to prove that every Western institution is completely corrupt. ..."
"... During the entirety of the Cold War no US ambassador to the UN spoke aggressively and disrespectfully to the Soviet representative as Nikki Haley speaks to the Russian ambassador. During the Cold War no American president would have tolerated Nikki Haley. The crazed bitch would have instantly been fired. ..."
"... Until Washington is effectively resisted, Washington's European vassals, the UN Security Council and the OPCW will stand with Washington. ..."
Many, including Russia's President Putin, have asked why the US launched an illegal attack on Syria prior to the chemical weapons
inspectors examining the site of the alleged chemical attack.
This popular question completely misses the point. The US attack on Syria is a clear and indisputable war crime against a
sovereign country regardless of whether Syria used a chemical weapon in driving the Washington supported terrorists from Douma.
No one acted to stop Washington's war crime. Some of Washington's vassals, such as Germany and Italy, refused to participate in Washington's
war crime, but no one attempted to block it. The impotent UN Security Council, to which Russia is wasting its time appealing, the
EU, NATO, Russia and China themselves did nothing to stop Washington's Nazi era war crime.
Russia said that if Washington's attack harmed its citizens, there would be military consequences, but Russia did not protect
its ally Syria from the attack.
Perhaps it doesn't matter as Washington's attack was carefully conducted so as to have no effect except to serve as a face-saver
for Trump. Apparently no one was killed and no damage was done to anything real except to a facility in which anti-venom for snake
bites was being produced.
On the other hand, it does matter, because of the perception that the American presstitutes have created that it was a great victory
for America over the evil Syrian government and the evil Russian government that supports them. This perception, which the presstitutes
have created with their fake news, justifies the war crime and will lead to more attacks on Syria.
It is unlikely that the UN Security Council will condemn Washington, which pays 25% of the UN's budget. Moreover, the Security
Council is loaded up with Washington's vassals, and they will not vote to censure their liegelord.
As I have written on a number of occasions, I admire Putin's Christian character of sidestepping the beatings he continuously
takes from Washington in order to save the world from the massive deaths of a world war. The problem is that by turning the other
cheek, Putin encourages more aggression from Washington. Putin is dealing with neoconservative psychopaths. He is not dealing with
During the entirety of the Cold War no US ambassador to the UN spoke aggressively and disrespectfully to the Soviet representative
as Nikki Haley speaks to the Russian ambassador. During the Cold War no American president would have tolerated Nikki Haley. The
crazed bitch would have instantly been fired.
The Russian government is captured by delusion if the Russians believe that the US government, in which Nikki Haley is Trump's
choice to be America's spokesperson to the world, in which the crazed neoconservative war monger John Bolton is a principal influence
over US military and foreign policy, and in which the President himself is under threat of indictment for wanting to normalize relations
with Russia, has any prospect of avoiding war.
The best chance of preventing the oncoming war is Russian-Chinese-Iranian unity and a defeat for American arms in a regional context
not worth the Washington psychopaths launching of nuclear weapons. Until Washington is effectively resisted, Washington's European
vassals, the UN Security Council and the OPCW will stand with Washington. Once Washington experiences a defeat, NATO will dissolve
and with this dissolution Washington's ability to threaten other countries will lose its cover and evaporate.
"... Overall, my impression is that a huge amount of the American populace is entirely disengaged from what's going on because all of it is too upsetting of the accustomed comfortable lifestyle. ..."
"... There's no sense of how random and stupid (and increasing) violence connects to neocon policies over the past 20 plus years or so. The problems leading potentially to very serious war conflict are demonized away in terms of black vs. white terms, America always the righteous. ..."
Just back from a road trip in America where I uncharacteristically watched TV in the
evenings. My main impression = appalled at the intellectual decline and I kept saying to
myself, "If anyone wants to know why we're stupid, here (TV) is the reason."
Interestingly, what I formerly could not stand, FOX news, showed some dignity and
intelligence over what appears to be unraveling in the cover-up of what is now "FBI-gate"
versus the old and worn-out Russia-gate stuff. I was amused at FOX news' presentation of the
latest DNC lawsuit as more hopeless apologizing for Clinton's loss, and a development which
could backfire into disclosure finally, and much more focus on what Clinton was up to with
the DNC maligning of Sanders, plus the politicizing of the intelligence agencies, as with
Comey, Brennan, and Clapper.
As to Americans generally, a lot of good people, nice and helpful if they can just relax
into ordinary relating as with services and restaurants. In meeting with relatives, obvious
MSM propaganda layering their opinions. I was struck for example that the homeless problem
could be dismissed because some homeless didn't want to take advantage of housing help
offered (the specifics of that not offered, nor am I aware of what's meant here). The
tendency is to dismiss the troubling into simplification, and get back to what feels good as
soon as possible. But this is completely normal human behavior in my 5 decades or so of
watching political developments.
Overall, my impression is that a huge amount of the American populace is entirely
disengaged from what's going on because all of it is too upsetting of the accustomed
There's no sense of how random and stupid (and increasing) violence connects to neocon
policies over the past 20 plus years or so. The problems leading potentially to very serious
war conflict are demonized away in terms of black vs. white terms, America always the
I do feel, however, that alternative media, such as via MoA here, are very helpful to
growing awareness, particularly among young people. I am eager to see new independent
political parties, committed to serving the people, but not yet aware of any of these coming
about. I would also echo pyschohistorian and others from the previous thread to ask b to be
the leader/organizer via emails, should there come a time when this site is attacked and
taken out somehow.
Thank you, b, and commenters here for this energetic and hopeful community.
Thanks for that snapshot description. One of the signs of an empire that is failing is the
increasing disconnect (and cynicism) between the rulers and the ruled - no matter what the
system of government may be. Your description provides a graphic picture of that
In another vein, Media again posits the SAA as going against the rebel controlled areas in
the south. I believe that the SAA will instead consolidate areas around Homs and southern
Hama then focus on Deir Ezzour and the cross-river attacks from the US protected eastern
shore of the Euphrates.. This action will take us through to mid-June. At that point I
anticipate some kind of incidents having to do with the Idlib pocket.
Trump's Establishment Sin: Being an Open and Unabashed Devil
It's the open crassness of Trump as much as his policy substance that bothers establishment
operatives. Look at Trump's recent yucky White House sit-down with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS),
the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. You can view it on YouTube here . It's incredible. With MBS grinning
sheepishly next to him, the Insane Clown President held up posters showing all the big-dollar
weapons and war systems the Saudis are purchasing from the U.S. Trump brazenly boasted about
Washington's $12.5 billion arms deal with the most reactionary government on the planet.
"That's peanuts for you," Trump chided the crown prince while dangling the posters under his
nose. "Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they're going to give the United States some
of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest
military equipment anywhere in the world," Trump told reporters. MBS looked embarrassed as
Trump listed the prices of the weapons the U.S. was selling to the Saudis: "$880 million $645
million $6 billion that's for frigates."
The president sounded like a car dealer boasting about the bargains at Trump Ford-Mazda. It
was ugly and humiliating for everyone involved and has been condemned in the dominant corporate
media for its decadent unpleasantness.
"Trump administration plans to make the U.S. an even larger weapons exporter by loosening
restrictions on the sale of equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and
artillery. Reuters reveals that the new initiative will provide guidelines that
could allow more countries to be granted faster deal approvals, and will call on Cabinet
officials to help close deals between foreign governments and U.S. defense contractors The
role U.S. Cabinet officials may be asked to play in pushing arms exports abroad as part of
the new initiative, which will call for a 'whole of government' approach -- from the
president and his Cabinet to military attachés and diplomats -- to help draw in
billions of dollars more in arms business overseas."
So, do you think the Obama administrations sold arms to Saudi Arabia and other reactionary
governments around the world? Do you think it enlisted Cabinet officials and U.S. diplomats in
the project of advancing U.S. arms sales across a blood-drenched planet? If you answered "Hell
yes it did" to both questions, then you are correct. Here is a
forgotten story from the final days of the Obama administration, penned by
Motherboard 's Farid Farid, who was understandably underwhelmed by Obama's suspension
of the sale of one type of munition to the Saudis in early 2017:
Obama's Administration Sold More Weapons Than Any Other Since World War II
Many were sold to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.
President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, will leave office in a few
weeks with the dubious honor of having sold more weapons than any other American president
since World War II. Most of the arms deals totaling over $200 billion in the period from 2008
to 2015 have ended up in the Middle East, according to a Congressional Research Service
report published in December Focusing on arms deals to developing nations, the extensive
report found that Saudi Arabia was the top arms importer with deals worth around $94 billion
from 2008-2015. Under Obama the overall sales, pending delivery of equipment and specialized
training for troops, to Saudi Arabia alone has ballooned to $115 billion.
Saudi Arabia is spearheading a coalition of Arab nations in a bombing campaign closing in
on two years against the insurgent Houthi militias in Yemen, who took over the capital Sanaa
in September 2014. The United States has sent special operations forces to assist the Arab
coalition in a grinding war that has seen over 10,000 killed, 2.2 million displaced and
nearly half a million children on the brink of famine from the ensuing crisis.
Earlier this month, the United States decided to halt future sales of precision-guided
munitions, which are supposed to hit specific targets and minimize collateral damage, to the
Gulf kingdom citing civilian deaths in Yemen. But experts are skeptical this will deter Saudi
Arabia from continuing to fuel its regional proxy wars.
"Frankly it was a really minor and temporary punishment. I don't view it as a major
consequence and it is more symbolic than anything," said Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director of
policy at Project on Middle East Democracy.
He pointed to the US partially suspending military aid to Egypt after the military
overthrew the unpopular government in July 2013 as another example of the lack of political
will of the Obama administration to rock relations with its allies. The Congressional report,
Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations 2008-2015, noted that Egypt was the biggest
recipient of arms deliveries last year worth $5.3 billion.
"What's changed during the Obama administration is that increasing arms sales has become a
standardized component of diplomacy at all levels of government, not just in the defense
department," Bockenfeld told Motherboard. "For US diplomats to become the salesmen, that has
been a new element which really increased exports."
What's the main difference between Trump and Obama when it comes to U.S. arms sales abroad?
As the noted liberal arms trade analyst William
Hartung told DN's Amy Goodman this week , "Well, [Trump's] much more blatant about it.
He's shouting it from the rooftops . He's playing a very personal role .he held up a chart
[during his appalling meeting before reporters with MBS] that showed 40,000 jobs from Saudi
arms sales, and it showed the states, and they were all the swing states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Michigan, Florida. So, among other things, not only is this a business proposition for Trump,
but it's a blatant political move to shore up his base."
So here's an interesting question: which is worse – (a) quietly equipping the most
reactionary government on Earth and much of the rest of the world with lethal, high-tech means
of mass destruction while posing as some kind of progressive and noble peace agent or (b)
loudly equipping the most reactionary government on Earth and much of the rest of the world
with lethal, high-tech means of mass destruction while boasting about the resulting revenue and
jobs to reporters and your white-nationalist political base?
Something tells me the Yemeni victims of Riyadh's U.S.- made bombs, missiles, bullets, and
artillery don't care all that much either way.
I've just stumbled on this absolute gem, from the New York Times, 17/1/2003:
"Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S.
government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi
defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show
(1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja [a 1988 chemical attack on Kurdish
villages that killed 5000 civilians], and
(2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a
fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its
diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."
"... British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called 'national interest' abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have connived with them, worked alongside them and sometimes trained and financed them, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives. Governments have done so in often desperate attempts to maintain Britain's global power in the face of increasing weakness in key regions of the world, being unable to unilaterally impose their will and lacking other local allies. Thus the story is intimately related to that of Britain's imperial decline and the attempt to maintain influence in the world. ..."
"... But whereas Sharif Hussein was a follower of orthodox Sunni Islam, Ibn Saud adhered to the radical doctrine of Wahhabism, which Winston Churchill was moved to describe as " bloodthirsty ..."
"... British support for the mujahideen, married to the huge support provided by Washington, was indispensable in the eventual success of these self-styled 'holy warriors' in taking control of a country that had embraced modernity and turning it into a failed state mired in religious oppression, brutality, backwardness and poverty. ..."
"... Britain, along with the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supported the resistance to defeat the Soviet occupation of the country. Military, financial and diplomatic backing was given to Islamist forces which, while forcing a Soviet withdrawal, soon organized themselves into terrorist networks ready to strike Western targets. ..."
"... Islamic resistance ..."
"... We trust the Western leaders are prepared for the enormous beneficial possibilities that could just possibly open up if the Afghan rebellion were to succeed. ..."
"... Manchester, England is home to the largest Libyan community in Britain, and there is strong evidence to suggest that when the Libyan uprising broke out MI6 facilitated the ability of Libyan Islamists in Britain to travel to Libya to participate in the fighting. Among them was Salman Abedi, who it is thought received military training in the country before being allowed to return to the UK thereafter. ..."
"... This brings us on to Syria and, as with Libya, the question of how so many British Muslims have been able to travel from the UK to Syria via Turkey to take part in the anti-Assad insurgency since 2011? It also brings into sharp focus a policy that has veered between the ludicrous and the reckless. ..."
"... As for the recklessness of Britain's actions in Syria, look no further than the country's recent participation in the illegal missile strikes that were carried out in conjunction with the US and France, justified on the basis of as yet unproven allegations that Syrian government forces had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Douma, just outside Damascus. The only beneficiaries of such actions by the Western powers are Salafi-jihadist groups such as ISIS (whom it was later reported took advantage of the missile strike to mount a short-lived offensive), Al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam. ..."
"... The latter of those groups, Jaysh al-Islam, is a Saudi proxy. It was the dominant group in Douma and throughout Eastern Ghouta until the district's liberation by the Syrian Army and its allies with Russian support. ..."
Britain's strategic relationship with radical Islam goes back decades and continues to this
day. There is no more foul a stench than the stench of hypocrisy, and there is no more foul a
hypocrisy than the British government painting Bashar al-Assad as a monster when in truth he
and the Syrian people have been grappling with a twin-headed monster in the shape of
Salafi-jihadi terror and Western imperialism. Both are committed to destroying Syria as an
independent, non-sectarian state, and both are inextricably linked.
Author and journalist Mark Curtis charts in detail
the contours of this history in his book 'Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical
" British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called
'national interest' abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including
terrorist organizations. They have connived with them, worked alongside them and sometimes
trained and financed them, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives. Governments
have done so in often desperate attempts to maintain Britain's global power in the face of
increasing weakness in key regions of the world, being unable to unilaterally impose their will
and lacking other local allies. Thus the story is intimately related to that of Britain's
imperial decline and the attempt to maintain influence in the world. "
As far back as the First World War, when the Middle East began to assume strategic
importance in the capitals of Western imperial and colonial powers, the British ruling class
went out of its way to identify and recruit loyal local proxies in pursuit of its regional
objectives. Britain's relationship with the Arab tribal chief, Ibn Saud, who would go on to
establish Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s, began in 1915 with the Darin Pact, demarcating the
territory then controlled by Saud as a British protectorate.
The following year, the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans erupted. Begun and inspired by
Saud's fierce rival, Sharif Hussein, head of the Hashemite Arab tribe, the revolt was heavily
bankrolled and supported by the British – a period immortalized in the exploits of
British military agent T E Lawrence, known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia.
But whereas Sharif Hussein was a follower of orthodox Sunni Islam, Ibn Saud adhered to the
radical doctrine of Wahhabism, which Winston Churchill was moved to describe as "
bloodthirsty " and " intolerant ." Regardless, when it came to its imperial
interests there was no tiger upon whose back the British ruling class was not willing to ride
during this period, and which, as events have proved, it has not been willing to ride
The most egregious example of this policy, one that continues to have ramifications today,
was the support provided by the UK to the Afghan mujahideen in the late 1970s and 1980s. The
insurgency's objective was the overthrow of Kabul's secular and left-leaning government, whose
crime in the eyes of the Islamist insurgency's US and UK sponsors was that it had embraced the
social and economic model of Moscow rather than Washington during the first Cold War.
British support for the mujahideen, married to the huge support provided by Washington, was
indispensable in the eventual success of these self-styled 'holy warriors' in taking control of
a country that had embraced modernity and turning it into a failed state mired in religious
oppression, brutality, backwardness and poverty.
Mark Curtis again:
" Britain, along with the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supported the
resistance to defeat the Soviet occupation of the country. Military, financial and diplomatic
backing was given to Islamist forces which, while forcing a Soviet withdrawal, soon organized
themselves into terrorist networks ready to strike Western targets. "
While Washington's primary role in channeling military and financial support to the Afghan
mujahideen, known as
Operation Cyclone , may until have succeeded in overshadowing London's role in this dirty
war, declassified British government cabinet papers which were made public in 2010 and
reported in the UK media make grim reading.
They reveal that three weeks after Soviet forces arrived in Afghanistan at the request of
the Afghan government in Kabul, struggling to deal with an insurgency that had broken out in
the countryside, the Thatcher government was planning to supply military aid to the "
Islamic resistance ." A confidential government memo provides a chilling insight into
the insanity that passed for official policy: " We trust the Western leaders are prepared
for the enormous beneficial possibilities that could just possibly open up if the Afghan
rebellion were to succeed. "
It will be recalled that out of the ensuing collapse of Afghanistan emerged the Taliban,
under whose rule the country was turned into a vast militant jihadist school and training camp.
Many of the most notorious Islamist terrorists began their careers there, fighting the Soviets
and then later broadening out their activities to other parts of the region and wider world. In
this regard, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda loom large.
Other notorious names from the world of Salafi-jihadism for whom Afghanistan proved
indispensable include the Jordanian Abu al-Zarqawi, who founded Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) during
the US-UK occupation, an organization that would over time morph into ISIS.
Abdelhakim Belhaj and other Libyan Islamists cut their jihadist teeth in Afghanistan in the
1980s. Returning to Libya, they formed the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group (LIFG) in the eastern city of Benghazi. Though the group may have been
disbanded in 2010, having failed to topple Gaddafi despite repeated attempts to assassinate the
Libyan leader with, it's been
claimed , the support of Britain's MI6, former members of the LIFG, including Belhaj, were
important actors in the 2011 Libyan uprising.
By way of a reminder, the uprising in Libya started in Benghazi and would not have succeeded
without the air support it received from NATO. Britain's then prime minister, David Cameron,
was key in pushing for that air support and the sanction of the UN under the auspices of
Security Council Resolution 1973. Though protecting civilians was central in wording of this
UNSC resolution, it was shamefully distorted to justify regime change, culminating in Gaddafi's
murder by the 'rebels.'
Staying with the LIFG, in the wake of the Manchester suicide-bomb attack in May 2017, which
left 23 people dead and 500 injured, the fact that the bomber, a young Libyan by the name of
Salman Abedi, was the son of a former member of the LIFG, did not receive anything like the
media attention it should have at the time.
Manchester, England is home to the largest Libyan community in Britain, and there is strong
evidence to suggest that when the Libyan uprising broke out MI6 facilitated the ability of
Libyan Islamists in Britain to travel to Libya to participate in the fighting. Among them was
Salman Abedi, who it is thought received military training in the country before being allowed
to return to the UK thereafter.
This brings us on to Syria and, as with Libya, the question of how so
many British Muslims have been able to travel from the UK to Syria via Turkey to take part
in the anti-Assad insurgency since 2011? It also brings into sharp focus a policy that has
veered between the ludicrous and the reckless.
Emblematic of the former was ex-prime minister David Cameron's
claim , which he made during a 2015 Commons debate over whether the Royal Air Force should
engage in air strikes against ISIS in Syria, that fighting as part of the Syrian were 70,000
As for the recklessness of Britain's actions in Syria, look no further than the country's
recent participation in the illegal missile strikes that were carried out in conjunction with
the US and France, justified on the basis of as yet unproven allegations that Syrian government
forces had carried out a chemical weapons attack on Douma, just outside Damascus. The only
beneficiaries of such actions by the Western powers are Salafi-jihadist groups such as ISIS
(whom it was later
reported took advantage of the missile strike to mount a short-lived offensive), Al-Nusra
and Jaysh al-Islam.
The latter of those groups, Jaysh al-Islam, is a Saudi proxy. It was the dominant group in
Douma and throughout Eastern Ghouta until the district's liberation by the Syrian Army and its
allies with Russian support.
Given the deep and longstanding ties between London and Riyadh; given the fact,
reported towards the end of 2017, that British military personnel were embedded in a
training role with Saudi forces in Yemen; given the news that a British special forces sergeant was
killed in northern Syria at the end of March this year while embedded with the Kurds, revealing
for the first time that British troops were operating in the country on the ground –
given all that, the question of who else British special forces and military personnel may be
embedded with in Syria is legitimate.
In the context of the British state's long and sordid history when it comes to riding the
back of radical Islam in pursuit of its strategic objectives, readers will doubtless draw their
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the
Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and
Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently
working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on
The Corrupt U.S. Congress Cheers as the War Industry Steals Billions from the People's
Christian Sorensen | April 13, 2018
"Missile Production Capacity
In February, Newsbud reported on the war industry increasing its capacity to produce
Capacity to produce other missile types is expanding as well.
On 6 March 2018, BAE Systems received close to $13.7 million to help increase production
capacity of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS). With its headquarters in
London, BAE Systems links the U.K. war industry to the United States, effectively
underpinning the 'special relationship' between the two countries.
On 19 March 2018, Raytheon received roughly $7.8 million to improve the production
capacity of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. Steps Raytheon might take to increase missile
production include adding more equipment, altering staffing levels, and upgrading its
The war industry has been operating at full steam for the past seventeen years. Now, these
contracts tell us, the boardrooms of prominent war industry giants believe there is reason to
produce more Hellfire, APKWS, and Sidewinder missiles. Is it war with Iran? A bigger
offensive against President Assad's forces in Syria? Conflict in Korea?
The U.S. war industry is expecting more sustained, high-tempo hostilities in the near
future. You've been warned."
While this isn't a great analogy consider the USA as a huge, immensely strong, obnoxious drunk
that is being belligerent and needs to be arrested. The police show up, a bunch of them, and
now need to corral the drunk. The drunk is so insensate that it can't feel any damage and the
police need to be careful of how they use force. Generally the best outcome for the cops is the
drunk trips and collapses whereby the police restrain him and hope he doesn't choke to death on
his own vomit.
The USA is a zombie(drunk) country; dead but doesn't know it yet. Yet it is enormously
significant in the world. If it suddenly collapses the rest of the world is going to be hugely
impacted. While it has an enormous military it is extremely brittle and has virtually no depth;
it can't sustain any meaningful military engagement for more than a couple of months.
Israel has created a really stupid situation for itself. It's dug this very small pit and
stuffed it full of Jewish folk. A single nuke dropped on it would end the question of Israel.
Yet the strut and bully like they are bullet proof.
In each case be too aggressive with them and they will panic. Conversely, and frustrating as
hell, both the US and Israel have lots of leeway to cause mischief.
Russia and China are doing their best to patiently sheppard the USA along the path of its
decline. They will grit their teeth and suffer humiliation but the alternative is a global
economic collapse and many millions dying.
On a side note I would add that 3-4 years ago when Ukraine was boiling, much of the
discussion by concerned people focused on countries outside of the US, and the damage caused by
the US. The US, in this context, was largely regarded as an evil but coherent entity.
But that coherence has now come more and more into question. Discussion shifted gradually,
as the US made more and more mistakes and lost battle after battle in so many theaters, and
revealed itself as a failing actor. And in the last year or two there's much more discussion
about the US itself, largely trying to pierce the obscurity of how that country is actually run
and by whom. This shift was already happening, and Trump of course added to the
I was glad to see that gradual shift. To me it indicated the war itself was won, while many
battles were yet to be fought. I think it's true that Russia, China, Iran and others are
increasingly concerned with curtailing the damage that the US can still inflict. Every day they
increase in actual, effective power, and the US decreases in that power. Yesterday's battle
will be fought differently tomorrow, because the balance of that power will have shifted again
Syria has been an enormously useful magnifying glass to show us so much about the relative
power balances of many nations. And even as the US lashes out in its death throes, it is
increasingly cornered and stymied. The same is true of Israel. It's reaching the point - if not
already there - that every move made by the US will result in clear damage to itself, with no
gain, and no damage to its targets.
The other side has had sufficient time to wargame countless contingencies, and think them
through and make preparations for them. Increasingly, it gets to choose what damage to allow
and what to stop, because the costs of every action have now been calculated - and the passage
of time reduces the costs too, so the equation constantly updates.
This is true outside of Syria also, in all theaters and on many planes of
The US Deep State doesn't want to "conquer" any country. Then they'd have to pay the bill
for the destruction they caused... think an actual Marshall Plan, not the Iraq and Afghan
Debacles. It is not trying to "win". It is trying to destroy those countries' ability to
function outside the iron-fist influence of the IMF/BIS/etc. banks/economy.
... ... ..
As for US operations in Syria being handed off "to others", i.e. to Prince's latest
iteration of Blackwater/Xi/Academia, the last we heard of Erik was trying to sell a budget
airforce/drone system to countries in Africa. What a joke.
Not going to happen in Syria,
because Russia, Iran, Hezbolla and Syria would have no qualms about directly assaulting
Prince's Kurd/Arab/Wahabbist mercenaries... Eric may be a self-serving parasite, but he's not
stupid enough to directly take on the Russian military, or even the SAA for that matter.
Especially with no NATO air cover...
Killary is not around to unilaterally impose a Libya-style
Trumpty Dumbdy is trapped, just trying to convince his base that he really is getting the US
out of being Israel's and the Rothschilds' bitch, but that is not a potential reality.
involve dismantling the FED and cutting off the yearly $multi-billion military aid tap to
Israel. I doubt he is smart or informed enough to comprehend the situation he is in. Any sane,
intelligent person would walk away and tell the Zionist/Rothschild/Deep State to find another
These skirmishes (not skirmishes to those who live or die because of them), even ones that
are war crimes, as this was, seem to me to be in large part ways in which the major powers test
out their combat systems. I would think the Pentagon would like to test the Russian defense
systems, and the Russians can't be completely sorry they got the opportunity to see how those
new systems worked under operational conditions. The winners are the arms manufacturers. The
losers are everybody else.
Update : Interfax reports that the Russian military has discovered a rebel-owned chemical weapons lab in Douma.
The Russian Defense Ministry says that components for Mustard Gas production were discovered along with cylinders of chlorine
at a alb belonging to militants in Douma.
Additionally, Moscow has said it is stunned by a French statement that Russia is obstructing OPCW experts from entering Syria's
Douma (echoing Ambassador Ward's). the Russian foreign ministry confirms OPCW expoerts are already in Douma.
* * *
And on the game goes...
While Russia's foreign ministry warns that Western powers are interfering with OPCW's work in Syria (noting that the chemical
weapons experts' access to Douma is being hampered by remaining militants, supported by Washington),
as Caitlin Johnstone details , we are now being told by US officials (and I assure you I am not making this up) that if the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons doesn't find evidence that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapons attack in Douma
last week, it's because Russia hid the evidence .
"It is our understanding the Russians may have visited the attack site,"
reports U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Ward.
"It is our concern that they may have tampered with it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission
to conduct an effective investigation."
I guess the idea is that this international top-level investigative team on which tremendous credibility has been placed by the
western world can be thwarted by Russians showing up with a Hoover and spraying some Febreze in the air like a teenage stoner when
mom comes home? I'm not sure, but given the immense dearth of evidence we've been seeing in support of the establishment Douma narrative
mounting pile of evidence contradicting it, it sure does sound fishy.
The Independent 's Robert Fisk has published a report which affirms
the story so many westerners have been dismissing
as Kremlin propaganda for days now after interviewing a doctor from the hospital of the area where the Douma attack was supposed
to have occurred. Dr Assim Rahaibani told Fisk that what was in actuality an outbreak of respiratory distress among occupants of
a dusty oxygen-deprived tunnel was made to look like the aftereffects of a chemical weapons attack when a member of the White Helmets
started shouting about a gas attack in front of a bunch of video cameras. Everyone panicked and started hosing themselves down, but
in the video, according to Rahaibani, "what you see are people suffering from hypoxia -- not gas poisoning."
This report was independently backed up by a reporter from One America News Network named Pearson Sharp, who
gave a detailed account of his interviews with officials, doctors, as
well as many civilians on the street Sharp says he deliberately selected at random in order to avoid accusations of bias. Many people
hadn't even heard that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, and the ones who had said it was staged by Jaysh al-Islam. The
staff at the hospital, including a medic-in-training who was an eyewitness to the incident, gave the same story as the account in
The increasing confidence with which these unapproved narratives are being voiced and the increasing discomfort being exhibited
by empire loyalists like Ambassador Ward indicate a weakening narrative in the greater propaganda campaign against the Assad government
and its allies, but don't hold your breath for the part where Fox News and the BBC turn around and start asking critical questions
of the governments that they are meant to be holding to account.
The journalists who have been advancing the establishment narrative on Syria aren't about to start reporting that they've gotten
the entire Syria story assballs backward and have been promoting a version of events manufactured for the benefit of CIA-MI6-Mossad
agendas. You're not about to see CNN, who last year
staged a fake scripted interview with a seven year-old Syrian girl to manufacture support for escalations against Assad, suddenly
turn around and start asking if we're being told the full story about what's happening Syria.
Watch them closely. Watch how they steadfastly ignore the growing mountain of evidence and keep promoting the Syrian regime change
agenda that the western empire has been
working toward for decades . Watch them dismiss all evidence they can't ignore as Kremlin propaganda and shift the narrative
whenever things start to look bad for them. Those riding the crest of the wave of establishment media are too far gone into the blob
to ever admit error and change. The least among us aren't about to stop constructing a public reality tunnel which depicts them as
heroes of truth, tear it all down, and start advancing a narrative which makes them look like fools at best and villains at worst.
It will not happen.
Luckily for us, it doesn't need to. Internet censorship is still far from closing the door on our ability to network and share
information, and we've been very effective at sowing skepticism among the masses. The war propagandists are not nearly as good at
their jobs as they want to believe, and we can beat them.
They work so hard to manufacture support for war because they require that consent. If the oligarchs try to launch a war against
a disobedient nation amidst very clear opposition from the public, they will shatter the illusion of freedom and democracy that their
entire empire is built upon, and then they're exposed. Corporatist oligarchy has succeeded in weaving its web of dominance because
its oppression has thus far remained hidden and its depravity disguised as humanitarianism. They cannot expose themselves by transgressing
a loud NO from the public or else the masses will realize that everything they used to believe about their country, their government
and their world is a lie.
They won't risk that. We can force them into retreating from open war by circulating facts and information and keeping a healthy
level of skepticism circulating among the public. Watch them squirm, move goalposts and shift narratives, and point and yell about
it whenever it happens. We can win the media war against the propagandists. We have truth on our side.
* * *
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That fact-finding body (OPCW) could change the whole paradigm IF it finds conclusive evidence this was a false flag event,
and IF they trumpet their findings to the world, and IF people get all the real ramifications of such a potential finding/announcement.
This said, I fully expect their "findings" to be a masterpiece of ambiguous language and weaslespeak.
This body after all is a creation of politicians and bureaucrats answering to many governments. They, almost certainly, will
"No conlusive evidence was found" will be the finding which either side can spin to their desire.
Russia - there is no evidence so there was no attack
US - the evidence was no conclusive but only because enough time has passed that it degraded to the point where a good sample
could not be located.....and Russia kept the inspectors from the site in order for this to happen.
Gore Vidal preferred chaos to order. According to his wisdom centrifugal forces create gaps
and spaces in which freedom can fornicate.
As things stand that's probably the best we can hope for. Indeed we might as well embrace
what's happening all around us. Because the Anglo-American gang that filled the last 200 years
with liberal imperialism is losing the mendacious plot. The grand illusion is falling
The grand chessboard isn't in the best of shape either. The Anglo-American game plan to
dominate Euro-Asia is being ripped apart by the Euro-Asians. The grandfather of ISIS –
Zbigniew Brzezinski – must be rolling in his grave. According to him geopolitics is all
about hegemony. And that's something no one possesses at the moment – least of all the
The consequence is that there's space for an Assad and an Ali Khameini in the Middle East;
for a Kim Jong-un and a Xi Jinping in the East. And for a Putin everywhere. And in Latin
America there's room for a Maduro. And a Castro is still there.
And the chaotic spaces aren't disappearing. As Steve Bannon said recently – in the
context of North Korea but which can be applied generally: there is no military solution. And
he may as well have added that there isn't an economic solution. There's not even an
A few years ago the Anglo-Americans would've invaded and carpet bombed the chaotic spaces
without a second thought. And only yesterday the use of proxies was the tactic. Russia though
has unilaterally thrown a spanner into the workings of all this naked Anglo-American
The net result is that the UN Security Council will no longer back anymore "humanitarian
wars". And the use of "Islamic fundamentalism" has been check mated. All the Anglo-Americans
can do now is nuke the world or shut up.
A few years ago the Anglo-Americans could have also used economics to eliminate or control
the chaotic spaces. Sanctions, shock therapy and structural adjustment policies were their
alternative WMD. But even these bombs from Bretton Woods are now of limited or no value. Why?
The BRICS. Or in another word – China.
Today the English speaking way is not as omnipotent as before. Back in 1955 the Bandung
Conference in Indonesia was an attempt to create a space for chaotic freedom but it hadn't the
military or economic power to establish itself. Today is different.
The non-aligned countries that emerged from the Bandung Conference now in the early 21st
Century have accumulated and generate enough capital to give substance to their 1955
And as well as that significant fact is the connection these countries have made to a born
again Russia. The latter has dramatically added to whatever military power the non-aligned
movement has had in the face of the Anglo-American Empire.
The passing of time has seen the passing away of the Empire's military and economic
monopolies. The non-aligned movement plus Russia, the Third World, BRICS or whatever you want
to call it has at last a sufficient industrial base upon which to construct a liberating
Alternative banking systems and alternative trading systems have slowly but surely emerged
on top of the National Liberation struggles of the 20th Century – to the detriment of
Wall Street and London.
And the anchors of this New World Disorder are proving to be the great Russian and Chinese
Revolutions of the last century. The radical independence these world changing events gave to
Russia and China was – to say the least – no short term phenomenon.
In the long term the universal values of the Enlightenment have successfully taken root.
Despite the cynicism, fatalism and pessimism (the postmodernism) in the Anglo-American sphere
– reason has found fertile ground in the lands despised by the original
Its now the Anglo-Americans (and their European clones and clowns) who rely upon religion,
hysteria and lies. Its they who are building great walls. And it is they who want to hide
behind protectionism. Liberalism had its chance a long time ago to live up to its ideals but
for the love of money it chose to do otherwise.
The extremely influential American planner George F. Kennan best expressed this ideological
sellout in 1948 (Memo PPS23) when he officially recommended that the US forget about democracy,
living standards and human rights in the world if it wanted to maintain its control of global
The intention of liberalism was top secret back then but is common knowledge now (outside
the mainstream media, that is). It has always been Anglo-America and financial wealth first
– Trump makes it crystal clear today. The Anglo-Americans severed their ideological links
to the world a long time ago – if they were ever there in the first place.
The unprincipled ruthlessness Kennan demanded and got from Anglo-America was – around
1950 – dressed up in the clothes of freedom. Today however its clothes are nothing but
Uncomfortable laughter, embarrassment and disbelief are the feelings associated with
Anglo-America now around the non-NATO world. Its not just Trump, Russia-gate, Bolton, Theresa
May, the Skripal poisoning-case and the chemical stories in Syria. Each one more fake than the
next. Its the stock market bubble and the military bubble as well. Each one more irrational and
ripe for revolution than the other.
And underlining it all and the insurance for us all is the cowardice of the Anglo-Americans.
Like school yard bullies they only pick on the weak and defenseless. Or its probably more apt
to say that like psychopathic serial killers they only pick on the weak and defenseless.
So the chances of Washington D.C. and London confronting head on the Russians, Chinese,
Iranians, North Koreans, Venezuelans and Syrians are slim. Against a well organized defense the
Empire is a coward.
The Anglo-Americans can rant and rave as much as they like – the rest of the world
will work around them and NATO – like the way we avoid the insane on the street. There
are roads, bridges and railways to be built across Euro-Asia and across Africa too. And in
Latin America there's still time for Bolivar and Che to build something new.
The Anglo-Americans are very much redundant today. The Empire is empty. Its authority in
every way has shrank rapidly in the last two decades. It preaches with blood on its hands. Its
lectures are lies. And its precious money is nothing but paper. Its New World Order is in
chaos. And the world is better because of it. Finally the free world is emerging. Join the debate
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Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult
Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule.
But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up. Russia,
meanwhile, is a damaged yet still formidable great power whose rulers cannot be intimidated
into allowing Ukraine to enter the Western orbit. Hence the standoff. No external power or aid
package can solve Ukraine's problems or compensate for its inherent vulnerabilities
vis-à-vis Russia. Nor would sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine's brave but ragtag
volunteer fighters and corrupt state structures improve the situation; in fact, it would send
it spiraling further downward, by failing to balance Russian predominance while giving Moscow a
pretext to escalate the conflict even more. Rather, the way forward must begin with a
recognition of some banal facts and some difficult bargaining.
Russia's seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine do not challenge the entire
post-1945 international order. The forward positions the Soviet Union occupied in the heart of
Europe as a result of defeating Nazi Germany were voluntarily relinquished in the early 1990s,
and they are not going to be reoccupied. But nor should every detail of the post–Cold War
settlement worked out in 1989–91 be considered eternal and inviolate. That settlement
emerged during an anomalous time. Russia was flat on its back but would not remain prostrate
forever, and when it recovered, some sort of pushback was to be expected.
Something similar happened following the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, many of the
provisions of which were not enforced. Even if France, the United Kingdom, and the United
States had been willing and able to enforce the peace, their efforts would not have worked,
because the treaty had been imposed during a temporary anomaly, the simultaneous collapse of
German and Russian power, and would inevitably have been challenged when that power
Territorial revisionism ensued after World War II as well, of course, and continued
sporadically for decades. Since 1991, there have been some negotiated revisions: Hong Kong and
Macao underwent peaceful reabsorption into China. Yugoslavia was broken up in violence and war,
leading to the independence of its six federal units and eventually Kosovo, as well.
Unrecognized statelets such as Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan; Transnistria, a sliver of
Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disputed units of Georgia; and now Donetsk and Luhansk,
parts of Ukraine -- each entails a story of Stalinist border-making.
The European Union cannot resolve this latest standoff, nor can the United Nations. The
United States has indeed put together "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize some of its
recent interventions, but it is not going to go to war over Ukraine or start bombing Russia,
and the wherewithal and will for indefinite sanctions against Russia are lacking. Distasteful
as it might sound, Washington faces the prospect of trying to work out some negotiated larger
Such negotiations would have to acknowledge that Russia is a great power with leverage, but
they would not need to involve the formal acceptance of some special Russian sphere of interest
in its so-called near abroad. The chief goals would be, first, to exchange international
recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea for an end to all the frozen conflicts in which
Russia is an accomplice and, second, to disincentivize such behavior in the future. Russia
should have to pay monetary compensation for Crimea. There could be some federal solutions,
referendums, even land swaps and population transfers (which in many cases have already taken
place). Sanctions on Russia would remain in place until a settlement was mutually agreed on,
and new sanctions could be levied if Russia were to reject negotiations or were deemed to be
conducting them in bad faith. Recognition of the new status of Crimea would occur in stages,
over an extended period.
It would be a huge challenge to devise incentives that were politically plausible in the
West while at the same time powerful enough for Russia to agree to a just settlement -- and for
Ukraine to be willing to take part. But the search for a settlement would be an opportunity as
well as a headache.
NATO expansion can be judged to have been a strategic error -- not because it angered Russia
but because it weakened NATO as a military alliance. Russia's elites would likely have become
revanchist even without NATO's advance, because they believe, nearly universally, that the
United States took advantage of Russia in 1991 and has denied the country its rightful place as
an equal in international diplomacy ever since. But NATO expansion's critics have not offered
much in the way of practicable alternatives. Would it really have been appropriate, for
example, to deny the requests of all the countries east of Germany to join the alliance?
Then as now, the only real alternative was the creation of an entirely new trans-European
security architecture, one that fully transcended its Cold War counterpart. This was an
oft-expressed Russian wish, but in the early 1990s, there was neither the imagination nor the
incentives in Washington for such a heavy lift. Whether there is such capacity in Washington
today remains to be seen. But even if comprehensive new security arrangements are unlikely
anytime soon, Washington could still undertake much useful groundwork.
Critics might object on the grounds that the sanctions are actually biting, reinforced by
the oil price free fall -- so why offer even minimal concessions to Putin now? The answer is
because neither the sanctions, nor the oil price collapse, nor the two in conjunction have
altered Russia's behavior, diminished its potential as a spoiler, or afforded Ukraine a chance
Whether they acknowledge it or not, Western opponents of a negotiated settlement are really
opting for another long-term, open-ended attempt to contain Russia and hope for regime change
-- a policy likely to last until the end of Putin's life and possibly well beyond. The costs of
such an approach are likely to be quite high, and other global issues will continue to demand
attention and resources. And all the while, Ukraine would effectively remain crippled, Europe's
economy would suffer, and Russia would grow ever more embittered and difficult to handle. All
of that might occur no matter what. But if negotiations hold out a chance of somehow averting
such an outcome, they are worth a try. And the attempt would hold few costs, because failed
negotiations would only solidify the case for containment in Europe and in the United
It is ultimately up to Russia's leaders to take meaningful steps to integrate their country
into the existing world order, one that they can vex but not fully overturn. To the extent that
the Ukraine debacle has brought this reality into sharper focus, it might actually have been
useful in helping Putin to see some light, and the same goes for the collapse of oil prices and
the accompanying unavoidable devaluation of the ruble. After the nadir of 1998, smart policy
choices in Moscow, together with some lucky outside breaks, helped Russia transform a crisis
into a breakthrough, with real and impressive steps forward. That history could replay itself
-- but whether it will remains the prerogative of one person alone.
Or How China and the U.S. Are Spawning a New Great Power Naval Rivalry
Amid the intense coverage of Russian cyber-maneuvering and North Korean missile threats, another kind of great-power rivalry has
been playing out quietly in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The U.S. and Chinese navies have been repositioning warships and establishing
naval bases as if they were so many pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. To some it might seem curious, even quaint, that gunboats
and naval bastions, once emblematic of the Victorian age, remain even remotely relevant in our own era of cyber-threats and space
Yet if you examine, even briefly, the central role that naval power has played and still plays in the fate of empires, the deadly
serious nature of this new naval competition makes more sense. Indeed, if war were to break out among the major powers today, don't
discount the possibility that it might come from a naval clash over Chinese bases in the South China Sea rather than a missile strike
against North Korea or a Russian cyber attack.
The Age of Empire
For the past 500 years, from the 50 fortified Portuguese ports that dotted the world in the sixteenth century to the
800 U.S. military bases
that dominate much of it today, empires have used such enclaves as Archimedean levers to move the globe. Viewed historically, naval
bastions were invaluable when it came to the aspirations of any would-be hegemonic power, yet also surprisingly vulnerable to capture
in times of conflict.
Throughout the twentieth century and the first years of this one, military bases in the South China Sea in particular have been
flashpoints for geopolitical change. The U.S. victory at Manila Bay in 1898, the fall of the British bastion of Singapore to the
Japanese in 1942, America's withdrawal from Subic Bay in the Philippines in 1992, and China's construction of airstrips and missile
launchers in the Spratly Islands since 2014 – all have been iconic markers for both geopolitical dominion and imperial transition.
Indeed, in his 1890 study of naval history, that famed advocate of seapower Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, arguably America's only
original strategic thinker, stated that "the maintenance
of suitable naval stations , when combined with decided preponderance at sea, makes a scattered and extensive empire, like that of
England, secure." In marked contrast to the British Navy's 300 ships and 30 bases circling the globe, he worried that U.S. warships
with "no foreign establishments, either colonial or military will be like land birds, unable to fly far from their own shores. To
provide resting-places for them would be one of the first duties of a government proposing to itself the development of the power
of the nation at sea."
So important did Captain Mahan consider naval bases for America's defense that he
"it should be an inviolable resolution of our national policy that no European state should henceforth acquire a coaling position
within three thousand miles of San Francisco" – a span that reached the Hawaiian Islands, which Washington would soon seize. In a
series of influential dictums, he also argued that a large fleet and overseas bases were essential to both the exercise of global
power and national defense.
Although Mahan was read as gospel by everyone from American President Teddy Roosevelt to German Kaiser Wilhelm II, his observations
do not explain the persistent geopolitical significance of such naval bases. Especially in periods between wars, these bastions seem
to allow empires to project their power in crucial ways.
Historian Paul Kennedy has suggested
that Britain's "naval mastery" in the nineteenth century made it "extremely difficult for other lesser states to undertake maritime
operations or trade without at least its tacit consent." But modern bases do even more. Naval bastions and the warships they serve
can weave a web of dominion across an open sea, transforming an unbounded ocean into de facto territorial waters. Even in an age
of cyberwarfare, they remain essential to geopolitical gambits of almost any sort, as the United States has shown repeatedly during
its tumultuous century as a Pacific power.
America as a Pacific Power
As the U.S. began its ascent to global power by expanding its navy in the 1890s, Captain Mahan, then head of the Naval War College,
argued that Washington had to build a battle fleet and capture island bastions, particularly in the Pacific, that could control the
surrounding sea-lanes. Influenced in part by his doctrine, Admiral George Dewey's squadron sank the Spanish fleet and seized the
key harbor of Manila Bay in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War of 1898.
In 1905, however, Japan's stunning victory over the Russian Baltic Fleet in the Tsushima Strait (between southern Japan and Korea)
suddenly revealed the vulnerability of the slender string of bases the U.S. then possessed, stretching from Panama to the Philippines.
Under the pressure of the imperial Japanese navy, Washington soon abandoned its plans for a major naval presence in the Western Pacific.
Within a year, President Theodore Roosevelt had removed the last Navy battleship from the region and later authorized the construction
of a new Pacific bastion not in distant Manila Bay but at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, insisting that "the Philippines form our heel of
Achilles." When the Versailles settlement at the end of World War I awarded Micronesia in the Western Pacific to Japan, the dispatch
of any fleet from Pearl Harbor to Manila Bay became problematic in time of war and rendered the Philippines essentially indefensible.
It was partly for this reason, in mid-1941, that Secretary of War Henry Stimson decided that the B-17 bomber, aptly named the
"Flying Fortress," would be the wonder weapon capable of countering the Japanese navy's control of the Western Pacific and sent 35
of these new aircraft to Manila. Stimson's strategy was, however, a flight of imperial fantasy that condemned most of those planes
to destruction by Japanese fighters in the first days of World War II in the Pacific and doomed General Douglas MacArthur's army
in the Philippines to a humiliating defeat at Bataan.
As bomber ranges tripled during that global conflict, however, the War Department decided in 1943 that the country's postwar defense
required retaining forward bases in the Philippines. These ambitions were fully realized in 1947 when the newly independent republic
signed the Military Bases Agreement granting the U.S. a 99-year lease on 23 military installations, including the Seventh Fleet's
future homeport at Subic Bay and the massive Clark Air Base near Manila.
Simultaneously, during its postwar occupation of Japan, the U.S. acquired more than a hundred military facilities that stretched
from Misawa Air Base in the north of that country to Sasebo Naval Base in the south. With its strategic location, the island of Okinawa
had 32 active U.S. installations covering about 20% of its entire area.
As the Cold War came to Asia in 1951, Washington concluded mutual defense pacts with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and
Australia that made the Pacific littoral the eastern anchor for its strategic dominion over Eurasia. By 1955, the early enclaves
in Japan and the Philippines had been integrated into a global network of 450 overseas bases aimed largely at containing the Sino-Soviet
bloc behind an Iron Curtain that bisected the vast Eurasian continent.
After surveying the rise and fall of Eurasian empires for the past 600 years, Oxford historian John Darwin
concluded that Washington
had achieved its "colossal Imperium on an unprecedented scale" by becoming the first power to control the strategic axial points
"at both ends of Eurasia" – in the west through the NATO alliance and in the east via those four mutual security pacts. During the
later decades of the Cold War, moreover, the U.S. Navy completed its encirclement of the continent,
the old British base at Bahrain in 1971 and later
building a multibillion-dollar base at the epicenter of the Indian Ocean on the island of Diego Garcia for its air and naval
Among these many bases ringing Eurasia, those along the Pacific littoral were of particular strategic import before, during, and
after the Cold War. As the geopolitical fulcrum between the defense of one continent (North America) and control of another (Asia),
the Pacific littoral has remained a constant focus in Washington's century-long effort to extend and maintain its global power.
In the aftermath of the Cold War, as Washington elites reveled in their role as leaders of the world's sole superpower, former
national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, a master of Eurasia's unforgiving geopolitics,
the U.S. could preserve its global power only as long as the eastern end of that vast Eurasian landmass did not unify itself in a
way that might lead to "the expulsion of America from its offshore bases." Otherwise, he asserted with some prescience, "a potential
rival to America might at some point arise."
In fact, the weakening of those "offshore bases" had already begun in 1991, the very year the Soviet Union imploded, when the
Philippines refused to extend the U.S. lease on the Seventh Fleet's bastion at Subic Bay. As Navy tugs towed Subic's floating dry
docks home to Pearl Harbor, the Philippines assumed full responsibility for its own defense without actually putting any more of
its funds into air or naval power. Consequently, during a raging typhoon in 1994, China was able to suddenly
occupy some shoals in the
nearby Spratly Islands that went by the name of Mischief Reef – and that would turn out to be just its first step in a bid to control
the South China Sea. Without the ability to launch its own air and navy patrols, in 1998 the Philippine military, in an attempt to
reassert its claim to the area, grounded a rusting U.S.-surplus ship on nearby Ayungin Shoal as a "base" for a squad of barefoot
soldiers who were forced to fish for their rations.
In the meantime, the U.S. Navy suffered its own decline with a
40% reduction in surface warships and attack
submarines from 1990 to 1996. Over the next two decades, the Navy's Pacific posture weakened further as the focus of naval deployments
shifted to wars in the Middle East, the service's overall size
shrank by an additional 20% (to just 271 ships), and crews strained under the pressure of ever-extending deployments – leaving
the Seventh Fleet ill-prepared to meet China's unexpected challenge.
China's Naval Gambit
After years of seeming compliance with Washington's rules for good global citizenship, China's recent actions in Central Asia
and the continent's surrounding seas have revealed a two-phase strategy that would, if successful, undercut the perpetuation of American
global power. First, China is spending a
dollars to fund a vast
grid of new railroads, highways, and oil and natural gas pipelines that could harness Eurasia's vast resources as an economic
engine to drive its ascent to world power.
In a parallel move, China is building a blue-water navy and creating its first overseas bases in the Arabian and South China seas.
As Beijing stated in a 2015 white paper, "The traditional mentality
that land outweighs the sea must be abandoned It is necessary for China to develop a modern maritime military force structure commensurate
with its national security." Though the force it contemplates will hardly compete with the U.S. Navy's global presence, China seems
determined to dominate a significant arc of waters around Asia, from the horn of Africa, across the Indian Ocean, all the way to
Beijing's bid for overseas bases began quietly in 2011 when it started investing almost $250 million in the
transformation of a sleepy fishing village at Gwadar, Pakistan, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, into a modern commercial port
only 370 miles from the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Four years later, President Xi Jinping committed another $46 billion to the
building of a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of roads, railways, and pipelines stretching for 2,000 miles from western China
to the now-modernized port at Gwadar. It still avoided any admission that military aims might be involved so as not to alarm New
Delhi or Washington. In 2016, however, Pakistan's Navy
announced that it was indeed opening a naval base at Gwadar (soon strengthened with
two warships donated by China) and added that Beijing was
welcome to base its own ships there as well.
That same year, China began building a major
military facility at Djibouti on
the Horn of Africa and, in August 2017, opened its first official overseas base there, giving its navy access to the oil-rich Arabian
Sea. Simultaneously, Sri Lanka, located at a midpoint in the Indian Ocean, settled a billion-dollar debt to China by ceding it a
strategic port at Hambantota, creating
a future potential for dual military use there, too – in effect, the Gwadar stealth strategy revisited.
As controversial as these enclaves might be (at least from an American point of view), they paled before China's attempts to claim
an entire ocean. Starting in April 2014, Beijing escalated its bid for exclusive territorial control over the South China Sea by
expanding Longpo Naval Base on its own Hainan
Island into a homeport for its four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Without any announcement, the Chinese also began
dredging seven artificial atolls in the disputed Spratly Islands to create military airfields and future anchorages. In just four
years, Beijing's armada of dredges had sucked up countless tons of sand from the ocean floor, slowly transforming those minimalist
reefs and atolls into active military bases. Today, China's army
jet runway protected by HQ-9 anti-aircraft missile batteries on Woody Island, a radar base on Cuareton Reef, and has mobile missile
launchers near runways ready for jet fighters at three more of these "islands."
While fighter planes and submarines are pawns in China's opening gambit in the contest for the South China Sea, Beijing hopes
one day to at least check (if not checkmate) Washington with a growing armada of aircraft carriers, the modern dreadnaughts in this
latter-day game of empires. After acquiring an unfinished Soviet Kuznetsov -class carrier from Ukraine in 1998, the naval
dockyard at Dalian retrofitted the rusting hulk and launched it in 2012 as the Liaoning , China's first aircraft carrier.
That hull was already 30 years old, an age that would normally have assured such a warship a place in some scrap metal yard. Though
not combat capable, it was a platform for training China's first generation of naval aviators in landing speeding jets on heaving
decks in high seas. In marked contrast to the 15 years needed to retrofit this first ship, the Dalian yards took just five years
construct , from the keel up, a much-improved second carrier capable of full combat operations.
The narrow hulls and ski-jump prows that limit these first two carriers to just 24 "Flying Shark" fighter planes won't hold for
the country's third carrier, now
built from indigenous designs in Shanghai. When launched next year, it will be able to carry on-board fuel reserves that will
give it a longer cruising range and a complement of 40 aircraft, as well as electromagnetic systems for faster launches. Thanks to
an accelerating tempo of training, technology, and construction, by 2030 China should have enough aircraft carriers to ensure that
the South China Sea will become what the
Pentagon has termed
a "Chinese lake."
Such carriers are the vanguard of a sustained naval expansion that, by 2017, had already given China a
modern navy of 320 ships, backed by land-based missiles, jet
fighters, and a global system of surveillance satellites. Its current anti-ship ballistic missiles have a range of 2,500 miles and
so could strike U.S. Navy vessels anywhere in the Western Pacific. Beijing has also made strides in
mastering the volatile technology
for hypersonic missiles with speeds of up to 5,000 miles per hour, making them impossible to stop. By building two new submarines
every year, China has already assembled a fleet of 57, both
diesel- and nuclear-powered, and is projected to reach 80 soon. Each of its four nuclear submarines carries 12 ballistic missiles
that could reach anywhere in the western United States. In addition, Beijing has
launched dozens of amphibious ships and coastal corvettes,
giving it naval dominance in its own waters.
Within just five years, according to the U.S. Office of Naval
Intelligence , China "will complete its transition" from the coastal force of the 1990s to a modern navy capable of "sustained
blue water operations" and "multiple missions around the world," including full-spectrum warfare. In other words, China is forging
a future capacity to control its "home" waters from the East China Sea to the South China Sea. In the process, it will become the
first power in 70 years to challenge the U.S. Navy's dominion over the Pacific basin.
The American Response
After taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama came to the conclusion that China's rise represented a serious threat and
so he developed a geopolitical strategy to counter it. First, he promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation commercial pact
that would direct 40% of world trade toward the United States. Then, in March 2014, after announcing a military "pivot to Asia" in
an address to the Australian parliament, he deployed a full battalion of Marines to a base at the city of Darwin on the Timor Sea.
A month later, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines signed an enhanced defense cooperation agreement with that country allowing
U.S. forces to be stationed at five of its bases.
Combining existing installations in Japan with access to naval bases in Subic Bay, Darwin, and Singapore, Obama rebuilt America's
chain of military enclaves along the Asian littoral. To make full use of these installations, the Pentagon began
planning to "forward base
60% of [its] naval assets in the Pacific by 2020" and launched its first regular "freedom of navigation" patrols in the South China
Sea as a challenge to the Chinese navy, even sending in full carrier strike groups.
President Trump, however, cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership right after his inauguration and, with the endless war on terror
in the Greater Middle East grinding on, the shift of naval forces to the Pacific slowed. More broadly, Trump's unilateral, America-first
foreign policy has damaged relations with the four allies that underpin its line of defense in the Pacific:
Japan , South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. Moreover, in his obsessive courtship of Beijing's help in the Korean crisis,
the president even suspended, for five months, those naval patrols into the South China Sea.
The administration's new $700 billion defense budget will
fund 46 new ships for the Navy by 2023 (for a total of 326), but the White House seems incapable, as reflected in its
Security Strategy , of grasping the geostrategic importance of Eurasia or devising an effective scheme for the deployment of
its expanding military to check China's rise. After declaring Obama's "pivot to Asia" officially
, the Trump administration has instead
offered its own "free and open Indo-Pacific" founded on an unworkable alliance of four supposedly kindred democracies – Australia,
India, Japan, and the United States.
While Trump stumbles from one foreign policy crisis to the next, his admirals, mindful of Mahan's strategic dictums, are acutely
aware of the geopolitical requisites of American imperial power and have been vocal about their determination to preserve it. Indeed,
China's naval expansion, along with advances in Russia's submarine fleet, have led the Navy to a fundamental
strategic shift from limited operations against regional powers
like Iran to full-spectrum readiness for "a return to great power competition." After a sweeping strategic review of his forces in
2017, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson reported
that China's "growing and modernized fleet" was "shrinking" the traditional American advantage in the Pacific. "The competition is
on," he warned, "and pace dominates. In an exponential competition, the winner takes all. We must shake off any vestiges of comfort
In a parallel review of the Navy's surface force, its commander, Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden,
proclaimed "a new age of seapower"
with a return to "great power dynamics" from "near-peer competitors." Any potential naval attack, he added, must be met with a "distributed
lethality" capable of "inflicting damage of such magnitude that it compels an adversary to cease hostilities." Summoning the ghost
of Captain Mahan, the admiral warned: "From Europe to Asia, history is replete with nations that rose to global power only to cede
it back through lack of seapower."
Great Power Rivalry in the Twenty-First Century
As such rhetoric indicates, there is already a rising tempo of naval competition in the South China Sea. Just last month, after
a protracted hiatus in freedom-of-navigation patrols, the Trump administration sent the
supercarrierUSS Carl Vinson , with its full complement of 5,000 sailors and 90 aircraft, steaming across the South China
Sea for a symbolic visit to Vietnam, which has its own long-running dispute with China over oil rights in those waters.
Just three weeks later,
satellite imagery captured an extraordinary "display of maritime might" as a flotilla of some 40 Chinese warships, including
the carrier Liaoning , steamed through that same sea in a formation that stretched for miles. Combined with the
staged in those waters with the Cambodian and Russian navies in 2016, China, like empires past, is clearly planning to use its gunboats
and future naval bases to weave a web of de facto imperial control across the waters of Asia.
Naysayers who dismiss China's challenge might remind us that its navy only operates in two of the metaphoric "seven seas," a pale
imitation of the U.S. Navy's robust global posture. Yet China's rising presence in the Indian and Pacific oceans has far-reaching
geostrategic implications for our world order. In a cascading series of consequences, China's future dominance over significant parts
of those oceans will compromise the U.S. position on the Pacific littoral, shatter its control over that axial end of Eurasia, and
open that vast continental expanse, home to 70% of the world's population and resources, to China's dominion. Just as Brzezinski
once warned, Washington's failure to control Eurasia could well mean the end of its global hegemony and the rise of a new world empire
based in Beijing.
Chemical false flag attacks is the traditional way Syria islamists are calling for the US air support. From comments: "After all
they had lost in Douma - there were no point in Syrian gas attack - the fighting was done. Jaish al Islam must be having a great
laugh at our expensive for falling for their trick of gassing their own people. Let us not help the Islamists."
Anther interesting comment: "With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at
least one should have anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence."
And another " including their mouthpieces at the times manufacture
a chemical attack and claim Assad -- who has no reason whatsoever to do such things -- is some horrible monster that deserves to have
bombs rained down on him. How totally corrupt the MIC has become."
That act reported by White helmets looks like a classic MI6 provocation. Russian investigation has shown that no attack took place.
Moreover the rumors about this false flag were circulating long ago. Russians warned about this possiblity a month or so ago telling
the jihadists prepare such provocation. Looks like all that was needed for Trump is a plausible justification -- the desire to "decapitate"
Assad is too strong to resist.
"... Syria is a crappy place primarily because of insane overpopulation and limited water. Getting Assad out is not going to help with population or with water. Moving the entire Syrian population to Europe could be done and they are working on that. ..."
"... With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at least one should have anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence. ..."
President Trump on Monday denounced the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in
Syria over the weekend as a "barbaric act," and said
he will make a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours about whether to retaliate militarily as he did to a similar assault last year.
Congress has skirted their responsibility to authorize war in Syria and Trump is suggesting taking actions that could drag
us into a deep and costly war. The American people deserve to hear this debated in Congress.
Retaliate? They don't even know for sure who it was, could well have been an ally. The place is a mess of competing outside
Retaliate - and therein lies the problem. Too much to ask that for once they think, discuss, decide a long term policy with
other countries. Last time the 45th tried 'me-big-man-with-bomb' there was no follow up, nothing was done, what was the point?
Look at me I have the biggest, noisiest fire cracker! Pathetic. Careless. Irresponsible. Uniformed. Murderous. The list is endless.
I suppose the President can launch a missile attack, or any military action, based on whatever authority from Congress permitted
the US military to be fighting in Syria in the first place. The more fundamental issue is that Congress long ago ceded to the
President its constitutional responsibility to declare war . This must be corrected with checks restored on the President's power
to deploy the military at will. Otherwise, the US will continue to be in a perpetual state of war, which may be good for the extended
military supply industry but damaging to country as a whole.
What if.....what if this chemical attack was sanctioned not by Assad but by a state or a non-state force that wants the U.S.
Just why did this chemical attack follow Trump's announced desire to get out of Syria?
Why, also, is Israel urging us to attack now? Could it be to distract from the human rights catastrophe in Gaza?
We all know what John Bolton would have us do.
Where's the proof that this was Assad's work? More WMD ?
Trump wined and dined MBS of Saudi Arabia who has been conducting airstrikes on Yemen with hundreds of casualties, as high
as 68 civilian deaths in one day. It would be hard to imagine a better example of hypocrisy.
Syria is a part of a complex series of issues that make up the problem of Middle Eastern diplomacy. Trump does not have the
capacity to manage any of this. Selling arms to the Saudis to continue their war in Yemen added to the Syrian problem. The cholera
epidemic in Yemen is a form of biological warfare that is killing more civilians than chemical warfare in Syria. Starving the
population of Yemen is also warfare. By supporting the Saudis we have lost the moral high ground in Syria.
Was it the rebels again? Or is it chlorine again? Chlorine is used for several commercial and health purposes--to clean bottles,
to clean water, and for refrigeration. So it is quite easy for a bomb or explosive to hit a container and then there is a serious
gas problem. If pool acid and chlorine are stored together it might be worse when mixed. I do not believe Assad needs to use chemicals
because he has Russians who will do air strikes on his enemies. I call fake news.
The solution to Syria was obvious years ago, if you just wanted to see the obvious. And that was Syria as it had been for years,
in peace, secular, under a government of Assad who, eventually, knew it had to evolve into a more democratic regime . Now that
has changed, and all to Israel´s advantage. It seems as if the whole world has forgotten that the whole Middle East problem was
born, and is still the Occupation of Palestinian Land. Israel is a thorn in Arab Middle East.The only one that has attacked ALL
its neighbours !
We should do nothing. We need to leave Syria to the Syrian. We can't and musn't involve our military in every tragedy in the
world. There is no doubt in my mind that if we mistakenly and stupidly attack the Syrian Army we are aiding the Jihadist who planned
thit attack. After all they had lost in Douma - there were no point in Syrian gas attack - the fighting was done. Jaish al Islam
must be having a great laugh at our expensive for falling for their trick of gassing their own people. Let us not help the Islamists.
The US government LIES about everything. We know this. This has been proved repeatedly.
Yet, here we are with the US government, and its stenographers in the mainstream media, i.e., the stuff that's not Fake News,
right, assuring us that Assad gassed his own people. Again.
Even if we could believe this, or even if we gave the government the benefit of the doubt for . . . what? . . . its integrity?,
we are after all exceptional, right, how is this America's business?
Yes, other countries shouldn't gas their own people. But countries shouldn't commit war crimes either, and that goes on every
day. America is as dirty as any other country. Despite our treaty obligations, even torture is legal here.
We're supposedly the richest country in the world, but we can barely keep our streets paved and lit. And not only that, but
it is a proven fact that one dollar invested in domestic economics brings back much more return than one dollar spent on bombs.
Trump is right. We need to stomp the madness in the Middle East. The oil companies can pay for their own security with all of
the money they don't pay in taxes.
Right now our cities are clogged with people living in tents and defecating on the sidewalks and in the streets. Look at old
pictures from the Depression. It looks the same today.
The left is seeing Russians responsible for every wrong in the world. The right sees itself as the rescuer of the wrongs of
the world. I pray that this does not move this country into a war with Russia.
One of the few things I liked about Trump was his anti-involvement stance in the middle east. We have SO MUCH to fix and worry
about at home. Nothing that Trump does on immigration, environment, or anything else will make me more angry than dragging us
into another war.
I don't see any ink being given to the very likely possibility that the gas attack was a ploy by rebels to get the US (and
their air cover) to stick around. If you ask the question, "Who benefits?" the Assad regime had nothing to gain by gassing a few
civilians -- they're about to win the war, so why would they? OTOH, the rebels need us badly, and know that we will reflexively
Just a few days ago, Trump talked about withdrawing from Syria. Now, he says he will decide whether to attack Syria within
the next couple of days. One day we're out, the next day we're in. And just a few days ago, Trump said he didn't like to reveal
his military plans in advance. Now, he is announcing to the world that he is consideration retaliation against Syria. His contradictions
make the U.S. look as if it is led by a very confused commander in chief.
Yes, chemical weapons are barbaric, but who launched the attack? Which faction in this complicated civil war? How does trump
know the answer to this question when no one else does? Why would the U.S. "retaliate" based on speculation, especially after
trump recently said, "we need to get out of there and leave it to someone else"? What good would military action do at this point?
Are we anxious to put our "expensive new military" to the test? So many questions...and an administration unable / unwilling to
answer them. Too bad trump can't simply tweet his way out of this one...
I don't get it. Subjecting people, women, children and even men, to crushing, burning, lacerating and penetrating wounds is
par for the course. It's war after all. But poison! Oh the (in)humanity!
Also, anyone think it's weird that Assad does this just when the US is making motions to pull out?
It is impossible to know what is really going on as the world's powers continue to fight this proxy war. The only thing that
is certain is the continued suffering of the Syrian people - including the poor sods who will be conventionally incinerated by
American "retaliation" in a day or so.
The President should have no authority to declare war or commit troops, period. So far, there has been no urgent "national
emergency," as required by the War Powers Resolution, which would justify the President to effectively declare war unilaterally
and yet here we are, with presidents on both sides completely ignoring the Constitution, using the WPA as an enabler to bypass
the text which says that only Congress can declare war.
Saddam used gas on the Iranians and we were good with that. It is not clear about this gas in Syria. These "freedom fighters"
have no compunction about using civilians as human shields. How do we know the truth? They are various branches of Al Quaeda and
given their huge birth rate they don't seem to place much weight on human life in the here and now....maybe they focus on the
afterlife more. So why can't we just leave Assad alone and let him be the strong man there? Yes Syria is a crappy place primarily
because of insane overpopulation and limited water. Getting Assad out is not going to help with population or with water. Moving
the entire Syrian population to Europe could be done and they are working on that.
Trump says he was getting us out of Syria. Much to my relief to this endless war.
And I'm pretty sure the president of Syria, Assad, whose regime has been under attack by both the US supported Syrian rebels
and their ISIS allies did not want the US on their soil. So why would he do something like this? I don't believe he did. By the
way if the US was not meddling over in the M.E. there would be no refugees and fewer immigrants.
"Conventional" deaths by artillery and bullets are perfectly acceptable - when bodies are vaporized, ripped and torn apart
unrecognizably. But use a deadly gas and leave the corpses in "beautiful" condition - there you have crossed the line mister.
As painful as it is, the possession of chlorine is not in violation of the standards we all signed in to to stop chemical and
biological weapons. Hence, the agreement under Obama, by almost all standards, worked well. Or at least unless we wanted a few
hundred thousands troop on the ground to search the entire country. This use of chlorine is. Maybe Trump will propose a huge tariff
on chlorine exports to Syria?
What is the logic for Assad to provoke the US right after Trump announces his intention to withdraw? Would it not be more strategic
for the regime to hold off until US troops were withdrawn and then go after the rebels? Does Assad assume that the US response
will be more moderate if we still have troops in country? Any chance this was a rogue action to delay or reverse US plans to withdraw?
If so, who benefits from US continuing to maintain troops in Syria?
With "experts" at president's disposal, seems to me moment Trump announced Syrian withdrawal, at least one should have
anticipated - based on past occurrences - a gas attack aimed to engage US and therefore maintain US presence.
borrow from the British definition of an ambassador, United States military leaders are honest soldiers promoted in rank to champion
war with reckless disregard for the truth. This practice persists despite the catastrophic waste of lives and money because the untruths
are never punished. Congress needs to correct this problem forthwith.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exemplifies the phenomenon. As reported in The Washington
Post , Dunford recently voiced optimism about defeating the Afghan Taliban in the seventeenth year of a trillion-dollar war that
has multiplied safe havens for international terrorists, the opposite of the war's original mission. While not under oath, Dunford
insisted, "This is not another year of the same thing we've been doing for 17 years. This is a fundamentally different approach [T]he
right people at the right level with the right training [are in place] "
There, the general recklessly disregarded the truth. He followed the instruction of General William Westmoreland who stated at
the National Press Club on November 21, 1967 that the Vietnam War had come to a point "where the end begins to come into view." The
1968 Tet Offensive was then around the corner, which would provoke Westmoreland to ask for 200,000 more American troops. The Pentagon
Papers and Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty have meticulously documented the military's reckless disregard
for the truth throughout the Vietnam War.
Any fool can understand that continuing our 17-year-old war in Afghanistan is a fool's errand. The nation is artificial. Among
other things, its disputed border with Pakistan, the Durand Line, was drawn in 1896 between the British Raj and Afghan Amir Abdur
Rahmen Khair. Afghanistan's population splinters along tribal, ethnic, and sectarian lines, including Pushtans, Uzbeks, Hazara, Tajiks,
Turkmen, and Balochi. Its government is riddled with nepotism, corruption, ineptitude, and lawlessness. Election fraud and political
sclerosis are endemic. Opium production and trafficking replenish the Taliban's coffers.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a paper tiger. Desertion and attrition rates are alarming. Disloyalty is widespread. American
weapons are sold to the Taliban or captured. ANA soldiers will not risk that last full measure of devotion for an illegitimate, unrepresentative,
The Taliban also has a safe haven in Pakistan. A staggering portion -- maybe up to 90 percent -- of United States assistance to
Afghanistan is embezzled, diverted, or wasted. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR),
related to Chatham House in London that "SIGAR was finding waste, fraud, and abuse nearly everywhere we looked in Afghanistan --
from the $488 million worth of aircraft that couldn't fly, to the navy the U.S. bought for a landlocked country, to the buildings
the U.S. paid for that literally melted in the rain ."
"The Taliban are getting stronger, the government is on the retreat, they are losing ground to the Taliban day by day," Abdul
Jabbar Qahraman, a retired Afghan general who was the Afghan government's military envoy to Helmand Province until 2016, told the
New York Times last summer. ISIS has now joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda in fighting the United States. Secretary of Defense
General James Mattis conceded to Congress last June that "we are not winning in Afghanistan right now," but added polyannaishly,
"And we will correct this as soon as possible." Only two months earlier, the Defense Department insisted that dropping the Mother
of All Bombs on Afghanistan would reverse the losing trend.
Upton Sinclair sermonized: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding
it." Thus do military leaders deceive themselves about futile wars to extract more spending, to maintain their professional reputations
and public stature, and to avoid the embarrassment of explaining to Congress and the American people that astronomical sums have
been wasted and tens of thousands of American soldiers have died or were crippled in vain.
To deter such self-deception, Congress should enact a statute requiring the retirement without pension of any general or admiral
who materially misleads legislators or the public about prospective or ongoing wars with reckless disregard for the truth. That sanction
might have prompted General Dunford to acknowledge the grim truth about Afghanistan: that the United States is clueless about how
to win that war.
Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan and is the founding partner of Fein & DelValle PLLC.
after 9/11, on the night of September 23, 2001, the CIA's Islamabad station chief, Robert Grenier, received a telephone
call from his boss, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. "Listen, Bob," Tenet said, "we're meeting tomorrow at
Camp David to discuss our war strategy in Afghanistan. How should we begin? What targets do we hit? How do we sequence our
Grenier later wrote in his book,
88 Days to
, that while he was surprised by the call he'd been thinking about these
same questions -- "mulling them over and over and over," as he later told me -- so he was ready. President George Bush's address
to the U.S. Congress just a few days before, Grenier told Tenet, was a good start: demand that Afghanistan's Taliban ruler,
Mullah Omar, turn bin Laden over to the United States. If he refused, the U.S. should launch a campaign to oust him.
Grenier had thought through the plan, but before going into its details with Tenet he abruptly stopped the conversation.
"Mr. Director," he said, "this isn't going to work. I need to write this all down clearly." Tenet agreed.
Grenier set to work, and over the next three hours he laid out the battle for
Afghanistan. Included in the paper was a detailed program of how the CIA could deploy undercover teams to recruit bin
Laden's enemies among Afghanistan's northern Tajik and Uzbek tribes (an uneasy coalition of ethnic militias operating as
the Northern Alliance), supply them with cash and weapons, and use them in a rolling offensive that would oust the Taliban
in Kabul. With U.S. help, which included deploying American Special Forces teams (under CIA leadership) coupled with
American airpower, the Northern Alliance (more properly, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) would
start from its Panjshir Valley enclave in Afghanistan's far northeast and, recruiting support from anti-Taliban forces
along the way, roll all the way into Kabul.
Grenier gave the eight-page draft paper to his staff to review, then sent it to Tenet in
Washington, who passed it through the deputies committee (the second-in-command of each of the major national security
agencies), then presented it to Bush. "I regard that cable," Grenier wrote, "as the best three hours of work I ever did in
my twenty-seven-year career."
Three days after the Tenet-Grenier telephone conversation, on September 26, the CIA
landed a covert-operations team in Afghanistan to recruit local allies in the hunt for bin Laden. The quick action was
impressive, but then events slowed to a crawl. It wasn't until October 20 that the first U.S. Special Forces team linked up
with anti-Taliban rebels, and it took another week for U.S. units to land in strength. But by early November al Qaeda was
on the run and the Taliban's grip on the country was slipping away. On November 13, militias of the Northern Alliance
seized Kabul. The Taliban was defeated, its badly mauled units fleeing south and east (its last bastion, in the south, fell
on December 6), and into nearby Pakistan, while what remained of al Qaeda holed up in a series of cave complexes in the
Spin Ghar mountain range of eastern Afghanistan.
By almost any measure, the CIA-led anti-al Qaeda and anti-Taliban offensive (dubbed
Operation Enduring Freedom by George Bush) marked a decisive victory in the war on terror. The U.S. had set out a plan,
marshaled the forces to carry it out, and then seen it to completion.
But this triumph came with problems. The first was that the offensive was hampered by
Washington infighting that pitted the CIA against a puzzlingly recalcitrant U.S. military and a carping Donald Rumsfeld,
who questioned George Tenet's leadership of the effort. This bureaucratic squabbling, focused on just who was responsible
for what (and who exactly was running the Afghanistan war), would remain a hallmark of American efforts well into the Obama
administration. The second problem was that Afghanistan's southern Pashtun tribes were only marginally included in the
effort, and they remained suspicious of their northern non-Pashtun counterparts. The mistrust, CIA officers believed, would
almost certainly plant the seeds of an endless inter-tribal Afghan conflict, embroiling the United States in an effort to
prop up an unpopular Kabul government. The third problem was Pakistan -- or, more precisely, Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence agency, the ISI, and the ISI's "Directorate S," responsible for covertly supplying, training, and arming
Pakistan's Islamist allies, including the Pashtun-dominated Taliban.
The intractability of these variables, and America's 17-year effort (sometimes focused
but often feckless) to resolve them, form the basis of Steve Coll's
a thick but eminently readable account of America's Afghanistan misadventure. While
stands alone as a comprehensive
exposition of the Afghanistan conflict dating from 9/11, it's actually a follow-on of
, Coll's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004
narrative of America's efforts to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan following their invasion in December 1979. Given the
breadth of Coll's dual treatments and the depth of his research, it's likely that these books will remain the standard
exposition of the period for years to come.
While the focus of
is on Pakistan and its shady intelligence services, each of the obstacles that confronted the United States in Afghanistan
from the moment the Taliban abandoned Kabul is embraced in detail. These obstacles included America's post-9/11 attention
deficit disorder (the pivot away from al Qaeda to Iraq was being considered in Washington even as the Northern Alliance
cleared the Afghan capital) and the deeply embedded antipathy toward the new Kabul government among Pakistani-supported
southern tribesman. Thus, after the United States ousted al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters, it embarked on a program to
strengthen the new Kabul government, anointing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's president and pledging billions in
reconstruction aid. And so, or so it seemed, everything had gone as planned. The Taliban was routed; al Qaeda was on the
run; a new anti-terrorism government was in place in Kabul; and the United States had signed Pakistan on as a willing
accomplice. On May 1, 2003, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. The war
was over. Won.
But of course it wasn't.
Coll's account provides a disturbing catalogue of the U.S. mistakes in the wake of the
Taliban defeat. Almost all of them are well known: Hamid Karzai, the consensus choice of a grand assembly (a loya jirga) as
Afghanistan's interim president, proved to be a weak leader. The monies appropriated for Afghanistan's postwar
reconstruction were woefully inadequate for the task -- "laughable," as one U.S. official put it. American soldiers
responsible for countering the Taliban's return (and hunting al Qaeda terrorist cells) were thinly and poorly deployed
(and, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, of secondary importance in the Pentagon). Tentative Taliban efforts to engage the
United States in political talks were summarily and unwisely spurned. Allegations of prisoner abuse at U.S. detention
facilities consistently undermined U.S. legitimacy. American funds were funneled into Afghan ministries laced with corrupt
officials. Afghani poppy production increased, despite faint-hearted U.S. eradication efforts. And U.S. counter-terrorism
actions proved ham-handed and caused preventable civilian casualties, pushing Afghanis into a resurgent anti-Kabul
More crucially, Pakistan's unstinting support for America's Afghanistan efforts proved to
be anything but unstinting. The reason for this was not only entirely predictable but was actually the unintended result of
the American victory. When the Northern Alliance and U.S. airpower pushed what remained of the Taliban (along with the
remnants of al Qaeda) out of Afghanistan, they pushed them into Pakistan, creating conditions that, as Coll tells us,
"deepened resentment among Pakistan's generals, who would come to see their country's rising violence as a price of
American folly . . ." Put simply, for the United States to seal the Operation Enduring Freedom victory, it had to ensure
that its effects did not spill over into the one nation that could ensure that its victory would, in fact, be enduring.
That didn't happen. The result was that the Taliban was able to rebuild and rearm its networks not only in Pakistan, and
under the eyes of the ISI, but also in Afghanistan.
It might have been otherwise. During a series of discussions I had about America's
intervention in Afghanistan in the months immediately following 9/11, a number of currently serving and former senior U.S.
officials told me they believed that, given enough time, the Taliban might well have handed bin Laden over to the
Americans, obviating the need for a full-on invasion. One of these officials was Milton Bearden, a famed CIA officer (his
close friends refer to him as "Uncle Milty") who, during his time as a station chief in Pakistan, had helped to head up the
CIA's war against the Soviets in the mid 1980s.
After 9/11, Bearden recharged his Pakistan and Afghanistan networks in an effort to
convince the Taliban that turning bin Laden over to the Americans was a better option than the one they were facing. All
the while, Bearden kept senior U.S. officials apprised of what he was doing, even as he was attempting to head off their
rush to war. Bearden told me that, while his efforts had not reached fruition by the time the Bush White House had decided
on a course of action, he believes the United States had not fully explored all of its options -- or thought through the
long-term impact of its intervention. "I don't know what would have happened, I don't know," he says wistfully, "but I
think we have a handhold in history. We should have seen what was coming." He notes that Alexander the Great "took one look
at Afghanistan's mountains and decided against it. He thought his whole army could get swallowed up in there, and he wasn't
going to take that chance. So, well, you tell me if I'm wrong, but Alexander was no slouch, right?"
Not everyone agrees with this, of course. The dissenters include Robert Grenier, the
first drafter of what became the American war plan. Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he told me, was committed to his pledge to
protect Osama bin Laden; he viewed it as a blood oath that could not be broken. Moreover, argues Grenier, "Omar viewed
himself as a kind of world historical figure, a person on whom the axis of history would turn." One result was that he
believed his fight against the Americans would be epochal.
That said, Grenier believes America's foray into Afghanistan, and the mistakes that
followed, might at least have been dampened by a more diligent focus on the inherent divisions of Afghan society. "We [at
the CIA]," he told me several months ago, "were very aware that the march of the Northern Alliance into Kabul would likely
create real difficulties in the south. And we tried to slow it, precisely for this reason. But events overtook us, and it
just wasn't possible. So, yes, things might have been otherwise, but in truth we just don't know."
The value in Coll's
comes not from the elegant telling of a story not fully known, but from the dawning realization that Afghanistan is the
kind of lock for which there is no key. There is no reason to believe that a different outcome would have ensued if other
events had intruded -- for example, more personnel, money, focused diplomacy, or robust and disciplined enemy-defeating and
nation building; or that our war there and the occupation that followed would have yielded the same results that we
realized in, say, Japan after 1945. The real hubris here is not that we tried and failed but that we thought we could
actually succeed. Afghanistan is simply not that kind of place.
There is a term of art for this in the military, which found its first usage in Iraq in
2009, when U.S. commanders adopted it as an appreciation of what could and could not be accomplished. Instead of focusing
on defeating corruption, inefficiency, disunity, and poor leadership, the focus shifted almost exclusively to dampening
violence, to keeping the doors to Iraq open even as its factions battled for its control. More importantly, the adoption of
the phrase marked the abandonment of high expectations and an embrace of realism. The United States would have to yield the
business of replicating a Western-style democracy on the banks of the Euphrates. That goal, if it was going to be
accomplished at all, would have to be realized by the Iraqis.
Analyst Anthony Cordesman, one of America's premier military thinkers, adopted the phrase
and applied to Afghanistan in 2012 in an essay he entitled, "Time to Focus on 'Afghan Good Enough.'" His plan was simply
stated but had all the elegance of actually working: keep the Taliban out of Kabul and the major cities, preserve the
central and provincial government even in the face of endemic corruption, and work to provide security to large numbers of
Afghanis. Cordesman conceded that this was not the kind of victory that Americans had hoped for on September 12. And it was
difficult to describe the outcome as even vaguely passable -- or "good." But it was far better than adopting goals that could
not be realized or embracing an illusion that disappeared even as it was grasped. For the time being at least, it would
have to be "good enough."
Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to
The American Conservative
and the author of
The Pentagon's Wars
Just consider 9/11. Mossad was caught with bombs in NYC the day of and yet they were
released and there's no mention in the media. All the evidence Chris Bollyn and others have
put together points to a zionist "inside" operation. Over 2,300 engineers conclude the
government's narrative "defies physics", not to mention logic. WTC Building 7 collapses in 7
seconds and this is ignored without repercussion. 3,000 died that day and millions since as a
result (fake "War on Terror", actual "War OF Terror").
The country has been overthrown from within. The question is what to do? How do we wake up
the masses suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Or is it best to get the heck out of dodge
before things unravel and escalate?
We have a fake government, fake media, fake legal system (UCC contract law, no common
law), fake education, fake history, fake air/skies (chemtrails, geo-engineering), fake water
(fluoridated), fake food (GMO). 5G is coming, cameras are going up everywhere. We're close to
a police state and martial law can't be far off. Fake President. I deep down knew he wasn't
real because it's not possible. http://themillenniumreport.com
It's a pretty bleak picture. We need an awakening / revolution.
The vampire squid has its much larger and more powerful prey so under control that there
is almost no need for it to deliver orders and commands. The evil parasite has a thought and
the host carries out the action as if the blood/brain barrier has been breached. The only
remaining question for sensible realists concerns how much time should pass before they begin
to wish for/hope for/work to bring about the downfall of the host prey as it becomes clearer
and more obvious that its downfall is the only way to destroy the evil parasite and spare the
rest of the world.
The critical mistake that the CIA and other institutions of the American deep state made was
in failing to understand that media is critical infrastructure just as much as roads,
bridges, ports and the electrical grid and therefore needed to be kept out of the cartelized
control of a tiny ethnic group with foreign allegiances. They allowed this critical
infrastructure be bought up by this foreign minority and thereby used to brainwash the
American public and control the perimeter of the debate. This was a catastrophic mistake
which is the primary root cause of most of America's greatest problems from immigration to
foreign wars in the Middle East.
If effect, the American media is controlled by a foreign mafia, until and unless it is
dealt with as such, in the same manner as the Italian mafia, if necessary, America will
continue to be run for foreign interests. Most countries are much smarter than us (e.g.,
China). They never would have let this happen.
Brian Roberts: Comcast and MSNBC
Aviv Nevo: Time Warner and CNN.
Sulzburger family: NYTimes
Sumner Rothstein: CBS
You won't hear about shooting Gaza protesters on prime time MSNBC, CNN shows for two
reasons. The guests either wouldn't be inclined to speak about it, for ideological and ethic
reasons. Or, those that might like to express concern would feel sufficiently threatened that
they would never be asked to come back.
Oh Lord, I want that money is a line from The Producers . But it's
applicable here. Many of these cable contributors know what's expected of them and deliver
safe answers so they can continue cashing scale appearance checks. And any show with a
negative focus on Israel would be attacked by the Israel Lobby, forthwith.
I spent several summers in Israel when I was a college student in 1968 and 1969. When I went
back to the University of North Carolina I took a course in the Arab/Israel Dispute; it was a
seminar that was methodically fair, telling both sides of the story. After class the
professor and I would walk to our cars in faculty parking areas. He would actually look over
his shoulder before admitting that most to the people in his field were strongly in favor of
the Palestinians, since the Jews had such a strangle-hold on every American university.
Certainly those on the right whose priorities are most directly under attack by powerful
jewish lobbies and oligarchs should tactically support the idea of cutting off any positive
connections with Israel, until jewish money stops promoting:
The imposition of speech taboos and ultimately speechcrime laws (as in Europe and the UK)
under the pretexts of suppressing "hate speech" and the political correctness smears
(anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, islamophobia etc);
"When Mr. Bush [the lesser] cited its most simplified tenet -- that the US should seek to
promote liberal democracy around the world -- as a key case for invading Iraq,
neoconservatism was suddenly everywhere. It was a unified ideology that justified military
adventurism, sanctioned torture and promoted aggressive Zionism."
Normally, on the 50th anniversary of any notable event, there is almost always recognition in
the mainstream media not so for the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty (GTR-5). The
American mainstream media was totally silent -- not a single peep or mention of this act of
war by Israel. This is PROOF that our mainstream media is "owned", lock, stock and barrel by
"One of the most influential neoconservatives in Washington is Robert Kagan, the husband
of Victoria Nuland who was the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs under the
Obama administration (and one of the architects of the Ukraine's civil war) describes himself
as a "liberal interventionist"
Between the 1950′s and the 1960′s, a political movement known as
Neo-conservatism was born under the liberal hawks of the Democratic Party in the United
States. Then came the Vietnam war where the liberal hawks called for military action to
prevent the Communists from taking power in Vietnam. The neocons were also proponents of the
Cold War and supporters of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine The neocons made their
way to the Reagan administration with Eliot Abrams and company with wars in Central America
including Nicaragua and El Salvador."
-- In any civilized society, the Kagans clan et al would have been isolated like a plague
from the population. The US has become truly zionized by the Trotskyists who have been
working synergetically with the MIC and the CIA.
It is a loosely guarded secret that American "law enforcement" has embraced Israeli "law
enforcement" tactics (which are akin to military practices). As Israel is on a constant "war
footing", its tactics are contentious and confrontational. In fact, American "law
enforcement" agencies routinely send their officers to Israel to receive "training" in
Israeli police tactics. There is no room for Israeli tactics in American "law
"Escalation of force" used to be the cornerstone of American "law enforcement", but no
more. Police expect us mere mundanes to cower in fear, and obey their (sometimes confusing
and ridiculous) commands without question. This goes hand-in-hand with the militarization of
American "law enforcement". Of course, us mere mundanes are expected to embrace the
"escalation of force" doctrine under penalty of law.
SERIOUS question for people that want to roll back borders to where they were over a half
century ago (or wherever their 0 year, they made up, is):
Can we put Instanbul back in charge of the muddy yeast, being as Erdogan seems
tremendously trustworthy, or maybe swap ruling families back to where they were before some
of the swaps? Moving royal fams around is near tradition, at this point.
Not a proper history, but, if you are actually interested, there is much more to read.
They even put most of this history in books, which are often the place to go after web
comments. Peer review and everything, on a good day.
If you stand in front of a Chinese tank, you die. If you throw rocks at an Israeli tank,
you die. Nothing novel in either case.
Russia has been very restrained re: ukies. Was zero reason to turn it into Chechnya, and
that is exactly what State was angling for. On a meddling n garbage angle: Hell, Obummer
tried to pull off a coup in Tatarstan (on the Volga ) and I wish I was imagining it, but they
tried to create a Free Tatarstan Army was heavily under-reported by Western media.
Funny how perfectly the Israelis mimic the Nazis they kvetch about all the time, if one
believe the stories they tell. They keep the untermensch Palestinians in ghettos, where they
shoot them and gas them, and otherwise treat them like vermin. No doubt some commenters here
agree that they are vermin. How long until Israel builds them showers?
I appreciate Giraldi's articulate and concise summary of the problem. I would also add that
Israel had also been designated by the UN as the world's leader in human slavery and sex
trafficking, another thing you'll never hear reported in America's Jewish-controlled media.
Based on that alone we should be enacting sanctions against Israel.
But I have noticed for decades the recurring quiet void that follows the "something must
be done" part in the endless articles I've read on the subject, as if that iron wall of
Jewish censorship and power is eternally insurmountable. It isn't.
We should know by now that there is not going to be a political solution, and I have long
since stopped dreaming about voting Israeli collaborators out of our government.
Put simply, Jewish power comes from money and that money comes from us. The populace may
complain endlessly about Washington Post propaganda and its pernicious efforts to overthrow
our democratically elected president, but every December Americans will dump a few billion
dollars into Jeff Bezos' pocket. It's time to stop.
You can already see the effects of Americans boycotting Hollywood and the NFL -- it
What I would like to see everyone do is offer a solution instead of another explication of
the problems. Essentially, how do we overthrow this Jewish police state we live in and regain
control of our own country before it's too late?
My suggestion is a comprehensive economic boycott against all Jewish goods and
You have a better solution? Let's hear it. In fact, I would love to see the Unz Review
commit to a series of "solution" articles.
8Are you saying that only a response which shows that a civlian's life is not safe if he
engages in a peaceful -- and certainly not life threatening -- demonstration against the
Israeli treatment of Palestinians is adequate to deal with such a demonstration without
severely risking the security of Israel?
Your answer, impled by what you have already said, appears to be "Yes". Really!?
Some of this blame has to be put on the lap of the feckless Arab nation. Egypt, Jordan and
of course the coward princes in Saudi Arabia. El Sisi is a banana republic despot looking,
poor man's version of Mubarak, the King of Jordan is trying to stay above it all and the
worst is that 'idiot savant' gorilla sized 'clown prince' MBS who has become good buds with
that weird (even for a Jew) Trump son-in-law Jared . Does he own a chain of jewelry
The Turkish emir Erdogan is doing the heavy lifting for these weak Arabs. At least he's
trading insults with 'Yahoo'.
The United States, my country, unfortunately is Zionist Occupied Territory. I just started
picking fights on Beitbart and while many of the posters I assume are Zionist trolls some
have to be real posters and there the pro Zionist posters outnumbered the anti Zionist
ones at least 5 to 1.
I bow my head in shame for my once great and now Zionist occupied country.
The sad truth is, most Americans don't really care what is happening eight thousand miles
away, no matter how horrific, and no matter that their money is being used to support it.
They drink the media koolaid, and think mostly about what's for dinner and where to go on
vacation this year. This is how the farce goes on. It makes the zio animals smile.
Yes, there's a lot of fakery going on, Paul. I agree that the "special relationship"
benefits Israel exclusively and that it has reached the stage of being undeniable. I can't
quite accept this latest Q, though. His communiques sound too much like the average blog
commenter's repetitive postings, as though the average blog commenter is the target
Everyone should hope that Justin Raimondo and the readership of "Antiwar.com" reads Giraldi's
facts as written in this article. Moreover, all the subscribers of the New York Times and
Washington Post should be apprised of the facts that these two publishers deliberately
withhold from readers. U.S. citizens who are taxed to support these war crimes are purposely
kept ignorant of the facts. Nevertheless, the world is aware of U.S. hypocritical support for
Israel's disdain of international law and the horrible war crimes that occur in Israel's
unlawful occupation of Palestinian captured land.
sad realization that the blood of many innocent people is, to a considerable extent, on
Sad to say, most Americans don't know, don't want to know and don't care. The US, since
the end of the last world war, has caused millions to die all over the world either directly
or indirectly. This has gone on up to the present day. The collective response of the average
American to all that has been a collective yawn. The only fightback came during the Vietnam
war when the costs and body counts started getting too high. Otherwise if the furriners get
killed at a low cost to us then no problem. Only about perhaps 2-5% of the American public
evinces any moral misgivings about the mass atrocities it's supposed government has carried
out routinely. Because of this it's safe to conclude that America is a nation of moral
defectives so don't expect much from them. In this context the recent Israeli actions are
small change and will be memory-holed quickly. They are America's local pit bull and
therefore have the umbrella of American protection. It's also interesting to note how the
Palestinians have been abandoned by the leadership of some of their supposed fellow Arab
states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, all US client-flunkies. Non-Arabs seem to be among
the ones most discomfited by these recent events.
I would suspect I am not the first to say it (but may be), from the outside, this 'special
relationship' looks much like the special relationship between the face-hugger and the
character John Hurt is playing in Alien .
"... The first, perhaps most dominant ingredient of the Cold War is missing: ideological competition. America remains aggressive internationally, determined to transform the world in its image, or at least in its interest. Of course, invading Iraq, nation-building in Afghanistan, blowing up Libya and messing around in Syria all failed dramatically -- even disastrously. Nevertheless, so far Washington's governing elite appears to have learned nothing. ..."
"... Putinism is no philosophy. It is just traditional authoritarian nationalism. Even those in the West who seem to admire him -- reactionary conservatives, intolerant nationalists and wannabe authoritarians -- are more enamored of his methods than his person. There is no Putinist version of the Comintern, no global Putinist revolutionary movement devoted to world conquest. Putin cares about the world only insofar as it affects Russia. ..."
"... Second, Russia's foreign policy is essentially conservative and restrained, though not pacifist. (In contrast, America's is unconstrained and frankly militarist.) This approach explains the conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine, as well as attempts to influence American and European elections. The United States views expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders as the natural evolution of American global domination. Moscow considers the incorporation of Ukraine into the alliance created to constrain Russia as a security threat, rather as Washington might view Mexico's entry into the Warsaw Pact. While to Americans Moscow is wildly inflating the threat -- in truth, the idea of the Europeans attacking Russia sounds like the plot for a fantasy movie -- the United States has not suffered multiple invasions from its European neighbors. ..."
President Donald Trump entered office with praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and
support for improving Washington-Moscow relations. A year later President Trump surprised even
his aides by congratulating Putin on the latter's reelection and suggesting a summit meeting
between the two leaders.
A chilling political wind is blowing through the capitals of America, Europe and Russia.
There is talk of a new Cold War, as the two sides trade diplomatic expulsions. In the West, at
least, there is even a hint of war as NATO fusses over European defense capabilities (poor) and
the United States deploys more troops to the continent (as usual).
President Trump has stood by, mostly silently, as bilateral relations continued their
slow-motion collapse, demonstrating his essential irrelevance to much of U.S. foreign policy.
For instance, he allowed the State Department to announce the latest expulsion of Russian
diplomats. This is one area where his gut instincts -- the value of an improved relationship --
are correct, but what he personally believes obviously doesn't much matter for policy. That
could change as he asserts himself with a new secretary of state and national security advisor,
but they both have hawkish instincts and have demonstrated no interest in détente with
Despite the diplomatic spiral, however, there is no new Cold War. And there won't be a hot
war unless Washington ignites a confrontation while pursuing an ever more interventionist and
activist foreign policy in areas viewed as vital by Russia.
The first, perhaps most dominant ingredient of the Cold War is missing: ideological
competition. America remains aggressive internationally, determined to transform the world in
its image, or at least in its interest. Of course, invading Iraq, nation-building in
Afghanistan, blowing up Libya and messing around in Syria all failed dramatically -- even
disastrously. Nevertheless, so far Washington's governing elite appears to have learned
In contrast, Vladimir Putin clearly grasped the lessons of the Soviet Union's collapse. He
is a pragmatic authoritarian, rather than a communist. His ambitions look far more traditional,
like that of the Tsar and the Russian Empire. His government's greatest concerns are
maintaining control, gaining respect for Russia's interests and safeguarding its
Putinism is no philosophy. It is just traditional authoritarian nationalism. Even those in
the West who seem to admire him -- reactionary conservatives, intolerant nationalists and
wannabe authoritarians -- are more enamored of his methods than his person. There is no
Putinist version of the Comintern, no global Putinist revolutionary movement devoted to world
conquest. Putin cares about the world only insofar as it affects Russia.
Second, Russia's foreign policy is essentially conservative and restrained, though not
pacifist. (In contrast, America's is unconstrained and frankly militarist.) This approach
explains the conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine, as well as attempts to influence American and
European elections. The United States views expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders as the
natural evolution of American global domination. Moscow considers the incorporation of Ukraine
into the alliance created to constrain Russia as a security threat, rather as Washington might
view Mexico's entry into the Warsaw Pact. While to Americans Moscow is wildly inflating the
threat -- in truth, the idea of the Europeans attacking Russia sounds like the plot for a
fantasy movie -- the United States has not suffered multiple invasions from its European
Moreover, Putin and many other Russians believe the West violated its commitment not to
expand the transatlantic alliance eastward. Perhaps Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill
Clinton merely encouraged the Gorbachev and Yeltsin governments to believe what they wanted.
However, newly declassified diplomatic records help explain Moscow's anger. To that must be
added the dismemberment of Serbia, long linked to Russia, and "color revolutions," always to
Moscow's detriment. Again, one can imagine the reaction of U.S. policymakers most exercised
over Vladimir Putin had Russia backed a street putsch against a democratically elected,
pro-American president in Mexico City. Such does not justify Moscow's reaction, but it helps
Putin wants to disrupt and divide those countries most directly threatening Russia
(ironically, his actions have done more to unite the fractious transatlantic alliance). He also
wants to prevent NATO from incorporating Georgia and Ukraine (in this he has been more
successful). Ironically, there was nothing in his early years in power which suggested animus
toward the West. Rather, he appeared to be a typically cynical and worldly KGB officer
determined to enhance his nation's domestic power and international standing. From his
perspective Russia's foreign policy is just business, nothing personal.
Even Putin's Syrian adventure demonstrates the limits of his ambition. He backed a long-time
ally to thwart what would be another aggressive U.S. advance. Far from threatening to dominate
the Middle East, Moscow is seeking to preserve a small role in a region long dominated by
America, which is allied with Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf States. Only pretentious
Washington policymakers, who successively intervened militarily to oust established governments
in three Middle Eastern countries and backed an ally's invasion of a fourth country would have
the chutzpah to accuse Russia of aggressive designs for supporting a recognized government in
Third, the world no longer is bipolar. China and the European Union both enjoy economic
wealth and power akin to that of the United States, even though Americans remain wealthier and,
at least until the Trump administration, were the primary drivers of international economic
policy. Beijing is building a significant military while the Europeans are capable of doing so,
in whatever form they desire. India is moving onto center stage as well, with virtually
unlimited possibilities in the future.
In a broad sense the Europeans are on America's side while the People's Republic of China
(PRC) backs Russia, but the divisions are far more complex than during the Cold War. Several
European governments have resisted U.S.-led sanctions against Moscow as well as other American
initiatives, while the PRC and Russia are friends out of necessity, mostly drawn together by
Washington's hostility. Such an alliance, if it deserves to be called that, likely will prove
of little value if truly tested. There is no "Evil Empire," as President Ronald Reagan once
characterized the Soviet Union and its satellite states.
Fourth, there are no essential conflicts between Washington and Moscow. There are no
disputed territories, no vital regions occupied by the opposing power. Neither nation has any
interest in conquering the other. The only genuine area of conflict is the desire of American
policymakers to impose their will virtually everywhere on earth, including areas of
long-standing Russian interest. U.S. policy is an inverted form of the Monroe Doctrine: Other
nations are not allowed to exercise influence even in their own neighborhood. Washington
desires to treat the world as it originally deigned to handle Latin America, viewing any
outside interference as "the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United
This irrationally aggressive approach is evident in Syria, a long-time ally of Moscow.
American policymakers speak with outrage at Russia's military involvement in one nation even
though Washington has spent decades intervening -- often militarily -- virtually everywhere
else in the region: Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait and the
other Gulf States. Similarly misguided are Washington's complaints about Russian involvement in
Central Asia, which any map shows to be a lot closer to Russia than America. The denizens of
the District of Columbia might aspire to a world in which America dominates every region, but
such an objective is not important let alone vital to the nation's security. And such an overly
ambitious and unsustainable policy certainly is not worth war.
As for Europe, despite the frenzied complaints of the Baltic states and Poland, there is no
evidence of any aggressive Russian designs. And why would there be? The meal would be
indigestible. Indeed, nearing eighteen years in power Putin has gained nothing but Crimea,
which probably was welcomed by a majority of residents. Beyond that influence over South
Ossetia, Abkhazia, and the Donbass is a pretty pitiful empire, while the United States has
bombed, invaded, occupied and/or dismembered several states. If he was biding his time then he
made a huge error, since the Europeans are finally taking steps to create a more effective and
better coordinated continental defense.
Even if Moscow were to win against a Baltic state, Russia would only gain ravaged territory
along with enduring enmity, brutal sanctions and military retaliation. Worse, if NATO chose to
fight -- as it almost certainly would -- Russia would lose the war. Unsurprisingly, Putin has
done nothing to suggests he wants anything other than to secure Russia itself, a goal he has
advanced by destabilizing, but not conquering, Georgia and Ukraine, to prevent their inclusion
in NATO. The easiest way for Washington to avoid conflict with Moscow is to not
advance its security guarantees and military deployments to Russia's borders in Asia.
Fifth, Russia is no match militarily to the United States. Despite the widespread wailing
and gnashing of teeth about the tragically underfunded American military, Washington spends ten
times as much on the armed services as does Moscow. Congress sometimes votes larger annual
increases in outlays than Russia's total annual expenditures.
Such comparisons obviously are imperfect, but only in nuclear weapons does Moscow have
relative military parity. It possesses one aircraft carrier, sort of, versus ten American
carrier groups. The Russian air force and air defense system are competent, and would force the
Pentagon to plan a war without absolute air superiority, for once, but they likely would not
prevail. The Putin government has rebuilt the army after its less than stellar performance in
Georgia, but there is no adjoining American territory for Moscow to invade. And Russia lacks
air or naval lift to reach the United States, and would regret arriving if it could.
Which leaves Europe. However, the continent enjoys almost twelve times Russia's economic
strength -- Italy alone (as well as Germany, the United Kingdom and France) has a larger GDP
than Russia. The Europeans already spend upwards of five times as much on the military as
Moscow; collectively the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, despite their anemic efforts,
devote almost two and a half times as much as Russia to the military.
True, the Europeans suffer problems of interoperability, coordination, and deployment.
Nevertheless, the idea that Moscow could successfully attack America and Europe is a fantasy.
While the allies should prepare for any eventuality, the primary responsibility should fall on
Europe, which both is relatively more vulnerable and entirely capable of defending itself.
How to pull U.S.-Russia relations out of their tailspin? Federal, state, and local officials
should defend the one vital interest at stake, the integrity of American democracy. Of course,
Washington would have greater credibility in doing so if it acknowledged having interfered in
scores of democratic elections worldwide, including in Russia. U.S. policymakers should stop
meddling to help America's foreign friends, improve electoral safeguards at home, and prepare
to retaliate in response to future interference by Russia or anyone else.
Washington should end the diplomatic tit-for-tats. Communication channels need to remain
open. The more people -- businessmen, tourists, students, family members, athletes, performers
and others -- who visit each way, the better. This would be one way to demonstrate that this is
not Cold War II.
The United States also should address Moscow's security concerns. American policymakers
express shock and sadness that anyone anywhere fears the United States, but any nation on
Washington's naughty list should worry about covert or overt efforts at regime change. The
United States and Europeans should explore a settlement with Russia involving Georgia and
Ukraine which includes the end to NATO expansion. In return, the Putin government would stop
supporting anti-Kiev rebels. Moscow isn't going to return Crimea, which historically was part
of Russia: the United States and Europe should de facto accept the annexation, dropping
sanctions if Moscow stops undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity.
On other issues -- Syria, Iran, North Korea and more -- the two sides should return to
old-fashioned compromise. Russian interests are legitimate and need to be taken into account.
Along the way Washington should look for ways to loosen the China-Russia partnership. The PRC
poses a far greater long-term challenge to America. A friendlier Moscow, like India, could act
as an important counterweight to Beijing.
The state of the U.S.-Russia relationship is bad, but it is not Cold War II. Washington
should ensure that relations do not further deteriorate. The Russian Federation is too
important a country to treat as an enemy. No one would gain from a new conflict, whether cold
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to
President Ronald Reagan. He is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire
Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You
can see a timeline of where you've been from the very first day you started using
on your phone.
Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly?
Google has an advertisement profile of you
Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age,
hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.
Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use
them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are
you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.
of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you're going to be a parent
soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling
depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic
The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents
Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I've requested to download it and the
file is 5.5GB
, which is roughly 3m Word documents.
ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">
Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of
everything that person has done
This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information,
your YouTube videos, the photos you've taken on your phone, the businesses you've bought from, the products you've
bought through Google
They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you
listen to, the Google books you've purchased, the Google groups you're in, the websites you've created, the phones
you've owned, the pages you've shared, how many steps you walk in a day
'A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me.' Photograph: Dylan Curran
Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location
Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you've liked and what you
and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic "girl").
Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you've ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do
this. It's just a joke at this stage).
They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.
And they store all the applications you've ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess I'm
interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation
of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.
(Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of
the privacy options with 16
different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)
The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them,
what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your
calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your
photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.
Facebook told me it would act swiftly on data misuse – in 2015 | Harry
Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data
I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways
they get your information.
Here's the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded
and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).
'My search history document has 90,000 different entries.' Photograph: Dylan Curran
Google knows which events you attended, and when
Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended
them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what
time I arrived).
'Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended.' Photograph: Dylan Curran
And Google has information you deleted
This is my Google Drive, which includes files I
deleted including my résumé, my monthly
budget, and all the code, files and websites I've ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I
use to encrypt emails.
This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps I've ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the
times I've recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts I've done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fit's
I'll just do a short summary of what's in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.
First, every Google Ad I've ever viewed or clicked on, every app I've ever launched or used and when I did it,
every website I've ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I've ever installed or searched for.
They also have every image I've ever searched for and saved, every location I've ever searched for or clicked
on, every news article I've ever searched for or read, and
every single Google search
I've made since
2009. And then finally, every YouTube video I've ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.
This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say you're not a terrorist. Then how come you were
googling Isis? Work at Google and you're suspicious of your wife? Perfect, just look up her location and search
history for the last 10 years. Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a
chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.
This is one of the craziest things about the modern age. We would never let the government or a corporation put
cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us. But we just went ahead and did it ourselves because –
to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.
A caption was corrected on 28 March 2018 to replace "privacy options in Facebook"
with "privacy options in Windows 10".
Dylan Curran is a data consultant and web developer, who does extensive research into spreading
technical awareness and improving digital etiquette
"... I wanted to investigate whether the growing volume of criticism toward Russia, sometimes by people who could hardly claim to be knowledgeable about the country, concealed a political agenda. ..."
"... I discovered evidence of Russophobia shared by different circles within the American political class and promoted through programs and conferences at various think tanks, congressional testimonies, activities of NGOs, and the media. Russophobia is not merely a critique of Russia, but a critique beyond any sense of proportion, waged with the purpose of undermining the nation's political reputation. ..."
"... To these individuals, Russophobia is merely a means to pressure the Kremlin into submitting to the United States in the execution of its grand plans to control the world's most precious resources and geostrategic sites. In the meantime, Russia has grown increasingly resentful, and the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 has demonstrated that Russia is prepared to act unilaterally to stop what it views as US unilateralism in the former Soviet region. ..."
"... Anti-American attitudes are strongly present in Russian media and cultural products, as a response to the US policies of nuclear, energy, and military supremacy in the world. Extreme hegemonic policies tend to provoke an extreme response, and Russian nationalist movements and often commentators react harshly to what they view as unilateral encroachment on Russia's political system and foreign policy interests. Russia's reactions to these policies by the United States are highly negative and frequently inadequate, but hardly more extreme than the American hegemonic and imperial discourse. ..."
"... The central objective of the Lobby has been to preserve and strengthen America's power in the post-Cold War world through imperial or hegemonic policies. The Lobby has viewed Russia with its formidable nuclear power, energy reserves, and important geostrategic location as a major obstacle in achieving this objective. Even during the 1990s, when Russia looked more like a failing state3 than one capable of projecting power, some members of the American political class were worried about the future revival of the Eurasian giant as a revisionist power. In their percep- tion, it was essential to keep Russia in a state of military and economic weakness-not so much out of emotional hatred for the Russian people and their culture, but to preserve American security and promote its val- ues across the world. To many within the Lobby, Russophobia became a useful device for exerting pressures on Russia and controlling its policies. Although to some the idea of undermining and, possibly, dismembering Russia was personal, to others it was a necessity of power dictated by the realities of international politics. ..."
"... According to this dominant vision, there was simply no place in this "New American Century" for power competitors, and America was destined eventually to assume control over potentially threatening military capabilities and energy reserves of others. As the two founders of the Project for the New' American Century (PNAC), William Kristol and Robert Kagan, asserted when referring to the large military forces of Russia and China, "American statesmen today ought to recognize that their charge is not to await the arrival of the next great threat, but rather to shape the international environment to prevent such a threat from arising in the first place."4 ..."
"... Russia was either to agree to assist the United States in preserving its world-power status or be forced to agree. It had to either follow the U.S. interpretation of world affairs and develop a political and economic system sufficiently open to American influences or live as a pariah state, smeared by accusations of pernicious behavior, and in constant fear for its survival in the America-centered world. As far as the U.S. hegemonic elites were concerned, no other choice was available. ..."
"... This hegemonic mood was largely consistent with mainstream ideas within the American establishment immediately following the end of the Cold War. For example, 1989 saw the unification of Germany and the further meltdown of the Soviet Union, which some characterized as "the best period of U.S. foreign policy ever."5 President Jimmy Carter's former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski envisioned the upcoming victory of the West by celebrating the Soviet Union's "grand failure."6 ..."
"... Charles Krauthammer, went as far as to proclaim the arrival of the United States' "unipolar moment," a period in which only one super- power, the United States, would stand above the rest of the world in its military, economic, and ideological capacity ..."
"... The mid-1990s saw the emergence of post-Soviet Russophobia. The Lobby's ideology was not principally new, as it still contained the three central myths of Sovietophobia left over from the Cold War era: Russia is inherently imperialist, autocratic, and anti-Western. This ideology now had to be modified to the new conditions and promoted politically, which required a tightening of the Lobby's unity, winning new allies within the establishment, and gaining public support.15 ..."
"... During the period of 2003-2008, Vice President Richard Dick Cheney formed a cohesive and bipartisan group of Russia critics, who pushed for a more confrontational approach with the Kremlin. ..."
"... Cheney could not tolerate opposition to what he saw as a critical step in establishing worldwide US hegemony. He was also harboring the idea of controlling Russia's energy reserves.91 ..."
"... In Russia, however, the Cold War story has been mainly about sovereignty and independence, rather than Western-style liberalism. To many Russians it is a story of freedom from colonization by the West and of preserving important attributes of sovereign statehood. ..."
"... In a world where neocolonialism and cultural imperialism are potent forces, the idea of freedom as independence continues to have strong international appeal and remains a powerful alternative to the notion of liberal democracy. ..."
"... The West's unwillingness to recognize the importance of this legitimizing myth in the role of communist ideology has served as a key reason for the Cold War.5 Like their Western counterparts, the Soviets were debating over methods but not the larger assumptions that defined their struggle. ..."
"... Yet another analyst wrote "at the Cold War's end, the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, the largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, his- toric or economic quarrel between us, once communist ideology was interred. We blew it. We moved NATO onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with our 'indispensable-nation' arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles."114 ..."
It was during the spring of 2006 that I began this project. I wanted
to investigate whether the growing volume of criticism toward Russia, sometimes
by people who could hardly claim to be knowledgeable about the country, concealed
a political agenda.
As I researched the subject, I discovered evidence of Russophobia shared
by different circles within the American political class and promoted through
programs and conferences at various think tanks, congressional testimonies,
activities of NGOs, and the media. Russophobia is not merely a critique of Russia,
but a critique beyond any sense of proportion, waged with the purpose of undermining
the nation's political reputation.
... ... ....
Although a critical analysis of Russia and its political system is entirely
legitimate, the issue is the balance of such analysis. Russia's role in the
world is growing, yet many U.S. politicians feel that Russia doesn't matter
in the global arena. Preoccupied with international issues, such as Iraq and
Afghanistan, they find it difficult to accept that they now have to nego- tiate
and coordinate their international policies with a nation that only yesterday
seemed so weak, introspective, and dependent on the West. To these individuals,
Russophobia is merely a means to pressure the Kremlin into submitting to the
United States in the execution of its grand plans to control the world's most
precious resources and geostrategic sites. In the meantime, Russia has grown
increasingly resentful, and the war in the Caucasus in August 2008 has demonstrated
that Russia is prepared to act unilaterally to stop what it views as US unilateralism
in the former Soviet region.
And some in Moscow are tempted to provoke a much greater confrontation with
Western states. The attitude of ignorance and self-righteousness toward Russia
tells us volumes about the United States' lack of preparation for the twenty-first
century's central challenges that include political instability, weapons proliferation,
and energy insecurity. Despite the dislike of Russia by a considerable number
of American elites, this attitude is far from universally shared. Many Americans
understand that Russia has gone a long way from communism and that the overwhelming
support for Putin's policies at home cannot be adequately explained by high
oil prices and the Kremlin's manipulation of the public-despite the frequent
assertions of Russophobic observers.
Balanced analysts are also aware that many Russian problems are typical difficulties
that nations encounter with state-building, and should not be presented as indicative
of Russia's "inherent drive" to autocracy or empire. As the United States and
Russia move further to the twenty-first century, it will be increasingly important
to redefine the relationship between the two nations in a mutually enriching
Political and cultural phobias are, of course, not limited to those of an
anti-Russian nature. For instance, Russia has its share of America-phobia --
a phenomenon that I have partly researched in my book Whose World Order (Notre
Dame, 2004) and in several articles. Anti-American attitudes are strongly
present in Russian media and cultural products, as a response to the US policies
of nuclear, energy, and military supremacy in the world. Extreme hegemonic policies
tend to provoke an extreme response, and Russian nationalist movements and often
commentators react harshly to what they view as unilateral encroachment on Russia's
political system and foreign policy interests. Russia's reactions to these policies
by the United States are highly negative and frequently inadequate, but hardly
more extreme than the American hegemonic and imperial discourse.
The Anti-Russian Lobby
When the facile optimism was disappointed, Western euphoria faded, and
Russophobia returned ... The new Russophobia was expressed not by the
governments, but in the statements of out-of-office politicians, the
publications of academic experts, the sensational writings of jour-
nalists, and the products of the entertainment industry. (Rodric Braithwaite,
Across the Moscow River, 2002)1
Russophobia is not a myth, not an invention of the Red-Brovvns, but
a real phenomenon of political thought in the main political think tanks
in the West . .. [T]he Yeltsin-Kozyrev's pro-U.S. "giveaway game" was
approved across the ocean. There is reason to say that the period in
ques- tion left the West with the illusion that Russia's role was to
serve Washington's interests and that it would remain such in the future.
(Sergei Mikoyati, International Affairs /October 2006j)2
This chapter formulates a theory of Russophobia and the anti-Russian lobby's
influence on the U.S. Russia policy. 1 discuss the Lobby's objec- tives, its
tactics to achieve them, the history of its formation and rise to prominence,
and the conditions that preserved its influence in the after- math of 9/11.1
argue that Russophobia has been important to American hegemonic elites in pressuring
Russia for economic and political conces- sions in the post-Cold War era.
1. Goals and Means
The central objective of the Lobby has been to preserve and strengthen
America's power in the post-Cold War world through imperial or hegemonic policies.
The Lobby has viewed Russia with its formidable nuclear power, energy reserves,
and important geostrategic location as a major obstacle in achieving this objective.
Even during the 1990s, when Russia looked more like a failing state3 than one
capable of projecting power, some members of the American political class were
worried about the future revival of the Eurasian giant as a revisionist power.
In their percep- tion, it was essential to keep Russia in a state of military
and economic weakness-not so much out of emotional hatred for the Russian people
and their culture, but to preserve American security and promote its val- ues
across the world. To many within the Lobby, Russophobia became a useful device
for exerting pressures on Russia and controlling its policies. Although to some
the idea of undermining and, possibly, dismembering Russia was personal, to
others it was a necessity of power dictated by the realities of international
According to this dominant vision, there was simply no place in this
"New American Century" for power competitors, and America was destined eventually
to assume control over potentially threatening military capabilities and energy
reserves of others. As the two founders of the Project for the New' American
Century (PNAC), William Kristol and Robert Kagan, asserted when referring to
the large military forces of Russia and China, "American statesmen today ought
to recognize that their charge is not to await the arrival of the next great
threat, but rather to shape the international environment to prevent such a
threat from arising in the first place."4
Russia was either to agree to assist the United States in preserving
its world-power status or be forced to agree. It had to either follow the U.S.
interpretation of world affairs and develop a political and economic system
sufficiently open to American influences or live as a pariah state, smeared
by accusations of pernicious behavior, and in constant fear for its survival
in the America-centered world. As far as the U.S. hegemonic elites were concerned,
no other choice was available.
This hegemonic mood was largely consistent with mainstream ideas within
the American establishment immediately following the end of the Cold War. For
example, 1989 saw the unification of Germany and the further meltdown of the
Soviet Union, which some characterized as "the best period of U.S. foreign policy
ever."5 President Jimmy Carter's former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
envisioned the upcoming victory of the West by celebrating the Soviet Union's
In his view, the Soviet "totalitarian" state was incapable of reform. Communism's
decline was therefore irreversible and inevitable. It would have made the system's
"practice and its dogma largely irrelevant to the human conditions," and communism
would be remembered as the twentieth century's "political and intellectual aberration."7
Other com- mentators argued the case for a global spread of Western values.
In 1990 Francis Fukuyama first formulated his triumphalist "end of history"
thesis, arguing a global ascendancy of the Western-style market democracy.®
... ... ...
Marc Plattner declared the emergence of a "world with one dominant principle
of legitimacy, democracy."9 When the Soviet system had indeed disintegrated,
the leading establishment journal Foreign Affairs pronounced that "the Soviet
system collapsed because of what it was, or more exactly, because of what it
was not. The West 'won' because of what the democracies were-because they were
free, prosperous and successful, because they did justice, or convincingly tried
to do so."10 Still others, such as Charles Krauthammer, went as far as to
proclaim the arrival of the United States' "unipolar moment," a period in which
only one super- power, the United States, would stand above the rest of the
world in its military, economic, and ideological capacity.11
In this context of U.S. triumphalism, at least some Russophobes expected
Russia to follow the American agenda. Still, they were worried that Russia may
still have surprises to offer and would recover as an enemy.12
Soon after the Soviet disintegration, Russia indeed surprised many, although
not quite in the sense of presenting a power challenge to the United States.
Rather, the surprise was the unexpectedly high degree of corruption, social
and economic decay, and the rapid disappointment of pro-Western reforms inside
Russia. By late 1992, the domestic economic situation was much worsened, as
the failure of Western-style shock ther- apy reform put most of the population
on the verge of poverty. Russia was preoccupied not with the projection of power
but with survival, as poverty, crime, and corruption degraded it from the status
of the indus- trialized country it once was. In the meantime, the economy was
largely controlled by and divided among former high-ranking party and state
officials and their associates. The so-called oligarchs, or a group of extremely
wealthy individuals, played the role of the new post-Soviet nomenklatura; they
influenced many key decisions of the state and suc- cessfully blocked the development
of small- and medium-sized business in the country.13 Under these conditions,
the Russophobes warned that the conditions in Russia may soon be ripe for the
rise of an anti-Western nationalist regime and that Russia was not fit for any
partnership with the United States.14
The mid-1990s saw the emergence of post-Soviet Russophobia. The Lobby's
ideology was not principally new, as it still contained the three central myths
of Sovietophobia left over from the Cold War era: Russia is inherently imperialist,
autocratic, and anti-Western. This ideology now had to be modified to the new
conditions and promoted politically, which required a tightening of the Lobby's
unity, winning new allies within the establishment, and gaining public support.15
... ... ...
The impact of structural and institutional factors is further reinforced
by policy factors, such as the divide within the policy community and the lack
of presidential leadership. Not infrequently, politicians tend to defend their
personal and corporate interests, and lobbying makes a difference in the absence
of firm policy commitments.
Experts recognize that the community of Russia watchers is split and that
the split, which goes all the way to the White House, has been responsible for
the absence of a coherent policy toward the country. During the period of
2003-2008, Vice President Richard Dick Cheney formed a cohesive and bipartisan
group of Russia critics, who pushed for a more confrontational approach with
the Kremlin. The brain behind the invasion of Iraq, Cheney could not
tolerate opposition to what he saw as a critical step in establishing worldwide
US hegemony. He was also harboring the idea of controlling Russia's energy reserves.91
Since November 2004, when the administration launched a review of its policy
on Russia,92 Cheney became a critically important voice in whom the Lobby found
its advocate. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and, until November 2004,
Colin Powell opposed the vice president's approach, arguing for a softer and
more accommodating style in relations with Moscow.
President Bush generally sided with Rice and Powell, but he proved unable
to form a consistent Russia policy. Because of America's involvement in the
Middle East, Bush failed to provide the leadership committed to devising mutually
acceptable rules in relations with Russia that could have prevented the deterioration
in their relationship. Since the end of 2003, he also became doubtful about
the direction of Russia's domestic transformation.93 As a result, the promising
post-9/11 cooperation never materialized. The new cold war and the American
Sense of History
It's time we start thinking of Vladimir Putin's Russia as an enemy of the
United States. (Bret Stephens, "Russia: The Enemy," The Wall Street Journal,
November 28, 2006)
If today's reality of Russian politics continues ... then there is the real
risk that Russia's leadership will be seen, externally and internally, as illegitimate.
(John Edwards and Jack Kemp, "We Need to Be Tough with Russia," International
Herald Tribune, July 12, 2006)
On Iran, Kosovo, U.S. missile defense, Iraq, the Caucasus and Caspian basin,
Ukraine-the list goes on-Russia puts itself in conflict with the U.S. and its
allies . . . here are worse models than the united Western stand that won the
Cold War the first time around.
("Putin Institutionalized," The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2007) In
order to derail the U.S.-Russia partnership, the Lobby has sought to revive
the image of Russias as an enemy of the United States. The Russophobic groups
have exploited important differences between the two countries' historical self-perceptions,
presenting those differences as incompatible.
1. Contested History
Two versions of history
The story of the Cold War as told from the U.S. perspective is about American
ideas of Western-style democracy as rescued from the Soviet threat of totalitarian
communism. Although scholars and politicians disagreed over the methods of responding
to the Soviet threat, they rarely questioned their underlying assumptions about
history and freedom.' It therefore should not come as surprise that many in
the United States have interpreted the end of the Cold War as a victory of the
Western freedom narrative. Celebrating the Soviet Union's "grand failure"-as
Zbigniew Brzezinski put it2-the American discourse assumed that from now on
there would be little resistance to freedom's worldwide progression. When Francis
Fukuyama offered his bold summary of these optimistic feelings and asserted
in a famous passage that "what we may be witnessing is not just the end of the
Cold War... but the end of history as such,"3 he meant to convey the disappearance
of an alternative to the familiar idea of free- dom, or "the universalization
of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."4
In Russia, however, the Cold War story has been mainly about sovereignty
and independence, rather than Western-style liberalism. To many Russians it
is a story of freedom from colonization by the West and of preserving important
attributes of sovereign statehood.
In a world where neocolonialism and cultural imperialism are potent forces,
the idea of freedom as independence continues to have strong international appeal
and remains a powerful alternative to the notion of liberal democracy.
Russians formulated the narrative of independence centuries ago, as they successfully
withstood external invasions from Napoleon to Hitler. The defeat of the Nazi
regime was important to the Soviets because it legitimized their claims to continue
with the tradition of freedom as independence.
The West's unwillingness to recognize the importance of this legitimizing
myth in the role of communist ideology has served as a key reason for the Cold
War.5 Like their Western counterparts, the Soviets were debating over methods
but not the larger assumptions that defined their struggle.
This helps to understand why Russians could never agree with the Western
interpretation of the end of the Cold War. What they find missing from the U.S.
narrative is the tribute to Russia's ability to defend its freedom from expansionist
ambitions of larger powers. The Cold War too is viewed by many Russians as a
necessarily defensive response to the West's policies, and it is important that
even while occupying Eastern Europe, the Soviets never celebrated the occupation,
emphasizing instead the war vic- tory.6 The Russians officially admitted "moral
responsibility" and apolo- gized for the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.7
They may be prepared to fully recognize the postwar occupation of Eastern Europe,
but only in the context of the two sides' responsibility for the Cold War. Russians
also find it offensive that Western VE Day celebrations ignore the crucial contribution
of Soviet troops, even though none of the Allies, as one historian put it, "paid
dearer than the Soviet Union for the victory. Forty Private Ivans fell in battle
to every Private Ryan."8 Victory over Nazi Germany constitutes, as another Russian
wrote, "the only undisputable foundation of the national myth."9
If the two sides are to build foundations for a future partnership, the two
historical narratives must be bridged. First, it is important to recognize the
difficulty of negotiating a common meaning of freedom and accept that the idea
of freedom may vary greatly across nations. The urge for freedom may be universal,
but its social content is a specific product of national his- tories and local
circumstances. For instance, the American vision of democracy initially downplayed
the role of elections and emphasized selection by merit or meritocracy. Under
the influence of the Great Depression, the notion of democracy incorporated
a strong egalitarian and poverty-fighting component, and it was not until the
Cold War- and not without its influence-that democracy has become associated
with elections and pluralistic institutions.10 Second, it is essential to acknowledge
the two nations' mutual respon- sibility for the misunderstanding that has resulted
in the Cold War. A historically sensitive account will recognize that both sides
were thinking in terms of expanding a territorial space to protect their visions
of security. While the Soviets wanted to create a buffer zone to prevent a future
attack from Germany, the Americans believed in reconstructing the European continent
in accordance with their ideas of security and democracy. A mutual mistrust
of the two countries' leaders exacerbated the situation, making it ever more
difficult to prevent a full-fledged political confronta- tion. Western leaders
had reason to be suspicious of Stalin, who, in his turn, was driven by the perception
of the West's greed and by betrayals from the dubious Treaty of Versailles to
the appeasement of Hitler in Munich. Arrangements for the post-World War II
world made by Britain, the USSR, and the United States proved insufficient to
address these deep-seated suspicions.
In addition, most Eastern European states created as a result of the Versailles
Treaty were neither free nor democratic and collaborated with Nazi Germany in
its racist and expansionist policies. The European post-World War 1 security
system was not working properly, and it was only a matter of time before it
would have to be transformed.
Third, if an agreeable historical account is to emerge, it would have to
accept that the end of the Cold War was a product of mutually beneficial a second
Cold War, "it also does not want the reversal of the U.S. geopolitical gains
that it made in the decade or so after the end of the Cold War."112 Another
expert asked, "What possible explanation is there for the fact that today-at
a moment when both the U.S. and Russia face the common enemy of Islamist terrorism-hard-liners
within the Bush administration, and especially in the office of Vice President
Dick Cheney, are arguing for a new tough line against Moscow along the lines
of a scaled-down Cold War?"113
Yet another analyst wrote "at the Cold War's end, the United States was
given one of the great opportunities of history: to embrace Russia, the largest
nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally. Our mutual interests meshed almost
perfectly. There was no ideological, territorial, his- toric or economic quarrel
between us, once communist ideology was interred. We blew it. We moved NATO
onto Russia's front porch, ignored her valid interests and concerns, and, with
our 'indispensable-nation' arrogance, treated her as a defeated power, as France
treated Weimar Germany after Versailles."114
The last paragraph torpedoes the rest of the article! If anyone deserves to be called a
"fatcat" and a member of the "US plutocrat class", it's Donald Trump! If that class is
seeking to "take back" the US from somebody, it can't possibly be Trump. He's one of them.
Isn't it more likely that they are trying to take it back from the "Russian plutocrat
class" of gangsters behind Vladimir Putin and their American supporters? Trying to take
one's country back from foreigners, or prevent foreigners from getting control of it, is
hardly an ignoble enterprise! Certainly not where I come from!
The analysis of the UVA Amsterdam professor Laslo Maracs is that Trump, and his rich
friends, understand that the USA is no longer capable of maintaining an empire, and that war
for enlarging the empire is even more suicide than trying to maintain the empire.
Already around 1910 the British empire no longer could maintain the two fleet standard,
Obama had to lower the USA two war standard to one and a half.
What a half war accomplishes we see in Syria.
WWII destroyed the British empire, as the British said after the war, poor, after Truman
ended LendLease overnight, less food than in the war 'we won the war, and lost the
So the fact that Trump is rich, and has rich friends, does not mean he's part of the whole
rich USA clique.
The question remains: Is Washington prepared to accept its defeat and acknowledge that it
has lost control of the world and pull out of Syria?
US political "top" certainly is not ready since they don't have competent enough people to
recognize a disaster before it buries them. US military people certainly know the score but, as
history teaches, in the times when US military has bad news--it is next to impossible to
communicate it to the political top. In general, American "elites" do not have a grasp of the
nature of the military power nor of its application.
That is why they are dangerous, not to mention that many of them have a proud history of draft
dodging and egos larger than cathedral.
This all, against the background of a dramatic, precipitous really, decline of the always not
very "intellectual" level of American power elites in the last 20 or so years. But then again,
unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria in the West is a good indication that they are cornered.
The world is heading toward pluralism. . . .The question remains: Is Washington prepared
to accept its defeat and acknowledge that it has lost control of the world and pull out of
In the recently published National Defense Strategy there is no hint that the United States
will accept decline or even a multipolar world. "The Department of Defense will remain the
preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balance of power remains in our favor, and
advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity."
That especially applies to the Middle East. "We will foster a stable and secure Middle East
that denies safe havens for terrorists, is not dominated by any power hostile to the United
States, and that contributes to stable global energy markets and secure trade routes," the
National Defense Strategy states. So the US strategy continues to be oriented toward world domination, and in fact has little to
do with national defense/security. Specifically it involves a larger Navy and Army. The most recent budget provides some of the
additional funds required for that, in preparation for a naval war against China and a ground
war against Russia, perhaps simultaneously.
[The Pentagon hasn't won a war in generations, even against rag-tag civilian left-behinds,
but they can dream.]
The top Pentagon general Dunford gave an indication of the future when he was asked about
reserve forces, which are necessary because of battlefield "attrition," during a senate hearing
Q: Do you believe we must also have a sufficient strategic and operational reserve, national
mobilization capability, and robust defense industrial base to provide a second echelon of
follow-on forces if a contingency arises in a particular region, especially against a near
peer, great power state?
A: Yes. Any conflict with a near-peer competitor will require follow-on forces. In a major
contingency, our formations will almost certainly face battlefield attrition. To sustain a
fight and see it through to conclusion on favorable terms, we will have to have additional
forces available to maintain the initiative. This will assuredly draw on our strategic and
operational reserves, test our national mobilization capability, and place demands on our
defense industrial base as spare parts, end items, and critical munitions are consumed or
"the US has gone from a reasonably free country where civil liberties were protected under the law, to a state-of-the-art
surveillance state ruled by invisible elites who see the American people as an obstacle to their global ambitions"
One of the clearest telltales that indicate just how far we have deviated from our former "reasonably free country" is how
today, the wealthy, elite corporate and civic leaders have isolated themselves from the general community. Formerly anyone could
find the address of his community's leaders because they lived scattered amongst the common people. Even Who's Who gave out the
city in which a prominent person lived and from there one could consult the telephone directory.
Today, the elite have wiped clean any public trace of where they live. Their phone numbers are not published in a public telephone
directory. It's as though they don't want their fellow citizens to know their whereabouts. Why is that?
As I say, there's no clearer indication that our leaders no longer identify with the people of the communities they rule. Either
they are afraid--and justifiably so because of their treasonous behavior--or they are just plain disdainful--also likely, since
the two are not mutually exclusive. Their fear is the opposite side of the coin of their disdain but at any rate, it's an acknowledgement
by them that the sense of community knitted together by common bonds, is gone.
everything you say is true and it does not matter unless you are an American.
our elites along with the english have been ruling the world for 5 centuries and are now in hysteria because all that is now
drawing to a close. without the usa military acting as a global enforcer for elites wet dreams they remain wet dreams.
Russia now technically has thwarted our elites from using muscle. China's economic rise will supplant the usa within a decade
and by the 2030′s the financial center of the world will move to shanghai from new york/london.
The entire history of mankind speaks the same tale. once and empire collapses it NEVER recovers its former status and power.
the anglosaxon empire is now running on empty ergo the media hysteria of russia this and that. even the serfs ..thats you and
i ..can no longer be trusted to vote the way we are told.
the msm is dying as the go to organization for people control. we no longer live in the 20th century so the iron fist of ruling
is pretty much out as an option.
the elites have their wealth but their power at least here is on the downswing.
ideas and opinion are how societies are controlled and the elite orgs for disseminating these things have become embarassingly
overt which makes their effectivness drop towards zero . hence the hysteria.
when you have nothing to sell or nothing anyone with a brain will purchase you have to appeal to irrational emotions but that
is a futile game plan because maintaining that level of frantic enrgy is exhausting and collapses in time of its own accord.
all the rising east has to do is watch us eat ourselves to death. they have to do nothing aggressive towards our deep state
idiots in power do it for them.
at the end of the day americans will still be stuck with the swamp until it collapses into bankruptcy once the dollar loses
its reserve status still some years ahead . by 2030.
once the dollars loses its status america becomes regular nation. how we pick up the pieces after that will be the real story.
Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia
in persuading the U S to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.
Many could see at the time that this would unravel all the balances put into place after the
travail of World War 2 . So it is proving to be . The German peoples' for whatever reasons have
a history of 'overeach'. On one hand the Germans are now - after millennium - within settled
borders but the political and economic wisdom and patience still seems lacking .