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Non-Interventionism

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. – Issac Asimov
"War is the health of the State." -- Randolph Bourne

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Noninterventionism: A Primer

America's alternative to war and empire is not "isolationism."

By Daniel Larison June 11, 2014

Americans have grown understandably weary of foreign entanglements over the last 12 years of open-ended warfare, and they are now more receptive to a noninterventionist message than they have been in decades. According to a recent Pew survey, 52 percent of Americans now prefer that the U.S. “mind its own business in international affairs,” which represents the most support for a restrained and modest foreign policy in the last 50 years. That presents a challenge and an opportunity for noninterventionists to articulate a coherent and positive case for what a foreign policy of peace and prudence would mean in practice. As useful and necessary as critiquing dangerous ideas may be, noninterventionism will remain a marginal, dissenting position in policymaking unless its advocates explain in detail how their alternative foreign policy would be conducted.

A noninterventionist foreign policy would first of all require a moratorium on new foreign entanglements and commitments for the foreseeable future. A careful reevaluation of where the U.S. has vital interests at stake would follow. There are relatively few places where the U.S. has truly vital concerns that directly affect our security and prosperity, and the ambition and scale of our foreign policy should reflect that. A noninterventionist U.S. would conduct itself like a normal country without pretensions to global “leadership” or the temptation of a proselytizing mission. This is a foreign policy more in line with what the American people will accept and less likely to provoke violent resentment from overseas, and it is therefore more sustainable and affordable over the long term.

When a conflict or dispute erupts somewhere, unless it directly threatens the security of America or our treaty allies, the assumption should be that it is not the business of the U.S. government to take a leading role in resolving it. If a government requests aid in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis (e.g., famine, disease), as Haiti did following its devastating earthquake in 2010, the U.S. can and should lend assistance—but as a general rule the U.S. should not seek to interfere in other nations’ domestic circumstances.

LarisonIf parties to a dispute request outside arbitration, the U.S. should be in a position to act as a neutral mediator—which presupposes that the U.S. is not actively backing one side against another. We have seen the futility and absurdity of trying to act as an “honest broker” while providing lopsided support to one side in a conflict, and this should have no place in a noninterventionist foreign policy. There could be a potentially large and active role for U.S. diplomats abroad, but not one in which the U.S. was attempting to dictate terms or to promote a particular cause. International engagement could not and would not cease in a noninterventionist foreign policy, but it would be of a very different kind.

One of the priorities of a noninterventionist agenda would be the scaling back of America’s numerous commitments overseas. This would be accomplished mainly by shifting burdens gradually to current allies and regional powers: ceding regional influence in Central Asia to India and Russia, for example, and encouraging a more independent foreign policy for allies such as Japan and Germany. In general, the states that have the most at stake in maintaining regional stability should be given the responsibility for securing it. U.S. commitments have been building up over decades, so it is neither realistic nor desirable to end them suddenly. Nonetheless, there are also far more commitments than the U.S. can afford, and many of them are relics of the struggle with the Soviet Union or the remains of a “War on Terror” that has expanded beyond anything that most Americans imagined when it began a decade ago. Cutting back security entanglements is a long-delayed and necessary adjustment that the U.S. should have been making for the last 20 years. But it will not be sufficient simply to return to status quo ante at the start of the 21st century. The U.S. was already overcommitted around the world before the Bush era and will still be so after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ideally, the U.S. would reduce its overseas military presence in the Near East to at most what it was in the years before Desert Storm in 1991, and continue to reduce its presence in Europe as European governments bear more of the costs of their own defense. To date, wealthy allies have been able to skimp on their military spending, on the safe assumption that the U.S. would be ready and willing to make up the difference, but this arrangement is neither sustainable nor in our best interests. It not only creates an unhealthy dependence that ends up dragging unwilling Europeans into U.S. wars of choice, but as we saw in Libya, it perversely pulls the U.S. into European wars of choice because Europe’s governments cannot fight them on their own.

NATO is outdated and unnecessary, but provided that it functions purely as a defensive alliance it wouldn’t necessarily have to be dissolved. If the alliance continued to exist, the U.S. should not use it or permit it to be used as cover for members’ wars of choice and “out of area” missions. It should go without saying that there would be no further NATO expansion, which does nothing except antagonize Russia to the detriment of regional stability. If the alliance’s security guarantees to current members are to mean anything, they shouldn’t be extended to countries that the U.S. and other member nations are not actually willing to defend. To that end, U.S. and NATO officials should stop giving false encouragement to would-be member states that will never be admitted.

A noninterventionist U.S. would keep the major treaty allies it has for the time being but would also review its relationships with the many client states that neither act like nor deserve the name of ally. Clients that expose the U.S. to unnecessary conflicts or create dangerous tensions with other major powers are liabilities, and the U.S. should alter relations with them accordingly. That doesn’t require the U.S. to have poor relations with those states, but it does mean that they would stop receiving support and indulgence when their interests and ours clearly diverge. Many client state relationships would need to be downgraded as a result, and U.S. aid to them would be correspondingly reduced or eliminated.

In keeping with President Washington’s exhortation in his Farewell Address, the U.S. would seek to “observe good faith and justice toward all nations” and to “cultivate peace and harmony with all.” That means that a noninterventionist U.S. would work to maintain normal and full diplomatic relations with as many states as possible, and it would restrict or cut off trade with other states only in the most extreme cases. A noninterventionist foreign policy would very rarely rely on sanctions as a tool, and then only when they are targeted specifically against regime officials rather than the civilian population. In general, an America following Washington’s advice would promote both trade and diplomatic engagement rather than employing the tactics of embargo and isolation.

The U.S. would also refuse to take sides in the internal quarrels of other countries. The sovereignty of other states would be respected much more consistently than in past decades. The U.S. would refrain from destabilizing foreign governments or aiding in their overthrow, and it would not make a habit of siding with whichever protest movement happened to be in the streets of a foreign capital. Likewise, it would refrain from propping up and subsidizing abusive and dictatorial regimes and would condition U.S. aid on how a government treats its people. While there may be a need to cooperate with authoritarian states on certain issues, governments that torture or violently suppress peaceful protests, including the current Egyptian government, shouldn’t be supported in any way by American taxpayers.

War might be necessary at some point, but if so it would be waged only in self-defense or the defense of a treaty ally. A noninterventionist U.S. would never wage a preventive war— which is contrary both to international law and morality—and would generally be wary of using force even when it could be justified. The U.S. should always avoid giving allies and clients the impression that they have a blank check from Washington, since that will tend to make them more combative and unreasonable in disputes with their neighbors. Allies and clients that wanted to pursue reckless and provocative courses of action would be actively discouraged, and it would be the responsibility of the U.S. to pull these states back from avoidable conflicts. A noninterventionist U.S. would manage relations with other major powers by seeking to cooperate on matters of common interest and by avoiding unnecessary disagreements on those issues where the U.S. has relatively little at stake. The U.S. and other major powers are bound to have conflicting interests from time to time, but these unavoidable disagreements shouldn’t be compounded by picking fights over every issue where we differ. As long as the U.S. has allies on the borders of other major powers, there will always be a certain degree of mistrust and tension in our relations. However, the U.S. shouldn’t make this worse by seeking to enlarge our alliances or increase our influence in countries that have historically been in the orbit of another major power. The goal here should be to keep tensions with other major powers at a tolerable minimum and to reduce the possibility of renewed great power conflict in the new century.

As George Washington also said: “In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.” For that reason, a noninterventionist U.S. would be one that doesn’t seek to demagogue or exaggerate foreign threats, nor would it cultivate either hostility towards or adoration of any other country. Above all, it won’t seek to make the U.S. the champion of any other country’s interests at our expense.

Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.

Senior editor Daniel Larison blogs at TheAmericanConservative.com/Larison.

Opposition to New American Militarism

Libertarians (along will less numerous and less influential paleoconservatives) are the only more or less influential faction of the US society that oppose what Basevich called New American Militarism. The foreign policy of the USA since the dissolution of the USSR was and is "open militarism". Recently  John Quiggin  tried to define militarism is came to the following definition (crookedtimber.org):

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

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

This new epidemic of the US militarism which started after Cold War ended was well analyzed by Professor Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army) who called it New American Militarism. Bacevich's book  Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War  describe the "sacred trinity" of global military presence, global power projection, 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 we are 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 beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts:

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.

In other words they advocate permanent war for permanent peace. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, his book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections that some may find very troubling. Here is the summary:

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

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

Thesis

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

Introduction: Slow Learner

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

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

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

This book aspires to

(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;

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

(3) explain how itis perpetuated;

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

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

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

Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.

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

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

By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). Andthe 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 "not retrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The 

Except from Macmillan

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

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

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

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

.... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Old News ;-)

[Jun 18, 2018] The most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election

Notable quotes:
"... "The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW ..."
"... The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy. ..."
"... I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election. ..."
"... I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization. ..."
"... Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination". ..."
"... there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau. ..."
"... What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened! ..."
"... The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC. ..."
"... Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates). ..."
"... jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way. ..."
"... The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking. ..."
"... Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation. ..."
Jun 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

cka2nd

June 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm
"a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau"

Which is what the FBI looked like at the time and over the last two years, the anti-Clinton faction seeming to be centered in New York, and the anti-Trump faction in, what, D.C.?

Erik , says: June 15, 2018 at 3:12 am
This report merely provides more talking points for politicians. And, talk they will. IG Michael Horowitz had a specific mandate. It was to investigate "violations of criminal and civil law." It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations.

This report makes no allegations of criminal activity. As such, it can only be read as exonerating those under investigation, of same. The ultimate remedy for "breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations" is termination of employment. And, Comey has already been fired. The rest is irrelevant and/or superfluous.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 15, 2018 at 7:51 am
Agreed. the report sheds light on some truly incompetent (and unprofessional, inappropriate behavior). Disagree – the 'deep state' is behind this. perhaps the most depressing aspect of this circus is the realization there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Obama administration. there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Clinton campaign.

There was incompetence and malfeasance in the DoJ, there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Trump campaign, and there is a whole lot of incompetence and malfeasance in the current administration. see where this is going? "malfeasance" recognized and leveraged by "foreign actors" (some other 'deep state' as it were) demonstrates competence in terms of their job(s).

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which "Puddy" and "Elaine" meet with a priest to discuss their relationship and its impact on their eternal lives – with Puddy being Christian and Elaine not. the priest says, "oh that's easy, you're both going to hell "

midtown , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
The overt bias exhibited by FBI agents was shocking.
SDS , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:39 am
"It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election."

SO we are expected to believe the FBI, et. al; never played a role before? Spare me

"The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW

connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:53 am
Way funny, this! And all the time we've been looking for enemies abroad-in this case the Rooshians-the real enemy was right in our own backyard. The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy.
Will Harrington , says: June 15, 2018 at 9:29 am
If you are going to have a deep state, and in a large nation, it does seem necessary, then it should be a meritocracy. Clearly the system of recruiting high level officials from certain Ivy League schools does not result in a meritocracy.
MM , says: June 15, 2018 at 10:24 am

Erik: "It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations." Well, he did, and thank goodness. I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election.

If that's not political bias, then we need another word for it. Political consideration in the outcome of a criminal probe.

Think about that if it had been a GOP candidate, what would the progressives be saying about the same behavior?

Centralist , says: June 15, 2018 at 11:06 am
I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization.
Scott , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:05 pm
What I find amusing is the emphasis on texts between Strzok and Page. They sure were sloppy in using govt cell phones for their texting. However, at the end of the day, their texts were the equivalent of pillow talk. What's the remedy? Everybody wear a wire to bed to trap people in the act of gossiping? Does anybody think that these casual conversations go on all the time. There is no group of people more cynical that law enforcement people.

At the end of the day, people did their jobs and prevented their opinions from the proper execution of their jobs.

Johann , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination".
connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm
H. Clinton squirreled away over 30 thousand emails into a private server. I am reliably informed that if any other federal employee pulled a move like that they would have been fired, with loss of pension and possible jail time in as much as this is grand jury fodder. Not ol' Hillary though.

People do tend to notice these things.

Fred , says: June 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. "

More fake news – there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau.

eheter , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm
Michael Kenny
June 15, 2018 at 11:29 am
The important point is that Trump has no need to worry about any of this if he really is as innocent as he claims. In fact, infiltrated informers, wiretaps etc. are a godsend to Trump if he's innocent because they prove that innocence. Thus, Trump's making such a fuss about these things is a tacit admission of guilt.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –

Yes, of course. Because if someone spied on you looking for a crime of which you were innocent, you'd be totally ok with it and would keep quiet. Only someone who's guilty of a crime would speak up being spied upon.

smh

Gandydancer , says: June 16, 2018 at 12:34 am
"There is only to argue whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau."

What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened!

To believe Horowitz' conclusions about lack of bias in decision making you have to be as willfully reluctant to connect the dots as he is. And I'm not, nor should you be.

Gerald Arcuri , says: June 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm
The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC.
Patricus , says: June 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Those Russians are so clever. They trained agents for a lifetime to master accents of rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin then duped the bible thumping gun lovers into rejecting her highness Hillary. The immense Russian powers are extraordinary when one considers the Russian economy is smaller than Texas.

But seriously, we had eight years of a Democratic president and people had enough and chose a Republican even though he was outspent. That is the consistent pattern. After Trump another Democrat will move into the White House.

mike , says: June 17, 2018 at 8:45 am
Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates).

A cosmic ignorance radiates from these email exchanges. These agents appear to have been dropped here from another planet. They not only seem to have been disconnected from or to have forgotten the Civilisation that gave birth to the society in which they live, but they seem never to have had any knowledge or awareness of it in the first place.

(Reading between the lines, deducing their "principles" from their mentality, one could confidently conclude that these adolescents truly believe that State is God and Marx is His prophet.)

Winston , says: June 17, 2018 at 11:04 am
"seems less competent than we originally feared"

They're going to get away with it with no adequately serious repercussions meaning they're competent enough, aren't they? That also means they won't be properly deterred and will simply do it better next time.

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm
jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way.

The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking.

If you're going to fault the FBI, you can't then not fault Secretary Clinton. The two go hand-in-hand, and she comes first in the chain of event.

Case closed. Though she didn't get her just desserts in court, at least she received political justice. 🙂

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation.

Anybody?

[Jun 13, 2018] The Nationalism Versus Globalism Battles Yet to Come

Notable quotes:
"... By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise! ..."
"... Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are. ..."
"... Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made. ..."
"... The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Credit: Andrew Cline/Shutterstock

At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as "the piggy bank that everybody is robbing."

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that's what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One."

In Singapore, Trump tweeted more about that piggy bank: "Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades [while] the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade?"

To understand what drives Trump, and explains his exasperation and anger, these remarks are a good place to begin.

Our elites see America as an "indispensable nation," the premiere world power whose ordained duty it is to defend democracy, stand up to dictators and aggressors, and uphold a liberal world order.

They see U.S. wealth and power as splendid tools that fate has given them to shape the future of the planet.

Trump sees America as a nation being milked by allies who free-ride on our defense efforts as they engage in trade practices that enrich their own peoples at America's expense.

Where our elites live to play masters of the universe, Trump sees a world laughing behind America's back, while allies exploit our magnanimity and idealism for their own national ends.

The numbers are impossible to refute and hard to explain.

Last year, the EU had a $151 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China ran a $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S., the largest in history. The world sold us $796 billion more in goods than we sold to the world.

A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down.

We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.

Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable. His strength is that the people are still with him on putting America first.

Yet he faces some serious obstacles.

What is his strategy for turning a $796 billion trade deficit into a surplus? Is he prepared to impose the tariffs and import restrictions that would be required to turn America from the greatest trade-deficit nation in history to a trade-surplus nation, as we were up until the mid-1970s?

Americans are indeed carrying the lion's share of the load of the defense of the West, and of fighting the terrorists and radical Islamists of the Middle East, and of protecting South Korea and Japan.

But if our NATO and Asian allies refuse to make the increases in defense he demands, is Trump really willing to cancel our treaty commitments, walk away from our war guarantees, and let these nations face Russia and China on their own? Could he cut that umbilical cord?

Ike's secretary of state John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an "agonizing reappraisal" of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies if they did not contribute more money and troops.

Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on even more allies since the Soviet Empire fell.

If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense that Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland, and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?

This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.

Trump promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.

That's what America voted for.

Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.

Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free-trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies make abroad and then ships back to the United States.

The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump's critical tests have yet to come.

And our exasperated president senses this.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


Bradley June 12, 2018 at 6:10 am

America spends 3 times as much on defense as its allies because it is addicted to military spending. The solution is not to pressure other countries to acquire the same addiction. The solution is for America cut its own military spending.

This is just another example of America trying to "export" its domestic issues. Quit blaming foreigners and deal with your issues.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 12, 2018 at 6:58 am
"A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down. We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century." never imagined I'd say this, but you are absolutely correct. of course you neglect to acknowledge, Trump himself is an "elite" and a "globalist". the fact his "game" is real estate, as opposed to governance is more of a semantic distinction than ideological. debt-fueled consumerism drives real estate just as it drives globalism. this is nothing new. add to this the pathological narcissism and the ability to leverage moral bankruptcy as he has the tax codes and bankruptcy laws, and voila, just another globalist in populist clothing. as I have maintained all along, he is not so much anti-establishment as he is an establishment of one – he simply thrives in a different type of swamp and favors a smaller oligarchy/plutocracy. and of course, there is the big news out of Singapore/Korea, but again, much of the 'spin' or upside cited in a denuclearized Korean peninsula involves the opportunity for North Korea to join the globalists at the globalists' table. one can only wonder if there will be Ivanka's handbags will be made in Panmunjom, and if Kim Jong Un will stay at the Trump hotel in DC? either way, you are correct he is the candidate the American people, and the globalists "elected".
JonF , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:35 am
One problem with Trump's rant: the US enjoys a small trade surplus with Canada.

Would someone please get this president some hard facts and drill him on them for however long it takes top get them fixed in his mind before he goes off half-cocked with any more nonsense?

Michael Kenny , says: June 12, 2018 at 10:36 am
As always, Mr Buchanan sets out his personal agenda and then claims that Trump promised to implement it if elected. The more Trump backs away from globalised free trade (if that's what he's really doing), the more that suits the EU. The "core value" of the EU is a large internal market protected by a high tariff wall. Globalization was rammed down an unwilling EU's throat by the US in the Reagan years and only the British elite ever really believed in it. As for NATO, nobody now believes that the US will honor its commitments, no matter how much Europe pays, so logically, the European members are concentrating their additional expenditure on an independent European defense system, which, needless to say, the US is trying to obstruct.

By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise!

Kent , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:17 am
Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are.

Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made.

Secondly, there is absolutely no threat to NATO from Russia or Putin. Europe could slash its already meager defense budget with only beneficial consequences. The same with Japan and S. Korea. None of these countries need US military help. There are no real military threats to these countries. US military spending has never been about defending other countries. It is about enriching the shareholders of American military contractors.

So here is the real world: The United States has established a "liberal rules-based global order" that allows wealthy American and European commercial interests to benefit mightily from trade, and property and resource control in foreign countries. And this order is maintained by US military power. That is why the US is "the one indispensable nation". We are the nation that is allowed to break the order, to be the bully, in order for the rules-based order to even exist. That's why we are beating up on countries that try to live outside of this order like Iran, NK, Venezuela, Russia and everyone else who don't fall in line.

So Donald Trump is fighting against the power elite of the United States, he just doesn't understand that. He is fighting against the most powerful people in the world, people who are well represented by both political parties. He can win this fight if he lets the average American on to this reality. And then leads them properly to a better, more balanced world. But I suspect that he would be assassinated if he tried.

bacon , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:26 am
In re NATO and other oversea DOD spending, the old saying "who pays, says" has a corollary. Who wants to say has to pay. The US, since WWII, has wanted, insisted, on being in charge of everything we touch. This costs a lot, not to mention it often doesn't work the way we want. It would be easy enough to stop spending all this money. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex would have a conniption and those whose defense bills we've been paying would complain to high heaven, but Trump seems intent on trashing all those alliances anyway and also on spending more money on defense than even the Pentagon thinks they need.
GregR , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:31 am
Trade deficits don't work the way you think they work. In todays economy the traditional measures of deficits don't actually tell us much about what is going on.

Do you know what China does with that $350b trade surplus? A huge percentage of it is rolled back immediately into US Treasury bonds because we are the only issuer of credit in sufficient amounts and of suitable stability for them to buy. All of that deficit spending Trump and the Republicans in congress passed last year is being financed by the very trade imbalance that Trump is trying to eliminate.

But trade imbalances really don't tell us much about the flow of money. Most of the imbalance is created by US companies that have built factories in China to sell goods back to the US, then repatriate money back to the US in the form of dividends or stock buy backs (which are not counted in the trade balance at all).

At best trade balances tell us very little meaningful about what is really going on, but can be wildly deceptive. At worst they are an easy tool, for demogogs who have zero understanding of what is going on, to inflame other uninformed people to justify trade wars.

One Guy , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Interesting the things that Buchanan ignores (on purpose?). The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. There's nothing wrong with the USA spending less money to defend other countries. Trump doesn't have to insult our allies to do that.
Jim Houghton , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:49 pm
"Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable."

You give him more credit than he deserves. What he does understand is that while we're being the world's piggy bank, the American taxpayer is being the Military-Industrial Complex's piggy-bank and that's just fine with him. As it is with most members of Congress.

John S , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm
" our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe "

Mr. Buchanan, like Trump, does not understand how NATO is funded. All NATO members have been paying their dues. In fact, many pay a greater proportion relative to GDP per capita than the U.S. does. Defense budgets are a different matter entirely.

Sam Bufalini , says: June 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm
Remind me again, who just raised the U.S. deficit by more than a $1 trillion over the next 10 years?
S , says: June 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm
This entire article seems to reduce complex issues into simple arithmetic. Economics and job creation is about much more than balance of payments both the author and the US president don't seem to realise this. Very shallow article.
Sean , says: June 12, 2018 at 5:35 pm
America has a trade surplus with Canada, but seems determined to rub it in.

Some background. As the glaciers retreated south at the end of the ice age, they scraped away Canada's topsoil and deposited it in America. Rural Canada has little arable areas; it's beef and dairy by necessity. Costs are high and there are ten Americans to every Canadian hence the subsidy. America subsidizes it's agriculture $55 billion annually.

Mia , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:24 pm
Great, if we're upset about having to protect our allies in the Pacific, let's change the Japanese constitution to allow them to have a real military again to defend themselves and give the South Koreans nukes to balance out the power situation between them and the Norks/ Chinese. (Why is it so little is ever said about China being a nuclear power?) This whole fantasy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is so naive it's laughable. If nukes exist, there will never be any permanent guarantee of anything, and other countries will just keep getting the bomb without our permission, like Pakistan and China. The genie is out of the bottle, so time to be brutally realistic about what we face and what can be done. We can whine all we want to about how it's not our responsibility, but then we expect other countries to be hobbled and still somehow face enemy powers.
LouisM , says: June 12, 2018 at 9:24 pm
Lets take a look at the growing list of nations shifting to the right (nationalism and populism) -The Czech, Slovak and Slovenia Republics Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, the US.

Nations shifting this year to the right (nationalism and populism) -Austria, Bavaria and Italy

Nations leaning to the right and leaning toward joining the VISEGRAD -Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Greece

AS YOU CAN SEE THE PILLARS OF MARXIST / SOCIALIST / COMMUNIST OPEN BORDERS EUROPE/EU ARE BEING TAKEN DOWN. THE FIGHT WILL BE WITH FRANCE, GERMANY, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS, BRITAIN, SWEDEN AND THE UNELECTED EU SUPERSTATE. RIGHT NOW THE FIGHT IS WITH THE POOR SOUTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPEAN INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS BUT EVENTUALLY IT WILL REACH A TIPPING POINT WHERE IT BECOMES AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT BUT ITS ONLY AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT FOR THE LEFT AS THE EU REACHES THE TIPPING POINT AND THE POWER SHIFTS TO THE RIGHT.

[Jun 10, 2018] Bernard Lewis The Bush Administration's Court Intellectual by Gilbert T. Sewall

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... American Scholar ..."
Jun 08, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan.

I encountered the late Bernard Lewis (1916-2018) during the 1990s culture wars, when historians and educators met full-frontal multiculturalism, a thematic force beginning to reshape U.S. and world history curricula in schools and colleges.

The two of us shared early, firsthand experience with Islamist disinformation campaigns on and off campus. Using sympathetic academics, curriculum officers, and educational publishers as tools, Muslim activists were seeking to rewrite Islamic history in textbooks and state and national standards.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, created in 1994, was complaining of anti-Muslim "bigotry," "racial profiling," "institutional racism," and "fear-mongering," while trying to popularize the word "Islamophobia," and stoking the spirit of ethnic injustice and prejudice in Washington politics.

Lewis and I were of different generations, he a charming academic magnifico long associated with Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study. He had just retired from teaching and was widely regarded as the nation's most influential scholar of Islam. "Islam has Allah," he said sardonically at the time. "We've got multiculturalism."

Washington's Pax Americana Cartel Christopher Columbus: At the Center of the Culture War

Long before I met him, Lewis had alerted those who were listening to rising friction between the Islamic world and the West. This was, in his mind, the outcome of Islam's centuries-long decline and failure to embrace modernity. In thinking this way, Lewis had earned the fury of the professor and Palestinian activist Edward Said at Columbia University, who wrote Orientalism in 1978.

Said's influential book cast previous Western studies of the Near and Middle East as Eurocentric, romantic, prejudiced, and racist. For Said, orientalism was an intellectual means to justify Western conquest and empire. Bernard Lewis's outlook epitomized this approach and interpretation. Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president.

For some years, Lewis had warned of the ancient feuds between the West and Islam: in 1990 he'd forecast a coming "clash of civilizations" in Atlantic magazine, a phrase subsequently popularized by Harvard professor Samuel E. Huntington.

Throughout his long career, Lewis warned that Western guilt over its conquests and past was not collateral. "In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions," Lewis once observed. "They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other."

Other examples of Lewis's controversial, persuasive observations include:

During the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Lewis suddenly gained immense political influence, love-bombed by White House neocons Richard Cheney, Richard Perle, and other policymakers to a degree that preyed on the old man's vanity and love of the spotlight.

Anti-war feeling in official Washington then was unpopular. Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth. Insisted the neocons and White House: the aim of the war was to bring democratic government and regional order to the Mideast. Rescued from despotism, Iraqis would cheer invasion, Lewis and his allies claimed, as Afghanis welcomed relief from Taliban fundamentalists.

In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon.

"Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis's diagnosis of the Muslim world's malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast, have helped define the boldest shift in U.S. foreign policy in 50 years. The occupation of Iraq is putting the doctrine to the test," the Journal proclaimed.

And so it has gone. After 15 years of many hard-to-follow shifts in policy and force, with vast human and materiel costs, some analysts look upon U.S. policy in Iraq and the Mideast as a geopolitical disaster, still in shambles and not soon to improve.

In other eyes Lewis stands guilty of devising a sophistic rationale to advance Israel's security at the expense of U.S. national interests. In 2006, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer accused Lewis of consciously providing intellectual varnish to an Israel-centered policy group inside the George W. Bush administration that was taking charge of Mideast policies. The same year, Lewis's reckless alarmism on Iranian nukes on behalf of Israeli interests drew wide ridicule and contempt.

A committed Zionist, Lewis conceived of Israel as an essential part of Western civilization and an island of freedom in the Mideast. Though, acutely aware of Islam's nature and history, he must have had doubts about the capacity to impose democracy through force. Later, he stated unconvincingly that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq, but the facts of the matter point in another direction.

Lewis thus leaves a mixed legacy. It is a shame that he shelved his learned critiques and compromised his scholarly stature late in life to pursue situational geopolitics. With his role as a government advisor before the Iraq war, academic Arabists widely took to calling Lewis "the Great Satan," whereas Edward Said's favored position in academic circles is almost uncontested.

Yet few dispute that Lewis was profoundly knowledgeable of his subject. His view that Islamic fundamentalism fails all liberal tests of toleration, cross-cultural cooperation, gender equality, gay rights, and freedom of conscience still holds. Most Islamic authorities consider separation of church and state either absurd or evil. They seek to punish free inquiry, blasphemy, and apostasy. Moreover, it is their obligation to do so under holy law. Wearing multicultural blinders, contemporary European and American progressives pretend none of this is so. As has been demonstrated since 2015, Europe provides opportunities for territorial expansion, as do open-borders politics in the U.S. and Canada.

In 1990, long before his Washington adventures, Lewis wrote in the American Scholar , "We live in a time when great efforts are being made to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they would wish it to have been."

On and off campus, Islamists today use Western progressive politics and ecumenical dreams to further their holy struggle.

Lewis would point out that this force is completely understandable; in fact, it is a sacred duty. What would disturb him more is that in the name of diversity, Western intellectuals and journalists, government and corporate officials, and even military generals have eagerly cooperated.

Gilbert T. Sewall is co-author of After Hiroshima: The United States Since 1945 and editor of The Eighties: A Reader .


Ray Steinberg June 8, 2018 at 12:56 am

Why the long spiel when this article could have conveyed its thesis in the single line:

"Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth "

Fayez Abedaziz , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:10 am
This article is exactly what this so-called intellectual Lewis is:
opinion.
All that's said by this Lewis guy is his opinion and his goal was hatred of Islam, therefore, he wanted it to then have people follow along with hatred for arabs and Palestinians.
This was, of course, because then, people would keep supporting Israel!
How 'bout that?
Who are we kidding?
When talking about the history of this nation or that religion, Lewis offers mostly his opinion and takes whatever event out of context to try to prove all this anti-Islam
rubbish. There are nations that have a majority of people of the Moslem religion, that have different systems of government and so, we have free voting, and had for decades, in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and so on.
Pakistan and Turkey had female Prime Ministers decade ago how 'bout that! And so did Indonesia, the nation most populated by Moslems, in the word, and so did Senegal, in Africa.
These nations are thousands of miles apart, with different languages and cultures.
What is not pointed out, but I will, since I know, is that whenever there was turmoil in an election in a mostly Moslem populated nation, why it was the meddling by the U.S. covertly and with bribes and trouble making.
Like when the CIA did that in Iran in 1953 after a fellow, Mosaddegh was freely elected and he was stopped and the dictator Shah was put in.
The U.S. constantly either installed or supported anti-democratic leaders in the Middle East and Asia.
By the way, that's how you put the subject of Edward Said- that he was a professor and a Palestinian activist? That's it?
How come you didn't tell us readers that he is a Christian?
Lewis knows no more about the makings, origins or history of religions that do many dozens of thousands of professors in the U.S. alone.
But, he has been is given a lot of media, and still is, because he is liked by the neo-cons. Also, I know more than Lewis did.
dig what I'm saying
undertakings , says: June 8, 2018 at 6:12 am
"In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon."

In laymen's terms, Lewis was an Israeli operative working the academic beat. His American citizenship meant about as much to him as his earlier British citizenship had, a matter of convenience, nothing more. Stripped of the spurious Ivy League gloss, his "scholarship" was tendentious; it served to advance a political agenda and was consistently tainted by his entanglements with politicians and political institutions. Circa 2018 it reads as badly dated, often wrong, and generally wrong-headed.

I see he died a few weeks ago. Good riddance. "Intellectual father of the Iraq War" isn't the epitaph of a decent human being.

Saint Kyrillos , says: June 8, 2018 at 8:00 am
The consensus I'm aware of is that Obama's foreign policy was just a continuation of the foreign policy pursued by Bush during his second term. How does Obama continuing the foreign policy positions of Bush, who was influenced by Lewis, indicate that Obama's views on the middle east were influenced by Said? It should similarly be noted that while academics are practically universal in siding with Said over Lewis, they did not universally support him against other orientalists. While I'm likely butchering his claims, I seem to recall that Robert Irwin criticized Said's Orientalism for focusing too much on Bernard Lewis, ignoring the work of German orientalists who would complicate Said's claims about the West's portrayal of the middle east.
George Hoffman , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:23 am
I admire his spirited defense of the Western canon in literature and culture based upon Judeo-Christian values. But he lost me when he joined forces with the campaign to blacklist Professors John Meanshimer and Steven Walt with their book The Israel Lobby. The book originally was an article that was expanded into their book. But because of the blacklist against them, they coildn't ge their critique published in America and had to go to The London Review of Books. And of course the article was smeared as anti-Semitic because it was critical of the Israeli lobby (namely AIPAC) and its influence over our foreign policy.
mrscracker , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:53 am
"He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan."
*****************
I'm missing how vanity & supporting Israel are connected?
polistra , says: June 8, 2018 at 10:51 am
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it. Our purpose was not to defang Islam but to superfang it, so we could have a new enemy to justify ever-increasing budgets and power for Deepstate.

Now that we've switched back to Russia as the official enemy, our focus on Islam is fading.

Frank Healy , says: June 8, 2018 at 11:46 am
Saying that Lewis fell prey to vanity is easier than saying he, like the rest of the neocons, was a hypocritical ethnic chauvinist.

In other words:

"Ethnic chauvinism is a sin and a great evil, or evidence of dangerous mental illness, except for the Zionists who you need to support uncritically and unconditionally."

Myron Hudson , says: June 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm
One thing to remember about zionists is that many of the christian ones are expecting to trigger the second coming once certain things come to pass and this includes geography in that region. I grew up with that. Anyway, to them it's not reckless, it's speeding the prophecy along to its rightful end.
ed , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Lewis' so-called analysis and historiography was politicized and deeply flawed, so much so that he showed himself to be a bigot against Arabs and Armenians – he was a scholar of Turkish history, who had been, wined, dined, bought and sold, and corrupted by the Turkish and Israeli governments to serves as their genocide denialist- and of Islam, and anything else Middle Eastern, that did not serve Israel's interests. He offered himself to the neocons as a willing academic and did much damage by 'legitimizing' their bogus 'war on terror'.
He should not be allowed to rest in peace or escape accountability in the judgment of history.
EliteCommInc. , says: June 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm
i guess is the question . . . to decipher the depth and scope that islam poses to the US.

There are just not that many non-Muslims shooting people over cartoons, and insults in the name of god. I have some very fine relational dynamics with muslims, but on occasion, i can't help but wonder which one is going take me out because i don't use the term honorable when I say mohammed's name.

The Nt doesn't even advocate throwing stones at people who steal my coat, I am supposed to offer up the other.

Janwaar Bibi , says: June 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it.

Islamic fundamentalism blighted and extinguished the lives of millions of Armenians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others in the first half of the 20th century, long before dumb Westerners funded it or armed it. The fact that people in the West are clueless about this history does not mean it did not happen.

BillWAF , says: June 9, 2018 at 2:21 am
Obama had an English class with Said as an undergrad at Columbia. So did Leon Wieseltier years earlier, as did many other Columbia students. Interestingly enough, Wiesaltier remained an aggressive zionist. The claim that Said had any effect upon Obama's foreign policy ideas; policies; or actions is profoundly silly.

To support your claim that "Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president," you need a great deal more evidence. Currently, you have none.

Donald , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm
Cheer up Janwaar -- most of us are clueless about fascist Hindus and Buddhists as well.
Philly guy , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm
Islamic fundamentalism was created and funded by Israel and the US to compete with the then Marxist PLO and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.You thought Marxist terrorism was problematic,look at Islamic terrorism.

[Jun 05, 2018] Is Democracy to Blame for Our Present Crisis by Alexander William Salter

Notable quotes:
"... Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering. ..."
"... John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." ..."
"... James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." ..."
"... Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred ..."
"... What we've got now is the tyranny of the ..."
"... minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy. ..."
"... If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp. ..."
"... One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering.

Something has gone wrong with America's political institutions. While the United States is, on the whole, competently governed, there are massive problems lurking just beneath the surface. This became obvious during the 2016 presidential election. Each party's nominee was odious to a large segment of the public; the only difference seemed to be whether it was an odious insurgent or an odious careerist. Almost two years on, things show little signs of improving.

What's to blame? One promising, though unpopular, answer is: democracy itself. When individuals act collectively in large groups and are not held responsible for the consequences of their behavior, decisions are unlikely to be reasonable or prudent. This design flaw in popular government was recognized by several Founding Fathers. John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred : "It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evil of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure," Washington wrote. "It is to be lamented, nevertheless, that the remedies are so slow, and that those, who may wish to apply them seasonably are not attended to before they suffer in person, in interest and in reputation."

Is Democracy in a Death Spiral? Is Democracy to Blame for the Loneliness Epidemic?

Given these opinions, it is unsurprising that the U.S. Constitution contains so many other mechanisms for ensuring responsible government. Separation of powers and checks and balances are necessary to protect the people from themselves. To the extent our political institutions are deteriorating, the Founders' first instinct would be to look for constitutional changes, whether formal or informal, that have expanded the scope of democracy and entrusted to the electorate greater power than they can safely wield, and reverse them.

This theory is simple, elegant, and appealing. But it's missing a crucial detail.

American government is largely insulated from the tyranny of the majority. But at least since the New Deal, we've gone too far in the opposite direction. What we've got now is the tyranny of the minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy.

But now we confront a puzzle: the rise of the permanent government did coincide with increased democratization. The administrative-managerial state, and its enablers in Congress, followed from creative reinterpretations of the Constitution that allowed voters to make decisions that the Ninth and Tenth amendments -- far and away the most ignored portion of the Bill of Rights -- should have forestalled. As it turns out, not only are both of these observations correct, they are causally related . Increasing the scope of popular government results in the loss of popular control.

If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp.

The larger the electorate, and the more questions the electorate is asked to decide, the more important it is for the people who actually govern to take advantage of economies of scale in government. If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians.

One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. This is why an upsurge of populism won't cure what ails the body politic. It will either provoke the permanent and unaccountable government into tightening its grip, or those who actually hold the power will fan the flames of popular discontent, channeling that energy towards their continued growth and entrenchment. We have enough knowledge to make the diagnosis, but not to prescribe the treatment. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing what political health looks like. G.K. Chesterton said it best in his insight about the relationship between democracy and self-governance:

The democratic contention is that government is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly . In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves

The first step towards renewed self-governance must be to reject the false dichotomy between populism and oligarchy. A sober assessment shows that they are one in the same.

Alexander William Salter is an assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He is also the Comparative Economics Research Fellow at TTU's Free Market Institute. See more at his website: www.awsalter.com .



Steve Miller June 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

This was going fine until the author decided to blame civil servants for our nation's problems. How about an electoral system that denies majority rule? A Congress that routinely votes against things the vast majority want? A system that vastly overpriveleges corporations and hands them billions while inequality grows to the point where the UN warns that our country resembles a third world kleptocracy? Nope, sez this guy. It's just because there are too many bureaucrats.
tz , , June 5, 2018 at 12:37 am
He avoids the 17th amendment which was one of the barriers to the mob, and the 19th that removed the power of individual states to set the terms of suffrage.
Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Katy Stanton could simply have moved to Wyoming.
It might be useful to only have property taxpayers vote.
And the problem is the left. When voters rejected Gay Marriage (57% in California!) or benefits for illegals, unelected and unaccountable judges reversed the popular will.
S , , June 5, 2018 at 3:38 am
I find your use of the word populism interesting. Inasmuch the word is generally used when the decisions of the populace is different from that which the technocrats or oligarchs would have made for them. The author being part of the technocratic elite thinks that he and his ilk know best. This entire article is just a lot of arguments in support of this false and self serving idea.
Realist , , June 5, 2018 at 5:11 am
When a populous isn't controlled by the electorate democracy is dead.
Rotunda , , June 5, 2018 at 5:47 am
The libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan made small waves with his book "Against Democracy", published last year.
Voltaire's Ghost , , June 5, 2018 at 6:03 am
Making the federal government "small" will not solve the problems the author describes or really alludes to. The power vacum left by a receding federal government will just be occupied by an unaccountable corporate sector. The recent dismantling of Toys R Us by a spawn of Bain Capital is the most recent manifestation of the twisted and pathological thought process that calls itself "free market capitalism." A small federal government did not end child labor, fight the Depression, win WW II or pioneer space exploration. Conservatives love the mythology of a government "beast" that must be decapitated so that "Liberty" may reign. There are far more dangerous forces at work in American society that inhibit liberty and tax our personal treasuries than the federal government.
TJ Martin , , June 5, 2018 at 9:23 am
1) The US is not and never has been a ' democracy ' It is a Democratic Republic ' which is not the same as a ' democracy ' ( one person -- one vote period ) of which there is only one in the entire world . Switzerland

2) A large part of what has brought us to this point is the worn out well past its sell by Electoral College which not only no longer serves its intended purpose .

3) But the major reason why we're here to put it bluntly is the ' Collective Stupidity of America ' we've volitionally become : addled by celebrity , addicted to entertainment and consumed by conspiracy theory rather than researching the facts

cj , , June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
The US has a democracy? Were'nt two of the last 3 presidents placed into office via a minority of the vote?

We have instead what Sheldon Wolin called a 'managed democracy'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_democracy

It's time to end the pretension that we live in a democracy. It maybe useful to claim so when the US is trying to open markets or control resources in 3rd world countries. It's at that time that we're 'spreading democracy'. Instead it's like spreading manure.

Jon , , June 5, 2018 at 9:43 am
The managerial state arose to quell the threat of class warfare. Ironically those who sought to organize the proletariat under a vision of class-based empowerment clamored for the same. The response over time was fighting fire with fire as the cliche goes becoming what the opposition has sought but only in a modified form.

If we were able to devise a way for distributive justice apart from building a bloated bureaucracy then perhaps this emergence of oligarchy could have been averted. What alternative(s) exist for an equitable distribution of wealth and income to ameliorate poverty? Openly competitive (so-called) markets? And the charity of faith-based communities? I think not.

Youknowho , , June 5, 2018 at 10:39 am
Democracy, like all systems requires maintenace. Bernard Shaw said that the flaw of pragmatism is that any system that is not completely idiotic will work PROVIDED THAT SOMEONE PUT EFFORT IN MAKING IT WORK.

We have come to think that Democracy is in automatic pilot, and does not require effort of our part See how many do not bother to vote or to inform themselves.

Democracy is a fine, shiny package with two caveats in it "Batteries not included" And "Some assembly required" FAilure to heed those leads to disaster.

TG , , June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm
I see where you are coming from, but I must disagree. We don't have a democracy in any real way, so how can it have failed?

Despite massive propaganda of commission and omission, the majority of the American people don't want to waste trillions of dollars on endless pointless oversees wars. The public be damned: Trump was quickly beaten into submission and we are back to the status quo. The public doesn't want to give trillions of dollars to Wall Street while starving Main Street of capital. The public doesn't want an abusively high rate of immigration whose sole purpose is to flood the market for labor, driving wages down and profits up. And so on.

Oswald Spengler was right. " in actuality the freedom of public opinion involves the preparation of public opinion, which costs money; and the freedom of the press brings with it the question of possession of the press, which again is a matter of money; and with the franchise comes electioneering, in which he who pays the piper calls the tune."

JJ , , June 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm
"If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians."

True, but this implies retarding government power as is will lead to an ultimate solution. It will not. The sober truth is that a massive centralized national government has been inevitable since the onset of the second world war or even beforehand with American intervention in the colonoal Phillippines and the Great War. Becoming an empire requires extensive power grabbing and becoming and maintaining a position as a world power requires constant flexing of that power. Maintaining such a large population, military, and foreign corps requires the massive public-works projects you speak of in order to keep the population content and foreign powers in check. Failure to do so leads to chaos and tragic disaster that would lead to such a nation a collapse in all existing institutions due to overcumbersome responsibilities. These cannot be left to the provinces/states due to the massive amounts of resources required to maintain such imperial ambitions along with the cold reality of state infighting and possible seperatist leanings.

If one wishes to end the power of the federal government as is, the goal is not to merely seek reform. The goal is to dismantle the empire; destroy the military might, isolate certain diplomatic relations, reduce rates of overseas trade and reduce the economy as a whole, and then finally disband and/or drastically reduce public security institutions such as the FBI, CIA, and their affiliates. As you well know, elites and the greater public alike consider these anathema.

However, if you wish to rush to this goal, keep in mind that dismantling the American empire will not necessarily lead to the end of oppression and world peace even in the short term. A power vacuum will open that the other world powers such as the Russian Federation and the PRC will rush to fill up. As long as the world remains so interconnected and imperialist ambitions are maintained by old and new world powers, even the smallest and most directly democratic states will not be able to become self-governing for long.

Chris in Appalachia , , June 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Well, when, statistically speaking, half of the population has an IQ of less than 100 (probably more than half now that USA has been invaded by the Third World) then a great number of people are uninformed and easily manipulated voters. That is one of the great fallacies of democracy.
Robert Charron , , June 5, 2018 at 2:38 pm
In an era when the word "democracy" is regarded as one of our deities to worship, this article is a breath of fresh air. Notice how we accuse the Russians of trying to undermine our hallowed "democracy." We really don't know what we mean when we use the term democracy, but it is a shibboleth that has a good, comforting sound. And this idea that we could extend our "democracy" by increasing the number of voters shows that we don't understand much at all. Brilliant insights.
Stephen J. , , June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I believe we are prisoners of so-called "democracy"
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

Screwing the masses was the forte of the political establishment. It did not really matter which political party was in power, or what name it went under, they all had one ruling instinct, tax, tax, and more taxes. These rapacious politicians had an endless appetite for taxes, and also an appetite for giving themselves huge raises, pension plans, expenses, and all kinds of entitlements. In fact one of them famously said, "He was entitled to his entitlements." Public office was a path to more, and more largesse all paid for by the compulsory taxes of the masses that were the prisoners of "democracy."
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

[Jun 05, 2018] Mourning in America The Day RFK Was Shot in Los Angeles The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee . ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

America had dramatically changed since John F. Kennedy seduced voters with the promises of the New Frontier. A young family, the campaign jingles, the embrace of television, and the prospect of America's first Catholic president injected a sense of patriotic adrenaline into the 1960 campaign. There were "high hopes" for Jack and a sense of cultural validation for Catholics who remembered Al Smith's failed presidential bid in 1928. In 1960, the Everly Brothers and Bobby Darin crooned through the radio, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird proved a national sensation, and Americans flocked to movies like Spartacus in magnificent downtown theaters.

But the frivolity and innocence, however illusory, were shattered on November 22, 1963. Kennedy's assassination violently shifted America's cultural fault lines. One afternoon accelerated the nation's sociological maladies, intensified its political divisions, and evaporated its black-and-white contentment. Americans proceeded on a Technicolor path of disruption, one that had transformed the nation by the time of Bobby's announcement on March 16, 1968. It was that year when The Doors and Cream blasted from transistor radios, John Updike's Couples landed on the cover of Time , and 2001: A Space Odyssey played in new suburban cinemas. The country had experienced a dervish frenzy, and Bobby was fully aware of his nation's turbulent course.

The country was rocked by young students protesting a worsening war in Vietnam. Racial tension exploded and riots destroyed urban neighborhoods. America's political evolution forever altered its electoral geography. Bobby was embarking on a remarkable campaign that challenged the incumbent president, a man he despised for many years. But the source of this strife stemmed from the White House years of Bobby's brother. "While he defined his vision more concretely and compellingly than Jack had -- from ending a disastrous war and addressing the crisis in the cities to removing a sadly out-of-touch president -- he failed to point out that the war, the festering ghettos, and Lyndon Johnson were all part of Jack Kennedy's legacy," wrote Larry Tye in his biography of Bobby.

For the 1968 primary, Kennedy metamorphosed into a liberal figure with an economic populist message. Kennedy's belated entry turned into an audacious crusade, with the candidate addressing racial injustice, income inequality, and the failure of Vietnam. He balanced this message with themes touching upon free enterprise and law and order. Kennedy hoped to appeal to minorities and working-class whites. He quickly became a messianic figure, and the press embellished his New Democrat image. By late March, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection during a televised address. Through his departure, Johnson worked to maintain control of the party machine by supporting Hubert Humphrey, his devoted Vice President. But in the following weeks, Kennedy built momentum as he challenged McCarthy in states like Indiana and Nebraska. His performance in both states, where anti-Catholic sentiments lingered, testified to Kennedy's favorable electoral position.

In April 4, Kennedy learned that the Rev. King had been assassinated. He relayed the civil rights leader's death in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis. His words helped spare Indianapolis from the riots that erupted in cities across the country, ultimately leading to nearly 40 people killed and over 2,000 injured. MLK's assassination served as an unsettling reminder to Kennedy's family, friends, campaign aides, and traveling press. During Kennedy's first campaign stop in Kansas, the press corps stopped at a restaurant where the legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin asked, "Do you think this guy has the stuff to go all the way?"

"Yes, of course he has the stuff to go all the way," replied Newsweek's John J. Lindsay. "But he's not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it. Just as sure as we're sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He's out there now waiting for him. And, please God, I don't think we'll have a country after it."

Despite what happened in 1963, the Secret Service had yet to provide protection of presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees during the 1964 election or the 1968 primary. But all the signs were there that Kennedy needed protection. The frenzied crowds increased in size, taking a physical toll on the candidate. In one instance, "he was pulled so hard that he tumbled into the car door, splitting his lip and breaking a front tooth that required capping," writes Nye. "He ended up on a regimen of vitamins and antibiotics to fight fatigue and infection For most politicians, the challenge was to attract crowds; for Bobby, it was to survive them." In California, just 82 days after his announcement, Kennedy met the fate that so many feared.

♦♦♦

Bobby Kennedy was a complicated figure from a family that continues to engage America's imagination. In his autobiography, the novelist Philip Roth, who recently passed away, reflected on Kennedy's assassination:

He was by no means a political figure constructed on anything other than the human scale, and so, the night of his assassination and for days afterward, one felt witness to the violent cutting down not of a monumental force for justice and social change like King or the powerful embodiment of a people's massive misfortunes or a titan of religious potency but rather of a rival -- of a vital, imperfect, high-strung, egotistical, rivalrous, talented brother, who could be just as nasty as he was decent. The murder of a boyish politician of forty-two, a man so nakedly ambitious and virile, was a crime against ordinary human hope as well as against the claims of robust, independent appetite and, coming after the murders of President Kennedy at forty-six and Martin Luther King at thirty-nine, evoked the simplest, most familiar forms of despair.

For those schoolchildren and their parents in June 1968, Kennedy's campaign offered a sense of nostalgia. They remembered the exuberance of his brother's campaign, the optimism of his administration, and the possibilities of the 1960s. For the nation's large ethnic Catholic voting bloc, another Kennedy reminded them of that feeling of validation in the 1960 election. Of course, it had been a tumultuous decade for these voters. They lived in cities that had precipitously declined since JFK's campaign visits in 1960. Railroad stations ended passenger service, theaters closed, factories shuttered, and new highways offered an exodus to suburbia. As Catholics, they prayed for the conversion of Russia, adapted to Vatican II reforms, and adjusted to new parishes in the developing outskirts. Young draftees were shipped off to a catastrophic war, which only intensified their feelings of disillusionment. Their disenchantment raised questions about their sustained support for Democrats. Kennedy may have proved formidable for Nixon in the general election, but the Catholic vote was increasingly up for grabs.

Pat Buchanan understood this electoral opportunity for Republicans. In a 1971 memo, Buchanan argued that Catholics were the largest bloc of available Democratic voters for the GOP: "The fellows who join the K.of C. (Knights of Columbus), who make mass and communion every morning, who go on retreats, who join the Holy Name society, who fight against abortion in their legislatures, who send their kids to Catholic schools, who work on assembly lines and live in Polish, Irish, Italian and Catholic communities or who have headed to the suburbs -- these are the majority of Catholics; they are where our voters are."

In subsequent presidential elections, Catholic voters flocked to Democrats and Republicans. Their electoral preferences were driven by the issues of the moment and often by location. The geographical divide of our politics has only intensified. The 2016 presidential election encapsulated this trend. Voters in Appalachia and the Rust Belt overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump that year. Many of these voters previously supported Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In 1968, these voters likely appreciated Kennedy's campaign message. But the tragedy of the nation is now a loss of optimism -- the belief that tomorrow will be a better day. Americans are overwhelmed by ideological tension and socio-economic angst. The prosperity enjoyed by large metropolitan regions has not spilled over into the heartland. There is no nostalgia for 1968 because countless Americans understand that the nation has failed to address income inequality, job displacement, urban decline, and mass poverty. It was so long ago, but America did lose its innocence on November 22, 1963. Bobby Kennedy's death in 1968 served as a reminder that it would never return.

Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee .

[Jun 05, 2018] The Political Assassin Who Brought Down RFK

Notable quotes:
"... Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development. ..."
"... If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

More troublingly, Robert Kennedy's death occurred within five years of his elder brother's, and under similar circumstances. It is important to recall how unprecedented their deaths were to the generation who witnessed them. If time has removed the shock of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, it should not obscure just how anomalous they are. Bad luck may be part of the mythos of the Kennedy family, but lightning does not strike the same place twice, and political assassinations are exceedingly rare in American history. Both Kennedy brothers hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time -- Israeli nationalism and anti-communism -- and both appeared to have paid a heavy price.


Miguel June 4, 2018 at 12:01 am

In the first place, I don't think that failure of Robert Kennedy had anything to do with a substantial limitation of the liberal world view, but with another concept, or argument:

The end cannot justify the means because it is the mean, which is a process, which conditionates the end, in itself only an outcome.

Robert Kennedy supported violence made by the Zionist movement, turned into a State, and if you ask me, it was that violence which -no pun intended- backfired against him.

Now, about the out balance between loyalty and allegiance homeland/nation, I think it should be looked at from Sirhan perspective. Yes, he had escaped from what, in his perspective, was zionist persecution, just to end in a country where that persecution was supported actively by some high profile politicians. I am not going to say that murder is right, but some how it had to feel for him as if that anti palestinian israely persecution had reappeared very near to his home.

From that point of view, he wasn't a refuge anymore; the country where he was living had become an acomplice of that persecution.

Maybe, if Robert Kennedy had considered a less bellicist way to support Israel, like sending military support without delivering neither the means nor the command decissions to the government of Israel, but keeping it in the hand of the U.S., who knows.

Pear Conference , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:25 am
This article doesn't quite try to justify Oswald's or Sirhan's actions. But it places them firmly in a political context rather than a criminal one.

It also suggests that JFK and RFK both went too far – that they "hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time" and thus bear a degree of responsibility for their own fates.

If we want to debate the merits of arming Israel, or undermining Cuba, then let's have that debate. But this is altogether the wrong way to frame it. I, for one, don't ever want the Overton window on such issues to be shifted by the acts, or even the potential acts, of an assassin.

TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:05 am
Israel twice begged Jordan not to join the war that it was already fighting with Egypt and Syria – a war of aggression and genocide, where Nasser boasted of the impending total destruction of Israel, Egyptian state media spoke of a road from Tel Aviv to Cairo paved in Jewish skulls, and Israel's rabbinate consecrated national parks in case they had to be used for Jewish mass graves.

Sirhan Sirhan's entire identity was wrapped up in the frustrated need for Jewish servitude and inferiority, the bitterness that a second Holocaust had failed. He was exactly like the Klan cops in Philadelphia, Mississippi, murdering Freedom Riders who tried to deprive them of their most cherished resource: assured superiority over their traditional designated victim group.

JLF , says: June 4, 2018 at 10:16 am
Hinted at but ignored is another aspect by which 1968 presaged 2018. In 1968 Bobby Kennedy waited until after Gene McCarthy had challenged LBJ and LBJ had withdrawn from the race before entering. For many (most?) McCarthy backers, Kennedy was an opportunistic, privileged spoiler. In the same way, many of Bernie Sanders' supporters looked upon Hillary Clinton as the privileged spoiler of a Democratic Party establishment that had tried and failed to move the party to the right. The McGovern was followed by Carter, who was followed by Mondale, who was followed by Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Hillary. For Democrats, then, it's been fifty years of struggling to find a center, a struggle Republicans pretty much found in Ronald Reagan.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:23 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims. For examples, see TTT and Northern Observer.
mrscracker , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm
John Wilkes Booth was wrapped up in bitterness, defeat & a warped loyalty to his homeland, too. It's interesting I guess to examine assassins' motives, but to what point?
Sean , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm
Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development.
Going My Way , says: June 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm
Let the many who criticize TAC for not printing pro Israeli essays read this one. Also, read the numerous blogs supporting this thrust. The "small nation" phrase was a tip-off to the author's loyalties. I think this article is more worthy of the New York Times. Let us not forget June 8, 1967, is another anniversary, when the sophisticated and unmarked aircraft and PT boats using napalm of the author's "small nation" attacked the USS Liberty in international water, with complete disregard to the ship's American markings and large US flag. http://www.gtr5.com/ This event received scant coverage on P19 of the aforementioned NYT. "Small nation"; indeed!
TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims.

Sirhan Sirhan is Jordanian – a nation that was invented specifically to be an apartheid state with no Jews at all, forever closed to Jewish inhabitation or immigration. That is his view of normalcy. I'm sorry it's also yours.

Steve Naidamast , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm
This is pure bunk. The idea that Sirhan Sirhan was the assassin of RFK has been categorically disproven by the analysis of the fatal bullets, which none of came from Sirhan's gun. And RFKs friends and close advisors all knew that he had no love for Israel. Whatever he said in support of Israel was for the media purposes only.
General Manager , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm
Having worked in Jordan and watched Israelis do business and as tourists (Jewish shrines) there, I saw and heard no antisemitism. From my perspective, there seemed to be a positive relationship. Elat and Aqaba are like sister cities. In fact, there seemed to be high-level cooperation. Keep looking you will find bigotry to justify your positions.
Someone in the crowd , says: June 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm
I completely agree with Steve Naidamast. This article is indeed "pure bunk" because Sirhan Sirhan is a side story. That's why this article, with such an angle, should simply never have been published.
Banger , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:29 pm
If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade.
John Jeffery , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm
A laughably naive article which toes the CIA and Zionist line.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm
TTT -- yo weren't just talking about Sirhan. I wasn't talking about him at all. I have no sympathy for people who practice terrorism, whether it is done by Palestinians, Jordanians, or the IDF.

[May 29, 2018] On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond 'Thank You For Your Service' The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. ..."
"... Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. ..."
"... A strategy is needed that's rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means . Like " The Weary Titan ," America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. ..."
"... What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy -- who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there's the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic . ..."
"... The reason US acts like an empire is because she *IS* an empire. ..."
"... It recently dawned on me that the US' empire status solidified during and after WWII is the biggest reason why it's so easy for America to wage prolonged, deep-involvement wars. NATO, overseas bases, freedom of navigation, etc. ..."
"... But let's be honest: when we "killed" the draft we killed, in part, what is called social cohesion in this country. ..."
"... "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them." ..."
"... U.S. policy of perpetual war has been well established since 9/11. Everyone who joins the military is well aware of the job description (kill and destroy) and has free will. ..."
"... The U.S. military is currently providing refueling, logistics and intelligence support to the odious Saudis as they pulverize Yemen to smithereens and starve the population. And those American service people are "defending our freedoms" by doing so? ..."
"... The reason these episodes of introspection are called for is because of the massive propaganda machine (Pentagon, Corporate, MSM) of Military Exceptionalism that is the architect of the pathological incongruence. ..."
"... The 'military-civilian' divide, as the author stated it, is as much a product of a media that no longer holds policymakers accountable for seemingly endless military engagements and, the true effect that our endless military engagements are having on the very fabric of our society and on those engaged in them. ..."
"... With a volunteer military that effectively is at the disposal of whoever happens to be in office, no grass-roots opposition movement to hold politicians accountable, and 95 percent of the population untouched by war, the most veterans will receive is a "thank you for your service" as we go on with our daily lives. ..."
"... In my opinion, Demanding answers and justifications for sending people into harms way is the best expression of respect for our military personnel. ..."
"... " instead of asking 'what' we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask 'why' there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there." ..."
"... Be aware that when you ask why, many people (including, sadly, many veterans) will consider this questioning of government foreign policy as a species of treason. Once, while on active duty with the US Army (1970), I suggested to a fellow officer that sending US troops to fight in Vietnam might not be in nation interest. I was immediately and vigorously condemned as a communist, a fascist, and a traitor. ..."
"... According to this reasoning, once the first soldier dies in battle, any criticism of the war denigrates the sacrifice of the deceased. So, we must continue to pile up the dead to justify those who have already died. This is part of the mechanism of war, and is an important reason why it is always easier to start a war than to stop one. ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. From memes outlining the differences between Veterans, Armed Forces, and Memorial Day, to Fourth of July "safe space" declarations seemingly applied to all vets, the trend was everywhere. Thankfully, it seems now to have passed.

Memorial Day is, of course, for remembering the fallen, those who died in service to the nation. Veterans and their families remember their loved ones in ways they deem appropriate, and the state remembers, too, in a somber, serious manner.

This remembrance should in no way preclude the typical family barbecue and other customs associated with the traditional beginning of summer. National holidays are for remembering and celebrating, not guilt. Shaming those who fail to celebrate a holiday according to one's expectations is a bit like non-Christians feeling shame for skipping church: it shouldn't matter because the day means different things to different people. Having a day on the calendar demonstrates the national consensus about honoring sacrifice; anything more than that is a slow walk towards superficiality. President Bush stopped golfing during the Iraq war, but it didn't stop him from continuing it.

Instead, Memorial Day should engender conversation about our military and the gulf between those who serve and those who don't. The conversation shouldn't just be the military talking at civilians; it must be reciprocal. Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. This situation is lamentable because the aforementioned "mil-splaining" could only occur in a country so profoundly divided from its military as to misunderstand basic concepts such as the purpose of holidays. It's also striking how the most outspoken so-called "patriots" often have little connection to that which they so outlandishly support. Our "thank you for your service" culture is anathema to well-functioning civil-military relations.

After Multiple Deployments, Coming Home to a Changed Country The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth

The public owes its military more consideration, particularly in how the armed forces are deployed across the globe. Part of this is empathy: stop treating military members as an abstraction , as something that exists only to serve a national or increasingly political purpose. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are deserving of praise and support -- especially considering the burden they've carried -- but what they need more is an engaged public, one that's even willing to scrutinize the military . Because scrutiny necessitates engagement and hopefully understanding and reform.

But the civil-military divide goes both ways. Military members and veterans owe the public a better relationship as well. This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them. Open a dialogue: you might build a real connection . Better yet, volunteer to speak at a school or church: partly to explain your service, sure, but more so to show that military personnel are people, too, not just distant abstractions . Veterans are spread across the county and better able to interact with civilians than our largely cloistered active duty force. They shouldn't go to schools, churches, and civic organizations for the inevitable praise. They should go to educate, nurture relationships, and chip away at the civil-military divide.

Perhaps by questioning the fundamentals -- the "why" instead of the so often discussed "what" in military operations -- the public would be in a better position to demand action from a Congress that, heretofore, has largely abdicated serious oversight of foreign policy. Perhaps the public, instead of asking "what" we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan , could ask "why" there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there.

A strategy is needed that's rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means . Like " The Weary Titan ," America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. Consumed by domestic strife and the emergence of nationalism , American foreign policy has wandered fecklessly since the end of the Cold War. While we can strike anywhere, this capability is wasted in search of a lasting peace.

What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy -- who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there's the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic .

For America to dig its way out of its domestic and foreign troubles it must start with sobering analysis. For the civil-military dialogue, Memorial Day is as good a place to begin as any day. So this weekend, civilians should move beyond "Thank you for your service" and ask a vet about his or her service and lost comrades. Veterans, don't expect praise and don't lecture; speak with honesty and empathy, talk about what you've done and the conditions you've seen. You might be surprised what we can learn from each other.

John Q. Bolton is an Army officer who recently returned from Afghanistan. An Army aviator (AH-64D/E), he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a 2005 graduate of West Point. The views presented here are his alone and not representative of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

12 Responses to On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond 'Thank You For Your Service'

W May 28, 2018 at 4:03 am

(This reply was intended for an older article "http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-deep-unfairness-of-americas-all-volunteer-force" from 2017 but since the topics are kind of related, so )

The reason US acts like an empire is because she *IS* an empire.

It recently dawned on me that the US' empire status solidified during and after WWII is the biggest reason why it's so easy for America to wage prolonged, deep-involvement wars. NATO, overseas bases, freedom of navigation, etc. Scrapping/re-constituting these frameworks would put the US on par with most other countries on earth sporting home-bound defense forces. Congressional authority/oversight would be reinvigorated, and acting under the auspices of the UN becomes a procedural impairment (sovereignty concerns and selfishness notwithstanding). A practical start would be lobbying for more base closures abroad, for those who feel strongly about this.

But there is a danger: nature abhors a vacuum.

The other thing, I am definitely for professionalism in militaries. Better to have one dedicated soldier than three squirmish kids dragged into the mud.

Aviel , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:07 am
Seems to me a universal draft would be the best way to say thank you. Under that scenario most wars would be avoided or resolved quickly as the cost would be political defeat. An all volunteer/mercenary force is blatantly unfair as virtually no kids of the wealthy fight, prohibitively expensive, as recruiting and retaining soldiers in these times is an uphill challenge, and dangerous as it encourages needless risk since only a tiny percentage of the voting population pay the price
Mark M. Pando , says: May 28, 2018 at 5:31 am
Sir: Thank you for your timely comments. I am a USN veteran and fully support the idea that communication has to be a two-way street between civilians and our military women and men. But let's be honest: when we "killed" the draft we killed, in part, what is called social cohesion in this country. Not having common experiences makes us all more foreign to one another which leads to isolation and platitudes such as "Thank you for your service." I have heard that comment many times, too, and after a while it comes across as: "better you than me." I know I am being cynical but I am also only human .
SteveM , says: May 28, 2018 at 7:54 am
Re: "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them."

U.S. policy of perpetual war has been well established since 9/11. Everyone who joins the military is well aware of the job description (kill and destroy) and has free will.

Thanking someone for signing up for the War Machine to wreck havoc on natives thousands of miles from American shores makes little sense.

The U.S. military is currently providing refueling, logistics and intelligence support to the odious Saudis as they pulverize Yemen to smithereens and starve the population. And those American service people are "defending our freedoms" by doing so?

The U.S. military slaughters the Syrian army operating in their own country and we are supposed to thank them for "their service"? Military drone drivers who slaughter Yemeni wedding parties from comfortable installations in Florida and the operators on U.S. Navy ships who launch missiles into Syria based on bogus False Flag scenarios are "Warrior Heroes"?

The veterans we should be thanking are the ones who realized early on that they were being played for chumps by the war-mongers and got out. If John Q. Bolton has that understanding, why hasn't he gotten out?

The real "heroes" in America are the young people who get real jobs in the real economy providing real value to their fellow citizens.

The reason these episodes of introspection are called for is because of the massive propaganda machine (Pentagon, Corporate, MSM) of Military Exceptionalism that is the architect of the pathological incongruence.

E.J. Smith , says: May 28, 2018 at 9:26 am
This is an excellent article. Memorial Day should call upon all Americans to ask some essential questions.

As an aside, The Washington Post ran an article today about the funeral of Spec. Conde who recently was killed in Afghanistan. The article spoke of Spec. Conde's motivations for serving, the events that led to his death, the funeral service, and the effect that his death at age 21 had and will have on his family and those who knew and loved him.

What struck me most about the article was how remote the funeral service and the family's grief seem from the rest of what is taking place in America. For example, there was an oblique reference to a funeral detail for a veteran who committed suicide that apparently no one attended.

The 'military-civilian' divide, as the author stated it, is as much a product of a media that no longer holds policymakers accountable for seemingly endless military engagements and, the true effect that our endless military engagements are having on the very fabric of our society and on those engaged in them.

The vast majority of the American public go about their daily lives, seemingly insulated from the effects of our endless engagements. For example, Spec. Conde's death in Afghanistan did not even make the front page of our major media when it first happened. The death of four soldiers in Niger has faded from view.

With a volunteer military that effectively is at the disposal of whoever happens to be in office, no grass-roots opposition movement to hold politicians accountable, and 95 percent of the population untouched by war, the most veterans will receive is a "thank you for your service" as we go on with our daily lives.

Stuart MacNee , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm
Thank you, Sir, for articulating my position. In 7 Second Soundbite format, "I Support the Troops, not the Policy that put them in harms way."
The military should never be deployed for political purposes. As a nation, we have willfully refused to learn anything from the lessons of Korea and Viet Nam.

Military service preserves the Ultimate Expression of America, "Question Authority!" (I recognize the Irony of suppressing it within it's ranks.) In my opinion, Demanding answers and justifications for sending people into harms way is the best expression of respect for our military personnel.

Accept Officer Bolton's challenge. When you see me kneeling at the National Anthem, ask me why. [The Answer: I do it to show respect for those that have fallen at the hands of those who oppose the Values embodied in the American Flag.]

Rossbach , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:43 pm
" instead of asking 'what' we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask 'why' there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there."

Be aware that when you ask why, many people (including, sadly, many veterans) will consider this questioning of government foreign policy as a species of treason. Once, while on active duty with the US Army (1970), I suggested to a fellow officer that sending US troops to fight in Vietnam might not be in nation interest. I was immediately and vigorously condemned as a communist, a fascist, and a traitor.

According to this reasoning, once the first soldier dies in battle, any criticism of the war denigrates the sacrifice of the deceased. So, we must continue to pile up the dead to justify those who have already died. This is part of the mechanism of war, and is an important reason why it is always easier to start a war than to stop one.

Stephen J. , says: May 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm
Perhaps we need "our leaders" to do some war "Service."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
March 9, 2009

"Should We Have War Games for the World's Leaders"?

Yesterday's enemies are today's friends and today's friends are tomorrow's enemies, such is the way of the world, and wars of the world. All these wars cause enormous bloodshed, destruction and suffering to those affected. Therefore, would it not be much simpler to have war games for all of the world's leaders and elites every few years? We have Olympic Games every four years where the world's athletes from different countries compete. And many of these countries are hostile to each other, yet they participate in the Olympics. So if enemies can participate for sport, why not for war games? How could this be arranged? All the leaders and elites of the world would have to lead by example, instead of leading from their political platforms, palaces and offshore tax havens, while the ordinary people have to do the dirty work in wars. The world's leaders and elites would all be in the front lines first. A venue could be arranged in a deserted area and the people of the world could watch via satellite TV their courageous leaders and other elites leading the charge in the war games .
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2009/03/should-we-have-war-games-for-worlds.html

Keith Danish , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Good to know that not all John Boltons are insane.

[May 29, 2018] Amazon's Relentless Pursuit of Largesse The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi . ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Powerful is the man who, with a short series of tweets, can single-handedly send the bluest of the blue-chip stocks into a headlong tumble. For better or for worse, the current occupant of the Oval Office is one such man, tapping into his power with the following missive that crossed the Twitter transom on the morning of March 29:

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

Over the next few trading days, with four subsequent tweets peppered in, Amazon's stock dropped by more than $75 a share, losing a market value of nearly $40 billion. Card carrying-members of the Resistance and Never Trump brigade quickly portrayed the president's scorn as the latest evidence of his "soft totalitarianism" and general disdain for the First Amendment and the free press. They noted that Amazon's CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post -- a leading "perpetrator" of what Trump has called the "opposition party" and "fake news."

Concerns of politically motivated impropriety are not without merit. Trump has repeatedly proven himself unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. As presidential candidate and commander in chief, he has demonstrated an eagerness to use his Twitter account as a bully pulpit in his petty brawls with lawmakers, media personalities, and anyone else who might draw his ire.

And yet, ulterior motives though there may be, knee-jerk dismissals of the president's attack are short-sighted. The president's bluster in this instance is rooted in reality.

Indeed, contra the libertarian ethos that Amazon and its leader purport to embody, the company has not emerged as one of history's preeminent corporate juggernauts through thrift and elbow grease alone. Although the company's harshest critics must concede that Amazon is the world's most consistently competent corporation -- replete with innovation and ingenuity -- the company's unprecedented growth would not be possible without two key ingredients: corporate welfare and tax avoidance.

Amazon has long benefitted from the procurement of taxpayer-funded subsidies, emerging in recent years as the leading recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has, since 2000, received more than $1.39 billion in state and local tax breaks and subsidies for construction of its vast network of warehouses and data centers.

These private-public "partnership" deals are perhaps best illustrated by the sweepstakes for Amazon's second headquarters. Touted as the economic development opportunity of the century, the chosen destination will reap the benefits of 50,000 "high-paying" jobs and $5 billion in construction spending. The possibility of securing an economic development package of this magnitude elicited proposals from 238 North American cities and regions, fomenting what some have called a "bidding war" between mayors, governors, and county executives desperate for economic invigoration.

After a first round deadline of October 19, the pool of applicants was, in mid-January, whittled down to a list of 20. As expected, each finalist offered incentive packages worth more than a billion dollars, with Montgomery County, Maryland, ($8.5 billion) and Newark, New Jersey, ($7 billion) offering the most eye-popping bundles. Proposals utilized a wide array of state and local economic development programs: property tax discounts, infrastructure subsidies, and, in the case of Chicago's proposal, an incentive known as a "personal income-tax diversion." Worth up to $1.32 billion, Amazon employees would still pay their income taxes in full -- but instead of Illinois receiving the money, the tax payments would be funneled directly into the pockets of Amazon itself.

While critics condemn the ostentatious bids of Maryland and New Jersey and decry the "creative" gimmicks of cities such as Chicago, they are equally worried about the details -- or lack thereof -- of the proposals from the other finalists. Despite demands for transparency from local community leaders and journalists, only a handful of cities have released the details of their bids in full, while six finalists -- Indianapolis, Dallas, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh, North Carolina -- have refused to release any of the details from their first-round bids. Viewing themselves as players in a zero-sum game of high-stakes poker, they claim that there is little to gain, but a lot to lose, in making their proposals public.

Such secrecy has, in the second round of bidding, become the rule more than the exception. Although he owns a newspaper with the slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness," Bezos has required state and local officials involved in negotiations to sign non-disclosure agreements. With the opportunity to revisit and revise their bids (i.e., increase their dollar value), the transition from public spectacle to backroom dealing introduces yet another cause for concern. If the finalists don't apprise citizens of their bids' details, the citizens can't weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether inviting the company into their midst will be a net positive or net negative.

Amazon's pursuit of public tithes and offerings is matched by its relentless obsession with avoiding taxes. Employing a legion of accountants and lawyers, the company has become a master at navigating the tax code and exploiting every loophole. Illegality is not the issue here but rather a tax system that allows mammoth corporations to operate with huge tax advantages not available to mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.

Of course Amazon isn't unique in its desire to avoid the taxman. It is, however, unrivaled in its ability to do so. Last fall's debate concerning the merits of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent was, for Amazon, a moot point. In the five years from 2012 to 2016, Amazon paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 11.4 percent.

The company fared even better in 2017. Despite posting a $5.6 billion profit, Amazon didn't pay a single cent in federal taxes, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. What's more, Amazon projects it will receive an additional $789 million in kickbacks from last year's tax reform bill.

Even by the standards of mammoth corporations, this is impressive. By way of comparison, Walmart -- no stranger to corporate welfare and tax avoidance -- has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax since 2008. Amazon? Just $1.4 billion.

Amazon's tax-avoidance success can be attributed to two things: avoiding the collection of sales taxes and stashing profits in overseas tax havens. The IRS estimates that Amazon has dodged more than $1.5 billion in taxes by funneling the patents of its intellectual property behind the walls of its European headquarters city, Luxembourg -- a widely used corporate tax haven. Again, nothing illegal here, but there's something wrong with a tax system that allows it.

From day one, Amazon's business model involved legally avoiding any obligation to collect sales taxes, and then using the subsequent pricing advantage to gain market share. It did this by first locating its warehouses in very few states, most of which did not have a sales tax. It then shipped its goods to customers that resided in other states that did have sales tax. This game plan allowed Amazon to avoid what is known as "nexus" in sales-tax states, meaning that those states could not compel it to collect the tax -- a two to 10 percent competitive advantage over its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Amazon exploited this tax advantage for years until state legislatures -- realizing how much revenue they were losing -- gradually began passing legislation requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for items purchased by their citizens. In 2012, having already benefited from this competitive advantage for more than a decade and a half, Bezos -- under the pretense of a "level playing field" -- began advocating for federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. No such legislation has been passed.

And despite Bezos's carefully calculated public relations posturing, Amazon's advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers persists: not only does Amazon not collect city and county sales taxes (where applicable) but it also doesn't, with few exceptions, collect sales tax on items sold by third-party distributors on Amazon Marketplace -- sales that account for more than half of Amazon's sales.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental tax breaks and tax avoidance have been in Amazon's unprecedented growth. As Bezos made clear in his first letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon's business plan is predicated on amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits. As a result, the company operates on razor-thin margins in some retail categories, while actually taking losses in others.

Amazon has not squandered these competitive advantages. Half of online retail purchases are made through Amazon, and more than half of American households are enrolled in the Amazon Prime program -- a subscription service that engenders platform loyalty and leads to increases in consumer spending.

In fact, Amazon's ascent and tactics have led an increasing number of public policy experts to call for a renewed enforcement of America's antitrust laws. The concern is that Amazon has used its market power to crush smaller competitors with a swath of anti-competitive practices, including predatory pricing and market power advantages stemming from Amazon Marketplace -- Amazon's vast sales platform for third-party retailers.

Such practices may be a boon for consumers and Amazon stockholders, the reasoning goes, but they are only possible because Amazon uses economic power to squeeze its retail partners on pricing at various points in the production line, which harms the health of many other businesses. In fact, some suggest this bullying tendency calls to mind the actions of John D. Rockefeller in his dealings with railroad companies at the turn of the last century.

These monopolistic practices have squeezed local, state, and federal revenue streams in two ways. Not only do these governments forego the collection of needed tax revenue but Amazon's rise has also knocked out many brick-and-mortar competitors that previously had provided streams of tax revenue. By wooing Amazon with taxpayer-funded subsidies and other giveaways, government leaders are, in a very real sense, funding the destruction of their own tax base. There is little evidence that such taxpayer-funded inducements have resulted in a net positive to the states and localities doling out the subsidies.

By forsaking the tenets of free market orthodoxy, forgoing the collection of much-needed tax revenue, and giving big businesses major competitive advantages, state and local governments have generated increasing controversy and political enmity from both ends of the political spectrum. And yet, though bipartisan accusations of crony capitalism and corporate welfare abound, such opposition does little to dissuade state and local governments from loosening the public purse strings in their efforts to woo big corporations such as Amazon.

Daniel Kishi is associate editor of The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi .

[May 29, 2018] The Urban-Rural Divide More Pronounced Than Ever

Notable quotes:
"... Why Liberalism Failed ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

These findings reminded me of the suggestion in Patrick Deneen's recently released Why Liberalism Failed that the political ideology of liberalism drives us apart, making us more lonely and polarized than ever. As Christine Emba writes in her Washington Post review of Deneen's book:

As liberalism has progressed, it has done so by ever more efficiently liberating each individual from "particular places, relationships, memberships, and even identities-unless they have been chosen, are worn lightly, and can be revised or abandoned at will." In the process, it has scoured anything that could hold stable meaning and connection from our modern landscape-culture has been disintegrated, family bonds devalued, connections to the past cut off, an understanding of the common good all but disappeared.

likbez

Our political differences are strengthening, with an increasing number of urban Americans moving further left and more than half of rural voters (54 percent)

There is actually no way to move to the left in the two party system installed in the USA. The Democratic Party is just another neoliberal party. Bill Clinton sold it to Wall Street long ago.

Neoliberalism uses identity wedge to split the voters into various groups which in turn are corralled into two camps representing on the federal level two almost identical militaristic, oligarchical parties to eliminate any threat to the status quo.

And they do very skillfully and successfully. Trump is just a minor deviation from the rule (or like Obama is the confirmation of the rule "change we can believe in" so to speak). And he did capitulate to neocons just two months after inauguration. While he was from the very beginning a "bastard neoliberal" -- neoliberal that denies the value of implicit coercion of neoliberal globalization in favor of open bullying of trade partners. Kind of "neoliberalism for a single exceptional country."

The current catfight between different oligarchic groups for power (Russiagate vs. Spygate ) might well be just a smoke screen for the coming crisis of neoliberalism in the USA, which is unable to lift the standard of living of the lower 80% of population, and neoliberal propaganda after 40 or so years lost its power, much like communist propaganda in the same time frame.

The tenacity with which Clinton-Obama wing of Democratic Party wants Trump to be removed is just a testament of the political power of neoliberals and neocons in the USA as they are merged with the "deep state." No deviations from the party line are allowed.

[May 28, 2018] Why You Should Read These Military Classics by Andrew J. Bacevich

May 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

There are, in my judgment, three great novels that explore American military life in the twentieth century. They are, in order of publication, Guard of Honor (1948) by James Gould Cozzens, From Here To Eternity (1951) by James Jones, and The Sand Pebbles (1962) by Richard McKenna.

The first is a book about airmen, set at a stateside air base during World War II. The second is a soldier's story, its setting Schofield Barracks in the territory of Hawaii on the eve of Pearl Harbor. In The Sand Pebbles, the focus is on sailors. It takes place in China during the 1920s when U.S. Navy gunboats patrolled the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

As far as I can tell, none of the three enjoys much of a following today. Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Guard of Honor has all but vanished. To the extent that the other two retain any cultural salience, they do so as movies, superb in the case of From Here to Eternity , colorful but mediocre in the case of The Sand Pebbles.

Yet for any American seeking an intimate account of military service, all three novels remain worth reading. Times change, as do uniforms, weapons, and tactics, but certain fundamentals of military life endure. Leaders and led see matters differently, nurse different expectations, and respond to different motivations. The perspective back at higher headquarters (or up on the bridge) differs from the way things look to those dealing with the challenges of a typical duty day. The biggest difference of all is between inside and outside -- between those in uniform and the civilians who necessarily inhabit another world. Each in his own way, Cozzens, Jones, and McKenna unpack those differences with sensitivity and insight.

Of the three, McKenna's novel in particular deserves revival, not only because of its impressive literary qualities, but because the story it tells has renewed relevance to the present day. It's a story about the role that foreign powers, including the United States, played in the emergence of modern China.

Prompted in part by the ostensible North Korean threat, but more broadly by the ongoing rise of China and uncertainty about China's ultimate ambitions, the American military establishment will almost inevitably be directing more of its attention toward East Asia in the coming years. To be sure, the conflict formerly known as the Global War on Terrorism continues and appears unlikely to conclude anytime soon. Yet the character of that conflict is changing. Having come up short in its efforts to pacify the Islamic world, the United States is increasingly inclined to rely on proxies, generously supported by air power, to carry on the jihadist fight in preference to committing large numbers of U.S. troops. Almost imperceptibly, East Asia is encroaching upon and will eventually eclipse the Greater Middle East in the Pentagon's hierarchy of strategic priorities.

It's this reshuffling of Pentagon priorities that endows The Sand Pebbles with renewed significance. If past is prologue, McKenna's fictionalized account of actual events that occurred 90 years ago involving U.S. forces in China should provide context for anyone intent on employing American military power to check China today.

Of course, the armed forces of the United States have a long history of involvement in East Asia. Ever since 1898, when it liberated, occupied, and subsequently annexed the Philippines, the United States has maintained an enduring military presence in that part of the world.

To the extent that Americans are even dimly aware of what that presence has entailed, they probably think in terms of three 20th-century Asian wars: the first in the 1940s against Japan; the second during the 1950s in Korea; the third from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s in Vietnam. In each, whether as ally or adversary, China figured prominently.

Yet even before the attack on Pearl Harbor initiated the first of those wars, U.S. air, land, and naval forces had been active in and around China. Dreams of gaining access to a lucrative "China Market" numbered among the factors that persuaded the United States to annex the Philippines in the first place. In 1900, U.S. troops participated in the China Relief Expedition, a multilateral intervention mounted to suppress the so-called Boxer Rebellion, which sought to expel foreigners and end outside interference in Chinese affairs. The mission succeeded and the U.S. military stayed on. Army and Marine Corps units established garrisons in "treaty ports" such as Shanghai and Tientsin.

Decades earlier, the U.S. Navy had begun making periodic forays into China's inland waterways. In the early 20th century, employing small shallow-draft vessels captured from Spain in 1898, this presence became increasingly formalized. As American commercial and missionary interests in China grew, the Navy inaugurated what it called the Yangtze Patrol, with Congress appropriating funds to construct a flotilla of purpose-built gunboats for patrolling the river and its tributaries. Under the direction of COMYANGPAT back in Shanghai, small warships flying the Stars-and-Stripes sailed up and down the Yangtze's immense length to "protect American lives and property."

This is the story that McKenna, himself a YANGPAT veteran, recounts, focusing on a single fictional ship the U.S.S. San Pablo. Known as "Sand Pebbles," the few dozen sailors comprising the San Pablo's crew are all lifers. A rough bunch, their interests rarely extend beyond drinking and whoring. In 1920s China, an American sailor's modest paycheck provides ample funds for both pursuits.

Even afloat, life for the Sand Pebbles is more than agreeable. Onboard the San Pablo, an unofficial second crew consisting of local Chinese -- "contractors," we would call them today -- does the dirty work and the heavy lifting. The Americans stay topside, performing routines and rituals meant to convey an image of power and dominance.

San Pablo is a puny and lightly armed ship. Yet it exists to convey a big impression, thereby sustaining the privileged position that the United States and the other imperial powers enjoyed in China.

The revolutionary turmoil engulfing China in the 1920s necessarily challenged this proposition. Nationalist fervor gripped large parts of the population. Imperial privilege stoked popular resentment, which made San Pablo 's position increasingly untenable, even if the Sand Pebbles themselves were blind to what was coming. That their own eminently comfortable circumstances might be at risk was literally unimaginable.

McKenna's narrative describes how the world of the Sand Pebbles fell apart. His nominal protagonist is Jake Holman, a machinist mate with a mystical relationship to machinery. Jake loathes the spit-and-polish routine topside and wants nothing more than to remain below decks in the engine compartment, performing duties that on San Pablo white American sailors have long since ceased to do. In the eyes of his shipmates, therefore, Jake represents a threat to the division of labor that underwrites their comforts.

The ship's captain, one of only two commissioned officers assigned to San Pablo, likewise sees Jake as a threat to the status quo. To my mind, Lieutenant Collins is McKenna's most intriguing creation and the novel's true focal point. Although the Sand Pebbles are oblivious to how they may figure in some larger picture, for Collins the larger picture is a continuing preoccupation. He sees his little ship, the entire U.S. Navy, America's providential purpose, and the fate of Western civilization as all of a piece. Serious, sober, and dutiful, he is also something of a fanatic.

Collins dimly perceives that powerful forces within China pose a direct threat not only to the existing U.S. position there, but to his own worldview. Yet he considers the prospect of accommodating those forces as not only intolerable, but inconceivable. So in the book's culminating episode he leads Jake and several other Sand Pebbles on a symbolic but utterly futile gesture of resistance. Fancying that he is thereby salvaging his ship's honor (and his own as well), he succeeds merely in killing his own men.

I interpret McKenna as suggesting that there is no honor in denying reality. Only waste and needless sacrifice result. Today a national security establishment as blind to reality as Lieutenant Collins presides over futile gestures far more costly than those inflicted upon the Sand Pebbles. It's not fiction and it's happening right before our eyes.

So skip the movie. But read McKenna's book. And then reflect on its relevance to the present day.

Andrew J. Bacevich is TAC's writer-at-large.

[May 23, 2018] Elon Musk is the Cosmo Kramer of Crony Capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Despite receiving all this government money, Musk's company has not shown demonstrable results. Yesterday, Bloomberg released a story under the headline "Tesla Doesn't Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash," detailing how the company spends $6,500 a minute and may run out of money by the end of the year. Just weeks ago, Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating due to its seeming inability to meet deadlines. Mr. Musk's estimate of producing 20,000 vehicles in December, for instance, turned into just over 2,400 in the entire fourth quarter. ..."
"... Norm Singleton is the chairman of Campaign for Liberty. ..."
May 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Anyone familiar with the hit sitcom Seinfeld knows that Cosmo Kramer, the rambunctious, eccentric neighbor of Jerry Seinfeld, had a lot of big ideas. From make-your-own-pizza parlors to tie dispensers to the infamous " mansierre ," Kramer was -- in his own mind -- a world-changing revolutionary.

Of course, aside from one notable exception ( the Regis Philbin-approved pop-out coffee table book ), none of his ideas ever panned out. But lack of achievement is exactly what viewers expected every week. The whole fun of Kramer was his dream-big mentality and the impracticality that came with it.

No one on the show was senseless enough to support Kramer in his work. In fact, in one episode, Leland fired him even though he did not hold any standing position. Kramer couldn't even keep a job at a bagel store for longer than a few days. It was his friends' open refrigerators that provided him with the life support he needed to continue dreaming and inventing.

This comedy sitcom case study is ironically much more sensible than what occurs in real life. There are plenty of Cosmo Kramers out in the world today with ideas that are even more ambitious than anything Kramerica Industries could have formulated. The only difference is that these individuals have armies of lobbyists that can convince our spendthrift government to finance their ideas, even though they have yet to pass any free-market smell tests.

Perhaps the most recent example of such a politically astute, Kramer-like figure is Elon Musk. This larger-than-life media personality plans to do everything from sending men to the moon and Mars, to creating a 700-miles-per-hour tunnel transportation system, to turbocharging human brains by implanting computers.

All of these are excellent ideas, to be sure, but ones that bear significant amounts of risk. Unfortunately, Mr. Musk does not seem willing to bear all the risk himself. His business model revolves around hiring experts to navigate the waters of the Washington swamp to discover ways to make the American people pick up the tab.

Take Tesla, for example. The car company was created to bring electric vehicles to the general public en masse -- a mission that oddly requires over $1 million in lobbying expenditures annually. As a result, the cars are financed by over $280 million in federal tax incentives, including a $7,500 federal tax break, and tens of millions more in state rebates and development fees.

Despite receiving all this government money, Musk's company has not shown demonstrable results. Yesterday, Bloomberg released a story under the headline "Tesla Doesn't Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash," detailing how the company spends $6,500 a minute and may run out of money by the end of the year. Just weeks ago, Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating due to its seeming inability to meet deadlines. Mr. Musk's estimate of producing 20,000 vehicles in December, for instance, turned into just over 2,400 in the entire fourth quarter.

It is no wonder that when these government subsidies die, electric vehicle sales plummet. Three years ago, sales sunk by more than 80 percent in the state of Georgia when the $5,000 state tax credit phased out. Last year, sales declined by 60 percent when its EV tax breaks sharply fell. These empirical case studies do not paint a positive picture of Tesla's future, especially given that its federal tax break is expected to phase out sometime this year. Perhaps funding Kramer's big ball of oil in the name of alleviating the world's spillage problems would have been just as, if not more, fruitful.

SpaceX is no better. Roughly 85 percent of its contracts come directly from the federal government. The aerospace manufacturer hit a then-personal record of $2 million in annual lobbying spending not long ago as it continued its quest to conquer the stars. New York magazine once asked "Are Elon Musk's Aggressive Lobbyists Bad for Silicon Valley? " but without them the government-dependent company might not even exist.

SpaceX has already received roughly $15 billion in subsidy guarantees from Texas, and despite meeting just one sixth of the hiring goals it promised, it is requesting $5 million more . Similarly, even though SpaceX has already received over $70 million from the federal government to develop its BFR, the company would like more on that front as well.

Meanwhile, just last week, NASA's Office of Inspector General found that SpaceX has raised the cost of some launches by over 50 percent due to having "a better understanding of the costs involved after several years of experience with cargo resupply missions." This new development means that the government's deal -- already diluted by costly rocket failures -- continues to get worse and worse.

And don't even get me started on SolarCity, Mr. Musk's solar panel company, which has still not turned an annual profit despite receiving over $490 million in grants from the Treasury Department over the years and the government covering 30 percent of its installation costs.

As a free market capitalist, I am rooting for Mr. Musk to pull it together and succeed. But I don't want the federal government to waste any more of Americans' hard-earned cash to make it happen.

We will never know what the well-intentioned Cosmo Kramer could have accomplished had Jerry and the rest of the gang cut him off from their refrigerators, homes, and other welfare as a means of forcing him to follow through with his goals. However, we can still explore how taking away such measures of comfort will affect Elon Musk's motivation and decision-making. Ironically, it just may be the recipe for success that the ambitious CEO needs.

Norm Singleton is the chairman of Campaign for Liberty.

DJ May 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm

There are legitimate questions to ask regarding tesla, but SpaceX is a whole other issue. Pretty much every rocket manufacturer gets massive government subsidies. SpaceX is not the first and probably not the last. but their increase in price is still cost competitive compared to other manufacturers.
KXB , says: May 23, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Musk should have gone into defense contracting – ever increasing budgets with no scrutiny.

[May 20, 2018] Ford Says Farewell The American Conservative

May 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ford Says Farewell America's most iconic automaker plans to drive almost all of their passenger sedans into the sunset by 2020. By Telly Davidson May 16, 2018

1959 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon Advertisement Life Magazine November 10 1958 By SenseiAlan /Flickr/CreativeCommons Ford Motor Company recently dropped a bombshell -- one that would have been largely unthinkable before the Great Recession. FoMoCo announced that it would be phasing out virtually all passenger cars built for the U.S./Canadian market (they will continue in Europe) by 2020, except for the upcoming Focus Active and always-popular Mustang -- a move all the more grim in that it was founding father Henry Ford that pioneered the mass-market sedan for both America and the world.

The Focus will be first to go this month, followed by the Taurus next March and the Fiesta in May 2019.

Ford Motor Company was always the Eve to General Motors' Adam in Detroit, not only making cars (and profits) by the trunkload, but leading the league in midcentury style. The "Jackie Kennedy" Lincoln Continental Town Car . The Thunderbird . But during the "Big Government" era of unapologetically high property taxes and ballooning environmental regulations, Ford suffered its first postwar crash. Amid the 1975 fuel shortages, Congress passed -- and Detroit's own liberal Republican stalwart Gerald Ford (despite some quibbles and misgivings) signed -- the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Act (CAFÉ), which started off by requiring an 18 mpg standard by the 1978 model year (1975 models were around 13 mpg by average.) The standard would rise to 19 mpg in 1979, 20 in 1980, and then not one but two mileage points per year through 1984 -- with massive, multi-million-dollar IRS and court-imposed fines if a manufacturer was found to be non-compliant.

Like a small-town mayor futilely trying to resist a federal court order, Ford mocked GM's newly streamlined "large" cars when they debuted for 1977 (GM had been planning to go on a diet even before CAFÉ, and had vastly more R&D money than Ford or Chrysler). Ads noted that Ford's family-priced LTD sedan was now the same length as a "downsized" (but still gargantuan by today's standards) new '77 Cadillac. Cynically, both Ford and Chrysler made no secret of the fact that their 1978 model full-size cars would be the last of their kind (Cadillac also let everyone know that their big 1978 Eldorado was heading for the exit door), encouraging not only the "buy it while you still can!" panic buying of the hyperinflationary late '70s -- but also as good as telling customers that next year's forcibly-downsized models would be decidedly inferior. Lincoln gave its Town Car and Mark V one last victory lap before they went, and Ford also renewed the Mark V's shorter-wheelbase platform-mates the Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar for 1979. Still fuming at the imminent loss of their league-leaders, Ford so grossly overproduced for 1979 that Lincoln had a backlog of 210 days' worth of cars by July of 1979, effectively giving them a 1980 model year.

Not surprisingly, the downsized 1979 Ford (and Chrysler) "full size" sedans initially bombed -- sales declined drastically for the '79 LTD and Mercury Grand Marquis, and went off a cliff in 1980. And while the Mark VI "only" fell by half of its 1979 numbers, the Town Car went off Thelma and Louise's cliff -- barely managing one-third of its '79 numbers.

And all this was just a sampling of what became arguably the biggest one-year euthanasia in Ford history, as the 1980 Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch (and their upscale twin, the luxury Lincoln Versailles), and the iconic Pinto/Bobcat were all put to sleep at year's end. All but the Granada were canceled outright, in nameplate as well as body style, with the Granada barely hanging on as a thinly-disguised Fairmont (Ford's first big downsizing-era success, which kept the lights on at Dearborn during the 12-15 percent interest rate era from 1978 to 1983.)

Now the plot thickens. The first downsizing era was complete, but the second one, to bring things into compliance for 1984-85 (and what Detroit assumed would be even more draconian) standards, was now underway. Ford suffered catastrophic losses in 1980-82, and Chrysler had to beg a stern President Carter for a too-big-to-fail bailout in 1979-80 to avoid bankruptcy, as they frantically redesigned their slow-selling car lines yet again.

But out of this "Big Government" intrusion came the impetus to design what became Ford's biggest successes in the mid-to-late 80s and early 90s -- the 1983-88 and 1989-97 Thunderbird, the 1984-94 Ford Tempo, and the 1986-95 Ford Taurus. (Already their 1981-90 Escort flirted with #1 bestseller status in recessionary 1982.) Meanwhile, arch-competitor GM euthanized all but the station wagons and the Chevy Caprice sedan (which lasted until 1990) of their full-size 1977 lines in spring 1984. The cars GM replaced them with were engineering marvels (except when it came to reliability, perhaps) of front-wheel-drive, V6-powered efficiency -- but as folksinger Malvina Reynolds might have said, they all looked ticky-tacky and they all looked the same. GM suffered its largest decade-loss in its then-history during the '80s, according to auto historian Paul Niedemeyer.

But just as it had in 1978, Ford held out -- and this time, the move paid off. As Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. began relaxing CAFE laws (or at least refusing to raise the standards dramatically), the "downsized" big cars of the first wave of downsizing that still remained in production began selling like hotcakes -- especially to Greatest and Silent Generation traditionalists who wanted cars that reminded them of the unapologetic luxury they drove in the 70s, when they were at the height of their earning power and still healthy. The 1991 LTD/Marquis looked much the same as they did in 1979, and the Town Car of 1989 (and its closest competitor, the '89 Chrysler Fifth Avenue) were virtual reruns of 1980. And the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (the only other GM survivor of 1984-85's "second downsizing") was still wearing its chrome-finned, formal-roofed, stately 1977 body all the way into 1992, with only a couple of reshaped-sheetmetal facelifts in between.

But Boomers had already been converted during the energy-conscious '70s to efficient Japanese (and soon, Korean) cars. (Their Gen-X and Millennial children also would have no qualms at all about buying "foreign.") By the late 80s and 90s, the Japanese were second to none in reliability, and rising suns like Hyundai and Kia began offering league-leading, bumper-to-bumper warranties. As the Roger & Me era of globalization took hold, even the saltiest WWII and Korea veterans who were left began seriously considering Japanese and Korean autos -- given that the Asian automakers were consciously building plants in the U.S. and Canada to erase the stigma of buying foreign (and head off potential tariffs), while the allegedly "all American" Big 3 were sending jobs by the thousand to Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, and eventually China.

The one big exception, however, was American trucks and vans -- including that ultimate "soccer moms" symbol, the "minivan" (introduced by Chrysler in 1984 and Ford in 1985) and the luxury SUV. Because even the biggest global-warming advocates and environmentalists had to concede that a civilized society needed ambulances, hearses, construction, repair, and delivery trucks, and so forth, trucks were held to a significantly lower MPG standard.

Conscious of his fellow Yuppies (and not wanting to be a gloomy Debbie Down-size-er like Jimmy Carter), Bill Clinton said "No way!" to raising CAFE standards, much less cracking down hard on American-made trucks, vans, Jeeps, and SUVs that were all the rage (and already paying the Big Three's bills) in the late '90s. And naturally, Texas oilman George W. Bush (with his bestie, "Kenny-Boy" Lay of Enron) and Dick "Halliburton" Cheney barely even touched fuel standards. The CAFÉ standard never rose above 27.5 mpg for passenger cars from 1985 all the way through 2010 -- a full 25 years.

By 2010, the US auto industry was in the worst shape since the Great Depression, if not the Carter years. GM was pulling itself out of bankruptcy, and cancelled their Saturn and Pontiac brands on Halloween 2010 (Oldsmobile had been the first to the cemetery in the relatively prosperous June of 2004). Chrysler had long ago put Plymouth and what was left of AMC/Eagle to sleep, and was even more bankrupt than GM. The only real survivor was, ironically, Ford, thanks to its European partnerships and its red-hot truck/SUV presence, and the ever-popular Mustang. (The Focus, Taurus, and Fusion were still doing well, although largely behind the Japanese and Korean majors.) The Town Car (whose body dated to 1998) and Crown Victoria (which went back to 1991-92) finally died in early 2012, after shutting down production at the end of August 2011. And though the iconic Lincoln Continental was revived for 2017, it has largely failed to meet expectations.

So this was your life, Ford Motor Company. You invented the modern working-class hero's sedan with the Model T, you survived and thrived as arguably midcentury middle-class America's most iconic automaker, you stumbled badly and nearly OD'ed on gasoline and outdated styling through the last days of disco, but woke up with Morning in America. "Big Gov'mint" forced you -- kicking and screaming -- to innovate in ways you didn't want to, but that kept you alive during that time. And then, when deregulation happened, and the focus became trucks/minivans/SUVs that didn't need year-to-year changes to stay popular, you had to play it as it laid.

Fare thee well, Ford sedans and wagons. It wouldn't have been the same without ya.

Telly Davidson is the author of a new book, Culture War : How the 90's Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not) . He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player, and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series "Pioneers of Television."

John_M May 15, 2018 at 10:47 pm

If oil prices his $100 a barrel as Citi is predicting next year (side effect of Trump's Iran move), this could turn out badly for Ford.

I hope I have purchased my last gas car – a Prius Prime – a year ago. I am in my later 60's and I like long range trips. At 50 mpg+ on gas, I will be able to afford to drive it when I am retired. And for my about town commuting and short trips, I am averaging over 130 mpg – relying mostly upon the battery. With luck, it will last until I am not up for long haul trips.

I hope to buy a fully self driving electric car in 4 years when I have finished paying off the Prius. My wife is directionally challenged and we are likely to be somewhat rural, making Uber-like services less able. In the mean time, she drives her 10 year old Toyota corolla, which gets quite good mileage.

I have driven gas guzzlers in my time, but given the amount I drive, I have decided to optimize my cars for reliability and mileage. The Prius replaces a Suburu Forester that got ~ 23 mpg. It had over 230,000 miles on it before it sustained enough damage from road debris that it wasn't worth repairing.

I don't need another suv or pickup, the kids are finally moving out.

[May 19, 2018] Trump Doesn't Have North Korea 'Cornered' by Daniel Larison

May 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

The larger problem with Thiessen's "analysis" is that it fails to grasp that North Korea's government won't accept the "offer" Trump is making because accepting it means giving up the one thing that does more to guarantee the regime's security than any promise that the U.S. could ever make. Trump talked about giving Kim "very strong protections" if he agreed to get rid of the nuclear weapons, but there are no protections that the U.S. could offer that would be any stronger than the ones he currently possesses. Kim is coming to the summit as the leader of a nuclear-weapons state conducting talks at the highest level with the global superpower, and he isn't going to agree to give up that status in exchange for obviously worthless promises from Donald Trump. The more that the Trump administration and its boosters delude themselves into thinking that they have North Korea on the defensive, the worse the summit will go for the U.S. and its allies.


SF Bay May 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm

" The more that the Trump administration and its boosters delude themselves into thinking that they have North Korea on the defensive, the worse the summit will go for the U.S. and its allies."

This summit can really only go one way. Trump, ever the fool, will swagger in, offer nothing, bluster, and in the end be handed his hat. I don't think there's anyway to spin this as anything other than the poop storm that it is. No Nobel is Trump's future. Sad.

b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:50 am
"giving up the one thing that does more to guarantee the regime's security than any promise that the U.S. could ever make"

It could be argued at this point that nuclear proliferation in a world of unipolar aggression might well be stabilizing not only whichever regimes the US decides to destabilize on a given day, but also the international order and even peace. Certainly, China's modest arsenal of minimum means of reprisal and Russia's outsized arsenal matching US folly warhead for warhead and warhead for interceptor demonstrate that US impunitivism is not even deterred by that. But Iraq was attacked precisely because Bush and his cronies were certain Saddam had no effective WMD deterrent – no nukes, everything else a desirable post-hoc justification.

Trump has the EU "cornered", and only fools will believe that this is to the benefit of the world, or even the US – unless the EU finally recognizes the magnitude of its "ally" problem, and their captive populations elect politicians that, for good or ill, will break with the US.

Trump has zero leverage over Iran and North Korea, not only because he is already committed to acts of aggression including all-out economical warfare and soon naval blockade, but also because both nations – and their backers in China and Russia – have long realized that any possible "appeasement" on their part will have as much impact on US conduct as EU "consultations" or South Korean "coordination" – now with a US theater commander as "ambassador". The Moon government has relegated itself to the bleachers as the welfare of South Korea is at stake because, just like the EU3, it does not dare question the unilateral "alliance" it has acquiesced to over decades.

We live in the age of a nation unhinged. But Guatemala, Paraguay and Romania are following from ahead, demonstrating that the US might be acting unilaterally, but not alone, and this "coalition of the unseemly eager" is, in terms of outcomes, no different from posturing collaborators in Germany, France and the UK, or the hapless hostages in South Korea.

Surely, Thiessen and Trump have the world outnumbered and surrounded. What could possibly go wrong, with leaders of such sparkling brilliance in charge?

b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:54 am
The most pathetic display here is the establishment biparty published opinion applauding Trump for pursuing the purest expression of Godfather Diplomacy, turned into farce. America's sickening fascination with and glorification of organized crime and racketeering aside – prosperity gospel wins – it is quite obvious that we cannot make "offers they cannot refuse" by putting a horse's ass on a pillow.
A. G. Phillbin , says: May 19, 2018 at 2:32 pm
@b.

America's sickening fascination with and glorification of organized crime and racketeering aside – prosperity gospel wins – it is quite obvious that we cannot make "offers they cannot refuse" by putting a horse's ass on a pillow.

Actually b., that was a horse's head on a pillow in "The Godfather." Were you thinking of Trump or Bolton when you wrote that?

Blimbax , says: May 19, 2018 at 6:24 pm
Speaking of horses, John Bolton is the south end of a north-bound horse.

[May 13, 2018] And interesting admission of the stress the neoliberlaism is under from Michael Hayden

Notable quotes:
"... Ex-NSA chief says Americans have been conned by Russia and Trump and should look to intel community for salvation. ..."
"... The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, Michael Hayden, Penguin Press, 304 pages ..."
"... He warns that "the structures we rely on to prevent civil war and societal collapse are under stress." ..."
"... Simply put, Hayden's book is blowing 10 dog whistles at once. Arise ye patriots [of neoliberalism] of Langley and Fort Meade! ..."
"... The IC lost all trust after the Iraqi WMD lie. They'll never get it back. That doesn't mean Trump isn't a liar too. But it's not either/or. ..."
May 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Originally from: Can Michael Hayden Be This Blinded By Hate By Peter Van Buren

Ex-NSA chief says Americans have been conned by Russia and Trump and should look to intel community for salvation.

Former Director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden. Gage Skidmore/Shutterstock The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, Michael Hayden, Penguin Press, 304 pages

Former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden's new book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies wants to be the manifesto behind an intelligence community coup. It ends up reading like outtakes from Dr. Strangelove .

Trump cannot discern truth from falsehood, Hayden says, and is the product of too much fact-free thinking, especially on social media ("computational propaganda" where people can "publish without credentials") where lies are deployed by the Russians to destroy the United States. Instead Hayden calls for artificial intelligence and a media truth-rating system to "purify our discourse" and help "defend it against inauthentic stimulation."

Hayden believes in the "fragility of civilization" as clearly as he believes there is a "FOX/Trump/RT" alliance in place to exploit it. Under Trump, "post-truth is pre-fascism, and to abandon facts is to abandon freedom." Hayden claims Trump has a "glandular aversion" to even thinking about how "Russia has been actively seeking to damage the fabric of American democracy."

Salvation, it would seem, depends on the intelligence community. Hayden makes clear, ominously quoting conversations with anonymous IC officers, that no one else is protecting America from these online threats to our precious bodily fluids . He warns that "the structures we rely on to prevent civil war and societal collapse are under stress." The IC on the other hand "pursues Enlightenment values [and] is essential not just to American safety but to American liberty."

Hayden recalls how he reminded a lad fresh to the IC to "protect yourself. And above all protect the institution. American still needs it." He has a bit of advice about the CIA: "We are accustomed to relying on their truth to protect us from foreign enemies. Now we may need their truth to save us from ourselves." The relationship between Trump and the IC, Hayden threatens, is "contentious, divisive, and unpredictable" in these "uncharted waters for the Republic."

Simply put, Hayden's book is blowing 10 dog whistles at once. Arise ye patriots [of neoliberalism] of Langley and Fort Meade!

Yet for all his emphasis on truth, Hayden is curiously lax in presenting actual evidence of the apocalypse. You are left to believe because Hayden says you must: paternalism at its best. Plus, to disbelieve is to side with Putin. The best we get are executive summary-like statements along the lines of "There is clear evidence of what I would call convergence, the convergence of a mutually reinforcing swirl of Presidential tweets and statements, Russian influenced social media, alt right websites and talk radio, Russian 'white' press like RT and even mainstream U.S. media like Fox News."

With that established, Hayden informs us that when the IC tried to warn Trump of the Russian plot, he "rejected a fact-based intel assessment because it was inconsistent with a preexisting world view or because it was politically inconvenient, the stuff of ideological authoritarianism not pragmatic democracy." Comrade, er, Candidate Trump, says Hayden matter-of-factly, "did sound a lot like Vladimir Putin." The two men, he declaims, are "Russian soulmates."

Hayden figures that if you've read this far into his polemic, he might as well just splurge the rest of his notes on you. Trump is "uninformed, lazy, dishonest, off the charts, rejects the premise objective reality even existed." He's fueled by Russian money (no evidence of this is presented in the book, Hayden says, because it's hidden in the tax returns, as if Line 42 on Trump's 1040 would read "Putin Black Funds $5 mil," and the IRS, which does have the returns, overlooked that).

Trump is an "unwitting agent" of Putin, which Hayden tells us in Russian is polezni durak , so you can see he knows his Cold War lingo. We hear how Wikileaks worked with the Russkies, how Trump Jr. worked with the Russkies, how the Russkies wormed their way into Tower so they could see the Big Board, how the whole brouhaha over #TakeAKnee was Russian meddling, and how Jill Stein existed to "bleed off votes from Clinton" -- every Mueller fan-fiction trope tumbling from the pages like crumbs left over from an earlier reader.

That's why The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies reads like as a polemic. But it also fails as a book.

There are pages of filler, jumbled blog post-like chapters about substate actors and global tectonics. Hayden writes in a recognizable style that might be called Bad Military, where everything must eventually be tied to some Big Idea, preferably with classical references Googled-up to add gravitas.

So it is not enough for Hayden to state Trump is a liar. He has to blame Trump for usurping the entire body of Western thought: "We are in a post-truth world, a world in which decisions are far more based upon emotion and preference. And that's an overturning of the Western way of thought since the Enlightenment." Bad things are Hobbesian; good things Jeffersonian, Madisonian, or Hamiltonian. People Hayden agrees with get adjectival modifiers before their names: the perceptive scholar ____, the iconic journalist ____, the legendary case officer ____. It makes for tiresome reading, like it's Sunday night edging 4 a.m. and you still have nine undergrad papers on the causes of the Civil War to grade.

Hayden is openly contemptuous of the American people, seeing them as brutes who need to be led around, either by the Russians, as he sees it now, or by the IC, as he wishes it to be. Proof of how dumb we are? Hayden cites a poll showing 83 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats don't believe the IC analysis that Russia meddled in the 2016 election when they damn well should. Further proof? Russian bots at work on Twitter influencing conservative minds by using the hashtags #God and #Benghazi.

In our odd times, Hayden is a Hero of the Resistance. Seemingly forgotten is that, as head of the NSA, he implemented blanket surveillance of American citizens in a rape of the Fourth Amendment, itself a product of the Enlightenment, justifying his unconstitutional actions with a mishmash of post-truth platitudes and still-secret legal findings. Hayden also supported torture during the War on Terror, but whatever.

This book-length swipe right for the IC leaves out the slam dunk work those agencies did on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Any concern about political motives inside the IC is swept away as "baseless." Gina Haspel , who oversaw the torture program, is an "inspired choice" to head CIA. Hayden writes for the rubes, proclaiming that the IC produces facts when in reality even good intel can only be assessments and ambiguous conclusions.

That people so readily overlook Hayden's sins simply because he rolls off snark against Trump speaks to our naiveté. That men like Hayden retain their security clearances while serving as authors and paid commentators to outlets like CNN speaks to how deep the roots of the Deep State reach. That some troubled Jack D. Ripper squirreled inside the IC might take this pablum seriously is frightening.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell .


Jack May 9, 2018 at 11:09 pm

The "assault on intelligence" indeed.
Kent , says: May 10, 2018 at 6:39 am
The IC lost all trust after the Iraqi WMD lie. They'll never get it back. That doesn't mean Trump isn't a liar too. But it's not either/or.
Robert Hume , says: May 10, 2018 at 8:57 am
He's not blinded by hate. If you actually read the book, he describes his issues with Obama, Clinton and everyone else. The fact remains he outlined the truth: Trump is a bumbling fool who cannot distinguish truth fro fiction and is the most corrupt president ever to inhabit the oval office, and has no idea what he's doing.
Stephen J, , says: May 10, 2018 at 9:06 am
This interesting article states: Gina Haspel, who oversaw the torture program, is an 'inspired choice' to head CIA. Really, torture is used by gangsters and other underworld villains. Therefore, I ask based on the evidence against governments. "Are We Seeing Government by Gangsters"? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html
C. L. H. Daniels , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:00 am
The guy sounds like a certain Senator from Wisconsin:

"The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer – the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give."

balconesfault , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:40 am
I've never been a fan of Hayden, and his current salvos against Trump aren't going to change that.

But "Trump cannot discern truth from falsehood, Hayden says, and is the product of too much fact-free thinking, especially on social media "

There's a serious rebuttal to this?

Kurt Gayle , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:43 am
Peter Van Buren reminds us all: "Seemingly forgotten is that, as head of the NSA, he implemented blanket surveillance of American citizens in a rape of the Fourth Amendment "

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

[May 04, 2018] Marx Was Right A Warning The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Communist Manifesto ..."
"... The Benedict Option ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Communist Manifesto, ..."
May 04, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Barker points out that Marx was correct that "capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself." I would add that Marx's view that capitalism was heretofore the most revolutionary force in human history is also true. From the Communist Manifesto :

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

You see what he means here. Capitalism -- for Marx, the merchant class (the "bourgeoisie") were the carriers of capitalism -- turns everything into a market. Capitalism is a revolutionary force that disrupts and desacralizes all things. All that talk in The Benedict Option about "liquid modernity"? That's based in Marx, actually. Zygmunt Bauman, the late sociologist from whom I took the idea, was a Marxist.

Look, most of us conservatives in the West are to some degree supporters of the free market. What we missed for a very long time was that it is hard to support a fully free market while at the same time expecting our social institutions -- the family, the church, and so forth -- to remain stable. This is an insight of Marx's that we conservatives -- and even conservative Christians -- ought to absorb. I write about this a lot, though not in specific Marxist terms.

The thing is, Christian Democratic parties throughout Western Europe have largely absorbed this truth. Catholic social teaching is based in these insights as well. They aren't necessarily against the free market, but rather say that the market must be tempered for the common good.

That wasn't Marx's view, obviously. Marx thought the free market was itself wicked, and ought to be totally controlled by the state. We know where that all ended up: with a hundred million dead, and entire economies and societies destroyed.

But we can agree that Marx was right to diagnose the revolutionary nature of capitalism, if catastrophically wrong about the cure for capitalism's excesses. If that was as far as Jason Barker went, that would be fine. But he doesn't -- and this is the warning. Barker continues:

The key factor in Marx's intellectual legacy in our present-day society is not "philosophy" but "critique," or what he described in 1843 as "the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be." "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it," he wrote in 1845.

Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the "eternal truths" of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress.

We have become used to the go-getting mantra that to effect social change we first have to change ourselves. But enlightened or rational thinking is not enough, since the norms of thinking are already skewed by the structures of male privilege and social hierarchy, even down to the language we use. Changing those norms entails changing the very foundations of society.

Read the whole thing.

There it is, reader. There is the "cultural Marxism" that you hear so much about, and that so many on the left deny. It is in the Marxist principle that there is no such thing as truth; there is only power.

Lenin understood this well. This is the meaning of his famous dictum, "Who, whom?" In Lenin's view, co-existence with capitalism was not possible. The only question was whether or not the communists will smash the capitalists first, or the other way around. One way of interpreting this is to say that the moral value of an action depends on who is doing it to whom .

This is why it is pointless for us conservatives and old-school liberals to stand around identifying contradictions and hypocrisies in how the progressives behave. They don't care! They aren't trying to apply universal standards of justice. They believe that "universal standards of justice" is a cant phrase to disguise white heterosexist patriarchal supremacy. They believe that justice is achieving power for their group, and therefore disempowering other groups. This is why it's not racist, in their view, to favor non-whites over whites in the distribution of power. This is why they don't consider it unfair to discriminate against men, heterosexuals, and other out-groups.

They will use things like "dialogue" as a tactic to serve the long-term strategy of acquiring total power. Resisting them on liberal grounds is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. The neoreactionaries have seen this clearly, while conservatives like me, who can't quite let go of old-fashioned liberalism, have resisted it.

I have resisted it because I really would like to live in a world where we can negotiate our differences while allowing individuals and groups maximum autonomy in the private sphere. I want to be left alone, and want to leave others alone. This, I fear, is a pipe dream. Absent a shared cultural ethos, I can't see how this is possible. I hate to say it -- seriously, I do -- but I think that today's conservatives (including me) are going to end up as neoreactionaries, just as today's old-school liberals are going to end up as progressives, because the forces pulling us to these extremes are stronger than any centrism.

For example, check this out:

I'm running into irreligious people who think that a religious person violating their deeply held principles is just a matter of choice, that they don't truly have any genuine beliefs.
We can't even converse any more b/c we're not speaking the same language.

-- PoliticalMath (@politicalmath) May 1, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This is our country -- and this is the danger we religious people are facing, and are going to face much more intensely. Many non-religious people simply cannot understand why we see the world the way we do, and assume that it can only be out of irrationality and bigotry.

I invite you to read this blog post from three years ago, based on my interview with "Prof. Kingsfield", a closeted Christian teaching at an elite law school. This excerpt:

"Alasdair Macintyre is right," he said. "It's like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion." What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

But only one side has the power. When I asked Kingsfield what most people outside elite legal and academic circles don't understand about the way elites think, he said "there's this radical incomprehension of religion."

"They think religion is all about being happy-clappy and nice, or should be, so they don't see any legitimate grounds for the clash," he said. "They make so many errors, but they don't want to listen."

To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, "at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don't really understand that there's a link between Sister Helen Prejean's faith and the work she does on the death penalty. There's a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.

"The sad thing," he said, "is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don't hold. It's all about power. They've got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They've got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good."

This is a small part of a larger struggle.

Many on the left deny that cultural Marxism exists, but you have in The New York Times a column by a Marxist professor saying that yes it does, and it's a good thing, too. His final line:

On that basis, we are destined to keep citing him and testing his ideas until the kind of society that he struggled to bring about, and that increasing numbers of us now desire, is finally realized.

Marx didn't come from nowhere. The world of 1848 (when the Communist Manifesto appeared) is a lot like our own world; re-read the section above from that document and see how familiar it sounds. He was more or less right in his diagnosis of the revolutionary nature of capitalism, but his materialism and its relationship to human nature was catastrophically wrong. His thought may have resulted in mass murder, but it is clearly not dead; it is simply turned against culture, not the means of production.

Therefore, I'll end here with this excerpt from Carlo Lancellotti's recent Commonweal essay about Marx, culture, and Catholicism. Excerpt:

Contra the "Catholic Left," which tended to regard Marx's atheism as accidental, and tried to rescue his socio-political analysis from his religious views, Del Noce concluded that what Marx proposed was not just a new theory of history or a new program of political economy, but a new anthropology , one completely different from the Christian tradition. (Louis Dupré had made a similar argument in the pages of Commonweal ; see "Marx and Religion: An Impossible Marriage," April 26, 1968.) Marx viewed humans as "social beings" entirely determined by historical and material circumstances rather than by their relationship with God. He viewed human reason as purely instrumental -- a tool of production and social organization rather than the capacity to contemplate the truth and participate in the divine wisdom. Finally, Marx viewed liberation as the fruit of political action, not as a personal process of conversion aided by grace. Marxist politics was not guided by fixed and absolute ethical principles, because ethics, along with philosophy, was absorbed into politics. Del Noce concluded that there was no way to rescue Marx's politics from his atheism, which had as much to do with his view of man as with his view of God.

Nonetheless, after World War II Marxism experienced a resurgence in Western Europe, not only among intellectuals and politicians but also in mainstream culture. But Del Noce noticed that at the same time society was moving in a very different direction from what Marx had predicted: capitalism kept expanding, people were eagerly embracing consumerism, and the prospect of a Communist revolution seemed more and more remote. To Del Noce, this simultaneous success and defeat of Marxism pointed to a deep contradiction. On the one hand, Marx had taught historical materialism, the doctrine that metaphysical and ethical ideas are just ideological covers for economic and political interests. On the other hand, he had prophesied that the expansion of capitalism would inevitably lead to revolution, followed by the "new man," the "classless society," the "reign of freedom." But what if the revolution did not arrive, if the "new man" never materialized?

In that case, Del Noce realized, Marxist historical materialism would degenerate into a form of radical relativism -- into the idea that philosophical and moral concepts are just reflections of historical and economic circumstances and have no permanent validity. This would have to include the concept of injustice, without which a critique of capitalism would be hard, if not impossible, to uphold. A post-Marxist culture -- one that kept Marx's radical materialism and denial of religious transcendence, while dispensing with his confident predictions about the self-destruction of capitalism -- would naturally tend to be radically bourgeois. By that, Del Noce meant a society that views "everything as an object of trade" and "as an instrument" to be used in the pursuit of individualized "well-being." Such bourgeois society would be highly individualistic, because it could not recognize any cultural or religious "common good." In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels described the power of the bourgeois worldview to dissolve all cultural and religious allegiances into a universal market. Now, ironically, Marxist ideas (which Del Noce viewed as a much larger and more influential phenomenon than political Marxism in a strict sense) had helped bring that process to completion. At a conference in Rome in 1968, Del Noce looked back at recent history and concluded that the post-Marxist culture would be "a society that accepts all of Marxism's negations against contemplative thought, religion, and metaphysics; that accepts, therefore, the Marxist reduction of ideas to instruments of production. But which, on the other hand, rejects the revolutionary-messianic aspects of Marxism, and thus all the religious elements that remain within the revolutionary idea. In this regard, it truly represents the bourgeois spirit in its pure state, the bourgeois spirit triumphant over its two traditional adversaries, transcendent religion and revolutionary thought."

If Del Noce is correct, we may not have to worry about the cultural Marxists of our time taking total power, as consumer capitalism and its comforts will compromise their revolutionary spirit. When and if university presidents start kicking these bumptious brats out of college, the revolution will sputter like Occupy Wall Street did. But before it's all over, they may end up destroying the institutions and ways of life that make life stable and meaningful. Then again, unrestrained capitalism has done the same thing. The problem with Marxism is that it burns the boats so that nobody can return, and calls the resulting fire enlightenment.

The warning is twofold: First, that cultural Marxism is a real thing willing and capable of doing real damage, and that you cannot negotiate with these people; and second, that unless capitalists figure out how to ameliorate the excesses of market and technological change on society, they are tempting fate, just as their 19th and early 20th century forebears did.

UPDATE: Reader Dave:

The bigger problem with the NYT piece that you either missed or didn't feel added to your thesis is the irony that Marx's critiques are seen as a good and carrying that forward cultural Marxist critiques are good, unless you are critiquing those critiques. You aren't allowed to critique arguments from BLM or La Raza or LGBTQXYZ groups or etc because taking a critical eye to those groups is just hateful bigoted nonsense. Never mind that those groups' manifestos generally don't hold up to scrutiny, just accept it as a means to an end (even if that end isn't really where we should like to be). In a world where there is no objective truth and all individuals' "truths" are valid there is no basis culture or society. But you can't bring that up, lest you be labeled an insensitive bigot who should be burned at the stake. My guess is if Marx were revived today he would be ashamed more of the intellectual rot his philosophy has spawned than he would over the millions of innocents dead.

Posted in Christianity , Conservatism , Consumerism , Culture war , Decline and Fall , Economics , Politics , Liberalism , Liberty & The State , Weimar America . Tagged Alasdair MacIntyre , Marxism , capitalism , Marx , cultural Marxism , Augusto Del Noce , neoreaction , Jason Barker .

Siarlys Jenkins May 2, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Significantly left of center, "hard left", may only describe 20-25% of the U.S. population, but in certain geographic areas, they control virtually all of the political levers of government. Seattle for instance.

Seattle. Right. The domain of corporate liberalism on steroids. Hard left. Uh-huh. I won't ask what you've been smoking, because I think its congenital.

should read "Goldman bankers aren't interested in funding class consciousness"

Much better and more accurate than removing "not" from the original. Thank you.

Emil Bogdan , says: May 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm
Marx was a smart guy, but too smart. It was really really weird the older I got and the more I found out about recurring class struggles and sometimes riots and even revolutions, again and again, in ancient Greece and Rome. There's so much documentation, over centuries, that it seems pretty obvious to me that there's nothing significantly new about Marxism at all, it's just a slightly more complex manifestation of a permanent phenomenon: inequality. Can anything be done about it? Nothing, you just have to idealize "equality" and KNOW inequality.

[Apr 28, 2018] Our Useless Clients and Trump's Misguided Plan for Syria by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. military presence in Syria is illegal, and the same would be true of any occupying force provided by U.S. clients. Instead of looking for a substitute occupation force or maintaining one of our own, the U.S. should accept that controlling any part of Syria is not worth the costs and risks that go along with it. ..."
www.antiwar.com
Trump's misguided plan to replace U.S. forces in Syria with Egyptians, Saudis, and others has run into the entirely predictable problem that none of our clients wants to do it:

The Trump administration is struggling to assemble a coalition of Arab military forces to replace U.S. troops battling Islamic State militants in eastern Syria, a roadblock that could indefinitely delay President Trump's goal of pulling American forces out of the country, U.S. officials said.

Allies in the region are deeply skeptical about sending their troops -- and many are even reluctant to contribute funds -- to help stabilize cities and towns liberated from Islamic State, according to senior U.S. officials, if the United States intends to pull out, as Trump has threatened.

It comes as no surprise that these governments have no interest in taking Trump up on this offer. Each of them has other more pressing concerns than policing parts of Syria, some have no interest in opposing the Syrian government, all of them are ill-equipped for the task at hand, and it would be a terrible mistake to invite these governments to occupy Syrian territory in any case. That doesn't mean that the U.S. has to keep its forces in Syria, but it should remind us how useless our clients are to the U.S.

The U.S. military presence in Syria is illegal, and the same would be true of any occupying force provided by U.S. clients. Instead of looking for a substitute occupation force or maintaining one of our own, the U.S. should accept that controlling any part of Syria is not worth the costs and risks that go along with it. The U.S. has no business fighting in Syria, and it has no authority to keep its forces there, so a complete withdrawal from Syria is the only appropriate and legal course of action open to the U.S.

[Apr 28, 2018] The Biggest Loser From a Successful Trump-Kim Summit China

Notable quotes:
"... However the declining U.S. with massive debt, a hollowed out manufacturing capability, an unsustainable health care model and a Ponzi scheme financial engineering Levithan that generates nothing of actual tangible value is still a very dangerous animal. ..."
"... Because it still has only superior capability, it's War Machine. And the big danger to the planet is the parasitic and deluded Power Elite franchise in Washington that militarizes EVERY element of foreign policy activity. The U.S. response to concerted and coordinated economic activity by China and its Eurasian partners can only be war-mongering. Because other than that, the U.S. will have no other leverage. ..."
Apr 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

SteveM April 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Remove the North Korea crisis from Asia and the Trump administration has the needed bandwidth to contain Beijing's aspirations.

Fat chance. China will continue with its BRI and AIIB initiatives. It will continue to lash-up with Russia and its EAEU to create a pan-Eurasian economic architecture in which the U.S. is largely economically irrelevant. Especially when hard asset pricing is decoupled from the dollar.

And China now has a huge supply of highly trained (many in the U.S.) scientists and engineers. Russia and Europe also have highly skilled technologists making Eurasia self-sufficient in both natural resources and technology development.

The U.S. will be eventually shut out. Because dealing with the Global Cop Gorilla in any context is more trouble than it's worth.

However the declining U.S. with massive debt, a hollowed out manufacturing capability, an unsustainable health care model and a Ponzi scheme financial engineering Levithan that generates nothing of actual tangible value is still a very dangerous animal.

Because it still has only superior capability, it's War Machine. And the big danger to the planet is the parasitic and deluded Power Elite franchise in Washington that militarizes EVERY element of foreign policy activity. The U.S. response to concerted and coordinated economic activity by China and its Eurasian partners can only be war-mongering. Because other than that, the U.S. will have no other leverage.

The U.S. driven into the ditch by the Power Elite Parasites and Neocon War-mongers will get its clocked cleaned in the next 10 years no matter what. North Korea is merely background noise.

Cornel Lencar , says: April 27, 2018 at 1:51 am
And how many treaties the U.S. has walked away from? Right now the treaty with Iran is being scuppered.
sglover , says: April 27, 2018 at 2:34 pm
If you ever wanted a condensed example of the kind of blithe solipsism and wish-thinking that passes for thinking among our "international relations" "scholars", I don't think you could do much worse than this silly paragraph:

In many respects, nothing should scare China more, as America, and specifically the Trump administration, has never been fully capable of taking on the challenges presented by Beijing thanks to Pyongyang and its growing nuclear arsenal. China has taken full advantage of Washington's wandering eye, putting itself in position to dominate the South China Sea, further subjugate Taiwan, and try to develop a stronger position in the East China Sea.

All you saps who think that China's greater prominence might be a consequence of its culture, its history, its recent extraordinary economic growth -- wrong! Turns out it all hangs on North Korea and its mighty Brooklyn-size GDP! And that means .

Remove the North Korea crisis from Asia and the Trump administration has the needed bandwidth to contain Beijing's aspirations.

All this, and daffodils will cover the meadows again, once Pyonyang comes around, gets its mind right. Simple!

It should surprise absolutely nobody that the guy who wrote this inanity is behind "The National Interest", which daily publishes all kinds of sophistry generally aimed at getting Americans to wade into the "crisis" du jour . Sooner or later Trump will be a bad memory, but Kazianis and his ilk will still be there, as firmly embedded in the Beltway veins as any tick.

[Apr 28, 2018] Macron The Last Multilateralist

Notable quotes:
"... "Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU." ..."
Apr 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

"Together," President Macron instructed President Trump, "we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world."

In an address before Congress on Wednesday, France's Macron denounced "extreme nationalism," invoked the UN, NATO, WTO, and Paris climate accord, and implored Trump's America to come home to the New World Order.

"The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism," Macron went on, "you are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it."

His visit was hailed and his views cheered, but on reflection, the ideas of Emmanuel Macron seem to be less about tomorrow than yesterday.

For the world he celebrates is receding into history.

The America of 2018 is coming to see NATO as having evolved into an endless U.S. commitment to go to war with Russia on behalf of a rich Europe that resolutely refuses to provide for its own defense.

Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU.

Under the Paris climate accord, environmental restrictions are put upon the United States from which China is exempt.

As for the UN, is that sinkhole of anti-Americanism, the General Assembly, really worth the scores of billions we have plunged into it?

"Aggressive nationalism" is a term that might well fit Napoleon Bonaparte, whose Arc de Triomphe sits on the Champs-Elysees. But does it really fit the Hungarians, Poles, Brits, Scots, Catalans, and other indigenous peoples of Europe who are now using democratic methods and means to preserve their national homes?

And the United States would seem an odd place to go about venting on "aggressive nationalisms that deny our history."

Did Macron not learn at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris or the Ecole Nationale d'Administration how the Americans acquired all that land?

General Washington, at whose Mount Vernon home Macron dined, was a nationalist who fought for six years to sever America's ties to the nation under which he was born.

How does Macron think Andrew Jackson acquired Florida from Spain, Sam Houston acquired Texas from Mexico, and Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor acquired the Southwest? By bartering?

Aggressive nationalism is a good synonym for the Manifest Destiny of a republic that went about relieving Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

How does Macron think the "New World" was conquered and colonized if not by aggressive British, French, and Spanish nationalists determined to impose their rule upon weaker indigenous tribes?

Was it not nationalism that broke up the USSR into 15 nations?

Was not the Zionist movement that resurrected Israel in 1948, and in 1967 captured the West Bank and then annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a manifestation of aggressive nationalism?

Macron is an echo of George H.W. Bush who in Kiev in 1991 warned Ukrainians against the "suicidal nationalism" of declaring independence from the Russian Federation.

"Aggressive nationalisms divide the world," warns Macron.

Well, yes, they do, which is why we have now 194 members of the U.N., rather than the original 50. Is this a problem?

"Together," said Macron, "we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds."

Macron belongs to a political class that sees open borders and free trade thickening and tightening the ties of dependency, and eventually creating a One Europe whose destiny his crowd will forever control.

But if his idea of pluralism is multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural nations, with a multilateral EU overlord, he is describing a future that tens of millions of Europeans believe means the deaths of the nations that give meaning to their lives.

And they will not go gently into that good night.

In America, too, millions have come to recognize that there is a method to the seeming madness of open borders. Name of the game: dispossessing the deplorables of the country they love.

With open borders and mass migration of over a million people a year into the USA, almost all of them from third-world countries that vote 70 to 90 percent Democratic, the left is foreclosing the future. They're converting the greatest country of the West into what Teddy Roosevelt called a "polyglot boarding house for the world." And in that boarding house the left will have a lock on the presidency.

With the collaboration of co-conspirators in the media, progressives throw a cloak of altruism over the cynical seizure of permanent power.

For, as the millions of immigrants here legally and illegally register, and the vote is extended to prison inmates, ex-cons, and 16-year-olds, the political complexion of America will come to resemble San Francisco.

End goal: ensure that what happened in 2016, when the nation rose up and threw out a despised establishment, never happens again.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

12 Responses to Macron: The Last Multilateralist

georgina davenport April 27, 2018 at 12:29 am

Let's remember, it was nationalism that led German, Japan and Italy into the two world wars. Like everything, nationalism is not absolutely good or absolutely bad.

European nationalism that led them to colonize other weaker countries was not a good thing. Nationalism that led the colonized countries to fight for independence was a good thing.

The current rising of nationalism is not a good thing because it is often bound up with white nationalism, a belief that the non-whites are inferior people undeserving of care and happiness.

While I understand the anxiety of White people for losing their power of dominance, multiculturalism is a future that can't be rolled back no matter how much they long for the past white homogeneity. Because technology that made our world smaller and flatter can't be uninvented.

I agree the West can't absorb all the immigrants who want to find new life in the West. The solution is not to shun the immigrants and pretend they don't exist. The solution is to acknowledge their suffering and their need for a stable home and help them build that at their home countries.

Biologically, it is known that our genes get stronger with more diversity, that community gets weaker with too much in breeding. So is our strength as a people, culturally, philosophically, spiritually and creatively.

Petrus , says: April 27, 2018 at 3:55 am
Another nice notion on the mis/abuse of the world nationalism from Mr. Buchanan. From a Central European perspective, however Macron's alleged multilateralism as presented in Washington is just a pretence peddled for the media – teaming up with Angela Merkel (more specifically, with Germany's economic strength), Macron pretty much insists on reining in the rebellious Visegrad 4 politically, without the slightest interest in reaching a mutually beneficial compromise with them.
Dan Green , says: April 27, 2018 at 8:43 am
If only the deplorable's had come to their senses, and elected Hillary, to carry on Hope and Change, we wouldn't be having all this polarity.
Kurt Gayle , says: April 27, 2018 at 8:49 am
Pat points to Macron's globalist trade babble to Congress answers:

"Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU."

President Trump's economic nationalist/fair trade agenda can fix this problem.

KD , says: April 27, 2018 at 9:21 am
It strikes me that both France and Germany have large enough populations, economies and technical know-how to produce effective modern fighting forces. Second, given the size of EU, it is clear that the EU, if it could get its act together, would be capable of projecting force in the world on an equal playing field with the United States.

The European Leaders appeals to Trump to pursue European interests in American foreign policy are simply pathetic. If Europe has foreign interests, they will only be able to protect and insure them if they retake their sovereignty and independence on the world stage.

Europe can, and I suspect Europe will, because their problem is not just Trump and whether he is impeached or re-elected, it is that European interests are being held hostage to the American Electorate, which can and will return a Cowboy to the Presidency long after Trump is gone.

I don't see how, given the developments with the Iran Deal, as well as other frictions, that the NATO alliance can remain standing. None of the above reflections are particularly ideological, and it seems impossible that Merkel and Macron couldn't entertain such thoughts.

Europe can, and inevitably will, declare independence from the Americans, and I see NATO unraveling and a new dawn of European "multilateralism" taking its place.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:11 am
Nationalism and Multiculturalism cannot coexist separately, they're in tendsion as we all try to balance the scales.

Without the benefit of nationalism, the Koreas would not have done what they just did. My own "ethnic people" are the minority of 1.2 million Hungarians who live in Romania, who have lived there for centuries and will not leave their homeland except many of them do, like my parents did, and many of my other relatives and friends–the number was 1.5 million not too long ago, and I was estimating 1.8, but man, we are dwindling. Only 1.2 million! That shocks me. Nationalism keeps us alive. But if that's all we had, then the Romanians would be totally nationalistic too, and they will forcefully seek to curtail minority rights, language, culture, and slowly choke us out. That's the nationalist philosophy on minorities.

That's your philosophy, and you're saying what will happen here is liberals will slowly turn the country into San Francisco. You make the same error as my friend in another thread. You cannot compare a city and its politics to a province or a country, or to any territory that contains vast farmlands.

Pat, you are saying that it's possible for the entire Byzantine Empire to take on the precise political complexion of the walled city of Constantinople. That city cannot feed itself, it's not a self-contained social or political entity.

The roiling cities of San Francisco/Bay Area and glorious Constantinople are and were completely and totally dependent on the countryside, and thus, on the politics the rurals tend to practice. The rurals need to feel the effects of city politics too.

No city anywhere is self-contained, and most cities are more liberal than their hinterlands, so should we do away with cities?

You can see it as symbiotic or some kind of yin and yang tension, however you prefer. But one is good and the other is evil? I don't buy that.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:26 am
I'm pretty sure I should say ALL cities are more liberal then the surrounding countrysides which feed them. After all, the city is really just the most commonly known major local market, which the villages eventually form organically. One village in particular stands out, and the neighbors start flocking more and more to its market, some decide to move there and contribute even more to the good energy, and voila, the first city is soon born.

Then it takes on pride, and starts thinking it's superior to the "rubes." It isn't. I was lucky enough to get my foundations in a village, I know its incredible efficiency and _conservative_ values and lifestyle, but trust me, there's plenty of drunkenness and scandal, even among the sainted rubes who raised me.

Keep slapping down the cities, Pat, but don't exaggerate the threat, no self-supporting society on Earth could live the way those freaks live in San Francisco, or Constantinople, that's a fact.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm
My apologies, I know I go on a little long sometimes:

I am an American now, and America is my "us," I don't have mixed political allegiances, just cultural ones. I don't live in my original homeland anymore. The choice to leave wasn't mine, though.

If I had a choice to leave my country of origin, the land I was raised in and find familiar–and I have been in America since age twelve, so I do see it as home and very familiar–I would be daunted. Speaking as an average American adult, I know that moving to another English-speaking and equally advanced country is complicated enough for the average American. Imagine uprooting and going to a foreign land whose language you don't know yet, where everything is a lot more expensive. Try getting a job there. Let's say you have no college degree. Try it. I wouldn't want to.

Immigrants are tough as nails, I'm sorry to say. You have no chance against them, actually. You cannot even conceive of the willpower and trials by fire. Most people quite understandably can't fathom it, unless they actually try it or see it with their own eyes.

[Apr 25, 2018] The Lies Behind America's Interventions by Jon Basil Utley

Notable quotes:
"... But even before that there was the first Iraq war in 1991, justified in part by the story of Iraqi soldiers reportedly dumping babies out of incubators to die in a Kuwaiti hospital. The 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador cleverly lied to a set-up congressional committee. The Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... Los Angeles ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... American Conservative ..."
"... New York Times ..."
Apr 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Official Washington and those associated with it have misrepresented the facts numerous times in the service of military actions that might not otherwise have taken place. In the Middle East, these interventions have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab civilians, brought chaos to Iraq and Libya, and led to the expulsion of a million Christians from communities where they have lived since biblical times.

The most famous of these episodes, of course, was the U.S. government's assurance to the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which formed the basis for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The government also insisted Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda, bolstering the call to war. Of course neither was true.

But even before that there was the first Iraq war in 1991, justified in part by the story of Iraqi soldiers reportedly dumping babies out of incubators to die in a Kuwaiti hospital. The 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador cleverly lied to a set-up congressional committee. The Christian Science Monitor detailed this bizarre episode in 2002.

There were also the lies about the Iraqi army being poised to invade Saudi Arabia. That was the ostensible reason for the U.S. sending troops to Kuwait -- to defend Saudi Arabia. Writing in the the Los Angeles Times in 2003, Independent Institute fellow Victor Marshall pointed out that neither the CIA nor the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency viewed an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia as probable, and said the administration's Iraqi troop estimates were "grossly exaggerated." In fact, the administration's claim that it had aerial photographs proving its assertions was never verified because, as we later learned, the photos never existed. The Christian Science Monitor also reported on this in 2002 ahead of the second Iraq war.

America attacked Iraq in 1991, bombing and destroying that nation's irrigation, sanitation, and electricity plants. (See here regarding Washington's knowledge of and planning for the horrific mass contamination of Iraqi drinking water.) Then we blockaded reconstruction supplies for nine years while some half-million children died of disease and starvation. We blamed it all on Saddam, although we controlled Iraq's money flows through the UN food-for-oil program. Fortunately, we have a rare admission by Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes about what was done.

Before that, there was the Kosovo war when America attacked Serbia on the basis of lies that 100,000 Kosovans had been massacred by Serbs in suppressing their civil war. This led to massive American bombing, brutally destroying much of that nation's civilian infrastructure and factories, including most of the bridges in the country, and all but one of those over the Danube River. The Americans imposed peace, then expelled most Serbs out of their former province. Subsequently there was the mass destruction of hundreds of ancient Christian churches and the creation of a European enclave now filled with Saudi money that sponsors Wahhabi education, with its rote memorization of the Koran and its 13th-century hatred of Christians.

More recently there was the British, French, and American attack on Libya in response to lies that Moammar Gaddafi was planning to massacre civilians in Benghazi. The U.S. destroyed his armed forces and helped to overthrow him. Widespread looting of his weaponry subsequently filled black markets in Asia and Africa and contributed to the ability of Boko Haram terrorists to sow chaos in Nigeria and parts of Northern Africa. Masses of African refugees have been flooding Western Europe ever since, traveling through Libya. Some of those weapons also made their way into the hands of the Islamic State, which overran parts of Iraq and Syria.

Most recently we had cable news inundating us with stories of a new poison gas attack in Syria. The "news" came from rebel sources. The American Conservative has published a detailed analysis by former arms inspector Scott Ritter questioning the evidence, or lack of it, that the Assad regime initiated the attack. The former British ambassador to Syria also cast doubts on the poison gas attack and its sources from rebel organizations.

It doesn't make sense that Assad would use poison gas just as Trump was saying that he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. It does make sense for the rebels to have staged a set up to get America to stay and attack Assad. This happened before in the summer of 2014 when President Obama nearly went to war over similar accusations. Only after asking Congress to vote on the matter did he decide against the attack because Congress wasn't interested. Some congressmen's mail was running 100-to-one against bombing. It was a welcome reminder of why Washington doesn't want actual votes on starting wars: because most Americans don't want more Washington wars.

Investigative journalists Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry expertly poked holes in the veracity of that 2013 attack. Other reports suggested that Syrian bombs unleashed poison gas the rebels had been storing in civilian areas. The New York Times finally published in December 2013 a detailed report that expressed doubts about its earlier conclusion that the 2013 "red line" gassing was carried out definitively by the Syrian military. False flag operations to goad America into war, it seems, can be successful.

After all the hundreds of thousands of innocents abroad killed by America and the human misery caused because of clever U.S. and foreign manipulations, one would think we might pause before attacking Syria and running the risk of killing Russians who are advising the Syrians. That could ignite an entirely new kind of war with a nuclear-armed Russia -- all without congressional approval.

Obama, whose policies were predicated on the view that Assad must go, seemed to think Syrians would live happily after in some magically sprouting democracy. To believe this one would have to ignore the prior examples of Iraq and Libya. Nor do these war party advocates seem in the least concerned about the 10 percent of Syria's population who are Christians, many of whom would surely by massacred after any overthrow of Assad.

Further, the so-called Free Syrian Army is a hodgepodge of rebel groups that include many Islamist radicals. With funding from fundamentalist Saudis and Turkey, they took over from more liberal forces early on. It's worth noting also that Turkey provided the black market for ISIS to sell Syria's captured oil.

Going back a hundred years there were the clever British lies that helped coax America into joining the Allies in World War I. England controlled the trans-Atlantic cables and most of our "news" about the war. That intervention resulted in the Treaty of Versailles instead of a compromise peace between Germany and England/France that would have prevented the wreckage of Europe out of which came the rise of communism and Nazism.

For an analysis of the risks of accidental nuclear war, see my 2017 January Publisher's Report , in which I once wrote about how Osama bin Laden's ultimate aim was to get Russia and America to destroy each other. It still could happen, triggered by false atrocity stories, cable TV's 24-hour hyping of any and every threat, and Washington's propensity to believe lies -- and sometimes perpetrate them -- to promote wars.

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative .


Janwaar Bibi April 25, 2018 at 12:15 am

No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?

Saudi and Israeli money. Next question.

Realist , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:49 am
"No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?"

It is not we it is politicians.

Money is the reason

Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 25, 2018 at 5:30 am
Lies can be fun, especially the ones I tell myself, and they're also a lot of fun to discover, just like your lies. The worst bummer, however, is that the lies we tell each other very quickly do get tiresome and repetitive, if not downright frustrating:

"Oh My God, It's Still The Same Lies. That Makes It Worse."

Apparently–and this is tragic–it looks like we're just too selfish to come up with new ones: Say what, you want me to lie the country into war in some fascinating novel way, just for your entertainment? I don't think so. It's easier to stick to the routine, and I'm lazy, so I'll just do as you do, I'll keep telling you the same old lies, which explains why you are bored as well–meanwhile, I spend my quality time investigating all the ways I hide things from myself.

(yeah, right)

Fran Macadam , says: April 25, 2018 at 8:30 am
Wars are little more than armed robberies on an industrial scale.

Wars are begun, to take what belongs to someone else.

The sheer magnitude of a crime transforms it into heroic achievement – at least, in historical perspective, for the winners, as long as they retain power. In the long run, the consequences are malignantly pernicious.

Youknowho , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:07 am
Why get into wars?

They are just upping the ante.

For years the American public has accepted and shrugged the overthrow of governments at the hands of the CIA with the excuse of stopping Communism.

Iran, Congo, Guatemala, Chile

There is a trail of blood created by the US in the world, while the American public is told that we are the good guys, so we are justified.

Now the CIA is not enough. There are troops.

These things have to be killed while still young.

BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:16 am
The United States isn't being manipulated into war.
The only manipulation is of American public opinion- fortunately for the War Party,i.e. the US government, there's enough blind nationalism & tribal loyalty on both sides of the political divide for their propaganda to (usually) succeed.
Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:39 am
"Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause."

Excellent. And throw in Citizens United and you have an effective coup d'etat of the United States by corporate interests.

40 KFt View , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:54 am
Look at any public figure. Their salary is less than $190K. BUT, They are worth $10 Million or more. That is why we go to war. Foreign influence (Saudi and Israel) as well as the Military Industrial Complex. (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, )Our Leaders are paid off!
b. , says: April 25, 2018 at 11:52 am
Now that the war profiteering classes and their retainee camp followers are running into the problem that more and more citizens are prepared to doubt, if not outright dismiss – if just on principle – their claims and anonymous trickyleaks regarding "secret evidence" and elusive "proof", the Democratic Party has become an eager handmaiden to the neolibcon con of projecting all that justified and overdue doubt and dissent – distrust to unaccountable power – and the citizens' frustration with their corrupt representative and dysfunctional institutions – on, you know it Russia!

So now that we stop accepting government claims by default – something no reasonable citizen should ever do, on principle – we are denounced as "gullible" – projection at its best – and as "useful idiots" of some Kremlin mirage that happens to be a mirror image of our own government's betrayals at its worst. Once dissent has been "discredited" by claiming it could not possible have any other cause except uninformed and misled voters – see the published responses to Sanders and Trump supporters – and could, of course, not have any merit, the next step is to make sure that our "democracy" is safeguarded even more against "populists" – those that speak truth to power, not those that lie blatantly to claim power for themselves – and the unruly mob in the streets that questions the establishment, the wholly owned elites, and the oligarchic owners of our very own autocratic franchise.

That is the progression – from being lied into war, whether we believe the BS or not, to being denounced as useful idiots or traitors if we dare to doubt the BS we are being fed, to being disenfranchised under the pretext of protecting the franchise.

The biggest obstacle to establishing a precedents under international law to obtain UN General Assembly consensus for intervention in the inner affairs of a nation- in response crimes committed by the government of that nation – is the US, because the US has acted as a rogue nation for decades, and has eroded the international order to the point where the "allied" governments of Germany and other EU states think nothing of "supporting" those acts of aggression, and post-colonial wannabe powers like the UK and France have joined the US "coalition of the willing". That "international order" will fall unless the US finally leads by example and commits itself to uphold the UN Charter – and its own Constitution – in letter and spirit. Until then, there is nothing we can do to help those that suffer under the yoke of what are, under our current international order, legitimate governments of sovereign nation.

The US cannot assert and pursue primacy and unipolar super-sovereignty over every other nation on this planet and at the same time claim to uphold the principles of sovereign states, and nobody will be able to redefine or constrain the rule of sovereign states within the existing international order as long as what little order we have claim to is being set aside and ignored wholesale by any nation that can get away with it, with the US and the so-called "West" in the lead.

We cannot lie our way to life, liberty and justice, not for ourselves, and certainly not on behalf of others, especially if we do not hesitate at all to make those we claim to help and "protect" pay the ultimate price for our acts of aggression. These are indeed the most dishonest and offensive words in the English language: "We are from the US government, and we are here to help." The "responsibility to protect" is nothing but another attempt to address the necessity to pretend.

Professor Nerd , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:13 pm
"because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."
I wish this was true. But I doubt it. The citizens must be held partially responsible for our era of permanent war.
One Guy , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:56 pm
" most Americans don't want more Washington wars."

Actually, most Americans don't care, really. Oh, you ask one if he likes war, and he will say, "No". But ask him if Uncle Joe should lose his job at Boeing, and what will he say?

Wars are, of course, a jobs program on a massive scale. And if some dark-skinned civilians die, Americans aren't concerned.

balconesfault , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:13 pm
What Professor Nerd said.

My own theory of hawkishness is that voters are much more comfortable with putting national defense in the hands of someone far more hawkish then themselves, than in the hands of someone slightly less hawkish.

See, for example, how people who theoretically wan lower taxes, smaller government, and a balanced budget, keep electing GOP leadership that always attacks their Democratic opponents on gutting defense spending (even when defense spending has been going up), and always equates larger DOD budgets with more "security" for Americans.

Until voters are willing to accept a US President saying "bad stuff happens in other parts of the world – we can't control everything" we'll keep getting more and more wars.

Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm
"because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."
I wish this was true. But I doubt it. The citizens must be held partially responsible for our era of permanent war."

I've found my elderly mother is very enthusiastic about our overseas wars. I believe it is because she somehow projects America's ability to bully the rest of the world onto herself. She is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way.

BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm
" my elderly mother is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way."
What a great country! Where else do you have elderly drivers with poor eyesight and slow reflexes trying to navigate 5000 pound trucks while harassing other drivers at 50mph?
Tiktaalik , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:59 pm
>> She is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way.

Wow, I've thought that it could only happen in Russia. I mean, pickup/SUV tailgating.

Silly me)

EliteCommInc. , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:14 pm
"Where else do you have elderly drivers with poor eyesight and slow reflexes trying to navigate 5000 pound trucks while harassing other drivers at 50mph?"

I can say from experience and the related stories of others, one very recent and sad --

cyclists don't stand a chance.
-- -- -- -- -- -

"Until voters are willing to accept a US President saying "bad stuff happens in other parts of the world – we can't control everything" we'll keep getting more and more wars."

World gone wrong when we agree -- things must be really be SNAFU.

NorEastern , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm
I am a Democrat only because the Republican party has gone insane over the last 17 years. When will the TAC style Conservatives take back their party?
sglover , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:39 pm
Echoing Professor Nerd & balconesfault & Kent. It's certainly true that Lockheed Martin, the Israel lobby, our Saudi "friends", et al have a ton of influence, and use it for ends that I'd call malign. But for at least the last 20 years we've been living in a world in which it's effortless to find information contrary to the latest war marketing PR campaign. When Bush the Lesser was getting ready for his war, did any of his hysterical claims last even a week before it was discredited? But off to war we went.

It'd be nice if we could blame all of our lousy decisions on those wily Zionists and Arabs and Russians, but the causes seem to lie a little closer to home .

[Apr 24, 2018] The Varieties of Russian Conservatism by Paul Grenier

Notable quotes:
"... Times Literary Supplement ..."
"... sine qua non ..."
"... The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today? ..."
"... Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ..."
"... Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity. ..."
"... The City of Man ..."
"... Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States. ..."
"... The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft. ..."
"... Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. ..."
Jun 19, 2015 | www.theamericanconservative.com
A staunchly traditional society grapples with modernity's disruptions, seeking conservatisms far beyond Putinism.

It's a truism that America is a liberal place. Americans emphasize the importance of the individual and tend to reject notions of hierarchy and authority. Russia by contrast is known to be a more conservative society, one where the interests of the group come ahead of those of the individual; and where, for centuries, respect for hierarchy and authority has usually been the norm.

All the same, the "news" of Russia's return to conservatism has hit many observers in the West like the proverbial ton of bricks. The typical response has been to blame the Russian president for steering Russia away from the liberal path, the path of becoming a " normal country" with "Western values."

Others have sought to understand Russian political culture on its own terms. A recent analysis ("The New Eurasians," Times Literary Supplement , May 13, 2015) stands out from the crowd by making a serious effort to read present-day Russian conservatism in its historical context. Lesley Chamberlain dismisses the glib reduction of Russia to its present-day leader. Russia, she writes, is not ruled by Vladimir Putin: to the contrary, "the power that rules Russia is tradition." Far from it being the case that a benighted Russian public is being led to conservatism artificially by its government, the reverse is the case: the vast majority of Russians, perhaps eighty percent "are intensely conservative."

Like most in the commentariat, Chamberlain finds cause for alarm in Russia's return to type. She worries about a Russia seeking to create "an alternative version of the contemporary Christian, or post-Christian, world, contiguous with but distinct from the West."

Chamberlain reduces today's incarnation of Russian conservatism to the more or less vague bundle of geographic and neo-imperial notions that goes by the name Eurasianism, often linked with the name of Alexander Dugin.

To be sure, anti-Western Eurasianism is part of contemporary Russian conservatism. But it is only one part. Excessive focus on this angle has created the impression that Dugin-esque Eurasianism is the only game in town when it comes to Russian conservatism. It isn't. It's not even the only version of what might be called the 'Russian national greatness' school of conservatism.

If we wish to understand Russia in something like its true complexity, we have to take the trouble to listen to it, to let it speak in its own voice instead of constantly projecting onto it all our own worst fears. Precisely because Eurasianism has already hogged all the attention, I won't deal with it here.

... ... ...

Liberal Conservatism

Some participants straddled several categories of conservatism at once. In other cases, for example that of the above-mentioned Makarenko, their thought fit neatly within a single category -- in his case, that of liberal conservatism.

For Makarenko, modern Russian political practice has far too utilitarian an attitude toward rule of law and democracy. If it can be demonstrated that the latter support state sovereignty, then all is well and good; but whenever either are perceived as a threat to the state -- then democracy and rule of law are always the ones that have to suffer. From his perspective, Russia would do better to learn from Burke, who looked not so much to the sovereignty of the state as to the sovereignty of the parliament .

Matveichev, no doubt the most eclectic thinker in the group, on certain subjects occupied the liberal end of the spectrum. For example, in an essay on corruption and the state, he approvingly cites the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto to make the point that rule of law -- as it is practiced, nota bene , in the United States -- is the sine qua non of economic prosperity. What I found fascinating about Matveichev's position is that he then takes his argument in a Hegelian and Platonic direction.

It is the state -- not the market on its own -- that provides these all important forms , and bad as the corruption of state institutions may be, a bad form is nonetheless better than no form at all -- including for business. The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today?

Left Conservatism

The "left conservatives" at the conference -- represented most prominently by Dr. Alexander Schipkov, an expert on Church-state relations -- are critical of liberal capitalism and indeed are also critical of the current Russian state to the extent that its "conservatism" is reducible merely to "family values" without including the all-important component of economic fairness. His views are close to that of Catholic Distributists as well as to those of "radical orthodox" theologians like William Cavanaugh and John Milbank.

According to Schipkov, Russians of various backgrounds (left and right, secular and religious, red and white) need to forge a common ethic. But in truth, Russia already has such an ethic, one that unifies all the disparate phases in its often tragic and contradictory history. Consciously playing off of Weber, Schipkov refers to Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ." In a fascinating essay on this same subject, Schipkov makes clear that his concept of solidarity owes much to the writings of the early 20th century German philosopher Max Scheler, who likewise had such a big impact on the thought of Pope John Paul II.

Though the Russian Church continues to play a defining role in the ethical formation of the nation -- no other pre-1917 institution, after all, still exists -- over time it will be replaced by other institutions, according to Schipkov. Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity.

Creative Conservatism

Because it tends to evoke the disastrous social and economic effects of "liberalisation" during the 1990s, the term "liberal" has become something of a swear word in today's Russia. But what, exactly, does this much reviled "liberalism" consist in? In my own presentation (English translation forthcoming at SolidarityHall.org ) I suggested that Russians need to define liberalism -- and conservatism -- more carefully, while distinguishing both from their ideological perversions.

To his credit, Oleg Matveichev has taken the trouble to craft a precise definition of the liberal doctrine of human nature in terms worthy of a Pierre Manent ( The City of Man ). According to Matveichev, liberalism reconceives the very essence of man as freedom, self-sufficiency, and self-definition. Seen through this liberal prism, the goal of our existence becomes self-emancipation from the chains of the past and the dead weight of tradition.

Having redefined the meaning of history, Matveichev continues, the "liberals" then set about condemning those who would thwart its "progress," dismissing them as "conservatives" and "reactionaries." Is it not time, Matveichev asks, to throw off the chains of this label invented for us by our adversaries? Why define ourselves as mere "conservatives"? Why not creatively reimagine an alternative 'meaning of history" ourselves?

Can conservatism be "creative?" And if so, how? Mikhail Remizov, president of the National Strategy Institute, answered, in effect, "how can it be anything else?" Critics on the left sometimes attack conservatism by saying, that conservatives do not preserve tradition, they invent it. Remizov dismisses the implied insult, because it demonstrates a misunderstanding of how traditions work: (re)invention " is the normal, creative approach to tradition." Remizov agrees with Hans-Georg Gadamer that sharply contrasting tradition and modernity is a silly and flat-footed way of looking at tradition, because the latter is always in any case a complex creative task of making adjustments and dialectical zig-zags. Such an understanding of culture and tradition as creativity fits, of course, quite nicely with the philosophy of Nicholas Berdyaev. It is hard to think of another thinker for whom creativity plays a more central role.

Alexei Kozyrev, associate dean of the philosophy department at Moscow State University, illustrated the same creative conservative principle when he spoke of the Russian Orthodox Church's Social Concept. The task of modern man, according to that document, is to find creative ways to retrieve the thought of the Church Fathers, for example that of Gregory of Nyssa, who counseled demonstrating our human dignity "not by domination of the natural world but by caring for and preserving it." The Social Concept likewise calls for defending the dignity of the unborn embryo and of the mentally ill. Here, in an unexpected twist, the Western environmental movement meets the pro-Life movement, challenging perhaps our own ideological boundaries.

... ...

Dialogue with Russia?

Lesley Chamberlain claimed that Russia is not a puzzle. In fact that is precisely what it is. As should be clear even from the above very partial survey, Russian conservatism, like Russia itself, embraces a contradictory collection of flaws and virtues. Both the flaws and the virtues are large.

Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States.

For Western liberals, it is tempting to present Russian conservatism as always intrinsically dangerous. But I believe the loss is ours. Russian conservatism -- or at any rate important elements of it -- contains something potentially valuable to the West as it seeks to forge a strategy for dealing with the growing disorder in the world. What justifies engagement with Russia is before all else its ability to contribute to solving the problem that all of us face: how to devise a softer version of western modernity, one which allows for the preservation of tradition while simultaneously retaining what is most valuable in the liberal tradition.

The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft.

Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues.


Andrew W June 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

@JonF

The presumption amongst Russian conservatives is not that Russia is perfect as it is but that Russia's foundational values are good. This is something they have in common with American conservatives, British Conservatives like Peter Hitchens, and probably most conservatives in most societies. They would also lament their social ills.

I am not going to accuse you of not having read the article, but that comment of yours could easily have been made by someone who simply read the title and jumped to the comments section.

Joseph Kellner , says: June 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm
The author's point on free speech is an important one – there is a lot of very deep and open discussion in Russia at the moment about the country's direction (including even television debates with ten times the intellectual content of what we find in the States). Putinism is not a clear ideological system, and for the most part there is no official orthodoxy being pressed on scholars or the public, many currents exist. Most of the major viable currents, as this article suggests, are variants of conservatism; Western-style liberal democracy has (at the moment) lost nearly all it's appeal to the intelligentsia and the average person alike.

Re: Jon F's comment – unfortunately, in my view he is right. We shouldn't believe that Russia is a place of thriving family values simply because they say it more often and louder. Statistics are not the best way to see this – I personally believe (from experience in the capital and the provinces) that if Russians divorce less, they cheat more. If they have fewer abortions, they have more children born into undesirable childhoods. Russian conservatism does have its virtues and the country must to admire, but respect for women and children are far from a given.

Cornel Lencar , says: June 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm
The tendency to see Russia in black/white only, with a pre-imposed bias is no different than the tendency to see the US (and sometimes the west) and its values in similar manichean perspectives. Adding depth and colour to the other takes work, and especially the willingness to empathise, even for a little while, in order to gain more understanding, before employing a critical eye. And from this perspective I think the article does a good job.
Paul Grenier , says: June 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm
W. Burns: I don't recall that specific issue raised at the conference, but the Revolution and subsequent experience is much debated, including in other writings by the participants, e.g. by Shchipkov (his preferred spelling btw, not my Schipkov), whose take is much like that of Berdyaev: the communist experience is in partial continuity with aspects of Russia's tradition, e.g. of economic 'fairness' (equalizing plots on the peasant commune, etc.) and privileging the group over the individual. I started with the analysis by L. Chamberlain in part because her wide lens-perspective helps make sense of that experience.
David Naas and Cornel Lencar: I wish there were more who shared your perspective. Thanks.
Regarding Russian values vs. practice, aspirations vs. real-world problems. Who among us is without sin? Is U.S. practice so pristine that we should disdain talking to the Russian side? That is the material point.
Since the conference I have continued reading the work of these (and other conference) attendees meant for a Russian audience. They are very, very far from smug about their internal problems; quite the contrary.
Dave P.: As far as I know, the conference Proceedings so far are only in Russian, but there are pretty detailed English-language abstracts. Try contacting ISEPR (their site, ISEPR.ru, also has an English-language version).

[Apr 24, 2018] Rand Paul Caves on Pompeo

Apr 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Paul has made reclaiming Congress' role in matters of war one of his signature issues. Pompeo testified before the Foreign Relations Committee that he doesn't think the president needs Congressional authorization to order attacks on other states. Trump's nominee thinks that the president can start wars on his own authority, so Paul should be voting against his nomination for that reason alone. Voting to confirm Pompeo is an effective endorsement of the very illegal and unauthorized warfare that Paul normally condemns.


Mr. Hopeful April 23, 2018 at 8:08 pm

"Instead, Paul will get nothing except widespread derision for caving to pressure. "

Depressing. I thought he'd have more guts. Perhaps he's keeping his ammunition dry for some important purpose, and maybe the White House IOU he now holds has value. We'll see.

beejeez , says: April 23, 2018 at 8:58 pm
Hey, c'mon, Trump gave him assurances.
b. , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:33 pm
We owe Trump for another wonderfully clarifying moment.

No to incumbents. If we ran a lottery for Senators and Representatives we would not do much worse than what we have.

Mike , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm
Sad. However, the vote that matters is the one to confirm or reject him with the full Senate. We'll see how he votes then.
liberal , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
Agree with BobS . I wouldn't have been shocked if Rand had voted against, but it's hardly surprising he caved.
Youknowho , says: April 23, 2018 at 11:52 pm
I have disliked Sen. Paul ever since the British Petroleum disaster, when he bemoaned that making BP pay for damages was "anti-business" as if seafood fisheries, motels, and restaurants were not businesses too.

Nothing he does or says now surprises me.

[Apr 22, 2018] Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics by Tim Rogers

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal.
His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.
Notable quotes:
"... Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering) ..."
"... You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude. ..."
Apr 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.

"Aphorisms," wrote James Geary, "are like particle accelerators for the mind." When particles collide inside an accelerator, new ones are formed as the energy of the crash is converted into matter. Inside an aphorism, it is minds that collide, and what spins out is that most slippery of things, wisdom.

... ... ...

These reviewers have done a disservice to their readers. In large measure, they have failed to engage with a work that is complex, challenging, and novel. Peterson is sketching out a draft for how we can survive, look in the mirror, and deal with psychological pain.

To understand his message, the first task is not to be distracted by the title or genre, and look for the metaphorical glue that binds it all together. 12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters. It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text.

The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time. The concept of Deep Time is very recent: just a few generations ago science thought that the earth was a few thousand years old. The realization that the planet has been around for billions of years and that life itself not much younger has brought about a shift in the story of ourselves and our place in the world. We are the products of processes that are old, old, old. We stretch back across unfathomable reaches, incomprehensible spans, but we carry that history within us.

... ... ..

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal. Like Freud, Peterson sees life as suffering. Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering). 12 Rules is not about the pursuit of pleasure, and indeed parts of his message are pure Stoicism. Resistance to life's depredations is futile. You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude.

... His much-derided directive to "tidy your room" makes sense at every level. Indeed, if your room is too big, start with "tidy your desk," and then move forward. Find meaning in the tiniest acts of kindness, and push on from there. Concede the transience of pleasure and the inevitability of death. This isn't happiness, but it is a step closer to the Good Life, and contra the reviewers, readers are responding. Active, purposeful "Being in the World" is the dominant theme, and much of the book is taken up with exploring the whys and wherefores of this. Courage and strength and kindness, yes, to be sure, but importantly, courage "in spite of" and kindness "in spite of."

Following Carl Rogers, meaning is to be found in active engagement in a wondrous and hazardous world, and here there is no shirking the "hazardous." It seems to me that Peterson is calling for a return to ataraxia , that imperturbability and equanimity that has been out of fashion amongst the intelligentsia (at least in the West) for a century or more.

The underlying political philosophy is conservative, without question. As Christian Gonzalez identified in The American Conservative , Peterson's closest contemporary equivalent is Roger Scruton. "We have learned to live together and organize our complex societies slowly and incrementally, over vast stretches of time," he writes, "and we do not understand with sufficient exactitude why what we are doing works."

Peterson on the American culture wars sounds like Scruton on the English Common Law: we are "from the soil," we need time, it is senseless to break what we barely understand. Each person's private trouble cannot be solved by a social revolution, because revolutions are destabilizing and dangerous. Those left-leaning critics who see "just another reactionary" have failed to understand the complexity. What permeates this project is an implicit biopsychosocial model of the human condition (Peterson spares the reader that dread term but it is the only description I know for his integrative model).

... ... ...

Tim Rogers is a consultant psychiatrist in Edinburgh. He's written for Encounter magazine, and has published in both Quillette and Areo .

[Apr 17, 2018] John Bolton In Search of Carthage by By Michael Shindler

Looks like Iran is Carnage for Bolton and neocon fellow travelers in Trump administration such as Haley and Pompeo.
Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... In that vein, it is Bolton who merits historical comparison: to Cato the Elder, a conservative-yet-eccentric Roman statesman who, according to Plutarch, would often and invariably call for the destruction of Carthage, even though the Carthaginian threat was neither imminent nor apparent. Eventually, Cato's words wended their way into the ears of power and hundreds of thousands of Carthaginians were pointlessly slaughtered. According to the Greek historian Polybius, Scipio Aemilianus, the young Roman General who led the attack, at seeing the carnage of a great people, "shed tears and wept openly." ..."
"... Michael Shindler is an Advocate with Young Voices and a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @MichaelShindler . ..."
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Last week, John Bolton ascended to the office of National Security Advisor, following in the hurried footsteps of Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. Two peculiar characteristics set Bolton apart from most folks in D.C.: an unabashedly luxurious mustache and an unmatched penchant for unjustified preemptive violence.

At the University of Chicago in 2009, Bolton warned , "Unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran's program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future." Thankfully, Israel didn't take Bolton's advice and, as most predicted, Iran never lived up to his expectations. Similarly, in a 2015 op-ed in the New York Times , Bolton opined , "The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure . Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed." Three short months later, a non-proliferation deal wherein Iran agreed to a 98 percent reduction in its enriched uranium stockpile and a 15-year pause in the development of key weapons infrastructure was negotiated.

More recently in February, Bolton advised in the Wall Street Journal that "Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute . It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current 'necessity' posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons by striking first."

By this point Bolton's record of calling for war in every possible situation had lost the ability to shock. Still, the Founding Fathers would probably be appalled.

A comparatively irenic vision pervades the philosophy of the founders. James Wilson, in his Lectures on Law, wrote that when a nation "is under an obligation to preserve itself and its members; it has a right to do everything" that it can "without injuring others." In Federalist 4, John Jay advised that the American people ought to support steps that would "put and keep them in such a situation as, instead of inviting war, will tend to repress and discourage it." And in his Farewell Address, George Washington asserted that the United States should be "always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."

A preemptive nuclear strike justified on the flimsy basis of "gaps in U.S. intelligence" hardly seems concordant with such military restraint and "exalted justice." And lest it be thought these ideals were mere lofty notions, consider how, as American history proceeded, they became enshrined in American diplomacy.

In 1837, Canadian rebels sailing aboard the Caroline fled to an island in the Niagara River with the help of a few American citizens. British forces boarded their ship, killed an American member of the crew, and then set the Caroline ablaze before forcing it over Niagara Falls. Enraged, American and Canadian raiders destroyed a British ship. Several attacks followed until the crisis was at last ended in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. In the aftermath, the Caroline test was established, which stipulates that an attack made in self-defense is justifiable only when, in the words of Daniel Webster, the necessity is "instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This principle remains the international standard, though some like Bolton think it's outdated.

With the Caroline test in mind, Bolton wrote while arguing in favor of a preemptive strike against North Korea, "The case against preemption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times." In other words, Bolton believes that we can no longer afford to wait for the situation to be "instant" and "overwhelming," and makes an offense out of abstaining from immediate preemptive action, regardless of the potential costs involved.

Relatedly, one of Bolton's most colorful jabs at President Obama involved likening him to Æthelred the Unready, a medieval Anglo-Saxon king remembered for his tragic indecisiveness. Yet given the costs of groundless preemption, indecisiveness is often a midwife to careful contemplation and peace. Had Prime Minister Netanyahu or Obama been persuaded by Bolton's retrospectively warrantless calls for preemption in Iran, tragedy would have followed.

In that vein, it is Bolton who merits historical comparison: to Cato the Elder, a conservative-yet-eccentric Roman statesman who, according to Plutarch, would often and invariably call for the destruction of Carthage, even though the Carthaginian threat was neither imminent nor apparent. Eventually, Cato's words wended their way into the ears of power and hundreds of thousands of Carthaginians were pointlessly slaughtered. According to the Greek historian Polybius, Scipio Aemilianus, the young Roman General who led the attack, at seeing the carnage of a great people, "shed tears and wept openly."

In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood, Bolton should reconsider whether the flimsy merits of rash preemption truly outweigh the durable wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the lessons of history.

Michael Shindler is an Advocate with Young Voices and a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @MichaelShindler .


Janwaar Bibi April 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm

From the Wikipedia article for Bolton:

During the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, Bolton drew number 185. (Draft numbers corresponded to birth dates.) As a result of the Johnson and Nixon administrations' decisions to rely largely on the draft rather than on the reserve forces, joining a Guard or Reserve unit became a way to avoid service in the Vietnam War. Before graduating from Yale in 1970, Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard rather than wait to find out if his draft number would be called. (The highest number called to military service was 195.) He saw active duty for 18 weeks of training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, from July to November 1970.

After serving in the National Guard for four years, he served in the United States Army Reserve until the end of his enlistment two years later.[1]

He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." In an interview, Bolton discussed his comment in the reunion book, explaining that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from."

Why is it that the US leads the world in production of chicken-hawks? Even these mangy ex-colonial countries like the UK and France do not have as many chicken-hawks as we do.

connecticut farmer , says: April 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm
Cato the Elder: "Carthago dalenda est!" ("Carthage Must Be Destroyed!")

John Bolton: "Syria dalenda est!" "Iran dalenda est!" Russia dalenda est!" And etc etc.

Connecticut Farmer: "Bolton dalenda est!"

Kent , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm
"In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood,"

That ship sailed awhile back.

JonF , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:08 pm
Comparing Obama to Athelred is absurd. Athelred's problem was not that he was indecisive, but rather that he refused to listen to advice from anyone (the moniker "Unready" actually meant "Uncounseled" in Old English) and that he was extremely impulsive and deeply bigoted. Hence he ordered a general massacre of the Danes in England. Luckily it was only carried out in a limited region, unluckily the victims included the King of Denmark's sister and her children, leading to an open blood feud war, and also cost Aethelred any support he might have had from his wife's kinsman, the Duke of Normandy. If anyone is a good match for old Aethelred, it's Donald Trump.

[Apr 17, 2018] Trump Prisoner of the War Party by Patrick J. Buchanan

Trump became a despicable warmonger. That true. And undisputable after the recent attack on Syria ("operation Stormy Daniels"). But was it War Party that coerced him or were other processes involved?
The main weakness of Buchanan hypothecs is that it is unclear wether Trump was coerced by War Party, or he was "Republican Obama" from the very beginning performing classic "bait and switch" operation on gullible electorate (as in "change we can believe in") . The second hypothesis is now strong then the fist and supported by more fact. just look at the "troika" of Haley-Bolton-Pompeo -- all three were voluntarily selected by the President and all three are rabid neocons. So it looks liek no or little coercion from the War Party was necessary.
Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Defense Secretary James Mattis called the U.S.-British-French attack a "one-shot" deal. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to agree: "The rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will." ..."
"... Clearly, with the U.S. fighting in six countries, Commander in Chief Trump does not want any new wars, or to widen any existing wars in the Middle East. But he is being pushed into becoming a war president to advance the agenda of foreign policy elites who, almost to a man, opposed his election. ..."
"... We have a reluctant president being pushed into a war he does not want to fight. This is a formula for a strategic disaster not unlike Vietnam or George W. Bush's war to strip Iraq of nonexistent WMDs. ..."
"... The assumption of the War Party seems to be that if we launch larger and more lethal strikes in Syria, inflicting casualties on Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and the Syrian army, they will yield to our demands. ..."
"... As for Trump's statement Friday, "No amount of American blood and treasure can produce lasting peace in the Middle East," the Washington Post ..."
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
April 16, 2018, 9:55 PM "Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria.' We convinced him it was necessary to stay."

Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, adding, "We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term."

Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian Civil War "for the long term"?

If so, who made that fateful decision for this republic?

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Sunday there would be no drawdown of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, until three objectives were reached. We must fully defeat ISIS, ensure chemical weapons will not again be used by Bashar al-Assad and maintain the ability to watch Iran.

Translation: whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria. We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is "inoperative."

The War Party that Trump routed in the primaries is capturing and crafting his foreign policy. Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial page fairly blossomed with war plans:

The better U.S. strategy is to turn Syria into the Ayatollah's Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran began to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war or even contemplate a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.

Apparently, we are to bleed Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran until they cannot stand the pain and submit to subdividing Syria the way we want.

But suppose that, as in our Civil War of 1861-1865, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949, Assad and his Russian, Iranian, and Shiite militia allies go all out to win and reunite the nation.

Suppose they choose to fight to consolidate the victory they have won after seven years of war. Where do we find the troops to take back the territory our rebels lost? Or do we just bomb mercilessly?

The British and French say they will back us in future attacks if chemical weapons are used, but they are not plunging into Syria.

Defense Secretary James Mattis called the U.S.-British-French attack a "one-shot" deal. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to agree: "The rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will."

The Journal 's op-ed page Monday was turned over to former U.S. ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker and Brookings Institute senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon: "Next time the U.S. could up the ante, going after military command and control, political leadership, and perhaps even Assad himself. The U.S. could also pledge to take out much of his air force. Targets within Iran should not be off limits."

And when did Congress authorize U.S. acts of war against Syria, its air force, or political leadership? When did Congress authorize the killing of the president of Syria whose country has not attacked us?

Can the U.S. also attack Iran and kill the ayatollah without consulting Congress?

Clearly, with the U.S. fighting in six countries, Commander in Chief Trump does not want any new wars, or to widen any existing wars in the Middle East. But he is being pushed into becoming a war president to advance the agenda of foreign policy elites who, almost to a man, opposed his election.

We have a reluctant president being pushed into a war he does not want to fight. This is a formula for a strategic disaster not unlike Vietnam or George W. Bush's war to strip Iraq of nonexistent WMDs.

The assumption of the War Party seems to be that if we launch larger and more lethal strikes in Syria, inflicting casualties on Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and the Syrian army, they will yield to our demands.

But where is the evidence for this?

What reason is there to believe these forces will surrender what they have paid in blood to win? And if they choose to fight and widen the war to the larger Middle East, are we prepared for that?

As for Trump's statement Friday, "No amount of American blood and treasure can produce lasting peace in the Middle East," the Washington Post on Sunday dismissed this as "fatalistic" and "misguided." We have a vital interest, says the Post , in preventing Iran from establishing a "land corridor" across Syria.

Yet consider how Iran acquired this "land corridor." The Shiites in 1979 overthrew a shah our CIA installed in 1953. The Shiites control Iraq because President Bush invaded and overthrew Saddam and his Sunni Baath Party, disbanded his Sunni-led army, and let the Shiite majority take control of the country. The Shiites are dominant in Lebanon because they rose up and ran out the Israelis, who invaded in 1982 to run out the PLO.

How many American dead will it take to reverse this history?

How long will we have to stay in the Middle East to assure the permanent hegemony of Sunni over Shiite?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Apr 16, 2018] America's Fling With the Kurds Could Cause Turkey and NATO to Split by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... "This is clientism," the senior military officer with whom I spoke explains. "All of these guys have served together and trust each other. And, you know, this is the way it works. The U.S. Central Command has the Middle East as a client and the European Command has the Europeans and Turkey as clients. But if you take a look at Mattis and the people around him, well, you know, it's all Centcom. ..."
"... Erdogan emphasized three growing concerns he has that America's temporary and "transactional" support for the YPG is becoming permanent. This same official went on to note that, in his opinion, it's not a coincidence that Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria ("I want to get out," he said. "I want to bring our troops home") -- a suggestion that did not go over well with Centcom partisans at the Pentagon. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In fact, just how "ugly" the relationship has become is fast becoming a matter of public debate. During his March visit, Scaparrotti appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to give testimony on the challenges facing his command. While most members focused on Russia and cyberwar issues, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine explored the U.S.-Turkey dust-up, hinting that it might be time for the U.S. to dampen its YPG ties. Scaparrotti didn't disagree, while soft-pedaling the disagreements over the issue that he's had with Votel and Centcom. "Where do we want to be in a year, two years and five years?" he asked. "With a close NATO ally like Turkey, we know that we want to maintain and strengthen our relationship. So that's the long-term objective and if we look at the long-term objective, it can begin to inform what we're doing today with respect to NATO." The senior military officer with whom I spoke proved a willing translator: "What Scaparrotti is saying is that the real marriage here is between the U.S. and Turkey. The YPG is just a fling."

But convincing James Mattis of that is proving difficult, in part because Scaparrotti is outgunned. Every defense secretary surrounds himself with people he can count on and who he listens to. But for Mattis almost all of them have had experience in the Middle East -- and at Centcom. There's Mattis himself (a former Centcom commander), JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford (who served with Mattis in Iraq), Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. (a Marine who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq), retired Rear Admiral Kevin M. Sweeney (the former Centcom executive officer), Rear Admiral Craig S. Faller (a Mattis advisor, and a Navy commander during both the Afghan and Iraq wars), and current Centcom commander General Joseph Votel -- the former commander of the U.S. Special Operation Command ("a trigger puller," as he was described to me by a currently serving officer). Votel is the most outspoken YPG supporter of any of them, and because he's the combatant commander, his support carries weight.

"This is clientism," the senior military officer with whom I spoke explains. "All of these guys have served together and trust each other. And, you know, this is the way it works. The U.S. Central Command has the Middle East as a client and the European Command has the Europeans and Turkey as clients. But if you take a look at Mattis and the people around him, well, you know, it's all Centcom. So Scaparrotti is worried, and he ought to be. We don't want to be sitting around 30 years from now reading historical pieces with titles like 'Who Lost Turkey?'"

Even someone as careful in his public utterances as Admiral James Stavridis, who once held Scaparrotti's command and is now the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, is raising concerns. While he waves off the "who lost Turkey" formulation as "a trope that is moving around the Internet," he told me in an email exchange that "it would be a mistake of epic proportions to allow Turkey to drift out of the transatlantic orbit" -- a repeat of the warning issued by Scaparrotti to Mattis in March. But like Scaparrotti, Staviridis is slow-rolling his disagreement. "This is a distinction without a difference," the senior officer and NATO partisan with whom we spoke says. "By drifting out of NATO, Stavridis means leaving. He's as worried as anyone else."

Concerns over Turkey are probably a surprise in the White House, given its almost daily crisis over the looming Russia-gate investigation, but they shouldn't be. The president has had extended telephone exchanges with Turkish President Tayyip Erodogan twice in the last three weeks. While the White House has refused to give details of these conversations, the Turkish official with whom we spoke told TAC that in both conversations (on March 23 and again on April 11), Erdogan emphasized three growing concerns he has that America's temporary and "transactional" support for the YPG is becoming permanent. This same official went on to note that, in his opinion, it's not a coincidence that Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria ("I want to get out," he said. "I want to bring our troops home") -- a suggestion that did not go over well with Centcom partisans at the Pentagon.

On April 3, the same day Trump issued his let's-get-out statement, Joseph Votel and Brett McGurk appeared at the U.S. Institute of Peace, arguing that the U.S. needed to stay in. "The hard part, I think, is in front of us," Votel said, "and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting back to their homes. There is a military role in this," he went on to say. "Certainly in the stabilization phase."

The Votel appearance was exasperating for those worried about NATO's future, and for those concerned that the endless conflicts in the region are draining the defense budget of badly needed funds to rebuild U.S. military readiness. For them, a group that now includes a growing number of very senior and influential military officers, "stabilization" is not only a codeword for "nation building," it signals support for a mission that is endangering the future of NATO, the institution that has guaranteed peace in Europe for three generations.

"It's not worth it," the senior military commander who spoke with TAC concludes. "On top of everything else, it puts us on the wrong side of the political equation. This whole thing about how the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a bunch of bullshit. The enemy of my enemy is now making an enemy of our friend. I don't know who we think we're fooling, but it sure as hell isn't Turkey. And it isn't the American people either."

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative, and the author of The Pentagon's Wars (2017).

[Apr 14, 2018] Airstrikes Against Syria Would Set Off a Powder Keg by Daniel Larison

"Monica styles"... Trump is fighting fore survival with Tomahawks trying to solve his problem with junfoism.
Notable quotes:
"... "[I]f this president can decide unilaterally to bomb Syria, I worry that he can make the same decision about North Korea or Iran or other nations. And these decisions are not supposed to be made without consultation and voting by Congress." Unfortunately, Congressional leaders have shown no signs of wanting to hold a debate or have a vote before the attack takes place. ..."
"... The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year's strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. ..."
"... Daniel Larison is a senior editor at ..."
"... where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the ..."
"... Front Porch Republic, and ..."
"... . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter . ..."
Apr 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It begins: Trump announces a series of joint air strikes on Syrian targets Friday. An explosion after an apparent US-led coalition airstrike on Kobane, Syria, as seen from the Turkish side of the border, near Suruc district, 24 October 2014, Sanliurfa, Turkey Shutterstock/orlok UPDATE 9 p.m.ET : President Trump announces joint air strikes with the UK and France against Syrian targets in retaliation for suspected chemical attack a week ago in Douma.

One year since the U.S. illegally launched 59 cruise missiles at Syrian government forces in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration is preparing to take similar military action despite an increased risk of escalation that could lead to the start of a wider war.

The U.S., France, and Britain have been preparing to strike the Syrian government over the last several days, and Syria's Russian patron has threatened the "gravest consequences" in response to an attack. Russia didn't respond to last year's one-off airstrikes, but Moscow isn't likely to tolerate a larger U.S. attack carried out with other governments. Syria's government and its allies seem more willing to fight back than they were a year ago, and that should give the Trump administration and our European allies pause. There is a greater risk of great power conflict erupting in Syria than there has been at any time since the end of the Cold War, and if Russian military personnel are killed by U.S. or allied strikes there is no telling how quickly things could deteriorate there and in other parts of the world.

President Trump's public statements have strongly suggested that an attack will be happening soon, going so far as to taunt Russia on Twitter that they should "get ready" for the "new" and "smart" missiles that the U.S. would be using. Some members of Congress have insisted that the president lacks the legal authority to launch an attack on Syria without their authorization. As Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) put it , "[I]f this president can decide unilaterally to bomb Syria, I worry that he can make the same decision about North Korea or Iran or other nations. And these decisions are not supposed to be made without consultation and voting by Congress." Unfortunately, Congressional leaders have shown no signs of wanting to hold a debate or have a vote before the attack takes place.

The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year's strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. There is no provision in international law that allows a U.S. attack on another government without explicit Security Council authorization, and we know that this authorization that will never be forthcoming in this case because of Russia's veto. While the attack is being sold as the enforcement of a norm against chemical weapons use, it isn't possible to uphold an international norm while violating the most fundamental rule of international law.

To date, the U.S. and its allies have presented no definitive evidence to support their claims against the Syrian government. It is entirely plausible that the Syrian government is guilty of using chlorine or sarin against its enemies and the civilian population, but there has been no real effort on the part of the U.S. and its allies to prove their accusation before deciding to act as executioners. Regardless, the U.S. and its allies have no authority to punish the Syrian government, and in doing so they may do significant harm to international peace and security.

A U.S.-led attack on the Syrian government could lead to war with Russia or Iran or both at once, and there is also a danger that it could help set off a war between Israel and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel would not "allow" an Iranian military presence to be established in Syria. The prime minister's threat came on the heels of Israeli strikes inside Syria that reportedly killed seven Iranians serving alongside the Syrian regime's forces. Iran has threatened retaliation for the attack, and it has the ability through Hizbullah to make good on that threat if Israel carries out additional strikes. Israel might use a U.S.-led attack on Iran's allies in Syria as an excuse to strike more Iranian targets, and Iran might then respond in kind with missile attacks on Israel. Lebanese, Syrian, and Israeli civilians would all suffer if that happened, and it would make an already chaotic international situation even worse.

It is a measure of how divorced from U.S. and allied security our Syria policy has become that our government is seriously preparing to launch another illegal attack on a government that hasn't attacked us and doesn't threaten us or our allies. Attacking the Syrian government won't make the U.S. or any other country more secure, and it will likely weaken the government just enough to prolong Syria's civil war and add to the suffering of the civilian population. It is a perfect example of a military intervention that is being done for its own sake with no connection to any discernible interests or strategy. No one stands to gain from such an attack except for the ideologues that have incessantly demanded deeper U.S. involvement in Syria for the last six years.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Front Porch Republic, and The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter .

[Apr 13, 2018] No, the FBI's Michael Cohen Raid Did Not Violate Attorney-Client Privilege by Bruce Fein

Notable quotes:
"... Cohen acknowledged that he paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" $130,000 two weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her staying silent about her 2006 affair with Trump. No one pays for silence unless there is something to hide. The payment was made 10 years after the alleged dalliance. ..."
"... The obvious purpose was to influence the outcome of the election by concealing damaging information about Mr. Trump's character. That made Mr. Cohen's payment an undisclosed campaign "contribution" to Mr. Trump vastly exceeding the individual statutory limit of $2,700. ..."
"... Maybe you should have picked an example where the defendant wasn't acquitted. It's easy to see how an expansive definition of the term "campaign contribution" could be dangerous. ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

So what of these charges against Cohen and could they really hurt the president?

Federal election laws define a campaign contribution as "anything of value given to influence a Federal election." It is common knowledge that Mr. Cohen acknowledged that he paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" $130,000 two weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her staying silent about her 2006 affair with Trump. No one pays for silence unless there is something to hide. The payment was made 10 years after the alleged dalliance.

The obvious purpose was to influence the outcome of the election by concealing damaging information about Mr. Trump's character. That made Mr. Cohen's payment an undisclosed campaign "contribution" to Mr. Trump vastly exceeding the individual statutory limit of $2,700.

Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted (later acquitted) for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug. The public record also establishes probable cause to believe Cohen was behind the payment of $150,000 to Playboy Bunny Karen McDougall to kill her story about a protracted extramarital relationship with Mr. Trump that could have torpedoed his presidential ambitions. The question remains, of course, how much this will implicate and hurt Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels and any other "wrongdoing." Cohen said he paid Daniels out of his own pocket and was not reimbursed by Trump or the campaign.

JK April 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm

John Edwards was acquited on one charge and a mistrial on five others w/o retrial. So there was no conviction there, these actions are not business as usual, and the DOJ lesson from that case should have been to cease such abusive prosecutorial misconduct, not to repeat it. These examples show why campaign finance restrictions are an unconstitutional burden on freedom of association. Trump is a rich man, so could afford to pay the hush money if he believed it necessary without it being a crime. As it appears, Cohen believed it important to pay w/o asking Trump, thinking he's helping a friend. Now what of Edwards? Maybe Edwards couldn't afford to pay hush money, so he needed and solicited help from friends. By making it a crime for friends to help him, the law favors rich candidates like Trump that can afford to do things others can't without breaking the law.

There is zero chance of a jury conviction here, so DOJ shouldn't have pursued it given the incendiary effect of conducting raids on someone's attorney. Furthermore, there's zero chance of Muller getting jury convictions on the pile of horse manure prosecutions he's pursuing. The only convictions Muller is getting is from people buckling under the fiduciary extortion inherent in his tactics and copping a plea even though a jury would never convict them.

curri , says: April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm
So who do we believe, Dershowitz or Fein?

Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug.

Maybe you should have picked an example where the defendant wasn't acquitted. It's easy to see how an expansive definition of the term "campaign contribution" could be dangerous.

[Apr 11, 2018] Trump's Rush to Judgment on Syria Chemical Attack by Scott Ritter

Apr 11, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Defense Secretary Mattis. (DoD) On Sunday, President Trump announced his intention to make those responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, including the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies, pay a "big price" for their continued disregard for international law. The next day U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared that "The United States is determined to see the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account."

President Trump reinforced his call for action on Monday, noting that the United States would not sit back in the face of the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. "It will be met, and it will be met forcefully," the president said, adding that those responsible for the attack will be held accountable, whether it was Syria, Russia, Iran or "all of them together." Trump noted that a decision to use military force would be made "over the next 24 to 48 hours."

The pronouncements of imminent military action by the United States are not made in a vacuum. Russia, which has considerable military forces deployed inside Syria, including advanced military aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, has rejected the allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria as a "fabrication," and promised that any attack on Syria would result in "serious repercussions." Russian forces inside Syria have reportedly been placed on "full alert" as American naval vessels capable of launching cruise missiles have arrived off the Syrian coast.

The United States and Russia appear to be heading toward a direct military confrontation that, depending on the level of force used and the number, if any, casualties incurred by either side, carries with it the risk of a broader conflict. While Russian (and Syrian) claims of innocence regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack cannot be accepted at face value, the fact that the United States has not backed up its own claims with anything other than a recitation of accusations made by rebel groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad is problematic insofar as it shows a rush to judgement on matters of war. Given the potentially devastating consequences of any U.S.-Russian military clash over Syria, it would be better for all parties involved to wait for a full and thorough investigation of the alleged attack before any final decision on the use of force in response is made.

There are two versions of what happened in Douma, a suburb of Damascus home to between 80,000 and 150,000 people. The one relied upon by the United States is provided by rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a non-profit organization comprised of various Syrian opposition groups funded by the Asfari Foundation and George Soros' Open Societies Foundation , at approximately 12 p.m. the Syrian Air Force attacked the vicinity of the Saada Bakery using munitions believed to contain "poisonous gas." The VDC cited eyewitness accounts from members of the Syrian Civil Defense, or "White Helmets," who described the smell of chlorine and the presence of numerous bodies assessed to have succumbed from gas sourced to a Syrian "rocket." Later, at 7 p.m., a second air strike struck an area near Martyr's Square, again using munitions assessed by eyewitnesses to contain "poisonous gas." Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) described symptoms that indicated that a nerve agent had been used. Images of victims in the locations allegedly attacked were released by a rebel-affiliated social media entity known as the "Douma Revolution" and the "White Helmets."

Douma is part of a larger district known as Eastern Ghouta which has, since 2012, been under the control of various militant organizations opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In early February 2018, the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, began operations to recapture the Eastern Ghouta district. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive was as brutal as it was effective -- by March, Eastern Ghouta had been split into three pockets of resistance at a cost of more than 1,600 civilian dead. Two of the pockets capitulated under terms which had the opposition fighters and their families evacuated to rebel-held territory in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Only Douma held out, where Salafist fighters from the "Army of Islam" (Jaish al-Islam) refused to surrender. On April 5, the situation had deteriorated inside Douma to the point that the rebel defenders had agreed to negotiations that would lead to their evacuation of Douma; the very next day, however, these discussions had broken down, and the Syrian military resumed its offensive. The air attacks described by the VDC occurred on the second day of the resumption of hostilities.

There is a competing narrative , however, provided by the Russian government and those sympathetic to its position. After the breakdown of negotiations between the Douma rebels and the Russian government on April 6, the story goes, the Syrian government offensive to liberate Douma resumed. The Douma rebels, faced with imminent defeat, fabricated the allegations of a chemical attack. Russia had warned of such a provocation back in March 2018, claiming the rebels were working in coordination with the United States to create the conditions for a massive American air attack against Syrian government infrastructure.

Shortly after the Syrian government resumed its offensive against Douma (and after the opposition forces publicized their allegations of Syrian government chemical weapons attacks), the rebel resistance inside Douma collapsed, with the fighters agreeing to be evacuated to Idlib. The Russian military was able to dispatch units to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attacks and conduct a survey. According to the state-run Russian news, no evidence of a chemical weapons attack was discovered. Representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent who claim to have worked in Douma stated that they have seen no evidence of any chemical weapons use there, either.

Beyond providing a competing narrative, however, Russia has offered to open up Douma to inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons , or OPCW, for a full investigation. This offer was echoed by the Syrian government , which extended an official invitation for the OPCW to come to Douma. On April 10, the OPCW announced that it would be dispatching an inspection team "shortly" to carry out this work. The forensic technical investigatory capabilities of an OPCW inspection team are such that it would be able to detect the presence of any chemical agent used in Douma. While the investigation itself would take days to conduct and weeks to process, its conclusions would, under these circumstances, be conclusive as to the presence of any prohibited substance.

One major drawback to any OPCW investigation is its inability to assess responsibility for the presence of any banned substances detected. In prior investigations inside Syria, the OPCW was able to operate as part of the United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) , an entity specifically empowered by Security Council resolution to make such determinations. The mandate of the JIM was not extended , however, after Russia expressed its displeasure over what it deemed to be the inaccurate and politicized findings regarding previous allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The United States has submitted a resolution to the Security Council demanding that a new investigatory body be formed that would be able to provide attribution for any chemical weapons attack inside Syria; whether Russia would veto such a resolution or allow it to be passed has yet to be seen.

The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons (thereby contradicting the Russian claims that no such evidence was detected by its troops), and if the Security Council passes a resolution allowing for a properly mandated investigation team, actual attribution could be assigned.

Moreover, President Trump's rush to judgment on Syrian guilt is being done in a highly politicized environment, coming as it does on the heels of an FBI raid on the offices of the president's personal attorney . In times such as this, a president is often attracted by the prospect of "looking presidential" in order to offset personal problems (one only need to look at President Clinton's decision in August 1998 , at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, to launch cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan.)

If America is to place its military in harm's way, it needs to be in support of a cause worthy of the sacrifice being asked of those who serve. Giving the OPCW time to carry out its investigation in Syria would allow a fact-based case to be made whether military force was justified or not, as well as support a determination of whether or not the risks associated with the use of force were warranted. Pulling the trigger void of such information, especially when Trump is distracted by personal political issues, is not something the American people, nor their representatives in Congress, should tolerate.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West's Road to War .

[Apr 09, 2018] ISIS is Finished So We Should Leave Syria Now by Gil Barndollar

Apr 06, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Instead Donald Trump's team is inflating the threat, worried he'll rush away from war.

President Trump's unexpected pledge last week to pull U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon" has occasioned predictable wailing in predictable places .

The president also faced unsurprising pushback from his national security team, forcing him to clarify this week that the 2,000 troops there now will stay only until the mission to defeat ISIS, which is "coming to a rapid end," is finished. Of course his military advisors and many of his aides disagree.

A Pentagon spokesman has warned that ISIS is looking for " any opportunity to regain momentum ." Anonymous military officers speak of fumbling the ball " on the two yard line ." Officials tell reporters that while the group is "almost completely defeated," a string of renewed ISIS attacks could signal a resurgence.

Regardless of the outcome in Washington, Trump's instincts on Syria deserve discussion.

Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the operation in Syria has cost us very little blood and treasure, at least so far. Special operations forces (SOF) and "other government agencies" ably partnered with our largely Kurdish proxies to break the back of ISIS's nascent state. The group's conventional military power has been destroyed. Howev er menacing officials make it sound, it's been estimated that the Islamic State has fewer than 1,000 fighters left on the battlefield. Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands. Areas of ISIS control are tough to even find on a map of the Syrian conflict.

For all these successes, however, we have been walking a knife's edge in Syria ever since openly intervening there in 2014. Deconfliction with Russia has not been flawless: Turkey shot down a Russian plane in 2015 and U.S. firepower reportedly killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries earlier this year. That knife's edge has only gotten sharper over the past two months, as Turkish troops invaded the Afrin region of northern Syria. Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" exposed the elephant in the room: America's only successful proxy, the Syrian Kurds, are linked to Turkey's PKK, which Turkey, the European Union, and the U.S. have declared a terrorist group. Our NATO ally is now openly at war with our Kurdish partner, as American advisors do their best to stay off the frontline. In 2008, Vice President-Elect Joe Biden bluntly told Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai: "Pakistan is 50 times more important for the United States than Afghanistan." The same obvious wisdom applies in spades to Turkey and Syria respectively.

What of the Kurds? If recent reports are to be believed, American Special Forces are incensed they are being told to abandon a valiant, reliable battlefield ally. Squeezed between a revanchist Turkey and a stabilized Syrian state, Syria's Kurds are not likely to keep their independent project of Rojava. The United States declined to intervene to protect Iraq's Kurds last year, when Iraqi forces quickly seized the Kurdish "Jerusalem," oil-rich Kirkuk, after an abortive independence referendum. To pretend we have a greater will or ability to protect Syria's Kurds is folly.

The Kurds should ask Vietnam's Montagnards how they fared as an American proxy, or question the Palestinians about what they've gained from an American mediator . Loathe though we may be to admit it, America has been a fickle friend for the majority of small nations and peoples that have looked to her as a protector. Even many of our Afghan interpreters who served in American uniforms and cashed American paychecks have been abandoned to their enemies . Like a serial philanderer we can pretend that this time will be different, but the reality is that America seldom has the patience or stomach for sustained non-existential military intervention outside our hemisphere, particularly when casualties mount. The victims of pretending otherwise are seldom Americans; they are Vietnamese, Somalis, Iraqi Marsh Arabs, and many others. The current state of political polarization in Washington and the primacy of the 24-hour news cycle have only hardened this long-standing reality.

Left to their own devices, Syria's Kurds can probably work out a modus vivendi with Assad's government, which has other battles to fight and foreign backers of its own who would like to draw down their commitments. Battles between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and Assad's Syrian Arab Army have been few. Turkey has tolerated a Kurdish autonomous region on its border with Iraq -- but it will not do so with Kurds who remain affiliated with the PKK.

Regardless of Rojava's fate, ISIS may well regenerate. It already has the local ties and financial network to thrive as an insurgency in western Iraq. That, however, is a governance and security problem for Iraqis and Syrians, not Americans. The United States maintains an unparalleled ability to project military power and destroy targets around the world, both with standoff firepower and by putting troops into battle via air and sea. Should ISIS or another Salafist successor build any real base of power again in the Levant we can rapidly deploy combat power to destroy it. But staying there any longer remains a fool's errand.

Gil Barndollar served as a Marine infantry officer from 2009 to 2016. His writing has appeared in the Marine Corps Gazette , the Journal of Military Operations , and the Michigan War Studies Review .

Wheeling philosophe April 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm

"I don't like "abandoning an ally" like this, but that alliance was never going to be long lasting, and the Kurds have to have known that."

Yes. As a parting gesture, we could round up some of the louder-mouthed neocons and ship them over to "independent Kurdistan" to spend a few quiet hours with their erstwhile heroes. Let the Kurds vent their entirely understandable anger out on those who lied to and manipulated them with the same glib ease that they once lied to America about Iraq's WMDs.

SteveK9 , says: April 8, 2018 at 9:02 am
'Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands.'

I'd like to correct a couple of things, ISIS was destroyed in Syria, by the Syrian Arab Army, and by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Mosuls and Raqqa were not 'retaken' or 'conquered'. They were utterly destroyed by aerial bombardment, which is about the only thing we are good at doing.

[Apr 09, 2018] Trump's Saber-Rattling on Syria by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's statement is a particularly stupid piece of revisionism on his part. Trump was opposed to Obama's threatened attack in 2013 , and then as president Trump ordered an illegal military attack on the Syrian government one year ago to punish it for an alleged chemical weapons attack. ..."
"... The danger in having an ongoing illegal military presence in Syria is that it exposes U.S. forces to unacceptable and unnecessary risks and creates the possibility of escalation with the Syrian government and its allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack on the Syrian government or the forces of any of its supporters, it could easily trigger a larger conflict. Russia has given an explicit warning against a U.S. attack this time, saying that it could trigger "the gravest consequences." Even if it doesn't lead to a larger conflict with a nuclear-armed major power, it isn't worth taking the risk for the sake of policing the conduct of a foreign civil war. ..."
"... If Trump were really interested in extricating the U.S. from war in Syria, he would not be engaged in mindless saber-rattling against the Syrian government and its allies. Unfortunately, Trump's bellicosity always seems to take over in these situations. That is what we get from Trump's anti-restraint foreign policy. ..."
"... But the odd thing is, the most stable and invested country in the region is Iran. Crazy as it might sound to an Iran-hater-dead-ender, the country we should be chatting with about Syria is Iran. If we genuinely cared about anything humanitarian. The two countries with the most likely influence over Bashar with the aim of mitigating his violence would likely be Iran and Russia. If we wanted to actually accomplish something we could quietly and diplomatically arrange that chat and encourage some beneficial influence there. ..."
"... If Assad is really the brute that the West portrays him to be he would have been toppled by now. That the Syrian population by and large has stood by him in 6 years of war should tell you something. I make a point to get most of the news about Syria from Christian organisations who live there – and they are all unequivocal. They are now beyond livid of what the US and its allies has allowed and even facilitated to happen there. Tthankfully for them they still have the Syrian Arab Army and Russia to protect them unlike their brethren in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in existence which has been practically wiped out thanks to America's intervention. ..."
"... Clinton ignored the Russian objections to the West's unilateral recognition of Balkan breakaways. Bush, Saakashvili and the usual entourage of the neocon meddler travelling circus that nowadays haunts the Ukraine dismissed both the Russian warnings and the Russian military response. The result was utter failure. ..."
"... Putin might never see an opportunity for a similarly deadly and promising "play" in the circle jerk of Syria free-for-all invasions – Gulf states, Turkey, US, Israel – but if he should ever see an opening, I would expect him to seek another object lesson. His hand might not be strong, but he appears to play it well. ..."
"... Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG and Syrian government troops ally against NATO partner Turkey, and the US military has repeatedly attacked Syrian regular military and boasts – by leak – about massacring Russian "private military contractors". ..."
"... Iran demonstrated in Iraq that US ineptitude combined with impunitivism provides many openings to stabilize, in a sense, the region. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The president tweeted this out this morning in response to reports of a new chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government:

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018

Trump's statement is a particularly stupid piece of revisionism on his part. Trump was opposed to Obama's threatened attack in 2013 , and then as president Trump ordered an illegal military attack on the Syrian government one year ago to punish it for an alleged chemical weapons attack. He had no authority to do this, the attack was a flagrant breach of the U.N. Charter, and it apparently failed to discourage the Syrian government from carrying out similar attacks later on. The president ordered the "unbelievably small attack" that Obama administration threatened to launch in 2013, and it made no meaningful difference to the course of the war or the regime's behavior.

Trump tweeted out earlier in the day that "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay." He didn't say what that "big price" was or how it will be "paid," but the fact that he thinks it is a good idea to make threats against the Syrian government's patrons bodes ill for the future of U.S. policy in Syria. The foreign policy establishment was beside itself last week when they thought that Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria, but they should be much more worried that he will launch an illegal attack and plunge the U.S. in even deeper.

The danger in having an ongoing illegal military presence in Syria is that it exposes U.S. forces to unacceptable and unnecessary risks and creates the possibility of escalation with the Syrian government and its allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack on the Syrian government or the forces of any of its supporters, it could easily trigger a larger conflict. Russia has given an explicit warning against a U.S. attack this time, saying that it could trigger "the gravest consequences." Even if it doesn't lead to a larger conflict with a nuclear-armed major power, it isn't worth taking the risk for the sake of policing the conduct of a foreign civil war.

If Trump were really interested in extricating the U.S. from war in Syria, he would not be engaged in mindless saber-rattling against the Syrian government and its allies. Unfortunately, Trump's bellicosity always seems to take over in these situations. That is what we get from Trump's anti-restraint foreign policy.


rayray April 8, 2018 at 2:32 pm

It's true that I'm no genius, but after reading as much as I can and thinking it over I still don't know who is the right horse to back, or what is the right side to be on in Syria. Assad is a brute, Isis are brutes, the other parties of opposition are useless, and etc., and none of it has anything to do with us anyway. To Daniel's point, we're keeping an army hanging around in a volatile and illegal situation for no discernible point.

Except to hate Iran.

The longterm on Syria doesn't look good for anyone. I'm guessing, because of his long history of ignorance and incoherence, Trump has no plan.

But the odd thing is, the most stable and invested country in the region is Iran. Crazy as it might sound to an Iran-hater-dead-ender, the country we should be chatting with about Syria is Iran. If we genuinely cared about anything humanitarian. The two countries with the most likely influence over Bashar with the aim of mitigating his violence would likely be Iran and Russia. If we wanted to actually accomplish something we could quietly and diplomatically arrange that chat and encourage some beneficial influence there.

romegas , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm
@rayray

If Assad is really the brute that the West portrays him to be he would have been toppled by now. That the Syrian population by and large has stood by him in 6 years of war should tell you something. I make a point to get most of the news about Syria from Christian organisations who live there – and they are all unequivocal. They are now beyond livid of what the US and its allies has allowed and even facilitated to happen there. Tthankfully for them they still have the Syrian Arab Army and Russia to protect them unlike their brethren in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in existence which has been practically wiped out thanks to America's intervention.

b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm
"If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line "

Interesting view. Obama imagined he drew a "red line" that Assad was not to cross, and allegedly did. Trump's tongue apparently wore a Freudian slip when he rubi-conned this phrase into twitter.

To make this a turn worthy of Croesumpus, let us just say that if Trump crosses that red line of his own, a great war criminal will be destroyed.

b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

"In early March 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia submitted formal requests for their recognition to Russia's parliament shortly after the West's recognition of Kosovo to which Russia was opposed. [The] Russian ambassador to NATO, warned that Georgia's NATO membership aspirations would cause Russia to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Clinton ignored the Russian objections to the West's unilateral recognition of Balkan breakaways. Bush, Saakashvili and the usual entourage of the neocon meddler travelling circus that nowadays haunts the Ukraine dismissed both the Russian warnings and the Russian military response. The result was utter failure.

Putin might never see an opportunity for a similarly deadly and promising "play" in the circle jerk of Syria free-for-all invasions – Gulf states, Turkey, US, Israel – but if he should ever see an opening, I would expect him to seek another object lesson. His hand might not be strong, but he appears to play it well.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG and Syrian government troops ally against NATO partner Turkey, and the US military has repeatedly attacked Syrian regular military and boasts – by leak – about massacring Russian "private military contractors".

Iran demonstrated in Iraq that US ineptitude combined with impunitivism provides many openings to stabilize, in a sense, the region.

[Apr 07, 2018] Syria Showdown Trump Versus the Generals

Apr 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

GOP is done April 6, 2018 at 12:20 am

Why are you giving trump so much credit ? Trump is Pro-Israel and will do their evil bidding
polistra , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:15 am
Trump doesn't have any instincts. He's just playing the old DC game. Pretend that you want to do something, then act shocked after you didn't do it. Each party plays the game against the other party, each house of Congress plays the game against the other house, Presidents play it against Congress and the "courts".

===

This game wouldn't work in real life.

Example:

I shout to everyone in the house, "I'm going to the store to get groceries."

One hour later, after sitting in the living room watching TV, making no move toward the car, I shout again:

"See what happens? I tried, but these evil other-party spirits wouldn't let me. You need to vote these evil other-party spirits out of the house so we can have food!"

balconesfault , says: April 6, 2018 at 6:14 am
Huh you elect someone who says his military strategy will always be "listen to the Generals", and are then surprised when the Generals want to keep fighting?

Of course Trump will accede. He has no coherent and consistent policy just Fox News buzzwords spinning in his head. Now add John Bolton as his guiding light.

Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 7:25 am
Mr. Buchanan is correct the U.S. is: "in a country where we have no right to be "
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
The U.S. is in Syria illegally, and what is even worse it is reportedly supporting terrorists.
This is surely a crime, yet no charges have been laid. Why?

"Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i] Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, December 8, 2016,Press Release.
https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
Much more evidence on this and other matters at link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-evidence-of-planning-of-wars.html

Michael Kenny , says: April 6, 2018 at 8:41 am
The important point in Syria is that Putin is irreversibly bogged down there. He sinks or swims with Assad, which means, sooner or later, sinks. He's a sitting duck who can do nothing but sit there and wait until the US chooses to attack him. So there's no harm in leaving him to stew. John Bolton's bête noire has always been Iran, which is supposed to be Putin's ally. Going after Iran will put Putin on the spot. He has to decide whether to back his "ally" or leave Iran in the lurch. Thus, putting Syria on the back burner and concentrating on Iran forces Putin either to discredit himself by abandoning his "ally" or to bog himself down in yet another conflict. Heads, Ukraine wins, tails, Putin loses!
Dan Green , says: April 6, 2018 at 9:59 am
Our military complex is very key to our security. With that said they plan and like war.
b. , says: April 6, 2018 at 10:00 am
On such hollow reed the imperial presidency, uneasily, rests.

The triad's synthesis: ISIS will never be "defeated".

Hubris, catharsis over is.

Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 11:25 am
More info on the treachery and criminality being enacted in Syria
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –

"Our ally Kuwait has become the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria."
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2308.aspx
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

"Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn't a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world." Justin Raimondo, November 25, 2015
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/11/24/turkeys-stab-in-the-back/
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

And much more info at the link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-war-gangs-and-war-criminals-of-nato.html

Anthony Ferrara , says: April 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm
The military industrial complex is nearly impossible to go up against in this country.
One Guy , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm
The USA has hundreds of military bases overseas. We should close most of them. Trump is saying the right thing, unfortunately, we all know he doesn't follow through (that NRA thing, that DACA thing, that wall thing, that coal thing, that lock-her-up thing, etc. etc).

Nothing will change.

Cynthia McLean , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm
The War Party is intent on building a permanent military base in Syria to fulfill US aspirations of full-spectrum dominance.
Fred Bowman , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm
Rest assure Pat that when "push comes to shove" that Trump will let the Generals have their way. To believe otherwise is foolishness.
Patrick , says: April 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm
It seems that the failure in Syria is related to the classical policy verse strategy conflict. The military is once again put in a difficult position when the civilian leadership tries to use a military solution to solve a diplomatic problem. The military was given the task to destroy ISIS but that goal will be impossible without Turkey's cooperation and the leader of that country has chosen a path toward appeasement by the United States or confrontation.

There seems to be credible evidence of Turkey's support for ISIS in the flow of combatants and military logistics into Syria as well as profiting from the sale and transport of ISIS controlled Syrian oil through Turkey. Now we are seeing Turkey invading Syria and ethnically cleansing our Kurdish allies from Syria's Northern Boarder. We still don't know what the Obama/Clinton CIA and State Department was up to in Benghazi, but it did seem to involve the flow of arms from Libya, and I have read reports that members of the Turkish government were meeting with the killed ambassador before the attack.

In Syria is appears that the Assad, Iranian and Russian alliance was more focused upon the rebels attempting to overthrow the government; rather than destroying ISIS. Once the United States leaves there may be greater tolerance for ISIS as long as the government is not threatened and ISIS may even be allowed to join that alliance to get some revenge against the Kurds who were allied with the U.S.

We saw the recent Russian test of US resolve using mercenaries with disastrous consequences. As long as the US remains in Syria there will be similar tests and what if is Turkey decides to test the resolve of US forces?

Our NATO partner Turkey seems to have become more of an enemy than a friend, and also more of a liability than an asset. Removing U.S. military assets from Turkey may be prudent, followed by its expulsion from NATO. Expelling Turkish citizens from other NATO countries and economic sanctions may be another strategy to make Turkey reconsider its continued belligerence.

JK , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm
I don't recall anyone forcing Trump to appoint to top positions people who flat out refuse his orders and block him from carrying out policy he campaigned on. There is a limit on how much sincerity you can attribute to a man who says one thing, does the exact opposite, and defend him as fighting some Don Quixotic struggle tilting at windmills.

[Apr 05, 2018] Steve Coll's Directorate S is Disturbing Account of U.S. Mistakes After 9/11 by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages ..."
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Ghost Wars' author on the secret war behind the war in Afghanistan

U.S-trained Afghan Army troops. Credit: USMC Cpl. John Scott Rafoss/public domain Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages

Twelve days 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 actions?"

Grenier later wrote in his book, 88 Days to Kandahar , 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 Directorate S , a thick but eminently readable account of America's Afghanistan misadventure. While Directorate S stands alone as a comprehensive exposition of the Afghanistan conflict dating from 9/11, it's actually a follow-on of Ghost Wars , 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 Directorate S 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 resistance.

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 Directorate 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 .

[Apr 05, 2018] Why the US Fails to Understand Its Adversaries

Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Robert Jervis and Mira Rapp-Hooper warn about the dangers that come from misperception on both sides of the standoff with North Korea:

If any U.S. strategy toward North Korea is to have a chance of succeeding (or even of just averting catastrophe), it must be guided by an accurate sense of how Kim's regime thinks, what it values, and how it judges its options. Washington must understand not just North Korean objectives but also how North Korean officials understand U.S. objectives and whether they consider U.S. statements credible.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is remarkably bad at understanding these things accurately. This is not just a Trump administration failing. Most American politicians and policymakers routinely misjudge the intentions and goals of our adversaries, and they often invent a fantasy version of the regime in question that leads them astray again and again. One reason for this is that it is simply easier to project our assumptions about what a regime must want than it is to make the effort to see things as they do. Another reason is that many of our politicians and policymakers mistakenly think that if they try to understand an adversary's views that must somehow mean that they sympathize with the adversary or condone its behavior. Instead of trying to know their enemy, our leaders would prefer not to for fear of being "tainted" by the experience. This lack of knowledge is compounded in some cases by the absence of normal diplomatic relations with the adversary. Our leaders are encouraged to take this self-defeating approach to international problems by a political culture that rewards the people that strike tough-sounding-but-ignorant poses about a problem and marginalizes those that seek to understand it as fully as possible.

The first step in correcting these failings is to accept that some of these regimes regard the U.S. as an "existential threat" and therefore view all U.S. actions with at least much suspicion and fear as our government views theirs. The next step would be to recognize that the main goal of any regime is its own preservation. We should be very wary of any explanation of their actions that claims that an adversary is irrationally suicidal. Another step would be to acknowledge that regime behavior that we regard as purely aggressive is very often the result of the adversary's belief that it needs to deter our aggression against them. Our politicians often talk about North Korea threatening the entire world with its nuclear weapons, but this misses that in their relative isolation and paranoia the North Korean regime sees the rest of the world, and especially the U.S., as a threat that needs to be defended against. Recognizing these things doesn't make their acquisition of nuclear weapons desirable and it doesn't mean that we approve of it, but it does make it understandable.

Our government's frequent inability to understand how an adversary thinks and what an adversary wants is usually bound up with our government's overestimation of its own power and a denial of the other state's agency. If many of our policymakers invent a fantasy version of the regime to serve as a foil, they come up with unrealistic demands that they think the U.S. can force the adversary to accept. Because we fail to understand what the adversary is trying to do, we make demands that we ought to know will never be accepted. Because our government fails to take the other side's agency into account, our policies are often crafted solely to punish and compel and rarely to give them an incentive to cooperate or compromise. We then claim to be surprised when this approach yields only intransigence and more of the behavior that we want the other state to stop.


Fran Macadam April 5, 2018 at 11:40 am

As long as official policy is Full Spectrum Dominance, nothing can change.
Kent , says: April 5, 2018 at 11:47 am
I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant.
Will Harrington , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm
Kent

Why do you think it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant? Did our Presidents, who never have to prove merit, only popularity, ever appoint people based on reliably tested knowledge of their field? No. They tend to appoint their cabinet based on political calculation. Sometimes political calculation will raise up knowledgeable people, more often not.

grumpy realist , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm
Welp, this is certainly a different kettle of fish from WWII, where the US government hired ethnologists like Ruth Benedict to analyze Japanese culture and thought patterns (resulting in her book "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.")

We HAVE turned into a country of lazy bastards.

Tyro , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm
I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant

Our highest officials are by design more ignorant than the rank and file. During the Iraq war aftermath, Arabic speakers were actively rejected from jobs within the Coalition Provisional Authority, because it was assumed their knowledge of the region would prejudice them against the W adninistration's vision for the Middle East, and they didn't want nay sayers telling them what they didn't want to hear.

This mindset is persistent, especially in republican administrations, and mirrors the Soviet Union -- people are selected on the basis of their willingness to toe the ideological line rather than their expertise.

Dee , says: April 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm
They are not ignorant, the politicians support these policies because their donors benefit.. They have sold out to greed over country.. I assume that some do it for the easy wealth that can be had, some of the wealthy ones for fame and never losing elections, but they have their reasons, our country is not high on that list.
KXB , says: April 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm
The one exception to this would be Obama's approach to Iran. He had no illusions about the mullahs and IRGC, but he knew that it was simply impossible to perpetually diplomatically isolate and militarily surround a nation of 80 million in its own region. The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world. Of course, this is the last thing that Israel or Saudi Arabia want.
Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm
"The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."

It must have been a bad deal, since the benefits to the other side never actually happened.

It was de facto over from the moment it was signed.

Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:11 pm
"The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."

Which nukes were those? Unlike North Korea, they didn't actually have any.

They didn't give anything up, and we didn't remove the sanctions. Sounds about equitable, nothing for nothing.

Cynthia McLean , says: April 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm
Knowledge of History and Language would help enormously, but the US is so arrogant it expects other countries to merely accept US assertions and to speak in English, on the basis of its supposed Exceptionalism.

[Apr 02, 2018] The Third Bush Presidency

Notable quotes:
"... whatever crony wants, crony gets. ..."
"... Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War motion-pictures ..."
Apr 02, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Never Trump cabal can now claim total victory. Unsuccessful at preventing Trump from winning the nomination or the general election, they have instead co-opted his presidency for their own policies and programs.

With the nomination of John Bolton, Never Trump interventionists have installed one of the unrepentant architects of the catastrophic Iraq War to head the National Security Council.

In recent months, ignoring and rejecting his own party's convention platform, Trump has agreed to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Besides accelerating the deaths of Ukrainians and ethnic Russians while laying waste to the civilian population of the Donbas, what advantage to the people of the United States does this military escalation provide?

Last summer, in one of the strangest speeches in American history, President Trump announced he would surge troop levels in Afghanistan -- and then in the same breath admitted it was a mistake and something he didn't really want to do. That should show the conflict here: Trump's instincts versus the establishment sorts around him.

Never Trumpers are not so secretly celebrating. They got the president they thought they didn't want. And now, pretending they still don't want him, they can hardly believe their good fortune.

Achieving their foreign policy goals is just the icing on the cake. They also got the president to implement the entire Wall Street agenda: lowering taxes on the super rich; advancing huge subsidies to the medical insurance industry; keeping the Export-Import Bank funded; re-authorizing the ivory trade; shrinking the size of national monuments so that multi-national corporations can turn our wilderness areas into strip mines and clear-cut wastelands.

Then, just this week, in a reckless act of generational theft, Trump endorsed the second biggest budget in U.S. history, caving in to every demand and desire of the UniParty and the K Street lobbyists whom they serve.

In the 18th century, the cry went "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute!" Trump's cry is "Billions for defense, but not one penny for a wall!"

Trump justifies his signature on the omnibus bill by claiming it was necessary for national security. But that claim rings hollow when comparatively little is allocated for the protection of America's own borders and the defense of its homeland. Americans intuitively know that the real danger to their safety is not along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; it's along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Trump's own laudable instincts have been neutered by the globalist, interventionist generals and policy wonks who now populate powerful positions at the White House and the departments of State and Defense.

Many reading this might now protest: what's wrong with passing the omnibus? Isn't it providing the funds necessary for making America great again? But Donald Trump did not run for office on a platform of bloating spending; he ran on opposition to massive debt increases and specifically to many of the programs they pay for. The budget can be summed up in a paraphrase of a Broadway musical hit tune: whatever crony wants, crony gets.

Has there been a fiercer critic of the Iraq war than Donald Trump? Yet he promotes to the head of the NSC perhaps that conflict's most vociferous apologist. Trump promised he would end the wars of choice, that he would refrain from taking sides in other nation's internal conflicts. He called for a reasonable rapprochement with Russia with the goal of making America and Americans safer. He specifically said he would wind down the military commitment in Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible.

His only bellicose pledge concerned ISIS, which he promised to destroy. As we have seen, that was one of the few promises he kept. In most other policy areas he has reversed his campaign pledges. His foreign policy is no longer America First; it's evolved into the same, old, dangerous, meddling, interventionist program of the last quarter century. Trump has deepened U.S. involvement in Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan without clearly defining the missions, the goals, and the risks. If voters had wanted this, they would have elected Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

Yet of all the betrayals, the war on nature is the most grievous and shocking. As someone who supported Trump from day one in June 2015, who has seen virtually every one of his speeches, interviews, and tweets, I cannot recall a single word about the national parks or monuments.

Had Trump forecast during the campaign how he would govern on environmental issues, would he have been elected? Could those narrow margins of victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa have gone the other way? With his appointment of Ryan Zinke to the Department of the Interior, Trump needlessly and recklessly alienated tens of thousands of voters who might otherwise have supported him and who may indeed have voted for him in 2016. Although its hard to discern exactly why the president's poll numbers are as low as they are, it would be a mistake to discount the animus engendered by the unexpected assault on wilderness, open space, endangered species, and America's magnificent national monuments.

The only national monument that Trump has failed to shrink is the Beltway swamp. In fact, judging from the continuing spread of McMansions in Potomac, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia, he has effectively widened its borders. It's as if the chants from all those packed stadiums during that long ago presidential campaign were "Fill that swamp! Fill that swamp!"

It is now abundantly clear why the Never Trumpers are tittering over their cocktails. Trump has staffed most departments of his government with establishment cronies and neoconservative zealots. He now presides over the implementation of their agenda. In effect, we're getting a variation on what could be called the third Bush presidency -- minus the decorum.

Trump's is also the all-talk presidency: talk tough on illegal immigration, but fail to build the wall; talk tough on sanctuary cities, but fail to cut federal subsidies; talk tough on illegal immigration, then push for the biggest amnesty since 1986; talk tough against the Export-Import Bank, then fund it; talk tough on Obamacare, then fund big insurance to keep the subsidies flowing; talk tough on reducing taxes, then screw millions of homeowners across America by actually raising their taxes; talk tough on trade, then tiptoe around Mexico and Canada on everything that really matters; talk tough on the deficit, then sign the second biggest boondoggle spending bill in U.S. history.

Still, it cannot be denied: President Trump has accomplished much -- for the establishment and their K Street lobbyists. They write the bills, Paul Ryan guides them through the House amendment-free, and Trump signs them in to law.

For those who packed those campaign rallies, who wore those red "Make America Great Again" caps, and for the rest of us mere plebs, Donald Trump's presidency is best summed up by The Bard: "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War motion-pictures Gettysburg , Gods & Generals , and Copperhead .

[Mar 30, 2018] Bolton Is the Opposite of an 'Honest Broker' The American Conservative

Mar 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Sebastian Rotella reports on how many of the people that worked with Bolton remember his tendency to distort intelligence and ignore facts that contradicted his assumptions:

"Anyone who is so cavalier not just with intelligence, but with facts, and so ideologically driven, is unfit to be national security adviser," said Robert Hutchings, who dealt extensively with Bolton as head of the National Intelligence Council, a high-level agency that synthesizes analysis from across the intelligence community to produce strategic assessments for policymakers. "He's impervious to information that goes against his preconceived ideological views." [bold mine-DL]

That assessment lines up with what I understood about Bolton, and it points to one of the biggest problems with his appointment. I wrote this shortly before Trump announced that he was choosing Bolton:

The real danger is that he is such an ideologue that he would keep information from the president that contradicts his views and prevent Trump from getting the best available advice. Trump is poorly informed to begin with, and having Bolton as his main adviser on matters of national security and foreign policy would make sure that he stays that way.

Trump is especially susceptible to being manipulated by his advisers into endorsing the policies they want because he knows so little and responds so favorably to flattery, and he has shown that he is already more than willing to select a more aggressive option when he is told that it is the "presidential" thing to do. We should expect that Bolton will feed Trump bad or incomplete information, present aggressive options in the most favorable light while dismissing alternatives, and praise Trump's leadership to get him to go along with the hard-line policies Bolton wants. Bolton will run a very distorted policy process and he will be the opposite of an honest broker. That won't serve Trump well, and it will be terrible for our foreign policy.

[Mar 29, 2018] The Anti-Liberty Boomerang of US Militarism

Notable quotes:
"... Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, Stanford University Press 2018, 280 pages ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Chad Zuber/Shutterstock Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, Stanford University Press 2018, 280 pages

Millennials and members of Generation Z have spent much of if not their entire lives at war. As I've noted in these pages and elsewhere , the Afghan conflict is now in its 17th year, with more than 6,000 days having gone by, making it the longest war in American history. I was 12 years old when that war began in 2001; I'm now a month out from my 29th birthday. Beginning next year, the newly enlisted 18-year-olds who are deployed to Afghanistan will be younger than the war they are fighting.

The Iraq war began in 2003, saw a major troop withdrawal in 2011, and then was re-escalated by former President Obama in 2014. American forces remain there today to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, despite an agreement with the Iraqis that was supposed to begin a troop drawdown. An American-led regime change intervention turned Libya into a failed state. And we have blanketed countries such as Pakistan and Yemen with drone warfare, so much so that drones now haunt their citizens' dreams . U.S. Special Forces were on the ground conducting activities in 149 countries as of 2017.

This kind of foreign policy adventurism is hardly unique to the present day. America has been aggressively deploying its military on foreign soil since the late 19th century. As Stephen Kinzer shows in his book Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq , we got our foot in the door of the regime change business all the way back in 1893 with our acquisition of Hawaii.

Living in a post-9/11 world has shattered any inclination to view domestic life as separate from and unaffected by foreign policy, particularly since the 2013 publication of classified NSA documents leaked to the press by Edward Snowden. Snowden's revelations threw back the curtain on an omnipresent surveillance apparatus under which very few aspects of our digital lives were left unmonitored -- all in the name of national security and the global war on terror.

The Snowden leaks demonstrate how an adventurous foreign policy can have negative consequences for liberty at home. Now, political economists Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall have documented this phenomenon in their important new book, Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism . In their words, "coercive foreign intervention creates opportunities to develop and refine methods and technologies of social control."

Coyne and Hall, economists at George Mason University and the University of Tampa respectively, introduce a concept for understanding this phenomenon called the "boomerang effect." It works like this: the constraints on the activities of the U.S. government in the realm of foreign policy are generally weak, which enables those involved in foreign interventions to engage in practices abroad that would meet some institutional resistance on the home front. Eventually, though, interventions end, the interveners come home, and the practices employed on foreign soil are imported for use against the domestic population.

This importation happens along three separate channels. First, there is the development of human capital -- the skills, knowledge, and other characteristics that contribute to one's productive capacity. All companies, organizations, and agencies have goals they seek to accomplish, so they hire people with the right kind of human capital to execute said goals. Foreign intervention is no different.

Among the characteristics necessary for interveners include extreme confidence in their ability to solve complex problems in other countries, a sense of superiority and righteousness, comfort with pushing the ethical envelope, limited compassion and sympathy for the targeted population, and the association of state order with control. Interventionists, as Coyne and Hall put it, treat "society as a grand science project that can be rationalized and improved on by enlightened and well-intentioned engineers."

The second phase occurs when the interventionists come home. Some may retire, but many go to work in various public- and private-sector jobs. The skills and mentalities that served them well abroad don't disappear, so they begin employing their unique human capital domestically. Those who land in the public sector are able to influence domestic policy, where they see threats to liberty becoming manifest. Because of the relative lack of constraints when operating in a foreign theater, tactics that would otherwise cross the line domestically are seen as standard operating procedure.

Finally, physical capital plays a significant role in bringing methods of foreign intervention back home. Technological innovation "allows governments to use lower-cost methods of social control with a greater reach." The federal government spends billions annually on research and development, which buys a variety of different capabilities. These technologies, many originally intended for foreign populations, can be used domestically. One example the authors point to are the surveillance methods originally used in the Iraq war that found their way to the Baltimore Police Department for routine use.

The implication of the boomerang effect for policing doesn't end with surveillance. It can also help explain police militarization, the origins of which lie in the foreign interventions of the Progressive Era, specifically in the Philippines.

In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded its colonial territories to the United States. This led to the Philippine-American War, a bloody conflict that directly and indirectly caused the deaths of 200,000 Filipino civilians, and which ended in 1902.

As veterans returned home from the Philippines, many sought careers in law enforcement where they were able to implement practices inspired by their days in the military. The effect of this was to "establish precedents whereby military personnel and tactics not only would be considered legitimate but welcomed" by police administrations. Police militarization wouldn't kick into high gear until the latter half of the 20th century, with the introduction of SWAT teams and the federalization of law enforcement during the LBJ and Nixon years. The men behind the development of SWAT were veterans of the Vietnam War.

What ultimately creates the conditions for this boomerang effect to take place? One factor, Coyne and Hall argue, is fear. Fear and crisis, both perceived and real, creates "space for government to expand the scope of its powers and adopt the techniques of state-produced social control that it has developed and honed abroad." Fear can lead people to seek assurances from authorities, which goads them into tolerating and even demanding expansions of state powers -- powers that in less fearful times they would not accept.

Once accumulated, that power becomes a normal part of life, and isn't easily given up, as the great economic historian Robert Higgs shows in his classic work Crisis and Leviathan . Anyone who has gone through airport security over the last 17 years understands this, as the fear of terror attacks after 9/11 has led to ratcheted up airline security measures by the TSA. This has resulted in some fairly egregious violations of person and privacy, despite very little evidence that they work.

Coyne's and Hall's book is a great, conceptually holistic investigation into how the state can threaten our liberty. Economists regularly recognize the unintended consequences of domestic policy; Coyne and Hall have explained the unintended consequences of foreign policy, and their costs. It's particularly timely, as President Trump's tenure has seen decision-making authority at the Pentagon pushed down the chain of command, leaving the United States' war-making capabilities even less accountable and transparent. This book is an incisive elucidation of what writer Randolph Bourne recognized a century ago and of which we could use a perpetual reminder: war truly is the health of the state.

Jerrod A. Laber is a writer and Free Society Fellow with Young Voices. He is a contributor to the Washington Examiner , and his work has appeared in Real Clear Defense , Quillette , and the Columbus Dispatch , among others.

[Mar 29, 2018] Giving Up the Ghost of Objective Journalism by Telly Davidson

Highly recommended!
Journalists are always "soldiers of the party". You just need to understand what party.
Notable quotes:
"... 'Fair and balanced' was a mid-20th century marketing tool and really, a confabulation of the times. ..."
"... The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the "yellow journalism" sins of his own papers -- and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph "Citizen Kane" Hearst -- when he launched the prize that bears his name. ..."
"... To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand's professor-mother in Almost Famous might have said, "Objective Journalism" was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. ..."
"... the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles -- made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition. ..."
"... And even then, "objectivity" only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Whether it's MSNBC on the left or Fox News on the right, the editorial decisions of how to spin a piece, where and how often to broadcast it, what kind of panelists you invite to "debate" a story, which anchors should be promoted and which ones will forever remain mere worker bees -- all these decisions are anything but "objective" or "unbiased." ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Fair and balanced' was a mid-20th century marketing tool and really, a confabulation of the times.

"The Yellow Press", by L. M. Glackens, portrays newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as a jester distributing sensational stories in 1910. (Library of Congress/Public Domain) What the Greatest, Silent, and Boomer generations always regarded as the ideal of "objective journalism" was actually the exception, not the rule. That was true from the time of Gutenberg until that of Franklin Roosevelt.

The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the "yellow journalism" sins of his own papers -- and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph "Citizen Kane" Hearst -- when he launched the prize that bears his name.

And if Pulitzer repented of his past, Hearst never did -- he went full speed ahead well into the 1920s and beyond, normalizing Nazi science, openly endorsing eugenics and white superiority, and promoting "Birth of a Nation"-like racism against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. His dehumanizing attacks against so-called sneaking and treacherous "Japs" and "Chinks" -- well before Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, and communist China -- were even uglier.

To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand's professor-mother in Almost Famous might have said, "Objective Journalism" was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. High-minded notions of "fairness" and "objective journalism" came to the print media largely because the visionary first families of the papers that finally succeeded the Hearsts and Pulitzers in clout and cache -- the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles -- made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition.

Meanwhile, the broadcast media (which didn't exist until the rise of radio and "talking pictures" in the late 1920s, followed by TV after World War II) labored under the New Deal's famed Fairness Doctrine.

And even then, "objectivity" only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. The fairness flag was fraying when Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan took "liberal media elites" to task a generation ago during the Vietnam and civil rights era, while Tom Wolfe made good, unclean fun out of the "radical chic" conceits of Manhattan and Hollywood limousine liberals.

What today's controversies illustrate is that a so-called "Fairness Doctrine" and "objective" newspaper reporting could only have existed in a conformist Mad Men world where societal norms of what was (and wasn't) acceptable in the postwar Great Society operated by consensus. That is to say, an America where moderate, respectable, white male centrist Republicans like Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford "debated" moderate, respectable, white male centrist Democrats like Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Jimmy Carter.

Now contrast that with today. On November 25, the New York Times made a now-notorious attempt to understand the Nazi next door, running a profile of young suburban white supremacist, Tony Hovater. Transgender social media superstar Charlotte Clymer spoke for her fellow liberals when she savagely satirized the Times with a tweet-storm that included things like:

Bob is a vegan. He believes we should protect the environment. He likes "Big Bang Theory". He pays taxes. He served in the military.

He's a serial killer who has tortured and murdered 14 people. He dissolved their bodies in acid at a remote site. He made them beg for their lives as he tortured them.

He attends PTA meetings. He DVR's episodes of his wife's fave shows when she's late at work.

The moral of the fable being (as Miss Clymer put it): "Bob is a mass-murdering f***head. STOP GIVING BOB NUANCE!"

When the Times followed their neo-Nazi profile by turning an entire op-ed column over to Donald Trump supporters in mid-January, the Resistance went to red alert. And after Ross Douthat penned a column in defense of (Jewish) anti-immigration hardliner Stephen Miller on Holocaust Memorial Day in January, they went full DEFCON.

"F*** you @nytimes for publishing this article on #HolocaustMemorialDay from me & from those in my family whose voices were silenced during the Holocaust. Shame on you!" said Nadine Vander Velde on Twitter. London left-wing journalist Sarah Kendzior agreed that "The NYT is now a white supremacist paper. The multiple Nazi puff pieces, constant pro-Trump PR, and praise for Miller on today of all days is not exceptional – it's [now] the guiding ideology of the paper."

And the current furor over The Atlantic 's hiring of National Review firebrand Kevin D. Williamson only underscores that it isn't just campus leftists or Tea Partiers who are hitting the censor button.

But revealingly, it wasn't just the usual left-wing snowflakes who have needed a trigger warning of late. Just six weeks into the new year, the Washington Post and CNN ran a series of tabloidy, Inside Edition -style stories glamorizing Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The Washington Post even went so far as to call Ms. Yo-jong North Korea's answer to Ivanka Trump (just ignore the fact she is the DPRK's assistant head of the Ministry of Propaganda and Agitation). That led Bethany Mandel of the New York Post to wonder what was up with all the "perverse fawning over brutal Kim Jong-un's sister at the Olympics?"

Additionally, some of the most provocative critiques of "journalistic objectivity" have come from liberal polemicists like Matt Taibbi and Sam Adler-Bell, who argue that before we go on blathering about untrammeled First Amendment freedom and "objectivity," the first question that must be asked is who has the balance of power and whose hands are on deck in the editing room. (And they're not wrong to ask that question -- it was the same one that Pat Buchanan asked 50 years ago and Ann Coulter asked 20 years ago from the opposite side of the newsroom.)

Whether it's MSNBC on the left or Fox News on the right, the editorial decisions of how to spin a piece, where and how often to broadcast it, what kind of panelists you invite to "debate" a story, which anchors should be promoted and which ones will forever remain mere worker bees -- all these decisions are anything but "objective" or "unbiased."

Let's face it: the supposedly more civilized, serious ecosystem of the pre-social media past would come across to identity-conscious Millennials today as nothing more than stale white bread dominated by stale white men. Even among the campus leftists who protest and violently riot to shut down and silence "hate speech," most of them would probably rather live in a world where Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer anchored the nightly news on one channel -- so long as there was a hijab-wearing Muslim or a transgendered man on another, equally highly-rated one.

What would be totally unacceptable to today's young consumer is any kind of return to the mid-century world where "the news" was whatever Ben Bradlee, Johnny Apple, Robert Novak, and The Chancellor/Brinkley Nightly News said it was -- in essence, the world where Punch Sulzberger, Otis Chandler, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw white-mansplained "facts" through their own elite establishment filters, de facto ignoring everyone else.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on. From the left, conservative Sinclair Media is accused of "forcing" its local anchors to read "pro-Trump propaganda." The Nation stalwart Eric Alterman says that "When one side is fascist, there's no need to show Both Sides." As for the right -- just ask your Fox-watching or Limbaugh-listening friends and families what they think of the "mainstream media," the "Communist News Network," or the "opinion cartel."

The great Joan Didion once said "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Maybe "objective journalism" was always just a little social white lie we in the media told ourselves to make ourselves feel better -- fairer, kinder, gentler, more "professional." But if there's one lesson that Barack Obama, the Tea Party, Bernie Sanders, Antifa, Donald Trump, and the Great Recession have taught us over the past decade, it isn't just that the mythical "center" will no longer hold. It's that there may no longer be a center for any of us to hold on to.

Telly Davidson is the author of a new book on the politics and pop culture of the '90s, Culture War : How the 90's Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not) . He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player , and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series "Pioneers of Television."

[Mar 28, 2018] The Consequences of Blowing Up the Nuclear Deal

Mar 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spells out what the nuclear deal with Iran does and what withdrawing from it would mean:

Conversely, if Trump withdraws the United States from the agreement, with Iran complying and with our allies clearly committed to its continuation, he will have compromised the most stringent nuclear verification standard ever achieved, with no credible prospect for restoring or improving it [bold mine-DL]. Such a move would hand Iran a political "wedge" dividing the international community, and undercut vital arguments for verification of any agreement reached with North Korea.

Opponents of the deal often claim to be against it because it isn't "tough" enough, but as Moniz explains the deal contains the "most robust verification measures the world has ever known." Withdrawing from the deal means throwing that away for no good reason. If Trump follows through on his threat to withdraw, he will confirm that his complaints about the agreement were made in bad faith. Reneging on the deal just because some of its restrictions expire after a decade or more gives the game away. It gives Iran the excuse to ignore some or all of the deal's restrictions immediately instead of having some of them lifted in the 2020s or 2030s. We're supposed to believe that the gradual expiration of some restrictions is so intolerable that we should throw away all of the restrictions right away. It's a completely irrational position, and so it's obviously just a bad excuse for killing an agreement that Iran hawks never wanted.

If Iran is supposed to ratify the Additional Protocol that it is currently implementing voluntarily. Ratification will make these verification measures permanent, and that will make ensuring that Iran abides by its NPT obligations much easier. Blowing up the deal now would give Iran an excuse to stop voluntarily complying with the Additional Protocol years before they have to ratify it. Sina Azodi suggests that this is how Iran might respond to a U.S. withdrawal:

One possible response to a US withdrawal would be for Iran to declare that it will no longer implement the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This supplementary protocol significantly enhances the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.

Under the agreement, Iran is required to implement the protocol and to ratify it within eight years of the January 2016 implementation of the JCPOA. If the deal collapses, Iran will no longer feel obliged to allow the intrusive inspections required by the protocol or to ratify it. This would significantly reduce the IAEA's ability to monitor Iran's nuclear activities. However, this seems to be a relatively safe option for Iran, since implementation of the protocol is on a voluntary basis.

As Azodi explains, this is the least provocative response available to Iran, and it allows Iran to further divide the U.S. and our European allies, who remain committed to honoring the agreement. It's also quite possible that Iran will follow the U.S. out of the deal to protest the resumption of U.S. sanctions. Either way, the verification measures that make the JCPOA such a strong nonproliferation agreement will be lost.

The verification measures in the deal were so stringent because of the fear that Iran wouldn't keep its side of the bargain, but if the deal dies it won't be because of Iranian cheating. Opponents of the deal have shown that the one truly fatal flaw of the deal was that it contained no provision to make sure that the U.S. fulfills its obligations. Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Iran , IAEA , Donald Trump , JCPOA , Sina Azodi , Ernest Moniz .

[Mar 25, 2018] Trump impulsive, ignorant incompetence can be just as dangerous as sinister purpose -- but it represents a different set of threats

Notable quotes:
"... The Right Man ..."
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

For the time being, Trump's lack of impulse control and self-discipline may frustrate his strongman tendencies at home, but that's cold comfort, given the damage he can do with U.S. military might. In "the most powerful office in the world," impulsive, ignorant incompetence can be just as dangerous as sinister purpose -- but it represents a different set of threats than the ones that most concern Frum.

"Trumpocracy has left Americans less safe against foreign dangers," Frum charges, by which he seems to mean mainly Russian cybermeddling. He spends an order of magnitude more time on that subject than on the foreign dangers Trump has gratuitously stoked with brinksmanship on North Korea.

In the near term, what's to be most feared is the president lumbering into a major conflict with either (or both?) of the two remaining "Axis of Evil" members. Uncertain plans for a North Korean summit aside, that risk may be increasing. As the New York Times 's Maggie Haberman recently explained , Trump "was terrified of the job the first six months, and now feels like he has a command of it" -- a terrifying thought in itself. Newly emboldened, the president wants unrepentant uber-hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo for national security advisor and secretary of state, respectively. "Let Trump be Trump" looks a lot like letting Trump be Bush-era Frum .

In fairness, Frum does seem queasy about all this, but he's awkwardly positioned to sound the alarm. The author who declared that it's "victory or holocaust" in the war on terror and lauded George W. Bush as The Right Man may not be the right man to guide us through the particular dangers of this moment in history.

We may yet avoid a disaster on the scale of the Iraq war, aided by what Frum terms "the surge in civic spirit that has moved Americans since the ominous night of November 8, 2016" -- or God's special affection for fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Perhaps, in hindsight, the Trump years will look more like a Great Beclowning than a Long National Nightmare. If so, we may look back on this period and say, as "43" apparently did of Trump's First Inaugural: "that was some weird shit " -- and give thanks that Trump wasn't as competent as Bush.

Gene Healy is a vice president of the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency .

[Mar 25, 2018] Hawks Always Fail Upwards by Daniel Larison

This is about American Imperialism and MIC. Neocons are just well-laid MIC lobbyists. Some like Bolton are pretty talented guys. Some like Max Boot are simply stupid.
Notable quotes:
"... What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment's regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again? [bold mine-DL] ..."
"... So by all means worry. But the real problem isn't Bolton -- it's a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again. ..."
"... National Review ..."
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The conclusion of Stephen Walt's column on John Bolton is exactly right:

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to "normalize" this appointment or suggest that it shouldn't concern you. Rather, I'm suggesting that if you are worried about Bolton, you should ask yourself the following question: What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment's regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again? [bold mine-DL]

So by all means worry. But the real problem isn't Bolton -- it's a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again.

There is a strong bias in our foreign policy debates in favor of "action," no matter how stupid or destructive that action proves to be. That is one reason why reflexive supporters of an activist foreign policy will never have to face the consequences of the policies they support. Bolton has thrived as an advocate of hard-line policies precisely because he fills the assigned role of the fanatical warmonger, and there is always a demand for someone to fill that role. His fanaticism doesn't discredit him, because it is eminently useful to his somewhat less fanatical colleagues. That is how he can hang around long enough until there is a president ignorant enough to think that he is qualified to be a top adviser.

Bolton will also have reliable supporters in the conservative movement that will make excuses for the inexcusable. National Review recently published an article by David French in defense of Bolton whose conclusion was that we should "give a hawk a chance." Besides being evasive and dishonest about just how fanatical Bolton is, the article was an effort to pretend that Iraq war supporters should be given another chance to wreck U.S. foreign policy again. It may be true that Bolton's views are "in the mainstream of conservative foreign-policy thought," but that is an indictment of the so-called "mainstream" that is being represented. Bolton has been wrong about every major foreign policy issue of the last twenty years. If that doesn't disqualify you from holding a high-ranking government position, what does?

Hawks have been given a chance to run our foreign policy every day for decades on end, and they have failed numerous times at exorbitant cost. Generic hawks don't deserve a second chance after the last sixteen-plus years of failure and disaster, and fanatical hard-liners like Bolton never deserved a first chance.

French asserts that Bolton is "not extreme," but that raises the obvious question: compared to what?Bolton has publicly, repeatedly urged the U.S. government to launch illegal preventive wars against Iran and North Korea, and that just scratches the surface of his fanaticism. That strikes me as rather extreme, and that is why so many people are disturbed by the Bolton appointment. If he isn't "extreme" even by contemporary movement conservative standards, who is? How psychopathic would one need to be to be considered extreme in French's eyes? If movement conservatives can't see why Bolton is an unacceptable and outrageous choice for National Security Advisor, they are so far gone that there is nothing to be done for them and no point in listening to anything they have to say.

[Mar 23, 2018] Was Destructive 'Slingshot' Malware Deployed by the Pentagon

The rule No.1: do not buy cheap routers. Do not use routers which are supplied for free by your ISP. Buy only from proven companies with good security record. To use your own firewall (a small linux server is OK) is a must in the current circumstances
There is no special value in Kaspersky anti-virus software. all such products can be used as a backdoor in your computer (for example via update mechanism). Using complex and opaque software actually makes Windows less secure not more secure. Periodic (say, daily) reinstallation from trusted image is probably a better way, especially if Windows is really minimized and does not contain third party software that has it's own update mechanisms or such mechanism are blocked.
But attacks on routers is a new fashion and should be taken very seriously as most people pay no attention to this crucial part of their business or home network. In any case a separate firmware is needed after Internet router which now is not that expensive (a decent box can be bought for around $300. For those who know Unix/Linux see for example Firewall Micro Appliance or QOTOM (both can be used of pfSense or your custom Linux solution) For those who don't see, for example, Zyxel [USG40] ZyWALL (USG) UTM Firewall
Notable quotes:
"... Further findings suggest that Slingshot had common code with only two other known pieces of software, both malwares, which were attributed to the NSA and CIA, respectively, by analysts. Though various U.S. agencies are all denying comment, things are clearly pointing uncomfortably in their direction. ..."
"... Malware is not a precision munition, it hits wide targets and spreads out to bystanders. This is particularly disturbing to note if, as some reports are indicating, this malware was Pentagon in origin. ..."
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Slingshot . The malware targeted Latvian-made Internet routers popular in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Kaspersky's reports reveal that the malware had been active since at least 2012, and speculates that it was government-made, owing to its sophistication and its use of novel techniques rarely seen elsewhere.

Those investigating the matter further have drawn the conclusion that Slingshot was developed by the U.S. government, with some reports quoting former officials as connecting it to the Pentagon's JSOC special forces. For those following the cyber security and malware sphere, this is a huge revelation, putting the U.S. government in the hot seat for deploying cyber attacks that harm a much greater range of innocent users beyond their intended targets.

Kaspersky's own findings note that the code was written in English, using a driver flaw to allow the implanting of various types of spyware. Among those mentioned by Moscow-based Kaspersky was an implant named "GOLLUM," which notably was mentioned in one of the leaked Edward Snowden documents .

Further findings suggest that Slingshot had common code with only two other known pieces of software, both malwares, which were attributed to the NSA and CIA, respectively, by analysts. Though various U.S. agencies are all denying comment, things are clearly pointing uncomfortably in their direction.

Cyberscoop , one of the first news outlets to break the story, reported a mixed reaction among officials. Some noted that Kaspersky Labs was simply doing what a security company is supposed to do. Others, however, were less agreeable, suggesting it was an intentional attempt by Kaspersky to undermine U.S. security.

The argument, as far as it goes, is that given the ostensible target areas -- the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan -- Kaspersky should have concluded it was related to the War on Terror and sat on their findings. The Trump administration already views Kaspersky as a sort of hostile actor -- banning the use of Kaspersky products by any government or civilian federal contractor in December, citing Kremlin influence (a charge that has been vehemently denied by the company). This just gives them more justification for seeing Kaspersky as an adversary in the space.

Unfortunately for the Russian company, some American retailers have even followed suit, pulling the software from the shelves on the grounds that it's Russian, and that therefore suspect.

There has been no clear evidence that Kaspersky's software was serving as a backdoor for Russian intelligence, though it was reported last fall that sensitive documents were stolen from a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor's laptop via its Kaspersky-made antivirus software . In a statement at the time, the company said, "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts." Turns out that Israeli spies, spying on the Russian spies, disclosed the intrusion to U.S. officials.

Kaspersky has consistently ranked near the top of antivirus ratings from virtually all third-party reviewers. The company has sold its products to nearly 400 million users worldwide, with 60 percent in the U.S. and Western Europe. Until now, Kaspersky was being used by several major agencies in the federal government, including the State Department and Department of Defense.

Ironically, this new Slingshot issue itself appears just to be a testament to how well the company's security works at digging up extremely dangerous malware. It also underscores the uneasy reality that the U.S. has been engaging in its own brand of cyber warfare all along.

Any claims that a specific piece of U.S. malware -- in this case, Slingshot -- was targeting only al-Qaeda or ISIS bad guys is disingenuous as well. The exploit on routers is hitting an entire region, infecting an untold number of innocent people . Internet cafés are said to have been hit in this, meaning everyone going into the cafes is at risk.

Malware is not a precision munition, it hits wide targets and spreads out to bystanders. This is particularly disturbing to note if, as some reports are indicating, this malware was Pentagon in origin.

U.S. civilian government surveillance is already doing great harm to general Internet security, and does so by remaining in denial about the balance of good to harm that is being done. The U.S. military, by contrast, has shown its willingness to inflict major harm on innocents in pursuit of any war goal. As they start hitting regions with malware, all bets are off on how far it will spread.

Security companies like Kaspersky Labs only afford the private user limited protection from all of this malware, because they're constantly playing catch-up, finding new variants and new exploits that the various pieces of software are using. Slingshot, for instance, went undetected for six solid years .

The discovery means fixes can finally be implemented for the routers and the computers. Novel exploits like this are rarely a one-time fix, however, as a slew of similar exploits from other sources tend to crop up after one gets taken out. It's a never-ending battle.

In August, President Trump made U.S. Cyber Command a formal military command , reflecting the growing view of the Internet as a military objective. Much as America's other battlefields result in collateral damage on the ground, the cyberwar is going to have a deleterious impact on day-to-day life in cyberspace. The big questions are how bad things will get, and how quickly.

Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com , a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. In addition to TAC, his work has appeared in Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Daily Caller, Washington Times and Detroit Free Press.

[Mar 23, 2018] Will the Deep State Break Trump The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

Consider. To cut through the Russophobia rampant here, Trump decided to make a direct phone call to Vladimir Putin. And in that call, Trump, like Angela Merkel, congratulated Putin on his re-election victory.

Instantly, the briefing paper for the president's call was leaked to the Post . In bold letters it read "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."

Whereupon the Beltway went ballistic.

How could Trump congratulate Putin, whose election was a sham? Why did he not charge Putin with the Salisbury poisoning? Why did he not denounce Putin for interfering with "our democracy"?

Amazing. A disloyal White House staffer betrays his trust and leaks a confidential paper to sabotage the foreign policy of a duly elected president, and he is celebrated in this capital city.

If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise. No wonder democracy is a declining stock worldwide.

And, yes, they give out Pulitzers for criminal collusion like this.

The New York Times got a Pulitzer and the Post got a Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep for publishing stolen secret papers from the Pentagon of JFK and LBJ -- to sabotage the Vietnam War policy of Richard Nixon.

Why? Because the hated Nixon was succeeding in extricating us with honor from a war that the presidents for whom the Times and Post hauled water could not win or end.

Not only have journalists given up any pretense of neutrality in this campaign to bring down the president, ex-national security officers of the highest rank are starting to sound like resisters.

Ex-CIA director John Brennan openly speculated Tuesday that the president may have been compromised by Moscow and become an asset of the Kremlin.

"I think he's afraid of the president of Russia," Brennan said of Trump and Putin. "The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose."

If Brennan has evidence Trump is compromised, he should relay it to Robert Mueller. If he does not, this is speculation of an especially ugly variety for someone once entrusted with America's highest secrets.

What's going on in this city is an American version of the "color revolutions" we have employed to knock over governments in places like Georgia and Ukraine.

The goal is to break Trump's presidency, remove him, discredit his election as contaminated by Kremlin collusion, upend the democratic verdict of 2016, and ash-can Trump's agenda of populist conservatism. Then America can return to the open borders, free trade, democracy-crusading Bushite globalism beloved by our Beltway elites.

Trump, in a way, is the indispensable man of the populist right.

In the 2016 primaries, no other Republican candidate shared his determination to secure the border, bring back manufacturing, or end the endless wars in the Middle East that have so bled and bankrupted our nation.

Whether the Assads rule in Damascus, the Chinese fortify Scarborough Shoal, or the Taliban return to Kabul, none are existential threats to the United States.

But if the borders of our country are not secured, as Reagan warned, in a generation, America will not even be a country.

Trump seems now to recognize that the special counsel's office of Robert Mueller, which this city sees as the instrument of its deliverance, is a mortal threat to his presidency.

Mueller's team wishes to do to Trump what Archibald Cox's team sought to do to Nixon: drive him out of office or set him up for the kill by a Democratic Congress in 2019.

Trump appears to recognize that the struggle with Mueller is now a political struggle -- to the death.

Hence Trump's hiring of Joe diGenova and the departure of John Dowd from his legal team. In the elegant phrase of Michael Corleone, diGenova is a wartime consigliere.

He believes Trump is the target of a conspiracy, under which Jim Comey's FBI put in the fix to prevent Hillary's prosecution and then fabricated a crime of collusion with Russia to take down the new president the American people had elected.

The Trump White House is behaving as if it were the prospective target of a coup d'etat. And it is not wrong for them to think so.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Mar 22, 2018] The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War With Iran by Gareth Porter

Another chickenhawk in Trump administration. Sad...
Notable quotes:
"... Bolton's high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence. ..."
"... Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration's main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney's backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department's Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs. ..."
"... During multiple trips to Israel, Bolton had unannounced meetings, including with the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, without the usual reporting cable to the secretary of state and other relevant offices. Judging from that report on an early Bolton visit, those meetings clearly dealt with a joint strategy on how to bring about political conditions for an eventual U.S. strike against Iran. ..."
"... Unfortunately, John Bolton is not just your typical neocon pathological liar and warmonger. Even by their abysmal standards he's pretty unhinged. He is one of the most dangerous people around these days. ..."
"... Bolton, Gen. Jack Keane, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and the whole warmongering crowd that frequent the air waves at FOX will not rest until they have us at war with Iran and Russia. ..."
"... So Trump is thinking of hiring a loudmouthed incompetent who is a known conduit for botched Israeli spy service forgeries used to gin up war with Iran. What a sick farce. ..."
"... Bolton is a cancer for the US. As a warmonger, he thrives in hostile environnements so no wonder Bolton wants to create them with no regards for consequences. ..."
"... I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that Bolton was duped by Israeli forgers (very droll story, by the way). You'd think that no serious person would consider giving him a National Security Council post, particularly given the current level of concern about "foreign meddling". ..."
"... I do not agree that Iran could prevent a conventional bombing/invasion of their country. But they could make it sooo expensive, the dollar ceases to be the world reserve currency, and if they do that, they will have done mankind a favor. ..."
"... But after the conquest, imagine the guerrilla war! The US basically had to fight an insurgency from amongst 5 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Iran is much more ethnically homogeneous. So even if you get some minorities to turncoat and work for the occupiers, you are still left with about 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites. That is a 12 times larger insurgency than what you had in Iraq. ..."
"... Bolton and Cheney must have been livid about Stuxnet, for all the wrong reasons ..."
"... Hiring a ghoul like Bolton will mark a new low even for the Trump administration. And that's saying something. These chickenhawk bastards should all be required to fight on the front lines of the wars they push. That was true, I'll guarantee you Bolton would shut up in a hurry. ..."
"... Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to ..."
"... . He is also the author of ..."
"... Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter . ..."
Mar 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Everyone knows Bolton is a hawk. Less understood is how he labored in secret to drive Washington and Tehran apart. By Gareth Porter March 22, 2018

John Bolton (Gage Skidmore/Flikr) In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each time -- in 2007 , in 2008, and again in 2011 -- those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.

But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.

His is not merely a rhetorical stance: Bolton actively conspired during his tenure as the Bush administration's policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 to establish the political conditions necessary for the administration to carry out military action.

More than anyone else inside or outside the Trump administration, Bolton has already influenced Trump to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton parlayed his connection with the primary financier behind both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump himself -- the militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelson -- to get Trump's ear last October, just as the president was preparing to announce his policy on the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He spoke with Trump by phone from Las Vegas after meeting with Adelson .

It was Bolton who persuaded Trump to commit to specific language pledging to pull out of the JCPOA if Congress and America's European allies did not go along with demands for major changes that were clearly calculated to ensure the deal would fall apart.

Although Bolton was passed over for the job of secretary of state, he now appears to have had the inside track for national security advisor. Trump met with Bolton on March 6 and told him, "We need you here, John," according to a Bolton associate. Bolton said he would only take secretary of state or national security advisor, whereupon Trump promised, "I'll call you really soon." Trump then replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with former CIA director Mike Pompeo, after which White House sources leaked to the media Trump's intention to replace H.R. McMaster within a matter of weeks.

The only other possible candidate for the position mentioned in media accounts is Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general who was acting national security advisor after General Michael Flynn was ousted in February 2017.

Bolton's high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence.

Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration's main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney's backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department's Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs.

Thus, at the very moment that Powell was saying administration policy was not to attack Iran, Bolton was working with the Israelis to lay the groundwork for just such a war. During a February 2003 visit, Bolton assured Israeli officials in private meetings that he had no doubt the United States would attack Iraq, and that after taking down Saddam, it would deal with Iran, too, as well as Syria.

During multiple trips to Israel, Bolton had unannounced meetings, including with the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, without the usual reporting cable to the secretary of state and other relevant offices. Judging from that report on an early Bolton visit, those meetings clearly dealt with a joint strategy on how to bring about political conditions for an eventual U.S. strike against Iran.

Mossad played a very aggressive role in influencing world opinion on the Iranian nuclear program. In the summer of 2003, according to journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins in their book The Nuclear Jihadist , Meir Dagan created a new Mossad office tasked with briefing the world's press on alleged Iranian efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. The new unit's responsibilities included circulating documents from inside Iran as well from outside, according to Frantz and Collins.

Bolton's role in a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy, as he outlines in his own 2007 memoir , was to ensure that the Iran nuclear issue would be moved out of the International Atomic Energy Agency and into the United Nations Security Council. He was determined to prevent IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei from reaching an agreement with Iran that would make it more difficult for the Bush administration to demonize Tehran as posing a nuclear weapons threat. Bolton began accusing Iran of having a covert nuclear weapons program in mid-2003, but encountered resistance not only from ElBaradei and non-aligned states, but from Britain, France, and Germany as well.

Bolton's strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.

Bolton was apparently hoping the Iranian military would not agree to any IAEA inspections based on such bogus claims, thus playing into his propaganda theme of Iran's "intransigence" in refusing to answer questions about its nuclear program. But in 2005 Iran allowed the inspectors into those sites and even let them choose several more sites to inspect. The inspectors found no evidence of any nuclear-related activities.

The U.S.-Israeli strategy would later hit the jackpot, however, when a large cache of documents supposedly from a covert source within Iran's nuclear weapons program surfaced in autumn 2004. The documents, allegedly found on the laptop computer of one of the participants, included technical drawings of a series of efforts to redesign Iran's Shahab-3 missile to carry what appeared to be a nuclear weapon.

But the whole story of the so-called "laptop documents" was a fabrication. In 2013, a former senior German official revealed the true story to this writer: the documents had been given to German intelligence by the Mujahedin E Khalq, the anti-Iran armed group that was well known to have been used by Mossad to "launder" information the Israelis did not want attributed to themselves. Furthermore, the drawings showing the redesign that were cited as proof of a nuclear weapons program were clearly done by someone who didn't know that Iran had already abandoned the Shahab-3's nose cone for an entirely different design.

Mossad had clearly been working on those documents in 2003 and 2004 when Bolton was meeting with Meir Dagan. Whether Bolton knew the Israelis were preparing fake documents or not, it was the Israeli contribution towards establishing the political basis for an American attack on Iran for which he was the point man. Bolton reveals in his memoirs that this Cheney-directed strategy took its cues from the Israelis, who told Bolton that the Iranians were getting close to "the point of no return." That was point, Bolton wrote, at which "we could not stop their progress without using force."

Cheney and Bolton based their war strategy on the premise that the U.S. military would be able to consolidate control over Iraq quickly. Instead the U.S. occupation bogged down and never fully recovered. Cheney proposed taking advantage of a high-casualty event in Iraq that could be blamed on Iran to attack an IRGC base in Iran in the summer of 2007. But the risk that pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq would retaliate against U.S. troops was a key argument against the proposal.

The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also well aware that Iran had the capability to retaliate directly against U.S. forces in the region, including against warships in the Strait of Hormuz. They had no patience for Cheney's wild ideas about more war.

That Pentagon caution remains unchanged. But two minds in the White House unhinged from reality could challenge that wariness -- and push the United States closer towards a dangerous war with Iran.



Stephen J. March 21, 2018 at 10:37 pm

I believe "War With Iran" is on the agenda. I wrote the article below some time ago. "Will There Be War With Iran"? Is it now Iran's turn to be subjected to the planned and hellish wars that have already engulfed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan and other countries? Will, the gates of hell be further opened to include an attack on Iran?

[read more at link below]

http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-there-be-war-with-iran.html

See also: Will the War Agenda of the War Criminals Result in Nuclear War? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-war-agenda-of-war-criminals-result.html

Clyde Schechter , , says: March 21, 2018 at 11:37 pm
Unfortunately, John Bolton is not just your typical neocon pathological liar and warmonger. Even by their abysmal standards he's pretty unhinged. He is one of the most dangerous people around these days.
Procivic , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:35 am
The re-emergence of Bolton is the result of Trump's electoral victory, a phenomenon that resembles the upheavals that followed when an unhinged hereditary ruler would take the reins of power in bygone empires.
Duglarri , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:16 am
There's a big difference between the wars with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and a war with Iran. The difference is, this is a war the United States could lose. And lose very, very badly. As Pompeo remarked, it would take "only" 2000 airstrikes to eliminate the Iranian nuclear facilities. But what will it take to land 20,000 marines on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf to secure the straits, and there fend off 1.7 million Iranian regulars and militia on the ground? How will the navy cope with hundreds and hundreds of supersonic cruise missiles fired in volleys? What about the S-300 missiles that are by now fully operational in Iran?

A look at the map shows that this is a war that the US simply cannot win.

Unless it uses nuclear weapons and simply sets out to kill every last man, woman, and child in Iran, all 80 million of them.

Which I suppose is not out of the question. As all options are sure to be on the table.

Minnesota Mary , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:54 am
"Everyone worshipped the dragon because he had given his authority to the beast. They worshipped the beast also, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?'" Revelation 13:4

Who can fight against the U.S/NATO? Bolton, Gen. Jack Keane, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and the whole warmongering crowd that frequent the air waves at FOX will not rest until they have us at war with Iran and Russia.

wrap , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:43 am
So Trump is thinking of hiring a loudmouthed incompetent who is a known conduit for botched Israeli spy service forgeries used to gin up war with Iran. What a sick farce.
Hanson , , says: March 22, 2018 at 4:58 am
The Boltons, Frums, and Boots of the world never have to fight the wars they start.
Julien , , says: March 22, 2018 at 5:54 am
Bolton is a cancer for the US. As a warmonger, he thrives in hostile environnements so no wonder Bolton wants to create them with no regards for consequences.
EliteCommInc. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 9:03 am
Well, we need the John Bolton's of this world for times in which a uncompromising use of force is required. But I don't need background to know that advocating for wars that serve little in the way of US interests because we simply are not in any "clear and present danger".

Odd that so many "old schoolers" have abandoned some general cliche's that serve as sound guide.

the freakshow (cont'd) , , says: March 22, 2018 at 9:41 am
Just when you think you've heard the last of the various catastrophes, blunders, and odd capering about involving Bolton, you hear that voice from the old late night gadget commercials barking "wait, there's more !!"

I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that Bolton was duped by Israeli forgers (very droll story, by the way). You'd think that no serious person would consider giving him a National Security Council post, particularly given the current level of concern about "foreign meddling".

rta , , says: March 22, 2018 at 10:25 am
I wonder if people will finally realize that Trump was only draining the swamp so he could replace it with a cesspool.
Chris Mallory , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:16 am
"The Boltons, Frums, and Boots of the world never have to fight the wars they start."

Hey now, Bolton's service in the Maryland National Guard made sure the North Vietnamese never landed in Baltimore. Can you imagine the horror if the Russians had captured our supply of soft shell crab?

Esther Haman , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:27 am
John Bolton a 75 year old loser, a has Never-been, which is the mouth piece of the Zionists who keep him on the pay roll. He likes to hear his own voice and to feel important because he wants war with Iran or all the Middle East. He's actions and speeches are all emotional and lack logic and reasoning. So, what is he good for?!
Egypt Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:29 am
Re: "Well, we need the John Bolton's of this world for times in which a uncompromising use of force is required."

Not sure about that. We definitely need Roosevelts and Lincolns, Grants and Shermans and Eisenhowers and Pattons. I'm not clear on what function the likes of Bolton serve.

Kent , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm
This article fails to address the why. Why does Bolton want war with Iran?
Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm
I do not agree that Iran could prevent a conventional bombing/invasion of their country. But they could make it sooo expensive, the dollar ceases to be the world reserve currency, and if they do that, they will have done mankind a favor.

But after the conquest, imagine the guerrilla war! The US basically had to fight an insurgency from amongst 5 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Iran is much more ethnically homogeneous. So even if you get some minorities to turncoat and work for the occupiers, you are still left with about 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites. That is a 12 times larger insurgency than what you had in Iraq.

And if the Iranians had any sense RIGHT NOW, they would make sure every family had a stock of 10 powerful anti-vehicle mines, REALLY powerful mines. Make sure all are safely buried with locations memorized. And make sure everyone had the training to use them, even older children (who will be the front-line guerrillas in 5 years).

So if that devil Bolton gets his way, his own country will pay a price too, and deservedly too. I want my country to be peaceful and friendly to the world like the Germans are now. But it may take the same type of "WWII treatment" to get my hateful war-loving countrymen to walk away from their sin.

Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:47 pm
The guerrilla war in Iraq was fought against only 5 million Sunni Arabs, the US occupiers having successfully pealed away the Kurds and Shia to be collaborators, or at least stay uninvolved with the insurgency.

But Iran is not just bigger than Iraq, but much more ethnically and religiously homogeneous. Imagine what kind of insurgency you might get from 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites?

My advice to the Iranians RIGHT NOW is to mass-produce the most lethal anti-vehicle mines possible and distribute them to the entire civilian population. Train everyone how to use them, then once trained, bury maybe 20 mines per family, all in known but hidden locations.

THAT will stop the Bolton/Zionist plan dead in its tracks.

b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm
"Why does Bolton want war with Iran?"

Maybe it was a career-enhancing move. It is a legitimate question, along with "follow the money"? Regardless of why sociopaths like Keith Payne or John Bolton become obsessed with "winning nuclear war" or "bombing Iran" . How do they make a living? Who would bankroll somebody – over many decades – to not just consider or plan, but actively provoke illegal acts of aggressive war, against declared policy of the government and the demands of the Constitution they have sworn an oath to uphold?

It is also educational to see that the fabrications and other "war-program related activities" in regards to Iran resemble the same stovepipelines that provide the Iraq 2003 pretexts – with Powell reprising his role as useful idiot – which clashes badly with the "blunder" narrative that anybody in the US government actually believed Iraq had WMD – was beyond "the point of no return".

This also bodes ill for a Bolton-formulated policy on Korea, and any "National Security Advice" he would see fit to fabricate and feed to the Bomber In Chief.

Furthermore, we learn just how unhinged Cheney et.al. really were – expecting Iraq to be a mere stepping stone along their adventures on the "Axis of Evil" trail. If these are our gamblers, nobody would suspect them of counting cards.

b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Bolton and Cheney must have been livid about Stuxnet, for all the wrong reasons
PAX , , says: March 22, 2018 at 2:49 pm
We must look into our very national soul and ask why are we entertaining a war with Iran? The answer is clear. It is to further the goals of a fanatical, right-wing, group of Zionists. When a truthful history is written about this era of endless wars, the errant and disgraceful behavior of this group will be clearly identified and they will not have anywhere to hide. You may fool some of the folks, some of the time, but not all the folks, all of the time.
Buzz Man , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:21 pm
Hiring a ghoul like Bolton will mark a new low even for the Trump administration. And that's saying something. These chickenhawk bastards should all be required to fight on the front lines of the wars they push. That was true, I'll guarantee you Bolton would shut up in a hurry.
marvin , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm
John "FIVE DEFERMENTS" Bolton is a filthy yellow bellied coward. Drag her/him to Afghanistan amd make IT serve in the Front Lines for the duration.
Tulsa Ron , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:43 pm
Israel and the Zionists are exactly the "foreign entanglements" that George Washington warned us about. Bolton is a neocon-Zionist who wants the United States blood and taxes to ensure Israel's dominance of the Middle East.
Jeeves , , says: March 22, 2018 at 5:14 pm
So Gareth Porter cites his own Truthout article as authority for the assertion that the "laptop documents" are fabrications. Most of the cited article seems to be devoted to "Curveball", the impeached source of Iraqi intelligence, in order to prop up the bona fides of the German who claims the Iranian intelligence is a forgery. Any other sourcing for this allegation available?

Judging from a quick look at what else Truthout has on offer, I'm not sure about the credibility of Mr. Porter.

pirouz moghaddam , , says: March 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm
Thank you Mr. Porter for your insightful and intelligent articles, being that I am from Iran Originally brings tears to my eyes to even imagine such tragedy, I pray this will never happen. Having lived in America more than half of my life and having children that are Americans makes these thoughts even more horrifying . I am however thankful to read all the comments from so many intelligent , decent and true Americans and that gives me hope that such disaster will not take place. The people of Iran are decent and kind and cultured , I am hopeful that they will find their way and bring about a true democracy soon and again become a positive force to the humanity.
Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to TAC . He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter .

[Mar 21, 2018] It's strange that British police did not find balalaika on the scene. Replay of Iraq WDM hoax on a new level

First of all British did have the poison they detected. Otherwise they would be unable to detect "Novichok" (if there was such substance and this is not just a myth).
Notable quotes:
"... Pat asks, Cui bono? I would say rogue players in the deep state right here in the US along with their brethren in the military/industrial/intelligence complex. ..."
"... Of course, that makes me a conspiracy theorist. But I actually saw war as a young man based upon lies. By the way, in the lead-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, I told people at work that this war would eventually rival the military blunder in Vietnam. The propaganda reminded me so much of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. They all laughed at me and essentially said I was an old Vietnam veteran living in the past. They aren't laughing now. ..."
Mar 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

g e hoeflinger March 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm

"We went to war in Iraq in 2003 to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction we later discovered Saddam Hussein did not really have."

Which was known at the time, but was trumped up to give GWB and excuse foir a fast war at election time.

George Hoffman , , March 21, 2018 at 8:27 am
I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam and ever since then I have been a card-carrying skeptic of my own country. But I saw the human face of a war based upon lies and propaganda that became the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history. If we would get into a shooting war over this affair, we would have to bring back the draft to prosecute this war against Russia. Then the proverbial "merde" would definitely hit the fan.

And when Kim Sung Un assassinated his half-brother in Malaysia, the VX nerve agent was used. The UK invented this agent in the 1950s at its government laboratory. But not one nation blamed Great Britain as the culprit.

Pat asks, Cui bono? I would say rogue players in the deep state right here in the US along with their brethren in the military/industrial/intelligence complex.

Of course, that makes me a conspiracy theorist. But I actually saw war as a young man based upon lies. By the way, in the lead-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, I told people at work that this war would eventually rival the military blunder in Vietnam. The propaganda reminded me so much of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. They all laughed at me and essentially said I was an old Vietnam veteran living in the past. They aren't laughing now.

[Mar 20, 2018] American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism.

Notable quotes:
"... It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Banger , March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am

American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

[Mar 19, 2018] Gina Haspel As If Nuremberg Never Happened

Notable quotes:
"... I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. ..."
"... Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power. ..."
"... American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
"... Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious. ..."
"... There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government. ..."
"... If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!" ..."
"... I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them. ..."
"... She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect. ..."
"... furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition? ..."
"... Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations -- one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants -- than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA.

Haspel oversaw the torture of human beings in Thailand as the chief of a CIA black site in 2002. Since then, she's worked her way up to deputy director at the CIA. With current director Mike Pompeo slated to move to Foggy Bottom, President Donald Trump has proposed Haspel as the Agency's new head.

Haspel's victims waiting for death in Guantanamo cannot speak to us, though they no doubt remember their own screams as they were waterboarded. And we can still hear former CIA officer John Kiriakou say : "We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information."

It was Kiriakou who exposed the obsessive debate over the effectiveness of torture as false. The real purpose of torture conducted by those like Gina Haspel was to seek vengeance, humiliation, and power. We're just slapping you now, she would have said in that Thai prison, but we control you, and who knows what will happen next, what we're capable of? The torture victim is left to imagine what form the hurt will take and just how severe it will be, creating his own terror.

Haspel won't be asked at her confirmation hearing to explain how torture works, but those who were waterboarded under her stewardship certainly could.

I met my first torture victim in Korea, where I was adjudicating visas for the State Department. Persons with serious criminal records are ineligible to travel to the United States, with an exception for dissidents who have committed political crimes. The man I spoke with said that under the U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee he was tortured for writing anti-government verse. He was taken to a small underground cell. Two men arrived and beat him repeatedly on his testicles and sodomized him with one of the tools they had used for the beating. They asked no questions. They barely spoke to him at all.

Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, he said the subsequent humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what really affected his life. It destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again. The men who destroyed him, he told me, did their work, and then departed, as if they had others to visit and needed to get on with things. He was released a few days later and driven back to his apartment by the police. A forward-looking gesture.

The second torture victim I met was while I was stationed in Iraq. The prison that had held him was under the control of shadowy U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Inside, masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said they neither asked him questions nor demanded information. They did whip his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys. They slapped him. They broke the bones in his right foot with a steel rod, a piece of rebar ordinarily used to reinforce concrete.

It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What destroyed him was the feeling of utter helplessness, the inability to control things around him as he once had. He showed me the caved-in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves.

Gina Haspel is the same as those who were in the room with the Korean. She is no different than those who tormented the Iraqi.

As head of a black site, Haspel had sole authority to halt the questioning of suspects, but she allowed torture to continue. New information and a redaction of earlier reporting that said Haspel was present for the waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah (she was actually the station chief at the black site after those sessions) makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners there, but pay it little mind. The confusion arises from the government's refusal to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. So many records have yet to be released and those that have been are heavily redacted. Then there are the tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding, which Haspel later pushed to have destroyed.

Arguing over just how much blood she has in her hands is a distraction from the fact that she indeed has blood on her hands.

Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remained classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes.

Obama ignored the truth that sees former Nazis continue to be hunted some 70 years after the Holocaust: that those who do evil on behalf of a government are individually responsible. "I was only following orders" is not a defense of inhuman acts. The purpose of tracking down the guilty is to punish them, to discourage the next person from doing evil, and to morally immunize a nation-state.

To punish Gina Haspel "more than 15 years later for doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders, would be a travesty and a disgrace," claims one of her supporters. "Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well," said Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA during the height of the Iraq war from 2006-2009.

Influential people in Congress agree. Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will soon review Haspel's nomination, said , "I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies."

"She'll have to answer for that period of time, but I think she's a highly qualified person," offered Senator Lindsey Graham. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson defended Haspel's actions, saying they were "the accepted practice of the day" and shouldn't disqualify her.

His fellow Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, signaled her likely acceptance, saying , "Since my concerns were raised over the torture situation, I have met with her extensively, talked with her She has been, I believe, a good deputy director." Senator Susan Collins added that Haspel "certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee of the agency." John McCain, a victim of torture during the Vietnam War, mumbled only that Haspel would have to explain her role.

Nearly alone at present, Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose Haspel's nomination. Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, have told Trump she is unsuitable and will likely also vote no.

Following World War II, the United States could have easily executed those Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, or thrown them into some forever jail on an island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who wouldn't have supported brutally torturing them at a black site. Instead, they were put on public trial at Nuremberg and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was to demonstrate that We were better than Them.

Today we refuse to understand what Haspel's victims, and the Korean writer, and the Iraqi insurgent, already know on our behalf: unless Congress awakens to confront this nightmare and deny Gina Haspel's nomination as director of the CIA, torture will have transformed us and so it will consume us. Gina Haspel is a torturer. We are torturers. It is as if Nuremberg never happened.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. He tweets @WeMeantWell.


Douglas K. March 19, 2018 at 3:19 am

Covering up torture is quite possibly the worst thing Obama did. (I'd put it neck-and-neck with targeted killing.) This nation desperately needs a president who will expose all of these horrors, and appoint an attorney general who will prosecute these acts as war crimes.
I Don't Matter , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
Trump likes waterboarding. He said so himself. One assumes he meant, being a whimpering coward himself, when someone else does it to someone else. But who knows? Enjoy judge Gorsuch.
Mark Thomason , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
"doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders"

To complete the parallel, we would need to prosecute and punish those who asked her to do it, and those who told her those orders were lawful. Instead, some are doing paintings of their toes, some are promoted to be Federal judges, and some are influential professors at "liberal" law schools. Why punish *only* her?

Peter Hopkins , says: March 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.
Ian , says: March 19, 2018 at 7:10 am
As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them.
Bagby , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:00 am
I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. I am in full support of Mr. Van Buren's thesis. However, Pro Publica, which seems to have been the source of much reporting of Haspel's torture record, has retracted the claim that Haspel had tortured in Thailand. Mr. Van Buren quotes another source from his blog that supports the thesis that Haspel is a torturer. How does one know what to believe? Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power.
Centralist , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:19 am
Its because we lost our sense of what makes us who we are. We are an empire that dances for private interests. In Rome they were called families and led by patricians, they had money private guards, gladiators, and even street people supporting them. In the Modern USA they are called Interest Groups and/or Corporations. They are lead by CEOs and instead of gladiators they have Lawyers. Our being better matters less then their own squabbles which is why a torturer could reach the highest seat in intel. The majority of Americans have lost their sense of being Americans instead they are Republicans, Democrats, etc, etc. Things that once use to be part of an American have come to define us.
Banger , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am
American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am
CIA has purposefully refused to disclose Haspel's role for a decade+ They have selectively released information last week to discredit those criticizing her. I don't think we should play their game, letting them set the agenda. Instead, I declaim torture itself and any role she played in it, whether she poured the water or kept the books.
Kurt Gayle , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:34 am
Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of the CIA's Haspel put him at risk?

In the 2003 film "Love Actually" the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) jokes with a Downing Street employee Natalie (Martine McCutcheon):

"PM: You live with your husband? Boyfriend, three illegitimate but charming children? –
"NATALIE: No, I've just split up with my boyfriend, so I'm back with my mum and dad for a while.
"PM: Oh. I'm sorry.
"NATALIE: No, it's fine. I'm well shot of him. He said I was getting fat.
"PM: I beg your pardon?
"NATALIE: He said no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.
"PM: Right You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.
"NATALIE: Thank you, sir. I'll think about it.
"PM: Do – the SAS are absolutely charming – ruthless, trained killers are just a phone call away."

It's just a film. It's just a joke. But the joke works because the public knows that – in reality – the security services have the skills-sets and the abilities, to do damage anyone they want to do damage to -- and to probably get away with it.

Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious.

Fast forward again to yesterday, March 17, 2018: Former CIA Director John Brennan wasn't joking when he reacted to the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe -- and President Donald Trump's tweeted celebration of it -- by tweeting this attack against Trump:

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America America will triumph over you."

Obama UN Representative Samantha Power followed up on the Brennan tweet with this:

"Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."

When public officials and former public officials -- like Shumer, Brennan and Power -- make such public statements it must necessarily have a chilling effect on public criticism of the security services.

After all, none of the three are joking. They're serious. And the American people know that they're serious.

Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of CIA operative Haspel put him at risk?

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
New information makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners at her black site, but pay it little mind. The confusion is because the government refuses to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. Arguing over just how much blood she has on her hands is a distraction when she indeed has blood on her hands.

The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency. If the Agency wishes to clarify her role, as was done via trial for the various Nazis at Nuremberg, we can deal with her actions more granularly.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
Since we have not had any more successful attacks on the scale of 9-11, it is very easy to be scrupulous regarding rough treatment of terrorists.

But if we had suffered a dozen or more such attacks, of increasing magnitude and maybe involving nuclear weapons, how many of you would still be condemning Mrs Haspel et al.? Or would you then be complaining they had not used water-boarding enough?

The 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, was caught weeks before 9-11. Investigators figured out he was up to no good, tried to get permission to search his computer, but were denied. The U.S. Government carefully protected his privacy rights. So are you pleased with the outcome, Mr van Buren?

furbo , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
I'm sorry – this whole piece is a massive non sequitur. Ms. Haspel has no 'blood' on her hands as US extreme interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, uncomfortable positions, waterboarding) didn't draw any. They are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones. US techniques might have been bad policy – won't argue – but lets not fall for a false equivalency.

Ms. Haspel was an agent of her government, acting on it's orders under it's policies and guidelines. Which leads to

Nuremberg. The Nuremberg tribunals (they were military tribunals – not trials) were conducted by a victorious military force against a defeated military force. They were widely criticized as vengeance even by such august people as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Stone and associate Justice Douglas. There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government.

And lastly there's this from a comment of the authors: "The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency." Utter nonsense. That was the mission of the Agency at that time. It's like saying a 33yr old Drone Pilot who takes out an ISIS/Al Qaida operative as well as 15 civilians is disqualified to be the Sec Def 2 decades later.

Just stop.

Sid Finster , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!"

We demonize Russia at every opportunity, but I don't see Russia rewarding torturers by appointing them to high office.

Sally Stewart , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
Douglas K. What are you talking about? Covered up? You mean Bush http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/175/end-the-use-of-torture/
Stephen J. , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am
A lot of info below on the War criminals at large.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
May 26, 2015 Do We Need Present Day Nuremberg Trials? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/do-we-need-present-day-nuremberg-trials.html

And

March 9, 2018 Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html

connecticut farmer , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am
I didn't know too much about this woman's background until I read that Rand Paul opposes her nomination. I tend to take notice whenever Rand Paul holds forth on any subject. All I can say is that if her actual record even approximates what has been alleged, then this woman is unfit for the post–Nuremberg or no Nuremberg.
Winston , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:54 am
"As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them." Oh, -PLEASE-, spare us the hyperbole! WE burn alive captives held in cages? WE saw off their heads?

Thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs.

Lex Talionis , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm
All of the torturers should be brought to justice. So should all of the officials who ordered or authorized torture.

There is no statute of limitations on capital Federal crimes. For a U.S. citizen to kill via torture is a capital Federal crime, no matter where the torture took place. If statutes of limitations make it too late to prosecute some acts of torture, it is not too late to bring about some measure of justice by making torturers pariahs. As many sexual harassers have recently learned, there is no statute of limitations in the court of public opinion.

bob sykes , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
The story linking her to torture has been formally retracted. She had nothing to do with torture anywhere. How about a retraction of this story and an apology.
Youknowho , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm
I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them.

Personally, I prefer that the cruelty should be, as Lincoln once put it, "unalloyed by the base metal of hypocrisy"

Tyrone Slothrop , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
bob sykes: you should read Pro Publica's retraction ( https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture ) of the claim that Haspel was in charge of the Thai black site when Abu Zubaydeh was tortured. She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect.

Winston: why do you suppose "thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs"? Is it not to prepare them for the possibility of what we call torture when used by our adversaries?

furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition?

Near Rockaway , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm
"Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence?"

Evil stuff. And we're still paying for it. Keeping Haspel out of the Director's chair is a basic step toward avoiding more such needless, stupid evil.

Chris Mallory , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Wilfred, the problem was not that the Feds protected Zacarias Moussaoui's right to privacy. The problem is that it let any of the 20 Arab Muslims into the US in the first place. Closing our borders and mass deportations would have been the best thing to do in the aftermath of 9/11, not torture and invasions.
b. , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Very well put. Lest we forget: Bush also delivered the stern warning that "war crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished, and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'."

Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Chris Mallory (Mar 19 @1:47 p.m.), I agree with you. We shouldn't be letting them in.

But if someone had sneaked-a-peek at Moussaoui's laptop during the 3 weeks they had him before 9-11, we might have been able to thwart the attack altogether. (And the Press has been strangely incurious about investigating whoever it was who issued the injunction protecting Moussie's precious computer). This type of hand-wringing cost us 3,000 lives. Even more, considering the Afghan & 2nd Iraq wars would never have been launched, were it not for 9-11.

[Mar 18, 2018] Pompeo's All-or-Nothing View of Diplomacy by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Iran yielded a great deal, but they were never going to give up their entire nuclear program. That is not just because Iran is permitted to have such a program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also because Iran had already invested so many resources at significant cost that retaining some part of it was a matter of national pride. ..."
Mar 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Uri Friedman reviews Mike Pompeo's hard-line foreign policy views. Here he quotes Pompeo's criticism of the negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal with Iran:

The Obama administration failed to take "advantage of crushing economic sanctions to end Iran's nuclear program," he declared when the deal was struck. "That's not foreign policy; it's surrender."

Pompeo's statement is ridiculous, but it does provide us with a useful window into how he understands foreign policy issues. Like many other Iran hawks, he opposes the nuclear deal because it "failed" to bring an end to Iran's nuclear program. He dubs Iran's major concessions on the nuclear issue as "surrender" by the U.S. because they were not forced to give up absolutely everything. That reflects the absurd all-or-nothing view of diplomacy that prevails among hard-line critics of the JCPOA.

Iran yielded a great deal, but they were never going to give up their entire nuclear program. That is not just because Iran is permitted to have such a program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also because Iran had already invested so many resources at significant cost that retaining some part of it was a matter of national pride. If the Obama administration had insisted on the elimination of Iran's nuclear program, the negotiations would have failed and the restrictions on that problem that are now in place would not exist. There would have been no nuclear deal if the U.S. had insisted on maximalist demands. What Pompeo calls surrender is what sane people call compromise. Putting someone so inflexible and allergic to compromise in charge of the State Department is the act of a president who has nothing but disdain for diplomacy, and Pompeo's all-or-nothing view of the nuclear deal bodes ill for talks with North Korea.

Procivic March 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Zero sum games are for the infantile and the Trump administration is infested with them.

[Mar 18, 2018] Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... "Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen" ..."
Mar 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Secretary of Defense has written to Congressional leaders to express his opposition to S.J.Res. 54, the resolution that would end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen:

In a letter sent to congressional leaders Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post, Mattis wrote that restricting military support the United States is providing to the Saudi-led coalition "could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis -- all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis."

He urged Congress not to impose restrictions on the "noncombat," "limited U.S. military support" being provided to Saudi Arabia, which is "engaging in operations in its legitimate exercise of self-defense."

The Pentagon has been putting forward very weak legal arguments against S.J.Res. 54, and Mattis' statement of the policy arguments against the resolution are not any better. The Saudi-led coalition would have great difficulty continuing their war without U.S. military assistance. U.S. refueling allows coalition planes to carry out more attacks than they otherwise could, so it is extremely unlikely that ending it could possibly result in more civilian casualties than the bombing campaign causes now. Mattis is taking for granted that U.S. military assistance somehow makes coalition bombing more accurate and less likely to result in civilian casualties, but that is hard to credit when coalition forces routinely target civilian structures on purpose and when the military admits that it doesn't keep track of what happens after it refuels coalition planes.

Secretary Mattis says that cutting off support could jeopardize cooperation on counter-terrorism, but the flip side of this is that continuing to enable the Saudi-led war creates the conditions for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the local ISIS affiliate to flourish. The coalition's war has made AQAP stronger than it was before, and AQAP members have sometimes even fought alongside coalition forces on the ground. Instead of worrying about whether the U.S. is jeopardizing cooperation with these states, we should be asking whether that cooperation is worth very much in Yemen.

He claims that the Saudis and their allies are engaged in "a legitimate exercise of self-defense," and this is simply not true. The Saudis and their allies were not attacked and were not threatened with attack prior to their intervention. Saudi territory now comes under attack because the coalition has been bombing Yemen for years, but that doesn't make continuing the war self-defense. If an aggressor launches an attack against a neighboring country, it is the neighbor that is engaged in self-defense against the state(s) attacking them.

Mattis also warns that ending support for the Saudi-led coalition would have other undesirable consequences:

As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, "withdrawing U.S. support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict."

These claims also don't hold water. Iranian support for the Houthis remains limited, but it has increased as a direct result of the war. The longer that the war goes on, the greater the incentive the Houthis and Iran will have to cooperate. The absurdity of this intervention is that it was dishonestly sold as a war against Iranian "expansionism" and yet it has done more to aid Iran than anything Iran's government could have done on its own. Missile strikes on Saudi Arabia wouldn't be happening if the Saudis and their allies weren't regularly bombing Yemeni cities. If the coalition halted its bombing, the missile strikes would almost certainly cease as well. Continuing the war is a guarantee that those attacks will continue, and U.S. military assistance ensures that the war will continue. Every reason Mattis gives here for continuing U.S. support for the war is actually a reason to end it.

Shipping lanes weren't threatened before the intervention and won't be threatened after it ends. Yemenis have every incentive to leave shipping lanes alone, since these are their country's lifeline. Meanwhile, the cruel coalition blockade is slowly starving millions of Yemenis to death by keeping out essential commercial goods from the main ports that serve the vast majority of the population. Mattis is warning about potential threats to shipping from Yemen while completely ignoring that the main cause of the humanitarian disaster is the interruption of commercial shipping into Yemen by the Saudi-led blockade. The regional conflict that Mattis warns about is already here. It is called the Saudi-led war on Yemen. If one wants to prevent the region from being destabilized further, one would want to put an end to that war as quickly as possible.

Mattis mentions that the U.S. role in the war is a "noncombat" and "limited" one, but for the purposes of the debate on Sanders-Lee resolution that is irrelevant. It doesn't matter that the military assistance the U.S. is providing doesn't put Americans in combat. That is not the only way that U.S. forces can be introduced into hostilities. According to the War Powers Resolution , the U.S. has introduced its armed forces into hostilities under these circumstances:

For purposes of this joint resolution, the term "introduction of United States Armed Forces" includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany [bold mine-DL] the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.

Any fair reading of this definition has to apply to the regular U.S. refueling of coalition planes that are engaged in an ongoing bombing campaign. The U.S. is obviously participating in the "movement" of coalition forces when it provides their planes with fuel. Indeed, our forces are making the movement of their forces possible through refueling. U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen clearly counts as introducing U.S. forces into hostilities under the WPR, and neither administration has sought or received authorization to do this. No president is permitted to do this unless there is "(1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." There has obviously been no action from Congress that authorizes this, and there is certainly no emergency or attack that justifies it. U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen is illegal, and the Senate should pass S.J.Res. 54 to end it.


so it's blackmail March 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

"Mattis wrote that restricting military support the United States is providing to the Saudi-led coalition "could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis -- all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis.""

Wow. So MBS is blackmailing us. He's threatening to kill more civilians, to stop anti-terror cooperation, and to shut us out of other Saudi regional security decisions if we don't help him starve and wreck Yemen.

Maybe the situation is a little clearer, but how can anyone take Trump seriously after this embarrassing confession by Mattis?

We may assume that Trump has no self-respect, but doesn't he have any respect for his office? Is he really going to let this disgusting little torture freak jerk him around like this? When it implicates all Americans in Saudi war crimes?

SteveM , says: March 15, 2018 at 2:14 pm
Re: "Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen"

Unfortunately, in this day of warped Military Exceptionalism as the civic religion, a 4-Star pedigree fronting weak arguments makes them essentially unassailable. No matter how immoral, idiotic or costly to the taxpayers.

Mad Dog Mattis got a free ride with his logically incoherent, hyper-belligerent pronouncements related to the National Security Strategy. Expect no different response to his perverse rationalizations of the Yemen catastrophe.

Generals and Admirals now pop off stupid and dangerous opinions right and left and are never challenged by an MSM that is bedazzled by anyone wearing stars on their shoulders.

Mattis' case for Yemen is not only weak, it's pathetic. Too bad the co-opted and seduced MSM will never suggest that to the public at large deluded by the omnipresent propaganda of the National Security State.

Nothing will change until the undeserved fawning adoration of the War Machine Elite is substantially attenuated.

Alex Ingrum , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:12 pm
The neocons will stop at nothing to bring down anyone they suspect of threatening Israel or U.S. military hegemony in the Middle East.

First, they lied about WMDs in Iraq and started a completely illegal war, killing millions and devastating that country for generations. That led directly to the creation of ISIS and the havoc it has wrought on both Iraq and Syria (and increasingly in other countries).

Then under Obama and Sec. Clinton, they allowed the military takeover of Egypt by the murderous and oppressive El-Sisi and launched an aggressive war of regime change in Libya, throwing both North African countries into turmoil.

Then they supported the brutal and savage ongoing Saudi war against Yemen to curb non-existent Iranian influence, followed by politically isolating Qatar for its supposed chumminess with Iran.

The neocons will do absolutely anything to bring down the Iranian regime, no matter how many foreign and American lives and destroyed to achieve that end.

b. , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm
The details of Mattis' letter of indulgence do not matter as much as the fact that he is willing to defend the indefensible. Even if his professed concerns were not only genuine, but actually reflected reality, he also has to know better than anybody else within the administration about the consequences of the US-backed Saudi/UAE invasion of Yemen.

Mattis has joined Graham and Albright in the "worth it" campaign to sustain and extend perfectly predictable atrocities.

If he wants to make the case that we cannot accept uncertainty with respect to an alleged Iranian aggression towards Saudi Arabia – and with even more unlikely acquiescence by the Houthi to let Iran use them the way the US uses the Kurds – or even assuming that Mattis wants to misrepresent possible Houthi blowback against Saudi Arabia as "Iranian" just for convenience – then it should be clear that he is claimng we can easily accept uncertainty with respect to Yemeni blowback against the US – blowback that he also uses to justify the US campaign inside Yemen, and that fueled Obama's pathological obsession with ideological cleansing in Yemen and other prospective "safe harbors".

Mattis is proving the validity of the actual Powell Doctrine – if you join it, you own it – both with respect to US co-belligerence in Yemen, and with respect to Mattis personally. He is also proving the observation that anybody who is willing to join an administration as criminal as that of Bush, Obama or Trump is unlikely to do any good – by their voluntary association they have irredeemably tainted themselves.

Uncle Billy , says: March 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm
We do not want to get in the middle of this Sunni vs. Shiite war. The Saudis want to destroy the Shiites in Yemen and we are fools at best and criminals at worst to help them. The people of Yemen are no threat to the US and for theAmerican Government to cooperate with the Saudis in the murderof Yemeni women and children is revolting.
Sisera , says: March 16, 2018 at 6:06 pm
Americans have heard for years that supporting "democracy" and popular uprisings throughout the Middle East are in our national interests, the basis being that oppressed people are more likely to resort to terrorism.

Yet in the cases of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and now Yemen popular revolutions of Shias demanding equal rights are actually deemed a threat to our national security.

The neocons have gotten so deep in the Gulf/Israel v. Iran conflict that they're not even keeping to the ostensible reasons for interventionism.

[Feb 11, 2018] Whodunit Who "Meddled" With "Our Democracy" by Ilana Mercer

Feb 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

Republicans have revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on. I'd expect nothing less from a Court created and perpetuated by George W. Bush and his Republicans.

But, what do you know? Following Barack Obama's lead, President Donald Trump and his Republicans have renewed FISA Section 702, which, in fact, has facilitated the usurpations the same representatives are currently denouncing.

Also in contravention of a quaint constitutional relic called the Fourth Amendment is Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has taken possession of "many tens of thousands of emails from President Donald Trump's transition team." There is no limit, seemingly, to the power of the special counsel.

Look, we're living in a post-Constitutional America. Complaints about the damage done to our "democracy" by outsiders are worse than silly. Such damage pales compared to what we Americans have done to a compact rooted in the consent of the governed and the drastically limited and delimited powers of those who govern.

In other words, a republic. Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

The destruction is on display daily.

Pray tell where-oh-where in the US Constitution does it say that anyone crossing over into the US may demand and get an abortion? But apparently, this is settled law -- a universally upheld right, irrespective of whose property and territory it impinges.

The only aspect our clodhopper media -- left and right -- deign to debate in such abortion-tourism cases is the interloper's global reproductive rights. So, if abortion is a service Americans must render to the world, why not the right to a colonoscopy or a facelift?

Cannabis: The reason it's notin the Constitution is because letting states and individuals decide is in the Constitution. That thing of beauty is called the Tenth Amendment:

" The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

That's right. In American federalism, the rights of the individual were meant to be secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. Yet on cannabis, the meager constitutional devolution of power away from the Federales and to states and individuals Republicans have reversed. Some are even prattling about a constitutional cannabis amendment, as if there's a need for further "constitutional" centralization of authority.

After 230 years of just such "constitutional" consolidation, it's safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter; that the natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute that would fill an entire building floor. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders' original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America's Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

The welfare clause stipulates that "Congress will have the power to provide for the general welfare." And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme , have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People's pockets for any perceivable purpose and project. Witness a judiciary of scurrilous statists that had even found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine, an act of force President Trump has mercifully repealed.

anonymous Disclaimer , February 9, 2018 at 10:30 am GMT

A few more observations, with which Ms. Mercer should agree:

The invertebrate Congress has been a weak link in the Constitutional system, deferring in the last 50 years to the judiciary in matters of domestic policy and to the executive in matters of foreign policy, most obviously war.

Turning the Constitution into a mystical, living document speaking through robed priests has served to trash it.

The loss of the States' authority was gradual, but amending the Constitution to have voters directly elect senators looks in retrospect like a key step in the national government's arrogation of authority.

The world's gaudiest whorehouse is also wide open for business with foreign interests. And why not? If Uncle Sam is trying to run the world, then shouldn't everyone in the Empire be allowed to participate in the democracy?

The Alarmist , February 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm GMT

" treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on."

To be correct, the US government considers its subjects to be chattels property. For my part, the US is my crazy ex-girlfriend, who always wants to know where I'm going, who I'm seeing, what I'm doing, and who annually wants a full accounting of every Dollar, Pound, Euro and ounce I earn, spend or hold.

[Jan 06, 2018] Washington Is Out to Get Steve Bannon

Looks like Bannon self-immolated himself by his cooperation with Wolff
Notable quotes:
"... Bannon is almost universally loathed by the Washington press corps, and not just for his politics. When he was the CEO of the pro-Trump Breitbart website, he competed with traditional media outlets, and he has often mercilessly attacked and ridiculed them. ..."
"... The animosity towards Bannon reached new heights last month, when he incautiously told the New York Times that "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." He also said the media was "the opposition party" to the Trump administration. To the Washington media, those are truly fighting words. ..."
"... Bannon's comments were outrageous, but they are hardly new. In 2009, President Obama's White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News' access to the White House. She even said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent." The media's outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least. ..."
"... Reporters and pundits are also stepping up the effort to portray Bannon as the puppet master in the White House. Last week, MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Legitimate media are getting word that Steve Bannon is the last guy in the room, in the evening especially, and he's pulling the strings." Her co-host, Joe Scarborough, agreed that Bannon's role should be "investigated." ..."
"... I'm all for figuring out who the powers behind the curtain are in the White House, but we saw precious little interest in that during the Obama administration. ..."
"... Liberal writer Steven Brill wrote a 2015 book, America's Bitter Pill , in which he slammed "incompetence in the White House" for the catastrophic launch of Obamacare. "Never [has there] been a group of people who more incompetently launched something," he told NPR's Terry Gross, who interviewed him about the book. He laid much of the blame at Jarrett's doorstep. "The people in the administration who knew it was going wrong went to the president directly with memos, in person, to his chief of staff," he said. "The president was protected, mostly by Valerie Jarrett, from doing anything. . . . He didn't know what was going on in the single most important initiative of his administration." How important was Jarrett inside the Obama White House? Brill interviewed the president about the struggles of Obamacare and reported Obama's conclusion: "At this point, I am not so interested in Monday-morning quarterbacking the past." ..."
"... five of the highest-ranking Obama officials had told him that "as a practical matter . . . Jarrett was the real chief of staff on any issues that she wanted to weigh in on, and she jealously protected that position by making sure the president never gave anyone else too much power." When Brill asked the president about these aides' assessment of Jarrett, Obama "declined comment," Brill wrote in his book. That, in and of itself, was an answer. Would that Jarrett had received as much media scrutiny of her role in eight years under Obama as Bannon has in less than four weeks. ..."
"... I've had my disagreements with Bannon, whose apocalyptic views on some issues I don't share. Ronald Reagan once said that if someone in Washington agrees with you 80 percent of the time, he is an ally, not an enemy. I'd guess Bannon wouldn't agree with that sentiment. ..."
Feb 15, 2017 | www.unz.com
... ... ..

Bannon is almost universally loathed by the Washington press corps, and not just for his politics. When he was the CEO of the pro-Trump Breitbart website, he competed with traditional media outlets, and he has often mercilessly attacked and ridiculed them.

The animosity towards Bannon reached new heights last month, when he incautiously told the New York Times that "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." He also said the media was "the opposition party" to the Trump administration. To the Washington media, those are truly fighting words.

Joel Simon, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told CNN that "this kind of speech not [only] undermines the work of the media in this country, it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world." Jacob Weisberg, the head of the Slate Group, tweeted that Bannon's comment was terrifying and "tyrannical."

Bannon's comments were outrageous, but they are hardly new. In 2009, President Obama's White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News' access to the White House. She even said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent." The media's outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least.

Ever since Bannon's outburst, you can hear the media gears meshing in the effort to undermine him. In TV green rooms and at Washington parties, I've heard journalists say outright that it's time to get him. Time magazine put a sinister-looking Bannon on its cover, describing him as "The Great Manipulator." Walter Isaacson, a former managing editor of Time , boasted to MSNBC that the image was in keeping with a tradition of controversial covers that put leaders in their place. "Likewise, putting [former White House aide] Mike Deaver on the cover, the brains behind Ronald Reagan, that ended up bringing down Reagan," he told the hosts of Morning Joe . "So you've got to have these checks and balances, whether it's the judiciary or the press."

Reporters and pundits are also stepping up the effort to portray Bannon as the puppet master in the White House. Last week, MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Legitimate media are getting word that Steve Bannon is the last guy in the room, in the evening especially, and he's pulling the strings." Her co-host, Joe Scarborough, agreed that Bannon's role should be "investigated."

I'm all for figuring out who the powers behind the curtain are in the White House, but we saw precious little interest in that during the Obama administration.

It wasn't until four years after the passage of Obamacare that a journalist reported on just how powerful White House counselor Valerie Jarrett had been in its flawed implementation. Liberal writer Steven Brill wrote a 2015 book, America's Bitter Pill , in which he slammed "incompetence in the White House" for the catastrophic launch of Obamacare. "Never [has there] been a group of people who more incompetently launched something," he told NPR's Terry Gross, who interviewed him about the book. He laid much of the blame at Jarrett's doorstep. "The people in the administration who knew it was going wrong went to the president directly with memos, in person, to his chief of staff," he said. "The president was protected, mostly by Valerie Jarrett, from doing anything. . . . He didn't know what was going on in the single most important initiative of his administration." How important was Jarrett inside the Obama White House? Brill interviewed the president about the struggles of Obamacare and reported Obama's conclusion: "At this point, I am not so interested in Monday-morning quarterbacking the past."

Brill then bluntly told the president that five of the highest-ranking Obama officials had told him that "as a practical matter . . . Jarrett was the real chief of staff on any issues that she wanted to weigh in on, and she jealously protected that position by making sure the president never gave anyone else too much power." When Brill asked the president about these aides' assessment of Jarrett, Obama "declined comment," Brill wrote in his book. That, in and of itself, was an answer. Would that Jarrett had received as much media scrutiny of her role in eight years under Obama as Bannon has in less than four weeks.

I've had my disagreements with Bannon, whose apocalyptic views on some issues I don't share. Ronald Reagan once said that if someone in Washington agrees with you 80 percent of the time, he is an ally, not an enemy. I'd guess Bannon wouldn't agree with that sentiment.

But the media's effort to turn Bannon into an enemy of the people is veering into hysterical character assassination. The Sunday print edition of the New York Times ran an astonishing 1,500-word story headlined: "Fascists Too Lax for a Philosopher Cited by Bannon." (The online headline now reads, "Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists.") The Times based this headline on what it admits was "a passing reference" in a speech by Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014 . In that speech, Bannon made a single mention of Julius Evola, an obscure Italian philosopher who opposed modernity and cozied up to Mussolini's Italian Fascists.

- John Fund is NRO's national-affairs correspondent . https://twitter.com/@JohnFund

[Dec 20, 2017] Trump's 'National Security Strategy' Is the Opposite of National Security by Thomas Knapp

Dec 20, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

The Goldwater-Nichols Act requires the president to submit a "National Security Strategy" report each year. Every president since Ronald Reagan has failed to comply with the law in one or more years of his administration, but on December 17 Donald Trump issued his report .

Unfortunately, Trump's offering is of a piece with his prior displays of economic illiteracy and foreign policy jingoism. It's a dog's breakfast of policy pronouncements that couldn't be more opposed to real "national security" if that had been the author's intention.

The document reiterates Trump's commitment to economic protectionism in the guise of "fair and reciprocal" trade, rattles sabers at Russia, China, and North Korea, and commits to extending decades of disastrous US military adventurism in the Middle East.

Trump's distant predecessors showed us what a real "National Security Strategy" would look like.

At the end of his two terms as president, George Washington warned in his farewell address that "[t]he great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible."

Thomas Jefferson echoed that sentiment in his first inaugural address, announcing a doctrine of "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none."

While serving as US Secretary of State, future president John Quincy Adams observed that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

Those principles served the US well to the extent that they were followed – with a few exceptions, throughout the 19th century. But since the Spanish-American War of 1898, the US has increasingly styled itself an imperial power, attempting to dictate to the world at a cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives and millions more abroad, as well as trillions of dollars redirected from productive endeavors to paying the butcher's bill. The 20th century was a near-continuous orgy of bloodshed which, for the US, was entirely optional.

A real "National Security Strategy" comes down to two things: Free trade, and minding our own business.

Early in his presidential campaign, Trump hinted at the latter, but quickly reverted to business as usual. He's clearly never grasped the former at all. Unfortunate, as the two are also the elements of a great presidency, if such a thing is even possible.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism . He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

[Aug 30, 2017] Will the Real GOP Non-Interventionists Stand up

Aug 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Jonathan Tkachuk

Today's struggle for 'America First' foreign policy on Capitol Hill.

Before the tragic events in Charlottesville on August 12th, President Donald Trump had received a deserved amount of scrutiny for his heated rhetoric pertaining to the North Korean nuclear issue. This recent swing in media coverage is regrettable, given that Trump's foreign policy statements and actions matter more, or should matter more, to Americans.

More Americans (not to mention foreign civilians ) have been killed or wounded by American foreign policy interventionism since September 11, 2001, than by foreign-born terrorists white nationalists , and hate crimes combined. Sadly, underplaying the consequences of war overseas may be a good thing these days, since over-exposure has often yielded perverse incentives for interventionism, to which Trump has shown himself quite susceptible.

The need for new political incentives that reinforce President Trump's "America First" instincts has not been lost on his non-interventionist supporters. In an article for The American Conservative on June 26th, William Lind called for the creation of an "America First Caucus" to serve as a non-interventionist beachhead on Capitol Hill similar to how the "Military Reform Caucus" of the 1980s served as a congressional pressure point for effectiveness and efficiency in the defense budget. According to Lind, this caucus would provide support for the President when he took a non-interventionist course and criticize the President when he erred on the side of intervention. By adopting "America First" in its name, the caucus would insulate itself from neoconservative charges of being "weak" while simultaneously shielding itself ( in theory at least ) from criticism by the President.

So what would an America First Caucus on Capitol Hill look like? Unlike the "Military Reform Caucus" of the 1980s, which boasted a bipartisan membership of more than 130 at its height, Lind argues that an America First Caucus would need to be explicitly partisan (a "Republican anti-intervention caucus") and confined to non-interventionist conservatives on the grounds that a bipartisan caucus would be impractical in the current political climate. Although he did not identify specific congressmen, Lind presumably had Senator Rand Paul and Representatives Thomas Massie, Justin Amash, Walter Jones, and John "Jimmy" Duncan in mind as prime candidates for this caucus.

Which America First?

One immediate problem that the new America First Caucus would face would be how to define which brand of 'America First' anti-interventionism they would want to espouse. Would it mirror the philosophy of the namesake of the America First Committee (AFC) of 1940-1941? Or would it use the updated version used by the Trump Administration? Given that the current administration has adopted policies , and is considering additional policies that conflict with its own definition of 'America First,' it might be wiser for the new caucus to look to the original AFC for inspiration.

Founded on September 4,1940, the AFC was a bipartisan anti-interventionist movement opposed to American involvement in Europe during World War II which they saw as a continuation of the mindless bloodletting of World War I. In America First: The Battle Against Intervention 1940-1941 (1953), Wayne Cole identified four founding principles and four objectives of the AFC (listed below).

Principles:

The United States must build an impregnable defense for America. No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America. American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European war. "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.

Objectives:

To bring together all Americans, regardless of possible differences on other matters, who see eye-to-eye on these principles. (This does not include Nazists, Fascists, Communists, or members of other groups that place the interest of any other nation above those of our own country.) To urge Americans to keep their heads amid rising hysteria in times of crisis. To provide sane national leadership for the majority of the American people who want to keep out of the European war. To register this opinion with the President and with the Congress.

What is perhaps most striking about the principles and objectives of the AFC is the extent to which it, with a minimal amount of updating, can be borrowed by non-interventionists today. Below is a modified list of these principles and objectives that an America First Caucus could use as a guiding charter.

Principles:

The United States must maintain an impregnable defense for America. No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America without incurring an unacceptably high cost for such an attack on itself. American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the next undeclared war of choice. "Meddling short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad." The only way to neutralize the threat Al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIL) pose to the United States is through smart and effective diplomacy. This diplomacy must contain the following features: A withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Islamic countries over the next three years, prioritizing cooperation with all foreign governments in lawfully undermining these organizations, and aggressively promoting nuclear non-proliferation in accordance to international law (i.e. without resorting to the use of military force or implying the use of military force).

Objectives:

To bring together all Americans, regardless of possible differences on other matters, who see eye-to-eye on these principles. To urge Americans to keep their heads amid rising hysteria in times of crisis. To provide sane national leadership for the majority of the American people who want to keep out of the next undeclared war of choice. To register this opinion with the President and with the rest of our colleagues in Congress.

What can realistically be accomplished?

What could an America First Caucus realistically accomplish? At first glance, not much. Its small size (initially no more than five or so members expected), partisan make up (all Republicans), and declining membership (Rep. Jimmy Duncan will not seek re-election in 2018) would make it difficult for its voice to be heard amid the cacophony of voices on Capitol Hill.

That said there are reasons to be optimistic. It would contain a former presidential candidate and prominent conservative U.S. Senator who occupies a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Sen. Rand Paul), two House members on the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security (Rep. Justin Amash and Rep. Jimmy Duncan), two House members with military service (Rep. Walter Jones and Rep. Jimmy Duncan), one House member on the Committee on Armed Services (Rep. Walter Jones), one House member that is not up for re-election and thus has nothing to lose (Rep. Jimmy Duncan), and one House member who is an all-around non-interventionist anchor (Rep. Thomas Massie).

Another reason for optimism is that it would be the only caucus of its kind on the Hill pushing this message. That message, that the lives of American service members are not cheap and that America should practice nation-building at home instead of intervening abroad, is popular. The voters who bore the human cost of American interventionism put Trump in the White House.

There are several courses of action the caucus could take that would stand a reasonable chance of succeeding. These actions could also create new political incentives in Washington that discourage interventionism.

The first would be to introduce or support existing legislation that would repeal both the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq (AUMFs). Support for repealing the 2001 AUMF is growing within the 115th Congress and the 2002 AUMF has its share of bipartisan critics . Yet these congressional misgivings have not translated into an organized opposition. An America First Caucus would provide this while also lending a distinctly non-interventionist voice to those who simply wish to replace these AUMFs with new ones that are not necessary to protect the country (i.e. let Syria, Iran, Russia, and Turkey fight ISIL in Syria and let Iraq and Iran fight ISIL in Iraq).

The second would be to introduce a resolution in the House re-establishing the tradition of reading George Washington's Farewell Address in the House at the beginning of every new session of Congress. Unlike the Senate, which currently holds to this tradition, the House discarded this tradition in 1979. Although a symbolic move, it would nevertheless bring attention to the broader non-interventionist message by making the America First Caucus the public voice responsible for bringing back this otherwise uncontroversial and bipartisan tradition.

A third course of action would be to introduce legislation amending the National Security Act of 1947 and renaming the Department of Defense as the Department of War. In his inaugural address Trump noted that the U.S. "defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own." By pushing for this name change, the America First Caucus would force a public conversation regarding whether our foreign and defense policy is really "defensive" in nature.

Lastly, the America First Caucus would provide a congressional forum where deviant foreign policy views such as non-interventionism and intelligent diplomacy can be heard, expressed, and debated. This would include providing a congressional audience to like-minded advocates, policy practitioners, and scholars.

Challenges

Carrying the non-interventionist banner and keeping Trump accountable would not be easy. Republicans railed against the Obama Administration's foreign policy for eight years on the grounds that it was not sufficiently belligerent in rhetoric or in action. Trump shares this sentiment and seems intent on conducting his foreign policy in a way that highlights the contrast in bellicosity between himself and Obama. Although this bellicosity has been largely confined to the diplomatic sphere, the president's announcement last week regarding Afghanistan, along with his ordered attacks on the Syrian government back in April, shows that he is willing to convert these sentiments into action.

Where this bellicosity could turn into a real shooting war would be with Iran. Trump seems intent on undermining the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. His hostility to the agreement, and to Iran in general, is shared by both parties, particularly his "never Trump" Republican detractors. Terminating the Iran deal would accomplish three things. First, it would immediately unite an otherwise fractured GOP in Congress behind the president. Second, it would immediately isolate the U.S. from the rest of the international community and expose American non-proliferation efforts as having been conducted in bad faith. Lastly, it would pave the way for a shooting war with Iran which a GOP-controlled Congress would support.

Compounding this problem further is that none of the individual members of an America First Caucus supported the Iran nuclear deal (albeit for different and less belligerent reasons). An America First Caucus might not be able to alter the political incentives for Trump regarding the Iran nuclear deal. Then again, it might not have to. If the caucus can highlight an issue where Trump can both secure a political "win" and pivot back to his domestic agenda!such as withdrawing U.S. military personnel from most of its overseas bases and using the savings to pass a Trump-endorsed transportation bill!it might be sufficient to redirect the president's attention away from Iran. This would give those who are more favorably disposed to the Iran nuclear deal in the administration Capitol Hill , and the Beltway time to convince the president that undoing the deal is more work than it is worth.

Given the lack of major legislative accomplishments, and the likelihood that tax and immigration reform proposals would meet the same fate as the recent healthcare bill, Trump is more likely to secure a political "win" in the realm that past presidents have retreated to when their domestic agendas are stymied by Congress: foreign policy. These perverse political incentives towards interventionism, particularly as they pertain to Iran, will be the most difficult challenge facing an America First Caucus.

With the departure of Steve Bannon from the White House and the administration opting to deploy more American forces to Afghanistan, the need for a new set of political incentives towards non-interventionism has never been greater. Trump was elected because the American electorate believed he, and not Hillary Clinton, would put the well-being of Americans first. It is time members of Congress stand up and hold him to that promise.

Jonathan Tkachuk is a former congressional staffer for a House Republican. He has a M.A. in Diplomacy (Counter-Terrorism) from Norwich University.

[Aug 08, 2017] The US political system is designed to prevent real populists from ever gaining office. Use of the terms "Isolationist" and "Isolationism" within the context of US History differs little from the use of the term Conspiracy Theory

Aug 08, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit | Aug 6, 2017 1:46:45 PM | 33

The sanctions are a smart play for world domination by the cabal that controls the Empire. that the rest of the world suffers while this plays out is of no concern to them.

Those wringing their hands over Trump's failure to confront Congress are foolish. His caving was entirely predictable because he is a faux-Populist like Obama before him. Isn't it clear by now that "America First" is as much as lie as "Change You Can Believe In"?

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Russia is more susceptible than China to being politically undermined by both overt and covert means.

As the economic cost of conflict with the US mounts, so too does the potential benefits of restoring ties. The potential for a HUGE economic boost by restoring ties with the West will play a big part in post-Putin politics.

If US can disrupt energy trade with China and new Silk-Road transport links (via proxies like ISIS) , the Russian economy will sink and pro-Western candidates will gain much support.

Seamus Padraig | Aug 6, 2017 2:27:41 PM | 35
The new additional sanctions, like the Jackson-Vanik amendment and the Magnitsky act, were shaped by domestic U.S. policy issues.

Yeah, sure. (((Domestic U.S. policy issues.)))

Seriously though, as a committed isolationist, I'm actually overjoyed that our congress is idiotic enough to start up a trade war with the EU. The notion that the Germans are going to import overpriced fracked gas all the way from the US is a total fantasy. No: these sanctions will accelerate the coming break-up of NATO ... an outcome I very much welcome. And even if the Germans were to cave and cancel Nordstream, the Russians would simply sell all that extra gas to Asia anyway. So this isn't going to have any real effect on them either.

chet380 | Aug 6, 2017 2:49:08 PM | 39
Grieved --

If Trump and Tillerson are quietly able to have the Europeans to raise a constant hue and cry about the bill's negative impact on their ability to conduct international trade, an excellent groundwork would be laid for Trump to go to the US SC to attack the constitutionality of the bill.

h | Aug 6, 2017 2:54:20 PM | 40
Grieved @36 - I appreciate your most thoughtful comment. When I read Mercouris' article I immediately thought - Whoa, if this turns out to be the correct analysis, my God man the U.S. government is in way more trouble than I understood. Navigating a soft coup takes a great deal of skill to avoid, but if the globalists continue to escalate their warmongering demands from the White House and Trump/Team continue to form their own path, the people of the U.S. should be warned a hard coup isn't far behind...Antifa and others are being readied for just such an event.

Gives me a chill...

james | Aug 6, 2017 2:59:51 PM | 42
t@36 grieved.. if i could just paraphrase you in my own words... the usa system is fucked...
Temporarily Sane | Aug 6, 2017 4:34:15 PM | 47
b writes:
That in itself is astonishing and frightening. Can no one in the U.S. see where this will lead to?

When analyzing the United States' relations with the rest of the world it helps to keep in mind the deep state goal of world domination via "full spectrum dominance". It is a dangerous delusion of the highest order but it is one that is actively being put into practice. The actions taken against Russia, Iran, North Korea and other nations all lead to one thing: war.

frances | Aug 6, 2017 4:46:10 PM | 48
my apologies, this is a bit long but...On Trump's perceived option of signing vs not signing; I think he knew that the Congress/DNC/MSM would have tarred and feathered him as a RUSSIAN PAWN (RP) till the cows come home if he didn't sign.

However by signing the bill with notations stating its flaws and forwarding it the the SC for their review, he blocked this latest RP label attempt and attendant witch hunt.

And assuming the SC thinks as little of the two bills legislative incursions into the exec domain as I do, it can be tossed back to both houses of Congress (with a 2018 election cycle staring them in the face)with a statement from Trump saying something to the effect of "Merciful God, how can you represent your constituents when you clearly don't have a grasp of your own job description??

Now I have to fund Trump supporting candidates to run against every single one of you." Remember he has already raised 75 million and he raised 250 million plus 66 million of his own and beat a 1.3 billion DNC machine. I do not see him as a great candidate but I do see that every single current congressional seat is held by people who are bought and paid for by business/MIC interests opposed to mine. I believe this latest attack on him via these bills will give him the opportunity to "drain the swamp" some of it anyway, in the upcoming election cycle and I will contribute to his effort to wipe them out of office and I suspect others will as well. There will be no coup on my watch if I can help it by helping him.

heath | Aug 6, 2017 4:50:46 PM | 49
rather than press China directly in the south China Sea, it seems DC keeps on pressing the North Koreans to do something rash and the Chinese having to invade to forestall the rash attack then being stuck in a long Guerrilla war against Korean resistance.

the US strategy seems to be to create a problem and force other nations to choose "the Axis of Evil" or "the Free World"

karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:03:32 PM | 51
b--would you check the spam grabber and rescue my links-filled post from @4pm blog time? Thanks!!
ben | Aug 6, 2017 5:04:51 PM | 52
The following, is for all you folks that believe voting in the U$A can make a difference.

https://www.rt.com/usa/397907-defcon-first-voting-village/

Until we trash the e-voting systems, our voting means nothing..

karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:06:39 PM | 53
Grieved @36--

If you haven't yet, you'll want to read my several posts related to yours a few threads ago beginning here, http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/07/countdown-to-war-on-venezuela.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef01b8d29b37ca970c

Anonymous | Aug 6, 2017 5:25:41 PM | 54
LawrenceSmith @1

There are two faces to Europe - the ordinary elected representatives and business people see the futility and danger of the sanctions. The bought Eurocrat and high political placemen will repeat what they are paid to say as the waters rise above their lips.

fast freddy | Aug 6, 2017 5:26:57 PM | 55
Trump can go on TV anytime and appeal to the Public with some creative truth. Why not? Afraid of the PTB? or he's a fraud like Obama going along with the PTB?

Mostly from Trump we get boilerplate global terror war bullshit, immigrant and gay bashing - gruel for the knuckleheads.

There is no question that Pence would gladly run the bus over Trump and be a real warmonger for Zion. The "real" Republicans (and the "business-friendly New Democrats") would love President Pence. Everything (media) would quiet down.

karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:35:50 PM | 56
Regarding the Mercouris article myself and others have linked to and discussed, one possibility he didn't really explore was Trump Pocket Vetoing the bill. Congress would then upon returning from its recess need to reenact the entire measure after getting lots of heat from constituents for their votes during recess. Indeed, I think the overwhelming Pro vote was due to many congresscritter's assumption that Trump would do just that.

For me, the important question is why the Deep State instigated this move; so, I posted links to 6 incisive articles also looking for an answer in one manner or other that all together pointing to a Deep State flailing its arms in the deep end of the Hubris Pool realizing its drowning in its own effluent yet unable to utter that truth as it never will--it will break the mirror before allowing it to utter the truth. The Law of Diminishing Returns is finally laying the lumber to the Deep State after 130 years of grossly naked imperialism. Luce would be spinning in his grave if he knew how his American Century was being destroyed for A Few Dollars More.

Perhaps, John Pilger's latest essay will provide an explanation, https://www.rt.com/op-edge/398789-us-russia-china-war/

Jackrabbit | Aug 6, 2017 6:01:45 PM | 57
h@37

My take on Trump is informed by facts such as:

>> The US political system is designed to prevent real populists from ever gaining office. Examples: Citizens United and the rules to qualify for inclusion in candidate debates.

>> Obama was a faux populist and Sanders was a sheep-dog. Are we to believe that these populists were phonies but Trump is the real deal?

>> Only Sanders and Trump positioned themselves as populists. And even more importantly, Hillary didn't counter Trump by taking a more populist approach.

>> Hillary made it clear that she wanted to face Trump in the general election. The media dutifully covered Trump as a serious candidate. Supposedly, she felt that she had a better chance to defeat him. She then ran a terrible campaign (see: NYPost: Hillary ran the worst presidential campaign ever despite having every advantage.

>> Why would any oligarch oppose the establishment? Especially since Trump was so close to Hillary who was considered to be the likely next President. In fact, Trump served Hillary by becoming a leader of the 'Birthers'. Hillary was the first to question if Obama was foreign born.

>> Pence is a friend of McCain's. Why would any populist pick Pence as VP?

>> One of Trump's first announcements after he was elected was that he would not seek to prosecute Hillary. The strange, and short-lived, media frenzy regarding Hillary's health helped Trump to make this choice. It seems likely that this was coordinated.

>> Trump acts or doesn't act in ways that are inconsistent with 'America First' and/or fuel the scaremongering over Russia:

> The missile attack on Syria (despite tweeting warnings to Obama not to bomb Syria in 2013) and sword dancing with the Saudis (WTF?);

> Not dismissing Comey early in his Administration - then alluding to 'tapes' after he did;

> Drip-drip of info regarding Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian; Publicly attacking Sessions; etc.

> Trump complains about 'Fake News' but has accepted that Russia interfered in the election;

For more:

How Things Work: Betrayal by Faux-Populist Leaders

Taken In: Fake News Distracts Us From Fake Election

karlof1 | Aug 7, 2017 3:44:05 PM | 100
Use of the terms "Isolationist" and "Isolationism" within the context of US History differs little from the use of the terms "Conspiracy Theory," Conspiracy Theorist," and "Revisionist"--all are used in an attempt to degrade the credibility of an individual or organization. A priori, everyone aside from First Peoples is an Internationalist as commerce with other nations of the world isn't optional--it's mandatory, thus the phrase within the Declaration about telling the world why. Rather, Isolationist is used to tar someone against Imperialism, the best examples being the very heated debate during the 1930s over the various Neutrality Acts when the hoi polloi last had some vestige of control over the federal government. (Pacifist was also a derogatory term used then for similar reasons.) Did Trump say he would close US borders to one and all--people, goods, financial instruments? No, of course not; so, he cannot be labeled an Isolationist. Now, is he what's known as a Nativist promoting an America First Nativism? During his campaign, he did use rhetoric of that sort, but his actions in office don't provide confirmation. (The 1932 presidential election also gives an excellent example of how the terms Internationalist and Isolationist are used politically, with FDR steadfastly refusing to acknowledge his Internationalism thanks to the divisive League of Nations debate after WW1.)

Essentially, to be an informed citizen of almost any nation, one needs the equivalent of a PhD in their national and world history, with minors in philosophy, anthropology and economics, which is why the citizenry seems so ill-informed--they are!--and easily led by the nose.

[Jul 26, 2017] US Provocation and North Korea Pretext for War with China by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Unlike the Roman Empire, the 1990's were not to be the prelude to an unchallenged US empire of long duration. Since the 'unipolarists' were pursuing multiple costly and destructive wars of conquest and they were unable to rely on the growth of satellites with emerging industrial economies for its profits. US global power eroded. ..."
"... The domestic disasters of the US vassal regime in Russia, under Boris Yeltsin during the 1990″s, pushed the voters to elect a nationalist, Vladimir Putin. President Vladimir Putin's government embarked on a program to regain Russian sovereignty and its position as a global power, countering US internal intervention and pushing back against external encirclement by NATO. ..."
"... The mostly likely site for starting World War III is the Korean peninsula. The unipolarists and their allies in the state apparatus have systematically built-up the conditions to trigger a war with China using the pretext of the North Korean defensive weapons program. ..."
"... The unipolarists' state apparatus has gathered its allies in Congress and the mass media to create public hysteria. Congress and the administration of President Trump have fabricated the North Korean missile program as a 'threat to the United States'. This has allowed the unipolarist state to implement an offensive military strategy to counter this phony 'threat'. ..."
"... The elite have discarded all previous diplomatic negotiations and agreements with North Korea in order to prepare for war – ultimately directed at China. This is because China is the most dynamic and successful global economic challenger to US world domination. ..."
"... South Korea's deeply corrupt and blindly submissive regime immediately accepted the US/THADD system on their territory. Washington found the compliant South Korean 'deep state' willing to sacrifice its crucial economic links with Beijing: China is South Korea's biggest trading partner. In exchange for serving as a platform for future US aggression against China, South Korea has suffered losses in trade, investments and employment. Even if a new South Korea government were to reverse this policy, the US will not move its THAAD installation. China, for its part, has largely cut its economic and investment ties with some of South Korea's biggest conglomerates. Tourism, cultural and academic exchanges, commercial agreements and, most important, most of South Korean industrial exports face shut down. ..."
"... The rise and fall of unipolar America has not displaced the permanent state apparatus as it continues to pursue its deluded strategies ..."
"... On the contrary, the unipolarists are accelerating their drive for global military conquest by targeting Russia and China, which they insist are the cause of their losing wars and global economic decline. They live on their delusions of a 'Golden Age' of the 1990's when George Bush, Sr. could devastate Iraq and Bill Clinton could bomb Yugoslavia's cities with impunity. ..."
"... You don't seem to understand the definitions of legal and illegal in the current context: Anything the US declares legal and subject to its jurisdiction anywhere in the world is legal, otherwise it is still subject to US interpretation on its legality or not. In other words, US troops always operate legally, international law notwithstanding, and US laws have effect everywhere and at all times. What an idiotic statement. ..."
Apr 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction: US Empire building on a world-scale began during and shortly after WWII. Washington intervened directly in the Chinese civil war (providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek's army while the Red Army battled the Japanese), backed France's re-colonization war against the Viet Minh in Indo-China and installed Japanese imperial collaborator-puppet regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

While empire building took place with starts and stops, advances and defeats, the strategic goal remained the same: to prevent the establishment of independent communist or secular-nationalist governments and to impose vassal regimes compliant to US interests.

Bloody wars and coups ('regime changes') were the weapons of choice. Defeated European colonial regimes were replaced and incorporated as subordinate US allies.

Where possible, Washington relied on armies of mercenaries trained, equipped and directed by US 'advisors' to advance imperial conquests. Where necessary, usually if the client regime and vassal troops were unable to defeat an armed people's army, the US armed forces intervened directly.

Imperial strategists sought to intervene and brutally conquer the target nation. When they failed to achieve their 'maximum' goal, they dug in with a policy of encirclement to cut the links between revolutionary centers with adjoining movements. Where countries successfully resisted armed conquests, empire builders imposed economic sanctions and blockades to erode the economic basis of popular governments.

Empires, as the Roman sages long recognized, are not built in a day, or weeks and months. Temporary agreements and accords are signed and conveniently broken because imperial designs remain paramount.

Empires would foment internal cleavages among adversaries and coups in neighboring countries. Above all, they construct a worldwide network of military outposts, clandestine operatives and regional alliances on the borders of independent governments to curtail emerging military powers.

Following successful wars, imperial centers dominate production and markets, resources and labor. However, over time challenges would inevitably emerge from dependent and independent regimes. Rivals and competitors gained markets and increased military competence. While some vassal states sacrificed political-military sovereignty for independent economic development, others moved toward political independence.

Early and Late Contradictions of Expanding Imperialism

The dynamics of imperial states and systems contain contradictions that constantly challenge and change the contours of empire.

The US devoted immense resources to retain its military supremacy among vassals, but experienced a sharp decline in its share of world markets, especially with the rapid rise of new economic producers.

Economic competition forced the imperial centers to realign the focus of their economies – 'rent' (finance and speculation) displaced profits from trade and production. Imperial industries relocated abroad in search of cheap labor. Finance, insurance, real estate, communications, military and security industries came to dominate the domestic economy. A vicious cycle was created: with the erosion of its productive base, the Empire further increased its reliance on the military, finance capital and the import of cheap consumer goods.

Just after World War II, Washington tested its military prowess through intervention . Because of the immense popular resistance and the proximity of the USSR, and later PRC, empire building in post-colonial Asia was contained or militarily defeated. US forces temporarily recognized a stalemate in Korea after killing millions. Its defeat in China led to the flight of the 'Nationalists' to the provincial island of Taiwan. The sustained popular resistance and material support from socialist superpowers led to its retreat from Indo-China. In response, it resorted to economic sanctions to strangle the revolutionary governments.

The Growth of the Unipolar Ideology

With the growing power of overseas economic competitors and its increasing reliance on direct military intervention, the US Empire took advantage of the internal disintegration of the USSR and China's embrace of 'state capitalism' in the early 1990's and 1980s..The US expanded throughout the Baltic region, Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans – with the forced breakup of Yugoslavia. Imperial strategists envisioned 'a unipolar empire' – an imperial state without rivals. The Empire builders were free to invade, occupy and pillage independent states on any continent – even bombing a European capital, Belgrade, with total impunity. Multiple wars were launched against designated 'adversaries', who lacked strong global allies.

Countries in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were targeted for destruction. South America was under the control of neo-liberal regimes. The former USSR was pillaged and disarmed by imperial vassals. Russia was ruled by gangster-kleptocrats allied to US stooges. China was envisioned as nothing more than a slave workshop producing cheap mass consumer goods for Americans and generating high profits for US multinational corporations and retailers like Walmart.

Unlike the Roman Empire, the 1990's were not to be the prelude to an unchallenged US empire of long duration. Since the 'unipolarists' were pursuing multiple costly and destructive wars of conquest and they were unable to rely on the growth of satellites with emerging industrial economies for its profits. US global power eroded.

The Demise of Unipolarity: The 21st Century

Ten years into the 21st century, the imperial vision of an unchallenged unipolar empire was crumbling. China's 'primitive' accumulation led to advanced domestic accumulation for the Chinese people and state. China's power expanded overseas through investments, trade and acquisitions. China displaced the US as the leading trading partner in Asia and the largest importer of primary commodities from Latin America and Africa. China became the world's leading manufacturer and exporter of consumer goods to North America and the EU.

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed the overthrow or defeat of US vassal states throughout Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil) and the emergence of independent agro-mineral regimes poised to form regional trade pacts. This was a period of growing global demand for their natural resources and commodities- precisely when the US was de-industrializing and in the throes of costly disastrous wars in the Middle East.

In contrast to the growing independence of Latin America, the EU deepened its military participation in the brutal US-led overseas wars by expanding the 'mandate' of NATO. Brussels followed the unipolarist policy of systematically encircling Russia and weakening its independence via harsh sanctions. The EU's outward expansion (financed with increasing domestic austerity) heightened internal cleavages, leading to popular discontent .The UK voted in favor of a referendum to secede from the EU.

The domestic disasters of the US vassal regime in Russia, under Boris Yeltsin during the 1990″s, pushed the voters to elect a nationalist, Vladimir Putin. President Vladimir Putin's government embarked on a program to regain Russian sovereignty and its position as a global power, countering US internal intervention and pushing back against external encirclement by NATO.

Unipolarists continued to launch multiple wars of conquest in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, costing trillions of dollars and leading to the loss of global markets and competitiveness. As the armies of the Empire expanded globally, the domestic economy (the 'Republic') contracted .The US became mired in recession and growing poverty. Unipolar politics created a growing multi-polar global economy, while rigidly imposing military priorities.

The Empire Strikes Back: The Nuclear Option

The second decade of the 21st century ushered in the demise of unipolarity to the dismay of many 'experts' and the blind denial by its political architects. The rise of a multi-polar world economy intensified the desperate imperial drive to restore unipolarity by military means, led by militarists incapable of adjusting or assessing their own policies.

Under the regime of the 'first black' US President Obama, elected on promises to 'rein in' the military, imperial policymakers intensified their pursuit of seven, new and continuing wars. To the policymakers and the propagandists in the US-EU corporate media, these were successful imperial wars, accompanied by premature declarations of victories in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. This triumphal delusion of success led the new Administration to launch new wars in Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

As the new wave of wars and coups ('regime change') to re-impose unipolarity failed, even greater militarist policies displaced economic strategies for global dominance. The unipolarists-militarists, who direct the permanent state apparatus, continued to sacrifice markets and investments with total immunity from the disastrous consequences of their failures on the domestic economy.

A Brief Revival of Unipolarity in Latin America

Coups and power grabs have overturned independent governments in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras and threatened progressive governments in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador. However, the pro-imperial 'roll-back' in Latin America was neither politically nor economically sustainable and threatens to undermine any restoration of US unipolar dominance of the region.

The US has provided no economic aid or expanded access to markets to reward and support their newly acquired client regimes. Argentina's new vassal, Mauricio Macri, transferred billions of dollars to predatory Wall Street bankers and handed over access to military bases and lucrative resources without receiving any reciprocal inflows of investment capital. Indeed the servile policies of President Macri created greater unemployment and depressed living standards, leading to mass popular discontent. The unipolar empire's 'new boy' in its Buenos Aires fiefdom faces an early demise.

Likewise, widespread corruption, a deep economic depression and unprecedented double digit levels of unemployment in Brazil threaten the illicit vassal regime of Michel Temer with permanent crisis and rising class conflict.

Short-Lived Success in the Middle East

The revanchist unipolarist launch of a new wave of wars in the Middle East and North Africa seemed to succeed briefly with the devastating power of US-NATO aerial and naval bombardment .Then collapsed amidst grotesque destruction and chaos, flooding Europe with millions of refugees.

Powerful surges of resistance to the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan hastened the retreat toward a multi-polar world. Islamist insurgents drove the US into fortress garrisons and took control of the countryside and encircled cities in Afghanistan; Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya drove US backed regimes and mercenaries into flight.

Unipolarists and the Permanent State: Re-Group and Attack

Faced with its failures, unipolarists regrouped and implemented the most dangerous military strategy yet: the build-up of nuclear 'First-Strike' capability targeting China and Russia.

Orchestrated by US State Department political appointees, Ukraine's government was taken over by US vassals leading to the ongoing break-up of that country. Fearful of neo-fascists and Russophobes, the citizens of Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. Ethnic Russian majorities in Ukraine's Donbass region have been at war with Kiev with thousands killed and millions fleeing their homes to take refuge in Russia. The unipolarists in Washington financed and directed the Kiev coup led by kleptocrats, fascists and street mobs, immune as always from the consequences.

Meanwhile the US is increasing its number of combat troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to buttress its unreliable allies and mercenaries.

What is crucial to understanding the rise and demise of imperial power and the euphoric unipolar declarations of the 1990's (especially during the heyday of President Clinton's bloody reign), is that at no point have military and political advances been sustained by foundational economic building blocks.

The US defeated and subsequently occupied Iraq, but it also systematically destroyed Iraq's civil society and its economy, creating fertile ground for massive ethnic cleansing, waves of refugees and the subsequent Islamist uprising that over ran vast territories. Indeed, deliberate US policies in Iraq and elsewhere created the refugee crisis that is overwhelming Europe.

A similar situation is occurring during the first two decades of this century: Military victories have installed ineffective imperial-backed unpopular leaders. Unipolarists increasingly rely on the most retrograde tribal rabble, Islamist extremists, overseas clients and paid mercenaries. The deliberate US-led assault on the very people capable of leading modern multicultural nations like Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, is a caricature of the notorious Pol Pot assaults on Cambodia's educated classes. Of course, the US honed its special skills in 'killing the school teachers' when it trained and financed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980's.

The second weakness, which led to the collapse of the unipolar illusion, has been their inability to rethink their assumptions and re-orient and rebalance their strategic militarist paradigm from the incredible global mess they created

They steadfastly refused to work with and promote the educated economic elites in the conquered countries. To do so would have required maintaining an intact social-economic-security system in the countries they had systematically shredded. It would mean rejecting their paradigm of total war, unconditional surrender and naked, brutal military occupation in order to allow the development of viable economic allies, instead of imposing pliable but grotesquely corrupt vassal regimes.

The deeply entrenched, heavily financed and vast military-intelligence-police apparatus, numbering many millions, has formed a parallel imperial state ruling over the elected and civilian regime within the US.

The so-called 'deep state', in reality, is a ruling state run by unipolarists. It is not some 'faceless entity': It has a class, ideological and economic identity.

Despite the severe cost of losing a series of catastrophic wars and the multi-billion-dollar thefts by kleptocratic vassal regimes, the unipolarists have remained intact, even increasing their efforts to score a conquest or temporary military victory.

Let us say it, openly and clearly: The unipolarists are now engaged in blaming their terrible military and political failures on Russia and China. This is why they seek, directly and indirectly, to weaken Russia and China's 'allies abroad' and at home. Indeed their savage campaign to 'blame the Russians' for President Trump's election reflects their deep hostility to Russia and contempt for the working and lower middle class voters (the 'basket of deplorables') who voted for Trump. This elite's inability to examine its own failures and the political system's inability to remove these disastrous policymakers is a serious threat to the future of the world.

Unipolarists: Fabricating Pretexts for World War

While the unipolarist state suffered predictable military defeats and prolonged wars and reliance on unstable civilian regimes, the ideologues continue to deflect blame onto 'Russia and China as the source of all their military defeats'. The unipolarists' monomania has been transformed into a provocative large-scale offensive nuclear missile build-up in Europe and Asia, increasing the risk of a nuclear war by engaging in a deadly 'game of chicken'.

The veteran nuclear physicists in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an important description of the unipolarists' war plans. They revealed that the 'current and ongoing US nuclear program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. These new technologies increase the overall US killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces threefold'. This is exactly what an objective observer would expect of a nuclear-armed US unipolar state planning to launch a war by disarming China and Russia with a 'surprise' first strike.

The unipolar state has targeted several countries as pretexts for launching a war. The US government installed provocative missile bases in the Baltic countries and Poland. These are regimes chosen for their eagerness to violate Russia's borders or airspace and insanely willing to invite the inevitable military response and chain reaction onto their own populations. Other sites for huge US military bases and NATO expansion include the Balkans, especially the former Yugoslav provinces of Kosovo and Montenegro. These are bankrupt ethno-fascist mafia states and potential tinderboxes for NATO-provoked conflicts leading to a US first strike. This explains why the most rabid US Senate militarists have been pushing for Kosovo and Montenegro's integration into NATO.

Syria is where the unipolarists are creating a pretext for nuclear war. The US state has been sending more 'Special Forces' into highly conflictive areas to support their mercenery allies. This means US troops will operate (illegally) face-to-face with the advancing Syrian army, who are backed by Russian military air support (legally). The US plans to seize ISIS-controlled Raqqa in Northern Syria as its own base of operation with the intention of denying the Syrian government its victory over the jihadi-terrorists. The likelihood of armed 'incidents' between the US and Russia in Syria is growing to the rapturous applause of US unipolarists.

The US has financed and promoted Kurdish fighters as they seize Syrian territory from the jihadi-terrorists, especially in territories along the Turkish border. This is leading to an inevitable conflict between Turkey and the US-backed Kurds.

Another likely site for expanded war is Ukraine. After seizing power in Kiev, the klepto-fascists launched a shooting war and economic blockade against the bilingual ethnic Russian-Ukrainians of the Donbass region. Attacks by the Kiev junta, countless massacres of civilians (including the burning of scores of unarmed Russian-speaking protesters in Odessa) and the sabotage of Russian humanitarian aid shipments could provoke retaliation from Russia and invite a US military intervention via the Black Sea against Crimea.

The mostly likely site for starting World War III is the Korean peninsula. The unipolarists and their allies in the state apparatus have systematically built-up the conditions to trigger a war with China using the pretext of the North Korean defensive weapons program.

The unipolarists' state apparatus has gathered its allies in Congress and the mass media to create public hysteria. Congress and the administration of President Trump have fabricated the North Korean missile program as a 'threat to the United States'. This has allowed the unipolarist state to implement an offensive military strategy to counter this phony 'threat'.

The elite have discarded all previous diplomatic negotiations and agreements with North Korea in order to prepare for war – ultimately directed at China. This is because China is the most dynamic and successful global economic challenger to US world domination. The US has 'suffered' peaceful, but humiliating, economic defeat at the hands of an emerging Asian power. China's economy has grown more than three times faster than the US for the last two decades. And China's infrastructure development bank has attracted scores of regional and European participants after a much promoted US trade agreement in Asia, developed by the Obama Administration, collapsed. Over the past decade, while salaries and wages have stagnated or regressed in the US and EU, they have tripled in China.

China's economic growth is set to surpass the US into the near and distant future if trends continue. This will inevitably lead to China replacing the US s as the world's most dynamic economic power . barring a nuclear attack by the US. It is no wonder China is embarked on a program to modernize its defensive missile systems and border and maritime security.

As the unipolarists prepare for the 'final decision' to attack China, they are systematically installing their most advanced nuclear missile strike capacity in South Korea under the preposterous pretext of countering the regime in Pyongyang. To exacerbate tensions, the US High Command has embarked on cyber-attacks against North Korea's missile program. It has been staging massive military exercises with Seoul, which provoked the North Korean military to 'test' four of its medium range ballistic missiles in the Sea of Japan. Washington has ignored the Chinese government's efforts to calm the situation and persuade the North Koreans to resist US provocations on its borders and even scale down their nuclear weapons program.

The US war propaganda machine claims that Pyongyang's nervous response to Washington's provocative military exercises (dubbed "Foal Eagle') on North Korea's border are both a 'threat' to South Korea and 'evidence of its leaders' insanity.' Ultimately, Washington intends to target China. It installed its (misnamed) Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) in South Korea .An offensive surveillance and attack system designed to target China's major cities and complement the US maritime encirclement of China and Russia. Using North Korea as a pretext, THAAD was installed in South Korea, with the capacity to reach the Chinese heartland in minutes. Its range covers over 3,000 kilometers of China's land mass. THAAD directed missiles are specifically designed to identify and destroy China's defensive missile capacity.

With the THADD installation in South Korea, Russia's Far East is now encircled by the US offensive missiles to complement the build-up in the West.

The unipolar strategists are joined by the increasingly militaristic Japanese government – a most alarming development for the Koreans and Chinese given the history of Japanese brutality in the region. The Japanese Defense Minister has proposed acquiring the capacity for a 'pre-emptive strike', an imperial replay of its invasion and enslavement of Korea and Manchuria. Japan 'points to' North Korea but really aims at China.

South Korea's deeply corrupt and blindly submissive regime immediately accepted the US/THADD system on their territory. Washington found the compliant South Korean 'deep state' willing to sacrifice its crucial economic links with Beijing: China is South Korea's biggest trading partner. In exchange for serving as a platform for future US aggression against China, South Korea has suffered losses in trade, investments and employment. Even if a new South Korea government were to reverse this policy, the US will not move its THAAD installation. China, for its part, has largely cut its economic and investment ties with some of South Korea's biggest conglomerates. Tourism, cultural and academic exchanges, commercial agreements and, most important, most of South Korean industrial exports face shut down.

In the midst of a major political scandal involving the Korean President (who faces impeachment and imprisonment), the US-Japanese military alliance has brutally sucked the hapless South Korean people into an offensive military build-up against China. In the process Seoul threatens its peaceful economic relations with China. The South Koreans are overwhelmingly 'pro-peace', but find themselves on the frontlines of a potential nuclear war.

China's response to Washington's threat is a massive buildup of its own defensive missile capacity. The Chinese now claim to have the capacity to rapidly demolish THAAD bases in South Korea if pushed by the US. China is retooling its factories to compensate for the loss of South Korean industrial imports.

Conclusion

The rise and fall of unipolar America has not displaced the permanent state apparatus as it continues to pursue its deluded strategies.

On the contrary, the unipolarists are accelerating their drive for global military conquest by targeting Russia and China, which they insist are the cause of their losing wars and global economic decline. They live on their delusions of a 'Golden Age' of the 1990's when George Bush, Sr. could devastate Iraq and Bill Clinton could bomb Yugoslavia's cities with impunity.

Gone are the days when the unipolarists could break up the USSR, finance violent breakaway former Soviet regimes in Asia and the Caucuses and run fraudulent elections for its drunken clients in Russia.

The disasters of US policies and its domestic economic decline has given way to rapid and profound changes in power relations over the last two decades, shattering any illusion of a unipolar 'American Century'.

Unipolarity remains the ideology of the permanent state security apparatus and its elites in Washington. They believe that the marriage of militarism abroad and financial control at home will allow them to regain their lost unipolar 'Garden of Eden'. China and Russia are the essential new protagonists of a multipolar world. The dynamics of necessity and their own economic growth has pushed them to successfully nurture alternative, independent states and markets.

This obvious, irreversible reality has driven the unipolarists to the mania of preparing for a global nuclear war! The pretexts are infinite and absurd; the targets are clear and global; the destructive offensive military means are available; but so are the formidable defensive and retaliatory capacities of China and Russia.

The unipolarist state's delusion of 'winning a global nuclear war' presents Americans with the critical challenge to resist or give in to an insanely dangerous empire in decline, which is willing to launch a globally destructive war.

The Alarmist , April 25, 2017 at 11:57 pm GMT \n

"This means US troops will operate (illegally) face-to-face with the advancing Syrian army, who are backed by Russian military air support (legally)."

You don't seem to understand the definitions of legal and illegal in the current context: Anything the US declares legal and subject to its jurisdiction anywhere in the world is legal, otherwise it is still subject to US interpretation on its legality or not. In other words, US troops always operate legally, international law notwithstanding, and US laws have effect everywhere and at all times. Read More

nsa , April 26, 2017 at 2:52 am GMT \n
What's this "unipolarist" stuff ..some kind of trendy academic euphemism? A land war in Asia? Even the American public isn't that stupid.

There is zero chance of an attack on Korea .for a couple of reasons:

1) nothing in it for the jooies who need to conserve their satrap's military for an attack on Iran,

2) if feasible, would have already happened, and lastly

3) the paper tiger would lose another one.

Think about it .goodbye Seoul, goodbye 30,000 US troops, goodbye all those lucrative samsung-kia-hyundai franchises, kiss off a couple carriers from torpedos, goodbye lots of attack aircraft ..and that's all before the Chinese enter the fray. Right now the biggest problem is how to let jooie butt boy Trumpstein and his ridiculous VFW geezer generals back down without losing face. Face is everything to westerners, you know . Read More

Realist , April 26, 2017 at 8:27 am GMT \n
@nsa

Oh yes they are. Their stupidity is boundless.

Anonymous , April 26, 2017 at 8:43 am GMT \n
I kind of agree with you, I kind of don't.

No doubt the Zionists want to focus on Syria and Iran because there is a direct benefit to them there, but don't forget their goal. Their goal is total control of the world, and China and Russia stand in their way.

Using N Korea to threaten China and Russia is probably high on their to do list too.

But I do agree with you. There is no way a N Korea war would be easy or fast for America. We would probably lose 30k soldiers and many ships at least. Wr would burn through a ton of money when we are flat broke. And I doubt we can be in a 2 front war right now anyway. So probably Middle East will take the priority.

So the most plausible explanation to me is that Trump re-read one of the chapters he wrote on negotiation and tried to convince China to go to war for us. But the Chinese aren't stupid and they didn't take the bait.

China talked tough to N Korea and suspended their coal exports to make it look like they would play game, and America sent ships to threaten N Korea. But that was all Trump negotiation tactics. And Trump would be stupid to go to war and have this define his presidency.

dearieme , April 26, 2017 at 9:34 am GMT \n
"providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek's army while the Red Army battled the Japanese"

Come off it! The Red Army assiduously avoided fighting the Japanese. Read More

Tulip , April 26, 2017 at 5:15 pm GMT \n
China is not happy with North Korea either. Speculation is that China is planning an invasion with a secret green light from Washington. Even if the US went in, it may be that if China were granted basing rights in the North, or if there was an agreement for a multinational peacekeeping force, with equal US/Chinese troops, there may be a way of providing assurance to China on the national security front while getting rid of a gangster regime that threatens the security of everyone.
Robert Magill , April 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm GMT \n

China was envisioned as nothing more than a slave workshop producing cheap mass consumer goods for Americans and generating high profits for US multinational corporations and retailers like Walmart.

Walmart announced this week the planned opening of 40 new stores in China by 2020. This adds to the nearly 500 Walmart stores already operating. Very cleaver of them to sell cheap mass consumer goods made in China to Chinese customers and still generate profit. Where is the disconnect here?

The mostly likely site for starting World War III is the Korean peninsula. The unipolarists and their allies in the state apparatus have systematically built-up the conditions to trigger a war with China using the pretext of the North Korean defensive weapons program.

What happened in New York on 9/11 totally unhinged America for a generation. One small nuke landing anywhere in the US would totally do us in. Russia and China could probably survive a dozen each and soldier on.

http://robertmagill.wordpress.com Read More

neutral , April 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm GMT \n

One small nuke landing anywhere in the US would totally do us in.

What do you mean by this ? Are you talking about most Americans leaving their cities and thus collapsing the entire economic system. Or are you saying that people will get so unhinged that it will launch all its missiles (without knowing who is responsible) and thus have more nuclear strikes hitting it ? Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

El Dato , April 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm GMT \n

Washington intervened directly in the Chinese civil war providing arms to Chiang Kai Shek's army while the Red Army battled the Japanese

This is COMPLETELY ass-backwards and there is not enough facepalm for such a statement. The Red Army kept itself well ensconced and recruited desperate peasants while Chiang Kai Check fought against the Japanese with not a lot of support from the US, then got the cold shoulder from Churchill. After that, the Nationalist Chinese were such an utter wreck that Mao could easily clean the floor.

Any student of the Sino-Japanese war should have the basics right.

Start reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10182755/Chinas-war-With-Japan-1937-1945-the-struggle-for-survival-by-Rana-Mitter-review.html Read More

Realist , April 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm GMT \n
@Robert Magill

The per cent of Americans killed on 9/11 was less than 0.000097. The per cent of Japanese killed in the 2011 Tsunami was 0.0144 with nary a whimper. The Japanese total was 148 times the US total!

The US would never survive a small nuclear attack

Astuteobservor II , April 28, 2017 at 12:19 am GMT \n
@El Dato

Start reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10182755/Chinas-war-With-Japan-1937-1945-the-struggle-for-survival-by-Rana-Mitter-review.html

from what I have read. the first half of that statement is true, while the 2nd half is wrong. 45-49, ccp got the left overs of manchuria, while the kmt got hardware and training directly from the usa.

Monty Ahwazi , April 29, 2017 at 5:20 am GMT \n
Didn't we fight China for many years in a place called Vietnam? How did that war work for us? Of course we are stupid and our conscious memory is hardly good for 4 years. Our distant memory is as good as every election cycle and the Vietnam war happened centuries ago on the US memory calendar! Read More
The White Muslim Traditionalist , April 29, 2017 at 11:30 am GMT \n
@The Alarmist
"This means US troops will operate (illegally) face-to-face with the advancing Syrian army, who are backed by Russian military air support (legally)."
You don't seem to understand the definitions of legal and illegal in the current context: Anything the US declares legal and subject to its jurisdiction anywhere in the world is legal, otherwise it is still subject to US interpretation on its legality or not. In other words, US troops always operate legally, international law notwithstanding, and US laws have effect everywhere and at all times. What an idiotic statement.

The United States doesn't decide what is right and what is wrong.

mp , April 29, 2017 at 11:42 am GMT \n
200 Words @Monty Ahwazi Didn't we fight China for many years in a place called Vietnam? How did that war work for us? Of course we are stupid and our conscious memory is hardly good for 4 years. Our distant memory is as good as every election cycle and the Vietnam war happened centuries ago on the US memory calendar! Didn't we fight China for many years in a place called Vietnam?

It was a mixed bag. Primarily Vietnam was more a Soviet ally than Chinese. You must remember that during the '60s the Chinese and Soviets were at odds, and Chinese-Vietnamese relations were not good, either. After the Americans retreated (Nixon-Kissinger's "Peace with Honor"), China and Vietnam fought some skirmishes over Vietnam's Cambodian intrigue.

Amazing, when you think about it, how Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean brothers and cousins can't get along. If they could, it would be very difficult for the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance in the region. Think about it. Chinese are as crafty as Jews, they are patient as hell (they think in long terms), they are every bit as tribal as Jews. Plus, unlike Jews, they have demonstrated an ability to create an indigenous (i.e., non parasitic) culture. Finally, Chinese don't feel any guilt over the Jew's Holocaust Six Million shekel religion, so they can't be whipped into a subservient paroxysm over it. Maybe that makes war with them inevitable. Read More

mp , April 29, 2017 at 11:54 am GMT \n
@Robert Magill

Walmarts in China are not like the one's in America. I'm convinced the US stores are supported by welfare checks and food stamps. Without those, my guess is that the stores would have closed a long time ago. Also, in China you don't see half the store filled up with overweight diabetics on disability, riding around on motorized scooters, looking like land-locked Barron Harkonnens, etc.

Corvinus , April 29, 2017 at 2:24 pm GMT \n
@Wizard of Oz

Exactly. The doomsday prognosticators keep up with the Fake News about the impending end of the world scenarios and they fail to materialize repeatedly.

Ludwig Von , April 29, 2017 at 3:21 pm GMT \n
Just my little thought : in fact China is not going to intervene in a conflict between US-SK-Japan versus NK. It will sit back and just wait until they all are exhausted and then collect .
Agent76 , April 29, 2017 at 3:35 pm GMT \n
Mar 25, 2016 Is China Ready to Challenge the Dollar?

Introduction to the report: Is China Ready to Challenge the Dollar? Internationalization of the Renminbi and Its Implications for the United States.

Agent76 , April 29, 2017 at 3:37 pm GMT \n
Apr 12, 2017 China Russia Move For Gold Against Dollar Makes Them A Target By Trump

In this video we talk about all the latest breaking news regarding the financial quite feud between Russia, China and U.S. Its important to note that this move against Donald Trump and the U.S petro dollar being the world reserve currency was made before Trumps aggressive actions against a mutual ally to Russia and China.

denk , April 29, 2017 at 7:29 pm GMT \n
Uncle sham, 'Pay up or else !'

http://bit.ly/2pJezx6

hhhhhh

Wizard of Oz , April 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm GMT \n
@mp Didn't we fight China for many years in a place called Vietnam?

It was a mixed bag. Primarily Vietnam was more a Soviet ally than Chinese. You must remember that during the '60s the Chinese and Soviets were at odds, and Chinese-Vietnamese relations were not good, either. After the Americans retreated (Nixon-Kissinger's "Peace with Honor"), China and Vietnam fought some skirmishes over Vietnam's Cambodian intrigue.

Amazing, when you think about it, how Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean brothers and cousins can't get along. If they could, it would be very difficult for the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance in the region. Think about it. Chinese are as crafty as Jews, they are patient as hell (they think in long terms), they are every bit as tribal as Jews. Plus, unlike Jews, they have demonstrated an ability to create an indigenous (i.e., non parasitic) culture. Finally, Chinese don't feel any guilt over the Jew's Holocaust Six Million shekel religion, so they can't be whipped into a subservient paroxysm over it. Maybe that makes war with them inevitable. OK until you come to "the Chinese are every bit as tribal as Jews," Whatever you might say about some 12 million Jews who; if in Israel, learn to speak a version of their old tribal language makes little sense when applied to 1.3 billion people speaking many mutually incomprehensible languages (or dialects as some prefer if you think Russian and Polish are two dialects) and with a long history of warlordism and the barbarism of the Cultural Revolution less than two generations behind them. Still I guess that it is wise to protect your IP from a Mandarin speaking Chinese employee who only became an Amrrican citizen yesterday .

[Jun 08, 2017] Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with French publication Le Figaro, has revealed that a US president is more often than not just a figurehead of government

Jun 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

Agent76 , June 3, 2017 at 2:56 pm GMT

May 31, 2017 "Men in dark suits" rule the US – Putin on Deep State

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with French publication Le Figaro, has revealed that a US president is more often than not just a figurehead of government.

Mar 6, 2017 Zakharova warns of Orwellian US Media 2.03.17

Have a listen to what Zakharova has to say in relation to "fake news". Is there a deliberate campaign to undermine trust in all traditional media, so that the public can no longer form an opinion?

[Jun 03, 2017] Treason To What Im With The Russians, They Hate Us Less Than The Media Does!

Notable quotes:
"... I concur completely. The Russians are not our enemies. The Russians have never been our enemies. The Soviet behemoth may have harnessed the captive Russian bear, but, to paraphrase St. Paul, "Our battle was not with flesh and blood Russians but with the the powers and principalities of international Jewry and its ugly and deadly spawn, Judeo-Communism." ..."
"... Apart from opportunistic careerism, the subtext to this realignment is a larger issue of culture, education, and class. A mostly urban, highly educated, and high-income globalized elite often shares more cultural and political affinities with their counterparts on the other side of the aisle than they do with the lower-middle and working classes of their own countries. ..."
"... I believe Trump when he says he's not a Russian agent. The Russians would never employ such an erratic and unpredictable individual as an agent! ..."
"... The Russians were against Hillary, not for Trump. They couldn't be sure what Trump would do anymore than anyone else could. With Hillary they could be sure, and they had every reason to be against her. ..."
"... "What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans," Mr. Putin said. "Either they don't understand the damage they're doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt." ..."
Jun 03, 2017 | www.unz.com
Of course, this begs an obvious question. Traitor to what? In an "America" which no longer has a definable culture, language, ethnos , history, identity or rule of law, what is there left to betray?

The open celebration of what any other generation would have called "treason" reveals how fully self-discrediting is the Russian "interference" narrative. John Harington famously quipped: "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason." The "Russian interference" narrative is false because the fact it can be loudly denounced without being shut down for being the equivalent of "racist" or "xenophobic" shows Russia isn't very powerful within our government and society.

In contrast, our government and media seem to not only tolerate openly subversive or even hostile actions by foreign governments against the United States, but celebrate them.

Consider:

To criticize any of these countries, or to suggest dual loyalty on the part of their supporters in this country, is political death. Of course, that is because such dual loyalty is sufficiently strong that it is dangerous to broach the topic.

Indeed, for some in our Congress, dual loyalty would be a massive improvement.

The only reason we can't call men like these traitors is because there's no evidence they ever considered themselves Americans in any meaningful way. What could be more ridiculous than considering Chuck Schumer "a fellow American" with some imaginary "common interest" he shares with me?

Or take certain Main Stream Media figures. Bill Maher wants to Democrats to ask if you are with "us or the Russians". [ Maher: I want Democrats to say "You're Either With Us Or With The Russians ," by Ian Hanchett, Breitbart, May 12, 2017] Maher naturally delights in Open Borders for America and the replacement of our own population, but has spoken in the past about how "Israel faces the problem of becoming a minority Jewish state within their own country". [ Bill Maher on Israel, uncut and uncensored , by Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal, November 29, 2017]

It's not double loyalty; that would be giving Maher too much credit. And it's not treason, because Maher just isn't part of my people, by his own standards. When Bill Maher refers to "us," I know that doesn't include me or my readers, and I know "the Russians" hate me a lot less than he does.

I'm with the Russians.

After all, "treason" requires not just providing "aid and comfort" to a foreign nation, but to an enemy. Why exactly is Russia an enemy of the United States ?

It's not Russia which makes claims on our territory . It's not Russia which funds extremist networks. It's not Russia which is deliberately sending terrorists into the West.

Of course, there is a Trump associate who has disturbing ties with a country doing just that. The main focus of the investigation into "Russian collusion" is focusing on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn . But Flynn's strongest ties to a foreign power seem to be to be increasingly extreme and anti-European Turkey of the autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Incredibly, Flynn even wrote an editorial demanding more support for Turkey on election day itself. [ Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support , by Michael Flynn, The Hill, November 8, 2016]

As Turkey is quite openly facilitating the migrant invasion of Europe and helping ISIS, there's a far better case to claim our NATO "ally" is a threat than Russia. And yet Flynn's ties to Turkey go all but unmentioned outside evangelical Christian websites [ Best-selling author predicted Flynn's departure , WND, February 14, 2017]. The MSM is utterly indifferent to Flynn's ties to Erdogan, even when they seem to be utterly dedicated to destroying General Flynn personally.

Part of it simply could be the defense industry and the "Deep State" need an enemy with a powerful conventional military to justify their wealth and power. As it can't be China (that would be racist), Russia will do.

The real reason Russia is hated is because it is a media threat. Russia is funding, or at least is tied to, several alternative media sources such as RT, possibly Wikileaks, Sputnik etc. Contrary to MSM claims, RT is hardly friendly to the "Alt-Right," instead promoting progressive hosts such as Thom Hartmann. But there is at least a slightly different point of view than the monolithic Narrative promoted on every late night comedy show, network news broadcast, cable news broadcast, newspaper headline, and Establishment website [ The Hard Road For Putin , by Gregory Hood, Radix, July 22, 2014].

There is also an undeniable, and openly articulated , sense of racial hatred expressed against Russians by Jewish members of the media. Russians are hated both as a specific ethnos and as a white nation which does not seem to be fully committed to "our values," which, as defined by Weimerica's journalist class, consists of various forms of degeneracy. [ Welcome to Weimerica , by Ryan Landry, Daily Caller, May 5, 2017]. John Winthrop's "City Upon A Hill" we are not.

It's not just idiotic but obscene that the same journalists gleefully involved in deconstructing the American identity now demand Middle America rally round the flag out of some misplaced Cold War nostalgia. Needless to say, these same journalists loved Russia back when it was Communist and killing millions of Orthodox Christians.

For immigration patriots, it's especially obnoxious because the eradication of the American identity is a result of mass immigration. And immigration is more important than every other issue for two reasons.

Ignoring immigration ensures no problem can ever be solved; indeed that every problem consistently gets worse.

ORDER IT NOW

To take just one example, Americans are sent all over the world to die because "we have to fight them there so they don't come here"; and then our government goes out of its way to bring terrorists here . And of course, as more problems are imported, the managerial class obtains more power to govern social relations and its own power grows . This is why it is hard to believe those who support Open Borders are actually working to defend the national interest in good faith.

But the second reason is even more important:

And even citizenship means nothing, The MSM constantly promotes Jose Antonio Vargas and his illegal friends or the protesters who parade under foreign flags not just as "Americans" but as people somehow more American than us.

It's a strange definition of patriotism where wanting peaceful relations with Russia is "treason" but banning the American flag in public schools because it might offend Mexicans is government policy .

Naturally, Leftist intellectuals and the reporters who parrot their ideas do have some vague idea of "American" identity-that of a "proposition" or "universal" nation which exists only to fight a global struggle for equality [ Superpowers , by James Kirkpatrick, NPI, June 24, 2013].

But can you betray a "proposition nation?" How exactly does someone turn against a "universal nation?"

Actually, you can. If you are part of the historic American nation, one of those European-Americans who actually think of this country as a real nation with a real culture, you are in a strange way the only people left out of what it means to be a modern "American." To consider America a particular place with a specific culture and history that not everyone in the world can join simply by existing is treason to a "universal nation." Everyone in the world can be an "American," except, you know, actual Americans.

This is why the MSM is insistent that the governing philosophy of " America First ," which should simply be a truism for any rational American government, is instead something subversive and dangerous .

The hard truth is that "our" rulers aren't the guardians of our sovereignty, but the greatest threat to our independence.

And this isn't an unprecedented circumstance in history. During the Napoleonic occupation of Prussia, Carl von Clausewitz violated his king's orders to join the invasion of Russia and instead joined the Tsar's forces in the hope of someday liberating his own country. After all, it wasn't Tsar Alexander that was occupying Prussia; it was Napoleon. And in the end, he won, Prussia was restored, and eventually it was Prussia that would unite all of Germany.

The same situation applies today. Today, those actively pursuing the destruction of my people, culture and civilization aren't in Moscow. I don't even concede those are enemies at all.

Our enemies are in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, in "our" own media companies, government bureaucracies and intelligence agencies.

The real America is under occupation – and resistance to collaborators is patriotism to our country. We elected Donald Trump because we thought he could help disrupt and perhaps even end that occupation so we could have a country once again.

The attempt to destroy the President has ripped the mask off the forces behind this occupation . And we owe no loyalty to the collaborators who are trying to destroy his administration, dispossess our people, and destroy our country.

Because in the end, "treason" to the occupation is loyalty to America.

Mulegino1 , Show Comment Next New Comment May 16, 2017 at 7:25 am GMT

I concur completely. The Russians are not our enemies. The Russians have never been our enemies. The Soviet behemoth may have harnessed the captive Russian bear, but, to paraphrase St. Paul, "Our battle was not with flesh and blood Russians but with the the powers and principalities of international Jewry and its ugly and deadly spawn, Judeo-Communism."

Once it cast off those chains, Russia became a natural ally of the American people, but not, of course, of the Atlanticist Zionist empire which the American deep state serves. Orthodox Christian Russia and the United States had a true compatibility of interests, until the advent of Roosevelt I and his war party of would be empire builders.

Achmed E. Newman , Website Show Comment Next New Comment May 16, 2017 at 9:25 am GMT

This kind of purposeful switching of truth for lies and lies for truth, described excellently here by Mr. Kirkpatrick ( of VDare! ) is straight outta the Bible, and that's not a good sign at all. PeakStupidity here is on the search for the passage in question. Anyone, anyone .. Buehler?

Anon , Show Comment Next New Comment May 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm GMT

"I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University." - Buckley

We'd also be better off governed by names from the Moscow phone book than by the New York Times and Washington Post.

Seraphim , Show Comment Next New Comment May 17, 2017 at 3:00 am GMT

@Mulegino1 I concur completely. The Russians are not our enemies...

Just a reminder of who made Teddy. Everybody knows by now (a short overview@ http://www.tomatobubble.com/id695.html ):

"It's not merely that [Jacob] Schiff wielded enormous power, but rather the fact that his actions, more so than anyone else's, fundamentally altered the course of American history. Schiff was really the first true Jewish Mega-Mogul of the whole United States (Judah Benjamin had previously run the confederacy). As the first, Schiff, more than anyone who followed him, was able to leverage his power into eternity. That is why the MVZ award must go to him .

Schiff hated Christian Russia with a passion. He worked ceaselessly to overthrow the Romanov Dynasty and replace it with Jewish Reds / Communists. Toward that end, he personally financed, and sold bonds on behalf of, about 50% of the entire Japanese war effort during the Russo-Japanese War. As a result, the war ended with a Japanese victory. Russia's loss was also facilitated by Schiff's boy, President (and also a former New York Governor) Teddy Roosevelt*, whose negotiating intervention clearly favored Japan over Russia

(* Roosevelt became President after the conservative William McKinley was conveniently assassinated by aPolish[?]-American anarchist Leon Czolgosz, Teddy being conveniently Vice-President. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy when the first false-flag incident of the USS Maine occured, later on followed by the Lusiatania – when FD Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy- and Pearl Harbour).

"Schiff's Jewish agents in Russia skillfully used the humiliating loss of the Russo-Japanese war as an occasion to launch a Communist revolution. The bloody Revolution of 1905 ultimately failed, but the Tsar's regime was left considerably weakened. Many of the returning Russian POW's came home brainwashed after Schiff had arranged for Communist propaganda to be given to them while in Japanese captivity. The final Bolshevik overthrow of Russia in 1917 will owe its success, in large part, to the damage done to Russia by the team of Jacob Schiff & Ted the Red Roosevelt on 1905.

President William H. Taft proved to be a Constitutional Conservative, and not a big government "progressive" like his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt. But what really angered Jacob Schiff most of all was Taft's refusal, told to Schiff in person, to dampen trade relations with Tsarist Russia*. According to Henry Ford's sources, Schiff and his entourage left the White House saying. "This means war .

[*Schiff imposed also the abrogation of the Russian American Trade Treaty of 1832 in 1911, first instance of 'sanctions' motivated by the 'ill-treatement' of Jews in Russia (actually of the Jews emigrated to America returning to Russia holding American passports and engaged in subversive activities)].

"In order to oust the popular Republican Taft in 1912, Schiff and company recruited Teddy Roosevelt to run for President again, as a third party challenger. This maneuver split the Republican vote in two, allowing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to steal the Presidency. Wilson's Jewish owned presidency would turn out to be disastrous for America, and the world (The Fed, World War I, Russian Revolution, Jewish foothold in Palestine, Depression of 1919-1920)

As was the case during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, the chaos of World War I enabled the Communists (Bolsheviks) to stage another uprising in 1917. Leading the diabolical efforts was Jacob Schiff's loyal agent, Leon Trotsky, freshly reestablished in Russia after having hidden in Brooklyn for the past decade. The Tsar had been forced to abdicate earlier that same year. The provisional government would then be overthrown by the Jewish-led Bolsheviks.

The following year, Schiff's agents murdered the Tsar and his entire family. The reign of terror that the Soviets then ushered in would plague humanity for decades to come. Scores of millions would be murdered! And it could never have happened without the tireless leadership of Rothschild, Schiff and their Junior partners.
Soon after the Revolution, Schiff removed Russia (now the Soviet Union) from his "do-not-lend list".

Just for a little 'piquant'. The granddaughter of Jacob, Dorothy, had a 'relationship' (which detractors called an 'affair') with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Priss Factor , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 4:45 am GMT

Deep State should just be called the Sewer. At least a swamp is a natural eco-system. Deep State is a man-made Sewer, the Bowel of Power.

wayfarer , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 4:57 am GMT

"Let's Connect the Dots!" https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/05/17/lets-connect-the-dots/#more-150513

Priss Factor , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 5:14 am GMT

@Authenticjazzman "

... No, Jews fell out of love with communism once they became increasingly successful with capitalism. Also, even leftist Jews came to see the failure of communism in Cuba and Vietnam. And when the truth came out about Mao's crimes and the greater success of China under capitalism, most Jews lost faith in communism.
Some still had nostalgia for Old Idealism and did credit USSR for having defeated Nazi Germany, but few Jews were communist by the 80s when Soviet Union entered into its death throes. Also, the New Left of the 60s was more about drugs and rock n roll than revolution.

Also, the Soviet Union became gentile-dominated by the late 30s, and after WWII, especially as Zionists in Israel chose US over USSR, Jews came under increasing suspicion and even discrimination in the communist world. Initially, Stalin installed many Jewish communists in Eastern European nations, but after the fallout over Israel, many were purged as 'Zionists'.

So, most Jews welcomed the fall of the USSR. If anything, Jews used finance-capitalism to amass control of much of Russian resources.
And in the 90s, most powerful Jews did everything in their power to make sure the Russian Communist Party would not be come to power. They pulled every dirty trick in the book to ensure Yeltsin winning another term.

Those were the good ole days for Jews in Russia. And if they had been less greedy, they may have kept the power. But they grabbed too much loot and turned a blind eye to all the suffering, and this gave an opening to the Russian nationalists(mild though they may be). Mild nationalists like Putin didn't purge Jews, but he sent a message that Russia would no longer be a 'vacationland for Jewish lawyers in love'.

So, Jews tried various means to crack Russian nationalism, neo-traditionalism, and sovereignty. They used Pussy Riot and Homomania. They didn't work.

So, the main reason for anti-Russianism has nothing to do with communism. The problem for Jews is that Russia rejects globalism or at least globalist domination. Jewish power is centered on globalism. Nationalism is anathema to Jews because it means that the national elites should represent, defend, and serve their national masses. All nations except Israel is majority gentile. So, nationalism makes national gentile elites grow closer to national gentile masses. This accounts for mass support for Putin in Russia.

In contrast, under globalism, the national elites serve globalist elites than their national people, and that means national leaders serve Soros and his ilk than their own folk.

Now, you'd think that the masses would rebel against the leaders if for treason, but Public Education and Pop Culture have brainwashed tons of masses too. Look at all the white dummies in the US who support globalism that is actually hurting them. And they would rather side with Diversity(invasion) than with their own hurting kind.

These whites attack Trump for opposing mass invasion of the US by More Diversity. Why would they want to invaded and be made into a minority people? They've been mentally-colonized by the Glob Virus.

jilles dykstra , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 5:23 am GMT

Many USA jews, and rabbis, were against Zionism because the USA was the new Zion. Henry Ford around 1918 began to see the increase of jewish power in the USA, and began resistance.

Around 1933 world jewry accomplished a world wide boycott of Ford cars, and Ford gave up. Trump, though he has many close jewish contacts, is not the puppet of the neocons. Hillary is. So Deep State wants to get rid of Trump,in order to continue their plans to subjugate the whole world, the globalised world, where all cultures have disappeared, the whole world one big USA clone.

FKA Max , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 5:44 am GMT

High-quality TV with Victor Davis Hanson and Tucker Carlson:

Inside Dems' 'big lie' about Trump and Russia

Published on May 18, 2017

Historian dissects 'boogeyman of Russian collusion' that Democrats and the media cling to in quest to get Pres. Trump out of office #Tucker

This is a very welcome new development for the Alt Right:

Tucker Carlson's Reinvention
[...]
We've become fans of the show in this household even though we consume far more more information from the internet than cable television. He's reaching an audience which normally doesn't watch FOX News.

http://www.unz.com/article/the-battles-of-berkeley-someone-is-going-to-get-killed-where-is-trump/#comment-1845245

Hillary's Neoliberals

http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/hillarys-neoliberals/

Apart from opportunistic careerism, the subtext to this realignment is a larger issue of culture, education, and class. A mostly urban, highly educated, and high-income globalized elite often shares more cultural and political affinities with their counterparts on the other side of the aisle than they do with the lower-middle and working classes of their own countries.

Just as Hillary Clinton may feel more comfortable with the old neoconservatives, Trump supporters have little in common with either Clintonites or neocons.

Clinton versus Trump is a war of NPR, CBS, and the New York Times against the National Enquirer, conservative talk radio, and the Drudge Report. Clinton supporters such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, onetime Bush officials Hank Paulson and Brent Scowcroft, and billionaire Meg Whitman certainly have nothing in common with Republican Trump supporters such as Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh.

Culture, not just politics, is rapidly destroying - but also rebuilding - traditional political parties.

Wally , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 7:30 am GMT

@Anon

Moscow has 92 synagogues for less than a thousand practicing Jews – they are staffed and manned by the imported American Rabbis of Habad. Best and the choicest pieces of Russian municipal land are given to synagogues and Jewish cultural centres for free. http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-russian-scare/

Jewish groups get up to 97% of grants from the Homeland Security

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/islamophobia-shmislamophobia-97-of-homeland-security-security-grants-go-to-jewish-orgs

Zogby , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 9:44 am GMT

I believe Trump when he says he's not a Russian agent. The Russians would never employ such an erratic and unpredictable individual as an agent!

The Russians were against Hillary, not for Trump. They couldn't be sure what Trump would do anymore than anyone else could. With Hillary they could be sure, and they had every reason to be against her.

Take a recent incident The NYT publishes a smear story accusing Trump of revealing classified information to Lavrov. McMaster and other American officials present in the meeting rush to deny that Trump reveal classified information, and only mentioned things about the laptop scare that had already been public for weeks. Putin follows by offering to send Congress the Russian transcript of the meeting to show Trump didn't reveal any classified information. Then Trump goes on Twitter: Of course I revealed classified information! I'm the President and it's my right! Go help somebody like that

PiltdownMan , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 10:18 am GMT

What Putin said yesterday.

"What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans," Mr. Putin said. "Either they don't understand the damage they're doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt."

Anon , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 11:24 am GMT

@Wally Moscow has 92 synagogues for less than a thousand practicing Jews ....

Jewish groups get up to 97% of grants from the Homeland Security
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/islamophobia-shmislamophobia-97-of-homeland-security-security-grants-go-to-jewish-orgs Shamir is an inveterate liar and the figure of 90+ synagogues in Moscow is fraudulent.

Achmed E. Newman , Website Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 11:25 am GMT

@Sebastian Puettmann Don't kid youselves.
The Russians hate you more than Keith Olberman.
He is just confused.

The Russians hate you more than Keith Olberman.

We all hate Keith Olberman, but the Russians don't get the same cable channels. Why would they hate Keith Olberman when he doesn't even come on TV there?

Serg Derbst , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 11:52 am GMT

I agree with the sentiment, but disagree with the idea that America had ever once been "one people". It was always a divided, segregated, even deeply racist society and its elites have always propagated that division as much as they have always waged war against whom ever.

There have been lynch mobs and progroms not just against the usual suspects (blacks and jews), but also against Germans, Irish, Polish, Italians etc.

I think there might be Anglo-American, Irish-American, Italian-American or African-American identities, but there never was a true American identity similar to what Germans, French, Russians or even Canadians have.

The reason is first the divide and conquer managed by the elites and second that American society is a dog eat dog society of constant competition. Also Americans see "freedom" as being independent as individual or family, while Europeans consider "freedom" as a form of being part of and embedded in a social group, so that people tended to remain within their ethnicity. It was always more patchwork than melting pot. Historically I'm sure the Civil War with its massive massacres did its part as well.

There has always been American patriotism based on the flag, the constitution and the army – but that is too superficial and too little to form a cultural identity. The American Dream has always just been a dream, an imagination, something unreal, and the American way of life? Consumerism, materialism, hedonism – an identity based on stuffing yourself with food and buying as many material goods as you can? Nah, that's a form of behavior formed by advertisement, but not an identity either.

There never has been a true, culturally ingrained and psychologically deep American identity. I don't see it. But maybe the coming massive crisis with possible famines and even civil war will create exactly that. Nothing binds people together more than common sorrow. Ask the Russians or the Germans.

Che Guava , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 11:55 am GMT

@Authenticjazzman " The real reason Russia is hated is because it is a media threat"

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The "real" reason Russia is hated is because it has rejected Communism, and it does not cater to gays.

Communist Russia had been , since the thirties, mecca and utopia for the US leftists and they are now out of their collective mind because their vision of world Marxism with Russia running the show have been obliterated by the likes of the anti-communist VP.

The Democrats were convinced that they had the election in the bag , and therefore the accomplishment of eternal one-party government. They would have legalized the illegals as a gigantic voting block, and the huge upset dealt to them by the deplorables has driven them off the cliff and into total madness.

"Media threat" is such a vague non-descript concept that I don't have the energy or patience to even elaborate thereon.

Authenticjazzman "Mensa" society member since 1973, airborne qualified US Army vet, and pro jazz artist.

PS off subject but relevant : Russia has a thriving Jazz scene, and the are some monster American-style Jazz players coming out of Russia. You are making several good points, but I won't hit the 'agree' button, because I agree with the Priss Factor's reply to your main points.

Again, it is amusing that you post the same potted description of you on every post.

If you post under a pseudonym and won't identify your 'authentic jazz', you may be wiser to drop the claims.

Just leave the occasional incidental.

Nice to see you making a post that makes much sense, though.

neutral , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm GMT

@Sean The Russian ambassador was begging, begging for an audience with Obama in the Oval office, but didn't get it because Russia had annexed Crimea and waged a semi conventional war on Ukraine. The the Russians did not keep their idiot Assad under control.Trump granted the ambassador's request, but only did so the day after the US had bombed a Syrian airfield that the Russian expeditionary force regularly use.

Unfortunately Trump will have to kill some Russians now . Send the delta force into Syria disguised as rebels , they may be there already, because the Trump administration has stopped announcing what troop deployments he in making in Syria and Iraq. A typical cuckservative response, how about you respond to what this article is about. The facts are absolutely clear the greatest enemies are those that exist in America, they have been mentioned in this article, your obsession with Russia is not going to deflect from this fact.

Its rather simple, Ukraine is not American, despite all your stupid domino theories yourwill no doubt bring up, on the other hand extremists like Olberman openly support mass non white immigration into the USA, what would any reasonable nationalist think is the bigger issue.

Anonymous , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm GMT

@Mulegino1 I concur completely. The Russians are not our enemies. The Russians have never been our enemies. The Soviet behemoth may have harnessed the captive Russian bear, but, to paraphrase St. Paul, "Our battle was not with flesh and blood Russians but with the the powers and principalities of international Jewry and its ugly and deadly spawn, Judeo-Communism." Once it cast off those chains, Russia became a natural ally of the American people, but not, of course, of the Atlanticist Zionist empire which the American deep state serves.

Orthodox Christian Russia and the United States had a true compatibility of interests, until the advent of Roosevelt I and his war party of would be empire builders. Here's a 1200-page read for you. It's from a traditionalist Catholic perspective.

The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and its Impact on World History by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D. [20 mb PDF file]d

neutral , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm GMT

@Serg Derbst I agree with the sentiment, but disagree with the idea that America had ever once been "one people". It was always a divided, segregated, even deeply racist society and its elites have always propagated that division as much as they have always waged war against whom ever. There have been lynch mobs and progroms not just against the usual suspects (blacks and jews), but also against Germans, Irish, Polish, Italians etc. I think there might be Anglo-American, Irish-American, Italian-American or African-American identities, but there never was a true American identity similar to what Germans, French, Russians or even Canadians have. The reason is first the divide and conquer managed by the elites and second that American society is a dog eat dog society of constant competition. Also Americans see "freedom" as being independent as individual or family, while Europeans consider "freedom" as a form of being part of and embedded in a social group, so that people tended to remain within their ethnicity. It was always more patchwork than melting pot. Historically I'm sure the Civil War with its massive massacres did its part as well.

There has always been American patriotism based on the flag, the constitution and the army - but that is too superficial and too little to form a cultural identity. The American Dream has always just been a dream, an imagination, something unreal, and the American way of life? Consumerism, materialism, hedonism - an identity based on stuffing yourself with food and buying as many material goods as you can? Nah, that's a form of behavior formed by advertisement, but not an identity either.

There never has been a true, culturally ingrained and psychologically deep American identity. I don't see it. But maybe the coming massive crisis with possible famines and even civil war will create exactly that. Nothing binds people together more than common sorrow. Ask the Russians or the Germans. I partially agree with you on the identity thing, but on the other hand the American identity (I say this as a non American) was based on being white. There was the notable exception of the blacks, but they did not make up the majority of the population and their acceptance as being American was the exception more than the rule, their distinct culture added some spice to what was America, but nobody can seriously believe that if the USA was 90% black it would still be America.

You also now have the situation that people arrive off planes from places like India, China or Somalia and are declared American, I find that ridiculous. Sadly this is no longer a problem only in America, its the same in Sweden, France, Germany, UK, etc, they all have made what being a people is completely meaningless.

Che Guava , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm GMT

@Sean Assad keeps treating his people like bugs, by gassing them. There were dead aplenty Russians in Afghanistan. It would not take much to get them out of Syria, which as you may recall, they only dispatched their expeditionary force to once the US had declined to get involved in. General Dempsey never thought of the effect that the US staying out would have in emboldening Russia.

There was a program about Putin's Russia the other year in which a reporter visited the main Russia WW2 memorial museum, and to his bewilderment found the the music accompanying the Great Patriotic War presentation was the theme to the US series Dallas .

Assad keeps treating his people like bugs, by gassing them.

That is a very strange assertion, as are many of your others. Strong evidence has been widely reported about the gas attack while Obama was Prex of the USA having had a Turkish connection.

Erdogan imprisoned many reporters on this and other ties with al Qaeda and the Islamic state.

It is easy to look up.

Assad is an idiot.

He was a respected opthalmolagist in London for years, testimonials from former (British) patients are not hard to find. Opthalmology may not be the most demanding medical speciality, but it is up there, and is not a nest of idiots.

If you want to see an idiot, you may try the mirror.

Achmed E. Newman , Website Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:47 pm GMT

@Serg Derbst I agree with the sentiment, but disagree with the idea that America had ever once been "one people". It was always a divided, segregated, even deeply racist society and its elites have always propagated that division as much as they have always waged war against whom ever. There have been lynch mobs and progroms not just against the usual suspects (blacks and jews), but also against Germans, Irish, Polish, Italians etc. I think there might be Anglo-American, Irish-American, Italian-American or African-American identities, but there never was a true American identity similar to what Germans, French, Russians or even Canadians have. The reason is first the divide and conquer managed by the elites and second that American society is a dog eat dog society of constant competition. Also Americans see "freedom" as being independent as individual or family, while Europeans consider "freedom" as a form of being part of and embedded in a social group, so that people tended to remain within their ethnicity. It was always more patchwork than melting pot. Historically I'm sure the Civil War with its massive massacres did its part as well.

There has always been American patriotism based on the flag, the constitution and the army - but that is too superficial and too little to form a cultural identity. The American Dream has always just been a dream, an imagination, something unreal, and the American way of life? Consumerism, materialism, hedonism - an identity based on stuffing yourself with food and buying as many material goods as you can? Nah, that's a form of behavior formed by advertisement, but not an identity either.

There never has been a true, culturally ingrained and psychologically deep American identity. I don't see it. But maybe the coming massive crisis with possible famines and even civil war will create exactly that. Nothing binds people together more than common sorrow. Ask the Russians or the Germans.

There never has been a true, culturally ingrained and psychologically deep American identity. I don't see it.

and, with a name like Serb, I can see why. Why are you writing about something that you obviously (from your racism drivel in the 1st paragraph) know not a damn thing about?

You are an prime example of the data points we at PeakStupidity use to prove that America and the West has arrived at a global maximum.

Agent76 , Show Comment Next New Comment May 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm GMT

Apr 6, 2016 Fascism, American Style

The United States of America, that dream of what a democratic republic ought to be, has become the Fascist States of America. As the 2016 elections have more than revealed, we have moved beyond the era of representative government and have entered into a new age. You can call it the age of authoritarianism. Or fascism. Or oligarchy. Either way, argues John W. Wh