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Non-Interventionism

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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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[Aug 17, 2018] The Enigma of Orwellian Donald Trump How Does He Get Away with It So Easily by Prof Rodrigue Tremblay

Notable quotes:
"... With the strong support of these four monolithic lobbies -- his electoral base -- politician Donald Trump can count on the indefectible support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the American electorate. It is ironic that some of Trump's other policies, like reducing health care coverage and the raising of import taxes, will hurt the poor and the middle class, even though some of Trump's victims can be considered members of the above lobbies. ..."
"... Donald Trump does not seem to take politics and public affairs very seriously, at least when his own personal interests are involved. Therefore, when things go bad, he never volunteers to take personal responsibility, contrary to what a true leader would do, and he conveniently shifts the blame on somebody else. This is a sign of immaturity or cowardice. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, "the buck never stops at his desk." ..."
"... Donald Trump essentially has the traits of a typical showman diva , behaving in politics just as he did when he was the host of a TV show. Indeed, if one considers politics and public affairs as no more than a reality show, this means that they are really entertainment, and politicians are first and foremost entertainers or comedians. ..."
"... checks and balance ..."
"... Please visit Dr. Tremblay's sites : ..."
"... http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com/ ..."
"... http://rodriguetremblay.blogspot.com/ ..."
Aug 17, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

There are four groups of one-issue voters to whom President Donald Trump has delivered the goodies:

With the strong support of these four monolithic lobbies -- his electoral base -- politician Donald Trump can count on the indefectible support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the American electorate. It is ironic that some of Trump's other policies, like reducing health care coverage and the raising of import taxes, will hurt the poor and the middle class, even though some of Trump's victims can be considered members of the above lobbies.

Moreover, some of Trump's supporters regularly rely on hypocrisy and on excuses to exonerate their favorite but flawed politician of choice. If any other politician from a different party were to say and do half of what Donald Trump does and says, they would be asking for his impeachment.

There are three other reasons why Trump's rants, his record-breaking lies , his untruths, his deceptions and his dictatorial-style attempts to control information , in the eyes of his fanatical supporters, at least, are like water on the back of a duck. ( -- For the record, according to the Washington Post , as of early August, President Trump has made some 4,229 false claims, which amount to 7.6 a day, since his inauguration.)

  1. The first reason can be found in Trump's view that politics and even government business are first and foremost another form of entertainment , i.e. a sort of TV reality show, which must be scripted and acted upon. Trump thinks that is OK to lie and to ask his assistants to lie . In this new immoral world, the Trump phenomenon could be seen a sign of post-democracy .
  2. The second one can be found in Trump's artful and cunning tactics to unbalance and manipulate the media to increase his visibility to the general public and to turn them into his own tools of propaganda. When Trump attacks the media, he is in fact coaxing them to give him free coverage to spread his insults , his fake accusations, his provocations, his constant threats , his denials or reversals, his convenient changes of subject or his political spins. Indeed, with his outrageous statements, his gratuitous accusations and his attacks ' ad hominem' , and by constantly bullying and insulting adversaries at home and foreign heads of states abroad, and by issuing threats in repetition, right and left, Trump has forced the media to talk and journalists to write about him constantly, on a daily basis, 24/7.

    That suits him perfectly well because he likes to be the center of attention. That is how he can change the political rhetoric when any negative issue gets too close to him. In the coming weeks and months, as the Special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report is likely to be released, Donald Trump is not above resorting to some sort of " Wag the Dog " political trickery, to change the topic and to possibly push the damaging report off the headlines.

    In such a circumstance, it is not impossible that launching an illegal war of choice, say against Iran (a pet project of Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton), could then look very convenient to a crafty politician like Donald Trump and to his warmonger advisors. Therefore, observers should be on the lookout to spot any development of the sort in the coming weeks.

    That one man and his entourage could whimsically consider launching a war of aggression is a throwback to ancient times and is a sure indication of the level of depravity to which current politics has fallen. This should be a justified and clear case for impeachment .

  3. Finally, some far-right media outlets, such as Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting, have taken it upon themselves to systematically present Trump's lies and misrepresentations as some 'alternative' truths and facts.

Indeed, ever since 1987, when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine for licensing public radio and TV waves, and since a Republican dominated Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed for the mass conglomeration of local broadcasting in the United States, extreme conservative news outlets, such as the Fox and Sinclair networks, have sprung up. They are well financed, and they have essentially become powerful political propaganda machines , erasing the line between facts and fiction, and regularly presenting fictitious alternative facts as the truth.

In so doing, they have pushed public debates in the United States away from facts, reason and logic, at least for those listeners and viewers for whom such outlets are the only source of information. It is not surprising that such far-right media have also made Donald Trump the champion of their cause, maliciously branding anything inconvenient as 'fake' news, as Trump has done in his own anti-media campaign and his sustained assault on the free press.

2- Show Politics and public affairs as a form of entertainment

Donald Trump does not seem to take politics and public affairs very seriously, at least when his own personal interests are involved. Therefore, when things go bad, he never volunteers to take personal responsibility, contrary to what a true leader would do, and he conveniently shifts the blame on somebody else. This is a sign of immaturity or cowardice. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, "the buck never stops at his desk."

Donald Trump essentially has the traits of a typical showman diva , behaving in politics just as he did when he was the host of a TV show. Indeed, if one considers politics and public affairs as no more than a reality show, this means that they are really entertainment, and politicians are first and foremost entertainers or comedians.

3- Trump VS the media and the journalists

Donald Trump is the first U.S. president who rarely holds scheduled press conferences. Why would he, since he considers journalists to be his "enemies"! It doesn't seem to matter to him that freedom of the press is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by the First Amendment. He prefers to rely on one-directional so-called 'tweets' to express unfiltered personal ideas and emotions (as if he were a private person), and to use them as his main public relations channel of communication.

The ABC News network has calculated that, as of last July, Trump has tweeted more than 3,500 times, slightly more than seven tweets a day. How could he have time left to do anything productive! Coincidently, Donald Trump's number of tweets is not far away from the number of outright lies and misleading claims that he has told and made since his inauguration. The Washington Post has counted no less than 3,251 lies or misleading claims of his, through the end of May of this year, -- an average of 6.5 such misstatements per day of his presidency. Fun fact: Trump seems to accelerate the pace of his lies. Last year, he told 5.5 lies per day, on average. Is it possible to have a more cynical view of politics!

The media in general, (and not only American ones), then serve more or less voluntarily as so many resonance boxes for his daily 'tweets', most of which are often devoid of any thought and logic.

Such a practice has the consequence of demeaning the public discourse in the pursuit of the common good and the general welfare of the people to the level of a frivolous private enterprise, where expertise, research and competence can easily be replaced by improvisation, whimsical arbitrariness and charlatanry. In such a climate, only the short run counts, at the expense of planning for the long run.

Conclusion

All this leads to this conclusion: Trump's approach is not the way to run an efficient government. Notwithstanding the U.S. Constitution and what it says about the need to have " checks and balance s" among different government branches, President Donald Trump has de facto pushed aside the U.S. Congress and the civil servants in important government Departments, even his own Cabinet , whose formal meetings under Trump have been little more than photo-up happenings, to grab the central political stage for himself. If such a development does not represent an ominous threat to American democracy, what does?

The centralization of power in the hands of one man is bound to have serious political consequences, both for the current administration and for future ones.

*

This article was originally published on the author's blog site: rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com . International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book " The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles ", and of "The New American Empire" .

Please visit Dr. Tremblay's sites :

See also

[Aug 10, 2018] Dozens of Yemeni Children Killed in Saudi Coalition Airstrike by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. ..."
Aug 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
There was another Saudi coalition airstrike on a crowded market in northern Yemen today. Dozens of civilians have been killed and dozens more injured. Many of the dead and injured were children whose school bus was hit in the attack:

Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. The U.S. continues to arm and refuel coalition planes despite ample evidence that the coalition has been deliberately attacking civilian targets. At the very least, the coalition hits civilian targets with such regularity that they are ignoring whatever procedures they are supposed to be following to prevent that. The weapons that the U.S., Britain, and other arms suppliers provide them are being used to slaughter wedding-goers, hospital patients, and schoolchildren, and U.S. refueling of coalition planes allows them to carry out more of these attacks than they otherwise could. Today's attack ranks as one of the worst.

Saada has come under some of the most intense attacks from the coalition bombing campaign. The coalition illegally declared the entire area a military target three years ago, and ever since they have been blowing up homes , markets , schools , water treatment systems, and hospitals without any regard for the innocent civilians that are killed and injured.

The official U.S. line on support for the war is that even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition. Our government has never provided any evidence to support this, and the record shows that civilian casualties from Saudi coalition airstrikes have increased over the last year. The Saudis and their allies either don't listen to any of the advice they're receiving, or they know they won't pay any price for ignoring it. As long as the U.S. arms and refuels coalition planes while they slaughter Yemeni civilians in attacks like this one, our government is implicated in the war crimes enabled by our unstinting military assistance. Congress can and must halt that assistance immediately.

Update: CNN reports on the aftermath of the airstrike:

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a hospital it supports in Saada had received 29 dead bodies of "mainly children" under 15 years of age, and 40 injured, including 30 children.

"(The hospital) is very busy. They've been receiving wounded and dead since the morning and it is non-stop ," ICRC head of communications and spokesperson Mirella Hodeib told CNN.

Second Update: The Associated Press reports that the death toll stands at 43 with another 63 injured.

Third Update: The death toll has reportedly risen to 50 . 77 were injured.


an older america weeps August 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

School buses?

Good Lord above. School buses.

Of course I have no right to surprise or shock. They've already targeted hospitals, foreign doctors and nurses, first responders, wedding parties, and funerals.

School buses.

We used to make movies about killing people who do things like this. Now we help them do it.

Daniel O'Connor , says: August 9, 2018 at 12:54 pm
The repetitive frequency and intensity of these attacks on hospitals, schools, markets and other civilian gatherings, coupled with the indifference of the guilty national governments and their international enablers, signals that the world and human species is passing through a mass psychosis. This psychosis is playing itself out at all levels. Fascism, which is very current as a national psychology, is generally speaking, a coping strategy for dealing with nasty chaos. This coping strategy is designed around generating even more chaos, since that is a familiar and therefore more comfortable pattern of behavior; and that does provide a delusion of stability. A good example would be the sanctions just declared by the Trump Administration on Iranian commerce. In an intrinsically connected global market, these sanctions are so thorough that they qualify as a blockade, within a contingency plan for greater global conflict. But those who destroy hospitals, schools, school buses and public celebrations are not, otherwise, forward looking nice people. We are descending into a nasty fascist war psychosis. Just shake it. Live. Long and well.
b. , says: August 9, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition"

If we did not hand them satellite images, did not service, repair and refuel their planes, and did not sell them the bombs, then they would . kill more civilians how? They could not even reach their targets, let alone drop explosives they do not have.

What Would Mohammad Do? Buy bombs from the Russians? Who have better quality control and fewer duds, hence more victims?

What Would Mohammad Do? Get the UAE to hire Blackwater to poison the wells across Yemen?

How exactly do the profiteers in our country, that get counted out blood money for every single Yemeni killed, propose that the Saudis and Emiratis would make this worse?

But, good to know that our "smart" and "precise" munitions can still hit a school bus. Made In America!

Great.

Hunter C , says: August 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm
The coverage in the media has been predictably cowardly and contemptible in the aftermath of this story. I read articles from CNN and MSNBC and they were variations on "school bus bombed", in the passive tense – with no mention of who did it or who is supporting them in the headline, ad if the bombings were natural disasters.

Fox, predictably, was even worse and led with "Biblical relics endangered by war", which speaks volumes about the presumed priorities of their viewership.

This, and not anything to do with red meat domestic politics, is the worst media malpractice of our time. "Stop directly helping the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks drop bombs on school children" should be the absolute easiest possible moral issue for our media to take a stand on and yet they treat it like it's radioactive.

Speaking as someone who considers themselves a liberal I am infuriated by the Democrats response. How can the party leadership not see that if they keep flogging the horse of Russian trolls and shrugging their shoulders over American given (not sold – *given*) bombs being dropped on schools and hospitals, no one is ever going to take the supposed Democratic anti-war platform seriously again. The Republicans can afford to be tarde by association with these atrocities. The Democrats can't.

I wonder how many Democrats are in the same boat as me right now: I may not like Trump or the Christian conservatives but fights over the Supreme Court or coal plants or a healthcare law look terribly petty compared to the apparent decision by Saudi Arabia to kill literally millions. For the first time in my life I'm seriously wishing there was a third-party candidate I could support and the congressional elections just so I could send a message on this.

Erik , says: August 9, 2018 at 10:13 pm
@Hunter C
Vote Libertarian Party. You won't agree with a lot of their domestic agenda, but they're not going to win, so it doesn't matter. The noninterventionist foreign policy is your message.

[Aug 08, 2018] America the Unexceptional by William S. Smith

Notable quotes:
"... National Review ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In the wake of President Trump's Helsinki press conference, National Review declared itself "Against Moral Equivalence." The magazine claimed that there could be no equating American meddling in foreign elections with Russian interference in our election because the goal of the U.S. is to "promote democracy and political liberty and human rights." Though while America's actions might be noble and have the sanction of heaven, National Review did concede that its efforts to promote democracy have often been "messy" -- an adjective that the people of Iraq might find understated.

Like many of Trump's critics, National Review 's embrace of American exceptionalism, of exempting the United States from the moral laws of the universe because of its commitment to democracy, is of a type the West has seen before. Swept up in their revolutionary enthusiasm, the French Jacobins made similar claims. In late 1791, a member of the Assembly, while agitating for war with Austria, declared that France "had become the foremost people of the universe, so their conduct must now correspond to their new destiny. As slaves they were bold and great; are they to be timid and feeble now that they are free?"

Robespierre himself was taken aback by the turn of a domestic revolution into a call for military adventurism. Of plans to invade Austria and to overthrow "enemies" of liberty in other nations, he famously remarked, "No one loves armed missionaries." (Robespierre's advice might have also benefited the American occupiers of Iraq.) The Jacobins' moral preening led France to declare war on Austria in 1792 and set in motion years of French military adventurism that devastated much of central Europe. Military imperialism abroad and guillotines at home became the legacy of self-declared French exceptionalism.

Hubristic nations that claim a unique place for themselves high atop the moral universe tend to be imperialistic. This is because claims of national exceptionalism, whether of the French or American variety, are antinomian, even nihilistic. The "exceptional" ones carve out for themselves an exemption from the moral law. And prideful claims of moral purity are the inevitable predicate to imposing one's will upon another. Once leaders assert that their national soul is of a special kind -- indispensable and not subject to the same rules -- the road to hell has been paved.

The Immorality of American Exceptionalism A Jacobin-in-Chief

While supporters of American exceptionalism are careful to claim the mantle of Western civilization, their philosophical orientation in fact amounts to a repudiation of the central principles of the West and the Constitution.

Arguably, the tradition of the Judeo-Christian West has been special because it has asserted that human nature is not particularly special. And the Constitution has been exceptional because it's warned Americans that we are not particularly exceptional.

For example, the legacy of Pauline Christianity, Irving Babbitt tells us, is "the haunting sense of sin and the stress it lays upon the struggle between the higher and lower self, between the law of the flesh and the law of the spirit." No person or nation is above this moral challenge. The uniquely American repudiation of exceptionalism shines brightly in The Federalist , where no angels can be found among men, and, because no one's behavior enjoys the sanction of heaven, extensive checks are placed upon people's ability to impose their wills upon others. The foreign policy that flowed out of the worldview of the Framers was that of George Washington, a strong recommendation against hubris and foreign meddling.

These historical and cultural warnings about human nature have since been swept away by acolytes of American exceptionalism. Our moral superiority, they claim, makes us Masters of the Universe, not careful and mindful custodians of our own fallen nature. We have been put on earth to judge other nations, not to be judged. Tossing the legacy of the Framers onto the ash heap of history, George W. Bush declared in his Second Inaugural Address that our exceptionalism creates an obligation to promote democracy "in every nation and culture." In this endeavor, Bush pronounced, the United States enjoys the sanction of heaven, as "history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the author of liberty." Bush's Second Inaugural was probably better in the original French.

Now, the puffed-up American establishment, many of whom supported the bloody Iraq war, drip with moral condescension as they brand Vladimir Putin an existential outlaw and the enemy of democracy, foreclosing the possibility of common ground with Russia on nuclear weapons, China, terrorism, and other issues that matter to the national security of the United States. That Washington has meddled in countless nations' affairs from Iraq to Russia -- and caused untold damage -- is of no account to the establishment. Rules do not apply to democracy promoters.

After the Iraq war, we should have reconsidered our hubristic American exceptionalism. One can take pride in the American tradition without laying claim to a uniquely beautiful national soul that is exempt from the laws of nature and of nature's God. The hysterical reaction to Trump's truthful admission that the United States too has made mistakes in its relationship with Russia is a sign that American exceptionalism is still in full flower among elites. Without the return of a certain humility, there will be more military adventures abroad and political strife at home.

William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at The Catholic University of America. 11 Responses to America the Unexceptional



Nelson August 7, 2018 at 11:32 pm

I agree with the sentiment but the facts show we've always been this way. Historically speaking our hubris didn't start with George W. Bush. We had quite the exceptionalist spirt with "Manifest Destiny" back in the 19th century. And indeed it took a bit of hubris to declare independence from Britain.
charles cosimano , , August 8, 2018 at 2:44 am
All great powers are exempt from any moral law, not merely because it does not exist, but because even if it did, who could enforce it?
paradoctor , , August 8, 2018 at 2:44 am
Exceptionalism is the sin of pride.
Wayne Lusvardi , , August 8, 2018 at 2:58 am
Dr. Smith wrote his PhD dissertation in political philosophy on a critique of romanticism in political thinking. However, in the above article he somehow believes America is unexceptional for having exempted itself from God's laws and natural law. But what if American policy makers acted out of political necessity and realism, not "hubris" or un-humility? I might agree with Smith about using "democracy building" as a pretense for military intervention. But does Smith take what US presidents and congressmen say at face value? What if US intervention in Iraq had to do with trying to balance power between Iraq and Iran, or stop Islamic expansionism from pushing into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states? Moralism can be just as dangerous as democracy building in foreign affairs.
polistra , , August 8, 2018 at 3:21 am
We did renounce exceptionalism and imperialism after WW1. Wilson's pet agencies faded out and we focused internally. We remained non-interventionist until 1946 when the Wilsonians snatched power again.

We should figure out why and how the bureaucracy and media gave up Empire in the early '20s. Obviously the people were tired, just as they are now, but the people are irrelevant.

Something changed in the power structure. What was it? Can we help it to happen again?

Robert , , August 8, 2018 at 4:19 am
A very fine article, one of the best that TAC has published.
Andrew , , August 8, 2018 at 6:07 am
The writer in question of the referenced piece at National Review, Jimmy Quinn, is a 20something college intern, proving they aren't even interested in hiring newer young conservatives at NRO who don't just mindlessly repeat the neoconservative line on "American exceptionalism". They are long past their days as a serious magazine. If not by ideology, just by having a more interesting collection of writers, I'd say even the Weekly Standard is now a better magazine than National Review. It's become like the boring Pravda rulebook for Official Conservatism™ in America.
TomG , , August 8, 2018 at 8:29 am
Well done, Mr. Smith. Our hubris blinds this nation to the pain it inflicts in other lands. I reflect again and again on these words from the hymn (tune Finlandia):

This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
This is my song, thou God of all the nations;
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

When nations rage, and fears erupt coercive,
The drumbeats sound, invoking pious cause.
My neighbors rise, their stalwart hearts they offer,
The gavels drop, suspending rights and laws.
While others wield their swords with blind devotion;
For peace I'll stand, my true and steadfast cause.

We would be one as now we join in singing,
Our hymn of love, to pledge ourselves anew.
To that high cause of greater understanding
Of who we are, and what in us is true.
We would be one in loving and forgiving,
with hopes and dreams as true and high as thine.

Roberto , , August 8, 2018 at 9:29 am
C'mon people, it's right to separate yourselves from the bombast and violent meddling we've done all over the world, but let's not get carried away with this ridiculous "we're just like any other bully" mentality.

The exceptionalism is in the elevation of individual human freedom as a foundational principle. We declared it, the French declared it, and it remains a beacon for many others, no matter how poorly we've observed it from time to time.

"Military imperialism abroad and guillotines at home became the legacy of self-declared French exceptionalism." No, that was the paroxysm of revolution, one that the U,S. fortunately avoided.
The real legacy was the sweeping away of monarchy across the continent, despite the irony of Napoleon making himself emperor.

For all our imperialism, did we treat western Europe the same as Stalin treated eastern Europe?
Is it just an accident of history that the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, former British colonies all, lead the world in the protection of individual human rights? You can draw a line, crooked though it may be, from those countries right back to the Magna Carta.

Yes, we had slavery, a legacy of our status as an agricultural colony, but the British, French, and Americans all abolished it because it couldn't square with our declared principles.

We may forget why we are exceptional but our immigration pressure shows that the the rest of the world hasn't.

JonF , , August 8, 2018 at 9:38 am
Re: The Jacobins' moral preening led France to declare war on Austria in 1792

It wasn't just the Jacobins: pretty much everyone wanted war. The royalists hoped that foreign intervention would restore Louis XVI as an absolute monarch. The moderates wanted to consolidate the gains of the Revolution and deflect public anger at its economic failings. The radicals, as noted, looked to evangelize Europe with the Rights of Man. And the foreign powers wanted to crush the Revolution lest its ideals take root in their own country -- and help themselves to this or that bit of France's empire.

john35 , , August 8, 2018 at 9:40 am
Thanks for reading "National Review" to bring us this hilarious declaration.

[Aug 07, 2018] Iranians Not Pining for American Intervention The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Akhilesh "Akhi" Pillalamarri is a fellow at Defense Priorities. An international relations analyst, editor, and writer, he studied international security at Georgetown University. Find him on Twitter ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Iranians: Not Pining for American Intervention Some seem to think they can't wait for us to overthrow their government. Nothing could be further from the truth. By Akhilesh Pillalamarri August 6, 2018

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Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock Defense hawks in Washington think the people of Iran are waiting with bated breath for the regime in Tehran to collapse and wouldn't mind a little American help along the way -- whether through direct military intervention, or "naturally" as the result of grassroots protests , "with Washington backing," of course.

There is no greater fallacy. While the people of Iran are undoubtedly frustrated with their government, they are not on the cusp of changing it, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to believe . In fact, any attempt by outside actors to change the regime would cause the people of Iran to unify around the clerics. We would end up deflating the reformist party and enabling the hardliners who have consistently warned their people that we can't be trusted.

This ongoing mind reading of the Iranian people is pure Washington hokum with no basis in reality.

After witnessing the debacles of our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, who can blame the people of Iran for not wanting direct American military aid? As Damon Linker points out in The Week , our attitude towards unsavory regimes in other nations is all too often informed by "an incorrigible optimism about the benefits of change and consequent refusal to entertain the possibility that a bad situation might be made even worse by overturning it."

Trump Will Never Get a Better Deal With Iran Is Washington Playing Iran's Useful Idiot in Syria?

Almost nobody in Iran supports the main group pushing for Western-backed regime change, the National Council for the Resistance of Iran (NCRI). That organization is widely seen as a front for the despised Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), an Iranian Marxist group that fought against the late Shah, was virulently anti-American, and worked with Saddam Hussein to invade Iran during the Iran-Iraq War before rebranding itself as a democratic opposition group.

Despite this being common knowledge among unbiased observers, figures like National Security Advisor John Bolton continue to promote it as an alternative for Iran.

In actuality, despite the desire among a sizable segment of Iranians -- especially young people in Tehran and other large cities -- for a pro-Western government, there is no well-organized, secular, democratic alternative waiting to take charge. Any organization that bills itself as such is following in the deceitful footsteps of Ahmed Chalabi , the Iraqi leader-in-exile who sold himself in the United States as the Iraqi George Washington, but failed to garner any political support after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

History shows us that there is no quicker way for a leader or group to lose legitimacy than by seeking the aid of a foreign power. King Louis XVI of France managed to hold on to his throne for a few years after the storming of the Bastille, but was deposed after fleeing Paris and seeking the aid of France's enemies. Iranians, like Americans, value liberty in the sense of national self-determination: they would rather be under-served by their own leaders than by well-meaning foreigners or those perceived to be puppets.

After wasting almost two decades of blood and treasure trying to rebuild countries with weaker national identities than Iran -- like Iraq -- U.S. policymakers would have to be detached from reality to believe that anything good could come of intervention in Iranian affairs.

The people of Iran have a long historical memory: those who sold out their nation to foreign powers, even in opposition to tyranny, have garnered not thanks but the collective hatred of the Iranian people. From the actions of the satrap Bessus who killed the last Achaemenid Persian king Darius III to curry favor with Alexander the Great, to the slaying of the last pre-Islamic Persian ruler Yazdegerd III by a local ruler to appease the invading Arabs, Iranians have long looked askance at collaboration with foreigners. Numerous 19th-century Qajar rulers failed to implement their policies because they were thought to be too close to the goals of the imperial powers of Russia or Britain. And the last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, never escaped the perception that his ascent to power in 1953 was enabled by British and American intelligence agencies, regardless of his own self-portrayal as a nationalist.

Most Iranians, no matter how much they oppose their current government and politics, would not support an invasion of their own country, let alone the peaceful ascendancy of groups believed to serve interests other than theirs: it is a matter of pride and honor.

It is true that Iran has been racked by protests throughout the past year, such as January's multi-city demonstrations and the closure of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran in June. But those were spontaneous actions resulting from blue-collar frustrations with the economy and are unlikely to lead to an outcome favorable to American interests.

If our pressure on Iran leads to regime change, the most likely alternative is probably a military junta led by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a shift away from the semi-civilian government that Iran now enjoys. The IRGC has been infringing on our geopolitical interests throughout the Middle East for decades and could take an even harder anti-American line than the current government. When confronted with invaders and foreign pressure, Iranians have always rallied around military strongmen, such as Nader Shah in the early 18th century, who threw out the invading Afghans, and Reza Shah in the early 20th century, who saved Iran from disintegration after World War I.

Washington should be careful what it wishes for. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that the people of Iran are waiting for our support and intervention. The truth is much darker.

Akhilesh "Akhi" Pillalamarri is a fellow at Defense Priorities. An international relations analyst, editor, and writer, he studied international security at Georgetown University. Find him on Twitter @akhipill .


Christian Chuba August 6, 2018 at 1:47 pm

The people of Iran instinctively love America because everyone in the world loves America.

This is true regardless of the fact that we have never done anything whatsoever to merit their love. We have never given them assistance when they had an earthquake, we won't let them get spare parts for passenger airlines causing air travel to be unsafe. We hinder civilian projects but since we are narcissists, we simply believe that everyone loves us because of our intrinsically great qualities.

Clyde Schechter , says: August 6, 2018 at 1:51 pm
Really, what if the shoe were on the other foot? Trump is very unpopular as our own President. But if a foreign power were to attempt to depose him and install a new government, there would be massive popular resistance to that here. Why the neocons think it would be different in any other country eludes me.

Nothing can unite even a fractiously divided nation more readily than foreign interference.

HenionJD , says: August 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm
>>But if a foreign power were to attempt to depose him and install a new government, there would be massive popular resistance to that here.((

A foreign power attempted to put him IN office and lots of folks are just fine with that.

b. , says: August 6, 2018 at 2:17 pm
US policy since Libya and Syria has been "regime destruction", with not even token commitments to pretend "nation building". The miscalculation continues: if the US manages to turn Iran into a "failed to comply" state without effective governance, there will be several factions with professional military capabilities – especially given the IRGC "deterrent" of connections and alliances throughout the Middle East – that can continue where our pathological US "maglinity" plans to stop.

There are no "wars of choice". The only choice the US gets is whether to start an unnecessary war, from then on our victims get a say, eventually. We are still trapped in Eisenhower's grandstanding "meddling" in Iranian elections, after all .

Sid Finster , says: August 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm
O please!

Everyone knows that Iranians are not begging for "liberation", just as everyone with the brains God gave my youngest cat knew damn well that American boots would not transform Iraq into a western democracy, that American bombs would ruin Libya and American bombs are used for genocide in Yemen.

The Trump Administration is looking for an excuse to attack. Just as the Bush Administration shed crocodile tears over the poor Iraqis, and Obama cynically exploited the fate of Libyans.

[Aug 03, 2018] The Little Known Black Hole in the Pentagon Budget by By Ross Marchand

Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

In February, the Pentagon announced a $950 million no-bid contract to REAN Cloud, LLC for the migration of legacy systems to the cloud. As an Amazon Web Services consulting partner and reseller, REAN Cloud was likely favored due to Amazon's recent $600 million cloud project for the Central Intelligence Agency. Creating an unusually large contract with little oversight or competition led to ample criticism of the Pentagon, as lawmakers demanded an explanation from DoD. In response to the brouhaha, the Pentagon announced in early March that the maximum value of the contract would be reduced from $950 million to $65 million.

As it turned out, though, even the Pentagon wasn't exactly sure how to apply the murky requirements of OTA. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled in May that the REAN contract did not accord with federal law, in that REAN was granted an award without even really considering going through a competitive bidding process. "Vague and attenuated" statements from the Pentagon to potential bidders in the beginning of the process ensured that the process would not be an open one. After the cancellation of the REAN deal, the Pentagon finally seems open to competitive bidding for cloud migration.

Unfortunately, OTA is still alive and well across the DoD procurement process. In June, the Defense Information Systems Agency joined the growing list of agencies dabbling in OTA, noting that "many of the companies we're dealing with are small start-ups." But as the REAN Cloud case shows, many companies appear "small" but have far larger partners. According to statistics in the Federal News Radio report , "Only $7.4 billion of the nearly $21 billion went to nontraditional companies." The problem is created in part by the use of consortiums, which are comprised of multiple companies, which vary in size. The consortium can decide how money is allocated for an award, allowing larger businesses to benefit disproportionately out of sight of the DoD and taxpayers.

Congress has finally started to demand more accountability for OTAs. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress requires more data reporting and analysis by acquisition officials. But far more work remains.

Lawmakers should set stricter limits on when it's okay to eschew competitive bidding, and lower the threshold for requiring congressional notification (currently set at $500 million). Allowing tens of billions of dollars to be spent behind the backs of taxpayers without a bidding process cannot continue.

Ross Marchand is the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

[Aug 03, 2018] Trumpism and the Politics of Distrust

Aug 03, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

We have lost some of our democratic habits -- indeed, in many ways we are losing our very cohesion as a society. But I frame the question very differently.

I know a bunch of Trump supporters. Some of them are intellectuals who write for places like TAC . But most are not. Neither are any of them raving bigots or knuckle-dragging neanderthals, and all of them read the news, though with vastly less obsessiveness than people who work in the business.

None of them "like" things like "unremitting chaos, lies, ignorance, trash-talking vulgarity, legislative failure" or collusion with foreign governments. Some of them minimize some of these things at least some of the time -- and I myself have been known to derive a kind of pleasure from the absurdity of a figure like Mooch. But this isn't what the people who I know who voted Trump voted for , nor is it why they continue to be happy with their vote -- which, however unhappy they are with how the administration is conducting itself, most of them still are.

Rather, the commonality among those who voted for Trump is their conviction that the Democratic party's leadership is utterly bankrupt, and, to one degree or another, so is the Republican leadership. And that assessment hasn't changed one iota since the election.


SDS August 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm

"They are, however, people who have lost trust in the individuals and institutions who are most alarmed about Trump: the political establishment, the press, etc. And so, on a relative basis, they'd rather continue to put their trust in Trump."

That last line does not follow .We have lost trust in all of the others; so would rather see what Trump does; not that we have any trust in him to do the right thing

THAT would be ridiculous; especially after the last six months.

Will Harrington , says: August 1, 2017 at 12:37 pm
Hmmm. Populism can not govern or build institutions by its very nature? I can't help but read that as saying the plebeians are so incompetent and stupid that only the elites are capable of governing. As for the American people taking a turn to authoritarianism. This is possible, after all, our Federal government has spent most of the last century increasing their control over many of the aspects of our lives and stretching the limits of the Constitution beyond any recognition. We have been prepared to accept authoritarianism. Increasingly we have had an authoritarian presidency that surveils its own people and has usurped regulatory and warmaking authority from the Congress. The Federal government has created, out of whole cloth, a role for itself in public education. Do not blame the populace for being what the elite has spent a century shaping them to be.
I am convinced that the saber rattling and fear-mongering concerning Korea, Iran, and Russia are not happening because we have any reason to be particularly concerned about these countries or because they threaten our interests. No, this is the way a corrupt and ineffective regime distracts its citizens from its own failings. Lets be clear, this would be happening even if She-who-shall-not-be-named had one the Presidency.
JonF , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm
Whatever happened to "trust but verify"?
OK, a bunch of people did the political equivalent of a Hail Mary play in voting for Trump. But now that the ball has not only fallen short but gone way out of bounds and beaned some spectators in the stands shouldn't they be revoking that trust and casting around for someone else to represent them? Why stick with a sinking ship?
JessicaR , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm
https://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/11/11/why-veterans-voted-donald-trump-swing-states/21603486/

There is strong evidence to suggest that one factor in Trump's victory was distrust of US foreign policy. The link above is to an article about exit polls showing Trump won the veteran's vote 2:1 over Hillary Clinton.

Not long ago, a study by two academicians found that Trump carried counties with high casualties in the Iraq war: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2989040

People don't regret their votes for Trump because if they had voted for Clinton, they or their loved ones would be coming home in body bags–or minus body parts.

As bad as Trump is, his foreign policy instincts are less hawkish than Clinton's–witness his decision to end the CIA funding of Syrian insurgents.

Trump's behavior is certainly "unpresidential" and chaotic. It is also less horrible than war by many orders of magnitude.

Kevin , says: August 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm
"The politically relevant, and profoundly disturbing, fact is precisely the opposite of the conventional wisdom: After six months of unremitting chaos, lies, ignorance, trash-talking vulgarity, legislative failure, and credible evidence of a desire to collude with a hostile foreign government to subvert an American election, President Trump's approval rating is astonishingly high -- with something between one-third and two-fifths of the American people apparently liking what they see and hear from the White House"

But George W Bush at his nadir averaged 26% approval, and that's seven years in, during an epic economic collapse, a catastrophic war, and a host of other disasters. Trump is not THAT far away from that average.

There is simply a line beyond which a president can't decline unless he murders and eats a puppy in public, and I see no reason to presume that we can judge that Trump hit his bottom six months in, when the economy is decent and no non-self inflicted crisis looming.

I'd also add that while all your friends have different reasons to stay aboard the Trump train, all of them sound like high information, fairly ideological voters. This is probably not the profile of Trump voters set to vote for The Rock in 2020

c matt , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:23 pm
Well, when a building is rotten to the core, the only thing you can do is raze it to the ground to start rebuilding. Our government has long passed its sell-by date. Really, expecting a political solution to arise from a government controlled system such as ours does not border on insanity – it completely crosses that border in leaves it miles in the dust. Witness our insane Congress voting by a 98% margin to inflict sanctions based upon absolute crock. But then the US has never let reality get in the way of statesmenshowmanship. We get what we deserve, good and hard.
polistra , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm
You're OK until the last line. "And populism by its very nature cannot build institutions, cannot govern "

You're still using the Deepstate definition of populism. In fact populists want only one thing: We think the government of THIS country should serve the interests of the people of THIS country.

It's perfectly possible to govern by this rule. FDR did it magnificently.

Why did it work for FDR? Because he was determined to BREAK the monopolies and forces that acted contrary to the interests of the people, and because governments BELOW the Federal level were still strong. When he closed the banks for several months, cities and Chambers of Commerce jumped in immediately to develop scrip systems.

Thanks to an unbroken series of evil judges and presidents after WW2, local governments and institutions are dead or dying. Even if a competent and determined populist tried to close down banks or Amazon or the "health" insurance system, there would be no organized way to replace them.

Jones , says: August 1, 2017 at 2:59 pm
What exactly did these people think a Clinton administration would do? What nightmarish dystopia did they see coming around the bend? And what do you think -- were their perceptions of America's future under a Clinton administration accurate, or at least close to the mark? And if so, why?
Jones , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Also, I get that people have lost trust in mainstream institutions. What makes them think that Trump is trustworthy in comparison? Why do they have more trust in Trump than in the institutions? And does that seem reasonable?
Heyseed , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm
I didn't vote for Trump: His rhetorical style turns me cold; I don't like his position on many issues, or his general governing philosophy, to the extent he can be said to have one. But, BUT, I sure as Hell did not vote for Hilary Clinton(I voted for Johnson and Weld, who were obvious non-starters from the word Go. I might possibly have voted for Trump if it had looked like the election might be close in Illinois, but since the Chicago Machine had already stolen it for HRC, I could salve my conscience and vote for Johnson.

Clinton was the status quo candidate, and since I did not desire "more of the same", governmentally, Trump and his circus are preferable to Clinton and whatever cabal she would have assembled to run the country.

You claim that the elite "inevitably" run the machinery of government, but it's worth noting that once upon a time in America, most of the people in government were political appointees who could be sent packing(along with their bosses) by the voters. Nowadays, the 'elite' which runs government is dug in pretty much permanently, and the same people will be, in practice, running the government no matter who wins the next election, or the one after that

Hilary Clinton was forthrightly the candidate of the permanent, un-elected bureaucracy, and Trump, well, didn't seem to be. The choice was between Trump, whose actual position on the size of government was not clear, and Hilary Clinton who was actually promising to make government bigger, more centralized, more expensive and less responsive. I'm not sorry Trump won however distasteful he and his henchmen are to me.

Michael R Honohan , says: August 1, 2017 at 3:57 pm
I too had a friend who was a huge Ron Paul supporter who not only backed Trump, but became a major apologist for him ever since. The man ran two back to back campaigns in Georgia for US Senate, the Ron Paul mold. Now, no on his original team will give him the time of day. Those who tried to get some sense into him, have been closed off.

As a libertarian, I am no more afraid of the left or the right. In fact, listening to the right rant about the left yields a lot of ignorance, disinformation and paranoia: stock in trade for right wing propaganda. But I am disturbed when people spend years fighting for liberty suddenly joined Cult 45 that has no sense of liberty Ron Paul or his followers would recognize.

But Trump fit the bankrupt GOP. Lest we forget, those 49 GOP Senators who voted for "skinny repeal" (even the name is joke!) never gave a moment's consideration to the bill written by Rand Paul that covers the conservative attributes of free markets and self-determination. Lest we also forget that Rand is not only one of the few legit conservatives, but a doctor and the son of doctor or former Congressman. Those credentials alone would have been enough if GOP was actually interested being conservative. Apparently, Trumpism is what the GOP is about and 49 of them proved it.

ojc , says: August 1, 2017 at 4:43 pm
I think that you have identified a problem that transcends Trump and his opponents. Vitriolic partisanship is one thing. At various points in our history, we have had some nasty spells of polarization. The deeper problem that the institutions of public life are now losing their very legitimacy.

Legitimacy is something deeper than mere approval. It relies upon the unspoken acceptance of political and institutional norms.

We are clearly in the process of publicly reevaluating and even rejecting these norms. The birthers questioning Obama's background and "not my president" folks do not view their oppponents as legitimate, if mistaken. In the case of Trump and the radical left, they contest the legitimacy of the other side even participating in the process, a process by the way to which they owe no fealty.

Whine Merchant , says: August 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm
"We had to destroy the village to save it."

Where have we heard that line before??

Cash , says: August 1, 2017 at 5:58 pm
Nothing wrong with America that couldn't be fixed, one, by making voting mandatory, and two, by having top two vote getters in primary face each other in the general.

We'd have a moderate politics with elected officials clustering slightly right and left of the center.

cka2nd , says: August 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm
Speaking as a Commie Pinko Red, I still prefer Trump as President over Clinton, precisely because he is doing so much to undermine America's "leadership" in world affairs. He's still a murderous imperialist, maybe even just as much as she would have been, but there's just so much more damage that she could have done making bi-partisan deals with the GOP for the benefit of Wall Street and the insurance industry.

The movement against GOPcare – Trumpcare wasn't really a fair name for the wet dreams of Paul Ryan and Conservative, Inc. – probably couldn't have been so effective or flew under the radar of the establishment tools running the Democratic Party and its media mouthpieces if a Democrat was in the White House and the various beltway "movement" honchos had had their precious seat at the table where they could have rolled over for the Democratic president of the moment.

bt , says: August 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm
The biggest problem is what comes after Trump for the GOP?

He's kicked off a process for the GOP that will be very difficult to manage going forward. He showed that outright racism, sexism, continuous lying, even treasonous collusion with Russia to subvert our election is just fine with the Republican Party. How does the GOP sell family values to their 'base' after they all lined up with Donald j Trump, serial wife-cheater and money-launderer?

It will be hard for anyone to forget that any of this happened.

Consider this: 8 years of W Bush yielded the first black President – It really could not have happened if W hadn't burned the house down. What comes after Trump?

FiveString , says: August 1, 2017 at 7:52 pm
I'm a very middle-class worker in the IT sector where most of my coworkers have been sensible, but my weekend hobby of playing music has put me in contact (largely via Facebook) with many Trump supporters who do happen to be knuckle-dragging neanderthals. They generally don't read; their "news" comes from partisan demagogues on the radio or TV. If I give one the benefit of the doubt and share an article from, say, The American Conservative -- "The Madness of King Donald" was a favorite -- it's been all too common to receive a childish/hate-filled meme in response. Bigots are legion: I've unfriended the raving variety, and unfollowed the milder dog-whistlers. These deplorables have in fact been emboldened by the current POTUS.

But I get your point. I abhor the current duopoly, but it could be fixed if thinking citizens wanted to put in some effort. So, it's depressing in a different kind of way that so many thoughtful and well-read Americans are so cynical about state of US politics that they are fine with Trump wrecking it.

Barry , says: August 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm
"Rather, the commonality among those who voted for Trump is their conviction that the Democratic party's leadership is utterly bankrupt, and, to one degree or another, so is the Republican leadership. And that assessment hasn't changed one iota since the election."

They are people who were full of it beforehand, and as the evidence rolls in, they just sink deeper into lies.

MarkW , says: August 1, 2017 at 8:38 pm
Linker's quote "a desire to collude" you reference later as "collusion". The first instance is an attempt to broaden the charge from collusion, the second instance is a (sloppy?) change in language.
Mdet , says: August 1, 2017 at 9:31 pm
@Will Harrington, "Populism can not govern or build institutions by its very nature? I can't help but read that as saying the plebeians are so incompetent and stupid that only the elites are capable of governing."

I read that statement as "Once you are governing, once you are the one(s) in a position of power, then by definition you have become 'the elite' and are no longer 'a plebeian'". Populists, by definition, are the people who call for the tearing down of institutions that make up the status-quo, and elites, by definition, are the people who build and maintain status-quo institutions. At least in my eyes, "being a populist" and "governing institutions" are mutually exclusive.

Frank Lettucebee , says: August 2, 2017 at 12:46 am
Since the conservative party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower was invaded by the right wingers and became the party of Jefferson Davis and John Wilkes Booth, the goal has been to tarnish all concept of a functioning a democracy and a government is built to work for the people, of the people, and by the people. The right wing main tactic is lies and just get people riled up so that they don't realize and oblivious to the fact that America has slipped from capitalism to corporatism; from a capitalist democracy to a caste based plutocracy run for the sole benefit of the oligarchs who bought this country.

Don Trump is the embodiment and distillation of the right winger and their economic and social cultural policies. He is not an alternative or antidote to the Republicans or Democrats.

Cal , says: August 2, 2017 at 2:04 am
" Is he happy with Trump? No -- he's especially unhappy with the number of Goldman bankers Trump appointed to senior economic posts, but more generally he acknowledges that the government is in chaos and that Trump is not bringing the change he hoped for. But he doesn't regret his vote, and he prefers the chaos of Trump to business-as-usual under either the Democrats or the Republicans. And if Trump winds up discrediting the Federal government generally, that's fine with him."

I didn't vote this election because I didn't like either candidate. I had been promoting 'America First' as a rallying cry for a candidate for years but Trump wasnt exactly the kind of leader I had in mind for it.
But I'm with the guy above -- if chaos will bust up the musical chair dual monarchies of the dems and repubs and the corrupt status quo government bring it on.

Pear Conference , says: August 2, 2017 at 6:23 am
I think the Democratic nominee in 2020 should be O.J. Simpson.

The reason is that I have lost trust in the media and the elites that are most alarmed about O.J. Simpson.

Kurt Gayle , says: August 2, 2017 at 8:37 am
A somewhat related question, Noah: If you had been a young man living in China on August 1, 1927, do you think you would have joined the People's Liberation Army?
connecticut farmer , says: August 2, 2017 at 9:50 am
Originally I wanted to sit out this past election but gave in to peer pressure. And I regret this. Trump? Clinton? Johnson? Stein? All were mediocre. Clinton/Trump were the two worst candidates that the "major" parties have ever produced in my lifetime. It was with fear and trepidation that I voted for Trump, notwithstanding that I fundamentally agreed with him on the issues of immigration and the need for a reduced American role in global affairs. In the end, I rationalized this (wasted) vote based upon the notion that not only had his opponent committed a felony (detouring government emails) but also because (as others have pointed out) she was the candidate of the status quo, the "permanent bureaucracy", Big Finance etc. etc. The fact that Trump actually won surprised me, but only moderately, because as terrible a candidate as he was, his opponent was even worse.

What has transpired since his election comes as no surprise. Had Clinton been elected conditions would have only been mirror imaged, such being the state of things in this once-great republic. I continue to maintain that the two-party system is archaic and has to go. Whether a multi-party system would be better, I don't know. Perhaps we have reached a point where the country is simply ungovernable. Perhaps more responsibility should be returned to state and local government (Jefferson would have approved). Again, I don't know.

What I do know is that the current system is dysfunctional.

And that, my friends, is why we have a real estate/TV personality as President.

wallysdaughter , says: August 2, 2017 at 12:40 pm
i am neither an establishment voter, or a member of the media/press. i am deeply worried where the man (trump) is taking this nation. the gop is complicit in this chaos as they see trump as a rubber stamp for their plutocratic agenda. i don't know what it will take to right the ship of state
EliteCommInc. , says: August 3, 2017 at 7:49 am
I don't regret my vote. And I ave had issues with my choice before and after the election. The sky is not even close to falling as predicted. And the democracy you claim is at threat may very well be, but it's from the current executive. And nothing thus far suggests that it will.

I m not going to dismiss the caterwauling liberals have been making since the campaign or the election as major distraction to governance.

And by the way there remain not a twiddle's evidence that the WH prior to the election colluded to undermine the US in any manner. It's time to cease throwing that out as sauce for the goose.

I think I agree with all four of your "freinds". I am very fond of the establishment, they have their place. What they provide in cohesion, stability and continuity is valuable to the state. But they appear to be want for any level of substance, depth thereof or moral consistency (if any at all). The double standards they hold themselves, their donors and connections on issues and accountability is unsustainable in a democracy as I think you understand it.

When I was laid out in the ER, I found myself wrestling with my own position on healthcare. The temptations are great to bend the guide as to my own conditions -- but I don't think I could so with a clear conscience. I am nor sot sure that what we haven't lost is a sense of conscience -- that sense that truth overrides immediate gain. I don't think the US can survive as the US if the leadership is bent on holding themselves to a standard not available to the country's citizens.

"Is he happy with Trump? No -- he's especially unhappy with the number of Goldman bankers Trump appointed to senior economic posts, but more generally he acknowledges that the government . . ."

And the discredited notions that

1. the rich know how to run an economy effectively and

2. that a rise in the market is a sign of economic health.

Brendan Sexton , says: August 3, 2017 at 10:48 am
Pear Conference captures perfectly the 'thinking' i have heard from more than one Trump voter. This is 'reasoning'?
If there is one system in America that needs blowing up to start over it might be our education system. I am generally supportive of public ed, and i am impressed by some of the commitment and inventiveness i see among the proposers of various alternatives to public ed. So, some folks are trying, even sometimes succeeding, but we have managed to arrive at a point in our culture where we have elected a President whose election success depended more than anything else on a public who have lost the ability to think critically. (if they ever had it, of course)
Yes I know the other one got more votes, by a lot. And i know that this other candidate was oddly not at all an attractive alternative. I know all that, but still, a huge fraction of the voting population–a fraction large enough to make themselves now THE base the government is playing to–is a group who could not/would not see this con-job coming? There was every opportunity to use actual logic and facts to reach a voting decision, but these millions of voters chose instead to go with various variations on the theme of 'they all stink, so i'm using my vote to poke a stick in their eyes." Or, as Pear satirized, "I hate/mistrust the elites and they like almost anybody else other than my guy, so I'm gonna turn my country over to the most vulgar non-elite pig the system can come up with."
There is talk now about the damage he can do to American politics and sense of community, but I think he may be more symptom than cause. We don't value the things we thought were a standard part of the American process: truthfulness, kindness, authenticity, devotion to the common good. We value, it turns out, showmanship, machismo, crass shows of wealth and power, and ..I can't go on.
I'm not sure how we got here, but I know the institutions held in high regard on this site, such as church, and some factors we all put our faith in such as increasing levels of education, turn out not to matter so much as we had thought. It is going to take some hard work and more than a little time to recover from this sickness in the country's soul.
Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:43 am
"Trump supporters are just like people who are outraged by something and show it by rioting and burning down their own neighborhoods." – Greg in PDX

The antifas rioting and destroying in Portland also got very violent when some old folks held a peaceful rally for Trump there.

Oh, sorry. I forgot that when "progressives" disagree with someone, they consider that merely disagreeing with them constitutes "violence" against their "safe space" and they are compelled to go out and punch or shoot people.

Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:47 am
"Nothing wrong with America that couldn't be fixed, one, by making voting mandatory"

Right, and by making public disclosure of who you voted for mandatory as well!

Just don't be the first to stop clapping.

Fran Macadam , says: August 3, 2017 at 11:50 am
Those calling for a soft coup to reinstate elite status quo leaders against the election results are the ones who are profoundly anti-democratic.
Grumpy Old Man , says: September 5, 2017 at 8:33 pm
No reason why populism couldn't govern. Huey Long was a damn effective governor of Louisiana. Send the whole Acela Corridor élite to Saddam's woodchipper and the country would noodle along just fine. I'm not for state violence, and yet the fantasy gives me a frisson. Forgive me, a sinner.

[Aug 02, 2018] Hegel The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party by James McElroy

Notable quotes:
"... Philosophy of Right ..."
"... History of the Idea of Progress ..."
"... Quest for Community ..."
"... The Soul of the World ..."
"... James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Is David Brooks openly flirting with the state-worship of this vexing 19th Century philosopher?Conservatism has gone from a rigid waltz between libertarians, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks to a limb-flailing rave. Writers are reaching towards the bookshelf for thinkers that will refine and define first principles during this time of flux. While it's all been great fun, an esteemed but concerning guest has now entered the party. Increasingly, the right is dancing with G.W. Hegel.

David Brooks' recent column is a clear example of a Hegel flirtation. In it, Brooks defines conservatism as an internal critique of the Enlightenment. Explaining opposition to the idea that individuals randomly choose to start society, he writes: "There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order."

Family and community are the basic building blocks of society and social contract theory has plenty of flaws. Yet note how Brooks lists the nation state as prior to individual freedom. It's dropped so casually that its radicalism is almost obscured. What type of freedom is dependent on the nation state? Hegelian.

Hegel argued that freedom was the origin of self-consciousness, and defined his work as tracing "the stages in the evolution of the idea of the will free in and for itself." In Philosophy of Right , he critiqued how Enlightenment liberals see freedom, arguing that liberal freedom could be divided into three stages.

Knock It Off With the 'Little Platoons' Already Alpo Leopold's Ecological Conservatism

First comes freedom defined negatively: "Nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner!" In the second stage of freedom, we want to choose specific states of mind or to concern ourselves with a particular. "I'm going to eat at Waffle House." But if we choose to eat at Waffle House, we've restricted that first stage of freedom. We can no longer say "nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner" because we've selected a particular place to eat. So the third stage of freedom is the ability to change one's mind, to keep options open, regardless of prior commitments. "I will eat at Waffle House, unless I decide to just drink mini-wines in the Applebee's parking lot." This reveals how our conception of freedom is dependent upon the options available to us.

Liberal freedom is thus our capacity to enter and exit choices, which are determined by factors other than ourselves. I did not choose for Waffle House to exist. I did not choose to get hungry at dinner time. We do not choose what we choose between. Therefore, the order of society creates freedom.

So Brooks is clearly doing the robot with Hegel. But so what? Maybe Hegel's ideas are both conservative and correct. Maybe conservatives ought to embrace Hegel openly. There have always been right-wing Hegelians. These are defensible positions. Yet we should remember that conservative bouncers have restricted Hegel from their canon before and for good reason.

Hegel has always been associated with state worship, and Marxism largely sprang from his thought. In History of the Idea of Progress , conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote that, while many try to disguise Hegel as some sort of liberal, "There is simply no way of separating him from ideas and expressions which were in themselves acts of obeisance to the national state and which on the ineffacable record, led others to ever-higher levels of intensity in the glorification of the state."

Some may disagree with Nisbet's reading. Some may say that Marxists misread Hegel . Yet the link to state worship and Marxism must be contended with, and anyone who slips in Hegel without acknowledging it -- like Brooks -- is masking the potentially radical nature of his statement.

Strip the Brooks column of the usual sentimental odes to "beautiful communities" and his strange statement stands bare and a little menacing. There is a world of difference between saying that freedom is dependent upon the family and saying that it's dependent on the nation state. Brooks sounds an awful lot like former President Barack Obama: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."

Yet apparently, as Brooks tells us, big government is no longer a threat to the "sacred space." Community focused conservatives often use Nisbet's Quest for Community to criticize hyper-individualism, yet they should also remember Nisbet's criticism of Hegelian freedom: "Hegel clothes the absolute state, just as Rousseau had, in the garments of freedom; but there cannot be the slightest doubt of Hegel's dedicated belief in the absolutism, the sanctity, even the divinity of the national state's power."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into a throwaway line. After all, Aristotle offered ideas similar to those of Hegel and Brooks without the taint of state worship -- maybe that's where Brooks is drawing his inspiration from. Yet the connection between Brooks and Hegel is still inescapable because the former is basing his definition of conservatism from British philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton is one of two modern philosophers currently disseminating Hegelian ideas into mainstream punditry. He reads Hegel in a positive light, and in his book The Soul of the World , he writes: "Freedom is fully realized only in the world of persons, bound together by rights and duties that are mutually recognized." Yet Scruton does not say "in the world of nations," and elsewhere warns that Hegel is like a "beautiful oasis around a treacherous pool of nonsense." Brooks doesn't offer any such qualifications.

Alasdair MacIntyre is the other philosopher who has helped popularize Hegel in conservative circles, and in fact Brooks referenced him just a few days ago . Conservatives who discuss "liquid modernity" as read through MacIntyre describe something almost identical to Hegel's Absolute Negativity. And McIntyre's idea of waiting for Benedict is similar to waiting for the Absolute Spirit, which is similar to waiting for the revolution.

What would a more Hegelian conservatism look like? It's hard to tell. Perhaps we'd see books declaring an end to one form of consciousness. Perhaps Hegel's ideas on corporations would be directly referenced by those concerned with working-class alienation. Or perhaps we would see more fishy ideas about the nation state being a prerequisite for individual freedom.

This isn't about pointing at Brooks and pulling an " Invasion of the Body Snatchers ," or just beating up on him for the sake of it. He's merely the most obvious example of a conservative who's done a waltz with the German philosopher. And even then it's always difficult to tell. Hegel wrote on such a wide range of topics in such confusing prose, that, like a crazed ex, we might mistakenly spot him everywhere.

Hegel's work is important, and both Scruton and MacIntyre are geniuses. Yet we should always remember Russell Kirk's warnings that "Marx could draw upon Hegel's magazine; he could find nothing to suit him in Burke" and that Hegel was "a conservative only from chance and expediency." Hegel is already at the party; whether we want him to stay is another question entirely.

James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance.

[Aug 01, 2018] The word McCarthyism came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence

Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

To some, that fear was not a problem but a tool -- one could defeat political enemies simply by accusing them of being Russian sympathizers. There was no need for evidence, so desperate were Americans to believe; just an accusation that someone was in league with Russia was enough. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy fired his first shot on February 9, 1950, proclaiming there were 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party working for the Department of State. The evidence? Nothing but assertions .

Indeed, the very word " McCarthyism " came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence. Other definitions include a ggressively questioning a person's patriotism, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or discredit an opponent, and subverting civil and political rights in the name of national security.

Pretending to be saving America while he tore at its foundations, McCarthy destroyed thousands of lives over the next four years simply by pointing a finger and saying "communist." Whenever anyone invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence, McCarthy answered that this was "the most positive proof obtainable that the witness is communist." The power of accusation was used by others as well: the Lavender Scare , which concluded that the State Department was overrun with closeted homosexuals who were at risk of being blackmailed by Moscow for their perversions, was an offshoot of McCarthyism, and by 1951, 600 people had been fired based solely on evidence-free "morals" charges. State legislatures and school boards mimicked McCarthy. Books and movies were banned. Blacklists abounded.

The FBI embarked on campaigns of political repression (they would later claim Martin Luther King Jr. had communist ties), even as journalists and academics voluntarily narrowed their political thinking to exclude communism.

[Aug 01, 2018] Hegel The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Philosophy of Right ..."
"... History of the Idea of Progress ..."
"... Quest for Community ..."
"... The Soul of the World ..."
"... James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Hegel: The Uninvited Guest at the Conservative Party Is David Brooks openly flirting with the state-worship of this vexing 19th Century philosopher? By James McElroy August 1, 2018

Columnist David Brooks and German Philosopher G.W. Hagel (public domain) Conservatism has gone from a rigid waltz between libertarians, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks to a limb-flailing rave. Writers are reaching towards the bookshelf for thinkers that will refine and define first principles during this time of flux. While it's all been great fun, an esteemed but concerning guest has now entered the party. Increasingly, the right is dancing with G.W. Hegel.

David Brooks' recent column is a clear example of a Hegel flirtation. In it, Brooks defines conservatism as an internal critique of the Enlightenment. Explaining opposition to the idea that individuals randomly choose to start society, he writes: "There never was such a thing as an autonomous, free individual who could gather with others to create order. Rather, individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order."

Family and community are the basic building blocks of society and social contract theory has plenty of flaws. Yet note how Brooks lists the nation state as prior to individual freedom. It's dropped so casually that its radicalism is almost obscured. What type of freedom is dependent on the nation state? Hegelian.

Hegel argued that freedom was the origin of self-consciousness, and defined his work as tracing "the stages in the evolution of the idea of the will free in and for itself." In Philosophy of Right , he critiqued how Enlightenment liberals see freedom, arguing that liberal freedom could be divided into three stages.

First comes freedom defined negatively: "Nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner!" In the second stage of freedom, we want to choose specific states of mind or to concern ourselves with a particular. "I'm going to eat at Waffle House." But if we choose to eat at Waffle House, we've restricted that first stage of freedom. We can no longer say "nothing can determine where I'll eat dinner" because we've selected a particular place to eat. So the third stage of freedom is the ability to change one's mind, to keep options open, regardless of prior commitments. "I will eat at Waffle House, unless I decide to just drink mini-wines in the Applebee's parking lot." This reveals how our conception of freedom is dependent upon the options available to us.

Liberal freedom is thus our capacity to enter and exit choices, which are determined by factors other than ourselves. I did not choose for Waffle House to exist. I did not choose to get hungry at dinner time. We do not choose what we choose between. Therefore, the order of society creates freedom.

So Brooks is clearly doing the robot with Hegel. But so what? Maybe Hegel's ideas are both conservative and correct. Maybe conservatives ought to embrace Hegel openly. There have always been right-wing Hegelians. These are defensible positions. Yet we should remember that conservative bouncers have restricted Hegel from their canon before and for good reason.

Hegel has always been associated with state worship, and Marxism largely sprang from his thought. In History of the Idea of Progress , conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote that, while many try to disguise Hegel as some sort of liberal, "There is simply no way of separating him from ideas and expressions which were in themselves acts of obeisance to the national state and which on the ineffacable record, led others to ever-higher levels of intensity in the glorification of the state."

Some may disagree with Nisbet's reading. Some may say that Marxists misread Hegel . Yet the link to state worship and Marxism must be contended with, and anyone who slips in Hegel without acknowledging it -- like Brooks -- is masking the potentially radical nature of his statement.

Strip the Brooks column of the usual sentimental odes to "beautiful communities" and his strange statement stands bare and a little menacing. There is a world of difference between saying that freedom is dependent upon the family and saying that it's dependent on the nation state. Brooks sounds an awful lot like former President Barack Obama: "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."

Yet apparently, as Brooks tells us, big government is no longer a threat to the "sacred space." Community focused conservatives often use Nisbet's Quest for Community to criticize hyper-individualism, yet they should also remember Nisbet's criticism of Hegelian freedom: "Hegel clothes the absolute state, just as Rousseau had, in the garments of freedom; but there cannot be the slightest doubt of Hegel's dedicated belief in the absolutism, the sanctity, even the divinity of the national state's power."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into a throwaway line. After all, Aristotle offered ideas similar to those of Hegel and Brooks without the taint of state worship -- maybe that's where Brooks is drawing his inspiration from. Yet the connection between Brooks and Hegel is still inescapable because the former is basing his definition of conservatism from British philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton is one of two modern philosophers currently disseminating Hegelian ideas into mainstream punditry. He reads Hegel in a positive light, and in his book The Soul of the World , he writes: "Freedom is fully realized only in the world of persons, bound together by rights and duties that are mutually recognized." Yet Scruton does not say "in the world of nations," and elsewhere warns that Hegel is like a "beautiful oasis around a treacherous pool of nonsense." Brooks doesn't offer any such qualifications.

Alasdair MacIntyre is the other philosopher who has helped popularize Hegel in conservative circles, and in fact Brooks referenced him just a few days ago . Conservatives who discuss "liquid modernity" as read through MacIntyre describe something almost identical to Hegel's Absolute Negativity. And McIntyre's idea of waiting for Benedict is similar to waiting for the Absolute Spirit, which is similar to waiting for the revolution.

What would a more Hegelian conservatism look like? It's hard to tell. Perhaps we'd see books declaring an end to one form of consciousness. Perhaps Hegel's ideas on corporations would be directly referenced by those concerned with working-class alienation. Or perhaps we would see more fishy ideas about the nation state being a prerequisite for individual freedom.

This isn't about pointing at Brooks and pulling an " Invasion of the Body Snatchers ," or just beating up on him for the sake of it. He's merely the most obvious example of a conservative who's done a waltz with the German philosopher. And even then it's always difficult to tell. Hegel wrote on such a wide range of topics in such confusing prose, that, like a crazed ex, we might mistakenly spot him everywhere.

Hegel's work is important, and both Scruton and MacIntyre are geniuses. Yet we should always remember Russell Kirk's warnings that "Marx could draw upon Hegel's magazine; he could find nothing to suit him in Burke" and that Hegel was "a conservative only from chance and expediency." Hegel is already at the party; whether we want him to stay is another question entirely.

James McElroy is a New York City-based novelist and essayist, who also works in finance.

[Jul 31, 2018] Donald Trump is Not the 'Manchurian Candidate' The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Vanity Fair ..."
"... The Washington Post , ..."
"... With impeachment itself on the table, Mueller has done little more than issue the equivalent of parking tickets to foreigners he has no jurisdiction over. Intelligence summaries claim the Russians meddled, but don't show that Trump was involved. Indictments against Russians are cheered as evidence, when they are just Mueller's uncontested assertions. ..."
Jul 31, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

An answer was needed, so one was created: the Russians. As World War II ended with the U.S. the planet's predominant power, dark forces saw advantage in arousing new fears . The Soviet Union morphed from a decimated ally in the fight against fascism into a competitor locked in a titanic struggle with America. How did they get so powerful so quickly? Nothing could explain it except traitors. Cold War-era America? Or 2018 Trump America? Yes, on both counts.

To some, that fear was not a problem but a tool -- one could defeat political enemies simply by accusing them of being Russian sympathizers. There was no need for evidence, so desperate were Americans to believe; just an accusation that someone was in league with Russia was enough. Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy fired his first shot on February 9, 1950, proclaiming there were 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party working for the Department of State. The evidence? Nothing but assertions .

Indeed, the very word " McCarthyism " came to mean making accusations of treason without sufficient evidence. Other definitions include a ggressively questioning a person's patriotism, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or discredit an opponent, and subverting civil and political rights in the name of national security.

Pretending to be saving America while he tore at its foundations, McCarthy destroyed thousands of lives over the next four years simply by pointing a finger and saying "communist." Whenever anyone invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence, McCarthy answered that this was "the most positive proof obtainable that the witness is communist." The power of accusation was used by others as well: the Lavender Scare , which concluded that the State Department was overrun with closeted homosexuals who were at risk of being blackmailed by Moscow for their perversions, was an offshoot of McCarthyism, and by 1951, 600 people had been fired based solely on evidence-free "morals" charges. State legislatures and school boards mimicked McCarthy. Books and movies were banned. Blacklists abounded. The FBI embarked on campaigns of political repression (they would later claim Martin Luther King Jr. had communist ties), even as journalists and academics voluntarily narrowed their political thinking to exclude communism.

John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up Real Takeaway: The FBI Influenced the Election of a President

Watching sincere people succumb to paranoia again, today, is not something to relish. But having trained themselves to intellectualize away Hillary Clinton's flaws, as they had with Obama, about half of America seemed truly gobsmacked when she lost to the antithesis of everything that she had represented to them. Every poll (that they read) said she would win. Every article (that they read) said it too, as did every person (that they knew). Lacking an explanation for the unexplainable, many advanced scenarios that would have failed high school civics, claiming that only the popular vote mattered, or that the archaic Emoluments Clause prevented Trump from taking office, or that Trump was insane and could be disposed of under the 25th Amendment .

After a few trial balloons during the primaries under which Bernie Sanders' visits to Russia and Jill Stein's attendance at a banquet in Moscow were used to imply disloyalty, the fearful cry that the Russians meddled in the election morphed into the claim that Trump had worked with the Russians and/or (fear is flexible) that the Russians had something on Trump. Everyone learned a new Russian word: kompromat .

Donald Trump became the Manchurian Candidate. That term was taken from a 1959 novel made into a classic Cold War movie that follows an American soldier brainwashed by communists as part of a Kremlin plot to gain influence in the Oval Office. A Google search shows that dozens of news sources -- including The New York Times , Vanity Fair , Salon , The Washington Post , and, why not, Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti -- have all claimed that Trump is a 2018 variant of the Manchurian Candidate, controlled by ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

The birth moment of Trump as a Russian asset is traceable to MI-6 intelligence officer-turned-Democratic opposition researcher-turned FBI mole Christopher Steele , whose "dossier" claimed the existence of the pee tape. Supposedly, somewhere deep in the Kremlin is a surveillance video made in 2013 of Trump in Moscow's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, watching prostitutes urinate on a bed that the Obamas had once slept in. As McCarthy did with homosexuality, naughty sex was thrown in to keep the rubes' attention.

No one, not even Steele's alleged informants, has actually seen the pee tape. It exists in a blurry land of certainty alongside the elevator tape , alleged video of Trump doing something in an elevator that's so salacious it's been called "Every Trump Reporter's White Whale." No one knows when the elevator video was made, but a dossier-length article in New York magazine posits that Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987.

Suddenly no real evidence is necessary, because it is always right in front of your face. McCarthy accused Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower of being communists or communist stooges over the "loss" of China in 1949. Trump holds a bizarre press conference in Helsinki and the only explanation must be that he is a traitor.

Nancy Pelosi ("President Trump's weakness in front of Putin was embarrassing, and proves that the Russians have something on the president, personally, financially, or politically") and Cory Booker ("Trump is acting like he's guilty of something") and Hillary Clinton ("now we know whose side he plays for") and John Brennan ("rises to and exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin") and Rachel Maddow ("We haven't ever had to reckon with the possibility that someone had ascended to the presidency of the United States to serve the interests of another country rather than our own") and others have said that Trump is controlled by Russia. As in 1954 when the press provided live TV coverage of McCarthy's dirty assertions against the Army, the modern media uses each new assertion as "proof" of an earlier one. Snowballs get bigger rolling downhill.

When assertion is accepted as evidence, it forces the other side to prove a negative to break free. So until Trump "proves" he is not a Russian stooge, his denials will be seen as attempts to wiggle out from under evidence that in fact doesn't exist. Who, pundits ask, can come up with a better explanation for Trump's actions than blackmail, as if that was a necessary step to clearing his name?

Joe McCarthy's victims faced similar challenges: once labeled a communist or a homosexual, the onus shifted to them to somehow prove they weren't. Their failure to prove their innocence became more evidence of their guilt. The Cold War version of this mindset was well illustrated in movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the classic Twilight Zone episode " The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street ." Anyone who questions this must themselves be at best a useful fool, if not an outright Russia collaborator. (Wrote one pundit : "They are accessories, before and after the fact, to the hijacking of a democratic election. So, yes, goddamn them all.") In the McCarthy era, the term was "fellow traveler": anyone, witting or unwitting, who helped the Russians. Mere skepticism, never mind actual dissent, is muddled with disloyalty.

Blackmail? Payoffs? Deals? It isn't just the months of Mueller's investigation that have passed without evidence. The IRS and Treasury have had Trump's tax documents and financials for decades, even if Rachel Maddow has not. If Trump has been a Russian asset since 1987, or even 2013, he has done it behind the backs of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and NSA. Yet at the same time, in what history would see as the most out-in-the-open intelligence operation ever, some claim he asked on TV for his handlers to deliver hacked emails. In The Manchurian Candidate , the whole thing was at least done in secret as you'd expect.

With impeachment itself on the table, Mueller has done little more than issue the equivalent of parking tickets to foreigners he has no jurisdiction over. Intelligence summaries claim the Russians meddled, but don't show that Trump was involved. Indictments against Russians are cheered as evidence, when they are just Mueller's uncontested assertions.

There is no evidence the president is acting on orders from Russia or is under their influence. None.

As with McCarthy, as in those famous witch trials at Salem, allegations shouldn't be accepted as truth, though in 2018 even pointing out that basic tenet is blasphemy. The burden of proof should be on the accusing party, yet the standing narrative in America is that the Russia story must be assumed plausible, if not true, until proven false. Joe McCarthy tore America apart for four years under just such standards, until finally public opinion, led by Edward R. Murrow , a journalist brave enough to demand answers McCarthy did not have, turned against him. There is no Edward R. Murrow in 2018.

When asking for proof is seen as disloyal, when demanding evidence after years of accusations is considered a Big Ask, when a clear answer somehow always needs additional time, there is more on the line in a democracy than the fate of one man.

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 .

[Jul 29, 2018] The USA intentionally tried to destroy Russia after the dissolution of the USSR

Notable quotes:
"... This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think. ..."
"... Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

John Perry July 28, 2018 at 1:48 pm

"Vladimir Putin rode a counter-wave of anti-Western nationalism to power in Moscow."

Uh, no. Putin came to power at a time when Russia seemed to be falling apart, quite literally. There was war in Chechnya, open criminal activity on the streets, and clear social decay. Putin's popularity begins with his address to the nation after the bombing of the Moscow metro, promising that the government (which he did not then lead) would chase those responsible down and kill them, even if that meant chasing them into outhouses. The relationship between the bombing and Putin's rise is so well-known that the conspiracy theorists who have Jay Nordlinger's ear over at National Review claim that the bombing was a set up by Putin's pals in the FSB, precisely to bring Putin to power.

My wife is Russian, from the city of Kazan in the Tatar Republic (part of Russia; it's complicated), and when we were merely pen pals in 2003 she wrote me what it was like. It was bad, very bad. At one point her entire neighborhood was placed under curfew on account of open warfare between criminal gangs. And of course when we visit the cemetery today one sees the striking spike in tombstones whose date of death is at some point in the mid- to late 90's, when it all seemed to be going to pieces and the government didn't even pay its own employees for half a year.

Today, by contrast, Russians can walk the streets more or less without fear, count on a paycheck, read in the news how their country has sent yet another capsule of Western astronauts to the international space station (because Westerners haven't been able to do that for the better part of a decade, thanks to Bush and Obama), and even find jobs in a successful tech sector (Kaspersky, JetBrains, Yandex, the list goes on).

But, hey, if you want to fantasize that Putin's rise is thanks to anti-Western sentiment, you go ahead and do that.

John Perry , says: July 28, 2018 at 1:53 pm
One other comment, if I may. I share the concern most Westerners have about Russia's seizure of Crimea. But where is our concern about Turkey's 40-plus-year occupation of northern Cyprus, also sparked by internal political disorder on the island? Why is it alright for a NATO country to invade another nation and prop up its separatists, expel the inhabitants of a disfavored ethnic group -- in this case, the Greeks?
Rodrigo Alvarez , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm
Shame on TAC for publishing this garbage. For one, Putin more or less saved Russia as a sovereign state, it is easy to forget the sorry condition Russia was in at the turn of the century. Without him, Russia would've most likely been dismembered or simply colonized by the West and China. He has performed admirably in the face of massive odds. Russia will still exist in 100 years as the state of the Russian and other native people of its land – can the same be said of the United States? Russia is slowly climbing its way out of the pit of despair created by 80 years of Communism, the United States is crawling into the very same pit.
Cynthia McLean , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:27 pm
I am much more concerned that voter roll purges, suppression of the vote, Citizen's United Dark Money and folks like the Kochs and Addelson are undermining US democracy than the Russians. As for the aggression of military machines around the world, the US wins hands down.
Groucho , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Like Fran my inclination was to bail after the first paragraph but I pushed on.

In the first paragraph Mr Desch lays out his position which is well within the bounds of polite discussion that Russia is a corrupt oligarchy but don't worry because it's an economic and military basketcase.

Where to start?

1. Corrupt kleptocracy. The Russian oligarchy/ mafia was a biproduct of the privatization binge that followed the collapse of the USSR. This evolved under the disastrous Yeltsin aided and abetted by US elites. The case of William Browder is instructive. Putin has taken significant measures to reassert government control and has greatly improved the lot of the average Russian.

2. Political freedom. Putin did not inherit a developed liberal democracy. Russia needs to be judged in the context of its own historical timeline in this regard not compared to western democracies. Do you prefer Stalin, Brezhnev, Andropov? In contrast compare the state and trajectory of US democratic institutions to, say the 1970s.

3. Human rights. Again the situation in Russia vis a vis human rights needs to be judged in terms of Russia's history not against Western nations with a long-standing tradition of human rights and political freedoms. That said, the illusion of political repression is largely overstated. For example Putin is routinely accused of murdering journalists but no real proof is ever offered. Instead, the statement is made again in this article as though it were self evident.

4. Foreign aggression. This is my favorite because it flies in the face of observable reality to the point of being ridiculous. Russia did not invade Ukraine. It provided support to ethnic Russians in Ukraine who rebelled after the illegal armed overthrow of the Russian leaning democratically elected president.That coup was directly supported by the United States. Far from ratcheting up tensions Russia has consistently pressed for the implementation of the Minsk accords. Putin is not interested in becoming responsible for the economic and political basket case which is Ukraine. The "largely bloodless" occupation of Crimea was actually a referendum in which the citizens of Crimea overwhelmingly supported annexation to Russia. Again This result makes sense in light of even a basic understanding of Russian history. Finally, in the case of Georgia Russia engaged after Georgia attacked what was essentially a Russian protectorate. This was the conclusion reached by an EU investigation.

Russia's so-called aggressive foreign-policy has been primarily in response to NATOs continuous push eastward and the perceived need to defend ethnic Russians from corrupt ultranationalist governments in former republics of the USSR. This is what Putin was talking about when he called the dissolution of the USSR one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century – the fact that, overnight 20 million Russians found themselves living in foreign countries. It wasn't about longing for a Russian empire.

As for the current state of Russias military capabilities, Mr Desch Would do well to read Pepe Escobar's recent article in the Asia Times. Russian accomplishments in Syria illustrated a level of technology and strategic effectiveness that rivals anything the US can do. Name one other nation – other than the US – that can design and build a world class 6th generation fighter jet or develop its own space program. Even Germany can't do that.

This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think.

laninya , says: July 28, 2018 at 7:45 pm
VG1959
"It is in the pursuit of empire that Putin, like Napoleon or Hitler before him, threatens the stability of Europe and by extension world peace."

Ah! ha!ha! Right.

Like Russia with a population of 150 million persons inhabiting a land mass that stretches across 9 or 10 time zones, from the Arctic pole to the Black Sea is chafing for "lebensraum" !?

No, Russia just wants to develop what it already owns. And, trying to do it on the strength of their own efforts (no overseas colonies filling the coffers), on a GDP as Winston, above, has pointed out which is smaller than that some US states. They're focussed, not on grabbing tiny, constipated territories like Estonia. Latvia, and Lithuania (full of Nazi sympathizers), but on bringing back to life those ancient trade routes which are their inheritance from the past (the Silk Road, primarily).

Why not just leave them alone and see what they can do? Those who have been relentlessly picking fault with Russia (and North Korea) might want to put down their megaphones and start taking notes.

What I mean is: pause for a moment to consider that:

1. Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold.

2. North Korea, in 1953, had been so destroyed by war that no structures over a single story were left standing (and American generals were actually barfing into their helmets at the horror of what had been done to those people). The DPRK authorities, helpless to assist the population, could only advise to dig shelters underground to survive the winter. Yet, 70 years later, under international sanctions designed to starve those traumatized people into surrender, North Korea has restored its infrastructure, built modern cities, and developed a military apparatus able to credibly resist constant threats from abroad.

See: rather than picking nits to find things that are not yet perfectly hunky-dory with the governing structures/systems in those countries, I'm taking notes!!

Because, I'm convinced that if those people (those nations) were able to do what they've done with the time and resources they've had to work with, there is absolutely no reason and no excuse for our rich nations of "the West" to be caught in a nightmare of austerity budgeting, crumbling infrastructure, collapsing pensions, and spiralling debt.

Funny how the English speaking world SO resisst learning something that could actually do us a whole lot of good. I don't know who coined the terms "stiffnecked" and "bloodyminded", but it sure describes us!

connecticut farmer , says: July 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm
"From Moscow's perspective, the events in Kiev in late 2013 and 2014 looked suspiciously like a Western-backed coup."

Gee, ya think? Kinda reminds one of the 1996 Russian election. But, hey, don't broadcast this because, after all, too many people might start, er, noticing.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

"They may be weakened, but their ability to make trouble is undiminished, given their aptitude for cyberattacks."

And if you have evidence that Russia so engaged, the FBI has a place for you.

[Jul 29, 2018] Cult of GDP is a damaging mental disease. With the size of the USA financial sector it is grossly distorted.

Jul 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Winston July 28, 2018 at 10:00 am

GDPs (2017):

California – $2.751 trillion
Texas – $1.707 trillion
Russia – $1.578 trillion

Likbez:

@Winston July 28, 2018 at 10:00 am

Cult of GDP is a damaging mental disease. With the size of the USA financial sector it is grossly distorted.

The inflated costs of pharmaceutical and medical-industrial complex add another large portion of air into the US GDP.

Surveillance Valley (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc ) firms valuations are also inflated and their contribution to the USA economics is overestimated in GDP.

There is also such thing as purchase parity. To compare GDP between countries, you must use purchasing power parity. To compare GDP without calculating in purchasing parity is just naïve.

I suspect that in real purchasing power Russia is close to Germany (which means it it is the fifth largest economy)

The USA still has dominance is key technologies and cultural influence.

[Jul 29, 2018] Time to Talk to the Taliban by Daniel L. Davis

Too many US clans are profiting from the war...
Notable quotes:
"... While agree totally with what Col. Davis says here about ending America's involvement in the Afghanistan War. Way to many are profiting from this long-term misadventure. ..."
"... Eminently sensible advice, except that Trump can't take it without being greeted with a hysterical chorus of "we're losing Afghanistan ZOMG!" (as if we ever had it) and "Putin puppet!" ..."
"... "Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures." ..."
"... Completely disagree. I don't know a single individual who supports the war in Afghanistan or misunderstands its costs. The American people just have no say in the matter. ..."
"... Finally, they realise what St Ronnie knew in the 1980s. He created the Taliban we know today via Operation Cyclone. Maybe Ollie North can lead the negotiations? He seems to have a good channel to the Iranians ..."
"... Putting together Sid_finster's and spite's comments paints an interesting picture. Aside from war profiteering (Fran Macadam) there is no real purpose served by our occupation except to be there. ..."
"... I'll go a step further and say that the invasion of Afghanistan was unnecessary too. We were not attacked by Afghanistan. We were not even attacked by the Taliban. We were attacked by al Quaida, by teams comprised mostly of Saudi Arabians. ..."
"... It cannot be repeated too often that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Let the Taliban have it. ..."
"... What the Army could not do, and still cannot do, is transform a tribal society in isolated mountainous terrain into a liberal democracy. As LTC Davis observes: "The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished." ..."
"... The conclusion of this simple argument is that the war in Afghanistan actually has almost nothing to do with that country and almost entirely to do with the political and economic demands arising from the US .nothing to do with Afghanistan other than the destruction of the place and its people. ..."
Jul 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
We have no choice. The 17-year war in Afghanistan has failed at every level, while the violence is only getting worse.

Reports have surfaced recently that the White House is instructing its senior diplomats to begin seeking "direct talks with the Taliban." It's a measure that would have been unthinkable at the start of the Afghanistan war yet today it's long overdue. Despite the criticism it's elicited, such talks offer the best chance of ending America's longest and most futile war.

While there is broad agreement that American leaders were justified in launching military operations in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, it's painfully evident after 17 years that no one has any idea how to end the fighting on military terms.

Possibly the biggest impediment to ending the war has been the definition of the word "win." General Stanley McChrystal said in 2009 that winning in Afghanistan meant "reversing the perceived momentum" of the Taliban, "seek[ing] rapid growth of Afghan national security forces," and "tackl[ing] the issue of predatory corruption by some" Afghan officials.

Nine full years and zero successes later, however, Lieutenant General Austin S. Miller, latest in line to command U.S. troops in Afghanistan, defined as America's "core goal" at his confirmation hearing that "terrorists can never again use Afghanistan as a safe haven to threaten the United States."

The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished. Predicating an end to the war on such is to guarantee perpetual failure. A major course correction is therefore in order.

Keeping 15,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan does not, in any way , prevent terror attacks against the United States from originating there -- and for this lack of success we will pay at least $45 billion this year alone. The real solution is therefore to withdraw our troops as quickly as can be safely accomplished rather than throw more of them into a fruitless conflict.

I personally observed in 2011 during my second combat deployment in Afghanistan that even with 140,000 U.S. and NATO boots on the ground, there were still vast swaths of the country that were ungoverned and off-limits to allied troops.

Meaning, at no point since October 2001 has American military power prevented Afghanistan from having ungoverned spaces. What has kept us safe, however -- and will continue to keep us safe -- has been our robust, globally focused intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that work in concert with the CIA, FBI, and local law enforcement to defend our borders from external attack.

Many pundits claim that if the U.S. military withdraws from Afghanistan then chaos will reign there -- and that is almost certainly true. But that's how we found Afghanistan, that's how it is today, and -- wholly irrespective of when or under what conditions the U.S. leaves -- that's how it will be long into the future until Afghans themselves come to an accommodation.

The question U.S. policymakers need to ask is which is more important to American interests: the maintenance of a perpetually costly war that fails to prevent any future attacks, or ending America's participation in that war?

Continuing to fight for a country that can't be won cements a policy that has drained the U.S. of vital resources, spilled the blood of American service members to no effect, and dissipated the Armed Forces' ability to defend against potentially existential threats later on -- while in the meantime not diminishing the threat of international terrorism. To strengthen our national security, we must end the enduring policy of failure by prudently and effectively ending our military mission.

While the fundamentals of a withdrawal plan are relatively straightforward, they would still be met by considerable opposition. One of the arguments against leaving was voiced by McChrystal nine years ago when he pleaded with the American public to "show resolve" because "uncertainty disheartens our allies [and] emboldens our foe." Yet the facts can't be denied any longer: for all eight years of the Obama administration and the first 500 days of Trump's tenure, we maintained that "resolve" and were rewarded with an unequivocal deterioration of the war.

Since McChrystal's admonition to maintain the status quo, the Taliban have exploded in strength to reportedly 77,000 , more territory is now in the hands of the insurgents than at any point since 2001 , the Afghan government remains one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet, and civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 are the highest ever recorded .

The only way this permanent failure ends is if President Trump shows the courage he has sometimes demonstrated to push back against the Washington establishment. That means ignoring the status quo that holds our security hostage, ending the war, and redeploying our troops. Without that resolve, we can count on continued failure in Afghanistan. With it, American security will be strengthened and readiness improved.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow at Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him on Twitter @DanielLDavis1 .


Fred Bowman July 24, 2018 at 1:29 pm

While agree totally with what Col. Davis says here about ending America's involvement in the Afghanistan War. Way to many are profiting from this long-term misadventure. The only way these wars of choice will ever end is when Congress has the balls to cut off funding. Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures. Military madness indeed.
Sid_finster , says: July 24, 2018 at 2:06 pm
Eminently sensible advice, except that Trump can't take it without being greeted with a hysterical chorus of "we're losing Afghanistan ZOMG!" (as if we ever had it) and "Putin puppet!"

If Trump were going to leave, he should have done so soon after taking office. At least then he could blame his predecessors.

That country is Trump's baby now.

Fran Macadam , says: July 24, 2018 at 3:37 pm
The financial security of the National Security State and its suppliers now depends on no war ever ending or being won. The new definition of defeat is having any war end. As long as it continues, that war is being won.
Kent , says: July 24, 2018 at 4:31 pm
"Of course most Americans are clueless about the cost of these wars and how it impacts money necessary to re-build our country infrastructures."

Completely disagree. I don't know a single individual who supports the war in Afghanistan or misunderstands its costs. The American people just have no say in the matter.

spite , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm
There is only one reason why the USA is still in Afghanistan that makes sense (all the official reasons are an insult to ones intelligence), it borders on Iran and thus serves as a means to open a new front against Iran. The more the US pushes for war against Iran, the more this seems correct.
EliteCommInc. , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:43 pm
"Reports have surfaced recently that the White House is instructing its senior diplomats to begin seeking "direct talks with the Taliban."

I have to give my Jr High response here:

"Well, duh."
__________________

"While there is broad agreement that American leaders were justified in launching military operations in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks . . ."

Yeah . . . no.

1. They manipulated the game to make what was a crime an act of war to justify the an unnecessary, unethical, and strategically unwise invasion. I remain now where I was 14 years ago -- bad decision in every way.

2. It was even a poor decision based on reason for war. To utterly bend the will of the opponent to conform to the will of the US. it is possible to win. But to do so would require such massive force, brutality and will.

3. 9/11 was a simple criminal act, despite the damage. As a crime we should have sought extradition, and or small team FBI and special forces operations to a small footprint in either capturing, and or if need be killing Osama bin Laden and company.

Nothing that has occurred since 9/11 provides evidence that the invasion was either justified or effective. It will if the end game is to quit be one of three losses suffered by the US.

They are: War of 1812
Iraq
Afghanistan

" . . . it's painfully evident after 17 years that no one has any idea how to end the fighting on military terms."

Sure leave. Though talking so as to avert whole slaughter of those that aided the US is the decent thing to do.

Whine Merchant , says: July 24, 2018 at 5:48 pm
Finally, they realise what St Ronnie knew in the 1980s. He created the Taliban we know today via Operation Cyclone. Maybe Ollie North can lead the negotiations? He seems to have a good channel to the Iranians
Janek , says: July 24, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Solving USA problems in Afghanistan an at the same time pushing for war with Iran is by definition classic oxymoron. Afghanistan's problems can only be solved with cooperation and understanding with Iran. Conflict of the USA with Iran will extend indefinitely the suffering of the Afghanis and the eventual lose of the Afghanistan and Iran to the Russia. Always reigniting and keeping on the front burner the conflict with Iran by the USA is exactly what Russia and V. Putin want. I can't see any other politicians except D. Trump, B. Netanyahu and American 'conservatives' for the advancement of the Russia's goals in the Middle East and in the globalistan. These are the new XXI century 'useful (adjective)'.
Myron Hudson , says: July 24, 2018 at 6:22 pm
Putting together Sid_finster's and spite's comments paints an interesting picture. Aside from war profiteering (Fran Macadam) there is no real purpose served by our occupation except to be there.

I'll go a step further and say that the invasion of Afghanistan was unnecessary too. We were not attacked by Afghanistan. We were not even attacked by the Taliban. We were attacked by al Quaida, by teams comprised mostly of Saudi Arabians. This should have been a dirty knife fight in all the back alleys of the world, but we responded to the sucker punch as our attackers intended; getting into a brawl with somebody else in the same bar; eventually, with more than one somebody else.

It cannot be repeated too often that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Let the Taliban have it.

TG , says: July 25, 2018 at 8:28 am
Indeed, but as others have commented, the entire point of the Afghanistan war is that it is pointless. It can suck up enormous amounts of money, and generate incredible profits for politically connected defense contractors – and because Afghanistan is in fact pointless, it doesn't matter if all of that money is wasted or stolen, how could you tell? The vested interest in these winless pointless foreign wars means that they will continue until the American economy finally collapses – and anyone who opposes these wars is a fascist, a Russian stooge, "literally Hitler." Because money.
EarlyBird , says: July 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm
Thank you for this. I am very surprised to learn that Trump is pursuing this, given his pugilistic nature. I hope he does in fact, get us the hell out of there. He may be, like Nixon, the one who is politically able to make this smart move. Can you imagine the Republican outrage if Obama had tried a diplomatic exit from this sand trap?

We can still be proud of what we attempted to do there. A few years post-9/11, an Afghan colleague of mine who had come to the US as a boy said, "9/11 is the best thing to ever happen to Afghanistan." He meant that rather than carpet bombing Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age," as the left predicted the US would do, we poured billions of dollars in aide to build schools, hospitals, sewage and water plants, roads, etc.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 25, 2018 at 8:29 pm
"He meant that rather than carpet bombing Afghanistan "back to the Stone Age," as the left predicted the US would do, we poured billions of dollars in aide to build schools, hospitals, sewage and water plants, roads, etc."

And we could have done a lot more if we had not invaded. The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11.

furbo , says: July 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm
The achievable operational level Military objectives in the Afghan war were accomplished in the first year; The Taliban were out of power and hiding in Pakistan and the Afghans had a somewhat benevolent government that wanted to guarantee security an property and a measure of individual liberty.

What the Army could not do, and still cannot do, is transform a tribal society in isolated mountainous terrain into a liberal democracy. As LTC Davis observes: "The reason McChrystal failed to end the war -- and Miller will likewise fail -- is that these objectives can't be militarily accomplished."

This has been particularly true with the intense guerrilla actions enabled by the Pakistanis who have a vested interest in an unstable Afghanistan.

I believe the noble goals 'might' have been doable – but it would have required a level of effort, and more importantly a 'cultural confidence' on par with the Roman Empire of the 2nd Century to pull it off. That is no longer us.

masmanz , says: July 27, 2018 at 1:29 am
"9/11 is the best thing to ever happen to Afghanistan"? I bet none of his family members died or suffered. Probably they are all living in the US. Are we supposed to feel proud that instead of carpet bombing and killing millions our war killed only a hundred thousand?
Wizard , says: July 27, 2018 at 9:53 am
Sadly, Kent, I do know people who still claim that our continued presence in Afghanistan is a good thing. Some of these are otherwise fairly bright people, so I really can't comprehend why they continue to buy into this idiocy.
James Keye , says: July 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm
Afghanistan must be Afghanistan and the US must be the US; this is such a simple tautology. If the US leaves, Afghanistan will become what ever it can for its own reasons and options. If the US stays, it will be for the US' reasons, not for the Afghans.

The conclusion of this simple argument is that the war in Afghanistan actually has almost nothing to do with that country and almost entirely to do with the political and economic demands arising from the US .nothing to do with Afghanistan other than the destruction of the place and its people.

[Jul 26, 2018] What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki by Jon Basil Utley

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Utley is the publisher of ..."
Jul 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Washington establishment came to their own conclusions about Russia and NATO -- but this is what they missed.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump during the recent summit in Helsinki. (Office of the Russian Presisdent/Kremin.ru) Sifting through the cacophony of commentary from the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki, here are four key points missed, ignored or glossed over by the Washington establishment and mainstream news coverage -- and they require a good airing.

They are:

It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO. But Big Media totally ignored the trillion dollar gorilla in room: Why does anyone have to spend so much on NATO in the first place?

Are we planning a ground attack on Russia because we really think the former Soviet Empire will invade Poland or the Baltic nations? Are we planning for a land war in Europe to intervene in the Ukraine? What for is the money? The Trump administration and Big Media, for all their noise, mainly argue that more spending is good. There is no debate about the reasons why. Meanwhile Russia is cutting its military spending.

Trump Needs to Put Up or Shut Up on Russian Arms Race Let's See Who's Bluffing in the Criminal Case Against the Russians

Washington is so dominated by our military-industrial-congressional complex that spending money is a major intent. Remember when Washington first insisted that putting up an anti-missile system in Poland and Romania was supposed to protect Europe from an Iranian attack? Of course, it was really directed against Russia. Washington was so eager to spend the money that it didn't even ask the Europeans to pay the cost even though it was supposedly for their defense. As of 2016 Washington had spent $800 million on the site in Romania. Now it appears that Poland and Romania will pay billions to the Raytheon Corporation for the shield to comply with their commitment to increase military spending to 2 percent of gross national product.

There was no focus on the real, growing threat of nuclear war, intentional or accidental. No one, including journalists at the joint press conference, spoke about the collapsing missile treaties (the only one who reportedly seemed keen to discuss it was ejected beforehand). Scott Ritter details these alarming risks here on TAC .

The U.S. is now funding new cruise missiles with nukes which allow for a surprise attack on Russia with only a few minutes of warning, unlike the ICBMs which launch gives a half an hour or more. This was the reason Russia opposed the anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, because they could have little warning if cruise missiles were fired from the new bases. Americans may think that we don't start wars, but the Russians don't. The old shill argument that democracies don't start wars is belied by American attacks on Serbia, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

For all the Democratic and Big Media attacks on Trump for supposedly caving in to Putin, he gave Putin nothing. His administration is still maintaining an increasingly stringent economic attack on Russian trade and banking, announcing (just days after his meeting) $200 million of new aid to Ukraine's military and threatening Europeans with sanctions if they go ahead with a new Baltic pipeline to import Russian natural gas. Consequently, some analysts believe that Putin has given up on wanting better relations with the U.S. and instead is just trying to weaken and discredit America's overwhelming power in the world. In a similar vein Rand Paul writes how we never think about other nations' interests. TAC argues we should "Forget Trump: The Military-Industrial Complex is Still Running the Show With Russia, " showing how Washington wants to keep Russia as an enemy because it's good for business.

Furthermore, releasing the accusations and indictments via a press already out for Trump's blood is explained away by pointing out that the special prosecutor has separate authority to that of the president. But the timing, a day before the Helsinki meeting, obviously shows intent to cause disarray and to prevent meaningful dialogue with Russia. It's interesting to note that TAC has been criticizing the "Deep State" since at least 2015.

The casualness with which much of Washington regards conflict and starting wars is only comparable to the thoughtlessness of Europeans when they started World War I. Like now, that war followed nearly a century of relative peace and prosperity. Both sides thought a war would be "easy" and over quickly and were engulfed in it because of minor incidents instigated by their small nation allies. It was started with a single assassination in Serbia. The situation is similar now. America is hostage to the actions of a host of tiny countries possibly starting a war. Think of our NATO obligations and promises to Taiwan and Israel.

America has become inured to the risks of escalation and Congress has ceded its war powers to the president. The authority of war power was one of the most important tenets of our Constitution, designed to prevent our rulers from irresponsibly launching conflicts like the European kings. Witness now how casually Trump talks about starting a war with Iran, with no thought of possible consequences, including blowing up oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, oil and gas vital for the world economy.

For most Americans, war means sitting in front of their TVs watching the bombs fall on small nations unable to resist or respond to our power. "We" kill thousands of "them" in easy battles and then worry if a single American soldier is harmed. We don't viscerally understand the full threat of modern weapons because they've never been used against us. This is not unlike World War I, for which the countries engaged were wholly unprepared for a protracted siege war against the lethality of new modern artillery and chemical weapons. All had assumed the war would be over in weeks. I wrote about these issues after visiting the battlefields of the Crimean war. (See " Lessons in Empire")

And so we continue careening towards more conflicts which can always lead to unintended consequences, ever closer to nuclear war. Meanwhile efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by our internal politics and dysfunction in Washington.

Mr. Utley is the publisher of The American Conservative 15 Responses to What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki



Fran Macadam July 25, 2018 at 1:56 am

"And so we continue careening towards more conflicts which can always lead to unintended consequences, ever closer to nuclear war. Meanwhile efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by our internal politics and dysfunction in Washington."

Careful with such cavalier use of the truth. Someone is sure to point out Vlad said just the same, which means according to D.C. war profiteer sponsored consensus we should do exactly the opposite.

S , , July 25, 2018 at 2:01 am
Lovely article. One aspect of going to war for conquest over and over, is that it leads to moral deterioration. Defensive wars aren't that bad. I am not sure why we haven't seen any articles on TAC about this aspect -- is it that it's not a popular idea?
John S , , July 25, 2018 at 8:57 am
What an awful piece. Here's why:

"1) It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO."

No, they are not. Defense budgets are increasing -- very different, and it was happening already before Trump's tweets came along.

"2) There was no focus on the real, growing threat of nuclear war, intentional or accidental."

How do you know, since Trump hasn't told anyone what was discussed in Helsinki?

"3) For all the Democratic and Big Media attacks on Trump for supposedly caving in to Putin, he gave Putin nothing."

Trump abased himself before Putin. That's not nothing. And who knows what else he gave Putin behind closed doors. One must assume a lot since Trump is not out bragging about particulars.

"4) The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the "Deep State" in dominating American foreign policy."

Trump personally approved the release of that intelligence.

TAC sure carries a lot of water for Trumpistan.

Johann , , July 25, 2018 at 9:10 am
The myth that NATO has kept Europe at peace since WWII (except for the Balkan war) is still alive and well. But really, it was the fear of nuclear weapons that kept the peace.
Christian Chuba , , July 25, 2018 at 9:21 am
It is the risk of war vs. the hidden agenda of trying to break Russia a second time.

The people who want to break Russia a second time really do believe that Russia is weak and unwilling to risk war under any circumstances. So they want to expand NATO, get into another arms race and wait for Russia to go bankrupt again. Rinse repeat China.

If we expand NATO, pull out of INF and even START, we can build missile bases near Russia's borders, reduce or eliminate their exports, we can drive their economy into overdrive. But this requires an information war to make it look like they are the aggressors while we are the ones implementing this strategy.

By 'we' I mean our entrenched Foreign Policy Establishment that blathers about the 'rules based world order' while we bomb any country we want whenever we want. Queue up another story on how they encroached on NATO airspace while flying to their enclave in Kaliningrad, look at a map, it's impossible not to so so.

Tying it back, they do not believe that there is any risk of war. They are wrong.

sean mcauliffe , , July 25, 2018 at 9:28 am
4 is not true.

https://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/russia-indictment-timing-trump-approved-not-mueller-attack.html

Kurt Gayle , , July 25, 2018 at 9:46 am
Jon Basil Utley makes an important point:

"The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the 'Deep State' in dominating American foreign policy Releasing the accusations and indictments via a press already out for Trump's blood a day before the Helsinki meeting, obviously shows intent to cause disarray and to prevent meaningful dialogue with Russia."

To be sure, the 6-4-3 (Mueller to Rosenstein to Mainstream Media) double play appeared at first to be a real beauty. However, the video replay showed that the pitcher had not yet pitched the ball to the batter and that the shortstop Mueller, the second baseman Rosenstein, and the MSM first baseman had carried out their double play with a ball that Mueller had pulled out of his hip pocket. ("Hip pocket" is a polite euphemism for the proximate area of the Mueller anatomy from whence the ball was actually pulled.)

hetro , , July 25, 2018 at 11:00 am
@John S.

*"abased himself" is the popular demon meme of the moment -- how did he do that?

*you say we don't know what he said to Putin then assume you know he gave Putin something he should not have.

This is irrational assumption apparently born from a deep prejudice of some sort.

Michael Kenny , , July 25, 2018 at 11:49 am
The real question is what did Putin give Trump? Nothing, as far as can be seen. Efforts for a dialogue with Russia are thwarted by Putin's continued occupation of Ukrainian territory, with its implicit denial of the principle of the sovereign nation-state, which has been the building block of the European political order since the French Revolution. For Americans, given the history of the American continent, European nationalism and the nation-state are wholly incomprehensible concepts but they're very real to us in Europe. Those Americans who promote a poorly-understood European nationalism in the hope of destroying the EU are promoting the very war they so piously claim to oppose.
balconesfault , , July 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm
It's clear now that Europeans will increase their contributions to NATO. But Big Media totally ignored the trillion dollar gorilla in room: Why does anyone have to spend so much on NATO in the first place?

Why would you top post a commentor who so clearly doesn't understand the details of what he's discussing?

I mean -- such fundamental misunderstanding of the issues might qualify him to be the Republican nominee for President (and thanks to the Electoral College, the President) but it is beneath your editorial standards.

CLW , , July 25, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Enough of this "Deep State" nonsense: stop lambasting U.S. Federal law enforcement and intelligence professionals for calling out Trump's willful ignorance/intentional lies about Russia's malicious actions. Russian belligerence against the U.S. is a predictable and manageable problem, but only by a President (e.g., Reagan, Bush 41) who grasps the complexity of the issue and who can balance targeted confrontation and selective cooperation with Russia. Trump is inherently incapable of striking that balance, as Putin clearly understands, therefore U.S.-Russian relations will remain (usefully for Putin) confrontational for the near term.
One Guy , , July 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm
Why is it up to the media to address the elephant in the room? Shouldn't the media simply report what happened? Why doesn't Trump address the elephant in the room?
Freestater , , July 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Our grandparents and parents fought the Commies.
GOP throws that away in search of lower taxes and less regulation.
GOP elites belong to the international elite, namely the highest bidder.
Shame.
b. , , July 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm
"The release of intelligence agency findings about Russians' intervention in the last election just a day before the conference precisely shows the strength of the 'Deep State' in dominating American foreign policy"

Others have already pointed out that the facts might not back up that the timing was some elaborate plot, but even if this was a Derp State conspiracy on full display, it would probably be proof of the opposite -- this would have not been an indication of influence, control, domination, but a sign of weakness.

Like all conspiracy theories, "Deep State" implies competence, coordination, capability. Our problem appears to be that we have too many bureaucracies infighting with each other, and filled with too many shallow minds. Indeed, one could argue that 9/11 happened precisely because of this.

That said, the first half of the article makes a compelling case of the foreign policy aspect of the manufactured "Russia!" hysteria, and the existential threat originating with the nuclear sector of the war profiteering presidential-congressional-military-industrial complex -- "We end the world for money!" -- and the Great Gambler faction of the nelibcon biparty -- "We can win nuclear war!".

The other half of the national, collectivized insanity that is "Russia!" is the domestic fraud: the biggest threat to the integrity of our elections and the functions of our institutions of government is not Russia, but ourselves.

The semi-organized biparty mob -- the "Derp State" -- that is pushing the "Russia!" narrative as the Grant Unified Theory of US American Home-Made Failure is systematically destroying whatever is left of The People's confidence in our processes and institutions -- confidence in our ruling class had to have died before anybody considered voting for Trump -- and soon, we will find ourselves in a nation in which nobody can profess any trust in any elected representative without being accused of being a traitor or useful idiot.

Putin, for one, could never accomplish that. American Excess: Hamstring your political opponent? Worth It. Destroy democracy to protect it from The People? Priceless.

Ken Zaretzke , , July 25, 2018 at 4:34 pm
I wasn't aware that the U.s. Is finding new niclear-armed cruise missiles that would give Russia only minutes to respond to an attack, as opposed to a half hour with ICBMs. Russia only has to recalibrate its fully automated Doomsday Machine to target Warsaw, Berlin, and Cracow along with U.S. cities, and to shorten the time of response.

We have to ask whether the exponentially greater likelihood of nuclear holocaust by accident, which is what the U.S. would be bringing about by nuclear-arming cruise missiles, proves that the Deep State's lust for power is irrational bordering on madness.

[Jul 24, 2018] Trump Seeks Confrontation for Its Own Sake by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Rouhani is identifying the current administration policy of trying to strangle Iran's oil exports as a hostile act, a "declaration of war" by the U.S. against the Iranian people. Trump's hostility to Iran is such that he treats a verbal rebuke to a destructive policy he initiated as the same as a threat of attack, and he twists Rouhani's defensive statement into a call for war. ..."
"... Trump's outburst is not the response of someone interested in finding a diplomatic solution to tensions between our countries ..."
"... It is obviously the response of a belligerent bully who overreacts to the slightest opposition and seeks confrontation for its own sake. Trump's Iran obsession is extremely dangerous for both the U.S. and Iran, and it is poisoning relations with Iran for many years to come. ..."
Jul 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Golnar Motevalli gives the full context for the Rouhani statement that caused Trump to make his unhinged threat earlier this week:

Verbatim excerpts of what Rouhani said on Sunday. The entire statement was almost 2 hrs long. He didn't say he wants to "launch war", he said opposite but warned of what war would look like. He said US policy to choke Iran's economy is a US declaration of war against Iranians: pic.twitter.com/XcirZTWi4d

-- Golnar Motevalli (@golnarM) July 24, 2018

As I said Sunday night, it's clear that the statement from Rouhani wasn't a threat against the U.S. It was a warning not to take aggressive action against Iran. Furthermore, Rouhani is identifying the current administration policy of trying to strangle Iran's oil exports as a hostile act, a "declaration of war" by the U.S. against the Iranian people. Trump's hostility to Iran is such that he treats a verbal rebuke to a destructive policy he initiated as the same as a threat of attack, and he twists Rouhani's defensive statement into a call for war.

It shouldn't have to be said at this point, but Trump's outburst is not the response of someone interested in finding a diplomatic solution to tensions between our countries .

It is obviously the response of a belligerent bully who overreacts to the slightest opposition and seeks confrontation for its own sake. Trump's Iran obsession is extremely dangerous for both the U.S. and Iran, and it is poisoning relations with Iran for many years to come.

[Jul 21, 2018] Funny how Brennan a former communist sympathizer who voted for Gus Hall in 1976 is crying treason.

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Mar July 20, 2018 at 12:01 pm

China is enjoying this as the Dems distract us without real evidence about Russia collusion we are being blindsided by them. Funny how Brennan a former communist sympathizer who voted for Gus Hall in 1976 is crying treason. Wow.
Winston , says: July 20, 2018 at 11:55 am
Brennan, who voted for the US Communist Party candidate in the 1976 election, is screaming the treason hyperbole because the CIA is most likely the origin of the Russia Collusion farce:

"According to one account, GCHQ's then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at "director level". After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation."

BTW, Hannigan resigned for the usual "family reasons" the Monday after Trump was sworn in.

It now appears that there were three dossier versions, all coming via different unofficial channels, outside the intel community channels which was therefore unvetted. Many suspect they were all from the same source coming in from different angles to create a false impression of legitimacy.

What we are going to find out when Trump declassifies everything after the mid-term election, regardless of whether or not the Dems take the House and try to impeach him, is that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act put in place after the revelations of COINTELPRO wasn't adequate protection against the serious misuse of power.

The reason Trump won't declassify now is obvious – if you think screams of interference/obstruction are loud now, just watch after he does that, something which would harm the Reps in the mid-terms because any revelations buried within would take time to dig out and would suppressed as much as possible by the incredibly biased media.

The DOJ/FBI stalling in providing the documents demanded by Congress is an obvious stalling tactic in the hope that the Dems take the house in the mid-terms. If Clinton had won as everyone expected, we'd have never heard about any of this which is why they thought they could get away with it.

[Jul 21, 2018] The John Brennans of the world and the lib-Dem-media-neocon mob of which he is a member now routinely traffic in hyperventilating accusations of treason, have forfeited any claim to credibility or respect.

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Gerard July 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

We're at a point now where it's really difficult to have an intelligent conversation, a serious discussion, a rational debate about this stuff.

The reason being that the John Brennans of the world and the lib-Dem-media-neocon mob of which he is a member, which now routinely traffic in hyperventilating accusations of treason, have forfeited any claim to credibility or respect.

Having concocted the conspiracy-fantasy of Trump being a puppet of Putin and having contrived a farcical criminal investigation of imaginary "collusion," that same mob staged the latest ludicrous meltdown -- over Trump's bumbling, stumbling press conference in Helsinki with the Evil Monster Putin.

The only appropriate response now to people like John Brennan and his cabal of fools is sarcasm, mockery, and contempt. They are beyond the reach of reason or evidence or facts. Indeed, they have zero interest in evidence or facts. They simply emote and spew.

The main question in my mind is this: are the John Brennans of the world really stupid enough to believe their vicious nonsense or are they so hopelessly dishonest and lacking in conscience that they propagate poisonous falsehoods for the simple reason they know it advances their political agenda of delegitimizing Trump's presidency.

I'm guessing more the second than the first.

And if in the process, they whip up an atmosphere of venomous hysteria and damage U.S.-Russia relations to the point where scholars like Stephen Cohen and John Mearsheimer call the environment as dangerous as that which existed at the time of the U.S.-Soviet Cuban missile crisis and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves their Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight (as recently happened) well, you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette, right?

Honest to God, the dimension and character of this vast circus of corruption and lies is breathtaking. It's downright freaking biblical.

[Jul 21, 2018] "Fun experiment: of those old enough, how many today who believe the "Trump is a Russian asset" story, in 2003 believed the Iraq has WMD story? 'Cause the source who lied to you in 2003, the intel community, is your same source today."

Jul 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

BobS July 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm

"Fun experiment: of those old enough, how many today who believe the "Trump is a Russian asset" story, in 2003 believed the Iraq has WMD story? 'Cause the source who lied to you in 2003, the intel community, is your same source today."

Growing up as I did in the Nixon/Vietnam era, I developed a skepticism of the 'official' story, something that served me well through Iran contra, incubator babies being tossed to the floor, and WMD's (a skepticism reinforced at the time by Scott Ritter, among others). As I recall, the WMD story was less a failure of intelligence as much as an administration insisting on so-called 'stovepiped' intelligence to sell their war to an American public through a mostly compliant MSM.
Regardless, my conclusion that Trump is a "Russian asset" is a result of my belief that Trump- who has yet to disclose the financial information that would disprove that belief- is reliant on Russian money, some or all of it organized crime related, to sustain his 'empire', and that there is significant overlap between the Russian mob and the Russian government.
His actions as president haven't done anything to dispel me of my belief that he is a 'Russian asset', including his traitorous behavior this past week.

[Jul 20, 2018] John Brennan, Melting Down and Covering Up by Peter Van Buren

Notable quotes:
"... It isn't a pretty face, but one scarred from a dark past, repackaged now by the frenzy of "resistance." Accusing Donald Trump recklessly, implying he knows more than he lets on, promising redemption: John Brennan is the face of American politics in 2018. ..."
"... But before all that, Brennan lived in a hole about as far down into the deep state as one can dwell while still having eyes that work in the sunlight. He was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was Obama's counterterrorism advisor, helping the president decide who to kill every week, including American citizens. He spent 25 years at the CIA, and helped shape the violent policies of the post-9/11 Bush era. He was a fan of torture and extrajudicial killing to the point that a 2012 profile of him was entitled, "The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan." Another writer called Brennan "the most lethal bureaucrat of all time, or at least since Henry Kissinger." Today, however, a New York Times ..."
"... On Twitter this week, Brennan cartoonishly declaimed, "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin." ..."
"... Brennan is a man of his times, all bluster and noise, knowing that so long as he says what a significant part of the country apparently believes -- that the president of the United States is under the control of the Kremlin -- he will never be challenged. ..."
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Only after Clinton lost did it become necessary to create a crisis that might yet be inflated (it wasn't just the Russians, as originally thought, it was Trump working with them) to justify impeachment. Absent that need, Brennan would have disappeared alongside other former CIA directors into academia or the lucrative consulting industry. Instead he's a public figure with a big mouth because he has to be. That mouth has to cover his ass. ..."
"... Brennan is part of the whole-of-government effort to overturn the election. ..."
"... Yet despite all the hard evidence of treason that only Brennan and his supine journalists seem to see, everyone appears resigned to have a colluding Russian agent running the United States. You'd think it would be urgent to close this case. Instead, Brennan admonishes us to wait out an investigative process that's been underway now through two administrations. ..."
"... Is Brennan signaling that there is one step darker to consider? A Reuters commentary observes that "Trump is haunted by the fear that a cabal of national-security officers is conspiring in secret to overthrow him . Trump has made real enemies in the realm of American national security. He has struck blows against their empire. One way or another, the empire will strike back." ..."
"... Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of ..."
"... . Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

He accuses Trump of treason. But what's his bluster really about?

It isn't a pretty face, but one scarred from a dark past, repackaged now by the frenzy of "resistance." Accusing Donald Trump recklessly, implying he knows more than he lets on, promising redemption: John Brennan is the face of American politics in 2018.

But before all that, Brennan lived in a hole about as far down into the deep state as one can dwell while still having eyes that work in the sunlight. He was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was Obama's counterterrorism advisor, helping the president decide who to kill every week, including American citizens. He spent 25 years at the CIA, and helped shape the violent policies of the post-9/11 Bush era. He was a fan of torture and extrajudicial killing to the point that a 2012 profile of him was entitled, "The Seven Deadly Sins of John Brennan." Another writer called Brennan "the most lethal bureaucrat of all time, or at least since Henry Kissinger." Today, however, a New York Times puff piece sweeps all that away as a "troubling inheritance."

On Twitter this week, Brennan cartoonishly declaimed, "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin."

Because it is 2018, Brennan was never asked to explain exactly how a press conference exceeds the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors the Constitution sets for impeachment, nor was he asked to lay a few cards on the table showing what Putin has on Trump. No, Brennan is a man of his times, all bluster and noise, knowing that so long as he says what a significant part of the country apparently believes -- that the president of the United States is under the control of the Kremlin -- he will never be challenged.

Brennan slithers alongside those like Nancy Pelosi and Cory Booker who said Trump is controlled by Russia, columnists in the New York Times who called him a traitor, an article (which is fast becoming the Zapruder film of Russiagate) in New York Magazine echoing former counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke in speculating that Trump met Putin as his handler, and another former intelligence officer warning that "we're on the cusp of losing the constitutional republic forever."

Brennan's bleating has the interesting side effect of directing attention away from who was watching the front door as the Russians walked in to cause what one MSNBC analyst described as a mix of Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht. During the 2016 election, Brennan was head of the CIA. His evil twin, James Clapper, who also coughs up Trump attacks for nickels these days, was director of national intelligence. James Comey headed the FBI, following Robert Mueller into the job. Yet the noise from that crowd has become so loud as to drown out any questions about where they were when they had the duty to stop the Russians in the first place.

The excuse that "everybody believed Hillary would win" is in itself an example of collusion: things that now rise to treason, if not acts of war, didn't matter then because Clinton's victory would sweep them all under the rug. Only after Clinton lost did it become necessary to create a crisis that might yet be inflated (it wasn't just the Russians, as originally thought, it was Trump working with them) to justify impeachment. Absent that need, Brennan would have disappeared alongside other former CIA directors into academia or the lucrative consulting industry. Instead he's a public figure with a big mouth because he has to be. That mouth has to cover his ass.

Brennan is part of the whole-of-government effort to overturn the election. Remember how recounts were called for amid (fake) allegations of vote tampering? Constitutional scholars proposed various Hail Mary Electoral College scenarios to unseat Trump. Lawsuits claimed the Emoluments Clause made it illegal for Trump to even assume office. The media set itself the goal of impeaching the president. On cue, leaks poured out implying the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government. It is now a rare day when the top stories are not apocalyptic, rocketed from Raw Story to the Huffington Post to the New York Times . Brennan, meanwhile, fans the media's flames with a knowing wink that says "You wait and see. Soon it's Mueller time."

Yet despite all the hard evidence of treason that only Brennan and his supine journalists seem to see, everyone appears resigned to have a colluding Russian agent running the United States. You'd think it would be urgent to close this case. Instead, Brennan admonishes us to wait out an investigative process that's been underway now through two administrations.

The IRS, meanwhile, has watched Trump for decades (they've seen the tax docs), as have Democratic and Republican opposition researchers, the New Jersey Gaming Commission, and various New York City real estate bodies. Multiple KGB/FSB agents have defected and not said a word. The whole Soviet Union has collapsed since the day that some claim Trump first became a Russian asset. Why haven't the FBI, CIA, and NSA cottoned to anything in the intervening years? Why are we waiting on Mueller Year Two?

If Trump is under Russian influence, he is the most dangerous man in American history. So why isn't Washington on fire? Why hasn't Mueller indicted someone for treason? If this is Pearl Harbor, why is the investigation moving at the pace of a mortgage application? Why is everyone allowing a Russian asset placed in charge of the American nuclear arsenal to stay in power even one more minute?

You'd think Brennan would be saying it is time to postpone chasing the indictments of Russian military officers that will never see the inside of a courtroom, stop wasting months on decades-old financial crimes unconnected to the Trump campaign, and quit delaying the real stuff over a clumsy series of perjury cases. "Patriots: Where are you???" Brennan asked in a recent tweet. Where indeed?

Is Brennan signaling that there is one step darker to consider? A Reuters commentary observes that "Trump is haunted by the fear that a cabal of national-security officers is conspiring in secret to overthrow him . Trump has made real enemies in the realm of American national security. He has struck blows against their empire. One way or another, the empire will strike back." James Clapper is confirming reports that Trump was shown evidence of Putin's election attacks and did nothing. Congressman Steve Cohen asked, "Where are our military folks? The Commander-in-Chief is in the hands of our enemy!"

Treason, traitor, coup, the empire striking back -- those are just words, Third World stuff, clickbait, right? So the more pedestrian answer must then be correct. The lessons of Whitewater and Benghazi learned, maybe the point is not to build an atmosphere of crisis leading to something undemocratic, but just to have a perpetual investigation, tickled to life as needed politically.

Because, maybe, deep down, Brennan (Clapper, Hayden, Comey, and Mueller) really do know that this is all like flying saucers and cell phone cameras. At some point, the whole alien conspiracy meme fell apart because somehow when everyone had a camera with them 24/7/365, there were no more sightings and we had to admit that our fears had gotten the best of us. The threat was inside us all along. It is now, too.

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.

[Jul 20, 2018] Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... New York Times ..."
"... 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. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad By Patrick J. Buchanan July 20, 2018, 12:01 AM

lev radin / Shutterstock.com "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Under the Constitution, these are the offenses for which presidents can be impeached.

And to hear our elites, Donald Trump is guilty of them all.

Trump's refusal to challenge Vladimir Putin's claim at Helsinki that his GRU boys did not hack Hillary Clinton's campaign has been called treason, a refusal to do his sworn duty to protect and defend the United States, by a former director of the CIA.

Famed journalists and former high officials of the U.S. government have called Russia's hacking of the DNC "an act of war" comparable to Pearl Harbor.

The New York Times ran a story on the many now charging Trump with treason. Others suggest Putin is blackmailing Trump, or has him on his payroll, or compromised Trump a long time ago.

Wailed Congressman Steve Cohen: "Where is our military folks? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!"

Apparently, some on the left believe we need a military coup to save our democracy.

Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a "conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy" have such charges been hurled at a president. But while the Birchers were a bit outside the mainstream, today it is the establishment itself bawling "Treason!"

What explains the hysteria?

The worst-case scenario would be that the establishment actually believes the nonsense it is spouting. But that is hard to credit. Like the boy who cried "Wolf!" they have cried "Fascist!" too many times to be taken seriously.

A month ago, the never-Trumpers were comparing the separation of immigrant kids from detained adults, who brought them to the U.S. illegally, to FDR's concentration camps for Japanese Americans.

Other commentators equated the separations to what the Nazis did at Auschwitz.

If the establishment truly believed this nonsense, it would be an unacceptable security risk to let them near the levers of power ever again.

Using Occam's razor, the real explanation for this behavior is the simplest one: America's elites have been driven over the edge by Trump's successes and their failures to block him.

Trump is deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, appointing record numbers of federal judges, reshaping the Supreme Court, and using tariffs to cut trade deficits and the bully pulpit to castigate freeloading allies.

Worst of all, Trump clearly intends to carry out his campaign pledge to improve relations with Russia and get along with Vladimir Putin.

"Over our dead bodies!" the Beltway elite seems to be shouting.

Hence the rhetorical WMDs hurled at Trump: liar, dictator, authoritarian, Putin's poodle, fascist, demagogue, traitor, Nazi.

Such language approaches incitement to violence. One wonders whether the haters are considering the impact of the words they so casually use. Some of us yet recall how Dallas was charged with complicity in the death of JFK for slurs far less toxic than this.

The post-Helsinki hysteria reveals not merely the mindset of the president's enemies, but the depth of their determination to destroy him.

They intend to break Trump and bring him down, to see him impeached, removed, indicted, and prosecuted, and the agenda on which he ran and was nominated and elected dumped onto the ash heap of history.

Thursday, Trump indicated that he knows exactly what is afoot, and threw down the gauntlet of defiance: "The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war," he tweeted. "They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I'll probably have a good relationship with Putin."

Spot on. Trump is saying: I am going to call off this Cold War II before it breaks out into the hot war that nine U.S. presidents avoided, despite Soviet provocations far graver than Putin's pilfering of DNC emails showing how Debbie Wasserman Schultz stuck it to Bernie Sanders.

Then the White House suggested Vlad may be coming to dinner this fall.

Trump is edging toward the defining battle of his presidency: a reshaping of U.S. foreign policy to avoid clashes and conflicts with Russia and the shedding of Cold War commitments no longer rooted in the national interests of this country.

Yet should he attempt to carry out his agenda -- to get out of Syria, pull troops from Germany, and take a second look at NATO's Article 5 commitment to go to war for 29 nations, some of which, like Montenegro, most Americans have never heard of -- he is headed for the most brutal battle of his presidency.

This Helsinki hysteria is but a taste.

By cheering Brexit, dissing the EU, suggesting NATO is obsolete, departing Syria, trying to get on with Putin, Trump is threatening the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment with what it fears most: irrelevance.

For if there is no war on, no war imminent, and no war wanted, what does a War Party do?

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.

[Jul 19, 2018] America Doesn't Need Another Weakling NATO Ally The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... In contrast, the transatlantic alliance should advance American and European security. Absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, thereby pushing the alliance up to the Russian Federation's border, proved to be a foolish move because it violated assurances made to Russian leaders. Despite being former KGB, Vladimir Putin never appeared to be ideologically antagonistic toward America. However, when he perceived Washington's behavior as threatening -- including dismembering Serbia, backing revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and promising to include both nations in NATO -- it encouraged him to respond violently. ..."
"... Admitting new members is never costless. Aid will be necessary to improve their militaries. Moreover, newer members sometimes become the most demanding, like the Baltics and Poland, which insist that they are entitled to American bases and garrisons. ..."
"... Continuing expansion also reinforces the message that NATO is hostile toward Russia. That's the only country allies are joining to oppose, after all. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons Moscow should distrust the United States, but reinforcing negative perceptions for no benefit at all is bad policy. ..."
"... The Mouse that Roared ..."
"... Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of ..."
Jul 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

America Doesn't Need Another Weakling NATO Ally Macedonia is the latest nation invited into the alliance, but how does that enhance America's (or Europe's) security? By Doug Bandow July 19, 2018

Utenriksdept / cc At last week's NATO summit, President Donald Trump denounced the allies for taking advantage of American taxpayers. Then he approved their latest subsidies. He even agreed to invite a military weakling, Macedonia, to join NATO, which will add yet another nation to our military dole.

When George Washington warned Americans against forming a "passionate attachment" to other countries, he might have been thinking of the Balkans. Indeed, a couple decades later, John Quincy Adams criticized proposals to aid Greece against the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled that region. America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy," he intoned.

On into the 20th century, the Balkans were in turmoil. Germany's "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck, warned that "the great European War would come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." That's exactly what happened in 1914.

It took decades and two world wars for the Balkans to stabilize. But after the Cold War ended, Yugoslavia, which had emerged from Europe's previous convulsions, broke apart. One of the smaller pieces was Macedonia.

The battles among the Serbians, Croatians, and Bosnians were bloody and brutal. In contrast, Macedonia provided comic relief. The small, mountainous, landlocked nation of two million people won its independence without a fight in 1991, though Athens launched a verbal and economic war against Skopje over the latter's use of the name "Macedonia."

Perhaps modern Greeks feared that a resurrected Alexander the Great would lead the newly freed Macedonian hordes south and conquer Greece. Skopje entered the United Nations under the provisional name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. In June, after only 27 years, the two governments agreed that Macedonia/FYROM would be called the Republic of North Macedonia -- though the decision must still be ratified by the Macedonian people in a referendum.

More serious was the insurgency launched by ethnic Albanians who made up about a quarter of the nation's population. The battle two decades ago over Kosovo inflamed ethnic relations in Macedonia, eventually resulting in a short-lived insurgency. Although the fighters disarmed, Skopje's politics remained nationalist and difficult. Last year, a more liberal administration took over, but the country's democratic institutions remain fragile.

Indeed, Freedom House only rates the nation "partly free." The group cites voter intimidation, political patronage networks, violent protests, and problems with judicial impartiality and due process. Particularly serious were the threats against press freedom, which led to a rating of "not free" in that area. While NATO's newer members tend to score lower than "Old Europe," as Donald Rumsfeld once referred to the original allies, Macedonia is a step further down. Only Turkey, an incipient dictatorship, is worse: it almost certainly would not be considered for membership today.

None of this mattered last week, however. After suffering Trump's many slings and arrows, alliance members approved an invitation for Skopje to join NATO. Macedonian lawmaker Artan Grubi called it "our dream coming true. We have been in the waiting hall for too long."

That's because Macedonia had hoped for an invite back in 2008 at the Bucharest summit, but was blocked by Athens over the name dispute, and has wanted to join ever since. Macedonia's Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said, "With NATO membership, Macedonia becomes part of the most powerful alliance. That enhances both our security and economic prosperity." Money and status are expected to follow.

But how would this benefit the United States and other NATO members? James Ker-Lindsay at the London School of Economics made the astonishing claim that "opening the way for the country to join NATO would be a big win for the organization at a crucial time when concerns over Russian influence in the Western Balkans are growing in many capitals." As Skopje goes, so goes Europe? Not likely. If Washington and Moscow are engaged in a new "great game," it is not a battle for Macedonia.

In fact, Macedonia is a security irrelevancy, destined to require American aid to create the pretense that its military is fit for the transatlantic alliance. Skopje spent just $112 million on its armed forces last year, ahead of only one NATO member, Montenegro. That was barely 1 percent of its GDP, putting Macedonia near the back of the NATO pack.

With an 8,000-man military, one is tempted to ask, why bother? But then one could similarly pose that query to several other NATO members. Skopje's military is roughly the same size as Albania's, slightly bigger than Slovenia's, and about four times the size of Montenegro's. None will be of much use in a conflict with the only conceivable threat, Russia.

So why bring Macedonia into NATO?

Some American policymakers see alliance membership as a means to socialize nations like Macedonia, helping them move towards democracy. However, the European Union, which sets standards governing a range of domestic policies, has always been better suited to this task, and EU membership imposes no security obligations on Washington. With the name controversy tentatively resolved, Skopje could begin the EU accession process -- if the Europeans are willing. That is properly their -- not Washington's -- responsibility.

In contrast, the transatlantic alliance should advance American and European security. Absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, thereby pushing the alliance up to the Russian Federation's border, proved to be a foolish move because it violated assurances made to Russian leaders. Despite being former KGB, Vladimir Putin never appeared to be ideologically antagonistic toward America. However, when he perceived Washington's behavior as threatening -- including dismembering Serbia, backing revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and promising to include both nations in NATO -- it encouraged him to respond violently.

The Balkans are peripheral even to Europe and matter little to America's defense. The states and peoples there tend to be more disruptive and less democratic than their neighbors, reflecting the region's unstable history. (North) Macedonia's 8,000 troops aren't likely to be reborn as the Spartan 300 and hold off invading Russians. So why should America threaten war on Skopje's behalf?

Admitting new members is never costless. Aid will be necessary to improve their militaries. Moreover, newer members sometimes become the most demanding, like the Baltics and Poland, which insist that they are entitled to American bases and garrisons.

Expansion also complicates alliance decision-making. No doubt, Washington wishes its European allies would do what they're told: spend more, shut up, and deploy where America wants them. That doesn't work out very well in practice, alas, as Trump has discovered in Europe (though nations with smaller militaries are more likely to acquiesce than nations with bigger ones). An organization of 30 members, which NATO will become if Macedonia is added, is a more complex and less agile creature than one of 16, the number that existed before NATO raced east.

Continuing expansion also reinforces the message that NATO is hostile toward Russia. That's the only country allies are joining to oppose, after all. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons Moscow should distrust the United States, but reinforcing negative perceptions for no benefit at all is bad policy.

Finally, expanding the alliance is nonsensical in light of the president's criticisms of the Europeans. Hiking U.S. military spending, increasing manpower and materiel deployments in Europe, and adding new members all contradict his demand that the allies do more and signal that the president is not serious in his demands. That leaves the Europeans with little incentive to act, especially since most of their peoples perceive few if any security threats.

Yet again President Trump has been exposed as a thoughtless blowhard. His rabid supporters have likely enjoyed his confrontational rhetoric, but he has done nothing to turn it into policy. The Europeans need only wait for his attacks to ebb and then they can proceed much the same as before. The status quo will continue to reign, impervious to change.

Montenegro always resembled the Duchy of Grand Fenwick from the delightful novel The Mouse that Roared . Macedonia is the Duchy of North Grand Fenwick, a slightly larger neighboring state with similar features but additional problems. Neither is remotely relevant to American security. America doesn't need yet another security black hole as an alliance partner.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jul 18, 2018] Let's See Who's Bluffing in the Criminal Case Against the Russians The American Conservative

Jul 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It was a remarkable moment in a remarkable press conference. President Donald Trump had just finished a controversial summit meeting in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and the two were talking to the media . Jeff Mason, a political affairs reporter with Reuters, stood up and asked Putin a question pulled straight out of the day's headlines: "Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?"

The "12 Russian officials" Mason spoke of were military intelligence officers accused of carrying out a series of cyberattacks against various American-based computer networks (including those belonging to the Democratic National Committee), the theft of emails and other data, and the release of a significant portion of this information to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The names and organizational affiliations of these 12 officers were contained in a detailed 29-page indictment prepared by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and subsequently made public by Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein on July 13 -- a mere three days prior to the Helsinki summit.

Vladimir Putin responded, "We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty, that dates back to 1999, the mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently."

Putin then discussed the relationship between this agreement -- the 1999 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty -- and the Mueller indictment. "This treaty has specific legal procedures," Putin noted, that "we can offer the appropriate commission headed by special attorney Mueller. He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal and official request to us so that we would interrogate, we would hold the questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes and our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States."

Trump Calls Off Cold War II Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria

In the uproar that followed the Trump-Putin press conference , the exchange between Mason and Putin was largely forgotten amidst invective over Trump's seeming public capitulation on the issue of election interference. "Today's press conference in Helsinki," Senator John McCain observed afterwards in a typical comment, "was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."

It took an interview with Putin after the summit concluded , conducted by Fox News's Chris Wallace, to bring the specific issue of the 12 indicted Russians back to the forefront and give it context. From Putin's perspective, this indictment and the way it was handled by the United States was a political act. "It's the internal political games of the United States. Don't make the relationship between Russia and the United States -- don't hold it hostage of this internal political struggle. And it's quite clear to me that this is used in the internal political struggle, and it's nothing to be proud of for American democracy, to use such dirty methods in the political rivalry."

Regarding the indicted 12, Putin reiterated the points he had made earlier to Jeff Mason. "We -- with the United States -- we have a treaty for assistance in criminal cases, an existing treaty that exists from 1999. It's still in force, and it works sufficiently. Why wouldn't Special Counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement? Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed? Nobody sent us a single formal letter, a formal request."

There is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which makes all the calls for Trump to demand the extradition of the 12 Russians little more than a continuation of the "internal political games" Putin alluded to in his interview. There is, however, the treaty that Putin referenced at both the press conference and during the Wallace interview.

Signed in Moscow on June 17, 1999, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty calls for the "prevention, suppression and investigation of crimes" by both parties "in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty where the conduct that is the subject of the request constitutes a crime under the laws of both Parties."

It should be noted that the indicted 12 have not violated any Russian laws. But the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty doesn't close the door on cooperation in this matter. Rather, the treaty notes that "The Requested Party may, in its discretion, also provide legal assistance where the conduct that is the subject of the request would not constitute a crime under the laws of the Requested Party."

It specifically precludes the process of cooperating from inferring a right "on the part of any other persons to obtain evidence, to have evidence excluded, or to impede the execution of a request." In short, if the United States were to avail itself of the treaty's terms, Russia would not be able to use its cooperation as a vehicle to disrupt any legal proceedings underway in the U.S.

The legal assistance that the treaty facilitates is not inconsequential. Through it, the requesting party can, among other things, obtain testimony and statements from designated persons; receive documents, records, and other items; and arrange the transfer of persons in custody for testimony on the territory of the requesting party.

If the indictment of the 12 Russians wasn't the "dirty method" used in a domestic American "political rivalry" that Putin described, one would imagine that Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein would have availed himself of the opportunity to gather additional evidence regarding the alleged crimes. He would also have, at the very least, made a request to have these officers appear in court in the United States to face the charges put forward in the indictment. The treaty specifically identifies the attorney general of the United States "or persons designated by the Attorney General" as the "Central Authority" for treaty implementation. Given the fact that Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters pertaining to the investigation by the Department of Justice into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the person empowered to act is Rosenstein.

There are several grounds under the treaty for denying requested legal assistance, including anything that might prejudice "the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party." However, it also requires that the reasons for the any denial of requested assistance be put in writing. Moreover, prior to denying a request, the Requested Party "shall consult with the Central Authority of the Requesting Party to consider whether legal assistance can be given subject to such conditions as it deems necessary. If the Requesting Party accepts legal assistance subject to these conditions, it shall comply with the conditions."

By twice raising the treaty in the context of the 12 Russians, Putin has clearly signaled that Russia would be prepared to proceed along these lines.

If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.

Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

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 .


Rob July 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Very cogent analysis. Putin, who's incredibly well briefed, knew exactly what he was offering, and thought that by doing so, would force the DoJ/Mueller to either take him up on his offer or otherwise display the overt politicism of the indictments. But the American anti-Trump mindhive is so completely addled, they of course miss the point entirely. The absence of reason among the anti-Trump/anti-Russia collective is truly something to behold – it's scary.
Janek , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:29 pm
The request V. Putin proposed and Scot Ritter writes about, if send to Russia, would be equivalent to 'go and whistle' and would be treated the same way the Russians treat the requests from Poland to return the remains of the Polish plane that crashed in controversial and strange circumstances near Smolensk on April 10, 2010. They, the Russians, did not return the remains of the plane up until today and the place where the plane crashed they bulldozed the ground and paved with very thick layer of concrete.

Such request would only give the Russians propaganda tools to delay and dilute any responsibility from the Russian side and at the end they would blame the USA for the whole mess with no end to their investigation, because they would investigate until the US investigators would drop dead. Anybody who seriously thinks about V.

Putin offer to investigate anything with Russia should first have his head examined by a very good, objective, and politically neutral head specialist.

b. , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:50 pm
"If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.

Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump."

That was one long-winded way of recognizing that Putin just told the US biparty establishment behind the manufactured "Russia!" hysteria to put up or shut up.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 18, 2018 at 2:57 am
I don't think that Pres Putin has anything to lose here.

"ARTICLE 4 DENIAL OF LEGAL ASSISTANCE

The Central Authority of the Requested Party may deny legal assistance if:

(1) the request relates to a crime under military law that is not a crime under general criminal law;

(2) the execution of the request would prejudice the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party; or "whether accurate or not the treaty permits a denial of request, if said requests threaten Russian security."

Almost by definition, an investigation interrogation by the US of the personnel in question because said questioning might very well stray into other areas , unrelated to the hacking charge. Now Pres. Putin has played two cards: a treaty is in place that deals with criminal matters between the two states and surely must have known that and should have already made the formal requests in conjunction with the treaty or he didn't know either way, the rush to embarrass the president may very well backfire. As almost everything about this investigation has.

Realist , says: July 18, 2018 at 3:16 am
"The DOJ should call his bluff."

Right! That's not going to happen .the DOJ has no proof .their indictment was a ploy to queer any deal with Russia. Anybody that believes anything the 'intelligence' agencies say, without proof, is an idiot.

[Jul 18, 2018] Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria by Jack Hunter

Notable quotes:
"... New York Magazine ..."
"... Manchurian Candidate ..."
"... Cutting through the crap on foreign policy is something of a Paul family tradition. ..."
"... When Ron Paul suggested on a Republican presidential primary debate stage in 2008 that U.S. foreign policy created " blowback " that led to 9/11, fellow GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani accused Paul of blaming America and defending the attackers. Paul didn't relent: "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years." ..."
"... The American Conservative ..."
"... There are neocons in both parties who still want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO. That's very, very provocative. It has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this in 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction. He said, "If you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin," basically. ..."
"... "It's a big mistake for us, not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything Russia does is justified," Paul told Tapper. "But if we don't understand that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world." ..."
"... "Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system," the New York Times ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... Rand Paul said Sunday, "People need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about wanting to have a confrontation with Russia." ..."
"... Jack Hunter is the former political editor of ..."
"... co-authored the 2011 book ..."
"... with Senator Rand Paul. ..."
Jul 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria And like his father, the senator found himself on the wrong end of the media mob this week.

When Mitt Romney called Russia America's " number one geopolitical foe " during the 2012 election campaign, Barack Obama mocked him: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back." Vice President Joe Biden dismissed Romney as a "Cold War holdover." Hillary Clinton said Romney was "looking backward." John Kerry said "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV ."

Romney's Russia warning came at a time when Republicans were eager to exploit President Obama's hot mic comments to Russian president Dmitri Medvedev where he promised " more flexibility " on missile defense issues after the election. Romney, to the delight of Republican hawks and neoconservatives , was eager to portray Obama as capitulating , weak , and dangerous . For his part, Obama, who once vowed to " reset " U.S.-Russia relations, painted Romney as outdated for disparaging diplomacy.

But that was then. This week the Cold War seemed to be back in full force for many former Obama supporters, as President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of 12 Russian agents being indicted for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election.

Democrats have joined forces with Republican hawks and neoconservatives to declare Trump " weak " for engaging Russia. One MSNBC pundit said Trump's NATO criticisms were the president " doing Vladimir Putin's bidding ." New York Magazine 's Jonathan Chait went full Alex Jones when he suggested that Trump may have been a Putin agent since 1987 -- a Manchurian Candidate -esque spin reminiscent of the original Red Scare . #TraitorTrump even trended on Twitter.

In the midst of this hysteria, Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling.

"They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian election," Paul replied . "So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try." Paul insisted that U.S. and Russian meddling are not "morally equivalent," but said we must still take into account that both nations do this.

That's when "Rand Paul" began trending on Twitter.

"Rand Paul is on TV delivering line after line of Kremlin narrative, and it is absolutely stunning to watch," read one tweet with nearly 5,000 likes. Another tweet, just as popular, said , "Between McConnell hiding election interference and Rand Paul defending it, looks like Russia's already annexed Kentucky." A Raw Story headline on Paul's CNN interview read, " Stunned Jake Tapper explains why NATO exists to a Russia-defending Rand Paul ."

But was Paul really "defending" Russia? Was he even defending Russian meddling in U.S. elections? Or was he merely trying to pierce through the hysteria and portray American-Russian relations in a more accurate and comprehensive context -- something partisans left and right won't do and the mainstream media is too lazy to attempt?

Cutting through the crap on foreign policy is something of a Paul family tradition.

When Ron Paul suggested on a Republican presidential primary debate stage in 2008 that U.S. foreign policy created " blowback " that led to 9/11, fellow GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani accused Paul of blaming America and defending the attackers. Paul didn't relent: "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years."

No one in the GOP wanted to hear what Ron Paul had to say because it challenged and largely rebutted Republicans' entire political identity at the time. Paul was roundly denounced. FrontPageMag's David Horowitz called him a " disgrace ." RedState banned all Paul supporters. The American Conservative 's Jim Antle would recall in 2012: "The optics were poor: a little-known congressman was standing against the GOP frontrunner on an issue where 90 percent of the party likely disagreed with him . Support for the war was not only nearly unanimous within the GOP, but bipartisan."

Rand Paul now poses a similar challenge to Russia-obsessed Democrats. Contra Jake Tapper sagely explaining "why NATO exists" to a supposedly ignoramus Paul, as the liberal Raw Story headline framed it, here's what the senator actually said:

There are neocons in both parties who still want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO. That's very, very provocative. It has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this in 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction. He said, "If you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin," basically.

Do you think Jake Tapper Googled "George Kennan"? That's about as likely as Giuliani Googling "blowback."

"It's a big mistake for us, not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything Russia does is justified," Paul told Tapper. "But if we don't understand that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world."

As for Russian spying -- was Paul just blindly defending that, too? Or did he make an important point in noting both sides do it?

"Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system," the New York Times reported in February. "But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view."

The Times continued: "'If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,' said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States 'absolutely' has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, 'and I hope we keep doing it.'"

The U.S. will no doubt keep meddling in foreign elections. Russia will do the same, just as it did during the Obama administration and years prior . The cries against diplomacy and for war will ebb, flow, flip, and flop, depending on who sits in the White House and how it makes the screaming partisans feel. Many Democrats who view Trump's diplomacy with Russia as dangerous would have embraced it (and did) under Obama. Many Republicans who hail Trump's diplomatic efforts wouldn't have done so were he a Democrat. President Hillary Clinton could be having the same meeting with Putin and most Democrats would be fine with it, Russian meddling or no meddling.

So many headlines attempted to portray Paul as the partisan hack on Sunday when the opposite is actually true. It's the left, including much of the media, that's now turned hawkish towards Russia for largely partisan reasons, while Paul was making the same realist foreign policy arguments regarding NATO and U.S.-Russia relations long before the Trump presidency.

Responding to Romney's anti-Russia, anti-Obama comments in 2012, Thomas de Waal, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the New York Times , "There's a whole school of thought that Russia is one you need to work with to solve other problems in the world, rather than being the problem." Rand Paul said Sunday, "People need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about wanting to have a confrontation with Russia."

But think they won't and sabers they'll rattle, as yesterday's villains become today's heroes and vice versa.

Just ask Mitt Romney .

Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.


Come On July 17, 2018 at 1:51 am

There's the elephant in the room, of course. Nobody seems to want to touch it yet, but everybody knows that Israeli meddling in US elections puts Russian meddling in the shade. Still, it's fascinating watching the reporting and waiting to see who will break the silence.

In the meantime, wake me up when there's something called "the Russia-American Political Action Committee" in DC. Wake me up when US politicians vie to win its favor, as they vie to win the favor of AIPAC, and win the huge financial contributions that result from getting its support. Wake me up when Russian oligarchs contribute even a fraction of what Israel donors like Sheldon Adelson already contribute to US political campaigns – and wake me up when they get results like an American president moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or an America president sending American troops to stand between Israel and its enemies Russia may have moved a few thousand votes here or there, but Israel gets American politicians to send America's children to die in Middle East wars. At the moment, Russia can only dream of meddling with that degree of success.

Yep – American elections have been corrupted by foreign countries for a long time. Russia's only problem is that it hasn't learned who to pay off, and how much. Next time Mr. Netanyahu visits Mr. Putin (and he visits him fairly often), he can give him a few pointers. And then Mr. Putin will be invited to give speeches to joint sessions of Congress. Just like Mr. Netanyahu. And freshmen US congressmen will be frog-marched to Russia for instructions, just like they're already frog-marched to Israel.

cynthia , says: July 17, 2018 at 7:50 am
President Trump took a slice out of the Military Industrial Complex yesterday. John McCain and war mongers went crazy. The SWAMP IS ANGRY!
connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:26 am
Russia has been engaging in international espionage dating back at least to Peter the Great. As such, they play the game as well as, or possibly better, than anyone. They, like we, will do what is necessary-even to the point of injecting themselves in the internal affairs of another country–if they deem it in their interest to do so or, as the cliche has it, "in the interest of state". Not very nice but–that's the way the game is played.

Thank you, Rand Paul and Mr. Hunter, for injecting some much needed sanity into this debate.

Youknowho , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:49 am
I said it before, and I will repeat it here:

There is no need to demonize the Russians. Their country has national interests and goals. If they are patriots, the Russians will seek to advance those interests and goals.

We also have interests and goals, and if we are patriots, we seek to advance them (though we disagree on what our real interests are and what our goals should be).

When our interests concide with that of Russia we collaborate. When they clash, we seek to undermine each other.

The Russians seem to have been doing it, as their interests now clash with ours. Nothing to be worked out about. That's how the game is played.

Which does not mean that we should defend ourselves strenuously from such undermining. And the President is precisely tasked with defending this country and advance its interests. This he seems to be unable to do.

Do not hate the Russians. Do not demonize them. But be aware of what they are doing, because we are NOT in a Kumbayah moment with them.

Andy Johnson , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:56 am
Well done, Mr. Hunter. It's a shame that the Pauls' position on foreign policy is not shared by ostensibly "libertarian" commentators who value DC cocktail parties above all principles.
Johann , says: July 17, 2018 at 10:27 am
The left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement.
David Smith , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:08 am
The real problem with Russia is that it exists, and it is too big for us to control. The real problem with Putin is that he is the first strong leader Russia has had since the fall of the Soviet Union, and he is messing up our plans for world hegemony.

As one who grew up during the Cold War (the real one) and lived through the whole thing (the Iron Curtain, the Warsaw Pact, the crushing of Hungary, communists behind every door and under every bed), I find it very hard to take all the current hysteria about Russia very seriously.

connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:19 am
@Youknowwho

Sane, reasonable comments. Totally agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately, since we live in a 3-ring media circus, so few people will listen or pay heed. In a world possibly even more dangerous than any time since the Cold War, the act of demonizing one of the two greatest nuclear powers on earth is surely madness.

General Manager , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:26 am
CNN etc. headlines are not even thinly veiled editorials against Trump. Not related to just publishing the news. But telling readers how to think. Mainstream media has an M&M type coating. Remove the outer shell and you find the good old boys and girls as ever-lurking and ever vigilant Neocon Nation pushing their one and only agenda on the American people. They are insatiable as long as they do not do the fighting and dying. Stay tough Trump and realize short of complete capitulation you cannot satisfy these people.
Ryszard Ewiak , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:37 am
Donald Trump took a step towards peace. Of course, not everyone likes this. As can be seen, Donald Trump has many enemies, even among Republicans. They want war. These are people dangerous to America and the world.

What is better: peace with Russia, or a global nuclear war?

The Book of Revelation warns: "And another horse, fiery red, came out, and the one who rode it was granted permission to take peace from the earth, so that people would butcher one another, and he was given a huge sword." (6:4) "The great sword" – what does it mean?

Jesus gave many important details: "Terrors [φοβητρα] both [τε] and [και] unusual phenomena [σημεια – unusual occurrences, transcending the common course of nature] from [απ] sky [ουρανου] powerful [μεγαλα] will be [εσται]." (Luke 21:11)

Some ancient manuscripts contain the words "and frosts" [και χειμωνες] (we call this today "nuclear winter"), and in Mark 13:8 "and disorders" [και ταραχαι] (in the sense of confusion and chaos). There will be also significant tremors, food shortages and epidemics along the length and breadth of the regions as a result of using this weapon.

This weapon will also cause climate change, catastrophic drought and global famine. (cf. Revelation 6:5, 6)

So here we have a complete picture of the consequences of the global nuclear war. Is there any sense in speeding up this war?

Angolo , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:38 am
Trump's "treason"? What a laugh.

He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit.

I'm glad to see adults in the room, at long last. The Sixties are over, baby. Good riddance.

Countme-a-Demon , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:44 am
"Of course the Paul's are right as they always are."

Always?

"A number of the newsletters criticized civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him a pedophile and "lying socialist satyr".[2][15] These articles told readers that Paul had voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a federal public holiday, saying "Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."[2][16][17] During the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns, Paul and his supporters said that the passages denouncing King were not a reflection of Paul's own views because he considers King a "hero".[18][19][20″

That last sentence is a hoot. Talk about "hysteria", but, go ahead, repeat Paul's lies that he knew nothing about his own newsletter.

Johann:

"The left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement."

Do fake news much?

https://medium.com/@FreisinnigeZtg/did-the-kremlin-support-ron-paul-in-2008-f6b6ca4b58f9

Like the NRA, The American Conservative needs to open "The Russian Conservative" chapters in Putin's conservative Russia to protect Putin's murderous government.

It could be that the "Left", whatever that is in addlepated minds, merely desires a little real politik in our relations with relations with Putin's Russia.

It's hard to tell the difference between ex-KGB Putin and ex-republicans like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

The latter two make "full of crap" seem mild praise.

Clifford , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm
You lost me at "Ron Paul." Sorry.
Reader , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm
Off the top of my head, a few egregious examples in which the US government has "meddled" in other countries during the last 100 years:

Mexico (Woodrow Wilson had thousands of US troops occupying Mexico until calling them back to "meddle" in Europe's War to End All Wars, setting the stage for an even worse war 20 years later.)

Russia (Woodrow Wilson used the US military to "meddle" in the Russian revolution after the War to End All Wars.)

Korea (undeclared war)

Vietnam (undeclared war)

Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, and much of the rest of Central and South America.

Iran (helped overthrow its government in the 1950s and install the Shah of Iran, setting the stage for the Iranian revolution.)

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt.

Yemen (huge humanitarian disaster as I write this. US government fully supporting head-chopping Saudi Arabians in their campaign to starve, sicken and blow to bits hundreds of thousands of people. Support includes US planes in-flight fueling of Saudi fighter/bomber jets.)

And let us not forget the enormous "meddling" in numerous US government elections and policy debates by . . . Israel.

Good Reason , says: July 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm
I vote with Angolo's comment:

"He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit."

It's important to understand what the US intelligence community is calling "interference in our election." There has been no accusation that the Russians hacked into our electronic voting and changed results. Rather, they did what we have done in other countries–the Russians ran an influence campaign. They bought ads and created bots to spread the word. This is so utterly tame . . . there is nothing out of the ordinary US playbook here.

Hacking the DNC server and revealing underhanded DNC doings? Hey, that's on the DNC for being both venal and incompetent.

anonymous , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm
Anybody in 1962 shouting wild paranoid conspiracy theories about

THERE ARE RUSSIAN SPIES EVERYWHERE, THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER AMERICA

These people in 1962 would be (correctly) dismissed as Right Wing conspiracy kooks, now it's just standard Lib Dems, RINOs, Neo Conservatives and fake news lying press.

We commissioned this Farstar comics with this theme – I mean like who in 2018 is really scared that Russians like Anna Kournikova are going to take over America –

Who's in bed with the Russians?

I wish that was me!

https://goo.gl/images/3HbsbS

b. , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm
Unfortunately, Rand Paul is acting, but not on principle or in good faith. If he really wanted to stand against manufactured hysteria, he would not accept the US "intelligence" agency claims and refer to their record – e.g. on Iraq and before regarding stability of the Soviet Union – he would question the staggering difficulties of attribution and forensics for networked, digital attacks (the main reason why any claims about who hacked whom have to be read with skepticism), he would point to the corruption of our foreign politics by Saudi and Israeli interests and money within the Trump-Kushner clan, and both parties, and he would compare the alleged – and allegedly ineffectual – attempts to influence an already ridiculous election to the very real, pervasive and corrupting impact of GOP voter disenfranchisement and bipartisan gerrymandering in service of incumbents and their networks.

Rand Paul is the man who was going to stand against the Haspel appointment. He is a phoney, but he serves as a weather vane for niche politicians on how the winds are turning.

You can find the same token opposition here:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/07/11/russia-nato-editorials-debates/36799277/

Nothing about New START, no word about how George Bush made a promise that might have been in bad faith, how Gorbachev was foolish enough to accept it, and how Bill Clinton broke it across the board, and piled on by targeting Serbia in the Balkan conflict. Kennan did not refer to the Ukraine on his missive.

If Rand Paul is our last best hope, we are in deep trouble.

Kurt Gayle , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm
Jack Hunter " Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling."

(0:01) TAPPER: 48 hours ago the US government, the Trump administration, said the top Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a massive hack to affect the US election. How much do you want President Trump to try to hold Putin accountable for that?

PAUL: I think really we mistake our response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They're another country. They're going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They're going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same. Dov Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the US interfered in other countries' elections. So we all do it. What we need to do is to make sure that our electoral process is protected. And I think because this has gotten partisan and it's all about partisan politics we have forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our election. And there are things we can do and things that I've advocated: Making sure it's decentralized all the way down to the precinct level; making sure we don't store all the data in one place, even for a state, and that there's a back-up way so that someone in a precinct can say, 'Two thousand people signed in, this was the vote tally I sent to headquarters.' There's a lot of ways that we can back-up our election. Advertising, things like that, it's tricky. Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways, but I think at the bottom line we wanted the Russians to admit it. They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian elections. So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try."

TAPPER: It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election, and it might sound to some viewers that you're offering that statement as an excuse for what the Russians did.

PAUL: No, what I would say is it's not morally equivalent, but I think in their mind it is. And I think it's important to know in your adversary's mind the way that they perceive things. I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections. One of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the US in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's justified

TAPPER: But surely, Senator Paul, the United States has never done what the Russians did.

PAUL: I'm not saying they're equivalent, or morally equivalent, but I am saying that this is the way that the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy, or better reactions, we have to know their response. But it's not just interference in elections that I think has caused this nationalism in Russia. Also, I think part of the reason is is we promised them when James Baker, at the end when Germany reunified, we promised them that we wouldn't go one inch eastward of Germany with NATO, and we've crept up on the borders, and we still have neocons in both parties who want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO.

That's very, very provocative and it has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this. In 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction, he said, if you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin, basically.

George Kennan predicted the rise of Putin in 1998. And so we have to understand that for every action we have, there is a reaction. And it's a big mistake for us -- not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything that Russia does is justified – but if we don't realize that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in the world (3:38)

Coupon Cutter , says: July 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm
It's pretty weird to read articles about "meddling" in US elections and not see the word "Israel" anywhere.

How much pro-Russia money was spent on "meddling" in 2016? How much pro-Israel money was spent "meddling" in 2016?

[Jul 05, 2018] Stuxnet opened a can of worms

Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

...Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?

[Jul 05, 2018] Putin-Phobia, the Only Bipartisan Game in Town by Doug Bandow

Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump's upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is one.

Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified, having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the latter's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.

Russia's critics present a long bill of requirements to be met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American vassal.

Topping everyone's list is Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called Russian meddling "a casus belli , a true act of war."

Washington Melts Down Over Prospect of Trump-Putin Meeting America the Hyperpowerful

Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations' elections. Carnegie Mellon's Dov H. Levin figured that between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81 foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S. intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely sought to influence other nations' elections.

Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if only they better understood their own interests -- as we naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don't see Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed, Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well, Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral commitment to stay out of other nations' elections.

Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is because "Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a violent conflict in eastern Ukraine." Moscow annexed Crimea after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph Stalin's death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.

Rather like America's dismemberment of Serbia, detaching Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right on its side -- it always does! -- which obviously negated any obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian Kosovars

Still, this makes Washington's complaints about Russia seem just a bit hypocritical: do as we say, not as we do. In August 2008 John McCain expressed outrage over Russia's war with Georgia, exclaiming: "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Apparently he forgot that five years before the U.S. invaded Iraq, with McCain's passionate support. Here, too, the two presidents could agree to mutual forbearance.

Worse is the conflict in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, between the Ukrainian army and separatists backed by Russia. Casualty estimates vary widely, but are in the thousands. Moscow successfully weakened Kiev and prevented its accession to NATO. However, that offers neither legal nor moral justification for underwriting armed revolt.

Alas, the U.S. again comes to Russia with unclean hands. Washington is supporting the brutal war by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates against Yemen. Area specialists agree that the conflict started as just another violent episode in a country which has suffered civil strife and war for decades. The Houthis, a tribal/ethnic/religious militia, joined with their long-time enemy, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to oust his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi attacked to reinstall a pliable regime and win economic control. The U.S. joined the aggressors . At least Russia could claim national security was at stake, since it feared Ukraine might join NATO.

The "coalition" attack turned the Yemeni conflict into a sectarian fight, forced the Houthis to seek Iranian aid, and allowed Tehran to bleed its Gulf rivals at little cost. Human rights groups agree that the vast majority of civilian deaths and bulk of destruction have been caused by Saudi and Emirati bombing, with Washington's direct assistance. The humanitarian crisis includes a massive cholera epidemic. The security consequences include empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the U.S. and Russian governments could commit to jointly forgo supporting war for frivolous causes.

Human carnage and physical destruction are widespread in Syria. It will take years to rebuild homes and communities; the hundreds of thousands of dead can never be replaced. Yet Moscow has gone all out to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. The Heritage Foundation's Luke Coffey and Alexis Mrachek demand that Moscow end its support for Assad "and demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with the international community to bring a political end to the Syrian civil war." The American Enterprise Institute's Leon Aron urged "a true Russian withdrawal from Syria, specifically ceding control of the Hmeymim airbase and dismantling recent expansions to the Tartus naval facility."

But the U.S. is in no position to complain. Washington's intervention has been disastrous, first discouraging a negotiated settlement, then promoting largely non-existent moderate insurgents, backing radicals, including the al-Qaeda affiliate (remember 9/11!?) against Assad, simultaneously allying with Kurds and Turks, and taking over the fight against the Islamic State even though virtually everyone in the Mideast had reason to oppose the group.

At least Russia, invited by the recognized government, had a reason to be there. Moscow's alliance with Syria dates back to the Cold War and poses no threat to America, which is allied with Israel, the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Washington also possesses military facilities in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. For most Middle Eastern countries Moscow is primarily a bargaining chip to extort more benefits from America. Trump could propose that both countries withdraw from Syria.

Coffey and Mracek also express outrage that Moscow "has weaponized its natural gas exports to Europe, turning off the tap when countries dare go against its wishes." Russia's customers should not fear coercion via cut-off. Of course, the U.S. never uses its economic power for political ends. Other than to routinely impose economic sanctions on a variety of nations on its naughty list. And to penalize not only American firms, but businesses from every other nation .

Indeed, the Trump administration is insisting that every company in every country stop doing business with Iran. The U.S. government will bar violators from the U.S. market or impose ruinous fines on them. The Trump administration plans to sanction even its European allies, those most vulnerable to Russian energy politics. Which suggests a modus vivendi that America's friends likely would applaud: both Washington and Moscow could promise not to take advantage of other nations' economic vulnerabilities for political ends.

Cyberwar is a variant of economic conflict. Heritage's Mracek cited "the calamitous cyberattack, NotPetya," as "part of Russia's effort to destabilize Ukraine even further than in the past." Yes, a criminal act. Of course, much the same could be said of Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?

Virtually everyone challenges Russia on human rights. Moscow falls far short, with Putin's control of the media, manipulation of the electoral process, and violence against those perceived as regime enemies. In this regard, at least, America is far better.

But many U.S. allies similarly fail this test. For instance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created an authoritarian state retaining merely the forms of democracy. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has constructed a tyranny more brutal than that of Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia's monarchy allows neither religious nor political freedom, and has grown more repressive under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It is not just Trump who remains largely silent about such assaults on people's basic liberties. So do many of the president's critics, who express horror that he would deal with such a man as Putin.

Moscow will not be an easy partner for the U.S. Explaining that "nobody wanted to listen to us" before he took over, in March Putin declared: "You hear us now!" Compromise is inevitable, but requires respect for both nations' interests. A starting point could be returning the two nations' embassies to full strength and addressing arms control, such as the faltering Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and soon-expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A larger understanding based on NATO ending alliance expansion in return for Russia withdrawing from the conflict in the Donbas would be worth pursuing.

Neither the U.S. nor the Russian Federation can afford to allow their relations to deteriorate into another Cold War. Russia is too important on too many issues, including acting as a counterweight to China, the most serious geopolitical challenge to the U.S. Hopefully the upcoming summit will begin the difficult process of rebuilding a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .

[Jun 25, 2018] Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside US Rebels in Syria's South?

Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

DARAA, Syria – At first glance, all appears calm in this southern Syrian city where protests first broke out seven years ago. Residents mill around shops in preparation for the evening Iftar meal when they break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

But the tension is nonetheless palpable in this now government-controlled city. A few weeks ago, Russian-brokered reconciliation talks in southern Syria fell apart when Western-backed militants rejected a negotiated peace.

Whether there will now be a full-on battle for the south or not, visits last week to Syria's three southern governorates, Daraa, Quneitra, and Suweida, reveal a startling possibility: al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise -- the Nusra Front -- appears to be deeply entrenched alongside these U.S.-backed militants in key, strategic towns and villages scattered throughout the south.

U.S. media and think tanks obfuscate this fact by referring to all opposition fighters as "rebels" or "moderates." Take a look at their maps and you only see three colors: red for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, green for opposition forces, black for ISIS.

No More Utopian Dreams on Syria War Without a Rationale

So then, where is the Nusra Front, long considered by Western pundits to be one of the most potent fighting forces against the SAA? Have they simply -- and conveniently -- been erased from the Syrian battle map?

Discussions with Syrian military experts, analysts, and opposition fighters during my trip revealed that Nusra is alive and kicking in the southern battlefields. The map below specifically identifies areas in the south controlled by Nusra, but there are many more locations that do not appear where Nusra is present and shares power with other militants.

Despite its U.S. and UN designation as a terrorist organization, Nusra has been openly fighting alongside the "Southern Front," a group of 54 opposition militias funded and commanded by a U.S.-led war room based in Amman, Jordan called the Military Operations Center (MOC).

Specifics about the MOC aren't easy to come by, but sources inside Syria -- both opposition fighters and Syrian military brass (past and present) -- suggest the command center consists of the U.S., UK, France, Jordan, Israel, and some Persian Gulf states.

They say the MOC supplies funds, weapons, salaries, intel, and training to the 54 militias, many of which consist of a mere 200 or so fighters that are further broken down into smaller groups, some only a few dozen strong.

SAA General Ahmad al-Issa, a commander for the frontline in Daraa, says the MOC is a U.S.-led operation that controls the movements of Southern Front "terrorists" and is highly influenced by Israel's strategic goals in the south of Syria -- one of which is to seize control of its bordering areas to create a "buffer" inside Syrian territories.

How does he know this? Issa says his information comes from a cross-section of sources, including reconciled/captured militants and intel from the MOC itself. The general cites MOC's own rulebook for militants as an example of its Israel-centricity: "One, never threaten or approach any Israeli border in any way. Two, protect the borders with (Israeli-occupied) Golan so no one can enter Israel."

To illustrate the MOC's control over southern militants, Issa cites further regulations: "three, never take any military action before clearing with MOC first. Four, if the MOC asks groups to attack or stop, they must do so."

What happens if these rules are not upheld? "They will get their salaries cut," says Issa.

The armed opposition groups supported by the MOC are mostly affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself an ill-defined, highly fungible group of militants who have changed names and affiliations with frequency during the Syrian conflict.

Over the course of the war, the FSA has fought alongside the Nusra Front and ISIS -- some have even joined them. Today, despite efforts to whitewash the FSA and Southern Front as "non-sectarian" and non-extremist , factions like the Yarmouk Army, Mu'tazz Billah Brigade, Salah al-Din Division, Fajr al-Islam Brigade, Fallujah al-Houran Brigade, the Bunyan al-Marsous grouping, Saifollah al-Masloul Brigade, and others are currently occupying keys areas in Daraa in cooperation with the Nusra Front.

None of this is news to American policymakers. Even before the MOC was established in February 2014, Nusra militants were fronting vital military maneuvers for the FSA. As one Daraa opposition activist explains: "The FSA and al-Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don't want to frighten Jordan or the West . Operations that were really carried out by al-Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own."

Efforts to conceal the depth of cooperation between Nusra and the FSA go right to the top. Says one FSA commander in Daraa: "In many battles, al-Nusra takes part, but we don't tell the (MOC) operations room about it."

It's highly doubtful that the U.S. military remains unaware of this. The Americans operate on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis with regard to FSA-Nusra cooperation. In a 2015 interview with this reporter , CENTCOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Kyle Raines was quizzed about why Pentagon-vetted fighters' weapons were showing up in Nusra hands. Raines responded: " We don't 'command and control' these forces -- we only 'train and enable' them. Who they say they're allying with, that's their business."

In practice, the U.S. doesn't appear to mind the Nusra affiliation -- regardless of the fact that the group is a terror organization -- as long as the job gets done.

U.S. arms have been seen in Nusra's possession for many years now, including highly valued TOW missiles , which were game-changing weapons in the Syrian military theater. When American weapons end up in al-Qaeda hands during the first or second year of a conflict, one assumes simple errors in judgment. When the problem persists after seven years, however, it starts to look like there's a policy in place to look the other way.

It's also not difficult to grasp why U.S. maps patently ignore evidence of Nusra embedded among U.S.-supported militias. The group, after all, is exempt from ceasefires, viewed as a fair target for military strikes at all times.

In December 2015, UN Security Council Resolution 2254 called for "Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council" (emphasis added). Furthermore, the resolution makes clear that ceasefires "will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities."

This essentially means that the Syrian army and its allies can tear apart any areas in the south of Syria where Nusra fighters -- and "entities associated" with it -- are based. In effect, international law provides a free hand for a Syrian military assault against U.S.-backed militias co-located with Nusra, and undermines the ability of their foreign sponsors to take retaliatory measures.

That's why the Nusra Front doesn't show up on U.S. maps.

In an interview last week, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad blamed the sudden breakdown of southern reconciliation efforts on "Israeli and American interference," which he says "put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution."

Today, the Israeli border area with Syria is dotted with Nusra and ISIS encampments, which Israel clearly prefers over the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies. The Wall Street Journal even reported last year that Israel was secretly providing funding for salaries, food, fuel, and munitions to militants across its border.

In early June, two former Islamist FSA members (one of them also a former Nusra fighter) in Beit Jinn -- a strategic area bordering Syria, Lebanon, and Israel -- told me that Israel had been paying their militia's salaries for a year before a reconciliation deal was struck with the Syrian government. "Every month Israel would send us $200,000 to keep fighting," one revealed. "Our leaders were following the outside countries. We were supported by MOC, they kept supporting us till the last minute," he said.

Earlier that day, in the village of Hadar in the Syrian Golan, members of the Druze community described a bloody Nusra attack last November that killed 17: "All the people here saw how Israel helped Nusra terrorists that day. They covered them with live fire from the hilltops to help Nusra take over Hadar. And at the end of the fights, Israel takes in the injured Nusra fighters and provides them with medical services," says Marwan Tawil, a local English teacher.

"The ceasefire line (Syrian-Israeli border) is 65 kilometers between here to Jordan, and only this area is under the control of the SAA," explains Hadar's mayor. "Sixty kilometers is with Nusra and Israel and only the other five are under the SAA."

Israel is so heavily vested in keeping Syria and its allies away from its borders, it has actively bolstered al-Qaeda and other extremists in Syria's southern theater. As Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon famously explained in 2016, "In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State." To justify their interventions in the battle ahead, the U.S. and Israel claim that Iranian and Hezbollah forces are present in the south, yet on the ground in Daraa and Quneitra, there is no visible sight of either.

Multiple sources confirm this in Daraa, and insist that that there are only a handful of Hezbollah advisors -- not fighters -- in the entire governorate.

So why the spin? "This is a public diplomacy effort to make the West look like they've forced Iran and Hezbollah out of the south," explains General Issa.

The U.S., Israel, and their allies cannot win this southern fight. They can only prolong the insecurity for a while before the SAA decides to launch a military campaign against the 54-plus-militias-Nusra occupying the south of Syria. The end result is likely to be a negotiated settlement peppered with a few "soft battles" to eject the more hardline militants.

As one SAA soldier on the scene in Daraa tells me: "Fifty-four factions in a small area shows weakness more than it shows strength." And their cooperation with the Nusra Front just makes the targets on their backs even larger.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics based in Beirut.

[Jun 24, 2018] American Empire Demands a Caesar by Bruce Fein

Notable quotes:
"... Process ..."
Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Trump is hardly our first emperor. The warfare state has been trampling the Constitution for a long time. Credit: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock The United States has adorned its president with extravagance that makes Roman emperors appear frugal by comparison. And such visible signs of the deification of our president are complemented by legal doctrines that echo Richard Nixon's once discredited claim to David Frost: "When the president does it, that means it is not illegal."

These extra-constitutional developments reflect the transformation of the United States from a republic, whose glory was liberty and whose rule of law was king, to an empire, whose glory is global dominion and whose president is law. The Constitution's architects would be shocked to learn that contemporary presidents play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to any person on the planet deemed a threat to national security on the basis of secret, untested evidence known only to the White House.

An empire demands a Caesar and blind obedience from its citizens. World leadership through the global projection of military force cannot be exercised with checks and balances and a separation of powers that arrests speed and invites debate. Napoleon lectured: "Nothing in war is more important than unity of command . Better one bad general than two good ones." And Lord Tennyson, saluting the British Empire, versified in The Charge of the Light Brigade :

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

Someone had blundered.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

As justice requires the appearance of justice, a Caesar requires the appearance of a Caesar. Thus is the president protected by platoons of Secret Service agents. The White House, by closing previously open avenues through the heart of the capital and shielding the president from citizen detractors, has become a castle. The White House staff has expanded and aggrandized power at the expense of Cabinet officials confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Debate, encouraged by the separation of powers, is superfluous where support for empire is underwritten by the multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex, as it is in the United States. The Republican and Democratic parties are unified behind at least seven ongoing unconstitutional presidential wars and climbing trillion-dollar national security budgets.

Our warfare state has given birth to subsidiary surveillance, crony capitalism, and a welfare state. Congress and the judicial branch have become largely sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Constitution's separation of powers is atrophying.

The life of the law is not justice but genuflections to power. It manufactures doctrines that honor the power principle that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. When the configuration of power changes, the law adapts accordingly. The adaptations may not be instantaneous, but they are inexorable. This is not surprising. Judges are not born like Athena from the head of Zeus. They are selected through a political process that vets them for compatibility with the views of their political benefactors. Benjamin Cardozo observed in The Nature of the Judicial Process : "The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by."

The United States has become the largest and most actively garrisoned empire in history, built up by World War II and the 1991 disintegration of the Soviet Union. Our empire has, among other things, approximately 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, over 240,000 active duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories , de facto or de jure commitments to defend 70 countries, and presidential wars as belligerents or co-belligerents in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president has by necessity become a Caesar irrespective of whether the occupant of the White House possesses recessive or dominant genes. The law has adapted accordingly, destroying the Constitution like a wrecking ball.

At present, the president with impunity initiates war in violation of the Declare War Clause; kills American citizens in violation of the Due Process Clause; engages in indiscriminate surveillance his own citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment; substitutes executive agreements for treaties to circumvent the requirements of Senate ratifications by two-thirds majorities in violation of the Treaty Clause; substitutes executive orders for legislation in violation of Article I, section 1; issues presidential signing statements indistinguishable from line-item vetoes in violation of the Presentment Clause; wields vast standard-less delegations of legislative authority in violation of the Constitution's separation of powers; brandishes a state secrets privilege to block judicial redress for unconstitutional executive action in violation of due process; refuses submission to congressional oversight in violation of the congressional power of inquiry; and declines to defend defensible duly enacted laws in violation of the Take Care Clause.

The Constitution will be reborn only if the American people reject their Empire in favor of a republic where individual liberty is the summum bonum. The odds of that happening are not good.

Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and counsel to the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. He is a partner in the law firm of Fein & DelValle PLLC.

[Jun 22, 2018] Close All the Military Bases by Michael J. Ard

Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Anthropologist David Vine spent several years visiting and investigating U.S military bases abroad. To put it mildly, he disapproves of what he found. In his sweeping critique, Base Nation , Vine concludes that Washington's extensive network of foreign bases -- he claims there are about 800 of them -- causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country. Far from providing an important strategic deterrent, the bases actually undermine our security. To remedy this immense travesty, Vine calls for Washington to bring the troops back home.

If nothing else, Base Nation is a timely book. The issue of our expensive foreign commitments has taken center stage in this presidential election. Vine probably finds it ironic that most of the criticism is coming from Donald Trump.

Our extensive foreign-base network is probably an issue that we can't ignore for long. Today, there seems more urgency to look at these long-term base commitments and examine what we are really getting out of them. So, for raising the issue, I say, "Thank you for your service, Mr. Vine."

But it is a shame that Base Nation , which could have made a strong contribution to this debate, ends up making a heavy-handed and somewhat unreliable case against and the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy in general. His sweeping indictments detract from the importance of his initial focus, our overextended base network.

There are some positives. Vine stands on firm ground when he details how inefficient the base system often is. In fact, this is an issue that the federal government has been addressing, albeit slowly and haltingly. Budget realities are solving the problem; many bases are being shuttered and their functions consolidated into others. Vine thinks that overseas bases cost us at least $71 billion a year; maybe closer to $100-200 billion. In one of the more persuasive sections of the book, he explains how he made these calculations, which follow to some extent an important 2013 study from the RAND Corporation. That it is difficult coming up with any precise figures on overseas base spending suggests that we probably need to take a harder look at how taxpayer money is being used.

Likewise, Vine raises valid criticisms about how many bases were constructed by either displacing native populations, as the British did for our benefit at the Indian Ocean atoll Diego Garcia, or by marginalizing the locals, as we allegedly have done at Okinawa in Japan. He highlights the environmental damage done by U.S. military ordnance, although I think it unfair that he ignores the more scrupulous attendance to the environment that we find in today's armed forces. And Vine is right that having many young and bored men based far from home probably doesn't elevate the morals of the local, host population.

But Vine simply fails to persuade in other parts of his critique. His fundamental distrust of the military leads him to accept unquestioningly every dubious charge against it. He also tends to be less than discriminating in some of his sourcing and characterization of events. These problems undermine the overall credibility of his reporting.

Part of the problem with Base Nation is definitional. Vine's definition of a base -- "any place, facility or installation used regularly for military purposes, of any kind" -- is far too broad. Even temporary assignments with host governments get defined as "bases." This leads him to estimate that there are at minimum 686 bases, with 800 being "a good estimate." Why the need to inflate the numbers?

Vine's foreign-base maps, though compelling to look at, appear a bit suspect in light of his expanded definition. What's that big star in Greenland? That's Thule Air Station, a Danish base, where we have about 100 personnel. And the other one in Ascension Island? That's a small satellite-monitoring station, run by the British. What's that dot in Cairo? Oh, it's a medical-research facility. These are hardly the footprints of overweening imperialism.

Likewise, he identifies many bases in Africa. To debunk the official position that we have one permanent base there -- in Djibouti, rented from the French -- plus a few drone sites, Vine relies on dodgy research from Nick Turse, a noted anti-military critic who thinks that the Pentagon runs a hidden African empire.

Along similar lines, Vine believes the U.S. maintains an extensive, secret base system in Latin America. We have one permanent base in the region, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). Once all the al-Qaeda prisoners are gone, GTMO's main function will return to fleet training and disaster response for the Caribbean. In addition, we have one arrangement in Soto Cano Air Field in Honduras, which hosts a squadron of helicopters engaged in counternarcotic operations. How does this base destabilize Central America, as Vine suggests? You got me.

Soto Cano is featured in one of the more tendentious chapters, which reveals Vine's method. In discussing the base, he strongly suggests the U.S. military there conspired with the Honduran Army during the "coup" against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. He quotes a local activist insisting the U.S. was behind the coup, and then leaves it at that. In fact, the U.S. government firmly opposed removing the anti-American Zelaya, slapped sanctions on Honduras, and negotiated for months to have Zelaya brought back into Honduras. Suggesting the U.S. military backed the coup is, well, baseless.

Many of Vine's scattershot charges are of a similar nature. He accuses the U.S. Navy of being in bed with the mob in Naples because, allegedly, it rents housing from landlords who may have mob connections. He blames the military for the red-light districts around foreign bases, like in South Korea, as if it directly created them. In another context, he claims, based on one professor's opinion, that the U.S. Naval Academy fosters a rampant rape culture, and so on.

Toward the end of the book, Vine challenges those who believe the bases are providing valuable deterrence to "prove it." I'm not sure I can prove it to his satisfaction, but regarding Korean-peninsula security, some experts point to our strong presence there as deterring both sides from overreacting. And regarding Iraq, it seems evident that leaving without any U.S. military presence destabilized the country. Many of our operations with foreign militaries in Africa, Latin America, and southeast Asia have a strong humanitarian focus. It is disconcerting that he dedicates no space to these important, stabilizing missions that are often enabled by our forward base deployment.

But Vine never demonstrates his main point: that the bases themselves are destabilizing. The countries with our largest base presence -- Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan -- are all prosperous, peaceful democracies. As for the local protests at our foreign military bases that occasionally happen, these seem no more problematic than what occurs, certainly more often, at our many embassies abroad. Should we withdraw our diplomatic missions too?

As for bases destabilizing the developing world, Vine overplays the U.S.-imperialism angle and fails to appreciate how much control even a weaker government has over its own sovereignty. Little Honduras could kick us out of Soto Cano tomorrow; we have an agreement that could end at any time. Ecuador refused to renew our lease at Manta Air Base in 2008; we left without much fuss. The Philippines in 1992 changed its constitution to prohibit foreign bases, forcing us to leave Subic Bay. Now Manila, feeling threatened by China over the South China Sea island disputes, is inviting us back. The Filipinos mustn't feel our presence too destabilizing.

Given Vine's criticism of our large base footprint, you would think he'd approve of the Pentagon's recent plans on lowering its profile with its "lily pad" strategy -- bilaterally negotiated, pre-staged locations that might enable a future deployment. Surely this approach would alleviate the problems of the large, permanent bases Vine so painstakingly sights? But, somewhat illogically, he objects to this "light footprint" approach as a new sign of encroaching imperialism, not of gradual U.S. realignment and withdrawal.

Even if he doesn't make a strong case in Base Nation , in the long run, Vine probably will get his wish. It is hard to imagine that an extensive military base network in Europe and East Asia, the outcome of our victory in World War II and justified by Cold War strategy, will still make sense a few decades down the road. Changes are already in the wind. A new strategy for U.S. foreign policy and military power projection will doubtless be shaped largely by budget exigencies and shifts in our allies' regional security priorities.

Michael J. Ard, a former naval officer and U.S. government analyst, works in the security field and lectures on international security at Rice University.


Fran Macadam July 15, 2016 at 9:20 am

Our critic seems to have some serious cognitive dissonance going on in his avoidance of recognizing the imperial project that undergirds circling the world with U.S. military power projection.
Rossbach , says: July 15, 2016 at 9:57 am
Fran Macadam is right. The bases and the problems they create are incidental to the policy that engendered. Our nation went from a policy of intermittent imperialism after 1898 to one of permanent imperialism after 1941.

Unless we ditch the empire and return to our correct status as an independent republic, we will suffer the fate of all previous empires.

An Agrarian , says: July 15, 2016 at 10:29 am
If we grant that our global commitments are burdensome, why not take the argument in a reasonable direction. As we remember from the days of BRAC, closing bases is like pulling eye teeth, so let's focus on narrowing this argument down to what may be feasible: End NATO, remove our unwelcome forces from the Middle East, and shutter the bases where we're not wanted (e.g. AFRICOM, Okinawa) and where leases are due to expire. We need to walk our projection back from the borders of China & Russia. Even a minimal plan of this sort would require a decade to accomplish. Ultimately we need a master, strategic foreign policy vision that walks back our global projection this debate goes nowhere without that. Unfortunately neither GOP or Democrat parties offer this vision. No need to wring our hands over a "Close All the Bases" debate until we're back to Constitutional governance and foreign policy, and are rid of the military-industrial complex. And the odds of that are ?
LouisM , says: July 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Our Founding Fathers never wanted or would have allowed foreign military bases. Thomas Jefferson was adamantly opposed to building a navy but John Adams built a navy and Jefferson used it to stop muslim barbarians from enslaving the crews of US merchant ships.

I cannot fathom why the US needs basis throughout the world. Id much rather have a strong Philipines, Japan and Taiwan for us to partner with than vassal states that spend nothing for their own defense and put the entire burden the their alliance on the US. How many shades is that from colonialism or parasitism? Not that far in my book.

Europe is a fine example of parasitism. Today Europe expects its protector to be the US, it has shifted all its resources to social programs and as a result it cannot even defend its borders from unarmed migrants much less from a hostile aggressor.

So what is the strategy to contain Russia and China by being in Central Asia, to contain Europe by constraining it with NATO, to constrain Asia via China, Japan, Philipines, Vietnam, etc.

Im not a fan. The US is spending so much money maintaining these military alliances and using US money and jobs to bribe compliance that our nation is going bankrupt and our infrastructure is 3rd world. If these truly are competitor nations the wiser approach would be to have a strong 1st world infrastructure, a strong economy, strong education and employment and expansion into Mexico, Central America and South America. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire continent from aggressor competing nations. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire portion of the globe. Instead of growing North, Central and South America we are constraining the rest of the globe. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible but one can only shake a bottle of champagne for so long and expect the bottle to constrain the carbonation. Eventually the cork will pop and the declining debtor power will be brought down to size with years of animous for holding others back.

JWJ , says: July 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm
" causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country."

Nowhere in this article is there mention of what I would hope to be the primary purpose of a forward base.
Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David Vine

Commenter Man , says: July 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm
This is a jobs and profits program all around. So there will be plenty of opposition to reducing the bases.
Fran Macadam , says: July 16, 2016 at 8:14 am
Our elites run roughshod over other peoples, and the American people can't constrain them either. At least we know who the "real" Americans are. L'etat, it is them.
bacon , says: July 16, 2016 at 9:03 pm
It shouldn't be a surprise that others piggyback on our defense spending. Why would they not? From our point of view, who pays, says, and since we insist on saying wherever we can, we've got to pay.

I have frequently wondered how costs of this sort of thing are calculated. Do the taxes military families pay get deducted from the cost? Given at least some of them would be unemployed in today's economy, do benefits they would have get deducted? Does the money they spend in local economies in the US when not deployed get factored in some way? What about the taxes the corporations which provide goods and services to the military pay, and that their employees pay? It would seem almost impossible to arrive at an accurate cost figure.

Guest , says: July 18, 2016 at 12:39 am
"Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David Vine"

Using that logic, you wouldn't mind Russia or China setting up a military base in Mexico or Cuba to deter the US (a proven 'bad actor') right??

[Jun 22, 2018] Mexico Readies for Revolt Against Neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Michael J. Ard is a former deputy national intelligence officer for the Western Hemisphere and the author of ..."
"... ." He teaches international relations at Rice University's Master of Global Affairs program. ..."
Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Like a Dos Equis ad, Mexico is "keeping it interesante ." On July 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the veteran left-wing politician known as AMLO, will likely win Mexico's presidential election , to the horror of policy analysts, U.S. government officials, and the Mexican business community. As head of the upstart National Regeneration Movement (MORENA, the Spanish acronym, also means "dark skin"), AMLO pledges to make Mexico self-sufficient on food, halt foreign investment in the oil industry, and grant amnesty to drug traffickers. AMLO hates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- although he's promised to stay in it for now -- and "the Wall" even more.

Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over.

This election is likely to radically transform Mexican politics. MORENA is surging in the polls and may give AMLO a strong legislative bloc. Nationalist-minded legislators from other parties could also defect to his agenda. That would cause a major Mexican political realignment, under which for the next six years it could be governed by a self-described "revolutionary nationalist" ruling coalition. It makes sense: Mexico's neoliberal era had to end sooner or later. AMLO's longtime critique of an unfair economy and a complacent and unresponsive political system has finally resonated.

What accounts for this sudden turnaround? Several factors have aligned in AMLO's favor. Start with AMLO's opponents, who, in a time of change, represent continuity, splitting the neoliberal vote in Mexico's "winner-take-all" system. The conservative National Action Party (PAN), his strongest competitor, diluted its solid brand by running in coalition with two leftist parties. The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) selected a well-qualified former finance minister who is out of his depth as a campaigner. That's left the once-powerful PRI mailing this campaign in, and AMLO siphoning up its traditional voters.

A Destitute Mexico: Is That What We Want? Why We Want Immigrants Who Add Value

Insecurity and corruption, according to polls , are the top issues for Mexican voters, and on these AMLO scores well. Especially on managing corruption and crime, Mexico's political elite have appeared notoriously inept. The former head of the state oil company PEMEX, a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been credibly accused of taking up to $10 million in bribes to approve contracts from the corrupt Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Several governors have been indicted for racketeering and graft; one even went on the lam and was arrested in Guatemala. Recently, Mexico's 12-year campaign to corral drug trafficking organizations fell apart, and violence skyrocketed. Twenty-eight thousand Mexicans were murdered last year, and political candidates are being physically attacked. Meanwhile, drug trafficking gangs ("cartels") are placing parts of the country off limits.

Then there's President Trump, who has treated Mexico as a problem and not as a partner by insisting that it fund his humiliating border wall. When asked in 2015 by Wall Street Journal editors if he thought the U.S. should promote stability and economic growth in Mexico, he replied, "I don't care about Mexico honestly. I really don't care about Mexico." Trump has bolstered AMLO's long-held view that Mexico has relied on the United States for too long. On the campaign trail, AMLO has vowed to put Trump "in his place."

Still, these more immediate causes don't entirely explain AMLO's impending success. At a deeper level, AMLO seems to be Mexico's answer to Samuel Huntington's key "who are we?" question on national identity. AMLO's MORENA explicitly seeks to revive the abandoned ideals of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920): anti-imperialism, defense of national resources, equality, and the protection of peasant rights. Tellingly, AMLO cites as his heroes two successful presidents who propelled Mexico forward: Benito Juarez, the black-clad Zapotec Indian who defeated the French-backed 19th-century "empire," and Lazaro Cardenas, the former revolutionary general who nationalized the oil industry and built the modern Mexican state.

Despite his populism, AMLO hasn't always been an outsider. He started his political career during the 1980s, when the PRI was still was Mexico's governing party. But he soon saw the changes happening in his rural native state of Tabasco, when the oil boom pushed out the farming and fishing industry. AMLO dissented from the PRI's decision to liberalize the economy and joined the opposition in 1988.

Led by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who was president from 1988 to 1994, the country embarked on a strict neoliberal development path and internationalist agenda, reversing its program of statist economics and authoritarian governance. Its ruling politicians sold state industries, embraced market reforms, let the peso float, and joined the North American Free Trade Agreement. Over the last several years, Mexico City has even permitted greater American involvement in its war against drug traffickers. Under Peña Nieto, Mexico finally allowed its oil industry to permit foreign investment.

In truth, these reforms worked well enough: Mexico democratized and developed into a solidly middle-income country with steady economic growth. Net immigration into the United States has come to a halt. Security issues were messy, but unlikely to destabilize the country.

These reforms represented a big win for Washington. If American intervention was needed for the occasional peso crisis or drug trafficker menace, we were happy to oblige. Mexico made a difficult partner at times, but on the policy side, it was where Washington wanted it to be.

But the cost of these changes may have been Mexico's identity, its sense of self. Returning to Huntington, his "The Clash of Civilizations?" article described Mexico as a state "torn" between its economic future and political and cultural past. After a top advisor to President Salinas described the sweeping changes the government was making, Huntington remarked, "It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." Salinas looked at him with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly."

AMLO and his followers have brooded about these radical changes for years. To this day, he refers to the arch-neoliberal Salinas simply as El Innombrable -- he that cannot be named. Neoliberalism launched AMLO not just on a political career but on a personal crusade to bring the country back to its former ideals.

When AMLO won the Mexico City mayorship in 2000, he built up a national political base and became a burr in the saddle of President Vicente Fox, who had embraced the liberal reforms of the formerly ruling PRI. AMLO criticized Fox relentlessly, and in retaliation, Fox attempted to have him legally prohibited from running for president in 2006.

This clumsy effort failed, giving AMLO a boost. But he narrowly lost the contest to the PAN's Felipe Calderon, whose campaign linked AMLO with Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez. Embittered in defeat, AMLO immediately claimed the voting was rigged against him. AMLO and his raucous followers held protests for months and even formed a parallel government. He may have lost in 2006, but he solidified his position as the leader of Mexico's alternative left.

AMLO's anti-system stance has given weight to the claim that he'd be another Chavez. The comparison seems invidious, as the late comandante of Venezuela, an avowed Marxist and coup plotter, crushed democratic institutions, set up a socialist economy, and in general drove what had been a prosperous South American country into the ground. AMLO, an authentic democrat, appears less megalomaniacal and more rules-focused, more the romantic reactionary than the revolutionary radical.

Still, many of the same forces that propelled Chavez are driving AMLO now. Like Chavez, AMLO is coming to power after a period of neoliberal reform and perceived intractable corruption. Like Chavez, AMLO enjoys an almost mystical bond with his nation's poorer classes. And very much like Chavez, AMLO is instinctively, but probably not irreversibly, anti-American in outlook.

How these characteristics will play out with AMLO in power is hard to predict. The two main parties won't be behind him, but many of their followers might. All of those alienated by neoliberalism, the perceived kowtowing to Washington, the surrender of economic resources to foreign companies and the free market, will flock to his banner. It is remarkable how some former members of the right-of-center National Action Party and the PRI have backed his campaign.

Some of AMLO's policy proposals seem less the stuff of hard leftism than nostalgic nationalism. He focuses heavily on national development for industry and agriculture aimed at self-reliance and reducing imports. He proposes holding referendums on the enacted legislation, a move to broaden democracy, which would require constitutional reform. He seeks to raise the minimum wage, but refreshingly pledges "no new taxes."

AMLO loves to wax nostalgic about Mexico's strong state traditions and will almost certainly attempt to restore the waning power of the Mexican presidency as an anti-corruption pulpit. In the tradition of newly inaugurated Mexican presidents, he'll probably look to prosecute a node of corruption in Mexican society: a prominent businessman or politician, rather than a labor union like his predecessors.

Much of the progress the United States has made with Mexico on security cooperation will probably be jeopardized. It's hard to believe that AMLO will endorse the close relations that the DEA, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community have forged with their Mexican counterparts in the war on drugs. The extradition of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin el Chapo Guzman to the U.S. in 2017 will probably be the high watermark in the relationship. It is doubtful that AMLO will permit more high-profile extraditions. President Trump's disdain for a close relationship that has taken us decades to build may come back to haunt us.

But a poor relationship between Washington and Mexico City doesn't have to be inevitable. Despite the rhetoric, the flamboyant American billionaire has much in common with the austere Mexican populist. Both countries have too many common interests to go down separate paths. The question is: does AMLO have to build the bomb to get Trump to care about Mexico?

Michael J. Ard is a former deputy national intelligence officer for the Western Hemisphere and the author of "An Eternal Struggle: The Role of the National Action Party in Mexico's Democratic Transition ." He teaches international relations at Rice University's Master of Global Affairs program.


Youknowho June 21, 2018 at 7:30 am

Another diplomatic triumph of Trump

And just because they are similar do not expect that they might agree. Expect them to antagonize each other to play to their bases.

Carlos , says: June 21, 2018 at 10:52 am
That's just the thing, AMLO isn't "an authentic democrat." He founded MORENA so he could keep his presidential aspirations going; he's indistinguishable from the party. After losing in 2006, he notoriously said "to hell with institutions." His followers won't admit this, but his platform is as diluted as the rest: he's taken in suspects of corruption and has allied himself with both a very "conservative" party (the small, evangelical PES) and Mexico's hard leftists.
Hibernian , says: June 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm
"Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over."

What about Mexico's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Washington?

[Jun 21, 2018] US interventions vs Russia interventions

Notable quotes:
"... The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 2:44:25 PM | 2

Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 30 - 40 , I here'd. Compared to Russia 5-8 ? Russia is in Syria by invitation to deal with rebels/terrorist's .America is now threatening both. Despite being there to attempt a regime change. Just who do they think they are ? The sooner they are stopped the better and the easier.
karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 3:13:44 PM | 3
Mark2 @2--

Russia intervened nowhere; the USSR intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Yeltsin's cabal intervened in Russia to preserve Bush's and Clinton's New World Order. USSR was invited into Afghanistan; Outlaw US Empire wasn't. An incomplete list from William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II . A graphic map based on Blum's book.

ben , Jun 21, 2018 5:31:23 PM | 14
Mark2@ 2: Here ya' go Mark:)

https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-list

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 15
Yesterday, Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Unfortunately, the Kremlin's recap of the meeting's currently incomplete, but what is recorded is instructive:

"Of course, we look at the Russian Federation as a founder of the United Nations and as a permanent member of the Security Council, but I would say that at the present moment we look at the Russian Federation as an indispensable element of the creation of a new multipolar world.

"To be entirely frank, these are not easy times for multilateralism and not easy times for the UN. And I think that after the Cold War and after a short period of unipolar world we are still struggling to find a way to have a structured, multipolar world with multilateral governmental institutions that can work. And this is something that worries me a lot and is something in which, I believe, the Russian Federation has a unique role to play."

Considering many think Guterres just an agent for the Outlaw US Empire, maybe his cited words will cause a reassessment. I'd like to know what followed. Apparently there was some discussion about Korea and the economic initiatives being openly discussed since RoK President Moon will arrive in Russia tomorrow.

Lavrov met with Guterres today, and his opening remarks shine a bit more light on what was discussed:

"As emphasised by President Putin, we have invariably supported, support, and will continue to support the UN, this unique universal organisation. We think highly of your intention, Mr Secretary-General, to raise the profile of the United Nations in world affairs, particularly in settling regional conflicts. As you noted yourself at the meeting in the Kremlin yesterday, this is largely dependent on the general state of the international system as a whole and the UN member states' readiness to act collectively, jointly, rather than unilaterally, and to pursue the goals enshrined in the UN Charter rather than self-centred,[sic] immediate aims.

"We note that you have consistently advocated the pooling of efforts by major players to deal with world problems. This is the logic of the UN Charter, specifically its clauses on the creation and powers of the UN Security Council. I hope that based on the values we share we will be able to successfully continue cooperation in the interests of solving international problems."

Lots of emphasis on the absolute necessity of making the UN Charter whole again and not allowing any one nation to make a mockery of it by pursuing its "self-centered, immediate aims."

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 5:54:25 PM | 18
Ben @ 14
Thanks Ben. Yep that's what l thought reality would look like, that's my sanity safe for a while longer. Remember we are not alone!
Zanon @ 12
That is a perfect example of 'fake news' we can spot it here ! Or are we here now msm!
pantaraxia , Jun 21, 2018 6:06:38 PM | 20
@2 Mark2 'Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war '

Perhaps as relevant a question is how many countries are presently enjoying the beneficence of U.S. military operations?

According to Seymour Hersh in a recent interview on Democracy Now: " The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now."

Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRvLZ6y4PxM

This confirms a recent statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders: "meanwhile we are "fighting terrorism" in some 76 countries...'

The Jimmy Dore Show - Bernie's Amazing Foreign Policy Smackdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmcMzCIEV8Y

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 6:19:58 PM | 21
I'd Like this made into a poster ! From Southfront's reporting about a RICO lawsuit filed against Clinton and Co. Quite the charge sheet, although it lacks several crimes.
Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 6:36:55 PM | 22
Pantaraxia @ 20
Wow that doubles what I was already shocked about ! And then of course there's the comercal operations destablising country's using greed as a weapon. Plus the banks, I'm sure South Africa would have been a real success if they'd kept the banking curuption out. Time for immoral capitalism to fall.
Also don't you just hate victim blaming.There that's me done. Grrr
S , Jun 21, 2018 9:49:05 PM | 32
@b: I know you're just one man and can't do everything, but it would be wonderful if you could cover the history of hacking accusations against Russia. No one lays out a sequence of events better than you.

Just yesterday, another accusation has been leveled against Russia by the head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen: German intelligence sees Russia behind hack of energy firms - media report (Reuters). It's a serious accusation, and one would expect a serious proof. However, no proof has been given except that "it fits the Russian modus operandi". Also, the fact that the alleged attack has been named "Berserk Bear" by some unknown Western analyst. Apparently, that's enough proof by today's standards.

There is a critical lack of independent thinking and skepticism in the international computer security circles nowadays. The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation.

[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

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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 .