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Two party system invented by British elite proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes, including the US neoliberalism. Under remnants of "representative democracy" there is a "deep state" which consists of unelected bureaucrats of intelligence services and a part of civil and military high level officials. Which control elected officials, not vise versa. Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" essentially make elections optional, but they still continue to exist in an emasculated "two parties system" form, which mostly serves the role of providing the legitimacy of the government. The key decisions, especially in foreign policy are now firmly outside of the control of elected officials. Resistance is quickly squishes and dissidents are iether removed (via "compromat") or coerced (including, like is the case of Trump, by unending investigations). That's why foreign policy of the USA is so consistent.
The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. I would add Wll Street in case of the USA, with its close connections to CIA. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as
“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”
The term means an association of elements of government (mostly high level officials of key agencies), intelligence services and military, parts of top-level figures of financial oligarchy and industry who effectively are able to govern the United States without any consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process and elections.
In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.
The astonishing surrealism and absurdity of military bureaucracy is a phenomenon that is very difficult to describe unless you experienced it firsthand. One of the best depiction of military bureaucracy is in the satiric novel The Good Soldier Svejk and (what can be viewed as its derivative) Catch-22. As well as films such as adaption of Italian anti-war comics Sturmtruppen
"Zis damned military service vill haff to end sometime. I've grown tired of hafing to say 'Yes, sir' to anyone with a higher ranken. I kan barely vait to return to being an anonymous civilian and being able to zay 'Yes, sir' to any of my superiors..."
Sturmtruppen's success spurred two cinema adaptations. The first one, Sturmtruppen (1976), was co-written by Bonvicini and directed by Salvatore Samperi. In 1982 a sequel, Sturmtruppen II, was released, again directed by Samperi and featuring Renato Pozzetto, Massimo Boldi and Teo Teocoli.
Bonvi had a small part as a German officer. The quality of the two movies was uneven, albeit some ideas and situations (such as the Captain abusing a life-size plush toy with Karl Marx features -- only to be assaulted and bitten by it -- or the Pope offering a poisoned wafer to the angelic soldier who came from heaven to usher in a new age of Peace) are very biting and sarcastic, on par with the best strips.
On August 16, 2006, Miramax moved forward with plans to create a live-action movie based on Sturmtruppen. It is not known if a script has been written, or who is slated to direct the movie.
Along with being potent anti-war satire, both The Good Soldier Svejk and Catch-22 contain surprisingly accurate critique of military bureaucracy operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book, the phrase "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type. Within the book, "Catch-22" is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic that, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions. The narrator explains:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)
The phaze Catch-22 is also used in the novel to justify arbitrary and often brutal bureaucratic actions. At one point, victims of harassment by military police quote the MPs' explanation of one of Catch-22's provisions: "Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating." Another character explains: "Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing."
Crisis in Command Mismanagement in the Army Richard A. Gabriel, Paul Savage 9780809001408 Amazon.com Books
The business version was "On a clear day you can see GM" By on March 7, 2001
This book clearly and succinctly discusses what went wrong with the US Army leading to the debacles of Viet Nam. It is good reading for those interested in the military, but the lessons are just as true for industry. I highly recommend this book.
Paul F. Austin
Gabriel and Savage wrote Crisis in Command in the immediate aftermath of the Viet Nam War, a period in which the US Army was demoralized and fundamentally damaged by the war. Crisis in Command documents what went wrong within the Army, comparing the "managerial" style of leadership with the leadership methods that General Hans Von Seekt put into place in recreating the German army during the 1920s.
Crisis in Command shows all of the personnel and leadership pathologies that demoralized the army, the individual rotation of troops rather than of complete units, dating back to World War II, which prevented the "FNG" from being integrated into a combat unit during his brief (1 year) tour in country, the Army's desire to "blood" its officer and NCO corps in the only war available and rotating them likewise with blinding speed through units with more care for their careers than for their men. Gabriel and Savage used a memorable phrase to summarize the lack of leadership: "It is impossible to manage men to their deaths."
Here is similar lament from comments to Rank Incompetence The American Conservative
February 11, 2013 at 3:31 am
This just makes sense. So much sense, sadly. I say this not out if military experience, but out of experience as a worker, a student, and as a citizen. American leadership has become an oxymoron. Hubris is virtue. The beancounters have won.
This is what happens when we treat people most oftenly as pieces of paper, some with more gold stars stuck on them than others. Sometimes we treat people as near human beings, but usually keep that interaction at the high school level.
Look good? Don't rock the boat? Play the game. Pass go. Collect $200. An American once said something about either being somebody or doing something, but hes not the kind of American we remember.
February 11, 2013 at 11:16 am
Systemic incompetence in our military leadership is sadly true.
CEOs are judged by their ability to influence the profitability of their company. A football coach gets judged by his ability to win football games. There is no similar way to judge our field grade officers and above that is both impartial and standardized. Absent the winnowing animus against incompetence found in business and sports, the military falls back on the “old boys network” for determining success. Basically, promotion becomes a high school popularity contest.
Those in the rank of lieutenant colonel and above looking to get promoted would do well to remember:
- It’s all a popularity contest,
- You will never be questioned for following conventional wisdom (studiously avoid any perceived risk),
- Don’t rock the boat as change is rarely popular,
- Never pass up on an opportunity to make yourself look good at the expense of the taxpayer—and be sure to grandstand about it in order to get attention for yourself,
- Absent flagrant criminal misconduct which has been publicly exposed, accountability is non-existent.
A lieutenant colonel of average abilities who studiously follows these tenets stands a great chance to succeed in our military.
February 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm
Mr. Lind- you have been a distinguished scholar and historian of warfare for some time, so I your opinion is obviously not without qualification. However, the previous comment made a valid point as to what your criteria for failure is. Certainly our military leadership has made many mistakes in the conduct of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but are the lack of results due to military incompetence or poor strategic thinking of the part of our civilian leadership? The military is only one instrument of power and and an operation such as an invasion/gov’t overthrow requires that all instruments work together under a unified civilian leadership with a realistic strategic goal. You rightly point out that this approach was not instituted in Iraq or Afghanistan and civilian leadership bears part of the blame. However, I would argue that no amount of brilliant generalship could ever have made up for it. These operations were doomed from the start because the civilian leadership never had the political will to invest the national resources that were actually needed for full-scale regime change (which was not even a feasible goal in Afghanistan). To simply state that military leadership was incompetent as exemplified by lack of success in Iraq and Afghanistan is incomplete at best.
As to the military promotion system, a high degree of political acuity is absolutely required from our senior leadership. Generals may be military leaders, but they also lead huge bureaucracies and are dependent on Congress and the Executive Branch (both of whom have competing agendas that often have nothing to do with military success) to accomplish their mission. A politically blind general would be steamrolled by those competing interests and probably be completely ineffective as a result. It sucks that it has to be that way, that we can’t promote military geniuses with the temperament of Patton, but that is not the world we live in and not the type of wars we are allowed to fight. This is not the fault of the military and it is not the military that can change that mode of thinking. The best thing we can do is to be damned sure we are going to war for a good reason, throw the entire weight of the nation into that war, and have a strategic national plan that carries us all the way through the end game. Were we to do that, I think you might be surprised at how competently most of our generals would perform.
Military primary role is the providing expansion and the defense of the interests of the ruling elite against external and internal enemies. Among other things that means that a focus on shrinking the military budget is quite inadequate: military is as much in control of the state as other groups constituting the Deep state. And in this sense military bureaucracy is well protected from "shrinking the government" efforts. Some relevant analysys of military buraucracy can be found in the book Uprooting War (20MB). Here is a large quote from Chapter 9: The military
Superficially, military forces are a prime root of war. They are responsible for fighting, the organised use of force against human and technological opposition. Without military forces, there would be no war as currently conceived.
At a deeper level, military forces may seem to be a consequence of the war system, namely as agents of ruling groups. Modern military forces are mobilised by the state, as a defence of the interests of state elites against external and internal enemies. Without addressing the dominant social interests in the state, a focus on eliminating the military alone is quite inadequate.
But although military forces do indeed serve the interests of the state, the military is not purely a tool. Military personnel, and especially military elites (the officer corps) have their own special interests. Military elites will not sit by idly while state power is dissolved or transferred to interests seen as hostile to military interests. The many military regimes around the world testify to the potential semi-independent political role of military forces. Military forces may serve state interests, but this is often contingent on state interests serving military interests. The state and the military support each other, and they need to be addressed both separately and jointly.
Even in societies where military forces are overtly subordinate to civilian elites, military perspectives and interests can penetrate deeply into a society's fabric. This process of militarisation has been especially noticeable in industrialised countries since World War Two. Since then, 'peacetime' military spending has provided a rationale for continuing state intervention into economies and for the turning of industrial and professional efforts toward military priorities.
Bureaucracy can be seen as a root of war because it facilitates the maintenance of elite power and smashes or pre-empts non-hierarchical and self-reliant forms of human interaction. The military is bureaucratic in form, and indeed in many ways is a pioneer and model bureaucracy. Thus the military is closely intertwined with the state and bureaucracy, two other key roots of war. In addition, as described in the following chapters, the military is strongly interconnected with patriarchy and with science and technology.
... ... ...
Internally, military forces are bureaucratic in form, with a strict hierarchy and division of labour, rigid rules and duties. The function of military forces is to be able to use organised violence against opponents, usually seen as similarly organised. Because killing of other humans is not readily undertaken by many people in modern societies, military recruits undergo extensive training, indoctrination and isolation in a military environment. The key to military performance is unquestioning obedience to orders, which again has much in common with non-military bureaucracies.
Military forces use violence as the ultimate defence of state interests, and not surprisingly the ultimate sanction against internal resistance in armed forces is also violent: imprisonment or even execution. Military forces even more than other bureaucracies are similar to authoritarian states in their denial of the right or opportunity to dissent, in their demand for obedience and in their use of reprisals against recalcitrant subjects.
The composition of armed forces embodies particular social values. In many countries, the officer corps has been drawn disproportionately from privileged classes. Within the military the officer corps is a politically aware stratum. Both by origin and by hierarchical position, the officer corps tends to be a strong supporter of state political systems based on authoritarian principles, similar in nature to the military itself. By contrast, the military rank and file are more often working class in origin, and are structurally removed from political activity.
Military elites also strongly oppose participation of women and gays, especially in key roles such as officers or combat soldiers. This opposition stems from the links between masculinity and violence and, more deeply, between patriarchy and the military.
Because of the military's rigid bureaucratic structure and because of its relative isolation from other social forces, the military is an intensely conservative structure. This is well illustrated by its reluctance to adopt technological innovations of demonstrated effectiveness. For example, European armies were very slow to adopt the machine gun in spite of its years of proven effectiveness in colonial wars. The reason for this conservatism is that introducing weapons systems also requires internal social change in areas such as corps organisation, training, battlefield tactics and command structures. Changes that adversely affect particular bureaucratic empires in the military are resisted most of all. Fundamental changes in military organisation or doctrine often require outside intervention, for example by civilian political elites.
Another reason for the conservatism of military forces is that most of them are at war only a small fraction of time, and in between wars there is no 'marketplace' test of the current doctrines. Internal conservatism is one reason why militaries are notorious for being prepared to fight the previous war.
Although military forces remain strongly hierarchical, repressive, conservative, sexist and heterosexist, there are two forces in particular which are modifying the internal dynamics of the military. One is the increasing technological content of modern war. Instead of being mainly composed of fighting troops, military forces are structured around systems of advanced technology. For every fighter pilot there are 10 or 20 other workers providing maintenance, planning logistics, organising provisions and so forth. Along with sophisticated technology have come many workers in specialised occupations, including engineers, technicians, mechanics, computer programmers, accountants and filing clerks. To utilise this personnel effectively, the traditional military hierarchy with its demand for unquestioning obedience to commands and use of repression is much less appropriate. The trend is away from coercion and towards organisational and manipulative techniques of control more characteristic of civilian bureaucracies.
The other force promoting changes in military forces towards civilian bureaucracy comes from soldiers who refuse to be submissive. This refusal stems from the breakdown of traditional social structures which inculcated authoritarian and submissive attitudes, including the church, authoritarian employment situations, rigid schooling and the patriarchal family. These traditional structures are collapsing between the extension of state power and bureaucratic modes of organisation on the one hand and the rise of movements for liberation from oppression on the other, including the labour movement, feminism and the gay movement. Life is less and less organised on the basis of physical coercion and a requirement for blind obedience to authority, and more on bureaucratic lines of hierarchy, division of labour, rules and proper procedures, all legitimised on the basis of alleged efficiency and technical merit. These changes affect personal interactions, families, schools and workplaces, and can hardly leave military forces untouched.
Lawrence Radine in his book The Taming of the Troops: Social Control in the United States Army describes the shift from coercive to manipulative controls. The new brand of manipulative controls demand the skills of psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, lawyers and correctional therapists. Techniques involve questionnaires and surveys to detect and screen out dissidents, cooperation and talking about problems with soldiers, making token concessions, particularising opposition to reformable peripheral issues, and transfers of dissidents. Behavioural science is used to study what makes people fight, which has been found to be concrete necessity and commitment to a small reference group, not ideological commitment. This knowledge is used to organise training and deployment of troops.
While the military is adopting many methods from civilian bureaucracies, it is also true that the military is pioneering methods of sophisticated, non-coercive control. Radine suggests that because of this the army can be seen as a 'vanguard bureaucracy.'
The internal characteristics of the military have implications beyond the life of soldiers. The very way the military is organised has a major impact on the nature of the society in which it exists. A thought-provoking treatment of this is Stanislav Andreski's book Military Organization and Society.
One of Andreski's important findings, backed by evidence from numerous societies, is that a higher level of participation by a society's population in military forces tends to reduce structured inequality (called stratification) in the society. Thus stratification is likely to be lower with high participation guerrilla warfare than with low participation conventional forces. This finding reinforces the idea that modern military forces, with low participation due to professionalism and specialised training for modern weapons systems, are intimately associated with the existence and power of political and economic elite groups. Another implication is that the introduction of social defence, which by its nature requires high levels of participation, will tend to reduce stratification. This would be doubly beneficial. Stratification is associated with inequality, exploitation and injustice, and also at the level of state power with the requirement for military forces to defend elite interests.
Andreski says many empires have been created by exclusive possession of superior armaments or tactics. Collapse of the empire through loss of the monopoly is less common, since conquered peoples are usually disarmed and made helpless. States founded on conquest usually disintegrate through loss of cohesion of the ruling stratum, or as a result of outside attack.
These insights have two immediate implications. First, social defence is a good preventative to the formation of empires, since exclusive possession of techniques of nonviolent resistance is not feasible. Second, breaking monopolies on current weapons is important to oppose centralised political power backed by military forces. But for the antiwar movement, breaking weapons monopolies does not mean spreading the weapons but spreading knowledge of how people can dismantle them: preparing for people's disarmament.
Andreski treats many other topics of significance, such as subordination and hierarchy in society and the military, and the relation of war to the extent of government regulation. Andreski's analysis contains many insights of potential use in antiwar action, and is certainly more useful in this regard than the vast bulk of military sociology.
Why then has Andreski's material had no impact on antiwar strategy? One reason is that Andreski's writing is academic. He offers no hints on how to apply his insights in order to change society from the grassroots. Most antiwar activists do not delve into military sociology at all, partly because most antiwar activists have no intention or method for transforming military organisation. Furthermore, Andreski is a social theorist who is seen as relatively conservative, and hence is not likely to appeal to the antiwar movement theorists who usually favour left-wing analyses. This is regrettable, in my opinion. In developing an antiwar strategy, insights are needed from whatever source available. It is for antiwar theorists and activists to decide how to interpret, adapt and use these insights.
Military forces have two main roles in society: defence of the state against foreign military threat and defence of the state against internal challenge. Almost all treatments of military issues, including those by the antiwar movement, concern defence against external enemies. Yet the role of the military in defending the state internally warrants equal attention by antiwar activists. By supporting state power internally, the military protects the position and power of elite groups which not only help perpetuate poverty, injustice and alienation, but also sustain the state system which is the backbone of the modern war system.
May 03, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The two-star army general strode across the stage in his rumpled combat fatigues, almost like George Patton -- all that was missing was the cigar and riding crop. It was 2017 and I was in the audience, just another mid-level major attending yet another mandatory lecture in the auditorium of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The general then commanded one of the Army's two true armored divisions and had plenty of his tanks forward deployed in Eastern Europe, all along the Russian frontier. Frankly, most CGSC students couldn't stand these talks. Substance always seemed lacking, as each general reminded us to "take care of soldiers" and "put the mission first," before throwing us a few nuggets of conventional wisdom on how to be good staff officers should we get assigned to his vaunted command.
This time, though, the general got to talking about Russia. So I perked up. He made it crystal clear that he saw Moscow as an adversary to be contained, checked, and possibly defeated. There was no nuance, no self-reflection, not even a basic understanding of the general complexity of geopolitics in the 21st century. Generals can be like that -- utterly "in-the-box," "can-do" thinkers. They take pride in how little they discuss policy and politics, even when they command tens of thousands of troops and control entire districts, provinces, or countries. There is some value in this -- we'd hardly want active generals meddling in U.S. domestic affairs. But they nonetheless can take the whole "aw shucks" act a bit too far.
General It-Doesn't-Matter-His-Name thundered that we need not worry, however, because his tanks and troops could "mop the floor" with the Russians, in a battle that "wouldn't even be close." It was oh-so-typical, another U.S. Army general -- who clearly longs for the Cold War fumes that defined his early career -- overestimating the Russian menace and underestimating Russian military capability . Of course, it was all cloaked in the macho bravado so common among generals who think that talking like sergeants will win them street cred with the troops. (That's not their job anymore, mind you.) He said nothing, of course, about the role of mid- and long-range nuclear weapons that could be the catastrophic consequence of an unnecessary war with the Russian Bear.
I got to thinking about that talk recently as I reflected in wonder at how the latest generation of mainstream "liberals" loves to fawn over generals, admirals -- any flag officers, really -- as alternatives to President Donald Trump. The irony of that alliance should not be lost on us. It's built on the standard Democratic fear of looking "soft" on terrorism, communism, or whatever-ism, and their visceral, blinding hatred of Trump. Some of this is understandable. Conservative Republicans masterfully paint liberals as "weak sisters" on foreign policy, and Trump's administration is, well, a wild card in world affairs.
The problem with the vast majority of generals, however, is that they don't think strategically. What they call strategy is really large-scale operations -- deploying massive formations and winning campaigns replete with battles. Many remain mired in the world of tactics, still operating like lieutenants or captains and proving the Peter Principle right, as they get promoted past their respective levels of competence.
If America's generals, now and over the last 18 years, really were strategic thinkers, they'd have spoken out about -- and if necessary resigned en masse over -- mission sets that were unwinnable, illegal (in the case of Iraq), and counterproductive . Their oath is to the Constitution, after all, not Emperors Bush, Obama, and Trump. Yet few took that step. It's all symptomatic of the disease of institutionalized intellectual mediocrity. More of the same is all they know: their careers were built on fighting "terror" anywhere it raised its evil head. Some, though no longer most, still subscribe to the faux intellectualism of General Petraeus and his legion of Coindinistas , who never saw a problem that a little regime change, followed by expert counterinsurgency, couldn't solve. Forget that they've been proven wrong time and again and can count zero victories since 2002. Generals (remember this!) are never held accountable.
Flag officers also rarely seem to recognize that they owe civilian policymakers more than just tactical "how" advice. They ought to be giving "if" advice -- if we invade Iraq, it will take 500,000 troops to occupy the place, and even then we'll ultimately destabilize the country and region, justify al-Qaeda's worldview, kick off a nationalist insurgency, and become immersed in an unwinnable war. Some, like Army Chief General Eric Shinseki and CENTCOM head John Abizaid, seemed to know this deep down. Still, Shinseki quietly retired after standing up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Abizaid rode out his tour to retirement.Trump Scores, Breaks Generals' 50-Year War Record Afghanistan and America's 'Indispensable Nation' Hubris
Generals also love to tell the American people that victory is "just around the corner," or that there's a "light at the end of the tunnel." General William Westmoreland used the very same language when predicting imminent victory in Vietnam. Two months later, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong unleashed the largest uprising of the war, the famed Tet Offensive.
Take Afghanistan as exhibit A: 17 or so generals have now commanded U.S. troops in this, America's longest war. All have commanded within the system and framework of their predecessors. Sure, they made marginal operational and tactical changes -- some preferred surges, others advising, others counterterror -- but all failed to achieve anything close to victory, instead laundering failure into false optimism. None refused to play the same-old game or question the very possibility of victory in landlocked, historically xenophobic Afghanistan. That would have taken real courage, which is in short supply among senior officers.
Exhibit B involves Trump's former cabinet generals -- National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelley, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis -- whom adoring and desperate liberals took as saviors and canonized as the supposed adults in the room . They were no such thing. The generals' triumvirate consisted ultimately of hawkish conventional thinkers married to the dogma of American exceptionalism and empire. Period.
Let's start with Mattis. "Mad Dog" Mattis was so anti-Iran and bellicose in the Persian Gulf that President Barack Obama removed him from command of CENTCOM.
Furthermore, the supposedly morally untainted, "intellectual" " warrior monk " chose, when he finally resigned, to do so in response to Trump's altogether reasonable call for a modest troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria.
Helping Saudi Arabia terror bomb Yemen and starve 85,000 children to death? Mattis rebuked Congress and supported that. He never considered resigning in opposition to that war crime. No, he fell on his "courageous" sword over downgrading a losing 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. Not to mention he came to Trump's cabinet straight from the board of contracting giant General Dynamics, where he collected hundreds of thousands of military-industrial complex dollars.
Then there was John Kelley, whom Press Secretary Sarah Sanders implied was above media questioning because he was once a four-star marine general. And there's McMaster, another lauded intellectual who once wrote an interesting book and taught history at West Point. Yet he still drew all the wrong conclusions in his famous book on Vietnam -- implying that more troops, more bombing, and a mass invasion of North Vietnam could have won the war. Furthermore, his work with Mattis on Trump's unhinged , imperial National Defense Strategy proved that he was, after all, just another devotee of American hyper-interventionism.
So why reflect on these and other Washington generals? It's simple: liberal veneration for these, and seemingly all, military flag officers is a losing proposition and a formula for more intervention, possible war with other great powers, and the creeping militarization of the entire U.S. government. We know what the generals expect -- and potentially want -- for America's foreign policy future.
Just look at the curriculum at the various war and staff colleges from Kansas to Rhode Island. Ten years ago, they were all running war games focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East and Africa. Now those same schools are drilling for future "contingencies" in the Baltic, Caucasus, and in the South China Sea. Older officers have always lamented the end of the Cold War "good old days," when men were men and the battlefield was "simple." A return to a state of near-war with Russia and China is the last thing real progressives should be pushing for in 2020.
The bottom line is this: the faint hint that mainstream libs would relish a Six Days in May – style military coup is more than a little disturbing, no matter what you think of Trump. Democrats must know the damage such a move would do to our ostensible republic. I say: be a patriot. Insist on civilian control of foreign affairs. Even if that means two more years of The Donald.
Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army Major and regular contributor to Truthdig . His work has also appeared in Harper's, the Los Angeles Times , The Nation , Tom Dispatch , and The Hill . He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet .
[ Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]
Mar 11, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
"The idea has been allowed to take hold in the army that general officers are a race apart, not subject to the norms of ordinary life and that nothing should limit their ambition, not even common sense. " It seems quite clear from this and other articles, that the ROE are about covering General officers backsides, and nothing else.
What is killing the Army is exactly the same disease that is killing the American economy and has killed American politics, and it is spreading internationally. That disease is the promotion or election of officials, be they Generals, CEO's or Congressmen who have a variant of narcissistic personality disorder.
People so affected may be intelligent and hard working, but they cannot empathise with anyone. Normal human emotions, shame, love, fear, embarrasssment, etc. are a mystery to them.
Such folk self select for high office because they will do anything to get ahead without the slightest qualm, and that includes lying, cheating, character assassination, backstabbing and outrageous flattery of their seniors. They mimic whatever behaviors they need to exhibit to get ahead, but they don't "own' those behaviours.
At the core of them, there is a gaping hole where empathy for their fellow humans should be. Furthermore, since only a narcissist can or will work for a more senior narcissist, once the infestation starts it multiplies and filters up and down through the organisation. Based on what I've read about the levels of frustration, lack of morale and junior officer turnover, I believe, it may be safe to say that Petreaus and McChrystal are afflicted this way and most probably many officers below them and elsewhere in the Defence Forces as well.
Since McChrystal no doubt thinks of his troops as no more than a pack of valuable hunting dogs, why would he possibly consider muzzling them with restrictive rules of engagement to be a problem? "I mean it's not as if we actually have to succeed in doing good in this god forsaken country, it's not as if the troops have to care about what is happening, I just need to construct the illusion of success in Afghanistan sufficient to get my next promotion. Why can't the troops see things that way as well?" If you wish to read about an extreme example of this type of behaviour look no further than the case of Capt. Holly Graf, whose narcissistic abilities allowed her to rise to command of a Navy cruiser. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holly_Graf
To put it another way, the disease that permitted Goldman Sachs to sell bonds to investors while at the same time secretly betting that the value of said bonds would fall is one and the same as that affecting the Army. The absolute give away, which I have not yet heard of in the Army, is the mistreatment of subordinates. Of course the reason for the infestation of these folk in senior management is our well meaning efforts to end discrimination. Unfortunately discrimination on grounds of character is now forbidden, and solid evidence of good character provided by peers and subordinates is the only way to avoid promoting narcissists. To put it another way, there are people I was at school and university with who were rotten then and are rotten now, but today such evidence is inadmissible in promotion decisions. If you want a depiction of a Narcissist in high office, look no further than Australias current Prime Minister:
"The third example highlights Rudd's nascent contempt for most of the people who work for him and occurred days after his stunning election win. Staff who had gathered for a briefing on their responsibilities were told their Great Leader would address them. They were all on a high after the victory, but their excitement soon turned to dismay. They didn't get a version of the true believers speech; instead, Rudd had one clear message: if any of their bosses stuffed up, it would be on their heads. They were the ones who would pay the price. He told them they would be given their lines every day and their job was to ensure they and their bosses stuck to the script. They were not to put a foot out of line. Or else. No mistakes or deviations would be tolerated. Thank you and good night. Oh and the f-word, which Rudd loves dropping almost as much as the c-word, featured prominently in his little lecture. Old hands who had worked for previous Labor administrations didn't hang around for very long after that. One referred to him not by name but as "the megalomaniac from Queensland"."
There is no cure for this disease until moral character is once again assessed before promotion decisions are made. Walrus
Posted at 01:07 AM | Permalink
walrus , 9 years agoThank you all for your comments. I think I need to expand a few thing s alittle further.Norm Mosher , 9 years ago
Narcissism is not "Self Love", narcissism is a love of "reflected" love from others. Narcissus fell in love with his reflection in the pool. While Narcissism is an essential part of all our personalities in the NPD disorder the demand for constant narcissistic stimulation from other people consumes all other desires.
Now many people who suffer from this condition sublimate this need through hard work and apply great intelligence to it as well. However there is a huge cost because of the character defects Narcissism causes - chief of which is an inability to empathise with normal human beings.
There has been serious discussion in management theory that NPD sufferers can be valuable sometimes as managers can make ruthless but necessary business decisions. However that cynical observation has to be balanced against the damage and loss of staff and morale such a manager inevitably causes.
A classic example of Narcissistic behaviour was provided recently by the Chairman of an Airline, that for a whole year had ruthlessly worked to lower wages and employment conditions for its workers. At Christmas time she gave some Forty senior managers each a $600 bottle of wine (Penfold Grange Hermitage). Can anyone not imagine the multiple negative effects of such a gesture on the ordinary airline staff?
It is too big a task to catalogue the everyday examples of people with this condition. The movie stars and celebrities for example whose private lives, as seems normal with Narcissists, are a smoking wreck. Tiger Woods is a classic case.
However when we start talking about elected officials, or would be elected officials like Sarah Palin, we can see the serious implications. Australias Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for example has micromanaged a series of massive policy failures at home and now craves his narcissistic sublimation by impressing foreign dignitaries on every available occasion, earning him the nickname "Kevin 747" for his propensity to jet off overseas to speak at the U.N., confer with President Obama, etc. His bad, narcissistic, style of decision making has cost the nation a lot of money.
In the case of President Obama, what can we say about some one caught making an off the cuff remark about "The Special Olympics" or who was caught ogling a girl who was not much older than his own daughters? Do we see a pattern here?
I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the "Suicidal Statecraft" that destroy nations is a by product of narcissistic leadership - for example "The Habsburg Provocation" to "The honour Of France" that started the Franco - Prussian war.
At the General Officer Level, what can one say about Patton? A brilliant charismatic leader and strategist? What does the incident of the shell shocked soldier say? McArthur? Petreaus? The supposedly sleepless McChrystal? I don't know.
By way of contrats, and Col. Lang will take me to task on this, I was struck on reading Gen. Schwarzkopfs autobiography, by his apparent high degree of empathy with the average soldiers, even if he appeared far more uncompromising with the officer corps. I also was struck by his solution to logistical squabbling between Corps commanders in the lead up to Gulf war One - a field promotion of his logistics Chief from a Two Star to a Three Star General. Such a solution would be anathema to a narcissist.I am amazed at a discussion of narcissistic personality disorder that to this point, at least, has not mentioned today's poster child for this disorder -- Sarah Palin.anna missed , 9 years agoIt would seem that narcissism is rooted in the notion of individualism, in that it expresses a love for the self over the group. Interestingly and ironically, wasn't it the Catholic Church that championed individualism in the post dark ages era, as a mechanism/method to disassemble the collectivist mentality of Germanic tribalism -- while at the same time replacing it with their own hierarchical social/religious authority structure.Sidney O. Smith III , 9 years ago
I think what Walrus says is essentially true, but would be better said by including the social context by which narcissism or the cult-ification of individualism could be seen as generating its own kind of social order, or social hierarchy based upon meritocracy, or the illusion of merit when equated with raw power.
Or perhaps in better words, individualism or narcissism must be seen in the context of being its own hierarchical social structure, with its own construct of social (not individual) values that are internalized an acted upon by its participants.
And maybe, this why the "effects" of narcissism are so widespread and endemic in all of our institutions.At least in the civilian world, there is an aspect to this personality trait that is not emphasized in Walrus' comment. A few -- not all -- of those with a narcissistic personality traits are brilliant. Megalomania is one of the pathways to creativity, albeit it usually ends w/ some kind of tragedy.Maureen Lang , 9 years ago
You can bring these people down, imo, and beat them at their own game but expect career sacrifice and do not expect fanfare. And I would never under estimate their extreme talent.
Can't say about the military world nor do I want to know. But it sure seems to be that General Bragg at Chattanooga fulfilled a lot of Dr. Dixon's categories in the article mentioned by S.Henning.
I don't understand all this hoopla about the greatness of Confederate Generals. Seems to be painting with too broad a stroke. Foote does a magnificent job debunking the myth as he continually details the shortcomings of various Confederate Generals. Where was Joe Johnston when Pembleton was suffering in the beleaguered city? Why isn't Ft. Bragg named Ft. Longstreet?Arun,VietnamVet , 9 years ago
Re: SST wardrobe malfunction- seems it's just too much to ask that these seals, statuary, etc. be left as they are by prudish pols (John Ashcroft, anyone?)
Personally, my idea would be if a change simply must be wrought, let's go in the other direction & have Virtus' appearance match the one on the 1776 VA four dollar note:View HideRules of Engagement are simply the manifestation of tasking a bureaucracy, whose only purpose is to killing the enemy, to construct a puppet popular secular colonial government. It can't be done. "Winning Hearts and Minds", all over again.Arun , 9 years ago
There must be something that draws people to power who never learn from the past. On the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, there have been news stories that comment on the Vietnamese culture and their resistance to foreign Invaders. Yet, not one has mentioned the real hard nosed fundamentalist culture that has defeated every invader and has never been conquered, the Afghans.Off-topic, but it would seem that Sic Semper Tyrannis has had a wardrobe malfunction - at least according to the Virginia Attorney-GeneralPatrick Lang , 9 years agoRoyGRoy G , 9 years ago
Yes. plWell put. I didn't know about Holly Graf, and found her story interesting.The Wikipedia article about her included this:Stanley Henning , 9 years ago
Captain Graf's awards include a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal with one bronze service star.
I'm not military, but that's some fairly heavy heroic hardware, especially for a seaman, no? Isn't the medal quest a game tailor made for narcissists?The leadership conundrum is a crucial issue. It also brings to mind Norman Dixon's Psychology of Military Incompetence (1975), which I used to recommend to officers working under me in situations that reflected the problem. There is a good summary of this book at the following link:JohnH , 9 years ago
http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/pointer/journals/2004/v30n2/book_review.htmlUnfortunately I think that narcissism has always been the flip side of leadership. Most of us don't need the fawning adulation of our peers. And most of us have enough self-awareness to preclude us from exuding the self-confidence necessary for selection as a leader.rick , 9 years ago
Narcissism and the accompanying tendency to put self-interest above public interest is why the founding fathers instituted a system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, leaders find ways to circumvent or disable checks on their authority over time.HOW DO THESE MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE GET THEIR JOBS????J , 9 years ago
Oh. Wait. Never mind. The Americam People are the victims here...that's right.
I forgot that for a minute and in forgetting that it seemed for a second like the American People might get the behavior out of politicians that they consistently reward at the ballot box. How silly of me.Walrus,Jane , 9 years ago
We have had to witness this plethora of Narcissism being carried to the extreme ever since 911. Instead of holding accountable those responsible for failing to do their duties, the Narcissists in both our Congress and White House decided to create 'more' Narcissistic 'castles in the sand' with their DHS, TSA, NORTHCOM, etc.. I can understand to a point DOD deciding to create NORTHCOM, but I had always thought that was what NORAD was for. Alas, no NORAD accountability, heaven forbid. Let's create more $$$ sank-holes like TSA, and America's very own version of an internal NKVD force known as DHS (as what many of my fellow Americans refer to DHS as).
While the Narcissists in our White House and Congress eat their crumpets and drink their tea, everyday people who do show signs of human life inside them (i.e. emotions, moral instincts,etc.) continue to be downtrodden by these bands of Narcissists who have in effect altered the food chain. Accountability and responsibility are not in their Narcissist dictionaries.Our moral instincts are not logically consistent. A recent classic experiment shows that people would, without hesitation, hypothetically choose to flip a switch causing a speeding train to ploy into one person rather than into a group of people. But if the only way to stop the train was to shove the fat man next to them into its path they wouldn't do it even though doing so would produce one death rather than many.alnval , 9 years ago
It seems probable that in a combat situation a person of normal instincts would even more strongly favor the guy next to him and and tend to kill more freely to protect him even though in an insurgency situation the ultimate success would seem to rest on generating s little hatred among the populace as possible by killing as few bystanders as possible. Hence both the restrictive rules of engagement and the sickening taste they leave in the mouth of those required to act to risk a buddy for a bunch of strangers.
You can reach restrictive rules of engagement by either route: a deep empathic understanding of the human emotions of the insurgent population OR by an ant farm view which simply assigns no value to human life and emotions -- your own side or the others -- but simply sees ROE as the best means to success.Col. Lang:
An intriguing thesis and one with which I'm sure many would agree.
To keep it from turning into a never-ending and unresolvable debate, Walrus' argument would be strengthened significantly were he to describe the behavior and measurement techniques to be used to assess 'moral character' and the criterion to be used to determine the validity of the assessment results.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
David , Mar 10, 2019 2:18:10 PM | linkAnyone remember Mullah Omar, the deceased leader of the Taliban? The U.S. military and intelligence services claimed over and over again that he was hiding in Pakistan. Bette Dam finds (pdf) that he wasn't:The fact that Mullah Omar's death was suppressed for two years even from high-level official sources, indicates to me that the theory bin Laden died in 2001 is very plausible. We even have a similar progression of statements regarding their respective health, doubts of whether they were alive at the respective time, etc.After 2001, Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in his native land -- and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major U.S. Forward Operating Base that housed thousands of soldiers.
In late 2001, after the U.S. invasion, Mullah Omar resigned as leader of the Taliban and the movement officially surrendered to Hamid Karzai who promised them reconciliation. The U.S. did not like that and launched a vengeful campaign against all former Taliban member. Eighteen years later the U.S. is suing for peace.
Mullah Omar lived quietly, meditated and studied religious text. Allah remarked on his death:On April 23, 2013, Mullah Omar passed away. That day, Jabbar Omari told me, the hot, dry lands of southern Afghanistan experienced something he'd never seen before: a hail storm. I assumed it was hagiographic bluster, but later I found a U.S. army publication referring to that day: "More than 80 Task Force Falcon helicopters were damaged when a sudden unprecedented hailstorm hit Kandahar Airfield April 23, where nearly half of the brigade's helicopters were parked."
Of course, both terror leaders were kept "alive" for geopolitical reasons. Once ISIS (and later Russia/China) took over as a serious threat in the corporate media narrative, they no longer had to cling to those old phantoms.
Jose Garcia , Mar 10, 2019 2:38:46 PM | linkThe story on Omar is astonishing, but to me not surprising. If the US spends billions on finding one guy, and at the end of the day, he is literally just down the road, it shows how incompetent and useless our intelligence gathering has become.
That 93% of all personnel that are employed by the CIA are paper pushers in Langley and just 7% are in the field, of which I read sometime ago, has a ring of truth to me.
Stupidity has a firm grip on our rulers, and they are getting, not only us but many others, killed for absolutely no reason. And the dunces called the American voter, keep re-electing them. It leaves me breathless.
May 28, 2018 | www.amazon.com
D. Blackdeer on September 3, 2001From Here to EternityJCY 500 on July 21, 2014
1953 Best Picture (eight Academy Awards) about Army soldiers dealing with corrupt leadership in Hawaii just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Burt Lancaster heads the cast as First Sergeant Milt Warden, a top soldier trapped in an infantry company commanded by the incompetent and corrupt Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, played by Philip Ober.
Holmes is an incapable officer seeking promotion as the regiment's boxing coach while Warden holds the company together. Conditions are status quo until Private Robert E. Lee Pruitt, played by Montgomery Clift, arrives from the bugler corps.
Holmes attempts to recruit Pruitt as the new middleweight boxer, but Pruitt refuses for personal reasons. Holmes then embarks on a campaign of harassment, ordering the other boxers in the company to service Pruitt with frequent punishment and extra work detail to change his mind. In the meantime, Warden falls for Holmes's wife Karen played by Deborah Kerr, and risks his career in an adulterous relationship that soon develops into a serious love affair.
Frank Sinatra turns in a great performance as "Maggio," a fellow soldier who becomes Private Pruitt's best friend during the ordeal. Other marvelous features are the supporting cast providing terrific characters around the main actors, and the production's location at the historic Schofield Barracks on Oahu. It's easy to see why this was Best Picture in 1953.A film for all time
One of my all-time favorite films. Superb performances by Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, and Montgomery Clift in a gripping tale set in an army base on Hawaii in the period leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Frank Sinatra was born to play the part of Angelo Maggio in what is, along with Manchurian Candidate, his best work.
The most impressive acting is from Clift. The extended scene with Donna Reed, as she unsuccessfully pleads with him to not attempt to rejoin his unit, is simply breathtaking. What he does with his eyes and simple gestures so richly reveals his inner torment.
May 27, 2018 | www.imdb.com
Throughly enjoyable. barberoux 28 March 2003
"The Sand Pebbles" was a throughly enjoyable movie. The setting was exotic and the story engaging. Though it starred Steve McQueen, who did an excellent job, its strength was the ensemble acting with a very talented cast including Richard Crenna, Richard Attenborough, Mako and Candice Bergen. The story was nicely involved and, though it portrayed the sailor's prejudices, did not feel condescending toward the Chinese as many war-type movies do. The men were caught up in the turbulent times and many of the conflicts portrayed seem to come more from troubled psyches. It is not Ramboish macho crap. I found the portrayals of the people and times entertaining. I had read the book so maybe I read more into the movie than others seeing it cold. It was a very good movie and well worth a watch.
The Sand Pebbles - a powerful and human anti-war film fernies 11 October 2000 `
The Sand Pebbles' has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it on television in 1976. The widescreen version does justice not just to the sweeping panoramas of the quite breathtaking Chinese scenery, but also to the sweeping events and themes of the story. It is in every way a `big' film, dealing with political and military intervention (clear parallels with Vietnam at the time of release), nationalism, racism, and the horrors of war. Yet for all its heavy themes, it is most successful in the depiction of its very human characters. These characters are not just the means of conveying the `messages' of the film, or fodder for the gripping and well-staged action scenes. They are individuals in their own right, involved in something far greater than their own destinies. Some are unpleasant and ignorant while others are honourable but lost in the sea of historic events surrounding them. Some, like Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), demand sympathy and respect as they struggle to come to terms with their personal challenges brought to the fore by these historically significant and politically dangerous events.
Inevitably there are slow and confusing passages as the political implications are expounded, but these are more than compensated for by our emotional engagement as we become involved in the stories of the people caught up in the political fall-out. Robert Wise's direction is strong and emotionally charged, complemented perfectly by Jerry Goldsmith's wonderfully haunting and ominous music. Steve McQueen gives what was probably the performance of his career (receiving his only Academy Award nomination), and he is supported by a wonderful cast including Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen (aged just 19), and especially Mako. But it is really McQueen's film. His very presence lifts scenes and he manages to convey authenticity and gain the sympathy of the viewer with consummate ease. Apparently misunderstood by some critics on its release, it is a powerful and intrinsically human anti-war film. It is not a happy film, but it is totally absorbing and thought provoking.
May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com
0 out of 5 stars with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales By Jeffrey A. Beard on December 20, 2016 Ahead of it's time--feels contemporary in it portrayal of the morals and mores of peacetime barracks life, with a tip of the hat to predecessors like "Golden Boy" and and Kipling's military tales; still poignant and pointed after all these years. 3 1/2 stars
By Gerard J. St. John on June 15, 2015I'll Bet That's Prewitt!By Peter Monks on July 21, 2012
From Here to Eternity has long been one of my favorite movies. I cannot resist watching its reruns on television. Recently, I decided to read book, the 802-page hardcover volume.
Everyone knows that a book is always better than the movie, and that was the case here – but not by much. The casting for the movie was superb. You cannot read about Pvt. Prewitt in the book without seeing in your mind's eye Montgomery Clift; Sgt. Warden, without seeing Burt Lancaster; or Maggio, without seeing Frank Sinatra. The book reminds me of a string of short stories, mainly focusing on Prewitt and Warden during their assignment at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Prewitt is an outstanding welterweight (147 lbs) prizefighter who refuses to fight for the company's boxing team. Also, he is a gifted bugler who was once assigned to duty at Arlington National Cemetery. Prewitt's company commander, who is also in charge of the boxing team, orders the NCOs to give Prewitt "the treatment", i.e., all of the tough, dirty jobs, until he agrees to join the boxing team. Warden, the company's first sergeant, sympathizes with Prewitt but has no authority to override the orders of the company commander.
Most of the stories in the book were covered in the movie, with the exception of the one involving a group of homosexuals in the Honolulu area, and one involves a suicide by a member of the company boxing team. A few details of some of the other stories were revised slightly in the movie, but not to any significant level.
The author's writing style is interesting in many respects. For example, there is extensive discussion about psychology, philosophy, religion, and morality with respect to the persons and events that are the subject of the book. These comments give added meaning to the events in the book – and also account for its substantial length. On the other hand, such intellectual discussion is totally out of character coming from persons who had minimal education, and virtually no contact with liberal arts. The author seems to be cognizant of this disconnect when he mentions that a particular character or characters "read a lot of books." There is even one character that mysteriously shows up as a prisoner in the stockade, apparently for the purpose of abetting this type of discussion. He disappears from the book by walking out of the stockade in a successful escape. His purpose in the narrative appears to have been completed when he painted the philosophical setting of life in the stockade.
The author frequently uses poor grammar and spelling in an apparent effort to present a realistic speech pattern of the day-to-day language of the minimally educated soldiers. In addition to being inconsistent with the high level discussions of psychology and philosophy, it is a technique that doesn't work well.
All told, it is an excellent book that captures the atmosphere of an overseas military post. You feel like you were there.Unmatched description of peacetime soldiersBy Garrett Zecker on December 1, 2016
"From Here to Eternity" is, together with Sword of Honour (Penguin Modern Classics) , one of the greatest books ever written about peacetime soldiering or soldiers not actually engaged in combat. While Waugh captures the absurdity, tedium and frustration inherent in being a junior officer marooned in military backwaters, in "From Here to Eternity" Jones is almost unmatched in describing in-barracks military life from a soldiers point of view. My only reservations are the author's occasionally excessive digressions to allow Malloy in particular to expound on what are the authors thinly-veiled views on politics and class, and that Jones shares with Mailer's The Naked and the Dead an inability to create an officer that is anything other than a caricature (Jones does a - slightly - better job in The Thin Red Line . While as individuals Jones' officers are one-dimensional, their collective introspection and emphasis on sports and the relatively trivial or routine at the expense of preparing seriously for war is accurate enough. The real strength of "From Here to Eternity" is Jones' ability to vividly illustrate the life of a soldier in peacetime, complete with the indignity, absurdity and coarseness that is often inherent in military life when not sustained by an immediate objective or sense of purpose. If there is a book that does a better job of portraying garrison life I am yet to find it.The Greatest Generation" on the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl HarborBy Steve on March 11, 2015
I read this book as a part of wanting to accomplish The Modern Library's 100 Best Novels. It is also a preface to watching the film which is on the list of 1001 Films To See Before You Die (visit beforewediefilms-dot-com for the blog I write with my wife). It was opportunistic to finish this book this week as we are marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
From Here To Eternity is the first novel James Jones wrote, and he had set out to complete a novel that captured the essence of his life and those of his fellow soldiers in the peacetime army. It examines several characters who wander about trying to make sense of life, relationships, money, art, hobbies, work, brotherhood, and the pecking order while living the regimented military life. While the narrative mainly focuses on a young recruit named Prewitt, it also weaves through other stories of people who surround Prew in a somewhat inconsistent manner. The book is funny, touching, bold, and in many ways an extraordinary view into the pre-WWII lives of "the greatest generation."
I read this book over several months and had to put it down a few times. I am an avid reader and read voraciously, but the first half of the book was so dry that it seemed to be almost a catalogue of non-things happening. It wasn't until the halfway mark that the strings dangling off of the characters interactions began getting tied up in actual events, and it was at this point that my fascination with the characters and Jones' incredible building of so many characters as actual three-dimensional people began to take shape. It turns out that for the entirety of the time that I was bored, Jones expertly characterized hundreds of people for their true calling and individual moments of truth. When they were put into situations where they had to face a bad marriage, adultery, a broken heart, loss, death, being out of control of things, regimented systems, interpersonal conflict, and a hundred other challenges, it became immediately clear that Jones was putting the meat on the bones of these incredibly strong and true people to face what life was about to throw at them. The result was incredible for me, and while at times I was wishing the book wasn't so needlessly long, by the end I was wishing there was more.
Jones' prose is very interesting in the novel, as it switches between the pedestrian and (albeit, realistically) vulgar to some paragraphs that were truly memorable. The simple playing of TAPS by Prewitt danced the narrative camera from person to person and created this gorgeous symphony of experience that was a beautiful four or five pages if I remember correctly. Another was a night where one soldier was sleeping with another man's wife, but the horror of the betrayal is stripped away with Jones' writing to reveal the beauty of truly feeling free, and contented, and in love.
I read Open Road's "Restored" edition, which I only understand to include a lot more that the author wanted to include in the original but was asked to remove (some sexual language and vulgarity), and some portions that were almost completely censored because of obscenity laws (including entire chunks focused on homosexuality in the army and civilian life). I have never read the original, but what I read here felt true and real, and I am happy to have experienced Jones' preferred text my first time through.
A truly excellent book, well deserving of the National Book Award.So Very GoodBy Amazon Customer on July 1, 2013
I feel like an idiot. I'm 65 years and just discovered James Jones. This book is excellent in so many ways. I hated for it to end but instead of wallowing in self pity, I immediately read the other two in the trilogy, "The Thin Red Line" and "Whistle" and then his WWII. I will give each of those five stars as well. These plus "The Naked and the Dead" by Norman Mailer are simply fantastic.
I read "From Here to Eternity" in the Kindle edition but purchased all three as used hardcover editions. These are books you will want to keep as real paper books.Probably My Favorite Novel EverBy J. BUCKWALTER on January 12, 2015
I doubt very much whether I have anything new or important to say about From Here to Eternity. It's a great book, but its greatness was well known long before I was born, let alone before I got around to reading it. Anyway, here goes...
As an author James Jones is brutally honest. He's also what every tortured high school English student probably begged God for at one point in their life: an author who does not use symbolism (or anyway, he claimed as much in an interview with some Paris based book reviewer back in the 50's). There are several advantages to this, technique, at least when the author put as much care into it as Jones did here. I feel he provides a vast insight into the human psyche in a host of situations. The shifting narrator helps there as well. Jones also does a wonderful job transporting the reader to wherever his characters are whether its a military base, a field exercise, or the stockade. Of course the downside to all the vast amount of introspection and exhaustive detail is that it makes for a looonng book, and there are even a few points where it drags for me. Moreover, since Jones pulls no punches it can be a dark book in places (in particular I had hard time with the portrayal of one character in a protracted drunken stupor because I've seen someone do the same thing in real life, and its extremely unpleasant), and there were other spots where it dragged for me. Finally, there are a couple of portrayals I'm not sure I agree with. The sequence of thoughts portrayed in the suicide scene is (I'm positive) impossible since it was a suicide by gunshot and the bullet would move faster than any sensation or thought it could have caused. Also, I have to question the idea that all senior officers of the era were worthless (its not that Jones ever implies that the officers he writes of represent the whole army, but clearly every senior officer he describes is a disgrace to his uniform, in fact the only decent officer he portrays at all is an ROTC replacement Lieutenant). On the other hand if the book wasn't intelligently (and sympathetically) written with very deep characters, I would not have even been able to tell whether Jones was portraying good or bad officers, so this is still a relatively minor criticism. In any case, if you want a detailed, unbridled, unvarnished look at the life of enlisted men in the US on the eve of WWII, I don't see how you could do much better than this novel. For me personally, I'm very glad to have had such a peak at the time and place. My Grandfather was about 4 years younger than Jones and also spent time on Oahu during WWII. He was an MP around 1943 (at which point Jones would have been somewhere on Guadalcanal or New Georgia). My Grandfather also died when I was just 6 years old, which was, of course, before I ever got to ask him what his time in the army was like (or could have begun to comprehend even if I had asked). So to me this book transcended literature alone, it put me in touch with a little piece of my own family that I never thought I'd get to know. For that I owe Jones a huge debt of gratitude. He showed me a part of my own family's past I never thought I'd get to see. Of course for most people, it won't hold that kind of meaning, it will just be a novel. But even then its a very good one, though also a long one. I highly recommend the whole trilogy" From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle. Of the three, I think From Here to Eternity is the best. The Thin Red Line is great as well, probably the best way anyone will ever come to understand combat without either being there themselves and suffering PTSD as both Jones and the characters he portrayed did or at least becoming a psychologist and tending to soldiers suffering from PTSD, and Whistle is also a very strong work, although possibly the toughest read of all because it is so tragic. From Here to Eternity was the last project of a literary agent who had previously worked with Faulkner and Hemingway. Since it was Jones's debut, it may also have been his greatest work. I've never read anyone else like James Jones, and there may not be anyone else like James Jones.which I also recommend.By russell bentley on February 12, 2016
A must read for anyone interested in a novel with epic scope, issues of power/leadership/control, the "breaking" of men, war, and struggles for freedom and dignity. I was also surprised at how well he writes women! It's not often I have very fond and vivid memories of reading a book, but this was one long, languid dream. Will definitely be rereading. Psychologically, it reminded me very much of the black & white Sean Connery prison film "The Hill", which I also recommend.A Must read for a New GenerationBy Terence M. Kelley on May 3, 2009
This favorite book of my youth was bought as a present for a young relative. I think it is an important piece of literature that everyone should read and I am quite happy to pass it on to another generation. Its development of characters and portrayal of human nature is the equal of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".All for NaughtBy Phil Aaronson on March 18, 2013
From Here to Eternity is James Jones' masterfully envisioned tale of soldiers and their lovers on the eve of 1941's Pearl Harbor invasion. The rest of the world is already at war, and the neutral United States has begun a peacetime draft as the prospect of war seems inevitable. Despite this impending calamity, the soldiers of Schofield Barracks go on about their daily lives as if nothing had or ever will change: they spend their days routinely and begrudgingly performing their military duties and their nights drinking and whoring, while rarely examining their existences for any greater meaning.
At the center is Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt who has just requested a transfer out of the Regimental Bugle Corps, where he had a soft existence, and into an infantry company, where he will perform "straight duty," soldiering as any other man of the ranks. He immediately incurs the wrath of his commanding officer, Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes, when he refuses to join the company boxing team, preferring to think of himself as retired from boxing after blinding another man in a sparring match. Holmes needs Prewitt to box if he wants to field a championship team, and his superior, Lieutenant Colonel Jake Delbert soon makes clear that such a victory would likely earn him a long sought promotion. The conflict thus established, the characters hurtle unwittingly towards America's humiliation at Pearl Harbor and their own mortal humiliations.
Even Prewitt in his self-righteous suffering is guilty of pride--there are no innocents in this book as in life. Jones draws the Army as a microcosm of society: men and women at odds with their surroundings as they search for meaning. Ultimately, all the characters efforts are in vain; even as they struggle mightily against one another, the reader knows that on December 7th their lives will all be smashed as trivial and meaningless by a calamity far greater than any of them.Great WritingBy David Pancost on March 5, 2017
I read once that Hemingway said that James Jones was the best writer of his generation. I don't know if this is true, but for years I have had this book on my "list" to read. I have finally gotten around to it and am thoroughly enjoying it. I've read a lot of war stories over the years but this is much more than a war story. Jones' insights into human nature are penetrating and revealing, and his writing has retained its power and freshness over the years.Recommended with conditions
If you love the movie and are interested in war narratives, as I am, this novel is a must read. But by itself it's overlong and tedious. The movie has a strong, driven narrative. The novel is a big baggy monster, with long tedious discussions of semi philosophical nonsense. Think Moby Dick without substance. Some things I found especially interesting. Hints of Catch 22. There's an Indian chief, a crazy officer or three, and and heaps of Heller irony but without the laughter. Anger. Everyone is angry with themselves, with the army, with sex, with their lovers, with poverty and with depression America. Sex. There's a strong gay theme. This is true of The Thin Red Line, too, but here it's more cynical. Army life. If you've ever been in uniform, this will strike you as genuine, much more so than The Naked and the Dead or any other novel which comes to mind. To be sure, there's a good deal of exaggeration, but mood and details ring true.
May 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com
July 16, 2000 Format: Hardcover | Verified PurchaseA viable candidate for the "Great American Novel"
If a contemporary reader is looking for one novel that captures with unerring precision the nature of the military and society in World War II, look no further than "Guard of Honor." The setting is authentic, and the characters are drawn with abundant sympathy and an utter lack of remorse. The issues, the personalities, the key incident -- all reflect Cozzens' skill deep insight into human nature and the nature of military bureaucracies, the latter resulting from his service on the Air Corps staff during the war. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.Five StarsUrsiform on April 15, 2001
One of the best novels about WWII that I've read. Impressive in its knowledge of how organizations actually function.WWII from another angleGene Cisco on January 17, 2009
Unlike many war books, which focus on either the glory or horror of battle, or both, Cozzens looks at troubles on the home front during World War II. His setting is a Florida airbase, and the action centers around the arrival of black pilots who are being trained as part of an experiment in integrating the cockpit. A few whites support the effort, a few more oppose it, but most characters are more concerned with their own self interest than with larger moral issues. The common desire to win the war doesn't eliminate social problems at home, nor does it trump human pettiness. Cozzens weaves together several interlocking stories, and while the final fabric lacks the exquisite integration that a truly great writer might achieve, it all manages to hold together in the end. Likewise his prose, while occasionally capable of taking flight, is generally adequate but workmanlike. This book is well worth reading, but go into it expecting a very good novel, not a towering classic of WWII literature.Base AffairsA customer on March 19, 1999
This is surely a masterful novel, though I would caution against depicting this as strictly a World War II epic. Anyone who thinks this has only nostalgic value is mistaken. It is classic in every way.
Gripping and mesmerizing at once, with moments of astounding resonance for today. "20/20" covered (01/09)last night the salaries of employees high and low, the way they are valued, with the result being according to their "usefulness." In this war yarn, various ranked individuals maneuver to avoid blame and scandal, etc. and it plays out according to their usefulness to command figures; in other words war or peace, it remains the same.
Whenever the plot movement lags and minor things intrude, Cozzens' palette of description never fails to amaze. Reading this work, I now realize where "Sgt. Bilko," "Hogans Heroes," and "MASH," derived their inspiration from.
The human comedy known as "life" survives within "Guard Of Honor's" pages in sweeping form. Makes no difference whether on base or in a large corporation, the class mentality survives. Which leaves us with the question to success, whether it will be determined by genetics or usefulness. Base life is much like a city within a city and Cozzens' succeeds in his entertaining military back drop to the human struggle. Cozzens makes it clear that the bullets and shells we avoid are not on the battlefield alone, no?Fighting a war without bullets
Guard of Honor is a book about fighting a war in which not a single bullet is fired in anger. Readers looking for blood and glory will find it here only in the refracted light of the home front. But, this book IS about blood and glory; as well as boredom, loneliness, stupidity, comradeship, insanity, bureaucracy, death and many other things associated with the armed forces.
Cozzens decision to place his novel in Florida during World War II actually allows him to analyze the military culture in the minutest detail without the adrenaline distraction that actual combat would produce. It's a risky choice, but it works brilliantly.
The story contains a bewildering number of characters but is centered around two generous and kind men: Colonel Ross and Captain Hicks. Ross represents the command structure trying to hold an unwieldy organization together through the insanity of war. Hicks is the common man thrown into the same situation. How their lives play out is the heart of the book.
If you want explosions and gore, this book is not for you. If you want to know how the military lives, thinks and breathes read this book and cherish its portrait of a world very different from civilian life.
May 15, 2018 | www.outsidethebeltway.com
James Joyner · Monday, October 26, 2009 · No comments
Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star , a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.
NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ ):
"The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.
Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)
New Kings of War blogger " Captain Hyphen ."
One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation , which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl , whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife , arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.
Brigadier General H.R. McMaster , however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).
How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.
One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over -- let alone twice -- for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done. Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely -- and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here -- Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.
May 10, 2018 | www.unz.com
"Were we right or were we wrong?" This was Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet's central question in his 2004 talk to the faculty and students of his alma mater, Georgetown University. What he was talking about, of course, was the critical political issue of whether or not the Intelligence Community (IC) of which he was the titular head "got it right" in telling the American people and their government that Iraq was a clear danger to the United States, as opposed to being a threat to regional states, and if that danger was substantial enough to serve as a justifiable basis for war, invasion and occupation. In Tenet's address there was much of self-protection and an implicit warning that neither he nor the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would accept to be "scapegoated" in a search for the roots of misadventure in Iraq. His words establish a claim to blamelessness for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community in the decisions leading up to the Iraq campaign and a related claim to have done as well as could fairly have been expected. In other words, he wished to be thought innocent in this matter. Is that reasonable? Is it fair to expect American citizens and officials to believe that the Intelligence Community did its work well in helping the government of the United States to make sound decisions about Iraq? This is an important question, because if they did not, then why were their judgments so flawed in spite of the incredible amounts of taxpayer money lavished on the agencies of the IC? Why should so much money have been lavished on these agencies if they could do no better?
In spite of the importance of this question, impatience with the performance of the intelligence people ought to be somewhat dependent on the outcome of a national debate as to what should be expected of the process labeled "intelligence." Reporters sometimes ask rhetorically if decisions should really be made on the basis of intelligence. At first hearing questions like this seem to be both naïve and nonsensical since it is obvious that information is the stuff that decisions must be founded on. Nevertheless, decipherment of these statements leads to an understanding that those who say things like this think that "intelligence" is a form of thinking both esoteric and obscure, a dark art, separate and distinct from the normal way of knowing things and subject to acceptance or rejection by special rules of perception. In other words, they think that it is something like astrology, to be judged by its own "rules."
In fact, "Intelligence" is simply another word for "information" and in ages gone by the term was used in that way by authorities like Clausewitz or Jomini. There is nothing mystical or mysterious about the process by which information or "intelligence" is collected, collated, analyzed and disseminated. "Intelligence" is scholarship conducted in the service of the state. The great bulk of the information used as data in this scholarship comes out of the huge archival files of the major agencies supplemented by daily "feedings" of; diplomatic chit-chat, aerial and satellite reconnaissance, intercepts of communications and hopefully the products of espionage (clandestine HUMINT). Like any labor of scholarship involving the study of human beings by human beings, the work is nearly always conducted with incomplete and ambiguous information as a basis for the analysis.
This natural phenomenon is aggravated by the desire of the studied group to hide something, usually, that which is under study. When George Tenet said before his Georgetown audience that "We never get things altogether right in the Intelligence business, nor altogether wrong," he was correct but his statement was irrelevant to a discussion of the utility of the intelligence process since the quality of the analytic product depends on many variables, among them; good information and the quality of the minds brought to bear on the imperfect information. It is both trite and a truism that "intelligence is an art and not a science." What this means is that human beings may succeed or they may fail in making judgments based on less than complete data and that the skill, intelligence and experience of those involved is the most important factor in determining the outcome. To say that "Intelligence" is a flawed process is simply meaningless in a discussion of the effectiveness of the state in making decisions. If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions for the benefit of the state. What would they be called? Perhaps it might be, "The Agency for Special Planning?"
The issue of the effectiveness and efficiency of the existing Intelligence Community is a separate but linked question from that of knowing whether or not the elected or appointed officials of the Bush Administration may have intruded themselves inappropriately into the deliberations of the Intelligence Community in a way that led to distortions in the estimates of Iraq's significance that were presented to the president and the Congress. It is widely believed now that this occurred but that is not the subject of this essay.
The question under examination here is simple. Premise: "The Intelligence Community produced poor quality intelligence on Iraq." Therefore, one asks – Are there imbedded structural defects in the present United States Intelligence Community that contributed either directly or indirectly to the production of estimates that were unsound and which failed the nation? And, moreover, are there characteristics in the present intelligence community of the United States which now prevent and will prevent it from "reforming" itself? It is clear that the inability of the Intelligence Community to forecast or estimate Iraq's true condition was a major failure. Why did this happen, and how can the defects in the "community" be repaired? What "limits" are there in the psychology and structure of the government that may prevent "repair" of the system?
ORDER IT NOW
The author's conclusion after a working lifetime of studying the flaws in the system from within the community and from the evidence of continuing contacts with old colleagues and new friends in the intelligence agencies is that there are a multitude of problems in the intelligence forces of the United states and that most of them have grown up over a very long time, are now "built into" the system and are unlikely to be resolved without outside intervention by the Congress of the United States. It is impossible to consider them all but a few of the most important are so intractable as to be worth discussing here:
-Leadership. There is a natural tendency in the general public to believe that the upper levels of the Intelligence Community are filled with learned, avuncular and sensitive people somehow reminiscent of "George Smiley," the wonderful British spy and spymaster whose presence fills the earlier novels of John Le Carre. The character, "Smiley" is wise, sadly pessimistic, a profound student of mankind and devoted to his "people." He has a deeply empathic nature, is widely read, speaks several languages and is so dedicated to his craft and its ethic that he fears nothing and will take any risk either to protect his own "people" or to "launch" operations that, if they fail may destroy him. What a marvelous conception this man is!
There are people like that in the leadership of US Intelligence. There are a few, but there once were many more and they are fewer all the time. In fact, the "system" works in such a way that people like "Smiley" are feared and distrusted by the bureaucratic politicians who really run the intelligence agencies. What are really to be found in the upper echelons of the "community" are either people who early in their government service became specialized in the generalized management of organizations (often after early substantive analytic work) or others who were "staff " of some kind, (budgetary planners, lawyers. liaison staff, etc.) The Directors of the various agencies are naturally attracted to such people because they are focused on the administrative functions of the agencies and the protection of their ultimate superior, the Director. This makes them a kind of "insurance policy " for the directors of the agencies.
The old veterans of the intelligence trade often make a distinction between "real intelligence officers" and "managers." "Real intelligence officers" are those who are known to be qualified and capable of the difficult work of analysis and field collection of information and who are known to have the moral character required to stand up to the pressure that is present in every political administration to make the "reality" presented by the "Intelligence Community" conform to the " reality" envisioned by the policy of the administration in power. The "managers" are essentially courtiers grouped about the throne of whichever baron of the Intelligence Community they may serve. The "managers" functions center on liaison with the other barons, lobbying the Congress for money and "protection" of the boss (the Director of their agency). Such people as the "managers" are easily recognized by the directors of the agencies as very valuable to their career survival in the stylized "dance" conducted around Washington by the various parts of the United States Government but they are not well suited to leading "real intelligence officers" to feats of brilliant analysis or imaginative collection operations because they are always in a "defensive crouch" fearing that the "real intelligence officers" will cause trouble for them or "the boss" through disagreement with the "picture" desired by the administration of the day or in Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations (espionage) gone bad which result in publicity that could be damaging to the "managers'" careers. Incredibly, these are the people who tend to be promoted to "line" command "at the top" in the collection, and analytic functions of the agencies over the heads of the "real intelligence officers."
This pattern of rule by the "managerial" class is now so well established in the intelligence agencies that it is simply expected that senior jobs which control large parts of the agencies in the analytic and HUMINT collection fields will be held by "managers" as opposed to "real intelligence officers." This tendency is so firmly rooted now that the author has often heard very senior "real intelligence officers" described as "just an analyst," or "just an operator" in the context of a selection board picking someone for a high level leadership job in the very field in which the "real intelligence officer" is an authority respected throughout the government.
This tendency is perpetuated and reinforced by a process of "mirror-imaging" in personnel selections in which the ever-growing number of "managers" who are in senior leadership position simply select others like them in the next generation for the top jobs. This results in a leadership cadre in the Intelligence Community which is more and more hostile to the risks demanded as the price of real success in collection and analysis and more and more favorable to the self indulgence of a focus on the "turf battles and budget wars" endemic to Washington and at the same time less and less driven by the desire to do good intelligence work. The personnel management disaster described above is ultimately the responsibility of the directors of the agencies that make up the Intelligence Community. If they wanted to have a different focus in their agencies, there would be a different focus. There have been many fine and devoted heads of the various American intelligence agencies, but all too often the directors themselves are members of the "managerial class" within the Intelligence Community or simply politically selected party functionaries. All too often directors see themselves as "travelers" on a journey to yet further heights within the government and therefore not "decisively committed" to the work of their people. For many directors, the "managerial class" within their agencies is a natural ally in controlling the "wilder impulses" of the "real intelligence officers" in the organization.
ORDER IT NOW
-Risk Aversion. One of the most trite and tedious of the many things said in the national media and in the U.S. Congress about the failures of the Intelligence Community in Iraq and with regard to so many issues is that "HUMINT (espionage in this context) must be improved!" Repetition of this thought has become obligatory in any "serious" discussion of security issues but in fact, no one has done much to improve US espionage capabilities. This would be amusing in its inanity if the underlying phenomenon were not so serious. In fact, the media and the Congress are largely responsible for creating the operating environment in which the wreck of once formidable American espionage capabilities became inevitable. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the public and its representatives convinced themselves that the intelligence services were somehow the enemies of the American people. The FBI COINTELPRO program aimed at Director Hoover's personal list of enemies and the Nixon Administration's meditations (the Houston Plan) on the possibility of effectively combining all U.S. counterintelligence groups into one force contributed to that idea. The Houston Plan was never approved or implemented but the concept itself was enough to "trigger" demand for congressional investigations into the "misdeeds" of U.S. counterintelligence groups.
Rather inevitably the "witch hunt" spread to include U.S. clandestine intelligence. The "Church Committee" in the US Senate resulted. Up until that time it was generally believed in the population of the United States that the intelligence services were filled with honorable people trying to protect the country, but the spirit of that age disagreed and a barrage of "literature" and films spread the idea that career intelligence officers were amoral opportunists animated by a kind of nihilistic sadism. "The Three Days of the Condor," "The Bourne Identity," and similar rubbish which portrayed a universe unfamiliar to anyone who had ever worked in intelligence filled people's heads with the idea that the clandestine services were to be tolerated but only just barely tolerated and that they must be closely watched and restricted. American espionage capabilities began to decline from that time and the process has not yet been reversed.
A mass of regulations were enacted in those and following years which tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered. Several categories of people were placed "off limits" as possibilities for recruitment as foreign agents (for example, reporters, professors, employees of American companies) without regard for the fact that these very people have inherent access to people and information often needed to carry out effective intelligence work. The rationale seemed to be that some kinds of people needed to be "protected" from the "dirty" business of espionage. The same kind of "thinking" has caused the clandestine services to rely far too much on "liaison" relationships with foreign intelligence services as a substitute for conducting American run espionage against difficult targets. The reason? Disclosure of foreign operations does not entail the career risk for the "managers" that the failure of an American operation would bring.
The creation of this kind of operating environment served as a powerful "enabling" mechanism for the not so gradual assumption of power in the intelligence agencies by the "managerial class." In an atmosphere dominated by fear of violation of legislated restrictions on behavior and the use of clandestine funds, it was only natural that the directors of the agencies would look to those who had little interest in driving forward the limits of accomplishment and every interest in "limiting the damage" and "preventing surprises" for themselves and "the boss." This has resulted in a degree of control over operations by lawyers and financial officers that is suffocating to the ability of skilled operatives to mount the kind of potentially rewarding but risky operations that would be needed, for example, to penetrate "Al-Qa'ida." Clandestine operations are inherently dangerous. It follows that if they are evaluated by people who "know the cost of everything but the value of nothing," they will inevitably be disapproved before execution if the risks are considerable. Those in Congress who wrote the rules used as excuses to disapprove these operations will then "bleat" pitifully about the need for "better HUMINT" the next time a disaster occurs.
Analysis by Committee. Much the same phenomena exist on the analytic "side" of the intelligence business. Brilliant people from the best schools "sign up" for a career in intelligence work from a sense of patriotism, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to "make a difference" in the world. What typically happens to them after that is that they are "eaten alive" by bureaucracies utterly controlled by the "managerial" mentality. Young analysts are called on to write papers that demand a fresh look, hard work and an undying devotion to the truth. The draft papers they write are not their property and these papers should not be subject to the vanities of "pride of authorship" so common in other works of scholarship, but neither should they be treated with a lack of respect for the views of the analysts and the creativity that the authors bring to the task. Too often, the "editing by committee" system that prevails results in papers that are not only irrelevant to the security needs of the nation but are actually misleading because of their lack of intellectual honesty.
In the "managerial" world, nothing matters so much as "staying in step" with the consensus in the various agencies of the intelligence world as well as making sure that analysis does not deny the political leadership of the country an intellectual "platform" from which they can proclaim their vision of the future. The "mere" belief of the analysts counts for little in the judgment of the "managers" when weighed against the career destroying effect of disapproval or disfavor from on high.
As a result analysis is "ironed out" in a "layer cake" system of committees at ever-higher layers of bureaucracy. These committees are made up of supervisors at the appropriate layer and they "take care" to insure that the interests of the various parties within an agency are protected in the text that goes forward to the next higher layer and that untoward results are avoided. When this process is ended, what is typically produced is a stereotypical example of the "lowest common denominator," not something on which the country should "hang its hat" in making decisions affecting the national fate, and certainly. Such papers are inevitably reflective of the kind of "group think" that grows up in any highly integrated and hierarchical bureaucracy that controls the career long expectations of its inhabitants. In other words, an individual analyst has no chance whatever of having his or her views expressed at the national level unless a large and self-serving group of careerists approve them and find them not to be threatening to their collective view of what serves the group's perceived best interest in terms of its relations with the rest of the intelligence community and the sitting government.
ORDER IT NOW
The rule of the "managerial class" in the intelligence community ensures the permanence of this "system." The ruling group will reproduce itself through "mirror imaging" ad infinitum and will be maintained in position through the perceived self-interest of the kind of people who typically become directors of the major intelligence agencies. This is not to say that there have not been brave, courageous and creative directors of the major intelligence agencies. The author has had the honor of serving under several. It was a pleasure and they know who they are, but the sad truth, known to all who have served for extended periods in intelligence is that most directors are part of the problem. The truth is that intelligence is an art best practiced by gifted eccentrics, people widely and deeply educated, favored by nature and training with intuition beyond the average and who care more for the truth than anything else. Such people consistently will follow their "nose" and their instincts on a trail of information like bloodhounds until they arrive at a truth that matters to the people of the United States. In the espionage field of endeavor, the function of managers is to be "enablers," to make workable the environment in which gifted case officers can break through the manifold barriers that will enable the penetration of groups that threaten the lives of our people. What must be avoided is the selection of managers who instinctively feel that their function is to "hold back" the operators and analysts in order to preserve "peace" within the bureaucracy.
Domination of the Intelligence Function by the Executive Branch: All the intelligence agencies are parts of the Executive Branch. The CIA is a separate organization within the Executive Branch and directly subordinated to the president. The Defense Intelligence Agency is part of the Defense Department as is the National Security Agency. The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) is obviously part of that department. All these groups are deeply imbedded within these "ministries" of government in a constitutional system which ensures that the authority of the political party that controls the white House will control the intelligence agencies as well. This means that the temptation that will always be presented to politicians to attempt to shape" both information collection and the analysis of that information to their taste is likely to be overwhelming.
In most American administrations, the most senior authorities (generally elected) are wise enough to know that without sound and objective judgments from the intelligence agencies, the information upon which they base decisions is worthless. The reason one creates separate information gathering and analysis systems under the rubric of "intelligence" is that there is an inherent "conflict of interest" in any system that allows policy decision makers to be the same people who judge what the reality is upon which such decisions are based. Decision makers can always choose to decide policy questions based on their own view of the world, but it is intuitively obvious that this is not the best way to insure good decisions. For this reasons the most senior authorities generally restrain their subordinates on the policy side of government and prevent excessive interference with the process of judging information.
The danger is that the wisdom of that attitude is not universally appreciated and in some government past, present or future, policy officials may choose to drive the intelligence people supporting their deliberations towards judgments unsupported by convincing and dependable evidence. If one doubts the seriousness of the possible consequences of such a "cattle drive" one need only consider such historical examples of misadventure as the US strategic obsession with the likelihood of a Japanese first strike on the Philippines in 1941. This led the US Government to focus attention of its analytic force in that direction so firmly that Japanese preparations for an attack in Hawaii were completely missed. Another example would be the obsession with the "inevitability" of victory that influenced intelligence to "miss" completely enemy preparations for the Tet Offensive of 1968 in spite of the mass of information available that indicated something really "big" on the way. In both cases the results of policy or strategic thinking having been allowed to "intrude" on analysis were simply catastrophic. Strong leadership by "real intelligence officers" can help to prevent such disasters. The "dissent" taken by the State Department in the October 2002 NIE on Iraq may well have been an example of the survival of such leadership.
How can this be prevented? This problem exists across the world in every country where serious foreign policy and military issues must be considered and decisions on policy and strategy made on the basis of a systematic consideration of available data. In every country there is the problem of trying to insure that the judgments of the information or intelligence people are untainted by external pressures. There have been various methods and structures adopted to deal with this danger to the national security. In some places external "think tanks" are used to "test" the result of internal analysis. In others countries, reliance is placed on the competitive analysis of two or more intelligence agencies, often one military and the other civilian.
In Israel, within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there exists something called the "Devil's Advocate" a name borrowed from the process of canonization within the Catholic Church in which a cleric is appointed to oppose the sainthood of one who has been presented for consideration for that honor. In the Israeli "Devil's Advocate" section, the officers so employed have the job of opposing the analysis accepted by the government and of preventing the acceptance of institutional "group think" as the basis for decisions. For the senior Israeli officers who serve in the "Devil's Advocate" section it is understood that opposition to the judgments of the rest of the intelligence community will have a career price and that the officers who do this work should look forward to a fruitful life in retirement from the army soon after their service in this job. Nevertheless, they perform a vital; perhaps "priceless" is not too strong a word, service for their country. None of these devices seem altogether suitable for the United States as a "safeguard" against overwhelming pressure to bring their analysis into conformity with policy. The sheer scale of the institutions involved in American life dictate modification of the methods used in smaller governments. Some approach that combines the better features of these institutional "fixes" would probably be appropriate.
Can the "Intelligence Community" change itself to eliminate the problems discussed above?
The United States "Intelligence Community" is a "mature bureaucracy," a group of institutions that have reached a stable equilibrium in their internal politics and in their relationships
Heros , May 10, 2018 at 7:09 am GMTI guess Lang is talking about what he refers to as the "Borg". His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.jilles dykstra , May 10, 2018 at 7:11 am GMT
How can you even pretend there were "intelligence failures" after these guys murdered the Kennedy's and pulled off the 9/11 new Pearl Harbor.
As usual, Lang is just laying a smoke screen for his war criminal Masonic brothers.Of course Iran is a danger to the USA.Randal , May 10, 2018 at 9:12 am GMT
In 1953 there was the CIA coup, that ended democratic Iran, and brought the USA puppet shah in power.
In 1979 Muslim clerics had the audacity to send the puppet away, and put themselves in power.
Since then they, with success, resisted the USA yoke.
Right now Assad is a danger to the USA, he's still alive, and, with help of Russia, and some help of Erdogan, in power.
Both regimes undermine USA prestige in the world.Fascinating stuff, thanks. One of the best articles I've read on Unz, in fact, and that's saying quite a lot because there's been a lot of great stuff here over the past few years.anonymous  Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 10:11 am GMTMr. Lang hasn't appreciated my pending questions about his first two columns here at Unz Review, but I have a couple more, one substantive, the other editorial.Sceptical , May 10, 2018 at 10:23 am GMT
1. What does Mr. Lang specifically advocate, if anything?
He urges Congress to revamp a bureaucracy. But he says that when Congress addressed that bureaucracy in the mid-1970s as part of the post-Vietnam "'witch hunt'" it "tied the hands of the clandestine services so effectively that they have never recovered." (He seems to see himself as one of those so bound. But that's not made clear in the context of anything between 1968 (Tet) and the circa 2002 warmongering against Iraq.)
So if a Congressman during a hearing were to ask Mr. Lang how his work had been hampered before he retired, and for his specific recommendations going forward, what would he say?
2. What's "up" with the needless quotation marks?This is an interesting critique of the current state of the intelligence community. The author's contention that the system has devolved into a bureaucratic muddle under the thrall of the executive branch seems accurate but:divadab , May 10, 2018 at 10:58 am GMT
The disregard for the Church Committee and pining for the days of the gifted operator being free from pesky managerial control seems misplaced. I know most Americans have a limited sense of history and memory but, for example, look at the blowback from the Mossadegh coup, the bad intelligence we received from Gehlen about the Soviets, MK ULTRA, Robert Parry's revelation that members of the intelligence community interfered with Carter's attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages held by the mullahs. There are many more such examples. I am not so sure that the "good ol days" were that great. Also, is it even true that the Executive branch is in control(does the tail wag the dog)?Interesting analysis – apparently reflecting imperial institutions bureaucratized to the point of calcification, like an alzheimers brain. I wonder if by extension the senior ranks of the military in general have become inhabited by risk-averse careerists? Can this explain at least partly its lack of success in warmaking since Vietnam?xxxyyyzzzttt , May 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm GMTLang is what we draft soldiers use to call "Lifers"; people who define their life by their love of guns and bombs etc. Reading him daily over the years brings to mind Kissinger's denigration of military men's intelligence or Hitler's comment that Generals don't understand economics. Not intelligence in the sense of IQ ( I have learned a lot from him; smarter than me no doubt). Rather intelligence in the sense of not being able to see reality through the lens of their love of shoot 'em up bang bang.art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm GMT
For example, he really would have us believe that there is something wrong with "Intelligence". They make mistakes. Not the reality that they provide the rational for the wars he is so proud to have been a part of. He is proud of his killing deeds in Vietnam, which was largely the result of what: failed intelligence in the Gulf of Tonkin? He is proud of the role he played in the killing Kaddafi's baby daughter. Was this the result of failed intelligence about terrorism? Come on Pat your are like the Robert Duval character in Apocalypse Now who "loved the smell of Napalm in the morning." Intelligence has not failed the likes of you. It provides the rational for you to do what is you live to do – killing. You spent your adult life killing or being responsible for killing people whose only crime was to be sitting on oil.
When you were doing your killing in Vietnaum, draftees like me were saying "hell no I won't go". There was a saying at the time: "What if someone gave a war and no one showed up". If people like you would stop showing up we would not have troops stationed in 125 countries in the world today. Guys like you show up because you love the shit and you could care less about the accuracy of Intelligence. Intelligence is the opium of the people. It gives them a reason to pay people like you to act out your childhood fantasies about war.
Repectually!@HerosKemerd , May 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm GMT
thank you, saved me a bunch of snarking at the author
as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish
the author -as does the korporate/lapdog media- makes a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality (which is -in fact- the reason for their role as gatekeepers) firstly, AS IF we had a system which makes decisions based on facts, the greatest good for the greatest number, and -you know- reality
we do not
what we have imposed upon us, is a PURPOSEFULLY corrupted and broken system which is used by the 1% to enforce their will all the 'fact finding', 'research', etc, etc, etc, is so much window dressing and bullshit to justify doing what they want to do and has NOTHING to do with what eggheads, pontificators, pundits, academics, etc have researched, experimented on, or theorized
repeat: it is ALL bullshit to make the insane decisions FOR the 1% seem like the only choice we haveOh Americans! One thing about brits that I like is tbat they never hesitated talking about their empire or imperial interests. But all americans seem to have have blinkers (set by their imperial hubris or genuine belief that their country stands for the good) even supposedly intellectuals cannot escape it. Taleb calls them intellectual yet idiot, l suppose Lang is one of them.Anonymous  Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMTThe intelligence community, while apparently giving useful tactical-level information sometimes , is now, from what I seen, just a propaganda tool. Look at the Skripal farce. The IC of the "five eyes" confirmed Russia was behind trying to kill the Skripals by smearing his door handle with nerve agent (so ludicrous it's like something out of A Fish Called Wanda ). Or Russian collusion and the Steele dossier and golden showers. Or Clapper as head of the NGA in 2003 claiming they had satellite photographic proof Saddam was moving WMD's. Or Assad's "chemical attacks on his own people". What's worse is that the IC hucksters (not IC, per se, just those pitching the wares) no longer even bother putting on an elaborate dog and pony show, show & tell, and holding vials of inert anthrax at the U.N. Pretty soon we won't even need the IC middleman, though I'm sure the six-figure contractors, who now make up the bulk of the IC, will still be collecting the big bucks for "protecting America".utu , May 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm GMT
What is truth?," asked an exasperated Pontus Pilate after being badgered by a certain (((group))) to take action and put a certain innocent God-man to death. Somethings never change.Totally false article.G Standfast , Website May 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm GMT
Mr. Lang created a false dichotomy which basically is reduced to No True Scotsman fallacy written from the position of the true Scotsman. There are no true Scotsmen.
Things are much simpler. It all comes down to integrity which is a question of morality. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet produced what he was asked to produce. There was a war to be had and he had to do his job and show that he was a team player and he did it. This was not an issue of bad intelligence or that somebody made a mistake. If anybody had integrity there in CIA he would refuse and be ready to resign. I haven't heard of anybody resigning or being fired prior to war in 2003. The additional dimension was a fear of physical threat. Mr. George Slam Dunk Tenet had attacks of anxiety fearing that he or his family would be hit while driving around Washington DC on business or with his family. Was it because there was something wrong with Mr. Tenet psychologically or was the idea planted in his mind by somebody who had enough credibility to make Mr. Tenet believe it? If the latter it shows that in Washington DC thing are done not differently than in some third wold capitol.From the TV adaptation of Smiley's People, spoken by George Smiley as portrayed by Alec Guinness (49:30):English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm GMT
In my time, Peter Guillam, I've seen Whitehall shirts go up and come down again. I've listened to all the excellent arguments for doing nothing and reaped the consequent frightful harvest. I've watched people hop up and down and call it progress. I've seen good men go to the wall and the idiots get promoted with dazzling regularity. All I'm left with is me. And the thirty odds years of Cold War without the option.@HerosAnon  Disclaimer , May 10, 2018 at 3:18 pm GMT
Oh, SUCH nonsense. What hope is there of a sensible attempt to alter the disastrous course Western foreign policy is taking if anyone can read a stunning piece of analysis like that and come up with such a reply?@English OutsiderLeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 3:19 pm GMT
The author has a valid point regarding "groupthink" in the intelligence services but his descriptions of the alternatives don't seem to hold much water. It's not like even it its glory days American HUMINT was anywhere near up to, say, Soviet standards.@art guerrillaWorkingClass , May 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm GMT
as for the article itself, I rarely don't finish articles and comment on them, but the sophistry is so wide and deep, it was impossible to finish
But nevertheless you feel entitled to judge an author whose article you haven't even read? At what point did you decide it was sophistry pure and simple?Blah blah blah. Then more blah blah. Why would anyo0ne read this shit. The CIA is an abomination. It should be destroyed. Glad I could help.Linda Green , May 10, 2018 at 3:58 pm GMTThe purpose of the Iraq war was to reunite Iran and Iraq as a bulwark against Israel. The goal was achieved. The resurgent Iran we are seeing today is the fruit of the Iraq war.utu , May 10, 2018 at 4:19 pm GMT
Watch what is happening rather than what the talking heads are saying. And keep your friends close and enemies closer.
If you listen closely you can hear the knashing of teeth in Israel that big brother stopped re-arranging the chess pieces in the M.E. after he installed a Iran allied shia (Nouri Al-Maliki) as leader of Iraq.
Mission Accomplished!@Heroshyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm GMT
His biggest problem is that he is one of them, as this long disinformation article shows.
Exactly!The elephant in the outhouse is again kept hidden by Lang. This alone is enough to disqualify anything he says.art guerrilla , May 10, 2018 at 4:35 pm GMT
Israeli Spies in the US
. Intelligence Pact
It seems that, as Blitzer contends, Washington and Tel Aviv made a deliberate effort in the mid-1950s to put an end to these covert operations against one another. Most observers assign responsibility for this to top CIA official James Angleton .. Sharing information on Arab countries may have been one example of this. Another may have been assistance in getting nuclear weapons for Israel. According to Seymour Hersh, "sources close to" Angleton told former New York Times reporter Tad Szulc that the CIA helped the Israelis obtain technical nuclear information in the late 1950s. "This fits in with something I had been told by a high-level CIA official," Seymour Hersh added in 1978, "that Angleton, then in charge of CIA liaison with Israeli intelligence, gave the Israelis similar technical information in the mid-1960s."  During this period, enriched uranium was vanishing from an American atomic energy company with close ties to the Israeli government.  ..
A similar pattern of cooperation between US and Israeli intelligence agencies exists in the area of military procurement. "Israelis were caught in the Pentagon with unauthorized documents," one US official told former Congressman Paul Findley, "sometimes scooping up the contents of 'inboxes' on desk tops." This official recalled that a number of Israelis were very quietly asked to leave the US as a result of such activities; no formal charges were ever filed against them. Several US officials told Findley that the Israelis would submit orders for military items they were not supposed to have or even to know about -- using top-secret code numbers and sometimes precise specifications. Presumably they obtained the information from friendly executive branch contacts, but no official efforts were undertaken to discover the sources of the leaks.  ..@LeaNderhyperbola , May 10, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMT
1. it appears you are guilty of the 'sin' you accuse me of: my post SAID why I thought it was sophistry (as well as in agreement with heros analysis) in short, because IT DENIES OBVIOUS REALITY
the author prattles on AS IF 'intelligence'/information that is gleaned by spooks or WHOEVER, actually matters in what decisions our 1% superiors make on our 99% behalf (but NOT for our 99% benefit)
2. don't be such an authoritarian tool: FORGET about what the 1% SAY is what guides their decisions, etc, LOOK AT WHO BENEFITS, you scared, shorn, sheeple again, in short, as they EXPLICITLY STATED in the bulldozing run up to the eye-rack-eee war part 1, they 'fixed the intelligence' around the ALREADY MADE DECISION TO ATTACK for the greedy reasons of Empire, NOT because sad damn who's sane was our hitler-of-the-month ™
it is difficult to take such propaganda victims as yourself seriously; you are stuck on the superficial layer of what Empire presents as 'reality', and don't see (or even GUESS) that there is a man behind the curtain pulling the levers to bedazzle you
bread and circuses, kampers, bread and circuses
hee hee hee
ho ho ho
ha ha ha
ak ak ak@English Outsiderschrub , Website May 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm GMT
Pity the English. They have been slaves of a racist-supremacist, foreign sect ever since Cromwell let the sect back in the country. Time for Americans to again free themselves from the "city of london" sect.
The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel
.. "Angleton was was a leading architect of America's strategic relationship with Israel that endures and dominates the region to this day," Jefferson Morley writes in The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton. More than any other man, the longtime chief of U.S. counterintelligence made possible Israel's shift "from an embattled settler state into a strategic ally of the world's greatest superpower."
Angleton did so chiefly by burying any effort in the U.S. intelligence establishment to question Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1960s. "Angleton's loyalty to Israel betrayed U.S. policy on an epic scale," Morley writes. "Instead of supporting U.S. nuclear security policy, he ignored it." ..My first contact with CIA was while visiting the remote Mojave Airport in California in the early 1980s during a motorcycle trip to Death Valley. While there I noticed numerous Boeing 707 airline sized planes parked off a faraway field in the distance. There must have been at least twenty five or thirty of these airline size planes just sitting in isolation from the rest of the planes at the airport.English Outsider , May 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT
At first, I thought the planes were merely being mothballed (stored) there until I saw one of them start to move. Curious, I remember asking one of the workers at the airport about who owned the large planes and was told that no one really knew but it was referred to as the "spook airline" because the planes and their use were shrouded in absolute secrecy. Nobody knew who piloted the planeseither because their pilots arrived at the airport either in smaller executive size planes or in vans that went without stopping directly up to the planes after entering the airport property.
it was only later that I discovered these planes belonged to Air America, the "the CIA airline" and were apparently used to ferry large numbers of mostly mercenary soldiers to areas the CIA was interested in at the time. I also learned that the Mojave Airport was only one of several other similar such bases of Air America operation. A friend described laughingly described Air America as the "Coup Airline" because of the CIA's propensity for the overthrowing of unfriendly governments.
About this same time, I also started reading more and more articles about the fact that our elected representatives, even at the highest levels, didn't actually fully know what the CIA was up to because of the CIA's so-called, ultra secret "black budgets" which allowed it to operate without any sort of control from our elected representatives below the Presidental level who claimed they didn't want to know about these "black" activities out of fear of getting blamed once the activities arising out of them became known.
I also started reading about rumors that parts of the CIA had become essentially self-funding using illicit activities like drug running and arms sales to avoid any sort of even marginal budget control by even the President of the US. The CIA's own airline would, of course, provide the ideal transportation vehicle to facilitate such activities.
Essentially this meant that a significant part of the CIA had been allowed to essentially go rogue without any sort of real supervision whatsoever. Unfortunately, The Mossad, would have been more than happy to step in and provide this oversight using friendly Zionists already embedded within the agency.
There are those who now claim that parts of the CIA are hotbeds of Israeli controlled spying activities operating specifically within its unsupervised "black budgets".
State department leader Dean Acheson warned this would happen in the mid-1940′s when plans started being made to turn the wartime OSS into the CIA. I have always thought his opinion might have been formed by his secret wartime access to the Venona Transcripts which extensively detailed how intelligence agencies in both the US and the UK had become hotbeds of Communist spying activities. (Sort of like the Israelis and the CIA today. )
Read about Acheson's very prescient criticism here
The CIA cannot be fixed. It is too far gone. It should be abolished.I would earnestly recommend that you go to the Colonel's site, SST, and read, from the beginning long ago, his articles analysing the defects of Western foreign policy and what leads to those defects. You will find there the most powerful and informed thinking on this subject that there is.Them Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:28 pm GMT
I myself don't really belong here because I'm a tooth and nail Deplorable as well as a foreigner. But so what? We both know that what our respective elites are doing is wrong. We both know that there has to be some other way. If we don't seek out balanced and considered analysis then we might as well run off and join those many dissidents for whom dissidence is merely a hobby, or those many others for whom it merely offers occasion for dispute.So, these inner problem's within every major intel agency can be basically summed up in just four word's ..Beware the jews within.bjondo , May 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm GMT
Now back to my soon to be finished one page book that will sum up everything false we were told or taught regarding WWII in all it's many areas .."The Complete Untold Truth about, WWII" .
"Them Germans was Correct!" The End.
Best one page book length expose' one can obtain in the vast search for real fact based Truth, of which international jewry so hate's for one to learn of eh.Get rid of the intelligence agencies.LeaNder , May 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm GMT
If Jewsa needs info about a region, country, even itself, ask Russia, China. Answers will be intelligent, diplomatic, accurate, and relevant.
Billions saved can go to help, real help not bombs, countries destroyed for Israel and impoverished by Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, ilk.@LeaNderThem Guys , May 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm GMT
I asked at what precise part of his piece you smelt sophistry. Maybe I have lost my ability in reading comprehension of your language. Could well be? Apparent from being more generally not too fond of sloganeering.
a number of presumptions which are not supported by current reality
Those would be specifically?@schrubAriusArmenian , May 10, 2018 at 5:54 pm GMT
Just look at how during the reign of Chabad Rabbi Dov Zakiem appointed as Head of Pentagon $$$ controls etc What began as a mention to tv reporters a day prior to 9/11 event's of somehow pentagon cannot account for a Missing $2.3-TRILLION!!! Has as of last date I read any new revelations of that missing cash, morphed into almost $9.5-TRILLION missing!!! And that last amount was like several month's ago.
What a Cohencidence eh? And just think what new and worse swindle scams Israel and it's mossad wonderkins can come up with to do next with so large an amount of Black Budget ready cash available?
Yes Yes I know that several hasbara clown's and tribal member's will say no such stolen cash ever goes to 100% innocent Israel and it's equally innocent jewry aka "The World's Biggest and Only Victim's that ever matter".
But daily now another 10,000 folks in America awaken to fact that research proves beyond all doubt that virtually Every evil and bad and immoral and unethical type issue or event since 3,500 yr's ago has More jewdeo fingerprint's all over it than any other cause period.
And once red pilled and awakened to such real truth's .None are able to return to their former asleep position even if they wished to No amount of jewish hasbara propagandas will ever be able to undo real truth once that cats been let out of the bag so to speak.
Mossad/Israel state moto:.."By Deception(lies!) You Shall Cause War's" .Indeed they do eh.The author is right as far as he goes but he ignores the CIA/Wall Street complex that was established by Allen Dulles – that complex is at the very core of the US Deep State.Hot Nuns of Castle Anthrax , May 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm GMT
That complex is held together from the top; notice that only the very connected are put in charge of the CIA and connected means very tied into Wall Street.
The CIA, in spite of their low period in the 1970′s, has been very effective in controlling the US media.
Note how the Brennan secret team created a trap that the democrats walked right into.
And note how they have the FBI taking the fall while the CIA continues to operate in the shadows.
I like the author; he brings some sanity but he is still a creature of US supremacism.
He doesn't like me; he has blocked me from commenting at his site.
But I still hope he speaks out as far as he goes.It is helpful to learn the point of view of the knightly orders, which, as in the middle ages, constitute a parasitic class indoctrinated to see nothing but the stylized ethical set pieces proper to their order.Heros , May 10, 2018 at 6:20 pm GMT
Here are a few things Lang cannot acknowledge without jeopardizing his identity:
Impunity. Doesn't show up in the list of CIA flaws, but it's staring him in the face, right there in black and white: the Central Intelligence Agency Act, the Rogers/Huston get-out-of-jail-free card, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the operational files exemption, the political questions doctrine, and lots of secret law and regulations. Under municipal law (strictly speaking, it doesn't meet minimal legal standards, it's administrative red tape,) CIA can get away with anything. So they are institutionally criminal. This is a sore point, frantically repressed. Even vague recollections of old movies are enough to trigger the traditional posturing of honor-based chivalric cultures.
Operations. Beltway courtiers are constrained to discuss CIA's intelligence function in isolation from its overwhelmingly dominant, and inherently criminal, clandestine operations function. In reality, all analysts are paid to do is complain about NCS crime. Then when their next criminal racket gets caught, NCS trots out some analysts to say, 'We at CIA warned about this.' CIA operations includes gun-running, drug-dealing, human trafficking and pedophile blackmail, murder, torture, coercive interference, and aggression by armed bands and irregulars. Intelligence is not CIA's business.
Rule of law. Lang, in the context of the USG going to war, writes, "If the "Intelligence Community" as it now exists were abolished, some other group would have to assume the burden of performing the same functions." Right. That other group would be the duly constituted authority under US supreme law, the UN Security Council, which the intelligence community devoted most of their efforts to subverting with foreign corrupt practices and fabricated war propaganda. It's not like CIA got stuck with this job, they usurped it.@English OutsiderRobinG , May 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm GMT
Having had my comments deleted and been blocked several times on SST, I can tell anyone who would listen to not listen to your advice and waste hours poring over that myopic blog. Myopic, because anytime someone writes an interesting comment that contradicts any of Lang's masonic beliefs, Lang gets nasty. Even TwistedGenius has had to dance around a snarling Lang because he crossed some secret line.
Sure, Lang was right about a lot of things from 2003-2007. But he was also often wrong and no one ever dared to call him on it.
Once again, I will point out Lang's complete failure to deviate from the narrative on things like all these gun-grabbing "mass shootings". As I recall Lang was even very wishy washy about the second amendment, offering to sell his guns in a government gun grab. So he lies to us about about what his masonic brethren are up to on this front.
But of course the biggest void in his analysis is the JQ. He attends barmitzfa's, purim, and who knows what other kind of cabal rituals. He cannot deal with the JQ because he is borg, and he knows what kind of punishment would await him. And angry jews crying for blood revenge aren't any where near as bad as when the masonic brotherhood turns on you.@Scepticalsmelly oil and gas , May 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm GMT
(does the tail wag the dog)?
Good question. Where does Trump get his ludicrous talking points on Iran and Syria?@Heros
Agree but I think it is much more than a smoke Screen and preparation for war.
The 527 paid slave drivers and their bureaucrats and military (called the USA) has become a permanent false flag operation. The 9/11 advisory explained:
1. slave drivers have been ordered to spy on slaves,
2. slave drivers have been ordered to silence all slave protests and objections,
3. slave drivers have been ordered to study the slaves like rats in cage,
4. slave drivers have been ordered to deprive the slaves until production is sufficient to satisfy the Pharaohs.
5. slave drivers have been ordered to keep the USA dark, slaves are not allowed to know or learn anything
they don't pay for.
6. Slaves are expected to listen to Pharaoh produced, media distributed propaganda at least 12 hours per day.
Americans now live in fear of the Bastards from the Dark Side Kingdom of Lies.
The problem is how to save America from the USA. The USA is milking our cattle, selling our eggs, fencing us in with costly schooling and licenses to be eligible to get work, spying on our thoughts, destroying our earning platforms, price and ticket gating our access to information, bottling and selling to us, our once free water and air, and generally putting Americans at risk to attack from the global outside and famine blight from the inside.
Jun 09, 2016 | www.truth-out.org
Memorial Day is over. You had your barbeque. Now, you can stop thinking about America's wars and the casualties from them for another year. As for me, I only wish it were so.
It's been Memorial Day for me ever since I first met Tomas Young. And in truth, it should have felt that way from the moment I hunkered down in Somalia in 1993 and the firing began. After all, we've been at war across the Greater Middle East ever since. But somehow it was Tomas who, in 2013, first brought my own experience in the US military home to me in ways I hadn't been able to do on my own.
That gravely wounded, living, breathing casualty of our second war in Iraq who wouldn't let go of life or stop thinking and critiquing America's never-ending warscape brought me so much closer to myself, so bear with me for a moment while I return to Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, and bring you -- and me -- closer to him.
In that spring of 1993, I was a 22-year-old Army sergeant, newly married, and had just been dropped into a famine-ridden, war-torn country on the other side of the planet, a place I hadn't previously given a thought. I didn't know what hit me. I couldn't begin to take it in. That first day I remember sitting on my cot with a wet t-shirt draped over my head, chugging a bottle of water to counter the oppressive heat.
I'd trained for this -- a real mission -- for more than five years. I was a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief. Still, I had no idea what I was in for.
So much happened in Somalia in that " Black Hawk Down " year that foreshadowed America's fruitless wars of the twenty-first century across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, but you wouldn't have known it by me. That first day, sitting in a tent on the old Somali Air Force base in Baledogle, a couple of hours inland from the capital city of Mogadishu, I had a face-to-face encounter with a poisonous black mamba snake. Somehow it didn't register. Not really.
This is real , I kept telling myself in the six months I spent there, but in a way it wasn't or didn't seem to be.
After about a month, my unit moved to the airport in Mogadishu -- away from the snakes, scorpions, and bugs that infested Baledogle, but closer to dangers of a more human sort. Within a few weeks, I became used to the nightly rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire coming at us from the city. I watched the tracers streak by as we crouched behind our sandbagged fighting positions. We would return from missions to find bullet holes in the skin or rotor blades of our Black Hawk helicopters, or in one case a beer-can-sized hole that a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) round punched cleanly through the rear stabilizer without -- mercifully -- detonating.
And yet none of it felt like it was quite happening to me. I remember lying on my cot late at night, not far from the flight line full of Black Hawks and Cobras, hearing the drone of low-flying American AC-130 gunships firing overhead for hours on end. The first boom would come from the seaward side of the field as the gunship fired its M102 howitzer. A few seconds later, another boom would mark the round's arrival at its target across town, sometimes with secondary explosions as ammunition stores went up. Lying there, I remember thinking that those weren't the routine training rounds I'd heard a hundred times as they hit some random target in a desolate training area. They were landing on real targets, actual people.
Two other memorable boom s come to mind -- one as we waited in the back of a sun-baked supply truck, heading out on a volunteer mission to give inoculations to kids at a Somali orphanage. Boom . The ground shook to the sound of one of our Humvees and the four Army soldiers in it being blown apart by the sort of remote-controlled bomb that would become a commonplace of insurgents in America's twenty-first century wars. And a second, the loudest during my six months there, as a generator perhaps 20 feet from our tent exploded into flames from an incoming RPG round that found its target in the middle of the night.
This is real . I kept saying that to myself, but truthfully the more accurate word would have been surreal . The care packages I was receiving, the Tootsie Rolls and Cracker Jacks and letters from my wife back home telling me how much she missed me might as well have been from another planet.
Our helicopters flew daily reconnaissance missions ("Eyes over Mog" we called them) above the Somali capital. We did battle damage assessments, checking out pockmarked buildings the AC-130s had targeted the night before, or the shot-up safe house that Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid -- our operation's target (just as the US would target Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and the leaders of various terror groups) -- had reportedly been using as a control center. Once a beautiful mansion, it was now riddled with thousands of bullet holes and TOW missile craters.
We flew over Mogadishu's bustling marketplace, sometimes so low that the corrugated metal roofs of the stalls would blow off from our rotor wash. We were always looking for what we called "technicals" -- pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted in their beds -- to take out. Viewing that crowded marketplace through the sight of a ready-to-rock M-60 machine gun helped reinforce the message that all of this was beyond surreal.
Lives were ending violently here every day, and my own life, too, could have ended at any moment. Yet it was just about impossible to believe that all of a sudden I was in the middle of a violent set of incidents in a third-world hellhole, the sort of thing you might read about in the paper, or more likely, would never hear about at all. You'd never know about our near-nightly scrambles to our fighting positions behind a pile of sandbags, as the AK-47s cracked and the tracers flew overhead. It wouldn't even register as a blip in the news back home. In some bizarre way, I was there and it still wasn't registering.
A Soldier Just Like Me
Just days after returning home from Somalia, I (like so many others) watched the footage of dead American soldiers -- at least one a Black Hawk crew chief -- being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by cheering Somalis. For the first time, I found myself filled with a sense of dread, a profound that-could-have-been-me feeling. I imagined my mother looking at such a photo of me, of her dead son's body -- as someone's mother was undoubtedly doing.
If my interior landscape was beginning to shift in unsettling ways, if the war, my war, was finally starting to come home, I remained only minimally aware of it. My wife and I started a family, I got a civilian job, went to college in the evening using the GI Bill, and wrote a couple of books about music -- my refuge.
Still, after Somalia, I found myself drawn to stories about war. I reread Stephen Ambrose's blow-by-blow account of the D-Day landings, picked up Ron Kovic's Vietnam memoir, Born On The Fourth Of July , for the first time, and even read All Quiet On The Western Front . And all of them somehow floored me. But it wasn't until I watched Body of War , Phil Donahue's 2008 documentary about Iraq war veteran and antiwar activist Tomas Young, that something seemed truly different, that I simply couldn't shake the feeling it could have been me.
Tomas was a kid who had limited options -- just like me. He signed up for the military, at least in part, because he wanted to go to college -- just like me. Yes, just like so many other kids, too -- but above all, just like me.
He, too, was deployed to one of America's misbegotten wars in a later hellhole, and that's where our stories began to differ. Five days after his unit arrived in Iraq -- a place he deployed to grudgingly, never understanding why he was being sent there and not Afghanistan -- Tomas was shot, his spinal cord severed, and most of his body paralyzed. When he came home at age 24, he fought the natural urge to suffer in silence and instead spoke out against the war in Iraq. Body of War chronicled his first full year of very partial recovery and the blossoming of his antiwar activism.
Just a few weeks after the film's release, however, it all came crashing down. He suffered a pulmonary embolism and sank into a coma, awakening to find that he'd suffered a brain injury and lost much of the use of his hands and his ability to speak clearly. The ensuing years were filled with pain and debilitating health setbacks. By early 2013, he was in hospice care, suffering excruciating abdominal pain, without his colon, and on a feeding tube and a pain pump. Gaunt, withered, exhausted, he continued to agitate against America's never-ending war on terror from his bed, and finally wrote a " last letter " to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, airing his grievances, which got significant media attention .
When I read it, I felt that he might have been me if I hadn't lucked out in Mogadishu two decades earlier. Maybe that's what made me reach out to him that April and tell him I wanted to learn more about what had happened to him in the years between Body of War and his last letter, about what it meant to go from being an antiwar agitator in a manual wheelchair to a bedridden quadriplegic on a feeding tube and under hospice care, planning to soon end his own life.
A Map of the Ravages of War
When I finally met Tomas, I realized how much he and I had in common: the same taste in music and books, the same urge to be a writer. We were both quick with the smart-ass comment and never made to be model soldiers because we liked to question things.
Each moment we spent together only connected us more deeply and brought me closer to the self that war had created in me, the self I had kept at such a distance all these years. I began writing his story because I felt compelled to show other Americans someone no different from them who had had his life, his reality, upended by one of our military adventures abroad, by deployment to a country so distant that it's an abstraction to most of us who, in these days of the All-Volunteer Army, don't have a personal connection either to the US military or to the wars it so regularly fights.
A historically low percentage of our population -- less than half a percent -- actually serves in the military. Compare that to around 9% during the Vietnam War, and 12% during World War II. Remarkably few of us ever see combat, ever even know anyone who was in combat, ever get to hear firsthand stories of what went on or witness what life is like for such a returning veteran. Not surprisingly, America's wars now largely go on without us. There is no personal connection. Here in "the homeland" -- despite the overblown fears of "terrorism" -- it remains "peacetime." As a consequence, few of us are engaged by veterans' issues or the prospect -- essentially, the guarantee -- of more war in the American future.
Tomas understood the importance of sharing the brutal fullness of his story. For him, there were to be no pulled punches. When I told him I wanted others to learn of his harrowing tale, of his version of the human cost of war, that I wanted to help him to tell that story, he responded that he had indeed wanted to write his own book. He'd scrapped the project because he could no longer write, and even Dragon voice-to-text software wouldn't work because his speech had become so degraded after the embolism struck.
Instead, he shared everything. Tomas and his wife, Claudia, opened their lives to me. I slept in their basement. During my periodic visits, he introduced me to an expansive mind in a shrunken world, a mind that wanted to range widely in a body mostly confined to a hospital bed, surrounded by books, magazines, and an array of tubing that delivered medications and removed bodily wastes in a darkened bedroom.
"I need to be fed," he said to me one day. "Do you want to see what that's like?" Then, he lifted his shirt and showed me the maze of tubing and scars on his body. It was a map of the ravages of war.
He was unflinchingly honest, sensing the importance of his story in a country where such experiences have become uncommon fare. Like his comic book heroes Batman and the Punisher, he wanted to make sure that no one would have to endure what he'd gone through.
An All-Too-Real Life and Surreal Wars
Tomas Young's war ended on the night before Veterans' Day 2014 when he passed away quietly in his sleep. His pain finally came to an end.Body of War By Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro, The Real News Network | Film Veterans, We're Sorry for How Our Country Treated You By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed Veterans Urge Presidential Candidates to Say No to Militarism
The bullets that hit him in the streets of Baghdad in 2004 brought on more than a decade of agony and hardship, not only for him, but for his mother, his siblings, and his wife. Their suffering has yet to end.
Stories of the reality of war and its impact on this country are more crucial now than ever as America's wars seem only to multiply. Among us are more than 2.5 million veterans of our recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We owe it to them to read their accounts -- and an increasing number of them are out there -- and do our best to understand what they've been through, and what they continue to go through. Then perhaps we can use that knowledge not only to properly address their needs, but to properly debate and possibly -- like Tomas Young -- even protest America's ongoing wars.
It would have been perfectly understandable for Tomas to have faced the pain, frustration, and failing health of his final years privately and in silence, but that wasn't him. Instead, he made his story part of our American record. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here .
Mark Wilkerson spent eight years in the US Army as an AH-1 Cobra and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with the 3rd Infantry and 101st Airborne Divisions. He was deployed with the 101st to Somalia for six months in 1993. He is the author of Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend and co-wrote Pearl Jam Twenty . He has three children: Alex, Nick and Sam. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Melissa. His latest book is Tomas Young's War (Haymarket Books).
Feb 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
The Borgist foreign policy of the administration has little to do with the generals. To comprehend the generals one must understand their collective mentality and the process that raised them on high as a collective of their own. The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively.
These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board."
If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains.
In Obama's time they were asked what policy should be in Afghanistan and persuaded him to reinforce their dreams in Afghanistan no matter how unlikely it always was that a unified Western oriented nation could be made out of a collection of disparate mutually alien peoples.
In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them.
Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers. pl
Jack , 09 February 2018 at 05:42 PMSirFredw , 09 February 2018 at 06:26 PM
IMO, this conformism pervades all institutions. I saw when I worked in banking and finance many moons ago how moving up the ranks in any large organization meant you didn't rock the boat and you conformed to the prevailing groupthink. Even nutty ideas became respectable because they were expedient.
Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs.You remind me of an old rumination by Thomas Ricks:Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 06:37 PM
Take the example of General George Casey. According to David Cloud and Greg Jaffe's book Four Stars, General Casey, upon learning of his assignment to command U.S. forces in Iraq, received a book from the Army Chief of Staff. The book Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned from Malaya and Vietnam was the first book he ever read about guerilla warfare." This is a damning indictment of the degree of mental preparation for combat by a general. The Army's reward for such lack of preparation: two more four star assignments.
http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/07/cmon-man-meathead-generals-and-some-other-things-that-are-driving-me-crazy-about-life-in-this-mans-post-911-army/"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case.Anna , 09 February 2018 at 06:48 PMSince Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/J , 09 February 2018 at 07:05 PM
" in 2000-2001 the Taliban government –with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) – implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meager 185 tons. It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for its successful opium eradication program. The Taliban government had contributed to literally destabilizing the multibillion dollar Worldwide trade in heroin.
In 2017, the production of opium in Afghanistan under US military occupation reached 9000 metric tons. The production of opium in Afghanistan registered a 49 fold increase since Washington's invasion. Afghanistan under US military occupation produces approximately 90% of the World's illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin. Who owns the airplanes and ships that transport heroin from Afghanistan to the US? Who gets the profits?"
---A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security?Colonel,divadab , 09 February 2018 at 07:16 PM
There needs to be a 're-education' of the top, all of them need to be required to attend Green Beret think-school, in other words they need to be forced to think outside the box, and to to think on their feet. They need to understand fluid situations where things change at the drop of a hat, be able to dance the two-step and waltz at the same time. In other words they need to be able to walk and chew gum and not trip over their shoe-laces.
By no means are they stupid, but you hit the nail on the head when you said 'narrow thinkers'. Their collective hive mentality that has developed is not a good thing.God help the poor people of Syria.james , 09 February 2018 at 07:30 PMthanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass...David E. Solomon , 09 February 2018 at 07:50 PM
i like what you said here "conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." - that strikes me as very true - conformist group thinkers... the world needs less of these types and more actual leaders who have a vision for something out of the box and not always on board... i thought for a while trump might fill this bill, but no such luck by the looks of it now..Colonel Lang,DianaLC , 09 February 2018 at 07:56 PM
Your description of these guys sounds like what we have heard about Soviet era planners. Am I correct in my understanding, or am I missing something?
As a young person in eighth grade, I learned about the "domino theory" in regard to attempts to slow the spread of communism. Then my generation was, in a sense, fractured around the raging battles for and against our involvement in Vietnam.Bill Herschel , 09 February 2018 at 09:11 PM
I won't express my own opinion on that. But I mention it because it seems to be a type of "vision thing."
So, now I ask, what would be your vision for the Syrian situation?This has been going on for a long time has it not? Westmoreland? MacArthur?turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:40 PM
How did this happen?Bill Herschelturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:48 PM
Westmoreland certainly, Macarthur certainly not. This all started with the "industrialization" of the armed forces in WW2. we never recovered the sense of profession as opposed to occupation after the massive expansion and retention of so many placeholders. a whole new race of Walmart manager arose and persists. plDianaCturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:55 PM
The idea of the Domino Theory came from academia, not the generals of that time. They resisted the idea of a war in east Asia until simply ordered into it by LBJ. After that their instinct for acting according to guidance kicked in and they became committed to the task. Syria? Do you think I should write you an essay on that? SST has a large archive and a search machine. plDavid E. Solomonturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:08 PM
I am talking about flag officers at present, not those beneath them from the mass of whom they emerge. There are exceptions. Martin Dempsey may have been one such. The system creates such people at the top. plelaine,turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:12 PM
Your usual animosity for non-left wing authority is showing. A commander like the CENTCOM theater commander (look it up) operates within guidance from Washington, broad guidance. Normally this is the president's guidance as developed in the NSC process. Some presidents like Obama and LBJ intervene selectively and directly in the execution of that guidance. Obama had a "kill list" of jihadis suggested by the IC and condemned by him to die in the GWOT. He approved individual missions against them. LBJ picked individual air targets in NVN. Commanders in the field do not like that . They think that freedom of action within their guidance should be accorded them. This CinC has not been interested thus far in the details and have given the whole military chain of command wide discretion to carry out their guidance. plJturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:24 PM
Thank you, but it is real GBs that you like, not the Delta and SEAL door kickers. plGaikomainakuturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:27 PM
"I am not sure that I understand what makes a Borgist different from a military conformist." The Borg and the military leaders are not of the same tribe. they are two different collectives who in the main dislike and distrust each other. plAnna. Their guidance does not include a high priority for eradicating the opium trade. Their guidance has to do with defeating the jihadis and building up the central government. plturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:30 PMPeter AUturcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:44 PM
Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups. pljamesPeter AU , 09 February 2018 at 11:01 PM
Trump would like to better relations with Russia but that is pretty much the limit of his attention to foreign affairs at any level more sophisticated than expecting deference. He is firmly focused on the economy and base solidifying issues like immigration. plThe medical profession comes to mind. GP's and specialists. Many of those working at the leading edge of research seem much wider thinking and are not locked into the small box of what they have been taught.turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 11:16 PMPeter AUJ -> turcopolier ... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
The GPs do not rule over a hierarchy of doctors. plCombat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.kao_hsien_chih -> Jack... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
There is more to life than breach and clear. Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is engaged instead of just the heel.A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong.FB Ali , 09 February 2018 at 11:23 PM
The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.Col Lang,turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 01:03 AM
They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now.
Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.dogearLondonBob , 10 February 2018 at 06:59 AM
He is still the Saudi Mukhtar for the US and most of the generals are still narrow minded. plThey [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard.turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 07:55 AMLondonBobDianaLC said in reply to turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 09:23 AM
I think that is true but, they were able to talk him into that, thus far. plI've been reading this blog for some time. My question was facetious and written with the understanding of your statement about the generals not having a good grasp of "the vision thing" on their own.Terry , 10 February 2018 at 09:25 AMSo true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.TV , 10 February 2018 at 10:18 AM
I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.
One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.
"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216212049.htmThe military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure. It could not function as a collection of individuals. This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.Barbara Ann , 10 February 2018 at 10:22 AM
That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook, I might consider them more creative than us.Babak Makkinejad -> Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 10:30 AMDo you think chimps are, per the Christian Docrine, in a State of Fall or in a State of Grace?Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 10:32 AMThis is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well.Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg -> gaikokumaniakku... , 10 February 2018 at 11:58 AM
Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).
In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix.
Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.
Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists. The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.
(mainly the analytical parts of ) intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything. Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes (in silver and/or blood).
It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The Jester performed such a role. Also think of the Emperors New Clothes . The current trend of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail (whistle-blowers)
IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.
I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)Isn't the "Borg" really The Atlantic Council?ISL , 10 February 2018 at 12:58 PMDear Colonel,ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to FB Ali ... , 10 February 2018 at 01:08 PM
Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks? In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.FB Ali:Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 02:03 PM"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now."That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy to miss the overview.kooshy , 10 February 2018 at 02:19 PM
Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.
By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks, but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)
Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.
Apparently, according to the last US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford, from 2014-17 US has spent 12 Billion on Regime change in Syria. IMO, combinedly Iran and Russia so far, have spent far less in Syria than 12 billion by US alone, not considering the rest of her so called coalition. This is a war of attrition, and US operations in wars, are usually far more expensive and longer than anybody else's.J , 10 February 2018 at 02:49 PM
"The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cDColonel, TTG, PT,Richardstevenhack -> turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 02:56 PM
FYI regarding Syria
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/sen-tim-kaine-demands-release-secret-trump-war-powers-memo-n846176It may "demand" it - but does it get it? Soldiers are just as human as everyone else.dogear said in reply to Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 02:59 PM
I'm reminded of the staff sergeant with the sagging beer belly who informed me, "Stand up straight and look like a soldier..." Or the First Sergeant who was so hung over one morning at inspection that he couldn't remember which direction he was going down the hall to the next room to be inspected. I'm sure you have your own stories of less than competence.
It's a question of intelligence and imagination. And frankly, I don't see the military in any country receiving the "best and brightest" of that country's population, by definition. The fact that someone is patriotic enough to enter the military over a civilian occupation doesn't make them more intelligent or imaginative than the people who decided on the civilian occupation.
Granted, if you fail at accounting, you don't usually die. Death tends to focus the mind, as they say. Nonetheless, we're not talking about the grunts at the level who actually die, still less the relatively limited number of Special Forces. We're talking about the officers and staff at the levels who don't usually die in war - except maybe at their defeat - i.e., most officers over the level of captain.
One can hardly look at this officer crowd in the Pentagon and CENTCOM and say that their personal death concentrates their mind. They are in virtually no danger of that. Only career death faces them - with a nice transition to the board of General Dynamics at ten times the salary.
All in all, I'd have to agree that the military isn't much better at being competent - at many levels above the obvious group of hyper-trained Special Forces - any more than any other profession.
That is well put.most important is the grading system that is designed to fix a person to a particular slot thereby limiting his ability to think "outside the box" and consider the many variables that exist in one particular instant.Mark Logan said in reply to Peter AU... , 10 February 2018 at 03:30 PM
Creative thinking allows you to see beyond the storm clouds ahead and realize that the connectedness of different realities both the visible and invisible. For instance the picture of the 2 pairs of korean skaters in the news tells an interesting story on many levels. Some will judge them on their grade of proffiency, while others will see a dance of strategy between 2 foes and a few will know the results in advance and plan accordingly
https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.nbcolympics.com/news/north-south-korean-figure-skating-teams-practice-side-side%3famp?espv=1Peter AUturcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:03 PM
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. STEM is enormously useful to us but seems to be a risky when implanted in shallow earth.Mark Loganturcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:13 PM
These narrow "but deep" thinkers were unable to grasp the nature of the Iraq War for the first couple of years. They thought of it as a rear area security problem, a combat in cities problem, anything but a popular rebellion based on xenophobia and anti-colonialism The IED problem? They spent several billion dollars on trying to find a technology fix and never succeeded. I know because they kept asking me to explain the war to them and then could not understand the answers which were outside their narrow thought. plISLoutthere , 10 February 2018 at 05:19 PM
War College selectees, the national board selected creme de la creme test out as 50% SJs (conformists lacking vision) in Myers-Briggs terms and about 15% NTs (intellectuals). To survive and move upward in a system dominated by SJs, the NTs must pretend to be what they are not. A few succeed. I do not think Mattis is an intellectual merely because he has read a lot. plLong ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards".turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:24 PM
My favorite example was a Japanese fisherman who recovered valuable ancient Chinese pottery. Everyone knew where an ancient ship had sunk, but the water was too deep to dive down to the wreck. And everyone knew the cargo included these valuable vases. And the fisherman was the first to figure out how to recover them. He attached a line to an octopus, and lowered it in the area, waited awhile, and pulled it up. Low and behold, the octopus had hidden in an ancient Chinese vase. The fisherman was familiar with trapping octopuses, by lowering a ceramic pot (called "takosubo") into the ocean, waiting awhile, then raising the vase with octopus inside. His brilliance was to think backwards, and use an octopus to catch a vase.TVturcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:31 PM
By your calculation people like Joe Stilwell and George Patton should not have existed. plAdrestiaked , 10 February 2018 at 05:56 PM
the original GBS were recruited in the 50s to serve in the OSS role with foreign guerrillas behind Soviet lines in th event of war in Europe. Aaron Bank, the founder, recruited several hundred experienced foreign soldiers from the likely countries who wanted to become American. By the time we were in VN these men were a small fraction of GBs but important for their expertise and professionalism. plCol, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII.turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes.
I note many Borgs... Borgism if you will. An organizational behavior that has emerged out of human nature having difficulty adapting to rapidly accelerating complexity that is just too hard to apprehend in a few generations. If (as many commenters on STT seem to...) one wishes to view this in an ideological or spiritual framework only, they may overlook an important truth - that what we are experiencing is a Battle Among Borgs for control over their own space & domination over the other Borgs. How else would we expect any competitive, powerful interest group to act?
In gov & industry these days, we observe some pretty wild outliers... attached to some wild outcomes. Thus the boring behavior of our political industries bringing forth Trump, our promethean technology sector yielding a Musk (& yes, a Zuckerberg).
I find it hard to take very seriously analysts that define their perspective based primarily upon their superior ideals & opposition to others. Isn't every person, every tribe, team or enterprise a borglet-in-becoming? Everybody Wants to Rule the World ... & Everybody Must Get Stoned... messages about how we are grappling with complexity in our times. I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far.
Unfortunately, I would not be amazed if reckless, feckless leaders changed the status quo. I was particularly alarmed hearing Trump in his projection mode; "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity, without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do.
But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing." It strikes me that he could be exceptionally willing to risk a Major Event if he felt a form of unity, or self-preservation, was in the offing. I pray (& I do not pray often or easily) that the Generals you have described have enough heart & guts to honor their oath at its most profound level in the event of an Event.babakBarbara Ann -> outthere... , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
As a time traveler from another age, I can only say that for me it means devotion to a set of mores peculiar to a particular profession as opposed to an occupation. plGreat example outthere.
Another springs to mind: James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) was once part of the NASA team building the first probe to go to Mars to look for signs of life. Lovelock didn't make any friends when he told NASA they were wasting their time, there was none. When asked how he could be so sure, he explained that the composition of the Martian atmosphere made it impossible. "But Martian life may be able to survive under different conditions" was the retort. Lovelock then went on to explain his view that the evolution of microbial life determined the atmospheric composition on Earth, so should be expected to do the same if life had evolved on Mars. Brilliant backwards thinking which ought to have earned him the Nobel prize IMHO (for Gaia). Lovelock, a classic cross-disciplinary scientist, can't be rewarded with such a box-categorized honor, as his idea doesn't fit well into any one.
Another example of cross-disciplinary brilliance was Bitcoin, which has as much to do with its creator's deep knowledge of Anthropology (why people invented & use money) as his expertise in both Economics and Computer Science.
This is they key to creative thinking in my view - familiarity with different fields yields deeper insights.
Remember when Larry Lindsey was fired as Bush's economic advisor when he suggested
that the costs could be as high as $200 billion?
Good times, but at this point the Dems own it as much as the GOP.
Are we assuming that the Pentagon, DoD, etc… are just going to accept new guidance from the top? (That sounds like wishful thinking to me.)
And if they (Pentagon, DoD, etc…) resist new guidance, what is going to be done about it? Currently more Americans trust the military than any institution or politician. I highly doubt anyone could swing public opinion against the Deep State at this point in time.JTMcPhee
It seems to me like the major sovereignty-violating actions of the US Gov't happen with the approval of the executive branch. The military and intelligence services generally don't speak out or publicly act against the president's policies. They do leak a bunch of shit everywhere (the mysterious "high-ranking anonymous Obama official" who seems to pop up whenever the president's policies need to be opposed), but that you can live with.
It is a real problem, one that makes me nervous. We know exactly where corporations go when their iron grip on democracy loosens: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_PlotVatch
Any Agent of Actual Change has to fear the "bowstring…"
JKF? I didn't know that the historian John King Fairbank was assassinated.
Then I guess you have solid evidence to account for the actions of Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips, William Harvey, David Morales, E. Howard Hunt, Richard Helms, James Angleton and other CIA personnel and assets who had
- perhaps the strongest motives to murder Kennedy
- the means to carry out the crime, namely, their executive action (assassination) capability and blackmail the government into aiding their cover up and
- the opportunity to carry out such a plan given their complete lack of accountability to the rest of the government and their unmatched expertise in lying, deceit, secrecy, fraud.
Because if you actually took the time to research or at least read about their actions in this matter instead of just spouting bald assertions that you decline to back up with any facts you would find their behavior nearly impossible to explain other than having at, the very least, guilty knowledge of the crime.
Aug 31, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.comHillary Clinton's speech to the American Legion in Cincinnati didn't contain anything new or surprising. It was billed as an endorsement of "American exceptionalism" defined as support for activist foreign policy and global "leadership," and that is what Clinton delivered. One thing that struck me while listening to it was the muted response from the audience. Despite Clinton's fairly heavy-handed efforts to present herself as a friend of veterans and champion of the military, the crowd didn't seem very impressed. The delivery of the speech was typically wooden, but then no one expects stirring oratory from Clinton. Either the audience wasn't interested in what they were hearing, or they found Clinton to be a poor messenger, or both.
The substance was mostly boilerplate cheerleading for the status quo in foreign policy, but a few particularly jarring lines stood out. Near the start of the speech, Clinton said, "We are an exceptional nation because we are an indispensable nation. In fact, we are the indispensable nation." That isn't true, but Clinton's acceptance of this claim confirms that she understands "American exceptionalism" in a particularly warped way that justifies interfering all over the globe. That is what Albright's "indispensable nation" rhetoric meant twenty years ago, and it's what Clinton's rhetoric means today.
Clinton thought that she was dinging Trump when she said, "We can't cozy up to dictators." That would be all right if it were true, but it is hard to take seriously from a committed supporter of U.S. "leadership." Cozying up to authoritarian rulers has been and continues to be a significant part of U.S. "leadership," and if you are in favor of the latter you are going to be stuck with the former. This rhetoric is especially absurd coming from someone who has repeatedly stressed the importance of supporting U.S. clients in the Gulf. Clinton has made a point of promising that the U.S. will stay quite cozy with our despotic clients when she is president, and it is likely that the U.S. will probably get even cozier still if she has anything to say about it.
Overall, Clinton's speech could have been given by a conventional Republican hawk, and some of the lines could have been lifted from the speeches of some of this year's Republican presidential contenders. There were brief nods to the nuclear deal with Iran and New START that a Republican wouldn't have made, but they were only mentioned in passing. Clinton insisted that "America must lead" and conjured up a vision of the vacuums that would be created if the U.S. did not do this. This is a standard hawkish line that implies that the U.S. always has to be involved in conflict and crises no matter how little the U.S. has at stake in them.
At one point, Clinton asserted, "Defending American exceptionalism should always be above politics." That amounts to saying that our foreign policy debates should always be narrowly circumscribed and most of our current policies should always remain beyond challenge or major revision. That's not healthy for the quality of our foreign policy debates or our foreign policy as a whole, and it shows the degree to which Clinton is out of touch with much of the country that she thinks this is a credible thing to say.
otto, August 31, 2016 at 2:50 pmShe is opting for the neo-cons. Smart moveViriato , August 31, 2016 at 2:53 pm"At one point, Clinton asserted, 'Defending American exceptionalism should always be above politics.' That amounts to saying that our foreign policy debates should always be narrowly circumscribed and most of our current policies should always remain beyond challenge or major revision."Myles , August 31, 2016 at 3:01 pm
That's exactly what Clinton believes, unfortunately. When she unveiled her "stronger together" slogan, one of the points she made was that we should have "a bipartisan, even non-partisan foreign policy." She is basically a Scoop Jackson Democrat.
Broad consensus is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I'd argue that some degree of consensus is necessary in order for a democratic system to function. But any such consensus should emerge from vigorous debate, which does not exist in Washington or in the mainstream media. It should not be simply imposed on the country by an unchallenged, ossified elite that is either stuck in the Cold War past or has a vested interest in renewing the Cold War.Bill Kristol used to call himself a Scoop Jackson Democrat, too. Maybe he will again. Hillary must be the only person left who actually thinks embracing the neocons is a way to win votes. But if that were true, Rubio would be the GOP nominee, rather than the guy who, for all his many faults, didn't pander to them.Captain P , August 31, 2016 at 3:40 pmCozying up to dictators is bad, unless they donate large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation. In that case, you're not "cozying up" to the dictators - you're "reassuring allies" and "protecting America's credibility."Joseph M. , August 31, 2016 at 3:44 pmWould the mushroom cloud campaign ad that obliterated the Goldwater candidacy have the same effect today upon a neocon candidate? Is the ad even copyrighted or otherwise available?SF, August 31, 2016 at 4:05 pmHas the American Legion given any Democrat running for president a warm response? Muted sounds about right to me. Clinton was speaking to many more people than the audience in front of her. She won't get very many votes from those in the military. No Democrat ever does.Old World Order , August 31, 2016 at 4:32 pm
Undecided voters (all 2 or 3% of them), especially Republicans are her real target audience. She looks to sound suitably strong more important, calm and measured. A safe if not perfect choice for President.She has learned nothing. Nothing at all. Indeed, she just doubled down on permanent war. Not surprising, but deeply depressing all the same.Chris Chuba , August 31, 2016 at 5:02 pm
Here's hoping that someone – anyone, really – keeps this loathsome throwback to the worst aspects of US foreign policy of the past 20 years out of the White House.If our foreign policy wasn't so obviously failed, I wouldn't mind bipartisan consensus but since it is FUBAR, I want something new. I just wish I had the ear of any of my fellow Republicans who consider themselves Religious Conservatives. I just can't get over their blind faith in U.S. hegemony, especially when they screech at the thought of U.S. politicians doing something as benign as running a Transportation Fund. Yet they have no problem inflicting these imbeciles with life and death decisions on the rest of the world.Simon94022 , August 31, 2016 at 5:08 pm
When I see Ted Cruz or a Rubio gaze into the camera about how vital it is for the U.S. to suppress Russia and China and run the M.E. (they use different words), it astounds me since it contradicts the Protestant tradition so much where one should be suspicious of human nature.
Do these people believe that corrupt politicians in the U.S. are suddenly anointed by God and transformed into world leaders in a sudden act of Grace? Sorry for the rant but I would seriously love to ask someone this question. This is not a troll at all. I have pondered this many times. How would Huckabee respond to this? He wrote a lucid essay on Iran about 10yrs ago before he went full Neocon.What a choice we face in November – give full executive authority to either:Smart Aleck Power , August 31, 2016 at 5:08 pm
1. The volatile vulgarian who is smart enough to reject the tired nation-building, Democracy Evangelization, Responsibility-to-Protect, and other dangerous establishment policies. But who doesn't think much at all about foreign policy and could even blunder into a big war out of personal pique.
2. The champion of mindless and discredited bellicosity. Who is - probably - smart enough to avoid a new large ground war or nuclear despite her dangerous anti-Russian rhetoric, but who will CERTAINLY initiate one or more new unnecessary, unjust and futile military interventions.
Pick your poison.Neal , August 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm"We are an exceptional nation because we are an indispensable nation. In fact, we are the indispensable nation."
Indispensable to what? Wholesale destabilization of the Middle East?I wish she would stop putting out this nonsense. I really don't want to skip my vote for president, but this sort of nonsense leaves me cold. I don't want Trump to win, but neither do I want Clinton to think she has a mandate for this kind of militarism. Sadly, when it comes foreign policy, it appears not to matter which party has the presidency anymore.Commenter Man , August 31, 2016 at 5:43 pmMeanwhile, over at the WaPo, neocon cheerleader Jennifer Rubin loves the same speech: Hillary Clinton is a responsible centrist .. .Chris Chuba , August 31, 2016 at 7:20 pmjk , August 31, 2016 at 9:09 pmWe are an Exceptional nation because we are an Indispensable nation
This is a tautology. You can swap the words exceptional and indispensable and have the exact same sentence.
Commenter Man, yet another example of how people will create their own reality. I am certain I will read the same tripe tomorrow when I peruse the links on 'realclearpolitics.com'. It is the only Neocon portal that I bother with.
If she gets elected I see a high probability of a hot war with Russia. She wouldn't start it intentionally, it would be the pinnacle of our foreign policy establishment living in their own reality. I actually have a scenario in mind, when I read Russian sourced sites it strengthens my convictions. To bad our 'Russian experts' use Ouija boards and entrails instead of actually studying the Russians.Don't be surprised if Clinton pushes Russia to the edge or the US gets mired in a proxy war with Russia. Everything is a Russian hack/conspiracy these days. They will find a reason to start something. Smells like yellow cake to me.cecelia, August 31, 2016 at 9:28 pmHilary should figure out that she is losing votes to Johnson and Stein and perhaps tone back the rhetoric. Granted she was probably trying to look all Commander in Chiefy but she is so tone deaf on this stuff.Anonne , September 2, 2016 at 12:07 amThe problem is that the cult that passes for Conservatives in this country values strength over all. Clinton cannot afford to come across as weak to these people. She is aiming exactly for the Jennifer Rubins of the world. In America, we do the strong thing, even if it is the wrong thing, because we will go to hell if we appear to be weak.Bowman , September 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm" She is aiming exactly for the Jennifer Rubins of the world"
… and one can but hope that her aim is true …
Sep 03, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPavel , September 3, 2016 at 8:11 am
I just found this via Hacker News… perhaps it was in yesterday's links and I missed it. Truly scary in the Orwellian sense and yet another reason not to use a smartphone. Chilling read.
SAN FRANCISCO - Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like - just check out the company's price list.
The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device.
Since its founding six years ago, the NSO Group has kept a low profile. But last month, security researchers caught its spyware trying to gain access to the iPhone of a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. They also discovered a second target, a Mexican journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican government.
Now, internal NSO Group emails, contracts and commercial proposals obtained by The New York Times offer insight into how companies in this secretive digital surveillance industry operate. The emails and documents were provided by two people who have had dealings with the NSO Group but would not be named for fear of reprisals.
–NY Times: How Spy Tech Firms Let Governments See Everything on a Smartphone
There is interesting and expert commentary in the Hacker News forum: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12417938.
Pat , September 3, 2016 at 12:01 pmJeotsu , September 3, 2016 at 2:15 pm
I could be wrong, but the promos for Sixty Minutes on the local news make it seem they might be about this subject. Either way it is another scare you about what your cell phone can do story, possibly justified this time.
An anecdote which I cannot support with links or other evidence:
A friend of mine used to work for a (non USA) security intelligence service. I was bouncing ideas off him for a book I'm working on, specifically ideas about how monitoring/electronics/spying can be used to measure and manipulate societies. He was useful for telling if my ideas (for a Science Fiction novel) were plausible without ever getting into details. Always very careful to keep his replies in the "white" world of what any computer security person would know, without delving into anything classified.
One day we were way out in the back blocks, and I laid out one scenario for him to see if it would be plausible. All he did was small cryptically, and point at a cell phone lying on a table 10 meters away. He wouldn't say a word on the subject.
It wasn't his cellphone, and we were in a relatively remote region with no cell phone coverage.
It told me that my book idea was far too plausible. It also told me that every cellphone is likely recording everything all the time, for later upload when back in signal range. (Or at least there was the inescapable possibility that the cell phones were doing so, and that he had to assume foreign (or domestic?) agencies could be following him through monitoring of cell phones of friends and neighbors.)
It was a clarifying moment for me.
Every cellphone has a monumental amount of storage space (especially for audio files). Almost every cellphone only has a software "switch" for turning it off, not a hardware interlock where you can be sure off is off. So how can you ever really be sure it is "off"? Answer- you can't
Sobering thought. Especially when you consider the Bluffdale facility in the USA.
Sep 03, 2016 | www.nytimes.com
The New York Times
There are dozens of digital spying companies that can track everything a target does on a smartphone. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO - Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like - just check out the company's price list.
The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device.
Since its founding six years ago, the NSO Group has kept a low profile. But last month, security researchers caught its spyware trying to gain access to the iPhone of a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. They also discovered a second target, a Mexican journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican government.
Now, internal NSO Group emails, contracts and commercial proposals obtained by The New York Times offer insight into how companies in this secretive digital surveillance industry operate. The emails and documents were provided by two people who have had dealings with the NSO Group but would not be named for fear of reprisals.
The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group's corporate mission statement is "Make the world a safe place."
Ten people familiar with the company's sales, who refused to be identified, said that the NSO Group has a strict internal vetting process to determine who it will sell to. An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies. And to date, these people all said, NSO has yet to be denied an export license.
But critics note that the company's spyware has also been used to track journalists and human rights activists.
"There's no check on this," said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. "Once NSO's systems are sold, governments can essentially use them however they want. NSO can say they're trying to make the world a safer place, but they are also making the world a more surveilled place."
The NSO Group's capabilities are in higher demand now that companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are using stronger encryption to protect data in their systems, in the process making it harder for government agencies to track suspects.
The NSO Group's spyware finds ways around encryption by baiting targets to click unwittingly on texts containing malicious links or by exploiting previously undiscovered software flaws. It was taking advantage of three such flaws in Apple software - since fixed - when it was discovered by researchers last month.
The cyberarms industry typified by the NSO Group operates in a legal gray area, and it is often left to the companies to decide how far they are willing to dig into a target's personal life and what governments they will do business with. Israel has strict export controls for digital weaponry, but the country has never barred the sale of NSO Group technology.
Since it is privately held, not much is known about the NSO Group's finances, but its business is clearly growing. Two years ago, the NSO Group sold a controlling stake in its business to Francisco Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, for $120 million. Nearly a year later, Francisco Partners was exploring a sale of the company for 10 times that amount, according to two people approached by the firm but forbidden to speak about the discussions.
The company's internal documents detail pitches to countries throughout Europe and multimillion-dollar contracts with Mexico, which paid the NSO Group more than $15 million for three projects over three years, according to internal NSO Group emails dated in 2013.
"Our intelligence systems are subject to Mexico's relevant legislation and have legal authorization," Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for the Mexican embassy in Washington, said in an emailed statement. "They are not used against journalists or activists. All contracts with the federal government are done in accordance with the law."
Zamir Dahbash, an NSO Group spokesman, said that the sale of its spyware was restricted to authorized governments and that it was used solely for criminal and terrorist investigations. He declined to comment on whether the company would cease selling to the U.A.E. and Mexico after last week's disclosures.
For the last six years, the NSO Group's main product, a tracking system called Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies to target a range of smartphones - including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems - without leaving a trace.
Among the Pegasus system's capabilities, NSO Group contracts assert, are the abilities to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations. One capability that the NSO Group calls "room tap" can gather sounds in and around the room, using the phone's own microphone.
Pegasus can use the camera to take snapshots or screen grabs. It can deny the phone access to certain websites and applications, and it can grab search histories or anything viewed with the phone's web browser. And all of the data can be sent back to the agency's server in real time.
In its commercial proposals, the NSO Group asserts that its tracking software and hardware can install itself in any number of ways, including "over the air stealth installation," tailored text messages and emails, through public Wi-Fi hot spots rigged to secretly install NSO Group software, or the old-fashioned way, by spies in person.
Much like a traditional software company, the NSO Group prices its surveillance tools by the number of targets, starting with a flat $500,000 installation fee. To spy on 10 iPhone users, NSO charges government agencies $650,000; $650,000 for 10 Android users; $500,000 for five BlackBerry users; or $300,000 for five Symbian users - on top of the setup fee, according to one commercial proposal.
You can pay for more targets. One hundred additional targets will cost $800,000, 50 extra targets cost $500,000, 20 extra will cost $250,000 and 10 extra costs $150,000, according to an NSO Group commercial proposal. There is an annual system maintenance fee of 17 percent of the total price every year thereafter.
What that gets you, NSO Group documents say, is "unlimited access to a target's mobile devices." In short, the company says: You can "remotely and covertly collect information about your target's relationships, location, phone calls, plans and activities - whenever and wherever they are."
And, its proposal adds, "It leaves no traces whatsoever."
Sep 02, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
"Commentary: Who is hacking U.S. election databases and why are they so difficult to identify?" [ Reuters ]. "This summer has been rife with news of election-related hacking. Last month it was the Democratic National Committee; this week, voter election databases in Illinois and Arizona…
The FBI has said that government-affiliated Russian hackers are responsible for both intrusions. Yet the hackers' motivation is unclear. We don't know whether the hackers were engaging in espionage, attempting to manipulate the election, or just harvesting low-hanging cyber-fruit for their own financial gain." Well, the FBI is totes apolitical, so that settles that. There are brave Russkis out there. Let's go kill them!
So much for keeping the military out of politics:
In a joint statement, two Four Star Generals, Bob Sennewald and David Maddox are endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. Sennewald is the former Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command, and Maddox was formerly Commander in Chief, U.S. Army- Europe. Clinton spoke at the American Legion on Wednesday:
"Having each served over 34 years and retired as an Army 4- star general, we each have worked closely with America's strongest allies, both in NATO and throughout Asia. Our votes have always been private, and neither of us has ever previously lent his name or voice to a presidential candidate. Having studied what is at stake for this country and the alternatives we have now, we see only one viable leader, and will be voting this November for Secretary Hillary Clinton."
This week we also published a terrific piece by John LaForge, which demolishes once and for one of America's most cherished lies: that the US simply had to drop two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities to end the war and save hundreds of thousands of US and Japanese lies. Even Curtis "Mad Bomber" LeMay knew this was bullshit. So did Ike, who sent word to Truman that he thought the plan was insane. You can see why the myth took root. What nation that sees itself a force of goodness and virtue and humanity could live with itself after incinerating two cities and unleashing nuclear terror upon the world?
It seems like I've known Nicholas Schou forever, though we just pressed flesh for the first time last year in the LBC. His ground-breaking reporting on the Contra-Cocaine network in southern California was crucial source material for a book that Cockburn and I wrote called Whiteout. Nick's own book on Gary Webb is excellent and it was turned into a fine movie, Kill the Messenger. Now Nick has published a new book, Spooked, a terrific and timely history of how the CIA manipulates the media and Hollywood (both useful idiots of the Agency). And, speaking of the devil, here Nick is telling us all about it in the latest installment of CounterPunch Radio with the indefatigable Eric Draitser.
The Unz Review
The mass migration of apparently hundreds of nominally GOP neocon apparatchiks to the Hillary Clinton camp has moved Democratic Party foreign policy farther to the right, not that the presidential nominee herself needed much persuading. The Democratic convention platform is a template of the hardline foreign policy positions espoused by Clinton and the convention itself concluded with a prolonged bout of Russian bashing that could have been orchestrated by Hillary protégé Victoria Nuland.
The inside the beltway crowd has realized that when in doubt it is always a safe bet to blame Vladimir Putin based on the assumption that Russia is and always will be an enemy of the United States. Wikileaks recently published some thousands of emails that painted the Democratic National Committee, then headed by Hillary loyalist Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in a very bad light. Needing a scapegoat, Russia was blamed for the original hack that obtained the information, even though there is no hard evidence that Moscow had anything to do with it.
Those in the media and around Hillary who were baying the loudest about how outraged they were over the hack curiously appear to have no knowledge of the existence of the National Security Agency, located at Fort Meade Maryland, which routinely breaks into the government computers of friends and foes alike worldwide. Apparently what is fair game for American codebreakers is no longer seen so positively when there is any suggestion that the tables might have been turned.
Republican nominee Donald Trump noted that if the Russians were in truth behind the hack he would like them to search for the 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton reportedly deleted from her home server. The comment, which to my mind was sarcastically making a point about Clinton's mendacity, brought down the wrath of the media, with the New York Times reporting that "foreign policy experts," also sometimes known as "carefully selected 'Trump haters,'" were shocked by The Donald. The paper quoted one William Inboden, allegedly a University of Texas professor who served on President George W. Bush's National Security Council. Inboden complained that the comments were "an assault on the Constitution" and "tantamount to treason." Now I have never heard of Inboden, which might be sheer ignorance on my part, but he really should refresh himself on what the Constitution actually says about treason, tantamount or otherwise. According to Article III of the Constitution of the United States one can only commit treason if there is a declared war going on and one is actively aiding an enemy, which as far as I know is not currently the case as applied to the U.S. relationship with Russia.
Another interesting aspect of the Russian scandal is the widespread assertion that Moscow is attempting to interfere in U.S. politics and is both clandestinely and openly supporting Donald Trump. This is presumably a bad thing, if true, because Putin would, according to the pundits, be able to steamroll "Manchurian Candidate" President Trump and subvert U.S. foreign policy in Russia's favor. Alternatively, as the narrative continues, the stalwart Hillary would presumably defend American values and the right to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at any time against all comers including Putin and those rascals in China and North Korea. Professor Inboden might no doubt be able to provide a reference to the part of the Constitution that grants Washington that right as he and his former boss George W. Bush were also partial to that interpretation.
And the alleged Russian involvement leads inevitably to some thoughts about interference by other governments in our electoral system. Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so in a rather heavy handed fashion in 2012 on behalf of candidate Mitt Romney but I don't recall even a squeak coming out of Hillary and her friends when that took place. That just might be due to the fact that Netanyahu owns Bill and Hillary, which leads inevitably to consideration of the other big winner now that the two conventions are concluded. The team that one sees doing the victory lap is the state of Israel, which dodged a bigtime bullet when it managed to exploit its bought and paid for friends to eliminate any criticism of its military occupation and settlements policies. Indeed, Israel emerged from the two party platforms as America's best friend and number one ally, a position it has occupied since its Lobby took control of the Congress, White House and the mainstream media around thirty years ago.
Donald Trump, who has perversely promised to be an honest broker in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, has also described himself as the best friend in the White House that Tel Aviv is ever likely to have. In addition to Trump speaking for himself, Israel was mentioned fourteen times in GOP convention speeches, always being described as the greatest ally and friend to the U.S., never as the pain in the ass and drain on the treasury that it actually represents.
No other foreign country was mentioned as often as Israel apart from Iran, which was regularly cited as an enemy of both the U.S. and – you guessed it – Israel. Indeed, the constant thumping of Iran is a reflection of the overweening affection for Netanyahu and his right wing government. Regarding Iran, the GOP foreign policy platform states "We consider the Administration's deal with Iran, to lift international sanctions and make hundreds of billions of dollars available to the Mullahs, a personal agreement between the President and his negotiating partners and non-binding on the next president. Without a two-thirds endorsement by the Senate, it does not have treaty status. Because of it, the defiant and emboldened regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism across the region, develop a nuclear weapon, test-fire ballistic missiles inscribed with 'Death to Israel,' and abuse the basic human rights of its citizens."
The final written Republican platform for 2016 as relating to the Middle East, drawn up with the input of two Trump advisors Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, rather supports the suggestion that Trump would be pro-Israel rather than the claim of impartiality. The plank entitled "Our Unequivocal Support of Israel and Jerusalem," promises to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, praises Israel in five different sections, eulogizing it as a "beacon of democracy and humanity" brimming over with freedom of speech and religion while concluding that "support for Israel is an expression of Americanism." It pledges "no daylight" between the two countries, denies that Israel is an "occupier," and slams the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which it describes as anti-Semitic and seeking to destroy Israel. It calls for legal action to "thwart" BDS. There is no mention of a Palestinian state or of any Palestinian rights to anything at all.
The Democratic plank on the Middle East gives lip service to a two state solution for Israel-Palestine but is mostly notable for what it chose to address. Two Bernie Sanders supporters on the platform drafting committee James Zogby and Cornel West wanted to remove any illegal under international law affirmation that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel and also sought to eliminated any condemnation of BDS. They failed on both issues and then tried to have included mild language criticizing Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its settlement building. They were outvoted by Hillary supporters on all the issues they considered important. Indeed, there is no language at all critical in any way of Israel, instead asserting that "a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism." That none of that was or is true apparently bothered no one in the Hillary camp.
The Democratic platform document explicitly condemns any support for BDS. Hillary Clinton, who has promised to take the relationship with Israel to a whole new level, has reportedly agreed to an anti-BDS pledge to appease her principal financial supporter Haim Saban, an Israeli-American film producer. Clinton also directly and personally intervened through her surrogate on the committee Wendy Sherman to make sure that the party platform would remain pro-Israel.
But many Democrats on the floor of the convention hall have, to their credit, promoted a somewhat different perspective, displaying signs and stickers while calling for support of Palestinian rights. One demonstrator outside the convention center burned an Israeli flag, producing a sharp response from Hillary's spokeswoman for Jewish outreach Sarah Bard, "Hillary Clinton has always stood against efforts to marginalize Israel and incitement, and she strongly condemns this kind of hatred. Burning the Israeli flag is a reckless act that undermines peace and our values." Bill meanwhile was seen in the hall wearing a Hillary button written in Hebrew. It was a full court press pander and one has to wonder how Hillary would have felt about someone burning a Russian flag or seeing Bill sport a button in Cyrillic.
Team Hillary also ignored chants from the convention floor demanding "No More War" and there are separate reports suggesting that one of her first priorities as president will be to initiate a "full review" of the "murderous" al-Assad regime in Syria with the intention of taking care of him once and for all. "No More War" coming from the Democratic base somehow became "More War Please" for the elites that run the party.
The Democratic platform also beats down on Iran, declaring only tepid support for the nuclear deal while focusing more on draconian enforcement, asserting that they would "not hesitate to take military action if Iran violates the agreement." It also cited Iran as "the leading state sponsor of terrorism" and claimed that Tehran "has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East." For what it's worth, neither assertion about Iran's regional role is true and Tehran reportedly has complied completely with the multilateral nuclear agreement. It is the U.S. government that is failing to live up to its commitments by refusing to allow Iranian access to financial markets while the Congress has even blocked an Iranian bid to buy Made-in-the-U.S.A. civilian jetliners.
So those of us who had hoped for at least a partial abandonment of the hitherto dominant foreign policy consensus have to be disappointed as they in the pro-war crowd in their various guises as liberal interventionists or global supremacy warriors continue to control much of the discourse from left to right. Russia continues to be a popular target to vent Administration frustration over its inept posturing overseas, though there is some hope that Donald Trump might actually reverse that tendency. Iran serves as a useful punchline whenever a politician on the make runs out of other things to vilify. And then there is always Israel, ever the victim, perpetually the greatest ally and friend. And invariably needing some extra cash, a warplane or two or a little political protection in venues like the United Nations.
If you read through the two party platforms on foreign policy, admittedly a brutal and thankless task, you will rarely find any explanation of actual American interests at play in terms of the involvement of the U.S. in what are essentially other people's quarrels. That is as it should be as our political class has almost nothing to do with reality but instead is consumed with delusions linked solely to acquisition of power and money. That realization on the part of the public has driven both the Trump and Sanders movements and, even if they predictably flame out, there is always the hope that the dissidents will grow stronger with rejection and something might actually happen in 2020.
original.antiwar.comAugust 03, 2016 | Antiwar.com
Washington is preparing to increase US aid to Israel by billions of dollars, with a ten-year ironclad agreement that couldn't be altered by President Obama's successor. But that isn't good enough for Bibi Netanyahu. He wants more. Much more.
Unlike the case with other countries, the US engages in protracted and often difficult negotiations with Israel over how much free stuff they're going to get come budget time. This year, the talks are taking on a particularly urgent tone because of … you guessed it, Donald Trump. While Trump is fervently pro-Israel, he has said that the Israelis, like our NATO allies, are going to have to start paying for their own defense (although with him, you never know what his position is from one day to the next ). This uncertainty has the two parties racing to sign an agreement before President Obama's term is up in January. And it also has inspired the inclusion of a novel clause: a ten-year guarantee that aid will remain at the agreed level, with no possibility that the new President – whoever that may be – will lower it.
The Israelis currently receive over half the foreign aid doled out by Uncle Sam annually, most of it in military assistance with an extra added dollop for "refugee resettlement." That combined with loan guarantees comes to roughly $3.5 billion per year – with all the money handed to them up front, in the first weeks of the fiscal year, instead of being released over time like other countries.
So how much is this increase going to amount to? With negotiations still ongoing, the US isn't releasing any solid figures, although Bibi, we are told, is demanding $5 billion annually. The New York Times is reporting the final sum could "top $40 billion." What we do know is that the administration told Congress in a letter that they are prepared to offer Tel Aviv an aid package "that would constitute the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in US history." In addition, it would guarantee US aid for Israel's missile defense, taking it out of the annual appropriations song-and-dance, and immunizing it from any cuts.
Aside from the "haggling" – as the Times put it – over the amount, there is another issue: the Israeli exception to a rule that applies to all other recipients of American aid. Other countries must spend their welfare check in dollars – that is, they must buy American. Not the Israelis. They're allowed to spend up to 25% of their aid package at home: which means that US taxpayers have been subsidizing the Israeli military-industrial complex to the tune of multi-billions since the 1980s, when this special arrangement was legislated. However, in an era where "America First" is now a popular political slogan – popularized by You Know Who – the Obama administration is trying to end this exception to the rules. Naturally, the Israelis are resisting, but, according to Ha'aretz :
"The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said the White House was prepared to let Israel keep the arrangement for the first five years of the new MOU but it would be gradually phased out in the second five years, except for joint U.S.-Israeli military projects."
If the rabidly pro-Israel Hillary Clinton takes the White House, you can expect that this concession will be re-negotiated: in any case, the Israel lobby will wield its considerable resources to get Congress to pressure the White House.
In their letter to Congress, national security honcho Susan Rice and OMB chief Shaun Donovan evoke the Iran deal as justification for this new and sweeter aid package. Yet this argument undermines the administration's contention that the agreement with Iran doesn't endanger Israel – because if it doesn't, then why do the Israelis need billions more in aid in the first place?
What the letter tiptoes around is the fact that this aid package is extortion, pure and simple. It's a purely political attempt by the Obama White House to appease the Israelis, and mobilize the Israel lobby behind the Democrats in a crucial election year. It's important to keep Haim Saban happy.
As Glenn Greenwald points out in The Intercept , the Israelis have cradle-to-grave health care. Their life-expectancy is nearly a decade longer than ours. Their infant mortality rate is lower. By any meaningful measure, their standard of living is higher. They should be sending us aid: instead, the opposite is occurring.
What in the heck is going on here?
We made possible the Israeli Sparta : a state armed to the teeth which thrives on the misery and enslavement of its dispossessed Palestinian helots. Furthermore, our policy of unconditional support for Israel has encouraged the growth and development of a polity that is rapidly going fascist. And I don't use the "f"-word lightly. I've been chronicling Israel's slide toward a repulsive ethno-nationalism for years , and today – with the rise of ultra-rightist parties that openly call for the expulsio n of Arabs and the expansion of the Israeli state to its Biblically-ordained borders – my predictions are coming true.
The "special relationship" is a parasitic relationship: the Israelis have been feeding off US taxpayers since the Reagan era. This in spite of the numerous insults , slights, and outright sabotage they have directed our way. It's high time to put an end to it. To borrow a phrase from You Know Who: it's time to put America first.
What this means in practice is: 1) End aid to Israel, 2) Call out the Israelis for their shameful apartheid policies, and 3) end the power of the Israel lobby by enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act and compelling AIPAC and its allied organizations to register as foreign agents. Because that's just what they are.
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
Wikipedia isn't as satisfactory (to me) on anti-militarism, so I'll essentially reverse the definition above, and offer the following provisional definitionAnti-militarism is the belief or desire that a military expenditure should held to the minimum required to protect a country against armed attack and that, with the exception of self-defense, military power should not be used to promote national interests
I'd want to qualify this a bit, but it seems like a good starting point.
... ... ...
My case for anti-militarism has two main elements.
- First, the consequentialist case against the discretionary use of military force is overwhelming. Wars cause huge damage and destruction and preparation for war is immensely costly. Yet it is just about impossible to find examples where a discretionary decision to go to war has produced a clear benefit for the country concerned, or even for its ruling class. Even in cases where war is initially defensive, attempts to secure war aims beyond the status quo ante have commonly led to disaster.
- Second, war is (almost) inevitably criminal since it involves killing and maiming people who have done nothing personally to justify this; not only civilians, but soldiers (commonly including conscripts) obeying the lawful orders of their governments.
Having made the strong case, I'll admit a couple of exceptions. First, although most of the above has been posed in terms of national military power, there's nothing special in the argument that requires this. Collective self-defense by a group of nations is justified (or not) on the same grounds as national self-defense.
... ... ...
[^1]: The deleted word "aggressive" is doing a lot of work here. Almost no government ever admits to being aggressive. Territorial expansion is invariable represented as the restoration of historically justified borders while the overthrow of a rival government is the liberation of its oppressed people. So, no one ever has to admit to being a militarist.
Dylan 07.04.16 at 6:20 am 2Is it obvious that limiting use of military force to self-defense entails a minimal capability for force projection?
If the cost of entirely securing a nation's territory (Prof Q, you will recognise the phrase "Fortress Australia") is very high relative to the cost of being able to threaten an adversary's territorial interests in a way that is credible and meaningful – would it not then be unavoidably tempting to appeal to an expanded notion of self-defence and buy a force-projection capability, even if your intent is genuinely peaceful?
To speculate a little further – I would worry that so many people would need to be committed to "national defence" on a purely defensive model that it would have the unintended side effect of promoting a martial culture that normalises the use of armed force.
Of course, none of this applies if everyone abandons their force-projection capability – but is that a stable equilibrium, even if it could be achieved?
Lowhim 07.04.16 at 6:24 am 3Well, you'll be pleased to know that they're working hard on WWI's perception . Many of us working against militarism. Not easy. And the linked NYtimes piece is worth reading.
Ze K 07.04.16 at 7:21 am 4I think it'd make sense to talk about imperialism, rather than militarism. Military is just a tool. One could, for example, bribe another country's military leaders, or finance a paramilitary force in the targeted state, or just organize a violence-inciting mass-media campaign to produce the same result.
bad Jim 07.04.16 at 7:54 am 5We'd need an alternative history of the Cold War to work through the ramifications of a less aggressive Western military. Russia would have developed nuclear weapons even if there hadn't been an army at its borders, and the borders of the Eastern bloc were arguably more the result of opportunity than necessity. The colonial wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan and everywhere else could be similarly described.
After World War I, the chastened combatants sheepishly disarmed, cognizant of their insanity. World War II taught a different lesson, perhaps because, in contrast to the previous kerfuffle, both the Russian and American behemoths became fully engaged and unleashed their full industrial and demographic might, sweeping their common foes from the field, and found themselves confronting each other in dubious peace.
Both sides armed for the apocalypse with as many ways to bring about the end of civilization as they could devise, all the while mindlessly meddling with each other around the globe. Eventually the Russians gave up; their system really was as bad as we thought, and Moore's law is pitiless: the gap expands exponentially. They've shrunk, and so has their military.
So why is America such a pre-eminent bully, able to defeat the rest of the world combined in combat? Habit, pride, domestic politics, sure; but blame our allies as well. Britain and France asked us to to kick ass in Libya, and Syria is not that different. We've got this huge death-dealing machine and everyone tells us how to use it.
Ridiculous as it is, it's not nearly as bad as it was a hundred years ago, or seventy, or forty. We may still be on course to extinguish human civilization, but warfare no longer looks like its likely cause.
david 07.04.16 at 8:14 amAs you point out in fn1, nobody seems to ever fight "aggressive" wars. By the same token, there's no agreed status quo ante. For France in 1913, the status quo ante bellum has Lorraine restored to France. Also, Germany fractures into Prussia and everyone else, and the Germans should go back to putting out local regionalist fires (as Austria-Hungary is busy doing) rather than challenging French supremacy in Europe and Africa please.Anderson 07.04.16 at 9:07 am
The position advanced in the essay is one for an era where ships do not hop from coaling station to coaling station, where the supremacy of the Most Favoured Nation system means that powerful countries do not find their domestic politics held hostage for access to raw materials controlled by other countries, where shipping lanes are neutral as a matter of course, and where the Green Revolution has let rival countries be content to bid, not kill, for limited resources. We can argue over whether this state of affairs is contingent on the tiger-repelling rock or actual, angry tigers, but I don't think we disagree that this is the state of affairs, at least for the countries powerful enough to matter.
But, you know, that's not advice that 1913 would find appealing, which is a little odd given the conceit that this is about the Somme. The Concert of Europe bounced from war to war to war. Every flag that permits war in this 'anti-militarist' position is met and then some. It was unending crisis after crisis that miraculously never escalated to total war, but no country today would regard crises of those nature as acceptable today – hundreds of thousands of Germans were besieging Paris in 1870! Hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen were dead! If Napoleon III had the Bomb he would have used it. But he did not. There was no three score years of postwar consumer economy under the peaceful shadow of nuclear armageddon.
3: "After World War I, the chastened combatants sheepishly disarmed, cognizant of their insanity." One could only wish this were true. Germany was disarmed by force and promptly schemed for the day it would rearm; Russia's civil war continued for some years; France and Britain disarmed because they were broke, not because they'd recognized any folly. … Quiggin, I don't know if you read Daniel Larison at The American Conservative; his domestic politics would likely horrify us both, but happily
jake the antisoshul sohulist 07.04.16 at 1:32 pm
Other than the reference to "the redempive power of war", the mythification of the military is not mentioned in the definition of militarism. I don't think a definition of militarism can focus only on the political/policy aspects and ignore the cultural aspects.
Militarism is as much cultural as it is political, and likely even more so.
Theophylact 07.04.16 at 2:17 pm
Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant (To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace).
LFC 07.04.16 at 4:55 pm
from the OP:
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
The counterargument to this statement is that the world's 'great powers' did indeed learn something from the Great War: namely, they learned that great-power war is a pointless endeavor. Hitler of course didn't learn that, which is, basically, why WW2 happened. But there hasn't been a great-power war - i.e., a sustained conflict directly between two or more 'great' or major powers - since WW2 (or some wd say the Korean War qualifies as a great-power war, in which case 1953 wd be the date of the end of the last great-power war).
The next step is to extend the learned lesson about great-power war to other kinds of war. That extension has proven difficult, but there's no reason to assume it's forever impossible.
p.s. There are various extant definitions of 'great power', some of which emphasize factors other than military power. For purposes of this comment, though, one can go with Mearsheimer's definition: "To qualify as a great power, a state [i.e., country] must have sufficient military assets to put up a serious fight in an all-out conventional war against the most [militarily] powerful state in the world" (The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001), p.5). Using this definition of 'great power', the last war in which two or more great powers directly fought each other in any kind of sustained fashion (i.e. more than a short conflict of roughly a week or two [or less]) was, as stated above, either WW2 or Korea (depending on one's view of whether China qualified as a great power at the time of the Korean War).
Lupita 07.04.16 at 7:06 pm
ZM @ 7 quoting Mary Kaldor:
An emphasis on justice and accountability for war crimes, human rights violations and economic crimes, is something that is demanded by civil society in all these conflicts. Justice is probably the most significant policy that makes a human security approach different from current stabilisation approaches.
Bringing Bush, Blair, and Aznar to justice would be the greatest deterrent for further war. I like the part about economic crimes. Justice brings peace.
Kevin Cox 07.04.16 at 9:19 pm
The place to start is with the Efficient Market Hypothesis as the mechanism to allocate resources. This hypothesis says that entities compete for markets. War is a tool of competition for resources. Think Iraq.
Instead of allocating resources via markets let us allocate resources cooperatively via the ideas of the Commons. Start with "Think like a Commoner: A short introduction to the Life of the Commons" by David Bollier.
A country that uses this approach to the allocation of resources will not want to go to war and will try to persuade other countries to use the same approach.
The place to start is with renewable energy. Find a way to "distribute renewable energy" based on the commons and anti militarism will likely follow.
Anarcissie 07.05.16 at 12:31 am
Lupita 07.04.16 at 10:22 pm @ 46 -
While the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal hanged Nazis for doing exactly what Bush 2 and company did, I doubt if starting a war of aggression is against U.S. law in an enforceable way. However, since the war was completely unjustified, I suppose Bush could be charged with murder (and many other crimes). This sort of question is now rising in the UK with regard to Blair because of the Chilcot inquiry.
Ze K 07.05.16 at 1:29 pm
Not in internal national politics, but in international law. There's something called 'crimes againt peace', for example. Obviously it's not there to prosecute leaders of boss-countries, but theoretically it could. And, in fact, the fact that it's accepted that the leaders of powerful countries are not to be procesuted is exactly a case of perversion of justice you are talking about… no?
Anarcissie 07.05.16 at 1:56 pm
Watson Ladd 07.05.16 at 3:57 am @ 56 -
According to what I read at the time the US, or at least some of its leadership, encouraged the Georgian leadership to believe that if they tried to knock off a few pieces of Russia, the US would somehow back them up if the project didn't turn out as well as hoped. Now, I get this from the same media that called the Georgian invasion of Russia 'Russian aggression' so it may not be very reliable, but that's what was said, and the invasion of a state the size of Russia by a state the size of Georgia doesn't make much sense unless the latter thought they were going to get some kind of help if things turned out badly. I guess the model was supposed to be the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, but bombing the hell out of Serbia is one thing and bombing the hell out of Russia quite another.
It is interesting in regard to Georgia 2008 to trace the related career of Mr. Saakashvili, who was then the president of Georgia, having replaced Mr. Shevardnadze in one of those color revolutions, and was reported to have said that he wanted Georgia to become America's Israel in central Asia. The Georgians apparently did not relish this proposed role once they found out what it entailed and kicked him out. He subsequently popped up in Ukraine, where according to Wikipedia he is the governor of the Odessa Oblast, whatever that means. Again, I get this from our media, so it may all be lies; but it does seem to make a kind of sense which I probably don't need to spell out.
Ze K 07.05.16 at 2:10 pm
No, south Ossetia was a part of Georgia. They were fighting for autonomy (Georgia is a bit of an empire itself), and Russian peacekeeping troops were placed there to prevent farther infighting. One day, Georgian military, encouraged by US neocons, started shelling South Ossetian capital, killing, among other people, some of the Russian peacekeeprs, and this is how the 2008 war started.
Ze K 07.05.16 at 2:31 pm
…a lot of these ethnic issues in Georgia are really the legacy of stalinism, when in many places (Abkhazia, for sure) local populations suffered mass-repressions with ethnic Georgians migrating there and becaming majorities (not to mention, bosses). Fasil Iskander, great Abkhaz writer, described that. Once the USSR collapsed, it all started to unwind, and Georgia got screwed. Oh well.
Anarcissie 07.05.16 at 4:34 pm
Ze K 07.05.16 at 2:38 pm @ 80 -
The Russian ruling class experimented with being the US ruling class's buddy in the 1990s, sort of. It didn't work well for them. The destruction of Yugoslavia, the business in Abkhazia and Ossetia, the coup in Ukraine, the American intervention in Syria which must seem (heh) as if aimed at the Russian naval base at Tartus, the extensions of NATO, the ABMs, and so on, these cannot have been reassuring. Reassurance then had to come from taking up bordering territory, building weapons, and the like. Let us hope the Russian leadership do not also come to the conclusion that the best defense is a good offense.
Lupita 07.05.16 at 5:52 pm
We're a nation of killers.
Justice can ameliorate that problem. For example, Pinochet being indicted, charged, and placed under house arrest until his death (though never convicted) for crimes against humanity, murder, torture, embezzlement, arms trafficking, drugs trafficking, tax fraud, and passport forgery and, in Argentina, Videla getting a life sentence plus another 500 being convicted with many cases still in progress, at the very least may give pause to those who would kill and torture as a career enhancement move in these countries and, hopefully, throughout Latin America. Maybe one of these countries can at least indict Kissinger for Operación Cóndor and give American presidents something extra to plan for when planning their covert operations.
For heads of state to stop behaving as if they were untouchable and people believing that they are, we need more convictions, more accountability, more laws, more justice.
Asteele 07.05.16 at 7:42 pm
In a capitalist system if you can make money by impoverishing others you do it. There are individual capitalists and firms that make money off of war, the fact that the public at large sees no aggregate benefit in not a problem for them.
Anarcissie 07.05.16 at 8:35 pm
LFC 07.05.16 at 5:28 pm @ 85 -
I think that, on the evidence, one must doubt (to put it mildly) that either the Russian or the American leadership care whether Mr. Assad is a nice person or not. They have not worried much about a lot of other not-nice people over recent decades as long as the not-nice people seemed to serve their purposes. Hence I can only conclude that the business in Syria, which goes back well before the appearance of the Islamic State, is dependent on some other variable, like maybe the existence of a Russian naval base in mare nostrum. I'm just guessing, of course; more advanced conspiratists see Israeli, Iranian, Saudi, and Turkish connections. Note as well that the business in Ukraine involved a big Russian naval base. And I used to heard it said that navies were obsolete!
ZM 07.06.16 at 7:06 am
There has been coverage in The Guardian about the Chilcot report into the UK military interventions in Iraq.
"The former civil servant promised that the report would answer some of the questions raised by families of the dead British soldiers. "The conversations we've had with the families were invaluable in shaping some of the report," Chilcot said.
Some of the families will be at the launch of the report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, at Westminster. Others will join anti-war protesters outside who are calling for Blair to be prosecuted for alleged war crimes at the international criminal court in The Hague.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday, Karen Thornton, whose son Lee was killed in Iraq in 2006, said she was convinced that Blair had exaggerated intelligence about Iraq's capabilities.
"If it is proved that he lied then obviously he should be held accountable for it," she said, adding that meant a trial for war crimes. "He shouldn't be allowed to just get away with it," she said. But she did not express confidence that Chilcot's report would provide the accountability that she was hoping for. "Nobody's going to be held to account and that's so wrong," she said. "We just want the truth."
Chilcot insisted that any criticism would be supported by careful examination of the evidence. "We are not a court – not a judge or jury at work – but we've tried to apply the highest possible standards of rigorous analysis to the evidence where we make a criticism."
Jeremy Corbyn, who will respond to the report in parliament on Wednesday, is understood to have concluded that international laws are neither strong nor clear enough to make any war crimes prosecution a reality. The Labour leader said last year Blair could face trial if the report found he was guilty of launching an illegal war.
Corbyn is expected to fulfil a promise he made during his leadership campaign to apologise on behalf of Labour for the war. He will speak in the House of Commons after David Cameron, who is scheduled to make a statement shortly after 12.30pm. "
Layman 07.06.16 at 11:45 am
Only Tony Blair could read the Chilcot report and claim it vindicates his conduct.
LFC 07.06.16 at 5:48 pm
B. Dunbar @123
Interstate wars have declined, and the 'logic' you identify might be one of various reasons for that.
The wars dominating the headlines today - e.g. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine/Donetsk/Russia - are not, however, classic interstate wars. They are either civil wars or 'internationalized' civil wars or have a civil-war aspect. Thus the 'logic' of business-wants-peace-and-trade doesn't really apply there. Apple doesn't want war w China but Apple doesn't care that much whether there is a prolonged civil war in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, etc.
So even if one accepted the argument that 'capitalism' leads to peace, we'd be left w a set of wars to which the argument doesn't apply. I don't have, obvs., the answer to the current conflicts. I think (as already mentioned) that there are some steps that might prove helpful in general if not nec. w.r.t. specific conflict x or y.
The Kaldor remark about reversing the predatory economy - by which I take it she means, inter alia, black-market-driven, underground, in some cases criminal commerce connected to war - is suggestive. Easier said than done, I'm sure. Plus strengthening peacekeeping. And one cd come up w other things, no doubt.
Ze K 07.06.16 at 6:35 pm
@120, 121, yes, Georgians living in minority areas did suffer. But ethnic cleansing/genocides that would've most likely taken place should the Georgian government have had its way were prevented. Same as Crimea and Eastern Ukraine two years ago. This is not too difficult to understand – if you try – is it? Similarly (to Georgians in Abkhasia) millions of ethnic Russians suffered in the new central Asian republics, in Chechnya (all 100% were cleansed, many killed), and, in a slightly softer manner, in the Baltic republics… But that's okay with you, right? Well deserved? It's only when Abkhazs attack Georgians, then it's the outrage, and only because Russia was defending the Abkhazs, correct?
Lupita 07.07.16 at 3:23 pm
My impression since yesterday is that, while Brits are making a very big deal out of the Chilcot report, with much commentary about how momentous it is and the huge impact it will have, coverage of this event by the US media is notoriously subdued, particularly compared with the hysterical coverage Brexit got just some days ago. This leads me to believe that it is indeed justice that is feared the most by western imperialists such as Bush, Blair, Howard, Aznar, and Kwaśniewski and the elites that supported them and continue to cover up for them. I take this cowardly and creepy silence in the US media as an indicator that Pax Americana is so weakened that it cannot withstand the light of justice being shined upon it and that the end is near.
Anarcissie 07.07.16 at 3:46 pm
Lupita 07.07.16 at 3:23 pm @ 147 - For the kind of people in the US who pay attention to such things, the Chilcot Report is not really news. And the majority don't care, as witness the fortunes of the Clintons.
Anarcissie 07.08.16 at 12:25 am
Brett Dunbar 07.07.16 at 11:47 pm @ 160 -
If capitalist types are so totally against war, it's hard to understand why the grand poster child of capitalism, the plutocratic United States, is so addicted to war. It is hard to consider it an aberration when the US has attacked dozens of countries not threatening it over the last fifty or sixty years, killed or injured or beggared or terrorized millions of noncombatants, and maintains hundreds of overseas bases and a world-destroying nuclear stockpile. What could the explanation possibly be?
As human powers of production increase, at least in potential, existing scarcities of basic goods such as food, medicine, and housing are overcome. If people now become satisfied with their standard of living - not totally satisfied, but satisfied enough not to sweat and strain all the time for more - sales, profits, and employment will fall, and capitalists will become less important. In order to retain their ruling-class role, there needs to be a constant crisis of production-consumption which only the capitalist masters of industry can solve. Hence new scarcities must be produced. The major traditional methods of doing this have been imperialism, war, waste, and consumerism (including advertising). Conceded, major processes of environmental destruction such as climate change and the vitiating of antibiotics may lead to powerful new self-reinforcing scarcities which will take their place next to their traditional relatives, so that producing new scarcities would be less of a problem.
Anarcissie 07.08.16 at 2:30 am
LFC 07.08.16 at 1:30 am @ 163:
'OTOH, I don't think capitalism esp. needs war to create this kind of scarcity….'
But then one must explain why the major capitalist powers have engaged in so much of it, since it is so dirty and risky. I suppose one possible explanation is that whoever has the power to do so engages in it, capitalist or not; it is hardly a recent invention. However, I am mindful of the position of the US at the end of World War 2, with 50% of the worlds total productive capacity. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive! So war turned out to be pretty handy for some people. And now we have lots of them.
Matt_L 07.08.16 at 3:32 am
John Quiggin, I think your definition of militarism is flawed. I think that cultural attitudes and the social status of the military are very important as well. To paraphrase Andrew Bacevich, Militarism is the idea that military solutions to a country's problems are more effective than they really are. Militarism assumes that the military's way of running things is inherently correct. A militaristic society glorifies violence and the people who carry it out in the name of the state.
I also think that just reducing military spending or the capacity for military action is not enough to counter serious militarism. Austria-Hungary was a very militaristic society, but it spent the less on armaments than the other European Powers in the years leading up to 1914. The leaders of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy caused World War One by invading Serbia for a crime committed by a Bosnian Serb subject of the Monarchy. They had some good guesses that the Serbian military intelligence was involved, but not a lot of proof.
Franz Joseph and the other leaders chose to solve a foreign policy problem by placing armed force before diplomacy and a complete criminal investigation. Their capacity to wage war relative to the other great powers of Europe did not enter into their calculations. They chose force first and dealt with the consequences later. So militarism can exist and flourish on a tight budget. Its all about mentality.
stevenjohnson 07.08.16 at 9:29 pm
"Great Power warfare became a lot less common after 1815, at the same point that the most advanced of the great powers developed capitalism."
In Europe, locus of the alleged Long Peace, there were the Greek Rebellion; the First and Second Italian Wars of Independence; the First and Second Schleswig Wars; the Seven Weeks War; the Crimean War; the Franco-Prussian War; the First and Second Balkan Wars. Wars between a major capitalist state and another well established modern state included the Opium Wars; the Mexican War; the French invasion of Mexico; the War of the Triple Alliance; the War of the Pacific; the Spanish-American War; the Russo-Japanese War. Assaults by the allegedly peaceful capitalist nations against non-state societies or weak traditional states are too numerous to remember, but the death toll was enormous, on a scale matching the slaughter of the World Wars.
Further the tensions between the Great Powers threatened war on numerous occasions, such as conflict over the Oregon territory; the Aroostook "war;" the Trent Affair; two Moroccan crises; the Fashoda Incident…again, these are too numerous to remember.
The notion that capitalism is peaceful is preposterous, even if you accept the bizarre notion that only wars between the capitalist Great Powers really count as wars. It's true that it's tacitly presumed by many, perhaps most, learned authorities. But that is an indictment of the authorities, not a justification for the claim. The closely related claim that capitalism is responsible for technological advancement on inspection suggests that the real story is that technological progress enabled the European states to begin empires that funded capitalist development.
Hidari 07.09.16 at 11:13 am
' Capitalist states tend to avoid war with their trading partners.'
This has an element of truth in it, but it can be parsed in a number of ways. For example, 'Rich, powerful countries tend to avoid war with other rich, powerful countries'. After all, in the 2nd half of the 20th century, the US avoided going to war with Russia, despite having clear economic interests in doing so (access to natural resources, markets) mainly because Russia was strong (not least militarily) and the cost-benefit matrix never made sense (i.e. from the Americans' point of view).
A much stronger case can be made that self-proclaimed Socialist states tend not to go to war with each other. After all, there were big fallings out between the socialist (or 'socialist', depending on your point of view) countries in the 20th century but they rarely turned to war, and when they did (Vietnam-Cambodia, Vietnam-China) they were short term and relatively limited in scope. The Sino-Soviet split was a split, not a war.
But again this is probably not the best way to look at it. A much stronger case can be made that the basic reason for the non-appearance of a Chinese-Russian war was simply the size and population of those countries. The risks outweighed any potential benefits.
Of course, between 1914 and 1945, lots of capitalist states went to war with each other.
Anarcissie 07.09.16 at 3:22 pm
Layman 07.09.16 at 2:59 pm @ 188 -
One explanation, I think already given, is that the capitalist powers were too busy with imperial seizures in what we now call the Third World to fight one another. In the New World, the United States and some South American states were busy annihilating the natives, speaking of ethnic cleansing. If capitalism is a pacific influence, the behavior of the British and American ruling classes since 1815 seems incomprehensible, right down to the present: the plutocrat Clinton ought to be the peace candidate, not the scary war freak.
Hidari 07.09.16 at 5:44 pm
Surely (assuming that it's real) the decline in wars in some parts of the world since 1945 is because of the Pax Americana?
Most countries are too frightened to attack (at least directly) the United States. There is a sense in which the US really is the 'Global Policeman'.
Anarcissie 07.09.16 at 11:55 pm
Or the global Mafia capo di tutti capi.
Ze K 07.10.16 at 6:39 am
WaPo: Trump, Adviser Carter Page are 'Broadly Non-Interventionist'
…WaPo continues that Trump is "broadly noninterventionist, questioning the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and calling for Europe to play a larger role in ensuring its security." Page, too, "has regularly criticized U.S. intervention":
In one article for Global Policy Journal, he wrote, "From U.S. policies toward Russia to Iran to China, sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority stand at the root of many problems seen worldwide today."
Page wrote that the war in eastern Ukraine was "precipitated by U.S. meddling in the Maidan revolution…
And so, here we are: Trump is the lesser evil in this cycle. Vote Trump, save the world.
LFC 07.10.16 at 2:40 pm
Surely (assuming that it's real) the decline in wars in some parts of the world since 1945 is because of the Pax Americana?
Started to write a long reply but decided no point. Shorter version: reasons for no WW2-style-war in Europe from '45 to '90 are multiple; 'pax Americana' only one factor of many.
End of CW was destabilizing in various ways (e.g., wars in ex-Yugoslavia) but so far not enough to reverse the overall trend in Europe. Decline in destructiveness of conflict in some (not all) other parts of the world has to do in large part w change in nature/type of conflict (sustained interstate wars have traditionally been the most destructive and they don't happen much or at all anymore, for reasons that are somewhat debatable, but, again, pax Americana wd be only one of multiple reasons, if that).
LFC 07.10.16 at 2:54 pm
Re Carter Page (see Ze K @194)
Page refused [speaking in Moscow] refused to comment specifically on the U.S. presidential election, his relationship with Trump or U.S. sanctions against Russia, saying he was in Russia as a "private citizen." He gave a lecture, titled "The Evolution of the World Economy: Trends and Potential," in which he noted that Russia and China had achieved success in Central Asia, unlike the United States, by pursuing a respectful [sic] foreign policy based on mutual interest.
He generally avoided questions on U.S. foreign policy, but when one attendee asked him whether he really believed the United States was a "liberal, democratic society," Page told him to "read between the lines."
"If I'm understanding the direction you're coming from, I tend to agree with you that it's not always as liberal as it may seem," he said. "I'm with you."
In a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board in March, Trump named Page, a former Merrill Lynch executive in Moscow who later advised the Russian state energy giant Gazprom on major oil and gas deals, as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page refused to say whether his Moscow trip included a meeting with Russian officials. He is scheduled to deliver a graduation address Friday at the New Economic School, a speech that some officials are expected to attend.
Above quote is from the Stars & Stripes piece, evidently republished from WaPo, linked at the 'Washington's Blog' that Ze K linked to.
If you want to put for. policy in the hands of the likes of Carter Page (former Merrill Lynch exec., Gazprom adviser), vote Trump all right.
HRC's for. policy advisers may not be great, but I don't think this guy Page is better. He does have connections to the Russian govt as a past consultant, apparently, which is no doubt why Ze K is so high on him.
Ze K 07.10.16 at 3:16 pm
You bet this guy Page is better. Anyone is better.
And why would I care at all (let alone "no doubt") if he was a Gazprom consultant? What the fuck was that supposed to mean? Asshole much?
LFC 07.10.16 at 5:25 pm
And why would I care at all (let alone "no doubt") if he was a Gazprom consultant?
B.c Gazprom is a Russian state-owned company and a fair inference from your many comments on this blog (not just this thread but others) is that you are, in general, favorably disposed to the present Russian govt. and its activities. Not Gazprom in particular necessarily, but the govt in general. You make all these comments and then get upset when they are read to say what they say.
You consistently attack HRC as a war-monger, as corrupt etc. You consistently say anyone wd be better. "Vote Trump save the world." You said there was no Poland in existence in '39 when the USSR invaded it. Your comments and exchanges in this thread are here for anyone to read, so I don't have to continue.
Ze K 07.10.16 at 5:44 pm
"You make all these comments and then get upset when they are read to say what they say. "
You're right; come to think of it, you've been into slimeball-style slur for a while now, and I should've gotten used to it already, and just ignored you. Fine, carry on.
Anarcissie 07.11.16 at 2:19 am
@Hidari 07.10.16 at 2:57 pm @ 197 -
Although the term 'global policeman' (or 'cops of the world') is mostly used ironically (in my experience), 'policeman' does have a straight meaning, denoting a person who operates under the authority of law, whereas the supreme Mafia capo is a law and authority unto himself, at least until someone assassinates him. I think this second metaphor more closely approximates the position and behavior of the present United States.
mikedow. 3d ago
Ambrose Bierce lost much public cachet when he predicted(?) McKinley would meet with a bullet, as some believed his words were assumed as justification by the assassin.
From his "Devil's Dictionary":
WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. "In time of peace prepare for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end-that change is the one immutable and eternal law-but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth. It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his "stately pleasure dome"-when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu- that he heard from afar Ancestral voices prophesying war.
One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of "hands across the sea," and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.
His entry just previous to this is for:
WALL STREET, n. A symbol of sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven...
I have a copy of his book "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians"; it's like reading a depressive version of Edgar Allen Poe, all foreboding and involving some supernatural force. Perhaps that's all he could find to explain the madness of the Civil War.
May 28, 2016 | theguardian.com
As America marks Memorial Day, politicians should spare us the saber-rattling and reserve some space for silence
... ... ...
The times are such that fantasy war-mongering is solidly mainstream. We've seen candidates call for a new campaign of "shock and awe" (Kasich), for carpet-bombing and making the desert glow (Cruz), for "bomb[ing] the shit out of them" (Trump), for waterboarding "and a hell of a lot worse" (Trump again), and for pre-emptive strikes and massive troop deployments (Jeb). One candidate purchased a handgun as "the last line of defense between Isis and my family" (Rubio), and the likely Democratic nominee includes "the nail-eaters – McChrystal, Petraeus, Keane" among her preferred military advisers, and supports "intensification and acceleration" of US military efforts in Iraq and Syria. Yes, America has many enemies who heartily hate our guts and would do us every harm they're able to inflict, but the failures of hard power over the past 15 years seem utterly lost on our political class. After the Paris attacks last December, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard suggested that a force of 50,000 US troops deployed to Syria, supported by air power, would crush Isis in short order, leading to the liberation of Fallujah, Mosul, and other Isis strongholds. "I don't think there's much in the way of unanticipated side-effects that are going to be bad there," opined Kristol – funny guy! – who back in 2002 said that removing Saddam Hussein "could start a chain reaction in the Arab world that would be very healthy".
... ... ...
"A night of waking," as Bierce tersely described it years later. The sheer volume and accuracy of ordnance made this a new kind of war, a machine for pulping acres of human flesh. Regardless of who was winning or losing, shock-and-awe was the common experience of both sides; Confederate and Union soldiers alike could hardly believe the things they were doing and having done to them, and when Bierce turned to the writer's trade after the war, some fundamental rigor or just plain contrariness wouldn't let him portray his war in conventionally heroic terms. In his hands, sentimentality and melodrama became foils for twisted jokes. Glory was ambiguous at best, a stale notion that barely hinted at the suicidal nature of valor in this kind of war. A wicked gift for honesty served up the eternal clash between duty and the survival instinct, as when, early in the war, Bierce and his fellow rookies come across a group of Union dead:How repulsive they looked with their blood-smears, their blank, staring eyes, their teeth uncovered by contraction of the lips! The frost had begun already to whiten their deranged clothing. We were as patriotic as ever, but we did not wish to be that way.
... ... ...
Black humor sits alongside mordantly cool accounts of battles, wounds, horrors, absurd and tragic turns of luck. There are lots of ghosts in Bierce's work, a menagerie of spirits and bugaboos as well as hauntings of the more prosaic sort, people detached in one way or another from themselves – amnesiacs, hallucinators, somnambulists, time trippers. People missing some part of their souls. Often Bierce writes of the fatal, or nearly so, shock, the twist that flips conventional wisdom on its back and shows reality to be much darker and crueler than we want to believe. It's hard not to read the war into much of Bierce's writing, even when the subject is ostensibly otherwise. He was the first American writer of note to experience modern warfare, war as mass-produced death, and the first to try for words that would be true to the experience. He charted this new terrain, and it's in Bierce that we find the original experience that all subsequent American war writers would grapple with. Hemingway and Dos Passos in the first world war; Mailer, Heller, Jones and Vonnegut in the second world war; O'Brien, Herr and Marlantes in Vietnam: they're all heritors of Bierce.
It's not decorative, what these writers were going for. They weren't trying to write fancy, or entertain, or preach a sermon; they weren't writing to serve a political cause, at least not in any immediate sense. One suspects that on some level they didn't have a choice, as if they realized they would never know any peace in themselves unless they found a way of writing that, if it couldn't make sense of their war, at least respected it. Words that represented the experience for what it was, without illusion or fantasy. Words that would resist the eternal American genius for cheapening and dumbing down.
.... ... ...
...unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it's no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF, the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing.
Maybe they get away with it because we the people who keep voting them into office don't know anything about war ourselves. We know the fantasy version, the movie version, but only that 1% of the nation – and their families – who have fought the wars truly know the hardship involved. For the rest of us, no sacrifice has been called for: none. No draft. No war tax (but huge deficits), and here it bears noting that the top tax rate during the second world war was 90%. No rationing, the very mention of which is good for a laugh. Rationing? That was never part of the discussion. But those years when US soldiers were piling sandbags into their thin-skinned Humvees and welding scrap metal on to the sides also happened to coincide with the heyday of the Hummer here at home. Where I live in Dallas, you couldn't drive a couple of blocks without passing one of those beasts, 8,600 hulking pounds of chrome and steel. Or for a really good laugh, how about this: gas rationing. If it's really about the oil, we could support the troops by driving less, walking more. Or suppose it's not about the oil at all, but about our freedoms, our values, our very way of life – that it's truly "a clash of civilizations", in the words of Senator Rubio. If that's the case, if this is what we truly believe, then our politicians should call for, and we should accept no less than, full-scale mobilization: a draft, confiscatory tax rates, rationing.
Some 3.5 million Americans fought in the civil war, out of a population of 31 million. For years the number killed in action was estimated at 620,000, though recent scholarship suggests a significantly higher figure, from a low of 650,000 to a high of 850,000. In any case, it's clear that the vast majority of American families had, as we say these days, skin in the game. The war was real; having loved ones at risk made it real. Many saw battles being fought in their literal backyards. Lincoln himself watched the fighting from the DC ramparts, saw men shot and killed. The lived reality of the thing was so brutally direct that it would be more than 50 years before the US embarked on another major war. To be sure, there was the brief Spanish-American war in 1898, and a three-year native insurgency in the Philippines, and various forays around the Caribbean and Central America, but the trauma of the civil war cut so deep and raw that the generation that fought it was largely cured of war. Our own generation's appetite seems steadily robust even as we approach the 15th anniversary of the AUMF, which, given the circumstances, makes sense. As long as we're cocooned in our comfortable homeland fantasy of war, one can safely predict a long and successful run for the Era of the Chickenhawk
Bierce survived his own war, barely. Two weeks after writing to a friend "my turn will come", and one day before his 22nd birthday, he was shot in the head near Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. The sniper's ball broke his skull "like a walnut", penetrating the left temple, fracturing the temporal lobe and doglegging down and around behind his left ear, where it stayed. Head shots in that era were almost always fatal, but Bierce survived not only the initial wound, but an awful two-day train ride on an open flatcar to an army hospital in Chattanooga.
He recovered, more or less. Not the easiest personality to begin with, Bierce showed no appreciable mellowing from his war experience. His life is an ugly litany of feuds, ruptures, lawsuits, friends betrayed or abandoned, epic temper tantrums and equally epic funks. He was a lousy husband – cold, critical, philandering – and essentially abandoned his wife after 17 years of marriage. His older son shot himself dead at age 16, and the younger drank himself to death in his 20s; for his own part, Bierce maintained a lifelong obsession with suicide. In October 1913, after a distinguished, contentious 50-year career that had made him one of the most famous and hated men in America, Bierce left Washington DC and headed for Mexico, intending to join, or report on – it was never quite clear – Pancho Villa's revolutionary army. En route, dressing every day entirely in black, he paid final visits to the battlefields of his youth, hiking for miles in the Indian summer heat around Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge, Hell's Half-Acre. For one whole day at Shiloh he sat by himself in the blazing sun. In November he crossed from Laredo into Mexico, and was never heard from again, an exit dramatic enough to inspire a bestselling novel by Carlos Fuentes, The Old Gringo, and a movie adaptation of the same name starring Gregory Peck.
Late in life, Bierce described his military service in these terms:It was once my fortune to command a company of soldiers – real soldiers. Not professional life-long fighters, the product of European militarism – just plain, ordinary American volunteer soldiers, who loved their country and fought for it with never a thought of grabbing it for themselves; that is a trick which the survivors were taught later by gentlemen desiring their votes.
About those gentlemen – and women – desiring votes: since when did it become not just acceptable but required for politicians to hold forth on Memorial Day? Who gave them permission to speak for the violently dead? Come Monday we'll be up to our ears in some of the emptiest, most self-serving dreck ever to ripple the atmosphere, the standard war-fantasy talk of American politics along with televangelist-style purlings about heroes, freedoms, the supreme sacrifice. Trump will tell us how much he loves the veterans, and how much they love him back. Down-ticket pols will re-terrorize and titillate voters with tough talk about Isis. Hemingway, for one, had no use for this kind of guff, as shown in a famous passage from A Farewell to Arms:There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of the places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.caravanserai , 2016-05-31 01:46:32The author, like most Americans, is in denial about America's role in the world. The reason the US spends more on defense than the next 12 countries has nothing to do with self-defense. America wants to maintain its global military dominance. Both parties agree on this. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the war's purpose was to demonstrate American military power. Bill Kristol takes this a stage further and wants America to play the role of global hegemon and be in a state of constant war. This is a stupid idea.JohnManyjars , 2016-05-31 01:12:38
Even if Saddam had WMDs, he still had nothing to do with 9/11. The politicians are very good at finding new scapegoats and switching the blame. A bunch of Saudis attacked the US on 9/11 so invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden moves to Pakistan so pretend you don't know where he is. Some European terrorists kill other Europeans so Hillary wants to invade Syria. The assumption seems to be that all Muslims are the same, it does not matter where you kill them.Fantastic writing...shame Murika won't listen to any of it.
Reading the comments and conversations below, I found myself sickened and saddened by how many of my fellow Americans can read a considered and well written article like this and imagine it is a partisan screed.
It is a simple an obvious fact that the people most eager to see the US go to war, in every generation, are not the people who will suffer and die in those wars. Today is our Memorial Day. This is an article suggesting we, as Americans, stop and think about the people who were wounded and those who died in service to our country. Set aside your partisan rage and consider those people and their deaths, before you listen to words from any politician calling for more of those deaths.
"Endless war," but it's not only attacks against other nations, it's a war against civil liberties thus leading to a state in which, whistle blowers, folks who poke holes in the government's 911 theory or complain about military operations in the China Sea may be considered unpatriotic, maybe worse.DubikauA friend recently asked, "What's the big deal about wars? I'v seen them on TV lots of times. They have nothing to do with me." Alas, a generation or two after a devastating conflict, it seems people forget. The lessons of history are unknown or irrelevant to the ignorant, the horror beyond imagination. That the clown, Trump, has made it this far is a living horror movie. As Emerson said about someone:Bellanova Nova
"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."
He's a liar and a joke. Neither friends nor enemies can take him seriously and he is unpredictable.Excellent article.Philip Lundt
We must start talking seriously about Trump's pathology guarantees conflict and chaos, and should he get elected, an escalation of an endless war. The ramifications of his incurable and uncontrollable character defect in a political leader are dire and people should be educated about them before it's too late: https://medium.com/@Elamika/the-unbearable-lightness-of-being-a-narcissist-251ec901dae7#.xywh6cceu
As a veteran I have to ask you Ben: who gave you "permission to speak for the violently dead?"villas1
A lot of people love Donald Trump. It's not because they are racists warmongers, ignorant, misinformed or stupid. Veterans overwhelmingly support Donald trump. Go ahead call us racists and warmongers too.
And the hypocrisy of all this is how Hillary Clinton doesn't have a problem with war. She participated in toppling Libya and she was doing the same to Syria. So how is it all about Trump and what a war monger he is?Bravo. War is a racket.olman132 -> villas1As practiced in the US, certainly. The corporations that sell war materiel actively push their products, ensure the support of the government through political contributions, and engage in blackmail by spreading out manufacturing over many locations. In this manner, the only way to profit is by selling weapons, killing more people. What state or city will want to lose employment by letting a manufacturer close? It is incredibly difficult to close an un-needed military base for the same reason, whether here or abroad. War is a great racket, the US has it down pat.Jim GivenWhen your'e putting your life at risk in a war zone wondering if you're going to make it back home, there's damned little discussion about politics. Whatever your reasons might have been for signing on the dotted line, all that matters then is the sailor, soldier, marine or airman standing beside you. It's discouraging, although painfully predictable, to read so few comments about veterans and so many comments about divisive politics.MshandHillary Clinton has started more wars, caused more death than Donald Trump....and yet....you don't mention that do you "We came, He died, We Laughed"USApatriot12Unfortunately we're in a position where the United States is a debtor nation, and the easiest way to keep the house of cards from falling is to maintain "full spectrum dominance" in the words of the Pentagon. There's no easy way to unwind this situation. It is, however, absolutely crucial to keep a known psychopath like Clinton out of the command chair.
For over 30 years, Americans have been carefully "programmed" 24/7, by deliberate Fear / Fear / Fear propaganda, so we would believe that the entire world is full of evil, maniacal enemies out to "get us."
Of course there always ARE insane haters out there, who are either jealous of America's wealth, or who (more sophisticated than that) resent America's attempt to colonize-by-marketing, the entire world for its unchecked capitalism. Two sides of the same American "coin." Those who are conscripting jobless, hopeless young men overseas to be part of an equally mad "fundamentalist" army against America ~ benefit hugely FROM our militarism, which "proves their point," from their warped perspective.
Thus do the (tiny minority) of crazy America-haters out there (who we help create WITH our militarism), serve as ongoing Perfectly Plausible Proof for Paranoia ~ the fuel for 24/7 fear/fear/fear propaganda. And who benefits from that propaganda? Oh wait, let us all think on that. For five seconds.
In 1959, Republican war hero and President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us against combining the incentives of capitalism with the un-audited profitability of wars: the "military industrial complex." But in we Americans' orgy of personal materialism since the 1960's, we all forgot his warning and have let that "complex" take over the nation, the world, all our pocketbooks (53% or more of our treasury now goes to "defense" ~ what a lying word THAT is).
Answer? It it the 1-percent, crazily Wealth Hoarder super-rich who (a) profit insanely from Eternal War and who now own (b) America's so-called "free press" (ha ha), the latter of which now slants all news towards Threat, Fear, and War, again, 24/7. And now that "their" Nazi Supreme Court has ruled that "money" = free speech, that same of sociopathic criminal class ALSO is coming to own politics. Welcome to fully blooming Corporate Fascism, folks.
In his book "1984" George Orwell wrote, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." Have we fallen so far that we are living that nightmare without question? When we hear the voices of politicians, with those on the political right being the most egregious offenders, clamoring for war, we must not forget the cost. Not just in terms of treasure, but especially of the blood spilled by our men and women in uniform. Ask, "Are the causes they are being asked to fight...and die...for, worthy of the sacrifice?"
Jim Given -> bullypulpit
I'm afraid that yes, we actually have fallen that far. The Patriot Act is the quintessential example. Who could possibly oppose something called The Patriot Act?
Jim Given -> bullypulpit
The War on Terror, another fine example. What, you oppose fighting terrorists? The language stifles (reasoned) dissent. It's brilliant, really.
Every year I get an uncomfortable sensation around Memorial Day. I know why now thanks to this article. I didn't serve in the armed forces. Not for want. I was a post Vietnam teenager. The armed forces were a joke during the Carter years and the US was in the middle of detante with the USSR. Nothing to fight about and the word terrorist was still a few years away from being reinvented. My Dad was a decorated veteran of the police action in Korea. He lost his best friend there. He rarely talked about it. He and I sat on the couch watching the fall of Saigon on TV. He silently cried. It was all for not. All those lives, all that misery, all for nothing but power and glory. He knew it and I've known it since but just couldn't put a finger on it. Thanks for this article.
talenttruth -> Tom Farkas
Tom, what a beautiful post. My husband and I (recently married after we were finally "allowed" to, just like "real people"), are both Vietnam veterans (we had to "hide" in order to serve). And I had majored in college in "U.S. Constitutional History," then worked worked (ironically!) in the advertising "industry" (the Lie Factory) for enough years to see how America, business and our society actually works, INSTEAD of "constitutionally."
My self-preoccupied generation sleepwalked from the 1960's until now, foolishly allowing the super-rich to gradually make nearly every giant corporation dependent on military contracts.
Example? The European Union has openly subsidized its aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. But here, in the USA ~ that would be "socialism," and so Boeing was forced instead (in order to compete) to rely on military contracts ("military welfare.") They're both "government subsidization," but ours is crooked.
So what do we get when all corporations "must have" ongoing Business, in order to keep their insatiable profits rolling in? Eternal War. And its "unfortunate side effects" - maimed veterans, dead soldiers, sailors and airmen, and the revolting hypocrisy of "Memorial Day."
On that day, we pay "respect" to those who died serving the Military Marketing Department for America's totally out of control, unchecked capitalism, which only serves the overlords at the top.
Sorry to sound so grim, but I did not serve my country, to have it thus stolen.
When congress votes to fund wars then [they need to] add 75% more for after care. As a combat veteran it pisses me off that [instead] charities are used to care for us. Most are run by want a be military, Senease, types. No charities, it's up to American people to pay every penny for our care, they voted for the war mongers so, so pay up people. Citizens need to know true costs, tax raises, cuts in SS , welfare, cuts in schools. Biggest thing, all elected officials and families and those work for them must use VA hospitals, let's see how that works out.
Jim Given -> Barclay Reynolds
Failure to care for our veterans is a national disgrace. Thanks for your service brother.
SusanPrice58 -> Barclay Reynolds
I agree. While I'm sure that most of these charities try to do well, it always makes me angry to think about why the need for charities to care for veterans exists. If we are determined to fight these wars - then every citizen should have to have deep involvement of some sort. Raise taxes, ration oil, watch footage of battles, restore the draft - whatever. Instead, we insulate ourselves in a nice, warm cocoon of "Support Our Veterans" slogans and flag waving.
"Endless war: Trump and the fantasy of cost-free conflict "
How about Hillary and the fantasy of war, PERIOD. There hasn't been a war she didn't like. Did you listen to her AIPAC speech? No 2 State solution there.
The obscene amount of money the US pays just on the interest on the trillions "borrowed" for the Afghanistan and Iraq adventures would fix most that is wrong with the world. Bush & Cheney discovered if you don't raise taxes, require financial sacrifices, and do not have a draft, that you can wage bogus wars of choice for over a decade without so much as a peep of protest from the public. It is sickening how much good that money could do instead of all the death and destruction it bought.AllenPitt"So easy to be the hero in your wet dreams, your shooter games, your securely located war rooms stocked with emergency rations and the external defibrillator. This sort of unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it's no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF, the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing."
It is actually NOT Donald Trump who is advocating the endless global conflict and confrontation with Russia, China, India, Iran, Europe and North Korea. The candidate secretly advocating a never-ending war with the rest of the world is -- Madame Secretary, Hillary Clinton, in person. Aided and abetted - publicly - by her right-hand woman, another Madame Secretary, Madeleine Albright and yet another Madame Undersecretary, Samantha Power. All chicken hawks, all neoconservatives, all pseudo-democrats, all on Wall Street payroll, all white, and all women who will never see a second of combat for the rest of their lives.
So, the very major premise of the article is flawed and unsustainable. Which, of course, then makes the entire article collapse as false and misleading.
MOZGODRK -> arrggh
But you are missing the entire point. Trump is NOT advocating the conflict; he is advocating that we TALK to our enemies, so his lack of combat experience is a moot point.
On the other hand, the Clintons, the Alzhe...er, Albright, and the Samantha Power-Tripp are all totally kosher with sending millions to die, knowing that they themselves will not experience a nanosecond of hot cognitive experience.
John Mearsheimer who is a history professor at the University of Chicago wrote a great book about American foreign policy. Mearsheimer explains how American foreign policy has developed over the centuries. He argues that it firs objective was to dominate the Western Hemisphere before extending its reach to Asia and Europe. The War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine was part of a plan to dominate the Americas. The U.S. stopped Japan and Germany dominating Asia and Europe in the 20th century. The U.S. continued to view the British Empire as its greatest threat and Roosevelt set about dismantling it during WW2. Once WW2 was won, the Soviet Union became America's new adversary and it maintained forces in Europe to check Soviet expansion.
Mearsheimer argues that the U.S. is often in denial about its behavior and Americans are taught that the U.S. is altruistic and a force for good in the world. Measheimer states that "idealist rhetoric provided a proper mask for the brutal policies that underpinned the tremendous growth of American power." In 1991 the U.S. became the world's only super-power and according to Mearsheimer its main foreign policy objective was to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. Following the difficult wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. is less certain of its global role. Mearsheimer claims that America's foreign policy elite is still largely made up of people who want to keep America on top, but these days they usually prefer to keep their views under wraps. Trump seems to be proposing something completely different.Trump is not proposing anything different. His foreign policy is the same as the establishment. He is not anti-war, nor more hawkish than Obama or Clinton. Trumps FP is unilateral i.e. The US will go it alone without the UN or anyone else, attack any country he feels is threatning, without paying attention to intl. law, or "political correctness" as he calls it, i.e. the US will kill and torture as many ppl as it feels like to feel safe, and pay no attention to the Geneva Conventions. Other statements about his intended FP, that the msm calls shocking, has already been done, i.e. bomb the crap out of people, kill families of terrorists, waterboarding and much worse. These have been common policies since 9/11 & before. Another policy is to steal Iraq's oil. This has been de facto US FP in the Middle East since Eisenhower. The difference is that Trump says it outright. He makes subtext into the text.FalanxI agree with the overall point of this article... but focusing on the GOP and Trump, detracts from its otherwise valid points. What about Wilson, Truman, Johnson, Clinton, Obama and Hillary? Especially Hillary ("We came, We saw, He died") who evidently considers herself a latter day Caesar. The plain fact is that the US was conceived as a warmongering nation. Everyone else in the world understands this.DanInTheDesertWow. What a fantastic article . This is what we need in the era of twitter journalism -- a long think piece. Thank you.[*]
Having said that I have disagree with the conclusion -- we have just a little over a week to avoid a forced choice between two hawks. The chances are slim but not impossible -- be active this weekend. Phonebank for Sanders. Convince a Californian to show up and vote.
Trump is the only candidate I've ever heard question the cost of war, it's part of the reason he said we should flush NATO and we can't police the world for free any longer.
Kenarmy -> PrinceVlad
"Donald Trump would deploy up to 30,000 American soldiers in the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State, he said at Thursday night's debate."
30,000? More like 300,000! The 30,000 will be the dead and wounded. But hey, Trump went to a military academy high school, and thus he has a military background ("always felt that I was in the military" because he attended a military boarding school)- http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/donald-trump-military-service-213392#ixzz49yKU9awC
PrinceVlad -> Kenarmy
I have no problem with destroying ISIS. I have a problem with fighting Russia over every former Soviet state on their doorstep ala Madam Secretary. The best way to remember the war dead is to work to ensure that their ranks do not swell.
[*] and if anyone is reading who deals with such things -- y'all need to accept paypal or bitcoin so I can subscribe. Who uses their credit card online anymore?
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and ProsperitySpeaking last week with host Scott Horton on the Scott Horton Show, three-time presidential candidate and former Republican member of the US House of Representatives Ron Paul discussed the military-industrial complex's role in US militarism across the world, including in Latin America and Europe.
After Horton introduced Paul as "the greatest American hero," Paul and Horton entered a fascinating discussion of US foreign policy. Their wide-ranging discussion concerns matters including US intervention in Iraq and Ukraine, a potential "Brexit" - exit of Great Britain from the European Union (EU), and Paul's preference for free trade over international trade deals that Paul says put in place "managed trade to serve the interests of some special interests."
Addressing the influence of the military-industrial complex, Paul comments in the interview on examples in Europe and Latin America.
Speaking of the US putting more troops in Europe near the Russian border, Paul notes that he doesn't think "they have strong evidence that the Russians are about to roll in tanks." Instead, a motivation for the military build-up, Paul says, is "stirring up troubles to justify more military expenditures."
Paul also comments on the military-industrial complex when he discusses how a dispute over which company would profit from its helicopters being used in the US government's "Plan Columbia" was resolved by sending both companies' helicopters to Latin America for use in the drug war effort.
Listen to Paul's complete interview here.
Listen through the end of the interview and you will hear Horton's strong praise for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (RPI). Paul founded RPI in 2013 after retiring from the House of Representatives. Says Horton:Check out the Ron Paul Institute at ronpaulinstitute.org. They put out great antiwar propaganda all day long seven days a week - the great Dan McAdams, Dr. Paul, Adam Dick and others there at the Ron Paul Institute, ronpaulinstitute.org.Read here Paul's April 10 editorial "As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions" discussed in the interview.
Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute
www.theamericanconservative.comby Andrew J. BacevichLet's face it: in times of war, the Constitution tends to take a beating. With the safety or survival of the nation said to be at risk, the basic law of the land-otherwise considered sacrosanct-becomes nonbinding, subject to being waived at the whim of government authorities who are impatient, scared, panicky, or just plain pissed off.
The examples are legion. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln arbitrarily suspended the writ of habeas corpus and ignored court orders that took issue with his authority to do so. After U.S. entry into World War I, the administration of Woodrow Wilson mounted a comprehensive effort to crush dissent, shutting down anti-war publications in complete disregard of the First Amendment. Amid the hysteria triggered by Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order consigning to concentration camps more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, many of them native-born citizens. Asked in 1944 to review this gross violation of due process, the Supreme Court endorsed the government's action by a 6-3 vote.
More often than not, the passing of the emergency induces second thoughts and even remorse. The further into the past a particular war recedes, the more dubious the wartime arguments for violating the Constitution appear. Americans thereby take comfort in the "lessons learned" that will presumably prohibit any future recurrence of such folly.
Even so, the onset of the next war finds the Constitution once more being ill-treated. We don't repeat past transgressions, of course. Instead, we devise new ones. So it has been during the ongoing post-9/11 period of protracted war.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States embraced torture as an instrument of policy in clear violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. Bush's successor, Barack Obama, ordered the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen, a death by drone that was visibly in disregard of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Both administrations-Bush's with gusto, Obama's with evident regret-imprisoned individuals for years on end without charge and without anything remotely approximating the "speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury" guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Should the present state of hostilities ever end, we can no doubt expect Guantánamo to become yet another source of "lessons learned" for future generations of rueful Americans.
Yet one particular check-and-balance constitutional proviso now appears exempt from this recurring phenomenon of disregard followed by professions of dismay, embarrassment, and "never again-ism" once the military emergency passes. I mean, of course, Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the authority "to declare war" and still stands as testimony to the genius of those who drafted it. There can be no question that the responsibility for deciding when and whether the United States should fight resides with the legislative branch, not the executive, and that this was manifestly the intent of the Framers.
On parchment at least, the division of labor appears straightforward. The president's designation as commander-in-chief of the armed forces in no way implies a blanket authorization to employ those forces however he sees fit or anything faintly like it. Quite the contrary: legitimizing presidential command requires explicit congressional sanction.
Actual practice has evolved into something altogether different. The portion of Article I, Section 8, cited above has become a dead letter, about as operative as blue laws still on the books in some American cities and towns that purport to regulate Sabbath day activities. Superseding the written text is an unwritten counterpart that goes something like this: with legislators largely consigned to the status of observers, presidents pretty much wage war whenever, wherever, and however they see fit. Whether the result qualifies as usurpation or forfeiture is one of those chicken-and-egg questions that's interesting but practically speaking beside the point.
This is by no means a recent development. It has a history. In the summer of 1950, when President Harry Truman decided that a U.N. Security Council resolution provided sufficient warrant for him to order U.S. forces to fight in Korea, congressional war powers took a hit from which they would never recover.
Congress soon thereafter bought into the notion, fashionable during the Cold War, that formal declarations of hostilities had become passé. Waging the "long twilight struggle" ostensibly required deference to the commander-in-chief on all matters related to national security. To sustain the pretense that it still retained some relevance, Congress took to issuing what were essentially permission slips, granting presidents maximum freedom of action to do whatever they might decide needed to be done in response to the latest perceived crisis.
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 offers a notable example. With near unanimity, legislators urged President Lyndon Johnson "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression" across the length and breadth of Southeast Asia. Through the magic of presidential interpretation, a mandate to prevent aggression provided legal cover for an astonishingly brutal and aggressive war in Vietnam, as well as Cambodia and Laos. Under the guise of repelling attacks on U.S. forces, Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, thrust millions of American troops into a war they could not win, even if more than 58,000 died trying.
To leap almost four decades ahead, think of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as the grandchild of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. This document required (directed, called upon, requested, invited, urged) President George W. Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons." In plain language: here's a blank check; feel free to fill it in any way you like.
As a practical matter, one specific individual-Osama bin Laden-had hatched the 9/11 plot. A single organization-al-Qaeda-had conspired to pull it off. And just one nation-backward, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan-had provided assistance, offering sanctuary to bin Laden and his henchmen. Yet nearly 15 years later, the AUMF remains operative and has become the basis for military actions against innumerable individuals, organizations, and nations with no involvement whatsoever in the murderous events of September 11, 2001.
Consider the following less than comprehensive list of four developments, all of which occurred just within the last month and a half:
- In Yemen, a U.S. airstrike killed at least 50 individuals, said to be members of an Islamist organization that did not exist on 9/11.
- In Somalia, another U.S. airstrike killed a reported 150 militants, reputedly members of al-Shabab, a very nasty outfit, even if one with no real agenda beyond Somalia itself.
- In Syria, pursuant to the campaign of assassination that is the latest spin-off of the Iraq War, U.S. special operations forces bumped off the reputed "finance minister" of the Islamic State, another terror group that didn't even exist in September 2001.
- In Libya, according to press reports, the Pentagon is again gearing up for "decisive military action"-that is, a new round of air strikes and special operations attacks to quell the disorder resulting from the U.S.-orchestrated air campaign that in 2011 destabilized that country. An airstrike conducted in late February gave a hint of what is to come: it killed approximately 50 Islamic State militants (and possibly two Serbian diplomatic captives).
Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Libya share at least this in common: none of them, nor any of the groups targeted, had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.
Imagine if, within a matter of weeks, China were to launch raids into Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan, with punitive action against the Philippines in the offing. Or if Russia, having given a swift kick to Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, leaked its plans to teach Poland a lesson for mismanaging its internal affairs. Were Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin to order such actions, the halls of Congress would ring with fierce denunciations. Members of both houses would jostle for places in front of the TV cameras to condemn the perpetrators for recklessly violating international law and undermining the prospects for world peace. Having no jurisdiction over the actions of other sovereign states, senators and representatives would break down the doors to seize the opportunity to get in their two cents worth. No one would be able to stop them. Who does Xi think he is! How dare Putin!
Yet when an American president undertakes analogous actions over which the legislative branch does have jurisdiction, members of Congress either yawn or avert their eyes.
In this regard, Republicans are especially egregious offenders. On matters where President Obama is clearly acting in accordance with the Constitution-for example, in nominating someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court-they spare no effort to thwart him, concocting bizarre arguments nowhere found in the Constitution to justify their obstructionism. Yet when this same president cites the 2001 AUMF as the basis for initiating hostilities hither and yon, something that is on the face of it not legal but ludicrous, they passively assent.
Indeed, when Obama in 2015 went so far as to ask Congress to pass a new AUMF addressing the specific threat posed by the Islamic State-that is, essentially rubberstamping the war he had already launched on his own in Syria and Iraq-the Republican leadership took no action. Looking forward to the day when Obama departs office, Senator Mitch McConnell with his trademark hypocrisy worried aloud that a new AUMF might constrain his successor. The next president will "have to clean up this mess, created by all of this passivity over the last eight years," the majority leader remarked. In that regard, "an authorization to use military force that ties the president's hands behind his back is not something I would want to do." The proper role of Congress was to get out of the way and give this commander-in-chief carte blanche so that the next one would enjoy comparably unlimited prerogatives.
Collaborating with a president they roundly despise-implicitly concurring in Obama's questionable claim that "existing statutes [already] provide me with the authority I need" to make war on ISIS-the GOP-controlled Congress thereby transformed the post-9/11 AUMF into what has now become, in effect, a writ of permanent and limitless armed conflict. In Iraq and Syria, for instance, what began as a limited but open-ended campaign of air strikes authorized by President Obama in August 2014 has expanded to include an ever-larger contingent of U.S. trainers and advisers for the Iraqi military, special operations forces conducting raids in both Iraq and Syria, the first new all-U.S. forward fire base in Iraq, and at least 5,000 U.S. military personnel now on the ground, a number that continues to grow incrementally.
Remember Barack Obama campaigning back in 2008 and solemnly pledging to end the Iraq War? What he neglected to mention at the time was that he was retaining the prerogative to plunge the country into another Iraq War on his own ticket. So has he now done, with members of Congress passively assenting and the country essentially a prisoner of war.
By now, through its inaction, the legislative branch has, in fact, surrendered the final remnant of authority it retained on matters relating to whether, when, against whom, and for what purpose the United States should go to war. Nothing now remains but to pay the bills, which Congress routinely does, citing a solemn obligation to "support the troops." In this way does the performance of lesser duties provide an excuse for shirking far greater ones.
In military circles, there is a term to describe this type of behavior. It's called cowardice.
Andrew J. Bacevich is the author of America's War for the Middle East: A Military History , which has just been published by Random House.
Copyright 2016 Andrew J. Bacevich
April 8, 2016 | The National Interest BlogMark, 2 days agoJust typical propaganda to justify endless billions for a nonexistent threat. ,you have to be a brainwashed neocon idiot or have stock in defense corporations or likely both to believe Russia has any interest in invading anyone. How would we feel if Russia moved missiles and troops to our borders?
iberaldisgust -> Mark , linkUkraine ..... so much for brain washed .....Robert Duran -> liberaldisgust , linkWhat about Ukraine?Nawaponrath -> liberaldisgust, a day agoYes US funded riots that kicked out a democratically elected governmentBrian -> Nawaponrath , a day agoWhat's wrong with that?R.W. Emerson II -> Brian , a day ago
You lost - get over it.
You should be use to it by now since all of your former allies have either joined NATO or want to join NATO as protection against Russia.
You see - we actually don't have to do anything to convince nations to work with us - we just let Russia act the way it normally acts and the rest falls into place.
I'm fond of saying that Putin is our best man in Russia. We couldn't ask for a better ally in helping us dismantle Russia.Actually, it's the hack politicians who join NATO as protection against the people.Brian -> Mark , link
The people oppose the politicians in these "Democracies", but that doesn't seem to matter.
* "Over 10,000 Participate in Anti-NATO Rally in Serbia" , Sputnik News , 27 Mar 2016
* "'Neutrality is Beautiful': Majority of Finns Want to Stay Away From NATO" , Sputnik News , 30 Jan 2016Then we can tell Putin that he doesn't need to modernize his upgrades? Ok - you tell your comrades to stand down and we'll do the same.Sinbad2 -> Brian , linkThe Russians do defense, the US is invader uno numero.Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day agoRussia should stand down where exactly?Nawaponrath -> Brian , a day agoHe upgraded his army after US funded regime change in Ukraine get your facts rightMichael DeStefano -> Nawaponrath , a day agoActually, he upgraded his army after Georgia launched a surprise blitzkrieg operation on S. Ossetia, killing UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers and a few hundred sleeping Ossets, with or without a wink and a nod from the US. Verdict's still out on that last one. You'll have to wait for Karl Rove's posthumous memoirs for that insight.Nawaponrath -> Michael DeStefano , an hour agoYou are right and Georgia was armed and trained by US and instigated by US to attack Russia and what happened it took Russia 5 days to defeat the well armed US backed Georgians and this is an indicator how the US will fare against a war with Russia - FULL RETREATBrian -> Michael DeStefano , a day agoOh, the story is that Russia invaded Georgia lands.Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day ago
I'm glad Russians were killed. Good.Well, we already know you're a psychopath. No need to repeat yourself ad nauseam.Ted Jebb -> Brian , linkBrian you really don't know what you are talking about. I doubt you ever have left your neighborhood let alone the state. You talk down about Russia and how great the American military is. But then again like all talk it is just talk. In a real war Russia has many more nukes then we do. They kept their nuclear program up while ours has fallen. Should a real war happen all you will see Brian is flashes of of light everywhere and that will be the end. GET IT WAKE UP !!!Brian -> Nawaponrath , a day agoAnd we did it without firing a shot....Vasya Pypkin -> Brian , a day ago
Another win for the U.S.A.
Not our fault that most of your former allies/republics prefer the U.S. to Russia.
Heh heh.Good. Now you gotta feed them ;)Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day agoWithout firing a shot? Apparently, you missed the right sector snipers in the Hotel Ukraina, the Azov battalion civilian massacres in Mariupol and the Odessa holocaust, eh?Brian -> Michael DeStefano , a day ago
But we know, you loved every bullet of it. Psychopaths are as psychopaths do.
And BTW, speak for yourself. This 'we' thing is delusional. If 'we' met, you'd understand that quick enough.The Russians brought it upon themselves with their history of bullying...Sinbad2 -> Brian , link
Your neighbors will continue to hate you, and we don't need to do anything about it.
I'll be happy to send a donation to Ukraine so they can buy more defensive weapons - the more Russians that invade their land, the more body bags they can send back to Russia.The US is the bully, and you will pay the price, big time.Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day agoThe Ukrainians brought it upon themselves, sir. You obviously share in that endearing Ukrainian trait to blame everyone but yourself for the consequences of your actions. Next time, try to keep your banderite fascist ideologues at bay and maybe you'll learn something about those 'European values' that Poroshenko seems to like to lecture the Europeans about, if that ain't a hoot in itself.Ted Jebb -> Brian , linkAlright keyboard commando Brian time for your cookies and milk. Then you will need to return to your padded cell !!!Vin -> Mark , linknonexistent?Nawaponrath -> Vin , a day ago
What just happened in Syria?
What about the untraceable subs Russia has that can knock out our aircraft carries easily? PS: Iran has one and we lost track of it shortly after they purchased it from Russia.
What about the large number of nuclear weapon Russia has and has used this threat in an offensives manor lately?
Are you the type of person who leaves his front door unlocked when you go to work?
Just type up your SS#, Credit Cards, and Name for us please...along with you address since you do not believe in preventive measures to safeguard yourself.What about US bombing Syria before Russia intervene 4 years before killing at least 300,000 civiliansJames Johnson -> Vin , linkYou keep burning the fascist candlestick at both home and abroad your going to get burned.JB 1969 -> Vin , a day agoThe untraceable diesel electric are very short range by ocean going standard AND become more visible it they need to approach the target (The hope to submerge, sit and have a vessel pass very close).Michael DeStefano -> Vin , a day agoOh God, get a dozen cartons of worry beads and geriatric diapers off Amazon and leave the bullcrap where it belongs.Che Guevara , a day agoThe Baltics and Poland should take an example from Finland. Finland has managed to avoid conflict with Russia, without any help from the U.S. or NATO. Threats of imminent Russian invasion are fairy tales.strayshot -> Che Guevara , a day agoUp until they show up on your doorstep asking for a cup of sugar...... and your surrender of the property.Che Guevara -> strayshot , a day agoAre you from Finland?Ex Pat , linkAnother silly "what if" article. A conflict between Nato and Russia will very quickly go nuclear. Nobody wins. Taking the three tiny Baltic countries into Nato was an incredibly stupid move. The purpose was purely to provoke Russia. They can't be defended without going nuclear. They will be lost forever. Nato gains nothing except the claim of being the victim.liberaldisgust -> Ex Pat , linkI doubt that it would " Quickly go Nuclear " as once that line is crossed as you say there is no winner ...... on any level ....Jose Luiz Costa Sousa -> Ex Pat , a day agoMY CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOU OPINION WHICH IS MY OPINION. I AM A PROFESSIONAL ARMY OFFFICER. YOUR OPINION IS THE CORRECT AND THE REAL ONE. ALL THOSE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHATEVER STRENGTH AND KIND OF TROOPS OR WEAPONS NATO MIGTH HAVE WHEREVER... WITHIN EUROPE IS SIMPLY SILLY...Sinbad2 -> Jose Luiz Costa Sousa , link
I THINK ANY ARMY OFFICER KNOWS WHAT YOU JUST TOLD... SO EITHER ALL THIS SHIT AROUND WHOM, WHAT AND WHERE TO DEPLOY MILITARY POWER TO STOP THE RUSSIANS IS JUST TO HAVE THE STUPID EUROPEANS SPENDING MORE MONEY BUYING USA WEAPONS OR IF NATO BELIEVES WHAT THEY ARE DOING... THEN THE GENERALS IN CHARGE ARE JUST DONKEYS ... AND I APOLOGIZE TO DONKEYS... OF COURSE ANY VERY FIRST MILITARY ACTION FROM RUSSIA EITHER TO DEFEND ITSELF FROM A NATO/ USA ATTACK OR TO CARRY OUT A PRE EMPTIVE ATTACK WILL BE IMMEDIATELY NUCLEAR... MORE THAN THAT IT WILL BE GLOBAL.... NOT ONLY AGAINST EUROPE... THE MAIN TARGET WILL BE USA AND ITS MILITARY BASES AROUND THE WORLD... AND OF COURSE EUROPE... SO CONVENCIONAL MILITARY MEANS IN SUCH A CONTEXT THEY SHALL BE BASICALLY TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT ABLE TO OPERATE IN A NUCLEAR AND NBQ ENVIRONMENT.Which Army?Sinbad2 -> Ex Pat , linkRussia wouldn't have to go nuclear to defeat Europe, so if it does go nuclear, it will be the US that pushes the button.strayshot -> Ex Pat , a day ago
As the Russian army would be in Europe, the US would nuke Europe.R.W. Emerson II -> strayshot , a day ago"Taking the three tiny Baltic countries into NATO was an incredibly stupid move."
I disagree. Americas' Principles have always stressed spreading Freedom & Liberty as far as possible. Where "we" Americans went wrong was not electing leadership who understood this principle.
I can agree with the Far Left on one thing: Europeans need to bring their military strength back up. It's obvious that my country (USA) is headed down a path of isolationism. A pity, really. Has the Europeans learned to value each other as equals...... or will ancient rivalries tear them apart?The NATO-bloc spends about a trillion dollars each year on the military -- as much as is spent by all other countries in the world combined, and an order of magnitude more than what Russia spends.Nawaponrath -> strayshot , a day ago
If NATO is defending "Freedom", as we're told, then why does it require such a titanic amount of force and money? If U.S.-style "Freedom" is such a good thing, if this Exceptional "Freedom" is something that every sane person wants, then why does it take so much force to impose this "Freedom" on people ?
If I invent something that people want -- a better mouse-trap, say -- do I have to bomb people into buying my product? Do I have to use "police" armed with tanks and machine-guns to round people up and force them into the store where my mouse-trap is sold?
Real freedom is something that sells itself. Freedom is something to live for, not something to kill and be killed for. We develop freedom by exercising our rights, not by turning other countries into rubble!
NATO is selling death and destruction, repackaged as "Freedom and Democracy". Ask what is inside the pretty package! -- then you will understand why this "Freedom" is such a hard sell.Freedom & Liberty via bombs in invasion! Democracy only when US puppet will win otherwise regime change like in Syria and in the past many other countriesSinbad2 -> strayshot , linkBS, the US is a tyrant.Donald Neuland -> strayshot , a day agoyour reply is silly and stupid. Principles never won anything. You are one of those pedantic liberals who think we (but, of course, not you) need to save everyone. Reality says most would rather give up than fight themselves.David James -> Donald Neuland , a day agoI agree with principles (They should not be underestimated!) however I think as Americans we are going to have to be a bit more pragmatic going forward.Brian -> Donald Neuland , a day agoAs the big bad bully in Europe, it would be in your benefit if the U.S. stayed out of things.R.W. Emerson II -> Brian , a day ago
Too bad your former republics and allies prefer the U.S. to Russia.The politicians prefer the U.S. to Russia, perhaps. But I'm not sure that the same can be said of the people.Zero -> Donald Neuland , a day agoA referendum on the future of the Soviet Union was held on 17 March 1991. The question put to voters was: "Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?"
Choice .......... ------Votes . -----%
For .............. 56,860,783 .. 73.00
Against .......... 21,030,753 .. 27.00
Invalid ........... 1,809,633 ...... -
Total ............ 79,701,169 . 100.00
Reg., Turnout ... 105,643,364 .. 75.44
Choice .......... ------Votes . -----%
For .............. 22,110,899 .. 71.48
Against ........... 8,820,089 .. 28.52
Invalid ............. 583,256 ...... -
Total ............ 31,514,244 . 100.00
Reg., Turnout .... 37,732,178 .. 83.52
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, "Soviet Union Referendum, 1991 , wikipedia , 14 Oct 2015
-- "Soviet Union referendum, 1991" , US Wow
A similar referendum was held 22 years later, by Gallup. In the 2013 Gallup poll , people in countries formed by the Soviet dissolution said, by a two-to-one margin, that they were worse off than before the Soviet break-up .
But it doesn't matter, of course, what the people think. The "West" -- the U.S. Empire -- decided that the Soviet Union was bad, and the rulers/bankers/gangsters of the "West" know what is best for everyone everywhere . That's because the rulers/bankers of the U.S. Empire are Exceptional, Enlightened and Inherently Superior. They were Born Without Sin, their intentions are Pure and Holy, and they Know More Than God."Reality says most would rather give up than fight themselves."Michael DeStefano -> strayshot , a day ago
That much is certainly true...It was foolish. How did Finland survive as a neutral country? If anyone had any justification for joining NATO after WWII, it was certainly Finland, yet it prospered undisturbed, even benefiting from Russia trade.Peter Tam -> Ex Pat , link
The Baltic leaders are just milking NATO, with their constant 'threat alerts'. And NATO milks them right back. It's a symbiotic milk maid festival.If that happened the Iranian will inherit the worldjimdeim -> Peter Tam , a day agoNo no one would when fallout kills everyone. Fact is if they just blew us up and we never fire one nuke, world ends from fallout.
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
Last week Defense Secretary Ashton Carter laid a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in commemoration of the "50th anniversary" of that war. The date is confusing, as the war started earlier and ended far later than 1966. But the Vietnam War at 50 commemoration presents a good opportunity to reflect on the war and whether we have learned anything from it.
Some 60,000 Americans were killed fighting in that war more than 8,000 miles away. More than a million Vietnamese military and civilians also lost their lives. The US government did not accept that it had pursued a bad policy in Vietnam until the bitter end. But in the end the war was lost and we went home, leaving the destruction of the war behind. For the many who survived on both sides, the war would continue to haunt them.
It was thought at the time that we had learned something from this lost war. The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 to prevent future Vietnams by limiting the president's ability to take the country to war without the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional declaration of war. But the law failed in its purpose and was actually used by the war party in Washington to make it easier to go to war without Congress.
Such legislative tricks are doomed to failure when the people still refuse to demand that elected officials follow the Constitution.
When President George HW Bush invaded Iraq in 1991, the warhawks celebrated what they considered the end of that post-Vietnam period where Americans were hesitant about being the policeman of the world. President Bush said famously at the time, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all."
They may have beat the Vietnam Syndrome, but they learned nothing from Vietnam.
Colonel Harry Summers returned to Vietnam in 1974 and told his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tsu, "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield." The Vietnamese officer responded, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
He is absolutely correct: tactical victories mean nothing when pursuing a strategic mistake.
Last month was another anniversary. March 20, 2003 was the beginning of the second US war on Iraq. It was the night of "shock and awe" as bombs rained down on Iraqis. Like Vietnam, it was a war brought on by government lies and propaganda, amplified by a compliant media that repeated the lies without hesitation.
Like Vietnam, the 2003 Iraq war was a disaster. More than 5,000 Americans were killed in the war and as many as a million or more Iraqis lost their lives. There is nothing to show for the war but destruction, trillions of dollars down the drain, and the emergence of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Sadly, unlike after the Vietnam fiasco there has been almost no backlash against the US empire. In fact, President Obama has continued the same failed policy and Congress doesn't even attempt to reign him in. On the very anniversary of that disastrous 2003 invasion, President Obama announced that he was sending US Marines back into Iraq! And not a word from Congress.
We've seemingly learned nothing.
There have been too many war anniversaries! We want an end to all these pointless wars. It's time we learn from these horrible mistakes.
www.zerohedge.comSubmitted by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,
I am "not isolationist, but I am 'America First,'" Donald Trump told The New York times last weekend. "I like the expression."
Of NATO, where the U.S. underwrites three-fourths of the cost of defending Europe, Trump calls this arrangement "unfair, economically, to us," and adds, "We will not be ripped off anymore."
Beltway media may be transfixed with Twitter wars over wives and alleged infidelities. But the ideas Trump aired should ignite a national debate over U.S. overseas commitments - especially NATO.
For the Donald's ideas are not lacking for authoritative support.
The first NATO supreme commander, Gen. Eisenhower, said in February 1951 of the alliance: "If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project will have failed."
As JFK biographer Richard Reeves relates, President Eisenhower, a decade later, admonished the president-elect on NATO.
"Eisenhower told his successor it was time to start bringing the troops home from Europe. 'America is carrying far more than her share of free world defense,' he said. It was time for other nations of NATO to take on more of the costs of their own defense."
No Cold War president followed Ike's counsel.
But when the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the breakup of the Soviet Union into 15 nations, a new debate erupted.
The conservative coalition that had united in the Cold War fractured. Some of us argued that when the Russian troops went home from Europe, the American troops should come home from Europe.
Time for a populous prosperous Europe to start defending itself.
Instead, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush began handing out NATO memberships, i.e., war guarantees, to all ex-Warsaw Pact nations and even Baltic republics that had been part of the Soviet Union.
In a historically provocative act, the U.S. moved its "red line" for war with Russia from the Elbe River in Germany to the Estonian-Russian border, a few miles from St. Petersburg.
We declared to the world that should Russia seek to restore its hegemony over any part of its old empire in Europe, she would be at war with the United States.
No Cold War president ever considered issuing a war guarantee of this magnitude, putting our homeland at risk of nuclear war, to defend Latvia and Estonia.
Recall. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. Lyndon Johnson did not lift a hand to save the Czechs, when Warsaw Pact armies crushed "Prague Spring" in 1968. Reagan refused to intervene when Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, on Moscow's orders, smashed Solidarity in 1981.
These presidents put America first. All would have rejoiced in the liberation of Eastern Europe. But none would have committed us to war with a nuclear-armed nation like Russia to guarantee it.
Yet, here was George W. Bush declaring that any Russian move against Latvia or Estonia meant war with the United States. John McCain wanted to extend U.S. war guarantees to Georgia and Ukraine.
This was madness born of hubris. And among those who warned against moving NATO onto Russia's front porch was America's greatest geostrategist, the author of containment, George Kennan:
"Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era. Such a decision may be expected to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking."
Kennan was proven right. By refusing to treat Russia as we treated other nations that repudiated Leninism, we created the Russia we feared, a rearming nation bristling with resentment.
The Russian people, having extended a hand in friendship and seen it slapped away, cheered the ouster of the accommodating Boris Yeltsin and the arrival of an autocratic strong man who would make Russia respected again. We ourselves prepared the path for Vladimir Putin.
While Trump is focusing on how America is bearing too much of the cost of defending Europe, it is the risks we are taking that are paramount, risks no Cold War president ever dared to take.
Why should America fight Russia over who rules in the Baltic States or Romania and Bulgaria? When did the sovereignty of these nations become interests so vital we would risk a military clash with Moscow that could escalate into nuclear war? Why are we still committed to fight for scores of nations on five continents?
Trump is challenging the mindset of a foreign policy elite whose thinking is frozen in a world that disappeared around 1991.
He is suggesting a new foreign policy where the United States is committed to war only when are attacked or U.S. vital interests are imperiled. And when we agree to defend other nations, they will bear a full share of the cost of their own defense. The era of the free rider is over.
Trump's phrase, "America First!" has a nice ring to it.
Trumps statements are true, but don't go far enough. Since the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, there is no reason for NATO to exist, or especially for us to be a part of it. We gain nothing except the promises to go to nuclear war with Russia, even over a shitshow country like turkey, who shot down a fucking Russia plane.
It would also be interesting to see what happens to the welfare states of Western Europe if they were forced to pay for all this shit, or the US left all together.
Surely Trump is not so stupid to believe that we are being "had" by the Europeans in regards to the collective NATO defense budget? Surely he understands NATO is merely a captive audience for arms sales ex USA?
Surely he understands that by paying "more than our share" we are utilizing it to push a fucked up agenda abroad with the complicity of those who are "not paying their share"?
Come on Donald......get with the program.
In a manner of speaking he's right. Other countries don't pay their fair share of the expenses. However, the size and scope of what exists now is orders of magnitude TOO BIG. So everyone else shouldn't pay more, the US should scale back and spend WAY less.
That is what will get someone killed. Scaling back at all and therefore costing any private predatory military supplier / contractor money..
NATO should have been disbanded when USSR was toppled. It's that simple. It's a fucking MIC jobs program now. Let Europe sink or swim on it's own.
Something extraordinary has taken place in the last few weeks.
More and more old-time Republican stalwarts and leaders have laid their voices bare, if not defending Donald Trump, then for certain excoriating the three decade long NeoLib/NeoCon pact that is strangulating American sovereignty and paving the way for a NWO. Paul Craig Roberts, as always, was perhaps the first. But now David Stockman (Reagan's Budget Director), Peggy Noonan (Reagan's speechwriter), Patrick Buchanan (another Reaganite and erstwhile Republican curmudgeon), Robert Bennett (Reagan's head of the Department of Education), and perhaps many more that I am not aware of are coming out of the closet.
It is almost as though Trump's 'take-no-prisoners' ethos, and getting away with it and media and political correctness be damned, is actually creating enough breathing space for others to say what's been on their mind but have been too frightened to speak out about. Well spoken, known, and credible voices are pushing back. This could be a snowball careening downhill turning into an avalanche. If enough of these folks keep emerging from dark corners they could well provide Trump with a political phalanx that diminish the probabliity of something as outrageous as stealing the nomination or even assassination.
One thing is for certain. A civil war is taking place already, and its in the Republican Party.
Smedley Butler would never have the USA in such a criminal organizations.
But then Wall Street and the City of London, plus the Vatican and Tel Aviv call ALL the shots here in 'Murica
Only 725 bases
Hillary can double that
Maybe NATO will come to rescue and save the US from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz.
Batman11 , Tue, 03/29/2016 - 15:58
The thing is Europe doesn't need any defence.
The Putin bogeyman, well if we keep our closet doors shut I am sure we will be OK without any military spending at all.
Russian paranoia is an American thing and we never got into that "checking under the bed for Reds" thing in Europe.
Well maybe we will need some spending after the US turned Afghanistan and the Middle East into terrorist training centres.
NATO is just US sponsored interference and we could all do without it.
Come on Trump the world will get on much better without US military spending causing problems.
Freddie , Tue, 03/29/2016 - 15:58
NATO? The USA and European nations cannot even protect their borders from invasion. End NATO. It is only good for genocide against small unarmed countries.
March 23, 2016 | Fort Russ
Words always fail to speak to the human tragedy component of yesterday's 'terrorist' attacks, and my words cannot adequately address them either.
Moreover, it seems in poor judgment to specifically lament over one criminal tragedy, when such criminal tragic events are so rampant around the world, and are often the product of US-NATO operations globally.
The terrorist attacks in Belgium are a direct part of US-NATO's plans to perpetuate war and instability, and destabilization anywhere that the US senses hesitation to fully support its plans.
I have not yet seen evidence that the individuals who pulled off these attacks have any connection to any of the named or known 'terrorist' networks. What I have read so far as a Kurdish media sources claiming that ISIS had claimed responsibility.
For those linking these attacks to the known and documented ISIS/FSA members/soldiers that have now decided to seek 'refuge' in Europe from the way which they created, I would say that while it is possible that any such individuals who came as refugees in the recent wave could have been used in these attacks, such assets already existed and lived in Europe for an indeterminably long time.
There is a link, however, between the 'refugee' crisis and these terrorist attacks, - and that is that these are both components of the general destabilization of the middle-east and now, Europe. From a sociological and strategic point of view, it is difficult to imagine that such 'reverberations' were not foreseen, and therefore expected, and as such perhaps even viewed as desirable by the powers that be. Which powers that be do I speak of?
This type of 'terrorism' fits other well established models that are characterized as a 'strategy of tension', and these historically were planned and executed by assets of US-NATO military intelligence themselves, as part of the Gladio program.
It is unlikely in my view that ISIS, in the meaningful sense of the term, was behind this. Terrorist attacks such as this have a purpose for actual terrorist groups when they are linked with demands, a quid pro quo, release of prisoners, or some change in policy, recognition, or even a cash payment. They come after general warnings, and some inability of the terrorist group to get its demands met.
At the same time we have another 'ISIS' or, if you will, Al Qaeda - as a western intelligence and operations program designed to attack targets designated by their US/NATO handlers.
So we have to divide between military ISIS - that army of mercenaries, misled youth, drug addicts, ex-prisoners, and religious fanatics on the one hand, backed by Turkey and Gulf monarchies, from the 'ISIS' that is more like Al Qaeda - specially trained intelligence and security assets with knowledge of electronics, bomb making, counter-security/penetration, etc. - who are directly controlled by CIA/Mossad/MI6 and Saudi security and Pakistani ISI.
These 'random' attacks serve no tactical purpose for an actual terrorist group in my view, and only increase the chances that European voters or citizens will support some action, direct or kinetic, against ISIS. So this does not serve ISIS's interests.
The US-NATO intelligence program, through Gladio has long time assets in Europe, and the last year has been reminiscent of a time during the Cold War when this strategy of tension reached its peak in Europe during the 1970's.
Then, as perhaps now, the goal was to push European citizens/voters into a hostile position against a generally described 'enemy' - then communism, today 'Islamicism/Islamism'.
Submitted by George Washington on 02/24/2016 12:35 -0500
Buzzfeed notes :
Officials with Syrian rebel battalions that receive covert backing from one arm of the U.S. government told BuzzFeed News that they recently began fighting rival rebels supported by another arm of the U.S. government.
The infighting between American proxies is the latest setback for the Obama administration's Syria policy and lays bare its contradictions as violence in the country gets worse.
The confusion is playing out on the battlefield - with the U.S. effectively engaged in a proxy war with itself.
Furqa al-Sultan Murad receives weapons from the U.S. and its allies as part of a covert program, overseen by the CIA , that aids rebel groups struggling to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, according to rebel officials and analysts tracking the conflict.
The Kurdish militants, on the other hand, receive weapons and support from the Pentagon as part of U.S. efforts to fight ISIS. Known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, they are the centerpiece of the Obama administration's strategy against the extremists in Syria and coordinate regularly with U.S. airstrikes.
(And see this story from the Telegraph.)
The Daily Beast also reports that U.S. allies are fighting CIA-backed rebels. The U.S. is supporting the Kurds, who are the best on-the-ground fighters against ISIS … yet America's close ally Turkey is trying to wipe out the Kurds . Moreover, the U.S., Turkey and Saudi Arabia are all using the Incerlik air base in Adana, Turkey , on the border with Syria to launch military operations in Syria. The U.S. is using Incerlik to SUPPORT the Kurds, but Turkey is using the EXACT SAME air base to BOMB the Kurds . In addition, the U.S. is supporting Shia Muslims in Iraq … but supporting their arch-enemy – Sunnis Muslims – in neighboring Syria.
And the U.S. claims to be fighting the war on terror AGAINST the exact same groups – ISIS and Al Qaeda – that our closest allies are SUPPORTING . Absolutely insane …
Unless the U.S. is really pursuing an agenda in which chaos is the goal .
Son of Captain NemoBear
If indeed 'buzzfeed" has there story correct then Russia will be continuing the campaign of kicking our fucking asses in new innovative ways that were never thought possible!
I happen to believe that like the Seymour Hersh PR psyops stunt of a story about DOD not following orders from the Commander-in-Chief and "going rogue" on him in those Countries they already destroyed is still committing treason no matter how you slice it .... is all simply a way of attempting to draw Russia in closer to get intel on them while they continue to work miracles on our "proxies" which is depleting our stable of Mercs R' Us day by day.
The event that took place this past weekend in Homs and Damascus is indicative of just that. And if Russia did indeed make the mistake of giving too much information out to Uncle Sam, the U.S. military and Langley won't be enjoying that luxury again!...
I'm pretty certain that "Winter Soldier" Kerry's desire to carve up Syria should the cease fire aka Plan B not come to fruition... It was always the Only Option on the table for Langley and the Pentagon!!
In short the CIA is at the head of the MIC always has been and always will be until it's time of death which may be coming sooner than we think!ptoemmes
"The Insanity of American Foreign Policy: CIA-Backed Rebels Are Fighting Pentagon-Backed Rebels"
Makes for great US Arms industry ... Go SyriaJailBanksters
The invisible hand of the market applied to mayhem - US style?Consuelo
The US Doesn't have a Foreign Relations policy, it's Israel's foreign relations policy installed on US soil.Tigermoth
The 'insouciant' Goyim remain mesmerized under the spell of entertainment and Political-Correctness gone mad. Hence, unable are they to mount any sort of opposition to this 'soft takeover' of their nation.
But it looks like the YPG in northeast Syria (where the US spec ops where deployed) is the favorite since they seem to have gotten the advanced Javelin anti tank missile while the moderate Jihadists only got the not as effective TOW. Video and photo at RT.
Pictures have emerged on social media which appear to show Syrian Kurds with an advanced US-produced anti-tank missile. A video allegedly shows a rocket blowing up an Islamic State truck. Washington has denied "providing the YPG with weapons."
If the video, believed to have been filmed near the Syrian town of Shaddadi, is authenticated it would show that Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces have been given an upgrade in technology. The footage shows a truck allegedly belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) on the receiving end of a direct hit from the missile.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a portable anti-tank missile, which was developed by the United States. It is able to lock on to potential targets using infrared imaging, which makes it a lot more effective than the TOW missile system, which militias fighting against IS had been using, as the TOW is heavier and requires a portable power supply
"Assuming he's not firing from the side of a mountain or on top of a compound, it's definitely a Javelin," Corporal Thomas Gray, a former Marine Javelin gunner who watched the video told the Washington Post.
However John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, said that he was unable to confirm whether the image was authentic and that "nothing has changed about our policy of not providing the YPG with weapons."
"Also, Javelin launchers and missiles are rather expensive. In 2002, a single Javelin command launch unit cost $126,000, and each missile cost around $78,000."
You have to love the MIC!
economistsview.typepad.comanne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AMhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/world/asia/navy-seal-team-2-afghanistan-beating-death.htmlilsm said in reply to anne...
December 16, 2015
Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up
By NICHOLAS KULISH, CHRISTOPHER DREW and MATTHEW ROSENBERG
U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.
Too much training to send to jail.
While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!
US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!
economistsview.typepad.comanne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AMhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/world/asia/navy-seal-team-2-afghanistan-beating-death.htmlilsm said in reply to anne...
December 16, 2015
Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up
By NICHOLAS KULISH, CHRISTOPHER DREW and MATTHEW ROSENBERG
U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.
Too much training to send to jail.
While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!
US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!
anne said...http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countriesanne said in reply to anne...
December 13, 2015
In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries
In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.
-- Dean Baker"...about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military...."
I do not understand this figure since currently defense spending is running at $738.3 billion yearly or which 6% would be $44.3 billion:
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0anne said in reply to anne...Correcting Dean Baker:
December 13, 2015
In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries
In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 7.4 percent ** of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.
-- Dean Bakeranne said in reply to anne...Dean Baker clarifies:
December 13, 2015
In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries
In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.
(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)
-- Dean Bakerdjb said in reply to anne...100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillionanne said in reply to djb...$100 billion a year, ........about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military
100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion
[ This is incorrect, military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ]anne said in reply to djb...http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0
January 15, 2015
Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.
(Billions of dollars)
$738.3 / $1,224.4 = 60.3%
Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.
$738.3 / $3,200.4 = 23.1%
Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.
$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%djb said in reply to djb...oh never mind I get it
.25 % is 6 percent of the percent us spends on military
the 40 trillion is the gdp of all the countries
got itanne said in reply to djb..."I get it:
.25 % is 6 percent of the percent US spends on military."
So .25 percent of United States GDP for climate change assistance to poor countries is 6 percent of the amount the US spends on the military.
.0025 x $18,064.7 billion GDP = $45.16 billion on climate change
$45.16 billion on climate change / $738.3 billion on the military = 0.61 or 6.1 percent of military spendinganne said in reply to anne...United States climate change assistance to poor countries will be .25 percent of GDP or 6% of US military spending.anne said in reply to anne...What the United States commitment to climate change assistance for poor countries means is spending about $45.2 billion yearly or .25 percent of GDP. Whether the President can convince Congress to spend the $45 billion yearly will now have to be answered.anne said in reply to djb..."I get it:anne said in reply to djb...
.25 % is 6 percent of the [amount] US spends on military."
[ This is correct. ]http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries
December 13, 2015
In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries
In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.
(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. ** That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)
-- Dean Bakeranne said in reply to djb...http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2007&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0
January 15, 2015
Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.
$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%ilsm said in reply to anne...UK is the only NATO nation beside the US that spend the suggested 2% of GDP. The rest run about 1.2%.
Small wonder they need US to run their wars of convenience.
More telling US pentagon spending is around 50% of world military spending and has not won anything in 60 years.
peakoilbarrel.comGlenn Stehle, 12/05/2015 at 2:54 pmVes,
There was an article in one of the Mexico City dailies today, written in response to the shootings in San Bernardino, that cited some numbers that were news to me:
1) The United States is the #1 small arms manufacturer in the world
2) 83% of small arms manufactured in the world are manufactured in the United States
3) The US's closest competitor is Russia, which manufactures 11% of the world's small arms
4) Small arms are the US's third largest export product, surpassed only by aircraft and agricultural products
5) The US market itself consumes 15 million small arms per year, and there are 300 million small arms currently in the posession of US private citizens
6) Saudi Arabia, however, is by far and away the largest small arms consumer in the world, and purchases 33.1% of all small arms produced in the world
7) Saudi Arabia then re-distributes these small arms to its allies in Syria, Lybia, etc.
8) So far in 2015, there have been 351 "mass shootings" in the United States in which 447 persons have been killed and another 290 wounded
9) The world's leading human rights organizations never speak of the bloodbath ocurring around the world due to the proliferation of small arms, much less the United Nations Security Council.
10) Both the United States and Russia seem quite content to keep any talk of small arms proliferation off the agenda.
May 15, 2012 | YouTube
Qeis Kamran 1 year ago
I just love Prof. Bacevic. Nobody has more credit then him on the subject. Not only for his unmatched scholarship and laser sharp words, but moreover for the unimaginable personal loss. He is my hero!!!!
Boogie Knight 1 year ago
How many sons did the NeoCon-Gang sacrifice in their instigated Wars in foreign lands....? Not one. Bacevich lost his son who was fighting in Iraq in 2007 - for what?!
Yet the NeoCon warcriminals Billy Cristol, Wolfowitz and/or Elliott Abrams are all still highly respected people that the US media/political elite loves to consult - in 2014!
Nov 7, 2003 | YouTubePhil AndersonExcellent as always. Lecture by Bacevich starts around 13:42.Wendell FitzgeraldWe need to reexamine what it means to be free. A moral reorientation of the country as Carter suggested in 1979. Bacevich says it isn't ever going to happen.
Zero HedgeSubmitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,
And at some point, all empires crumble on their own excess, stretched to the breaking point by over-extending a military industrial complex with sophisticated equipment, hundreds of bases in as many countries, and never-ending wars that wrack up mind boggling levels of debt. This cost has been magnified by the relationship it shares with the money system, who have common owners and shareholders behind the scenes.
As the hidden costs of war and the enormity of the black budget swell to record levels, the true total of its price comes in the form of the distortion it has caused in other dimensions of life; the numbers have been so thoroughly fudged for so long now, as Wall Street banks offset laundering activities and indulge in derivatives and quasi-official market rigging, the Federal Reserve policy holds the noble lie together.
Ron Paul told RT
Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.
The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:
Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.
"Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency," he said, adding that this has been going on "for hundreds, if not thousands of years."
"I don't know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war."
As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn't factor into government reports, can't match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.
Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in:
They're going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it's admitted that it doesn't work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable."
Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he's run out over a cliff.
July 20, 2015 | original.antiwar.comWhich sounds better, to "die for your government", or "give your life for your country"? The first could be interpreted, after a mountain of bodies pile up, as a mistake. As something that would seem to require scrutiny, admissions of having been wrong, of blame to be placed. Dying for a government, or more precisely, dying for a select group of political figures at a certain moment in time for very specific reasons, doesn't hide behind a fluttering flag quite as well as "dying for country". Which is why we never hear it. War, in the mind of the Middle America that still thinks on it, is shrouded in a sepia-toned composite of images and sounds, stories of soldiers, duty to country, service, songs, movies, and myth that give politicians far more leverage than they would otherwise have, when executing another war. No, "service to country" is the emotional and moral narcotic we administer to ourselves, almost automatically, at the inception of a new war. War is all wrapped up in our American Mythos so tight that it seems astonishing that we haven't descended utterly into a pure American-style fascism. Maybe a few more 9/11-style attacks and the transformation would be complete. 9/11 was an unparalleled opportunity for the explosion of government growth, and as much as "war is the health of the State", so are foreign attacks on the home State, attacks that can be perfectly molded so as to stoke the maximum amount of nationalist rage from the citizens. Those attacks were a godsend for a government that had been starved of an actual threat for far too long. And they took full advantage of the opportunity. Fourteen years later, the Warfare State is petering out from the evaporating fumes of 9/11, and their looking for a new fix.
But what of those who lied the country into igniting a regional dumpster fire after 9/11? Once the war hysteria evaporates, where are What would it really take to hold any one politician for a military disaster halfway around the world? It is blindingly obvious that there will never be a reckoning for those who hustled us into the Iraq war. What about Libya? Syria? How bad does it have to get for there to be something resembling accountability? War atrocities seem to have become less of a chance for justice and lessons learned than as a new precedent that the progenitors of the next war can point to when their war goes bad. And creators of war did learn a few things from Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned that flag-draped coffins do focus the attention of the citizenry. And drone strikes don't, really.
That hazy collage of feel-good nationalism is trotted out every election year, and every candidate engages in it to one degree or another. Peace is a hard sell next to the belligerent effusions of a Donald Trump. His crazed rantings against immigrants, his bizarre fantasies as to how he would handle world leaders via telephone call, as well as his boorishness in general, has thousands flocking to hear him speak. But what they're cheering is an avatar of a blood-soaked ideology, one that cloaks itself in the native symbols and culture, breeding hate and intolerance, until the bilious nationalism reaches just the right temperature and then boils over into lawless fascism. As Jeffrey Tucker points out, Trump is nothing new. The graveyard of twentieth century tyrannies is a testament to just how much death and destruction can be induced by a charismatic parasite bellowing the tenets of a flag-wrapped tyranny. Most of what we hear coming from leaders today is fascism to a greater or lesser extent. If what we mean by fascism to be a Religion of the State, a militant nationalism taken to its logical conclusion, then every leader engages in it, because it ignites something primitive and sinister in the minds of voters.
We understand war theoretically, and distantly, but what of those who are forced to carry out the fever dreams of politicians? Blindly thanking veterans for their service, we feel a sense of duty discharged, and never think to look more deeply into their traumas, or the scheme they were tricked into executing. Military recruiters, the unscrupulous peddlers of military slavery, are treated as a benign influence on young people today. Their pushy, overindulgent attitude toward our 18-year olds should piss us off more than it does, since what they are conning the young into is becoming the expendable plaything for the whims of the current Administration.
War is the pith of total government. The source of all its power, war and the threat of war provide the excuse for every injustice, every outrage, every restriction of liberty or further bilking of the citizen-hosts. As the Warfare State trots out the familiar sermons of threats from abroad, potential greatness at home, and wars to be fought, one would do well to reflect that war enriches the State at the expense of the rest of us. It consumes our lives, our liberty, our wallets, and the future of our children and grandchildren. The current crop of candidates who peddle military greatness are the enemy of peace and prosperity, and when they so openly declaim their lust for war, we should frankly believe what they say. And after hearing them, we should recognize the would-be tyrant in our midst, hawking hyper-militarism under the guise of national greatness, and treat them like the vermin they clearly are.
Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.
Read more by Shane Smith
- Drone Operators, Not American Snipers, Rack Up the Biggest Body Count – May 1st, 2015
- The Spell of Interventionism – April 9th, 2015
- An Intimate Portrait of the Human Cost of War – March 18th, 2015
- Senator Jim Inhofe, Constant Gardener of the Warfare State – February 20th, 2015
- The Bloodthirsty Nativism of Tom Cotton – February 13th, 2015
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian
omewhere in a Greek jail, the former defence minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, watches the financial crisis unfold. I wonder how partly responsible he feels? In 2013, Akis (as he is popularly known) went down for 20 years, finally succumbing to the waves of financial scandal to which his name had long been associated. For alongside the lavish spending, the houses and the dodgy tax returns, there was bribery, and it was the €8m appreciation he received from the German arms dealer, Ferrostaal, for the Greek government's purchase of Type 214 submarines, that sent him to prison.
There is this idea that the Greeks got themselves into this current mess because they paid themselves too much for doing too little. Well, maybe. But it's not the complete picture. For the Greeks also got themselves into debt for the oldest reason in the book – one might even argue, for the very reason that public debt itself was first invented – to raise and support an army. The state's need for quick money to raise an army is how industrial-scale money lending comes into business (in the face of the church's historic opposition to usury). Indeed, in the west, one might even stretch to say that large-scale public debt began as a way to finance military intervention in the Middle East – ie the crusades. And just as rescuing Jerusalem from the Turks was the justification for massive military spending in the middle ages, so the fear of Turkey has been the reason given for recent Greek spending. Along with German subs, the Greeks have bought French frigates, US F16s and German Leopard 2 tanks. In the 1980s, for example, the Greeks spent an average of 6.2% of their GDP on defence compared with a European average of 2.9%. In the years following their EU entry, the Greeks were the world's fourth-highest spenders on conventional weaponry.
So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. Is this an unfair characterisation? A bit. It wasn't just Germany. And there were many other factors at play in the escalation of Greek debt. But the postwar difference between the Germans and the Greeks is not the tired stereotype that the former are hardworking and the latter are lazy, but rather that, among other things, the Germans have, for obvious reasons, been restricted in their military spending. And they have benefited massively from that.
Debt and war are constant partners. "The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war," wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculating the cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, pre-financial crash, to have been $3tn. Indeed, it was only this year, back in March, that the UK taxpayer finally paid off the money we borrowed to fight the first world war. "This is a moment for Britain to be proud of," said George Osborne, as he paid the final instalment of £1.9bn. Really?
The phrase "military-industrial complex" is one of those cliches of 70s leftwing radicalism, but it was Dwight D Eisenhower, a five-star general no less, who warned against its creeping power in his final speech as president. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government … we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." Ike was right.
This week, Church House, C of E HQ, hosted a conference sponsored by the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and MBDA Missile Systems. We preach about turning swords into ploughs yet help normalise an industry that turns them back again. The archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty solid on Wonga and trying to put legal loan sharks out of business. Now the church needs to take this up a level. For the debts that cripple entire countries come mostly from spending on war, not on pensions. And we don't say this nearly enough.marsCubed, 3 Jul 2015 12:21
Syriza's position has been stated in this Huffington Post article.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Yiannis Bournous, the head of international affairs for Greece's ruling Syriza party, heartily endorsed defense cuts as a way to meet the fiscal targets of Greece's international creditors.
"We already proposed a 200 million euro cut in the defense budget," Bournous said at an event hosted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, referring to cuts in Syriza's most recent proposal to its creditors. "We are willing to make it even bigger -- it is a pleasure for us."
Europe Offered Greece A Deal To Meet Its Obligations By Cutting Military Spending. The IMF Said No Way.
If the report is correct, ideology is playing just as much of a role as arithmetic in preventing a resolution. The IMF's refusal to consider a plan that would lessen pension cuts is consistent with itshistorically neoliberal political philosophy.
Giftedbutlazee 3 Jul 2015 11:52
we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.
Still as relevant now, 54 years after Eisenhower said it.
BritCol 3 Jul 2015 11:39
And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England.
The moral? War makes money for profiteers, and puts those of us not killed or displaced in debt for generations. Yet we morons keep waving flags every time a prime minister wants to send us into another conflict.
barry1947brewster 3 Jul 2015 11:39
28 May 2014 The Royal United Services Institute estimated that since the Berlin Wall fell the UK has spent £35 billion on wars. Now it is suggested that we bomb IS in Syria. Instead of printing "Paid for by the Taxpayer" on medicines provided by the NHS we should have a daily costing of our expenditure on bombs etc used in anger.
real tic 3 Jul 2015 11:23
Finally someone at Graun looks at this obvious contradiction present in the Greek governments opposition to cut in defense spending (when they apparently accept cuts to pensions, healthcare and other social services)! Well done Giles, but what's wrong with your colleagues in CIF, or even in the glass bubbled editorial offices? Why has it taken so long to examine this aspect of Greek debt?
Defense expenditure is also one reason some actors in creditor nations are content to keep Greece in debt, even as far as to see its debts deepen, as long as it keeps on buying. while within Greece, nationalism within the military has long been a way of containing far right tendencies.
It is notable but unsurprising that the current Minister of Defense in Greece is a far right politician, allied to Tsipiras in the Syriza coalition.
Pollik 3 Jul 2015 11:03
"Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners"
...and someone always makes a profit.
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian
The possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone has never been more likely. We shouldn't be under any illusions – this would be a catastrophe for Greece's eurozone creditors, the Greek state and the European Union.
Like it or not, we are all in this together. If we continue on our current trajectory, everyone stands to lose from what now resembles a reckless, self-destructive standoff. The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again. We must remember that Germany has lent approximately €80bn. This is an astonishing figure, close to a quarter of Greece's budget for 2016. Yet the sad irony is, the longer the current impasse continues, the greater pressure Angela Merkel will face within her own party to reject any solution that is accepted by the Greek government.
But much more is at stake than euros. The world will consider a "Grexit" as a devastating blow for EU monetary cooperation and the European project. A destabilising Grexit will only be welcomed by the likes of China, Russia and those who are most threatened by a strong, united European Union. If Greece is to stay within the eurozone, we need to secure a massive de-escalation of the tensions, rhetoric and threats from both sides – and fast. It is time for Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the political leaders of the eurozone to come to their senses and bring this crisis back from the brink.
Prodisestab -> HolyInsurgent 3 Jul 2015 18:26
Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?
Panagiotis Theodoropoulos Gjenganger 3 Jul 2015 19:20
Agreed to a good extent. However, when the discussions broke off Friday night, the two sides were very close regarding the measures that were needed. I believe that they were off by 60 million euros only. Their differences were mostly about the types of measures to be taken with the Greek government wanting more taxes on businesses and the creditors wanting more to be paid by ordinary people. The problem that I have and that a lot of observers have with that is the fact that the Greek government did compromize quite a lot while the creditors refused to budge from their inflexible position despite the fact that implementation of their policies during the last five years has put the country into a depression. A basic premise of "negotiation" is that both sides make compromises in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. In this case the creditors demonstrated total lack of flexibility, which clearly indicates alterior motives at least on the part of some of the creditors. In Germany they have fed their people with all the hate against "lazy Greeks" etc that clearly shows up in these messages and in that sense they have themselves created a very negative environment. I believe that about 90% or so of all the loans that have been given to Greece went back to the creditors. Greece is not looking for handouts here. This must be understood.
This is a debt crisis that has been mishandled and that has span out of control as a result. Economic terrorism is not justified under any conditions and particularly within the EZ.
LiveitOut 3 Jul 2015 21:45
When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading.
It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought.
All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done.
How odd all this stuff about hardworking families when we are all being screwed to kingdom come by hard whoring banking gangsters who have never done a second of useful work in their effing lives --
Optymystic, 3 Jul 2015 12:55The debt has been known to be unpayable for a long time. It has nothing to do with current events in Greece. It should have been written off.
The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.
But despite their nonsenses the latter group somehow, mysteriously, retain credibility. It was not the antics of Tsiparis that brought about this mess but the behaviour of his 'credible' opponents.
No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore, and this is why a yes vote on Sunday is crucial. But it's also clear eurozone leaders have made mistakes with Greece.
Now you are getting close to the Syriza position.
Greece and its creditors agree a three-month window to develop a long-term reform programme combined with an investment package to turn Greece's ailing economy around.
Is that before or after the twenty-year moratorium on debt implied by the IMF?
Let us use this crisis to deliver real, sustainable change by drawing up a settlement in the next three months in which the Greek state, its government and its administration are paying back the debts, instead of forcing hard-working citizens to pay the bill.And the freedom to avoid taxes.
From the burning embers of two world wars, we have created a single market with free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
PaleMan -> jonbryce 3 Jul 2015 12:59
You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much.
Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity.
Danny Sheahan 3 Jul 2015 12:59
No one believes the ECB or the EU leadership anymore.
If they were serious about the Euro as a strong functional currency this mess would not be so big.
They would not have had to flush out private German and French bad debt in the 2nd bailout by putting it on the tax payer, or those countries would have had to step in to hep their banks and political careers would have been over.
The ECB has become a political football and it cannot maintain stability in its currency region. It is a failed central bank.
Vilos_Cohaagen 3 Jul 2015 12:58
"The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again."
The problem is that there's no scenario where the creditors do get paid back. So, why (for a start) "lend" them 60 billion more Euros? Wiping the debt completely out just means that the Greeks can start accumulating new "debt" they'll have no intention to re-pay and will be defaulting on a few years down the line.
BusinessWriter 3 Jul 2015 12:52
it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.
Crazy - this Guy actually thinks the creditors have any chance of seeing their money again - what planet is he on.
As for his idea that the Greek state (or any state for that matter that doesn't control its own currency) can pay of its debt independent of the taxpaying public - it's deluded nonsense.
Where is the Greek state supposed to get the billions of euro from? The only source of revenue it has is taxes or selling assets that it holds on behalf of the citizens of Greece.
Equally, the idea that the clientelist state is somehow a separate thing to the majority of the Greek people is nonsense. So many of them are either employed by the state or in professions protected from competition by the state or in companies that only serve the state. Identifying anyone who doesn't benefit in some way from the current clientelist state would be like looking for an ATM in Athens with cash in it on Monday morning.
This Guy is just another symptom of the problem - he offers no sustainable solution - and what he does offer is incoherent and too late.
fullgrill -> elliot2511 3 Jul 2015 12:51whichone 3 Jul 2015 12:50
That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc.
"Syriza's game is up. No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore"
well 1) it looks like 50% of the Greeks believe him
2) The IMF (and Merkel in leaked notes) have acknowledged that the debt is unsustainable even if Greece accept all conditions imposed by the Troika.
Varoufakis has been saying this since the start. So lets no longer pretend that this is all about getting the money back or that Greece wants to avoid its responsibility to its creditors : again will say Varoufakis has said the Greek government does not want to do this. The point is he and many other knowledgeable people (not politicians) know that it can not be paid back , but with the conditions in place to allow the economy to start to grow then Greece has a chance to pay some of it back. This is about bringing a Government to heel. I wish the Guardian , having continually reported on this crisis and knows what has been said allows a contributor to use the paper as propaganda.
And I hope that all those people who purposely said that a 'NO' vote means a no to Greece in the Euro and EU after a 'NO' result and surprise surprise Greece is still in the Euro, get thrown to the Wolves.
The same is goes with the comments about Varoufakis playing Game theory. He denied this basically saying that those who say this obviously don't know the first thing about Game Theory.
badluc TheSighingDutchman 3 Jul 2015 12:48
Genuine question: correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the electorates of Germany, Netherlands, Finland etc been consistently fed by most of their politicians (and newspapers) a completely mistaken "morality tale" about what the root causes of the problems are, blaming inefficient and corrupt governments who borrowed too much, without mentioning either the reckless lenders (mainly German, French, Dutch etc banks), were silent about the shifting of the burden of bad lending from the banks to the EU taxpayers (did they ever acknowledge that clearly?!?), describing the solution as a punitive austerity which would somehow bring moribund economies back from the abyss, etc? Politicians have a duty to be frank and sincere with their electorate, sharing with them all the relevant data they have on a given problem. If they have been feeding them misguided rhetoric, they have only themselves to blame if the chickens now come home to roost. In other words, if the electorate would now revolt against the inevitable, don't the politicians of those countries who have most strongly supported and advocated austerity have only themselves to blame?
SouthSeas 3 Jul 2015 12:48
Germany has lent 80bn to Greece to pay back loans from German banks
RudolphS 3 Jul 2015 12:47
While Verhofstadt calls for a cooling-off period he at the same time claims 'Syriza's game is up' and is urging the Greek people to vote 'yes' next sunday. With the latter he shows his true colours as just another Brussels eurocrat, and is only fuelling debate instead of cooling-off.
Dear Mr. Verhofstadt, why the hell do you think the Greek voted en masse for a party like Syriza? Because they are sick and tired of people like you.
And yes, there much more at stake than a debt. Putin must be watching this whole spectacle with total bewilderment how the EU is crippling itself from the inside.
Rainborough 3 Jul 2015 12:47
Anyone who is in danger of being impressed by conservative politician Guy Verhofstadt's perspective on Greek problems might like to bear in mknd that among his numerous other highly lucrative financial interests is his position on the board of the multi-billion Belgian investment company Sofina, whose interests include a stake in the highly controversial planned privatization of the Thessaloniki water utility.
hatewarmongers OscarD 3 Jul 2015 12:46
The neoliberal elite don't
SHappens 3 Jul 2015 12:17
In a democracy people can chose their fate by voting or through referendum. That's the way it goes but not in Europe where referendum are seen as a danger to the establishment. Tsipras, as soon as he came to power through a democratic vote was seen as a danger. He was ostracized and considered a pariah, Greece became a pariah state and they can as well die from hunger.
The EU, and institutions have behaved like the little bullies they are, just like they did with Switzerland after the vote on immigration, they threat, blackmail everyone who dare think different.
For the sake of democracy, the Greeks have to vote no, there is no other decent alternatives especially after all the bashing and disrespect they have been under. Nobody in EU and US (since they have their say in european affairs) want to see Greece walking away, nor Russia or China for that matter. But Tsipras had the opportunity to see where his real allies stand, and it is not within Europe. He might not forget this in the future.
mfederighi 3 Jul 2015 12:09
You are entirely right in suggesting that the only sustainable solution is a far-reaching reform programme for the Greek state and the reek economy. However, when you say that:
Greece's people must be at the centre of such a settlement. They did not cause this crisis and remain the victims of successive Greek governments, who have protected vested interests and the Greek clientelist system at their expense.
You seem to think that vested interest and the reek clientelist system are distinct from the Greek people. There is, I am afraid, a substantial overlap - that is, quite a few people benefit from clientelism and are part of vested interests. Not recognising this is disingenuous.
After all, corrupt and inefficient governments have been elected again and again - by whom?
jimmywalter 3 Jul 2015 12:06
The Banks solution is no solution - it means poverty and no taxes to pay to repay. The Banks want a Treaty of Versailles. We all know of a certain Austrian that rose up to end the German economic collapse. We all know how that ended. I don't want that again. People revolt over economics. Spain, Italy, and Greece have huge numbers of unemployeed who did nothing to create this crisis. The Banks did. Who should pay? Anyway, leave the Euro, stay in the EU!
May 27, 2015 | Aftonbladet
...Politicians and editors look for opportunities to step up its campaign for the accession to NATO, and in the spring of 2016, the parliament is expected to approve a host-country agreements that make it easier for NATO to with Swedish permission to use our territory as a base for military activities, "including the attack", "in peace, emergencies, crisis and conflict or international tensions".
Everything appears to be – and sold – as a speedy response to Russian aggression. Sweden and other countries are prepared after the end of the cold war in the belief that European peace was secured. But the president saw in our kindness as a weakness and took the opportunity to obtain tear up a security order that has prevailed for decades.
The story goes is repeated again and again every day in our media. Vladimir Putin, with the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine have shown "that he does not respect the European order that had been in place since the second world war and statutes that borders cannot be changed by force", writes, for example, the Daily News, in an editorial on January 12.
Such an argument is a deliberate memory gap. MSM presstitutes push the button "forget" and suddenly a decade of war in the former Yugoslavia erased from the public consciousness.
We can argue about reasons and circumstances of intervention, but it is undeniable that the USA, NATO and EU countries intervened using military force to redraw the map of the Balkans. The leadership in Moscow has thus set a precedent to cite. Putin reiterates at the conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine, word-for-word the reasons the western powers claimed for the bombing of Serbia and the recognition of cessation of Kosovo.
But the right to put himself above the principles of the inviolability of borders and non-interference in other countries ' internal affairs is in our official propaganda worldview a privilege reserved for the "international community", which is in reality the United States and its entourage of small and medium-sized European satellites. International law applies to all other states, but not for the United States, NATO and the EU.
NATO expanded in 1999 their mutual defense obligations to include global dangers such as terrorism and the "disruption of the flow of vital resources", and in 2003, the EU adopted its first security strategy, inspired by the Bush doctrine on the right to preventive war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction: "With the new threats the first line of defense will often be abroad ... We need to develop a strategic culture that fosters early, rapid, and when necessary, robust intervention."
It was the doctrine of the first line of defense – not the dreams of peace, who guided the Swedish defense military industrial complex. Territorial defense was abandoned at the end of the 1990s, literally send to the junkyard. What was left was prestigious military projects in industry and the individual units of professional soldiers trained for NATO operations in foreign countries. The restructuring was led by a consulting firm from the united states, closely tied to the Pentagon, the NSA and the CIA The armed forces would prepare for "global action - especially in the continents of the world in which Sweden has a vital economic and/or political interests," the consultants wrote in a secret report.
"Sweden's role as a regional power in the Baltic sea changed from neutrality to leadership", was said. Now for some reason "koalitionskrigföring and Sweden's ability to operate in collaboration with organizations such as NATO ... get a new and greater significance". This was written in 1998, long before the war in Ukraine.
When the U.S. interest in the Arctic and the north flank, now rising to the fore the plans. Sweden becomes a bridgehead in the quest to penetrate back to Russia. Gotland will again be anchored, Russian submarines tops the news and B-52 bombers taking over the sky.
The major powers have never hesitated to tramp the UN-principles, but with the doctrine of the preventive intervention there is nothing left of the respect of all the member states' sovereignty. If NATO considers itself have the right to place a first line of defense in Afghanistan or Libya, then does not Russia the same rights in Ukraine?
The Russian leadership will see in the western privilege for preemptive interventions a precedent. Europe is sinking into a black hole that draws misfortune of countries and people.
Several politicians, editors, and the military now proclaim that that we should jump in, leave the last of the neutrality and comply with NATO going directly into the black hole. Multiyear efforts of dragging the country into the the alliance, shall result in the membership.
We should do the opposite. Pull us out. Keep us away. Say yes to the exclusion.
It reduces the risk that our own government or the foreign power will drag us into the war. But not only that. Swedish neutrality is also an opening for the people in eastern Europe who are looking for a rescue out of the tug-of-war between the Russian oil and gas barons, domestic oligarchs and western financial oligarchs.
Being outside zone of US protectorate, we can jointly deal with the social issues.
More can be read about the NATO mutual försvarsförpliktelser in "The Alliance's Strategic Concept, Approved by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, D. C., 990424".
The text was written in 1998 is available in the "SAIC: Perspective Study Dominant? Awareness 2020", Final Report, September 2, 1998, For The Swedish High Command, p. 5, 7
May 21, 2015 | Zero HedgeSubmitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,
"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier's mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not."
- Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military
Talk about poor timing. Then again, perhaps it's brilliant timing.
Only now-after the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense have passed off billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces, after police agencies have been trained in the fine art of war, after SWAT team raids have swelled in number to more than 80,000 a year, after it has become second nature for local police to look and act like soldiers, after communities have become acclimated to the presence of militarized police patrolling their streets, after Americans have been taught compliance at the end of a police gun or taser, after lower income neighborhoods have been transformed into war zones, after hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Americans have lost their lives at the hands of police who shoot first and ask questions later, after a whole generation of young Americans has learned to march in lockstep with the government's dictates-only now does President Obama lift a hand to limit the number of military weapons being passed along to local police departments.
Not all, mind you, just some.
Talk about too little, too late.
Months after the White House defended a federal program that distributed $18 billion worth of military equipment to local police, Obama has announced that he will ban the federal government from providing local police departments with tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large-caliber firearms.
Obama also indicated that less heavy-duty equipment (armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear and specialized firearms and ammunition) will reportedly be subject to more regulations such as local government approval, and police being required to undergo more training and collect data on the equipment's use. Perhaps hoping to sweeten the deal, the Obama administration is also offering $163 million in taxpayer-funded grants to "incentivize police departments to adopt the report's recommendations."
While this is a grossly overdue first step of sorts, it is nevertheless a first step from an administration that has been utterly complicit in accelerating the transformation of America's police forces into extensions of the military. Indeed, as investigative journalist Radley Balko points out, while the Obama administration has said all the right things about the need to scale back on a battlefield mindset, it has done all the wrong things to perpetuate the problem:
- distributed equipment designed for use on the battlefield to local police departments,
- provided private grants to communities to incentivize SWAT team raids,
- redefined "community policing" to reflect aggressive police tactics and funding a nationwide COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program that has contributed to dramatic rise in SWAT teams,
- encouraged the distribution of DHS anti-terror grants and the growth of "contractors that now cater to police agencies looking to cash DHS checks in exchange for battle-grade gear,"
- ramped up the use of military-style raids to crack down on immigration laws and target "medical marijuana growers, shops, and dispensaries in states that have legalized the drug,"
- defended as "reasonable" aggressive, militaristic police tactics in cases where police raided a guitar shop in defense of an obscure environmental law, raided a home looking for a woman who had defaulted on her student loans, and terrorized young children during a raid on the wrong house based on a mistaken license plate,
- and ushered in an era of outright highway robbery in which asset forfeiture laws have been used to swindle Americans out of cash, cars, houses, or other property that government agents can "accuse" of being connected to a crime.
It remains to be seen whether this overture on Obama's part, coming in the midst of heightened tensions between the nation's police forces and the populace they're supposed to protect, opens the door to actual reform or is merely a political gambit to appease the masses all the while further acclimating the populace to life in a police state.
Certainly, on its face, it does nothing to ease the misery of the police state that has been foisted upon us. In fact, Obama's belated gesture of concern does little to roll back the deadly menace of overzealous police agencies corrupted by money, power and institutional immunity. And it certainly fails to recognize the terrible toll that has been inflicted on our communities, our fragile ecosystem of a democracy, and our freedoms as a result of the government's determination to bring the war home.
Will the young black man guilty of nothing more than running away from brutish police officers be any safer in the wake of Obama's edict? It's unlikely.
Will the old man reaching for his cane have a lesser chance of being shot? It's doubtful.
Will the little girl asleep under her princess blanket live to see adulthood when a SWAT team crashes through her door? I wouldn't count on it.
It's a safe bet that our little worlds will be no safer following Obama's pronouncement and the release of his "Task Force on 21st Century Policing" report. In fact, there is a very good chance that life in the American police state will become even more perilous.
Among the report's 50-page list of recommendations is a call for more police officer boots on the ground, training for police "on the importance of de-escalation of force," and "positive non-enforcement activities" in high-crime communities to promote trust in the police such as sending an ice cream truck across the city.
Curiously, nowhere in the entire 120-page report is there a mention of the Fourth Amendment, which demands that the government respect citizen privacy and bodily integrity. The Constitution is referenced once, in the Appendix, in relation to Obama's authority as president. And while the word "constitutional" is used 15 times within the body of the report, its use provides little assurance that the Obama administration actually understands the clear prohibitions against government overreach as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
For instance, in the section of the report on the use of technology and social media, the report notes: "Though all constitutional guidelines must be maintained in the performance of law enforcement duties, the legal framework (warrants, etc.) should continue to protect law enforcement access to data obtained from cell phones, social media, GPS, and other sources, allowing officers to detect, prevent, or respond to crime."
Translation: as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the new face of policing in America is about to shift from waging its war on the American people using primarily the weapons of the battlefield to the evermore-sophisticated technology of the battlefield where government surveillance of our everyday activities will be even more invasive.
This emphasis on technology, surveillance and social media is nothing new. In much the same way the federal government used taxpayer-funded grants to "gift" local police agencies with military weapons and equipment, it is also funding the distribution of technology aimed at making it easier for police to monitor, track and spy on Americans. For instance, license plate readers, stingray devices and fusion centers are all funded by grants from the DHS. Funding for drones at the state and local levels also comes from the federal government, which in turn accesses the data acquired by the drones for its own uses.
If you're noticing a pattern here, it is one in which the federal government is not merely transforming local police agencies into extensions of itself but is in fact federalizing them, turning them into a national police force that answers not to "we the people" but to the Commander in Chief. Yet the American police force is not supposed to be a branch of the military, nor is it a private security force for the reigning political faction. It is supposed to be an aggregation of the countless local civilian units that exist for a sole purpose: to serve and protect the citizens of each and every American community.
So where does that leave us?
There's certainly no harm in embarking on a national dialogue on the dangers of militarized police, but if that's all it amounts to-words that sound good on paper and in the press but do little to actually respect our rights and restore our freedoms-then we're just playing at politics with no intention of actually bringing about reform.
Despite the Obama Administration's lofty claims of wanting to "ensure that public safety becomes more than the absence of crime, that it must also include the presence of justice," this is the reality we must contend with right now:
Americans still have no real protection against police abuse. Americans still have no right to self-defense in the face of SWAT teams mistakenly crashing through our doors, or police officers who shoot faster than they can reason. Americans are still no longer innocent until proven guilty. Americans still don't have a right to private property. Americans are still powerless in the face of militarized police. Americans still don't have a right to bodily integrity. Americans still don't have a right to the expectation of privacy. Americans are still being acclimated to a police state through the steady use and sight of military drills domestically, a heavy militarized police presence in public places and in the schools, and a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the police are our "friends." And to top it all off, Americans still can't rely on the courts, Congress or the White House to mete out justice when our rights are violated by police.
To sum it all up: the problems we're grappling with have been building for more than 40 years. They're not going to go away overnight, and they certainly will not be resolved by a report that instructs the police to simply adopt different tactics to accomplish the same results-i.e., maintain the government's power, control and wealth at all costs.
This is the sad reality of life in the American police state.
October 26, 2009 | outsidethebeltway.com
Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star, a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.
NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ):
"The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.
Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)
New Kings of War blogger "Captain Hyphen."
One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation, which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl, whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.
Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).
How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.
One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over - let alone twice - for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done.
Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely - and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here - Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.
Apr 05, 2015 | Zero HedgeSubmitted by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,
It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the warfare-state revolution that transformed the federal government and American society after World War II. The roots of America's foreign-policy crises today, along with the massive infringements on civil liberties and privacy and the federal government's program of secret indefinite incarceration, torture, assassination, and extra-judicial executions can all be traced to the grafting of a national-security apparatus onto America's federal governmental system in the 1940s.
Certainly, the seeds for what happened in the post-WWII era were sown prior to that time, specifically in the move toward empire, which, interestingly enough, occurred during the same period of time that Progressives were inducing Americans to abandon their system of economic liberty and free markets in favor of socialism and interventionism in the form of a welfare state and regulated economy.
I'm referring to the year 1898, when the U.S. government intervened in the Spanish American War, with the ostensible aim of helping the Cuban and Filipino people win their independence. It was a false and fraudulent intervention, one that was actually designed to place Cuba and the Philippines under the control of the U.S. government. The result was a brutal war in the Philippines between U.S. forces and the Filipino people, along with a never-ending obsession to control Cuba, one that would ending up becoming a central focus of the national-security state.
A national-security state and an empire certainly weren't among the founding principles of the United States. In fact, the revolution in 1776 was against an empire that the British colonists in America no longer wanted to be part of. They were sick and tired of the endless wars and ever-increasing taxes, regulations, and oppression that come with empire and overgrown military establishments.
In fact, there was a deep antipathy toward standing armies among the Founding Fathers. The words of James Madison, the father of the Constitution, reflect the mindset of our American ancestors:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
What about foreign interventionism? The speech that John Quincy Adams delivered to Congress on the 4th of July, 1821, entitled "In Search of Monsters to Destroy," expressed the sentiments of our predecessors. Adams pointed out that there were lots of bad things in the world, things like tyranny, oppression, famines, and the like. He said though that America would not send troops to slay these monsters. Instead, America would build a model society of freedom right here at home for the people of the world. In fact, if America ever became a military empire that would engage in foreign interventionism, Adams predicted, it would fundamentally change the character of American society, one that would look more like a society under dictatorial rule.
That's not to say that 19th-century America was a libertarian paradise with respect to warfare, any more than it was a libertarian paradise in general, as I pointed out in my article "America's Welfare-State Revolution." But the fact is that there was no overgrown military establishment, no CIA, no NSA, no conscription, no foreign interventionism, and no foreign aid (and no income tax, IRS, Federal Reserve, and fiat money to fund such things).
There was a basic military force but in relative terms it wasn't very large. There were also wars, such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Mexican War, and many military skirmishes, but with the exception of the Civil War, the casualties were relatively low, especially compared with such foreign wars as World War I and World War II.
Moreover, it was an established practice to demobilize after each war. That is, a permanent war machine and perpetual war were not built into the system. War and military interventionism were the exception, not the rule.
That all changed with the embrace of a national-security establishment after World War II. In his Farewell Address in 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the national-security state - or what he called the military-industrial complex - constituted an entirely new way of life for the American people, one that entailed what amounted to a new, permanent warfare-state branch of the federal government, consisting of an overgrown military establishment, a CIA, and an NSA, along with an army of private-sector contractors and subcontractors who were feeding at the public trough on a permanent basis.
Most significantly, Ike pointed out that this national-security apparatus constituted a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.
This revolutionary transformation was justified in the name of "national security," which have become the two most important words in the American lexicon, notwithstanding the fact that no one has ever been able to define the term. The warfare-state revolution would be characterized by an endless array of threats to national security, beginning with communism and communists, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and others, and later morphing into Saddam Hussein, terrorism, terrorists, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and even the Muslims.
In the process, Adams proved right. By grafting a totalitarian-like structure onto America's federal governmental system, the United States began displaying the characteristics of a dictatorial society.
Assassination, torture, rendition, secret prisons, medical experiments on unsuspecting Americans, the hiring of Nazis, indefinite detention, partnerships with criminal organizations and foreign dictators, coups, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, undeclared wars, wars of aggression, and extra-judicial executions. When any of those types of things occurred in the 19th century, they were considered exceptions to the system. Now they have become permanent parts of the system.
And look at the results of this gigantic warfare-state transformation: ever-increasing infringements on liberty and privacy, ever-increasing spending, debt, and taxes, and ever-increasing anger and hatred toward our country. Yes, all the things that characterized the British Empire that British colonists revolted against in 1776. How's that for irony?
Meanwhile, like the welfare state, modern-day Americans continue to remain convinced that their system of government has never changed in a fundamental way. They continue to play like their governmental system is founded on the same constitutional principles as when the country was founded. It is a supreme act of self-deception.
The truth is that America has now had two different governmental systems: One without a national-security apparatus and one with it. It seems to me that it's a no-brainer as to who was right and which system was better in terms of freedom, privacy, peace, prosperity, and harmony.
This! You should see the faces on people when I try to explain to them that we're not supposed to have an ever present military. They call me unpatriotic and a hater of our verterans. WTF?!?! I try explaining to them we shouldn't have "veterans", that many of the conflicts they were part of should never have happened. Still, I'm the bad guy despite the fact that the country's ideals have drifted so far off course. I'm reluctantly getting more and more used to the deer in the headlights response from people, which is sad.
Calm down, don't get angry, and use the Socratic method with them. The cognitive dissonance will still fight back, but ask them about why we were in Vietnam and Iraq. Lead them to the conclusion that those wars never should have been fought. Unplugging from the matrix is very, very difficult and very, very uncomfortable. You want them to understand your point of view so that it is much harder for them to condemn you for it. You are dealing with deeply ingrained cultural values that they have never questioned.
And be nice to the troops. Most of them were duped into believing that they were doing good. You want them to turn on their masters if their masters turn on us.
There is no America. There's parts of the globe that are labeled United States but the Banks and Corporations have more money and power than nations. They control the land mass that people refer to as America. They control the military that wears American uniforms and they control the nuclear weapons that used to be American weapons. That is why nuclear weapons can be removed from the US without prosecution or military intervention. Deal with it bitchez.
The biggest dilemma facing today's younger Generation is the lack of a point of reference. 911 & other False Flag / PsyOp's have diluted their minds full of lies & deception.
A former KGB Agent interviewed by G. Edward Griffen explained that for a propaganda campaign to be truly effective it has to cross over generations or be "Generational."
We"re well into the second decade of the biggest PsyOp ever conducted over the masses on a Global Scale, 911. The Social Engineers / Revisionists have been very busy rewriting history.
"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the future controls the past."
The mightiest nation on earth is run exclusively for the benefit of the mightiest banks on earth.
Too big to fail, too big to bail, too big to jail.
The politico are the puppet class.
The people [at the very bottom of the pyramid] are the serf class with no money, no voice, no power.
All as intended. Follow the money. Read the protocols for more detail.
If it were so easy. Unfortunately there are people who want control, for who knows what reason. I always wondered myself why anyone would want more than they need but I have never been able to come up with a clear answer that makes any logical sense. I can give a prime example: I had a friend in college who was very wealthy and frugal, so frugal they went to a community college with me. He was always telling me he needed more money (he already had an eight figure stash) and one day I asked him why he needed more. The only response he could come up with was: Becuase I want it. Again, I asked what for and he couldn't ever come up with a reasonable explanation other than he wanted it. I don't know about anyone else here but I can say for sure that if I was able to scrounge seven figures in my savings, I would be done saving with no need for any more. But I'm a simple, realistic person and I would expect that my children (not that I will ever have any) pave their own road like I did and I would leave nothing for them or anyone else and expect them to do the same. My money will all be spent and recycled back into the economy when I'm gone. There is no use for it after death. I'm a firm believer that if you can't survive on your own, you don't deserve to survive at all. The animals have already figured this out and humans knew it at one point to. Leave the weak to die or be dragged down with them.
If I ever had the opportunity to ask one of the banksters who has some "end-game" plan for power and control over others I would only have one question: How is that going to improve your life and why would you do that anyway? You already have everything you could possibly need for the next 100 generations of your family. What is the fucking point?
We are Rome and will follow their pattern of decline, although vastly accelerated given our modern communications and banking.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Treasury Official in Ronald Reagan's Administration puts it pretty bluntly in what he's telling Americans.Americans reading this need to wake up to what a right wing neo-fascist government is doing to their society.
All religious Americans especially need to pay heed to his insights.It's no joke,it's what's happening right now.Can evil be defeated?The founding fathers warned you about it.
The MIC will always need a credible boogeyman to justify its existence. For years this role was played by the Soviet Union. We were told to be afraid of commies in Moscow, in the State Department, in Hollywood, and under every bed. Then, suddenly, came the end of Ivan, and the MIC was threatened with irrelevance, even dissolution. We the People were beginning to wonder aloud about a "peace dividend." Obviously, this could not be allowed.
The MIC solution was to replace the Soviet menace with the terrorist menace. Really, you have to admire the psychopathic brilliance of this move, since terrorism is a conceptual boogeyman that will never expire or be deposed. Multiple, ongoing wars are now our new normal, and saddest of all, we seem to be getting used to it.
This post somehow brings to mind a High School Class Reunion I attented 5 years ago. We are all old enough now to have been set in our careers for 30 years. So when you talk to people you can get a good insight into how they all made their livings after High School. My town School was small, my class was 145 students.
What amazed me was what we all ended up talking about. It was the Military. Because as Americans THIS was the common bond we men share. Over half of the men there were veterans, me included, but even more than that, there was our lives after military service, and those who went direct to college. The college kids grew up and from those I talked to, there we many who work for the big defense industries in the Minneapolis Metro Area. Plus we had students who went west and worked for giant defense industries out there. Our conversations revolved around missiles, torpedoes, radars, air craft and high explosives. I met a class mate who designed the explosives for Bunker Busters and other High Energy weapons. One class mate helped build the guidance for the type of torpedoes my ship used. One class mate knew the type of detection gear I operated in the Navy, as his father designed much of it. On and On it went.
By the end of the night, it seems half of our class was employed in military design and construction, the other half of average guys were all vets. Yes, Middle America, out where I live, is a totally militarized entity. It really hit home when you talk to a group you have known all your life.
If we ever had an Empire .... it was a Moral Empire .... and it needs to be regained, improved and expanded .... it's called American Exceptionalism .... and I'm not impressed with the pretenders to our throne .... nor their bootlicking lackeys .... a bunch of chickens .... cackling in the Barnyard of Life !
Sept 1, 2013 | studentpulse.com
After World War II, the United States military gradually came into a position of overwhelming dominance in the world. Military spending in the United States far outpaces that of other countries, with their world share of military expenditures at 41% in 2011, followed by Russia and China with only eight and four percent respectively (SIPRI 2012). This has been the case since the Second World War and has been justified in different ways over time. The arguments for continued military dominance have ranged from "long-term economic gains" at the start of the war (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45) to Soviet containment during the Cold War, "a broader responsibility of global militarism" since the 1980s (Ryan 1991, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 73), and most recently the need to protect citizens against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, there has been consistent concern that powerful groups in military, political, and corporate positions, profiteering from conflict and sharing interests in intensifying defense expenditure, have become the primary actors for making and administering U.S. foreign policy. Today the scope of the defense industry is now much bigger than legitimate security needs justify (see, for example, Moskos 1974, Mintz 1985, Waddell 2001 and Hossein-zadeh 2006).
This analysis argues that expansion of the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending. This essay is divided into two sections: the first focuses on the origins of America's military-industrial complex, beginning with a definition of the elite group that the complex comprises. Next, by focusing on the period in which the foundation for the complex was laid – the Second World War – it is argued that the complex arose unintentionally in some ways, although important characteristics of it were visible from the start. Third, military Keynesianism, often used to defend high military budgets once the complex was in place, will be discussed and refuted. The second section focuses on the most important argument in favor of high military budgets today: the need to protect American citizens from the global threat of terrorism. It is argued that public perceptions of the causes of terrorism are incorrect, yet have been gladly utilized and fostered by the American military-industrial complex to justify an ineffective global war.
The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States
What distinguishes the "power elite" that constitutes the military-industrial complex from other powerful groups in American society who also seek advancement of their own interests, is that this is not a ruling class based solely on the ownership of property (Mills 1956, cited in Moskos 1974: 499-500). Rather, it is a coalition of civilian agencies that formally shape military policy (such as the Senate and the CIA), military institutions, private firms, research institutions and think tanks – all centered on and linked to the Pentagon (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 13). As a result of power arising from the occupancy in top bureaucratic positions as well as from capital ownership, the interests of the ruling elite go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and include desires to maintain themselves in power and to press for specific forms of public policy. Their most important common interest is intensifying defense expenditure. War profiteering in itself is not new – wars have always been fought at least in part for economic gains. Today's military-industrial complex is different in that it treats war as a business: the ruling elite's goal of having a large military establishment is not to expand the nation's wealth, but "to appropriate the lion's share of existing wealth for the military establishment" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 90). As a consequence, decisions on defense allocation, arms production and military operations are motivated by desires for profit and personal power, not necessarily by security requirements.
This is not to say that expansion of the military budget has always been an 'end' for a powerful group of elites, but in fact was initially a means to serve other ends. The first big expansion of the military establishment took place in the early years of the Second World War, when the U.S. had legitimate concerns for its own national security due to such events as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared the war would negatively impact foreign trade. Military expansion is a logical result of the former concern, as it is a means to preserve physical security. However, it is closely linked to the latter concern, too. The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the nation's most influential think foreign policy think-tanks, advised the U.S. government that it needed free access to markets and raw materials in all regions outside of continental Europe for economic self-sufficiency. To this end, the U.S. advocated globalization and open economic cooperation through multilateralism. At the time, the crisis of the '30s and the war had made the concept of the free market highly unpopular. This made "military supremacy for the U.S. within the non-German world" a complementary requirement to ensure all countries within the "U.S.-led, non-German Grand Area," including Japan, would accept American conditions (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45). In short, military spending was not yet an end in itself, it was the combined result of needing to increase power in the face of security challenges and wanting to restore trust in and stabilize the global capitalist system.
Key characteristics of the current military-industrial complex, however, were already present when the objectives of U.S. foreign policy during World War II were drafted. As Hossein-zadeh points out, a brief look at the social status and class composition of the Council on Foreign Relations, which consisted of wealthy, influential people with ties to major industrial corporations and politicians, shows that a ruling class shaped major government policies "operating through the institutional umbrella of the Council, and providing intellectual justification for major foreign policy overhauls" (2006: 41). The military-industrial complex in its present form might not have been in place then or have been created intentionally, but clearly there already was a power elite based on more than capital ownership, and strong ties between the military, political, and corporate spheres.
After World War II, the Cold War stabilized U.S. foreign policy for over forty years1. With its demise, a "vacuum in the organizing principles of national government" had emerged (Waddell 2001: 133). Even if unintended, the military-industrial complex was well in place by now, and suggestions to curtail the military budget were met with fierce opposition. However, cutting back on non-military public expenditures while an expensive military establishment is preserved proved harder to justify with the loss of the perceived Soviet threat. An argument in favor of military spending that has been used consistently is that it boosts economic growth (Dreze 2000: 180). Mintz, for instance, notes that the military-industrial complex is seen by many to have "considerable influence on levels of employment, … the profitability of arms manufacture and the scope of exports" (1983: 124).
The view that large military spending is an effective means of demand stimulation and job creation, and hence of economic growth, is called military Keynesianism. Keynes' (non-military) theory holds that in times of inadequate purchasing power, the (non-military) private sector becomes wary of expansion, and so the government should spend money in order to boost the stagnant economy by stimulating demand. Since expansion of the military industry is a government investment, it could have the desired economic effects in times of recession. However, it is important to keep in mind that Keynes argues for little government spending in times of high employment and sufficient demand. Military Keynesianists seem to ignore this fact completely and have argued for high government expenditures even during the Golden Age after World War II – and in no other sector than the military-industrial one. This can only be explained by the fact that it is a constantly shrinking number of people experiencing the economic benefits of high military spending (Waddell 2001: 135). The same people tend to switch positions between the Pentagon, its prime contractors and lobbying think tanks supporting those contractors, meaning that military spending is no longer an economic stimulus for the entire nation. Instead, it has become a redistributive mechanism of national resources in favor of the wealthy (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 226).
Cashing In on the War on Terror
What gets lots in the debate over the economic consequences of military spending is the effect it has on international stability. An old principle asserts that military threats are essential in preventing wars from occurring (Dreze 2000: 1178), but an overly extended military establishment means actual military operations are necessary from time to time to 'prove' the necessity of the army. And indeed, militarists have found that the most effective manner of convincing the American public of the need of a large military establishment is the constant 'discovery' of external threats. The threat currently most emphasized by the U.S. is global terrorism. We argue that while some fears of Islamic fundamentalism are justified, most are not; and that the threat of terrorism is not logically followed by higher military investment.
The U.S. is not being fair in its assessment of the Arab threat. Public discourse today implies that Islam is inherently more rigid and anti-modern than other religions. Huntington famously predicted that most major conflicts would be between Muslims and non-Muslims, as "Islam has bloody borders" (1993: 12). In 1990, historian Bernard Lewis described a "surge of hatred" rising from the Islamic world that "becomes a rejection of Western civilisation as such" (cited in Coll 2012). Richard Perle, American neoconservative militarist and advisor to Israel's Likud Party, proposes a strategy of "de-contextualization" to explain acts of terrorism and violent resistance to occupation, arguing that we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to fundamentalism; instead, reasons for the violence of such groups must be sought in the Islamic way of thinking (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101).
Religious fundamentalism, however, is universal: it arises in response to modernity and secularism, both of which tend to weaken or threaten religious traditions. John Voll points out that by the early 1990s, "violent militancy was clearly manifest among Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and others elsewhere" (1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 110-11). As one scholar points out, if the Bosnians, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris are asked about their borders they would say that, respectively, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are the ones that have bloody borders (Ahmed 2002: 29). Yet statements like the ones by Huntington, Lewis and Perle cited above single out Islam as the most dangerous potential enemy of the West. They all interpret the militancy of Islamic fundamentalism as being somehow directly caused by distinctive Islamic doctrines and traditions (Voll 1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 111) and attribute terrorist attacks to "pathological problems of the Muslim mind" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101). In doing so, they posit a characteristic supposedly shared by Muslims from Indonesia through Iran to Senegal, that makes conflict with the West inevitable.
An incorrect assessment of the roots of terrorism does not justify the extent to which the U.S. expanded its military activity after 2001; nor does it explain why it continues to fight an ineffective war. As Peña points out, a larger military would not have prevented the tragedy of 9/11, and it will not prevent future terrorist actions (2001, cited in Snider 2004). Terrorism, much like the war that is fought against it, is a means of pursuing objectives, not an actor. It cannot be stopped by military action as fighting does nothing to address the issues that terrorists feel can only be resolved violently; if anything, this is more likely to lead to a vicious cycle of constantly growing military budgets and an ever higher number of terrorist attacks. As one author put it: "the moral crusade to end terrorism can only begin with a realistic assessment of its cause" (Snider 2004). So far, the global war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism.
On the contrary, it seems the threat of an attack is now bigger: the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has increased from just over 1800 in 2001, to a staggering five-thousand ten years later (START 2012). The question that arises, then, is why successive U.S. administrations have found it so difficult to accept that perhaps their assessment of the causes of terrorism is incorrect; that perhaps, the policies built on their premises are not effective, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a vicious cycle of constantly expanding military activities and an increasing number of individuals who believe their grievances cannot be settled non-violently. This has everything to do with the never-ending need for militarism: 9/11 was approached by the U.S. as an opportunity for aggression. The attacks, however heinous, were approached by the government not as crimes (which would require criminal prosecution and law enforcement), but as a personal attack against Americans (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 91). With the views expressed by Huntington, Lewis and Perle widespread among the American public already, pre-emptive war and military expansion was easily justifiable to Americans. After all, how would dialogue help if the Muslim mind is pathologically troubled? An American citizen might cringe at the idea, but it is true: the 9/11 tragedy "came from heaven to an administration determined to ramp up military budgets" (Johnson 2004: 64).
This essay has sought to argue that the U.S. military-industrial complex was the unintentional result of both a desire to stabilize the global capitalist system and to protect national security interests, but that military spending is now closely linked to the personal interests of a small, influential group of elites. In the first section, it was illustrated that the context of the Second World War made increased military expenditures a necessary means to other ends, although the power elite that would eventually come to benefit from these expenditures was already in place. Once in place, this power elite has constantly needed to justify the disproportionate allocation of national resources to the military establishment. Emphasizing the economic benefits of military investment by drawing on Keynesian theory is a way of doing so, but military Keynesianists seem to give a one-sided account of the theory, one that suits their interests.
The second section focused on the global war on terror, arguing that the U.S. is capitalizing on public fears which are based on an incorrect assessment of the causes of terrorism. The war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism, but as long as the public continues believing it is a necessary war, the U.S. military-industrial complex will continue using it as an opportunity to keep military budgets high.
- Ahmed, A. (2002) 'Ibn Khaldun's understanding of civilizations and the dilemmas of Islam and the West today', Middle East Journal, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 20-45
- Coll, S. (2012) 'Days of Rage', The New Yorker, 1 October. [Online] Available at http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/10/01/121001taco_talk_coll (accessed 7 January 2013)
- Dreze, J. (2000) 'Militarism, development and democracy', Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 14, pp. 1171-1183
- Hossein-zadeh, I. (2006). The political economy of U.S. militarism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
- Huntington, S. P. (1993) 'The Clash of Civilizations?' in The Council on Foreign Relations, ed. 1996, Samuel P. Huntington's the clash of civilizations: the debate, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, pp. 1-26
- Johnson, C. (2004) The sorrows of empire: militarism, secrecy, and the end of the republic. New York: Henry Holt and Company
- Mintz, A. (1985) 'The military-industrial complex: American concepts and Israeli realities', The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 623-639
- Moskos, C. (1974) 'The concept of the military-industrial complex: radical critique or liberal bogey?', Social Problems, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 498-512
- SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) (2012) Military spending and armament: the 15 major spender countries in 2011 (table). Solna: SIPRI. Available at http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/milex_15 (accessed 4 January 2013)
- Snider, B. (2004) 'Manufacturing terrorism', antiwar.com, 14 June. [Online] Available at http://antiwar.com/blog/2004/06/14/manufacturing-terrorism/ (accessed 6 January 2013)
- START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism). (2012) Incidents over time. Maryland: Global Terrorism Database. [Data file] Available at http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?region= (accessed 7 January 2013)
- Waddell, B. (2001) 'Limiting national interventionism in the United States: the warfare-welfare state as a restrictive government paradigm', Capital and class, Vol. 74, pp. 109-140
1.) The U.S. did have to rethink the expenses of their policies during the crisis of the '70s, when expanding on both warfare and welfare became too expensive. Allocating taxpayers' money to the military had become harder to justify for several reasons; by this time, however, the military-industrial complex was well in place. Beneficiaries of militarism succeeded in maintaining high military budgets, mainly by exaggerating the 'Soviet threat' (such as in the now-discredited Team B report by the Committee on the Present Danger). This was clearly a way of defining the elite group's interests in terms of national interests and is relevant to the topic, but it is not within the scope of the essay to discuss this in detail.
Mar 18, 2015 | Zero Hedge
There are many documented false flag attacks, where a government carries out a terror attack … and then falsely blames its enemy for political purposes.
In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally or in writing:
(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the "Mukden Incident" or the "Manchurian Incident". The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: "Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the 'Incident' was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army …." And see this.
(2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.
(3) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.
(4) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union's Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939 – while blaming the attack on Finland – as a basis for launching the "Winter War" against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor in the Winter War.
(5) The Russian Parliament, current Russian president Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, and then falsely blamed it on the Nazis.
(6) The British government admits that – between 1946 and 1948 – it bombed 5 ships carrying Jews attempting to flee the Holocaust to seek safety in Palestine, set up a fake group called "Defenders of Arab Palestine", and then had the psuedo-group falsely claim responsibility for the bombings (and see this, this and this).
(7) Israel admits that in 1954, an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind "evidence" implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this).
(8) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.
(9) The Turkish Prime Minister admitted that the Turkish government carried out the 1955 bombing on a Turkish consulate in Greece – also damaging the nearby birthplace of the founder of modern Turkey – and blamed it on Greece, for the purpose of inciting and justifying anti-Greek violence.
(10) The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change.
(11) The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people's support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: "You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security" (and see this) (Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special. They also allegedly carried out terror attacks in France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and other countries.
False flag attacks carried out pursuant tho this program include – by way of example only:
- The murder of the Turkish Prime Minister (1960)
- Bombings in Portugal (1966)
- The Piazza Fontana massacre in Italy (1969)
- Terror attacks in Turkey (1971)
- The Peteano bombing in Italy (1972)
- The Atocha massacre in Madrid, Spain (1977)
(12) In 1960, American Senator George Smathers suggested that the U.S. launch "a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]".
(13) Official State Department documents show that, in 1961, the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals.
(14) As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in 1962, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
(15) In 1963, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote a paper promoting attacks on nations within the Organization of American States – such as Trinidad-Tobago or Jamaica – and then falsely blaming them on Cuba.
(16) The U.S. Department of Defense even suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: "The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro's subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on Guantanamo."
(17) The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war.
(18) A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its "Cointelpro" campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.
(19) A top Turkish general admitted that Turkish forces burned down a mosque on Cyprus in the 1970s and blamed it on their enemy. He explained: "In Special War, certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance. We did this on Cyprus; we even burnt down a mosque." In response to the surprised correspondent's incredulous look the general said, "I am giving an example".
(20) The German government admitted (and see this) that, in 1978, the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted "escape tools" on a prisoner – a member of the Red Army Faction – which the secret service wished to frame the bombing on.
(21) A Mossad agent admits that, in 1984, Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Gaddaffi's compound in Tripoli, Libya which broadcast fake terrorist trasmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya immediately thereafter.
(22) The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him "to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident", thus framing the ANC for the bombing.
(23) An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author).
(24) The United States Army's 1994 publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces – updated in 2004 – recommends employing terrorists and using false flag operations to destabilize leftist regimes in Latin America. False flag terrorist attacks were carried out in Latin America and other regions as part of the CIA's "Dirty Wars". And see this.
(25) Similarly, a CIA "psychological operations" manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a "martyr" for the cause. The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government. The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other news coverage that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:
At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.
(26) An Indonesian fact-finding team investigated violent riots which occurred in 1998, and determined that "elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked".
(27) Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion).
(28) According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.
(29) The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings.
(30) As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the "war on terror".
(31) Senior police officials in Genoa, Italy admitted that – in July 2001, at the G8 summit in Genoa – planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.
(32) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is "overwhelming" that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime, that Cheney "probably" had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not 'doing their homework' in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous "lone wolf" claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have alleged that 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).
(33) Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.
(34) Police outside of a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester
(35) Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having "our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda's ranks, causing operatives to doubt others' identities and to question the validity of communications."
(36) United Press International reported in June 2005:
U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.
(37) Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians.
(38) Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this).
(39) At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.
(40) Egyptian politicians admitted (and see this) that government employees looted priceless museum artifacts in 2011 to try to discredit the protesters.
(41) A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.
(42) The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls "Chechen" terrorists.
(43) High-level American sources admitted that the Turkish government – a fellow NATO country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out attacks and blame it on the Syrian government.
(44) The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the Ukrainian coup were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that the Ukrainian snipers fired on both sides, to create maximum chaos.
(45) Britain's spy agency has admitted (and see this) that it carries out "digital false flag" attacks on targets, framing people by writing offensive or unlawful material … and blaming it on the target.
(46) U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then "drop" automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants
(47) Similarly, police frame innocent people for crimes they didn't commit. The practice is so well-known that the New York Times noted in 1981:
In police jargon, a throwdown is a weapon planted on a victim.
Newsweek reported in 1999:
Perez, himself a former [Los Angeles Police Department] cop, was caught stealing eight pounds of cocaine from police evidence lockers. After pleading guilty in September, he bargained for a lighter sentence by telling an appalling story of attempted murder and a "throwdown"–police slang for a weapon planted by cops to make a shooting legally justifiable. Perez said he and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, shot an unarmed 18th Street Gang member named Javier Ovando, then planted a semiautomatic rifle on the unconscious suspect and claimed that Ovando had tried to shoot them during a stakeout.
As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.
(As a side note – and while not technically false flag attacks – police have been busted framing innocent people in many other ways, as well.)
So Common … There's a Name for It
A former U.S. intelligence officer recently alleged:
Most terrorists are false flag terrorists or are created by our own security services.
This might be an exaggeration (and – as shown above – the U.S. isn't the only one to play this terrible game). The point is that it is a very widespread strategy.
Indeed, this form of deceit is so common that it was given a name hundreds of years ago.
"False flag terrorism" is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:
False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension.
The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship. Because the enemy's flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a "false flag" attack.
Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for naval, air and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks. Specifically, the rules of engagement state that a military force can fly the enemy's flag, imitate their markings, or dress in an enemy's clothes … but that the ruse has to be discarded before attacking.
Why are the rules of engagement so specific? Obviously, because nations have been using false flag attacks for many centuries. And the rules of engagement are at least trying to limit false flag attacks so that they aren't used as a false justification for war.
In other words, the rules of engagement themselves are an admission that false flag terrorism is a very common practice.
Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:
"Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death".
– Adolph Hitler
"Why of course the people don't want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.
"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened".
– Josef Stalin
These false flags depend upon the trust of their underling sheeple in their leaders and media. Trust is an opiate of each nation's sheeple. Yes, fool, your government/king/media lie to you. Terrorist is word designed to elicit an emote from you Emoting prevents thinking. Power corrupts. Government power corrupts. Media power corrupts. Stupidity enslaves.
"Cui bono" is thinking. Thinking negates blind obeying. There is no virtue, nor honor, nor self-respect in emoting to your leader's stimuli.
I think; therefore I am. I emote; therefore I'm controlled.
you missed out the London bombings in 2005, which are riddled with errors, mistakes and evidence of it being organised by military of Britain or perhaps CIA or Israel.... the train the attackers were meant to be on, was cancelled meaning they couldn't even get into London in time to do the bombings... it's all on CCTV and yet the 'official' report just skips over that part....
There are scores of false flags I didn't address ... I only focused on the ones that were ADMITTED.
Dozens of people have been hurt and some 350 people arrested as anti-austerity demonstrators clashed with police in the German city of Frankfurt.
Police cars were set alight and stones were thrown in a protest against the opening of a new base for the European Central Bank (ECB).
Violence broke out close to the city's Alte Oper concert hall hours before the ECB building's official opening.
"Blockupy" activists are expected to attend a rally later on Wednesday.
In earlier disturbances, police in riot gear used water cannon to clear hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters from the streets around the new ECB headquarters.
Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB's role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece.
The bank, in charge of managing the euro, is also responsible for framing eurozone policy and, along with the IMF and European Commission is part of a troika which has set conditions for bailouts in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus.
A spokesman for the Blockupy movement said the troika was responsible for austerity measures which have pushed many into poverty.
Police set up a cordon of barbed wire outside the bank's new 185m (600ft) double-tower skyscraper, next to the River Main.
But hopes of a peaceful rally were dashed as clashes began early on Wednesday.
Tyres and rubbish bins were set alight and police responded with water cannon as firefighters complained they were unable to get to the fires to put them out. One fire engine appeared to have had its windscreen broken.
Activists said many protesters had been hurt by police batons, water cannon and by pepper spray.
Police said as many as 80 of their officers had been affected by pepper spray or an acidic liquid. Eight suffered injuries from stone-throwing protesters.
Police spokeswoman Claudia Rogalski spoke of an "aggressive atmosphere" and the Frankfurt force tweeted images of a police van being attacked. They were braced for further violence as increasing numbers of activists arrived for the rally.
Blockupy accused police of using kettling tactics to cordon off hundreds of protesters and appealed for supporters to press for their release.
What is Blockupy?
Europe-wide alliance of left-wing parties, unions and movements Vehemently against austerity polices of European Commission, ECB and IMF First Frankfurt protest attracted thousands in 2012 Activists from Greece's radical left governing party Syriza and Spain's anti-corruption Podemos are joining the rally
Also includes Germany's Die Linke and Occupy Frankfurt
Rallying call: "They want capitalism without democracy, we want democracy without capitalism"
As the number of protesters grew in the streets away from the new ECB building, the bank's president, Mario Draghi, gave a speech marking its inauguration.
Mr Draghi said that the it "may not be a fair charge" to label the ECB as the main perpetrator of unpopular austerity in Europe.
"Our action has been aimed precisely at cushioning the shocks suffered by the economy," he said.
"But as the central bank of the whole euro area, we must listen very carefully to what all our citizens are saying."
The new headquarters, which had been due to open years earlier, cost an estimated €1.3bn (£930m; $1.4bn) to build and is the new home for thousands of central bankers.
Blockupy activists said on their website that there was nothing to celebrate about the politics of austerity and increasing poverty.
marknesop , March 17, 2015 at 11:57 amMost here will be aware that Russia withdrew from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, effective about a week ago. But I wonder how many were aware of the lopsided balance of forces Russia was expected to accept in order to ratify the treaty.et Al, March 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm
"When Russia ratified the adapted CFE Treaty, the agreement's weapons limit for NATO was three times that established for the Russian army. However, NATO required the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnistria as a condition for the ratification of the treaty.
"NATO countries were not in a hurry to ratify the adapted treaty," Alexei Arbatov said. "Although Russia had withdrawn almost all its troops, there remained some absolutely insignificant contingents and objects. The West sought to pursue its line. On the part of NATO, I think it was extremely short-sighted, it was a big mistake."
In Arbatov's view, this decision by NATO was what "finished off" conventional arms control in Europe."
So for Russia, it now no longer recognizes a balance of forces or limit on conventional arms it may deploy in reaction to what it considers NATO provocations. The temperature looks to be steadily rising.I advocated this as an option quite some time ago. The time is judged right by the Kremlin to do so. But, even the US has foreseen this:kirill, March 17, 2015 at 2:41 pm
There was a very interesting article (which of course I cannot now find) from a day or two ago outlining the US military's response to the end of the CFE treaty. The underlining point was that the US could do quite a number of things that could make it more militarily threatening to Russia without breaching any CFE commitmets.
Here's a few mil related stuff that is intersting:
New Radars, IRST Strengthen Stealth-Detection Claims
Counterstealth technologies near service worldwide
Counterstealth technologies, intended to reduce the effectiveness of radar cross-section (RCS) reduction measures, are proliferating worldwide. Since 2013, multiple new programs have been revealed, producers of radar and infrared search and track (IRST) systems have been more ready to claim counterstealth capability, and some operators-notably the U.S. Navy-have openly conceded that stealth technology is being challenged.
These new systems are designed from the outset for sensor fusion-when different sensors detect and track the same target, the track and identification data are merged automatically. This is intended to overcome a critical problem in engaging stealth targets: Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up….
I think the point is that stealth has its place, but given the nature of 30 operational lives of aircraft, they are not going to keep their advantage for long. If you follow the tech news, the world is going through a sensor revolution. Price has massively dropped, capabilities have grown hugely, efficiency has significantly increase, its just the case of tying all the data together to make use of it 'data fusion' as they say in the article above. My camera has gps. In the pet shop I've seen gps cat collars not to mention video collars that can record all day or be set by sensor motion. It's only going to get better, cheaper and smaller and continue to reach the consumer in ever more imaginative ways.
Another 'gift' from the Ukraine, except this time to I-ran (the other I mentioned in a previous post of Su-33 naval prototype sold to China that ended up as the J-11B copy no to mention the copies Su-27SKs):
AW&ST: Iran Produces First Long-Range Missile
TEL-AVIV - Iran has unveiled a domestically produced long-range land attack cruise missile, dubbed Soumar.
Based on the Russian Kh-55, the Soumar is believed to have a range of at least 2,000 km. "This missile represents a significant leap in the Middle East arms race," says Col. Aviram Hasson of Israel's Missile Defense Organization.
"It positions Iran among the world's leaders in missile technology," a Western intelligence source adds….
…Iran secretly received the missiles in the first half of 2001 and began reverse engineering work. But unlike its publicly displayed ballistic missile program, Iran did not admit to having a cruise missile program until 2012. …
It's old, subsonic tech, but adds another arrow to the quiver that needs to be countered. Nor does it have a nuke warhead.
Defense Update: France to invest €330 million upgrading 218 Leclerc Main Battle Tanks
The planned modernization work will enable Leclerc MBTs to employ its heavy, direct firepower and mobility as part of the future "SCORPION" joint tactical groups (GTIA). The contract provides for the delivery of 200 "upgraded Leclerc" tanks and 18 "Renovated DCL" recovery vehicles from 2020….
Yup, from 2020. That's a lot of money for an extra reverse gear!"Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up"
Total rubbish claim. It perhaps could be true if the "sensor fusion" system consisted of a couple of obsolete radars, but it would not be true for a system consisting of three or more obsolete radars. American idiots ripped off the stealth concept and mathematics from the Soviets and now prance around like they dictate physical reality. American idiots will not see what hit them when people with actual appreciation and skill in physics and mathematics will face their toys.
Warren , March 17, 2015 at 12:50 pmFrance and Germany join UK in Asia bank membershipmarknesop , March 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm
France and Germany are to join the UK in becoming members of a Chinese-led Asian development bank.
The finance ministries of both countries confirmed on Tuesday that they would be applying for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Last week, the US issued a rare rebuke to the UK over its decision to become a member of the AIIB.
The US considers the AIIB a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank.
The UK was the first Western economy to apply for membership of the bank.
But German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed on Tuesday that his country would also be applying for membership.
France's finance ministry confirmed it would be joining the bank. It is believed Italy also intends to join.
The US has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which is seen as spreading Chinese "soft power".
The AIIB, which was created in October by 21 countries, led by China, will fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects.
When asked about the US rebuke last week, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said: "There will be times when we take a different approach."
The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures.
"We think that it's in the UK's national interest," Mr Cameron's spokesperson added.
Last week, Pippa Malmgren, a former economic adviser to US President George W Bush, told the BBC that the public chastisement from the US indicates the move might have come as a surprise.
"It's not normal for the United States to be publicly scolding the British," she said, adding that the US's focus on domestic affairs at the moment could have led to the oversight.
However, Mr Cameron's spokesperson said UK Chancellor George Osborne did discuss the measure with his US counterpart before announcing the move.
Some 21 nations came together last year to sign a memorandum for the bank's establishment, including Singapore, India and Thailand.
But in November last year, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered lukewarm support to the AIIB and said its actions must be transparent.
US President Barack Obama, who met Mr Abbott on the sidelines of a Beijing summit last year, agreed the bank had to be transparent, accountable and truly multilateral.
"Those are the same rules by which the World Bank or IMF [International Monetary Fund] or Asian Development Bank or any other international institution needs to abide by," Mr Obama said at the time.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31921011The USA's grip on Europe, against all odds, is loosening. Who would have thought it would be over money, considering it went meekly along hand-in-hand with Washington in imposing sanctions which had an immediate and deleterious effect on its bottom line? I mean, isn't that money, too?james, March 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm
"The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures. 'We think that it's in the UK's national interest,' Mr Cameron's spokesperson added." Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…Oh, 'pon my word, yes, m'lud. The UK would be everyone's first choice to monitor strict adherence to banking and oversight procedures, after the £2.7 Billion in fines handed the Bank of England for currency rigging – which also resulted in the dismissal of its senior foreign exchange dealer – just a few months ago. Or the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) scam, in which banks greedy for more profit conspired to rig the deck so that insurance which cost more and more stood less and less chance of ever having a successful claim levied against it. And let's not even mention Libor.
I don't think there's too much about crooked banking the Chinese will be able to teach the British.there is a straight line that runs from the boe to the federal reserve… moon of alabama has a post up discussing some of the changes afloat which can be read here –davidt, March 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/03/the-end-of-the-us-dominated-international-money-system.html#commentsMy favorite Czech, Vlad Sobell, has an new article "The opportunity cost of America's disastrous foreign policy", which most of us here would agree with:kat kan , March 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm
He reminds us what could have been if Putin's vision for creating a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok had been realized. (George Friedman has already explained why this could not be allowed.)
I don't think that anyone has mentioned an earlier article by Sobell that appeared as his contribution on the experts' panel on us-russia.org, His is the last contribution.
If there were an award for clear thinking then Sobell would have to be a prime candidate.Only problem is, this was written in February. And without regard for Poroshenko.davidt , March 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm
The weapons withdrawals were more or less done. Nothing else was. The Special Status law proposal was based on September lines and not discussed with the Republics so is unacceptable to them. Not only was there no improvement of humanitarian access, but it has been tightened up, to the extent that virtually no medicines are getting through, and no food at all. Travel to and from the Republics involves permits that take 3 weeks to get. The gas got cut off once. No social payments have been made and no wages back-paid. All this is in Minsk2 and Kiev's actually gone backwards on these clauses.
The reality is, Minsk2 will not succeed, because Kiev (and their masters) don't want it to. Poroshenko is carrying in like he can set conditions, as if HE HAD WON when in fact HE LOST.From memory, I think that Sobell would agree with your penultimate sentence- I don't think that he was very optimistic about Minsk2. (On the positive side, the gap between Europe and the US seems to have hardened.)
[Mar 07, 2015] Meet the Big Wallets Pushing Obama Towards a New Cold War By Christian Stork
February 25, 2015 | AlternetAs for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. There's a familiar ring to the U.S. calls to arm Ukraine's post-coup government. That's because the same big-money players who stand to benefit from belligerent relations with Russia haven't forgotten a favorite Cold War tune.
President Obama has said that he won't rule out arming Ukraine if a recent truce, which has all but evaporated, fails like its predecessor. His comments echoed the advice of a report issued a week prior by three prominent U.S. think tanks: the Brookings Institute, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Atlantic Council. The report advocated sending $1 billion worth of "defensive" military assistance to Kiev's pro-Western government.
If followed, those recommendations would bring the U.S. and Russia the closest to conflict since the heyday of the Cold War. Russia has said that it would "respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts" if the U.S. supplies weapons to Kiev.
The powers with the most skin in the game -- France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine -- struck a deal on Feb. 12, which outlines the terms for a ceasefire between Kiev and the pro-Russian, breakaway provinces in eastern Ukraine. It envisages a withdrawal of heavy weaponry followed by local elections and constitutional reform by the end of 2015, granting more autonomy to the eastern regions.
But not all is quiet on the eastern front. The truce appears to be headed the route of a nearly identical compromise in September, which broke down immediately afterward.
Moscow's national security interests are clear. Washington's are less so, unless you look at the bottom lines of defense contractors.
As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. Just take a look below at the blow-by-blow history of their Beltway-bandit benefactors:
No Reds Means Seeing Red
Following the end of the Cold War, defense cuts had presented bottom-line problems for America's military producers. The weapons dealers were told that they had to massively restructure or go bust.
Luckily, carrots were offered. Norm Augustine, a former undersecretary of the Army, advised Defense Secretary William Perry to cover the costs of the industry mergers. Augustine was then the CEO of Martin Marietta -- soon to become the head of Lockheed Martin, thanks to the subsidies.
Augustine was also chairman of a Pentagon advisory council on arms-export policy. In that capacity, he was able to secure yet more subsidy guarantees for NATO-compatible weapons sales to former Warsaw Pact countries.
But in order to buy the types of expensive weapons that would stabilize the industry's books, those countries had to enter into an alliance with the U.S. And some members of Congress were still wary of shelling out money to expand a military alliance that had, on its face, no rationale to exist.
Enter the NATO Expansion Squad
Enter the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Formed in 1996, the Committee wined and dined elected officials to secure their support for NATO enlargement. Meanwhile, Lockheed buttressed its efforts by spending $1.58 million in federal contributions for the 1996 campaign cycle.
The Committee's founder and neocon chairman, Bruce Jackson, was so principled in his desire to see freedom around the globe that he didn't even take a salary. He didn't have to; he was a vice president at Lockheed Martin.
By Clinton's second term, everyone was on board. Ron Asmus, a former RAND Corporation analyst and the "intellectual progenitor" of NATO expansion (who would later co-chair the Committee to Expand NATO), ended what was left of the policy debate in the State Department. He worked with Clinton's diplomatic point man on Eastern Europe, Strobe Talbott.
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were all in NATO come 1999. The Baltic States would soon follow. By 2003, those initial inductees had arranged deals to buy just short of $5 billion in fighter jets from Lockheed.
Bruce Jackson began running a new outfit in 2002. It was called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
(36 F-16s are currently slated for delivery to Iraq at an estimated $3 billion.)
Rivers of Cash
Brookings is Washington's oldest think tank. For most of its existence, its research was funded by a large endowment and no-strings-attached grants. But all of that changed when Strobe Talbott took the reins.
Strobe Talbott, President
• Talbott sought to bolster Brookings' coffers with aggressive corporate fundraising. He took it from annual revenues of $32 million in 2003 to $100 million by 2013. Though always corporate-friendly, Brookings has become little more than a pay-to-play research hub under Talbott's reign.
• Among the many corporate donors to Brookings are Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and cyber-defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.
David M. Rubenstein, Co-Chairman of Board of Trustees
• Rubenstein is co-founder and co-CEO at the Carlyle Group, a massive private equity firm. Among the companies in which Carlyle has a controlling stake in is Booz Allen Hamilton -- a military and intelligence IT firm that is currently active in Ukraine.
• Booz, which both sells to and operates within the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, counts four former Carlyle executives among its directors. Ronald Sanders, a vice president at Booz, serves on the faculty of Brookings.
The Atlantic Council was formed in 1961 as a "consolidation of the U.S. citizen groups supporting" NATO, according to its website.
Stephen Hadley, Director
• A former national security advisor for George W. Bush, Hadley doubles as a director for Raytheon. He was also the driving force behind the creation of the U.S. Committee on NATO, on whose board he sat, and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
• Prior to joining the Bush White House, Hadley was a lawyer for Shea & Gardner, whose clients included Lockheed Martin.
James Cartwright, Director
• A retired general and former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright has an active work life. He's "an advisor to defense and intelligence contractor TASC, defense consulting firm Accenture, and Enlightenment Capital, a private equity firm with defense investments," according to the Public Accountability Initiative. He's also on the board of Raytheon, which earned him $124,000 in 2012.
Other notables include:
• Nicholas Burns – former diplomat and current senior counselor at The Cohen Group, which advises Lockheed Martin, among other defense companies
• James A. Baker III – Bush 41 Secretary of State and partner at law firm Baker Botts. Clients include a slew of defense companies
• Thomas R. Pickering – former senior vice president for Boeing
Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has since served as the premier voice of Midwest business leaders in American foreign policy. Jeb Bush recently made his "I am my own man" speech, outlining his foreign policy priorities, to the council:
Lester Crown, Chairman
• The chair of Henry Crown & Co., the investment firm that handles the fortune started by his father, Henry Crown. Henry put the "dynamic" in General Dynamics, helping to turn it into the world's largest weapons manufacturer by the time Lester became its chairman in 1986. The defense behemoth remains the single largest source of the family's treasure; they're currently the 35th richest clan in America. General Dynamics produces all of the equipment types proposed for transfer to Ukraine in the think-tank report.
Ivo Daalder, President
• A co-author of the report, Daalder is a former diplomat and staffer on Clinton's National Security Council. He later served on the Hart-Rudman Commission from 1998-2001. It was chartered by Defense Secretary William Cohen -- later to become a Lockheed consultant -- and tasked with outlining the major shifts in national security strategy for the 21st century. Among its commissioners was none other than Norm Augustine.
The commission concluded that the Department of Defense and intelligence community should drastically reduce their infrastructure costs by outsourcing and privatizing key functions, especially in the field of information technology.
The main beneficiaries have been America's major defense contractors: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton and Lester Crown's outfit, General Dynamics.
General Dynamics' revenue tripled between 2000 and 2010 as it acquired at least 11 smaller firms that specialized in exactly the sort of services recommended for outsourcing. Roughly one-third of GD's overall revenue in 2013, the same year that Daalder was appointed president of the Council by Crown, came from its Information Systems and Technology division.
So even without a Cold War Bear to fuel spending, the re-imagining of that old foe is oiling the revolving door between the government and defense contractors.
[Feb 04, 2014] Chris Hedges Military Metaphysics How Militarism Mangles the Mind
For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience-similar to the approach used to train a dog-work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society.
Homer in "The Iliad" showed his understanding of war. His heroes are not pleasant men. They are vain, imperial, filled with rage and violent. And Homer's central character in "The Odyssey," Odysseus, in his journey home from war must learn to shed his "hero's heart," to strip from himself the military attributes that served him in war but threaten to doom him off the battlefield. The qualities that serve us in war defeat us in peace.
Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one's career. The military is the worst in this respect.
In the military, whether at the Paris Island boot camp or West Point, you are trained not to think but to obey. What amazes me about the military is how stupid and bovine its senior officers are. Those with brains and the willingness to use them seem to be pushed out long before they can rise to the senior-officer ranks.
The many Army generals I met over the years not only lacked the most rudimentary creativity and independence of thought but nearly always saw the press, as well as an informed public, as impinging on their love of order, regimentation, unwavering obedience to authority and single-minded use of force to solve complex problems.
... ... ...
...Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out.
"In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible," C. Wright Mills wrote. "What is being promulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics-the cast of mind that defines international reality as basically military."
[Jan 26, 2014] Rank Incompetence By William S. Lind •
February 1, 2013 | The American Conservative
It was tragic that the career of General David Petraeus was brought down by a mere affair. It should have ended several years earlier as a consequence of his failure as our commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus, like every other theater commander in that war except Stanley McChrystal, could have been replaced by a concrete block and nothing would have changed. They all kept doing the same things while expecting a different result.
Thomas Ricks's recent book The Generals has reintroduced into the defense debate a vital factor the press and politicians collude in ignoring: military incompetence. It was a major theme of the Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and '80s. During those years, a friend of mine who was an aide to a Marine Corps commandant asked his boss how many Marine generals, of whom there were then 60-some, could competently fight a battle. The commandant came up with six. And the Marine Corps is the best of our services.
Military incompetence does not begin at the rank of brigadier general. An old French proverb says that the problem with the generals is that we select them from among the colonels. Nonetheless, military competence-the ability to see quickly what to do in a military situation and make it happen-is more rare at the general officer level. A curious aspect of our promotion system is that the higher the rank, the smaller the percentage of our competent officers.
Why is military incompetence so widespread at the higher levels of America's armed forces? Speaking from my own observations over almost 40 years, I can identify two factors. First, nowhere does our vast, multi-billion dollar military-education system teach military judgment. Second, above the rank of Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force captain, military ability plays essentially no role in determining who gets promoted. (It has been so long since our Navy fought another navy that, apart from the aviators, military competence does not seem to be a consideration at any level.)
Almost never do our military schools, academies, and colleges put students in situations where they have to think through how to fight a battle or a campaign, then get critiqued not on their answer but the way they think. Nor does American military training offer much free play, where the enemy can do whatever he wants and critique draws out why one side won and the other lost. Instead, training exercises are scripted as if we are training an opera company. The schools teach a combination of staff process and sophomore-level college courses in government and international relations. No one is taught how to be a commander in combat. One Army lieutenant colonel recently wrote me that he got angry when he figured out that nothing he needs to know to command would be taught to him in any Army school.
The promotion system reinforces professional ignorance. Above the company grades, military ability does not count in determining who gets promoted. At the rank of major, officers are supposed to accept that the "real world" is the internal world of budget and promotion politics, not war. Those who "don't get it" have ever smaller chances of making general. This represents corruption of the worst kind, corruption of institutional purpose. Its result is generals and admirals who are in effect Soviet industrial managers in ever worse-looking suits. They know little and care less about their intended product, military victory. Their expertise is in acquiring resources and playing the military courtier.
When one of these milicrats gets a wartime command of a division, a corps, or a theater, he does not suddenly confront the fact that he does not know his business. He lives in a bubble, a veritable Persian court of staff officers who make sure bad news is minimized and military decisions are reduced to three "staff options," two of which are insane while the third represents doing more of the same. The "commander," or more accurately chairman, blesses the option the staff wants and retires to his harem (sorry, Dave). If the result is another lost war, the general's career suffers not at all. He may go on to become the chief of staff of his service or, in Petraeus's case, director of the CIA. As Army lieutenant colonel Paul Yingling wrote at the height of the Iraq debacle, a private who loses his rifle suffers more than does a general who loses a war.
America's military did not fail in Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan because its budget was too small, nor because it lacked sufficient high-tech gizmos, nor because the privates and sergeants screwed up. Part of the blame belongs to civilians who set unrealistic military objectives. But a good part should go to America's generals, far too many of whom have proven militarily incompetent. A serious country should do something about that.
William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation and the author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook.
[Jan 19, 2014] On The Psychology Of Military Incompetence By Norman F Dixon
A bold yet serious examination of military leadership by a British psychologist. "Bloody foolish" generals, he argues, reach the higher ranks of the military hierarchy through excessive obedience and fear of failure-traits which serve them badly in dealing with the leadership of combat forces.
[Aug 17, 2013] John Boyd's Art of War
The American Conservative
Off and on for about 20 years, I had the honor of working with the greatest military theorist America ever produced, Col. John Boyd, USAF. As a junior officer, Boyd developed the energy-management tactics now used by every fighter pilot in the world. Later, he influenced the designs of the F-15 and F-16, saving the former from becoming the turkey we are now buying in the F-35 and making the latter the best fighter aircraft on the planet. His magnum opus, a 12-hour briefing titled "Patterns of Conflict," remains a vast mine of military wisdom, one unlikely to be exhausted in this century.
Boyd is best known for coming up with the OODA Loop or Boyd Cycle. He posited that all conflict is composed of repeated, time-competitive cycles of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting. The most important element is orientation: whoever can orient more quickly to a rapidly changing situation acquires a decisive advantage because his slower opponent's actions are too late and therefore irrelevant-as he desperately seeks convergence, he gets ever increasing divergence. At some point, he realizes he can do nothing that works. That usually leads him either to panic or to give up, often while still physically largely intact.
The OODA Loop explains how and why Third Generation maneuver warfare, such as the German Blitzkrieg method, works. It describes exactly what happened to the French in 1940, when Germany defeated what was considered the strongest army on earth in six weeks with only about 27,000 German dead, trifling casualties by World War I standards. The French actually had more and better tanks than the Germans.
It is also a partial explanation for our repeated defeats by Fourth Generation non-state entities. Our many layers of headquarters, large staffs, and centralized decision-making give us a slow OODA Loop compared to opponents whose small size and decentralized command enable a fast one. A Marine officer stationed with our counter-drug traffic effort in Bolivia told me the traffickers went through the Loop 12 times in the time it took us to go through it once. I mentioned that to Colonel Boyd, and he replied, "Then we're not even in the game."
Another of Boyd's contributions to military theory explains more of our failure in recent conflicts. To the traditional levels of war-tactical, operational, and strategic-Boyd added three new ones: physical, mental, and moral. It is useful to think of these as forming a nine-box grid, with tactical, operational, and strategic on one axis and physical, mental, and moral on the other. Our armed forces focus on the single box defined by tactical and physical, where we are vastly superior. But non-state forces focus on the strategic and the moral, where they are often stronger, in part because they represent David confronting Goliath. In war, a higher level trumps a lower, so our repeated victories at the tactical, physical level are negated by our enemies' successes on the strategic and moral levels, and we lose.
Boyd had a reservoir of comments he repeated regularly, one of which was, "A lot of people in Washington talk about strategy. Most of them can spell the word, but that's all they know of it." The establishment's insistence on an offensive grand strategy, where we attempt to force secular liberal democracy down the throats of every people on earth, is a major reason for our involvement and defeat in Fourth Generation conflicts. A defensive grand strategy, which is what this country followed successfully through most of its history, would permit us to fold our enemies back on themselves, something Boyd recommended. With us out of the picture, their internal fissures, such as those between Sunni and Shiites in the Islamic world, would become their focus. But as usual, Boyd was right: virtually no one in Washington can understand the advantages of a defensive grand strategy.
Being involved in every conflict on earth is useful if the real game is boosting the Pentagon's budget rather than serving our national interests. Here too Boyd had a favorite line. He often said, "It is not true the Pentagon has no strategy. It has a strategy, and once you understand what that strategy is, everything the Pentagon does makes sense. The strategy is, don't interrupt the money flow, add to it."
Perhaps Boyd's most frequently uttered warning was, "All closed systems collapse." Both our military and our policy-making civilian elite live in closed systems. Because Second Generation war reduces everything to putting firepower on targets, when we fail against Fourth Generation opponents, the military's only answer is to put more firepower on more targets. Ideas about other ways of waging war are ignored because they do not fit the closed Second Generation paradigm. Meanwhile, Washington cannot consider alternatives to our current foreign policy or grand strategy because anyone who proposes one is immediately exiled from the establishment, as was Boyd himself. It says something about our current condition that the greatest military theorist we ever produced retired as a colonel. At John's funeral in Arlington, which I attended, most of the people in uniform were junior Marine officers. His own service, the Air Force, was barely represented.
John's work was often elegant, but in person he was always the direct, and sometimes crude, fighter pilot. Boyd's favorite, inelegant phrase for defeating one of his many opponents in the Pentagon was "giving him the whole enchilada right up the poop chute." That is what history will shortly give this country if we continue to allow closed systems to lead us. Boyd's work, which is best summarized in Frans Osinga's book Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd, could put us on a different course. But learning from Boyd would require open systems in Washington. Perhaps after the establishment collapses, Boyd can help us pick up the pieces.
William S. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook and director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation.