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Dec 14, 2014 | The Guardian
Jabuli prefers solitude indoors, having lost all safety once before. When he does go out he seeks crowded public spaces, so there will be witnesses if his tormentors reappear to kidnap him again. Ten years on, time and distance have not healed the damage that comes from torture.
"You live with the fear that the people who tortured you may come back to torture you again," he said, "regardless of if you are in a safe country."
Triggers are everywhere, even a decade later. Armored vans on the street make him think of the station where he was tortured. He fears intimacy, because he doesn't want someone to see him having nightmares, or to watch him wake up crying. He worries he will not be "good enough to have a family".
More than a decade ago, Jabuli endured seven months in a torture chamber in a central African country he asked the Guardian not to identify. (Jabuli is a pseudonym he recommended.) He was placed in "stress positions": his elbows and ankles were bound to each other behind his back as he faced downward, resulting in a pain so consuming that he could barely breathe.
"We lost hope. We gave everything, every decision, to others, to decide for you. Everything you want, you let the other person decide," Jabuli said.
Jabuli and other torture survivors experienced a chilling process referenced in the US Senate intelligence committee's report into CIA torture. Two architects of the CIA's torture program, contractor psychologists Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, called it by the antiseptic term "learned helplessness". It means that torturers break down an individual's self-control, until he or she is emotionally and psychologically unequipped to disobey.
Recovering from learned helplessness, according to psychologists, physicians, aid workers and activists interviewed by the Guardian, is an arduous process, with results as varied as the people who undergo it. It can last a lifetime, and is full of setbacks, if it succeeds at all.
Whatever outrage over CIA torture exists in the US and internationally will eventually fade. John Brennan, the CIA director, pleaded on Thursday for the country to move on. Survivors of torture do not have that luxury.
"These are issues that they're going to have for the rest of their lives," said Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired US army brigadier general.
Learned helplessness is a term attributed to a 1972 paper by the psychologist Martin Seligman. Seligman noticed a long-term behavioral impact on dogs subjected to electric shocks.
"Uncontrollable" traumas bred "passivity in the face of traumatic events, inability to learn that responding is effective, and emotional stress in animals, and possibly depression in man," Seligman wrote.
The Senate report, parts of which were released on Tuesday, documented the impact of the learned-helplessness that the CIA sought to inflict. Detainees in Afghanistan would cower when the doors to their cells opened. Some, in the opinion of one CIA interrogator, "literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled". Abdel Rahman al-Nashiri, who was waterboarded and threatened with a power drill, would tremble at the sight of the interrogations chief, as psychologists discussed instilling within him what they called a "desired level of helplessness".
Men and women who have experienced torture are most often irrevocably changed, say medical professionals who have treated survivors. Depression, anxiety, personality shifts, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts can manifest and persist years afterward. Freedom itself, with its onslaught of decisions, can overwhelm people whose captors conditioned them to give their lives over to another's control.
"You become a passive person," Jabuli said.
Learned helplessness compels people to blame themselves for their treatment. Self-esteem has to be relearned. Guilt can be overwhelming: the guilt of missing out on their families' lives, or of release from prison while others remain tortured.
Others, like those who resisted or protested in jail, can become angry, or frustrated over the impotence inflicted upon them. Khalid el-Masri, an innocent man whom the CIA tortured, was arrested in 2007 in Germany for setting a supermarket on fire.
William Hopkins, a consulting psychiatrist for the UK-based torture rehabilitation center Freedom From Torture, has treated victims of waterboarding. Many develop extreme hydrophobia, he said.
"One guy told me, 'I cannot go in water, I cannot go for a swim, I cannot let my head go underwater again, that's too terrifying, that will bring back the memories,'" Hopkins said.
Years after his waterboarding, Hopkins's patient couldn't bear to "pull a jumper over [his] head. He used a cloth to bathe himself, as taking a typical bath or shower was unbearable."
Every medical professional interviewed by the Guardian said people's recovery to learned helplessness varies widely. Polly Rossdale, who runs the human-rights group Reprieve's initiative to help released Guantánamo detainees, said that giving survivors basic choices ("We could go for a walk now or walk later, what would you rather do?") was critical to restoring a modicum of mental and emotional health.
So is finding people to trust – with whom they can talk safely about their experiences. Yet torture survivors can find themselves shunned, compounding their internalized blame.
"The stigma is huge," Rossdale said, particularly for Guantánamo detainees. Men released from the US detention facility are often resettled into unfamiliar countries, and struggle to find or hold jobs and to get access to medical care.
"Even in places that have significant Muslim populations, where they may have experienced some degree of discrimination themselves, they don't want to be tarred with the same brush, they don't want people to think, 'Oh, Muslim equals terrorists.' The stigma is huge, and that's very difficult for men to overcome," Rossdale said.
However difficult it is for torture survivors to live their lives after captivity, it is much harder for torture survivors who remain detained.
Not all of the estimated 39 men whom the CIA tortured are now free. Over a dozen of them remain at Guantánamo. Indefinite detention without charge, experts said, compounds the effects of learned helplessness, as people steadily lose control over their fates.
Vincent Iacopino, an internist with Physicians for Human Rights, said torture survivors still in captivity required trusted medical staff for their conditions to improve. Yet the medical staff at Guantánamo, where he has examined detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi, are "not seen as friendly", he said.
"They're viewed as the enemy of the detainees. They're people who, as far as they're concerned, participated in their abuse. There's really not an opportunity for [Guantánamo detainees] to receive a therapeutic environment. The combination of continuing to be detained, having been tortured, and not having health professionals to be helpful almost precludes the possibility of healing," Iacopino said.
Cheryl Bormann represents Walid bin Attash, whom the CIA hung from the wrists and denied sleep for over five straight days, with only a four-hour rest. He is now facing a military tribunal for the 9/11 attacks, a charge that carries a death sentence.
"How can a man who has been tortured so that he is a victim of 'learned helplessness' unlearn that conditioning? How can Mr Bin Attash ever overcome the effects of more than three years of tortured conditioning?" Bormann said.
Jabuli said he doubts he will ever again be the person he was before torture.
"There's still something missing. I'm still struggling to properly understand, and to build a life," he said.
Talking to other survivors has helped him heal, Jabuli said. He is about to take his first trip to see his family back home in the decade since his ordeal began.
"If I don't do anything, then the people who torture me have won. What they did was silence me. That's what they wanted to do," he said.
IanB52 14 Dec 2014 02:04
I believe that psychological collapse was an intentional part of the "interrogation", so that the detainees became so catatonic or helpless that they would never be able to reveal to the world what had been done to them. Another evil and heinous way of covering up torture, more torture.
mtracy9 -> Light_and_Liberty 14 Dec 2014 16:07
Bush and Cheney lied America into war. Cheney likely orchestrated the 9/11 attacks to provide an excuse to get the wars going in the Middle East. The smoking gun is the collapse of Building 7.
Cat Mack -> Light_and_Liberty 14 Dec 2014 16:01
What is wrong with you? Is revenge an answer to everything? Someone hurt us so we are going to torture others (mostly people with no involvement in 9/11). This sort of attitude is precisely why the rest of world thinks the U.S. is crap.
ronnewmexico -> Light_and_Liberty 14 Dec 2014 15:50
Which is exactly what Dick Chaney just said on meet the press..
22% of those tortured in this fashion, of this group were found innocent…….so once again how is that not torture???
We suffered the atrocities of the various prior war world war one and two with thousands of our kind killed by heinous means to include mustard gas, and in world war 2 numerous tortures by torturers of the German and Japanese kind….die we torture in kind…no never it would have been un-American. The only tortures that did ever occur on our side were rogue operations by those incensed in the heat of war and never officially sanctioned were those…
It is clear chaney has lost his moral bearings and knows not now what this country for many many years was all about.
Light_and_Liberty 14 Dec 2014 15:31
So much sympathy for the psychological scars of terrorists but none for the family of the 2,752 Americans who died on 9-11.
Can anyone imagine these people having nightmares about their loved one's final minutes? Is that torture? You bet it is.
How about we do whatever it takes so innocent people are not subjected to that kind of torture -- the torture of deciding to jump or burn to death. And the torture of that image playing out in the minds of fathers, mother, brothers and sisters.
ondelette -> WalrusHat 14 Dec 2014 14:52
If more people vote, they become the people the candidates most have to please. Right now, it's a no-brainer that elected officials don't have to pay attention to the vast majority of the citizens, because the vast majority of the citizens don't vote. So they instead pay attention to those who can truly determine whether or not they get to have another term: the moneyed class. That can be stopped by voting and by participating in the nominations process and by protest on the streets where it counts instead of on the internet where it doesn't.
The American system of democracy contains no quorum for elections. Not voting isn't a boycott unless it has clearly defined demands and the ability to deliver the votes if those demands are met. You don't have either. In that case, what your non-vote means is described by the rule for no-quorum elections: Qui tacit consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit. -- Silence implies consent, when one ought to have spoken and was able to.
consciouslyinformed -> consciouslyinformed 14 Dec 2014 12:20
Please take note: I wrote Milgram, in error. The psychologist I meant to write, was Martin Seligman, who developed the construct of learned helplessness.
Dr. Seligman has been affiliated with The University of Pennsylvania for decades. He is now the co-founder of positive psychology, which focuses on how an individual could shape one's thinking is inextricably connected to how one imagines the future both influences both the present and the future thinking of individuals.
Dr. Seligman has written over two hundred professional articles, along with many books, in psychology.
I apologize for any confusion my hastily written comment with the error, may have caused the readers of Cif.
ronnewmexico -> JohnTMaher 14 Dec 2014 12:20
No one deserves to be tortured even the torturers themselves deserve not such pains inflicted in kind upon them.
The consequence of such things in the future….it is PTSD they will suffer though they will not call it such. Doing or seeing the awful things of war it does that invariably and always.
It starts when they put the gun under the bed to sleep. It ends when alcohole or drugs are necessary to sleep at all…and on and on.
It is not pleasant their fate. I do not revel in it…but fate it is theirs to hold. NO studies will be done nor records will be kept as it works agaiinst this thing of torture they are so for…but it will nevertheless be true..
That is theirr unkind fate….restless spirts for every hour of their waking days for the rest of their lives…to that they are sentenced. Those that torture.
The man who by deed killed the most even consequent to STalinism and that thing of evil. He started out sort of OK. He gradually eroded into a thing that could little be said to resemble human. He was a hero and afforded all that that bought in that totalitarian state, many years ago….that was his fate…mindless in the end, totally completely…. insane..killers those who order others to do such thing do not want his story told…but it is and true it is…they know not what webs they weave these torturers.
leochen24551 14 Dec 2014 11:32
I joined the Army in the Sixties, so Vietnam was my war. We lost over 58,000 American Combat Soldiers and Marines in that failed and very tragic effort.
Today, we have corrupted ourselves by committing War Crimes against our prisoners of war. For we are in a war; our War on Terror -- which is truly our War OF Terror.
And if it's anything like our decades War on Drugs, it will not end well for us.
It will not "save lives". It is not making America "safer". It has multiplied -- Multiplied -- the number of folks around the world who now hate us, who now scorn us, who will seek Revenge, who will be as Merciless with us as we have been Merciless with our Prisoners of War.
In WWII, we prosecuted and executed -- by hanging -- our defeated enemies in Nazi Germany and in Japan for torturing and killing their American Prisoners of War.
Today, the CIA Leadership is tap dancing furiously around their unbelievable and depraved torture programs. The CIA says that it was useful and effective.
Really? Details please!
What additional "intelligence" can the CIA get from waterboarding someone 183 times?!
Make NO Mistake. We have created a host of implacable enemies who will seek and find ways to extract Revenge upon us, our War on Terror, our CIA, our NSA, our FBI, our Pentagon, our Secret Service all -- all -- not withstanding.
Blame whom we wish, but we Americans will suffer the consequences of what the CIA has done to our prisoners of war in the name of our National Security.
Blame whom we wish, but God help any American Combat Soldiers and Marines who fall into the hands of our enemies -- who become their prisoners of war.
ondelette -> consciouslyinformed 14 Dec 2014 11:03
Milgram's learned helplessness?
The term was Martin Seligman's. The same Seligman who brought together psychologists after September 11th, and shopped the idea of "enhanced interrogation" to the government, resulting in the hiring of Jessen and Mitchell.
Somehow I doubt that someone who researches something in a focused way forgets who's theory they were dealing with.
zelazny -> WatchEm 14 Dec 2014 11:03
"By focusing attention on the CIA, there is a tendency to assume all other parties are 'innocent', which is not the case."
And not only not the case, but the essence of the problem. Obama cannot prosecute W, Cheney or anyone else for torture, because he has engaged in on going torture at Guantanamo and other black sites.
The same problem with war crimes. Since WWII every US president has engaged in massive war crimes in violation of the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions. One war criminal cannot prosecute the prior war criminal, so the war crimes continue administration after administration, in a true demonstration of Arendt's banality of evil.
WatchEm -> IanB52 14 Dec 2014 03:13
IanB52 - I find it really disturbing that not only will the U.S. refuse to prosecute those involved in the torture, but that they refuse any kind of restitution or even apology to the people they harmed. This is the exact opposite of justice.
The problem with prosecutions is again, torture. It is somewhat problematic when the prosecutor (i.e. the nation state), has acknowledged involvement in homicides and torture. This has been the problem for years where there have been attempted trials, albeit 'military trials', with U.S. Army JAG officers acting as defence counsel. Numbers of these officers have refused/resigned as defence counsel when they witnessed the terms imposed by the court and restrictions placed on them while they attempted to represent the accused.
Totally agree, this has nothing to do with justice in any civilised nation and is much on par with Stalin show trials.
Incredibility, there are a few further 'trials' scheduled in the near future. The publication of the recent report will obviously have a bearing on future trials and if there has been a genuine offence committed by the accused, it is probably going to make a conviction even harder and more contentious. Torture regimes gave up the right and are unfit to try anyone - particularly when they admitted being involved in torture, rapes and homicides.
Agree.. real justice is honest, transparent and not malicious. I'd seriously doubt that the Rogue Regime of the West is capable of comprehending real justice - it is not only my opinion, but more relevant, the opinion of U.S. Army JAG Corps officers who appear to have higher moral standards than those of their employers.
Agree, the assumption that the world should now move on, without any accountability, and forget the crimes against humanity of the US, is totally ludicrous and off this planet. The stage has not yet been reached where the full extent of criminality as been acknowledged - at a rough guess, only 8% at most has been addressed by the US legislature. The CIA alone are not the only guilty parties - add the "justice department", US military, FBI, outsourced criminals and of course, the principle instigators of a policy of state sponsored torture.
Regardless of any utterances from the USG, a number of their crimes are still continuing today and they are in no position to being talking about 'moving on'.
Overall, forget 'moving on' - this saga will still be rolling on for 10-30 years or more until justice has been served.
December 11, 2014 | Al Jazeera America
The Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report revealed earlier this week that the CIA's techniques - which included waterboarding, staging mock burials of detainees and caging them in coffin-size boxes - were designed by two former Air Force psychologists.
The men, identified as Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell, had no experience with interrogations or counterterrorism, according to the report. They had, though, taught special forces how to resist torture through the Department of Defense's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance Escape) schools.
The duo developed the CIA's interrogation program based on the learned helplessness psychological theory, inspired by experiments performed during the 1960s by psychologists Martin Seligman and Stephen Maier at the University of Pennsylvania (PDF).
In the experiments, dogs that were repeatedly given mild electric shocks eventually became inert and did not attempt to escape them. Evidently, Seligman and Maier theorized, the dogs had learned to be helpless because they discovered their actions did not prevent the shocks.
For humans, this would be coming to believe that no matter what a person does, he or she cannot change a situation.
Seligman went on to use that theory on human reaction to adversity, and today he is considered a top expert on happiness and learned optimism.
But Jessen and Mitchell, according to the Senate report, quoted Seligman's theories as useful in breaking CIA detainees into a state of helplessness, apparently with the aim of getting them to reveal information.
Guantánamo detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zabaydah, for example, became so helpless that he "slowly walked on his own to the water table and sat down." When his interrogator snapped his fingers twice, he "would lie on the water board," according to the report.
Seligman told Al Jazeera in an email message that while he does not consider himself an expert on interrogation, he feels that the objective should be "to get at the truth, not at what the interrogator wants to hear."
"I think learned helplessness would make someone more passive, less defiant and more compliant, but I know of no evidence that it leads reliably to more truth-telling," said Seligman, currently the director of University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center.
"I am grieved and horrified that good science, which has helped so many people overcome depression, may have been used for such dubious purposes," said Seligman. "Most importantly, I have never and would never provide assistance in torture. I strongly disapprove of it."
How psychologists formerly involved in SERE training decided to co-opt this research as official CIA interrogation strategy isn't fully understood.
New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer said that Seligman told her he gave a talk at a Navy SERE school in San Diego in 2002, but that it focused on helping U.S. soldiers resist torture. Seligman's learned helplessness theories "were cited admiringly soon after by James Mitchell, the psychologist whom the CIA put on contract to advise on its secret interrogation protocol," she told Harper's magazine.
The American Psychological Association recently told Reuters that, while Mitchell and Jessen were not APA members and therefore outside the association's disciplinary process, they should be held "fully accountable" for human rights violations. The APA called their techniques "sickening and reprehensible."
Mitchell, for his part, told Reuters that the CIA report was "a bunch of hooey." Jessen did not respond to Al Jazeera requests for comment.
It 'just doesn't work'
Dr. Steven Miles, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics and and a board member at the Center for Victims of Torture said the U.S. government has known for decades that techniques such as those devised by Mitchell and Jessen are ineffective.
"The use of interrogative abuse had been comprehensively studied by every major regime, East and West, going back to World War II," he said. "And it's been repeatedly been found to not work. It just doesn't work."
Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general and Army medical corps officer who now serves as a torture expert for Physicians for Human Rights, has interviewed several Guantánamo Bay detainees during his lobbying efforts to close down the U.S. prison.
While he has signed protective orders not to speak about any of the cases, he told Al Jazeera that research has shown that the CIA's techniques "would lead to serious psychiatric problems, depression, PTSD, that these men would suffer, that the effects would be chronic."
"We said that, even though it leaves no marks, it constitutes torture," he said.
Miles says that beyond the traumatizing effects, interrogational torture eventually causes a detainee to lie to stop the pain - and it also eliminates any ability to recruit him or her for future intelligence.
"It seems like almost out of the hat, they [Jessen and Mitchell] drew learned helplessness without even looking at the fact that this is a proven failed method for interrogation," he said. "And then they set up a secret interrogation system built out of inexperienced interrogators, told them this was the way to go, and then got the green light."
These techniques also inspire the countries of the tortured detainees to torture U.S. captives, Miles said, as retaliation for the violation of the Geneva Conventions and other human rights pacts.
"Basically what we've said is, an executive order can essentially waive these [treaties], which is music to the ears of Kim Yong Un, [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe, and [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad," said Miles.
December 12, 2014 | The Chronicle of Higher Education
Few topics have animated today's chattering classes more than capitalism. In the wake of the global economic crisis, the discussion has spanned political boundaries, with conservative newspapers in Britain and Germany running stories on the "future of capitalism" (as if that were in doubt) and Korean Marxists analyzing its allegedly self-destructive tendencies. Pope Francis has made capitalism a central theme of his papacy, while the French economist Thomas Piketty attained rock-star status with a 700-page book full of tables and statistics and the succinct but decisively unsexy title Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press).
With such contemporary drama, historians have taken notice. They observe, quite rightly, that the world we live in cannot be understood without coming to terms with the long history of capitalism-a process that has arguably unfolded over more than half a millennium. They are further encouraged by the all-too-frequent failings of economists, who have tended to naturalize particular economic arrangements by defining the "laws" of their development with mathematical precision and preferring short-term over long-term perspectives. What distinguishes today's historians of capitalism is that they insist on its contingent nature, tracing how it has changed over time as it has revolutionized societies, technologies, states, and many if not all facets of life.
Nowhere is this scholarly trend more visible than in the United States. And no issue currently attracts more attention than the relationship between capitalism and slavery.
If capitalism, as many believe, is about wage labor, markets, contracts, and the rule of law, and, most important, if it is based on the idea that markets naturally tend toward maximizing human freedom, then how do we understand slavery's role within it? No other national story raises that question with quite the same urgency as the history of the United States: The quintessential capitalist society of our time, it also looks back on long complicity with slavery. But the topic goes well beyond one nation. The relationship of slavery and capitalism is, in fact, one of the keys to understanding the origins of the modern world.
For too long, many historians saw no problem in the opposition between capitalism and slavery. They depicted the history of American capitalism without slavery, and slavery as quintessentially noncapitalist. Instead of analyzing it as the modern institution that it was, they described it as premodern: cruel, but marginal to the larger history of capitalist modernity, an unproductive system that retarded economic growth, an artifact of an earlier world. Slavery was a Southern pathology, invested in mastery for mastery's sake, supported by fanatics, and finally removed from the world stage by a costly and bloody war.
Some scholars have always disagree with such accounts. In the 1930s and 1940s, C.L.R. James and Eric Williams argued for the centrality of slavery to capitalism, though their findings were largely ignored. Nearly half a century later, two American economists, Stanley L. Engerman and Robert William Fogel, observed in their controversial book Time on the Cross (Little, Brown, 1974) the modernity and profitability of slavery in the United States. Now a flurry of books and conferences are building on those often unacknowledged foundations. They emphasize the dynamic nature of New World slavery, its modernity, profitability, expansiveness, and centrality to capitalism in general and to the economic development of the United States in particular.
The historians Robin Blackburn in England, Rafael Marquese in Brazil, Dale Tomich in the United States, and Michael Zeuske in Germany led the study of slavery in the Atlantic world. They have now been joined by a group of mostly younger American historians, like Walter Johnson, Seth Rockman, Caitlin C. Rosenthal, and Edward E. Baptist looking at the United States.
While their works differ, often significantly, all insist that slavery was a key part of American capitalism-especially during the 19th century, the moment when the institution became inextricable from the expansion of modern industry-and to the development of the United States as a whole.
For the first half of the 19th century, slavery was at the core of the American economy. The South was an economically dynamic part of the nation (for its white citizens); its products not only established the United States' position in the global economy but also created markets for agricultural and industrial goods grown and manufactured in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. More than half of the nation's exports in the first six decades of the 19th century consisted of raw cotton, almost all of it grown by slaves. In an important book, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Harvard University Press, 2013), Johnson observes that steam engines were more prevalent on the Mississippi River than in the New England countryside, a telling detail that testifies to the modernity of slavery. Johnson sees slavery not just as an integral part of American capitalism, but as its very essence. To slavery, a correspondent from Savannah noted in the publication Southern Cultivator, "does this country largely-very largely-owe its greatness in commerce, manufactures, and its general prosperity."
Much of the recent work confirms that 1868 observation, taking us outside the major slaveholding areas themselves and insisting on the national importance of slavery, all the way up to its abolition in 1865. In these accounts, slavery was just as present in the counting houses of Lower Manhattan, the spinning mills of New England, and the workshops of budding manufacturers in the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as on the plantations in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. The slave economy of the Southern states had ripple effects throughout the entire economy, not just shaping but dominating it.
Merchants in New York City, Boston, and elsewhere, like the Browns in cotton and the Taylors in sugar, organized the trade of slave-grown agricultural commodities, accumulating vast riches in the process. Sometimes the connections to slavery were indirect, but not always: By the 1840s, James Brown was sitting in his counting house in Lower Manhattan hiring overseers for the slave plantations that his defaulting creditors had left to him. Since planters needed ever more funds to invest in land and labor, they drew on global capital markets; without access to the resources of New York and London, the expansion of slave agriculture in the American South would have been all but impossible.
The profits accumulated through slave labor had a lasting impact. Both the Browns and the Taylors eventually moved out of commodities and into banking. The Browns created an institution that partially survives to this day as Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co., while Moses Taylor took charge of the precursor of Citibank. Some of the 19th century's most important financiers-including the Barings and Rothschilds-were deeply involved in the "Southern trade," and the profits they accumulated were eventually reinvested in other sectors of the global economy. As a group of freedmen in Virginia observed in 1867, "our wives, our children, our husbands, have been sold over and over again to purchase the lands we now locate upon. … And then didn't we clear the land, and raise the crops of corn, of tobacco, of rice, of sugar, of every thing. And then didn't the large cities in the North grow up on the cotton and the sugars and the rice that we made?" Slavery, they understood, was inscribed into the very fabric of the American economy.
Southern slavery was important to American capitalism in other ways as well. As management scholars and historians have discovered in recent years, innovations in tabulating the cost and productivity of labor derived from the world of plantations. They were unusual work sites in that owners enjoyed nearly complete control over their workers and were thus able to reinvent the labor process and the accounting for it-a power that no manufacturer enjoyed in the mid-19th century.
As Caitlin Rosenthal has shown, slave labor allowed the enslavers to experiment in novel ways with labor control. Edward E. Baptist, who has studied in great detail the work practices on plantations and emphasized their modernity in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of Modern Capitalism (Basic Books), has gone so far as to argue that as new methods of labor management entered the repertoire of plantation owners, torture became widely accepted. Slave plantations, not railroads, were in fact America's first "big business."
Moreover, as Seth Rockman has shown, the slave-dominated economy of the South also constituted an important market for goods produced by a wide variety of Northern manufacturers and artisans. Supplying plantations clothing and brooms, plows and fine furniture, Northern businesses dominated the large market in the South, which itself did not see significant industrialization before the end of the 19th century.
Further, as all of us learned in school, industrialization in the United States focused at first largely on cotton manufacturing: the spinning of cotton thread with newfangled machines and eventually the weaving of that thread with looms powered at first by water and then by steam. The raw material that went into the factories was grown almost exclusively by slaves. Indeed, the large factories emerging along the rivers ofinstitutions benefited: congregations, hospitals, universities. Given that the United States in the first half of the 19th century was a society permeated by slavery and its earnings, it is hardly surprising that institutions that at first glance seem far removed from the violence of plantation life came to be implicated in slavery as well.
Craig Steven Wilder has shown in Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities (Bloomsbury, 2013) how Brown and Harvard Universities, among others, drew donations from merchants involved in the slave trade, had cotton manufacturers on their boards, trained generations of Southern elites who returned home to a life of violent mastery, and played central roles in creating the ideological underpinnings of slavery.
By 1830, one million Americans, most of them enslaved, grew cotton. Raw cotton was the most important export of the United States, at the center of America's financial flows and emerging modern business practices, and at the core of its first modern manufacturing industry. As John Brown, a fugitive slave, observed in 1854: "When the price [of cotton] rises in the English market, the poor slaves immediately feel the effects, for they are harder driven, and the whip is kept more constantly going."
Just as cotton, and with it slavery, became key to the U.S. economy, it also moved to the center of the world economy and its most consequential transformations: the creation of a globally interconnected economy, the Industrial Revolution, the rapid spread of capitalist social relations in many parts of the world, and the Great Divergence-the moment when a few parts of the world became quite suddenly much richer than every other part.
... ... ...
It is for this reason that most history has been framed within the borders of modern states. In recent years, however, some historians have tried to think beyond such frameworks, bringing together stories of regional or even global scope-for example, Charles S. Maier's Leviathan 2.0: Inventing Modern Statehood (Harvard University Press) and Jürgen Osterhammel's The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century (Princeton University Press).
Within that literature, economic history has played a particularly important role, with trailblazing works such as Kenneth Pomeranz's The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, 2000) and Marcel van der Linden's Workers of the World: Essays Toward a Global Labor History (Brill, 2008). Economic history, which for so long has been focused mostly on "national" questions-the "coming of managerial capitalism" in the United States, "organized capitalism" in Germany, the "sprouts of capitalism" in China-now increasingly tackles broader questions, looking at capitalism as a global system.
When we apply a global perspective, we develop a new appreciation for the centrality of slavery, in the United States and elsewhere, in the emergence of modern capitalism. We can also understand how that dependence on slavery was eventually overcome later in the 19th century. We come to understand that the ability of European merchants to secure ever-greater quantities of cotton cloth from South Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries was crucial to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as cloth came to be the core commodity exchanged for slaves on the western coast of Africa. We grasp that the rapidly expanding markets for South Asian cloth in Europe and elsewhere motivated Europeans to enter the cotton-manufacturing industry, which had flourished elsewhere in the world for millennia.
And a global perspective allows us to comprehend in new ways how slavery became central to the Industrial Revolution. As machine production of cotton textiles expanded in Britain and continental Europe, traditional sources of raw cotton-especially cultivators in the Ottoman Empire as well as in Africa and India-proved insufficient. With European merchants unable to encourage the monocultural production of cotton in these regions and to transform peasant agriculture, they began to draw on slave-grown cotton, at first from the West Indies and Brazil, and by the 1790s especially in the United States.
As a result, Europe's ability to industrialize rested at first entirely on the control of expropriated lands and enslaved labor in the Americas. It was able to escape the constraints on its own resources-no cotton, after all, was grown in Europe-because of its increasing and often violent domination of global trade networks, along with the control of huge territories in the Americas. For the first 80 years of modern industry, the only significant quantities of raw cotton entering European markets were produced by slaves - and not from the vastly larger cotton harvests of China or India.
By 1800, 25 percent of the cotton that landed in Liverpool, the world's most important cotton port, originated in the United States; 20 years later, that proportion had increased to 59 percent; by 1850, 72 percent of the cotton consumed in Britain was grown in the United States, with similar proportions for other European countries. A global perspective lets us see that the ability to secure more and cheaper cotton gave European and North American manufacturers the ability to increase the production of cheap yarn and cloth, which in turn allowed them to capture ancient cotton markets in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, furthering a wave of deindustrialization in those parts of the world. Innovations in long-distance trade, the investment of capital over long distances, and the institutions in which this new form of capitalist globalization were embedded all derived from a global trade dominated by slave labor and colonial expansion.
A global perspective on the history of cotton also shows that slave labor is as much a sign of the weakness as of the strength of Western capital and states. The ability to subdue labor in distant locations testified to the accumulated power of European and North American capital owners. Yet it also showed their inability to transform peasant agriculture. It was only in the last third of the 19th century that peasant producers in places such as Central Asia, West Africa, India, and upcountry Georgia, in the United States, could be integrated into the global empire of cotton, making a world possible in which the growing of cotton for industry expanded drastically without resort to enslaving the world's cotton workers. Indeed, one of the weaknesses of a perspective that focuses almost exclusively on the fabulously profitable slave/cotton complex of the antebellum American South is its inability to explain the emergence of an empire of cotton without slavery.
We cannot know if the cotton industry was the only possible way into the modern industrial world, but we do know that it was the path to global capitalism. We do not know if Europe and North America could have grown rich without slavery, but we do know that industrial capitalism and the Great Divergence in fact emerged from the violent caldron of slavery, colonialism, and the expropriation of land. In the first 300 years of the expansion of capitalism, particularly the moment after 1780 when it entered into its decisive industrial phase, it was not the small farmers of the rough New England countryside who established the United States' economic position. It was the backbreaking labor of unremunerated American slaves in places like South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama.
When we marshal big arguments about the West's superior economic performance, and build these arguments upon an account of the West's allegedly superior institutions like private-property rights, lean government, and the rule of law, we need to remember that the world Westerners forged was equally characterized by exactly the opposite: vast confiscation of land and labor, huge state intervention in the form of colonialism, and the rule of violence and coercion. And we also need to qualify the fairy tale we like to tell about capitalism and free labor. Global capitalism is characterized by a whole variety of labor regimes, one of which, a crucial one, was slavery.
During its heyday, however, slavery was seen as essential to the economy of the Western world. No wonder The Economist worried in September 1861, when Union General John C. Frémont emancipated slaves in Missouri, that such a "fearful measure" might spread to other slaveholding states, "inflict[ing] utter ruin and universal desolation on those fertile territories"-and on the merchants of Boston and New York, "whose prosperity … has always been derived" to a large extent from those territories. Slavery did not die because it was unproductive or unprofitable, as some earlier historians have argued. Slavery was not some feudal remnant on the way to extinction. It died because of violent struggle, because enslaved workers continually challenged the people who held them in bondage - nowhere more successfully than in the 1790s in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti, site of the first free nation of color in the New World), and because a courageous group of abolitionists struggled against some of the dominant economic interests of their time.
A contributing factor in the death of slavery was the fact that it was a system not just of labor exploitation but of rule that drew in particular ways on state power. Southern planters had enormous political power. They needed it: to protect the institution of slavery itself, to expand its reach into ever more lands, to improve infrastructures, and to position the United States within the global economy as an exporter of agricultural commodities.
In time, the interests of the South conflicted more and more with those of a small but growing group of Northern industrialists, farmers, and workers. Able to mobilize labor through wage payments, Northerners demanded a strong state to raise tariffs, build infrastructures conducive to domestic industrialization, and guarantee the territorial extension of free labor in the United States.
... ... ...
Sven Beckert is a professor of American history at Harvard University. His latest book, Empire of Cotton: A Global History, has just been published by Alfred A. Knopf.
New poll finds majority of Americans believe torture justified after 9/11 attacksBy an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA's brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.
In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified "often" or "sometimes."
Is any European politician still talking about the "common values" Europe and the U.S. are alleged to have?
Do the people of the United States understand the logic of their thinking?
Or is it just the usual "exceptionalism" Obama professes to believe in?
Cordesman warns of the Strategic Cost of Torture, Racism, and Bigotry but he only points to Asia and the Middle East as areas where the view of the U.S. is in trouble. I believe (or maybe just hope?) that the U.S. support for torture, support only as long as the U.S. does it, will move it further away from Europe.Torture And Exceptionalism
Posted by b at 09:55 AM | Comments (63)
jo6pac | Dec 16, 2014 10:04:13 AM | 1heath | Dec 16, 2014 10:12:58 AM | 2
Yep, let the brainwashing of the sheeple begin. What sad mean little country Amerika has become. We don't even try to hide it any more.heath | Dec 16, 2014 10:22:28 AM | 4
"Although the war may be endless, a great victory has already been won: the victory over democracy by the "imperial executive" and the forces of the "deep state," a new form of soft totalitarianism more cleverly disguised than the older and more obvious ones. A democratic government is supposed to operate with the consent of the governed. When the governed are conditioned by fear, bathed in paranoid propaganda and offered only one choice – trust us to keep you safe, or face the wrath of a world that hates you – consent becomes a matter of instinct, or pathological compulsion."
http://www.salon.com/2014/12/13/dick_cheneys_dark_victory_torture_and_the_demise_of_american_democracy/@virgileBillyBoy | Dec 16, 2014 10:54:25 AM | 5
torture isn't about attempting to get information about stopping some ticking time bomb, its about making an example of somebody to terrorize others The Gestapo and KGB could tell you that."If death penalty is allowed, so should torture be".camelotkidd | Dec 16, 2014 11:02:47 AM | 6
Do you wan't to be part of the race to the bottom of the darkest pit in the Human mind?Torture is about exploitation and gaining false confessions.james | Dec 16, 2014 11:33:36 AM | 9
As Marcy Wheeler, at Emptywheel, makes clear, it was all about the exploitation of the prisoners to provide intel justifying the invasion of Iraq.
"As the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on torture (released over 5 years ago, in far less redacted form than tomorrow's summary will be) makes clear, the Bush regime embraced torture not for "intelligence" but for exploitation."b - the poll was done by Washington Post-ABC News... what do you expect?
polls are a joke.. did they tell us the specific questions asked? they just tell us who is responsible for the poll - wapo and abc - 2 channels for the exceptional nation. polls have always be about influencing people and very little about how people actually think.. reveal the questions asked and how many polls were taken before they got the results they did... but this never is revealed.. it is only this is what the poll found.. just another load of bs.. was it a poll taken within the us military? it could be for all we know..
Jackrabbit | Dec 16, 2014 1:05:45 PM | 13
I agree with James #9
See: Americans Are Deeply Divided About Torture. (ht NakedCapitalism.com) Note: the headline is misleading. The article discusses an academic study which reveals that:
The [US] public has seldom been supportive of torture, even when presented with "ticking time bomb" scenarios where the intelligence is described as vital to stopping an impending terrorist attack. When asked about actual torture practices such as waterboarding or sexual humiliation, public support mostly collapses.
Saying "Everybody agrees . . ." is a classic advertising/propaganda ploy. Lets not blame the US public, which is its victimized in many ways.
Karin Ehrlinger | Dec 16, 2014 1:40:31 PM | 16IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 16, 2014 3:07:06 PM | 20
In my opinion the "poll" is rather dubious and obviously meant to be exculpatory for the CIA so let me explain why:
Manipulative, deceptive language
In the article, the WaPo talks about "the CIA's brutal methods" but in the poll the cruel, inhumane and degrading procedures are always called "treatment of suspected terrorists". The word "treatment" sounds very neutral and harmless but (given the post "9/11" psychological context) in connection with "suspected terrorists" it encourages an emotional reaction rather than a reflective consideration. Had they used words like "detainees", human beings (let alone) "torture victims" the response would have been different.
Here are some concrete examples:
Question No.1 Do you consider the Senate report to be fair or unfair (in describing what the CIA really did)?
The introductory remarks to the question are intended to goad the respondents in the right direction: phrases like "accusing the CIA", mentioning the CIA's view of the report: "one-sided and incomplete" (again in connection with "suspected terrorists") tend to create the impression that it actually is unfair (if one swallows the "necessary to-protect-lives-scam").
Answer: 47% say Unfair, 36% say Fair (17% undecided)
But another question should have been asked first: Did you actually read the report yourself or just hear about it in the media (most likely on TV)?
Besides, the question itself is kind of absurd since we cannot possibly know what the CIA really did, as long as the high level of secrecy is maintained. Encouraging people to wonder if the CIA has been treated fairly seems to me extremely Machiavellian in view of the immense suffering of the torture victims. Most of them will be mentally scarred for life, their "Urvertrauen" in other humans damaged for ever.
Appealing to Americans' sense of "fairness" in this context shows that the poll has a hidden agenda.
What is also baffling is that the answers contradict one another (if one applies semantic logic):
Q: "Do you think the CIA "misled" [practically everybody] intentionally?
A: 54% answered YES (they did it on purpose) and the majority of this group found this behaviour not justified.
Q: "Do you personally think the CIA's treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?"
A: 49% replied YES, it was torture and 38% said NO (the rest had no opinion, so 56% of those who had thought about it, saw it as torture)
Q: (In your opinion) Did the "treatment" produce important information (that could not be obtained in any other way), or not?
A: 53% YES, it did. 31% No it did not, (16% no opinion) of responding registered voters; if one looks at the "details" it emerges that in the "Non-white" respondents group the answers were almost evenly split: 41% to 38%, but if you check the results according to party affiliation the difference of opinion is staggering: Dems: 40% to 48% Reps: 70% to 13%
So although the majority of respondents think the CIA lied on purpose (thus evading any notion of "oversight") and tortured innocent people (inflicting extreme physical and / or mental pain), they fall for the implicit argument that the "treatment" was "necessary" and suitable to extract "important information"? How stupid can you get?
Again, the question itself was manipulative: not only by (constantly) using the word "terrorist" but by adding "could not be obtained in any other way" thus suggesting the "necessity" of being cruel (after 9/11) in order to get required "intelligence". The report cites numerous officials who confirm that the claims of the CIA, "EITs" saved lives, can be easily refuted.
But the real revelation comes with the following question:
Was it wrong to release the report because it may increase the risk of terrorism (by increasing Anti-American sentiment)? Or was it right to expose "what happened" to prevent it in the future?
Here it is obvious that this wording plays with the fear of further "terrorist attacks" and thus demands of every "patriot" to support everything which might reduce this risk (hence support torture as mentioned above) resp. condemn any measures which might increase it. So the result comes as no big surprise:
A: 52% say it was wrong, 43% consider it right (5% no opinion)
Q: Do you think there should or should not be criminal charges filed against officials who were responsible for the CIA's interrogation activities?
A: "57% say No, 34% demand accountability and say Yes.
Again, after the groundwork has been laid for encouraging the "patriotic" (dumb) view that harsh interrogations "protect us" from further attacks and the CIA has been treated "unfairly", talking about criminal charges does not elicit much enthusiasm and it disturbs the positive self-image of America ("… a brilliant act of hypnosis" …"it never happened" see Pinter's Nobel address) so a natural resistance against such shattering insights (confirmation bias) can be exploited in many people …
Q: "All in all do you think the CIA's treatment of suspected terrorists" was justified or not?
A: 59% justified, 31 not justified (10% no opinion)
Here the combined numbers are misleading since 40% said "the treatment" was sometimes justified while 39% answered they were rarely / never justified. So by adding up the "rarely" and "sometimes" votes you get more "positive" answers and ignore the context.
Again, the use of expressions like "suspected terrorists" has a tendency to gain approval given the campaign of fear and loathing after 9/11 (against an invented enemy …)Karin Ehrlinger | Dec 16, 2014 3:13:41 PM | 21
The minutia of the poll aside, I'm not surprised that large numbers of people support torture, the same way they support drone strikes. One needs to actually sit down, put aside all other thoughts and actually think about the practices, implications, morality, and so on. It wouldn't hurt to understand some degree of international law, or perhaps read a bit from time to time.
Perspective in America seems overwhelmingly driven by gut instincts and affiliation with the democratic/republic, or liberal/conservative ideologies (despite these two sides being borderline indecipherable from one another). What bothers me the most, is that within the circles I roll, there is very little, if any, talk about these events. I interpret this several ways:
- People are irresponsible and somewhat incapable of critically thinking about events which do not touch them.
- Life in America has become unnecessarily distracting and busy to the point that the news becomes dispensable.
- People rationally understand that they have no influence on foreign policy, and thus choose to look away. It is difficult to maintain ones sanity when you are aware of families being exploded by hellfire missiles, or of some guy who took offense to an occupying force ending up in a hell hole being tortured by psychopaths.
These are very disappointing times, but I sense some clamoring. As the middle class continues to be squeezed, and the lower classes straight out abused, it will take one good recession (which we are all but promised) for people to come out in force and demand representation by purging the influence of big money on our politicians. Drone strikes, torture, economic warfare, proxy wars are not compatible with a healthy democracy.jfl | Dec 16, 2014 6:00:30 PM | 28
I am not sure what is more sickening – the description of the "interrogation techniques" or the lawyers of the DOJ falling over themselves to justify this inhuman cruelty … e.g. in the famous "torture memo" we find the following legal argument:
"Certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still NOT PRODUCE PAIN AND SUFFERING OF THE REQUISITE INTENSITY to fall within section 2340A's proscription against torture"
(Is this what Hannah Arendt meant with "the banality of evil"?)
"[So] there is a wide range of techniques that will not rise to the level of torture" (because they are not painful or degrading enough to call it a crime) … "the treaty prohibits only "extreme acts" but who defines what "extreme" means?
I have a suggestion: to find out whether the applied "techniques" produce pain and suffering "of the requisite intensity" let's try them out on those who endorsed them with great enthusiasm:
Cheney: perhaps a candidate for "rectal feeding"?
Bush: how long would he endure being shackled naked, in a stress position, to the wall?
Rumsfeld: We could try the "coffin", given how many people he sent to their grave …
The lawyers who worked so hard to legitimize hideous cruelty as "defensive" measures? The CIA- director? The two psychologists who made 80 million dollars with the torture program? Any ideas?
By the way, have you heard the political joke of the millennium?
"Human rights is the soul of American foreign policy"
(President Carter, Dec. 1978)@21Jackrabbit | Dec 16, 2014 7:49:44 PM | 33
Thanks for the analysis
U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, But None to Their VictimsFriedman, who himself unleashed one of the most (literally) psychotic defenses of the Iraq War, ended his torture discussion by approvingly quoting John McCain on America's enduring moral superiority: "Even in the worst of times, 'we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.'"Isolated as we are in ethnically-cleansed and racially-ordered North America we have sub- un- or consciously come to regard the inhabitants of the world outside North America as of another species (Mexico is only 'technically' in North America, not Anglophile North America, the one where the humans live).
This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America's victims. If you don't hear from the human beings who are tortured, it's easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That's how the War on Terror generally has been "reported" for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That's how the illusion gets sustained.
Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words "rendition" and "Guantanamo" but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.
It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America's torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them.
At times we treat the outlanders less well than we 'ought', but they have not the right to make the same claims on life as we do.
It's regrettable that we cannot always treat them 'as though they were human', but in many cases we do, and for that we deserve praise and recognition.Cortes | Dec 16, 2014 8:28:42 PM | 34
I sympathize with your frustration but blaming your fellow citizens is self-defeating. Even to say that they partly to blame is wrong-headed because many think that change can't happen until the time is right and few are willing to stick their necks out. Others don't have time, feel disenfranchised, or want to believe so they can fit in. Contrast those faults with the mercenary, mendacious, mean-spirited wealthy elites and political lackeys that actively try to undermine good government.IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 16, 2014 8:38:55 PM | 35
Interesting that Sen. McCain (who seems to have been tortured while a POW in the hands of the N Vietnamese forces) appears to be very sceptical about the "value" of information gleaned from torture sessions. Especially striking since McCain presumably knows whereof he speaks on this issue. Maybe the chickenhawks who are so gung ho on this subject should witness their child or significant other being "waterboarded" before spouting forth...?
I see your point wholly. The forces in our society are strong and scary as all hell. I just want the balance to reverse course and all I sense is more slipping away with very little resistance.
Our country perpetuates heinous violence abroad and is infected with institutional and structural violence domestically. If you have no means, you have no voice. If you have some means, you turn away from the horror that stares at you everyday as not to have what little privilege you have taken away for disrupting inertia. This is no way to live. The American population is a chimera of delusion and unhappiness. We export our way of life, with the military at the vanguard, yet who would want to live like us? We have no culture. Our communities have dissolved in the acid of material jealousy and the atomization rote by fomented suspicion. Look, I'm not a radical or anarchist, but people need to start talking and educating each other, we need to position ourselves to stand behind the actions of our government, and through tangible effort mold that posture into something other than an excercise in perpetually apologizing for miscarriages of power by changing how that power is wielded.
james | Dec 16, 2014 9:23:26 PM | 36Uncle $cam | Dec 16, 2014 11:30:15 PM | 42
okay - definitely last post for 5 or so days from me.
@3 virgile.. that is whacked out logic. maybe you are trying to convey the logic on the bush and every usa admin since. - haha, may as well push it back further too.. it is just complete b.s. any way you slice it.. capital punishment is the murder of innocent people too, but i suppose when a society has gotten so far removed from the idea of compassion, rubber stamping torture is just another step in the same direction. that is what every leader in the usa is doing at this point by not insisting on any accountability from these losers - yes - american leaders are losers. that is why ulster likes them so much - they are A okay with torture - which makes sense when one has a torturous mindset. i am not sure where you fit in all of this.
polls are propaganda packaged as some form on objective truth. only problem is generally one never is told who paid for the poll, how many were taken before they got the desired answers and what the specific questions were to get the specific results they were looking for.. anyone who pays attention to a poll is an idiot as i see it. see karin's post @16 for a well spoken description of the process..
@25 dan.. i think you are right about that.. it is an illusion to think europe is all that different.. is it willing to confront just what the usa has become? i would say no and i base this on their complicity in following the usa in their hostility towards russia for all the wrong reasons, including the bogus justification they have given to sanction and have a war they believe is justified on these same false conclusions they rubber stamped a week or so ago in the resolution against russia.. the usa is drunk with it's sense of self and power.. sure a big man who is drunk is dangerous, but he is as much a danger to those he is leading as he is those he is going after. the fact europe has gone along with the usa's torture agenda, or sanction b.s. suggests anyone with an idealistic attitude that europe is different is mistaken. guess i could have said that in fewer words, lol.Chip Nihk | Dec 17, 2014 2:47:16 AM | 43
Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape somehow, this got left out of my last post...The only torture and exceptionalism is the torture of the American psyche by Western exceptionally venal journalists and commentators on the eve of a modern-day seige of stalingrad by the House of Saud and the International Bankster Wehrmacht, as if billions of humans in harms way from this collosal armageddon give a flying frack about Abu Ghraib.IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17, 2014 10:25:26 AM | 48ben | Dec 17, 2014 11:39:39 AM | 49
Late at night I tend to get emotional and concoct strings of words with little underlying meaning, so I'm going to go at this again.
My perspective is that the entrenched wielders of power will continue their fleecing of the lesser classes in the US and abroad through neoliberal policy. These efforts, as you say, are no doubt supported by massive levels of propaganda This will not stop. If you disagree with this point please let me know as this is foundational and should be discussed.
The information required to reason and make informed decisions is more abundant than ever through means such as the internet, however at the same time the ability to hear only want you want has expanded in parallel. Americans have, in my perspective, fully embraced the later option. I often find myself unable to engage people because they have no basis to discuss complex issues beyond, "do you think Obama is projecting enough power, or too little power?" People cling to the idea of black and white, good and evil because it is comforting. Complexity and ambiguity are not comforting, but they are our reality. I believe there is a choice therein, and that's why the public is not off the hook in my mind. The propaganda is a comforting storyline that all too many have chosen rather than pursuing curiosity, discussion, and engagement. The other side of the coin, is that many of these practices are simply wrong, one does not need an advanced degree to feel at odds with torture, or killing American citizens abroad without a trial.NotTimothyGeithner | Dec 17, 2014 11:44:53 AM | 50
@ 47: "The information required to reason and make informed decisions is more abundant than ever through means such as the internet, however at the same time the ability to hear only want you want has expanded in parallel. Americans have, in my perspective, fully embraced the later option".
BINGO! Therein lies the crux of the great American paradox. Introspection has taken a back seat to the bread and circucs mentality. 24/7 imput, no time given to self-reflection. Thank you MSM. Most Americans are shallow morons. Sad.Noirette | Dec 17, 2014 12:07:35 PM | 51
@46 This is Obama's low hanging legacy shopping. The head of U.S.AID resigned abruptly. Much like Southeast Asia and China and the Ukraine and Russia, there are too many benefits available to Cuba. Obama is desperate for a foreign policy win. Giving "aid" to the Ukraine is unpopular especially among the types who know the world is round. Even Obama's portrayal of a new Cold War isn't working, and a kind of normalization will give Obama a diplomatic "accomplishment" which could have been done on his first day on the job. His supporters will have a feather in their camp.dh | Dec 17, 2014 12:38:12 PM | 52
The poll is terrible for sure. (See previous posts.)
Amongst the US citizens I know and keep in touch with I have noted a definite shift towards tolerance of torture, particularly amongst 15-30 yr. olds. A few older ppl (60+) have not come on board.
The attitude seems to be: "Torture is bad, torture is horrific, in an ideal world it would be banned, anyway other countries torture too; but if a terrorist can give information the individual must be sacrificed for the greater good."
This argument is nuts, and only shows how effective the propaganda and brainwashing is.
The poll itself (questions and answers given) shows that the issue is strongly tied to the 'terrorist threat', it is very hard to counter-argue, as moral/ethical criteria are trumped by functionalist ones, and denying the 'terrorist threat' is tantamount to subversion, a desire to bash the USA, a sign of belonging to conspiracy circles, etc.
These ppl feel that in dire circumstances (which they themselves cannot judge, and don't even claim to!) torture is permissible, even necessary, as a last-ditch measure - to protect innocent Americans! They refute the functionalist, pragmatic, counter-arguments of a *low* level - torture doesn't throw up solid info, false confessions arise, etc. - as being perhaps correct in part, but that isn't proven, and you never know, valuable information about terror attacks has to be rooted out, investigators can check what is 'false.' !!
Moving further forward in discourse makes them belligerent and extremely anxious, and, huh, how would I feel if my country was being attacked!
- Propaganda rests on perceptions and feelings concerning personal issues, personal life, how ppl feel and act in their daily spheres - they would not give up their 'ugly' secrets to a policeman or judge but under even mild torture they would immediately.
- Punitive US impulses are very strong (see prisons, slave labor, judicial system, schools, punishment of children, abuse of elders, forced medication, etc.), torture is only a step away, in fact a kind of staple domestically, which is not acknowledged
All fascist systems, or so called neo-nazi impulses, are dependent on framing of calling up these kind of 'personal' issues, view-points and analysis, which are turned into national preoccupations.
In this way the State (its Republican, democratic, or benevolent Monarch, etc. trappings) dissolves, and the ppl at the top accrue more power. Ppl sometimes see this as an ex. of divide-to-rule, but that isn't correct. What is being bartered is the power of the individual, his aspirations, desires, beliefs, plus individual comfort and competitiveness (being part of the power structure even if extremely low on the pole) in return for submission to like-minded authority. Through the 'justified' oppression of low-lifes, whomever they might be, at home or abroad…It's all about fear. Since 911 Americans have felt vulnerable. They want the government to protect them. They don't much care how.
Jackrabbit | Dec 17, 2014 1:09:50 PM | 53@IhaveLittleToAdd
Lets focus on the clear example of this "poll". Why go through the exercise of creating such a bogus poll if Americans are just shallow, selfish morons who care so little about other people?
Your line of reasoning ultimately leads to the falsehood that propaganda doesN'T work. If your theses was correct, then a certain number of people would be breaking free of it every day. But pervasive propaganda is designed to be culturally orienting, not informational. Even this "poll" plays on modes of thinking that have been encouraged like narcissism and fear.
There ARE people who are like what you describe but they are only one 'type' among many types, and they are 'played' like the rest of us. And its not just propaganda. There are other devices like controlled opposition and identity politics that pit people against each other instead of against the system.
Jackrabbit | Dec 17, 2014 1:29:49 PM | 54Look at this dumbass!
Why doesn't he free himself of his bovine conditioning? He deserves his fate.
If he was smarter, maybe we'd have more choices! (but would they lead to the same place?)
IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17, 2014 1:51:47 PM | 55@Jackrabbit
I'm not sure we are arguing entirely different perspectives here.
I'm not characterizing people as moronic. I know well a great number of highly educated, bright, and cognizant people who are completely oblivious to the deeper complexities of most worldly events. As in, they couldn't describe the rough outer edges of the crisis in Ukraine, ISIS, the true purpose of Russian sanctions, etc. The poll in question fits the narrative people want to hear. They don't want to hear that we butchered the minds and bodies of human beings, many innocent, to extract false confessions and dubious information. That is the take. The give is that entrenched power goes unquestioned. I'm simply insinuating that there is culpability on both sides; the people are not off the hook. Modern propaganda is pure marketing. Power does what it wants, but it tells the people granting it it's power what we want to hear. And that is precisely what we get. If people begin to reject it, the product goes away the same way a consumer product disappears when demand plummets.
Jackrabbit | Dec 17, 2014 2:11:47 PM | 56Well, the "poll" seems to have had its intended effect.
MSM has blasted it out and few have looked into the details like Karin Ehrlinger (above). In fact, 'smart' Americans are eager to lend credence to this flawed "poll" by attacking their fellow Americans instead of directing their ire at government officials and political leaders who:
a) knew the policy was, morally wrong, violated human rights, and ineffective;
b) tried to cover up what happened;
c) refuse to hold anyone accountable;
d) refuse to renounce torture as a tool of state.
The (cleverly manipulated) consensus: Bush, Cheney, Obama, Hayden, Brennan, the neocons, and others did what Americans wanted of them so they have nothing to answer for.
giddy | Dec 17, 2014 6:31:07 PM | 57IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17, 2014 7:29:56 PM | 58
To 44: Thanks. Always learn so much from this site. Particularly from people who are short on experience -- but long on opinion. The takeaway is goys better hide their gun-toting-age kids. Cause sure as shit they'll be cannon fodder for the neo-kikes. Good times. Eh, Chippy?So what's next? Each time I visit this site I witness, and on occasion take part, in what can only be referred to as a perpetual and predictable dance of intellectual impotence. B kicks it off. Then a couple sporadic comments are followed by a surge of input as the discussion reaches a critical mass, but soon it inevitably wanes, thereafter all progress made relegated to bits on a server somewhere in the ether. In the end the comments distill to a fairly homogenous agreement that power in the end corrupts. What exactly do we take away from these intellectual victories. We have the key but decide not to use it. How do we bridge this understanding to a political solution to the crimes and malevolence that we discuss here on a daily basis. There are very bright individuals posting here, perhaps leaders. What do we do? Rather than take comfort in talk, how do we affect change?
Jackrabbit | Dec 17, 2014 9:08:04 PM | 59@IhaveLittleToAdd
Well, now you are changing the subject. But I'll take a stab at it.
IMO, first comes awareness of the devices used by TPTB to shape change to their liking. Then comes sharing that by:
- a)making others aware of alternative views (I find that people are usually more receptive when you approach the discussion in terms of economics rather than politics); and
- b) supporting efforts for real change (sign a petition, go to a march). These don't make you a radical - or much of threat to the system but they help to keep the truth alive.
This also important in that it gives TPTB an opportunity to change. If they can reform and cut out the corruption that would be preferable. But you don't want them to have the 'easy out' of saying: 'no one cared / no one objected / etc.' They are sort of 'on notice'. And, to the extent that they carry on, they are digging the hole deeper and people become more and more aware of the evil as greater evil is done to cover lesser evil.
Its important to recognize that the control mechanizisms (like propaganda) are too strong for any real change until people become discontented enough to seek that change. So patience is required. Too many think of change as 'the people' answering a 'call' from some 'leader'. That kind of change isn't likely. Most 'leaders' today are compromised or could easily be compromised. Case in point: Turning Ferguson into a racial issue (ala Sharpton) instead of an issue of militarized police and harsh treatment of ALL poor people (who are generally treated like they are guilty until proven innocent).
When 'the people' start looking for WHY things are off the rails, THAT is when change can happen IF there are people that trust of good conscience that can connect the dots and explain the bigger picture. For example, in 2008 people really, really wanted change but couldn't see how fake Obama was.
If the current system is unsustainable (as many believe), then opportunities for change will occur. Probably with increasing frequency.
People are ALREADY discontented and distrustful of government. But there is no magic bullet. No one person or group force change. A corrupt system will either reform itself (preferable) or collapse.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/17/2014 - 12:31
"By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA's brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence." Does this confirm the total degeneration of American culture into a collective of chicken-hawk, unthinking, statist war-mongering automatons? Alternatively, does it merely reflect the effectiveness of corporate-government propaganda? Is it a combination of both?
August 24, 2009 | The Good Democrat
From the IG report on the CIA's use of torture, page 83:
According to a number of those interviewed for this Review, the Agency's intelligence on Al-Qa'ida was limited prior to the initiation of the CTC Interrogation Program. The Agency lacked adequate linguists or subject matter experts and had very little hard knowledge of what particular Al-Qa'ida leaders–who later became detainees–knw. This lack of knowledge led analysts to speculate about what a detainee "should know," vice information the analyst could objectively demonstrate the detainee did know.
You are at a disadvantage with your enemy detainee if you
1. lack his language skills
2. lack his subject matter
3. lack knowledge of the detainee himself
The detainee in question will tell you what he thinks you want to hear. The worst part? You will never know if you fully extracted all you wanted out of the detainee, and as such, you will continue torturing him until you finally feel satisfied he has nothing else of value for you. This, however, could go on for a long time, because each time you press more, the detainee will tell you even wilder tales hoping the next tale will finally get you to stop torturing him. Of course, with each new tale, since you don't actually know what else the detainee is holding back, with each new tale he tells, you press even further. Finally, of course, the detainee's psyche collapses into learned helplessness and is now completely useless, for information and as a human being. You've destroyed him. Since you came into this without actually knowing what the detainee knows, all you've ended up doing is destroying the mind of another human being.
Dec 10, 2014 | NYTimes.com
The dogs wouldn't jump. All they had to do to avoid electric shocks was leap over a small barrier, but there they sat in boxes in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, passive and whining.
They had previously been given a series of mild shocks and learned they could do nothing to stop them. Now, they had given up trying. In the words of the scientists, they had "learned helplessness."
The release of a Senate report on interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency has revived interest in that study, one of the most classic experiments in modern psychology. It and others like it, performed in the 1960s, became the basis for an influential theory about depression and informed the development of effective talk therapies.
Nearly a half-century later, a pair of military psychologists became convinced that the theory provided a basis for brutal interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that were supposed to eliminate detainees' "sense of control and predictability" and induce "a desired level of helplessness," the Senate report said. The architects of the C.I.A.'s interrogation program have been identified as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
A History of the C.I.A.'s Secret Interrogation Program
The Central Intelligence Agency used waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other techniques on dozens of the men it detained in secret prisons between 2002 and 2008.
"My impression is that they misread the theory," said Dr. Charles A. Morgan III, a psychiatrist at the University of New Haven who met Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen while studying the effects of stress on American troops. "They're not really scientists."
One of the researchers who conducted the initial studies on dogs, the prominent psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, said he was "grieved and horrified" that his work was cited to justify the abusive interrogations.
It is not the first time that academic research has been used for brutal interrogations, experts said. After the Second World War, the intelligence community began to study methods of interrogation, often financing outside psychiatrists and psychologists.
"A lot of the early work came out of psychoanalysis," or Freudian thinking, said Steven Reisner, a psychologist in New York and co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, which opposes the profession's participation in coercive interrogations. "Studies of sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation induced a psychosis, in which people lost control of what they said and what they thought." At that point they might begin to cooperate - or so the theory went, Mr. Reisner said.
One interrogation guide derived in part from such research, the C.I.A.'s "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual," set forth the so-called D.D.D method of interrogation, for Debility, Dependency and Dread. "The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist," the manual reads.
Some of the techniques in the manual - isolation, sleep deprivation, threats - were also used in the post-9/11 interrogations and are cited by the Senate report. "It's very similar to what we're hearing about now, and it's astounding that the agency didn't use the research it had already paid for," said Stephen Soldz of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, referring to D.D.D. He is an outspoken critic of psychologists' participation in interrogations.
The American Psychological Association, divided and convulsed by the revelations of members' participation in the interrogation program, has hired an independent auditor to investigate ties between the association and the intelligence agency. Debates over psychologists' role at the base in Guantánamo Bay and so-called black sites have raged for years within the association.
The two architects of the C.I.A. interrogations were convinced that they would uncover intelligence that would save lives, their colleagues have told reporters, and that their methods were justified by the events of 9/11 and afterward.
So, too, were psychologists within the agency. In an article titled "Psychologists and Interrogation: What's Torture Got to Do With It?" Kirk M. Hubbard, a psychologist formerly with the C.I.A., wrote, justifying the methods, "We no longer live in a world where people agree on what is ethical or even acceptable, and where concern for other humans transcends familial ties. When adolescents carry bombs on their bodies and plan suicides that will kill others, we know that shared values no longer exist."
The Senate report concludes that the brutal techniques did not add valuable information to what had been already obtained through less coercive means. Critics of the report, in Congress and in the C.I.A., say the conclusions do not tell the full story.
Academic research on interrogation - whether it is "learned helplessness" or other methods - cannot be tested in an ethical way in the real world, and provides little guidance for effective questioning, experts say.
Severe stress disrupts people's thinking, and fast. Dr. Morgan recently studied American troops' levels of compliance and suggestibility after the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course, a training exercise that includes what he calls a "mini-exposure" to many of the interrogation techniques the C.I.A. was using, including confinement and sleep deprivation. The result: a subset became more compliant, but the vast majority also became more suggestible when given misinformation. "Essentially you're making people less reliable and more stupid," he said. "You can see the problem."
Some experienced interrogators emphasize the value of establishing rapport with a detainee, and obtaining information on the basis of trust, rather than cruelty. "As both an interrogator and someone who has served in senior intelligence positions, I would not trust any information obtained through the employment of D.D.D. or learned helplessness," said Steven M. Kleinman, an interrogator who worked in Iraq and has been critical of the C.I.A.'s program.Correction: December 15, 2014
An article on Thursday about psychology experiments that architects of the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation program drew on as the basis for brutal techniques misstated the name of an association of psychologists. It is The American Psychological Association (not Psychology). And the article misstated the middle initial of a psychologist who conducted early studies on "learned helplessness" in dogs. He is Martin E. P. Seligman, not Martin J.
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, said in a statement on Wednesday that while he welcomed the release of the Senate report, he hoped it would lead to accountability of those who ordered, enabled, or carried out torture. "The convention lets no one off the hook - neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders."
Second, can the International Criminal Court prosecute these cases?
In principle, yes, though the prospects of a prosecution, experts say, are exceedingly slim and a political hot potato. Even though the United States has not signed the treaty that created the tribunal, the court can prosecute the most serious crimes in countries that have signed it, like Afghanistan, where some of the torture was said to have occurred.
Indeed, in early December, the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, for the first time confirmed that she was "assessing available information" on the American military's "enhanced interrogation techniques."
"While continuing to assess the seriousness and reliability of such allegations, the office is analyzing the relevance and genuineness of national proceedings by the competent national authorities for the alleged conduct described above as well as the gravity of the alleged crimes," the prosecutor said in a report summarizing the work of her office.
Graphic: A History of the C.I.A.'s Secret Interrogation Program
Poland, long suspected of having an American-run "black site" for terror suspects, also falls under the court's jurisdiction. A former Polish president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, on Wednesday confirmed the existence of the secret prison on his country's territory, saying that it was part of an effort to build Polish-American trust.
Jordan J. Paust, professor of international law at the University of Houston, said that any of the 122 countries that have submitted themselves to the authority of the I.C.C. could arrest a torture suspect and then turn him or her over to The Hague-based tribunal. The prospect of a prosecution overseas, he said, could be even more likely, because of the Obama administration's reluctance to prosecute, which he called a major disappointment.
But for Ms. Bensouda, who has had enormous difficulty even gaining custody of some of her most high-profile defendants, let alone winning convictions, the prospect of going after Americans could prove especially tricky. The court is still new, and fragile, said one of her former colleagues, Alex Whiting, and picking a fight with the United States could be "damaging" to the court's standing in the world.
"On the other hand the legitimacy of the court depends on it reaching a point where it treats countries alike," said Mr. Whiting, who was the prosecution coordinator in The Hague from 2010 until last year and now teaches law at Harvard University. "The court is in a very difficult position on this."
Besides, trying a case that involves torture, especially in a place like Afghanistan, is likely to be difficult, he and others said, especially if the United States refuses to cooperate in furnishing evidence of who did what and who gave orders. A case against the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, fell apart, Ms. Bensouda said, because she could not muster sufficient evidence to proceed.
The third and final question: Can a C.I.A. officer suspected of torture - or even the former C.I.A. boss, Michael V. Hayden - be arrested while visiting Europe, under universal jurisdiction laws? Again, in principle yes, though diplomatically, that seems unlikely anytime soon. Several countries have laws on the books that allow them to try those accused of human rights abuses. Spain in 1998 sought to prosecute the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, on these grounds.
Diane Orentlicher, a law professor at American University, said that countries that pursued cross-border justice most aggressively have since limited the reach of their laws. "That said, efforts to invoke universal jurisdiction or to persuade states where torture occurred to prosecute those responsible are likely to continue as long as the United States is seen as falling short of meeting its own responsibilities to ensure accountability," she argued.
Dec 09, 2014 | NYTimes.com
Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush gives the C.I.A. authority to capture, detain and kill Qaeda operatives around the world.2002, February
Mr. Bush signs an executive order that says Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits "mutilation, cruel treatment and torture," does not apply to Qaeda or Taliban captives.
Abu Zubaydah becomes the first detainee in C.I.A. custody, and his interrogations are videotaped. The C.I.A. initially thought him to be a Qaeda official but later retracted that view, according to the Senate report.
A memo issued by Jay S. Bybee, the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, gives the C.I.A. after-the-fact authority to use harsh interrogation techniques.
C.I.A. officers use waterboarding at least 83 times against Abu Zubaydah. The Senate report says he provided more information in the first months of his interrogation - before the enhanced techniques - than in the months when enhanced techniques were used.
Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are briefed on the C.I.A.'s enhanced interrogation techniques. Later in the month, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee are briefed on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. The Senate report says that the C.I.A. ignored requests for additional information by Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida.
Coercive interrogations, including waterboarding, of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a detainee, are videotaped.
Gul Rahman, another detainee in a separate facility, dies while being held and interrogated.
End of the year
Videotaping of interrogations ends.2003
C.I.A. inspector general begins an investigation of the program.
After 40 men had already been detained, formal guidelines for interrogations and detention sites are issued by George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, according to the Senate report.
The top lawyer at the C.I.A. informs the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the interrogation tapes. Committee leaders advise against destroying the tapes.
The C.I.A. uses waterboarding at least 183 times against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The last official report of waterboarding was in March 2003, but CIA documents suggest other waterboarding may have taken place.
Secretary of State Colin PowelI and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are briefed for the first time on the specifics of the C.I.A.'s interrogation program.2004
The C.I.A. inspector general completes a report that challenges the legality of some interrogation methods. He finds that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questions the effectiveness of the program. Mr. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, orders a temporary halt to the harshest methods.
The top lawyer for the C.I.A. discusses the tapes with Justice Department officials and White House lawyers. What the lawyers tell him is in dispute, but they do not explicitly prohibit the destruction of the tapes.
The 2002 Justice Department memo is rescinded by the new head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith. He resigns that day.
Daniel Levin, the acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, issues a new memo denouncing torture and broadening its definition. He is soon replaced.
According to the Senate report, at least 113 men were detained through 2004; after that, only six additional detainees were held under the program.2005
The newly appointed head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Steven G. Bradbury, issues classified memos that endorse the harshest interrogation techniques used by the C.I.A.
The Washington Post reports on the existence of the secret prison program.
Interrogation tapes are destroyed.
The House approves a Senate measure to outlaw cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners in American custody. The C.I.A. director writes a memo to the White House saying that the agency would carry out no harsh interrogations without new approval from the Justice Department.2006
Mr. Bush receives his first C.I.A. briefing on the enhanced interrogation techniques, according to the Senate report. The agency's records state that he expressed discomfort with the "image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper and forced to go to the bathroom on himself."
The Supreme Court rules that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to all American detainees.
Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence other than the chairman and vice chairman are briefed on the program on the day Mr. Bush reveals it to the public in a speech.
Mr. Bush reveals the existence of the program and says it led to information on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others who were eventually captured. He announces the transfer of detainees to the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. After that, the C.I.A. holds a small number of detainees in secret at a different facility for several months at a time before also moving them to Guantánamo Bay.
Mr. Bush signs the Military Commissions Act, which creates new rules for prosecuting and interrogating terror suspects. He says the rules would enable the C.I.A. to resume the once-secret program.2007
Mr. Bush issues an executive order allowing the C.I.A. to use some interrogation methods that are banned for military interrogations but that the Justice Department has determined do not violate the Geneva structures. A legal memo is released in conjunction with the order.
According to the Senate report, the C.I.A. does not use enhanced interrogation techniques after Nov. 8, 2007.
The New York Times reports on the destruction of the interrogation video tapes.2008
According to the Senate report, no detainee is held by the C.I.A. after April 2008.2009
Soon after being sworn into office, President Obama signs orders to close the detention at Guantánamo Bay, end the secret prisons and ban methods of physical pressure still used by C.I.A. interrogators overseas.
Justice Department memos written in 2002 and 2005 are released.
The 2004 C.I.A. inspector general report is released.2012
Senate committee leaders reject claims that enhanced interrogation methods helped the C.I.A. find Osama bin Laden.
The bitter infighting in the C.I.A. interrogation program was only one symptom of the dysfunction, disorganization, incompetence, greed and deception described in a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report. In more than 500 pages, the summary, released on Tuesday, paints a devastating picture of an agency that was ill equipped to take on the task of questioning Al Qaeda suspects, bungled the job and then misrepresented the results.
... ... ...
On the other side were James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two former military psychologists who had advised the agency to use waterboarding and other coercive methods. With the support of C.I.A. headquarters, they insisted that Mr. Nashiri and other prisoners were still withholding crucial information, and that the application of sufficient pain and disorientation would eventually force them to disclose it. They thought the other faction was "running a 'sissified' interrogation program," the report says.
If those questioning Mr. Nashiri just had "the latitude to use the full range of enhanced exploitation and interrogation measures," including waterboarding, Dr. Jessen wrote, they would be able to get more information. Such treatment, he wrote, after the two previous months of extremely harsh handling of Mr. Nashiri, would produce "the desired level of helplessness."
The report said the agency had evidently forgotten its own conclusion, sent to Congress in 1989, that "inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers." The Democratic Senate staff members who studied the post-Sept. 11 program came up with an identical assessment: that waterboarding, wall-slamming, nudity, cold and other ill treatment produced little information of value in preventing terrorism.
February 18, 2010 | Philosophy for Life
It makes me sick to read about some of the interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay, where the CIA applied Martin Seligman's theory of 'learned helplessness' to try and break the spirit of the inmates (most of whom have still yet to be charged with any crime).
Seligman didn't know his ideas were being applied there. Ironically, his theory of 'learned optimism' is now being imparted to every US soldier through the Pentagon's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness programme, this time with Seligman's active participation. Build us up, break them down. That's the spirit.
Here is a Huffington Post article by Peter Jan Honigsberg, professor of law at the University of San Francisco, and the author of Our Nation Unhinged: The Human Consequences of the War on Terror:"The first day I was at Guantanamo, they put me in a little cage. There was a toilet hole and I thought this is the bathroom and they will then take me to my cell. Later, they brought me food. 'Why food?' I thought, 'This is a bathroom.' Only the next day did I realize this was my cell where I was to stay." - Ayub Muhammed
On August 22, 2009, the Witness to Guantanamo Project completed its first round of 16 in-depth filmed interviews of former Guantanamo detainees in five countries: Albania, Bosnia, France, Germany and England. Each in-depth interview was 2+ hours in length. Three men did not want their faces shown. We hope to film hundreds of interviews of former Guantanamo detainees. We are determined to document the systematic human rights abuses and rule of law violations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The empirical evidence we gathered during this journey confirmed information found in the recently released CIA Inspector General's Report and memos regarding CIA's strategies and techniques of torturing and otherwise mistreating detainees.
It was very difficult to hear each man's story. The narratives were mesmerizing, powerful, compelling, unnerving and heartbreaking.
The CIA's intention to create a climate of "learned helplessness," that is, of shattering the men's spirits, emerged throughout the interviews. For example, the guards and interrogators did their best to try to break a detainee who was a fourth level black belt karate expert and another detainee who was a former boxer. The US personnel forced a hose down the throat of the karate expert and poured water into the hose. They hung the former boxer by his wrists for five days. On the other hand, a detainee who "went with the flow" and was not a "physical threat," had a relatively easier experience. He had already learned the value of "helplessness."
The complicity of the medical profession was a reoccurring theme. The boxer who was hung by his wrists for five days was let down periodically to be examined by a doctor. Then he was hoisted up again. He passed out on the third day, but they continued to hoist him up for two more days. Two other men described how they were interrogated during surgery. Each man was under a local anesthetic. Any detainee who wanted medical care needed to go through his interrogator. One man refused to ask for dental work because he did not want to ask a favor from his interrogator. Some prisoners who expected to have cavities filled, had their teeth pulled instead.
While brutal treatment was always intense at Bagram and Kandahar air bases, Guantanamo was described by many of the men as a "psychological prison." Some men were held in isolation for nearly the full time that they were at Guantanamo - over four years in isolation for one man. Initially, prisoners were placed in isolation for five days. But, when the military learned that people could easily tolerate the relatively short periods of isolation, the military increased the length to weeks, months and even years. One man, who was afraid of isolation and willing to say anything that the interrogators wanted to hear, was advised by other inmates that isolation became less frightening with each return visit.
The prisoners responded to the treatment that they received in different ways. Some resisted. One beat up a guard, others spit at guards. Still others threw feces. One prisoner told us that when he was treated unfairly he resisted in order to make himself feel better. There was a community of spirit among some prisoners. If one person was mistreated, others would refuse to eat or strike in support of him. Several detainees used the word "solidarity" to describe their relationship with other prisoners.
Some men endured detainment in Guantanamo by reflecting on their families, their religion, stories in the Koran, and the value of patience. Others accepted their "fate," believing that they could not change it. Still others relied on "hope," expecting that they would ultimately be released because they knew they were innocent.
When we asked people to describe their worst experiences, we were surprised by several of the responses. Two people told us that their worst experience was observing others beaten while they could do nothing about it. Another person's worst experience was the unknowing of what would happen in the future. A Uyghur described his feeling of betrayal by the United States. The Americans had assured him that any information he gave to U.S. officials would not be passed on to the Chinese. When he was later interviewed by Chinese officials in Guantanamo, the Chinese diplomats repeated to him all that he had told the Americans.
The men did not only lose years of their lives while being held in Guantanamo. Their lives going forward are also, for many, similarly lost. Many of the detainees told us that they have been unable to obtain employment. Once a prospective employer hears that the men are former detainees, the opportunity for employment disappears. In addition to not finding work, the Uyghurs in Albania are also facing the prospect of losing their homes. Albania, with a grant from the U.S., has been paying their rents for the past two years. However, the payments are up in October, and it is not clear whether Albania will continue to pay their rents. If not, the Uyghurs may be out on the street or back at the refugee center.
The men agreed to be interviewed for different reasons. The reasons included speaking for history (that is, assisting us in creating an archive) and hoping that others who are still in Guantanamo will soon be released. One man participated because he wanted to "plant a tree for the next generation." He also told me that "the world is one hand with many fingers."
If there is a term that best describes the experience of interviewing these men, it is witnessing their humanity. Guantanamo is about people. Their humanity is what I will remember best.
July 27, 2008 | quixotism.wordpress.com
The role that Martin Seligman personally played in this process is somewhat unclear (despite the reaction of some of the blogosphere). He has stated that the allegation that he provided assistance in the process of torture is completely false, and that his only involvement with the psychologists who developed the torture methods was when he gave a lecture to the military in a different context:
"I gave a three hour lecture sponsored by SERE (the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape branch of the American armed forces) at the San Diego Naval Base in May 2002. My topic was how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness and related findings to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors. I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not discuss American methods of interrogation with me. I have not had contact with SERE since that meeting."
Whatever the truth is, post-September 11 has been a dark period for human rights, democracy and psychology. It appears that psychological models for understanding human distress have been used by the unscrupulous to devise methods to harm and terrorise those deemed to be "the enemy".
Martin Seligman may not have been involved in this, but sadly it seems that the fruit of his intellectual efforts have been, in a manner contrary to their stated purpose.
Carol Smaldino, August 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm
Hello, I'm a social work therapist interested in the underbelly of the beast so to speak and write for the Huffington Post. I've been meaning to write on Resilience and Resilience and I'm in the process of writing a book and doing therapy. Part time here and part time in Italia, love to collaborate, and share, how odd, am speaking a bit on bullying from the inside out…
uggh the Seligson stuff makes me nauseous and he is quoted big time in September Harper's Bazaar…..would love to converse with you if it seems right….
October 29, 2014 | David Stockman's Contra Corner
The idea that the United States must exercise "global leadership" is rationalized by our interventionists as a necessary prerequisite for maintaining some type of "world order." Who will guard the sea lanes? Who will deter "aggression"? Who will defend the "rules" against those "rogue states" just waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc, if not the United States of America?
No "mainstream" politician dares challenge this mythology, and those academics and popular writers who do so risk being marginalized. Challenging the motives of our wise rulers isn't good for your career: that is, not if you want to have any influence in Washington. And while it's okay to question whether this episode of meddling or that murderous invasion is really in our interest, the benevolence and historical legitimacy of the American empire is not to be questioned. Because, after all, the theoreticians of imperialism say, without the stability enforced by America's military supremacy "liberalism" could not exist.
This is how the world is seen inside the Washington Beltway, where the monuments of Empire loom large and more than half the population owes its livelihood to the Imperium. Outside that bubble of hubris and skyrocketing real estate values, however, the world looks to be quite a different place – as does America's role in it.
To an Iraqi citizen, who has watched his nation be torn to pieces by the American eagle, stability is the last thing he associates with the Americans. To a Libyan who had hopes his country might evolve into something more than Gaddafi's playground, "order" fled the moment the Americans intervened. To a resident of eastern Ukraine who voted in an internationally-recognized election for Victor Yanukovych – and who awoke one morning to discover his government had been overthrown by force – America is anything but the champion of liberal democracy.
But of course none of these peoples – Iraqis, Libyans, Ukrainians – count for much in the Imperial City. Their wishes, hopes, dreams, and opinions are irrelevant to the making of American foreign policy: they are outside the pale, forever exiled to that netherworld separating the West from the rest. And there is no race or nation farther outside that pale than the Russians, who lost the cold war and therefore – in Washington's view – have ceded any power or influence they once had over the calculations of US policymakers.
Russia and the Russians are routinely demonized in Washington: they are the one people it is perfectly okay to hate – unless, that is, you are a member of "Pussy Riot," or a has-been chess champion who's taken up Russophobia as a second career. That is, unless you're a traitor to your own country and allow yourself to be used as an instrument in Washington's hands.
Naturally the number one hate object is Vladimir Putin, who is regularly characterized as either the reincarnation of Stalin, the second coming of Hitler, or, preferably, both. That's because he doesn't recognize the implications of Russia's defeat in the cold war and still seems to think his opinions amount to something in the brave new unipolar world Washington is building.
No wonder the response to his recent speech at the "Valdai International Discussion Club" – an annual event in Russia – has been nothing short of hysterical. Yet even then, I was amazed to get this tweet from Jackson Diehl, the editorial chieftain of the Washington Post, announcing their editorial:
"We pore over his performance in Valdai, a poisonous mix of lies, conspiracy theories and anti-US vitriol."
What does the editorial board of the Washington Post find so appalling? They are shocked – shocked! – that Mr. Putin wants Washington to "stay out of our affairs and to stop pretending they rule the world." How dare he! Who does he think he is, anyway – a world leader of consequence, whose country is armed with nuclear weapons?
It wasn't just the reliably neoconnish WaPo. As James Carden noted in The National Interest, "The New York Times alerted readers 'Putin Lashes Out at U.S. for Backing 'Neo-Fascists' and 'Islamic Radicals'; the Financial Times proclaimed "Putin Unleashes Fury at US 'follies'; and Fox News reported that 'Putin Blasts US in Speech, Blaming West for Conflict in Ukraine.'" The Washington Post only added a few more decibels to the cold war chorus, noting approvingly that, in a recent speech, President Obama likened the Russians to a bad case of Ebola.
The WaPo's sense of nostalgia is evoked when Putin mentions (twice) Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on a desk in the UN – it's the 1960s all over again! Except it isn't: and that, from Putin's point of view – and much of the world's – is precisely the problem.
Because back then the US had a real adversary in the Soviet Union, and Washington was properly constrained. No more: ever since the fall of the Soviet empire, the Americans have been on a rampage. Instead of ensuring stability – and defending national sovereignty against aggressors – they have become the worst aggressors on the planet, agents of instability who seek to overthrow the established order and, as George W. Bush proclaimed in his crazed second inaugural address, "light a fire in the mind" on a global scale.
In his Valdai speech, Putin points to the brokenness of the institutions and understandings that used to balance out the power relationships in the international arena, regulating them so that upheaval and conflict were minimized. Without this framework, says Putin, all that's left is "the rule of brute force." Western whiners will bristle at such hypocrisy: this is said by the invader of Crimea! Yet Crimea has been Russian since Catherine the Great: the Russians will respond to our arguments that this is "aggression" the moment we give back the American southwest to Mexico. And anyone capable of the least amount of objectivity will have to concede they have a point.
With the end of the cold war, Putin continues,
"What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it to the new realities in the system of international relations.
"But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance."
NATO expansion to the very gates of Moscow, Clinton's Balkan wars, and a regime-change operation that overthrew the democratically elected government of Ukraine and replaced it with "pro-Western" elements with dubious democratic credentials. Even more shameless was the political and diplomatic support given by Washington to crazed Islamic radicals, such as the Chechen "freedom fighters," i.e. the ideological blood brothers of the Tsarnaev brothers.
"The Cold War ended," avers the Russian leader who picked up the pieces,
"But it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called 'victors' in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.
"Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies."
The editorialists and the neocon pundits are up in arms over the Valdai speech precisely because Putin is absolutely right about what he calls the "legal nihilism" of the US and its satellites. And of course they weren't exactly pleased to hear the Russian leader's denunciation of America's "total control of the global mass media" which "has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white."
Our Western "democrats" are bound to choke at this point, yelping about the alleged near-total control of the Russian media by Putin & Co. Yet this only underscores Putin's point: the source of their anger is that anyone, anywhere on earth, deviates from the party line as dictated by Washington and its captive media, which speak with one voice when it comes to foreign affairs.
If we look at the international competition between nations in terms of ecology, it's clear what is the problem. Like a population of rats that has suddenly been allowed to reproduce beyond its natural boundaries due to a lack of predators – say, bears – to balance them out, the Americans have gone swarming across the globe, undermining the natural ecological balance and taking out everything and everyone in their path. This is where our "victory" in the cold war has led us – into a position very much like that of the old Soviet Union before Stalin reduced Soviet ideology to a strictly defensive posture of "socialism in one country." We have switched roles with the Russians, who are now the status quo power, in opposition to our own role as a revisionist revolutionary power seeking to destroy what little stability the world has left.
This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Antiwar.com Original. To view original, click here.
October 16, 2014 | Dissident VoiceThe average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There's one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they've been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that's contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it's likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors. This is all happening while the general population takes great pride in having a capitalist-democracy as their social-economic model for the stated purposes of providing equal rights, freedom, justice for all, and an all-inclusive participation in the political system. While in all truth, the capitalist-democracy in question has been corrupted directly by the legislation in place and the collective society's inability to keep the system working for its stated and intended purposes.
... ... ...
In cases where the US government appears to act deceptively on its own behalf, we have the CIA's Operation Mockingbird, and the FBI's COINTELPRO as prime examples of programs designed specifically to manipulate public opinion and illegally interfere with the people's rights to free speech and assembly. With writers and editors of influential "news" sources on the government payroll as operatives, there is no better way to wage a propaganda war against the public's "constitutionally guaranteed" democratic rights. The CIA and FBI do not distort the truth and subvert Constitutional rights just for kicks; they are directly aiding and abetting those behind the scenes who have an agenda which is pure and simple - corporate profits. Our government representatives are essentially screened, groomed and "voted in" by huge campaign contributions derived from corporate profits, and ultimately the press is financed by those same corporations. And for their "investment in capital", the corporations are getting what they want in return. So when corporate and special interests influence the government and news media directly, while the US government also influences news networks directly on behalf of corporations, then public opinion regarding any important issue is essentially being manufactured and controlled to a very large degree by corporate and special interests. The plain truth is the government, news media, corporate and special interests are all in a symbiotic criminal relationship with the absolute bottom line being they are willingly and knowingly denying Constitutional rights to the American citizenry which, in some of these instances, makes all those in violation willing traitors as defined by US law. And no, a group of conspirators does not need be prosecuted and found guilty in a court of law to be living and breathing traitors…
To maintain corporate profits and our status as world champion capitalists requires the US to undemocratically wage wars for "protecting our self-interests" of continually acquiring and consuming resources. Capitalism demands resources, and in our case, "democratically" waged wars to obtain those resources, require a willing public to sacrifice blood and treasure towards that goal. It's all part of modern capitalism as practiced today - convincing the public, through deception, to sacrifice their blood and treasure to keep the whole system going for maximizing the bottom line of corporate profits. The beloved political-economic system keeps us addicted, enslaved and condemned to languish in a continuous cycle of acquisition through any means, including military aggression. After being manipulated by unpatriotic government officials and news networks to serve unpatriotic corporations and special interests, we believe we're being patriotic when waving our flags while we're actually throwing truth, freedom and democratic principles into the bin of the "Unnecessary and too Risky" for the powers that be. The entire system of control and manipulation is being run by less than one percent of the population for their guaranteed advantages, while on the other end, the system is rigged to keep the majority in perpetual servitude. And because American citizens are part of the system and contributing to it, in that sense they are an accessory to the crimes being committed against themselves.
The truth being known in all of this presents a danger for those who pull the strings keeping the slave camp operating, but so far, the propaganda campaigns have been successful in keeping the general public from recognizing the truth. When this reality is presented to the average America born citizen, chances are high they'll reflexively and automatically deny the truth as a form of self-defense. They simply don't want to accept the reality of their governments' betrayal, and many believe they're being patriotic by defending what they think America is, but again, they're defending lies when the truth is told. When people are held captive and trapped, hope and dignity can be cultivated through planned or spontaneous rebellion of one flavor or another - which might be the closest America will ever come to pulling itself up by the boot straps. But because roughly seventy percent of the general population doesn't think independently, they'll look to someone else or society in general when determining how to think and react; this fact is literally being banked on by those who mislead us through "our government" and "news media" while profiting at our expense and that of the entire world. If the prevailing winds, prevaricated by the government and news media, say there's no reason to rock the boat, then the majority will bow their heads and continue on as compliant slaves, just as we've seen over recent decades.
When it comes to obtaining foreign resources, America's "interests" often come at the expense of someone else. Converting a socialist leaning country, creating and aiding developing countries, or propping up dictators "friendly to western interests" can all work to enhance corporate profits with "privatizing the world" being part of the agenda. Under the table deals, coercion and outright military intervention, in any combination, are all being used to gain control of the world's resources. This is often done under the guise of the IMF, and World Bank, making loans to "help" developing countries. In all reality the IMF and World Bank are there to secure the rights to a country's natural resources, with the bottom line purpose again being corporate profits while having no concern for the indigenous people or anything else.
Corporate America is actively seeking to control water, farmland, mineral and energy rights all over the world. This all comes at the expense of human rights and lives, domestic and foreign. Very few, if any, of the ruling-class personally risk anything other than their personal integrity in these gambits. But everyday Americans, through propaganda, are persuaded to sacrifice their lives and tax money for use in the arsenal of weapons to beguile and wrestle the resources away from people in foreign lands. The powers that be are currently trying to tell the world we'll all be better off with rain water being corporately owned so they can charge human beings for being alive. Next on the agenda is privatizing sunshine which probably sounds absurd to everyone - just as the concept of owning land was incomprehensible to native Americans. Judging by the actions of the ruling-class and not their words, as long as they have enough slaves to manipulate, they don't care if American citizens or others must die so they can accomplish their primary goal of enriching themselves while controlling everything and everyone to that end. The wealthy and politically influential in the US are perfect examples of success in our overall corrupt capitalistic-democracy; while the rest of us are the epitome of failed dupes, having failed to exercise our democratic rights while being exploited. When summed up, the fact that Americans go along with all of this in the direction it's going, is ludicrous when considering the impact all of this is having on the earth's ecosystem (which can no longer be denied) - the ruling-class agenda is completely out of touch with reality - if the human race doesn't get it together soon, all those corporate profits will all be for naught anyway, and could possibly end up being what ends it all for the human race. We do enjoy our self-deceptions though, and denials of the truth, while as master escape artists acknowledging a destiny beyond our control we turn on our favorite televised entertainment as absolute proof.
Destiny is inevitable and unstoppable just like the need to show the world how powerful we were in 1945, by dropping atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the US had already known the Japanese were preparing to surrender. With special interests in mind, the US recognized ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as being legitimate starting before 1948 and continuing to this day. We can't leave out the CIA's roll in overthrowing democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 Iran, only to install a murdering tyrant so the corporation now known as British Petroleum would benefit at the expense of the Iranian people. We had the Vietnam duo, with Henry Kissinger aiding Nixon's treason, which ultimately cost one million Vietnamese lives, twenty thousand American lives and one hundred thousand Americans wounded. For authorizing the Watergate scandal, Nixon later received a pardon from his personally designated successor. The overthrow of democratically elected Salvador Allende in 1973 Chile was backed by Nixon's CIA which supported the brutally repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet. Another illegal Kissinger duet with Gerald Ford started in 1975 East Timor. Then came Ronald Reagan and the arms for hostages' deal which circumvented Congress to supply weapons to Reagan's murderous Contras. There was the "just say no to drugs" when Reagan's CIA aided importing crack cocaine with the profits also illegally supporting the Contras' killing machine. The Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s was our largest wealth redistribution up to that time, with many of the well-connected, including the Bush family, profiting at the expense of tax payer dollars. With the 2003 Iraq war being part of the neocon strategy for "securing the realm", America was led to war through lies and deceit while the defense contractors made huge profits from the death and destruction at tax payers' expense, which we'll still be paying for decades from now. The 2008 economic meltdown resulted from the biggest financial rip-off and redistribution of wealth in the entire history of mankind, and while there was plenty of criminal activity on record, there were no prosecutions among the Wall Street ring leaders who orchestrated those crimes. Ultimately, after the 2008 economic collapse, the redistribution of wealth to the well-connected banks and their already wealthy stock holders, was again put on the tab of tax-paying slaves.
Our government escapes the consequences of these realities by manipulating the truth with the well-oiled propaganda machine. And by allowing Wall Street bankers to keep what they stole, and the press having no interest in holding anyone accountable, it all works out to continue bribing politicians with more "investment capital" in the form of "campaign contributions" from those same banks – and the US keeps right on moving toward the goal of lording over the entire world. It's all just part of America doing business as usual, served up by corporate and special interests influencing the unpatriotic duo of US government and main-stream media networks to manipulate the American public into unwitting support for corporate fascism. By all means the illusion of equality, liberty and justice through a disingenuous capitalistic-democracy must be kept alive by our government and news media. If not for the illusion, who or what would run the show?
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Perpetual gloryFotoohi, September 19, 2014 at 2:50 am
President Stonewall Jackson
"There can be security only in expansion"
For how better could we terrorized the Middle-East into trading their oil for our war materials then by an unending war with a perpetual enemy who is funded by our friends, and who must needs our enmity and combat to survive. Pure theatrics if you ask me.
Damn right -- The US and friends (Saudi Arabia, Israel, and most of the Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf) engendered the Isis and now their genie has left the bottle and they don't know what to do with it. thank you.
With the fall of the Kremlin, the neocons decided that what Charles Krauthammer dubbed the "unipolar moment" was at hand. This was our big chance, now that the Soviets were out of the way, to establish a "world order" with Washington – of course! – as its center, but also incorporating Western Europe and Japan into one vast superstate. This was all part of the flurry of discussion that followed the publication of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" essay, in which he related that the Soviets' demise and his reading of Hegel had revealed to him an astonishing fact: history had come to an end. Liberal democracy had triumphed over all other competitors and was fated to be "the final form of human government." A World State was not only in the making, it was the inevitable outcome of the Spirit of History!
The old 19th century post-millennial pietism burns brightest in the hearts of our neocons. The urge to conquer, to remake, and purify the world of sin, to impose some kind of authoritarian "world order" out of what is a natural, beneficial, and self-regulating spontaneous order – this is the essence of the interventionist credo.
The neocons were lost for a while after the communist collapse: no one was listening to them anymore. The Kosovo war was a bust as far as Republicans were concerned: indeed, when a Republican House of Representatives voted down Clinton's Kosovo war budget, Bill Kristol threatened to leave the GOP. If only he had followed through on his threat the Republican party might have been spared much – but, alas, it was not to be.
September 11, 2001 was the Neoconservative Moment, and in the months and years to come their star would rise until they had effectively seized control of the government. As Bob Woodward said in his book, Plan of Attack:
"[Colin] Powell felt Cheney and his allies – his chief aide, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's 'Gestapo' office – had established what amounted to a separate government."
There's no real need to go into this in much detail, since the story of their deception is well-known. They manipulated the "intelligence" and after lying us into war they presided over the worst military disaster in American history, with the blowback still coming at us right up to the present day.
At the end of the cold war, as the neocons were flailing about looking to gain some traction, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan co-wrote an essay on a new foreign policy agenda for America in the post cold war world in which they stated that the goal of American policymakers ought to be the creation of a "benevolent global hegemony." This is the world state envisioned by Fukuyama: a global government with a world central bank backed up by a multinational military force and a system of universal surveillance – with nowhere to hide from the all-seeing eye of the Empire.
That is their goal – and they have come much closer to achieving it in the past few years. Already they have overrun much of the Middle East, and now they have their sights fixed on the lands of the former Soviet Union. In partnership with the EU, they are moving in on Russia. And while China may seem too vast a country to absorb, Western penetration of that formerly isolated and hostile land has been impressive.
The frontiers of the empire are moving outward so fast that one can hardly keep up with their progress. Could this turn out to be the fatal weakness that brings the whole thing tumbling down?
All empires fall. But each case is different. No one knows when the cracks will begin to appear in the façade, or how long the will take to fatally weaken and split the foundations once thought to be invulnerable. My best guess, however, is that whenever it starts, it will take quite a while to bring the whole thing down. The Soviet empire disintegrated in a little over a year – the Mayans, almost overnight. In the case of the American empire, the foundations are a lot stronger to begin with: I think we are going to go the Roman way, with ups and downs, long declines followed by brief revivals.
And finally, I want to say that I've gotten more optimistic as I've gotten older, and that the pessimism of my youthful vision of a rotten system collapsing under its own weight no longer seems either desirable or imminent. What I do see as a very real possibility is a political movement in this country that will restore our old republic, dismantle the empire, and return the Constitution to its rightful place at the very center of the American system. I see that a man with the last name of Paul is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and suddenly I am a teenage libertarian all over again. You know, we had a slogan back then, in the 60s, when the libertarian movement first began to organize itself. It was: "Freedom in our time." Back then, it seemed like a distant promise. Today, it seems like a real possibility. And that is, in itself, a great victory.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.
September 4, 2014 | The American Conservative
On hawkish autopilot, America's leaders ignore the obvious off-ramp to the escalating Ukraine crisis.
What is most striking about the Ukraine crisis is how much the Washington debate lacks any sense of how the issue might look to other interested parties, particularly Russia. Putin is analysed of course-is he, as Hillary Clinton suggested, following Hitler's playbook? Or is he merely an aggressive autocrat? Or perhaps he is "in his own world" and not quite sane? But in open Washington conversation at least, and perhaps even at the more reflective levels of government, all talk begins with the premise that Russia's leader is somewhere on the continuum between aggressive and the irrational. That he might be acting reactively and defensively, as any leader of a large power would be in response to threatening events on its doorstep, is not even part of the American conversation. Thus in the waning days of American unipolarism, America diplomacy sinks into a mode of semi-autism, able to perceive and express its own interests, perceptions, and desires, while oblivious to the concerns of others.
A rare and welcome exception to blindness was the publication in Foreign Affairs of John Mearsheimer's cogent essay on the Ukraine crisis, which with characteristic directness argues that Western efforts to move Ukraine in the Nato/EE orbit were the "taproot" of the present crisis. Prior to Mearsheimer, one could find analyses tracing how various neoliberal and neoconservative foundations had, with their spending and sponsorship of various "pro-Western" groups, fomented a revolution in Ukraine, but they were generally sequestered in left-liberal venues habitually critical of American and Western policies. In the Beltway power loop, such voices were never heard. The policy of pushing NATO eastward, first incorporating Poland and Bulgaria and then going right up to Russia's borders moved forward as if on mysterious autopilot. That such a policy was wise and necessary was considered a given when it was discussed at all, which was seldom. Was Obama even aware that a leading neoconservative, a figure from Dick Cheney's staff, was in charge formulating American policy towards Ukraine-with designs on igniting revolutionary regional transformation? One has to assume not; confrontation with Russia had not been part of Obama's presidential campaign or style, and since the crisis began his comments have always been more measured than the actions of the government he purportedly leads.
As Mearsheimer points out, there remains still a fairly obvious and quite attractive off-ramp: a negotiation with Russia which settles formally Ukraine's non-aligned status. There are useful precedents for this: Eisenhower's negotiation with Krushchev that brought about the withdrawal of foreign troops from Austria in 1955 is one, and so of course is Finland. No one who contemplates where the Ukraine crisis might lead otherwise-with a war that devastates the country or perhaps brings in outside powers to devastate all of Europe, or even explodes the entire northern hemisphere-could sanely consider Austria or Finland-prosperous and free countries-to be bad outcomes. Nevertheless the entire conversation in Washington revolves around measures to make Putin back down, and accept the integration of Ukraine into the EU and eventually NATO. People act baffled that he won't.
There is a mystery to the way Washington works-how an entire political class came to see as American policy that that Russia be humiliated at its own doorstep as logical, without ever reflecting upon whether this was a good idea in the larger scheme of global politics nor whether the West had the means and will to see it through. Because to see it through likely means war with Russia over Ukraine. (The West-leaning Ukrainians of course, be they democratic or fascist, want nothing more than to have American troops fighting beside them as they become NATO partners, a tail wagging the dog). America's policy makes sense only if it is taken for granted that Russia is an eternal enemy, an evil power which must be surrounded weakened and ultimately brought down. But very few in Washington believe that either, and virtually no one in the American corporate establishment does. So it's a mystery-a seemingly iron-clad Washington consensus formed behind a policy, the integration of Ukraine in the West, to whose implications no one seems to have given any serious thought.
Russia's leaders and diplomats have been telling America to butt out of Ukraine in unambiguous terms for a decade or more. Did American diplomats and CIA agents push for an anti-Russian coup d'etat in Kiev knowing that and pursue it anyway? The sheer recklessness of such an action would border on criminal-but oddly enough, no one who truly counts in Washington, Republican or Democrat, seems even to consider it even slightly misguided.
bob, September 4, 2014 at 6:21 amFran Macadam, September 4, 2014 at 7:44 am
Now they want to negotiate after Ukraine failed military attempt encouraged by USA / NATO / EU. Wait, is not yet over, NATO will begin military exercises in Ukraine in this month, an escalation.
NATO leaders will discuss the crisis in Ukraine with President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday.
…They are expected to approve a package of support, setting up trust
funds expected to be worth around 12 million euros ($15.8 million) to
improve Ukrainian military capabilities in areas such as logistics,
command and control and cyber defense.
As part of a stepped-up program of war games, a dozen countries will take part in an exercise in Lviv, Ukraine, later this month, co-hosted by Ukraine and the U.S. Army. …
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/03/us-nato-summit-ukraine-idUSKBN0GY2R420140903Fran Macadam, September 4, 2014 at 7:46 am
"America's policy makes sense only if it is taken for granted that Russia is an eternal enemy, an evil power which must be surrounded weakened and ultimately brought down. But very few in Washington believe that either, and virtually no one in the American corporate establishment does."
What they do believe, intensified and distilled, made necessary since 2001, is that America is the "essential nation" which must run the world, so "exceptional" that it is excepted from the normal restraints that every other nation must follow.
That end must justify any and all means. For the sake of American security (one might ask though, just which Americans?), every nation on earth – and as Kerry put it in Kiev, there is no place on the earth so remote as to not be essential to American interests – there can never be allowed anywhere, any competing power that could ever conceivably challenge American policy anywhere, or potentially, even in the far future, become a threat to American dominance. Unfortunately, this comic-book thinking really is official policy.AnotherBeliever, September 4, 2014 at 9:17 am
Well worth reading from Europe's best commentator as to why this mistaken policy has Europe sleep-walking into war:
http://www.unz.com/article/the-insidious-power-of-propaganda/Bill Jones, September 4, 2014 at 11:09 am
"There is a mystery to the way Washington works-how an entire political class came to see as American policy that that Russia be humiliated at its own doorstep as logical, without ever reflecting upon whether this was a good idea in the larger scheme of global politics nor whether the West had the means and will to see it through."
That sums up the whole situation rather succinctly. Especially the last part.
I don't think the CIA played a role in taking down Ukraine's government. It's more likely that diametrically opposed promises were made by political backers in Russia and the West. Regardless, the end result is the same.
I must add to your little analogy, that the media goes crazy as politicians, talking heads, and bloviators decry the threat on our border. The National Guard is called up and volunteer militias muster in the Rio Grande Valley. Because that has already happened under much less alarming circumstances. It would be no great leap from there to Spec Ops types deploying, and calls for conventional military action, economic sanctions, and one presumes cyber attacks. Your analogy is not perfect, but it's pretty useful.JohnG, September 4, 2014 at 11:18 am
We're back to the old, old issue.
The Neocon's are the worlds biggest serial F*ck-ups.
With every disaster swiftly to be forgotten and on to the next catastrophe.Andrew, September 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm
Oh, if only it was about "humiliating" Russia! Somewhere, some cold warriors have much more serious aspirations, which is ironic given that they are about to lose even UK and France as willing (read: obedient) allies, just give elections in Europe another round or two.
They, meaning the whole "we create our own reality" crowd, are yet to face how wrong they have been all along. This would be a fun thing to watch if it was only about them, but the sad and "real" reality is that we all get to pay for their delusions. I just hope and pray we don't end with neocon Hillary as next president, as this would multiply the already huge bill by orders of magnitude.
PS As far as Ukraine, the country is now broken similarly to Iraq. I'd say federalize and hope it can function and stay together. Otherwise, admit that it's now broken, let it fall apart, and learn your lesson: don't repeat a similar nonsense again!Jack Shifflett, September 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm
There is a mystery to the way Washington works-how an entire political class came to see as American policy that that Russia be humiliated at its own doorstep as logical, without ever reflecting upon whether this was a good idea in the larger scheme of global politics nor whether the West had the means and will to see it through
No mystery whatsoever. Triumphalist school of thought which is responsible for 20th Century history narrative in general, and "Russia narrative" in particular. Needless to say, both "narratives" have as much touch with the reality as Star Wars is a documentary. The rest is pretty much derivative of that.Kurt Gayle, September 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm
Too much complicated analysis. It's still the American Century, isn't it? It's our world and we'll run it the way we see fit, thank you very much.
We don't need historical analogies or futuristic hypotheticals or counterfactuals; we're the good guys, end discussion, case closed, QED.EliteCommInc., September 4, 2014 at 2:56 pm
A very fine, comprehensive analogy and analysis, Scott McConnell! Thank you!
Thank you, too, for the link to "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault" in which John Mearsheimer writes:
"Abstract rights such as self-determination are largely meaningless when powerful states get into brawls with weaker states. Did Cuba have the right to form a military alliance with the Soviet Union during the Cold War? The United States certainly did not think so, and the Russians think the same way about Ukraine joining the West."
The October 1962 Cuban missile crisis occurred in the context of the Cold War. Yet the then basic U.S./Soviet great power relationships and the negotiated solution of the '62 crisis offer promising parallels for a negotiated solution of the current Ukraine crisis.
In 1962 the U.S. had stationed intermediate-range Jupiter missiles on the southern flank of the Soviet Union - in Turkey and in Italy - well within range of important Soviet targets.
Alarmed, the Soviets reasoned that Soviet stationing of Soviet intermediate- and medium-range missiles in Cuba might serve as a proportionate response to the U.S. Jupiter missiles. In addition, the Soviets likely thought that stationing offensive missiles in Cuba could deter the U.S. from attempting another Bay-of-Pigs-style invasion of Cuba.
In the negotiated diplomatic solution of the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. got most of what it wanted: The Soviets agreed to remove all its offensive missiles from Cuba. Furthermore, all parties agreed that Cuba would not join a military alliance with the Soviet Union – not then, not ever.
For their part, the Soviet Union and Cuba got a public U.S. guarantee that it would not invade Cuba again. Privately (but not publicly), the Soviet Union received a U.S. pledge to dismantle all U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy.
A parallel settlement of the current Ukraine crisis might involve these sorts of guarantees:
NATO would pledge not allow Ukraine into the alliance – not now, not ever.
Ukraine would adopt an Austrian-style neutrality and (like Austria) not undertake foreign relationships of any sort that would compromise Ukrainian neutrality.
Russia would guarantee that it would not invade Ukraine. Russia would not allow Ukraine to join any military alliances with Russia or to join in other relationships with Russia that would compromise Ukrainian neutrality.
I have really appreciated the data sets from Russia Direct.
Perhaps pushing against Russia in an attempt to quell her future ambitions.
This article neglects to point out that it was the Georgians who launched the first strike.
I hate to sound 'un-American', but pretending that the nexus of the Ukraine scenario was the encouragement and support of a violent revolution against a government that was elected with a fairly popular vote in a process labeled fair by international observers.
Al, July 30, 2014 at 2:07 am> Silence by the UN under US man, Ban-ki Moon. Only recently have they said that the use of heavy weapons near public buildings could be breaching international humanitarian law.marknesop, July 30, 2014 at 8:14 am
It's pretty clear for the rest of the world to see that US exceptionalism means that all supposedly independent and non-partisan institutions that are supposed to speak out remain muted, and than anyone whom the US supports may use any military means, however bestial or illegal under any law with impunity.
There is not better example to European and American citizens (and those from the rest of the world) that the Emperor has no clothes.And it's too late to take it back. I suggest few realize just how deep and fundamental has been the tectonic shift under our feet. The United States government and the nutjobs who lead the European Union can never again stir their populations to martial fury with tales of a bloody dictator who makes war on his own people, who merely want to exercise their right to the expression of free will through the democratic process. They have collectively and cavalierly thrown away their previous claims to the moral high ground, and reclaiming it will take a lengthy period of self-reflection in the wilderness – the world cannot, must not take their word at face value ever again. Similarly, these same entities preached that international law was the rock the peoples of the world clung to when the seas ran high, and that it offered protection for the weak and strong alike. Bullshit. Kiev's cheerleaders stood by as broken humanitarian law after shattered international law after war crime bobbed up in the wake of the Ukrainian juggernaut, and said not a word in demurral. As I have said before now, there is no particular reason anyone on the planet should any longer consider themselves bound by any but the law of the jungle, since the framers of international law and its loudest advocates have demonstrated that they will overlook its being trampled upon by those who are their favourites for strategic reasons, which is in turn motivated by gain for themselves.
American leadership in the world is imperiled. And at a fundamental level, the American people sense it. A number of recent polls show that more Americans than ever before -- nearly 60 percent, in some cases -- believe U.S. power is waning.
In other words, a greater number of Americans are worried about diminishing U.S. influence today than in the face of feared Soviet technological superiority in the late 1950s, the Vietnam quagmire of the late 1960s, the 1973 oil embargo, the apparent resurgence of Soviet power around the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, and the economic concerns that plagued the late 1980s -- the five waves of so-called declinist anxiety that political scientist Samuel Huntington famously identified.
Many analysts have attributed Americans' current anxiety to the aftershock of waging two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the polls actually reflect something deeper and more potent -- a legitimate, increasingly tactile uncertainty in the minds of the American people created by changes in the world and in America's competitive position, which they feel far more immediately than do the participants in Washington policy debates. Average Americans do not experience the world through the lens of great-power rivalry or U.S. leadership abroad, but rather through that of an increasingly competitive globalized labor market, stagnating income growth among the middle class, and deep and unresolved worries about their children's future. A recent CNN poll, for instance, found that Americans think by a 2-to-1 margin that their children's lives will be worse than their own. They are questioning the promise of growth and expanding opportunity -- the very substance of the American dream.
This anxiety is real and justified, and it lies behind much of the public's support for withdrawing from the world, for retrenchment. Yet American leadership and engagement remain essential. The United States cannot hide from the world. Rather, it must compete. And if it competes well, it can restore not only its economic health, but also its strength for the long haul. That resilience will preserve Americans' ability to determine their fate and the nation's ability to lead in the way its interests require.
Unfortunately, absent from current discussions about U.S. foreign policy has been a hardheaded assessment of what it will actually take to rejuvenate and compete. Policymakers and experts have not yet taken a clear-eyed look at the data and objectively analyzed the fundamental shifts under way globally and what they mean for America's competitive position. Nor have they debated the steps necessary to sustain U.S. power over the long term.
Many foreign-policy experts seem to believe that retaining American primacy is largely a matter of will -- of how America chooses to exert its power abroad. Even President Obama, more often accused of being a prophet of decline than a booster of America's future, recently asserted that the United States "has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world." The question, he continued, is "not whether America will lead, but how we will lead."
But will is unavailing without strength. If the United States wants the international system to continue to reflect its interests and values -- a system, for example, in which the global commons are protected, trade is broad-based and extensive, and armed conflicts among great nations are curtailed -- it needs to sustain not just resolve, but relative power. That, in turn, will require acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that global power and wealth are shifting at an unprecedented pace, with profound implications. Moreover, many of the challenges America faces are exacerbated by vulnerabilities that are largely self-created, chief among them fiscal policy. Much more quickly and comprehensively than is understood, those vulnerabilities are reducing America's freedom of action and its ability to influence others.
Preserving America's international position will require it to restore its economic vitality and make policy choices now that pay dividends for decades to come. America has to prioritize and to act. Fortunately, the United States still enjoys greater freedom to determine its future than any other major power, in part because many of its problems are within its ability to address. But this process of renewal must begin with analyzing America's competitive position and understanding the gravity of the situation Americans face.
The relative economic decline of the United States is a fact. For the first time in 200 years, most growth is occurring in the developing world,and the speed with which that shift -- a function of globalization -- has occurred is hard to fathom. Whereas in 1990 just 14 percent of cross-border flows of goods, services, and finances originated in emerging economies, today nearly 40 percent do. As recently as 2000, the GDP of China was one-tenth that of the United States; just 14 years later, the two economies are equal (at least in terms of purchasing power parity).
This shift reorders what was, in some sense, a historical anomaly: the transatlantic dominance of the past 150 years. As illustrated by the map below, it wasn't until the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 19th century that the world's "economic center of gravity" decisively moved toward Europe and the United States, which have since been the primary engines of growth. Today, however, the economic center of gravity is headed back toward Asia, and it is doing so with unique historical speed.
THE WORLD'S ECONOMIC CENTER OF GRAVITY The larger a country's GDP, the greater its pull on the world's economic center of gravity. So when the Industrial Revolution spurred massive growth in the United States, the center moved west, eventually out over the Atlantic Ocean. Today, it is moving back toward Asia. SOURCE: MCKINSEY GLOBAL INSTITUTE, WITH DATA FROM ANGUS MADDISON OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN
This trend will persist even though emerging economies are hitting roadblocks to growth, such as pervasive corruption in India and demographic challenges and serious distortions in the banking system in China. For instance, according to the asset-management firm BlackRock and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), consumption in emerging markets has already eclipsed that in the United States, and spending by the middle classes in Asia-Pacific nations is on track to exceed middle-class spending in North America by a factor of nearly six by 2030.
U.S. wealth is not shrinking in absolute terms -- and it continues to benefit from economic globalization -- but the United States and its allies are losing might compared with potential rivals. Although Europe and Japan have been responsible for much of the developed world's lost relative economic power, the U.S. economy has also slowed from its traditional rates of expansion over the past several decades. Worsening productivity growth has played a particularly large role in the U.S. slowdown, dropping to around 0.5 percent annually, which the Financial Times has referred to as a "productivity crisis." A range of factors are responsible, including a decline in the skill level of the American workforce and a drop in resources allocated to research and development.
U.S. REVENUE VS. SPENDING By 2043, federal spending on entitlements and net interest payments will exceed federal revenues, meaning funds for any discretionary programs will be borrowed.SOURCE: CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE
Overall, the U.S. economy has become less competitive. The McKinsey Global Institute, for instance, has measured the relative attractiveness of the United States across a range of metrics, such as national spending on research and development and foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP. It found that U.S. business attractiveness relative to that of competitors fell across 14 of 20 key metrics from 2000 to 2010 -- and improved in none. And according to the Harvard Business Review, U.S. exports' global market share dropped across the board from 1999 to 2009 and suffered particularly sharp falls in cutting-edge fields such as aerospace.
This shift in economic growth toward the developing world is going to have strategic consequences. Military power ultimately derives from wealth. It is often noted that the United States spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined. But growth in military spending correlates with GDP growth, so as other economies grow, those countries will likely spend more on defense, reducing the relative military power of the United States. Already, trends in global defense spending show a rapid and marked shift from the United States and its allies toward emerging economies, especially China. In 2011, the United States and its partners accounted for approximately 80 percent of the military spending by the 15 countries with the largest defense budgets. But, according to a McKinsey study, that share could fall significantly over the next eight years -- perhaps to as low as 55 percent.
The resulting deterioration in American military superiority has already begun, as the countries benefiting most rapidly from globalization are using their newfound wealth to build military capacity, especially in high-tech weaponry. As Robert Work and Shawn Brimley of the Center for a New American Security wrote this year: "[T]he dominance enjoyed by the United States in the late 1990s/early 2000s in the areas of high-end sensors, guided weaponry, battle networking, space and cyberspace systems, and stealth technology has started to erode. Moreover, this erosion is now occurring at an accelerated rate." (Work has since been confirmed as deputy secretary of defense.)
China, in particular, is acquiring higher-end capabilities and working to establish "no-go zones" in its near abroad in the hopes of denying U.S. forces the ability to operate in the Western Pacific. China's declared defense budget grew 12 percent this year -- and has grown at least ninefold since 2000 -- and most experts think its real defense spending is considerably larger. The International Institute for Strategic Studies has judged that Beijing will spend as much on defense as Washington does by the late 2020s or early 2030s. Meanwhile, regional powers like Iran -- and even nonstate actors like Hezbollah -- are becoming more militarily formidable as it becomes easier to obtain precision-guided munitions and thus threaten U.S. power-projection capabilities.
Simultaneously, the United States is slashing its defense spending while allocating its remaining funds less strategically. Not only has the Defense Department estimated that it has already cut almost $600 billion from its budget plans for the next decade, but if current trends continue, by 2021 nearly half of the Pentagon's budget will go to personnel-related costs, rather than procurement, training, research and development, or operations.
The U.S. National Intelligence Council recently projected the future distribution of global power using two distinct methodologies that incorporated a range of "hard" and "soft" factors. By both estimates, the U.S. share of global power will fall dramatically, from around 25 percent in 2010 to around 15 percent in 2050. The National Intelligence Council predicted that over the same period, the relative power of the European Union and Japan will fall significantly as well.
The United States is worsening this problem by refusing to confront its federal debt and deficits. Unsustainable fiscal policy will limit U.S. competitiveness and freedom of action in the world with a severity and alacrity not remotely appreciated in today's U.S. foreign-policy debates. The total federal debt currently held by the public, which includes foreign creditors, is approximately $13 trillion. That is almost three-quarters of U.S. GDP, the highest it has ever been except for a brief period during and after World War II. Moreover, the drivers of the debt are entitlement programs that will impose enormous costs indefinitely.
GDPs OF G-7 AND E-7 COUNTRIES SOURCE: PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS
Today, well over 60 percent of federal revenue is consumed by spending on Social Security, the major health-care programs (including Medicare, Medicaid, and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act), and interest payments on the federal debt. By 2043, spending on entitlements and net interest payments will consume all federal revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Every dollar the U.S. government spends on anything else -- defense, intelligence, foreign affairs, the federal justice system, infrastructure, science and technology, education, the space program -- will be borrowed. And by that time, the total federal debt held by the public will far exceed U.S. GDP.
Recent attempts to address the problem have only resulted in fiasco. The "sequester" imposed automatic, arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending -- precisely the spending that is not causing the fiscal problem -- with the heaviest burden falling on defense. Most spending for entitlements was untouched. One could hardly imagine an outcome more likely to reduce American power, and quickly.
The unwillingness to choose a sustainable fiscal path is forcing the United States to forgo the investments necessary to sustain the domestic sources of its power, and it is already eroding its strength abroad. Among allies, adversaries, and swing states alike, U.S. fiscal policy is increasingly calling into question America's ability to lead globally.
For all these challenges to its influence, the United States retains enormous potential strength. Far more so than other great powers, it has the advantages and resources -- political, economic, geographical, geologic, and cultural -- to maintain the greatest freedom of action over the long haul. But it needs to focus on its competitiveness, beginning with a few key priorities.
Because America's fiscal policy affects everything else and because the current trajectory is unsustainable, entitlement reform is inevitable. The only question is when it will begin. A number of the fixes that could have the most significant impact are straightforward and could be phased in over time with minimal disruption. For example, increasing the retirement age -- which could be done over a decade or longer -- would substantially improve America's fiscal condition.
Investing effectively in infrastructure -- long a U.S. comparative advantage, now increasingly a relative weakness -- would boost productivity and growth over the long term. So would reforming corporate tax laws to encourage companies to bring profits home. (The current system creates perverse incentives for companies to maximize tax advantages by keeping profits out of the United States.)
The nation can also focus on enhancing productivity in parts of its economy that would benefit greatly from even modest improvements. As writer Reihan Salam and others have shown, sectors such as health care and education -- which together comprise a quarter of the country's economy -- are inefficient compared with other OECD nations. Government services are laggard. Introducing best business practices and up-to-date information technology to those areas would not only improve Americans' lives, but would also tap underexploited sources of national wealth.
With respect to defense policy, the United States must be ruthlessly strategic in its spending and preparations, prioritizing the principal source of its military advantage: technological superiority. This means focusing increasingly scarce defense dollars on next-generation weapons, such as stealthy bombers and quiet submarines, and on the assets that make them smarter than their enemy counterparts -- command, control, communication, and computer systems, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. And it means fielding these capabilities with a better-trained, leaner military that de-emphasizes less lucrative investments, such as personnel strength and systems that cannot survive or prosper in the tougher emerging military-technological environment.
The key to preventing relative decline -- and perhaps sparking a renaissance in American power -- lies not simply in remedying problems with fiscal responsibility, economic productivity, and military spending, but in leveraging the country's comparative advantages, which are significant. The United States has an open political system that, historically, has proved able to self-correct and adapt. It has a culture that favors economic growth, accepts and integrates people from all over the world, and enables mobility, creativity, and personal renewal and reinvention. As a result, the nation remains an abiding destination for foreign investment -- a reliable source of growth and safety in uncertain economic and geopolitical times.
In particular, America's energy boom and its ability to attract talent from around the world could yield an outsized return on investment.
2013 CHANGES IN ENERGY SUPPLY In 2013, while the United States enjoyed a surge of over a million barrels per day in its liquid-fuels supply -- including crude oil and biofuels -- supply from OPEC countries dropped sharply. The United States is on its way to being a net exporter of energy. SOURCE: U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION
Less than a decade ago, energy loomed as an enormous challenge for the United States. Not anymore. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," technologies has generated a surge in U.S. oil and natural gas production. Between 2007 and 2012, U.S. production of shale gas increased from roughly 3.5 billion cubic feet per day to over 28 billion, a jump of over 700 percent. In the same period, shale gas's share of U.S. gas production grew from 5 percent to 45 percent. With each year, the efficiency of fracking has improved, and estimates of recoverable reserves of shale gas have nearly doubled. Driven by the production of tight oil made possible by fracking, U.S. crude oil production has also soared in the last five years, following four decades of decline.
In 2013, the United States overtook Russia as the world's leading producer of oil and gas. Within two years it is likely to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer. U.S. imports of oil and gas have fallen steeply in the last five years, reducing the trade deficit. The United States will soon be a net exporter of energy.
The economic boost from the so-called "North American energy revolution" has already been profound. Natural gas prices in the United States have plummeted, both in absolute terms and relative to other markets around the world.
Consequently, the United States is now uniquely advantaged in industries, such as petrochemical production, that require massive amounts of energy. Billions of dollars of investment capital have flowed into the United States, thereby helping to revitalize the manufacturing sector. Energy analyst Daniel Yergin has linked the creation of 2 million jobs to the development of shale energy, and other reports suggest that the renewal of the energy industry (and associated manufacturing and support services) is pumping hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the U.S. economy every year.
The energy boom has also significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, even as the emissions from other, more traditionally "green" states, like Germany, have increased. A large part of this shift has been driven by the rapid transition from coal to less expensive and less emissions-intensive gas-powered electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012 alone, a year in which U.S. GDP grew nearly 3 percent, the country's energy-related carbon emissions fell almost 4 percent, to their lowest level since 1994 and 12 percent below their 2007 peak.
Admittedly, some enthusiasts have overhyped the strategic implications of this revolution. True energy "independence" -- defined as isolation from shocks to global energy markets -- is impossible. And the United States has not gained newfound leverage over energy producers such as Russia. Nonetheless, the energy revolution has given the United States an important strategic capability. In 2011, the growth in U.S. and Canadian production helped moderate global oil prices when supplies from Libya were interrupted during that country's revolution. Going forward, the United States will be better able to help allies by diversifying their energy options and, in some cases, offering them more secure supply lines. To Japan, for example, energy flowing from North America is vastly preferable to Middle Eastern supplies that must transit the South China Sea.
Preserving and furthering the energy revolution and its boost to U.S. competitiveness is crucial. But it first requires a Hippocratic oath mindset: Do no harm. The North American energy revolution has been made possible in part by supportive property rights and state laws and regulations. But fracking does have risks. A prudent, predictable regulatory regime, one that provides rigorous monitoring and reduces potential environmental risks, benefits both industry and the public. By contrast, efforts under way in some states to ban the transport of fracking wastewater on state roads -- or even ban fracking entirely -- could curtail one of the country's greatest comparative advantages.
Looking outward, Washington must change its mindset toward its place in the global energy market. The United States is the world's leading energy superpower. It is time to reverse prohibitions on the export of oil and other hydrocarbons, many of which date from the OPEC embargoes of the 1970s. The government should continue to grant licenses to export liquefied natural gas to countries with which it does not have free trade agreements, and reverse the ban on crude oil exports.
Another strength of the United States is its edge in human capital -- the productivity, innovation, and entrepreneurship of its workers. The United States remains an attractive destination for smart, skilled, and creative individuals, even as the global competition for such workers intensifies. In 2010, for instance, Gallup reported that over 165 million of the approximately 700 million adults worldwide looking to emigrate would like to move to the United States, well ahead of second-place Canada. The United States did particularly well among younger respondents.
According to a 2010 study, about 24 percent of the world's adults hoping to emigrate listed the United States as their ideal destination -- more than three times the number wanting to head to second-place Canada. SOURCE: GALLUP
U.S. advantages in the global "war for talent" include the perception of meritocracy and mobility in the American system, exceptional centers of economic activity in places like New York and Silicon Valley, and the allure of American higher education. Shanghai Jiao Tong University's influential annual review of the world's top universities, for instance, lists 17 American universities among its top 20. Major U.S. universities also have much larger endowments than potential rivals abroad, helping them lure the best and the brightest, which in turn enables them to serve as incubators for innovation.
These assets have made the United States the leading destination for high-skilled immigrants, who provide an essential engine for economic growth. William Kerr of Harvard Business School, for instance, found that American immigrants of Chinese and Indian extraction accounted for 15 percent of U.S. domestic patents in 2004, up from just 2 percent in 1975. And the Brookings Institution has estimated that a quarter of technology and engineering businesses started in the United States between 1995 and 2005 had a foreign-born founder.
17 OF THE TOP 20 UNIVERSITIES ARE IN THE UNITED STATES. SOURCE: ACADEMIC RANKING OF WORLD UNIVERSITIES, SHANGHAI JIAO TONG UNIVERSITY, 2013
Preserving the U.S. edge in human capital is essential. But the United States is not exploiting this advantage as much as it should. Its current approach to H-1B visas, for instance, is overly restrictive and ultimately harmful. The United States regularly educates and trains hyperskilled Ph.D. students in the sciences, for example, and then makes it difficult for them to stay in the country. America should welcome and try to keep skilled and talented workers and entrepreneurs. The payoffs are clear: Every H-1B visa granted for an employee to join a high-tech company adds another five jobs to the economy. Other countries, such as Canada and Australia, already understand this dynamic. They are attracting talent through incentives and criteria, such as educational attainment and work history, that suggest great economic potential. The United States ought to learn from their example.
More broadly, improving America's world-class universities and research centers is essential to building and attracting the world's best talent and to fostering the innovation that will fuel economic growth in the 21st century. The U.S. experience in the last century demonstrated the multiplier effect of public investments in basic research. Failure to prioritize funding for such bodies as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is penny-wise and pound-foolish. It was technological innovation that produced the startling boom in oil and gas production, and the country's ability to generate and exploit alternative energy sources will be driven by scientific breakthroughs -- as with graphene, a nanomaterial that has the potential to revolutionize batteries.
The United States also needs to tap fully its existing reservoirs of domestic talent. Extending the careers of the country's 76 million baby boomers -- perhaps through encouraging flexible working hours and changing how Social Security retirement benefits are calculated -- would not only help alleviate the strains on entitlement spending and increase retirement savings, but it would also help the economy grow as more mature workers continue to contribute the lifetime of expertise they have developed.
Building such skills among the coming generation of workers is critical as well. Even during the recent recession, employers could not fill certain high-skilled positions -- a supply-demand imbalance projected to continue through the decade. One way to address this gap may be through education tailored to specific careers. The Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, for example, partners auto companies and community colleges in 12 states to train students for high-skilled careers in the auto industry.
Perhaps the single most important thing Americans can do, however, is to be honest with themselves about the challenges the country faces and the seriousness with which it needs to treat them. America needs to talk less about its exceptionalism and focus more on demonstrating it.
If America chooses the path of economic adaptation, reform, and restored productivity -- that is, if it resolves to make tough choices -- it will be able to remain prosperous and strong and therefore retain extraordinary influence over its future and in the world. If it does not, it will see the domestic sources of its power erode far more quickly and with far more damaging consequences than is currently appreciated.
Within the United States, there is an ongoing debate about the appropriate uses of American power abroad. But whatever one's views on how U.S. power should be used, there is little reason to support its erosion. If one favors extensive American engagement, a resilient America will be better able to lead and intervene effectively. If one favors retrenchment and restraint, a more powerful America will be better insulated from outside threats. If one favors measured engagement, strength provides options and the firmest basis for sustained success. And, irrespective of foreign policy, an economically dynamic, growing America will benefit all its citizens, particularly the generations to come.
Otto von Bismarck is often quoted as having said that God takes special care of drunks, children, and the United States of America. But as another saying goes, God takes care of those who take care of themselves. Although the former may still be true, the latter certainly is.
While believing that America is doomed to decline is a fallacy, refusing to confront the problems that imperil its economic vitality would be no less a failing. American strength and freedom of action are not rights to be inherited but outcomes to be earned. Preserving U.S. influence abroad requires that Americans focus on renewing the sources of their nation's power and mitigating its weaknesses. It is time to play the long game.
Elbridge Colby is the Robert M. Gates fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Paul Lettow was senior director for strategic planning on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2007 to 2009. The views expressed here are theirs alone.
Infographics by MGMT. design.
June 29, 2014 | ronpaulinstitute.org
The Cold War made a lot of money for the military/security complex for four decades dating from Churchill's March 5, 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri declaring a Soviet "Iron Curtain" until Reagan and Gorbachev ended the Cold War in the late 1980s. During the Cold War Americans heard endlessly about "the Captive Nations." The Captive Nations were the Baltics and the Soviet bloc, usually summarized as "Eastern Europe."
These nations were captive because their foreign policies were dictated by Moscow, just as these same Captive Nations, plus the UK, Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Georgia, and Ukraine, have their foreign policies dictated today by Washington. Washington intends to expand the Captive Nations to include Azerbaijan, former constituent parts of Soviet Central Asia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
During the Cold War Americans thought of Western Europe and Great Britain as independent sovereign countries. Whether they were or not, they most certainly are not today. We are now almost seven decades after WWII, and US troops still occupy Germany. No European government dares to take a stance different from that of the US Department of State.
...Great Britain and Germany are such complete vassals of Washington that neither country can publicly discuss its own future.
When Baltasar Garzon, a Spanish judge with prosecuting authority, attempted to indict members of the George W. Bush regime for violating international law by torturing detainees, he was slapped down.
In Modern Britain, Stephane Aderca writes that the UK is so proud of being Washington's "junior partner" that the British government agreed to a one-sided extradition treaty under which Washington merely has to declare "reasonable suspicion" in order to obtain extradition from the UK, but the UK must prove "probable cause." Being Washington's "junior partner," Aderca reports, is an ego-boost for British elites, giving them a feeling of self-importance.
Under the rule of the Soviet Union, a larger entity than present day Russia, the captive nations had poor economic performance. Under Washington's rule, these same captives have poor economic performance due to their looting by Wall Street and the IMF.
As Giuseppe di Lampedusa said, "Things have to change in order to remain the same."
The looting of Europe by Wall Street has gone beyond Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Ukraine, and is now focused on France and Great Britain. The American authorities are demanding $10 billion from France's largest bank on a trumped-up charge of financing trade with Iran, as if it is any business whatsoever of Washington's who French banks choose to finance. And despite Great Britain's total subservience to Washington, Barclays bank has a civil fraud suit filed against it by the NY State Attorney General.
The charges against Barclays PLC are likely correct. But as no US banks were charged, most of which are similarly guilty, the US charge against Barclays means that big pension funds and mutual funds must flee Barclays as customers, because the pension funds and mutual funds would be subject to lawsuits for negligence if they stayed with a bank under charges.
The result, of course, of the US charges against foreign banks is that US banks like Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are given a competitive advantage and gain market share in their own dark pools.
So, what are we witnessing? Clearly and unequivocally, we are witnessing the use of US law to create financial hegemony for US financial institutions. The US Department of Justice (sic) has had evidence for five years of Citigroup's participation in the fixing of the LIBOR interest rate, but no indictment has been forthcoming.
The bought and paid for governments of Washington's European puppet states are so corrupt that the leaders permit Washington control over their countries in order to advance American financial, political, and economic hegemony.
Washington is organizing the world against Russia and China for Washington's benefit. On June 27 Washington's puppet states that comprise the EU issued an ultimatum to Russia.The absurdity of this ultimatum is obvious. Militarily, Washington's EU puppets are harmless. Russia could wipe out Europe in a few minutes. Here we have the weak issuing an ultimatum to the strong.
The EU, ordered by Washington, told Russia to suppress the opposition in southern and eastern Ukraine to Washington's stooge government in Kiev. But, as every educated person knows, including the White House, 10 Downing Street, Merkel, and Holland, Russia is not responsible for the separatist unrest in eastern and southern Ukraine. These territories are former constituent parts of Russia that were added to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Soviet Communist Party leaders when Ukraine and Russia were two parts of the same country.
These Russians want to return to Russia because they are threatened by the stooge government in Kiev that Washington has installed. Washington, determined to force Putin into military action that can be used to justify more sanctions, is intent on forcing the issue, not on resolving the issue.
What is Putin to do? He has been given 72 hours to submit to an ultimatum from a collection of puppet states that he can wipe out at a moment's notice or seriously inconvenience by turning off the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe.
Historically, such a stupid challenge to power would result in consequences. But Putin is a humanist who favors peace. He will not willingly give up his strategy of demonstrating to Europe that the provocations are coming from Washington, not from Russia. Putin's hope, and Russia's, is that Europe will eventually realize that Europe is being badly used by Washington.
Washington has hundreds of Washington-financed NGOs in Russia hiding behind various guises such as "human rights," and Washington can unleash these NGOs on Putin at will, as Washington did with the protests against Putin's election. Washington's fifth columns claimed that Putin stole the election even though polls showed that Putin was the clear and undisputed winner.
In 1991 Russians were, for the most part, delighted to be released from communism and looked to the West as an ally in the construction of a civil society based on good will. This was Russia's mistake. As the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines make clear, Russia is the enemy whose rise to influence must be prevented at all cost.
Putin's dilemma is that he is caught between his heart-felt desire to reach an accommodation with Europe and Washington's desire to demonize and isolate Russia.
The risk for Putin is that his desire for accommodation is being exploited by Washington and explained to the EU as Putin's weakness and lack of courage. Washington is telling its European vassals that Putin's retreat under Europe's pressure will undermine his status in Russia, and at the right time Washington will unleash its many hundreds of NGOs to bring Putin to ruin.
This was the Ukraine scenario. With Putin replaced with a compliant Russian, richly rewarded by Washington, only China would remain as an obstacle to American world hegemony.
Reprinted with author's permission.
July 1, 2014 | foreignpolicy.com
What has gone wrong? Iraq has come unglued. ISIS just announced the founding of a new caliphate. The Afghan presidential election is contested and getting ugly. The nuclear talks with Iran are going slowly, even as opponents devise new ploys to derail them completely. Ukraine is a mess with a tentative cease-fire being blown apart. China continues to throw sharp elbows. Japan is getting martial again. And Britain is getting closer to leaving the European Union. I could go on, but you may not have enough antidepressants handy.
So much for the "new world order" that President George H.W. Bush proclaimed in the heady days following the fall of the Berlin Wall. So much for the alleged demise of "power politics" once hailed by the likes of Bill Clinton and Thomas Friedman. The end of history? Not even Francis Fukuyama believes in that one anymore. The overall level of human violence may be in decline (though a single great-power war could derail that finding), but world politics seems to be spinning more out of control with each passing week.
In the hyperpartisan world of contemporary U.S. politics, Democrats blame these present woes on George W. Bush, while Republicans trace them all to Barack Obama or (looking ahead) to Hillary Clinton. And both sides can find ample evidence for these politically motivated indictments.
... ... ...
In recent months, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry responded to Russia's seizure of Crimea by denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin as trapped in "19th-century" rules. Similarly, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush denounced their various authoritarian adversaries (Slobodan Milosevic, Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong Il, Muammar al-Qaddafi, etc.) in the harshest terms. Unfortunately, calling someone a part of the "axis of evil" is not a policy, and pointing out that a foreign leader is a despicable tyrant doesn't change anything, especially when the accusation is accurate. Needless to say, real tyrants are not sensitive to this sort of criticism.
...As we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and many other places, violent "regime change" by definition means destroying existing political and social institutions. Unfortunately, the collapse of the old order and the subsequent foreign occupation make it even less likely that an effective democracy will emerge. The resulting anarchy empowers those with a taste and a talent for violence, and it forces local populations to turn to ancient sources of local identity (such as tribes, clans, or religious sects) for protection. It is hard to think of a better way to destroy the tolerance and individualism that is central to [neo]liberal philosophy.
Moreover, [neo]liberal governments seeking to wage idealistic crusades often end up lying to their own people in order to sustain popular support, and they have to maintain large and secretive national security apparatuses as well. Paradoxically, the more a [neo]liberal society tries to spread its creed to others, the more likely it is to compromise those values back home. One need only look at the evolution of U.S. politics over the past 20 years to see that tendency in spades.
Finally, because most [neo]liberals are convinced that their cherished beliefs are beyond debate, they fail to recognize that non-[neo]liberal societies may not welcome these wonderful gifts from abroad. On the contrary, the more the well-meaning foreign interference overseas -- whether through military occupation, sanctions, or even NGOs like the National Endowment for Democracy -- the greater the allergic reaction the interference is likely to generate. Foreign dictators will heighten repression, and populations that are supposed to greet their liberators with flowers will offer up IEDs instead. Massive state-building projects end up distorting local economies and fueling corruption, especially when the idealistic [neo]liberal occupiers have no idea how the local society works.
The conclusion is obvious. The United States and other [neo]liberal states would do a much better job of promoting their most cherished political values if they concentrated on perfecting these practices at home instead of trying to export them abroad. If Western societies are prosperous, just, and competent, and live up to their professed ideals, people in other societies will want to emulate some or all of these practices, suitably adapted to local conditions.
In some countries, this process may occur rapidly, in others only after difficult struggles, and in a few places not for many decades. This fact may be regrettable, but is also realistic. Trying to speed up a process that took centuries in the West, as the United States has been trying to do since 1992, is more likely to retard the advance of [neo]liberal values than it is to advance them.
Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
I disagree. The wars of aggression foisted on the American people were the oligarchs wanting a greater piece of the wealth of the aggrieved countries. And then the gullible public are told it is to establish Democracy, Freedom and Apple Pie.
The problem in US foreign policy is very effectively shown in the comments below. The US policy cannot be different than the ignorance of its populace. How about leaving other societies figure out their own problems. How can a society developed without making its own decisions be them mistakes or not. The trend or the wave of history in the middle east or Muslim world is not going to change no matter what the US does, these interventions are only a temporary artificial hindrance jest like colonialism was. Once its over the Trend is going to continue to were it was before. This is because certain issue in those societies as in all societies have to be worked out between them and no one else. Americans have this unattractive narcissism to them, they believe that they know better than everyone els. How that narcissism has formed should be studdit very closely because that is where most of the current problems in the world and its long term development rest. You should trust human nature, all societies wont freedom and all that comes with democracy but it can not be artificially implentet in them as if it was a capetlistic brand. Societies are not like consumerism they are much more complicated than that.
I just noticed the change in headline from "American Values Are to Blame for the World's Chaos" to "Democracy, Freedom, and Apple Pie Aren't a Foreign Policy." What to make of that? I can't help relating this to another FP article on Blackwater's namechanging game. Which makes me think, are the U.S. failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. a failure of ideology or a systems failure - big government unable to take on the complex political risks of liberal values, a government only too willing to pass on the buck (yes, both the $$$ and the blame) to cowboy-swaggering contractors like Blackwater.
In my view, the onset of neoliberalism and elitest globalization resulted in traditional liberalism morphing into a liberal collectivism (involving a left-class which uses human rights in its own interests). This liberal collectiviism also took over the UN and on 10 December 2008 the two sets of rights which were at the centre of a major ideological battle between east - the communists promoting economic, social and cultural rights i.e. social justice and the west which championed civil and political rights e.g. freedom and democracy - were given equal status. This rebalanced global power away from the West to other regions - all this was hidden from the global public who only saw the consequences - the Global Financial Crash 2008/9, the increasing involvement of the UN i.e. UNDP, in increasing police, security rule of law so far reaching about half the world's countries and more recently the rebalance of global power saw the rise of repressive regimes to higher positions at the UN. With the equal status given both sets of the rights it meant that now not just civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights have to be compatible to IMF elitist policies and the IMF has 188 member States. This meant the UDHR in its implementation is elitist.
So, in my view, neoliberalism morphed into a neoliberal absolutism - a near absolute control of all human behavior covered under the declaration - the actions of the UNDP is to ensure compliance with neoliberal absolutism which means the elimination of independent thought which will seriously limit the growth of human knowledge and consequently the survival of the human race which may need to live on other planets one day. In short, while much has been done to eliminate extreme poverty - the West's traditional liberties are targeted for elimination the reason being that the liberal collectivists, who are largely descent based by birth or social class and with virtually all academics now captured- are very concerned to hide their hegemony and their pursuit of global dominance e.g. one world government - consequently unsafe truth and ideas must be eliminated. If all this sounds very negative check out my new plan for the world an ethical approach to human rights, development and globalization - first outlined in my book, many articles on the internet (see San Francisco Bay Indymedia) - its virtually banned from the mainstream but amazingly received support from the UN, US States Dept, Open democracy initiative of the White House (and many others) on the internet but not in the mainstream media which might reach the democratic majority. I regard it as a crime against humanity that the UN has failed to inform the global public of this ethical plan in the mainstream media.
Silly article with an appalling headline. Huge generalizations not backed up by facts. Lots of skewed thinking. For example, "The desire to extend liberalism into Eastern Europe lay behind NATO expansion.." Here's the way that sentence should be written: The desire of the people of Eastern Europe to have a democratic political system and their request to join NATO out of fear of Russia...
And then this bit: John Kerry responded to Russia's seizure of Crimea by denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin as trapped in "19th-century" rules." That's wrong because...? You're criticizing "sputtering"? Do you want an attack instead?
Can't you see that "it's all our fault" is really part of "we're the most important people on earth"? Drop the Americocentric position. Maybe this headlines and articles get clicked on -- sensationalism always draws a crowd -- but they do nothing to advance understanding of what is happening in the world.
When did the U.S. ever try to promote democracy? Only when corporations stood to benefit. Salvador Allende was the first president of a Latin American country elected democratically, but because he was a Marxist we supported the military coup and junta that was in power for 17 years and which ruthlessly crushed and murdered any perceived opposition. There are many, many other examples like the installation of the Shah in Iran, replacing the democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh.
It is a bad joke to say that the U.S promotes democracy and deceitful to criticize it for doing something (promoting democracy) when in fact the U.S. promotes dictatorships far more often.
This is a typical article that describes US foreign policy full with "good intentions" but resulting in catastrophic results.
While I agree with the last point I do not agree on the premise. If you look on the history, US has continuously backed up
foreign nation leaders that are anti-liberal, anti-human rights but who have pursued regional interests of US.
I urge readers to examine more carefully this point of view. Good starting point are writings of Prof. Noam Chomsky.
" We try to help a country, it goes south and it is 100% our fault. "
Yes. If you chase a horde of mustangs through a china store, it IS 100% your fault if the whole place goes south. If you make no effort whatsoever to understand the place and the balance of power and the relationships between different people, it is certainly NOT the fault of these people that you spit into their faces.
Plenty of people predicted the outcome in Iraq - and in other countries. The US has left a string of failed states in its wake. From its desire to control the operation in Somalia all the way to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
The garbage is on your side, because you try to defend committing the same idiocy all over again time after time after time. You are willing to butcher people to cater to your ignorance - please explain how that makes you any different from the likes of Osama bin Laden?
Jun 17 2014 | theatlantic.com
Whenever there's a conflict anywhere in the world, a gaggle of American pundits and politicians insists that the United States fix it. Whether it's Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham pushing weapons shipments to Ukraine, former ambassador Robert Ford urging Washington to arm Syrian rebels, or The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol calling for troops to be sent to Iraq, the assumption is always that every problem is America's problem, and that the best way to solve America's problems is with force.
Barry Posen, a professor of political science at MIT and a foreign-policy realist, advocates a different approach. The title of his new book, Restraint, succinctly expresses his policy recommendation. The U.S., he argues, needs to stop trying to do more and more. Instead, it needs to do less. Or, as he puts it, "Efforts to defend everything leave one defending not much of anything."
Posen rests his discussion on two basic arguments. The first is that the United States is, by any reasonable metric, an incredibly secure nation. It is geographically isolated from other great powers-a position that makes invading or even attacking the U.S. mainland prohibitively difficult. U.S. conventional forces are by far the most powerful in the world. Posen notes that the U.S. "accounted for a little more than a third of all the military spending in the world during the 1990s," and has increased the percentage to about 41 percent of all military spending in the world today. On top of that, the U.S. has a massive nuclear deterrent. It is simply not credible to argue that Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Pakistan, or even Russia or China have the combination of dangerous capabilities and malign intentions to pose a serious existential threat to the United States in anything but the most paranoid neocon fantasies.
Second, enforcing "liberal hegemony"-a grand strategy of promoting global democracy and peace underwritten by U.S. military power-is simply beyond America's capabilities. As the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, earlier, Vietnam showed, the United States does not have the military resources and political will necessary to impose friendly democratic regimes upon distant peoples. Nor, as all three of those wars also demonstrate, does it have the ability to utterly destroy its enemies forever. Nor, finally, can the U.S. ensure, militarily or otherwise, that no one anywhere gets nuclear weapons-after all, if it could, presumably Pakistan and North Korea wouldn't have them.
The effort to control and police the world through force of arms makes the United States less secure in numerous ways, Posen argues. It bleeds U.S. resources, both military and economic, while leaving the country less prepared to face immediate threats. The belief that America will act as the world's policeman encourages some of its allies to skimp on their own defense spending, forcing the U.S. to undertake further costly investments it cannot afford in the long term. In its role as Liberal Hegemon, it also encourages aggression and risky behavior in states like Israel, which can put off peace deals and engage in provocative actions like settlement construction because of the elaborate pledges of support it has received from America.
Rather than imposing American will by force, Posen suggests that we could more fruitfully and practically engage the world in other ways. For instance, if the U.S. is concerned about genocide, we could join the International Criminal Court and support the prosecution of those who commit war crimes (including, though Posen does not say this, American officials, at whatever level, who condoned, or condone, torture.) If we want to save people, we could honor our commitments under international treaties and open our borders to refugees; as Posen says, we are "rich enough to receive many individuals in such dire straits." We could also send aid to poorer countries to encourage them to receive refugees.
Posen makes a compelling argument. But he makes it almost entirely on realist grounds. He advocates a policy of restraint because it will make the U.S. stronger and more secure, not-or at least not primarily-because a policy of restraint is more ethical than the alternative. His humanitarian suggestions-joining the ICC, opening borders-are addendums to, rather than the essence of, his reasoning.
But liberal hegemony, the argument Posen is rebutting, isn't just based on security interests. It's also predicated on morality. For instance, the rationale for invading Iraq was not only that the United States needed to crush Saddam Hussein for its own safety. It was also that Saddam was uniquely evil and that it would be good for the people of Iraq, and for people around the world, if he were destroyed. Similarly, the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is justified not only on the basis of protecting America from al-Qaeda, but also on the grounds that the Taliban are hideously oppressive, especially to women, and that it is America's responsibility to stop them from returning to power.
Responding to the argument for liberal hegemony, then, requires consideration of the moral as well as the practical arguments for restraint. Fortunately for Posen, the "just war" tradition of ethics yields a very strong argument for the morality of restraint-indeed, in many ways just-war doctrine is based on the restraint principle. As summarized by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
The principles of the justice of war are commonly held to be: having just cause, being a last resort, being declared by a proper authority, possessing right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end being proportional to the means used.
The just-war doctrine is not equivalent to pacifism, which holds that there is no justification for war at all. But it shares with pacifism, as political ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain has written, the belief that "violence must never be celebrated, and that violence must always be put on trial." Though Elshtain herself supported the Iraq war, the reasoning here suggests, on the contrary, that preventive wars aimed at warding off the eventual emergence of a threat should be anathema. Wars are by their nature bloody, destructive, and impossible to control (as the spiraling and ongoing violence in Iraq demonstrates all too clearly.) It is simply not tenable to argue that starting a war will preserve peace, because war by its nature breeds chaos and more war. That's why war must be a last resort, and why it should solely be used in self-defense; the only time it's reasonable to think that war might reduce war is when you're already at war.
The essence of just war can be summarized generally as follows: first, try to limit harm, and second, treat war with respect and fear. Dropping bombs on Libya or Iran to prevent evil is illegitimate because war itself is evil-and it is an evil not easily contained. Treating war as a convenient tool of policy, rather than as a last resort, sows more death and hardship, not less. Similarly, building up massive stockpiles of weapons that are not immediately necessary creates a temptation to use those weapons-the succinct moral of Johnny Cash's "Don't Take Your Guns to Town." Outsized military expenditures can themselves be seen as a violation of the principles that inform the just-war doctrine.
From the just-war perspective, Posen's realist arguments have an ethical force. Even from the perspective of the World War II-era realist theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who rejected pacifism and just war alike as overly idealistic, Posen's position has moral consequences. Niebuhr saw war as moral when it advanced best outcomes. The case Posen outlines suggests what those best outcomes are.
When Posen says, for example, that the U.S. cannot, in the long run, defend Taiwan, that's not just a practical statement, but an ethical one. That's because engaging in an unwinnable conflict over Taiwan-possibly unleashing nuclear war in a lost cause without a self-defense rationale-is, on just-war grounds, or even on Neibuhrian grounds, morally wrong. Similarly, there is plentiful evidence that the U.S. cannot impose its preferred form of government on the peoples of the Middle East. Intervening in Middle Eastern civil wars when there is no realistic chance of success is an ethical failure as well as a tactical one. It is evil to bomb people purely in the hope, against all the evidence, that bombing will make things better.
Restraint is also preferable to liberal hegemony from the standpoint of American ideals. Proponents of liberal hegemony often argue that the United States has an ethical duty to spread its values across the globe. But this argument overlooks the fact that one of the most basic foundational values of America is self-determination. The American Revolution was fought for the principle that people have a right to make decisions about their own fate through their own institutions. When the U.S. sets itself up as a global policeman, it is saying, on the contrary, that U.S. policymakers have the right to decide who should rule in Iraq, or how Iran should conduct its nuclear program. Perhaps, in certain cases, for the security of its own citizens, the U.S. may need to take steps to curtail the actions of other states and other people. But as a wholesale philosophy, "the United States should run the world" contradicts America's most basic value: that people have the right to rule themselves.
Restraint, then, is not merely a practical necessity for the United States to improve its security. It's also an ethical duty, and a specifically American ideal. Rather than fearing America's "decline" because we're not able to undertake a land war in Ukraine or a third invasion of Iraq, we should welcome a world in which the U.S. does not try to solve other people's problems by force. Liberal hegemony hasn't worked, and won't work. The United States will be more secure-and more moral-if it can give up its dreams of empire, and restrain its impulse to war.
Terri_in_LA • a day ago
"For instance, if the U.S. is concerned about genocide, we could join the International Criminal Court and support the prosecution of those who commit war crimes (including, though Posen does not say this, American officials, at whatever level, who condoned, or condone, torture.)"
US Foreign Policy = Follow the Money.
The US Federal Gov't is not primarily concerned about things like genocide when developing its foreign policy. It is concerned about chaotic situations that can disrupt our economy. Concerns for security almost always come back to economic security not physical security. That's why we make the same mistakes over and over. We want to control things that we just don't have much ability to control in attempts to eliminate economic risk. We live in fear that we'll lose access to raw materials, markets, etc. It is why we go head long into the Middle East while we allow wars to rage without intervention in parts of Africa. It's why we are freaked about the Ukraine. We're not worried that Russia is going to wage an actual war, but that it might be in a position to impact our economy or that of our allies. It's why we fear China, when they've shown no interest in meddling in the affairs of countries outside its own region. China has growing economic clout around the world
Until we start to discuss foreign policy in more concrete terms (What are our interests exactly? What are we willing or unwilling to sacrifice to protect them?) rather than as if its all high minded ideology or how these are bad guys that need to be taken out for humanitarian reasons, we'll never stop doing things that damage our interests and are damaging to the rest of the world.
Jun 14, 2014 | OpEdNews
I have previously reported about "How and Why the U.S. Has Re-Started the Cold War (The Backstory that Precipitated Ukraine's Civil War)," and, "Do We Really Need to Re-Start the Cold War?" I pointed out there that we don't really need to re-start the Cold War, at all, since communism (against which the Cold War was, at least allegedly, fought) clearly lost to capitalism (we actually won the Cold War, and peacefully) but that America's aristocracy very much does need to re-start a war with Russia -- and why it does. (It has to do with maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency, something that benefits America's aristocrats enormously.)
Consequently, for example, a recent CNN Poll has found that Americans' fear of Russia has soared within just the past two years. Our news media present a type of news "reporting" that places Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin, into a very bad light, even when it's unjustified by the facts.
The situation now is thus rather similar to that right before World War I, when the aristocracy in America decided that a pretext had to be created for our going to war against Germany. That War had already started in Europe on 28 July 1914, and President Wilson wanted to keep the U.S. out of it, but we ultimately joined it on the side of J.P. Morgan and Company. This was documented in detail in an important 1985 book, Britain, America and the Sinews of War, 1914-1918, which was well summarized in Business History Review, by noting that: "J.P. Morgan & Co. served as Britain's financial and purchasing agent, and the author makes especially good use of the Morgan Grenfell & Co. papers in London to probe that relationship. Expanding British demand for U.S. dollars to pay for North American imports made the politics of foreign exchange absolutely central to Anglo-American relations. How to manage those politics became the chief preoccupation of Her Majesty's representatives in the United States," and most especially of Britain's financial and purchasing agent in the U.S.
In 1917, after almost two years of heavy anti-German propaganda in the U.S. press that built an overwhelming public support for our joining that war against Germany, Congress found that, in March 1915, "J.P. Morgan interests had bought 25 of America's leading newspapers, and inserted their own editors, in order to control the media" so that we'd join the war on England's side. Whereas back then, it was Germany's leader who was being goaded into providing a pretext for us to declare war against his country, this time it's Russia's leader (Putin) who is being demonized and goaded into providing such a pretext, though Putin (unlike Germany's Kaiser) has thus far refrained from providing the pretext that Obama constantly warns us that he will (a Russian invasion of Ukraine). Consequently, Obama's people are stepping up the pressure upon Putin by bombing the areas of neighboring Ukraine where Russian speakers live, who have family across the border inside Russia itself. Just a few more weeks of this, and Putin's public support inside Russia could palpably erode if Putin simply lets the slaughter proceed without his sending troops in to defend them and to fight back against Kiev's (Washington's surrogate's) bombing-campaign. This would provide the pretext that Obama has been warning about.
I also have reported on "Why Ukraine's Civil War Is of Global Historical Importance." The article argued that "This civil war is of massive historical importance, because it re-starts the global Cold War, this time no longer under the fig-leaf rationalization of an ideological battle between 'capitalism' versus 'communism,' but instead more raw, as a struggle between, on the one hand, the U.S. and West European aristocracies; and, on the other hand, the newly emerging aristocracies of Russia and of China." The conflict's origin, as recounted there, was told in its highest detail in an article in the scholarly journal Diplomatic History, about how U.S. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 fooled the Soviet Union's leader Mikhail Gorbachev into Gorbachev's allowing the Cold War to be ended without any assurance being given to the remaining rump country, his own Russia, that NATO and its missiles and bombers won't expand right up to Russia's doorstep and surround Russia with a first-strike ability to destroy Russia before Russia will even have a chance to get its own nuclear weapons into the air in order to destroy the U.S. right back in retaliation.
... ... ...
they pay on time.So even same price is great deal for Ukraine, maybe too good.
Manolo Torres -> Beckow, 14 June 2014 11:23pm
Americans invading a number of countries in Latin America to protect any Americans there.
i wonder where did you get that from?!?! Nowadays you can even watch interviews from former Ex-CIA officers saying that they did went there to kill the opposition and that they did it because they wanted to and they don´t regret it.
There is no way to compare it with Russians supporting thir family across the border. Do yourself (and the millions of latin american deaths) and take a look at history.
Beckow -> Beckow, 15 June 2014 12:04am
I am reposting what was removed without mentioning media, I guess that's why it was removed:
When Ukraine government bombs its own citizens in eastern Ukraine, US is silent. When Ukrainian nationalists burned to death Russian demonstrators in Odessa, US was silent. When Ukrainian "revolutionary" post-coup Parliament outlawed Russian language as an official language, US was silent. The list goes on and on. So when today John Kerry protests (again) and threatens (again), one has to take it as what it is: hypocrisy and weakness.
Ukraine is divided, and probably always will be. There are many countries like that, from Iraq to Syria, from Canada to Belgium, from Spain to Ireland, there are states that have multiple languages, religions, cultures, and sympathies. When US comes in and aggressively supports one side and aggressively lies....it not only doesn't work, it backfires.
It leads to broken societies, bloodshed and tragedy. So why is US doing this? What is the gain? Or is it just a game with other people's lives at this point? Because they can?
One has to assume that chaos is what US seeks. That they see chaos and broken countries as an opportunity, as a place to get something economically, geo-politically, or just as a playground for their under-employed security people. That is not just stupidity, it is really a definition of modern evil. To stir up chaos among others, to meddle and then lie about it, to play with others' lives, that is what evil people have always done.
Beckow -> Manolo Torres, 15 June 2014 12:11am
I was being generous. I should have said "claiming that they were invading to protect Americans". I agree with you that it was a self-serving lie.
We can see how deep we have fallen since the dominant narrative that is allowed is so skewed that even criticism has to play by those rules.
Nikolla, 14 June 2014 8:46pm
What is so wrong with the US? Will they ever become a normal country and stop terrorizing the world?
TatiAm -> Nikolla, 14 June 2014 8:49pm
I hope this time will come soon.
vivaItaly -> Nikolla, 14 June 2014 9:03pm
Beckow -> Nikolla, 14 June 2014 10:32pm
US is an "indispensable" nation according to US government. They are special. But what does that by definition make everybody less? Dispensable?
There have been a number of self-appointed "special" countries in human history. All of them stopped being special eventually, but it wasn't voluntary, it was because they were defeated or collapsed. Nothing teaches manners like experience....
Mk8adelic -> Nikolla, 15 June 2014 1:35am
with their obsession with arms at home and unwillingness to address the issue no matter how many innocent school children are slaughtered, drones etc etc I really doubt it
AnonForNowThanks -> Nikolla, 15 June 2014 4:51am
The typical style of life in the US among the top two quintiles cannot be sustained without military threats, and the rest of the US population no longer matters.
Crewsayders, 14 June 2014 9:02pm
I am sure the Russians are scared.....hell, they are so worried that the US may end up training the Ukrainian troops to fight....given the great success we have had training the South Vietnamese and Iraqis.....
Tell Kerry to go back to being Israel's lap dog!
Skywithclouds -> Crewsayders, 14 June 2014 9:47pm
And supply them with weapons... just take note the brave Ukrs have ability to sell these weapons faster then you can say "duh!"
Stewby -> Skywithclouds, 15 June 2014 3:07pm
Most of the US leadership is still under the misconception that the US has a qualitative edge in weapons, but really anything we can produce the Russians and Chinese can as well. The US lost it's technological lead when our computer companies started selling out the American worker by exploiting Chinese labor. Now we're in a situation where our only military advantage is the quantity of weapons we have, but when our current stockpile becomes obsolete national power will be nearly proportional to a nation's population and it's acceptance of casualties.
Robert Sandlin, 14 June 2014 9:39pm
Not all Americans are fooled.Just the ones in power:
Cohen on Ukraine civil war: 'Lincoln didn't call Confederates terrorists'
Historical analogies may be inaccurate, but Americans may need to look at their own civil war and compare it to what is happening in Ukraine now. Today the US supports a murderous criminal adventure that has little to do with unifying the country.
This assessment came from Professor Stephen Cohen, prominent US scholar of Russian studies and author, who advised George H.W. Bush in the late 1980s. He spoke to RT about the mistakes of the consecutive American administrations in their Russia policies, the worst crisis in decades that they led to and the deterioration of political discourse in America that prevents things from changing in Washington.
Cohen challenged the narrative of the Ukrainian events dominating in the US, calling the military crackdown by the government an "unwise, reckless, murderous, inhuman campaign that Kiev is conduction against what are admittedly rebel provinces."
"Lincoln never called the Confederacy terrorists," the scholar pointed out. "He always said, no matter how bad the civil war was, fellow citizens he wanted to come back to the union. Why is Kiev calling its own citizens terrorists? They are rebels. They are protesters. They have a political agenda. Why isn't Kiev sending a delegation there to negotiate with them?
"Their demands are not unreasonable. They want to elect their own governors – we elect our own governors. They want a say on where their taxes go – 'no taxation without representation.' We know what that is," Cohen said. "There are extremists among them, but there are also people who simply want to live in a Ukraine that is for everybody. And instead the Kiev army, with the full support of the United States, is supporting this assault."
What the US doing with Ukraine now is alienating arguably the best potential ally it has now, Cohen said.
"I am convinced that the most essential partner for the American national security in all of these areas from Iran to Syria, Afghanistan and beyond is the Kremlin, currently occupied by Putin. And the way the United States has treated Putin – I would call it a betrayal of American national interest."
Russia helped the Obama administration save its face in Syria, where the president was pushed into bombing the country over chemical weapons. It helped make bridges with the new leadership of Iran to start the first serious negotiations in decades.
"Obama had within his grasp at last – because it was a failed foreign policy presidency for Obama – two achievements that would have been in American national interest. And they have slipped away almost in proportion to the degree that Obama pushed Putin away. Pushed Putin away so far that over Ukraine we [the US] could be on the verge of war with Russia."
Cohen blames the US, particularly the Clinton administration for setting the world on a path that led it to the current confrontation between the West and Russia.
"This is the playing out of American policy of expanding NATO to Russia's borders – for whatever reasons. It began with Clinton, was continued under the second George Bush, has been pushed by Obama. And that is the rooster that has come home to roost."
"Some people in the 1990s… warned that this was going to happen. Now that it has, and the people would not take responsibility for it," he said. "They would not say 'OK, we were wrong, we have to rethink policy.' Instead they say to people such as myself, 'You are an apologist for Putin. You are serving the Kremlin, you are not a patriot.'"
This lack of ability to change policies is evident in the current administration, the scholar believes.
"I had lunch with two men much older than me, who had served many presidents and who've known them personally. And they were agreed that this president more than anyone in their lifetime isolated himself on foreign policy."
One anecdotal example Cohen cited is Obama's refusal to talk to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"I have heard – whether it's true or not I don't know – that President Obama has declined to meet privately with Henry Kissinger, who sees Putin twice a year. Kissinger probably knows Putin better than any American statesmen alive today and who has been consulted by so many presidents. Think what we might about Kissinger's past, but he has already declared his criticism of American policy towards Russia. And Obama wouldn't want to spend an hour with him, asking 'Are we doing something wrong? Are we misperceiving the situation?'"
It's no surprise that a leader, who doesn't take into account various viewpoint on a problem cannot take a rational decision on tackling it, Cohen said.
"I ask for a president to be a person, who solicits the best and most diverse learned views involving an existing crisis, that's all… A president has to bring in people with conflicting views whose legitimacy is based on their knowledge, their learning. A president who doesn't do that is going to get us into a crisis that Obama and Clinton got us into."
Unfortunately for America, it's not only the White house that discourages debate now, but also American society in general, the professor said.
"There is no debate of public opposition in this country about this, unlike the situation 20-25 years ago, when we had real debates and public fights," he said. "I don't know if they [the mainstream media – RT] know the truth and therefore are not telling the truth, or that they are just caught up in the myths that had been attached to Russia since the end of the Soviet Union."
"An orthodoxy about Russia has formed in this country over 20 years," he added. "And it's not only wrong, it's reckless. It led us to this crisis in Ukraine… The only way you can break orthodoxy is with heresy. Some of the things I say are regarded as heretical, treasonous, unpatriotic. But heresy is a good thing, when it's needed."
This situation is a sharp contrast to what happens in some other democracies, which don't hush a public debate on foreign policy issues and don't try to push opinions not liked by the political establishment into the 'fringe press'.
"Germany, a relatively new democracy with a past as bad as Russia's, could develop a democracy, where people can speak openly and feely without fear of failing to get a promotion or getting on an op-ed page. Two of three former German chancellors have blamed Europe for the crisis in Ukraine – not Russia."
"Where are our former presidents? We know why President Clinton wouldn't speak out, because he began that policy. But where is President Carter? Where are the former secretaries of state who pursued other policies? Why the silence? We've developed, I fear, a political culture within the establishment that is conformist. Even though the penalty of dissent in our country is cheap, unlike in many other countries."
Bullybyte, 14 June 2014 10:04pm
In Ukraine on Saturday, 49 servicemen were killed when pro-Russian separatists shot down an army transport plane in the east of the country.
So what were 40 paratroopers doing flying over the eastern Ukraine. Delivering food parcels?
What is not being mentioned is that a Ukrainian tank crossed the border into Russia, and got stuck. There was only one man in it, and Russian border guards arrested him. Suddenly, a Ukrainian armoured car packed with soldiers arrived, threatened the border guards, who released the arrestee, and drove back over the border. Last I heard, the tank was still stuck.
The US contends Russia has sent tanks and rocket launchers to the rebels.
It is not often that I agree with Thatcher. But she did say once that the other side has to be supplied with arms, because they have a right to defend themselves. What Ketchup King Kerry is saying is that the idea is that these paratroopers can come floating out of the sky, and spray an unarmed populace with machine gun fire. What would the National Rifle Association have to say about that?
Let there be no mistake about the Americans. This is no longer the country who cleared the Japanese out of the Pacific during the Second World War. George Washington once said: "No foreign entanglements." But that has gone out the window.Look at what they did to Iraq with their sanctions and their war. I could not believe that they planned to take out Saddam Insane. True, he was not the milk of human kindness; but the entire region was - and still is - a mess, and Saddam Insane was holding the whole thing together, In taking him out the Americans, and their lapdog, Tory Blur, have destabilised the whole region. Now, the Iraqis are tearing themselves apart, the Americans are going to walk away as though nothing has happened. And now, they are in the process of depositing their eggs in Eastern Europe.
Cain Smith, 15 June 2014 12:46am
And now america asks for the help of iran to stop the problems they created in iraq.......
When will america stop creating trouble throughout the world just to justify their own needs
Oskar Jaeger -> Cain Smith, 15 June 2014 12:53am
Every country puts its own needs first, even Russia.
Nickel07 -> Oskar Jaeger, 15 June 2014 1:12am
Ok we got you. You are one of the "the end justifies the means" boys....when it suits you, even if it means t
The American Conservative
Americans have grown understandably weary of foreign entanglements over the last 12 years of open-ended warfare, and they are now more receptive to a noninterventionist message than they have been in decades. According to a recent Pew survey, 52 percent of Americans now prefer that the U.S. "mind its own business in international affairs," which represents the most support for a restrained and modest foreign policy in the last 50 years. That presents a challenge and an opportunity for noninterventionists to articulate a coherent and positive case for what a foreign policy of peace and prudence would mean in practice. As useful and necessary as critiquing dangerous ideas may be, noninterventionism will remain a marginal, dissenting position in policymaking unless its advocates explain in detail how their alternative foreign policy would be conducted.
A noninterventionist foreign policy would first of all require a moratorium on new foreign entanglements and commitments for the foreseeable future. A careful reevaluation of where the U.S. has vital interests at stake would follow. There are relatively few places where the U.S. has truly vital concerns that directly affect our security and prosperity, and the ambition and scale of our foreign policy should reflect that. A noninterventionist U.S. would conduct itself like a normal country without pretensions to global "leadership" or the temptation of a proselytizing mission. This is a foreign policy more in line with what the American people will accept and less likely to provoke violent resentment from overseas, and it is therefore more sustainable and affordable over the long term.
When a conflict or dispute erupts somewhere, unless it directly threatens the security of America or our treaty allies, the assumption should be that it is not the business of the U.S. government to take a leading role in resolving it. If a government requests aid in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis (e.g., famine, disease), as Haiti did following its devastating earthquake in 2010, the U.S. can and should lend assistance-but as a general rule the U.S. should not seek to interfere in other nations' domestic circumstances.
... ... ...The U.S. would also refuse to take sides in the internal quarrels of other countries. The sovereignty of other states would be respected much more consistently than in past decades. The U.S. would refrain from destabilizing foreign governments or aiding in their overthrow, and it would not make a habit of siding with whichever protest movement happened to be in the streets of a foreign capital. Likewise, it would refrain from propping up and subsidizing abusive and dictatorial regimes and would condition U.S. aid on how a government treats its people. While there may be a need to cooperate with authoritarian states on certain issues, governments that torture or violently suppress peaceful protests, including the current Egyptian government, shouldn't be supported in any way by American taxpayers.
War might be necessary at some point, but if so it would be waged only in self-defense or the defense of a treaty ally. A noninterventionist U.S. would never wage a preventive war- which is contrary both to international law and morality-and would generally be wary of using force even when it could be justified. The U.S. should always avoid giving allies and clients the impression that they have a blank check from Washington, since that will tend to make them more combative and unreasonable in disputes with their neighbors. Allies and clients that wanted to pursue reckless and provocative courses of action would be actively discouraged, and it would be the responsibility of the U.S. to pull these states back from avoidable conflicts. A noninterventionist U.S. would manage relations with other major powers by seeking to cooperate on matters of common interest and by avoiding unnecessary disagreements on those issues where the U.S. has relatively little at stake. The U.S. and other major powers are bound to have conflicting interests from time to time, but these unavoidable disagreements shouldn't be compounded by picking fights over every issue where we differ. As long as the U.S. has allies on the borders of other major powers, there will always be a certain degree of mistrust and tension in our relations. However, the U.S. shouldn't make this worse by seeking to enlarge our alliances or increase our influence in countries that have historically been in the orbit of another major power. The goal here should be to keep tensions with other major powers at a tolerable minimum and to reduce the possibility of renewed great power conflict in the new century.
As George Washington also said: "In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated." For that reason, a noninterventionist U.S. would be one that doesn't seek to demagogue or exaggerate foreign threats, nor would it cultivate either hostility towards or adoration of any other country. Above all, it won't seek to make the U.S. the champion of any other country's interests at our expense.
Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.
Krauthammer is Right, for Once! The US Empire is in Decline
I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it. He was writing about what he correctly observes as the end of "American hegemony" in the global political sphere
... ... ...
Missing from Krauthammer's analysis, of course, is the history behind this development.
US global domination, which could be said to have begun with the collapse in the early 1990s of the former Soviet Union, was destined to be a short-lived affair. By 1990, the Soviet Union had been bankrupted by President Reagan's massive military spending campaign, and the USSR's political and economic implosion did leave the US, by default, as the world's last and only "superpower," but left unremarked was that this country's massive military spending had also effectively hollowed out the US economy, too. And instead of turning inward at the end of the Cold War, and investing in a revitalization of America's crumbling physical, social and educational infrastructure, which might have rectified things, the problem was made worse by two more decades of continuous war economy, driven by the very neoconservative ideology that Krauthammer still espouses.
Wars were launched: first the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-1 (which continued until the 2003 invasion of Iraq with the maintenance of "no-fly zones" over parts of Iraq), then the Bosnian and Kosovo wars in the mid and late '90s, followed by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And when that was not enough, a fake "War on Terror" was launched to convince the gullible American public of the need of continued massive military spending.
Instead of shrinking the bloated US military, successive presidents - George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and finally Barack Obama - all kept increasing military spending to the point that this country under President Obama has been spending as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. And to make things worse, the US has been losing its wars. that is not the kind of thing designed to instill fear in potential adversaries.
At the same time that the US empire was bankrupting itself through extravagant military spending, it has been relentlessly pushing its weight around everywhere in the world, subverting or trying to subvert democratically elected governments in places like Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Haiti and Venezuela, and even seeking to undermine governments in states like Russia, Ukraine and Iran.
Something had to give, and as Krauthammer correctly notes, something finally has given. America's bluff is being called.
Fed up with the clumsy bullying of American foreign and economic policy, angered by the imperial over-reach of America's National Security Agency, and emboldened by the weakness of both the American dollar and America's bloated, bureaucratic and over-stretched military (as evidenced by its inability to defeat minimally armed and trained patriotic forces in Afghanistan and Iraq), Russia and China, and perhaps Iran too, are realizing that they "don't have to take it anymore."
While Krauthammer didn't mention it, even NATO, that Cold War relic that the US had been using as a fig leaf since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 to cover its aggressive policy of encirclement and gradual subversion of Russia, is now showing signs of collapse. The European public and their elected officials are angry at Edward Snowden's revelations about massive NSA spying on it's purported "allies," and the latest effort to enlist Europe in a program of economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea have fallen flat, with France refusing to stop selling advanced military equipment to Russia and with Germany balking at any serious economic sanctions against one of its largest trading partners.
Increasingly, Russia, China, Brazil and other large developing economies are separating themselves from the dollar-based global financial system, undermining the last mainstay of US hegemony - the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
... ... ...
History is replete with empires that crumbled under their own hubris and ambition, and the United States is no different.
The only real disagreement I have with Krauthammer is in seeing this decline of US empire as a tragedy. Looking at the incredible death, destruction and grotesque waste of resources that can be directly attributed to the US and its imperialist program since the end of the Second World War, I can only see its demise as a positive thing
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
October 13, 2013
In the meantime - the US gets Neoconned
Unlike the Soviet Union which basically disappeared from the map of our planet, the USA "won" the Cold War (this is not factually quite true, but this is how many Americans see it) and having become the last and only real super-power the US immediately embarked on a series of external wars to establish its "full spectrum dominance" over the planet, especially after the events of 9/11 which deeply transformed the nature of the US society itself.
Sill, the post 9/11 society has its roots in a far more distant past: the Reagan years.
During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan a group which later become known as the "Necons" made a strategic decision to take over the Republican Party, its affiliated institutions and think tanks. While in the past ex-Trotskyites had been more inclined to support the putatively more Left-leaning Democratic Party, the "new and improved GOP" under Reagan offered the Neocons some extremely attractive features:
1) Money: Reagan was an unconditional supporter of big business and the corporate world. His mantra "government is the problem" fitted perfectly with the historical closeness of the Neocons with the Robber Barons, Mafia bosses and big bankers. For them, de-regulation meant freedom of action, something which was bound to make speculators and Wall Street wise guys immensely rich.
2) Violence: Reagan also firmly stood behind the US Military-Industrial complex and a policy of intervention in any country on the planet. That fascination with brute force and, let be honest here, terrorism also fitted the Trotskyite-Neocon mindset perfectly.
3) Illegality: Reagan did not care at all about the law, be it international law or domestic law. Sure, as long as the law happens to be advantageous to US or GOP interests, it was upheld with great ceremony. But if it didn't, the Reaganites would break it with no compunction whatsoever.
4) Arrogance: under Reagan, patriotism and feel-good imperial hubris reached a new height. More than ever before, the US saw itself as not only the "Leader of the Free World" protecting the planet against the "Evil Empire", but also as unique and superior to the rest of mankind (like in the Ford commercial of the 1980s: "we're number one, second to none!")
5) Systematic deception: under Reagan lying turned from an occasional if regular tactics used in politics to the key form of public communication: Reagan, and his administration, could say one thing and then deny it in the same breath. They could make promises which were clearly impossible to keep (Star Wars anybody?). They could solemnly take an oath and than break it (Iran-Contra). And, if confronted by proof of these lies, all Reagan had to do is to say: "well, no, I don't remember".
6) Messianism: not only did Reagan get a huge support basis amongst the various crazy religious denominations in the USA (including all of the Bible Belt), Reagan also promoted a weird can of secular Messianism featuring a toxic mix of xenophobia bordering on racism with a narcissistic fascination with anything patriotic, no matter how stupid, bordering on self-worship.
So let's add it all up:
Does that not all look very, very familiar? Is that not a perfect description of Zionism and Israel?
No wonder the Neocons flocked in greater and greater number to this new GOP! Reagan's GOP was the perfect Petri dish for the Zionist bacteria to grow, and grow it really did. A lot.
I think that it would be reasonable to say that the USA underwent a two-decades long process of "Zionisation" which culminated in the grand 9/11 false flag operation in which the PNAC-types basically used their access to the centers of power in the USA, Israel and the KSA to conjure up a new enemy - "Islamo-Fascist Terror" - which would not only justify a planetary war against "terrorism" (the GWOT) but also an unconditional support for Israel.
There were also losers in this evolution, primarily what I call the "old Anglo camp" which basically lost control of most of its domestic political power and all of its foreign policy power: for the first time a new course in foreign policy gradually began to take shape under the leadership of a group of people which would in time be identified as "Israel Firsters". For a short time the old Anglos seemed to have retaken the reigns of power - under George Bush Senior - only to immediately loose it again with the election of Bill Clinton. But the apogee of Ziocon power was only reached under the Presidency of George W. Bush who basically presided over a massive purge of Anglos from key positions in government (especially the Pentagon and the CIA). Predictably, having the folks which Bush Senior called "the crazies in the basement" actually in power rapidly brought the USA to the edge of a global collapse: externally the massive worldwide sympathy for the USA after 911 turned into a tsunami of loathing and resentment, while internally the country was faced with a massive banking crisis which almost resulted the imposition of martial law over the USA.
In comes Barak Obama - "change we can believe in!"
The election of Barak Obama to the White House truly was a momentous historical event. Not only because a majority White population had elected a Black man to the highest office in the country (this was really mainly an expression of despair and of a deep yearning for change), but because after one of the most effective PR campaigns in history, the vast majority of Americans and many, if not most, people abroad, really, truly believed that Obama would make some deep, meaningful changes. The disillusion with Obama was as great as the hopes millions had in him. I personally feel that history will remember Obama not only as one of the worst Presidents in history, but also, and that is more important, as the last chance for the "system" to reform itself. That chance was missed. And while some, in utter disgust, described Obama as "Bush light", I think that his Presidency can be better described as "more of the same, only worse".
Having said that, there is something which, to my absolute amazement, Obama's election did achieve: the removal of (most, but not all) Neocons from (most, but not all) key positions of power and a re-orientation of (most, but not all) of US foreign policy in a more traditional "USA first" line, usually supported by the "old Anglo" interests. Sure, the Neocons are still firmly in control of Congress and the US corporate media, but the Executive Branch is, at least for the time being, back under Anglo control (this is, of course, a generalization: Dick Cheney was neither Jewish nor Zionist, while the Henry Kissinger can hardly be described as an "Anglo"). And even though Bibi Netanyahu got more standing ovations in Congress (29) than any US President, the attack on Iran he wanted so badly did not happen. Instead, Hillary and Petraeus got kicked out, and Chuck Hagel and John Kerry got in. That is hardly "change we can believe in", but at least this shows that the Likud is not controlling the White House any more.
Of course, this is far from over. If anything the current game of chicken played between the White House and Congress over the budget with its inherent risk of a US default shows that this conflict is far from settled.
The current real power matrix in the USA and Russia
We have shown that there two unofficial parties in Russia which are locked in a deadly conflict for power, the "Eurasian Sovereignists" and "Atlantic Integrationists". There are also two unofficial parties in the USA who are also locked in a deadly conflict for power: the Neocons and the "old Anglos imperialists". I would argue that, at least for the time being, the "Eurasian Sovereignists" and the "old Anglos" have prevailed over their internal competitor but that the Russian "Eurasian Sovereignists" are in a far stronger position that the American "old Anglos". There are two main reasons for that:
1) Russia has already had its economic collapse and default and
2) a majority of Russians fully support President Putin and his "Eurasian Sovereignist" policies.
In contrast, the USA is on the brink of an economic collapse and the 1% clique which is running the USA is absolutely hated and despised by most Americans.
After the immense and, really, heart-breaking disillusionment with Obama, more and more Americans are becoming convinced that changing the puppet in the White House is meaningless and that what the US really needs is regime change.
The USSR and the USA - back to the future?
It is quite amazing for those who remember the Soviet Union of the late 1980 how much the US under Obama has become similar to the USSR under Brezhnev: internally it is characterized by a general sense of disgust and alienation of the people triggered by the undeniable stagnation of a system rotten to its very core. A bloated military and police state with uniforms everywhere, while more and more people live in abject poverty. A public propaganda machine which, like in Orwell's 1984, constantly boasts of successes everywhere while everybody knows that these are all lies. Externally, the US is hopelessly overstretched and either hated and mocked abroad. Just as in the Soviet days, the US leaders are clearly afraid of their own people so they protect themselves by a immense and costly global network of spies and propagandists who are terrified of dissent and who see the main enemy in their own people.
Add to that a political system which far from co-opting the best of its citizens deeply alienates them while promoting the most immoral and corrupt ones into the positions of power. A booming prison-industrial complex and a military-industrial complex which the country simply cannot afford maintaining. A crumbling public infrastructure combined with a totally dysfunctional health care system in which only the wealthy and well-connected can get good treatment. And above it all, a terminally sclerotic public discourse, full of ideological clichés an completely disconnected from reality.
I will never forget the words of a Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1992 who, addressing an assembly of smug western diplomats, said the following words: "you seem to believe that you won the Cold War, but did you ever consider the possibility that what has really happened is that the internal contradictions of communism caught up with communism before the internal contradictions of capitalism could catch up with capitalism?!". Needless to say, these prophetic words were greeted by a stunned silence and soon forgotten. But the man was, I believe, absolutely right: capitalism has now reached a crisis as deep as the one affecting the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and there is zero chance to reform or otherwise change it. Regime change is the only possible outcome.
The historical roots of the russophobia of the American elites
Having said all of the above, its actually pretty simple to understand why Russia in general, and Putin in particular, elicits such a deep hatred from the Western plutocracy: having convinced themselves that they won the Cold War they are now facing the double disappointment of a rapidly recovering Russia and a Western economic and political decline turning into what seems to be a slow and painful agony.
In their bitterness and spite, Western leaders overlook the fact that Russia has nothing to do with the West's current problems. Quite to the contrary, in fact: the main impact the collapse of the Soviet Union on the US-run international economic system was to prolong its existence by creating a new demand for US dollars in Eastern Europe and Russia (some economists - such as Nikolai Starikov - estimate that the collapse of the USSR gave an extra 10+ years of life to the US dollar).
In the past, Russia has been the historical arch-enemy of the British Empire. As for Jews - they have always harbored many grievances towards pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. The Revolution of 1917 brought a great deal of hope for many East-European Jews, but it was short lived as Stalin defeated Trotsky and the Communist Party was purged from many of its Jewish members. Over and over again Russia has played a tragic role in the history of the Ashkenazi Jews and this, of course, has left a deep mark on the worldview of the Neocons who are all deeply russophobic, even today. Somebody might object that many Jews are deeply grateful for the Soviet Army's liberation of Jews from the Nazi concentration camps or for the fact that the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize Israel. But in both cases, the country which is credited with these actions is the Soviet Union and not Russia which most Ashkenazi Jews still typically associate anti-Jewish policies and values.
It is thus not surprising that both the Anglo and the Jewish elites in the US would harbor an almost instinctive dislike for, and fear of, Russia, especially one perceived as resurgent or anti-American. And the fact is that they are not wrong in this perception: Russia is most definitely resurgent, and the vast majority of the Russian public opinion is vehemently anti-American, at least if by "America" we refer to the civilizational model or economic system.
Anti-American sentiment in Russia
Feelings about the USA underwent a dramatic change since the fall of the Soviet Union. In the 1980 the USA was not only rather popular, it was also deeply in fashion: Russian youth created many rock groups (some of them became immensely popular and still are popular today, such as the group DDT from Saint Petersburg), American fashion and fast foods were the dream of every Russian teenager, while most intellectuals sincerely saw the US as "leader of the free world". Of course, the state propaganda of the USSR always wanted to present the USA as an aggressive imperialistic country, but that effort failed: most of the people were actually quite fond of the US. One of the most popular pop group of the 1990s (Nautilus Pompilius) had a song with the following lyrics:
Good bye America, ohWhile there were exceptions to this rule, I would say that by the beginning of the 1990 most of the Russian people, especially the youth, had swallowed the US propaganda line hook and sinker - Russia was hopelessly pro-American.
Where I have never ever been
Take your banjo
And play for my departure
Your worn out blue jeans
Became too tight for me
We've been taught for too long
To be in love with your forbidden fruits.
The catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the West's total and unconditional backing for Eltsin and his oligarchs changed that. Instead of trying to help Russia, the USA and the West used every single opportunity to weaken Russia externally (by taking all of Eastern Europe into NATO even though they had promised never to do so). Internally, they West supported the Jewish oligarchs who were literally sucking out wealth out of Russia live vampires suck blood, while supporting every imaginable form of separatism. By the end of the 1990s the words "democrat" and "liberal" became offensive curse words. This joke of the late 1990s is a good example of these feelings (Notice the association between liberalism and Jews):
A new teacher comes into the class:Notice the association between being a liberal and Jews (Abram Davidovich is a typical Jewish name). Notice also the inclusion of the category "homosexual" in between a whore and drug addicts and remember that when evaluating the typical Russian reaction to the anti-Russian campaign waged by western homosexual organizations.
- My name is Abram Davidovich, I'm a liberal. And now all stand up and introduce yourself like I did ...
- My name is Masha I liberal ...
- My name is Petia, I'm a liberal ...
- My Little Johnny, I'm a Stalinist.
- Little Johnny, why are you a Stalinist? -- - My mom is a Stalinist, my dad is a Stalinist, my friends are Stalinists and I too am a Stalinist.
- Little Johnny, and if your mother was a whore, your father - a drug addict, your friends - homos, what would you be then in that case? -- - Then I would be a liberal.
The political effect of these feelings is rather obvious: in the last elections not a single pro-Western political party has even managed to get enough votes to make it into the Parliament. And no - this is not because Putin has outlawed them (as some propagandists in the West like to imagine). There are currently 57 political parties in Russia, and quite a few of them are pro-Western. And yet it is an undeniable fact that the percentage of Russians which are favorably inclined towards the USA and NATO/EU is roughly in the 5% range. I can also put it this way: every single political party represented in the Duma is deeply anti-American, even the very moderate "Just Russia".
Anti-Russian feelings in the USA?
Considering the never ending barrage of anti-Russian propaganda in the western corporate media one could wonder how strong anti-Russian feelings are in the West. This is really hard to measure objectively, but as somebody born in Western Europe and who has lived a total of 15 years in the USA I would say that anti-Russian sentiment in the West is very rare, almost non-existent. In the USA there have always been strong anti-Communist feelings - there still are today - but somehow most Americans do make the difference between a political ideology that they don't really understand, but that they dislike anyway, and the people which in the past used to be associated with it.
US *politicians*, of course, mostly hate Russia, but most Americans seem to harbor very little bad feelings or apprehension about Russia or the Russian people. I explain that by a combination of factors.
First, since more and more people in the West realize that they are not living in a democracy, but in a plutocracy of the 1%, they tend to take the official propaganda line with more than a grain of salt (which, by the way, is exactly what was happening to most Soviet people in the 1980s). Furthermore, more and more people in the West who oppose the plutocratic imperial order which impoverishes and disenfranchises them into corporate serfs are quite sympathetic to Russia and Putin for "standing up to the bastards in Washington". But even more fundamentally, there is the fact that in a bizarre twist of history Russia today stands for the values of the West of yesterday: international law, pluralism, freedom of speech, social rights, anti-imperialism, opposition to intervention inside sovereign states, rejection of wars as a means to settle disputes, etc.
In the case of the war in Syria, Russia's absolutely consistent stance in defense of international law has impressed many people in the USA and Europe and one can hear more and more praise for Putin from people who in the past has deep suspicions about him.
Russia, of course, is hardly a utopia or some kind of perfect society, far from it, but it has taken the fundamental decision to become a *normal* country, as opposed to being a global empire, and any normal country will agree to uphold the principles of the "West of yesterday", not only Russia. In fact, Russia is very un-exceptional in its pragmatic realization that to uphold these principles is not a matter of naive idealism, but a sound realistic policy goal. People in the West are told by their rulers and the corporate media that Putin in an evil ex-KGB dictator who is a danger for the US and its allies, but as soon as these people actually read or listen to what Putin actually says they find themselves in a great deal of agreement with him.
In another funny twist of history, while the Soviet population used to turn to the BBC, Voice of America or Radio Liberty for news and information, more and more people in the West are turning to Russia Today, Press TV, or Telesur to get their information. Hence the panicked reaction of Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US outfit overseeing US media directed at foreign audiences, who declared that "we can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies. You've got Russia Today, Iran's Press TV, Venezuela's TeleSUR, and of course, China is launching an international broadcasting 24-hour news channel with correspondents around the world". Folks like Isaacson know that they are slowly but surely loosing the informational battle for the control of the minds of the general public.
And now, with the entire Snowden affair, Russia is becoming the safe harbor for those political activists who are fleeing Uncle Sam's wrath. A quick search on the Internet will show you that more and more people are referring to Putin as the "leader of the Free World" while other are collecting signatures to have Obama give his Nobel Prize to Putin. Truly, for those like myself who have actually fought against the Soviet system it is absolutely amazing to see the 180 degree turn the world has taken since the 1980s.
Western elites - still stuck in the Cold War
If the world has radically changed in the last 20 years, the Western elites did not. Faced with a very frustrating reality they are desperately trying to re-fight the Cold War with the hope of re-winning it again. Hence the never ending cycle of Russia-bashing campaigns I mentioned at the beginning of this post. They try to re-brand Russia as the new Soviet Union, with oppressed minorities, jailed or murdered dissidents, little or no freedom of speech, a monolithic state controlled media and an all seeing security apparatus overseeing it all. The problem, of course, is that they are 20 years late and that these accusations don't stick very well with the western public opinion and get exactly *zero* traction inside Russia. In fact, every attempt at interfering inside Russian political affairs has been so inept and clumsy that it backfired every single time. From the absolutely futile attempts of the West to organize a color-coded revolution in the streets of Moscow to the totally counter-productive attempts to create some kind of crisis around homosexual human rights in Russia - every step taken by the western propaganda machine has only strengthened Vladimir Putin and his the "Eurasian Sovereignists" at the expense of the "Atlantic Integrationist" faction inside the Kremlin.
There was a deep and poignant symbolism in the latest meeting of the 21 APEC countries in Bali. Obama had to cancel his trip because of the US budget crisis while Putin was treated to a musically horrible but politically deeply significant rendition of "Happy birthday to you!" by a spontaneous choir composed of the leaders of the Pacific Rim countries. I can just imagine the rage of the White House when they saw "their" Pacific allies serenading Putin for his birthday!
Conclusion: "we are everywhere"
In one of his most beautiful songs, David Rovics sings the following words which I want to quite in full, as each line fully applies to the current situation:
When I say the hungry should have food(you can listen to the song by clicking here)
I speak for many
When I say no one should have seven homes
While some don't have any
Though I may find myself stranded in some strange place
With naught but a vapid stare
I remember the world and I know
We are everywhere
When I say the time for the rich, it will come
Let me count the ways
Victories or hints of the future
Havana, Caracas, Chiapas, Buenos Aires
How many people are wanting and waiting
And fighting for their share
They hide in their ivory towers
But we are everywhere
Religions and prisons and races
Borders and nations
FBI agents and congressmen
And corporate radio stations
They try to keep us apart, but we find each other
And the rulers are always aware
That they're a tiny minority
And we are everywhere
With every bomb that they drop, every home they destroy
Every land they invade
Comes a new generation from under the rubble
Saying "we are not afraid"
They will pretend we are few
But with each child that a billion mothers bear
Comes the next demonstration
That we are everywhere.
These words are a beautiful expression for the hope which should inspire all those who are now opposing the US-Zionist Empire: we are everywhere, literally. On one side we have the 1%, the Anglo imperialists and the Ziocons, while on the other we have the rest of the planet, including potentially 99% of the American people. If it is true that at this moment in time Putin and his Eurasian Sovereignists are the most powerful and best organized faction of the worldwide resistance to the Empire, they are far from being central, or even less so, crucial, to it. Yes, Russia can, and will, play its role, but only as a normal country amongst many other normal countries, some small and economically weak like Ecuador, other huge and powerful like China. But even small Ecuador was "big enough" to grand refuge to Julian Assange while China seems to have asked Snowden to please leave. So Ecuador is not that small after all?
It would be naive to hope that this "de-imperialization" process of the USA could happen without violence. The French and British Empires collapsed against the bloody backdrop of WWII, while did the Nazi and Japanese Empires were crushed under a carpet of bombs. The Soviet Empire collapsed with comparatively less victims, and most of the violence which did take place during that process happened on the Soviet periphery. In Russia itself, the number of death of the mini civil war of 1993 was counted in the thousands and not in the millions. And by God's great mercy, not a single nuclear weapon was detonated anywhere.
So what will likely happen when the US-Ziocon Empire finally collapses under its own weight? Nobody can tell for sure, but we can at least hope that just as no major force appeared to rescue the Soviet Empire in 1991-1993, no major force will attempt to save the US Empire either. As David Rovic's puts it so well, the big weakness of the 1% which rule the US-Ziocon Empire is that "they are a tiny minority and we are everywhere".
In the past 20 years the US and Russia have followed diametrically opposed courses and their roles appears to have been reversed. That "pas de deux" is coming to some kind of end now. Objective circumstances have now again placed these two countries in opposition to each other, but this is solely due to the nature of the regime in Washington DC. Russian leaders could repeat the words of the English rapper Lowkey and declare "I'm not anti-America, America is anti-me!" and they could potentially be joined by 99% of Americans who, whether they already realize it or not, are also the victims of the US-Ziocon Empire.
In the meantime, the barrage of anti-Russian propaganda campaigns will continue unabated simply because this seems to have become a form of psychotherapy for a panicked and clueless western plutocracy. And just as in all the previous cases, this propaganda campaign will have no effect at all.
It is my hope that next time we hear about whatever comes next after the current "Greenpeace" campaign you will keep all this in mind.
May 2, 2014 | Conflicts Forum
Following five days in Moscow, a few thoughts on Russian perspectives: Firstly, we are beyond the Crimea. That is over. We too are beyond 'loose' federalism for Ukraine (no longer thought politically viable). Indeed, we are most likely beyond Ukraine as a single entity. Also, we are beyond either Kiev or Moscow having the capacity to 'control' events (in the wider sense of the word): both are hostage to events (as well as are Europe and America), and to any provocations mounted by a multitude of uncontrollable and violent activists.
In gist, the dynamics towards some sort of secession of East Ukraine (either in part, or in successive increments) is thought to be the almost inevitable outcome. The question most informed commentators in Moscow ask themselves is whether this will occur with relatively less or relatively more violence – and whether that violence will reach such a level (massacres of ethnic Russians or of the pro-Russian community) that President Putin will feel that he has no option but to intervene. We are nowhere near that point at the time of writing: Kiev's 'security initiatives' have been strikingly ineffective, and casualties surprisingly small (given the tensions). It seems that the Ukrainian military is unwilling, or unable (or both of these), to crush a rebellion composed only of a few hundred armed men backed by a few thousand unarmed civilians - but that of course may change at any moment. (One explanation circulating on Russian internet circles is that pro-Russian insurgents and the Ukrainian servicemen simply will not shoot at each other - even when given the order to do so. Furthermore, they appear to be in direct and regular contact with each other and there is an informal understanding that neither side will fire at the other. Note - we have witnessed similar understandings in Afghanistan in the 1980s between the Soviet armed forces and the Mujahidin.)
And this the point, most of those with whom we spoke suspect that it is the interest of certain components of the American foreign policy establishment (but not necessarily that of the US President) to provoke just such a situation: a forced Russian intervention in East Ukraine (in order to protect its nationals there from violence or disorder or both). It is also thought that Russian intervention could be seen to hold political advantage to the beleaguered and fading acting government in Kiev. And further, it is believed that some former Soviet Republics, now lying at the frontline of the EU's interface with Russia, will see poking Moscow in the eye as a settling of past scores, as well as underscoring their standing in Brussels and Washington for having brought 'democracy' to eastern Europe.
There seems absolutely no appetite in Moscow to intervene in Ukraine (and this is common to all shades of political opinion). Everyone understands Ukraine to be a vipers' nest, and additionally knows it to be a vast economic 'black hole'. But … you can scarcely meet anyone in Moscow who does not have relatives in Ukraine. This is not Libya; East Ukraine is family. Beyond some certain point, if the dynamic for separation persists, and if the situation on the ground gets very messy, some sort of Russian intervention may become unavoidable (just as Mrs Thatcher found it impossible to resist pressures to intervene in support of British 'kith and kin' in the Falklands). Moscow well understands that such a move will unleash another western outpouring of outrage.
More broadly then, we are moving too beyond the post-Cold War global dispensation, or unipolar moment. We are not heading – at least from the Russian perspective, as far as can be judged – towards a new Cold War, but to a period of increased Russian antagonism towards any western move that it judges hostile to its key interests – and especially to those that are seen to threaten its security interests. In this sense, a Cold War is not inevitable. Russia has made, for example, no antagonistic moves in Iran, in Syria or in Afghanistan. Putin has been at some pains to underline that whereas – from now – Russia will pursue its vital interests unhesitatingly, and in the face of any western pressures, on other non-existential issues, it is still open to diplomatic business as usual.
That said, and to just to be clear, there is deep disillusion with European (and American) diplomacy in Moscow. No one holds out any real prospect for diplomacy – given the recent history of breaches of faith (broken agreements) in Ukraine. No doubt these sentiments are mirrored in western capitals, but the atmosphere in Moscow is hardening, and hardening visibly. Even the 'pro-Atlanticist' component in Russia senses that Europe will not prove able to de-escalate the situation. They are both disappointed, and bitter at their political eclipse in the new mood that is contemporary Russia, where the 'recovery of sovergnty' current prevails.
Thus, the era of Gorbachevian hope of some sort of parity of esteem (even partnership) emerging between Russia and the western powers, in the wake of the conclusion to the Cold War, has imploded – with finality. To understand this is to reflect on the way the Cold War was brought to and end; and how that ending, and its aftermath, was managed. In retrospect, the post-war era was not well handled by the US, and there existirreconcilable narratives on the subject of the nature of the so-called 'defeat' itself, and whether it was a defeat for Russia at all.
Be that as it may, the Russian people have been treated as if they were psychologically-seared and defeated in the Cold War – as were the Japanese in the wake of the dropping of the nuclear bombs by the US in 1945. Russia was granted a bare paucity of esteem in the Cold War's wake; instead Russians experienced rather the disdain of victors for the defeated visited upon them. There was little or any attempt at including Russia in a company of the nations of equals – as many Russians had hoped. Few too would contest that the economic measures forced on Russia in the war's aftermath brought anything other than misery to most Russians. However unlike 1945, most Russians never felt defeated, and some felt then – and still feel – just betrayed. Whatever the verdict of history on how much the Cold War truly was a defeat, the aftermath of it has given rise to a Versailles Treaty-type of popular resentment at the consequences of the post-Cold War settlement, and at the (unwarranted) unipolar triumphalism (from the Russian perspective).
In this sense, it is the end of an era: it marks the end of the post-Cold War settlement that brought into being the American unipolar era. It is the rise of a Russian challenge to that unipolar order which seems so unsettling to many living in the West. Just as Versailles was psychologically rejected by Germans, so Russia is abdicating out of the present dispensation (at least in respect to its key interests). The big question must be whether the wider triangulation (US-Russia-China) that saw merit in its complementary touching at each of its three apexes is over too - a triangulation on which the US depends heavily for its foreign policy. We have to wait on China. The answer to this question may well hinge on how far the antagonism between Russia and the West is allowed – or even encouraged – to escalate. Only then, might it become more apparent how many, and who, is thinking of seceding from the global order (including from the Federal Reserve controlled financial system).
In the interim, time and dynamics require Russia to do little in Ukraine at this point but to watch and wait. The mood in Russia, however, is to expect provocations in Ukraine, by any one of the assorted interested parties, with the aim of forcing a Russian intervention - and thus a politically useful 'limited' war that will do many things: restore US 'leadership' in Europe, give NATO a new mission and purpose, and provide the same (and greater prominence) to certain newer EU member states (such as Poland). Russia will have concluded that the second round of economic sanctions has revealed more about a certain lack of political (and financial) will – or perhaps vulnerability – on the part of America's European allies. Russia no doubt sees the US to be gripped by the logic of escalation (as Administration talk centres on a new containment strategy, and the demonization of Russia as a pariah state), whatever President Obama may be hinting through the columns of David Ignatius. It is a dangerous moment, as all in Moscow acknowledge, with positions hardening on both sides.
Russia is not frightened by sanctions (which some, with influence in Moscow, would welcome as a chance to push-back against the US use of the global interbank payment systems for its own ends). Nor is Russia concerned that, as occurred with the USSR, the US – in today's changed circumstances – can contrive a drop in the price of oil in order to weaken the state. But Russia is somewhat more vulnerable to the West's teaming up with Sunni radicals as its new geo-strategic weapon of choice.
We have therefore seen a Russian outreach both to Saudi Arabia and Egypt (President Putin recently extolled King Abdallah's "wisdom"). There is a feeling too that US policy is not fully controlled by the US President; and that Gulf States, smelling that US policy may be adrift, and open to manipulation by interests within the US, will take advantage (perhaps in coordination with certain Americans opposed to President Obama's policies) to escalate the jihadist war against President Assad and to target Obama's Iran policy. Russia may be expected to try to circumscribe this danger to its own Muslim population and to that of its neighbouring former Soviet Republics. But for now, Russia will be likely to play it cool: to wait-and-see how events unfold, before recalibrating any main components of its Middle East policy.
For the longer term however, Russia's effective divorce out of the unipolar international order will impact powerfully on the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia (not to say Syria and Iran) have already virtually done the same.
The Antonym of 'Indispensable'
Proclaiming that the U.S. is the sole "indispensable" country in the world renders other countries, by definition, dispensable. Putin himself, at the end of his extraordinary op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2013, included this unusual admonition: "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
Have U.S. policymakers become so callous as not to care what happens to those with the bad luck to live in "dispensable" countries? It does appear so – and that arrogance about U.S. "indispensability" and "exceptionalism" has caused Official Washington to lose its moral compass.
In 1995, the United Nations reported that U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq had brought death to 500,000 Iraqi children below the age of five. Asked about that by Lesley Stahl on CBS's "60 Minutes" on May 12, 1996, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright answered, "We think the price is worth it."
Apparently that was the correct answer, at least for Official Washington. A few months later, President Bill Clinton nominated Albright to be Secretary of State and she was confirmed unanimously by the full Senate. No one asked about the children.
"There's only one rule, that I know of, babies – god damnit! you've got to be kind," said Kurt Vonnegut writer and prominent humanist/agnostic/athiest. What has become of us? There is no requirement to believe in what George W. Bush calls "The Almighty" in order to know in your bones that some things are plain wrong – that human beings do not do such things to other human beings, and especially not to children.
Let Them Come to Fallujah
When one lacks any personal experience with innocent suffering, it is very difficult to empathize – much less to take action to end it. I suspect that Anne-Marie Slaughter, current head of the New America Foundation who served for two years under Secretary Clinton, lacks such experience. How else would she think it is okay to slaughter Syrians in order to "change Putin's calculations?"
In a think piece that she published a week ago, she argues cavalierly that the United States should respond to the crisis in Ukraine by mounting a bombing campaign against Syria: "The US, together with as many countries as will cooperate, could use force to eliminate Syria's fixed-wing aircraft as a first step toward enforcing Resolution 2139. … After the strike, the US, France, and Britain should ask for the Security Council's approval of the action taken, as they did after NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Equally important, shots fired by the US in Syria will echo loudly in Russia."
Though Slaughter's plan sounds so antiseptic, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged to a Senate hearing last September that the U.S. bombing campaign against Syria – then on the table – would have inflicted significant civilian casualties. He demurred on stating publicly the number of Syrian civilians who would be killed, saying the Pentagon's classified estimate could be shared with the senators only in closed session.
Do Professor Slaughter and other protégés of Madeleine Albright care about children and other humans in "dispensable" countries? If so, they should visit the rubble in Fallujah, human as well as material, left behind by U.S. troops ordered to mount reprisal attacks of the kind labeled war crimes at the post-WWII Nuremburg Tribunal. Nuremberg took great care to emphasize the lack of any distinction between indispensable and dispensable countries before the law.
Buildings can always be rebuilt; children not so much. Following the U.S. military assaults of April and November 2004 on Fallujah, the hospitals there were overwhelmed with severe trauma cases. As time went by, physicians in Fallujah gradually became aware of apparent increases in the incidence of cancer, especially childhood leukemia, as well as a broad spectrum of birth defects like congenital heart disease, spina bifida and hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
The causes of the health crises in Fallujah are not yet firmly established but uranium is the prime suspect. Some three years ago, a credible report found elevated amounts of uranium in soil, water and human hair samples from Fallujah. This was not depleted uranium (DU); the U-238/U-235 ratios were consistent with natural uranium or very slightly enriched uranium. Many studies in animals confirm that uranium is not only a strong teratogen (inducer of birth defects), but also a carcinogen and mutagen. Uranyl ions bind to DNA with high affinity and can cause DNA damage and DNA mutations.
While these health problems appear most severe in Fallujah, increases in cancer, leukemia and birth defects have also been reported in many other Iraqi cities. Fortunately, the existence of a sister-university relationship between the University of Basra in Iraq and the University of Washington enabled a reliable statistical analysis of a registry of leukemia cases.
Trends in leukemia since 1993 in children aged 0 to 14 years were evaluated, and the researchers concluded that childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled over a 15-year period; Basra's rate compared unfavorably with neighboring Kuwait and nearby Oman, as well as with the U.S. and European countries.
As for the country of Iraq at large, precise measurement of changes in cancer incidence in Iraq today, compared with the incidence before the shock-and-awe years of 1991 and 2003, is hampered by two main factors: (1) the general lack of comprehensive cancer registries for Iraq in the years prior to those dates (with Basra the exception), and (2) the determination of the U.S., U.K. and Iraqi governments to cover up post-war health crises in Iraq. The first factor is regrettable but understandable; the second is, in my view, unconscionable.
Another factor hindering such studies, of course, is the bedlam that continues to exist in and around Fallujah and other Iraqi areas. So, let those savants who glibly advocate for more war, whether with Syria or Russia, come to Fallujah and try to tell the parents of Fallujah that it was worth it.
It would be a fool's errand to depend on the mainstream U.S. media for such inconvenient truth. And if RT should do an investigative report on the moral depravity of inflicting leukemia and other ills on so many Iraqi children, you can bet it would be criticized as stemming from Russia's anti-American "propaganda bullhorn."
We need to find some way to poke holes in the mainstream media, so our fellow citizens can be more fully informed before they are persuaded, a la Iraq, by intelligence "fixed around the policy," to risk war with Russia. To borrow from a common Chinese expression: This would come to a no-good end.
We need to stop it now.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He came to Washington over 50 years ago and worked as a CIA analyst under seven Presidents, one less than Gates. Ray now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.
Amazon.comTigran - See all my reviews, February 17, 2012
The book is a piece of propaganda that has the goal to praise American dominance in the world. It lucks serious analyses of the recent world events or everyday politics. The author mainly chews the following two ideas:
- America became the world leader after winning World War II and made the good world that strives towards democracy;
- America can and should keep its dominating position or else.
The period after World War II is pretty much American order and America should take the credit for "widespread freedom", "global prosperity" and "absence of war among great powers", states the author. In that regard he doesn't analyze the role of communist Soviet Union that played the crucial role in archiving the victory over Nazi Germany and was co-sponsor of the post war order.
In fact there were two distinct periods after World War II: Cold War when western and communist blocks opposed and controlled each other and the last 20 years of complete American domination. The author intentionally melts both distinct periods into one to diminish recent dangerous trends of American power abuse.
Dismissing the talks of American decline the author argues that the world accepted American domination, and there is no real alternative. Sounds familiar. Isn't it what all dictators say "removing me from the power will bring chaos"?
The only good thing about this book is some "confession" remarks that everyone can now use to slam American reactionaries and those remarks in fact highlight the dangers of American unopposed power. I present only few here:
- "Americans see the war as a legitimate, even essential tool of foreign policy." Of course it's easy to wage wars when no bombs fall on your cities in retaliation. And America gladly abuses the possibility.
- "Americans say they want stability in the international system but they often the greatest distorters of stability". How true! Why wait until China becomes dominating power in the world by economic means, while few wars here and there could reverse the trend?
- "They (Americans) have no trained cadres for rebuilding and managing the nations they invade and occupy" How true! Bringing destruction and chaos is much easier way to remove your competitors, than bothering with rebuilding and management.
- "Most Americans have also developed a degree of satisfaction in their special role." It is cool to be a Master race, who argues. Make the slaves bow.
- Americans believe "that all nondemocratic governments are inherently illegitimate and therefore transient." It reminds the classic communist propaganda that all governments that ruled by "capitalists" instead of "working class" are illegitimate and therefore are the candidates for the revolution. It's now American turn to spread revolutions in the world. Existence of a "Nondemocratic government" is an easy excuse to bomb, invade and occupy a country nowadays.
One can only regret that United States didn't exercise its power two hundred years ago when almost every country in the world was a monarchy - excuse to invade any country was at hand. But don't worry, even today, any country can be declared non democratic enough if needed.
But why the author even offers those "confessions", since they somewhat contradict his rosy outlook? It's because the devil must show his true face, so during Great Judgment those who made deals with him don't say "we didn't know".
The world order that was created after World War II by the great sacrifice of nations came to the end. New "world America made" is the world in which countries like Iran know that they only chance to avoid invasion, bombing and occupation is actually build Atomic bomb. Because if a country doesn't have Atomic bomb it can be bombed, invaded and occupied at any moment. More countries are going to pursue the nuclear weapons, no question about that. Meanwhile radicals and terrorists of all sorts can enjoy much more freedom of action all across destabilized Middle East.
After winning Cold War twenty years ago United States become the world's only super power and global leader. The world is much more dangerous place today, than it was 20 years ago and we can state that United States failed its leadership miserably.
another reader says:
The Short American Century: A Postmortem by Andrew J. Bacevich, Jeffry A. Frieden, Akira Iriye and Emily S. Rosenberg (Hardcover - Mar 19, 2012) will rebut Kagan's thesis.
Of course all governments that aren't popularly elected are illegitimate. How does one get legitimacy without permission?
May be that's why United States allies with the absolute monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Al-Qaida too in the noble task of establishing democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.
If you want to take the UK/Aussie attitude of "America is not perfect, therefore it is evil," so be it. If you take the time to read history you will see that there are dozens of countries that have democracy because of the US (including the UK and Oz), even though things have been done very wrong at times. Perfect or on the right track? I will choose on the right track every time because perfection ain't gonna happen.
And what is the "right track"? Spread of democracy?
I am afraid that under the cover of spreading democracy America wants global domination and control of natural resources. And it's actually very difficult to talk American people out of it; because they are going to have all the benefits, "side effects" of deaths, pain and suffering are for the "liberated" locals, while prospects of real democracy after forceful regime changes are very bleak.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1945 "If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationship - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world."
Global catastrophe of World War I and World War II brought people to realize the necessity of maintaining the peace on the planet and make countries live by the same rules enforced in United Nations. That was real right track, but it's no longer in favor.
America supports democracy? Didn't America try to get rid of the democratically elected Whitlam government in Australia? Please get out the movie "The falcon and the snowman" from your local video store.
Caswallon S. Barrios
Robert Kagan's sense of history misses a key fact: America's post-1945 dominance in the world came about because the U.S. - of all the industrial nations - emerged unscathed from the Second World War. In short, Kagan is nostalgic for a circumstance dependent on unnatural conditions (unless, of course, he has decided that War is *healthy*, part of the natural order of things ..). His call for the U.S. to assume global leadership is all well and good, but it tends to assume strange forms, such as attacking secular leaders in the Islamic world: Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, President Assad. One of Kagan's ideological soul-mates, Michael Ledeen, has openly declared that it's not in America's interest to have stability in that part of the world, that instability should be sown whenever possible. I disagree with that assessment .. and using Kagan's formula - which includes supporting Saudi ideological imperialism - the end result is the rest of the world rooting for the downfall of the United States (a nation-state currently propped up by the military and its dominance of global financial institutions). The U.S. can either become part of the emerging global economy or risk becoming irrelevant (see also "the Portuguese Empire").
Patrick Grant (Nisswa, MN)
I was expecting thoughtful cogent argument when I picked up this book. Instead I found a 'Readers' Digest' kind of 'easy reading', book length essay filled with glib assertions. Here is an illustrative example from pg. 30:
"....In the 1930s the trendsetting nations were fascist dictatorships. In the 1950s and 1960s variants of socialism were in vogue. But from the 1970s until recently, the United States and a handful of other democratic powers set the fashion trend. They pushed democratic principles-some might say imposed them- and embedded them in international institutions and agreements."
What could Kagan be talking about here? In the 1930s the world was in the midst of economic turmoil. While fascists were in power in Italy and eventually in Germany, and trying their best in Spain, they were an aberration rather than trendsetters. They were just one more variation on authoritarian forms of government like those then in control in Japan and Stalin's Russia. Meanwhile the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, France etc etc. were muddling their way through the Great Depression.
As for "variants of socialism" supposedly being 'trendsetters' in the 50s and 60s, who and what is Kagan referring to? Labor governments in the UK? Democratic socialists in Sweden or Norway?? (still around today). LBJ's Great Society? If he is talking about communist 'socialism', the US and 'the west' were holding that at bay in Korea, then Vietnam etc etc. during this period.
And his final assertion that democracy flowered from the 'the 70's til now' because of all the 'embedding' of these principles in 'international agreements and institutions' that occurred in this period?? Again, what is he talking about??
All the hard work of setting the table for democracy to flower occurred long before the 70s....Bretton Woods, World Bank, IMF, GATT, Marshall Plan, rebuilding Japan, Geneva Conventions, creating the United Nations to name a few ....all this took place in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Since the 70's just what, of comparable import, has been "...embedded...in international institutions and agreements." in furtherance of democratic principles, by the US or otherwise?? Iraq's constitution?
Mr. Kagan's book (including the title) is a pastiche of assertions to convey his obvious belief that the US must dominate the world, militarily and economically. And that it can and will if only Americans' want it badly enough. Assuming you agree that Kagan's desire for dominance is a great idea, evidence for his assertions is sorely lacking, as is a cohernet argument to support his belief and assertions. By the end of this book, I felt like I was listening to Dorothy in 'Wizard of Oz' repeating: 'There's no place like home. There's no place like home...". Like Dorothy, Kagan wants to believe that we can go 'home', i.e. continue to dwell in a world where the US is dominant economically and militarily for decades to come. Even if you agree with him that it is a good idea, where is the evidence for the proposition? Not in his book.
March 31, 2014 | Antiwar.com
Last week Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the president's signature within days. If you think this is the last time US citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.
This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks who hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes, and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.
But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.
The bill also authorizes more US taxpayer money for government-funded "democracy promotion" NGOs, and more money to broadcast US government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the US Secretary of State to "provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states."
The US has been "promoting democracy" in Ukraine for more than ten years now, but it doesn't seem to have done much good. Recently a democratically-elected government was overthrown by violent protesters. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the US government and its NGOs were on the side of the protesters! If we really cared about democracy we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.
Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to US-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The US, which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.
Those of us who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections, and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war, the US attack on Libya, and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold – or hot – war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the US or its security.
I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the US Congress is set to pass an NSA "reform" bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!
Zero HedgeThere is no reason for Russia to worry about the western sanctions it is facing now over the Ukrainian issue since "Moscow has too many other trade partners to work with," Jim Rogers explains in this interview, adding that "America is shooting itself in a foot getting the most of our world to pushing China and Russia closer together." Simply put, he warns, "I don't see any sanctions strategy that they can use that will hurt Russia worse than it will hurt the people imposing those sanctions."
Via Voice Of Russia,
Could China's decision to purchase superjet planes be viewed as a gesture of support following a series of sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow over the Ukrainian issue?
Of course it is. I'm an American, so I hate to say this, but America is shooting itself in a foot getting the most of our world to pushing China and Russia closer together. And you are going to see more and more trade between the two. And that makes the sanctions against Russia almost impossible, because there are other people who will not play.
And are there chances for the Russia Sukhoi Superjet planes to compete with other major plane-makers?
I don't think that the Russians have enough to compete with Boeing planes yet. But you are certainly getting better. I mean, as far as cargo planes, you are probably better than anybody else. And if people are forcing you or forcing other people to buy from you, then, of course, your costs will go down, your quality will get better and it will only benefit Russia, but not benefit Europe or America.
I think that's one reason Europe and America are a little hesitant to do too much about the sanctions, because they know that they may lose more than they will gain.
And there are some articles on the Internet right now where different experts say that the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US could be bad only for them. What do you think about this sanctions strategy that the US and the EU are using with respect to Russia?
I don't see any sanctions strategy that they can use that will hurt Russia worse than it will hurt the people imposing those sanctions. You have many people who will trade with you – China, Iran, many of your neighbors. America cannot patrol all of those borders. You can get just about any products you need. Plus, some of the products that you sell, other people need them very-very badly, such as natural gas and some of the metals.
I think Mr. Obama is making the fool of himself yet again. After all, Mr. Obama is the one who instigated the coup in Ukraine where there was an elected Government. Mr. Obama, his diplomats are recorded and we have recordings of them saying – we've got to do something about this Government. And then, when it went against him, he got angry. And I'm afraid he is going to shoot himself in the foot yet again.
And if we come back to this Sukhoi Superjet deal, does it mean that Moscow is switching to the eastern market and what are the other Asian countries that Moscow could cooperate with in the nearest future, apart from China?
Of course, Russia is being forced to look east and not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. If people are going to impose the sanctions and if you look to the east, you'd see who is out there, who may or may not trade with you. Not just North Korea, not just China, some other countries –Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam certainly will, Indonesia certainly will. So, many people that don't have problems with Russia these days, they will be happy to trade with Russia.
So, this decision to purchase these superjet planes is a gesture of support followed by the sanctions. And what about China's trade with Ukraine in this regard? Will they stop any economic relations with Ukraine?
I doubt it. I don't know why they would. I mean, they don't want to be involved in a trade war. So, I don't see why most Asian nations would cut off Ukraine or Russia, or anybody else. This is the fight Mr. Obama has picked and, perhaps, to some extent Mr. Putin. But I don't know why China would stop trading with Ukraine, I don't see that at all.
Authored by Paul Craig Roberts via his blog,
Does Obama realize that he is leading the US and its puppet states to war with Russia and China, or is Obama being manipulated into this disaster by his neoconservative speech writers and government officials? World War 1 (and World War 2) was the result of the ambitions and mistakes of a very small number of people. Only one head of state was actually involved–the President of France.
In The genesis Of The World War, Harry Elmer Barnes shows that World War 1 was the product of 4 or 5 people. Three stand out: Raymond Poincare`, President of France, Sergei Sazonov, Russian Foreign Minister, and Alexander Izvolski, Russian Ambassador to France. Poincare` wanted Alsace-Lorraine from Germany, and the Russians wanted Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. They realized that their ambitions required a general European war and worked to produce the desired war.
A Franco-Russian Alliance was formed. This alliance became the vehicle for orchestrating the war. The British government, thanks to the incompetence, stupidity, or whatever of its Foreign Minister, Sir Edward Grey, was pulled into the Franco-Russian Alliance. The war was started by Russia's mobilization. The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, was blamed for the war despite the fact that he did everything possible to avoid it.
Barnes' book was published in 1926. His reward for confronting the corrupt court historians with the truth was to be accused of being paid by Germany to write his history. Eighty-six years later historian Christopher Clark in his book, The Sleepwalkers, comes to essentially the same conclusion as Barnes.
In the history I was taught the war was blamed on Germany for challenging British naval supremacy by building too many battleships. The court historians who gave us this tale helped to set up World War 2.
We are again on the road to World War. One hundred years ago the creation of a world war by a few had to be done under the cover of deception. Germany had to be caught off guard. The British had to be manipulated and, of course, people in all the countries involved had to be propagandized and brainwashed.
Today the drive to war is blatantly obvious. The lies are obvious, and the entire West is participating, both media and governments.
The American puppet, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, openly lied on Canadian TV that Russian President Putin had invaded Crimea, threatened Ukraine, and was restarting the Cold War. The host of the TV program sat and nodded his head in agreement with these bald-faced lies. http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Stephen+Harper+accuses+Vladimir+Putin+being+stuck+back+USSR/9663692/story.html
The script that Washington handed to its Canadian puppet has been handed to all of Washington's puppets, and everywhere in the West the message is the same. "Putin invaded and annexed Crimea, Putin is determined to rebuild the Soviet Empire, Putin must be stopped."
I hear from many Canadians who are outraged that their elected government represents Washington and not Canadians, but as bad as Harper is, Obama and Fox "News" are worse.
On March 26 I managed to catch a bit of Fox "news." Murdoch's propaganda organ was reporting that Putin was restoring the Soviet era practice of exercise. Fox "news" made this report into a threatening and dangerous gesture toward the West. Fox produced an "expert," whose name I caught as Eric Steckelbeck or something like that. The "expert" declared that Putin was creating "the Hitler youth," with a view toward rebuilding the Soviet empire.
The extraordinary transparent lie that Russia sent an army into Ukraine and annexed Crimea is now accepted as fact everywhere in the West, even among critics of US policy toward Russia.
Obama, whose government overthrew the democratically elected government in Ukraine and appointed a stooge government that has threatened the Russian provinces of Ukraine, falsely accuses Putin of "invading and annexing" Crimea.
Obama, or his handlers and programers, are relying on the total historical ignorance of Western peoples. The ignorance and gullibility of Western peoples allows the American neoconservatives to fashion "news" that controls their minds.
Obama recently declared that Washington's destruction of Iraq–up to one million killed, four million displaced, infrastructure in ruins, sectarian violence exploding, a country in total ruins–is nowhere near as bad as Russia's acceptance of Crimean self-determination. US Secretary of State John Kerry actually ordered Putin to prevent the referendum and stop Crimeans from exercising self-determination.
Obama's speech on March 26 at the Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels is surreal. It is beyond hypocrisy. Obama says that Western ideals are challenged by self-determination in Crimea. Russia, Obama says, must be punished by the West for permitting Crimeans to exercise self-determination. The return of a Russian province on its own volition to its mother country where it existed for 200 years is presented by Obama as a dictatorial, anti-democratic act of tyranny. http://on.rt.com/sbzj4o
Here was Obama, whose government has just overthrown the elected, democratic government of Ukraine and substituted stooges chosen by Washington in the place of the elected government, speaking of the hallowed ideal that "people in nations can make their own decisions about their future." That is exactly what Crimea did, and that is exactly what the US coup in Kiev contravened. In the twisted mind of Obama, self-determination consists of governments imposed by Washington.
Here was Obama, who has shredded the US Constitution, speaking of "individual rights and rule of law." Where is this rule of law? It is certainly not in Kiev where an elected government was overthrown with force. It is certainly not in the United States where the executive branch has spent the entirety of the new 21st century establishing government above the law. Habeas corpus, due process, the right to open trials and determination of guilt by independent jurors prior to imprisonment and execution, the right to privacy have all been overturned by the Bush/Obama regimes. Torture is against US and international law; yet Washington set up torture prisons all over the globe.
How is it possible that the representative of the war criminal US government can stand before an European audience and speak of "rule of law," "individual rights," "human dignity," "self-determination," "freedom," without the audience breaking out in laughter?
Washington is the government that invaded and destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq on the basis of lies. Washington is the government that financed and organized the overthrow of the Libyan and Honduran governments and that is currently attempting to do the same thing to Syria and Venezuela. Washington is the government that attacks with drones and bombs populations in the sovereign countries of Pakistan and Yemen. Washington is the government that has troops all over Africa. Washington is the government that has surrounded Russia, China, and Iran with military bases. It is this warmongering collection of Washington war criminals that now asserts that it is standing up for international ideals against Russia.
No one applauded Obama's nonsensical speech. But for Europe to accept such blatant lies from a liar without protest empowers the momentum toward war that Washington is pushing.
Obama demands more NATO troops to be stationed in Eastern Europe to "contain Russia." http://news.antiwar.com/2014/03/26/obama-wants-more-nato-troops-in-eastern-europe/ Obama said that a buildup of military forces on Russia's borders would reassure Poland and the Baltic states that, as NATO members, they will be protected from Russian aggression. This nonsense is voiced by Obama despite the fact that no one expects Russia to invade Poland or the Baltic countries.
Obama doesn't say what effect the US/NATO military buildup and numerous war games on Russia's border will have on Russia. Will the Russian government conclude that Russia is about to be attacked and strike first? The reckless carelessness of Obama is the way wars start.
Declaring that "freedom isn't free," Obama is putting pressure on Western Europe to pony up more money for a military buildup to confront Russia. http://news.antiwar.com/2014/03/26/us-presses-eu-nations-to-hike-military-spending-to-confront-russia/
The position of the government in Washington and its puppet states (Eastern and Western Europe, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Georgia, Japan) and other allies purchased with bagfuls of money is that Washington's violation of international law by torturing people, by invading sovereign countries on totally false pretenses, by routinely overthrowing democratically elected governments that do not toe the Washington line is nothing but the "indispensable and exceptional country" bringing "freedom and democracy to the world." But Russia's acceptance of the self-determination of Crimean people to return to their home country is "a violation of international law."
Just what international law has Washington and its puppets not violated?
Obama, whose government in the past few years has bullied Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Iran, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela and is now trying to bully Russia, actually declared that "bigger nations can not simply bully smaller ones." What does Obama and his speech writers think Washington has been doing for the entirety of the 21st century?
Who can possibly believe that Obama, whose government is responsible for the deaths of people every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, cares a whit about democracy in Ukraine. Obama overthrew the Ukrainian government in order to be able to stuff the country into NATO, throw Russia out of its Black Sea naval base, and put US missile bases in Ukraine on Russia's border. Obama is angry that his plan didn't pan out as intended, and he is taking his anger and frustration out on Russia.
As the delusion takes hold in Washington that the US represents idealism standing firmly against Russian aggression, delusion enabled by the presstitute media, the UN General Assembly vote, and Washington's string of puppet states, self-righteousness rises in Washington's breast.
With rising self-righteousness will come more demands for punishing Russia, more demonization of Russia and Putin, more lies echoed by the presstitutes and puppets. Ukrainian violence against Russian residents is likely to intensify with the anti-Russian propaganda. Putin could be forced to send in Russian troops to defend Russians.
Why are people so blind that they do not see Obama driving the world to its final war?
Just as Obama dresses up his aggression toward Russia as idealism resisting selfish territorial ambitions, the English, French, and Americans presented their World War 1 "victory" as the triumph of idealism over German and Austrian imperialism and territorial ambitions. But at the Versailles Conference the Bolsheviks (the Tsar's government failed to gain the Straits and instead lost the country to Lenin) "revealed the existence of the notorious Secret Treaties embodying as sordid a program of territorial pilfering as can be found in the history of diplomacy. It appears that the chief actual motives of the Entente in the World War were the seizure of Constantinople and the Straits for Russia; not only the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France, but the securing of the west bank of the Rhine, which would have involved the seizure of territory historically far longer connected with Germany than Alsace-Lorraine had ever been with France; the rewarding of Italian entry into the War by extensive territory grabbed away from Austria and the Jugo-Slavs; and the sequestering of the German imperial possessions, the acquisition of the German merchant marine and the destruction of the German navy in the interest of increasing the strength of the British Empire" (Barnes, pp. 691-692). The American share of the loot was seized German and Austrian investments in the US.
The secret British, Russian, and French aims of the war were hidden from the public, which was whipped up with fabricated propaganda to support a war whose outcomes were far different from the intentions of those who caused the war. People seem unable to learn from history. We are now witnessing the world again being led down the garden path by lies and propaganda, this time in behalf of American world hegemony.
03/30/2014 Zero HedgeOver the past month, there has been a lot of "Hilsenrathing", or the biased media urgently "explaining" to the Western world, just what Russia's actions mean both tactically in response to Ukraine developments, and strategically as part of Putin's global perspective. So instead of relying on the broken media narrative which serves merely to perpetuate US corporate interests and rally the public behind this or that company's geopolitical interests, here, straight from the horse's mouth, in this case Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, how Russia sees itself in a world in which it is allegedly "isolated", and "threatening Ukraine" with further invasion but more importantly, how the Russians view the rapidly changing global balance of power, in which post-USSR Russia has emerged from the backwood of slighted nations and stormed to the stage of nations who dare defy the former global hegemon, the US.
Some notable highlights by Lavrov from the interview conducted with Rossiya 24:
- "Isolation" is a term invented by our Western partners who act with nostalgic neo-imperial ambitions in mind. The instant something isn't to their liking they draw out this sanctions stick. The times when such strategy could be employed are long gone.... I'm surprised at how obsessively they're trying to – create rather than find – proof of Russia's isolation.
- China is a very close partner of Russia. In our joint documents our relations are defined as comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. All of China's actions reaffirm its commitment to the principles we agreed on. If, as you say, the Americans did try to convince China to review its economic agreements with Russia on the highest level, it's an off-the-scale naïve or brazen attitude. I would even say that not understanding the essence of Chinese politics and mentality is just inexcusable for the officials in charge of such negotiations.
- At the very beginning China said that it takes into consideration the combination of historical and political factors. China strongly opposed using non-diplomatic measures and threats of sanctions to resolve this problem. Our contacts with our Chinese partners show that they not only understand Russia's rightful interests in this case, but are also hand-in-hand with us in the understanding of the initial causes of the current crisis in Ukraine. There is no doubt about it.
- Over a month ago I raised the issue of the Right Sector and the necessity to dissociate from the radical forces with our Western partners. I asked them a very simple question: "If you agree that we need to defuse the situation, why won't you publicly say what the Right Sector really is?" Same to a degree goes for the Svoboda party, whose platform references The Declaration of June 30, 1941, which expressed support of Nazi Germany and its efforts to establish a new world order. According to the party's charter, it's still committed to this principle. US Secretary of State John Kerry told me that after close scrutiny they concluded that the Right Sector was trying to become a political movement. The subtext was that it's a good thing, and Svoboda is moving towards [the] mainstream. That's a quote.
- It is wrong for NATO members to be protected with indivisible security and for everybody else to be treated as second-rate nations, so NATO can act as a magnet to attract new members and keep pushing the dividing line further to the east.
- We were promised that NATO would not bring its military infrastructure closer to our borders – and we were cheated. We were promised there would be no military installations on the territory of the new NATO members. At first, we just listened to those promises and believed them. Then we started putting them on paper as political obligations, and serious people, Western leaders, signed those documents. But when we asked them how come those political obligations were ignored and whether we can make them legally binding, they told us, "No, political obligations are enough, and anyway, don't worry, whatever we do is not against you."
- Eastern Partnership – as well as NATO expansion – was simply an instrument used to quickly take control over geopolitical territory. The EU was ready to push this project through at any cost. It completely ignored legitimate economic interests of both Ukraine's neighbors, like Russia and other countries, and even the nations that were part of this program. There have been many studies on this issue. No wonder even Yatsenyuk says that Ukraine needs to take a closer look at the economic section of this agreement.
And the next steps in terms of what Russia sees an ongoing response to NATO incursion:
- The same will happen with Moldova. They are doing their best to sign a similar agreement with Moldova this summer, before the upcoming election. And this agreement they intend to sign with Moldova – it completely ignores the issue of Transnistria. It ignores the 1997 agreement between Chisinau and Tiraspol which entitled Transnistria to international trade. It ignores what is happening with Transnistria today: Chisinau and the new Ukrainian authorities have basically blockaded the territory. But our European partners keep mum about that. In fact, the European Union and, I think, the United States approve of this policy.
- We want to talk to them very seriously about that, because they are escalating tensions over Transnistria, almost claiming that it will be next. This is outrageous, provocative rhetoric. Actually, they want to create unbearable conditions for Tiraspol in violation, I repeat, of the agreements which entitled Transnistrians to certain travel, transit and trade rights. This is outrageous. They never learn. Once again, they seek to create a sore point in our relations.
03/30/2014 | Zero Hedge
Widening income disparity has been a feature of many advanced and developing economies for the past few years and has myriad investment implications. As we noted yesterday, the USA is at levels of income disparity not seen since the roaring 20s (and by some counts worse) but how does that stack up to the rest of the world? Fed fans will be proud to say that once again USA in Number 1... in global income inequality.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/30/2014 13:17 -0400Submitted by Logan Albright via Mises Canada blog,
American exceptionalism is a common theme in any policy debate surrounding the United States. We have to protect American manufacturing, protectionists ignorant of economics argue, because America is exceptional. We have to pass expansive welfare programs to care for the poor, because America is exceptional. Most recently, we have to intervene in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, because America is exceptional. Why the imputed exceptionalism requires one country to police the world and meddle in matters that do not concern them remains unexplained.
As an American myself, I do not dispute that claim that the it is, in many ways, an exceptional country. What I do object to is the use of that claim to justify bad policy. America is exceptional because of policy, not as a justification for it.
The exceptional situation America finds itself in is a result of the exceptional circumstances of its founding and the way it has treated its people throughout the years. No other country was created under the specific intention to limit government and preserve individual liberty.
These circumstance are what allowed the country to grow into an economic powerhouse, a world superpower, and a bastion of freedom that draws immigrants from all over the planet, seeking a better life.
But every time the government cites these exceptional qualities as the reason to curtail liberty, to expand government, or to drop bombs around the world, all the things that make America great are subtly diminished.
Those who are advocating for the U.S. to take military action in Ukraine, either directly or indirectly, seem to think there is a moral duty to so, and that to do otherwise somehow diminishes the nation's greatness. But it must be remembered that these international interventions would not be voluntary, and therefore could not properly be described as moral. The people who make the decisions about whether to act or not are not the ones who do the actual fighting. They do not volunteer their own money to support the cause. They are not the ones who face the consequences of economic sanctions such as embargoes, imposed on others against their wills. All of these policies involve a few designated potentates using force and coercion to dictate what others should do. It's hard to take the moral high ground in such a situation.
But even if we overlook the rather major point that the lives in play are the unwilling pawns of government force, what does exceptionalism have to do with moral duty? Does great power, as the Spider Man films assert, come with an obligation of great responsibility? Or to put it another way, does weakness excuse inaction? If exceptionalism uniquely demands action, then surely we must also conclude that ordinariness absolves a nation of moral responsibility. That does not seem to me to be a logical conclusion.
A weak man is not excused for failing to stand up to injustice when he sees it. Similarly, a powerful man is not uniquely obligated to take action simply because he can. Morality is a constant that doesn't depend on the relative power of a moral agent vis a vis his circumstances.
None of this is meant to comment on the relative justice or injustice of Vladimir Putin's actions or the situation in Crimea – I am not in a position to know the extent to which the peninsula's secession was voluntary as opposed to coerced – but I am merely making the point that "American exceptionalism" is not a sufficient justification for an interventionist foreign policy.
When discussing American exceptionalism, we should always frame it in the context of the statement: "America is exceptional because we don't tell people what to do." Not: "America is exceptional, so we should get to tell people what to do." The more public policy is guided by the latter statement, the less true the former becomes.
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