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[Dec 21, 2014] Dick Cheney should be in prison, not on 'Meet the Press' - Greenwald

Dec 21, 2014 | RT USA

Reagan signed the international Convention against Torture in 1988, which became the primary international foundation of anti-torture law. Reagan said at the time the treaty would clearly express the United States' opposition to torture, "an abhorrent practice unfortunately prevalent in the world today."

Greenwald said, "The reason why Dick Cheney is able to go on 'Meet the Press' instead of where he should be – which is in a dock in the Hague or in a federal prison – is because President Obama and his administration made the decision not to prosecute any of the people who implemented this torture regime despite the fact that it was illegal and criminal."

He added, "When you send the signal, like the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime to be punished – it is just a policy dispute to argue about on Sunday shows – of course it emboldens torturers, like Dick Cheney, to go around on Sunday shows and say, 'What I did was absolutely right.'"

[Nov 29, 2014] Hagel Firing Points To More War

Nov 25, 2014 |

Yesterday U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice fired Defense Secretary Hagel. It was a huge mistake for President Obama to agree to that move. There are many foreign policy problems the White House created for itself. None of those are the fault of Hagel but nearly all of them can be traced back to Susan Rice herself and her surreal management style:

Earlier this year, the decision on how many U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan in 2015 was the subject of 14 meetings of NSC deputies, four gatherings involving Cabinet secretaries and other NSC "principals," and two NSC sessions with the president, according to a former senior administration official.

The consequence of those meetings was to pare back the military's request by just 700 troops - from 10,500 to 9,800.

After Obama and Rice, against earlier promises, secretly extend U.S. combat in Afghanistan, the number decided after 20 NSC meetings is already again up in the air and likely to increase. Such decision making exemplifies mismanagement by Susan Rice, not by Hagel.

Rice wanted Hagel fired because she was pissed when Hagel called her out on the chaotic non-policy she developed against the Islamic State and with regard to Syria. As a realist he knows that the U.S. will need the Syrian army under President Assad to push the Islamic State back into the underground. Against the advice of the military Rice, a "liberal interventionist", insists on ousting Assad.

The neocons, including the writers on Fred Hiatt's funny pages in the Washington Post, want Michèle Flournoy as replacement. She is a COIN propagandist who argued for both surges, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both surges as well as COIN failed to deliver what Flournoy and others promised.

Adding more incompetence to the U.S. foreign policy process as a Flournoy nomination would assure will not promote world peace but more war.

Penny | Nov 25, 2014 1:00:54 PM | 6

"Adding more incompetence to the U.S. foreign policy......."

and that comment sets the tone for what comes after. BUT! "Incompetence"? What incompetence? Looks to me like all is going very well in the remake the middle east and get into Africa and you call that incompetence?

Looks to me like a job well done! Hagel may have just gone on to greener pastures- time will tell.

Farflungstar | Nov 25, 2014 4:18:05 PM | 9

And after they dragged Hagel's name through the mud on those hearings where he was pointedly grilled about not being pro-Israel enough. I guess when it's all said and done, he wasn't. Rest assured, the next one (Flournoy) will be certain to chug enough tubesteak and kosher sausage links to make her bosses happy.

Susan rice ought to shave her moustache, she might get more respect this way. She's on par with Samantha Power for Asshole of The Year.

james k. sayre | Nov 25, 2014 4:50:34 PM | 13

former Senator Hagel was no peach. He electronically stole his GOP primary election in Nebraska and later electronically stole the general election. Guess who counted the votes? His own electronic voting machine corporation. Not even a paper trail for the saps in Nebraska. Trust Chuck... That was way back in 1996 or 1997. Republicans have stolen many elections electronically since then. The corporate Dems get the GOPs get away with it, so that the Dems would have an excuse to not pass progressive legislation...

Virgile | Nov 25, 2014 5:54:41 PM | 16

"As a realist he knows that the U.S. will need the Syrian army under President Assad to push the Islamic State back into the underground."

That is not correct. In fact many media reported that the opposition and Turkey lost a 'friend' with the departure of Hagel.

Hagel had never expressed that idea. Quite the contrary, like Turkey and France he wanted Bashar Al Assad out before tackling the ISIS. In fact the was kicked because he questioned Obama's strategy to postpone the fate of Bashar Al Assad to after the collapse of ISIS

Obama wanted to hide from Saudi Arabia and Turkey that he had no serious intention of removing Bashar al Assad before having dealt completely with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
He succeeded in fooling them by announcing that both of these countries will be hosting Syrian rebels that the USA will train. Ironically Lavrov helped the US in fooling Turkey and Saudi Arabia by accusing Obama to underhandedly working to topple Bashar Al Assad. The GCC countries were satisfied.

Then Hagel blew up the whole thing as he exposed that it was a hazy strategy as it did not spell out what will happen to Bashar al Assad. Obama and the witches of the White House decided he should leave.

Almand | Nov 25, 2014 6:45:56 PM | 18

Obama now needs to replace Holder and Hagel with an intensely hostile GOP Congress. It's all but a guarantee Hagel's successor will be a neo-con hawk, unless something really strange happens.

Rusty Pipes | Nov 25, 2014 9:52:24 PM | 22

Regarding your second NYT link:
"No one is going to be hailed to be the anti-Hagel," said Douglas Ollivant, a retired Army officer and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. "No one hates Hagel."

Confirmation pressure

Instead of taking pressure off the president, it's likely that the confirmation process for Hagel's replacement will generate more political headaches in the near term. Those hearings should give the president's critics, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the future Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, a big stage to launch broad attacks on the president's policies in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

The next defense secretary will also have to wrestle with a military strategy in Iraq and Syria that has halted Islamic State advances but has been slow to reverse the group's big gains from the summer.

Aside from the Israel Lobby, "no one hates Hagel." Interesting that the resignation is announced at the same time that the Iran talks have faltered and Abbas has delayed pushing for statehood in the UNSC. What a great way to make Bibi feel like he's on the top of the world.

Willy2 | Nov 26, 2014 3:56:00 PM | 33

Obama doesn't seem to have a clear cut foreign policy.

Article written by Robert Parry.

[Nov 20, 2014] The Military-Industrial Candidate By Kelley Vlahos

Nov 20, 2014 | The American Conservative
Analysts were right to say that the Republican takeover of Congress bodes well for the war machine: already we see the levers of power slowly shifting in reverse, eager to get back to salad days of post-9/11 wartime spending.

But waiting in the wings, Hillary Clinton just may prove to be what the defense establishment has been waiting for, and more. Superior to all in money, name recognition, and influence, she is poised to compete aggressively for the Democratic nomination for president. She might just win the Oval Office. And by most measures she would be the most formidable hawk this country has seen in a generation.

"It is clear that she is behind the use of force in anything that has gone on in this cabinet. She is a Democratic hawk and that is her track record. That's the flag she's planted," said Gordon Adams, a national security budget expert who was an associate director in President Bill Clinton's Office of Management and Budget.

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has spent her post-service days protesting the war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, is more blunt. "Interventionism is a business and it has a constituency and she is tapping into it," she tells TAC. "She is for the military industrial complex, and she is for the neoconservatives."

Hillary, Inc.

The former secretary of state, senator, and first lady appeared to fire the first salvo (at least in her national security arsenal) in her next presidential bid last summer, when she gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg mostly on the launch of her new autobiography, Hard Choices. In the much-ballyhooed Atlantic piece, Clinton defends Israel from charges of disproportionate attacks in Gaza, takes a hard line on Iran in the nuclear talks, and suggests President Obama could have avoided the rise of ISIS by listening to her proposals for arming the anti-Assad rebels in Syria last year.

... ... ...

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and TAC contributing editor. Follow her on Twitter.

Nikola, November 20, 2014 at 6:22 am

Thank you American Conservative for mentioning the Clinton bombing of Serbia in the 1990s. So many Serbs feel that Americans genuinely hate Serbia but most Americans have really no idea what the Clintons did to us in the 90s. It's hard for our people here to understand that here but I do my best to explain that 99% of Americans are unaware that their government ordered the bombing of Christian Serbia's hospitals and schools on false pretence to secure Albanian heroin routes in Kosovo.

Serbia was always an American ally. In WWII, Serbs saved 500 U.S. airmen who were shot down by the Nazis in German occupied Serbia. Kept them hidden for 6 months. I suggest readers look up the "Forgotten 500″.

philadelphialawyer, November 20, 2014

"Clinton understands that the only avenue of safety for a Democrat in the arena of national security is to throw money at the Pentagon," said Adams, and 'this is consistent with her worldview on national security. She sees military force as an essential tool and if you take that view, why wouldn't you want to increase the military's budget?'"

Sadly, I think this is true. Bill Clinton, I think, appeased the military and protected himself from the charges of "softness" that have been leveled at national Democrats since the Vietnam era, by wasting money on the DoD and by using the military just enough to keep the hounds at bay. But Hillary is now a true believer. She is not all for war and money for the Pentagon because it is politic (although she does think it is politic as well), but because that is what she now thinks is good policy.

I find it a disgrace that the Democratic party will likely nominate her. I will not vote for her in the primary or in the general election.

NotTimothyGeithner | Nov 25, 2014 10:57:55 PM | 26

@23 I think the empire is bloated and lacks sufficient domestic support to cover all the bases, and the result is the rats are turning on each other. The Village can no longer afford to pay homage to every imperialist pet project, and they are sort of recognizing the crowds out and about tonight are much bigger than their email petitions supporting intervention in Syria. Obama's inner circle is done in a Clinton Administration and will have no future careers in politics if they don't rebrand Obama. Hagel as a Republican offers no real political support given the electorate, and the only way to rebrand Obama is to blame Hagel for mysterious and contradictory reasons such as having cut him out almost 2 years ago and then complaining that there is no strategy from Hagel.

No one except hard core neocons won't trace ISIS to the U.S. or at least our allies through long term blowback from Iraq and the subsequent lack of prosecutions and arming the opposition "forces." Every Obama henchman will at minimum will be asked about quality control.

Posted by: Willy2 | Nov 26, 2014 3:56:00 PM | 33

Obama doesn't seem to have a clear cut foreign policy.

Article written by Robert Parry.

[Nov 11, 2014] The Cold War movie classics Dr. Strangelove, The Deer Hunter and more by Bill Wyman

Al Jazeera America

Leaving aside the terrible human costs, the Cold War was the most cinematic of conflicts, playing out in the shadows of occupied cities and in closed-off rooms thousands of miles away. Action took place behind the scenes - until an absurdist clash played out in this or that corner of the world. Some countries fell like chess pieces; in others fighting dragged on, in a painful stasis, for years. It was a cerebral war, and a perfect setting for stark filmic landscapes of forces larger than people, marked with heroism and despair.

A small number of bleak masterpieces captured the time best; I'll get to those in a minute. But first, there's Vietnam. Here, in a remote curving coastline of a country 9,000 miles from Washington and 4,500 miles from Moscow, two nuclear superpowers funded hapless inhabitants of a Third World country in a debilitating proxy war marked by incompete country.

A year later, Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" hit theaters. The making of the movie was a drawn-out war in its own right, and the ending remains muddled to this day, but few will deny it captured in a highly stylized way the existential toll Vietnam took on America. (No Best Picture award, though - the Academy turned to the rather less visionary " Kramer Vs. Kramer.") A decade later, Oliver Stone revisited his own Vietnam service in " Platoon." The theme was the same - how an immoral war ruins the men forced to fight it - and the Academy responded with another Best Picture win.

The years of the Cold War saw Russia and the U.S. involved in a new Great Game, pressing for advantage in odd corners of the globe. None of it mattered in the big picture, but when two giants battle over a cookie in a small room, collateral damage can ensue. (The cookie generally gets destroyed as well.) No film captured the idea of how insignificant regular folks were in that game than the (literally) explosive "Kiss Me Deadly," from 1955. A minor pulp novel of the era (written by Mickey Spillane) is turned into perhaps the ultimate absurdist confrontation between man and matter. A less apocalyptic look came in the memorable 1953 thriller "Pickup on South Street," in which a small-time criminal picks the wrong pocket. His prize turns out to be a roll of microfilm, and he's soon in over his head. The classic noir direction is by Sam Fuller.

In the Reagan era, we saw some films with a jingoistic flair. In the taut "Hunt for Red October," a Russian sub captain wants to defect to the U.S.; and in "Red Dawn," bellicose screenwriter John Milius took to the director's chair to film a highly improbable but goofily enjoyable fantasy of a Soviet invasion of America.

Underlying many of these films was the threat of nuclear war between the superpowers, which of course had been a part of American life since the "duck and cover" days. Children of the 1980s remember "WarGames," the highly enjoyable family-friendly thriller about a young computer enthusiast who stumbles into the nation's nuclear-defense bunker and learns about the "mutually assured destruction" - or MAD - strategy. In the end, even the computer agrees it's a pretty dumb approach. In the 1970 thriller "Colossus: The Forbin Project," a pair of super computers, one Russian and one American, join forces to take over the world. And in "Fail-Safe," we watch again as the logical implications of a nation's highly illogical nuclear-defense strategy plays out.

Once certain filmmakers began to deal with the consequences of an actual nuclear war, they couldn't put a happy face on the result. The groundbreaking film on the subject is "On the Beach," a relatively bloodless but unrelievedly sad look at the sort of life survivors would face after a full-scale nuclear exchange. The director was Stanley Kramer, at the time a highly successful purveyor of social-conscience films. Almost a quarter-century later, in 1983, America came together to watch a made-for-TV film called "The Day After." You couldn't call the film a no-holds-barred look at the aftermath of such a war, because the filmmakers acknowledged that they couldn't present a truly accurate rendition of the result. It would have been too bleak, they said. No matter: 100 million watched, and the broadcast caused a sensation.

And at the top of the list are a small number of works acclaimed for capturing the existential nature of this unannounced conflict that lasted for some 45 years. The novels of John Le Carré are of course renowned for their flinty look at the bleakest odd corners of the standoff; there are two terrific renditions of one of his most popular novels, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," one a BBC miniseries from 1979 with Alec Guinness as Le Carré's George Smiley, and a feature film in 2011 with Gary Oldman in the lead role. Both capture with a gimlet eye the moral decrepitude that the war created. Carol Reed, the great British director, captured a similar process in much more expressionistic fashion in his classic U.K. noir, "The Third Man," with an unforgettable Orson Welles leading Joseph Cotton - and the viewer - into a moral cesspool in Vienna.

Another Cold War classic is "The Manchurian Candidate," from 1962. John Frankenheimer, a master of politically themed films, directed the movie in striking black and white. The story - which involved the brainwashing of an American soldier - played on our paranoia about Communist plots. The film was also strikingly prophetic, involving as it did a disturbed assassin only slightly removed from the circumstances that would kill John F. Kennedy a year after the film's release. Frankenheimer's riveting direction captured the off-kilter world we were living in - and brought the film to a thrilling conclusion.

But of course the greatest Cold War film of them all captured the absurdities of the conflict better than anyone else. It, too, was in black and white, the better to lay out the incompatible worldviews of the opponents. It was, as unlikely as it may seem, a comedy, with one man playing three roles – a worried British commander, a harried U.S. president and a maniacal political adviser.

I'm referring, of course, to the work of the brilliant Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick's highly disturbing 1964 Cold War classic, "Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." The film's lancing humor (including the unforgettable line, "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here - this is the War Room!") disguises what's really going on: Three stories of bumbling, misdirected humanity, coming together to produce what was once the unthinkable.

Bill Wyman, an Al Jazeera cultural critic, is the former arts editor of and National Public Radio.

Christian Hertzog

Some very funny movies left out here: One, Two, Three and Our Man in Havana. The Prisoner may not depict the U.S. side of the war, but it's a taut fable about belief in a totalitarian regime, and the torture techniques the Iron Curtain country uses against Alec Guiness are the very same nonphysical techniques which the U.S. now uses against political prisoners, most notably Chelsea Manning. I'd swap out the later film version of Tinker, Tailor for The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. And no Czech cinema on this list? So much wonderfully subversive commentary on Communist regimes by Czech directors. The Fireman's Ball could adequately represent that strand of filmmaking

Louis Arpino

Fast forward to "Wag The Dog" and its prophecy of ISIS.

[Nov 04, 2014] M of A - Western Training And The Fight Against The Islamic State

From comments: ""training" is another means of directing money into the military industrial complex which presently defines the usa.. meddling in others affairs, for corporate interests is what they do best!!! it gets packaged with lies and whatever kind of propaganda that has to go with it which is the cost of doing 'biz'.. the usa no longer represents ordinary people or anything about democracy..."
Nov 04, 2014 |
"Training" foreign troops seems to be some magic solution for various foreign policy problems. "Training" a new Iraqi army against the Islamic State is the latest of such a hoped for miracles. But all recent "western training" has been more problematic than successful.

The various foreign troops trained at the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas, turned out to be capable, but only as torturers and death squads:

Observers point out that School alumni include: 48 out of 69 Salvadoran military members cited in the U.N. Truth Commission's report on El Salvador for involvement in human rights violations (including 19 of 27 military members implicated in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests), and more than 100 Colombian military officers alleged to be responsible for human rights violations by a 1992 report issued by several human rights organizations. Press reports have also alleged that school graduates have included several Peruvian military officers linked to the July 1992 killings of nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University, and included several Honduran officers linked to a clandestine military force known as Battalion 316 responsible for disappearances in the early 1980s. Critics of the School maintain that soldiers who are chosen to attend are not properly screened, with the result that some students and instructors have attended the School after being implicated in human rights violations.

Foreign officers trained over the last decade in various military "anti-terrorism" programs seem somewhat prone to coup against their government:

The army officer who has seized power in Burkina Faso amid popular protests in the West African country was twice selected to attend counterterrorism training programs sponsored by the U.S. government, U.S. military officials said.
Although the training he received was relatively brief, Zida's experience carries echoes of other African military officers who went on to topple their governments after being selected by the U.S. government for professional military education courses.

In March 2012, an army captain in Mali who had attended a half-dozen military training courses in the United States led a coup that deposed his democratically-elected government.

The United Kingdom offered to train 2,000 Libyan "soldiers" to clean up the anarchy its attack on Libya created. In a first tranche 325 were recently selected, "vetted" and flown to the UK for some basic infantry training. Some 90 of them decided they did not want to be soldiers and asked to be flown home. Additionally some 20 claimed asylum. The rest tried to have some fun. Two stole bicycles, rode to Cambridge and sexually assaulted several women. Some others raped a male person. The training program has been abandoned and the rest of these "vetted" and "trained" gang was send home to presumably reenforce the anarchy there.

The U.S. trained the Iraqi army over several years and at a cost of billions of dollars. As soon as that army was assaulted it fell apart. Four divisions fled when attacked by rather minor forces of the Islamic State.

But do not despair. The U.S. has found the perfect way to solve the Islamic State problem in Iraq. It will now simply train a few new divisions and those freshly trained folks will then surely be able to defeat and destroy the Islamic State.

Iraqi security forces, backed by American-led air power and hundreds of advisers, are planning to mount a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters who have poured into the country from Syria, a campaign that is likely to face an array of logistical and political challenges.
United States officials say that the initial force they are planning to advise consists of only nine Iraqi brigades and three similar Kurdish pesh merga units - roughly 24,000 troops.

The counterattack plan calls for at least doubling that force by adding three divisions, each of which could range from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.

The United States is relying on allies to augment American trainers. Australia, Canada and Norway have committed several hundred special forces to one or more of the training or advisory missions, a senior United States military official said.

For the expected quality of that farce and its training just see above.

The Islamic State is currently ruling over some 4 to 6 million people. It is recruiting and drafting among these to increase the size of its own army. How many able young men of fighting age can be generated from a millions strong, traditionally child rich population? 100,000? 300,000? The Islamic State has capable trainers from the old Baathist Iraqi army and it uses a fighting style that mixes guerrilla tactics and conventional warfare. It has captured enough weapons and ammunition to fit out several tens of thousands soldiers.

Even with air support the few forces the U.S. plans to train will be mince meat as soon as they will try to enter areas the Islamic State wants to hold.

The "western" military model is simply not fitting to the kind of conflicts encountered in other parts of the world. The mentalities, traditions, ideological incentives and education levels are much different.

"The west" still feels superior to "the rest" because it has, in the past, won so many colonial wars. But as Samuel Huntington once remarked:

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

It was an advantage in technology that allowed "western" forces to win in colonial wars. But at least in ground wars both sides now basically use the same technology and similar weapons. There is no longer a technical advantage and some basic "training" does not help much to escape from an incoming stream of hot machine gun bullets. The U.S. war of independence is a good example for this. While the British army still could win in other colonial wars a colonial fight against an enemy at a similar technical level but with higher motivation ended in defeat.

Any force that is supposed to grind down the Islamic State and its army needs an ideological motivation and will to fight that is at least equal to the one of the Islamic State fighters. As an attacking force it will also needs superior numbers. The U.S. and other "western" armies are unable to create such a force in Iraq. The only entities which can do such on short notice are the Iranian revolutionary guard and Hizbullah. Any efforts of "training" a new force against the Islamic State that does not involve those will be in vane.

The recent history of "western training" of foreign forces is a history of failures and defeat. It is stupid to assume that this time will be different. If the U.S. wants to defeat the Islamic State it will have to make nice with its other "enemies" and it will have to let them lead the training and the fighting. Anything else will likely fail and end up in a few decades with the embarrassing acceptance of a new state in the former territories of Iraq, Syria and whatever other country the Islamic State decides to slice apart.


"training" is another means of directing money into the military industrial complex which presently defines the usa.. meddling in others affairs, for corporate interests is what they do best!!! it gets packaged with lies and whatever kind of propaganda that has to go with it which is the cost of doing 'biz'.. the usa no longer represents ordinary people or anything about democracy...

[Oct 30, 2014] Russian hackers: just another episode in the never-ending psych-op campaign being waged against Russia in the west

Fern, October 30, 2014 at 5:53 am
Terrific article, Mark. I'd missed this story but it does sound as though it's yet another episode in the never-ending psych-op campaign being waged against Russia in the west.

The story of Russian cyber attacks of one kind or another has been running for a while now – NATO's General Breedlove, carrying out his main mission of expanding his organisation's role in the world, was the first to posit the idea that a 'NATO for the 21st century' could see cyber attacks as a justification for invoking Article 5 of the NATO Charter – an attack on one is an attack on all – so the incremental build-up of Russia as the world's most devious hacker is probably serving this sort of purpose.

Back to Ukraine for a moment. An iconic Kiev cinema has been destroyed in an arson attack during a screening of an LGBT film. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. There seem to be two possible explanations for the incident – either a protest against the showing of this particular film or a shortening of whatever planning process operates in Kiev in order to realise the value of the site. It will be interesting to see whether the EU reacts to this.

ThatJ, October 30, 2014 at 6:36 am
In the long term, the EU and US will prefer the LGBT and other marginal freakish groups over nationalists.

However, instead of physical intimidation, the new coalition of AngloZionist-empowered marginal minorities will use the law to criminalize previously widely-held values and beliefs. This is usually done through "hate crime" laws - as if any crime toward a victim is done out of love…

Other means, such as the mainstream media and well-funded violent Trotskyite groups may be used against patriots as well, but this will take years, and like I said before, will only happen if the AngloZionists gain total control over Ukraine. As long as the country is hanging between the AngloZionists and Russia, the AngloZionists will use the shabbos goyim nationalists against the Moskali.

A certain Eugen Zelman is quoted is quoted in the article. Poor guy, he's just trying to spread some European values. Why do these people always find me?

Fern , October 30, 2014 at 6:23 am
A very good edition of RT's 'CrossTalk' on the Ukrainian elections. Peter Lavelle's guests are Nebojsa Malic, Eric Krauss and Dimitry Babich. At one point, Nebojsa sums up the choice voters faced as 'Oligarchs, Nazis and Nazi-Oligarchs' which sounds like it covers a lot of the bases.

[Oct 04, 2014] Sun Tzu And The Cost Of War

"...nothing breaks morale more than the prospect of never ending foreign wars."

Not only are the Post 9/11 entanglements the longest of any war the US has been involved in, they are also the most expensive – even more than World War II, when the US was fighting on two major fronts against heavily industrialized powers. Rather than achieving victory quickly as advocated by Sun Tzu, the US has been involved in very costly wars for well over a decade now.

Sun Tzu had something to say about this: "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." Seen in this light, has the Post 9/11 military strategy made the US a victorious warrior?

While all of this is taking place, the US' ideological foes can afford the luxury of sitting back and employing a more measured approach:

"To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

Indeed, nothing breaks morale more than the prospect of never ending foreign wars.

Colonel Klink

And more to the point, it's because our wars are run by politicians rather than brilliant military minds. The MIC wants the conflict to drag out for as long as possible so they can rake in as much money as they can, just like the BANKS.

Latina Lover

During Sun Tzu era, there was no military industrial complex, hence war was fought to steal resources, destroy enemies and defend against aggression.

The USSA is beholden to the Military Industrial Complex. This means we will NEVER a war, but engage in endless conflicts until the USSA is squeezed dry like a lemon.

Escrava Isaura

No Gods…. No Masters


America's ideological foes are "People that can think for themselves" instead in a mindset of 'Totalitarian Institutions,' such as we see in US education and religion.

"The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful." - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


Sadly how we fight changed with LBJ and to quote him " we're not there to win a war, we're there to teach those little yellow bastards a lesson".


A nation can survive its fools and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly against the city. But the traitor moves among those within the gates freely, his sly whispers rustling through all alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears no traitor; he speaks in the accents familiar to his victim, and he wears their face and their garments and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation; he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city; he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. The traitor is the plague.


Our traitors are the Neocons who are constantly pushing the nation to war:

Jewish writers confirm that the Iraq War was a war for Israel, not America

The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.

In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town (Washington): the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history.

"Watergate" Jewish Journalist Blames "Jewish Neo-cons" for Iraq War

Famous Jewish journalist Carl Bernstein-one of those responsible for unearthing the Nixon Watergate Scandal in 1973-has stated on public television that Jewish neo-cons were behind the Iraq war.


Others have a much higher estimate for just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

US Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq to Cost $6 trillion

The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Remember, when President George Bush's National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country's largest newspaper "The Wall Street Journal" that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.

Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign. It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.

According to the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.

According to the report, the US "has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt," and future interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars. This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.
War is not, nor will war ever be, an art form. The object of war is not to die for your country, but to get the enemy to die for HIS country.
Dying for his "Country" is so 19th century. Now the "enemy" dies for unnamed bankers and corporations.
Jack Burton
Truer words were never spoken. This is part of the utter collapse of the British Empire. Imperial wars started the rot and World Wars I and II killed them dead as a doornail. Now they are a lap dog running behind the USA begging for scraps and an appeance of mattering. Hitching their wagon to the USA and following every order makes the elites there believe that they still matter in the world, when in fact, they do not in the least matter in any way. They can't even control the borders of the kingdom, which are wide open to invasions from every corner of the planet. Pathetic UK elites!

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." That applies to the loser of course but also the victor, which is forced to expend substantial resources and in the end may not get much spoils to show for it, while becoming vulnerable himself to other attacks."

But, the real purpose of war is not to defeat a foreign enemy, but a domestic "enemy".

It is the process by which criminal and useful-idiot classes rid themselves of potential rebels, askers of embarrassing questions, troublesome possessors of a sense of justice, or intelligence.

To accomplish this goal, tyrants do not hesitate to work up such potential rebels (male children) into a lather and send them to the frontier to murder male children of neighboring kingdoms.

After the slaughters, tyrant involved meet for a feast, toast one anther, then retire to their palaces to plot the next mutual slaughter.

It is, basically, the sport of kings, this murder of young male potential rebels; they (criminal and useful-idiot classes) don't hesitate to organize a slaughter of 20 million peasants just to get rid of a few hundred, or thousand, potential rebels.

Sport of kings…? It's more like a sport of Judeo-Bolsheviks, who have been perpetrating genocides and general plunders for at least 5,000 years (historians and archeologists have documented it 4,000 years ago, so we add another 1,000 years for its development in prior ages). Their genocides are/were necessary to destroy as much evidence and as many victims and witnesses as possible; thereby giving future victims little warning.

They weren't always known as Judeo-Bolsheviks, of course; they first appear as Elamite money-lenders and merchants, evolved into Babylonian priesthood and merchants and, with a few other name changes, to their present mask, Judeo-Bolshevik. (See my article, Exodus #23, parts 1 and 2).


Since WWII, the US has pretty much broken every rule laid out in Sun Tzu's timeless classic. Which explains why the US hasn't won a war since WWII.

[Sep 23, 2014] 9-11 & Iraq Revisited Remembering How We Were Lied Into War by Will Porter

September 19, 2014 | Blog

Since the cataclysmic events that took place on the morning of September 11th 2001, an extended series of consequences have unfolded with an alarming rapidity. Between vast escalations of military activity abroad, the passing of draconian laws, like the Patriot Act and the NDAA, the instituting of the Department of Homeland Security, and the ramping up of domestic spy programs through the NSA, 9/11 has served as a catalyst for a radical change in how America conducts itself both at home and around the world. In the weeks and months following the incident, the American people were bombarded with a veritable hurricane of bald-faced lies and assertions based on dubious "intelligence". Before they could begin to wrap their heads around the significance of the events taking place around them, their government had already set plans into motion to wage a decades-long military conflict in the Middle East, a conflict which rages at full force to this day. In fact, recent developments in Iraq regarding the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS, elevate the issue of the 2003 Iraq War to the highest importance.

Among the general populace, a widely-accepted narrative has developed which attempts to make sense of all that has happened since September 11th. Very broadly, the narrative contends that Islamic extremists have declared war on the United States, and this alone serves to explain and justify the long string of wars that have been waged in the name of the global "War on Terrorism" ever since. What's most surprising about the public narrative is that it offers almost no explanation at all of how or why Iraq was, directly or indirectly, implicated in the 2001 terror attacks on New York and DC. At best, the public storyline suggests only a vague connection between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Any substantial explanation of this tie, however, has seemingly fallen away into the ethereal memory hole of American historical conscience.

Of the many oft-repeated talking points which comprise the terror war narrative, the question of the highest importance almost always goes unasked: why exactly did the United States wage war against Iraq in the first place? It is extremely peculiar that the largest-scale, most significant conflict to date in the war on terrorism has no widely-understood explanation. Those who have paid the highest price to initiate this war, the American people, seem to be the least informed on the matter. It is because of this lack of understanding regarding Iraq in particular that the terror war was ever able to get underway, and, indeed, build up a seemingly unstoppable momentum.

On this 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which initiated the drive for war, it is vital to return to these basic questions. How did this happen? Who was involved? What justifications were given to go into Iraq in the first place? After more than a decade, the American people still cannot provide firm answers to such questions. To understand the broader war on terror, and how it came to dominate American foreign policy, it is necessary to fill in the blanks of the official narrative, as well as overturn some of the prevailing falsehoods about Iraq, WMDs, and its connection to al-Qaeda.

In basic terms, the official US government justification for the Iraq War goes something like this: Saddam Hussein was a material supporter of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda – particularly the Islamic militant Abu Musab Zarqawi – offering safe harbor and/or training facilities for them in Iraq. On top of this is the related claim that Hussein was actively pursuing "weapons of mass destruction," using "mobile bio-weapons labs," as well as "aluminum tubes" for centrifuges in a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In his alleged link to militant Islam – and his ties to Palestine in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordan-born Palestinian – Saddam was said to have planned to provide Iraq's weapons to terrorists, who would act as his proxies. For these reasons, Iraq was said to be a threat to its neighbors, and a threat to the United States. These claims are officially stated in a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), but also informally circulated in TV and print news media in the run up to the war.

While the Bush Administration explicitly refrained from directly accusing Saddam of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, they were certainly happy to let the American people believe there was a direct connection between the two. After all, many thought, why would the US ever wage a war against Iraq, seemingly as a result of 9/11, if Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11? Due to the disjointed and incoherent Administration narrative, and the mainstream media's willingness to freely speculate on all matters pertaining to 9/11, Iraq, and terror, the American people were left to rationalize and put two-and-two together on their own, often concluding that Saddam and September 11th were related.

The only explicit attempt to tie 9/11 to Iraq was in the claim that lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammad Atta, made contact with Iraqi intelligence at a meeting in Prague. Later, additional allegations derived from "Israeli security sources" assert that an Iraqi agent furnished Atta with an "anthrax flask" at the same meeting. Some suggested also that Iraq was involved in the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks that took place shortly after 9/11, targeting media outlets as well as Senators Patrick Leahy and Thomas Daschle (who both, coincidentally, happened to oppose the invasion of Iraq). All the talk of anthrax, no matter how baseless, ultimately helped to terrorize the American people and warm them up to the idea of war with Iraq. Finally, but no less important, we have the documents, curiously supplied by an Italian intelligence agency (SISMI), which were claimed to prove Saddam's attempt to procure 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger. Sprinkle in a little Wilsonian talk of "spreading democracy," and you've got yourself a war.

As we shall see, absolutely none of the casus belli presented to the American people had any resemblance to reality. Through a complex network of government officials – primarily connected to the Pentagon and the office of the Vice President – media pundits and journalists – such as Judith Miller, others at the New York Times, and the PNAC crowd at the Weekly Standard – as well as foreign sources – Iraqi ex-pats as well as Italian and Israeli intelligence – the Iraq War was set off without a hitch; built upon, in the words of Colin Powell, a "web of lies."

An essential link in the chain was the Pentagon-created Office of Special Plans (OSP). Established in 2002, this agency lies at the very heart of the War Party push to invade Iraq. Through this Office, headed by Abram Shulsky under the authority of Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, "intelligence" was funneled into important or influential places, such as the office of Vice President Cheney via his Chief of Staff, Louis "Scooter" Libby. In one case, information was even directly leaked by Douglas Feith to Bill Kristol's neocon rag, the Weekly Standard, demonstrating, in part, the state-media complicity in misleading the American people. Additional players linked to the OSP, to name only a few, include NESA bureau head William Luti, Defense Policy Board members Richard Perle and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, as well as neocon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, whose prior informal intelligence activity with Feith was officially codified in the creation of the OSP. Its primary task was to dig through raw intelligence agency information, unaccompanied by the judgment of a professional analyst, in order to ham-fistedly piece together official justifications for war.

According to retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former Pentagon desk officer Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked closely with senior Pentagon staff such as William Luti, higher-up officials in the OSP were "willing to exclude or marginalize intelligence products that did not fit the agenda." To that end, information disseminated from this office was carefully cherry-picked and highly exaggerated, with much of it gleaned from the Iraqi expat group the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Presiding over the INC was Ahmed Chalabi, essentially a double agent for the Ayatollah, who temporarily served a vital purpose for his neo-conservative dupes.

Chalabi dazzled neocons with talk of a future "Hashemite Kingdom" in Iraq (referring to Jordan; diplomatically and economically friendly with Israel). He was selected by administration war hawks as early as the Gulf War to lead the Iraqi political march to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Exiled from Iraq, and a convicted bank fraudster, Chalabi weaseled his way into high position in the post-Saddam Iraqi state after helping the Bush Administration successfully bamboozle their way in. Later on, to the horror of his former US colleagues, his loyalties were discovered, revealing an epic betrayal of the War Party in favor of his long-held Iranian connections. As an influential figure among pro-war ideologues, Chalabi was able to carefully sway events to Iran's benefit in ways which his neocon handlers were oblivious of. Despite this double-cross, it was Chalabi and his INC "heroes in error" who provided many of the intelligence sources that were vital in the push for invasion. For example, in a New York Times piece by Judith Miller, she cites a meeting, arranged by the INC, with an "Iraqi defector," claiming there to be "renovations at sites for chemical and nuclear arms" in Saddam's Iraq. With the popular news media parroting the government's claims, it helped to quickly move along the pro-war policy.

In the end, nothing regarding the claims of "aluminum tubes," initially insisted on by the CIA's center, was true. The same goes for the "arms sites" and "mobile weapons labs," both of which were sourced from Iraqi defectors. All of these talking points were, as well, used in Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations in February of 2003, a speech which was crucial in the green-lighting of the American-led coalition to invade Iraq. The lies in that speech, as well as the ones told in the 2002 NIE cited above, are officially debunked by a 2004 Senate Report (download PDF in link) which cites intelligence community conclusions on the various fraudulent claims. None of the information used to bolster the WMD story held any weight, and a large portion of the US intelligence community had said so all along. This was not just a big mistake, it was intelligence deliberately concocted, or presented wildly out of context, in order to send the nation (back) to war, to finish the job started in the 1991 Iraq conflict.

Official skepticism toward Bush Administration claims of Saddam's weapons, as well as his ties to terror is illustrated the leaked UK intelligence documents, known as the "Downing Street Memos". These memos depict high-ranking UK officials expressing concern over whether the Administration was "fixing" intelligence around a pro-war policy, rather than a policy around intelligence. Before, during, and after the war, there were a multitude of intelligence sources, as well as a fairly large body of journalism, which conveyed deep skepticism toward the dubious pro-war talking points. There certainly were dissenting voices in the lead up to the war; these voices simply went unheeded and unheard, at least until after the invasion. The mainstream media chose, instead, to create an echo chamber for the flurry of false claims emanating from the Bush Administration and the tightly-knit group of neo-conservatives in high office or positions of public influence.

Also proven false in the 2004 Senate Report are the allegations of Saddam attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from the Nigerian government in 1999-2000. The documents passed along from Italian intelligence, in fact, turned out to be the crudest of forgeries! From October of 2002 to March of 2003, the CIA, as well as the IAEA, expressed doubts about the information contained in the documents, yet this didn't stop President Bush from invoking it in his State of the Union address of January 2003. Indeed, the CIA's skepticism was either discounted or completely circumnavigated in order to push this particular piece of intelligence.

Of much interest here is the 2005 La Republica exposé (translation) which explores the antics of one Rocco Martino, an Italian peddler of information who worked with Italian, and at times French, intelligence. Martino and a number of associates, looking for a quick way to make money, were able to use various intelligence assets to attain access to outdated Nigerian documents. Using official stamps and letterhead stolen from the Nigerian Embassy in Rome, this group of rapacious rogues crudely pieced together the stale documents to create the forgery, which they hoped to sell. They were initially handed off to SISMI and to the French, who quickly saw them for what they were. But much changed after 9/11 and the Bush Administration's mad scramble for Saddam-WMD intelligence. At this point, SISMI finds new willingness to share the documents with the CIA station in Rome, while Martino gives them over to British MI6. The information makes its way to the Bush Administration, where it is eventually used in the 2003 SOTU address in the form of sixteen ambiguous words. Following the rest of this story, with its possible ties to a police sting, Iran, Israel, and Michael Ledeen, will lead us down quite a deep rabbit-hole, which due to space limitations simply cannot be elaborated on here.

Finally it should also be briefly noted that the more recent scandal involving the outing of undercover agent Valerie Plame is heavily related to her husband's investigation of the forged Niger documents. The Wilson-Plame Niger investigation clearly probed too close to the truth, leading to an attempted career assassination at the behest of powerful people.

Another key example of botched intelligence is the claim of the meeting in Prague between Mohammad Atta and Iraqi intelligence, as well as the later attempt to link this meeting with anthrax. The Prague meeting was initially reported by Czech officials, although there were various conflicting accounts, where different Czech officials deny the meeting ever happened. An interesting parenthetical note, when Dick Cheney cited these reports in a TV interview to confirm the 9/11-Iraq tie, he refers to "Czechoslovakia," a country which had not existed since Czech-Slovak split in 1993. This certainly could have been a simple slip of the tongue, but it seems that, assuming Cheney himself had seen the Czech report, it'd be fresh enough in his mind to at least get the country's name right!

Mark Rossini, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent given the task of analyzing the Czech report on the Prague meeting, recalls his reaction to the Cheney interview: "I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, 'What did I just hear?' And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn't believe what I just heard." A 2006 Select Committee on Intelligence report repeats this conclusion, held among US intelligence circles, that the Prague meeting was dubious at best, definitely not solid enough base a military invasion on. Since this meeting likely never occurred, there is no need to provide further evidence to disprove the claim, sourced from "Israeli security," that a flask full of anthrax was given to Atta during the meeting.

Aside from the Prague-anthrax connection, further attempts were made to link the anthrax-letter attacks to both the 9/11 hijackers and, again, to Iraq. The letters themselves contained messages that were so deliberately suggestive of hijacker involvement that it strikes one as suspicious, proclaiming "09-11-01, this is next," and "Death to America, death to Israel." Bryan Ross at ABC repeatedly said, with increasing degrees of certainty, that it was very likely from Saddam Hussein's anthrax program. He sourced three or four unnamed "well placed people," which if true might suggest that Ross was purposely mislead by government agents who wished to anonymously disseminate false information.

Despite the massive FBI probe into the case, no definitive answers were ever provided as to who was responsible. The total incompetency of the FBI, however, didn't stop independent journalists from delving into the case themselves. From these investigations came a series of very strange discoveries, not the least of which was the likelihood that the specific anthrax strains used in the letter-attacks originated in US Army labs! Although two different people were selected as "fall-men," the baseless accusations against neither of them stuck. The second of the two, one Dr. Ayaad Assaad, an Egyptian-American scientist, worked at the Fort Detrick facility from which samples of anthrax, among other dangerous biological compounds, went missing years before the letter-attacks. In later, seemingly unrelated, events at Fort Detrick, Dr. Assaad's colleagues, primarily a group led by a man named Phillip Zack, engaged in bizarre and juvenile harassments against him. This same Phillip Zack was a suspect in a 1992 internal Army inquiry, thought to be making unauthorized access, by cover of night, to a biological compounds lab, where pathogens like anthrax, Ebola, and the Hanta virus had gone missing.

Moreover, in late September 2001, an anonymous letter sent to the FBI in Quantico, Virginia alleging that Dr. Assaad was behind a terrorist plot to use biological agents in the United States. This accusatory letter was sent after the anthrax-letters were mailed, but before they were discovered to contain anthrax. This suggests that some third-party, somebody other than Dr. Assaad, had foreknowledge of the attacks. Tying things together, in the missive accusing Assaad it is also stated that the author had formerly worked with him, demonstrating fairly extensive knowledge of Assaad's career at USAMRIID.

Although the true culprits of the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks remain a mystery, this highly peculiar series of events seems to suggest there is much more to the story than simply another act of terrorism perpetrated by the same group responsible for the 9/11 attacks (or Iraq, as Bryan Ross asserted). One might speculate that this Phillip Zack, or somebody closely related, had a hand in the anthrax-letters, based on his suspected past unauthorized access to pathogens labs, his proven hatred for Dr. Assaad, and the strange letter sent by an alleged former colleague of Assaad's, ascribing the guilt to him. There is more to be said about this long story, however what matters here is not the identity of the culprit, but the fact that despite almost zero solid evidence pointing to Iraq, nor to the 9/11 hijackers, influential people in the government and media were more than willing to accept such an event as a pretext for war; behind closed doors with the former, out in the open with the latter.

In the end, most of the high-ranking US officials involved in kicking off the Iraq invasion have subsequently come out to admit there were no WMDs, and no ties between Hussein and al-Qaeda. While they admit they made mistakes, most of them, unbelievably, deny they ever made claims about nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. They also deny ever asserting there were ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Needless to say, there are mountains of direct evidence proving without a shadow of a doubt that these people are complete liars, guilty of the highest crimes against humanity imaginable.

The Iraq War has often been blamed on faulty intelligence alone, and for some of the people involved this may well be true. However, what's clear is that within the intelligence community itself, there was all along a basic consensus of the doubts regarding Bush Administration claims. The intelligence is not to be blamed, but those who wielded it in dishonest and outright corrupt ways.

What's more are the absolutely damning ties between the neocon cabal largely responsible for the war, and the Israeli foreign policy apparatus. There is a long and extensive history of neo-conservative groups' – especially the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) – involvement in the crafting of both Israeli and Americanpolicy, as well as garnering immense tax-dollar support for the Israeli state. Perhaps this is best illustrated in a 1996 Israeli policy paper entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," authored by neocon figurehead David Wurmser, with signers-on Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others.

Here they outline a plan regarding how Israel should deal with its neighboring Arab states. Working with allies Jordan and Turkey, they hope to "contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of [Israel's] most dangerous threats." This includes countries like Syria, Lebanon, and Iran – most of whom the US has taken an increasingly aggressive posture toward. Iraq also is said to a valuable prize, with the removal of Saddam Hussein from power a priority. Indeed, for many years, long before 9/11, this very same group of hardline Israel-firsters sought to influence American policy toward war with Iraq as well, in large part to serve Israeli interests, alongside military-industrial ones. The 9/11 attacks were obviously used as justification to execute this plan, to get a regime change in Iraq. To these neocons, American and Israeli state-security interests are one in the same, certainly regarding Iraq, as well as the aggressive Zionism (illustrated in the "Yinon Plan") which characterizes Israeli policy, both domestic and foreign.

This incestuous neocon-Israeli involvement in the crafting of state-policy should, of course, come as no surprise. This is a well-known phenomenon, not any sort of speculative conspiracy fringe. Israel not only has long-standing ties with influential conservative movers-and-shakers in the foreign policy field, but also a history of deceptive and outright murderous behavior all around. From the decades of military occupation of the Palestinian people, the Israeli spying on American institutions, the multiple cases of Israeli (or Israel-related, through AIPAC) theft of sensitive US intelligence-related secrets, the theft of uranium in the 1950s to build nuclear bombs with, to their deliberate attempt to sink the USS Liberty in June of 1967, Israel has quite a deranged history indeed.

As with most matters of policy, the Iraq War was certainly not pushed by only one single set of interests. Things aren't so simple. The Israel-first neocon crowd had a very important role to play, but in the end this was a confluence of many inter-locking interest groups. Political campaigning, military-industrial interests, oil, and, especially in the case of Bush Jr., personal ambition; these also were part of the incentive-structure for a pro-war policy. All of the people responsible for this war did not necessarily have to be unified in a grand conspiracy in order to push for the same policy-objective. Indeed, it just goes to show the way in which disparate and varying interest groups can come together in agreement where their individual motivations and values meet. It is sometimes easy to ascribe a collective agency to government actors, but these are still human beings we're speaking of here. Each individual, in reality, acts according to the values placed on his own given ends in the situation he finds himself in.

I have hardly even begun to broach the voluminous content of the Iraq War chronicles, but this short review should alone serve to prove the case. The United States government, or rather a militant clique within its most powerful and influential agencies, sent this nation to war, based on fraudulent pretexts, with a largely disarmed and impoverished adversary. Between the 1990s sanctions, which lead to the deaths of 500,000 children, the one million people killed in the war of 2003, and many more millions displaced – their homes in ruin and their lives destroyed – the toll taken on the Iraqi people has been devastating. From 1990-2012, it is estimated 2-3 million Iraqis were killed or died, due to the economic sanctions, the two wars waged by the US government, and the Civil War which broke out during the second occupation.

Let us never forget how easily this happened, as we are faced with yet anotherattempt to send troops to Iraq. For almost a half-century now, the United States has constantly intervened in Iraq, and to what avail? Of all the trillions of dollars, the millions of lives, the rivers of blood poured into the country, it has only given rise to the most brutal, out of control problem to date: the Islamic State. ISIS is currently rampaging across Iraq and Syria, taking entire swaths of territory and proclaiming the establishment of a long-sought Islamic Caliphate.

As the United States, with its Mid-East allies the Turks and Saudis, continues to funnel material support to the "moderate" anti-Assad rebels in Syria, they fund and back precisely the same people they claim to oppose in Iraq. The anti-Assad rebels and the pro-caliphate jihadists are, in many cases, the very same militant groups. Considering these issues, it is long, long, overdue that the American people and, less likely, the politicians who make US policy, reexamine the issue of the Middle East, and the long-standing practice of US foreign intervention in general. If 50 years of failed policy, the colossal waste of money and resources, as well as the resulting blowback can't teach us this lesson, I do not know what ever would.

At least encouraging was the strong majority stance of the American people to absolutely reject the notion of US military involvement in Syria around September of last year. But for any hope to avoid future bloodshed and destruction, it is vital that we internalize the lessons of the past. We must abandon the idea that history began last week, and always return to the past in order to inform our knowledge of the present and the future. For that reason, after the anniversary of the most horrific example of blowback this country has ever seen, let us never forget Iraq.

A special thank you is reserved for independent researcher, author, and filmmaker War by Deception" and his personal correspondence were invaluable. Another big thanks to radio show host Scott Horton, who took the time to go over this essay and offer many needed resources and corrections.

[Sep 15, 2014] A Conservative Defense Policy for 2014 Look to Eisenhower

The National Interest Blog
Recent discussions amongst Republicans regarding U.S. Defense force structure have revealed an ongoing disagreement between two camps within the party. Military Hawks, citing the recent disturbances in Ukraine and Iraq, have begun to beat the drum for more resources to be allocated for the Department of Defense to address threats that never really subsided. Fiscal Hawks, focused on budget deficits that stretch as far as the eye can see, continue to argue for DoD to continue to be part of a basket of cuts in entitlements and discretionary programs. While all agree that the United States needs to maintain a military strong enough to deter the rise of competitors and preserve its ability to respond to crises around the world, the question that remains is: how large and how capable does our military have to be to accomplish these twin goals?

The Military Hawks' solution is to increase spending and buy more weapons already in production from our military industrial base. Fiscal Hawks, arguing that our Department of Defense is larger than the next ten militaries combined, believe there is room for continued cuts before the nation's interests are placed at risk. Objective analysis suggests that a path exists that would allow cuts to the DoD budget and marginal growth in the force. Such a path is predicated on recognizing that our national fascination with high-tech weapons systems has led to a defense culture where the exquisite has become the enemy of the "good enough."

It has not been so long since the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pronounced that our debt posed a grave threat to our national security at home and around the world. Projected annual trillion-dollar deficits have not lessened the American people's concern. The Budget Control Act (or Sequester) was passed with a false assumption that its provisions would be so painful that the Congress would have to agree on a thoughtful deficit-cutting solution. While we can all agree that it would be wise and desirable to escape the painful controls imposed by the Sequester, we should not give way to election-year desires to spend more, ignoring the long-term implications of our debt.

Some compromise can be found that lowers the cost of entitlements and defense, while also increasing revenues. The Democrats need to come to the table to address the looming crises in Social Security and healthcare. Defense spending should continue downward to levels somewhat higher than those last seen prior to 9/11, when the Department of Defense had an inflation-adjusted budget of $386B (we spend $560B today), the Army had 481,000 soldiers (522,000 today) and the Navy had 316 ships (291 currently). In 2001, we stated that we could fight two major regional conflicts; today, we admit that is no longer possible. Why has the cost of our military gone up 45 percent, while its ability to fight has gone down? Healthcare costs have risen, and there have been complications associated with fighting two wars, but even after factoring the current ISIS crisis into the equation, the wartime pressures are subsiding. In the end, a major inflationary pressure remains our addiction to exquisite platforms.

It is unwise to accept the false premise that we can only arrive at a larger force by spending more on the same types of platforms that we are already building. A conservative approach to the future must find the right balance between high-priced silver bullets that can only be purchased in small numbers and low technology assets that can be purchased in large quantities at low costs. Such an approach would be reminiscent of the Eisenhower presidency, when Ike addressed the debt that had been run up fighting World War II by pursuing a careful balance between a smaller conventional-fighting force and the newly emergent nuclear force, balancing the budget in the process. A Republican defense policy today should rest upon four legs: preservation of current high-tech capabilities, increased emphasis on the procurement of low-cost assets for day-to-day operations, modernization of our nuclear arsenal and investment in the research and development of new technologies to guarantee American leadership after our fiscal house is put in order.

In the meantime, in a world beset with constant turmoil, the phrase "quantity has a quality all its own" takes on new meaning. The United States simply cannot be everywhere that it needs to be with the high-cost, low-numbers military it currently plans, and Republicans cannot simply choose to deficit spend on defense or any other programs they admire. All government spending must be constrained. The turning point on defense will occur when we recognize that spending less money does not have to equate to a smaller force. Wise leaders have a credible alternative in defense-force structure and should pursue it.

Dr. Jerry Hendrix is a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a retired Navy Captain.

Image: U.S. Department of Defense/Flickr.

john • 2 hours ago

An article of the quality that I have come to expect from the national interest. Concise, accurate and perceptive.

The US overspends on defense. We currently posses a military with the capability of taking on the world. I believe we can all agree that level of readiness is not needed.

The balance between spending on defense and social programs is at its heart a political decision. My preference for the level of defense spending perfectly aligns with the author's. Inflation adjusted to pre-9/11 funding. The US is currently facing what threats? A cautions and sometimes belligerent China? A corpse of a nation in Putin's Russia, sporting a national GDP on the other side of California's? ISIS, with its ragtag bunch of poorly equipped fighters numbering 25K strong? Not a lot of threat out there folks.

I do disagree somewhat about US health care spending. There is actual hope that health care spending will level off soon. Market competition is increasing dramatically in that sector, thanks to the ACA.

[Sep 07, 2014] The Why is Behind the Ukraine Crisis by Robert Parry

Ukraine was a typical neoliberal color revolution. With standard set of players known from Iraq and Libya. And standard methods. But this time the goal was actually not Ukraine but Russia. And this crisis has shown pretty well that the EU is not an independent player. It is a vassal of Washington.
Notable quotes:
"... by a combination of the European Union's reckless move to expand its influence eastward and the machinations of U.S. neoconservatives who were angered by Putin's collaboration with President Barack Obama to tamp down confrontations in Syria and Iran, two neocon targets for "regime change." ..."
"... Feb. 22, the agreement was brushed aside as neo-Nazi militias stormed presidential buildings and forced Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. ..."
"... There's also the issue of Russia's interest in exploring with China and other emerging economies the possibility of escaping the financial hegemony of the U.S. dollar, a move that could seriously threaten American economic dominance. ..."
"... Those Obama-Putin diplomatic initiatives frustrated the desires of Israeli officials and the neocons to engineer "regime change" in those two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even believed that bombing Iran's nuclear plants was an "existential" necessity. ..."
"... "You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base. ..."
"... "When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you've succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin's resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of 'regime change.' ..."
Sep 03, 2014 |

Given the very high stakes of a nuclear confrontation with Russia, some analysts wonder what's the real motive for taking this extraordinary risk over Ukraine. Is it about natural gas, protection of the U.S. dollar's dominance, or an outgrowth of neocon extremism, asks Robert Parry.

A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn't advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington's current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn't connect to genuine security concerns.

So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What's driving the madness?

Of course, Washington's conventional wisdom is that America only wants "democracy" for the people of Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked this confrontation as part of an imperialist design to reclaim Russian territory lost during the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But that "group think" doesn't withstand examination. [See's "Who's Telling the Big Lie on Ukraine?"]

The Ukraine crisis was provoked not by Putin but by a combination of the European Union's reckless move to expand its influence eastward and the machinations of U.S. neoconservatives who were angered by Putin's collaboration with President Barack Obama to tamp down confrontations in Syria and Iran, two neocon targets for "regime change."

Plus, if "democracy promotion" were the real motive, there were obviously better ways to achieve it. Democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych pledged on Feb. 21 – in an agreement guaranteed by three European nations – to surrender much of his power and hold early elections so he could be voted out of office if the people wanted.

However, on Feb. 22, the agreement was brushed aside as neo-Nazi militias stormed presidential buildings and forced Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Rather than stand behind the Feb. 21 arrangement, the U.S. State Department quickly endorsed the coup regime that emerged as "legitimate" and the mainstream U.S. press dutifully demonized Yanukovych by noting, for instance, that a house being built for him had a pricy sauna.

The key role of the neo-Nazis, who were given several ministries in recognition of their importance to the putsch, was studiously ignored or immediately forgotten by all the big U.S. news outlets. [See's "Ukraine's 'Dr. Strangelove' Reality."]

So, it's hard for any rational person to swallow the official line that the U.S. interest in the spiraling catastrophe of Ukraine, now including thousands of ethnic Russians killed by the coup regime's brutal "anti-terrorist operation," was either to stop Putin's imperial designs or to bring "democracy" to the Ukrainians.

That skepticism – combined with the extraordinary danger of stoking a hot war on the border of nuclear-armed Russia – has caused many observers to search for more strategic explanations behind the crisis, such as the West's desires to "frack" eastern Ukraine for shale gas or the American determination to protect the dollar as the world's currency.

Thermo-Nuclear War Anyone?

The thinking is that when the potential cost of such an adventure, i.e. thermo-nuclear warfare that could end all life on the planet, is so high, the motivation must be commensurate. And there is logic behind that thinking although it's hard to conceive what financial payoff is big enough to risk wiping out all humanity including the people on Wall Street.

But sometimes gambles are made with the assumption that lots of money can be pocketed before cooler heads intervene to prevent total devastation - or even the more immediate risk that the Ukraine crisis will pitch Europe into a triple-dip recession that could destabilize the fragile U.S. economy, too.

In the Ukraine case, the temptation has been to think that Moscow – hit with escalating economic sanctions – will back down even as the EU and U.S. energy interests seize control of eastern Ukraine's energy reserves. The fracking could mean both a financial bonanza to investors and an end to Russia's dominance of the natural gas supplies feeding central and eastern Europe. So the economic and geopolitical payoff could be substantial.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ukraine has Europe's third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, an inviting target especially since other European nations, such as Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria, have resisted fracking technology because of environmental concerns. An economically supine Ukraine would presumably be less able to say no. [See's "Beneath the Ukraine Crisis: Shale Gas."]

Further supporting the "natural gas motive" is the fact that it was Vice President Joe Biden who demanded that President Yanukovych pull back his police on Feb. 21, a move that opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias and the U.S.-backed coup. Then, just three months later, Ukraine's largest private gas firm, Burisma Holdings, appointed Biden's son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors.

While that might strike some of you as a serious conflict of interest, even vocal advocates for ethics in government lost their voices amid Washington's near-universal applause for the ouster of Yanukovych and warm affection for the coup regime in Kiev.

For instance, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, dismissed the idea that Hunter Biden's new job should raise eyebrows, telling Reuters: "It can't be that because your dad is the vice president, you can't do anything,"

Who Is Behind Burisma?

Soon, Burisma – a shadowy Cyprus-based company – was lining up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry's former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As Time magazine reported, "Leiter's involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry's son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company."

According to investigative journalism in Ukraine, the ownership of Burisma has been traced to Privat Bank, which is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the coup regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine. Kolomoysky also has been associated with the financing of brutal paramilitary forces killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Also, regarding this energy motive, it shouldn't be forgotten that on Dec. 13, 2013, when neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations," she was at a conference sponsored by Chevron. She even stood next to the company's logo.

So, clearly energy resources and the billions of dollars that go with them should be factored in when trying to solve the mystery of why Official Washington has gone so berserk about a confrontation with Russia that boils down to whether ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine should be allowed some measure of autonomy or be put firmly under the thumb of U.S.-friendly authorities in Kiev.

There's also the issue of Russia's interest in exploring with China and other emerging economies the possibility of escaping the financial hegemony of the U.S. dollar, a move that could seriously threaten American economic dominance. According to this line of thinking, the U.S. and its close allies need to bring Moscow to its geopolitical knees – where it was under the late Boris Yeltsin – to stop any experimentation with other currencies for global trade.

Again, the advocates for this theory have a point. Protecting the Mighty Dollar is of utmost importance to Wall Street. The financial cataclysm of a potential ouster of the U.S. dollar as the world's benchmark currency might understandably prompt some powerful people to play a dangerous game of chicken with nuclear-armed Russia.

Of course, there's also the budgetary interest of NATO and the U.S. "military-industrial complex" (which helps fund many of Washington's "think tanks") to hype every propaganda opportunity to scare the American people about the "Russian threat."

And, it's a truism that every major international confrontation has multiple drivers. Think back on the motives behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among a variety of factors were Vice President Dick Cheney's lust for oil, President George W. Bush's psychological rivalry with his father, and the neocons' interest in orchestrating "regime change" in countries considered hostile to Israel. [See's "The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War."]

There are also other reasons to disdain Putin, from his bare-chested horseback riding to his retrograde policies on gay rights. But he is no Stalin and surely no Hitler.

The Neocons' 'Samson Option'

So, while it's reasonable to see multiple motives behind the brinksmanship with Russia over Ukraine, the sheer recklessness of the confrontation has, to me, the feel of an ideology or an "ism," where people are ready to risk it all for some larger vision that is central to their being.

That is why I have long considered the Ukraine crisis to be an outgrowth of the neoconservative obsession with Israel's interests in the Middle East.

Not only did key neocons – the likes of Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. John McCain – put themselves at the center of the coup plotting last winter but the neocons had an overriding motive: they wanted to destroy the behind-the-scenes collaboration between President Obama and President Putin who had worked together to avert a U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian government a year ago and then advanced negotiations with Iran over limiting but not eliminating its nuclear program.

Those Obama-Putin diplomatic initiatives frustrated the desires of Israeli officials and the neocons to engineer "regime change" in those two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even believed that bombing Iran's nuclear plants was an "existential" necessity.

Further, there was the possibility that an expansion of the Obama-Putin cooperation could have supplanted Israel's powerful position as a key arbiter of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Thus, the Obama-Putin relationship had to be blown up – and the Ukraine crisis was the perfect explosive for the destruction. [See's "Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia."]

Though I'm told that Obama now understands how the neocons and other hardliners outmaneuvered him over Ukraine, he has felt compelled to join in Official Washington's endless Putin-bashing, causing a furious Putin to make clear that he cannot be counted on to assist Obama on tricky foreign policy predicaments like Syria and Iran.

As I wrote last April, "There is a 'little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly' quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme. If the Palestinians and Lebanon's Hezbollah persist in annoying you and troubling Israel, you target their sponsors with 'regime change' – in Iraq, Syria and Iran. If your 'regime change' in Iraq goes badly, you escalate the subversion of Syria and the bankrupting of Iran.

"Just when you think you've cornered President Barack Obama into a massive bombing campaign against Syria – with a possible follow-on war against Iran – Putin steps in to give Obama a peaceful path out, getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons and Iran to agree to constraints on its nuclear program. So, this Obama-Putin collaboration has become your new threat. That means you take aim at Ukraine, knowing its sensitivity to Russia.

"You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base.

"When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you've succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin's resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of 'regime change.'

"Your many friends in the mainstream U.S. news media begin to relentlessly demonize Putin with a propaganda barrage that would do a totalitarian state proud. The anti-Putin 'group think' is near total and any accusation – regardless of the absence of facts – is fine."

Yet, by risking a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia - the equivalent of the old lady swallowing a horse – the neocons have moved beyond what can be described in a children's ditty. It has become more like a global version of Israel's "Samson Option," the readiness to use nuclear weapons in a self-destructive commitment to eliminate your enemies whatever the cost to yourself.

But what is particularly shocking in this case is how virtually everyone in U.S. officialdom – and across the mainstream media spectrum – has bought into this madness.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

[Sep 07, 2014] NATO Owes Putin a Big Thank-You by Stephen M. Walt

From comments: "Finally, Stephen Walt is telling what we all need to hear. Victoria Nuland is utterly incapable of thinking her action in the long run. Obama is not much better by sending CIA Director to a troubled country. Kissinger also lament NATO has expanded its role and mission. It has participated too many wars. In pursuit of glory, NATA has transformed from a defense mechanism to an offense tool. As it expands, there should be more conflicts ahead. Military power is effective to intimidate but not a solution to a political problem. Think Transnister. Does NATO have a solution?

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 |

Russia's aggression in Ukraine is making it easier for the bloated, aging alliance to pretend that it still matters.

If I were really cynical, I'd suspect some bureaucrats at NATO headquarters in Brussels are secretly glad about the crisis in Ukraine. Why? Because it gives the aging alliance something to do. This motive may also explain why hawkish Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen seems eager to defend Ukraine right down to the last Ukrainian and why the NATO members that lie closest to Russia are both worried by recent events and pleased that the rest of the alliance is finally paying attention to their concerns.

In fairness, NATO's survival after the Cold War remains something of an anomaly. Alliances normally arise in response to threats, and many previous alliances collapsed quickly once the external danger was gone. Mindful of this tendency, NATO's proponents have been searching for a convincing rationale for its continued existence ever since the Berlin Wall fell. But their efforts have been mostly stillborn; despite annual summits, earnest communiqués, and a lot of brave rhetoric, the alliance's capabilities, importance, and coherence have been visibly declining for two decades.

Things might have been different if the various "out-of-area" missions NATO took on had gone swimmingly, but they didn't. The Bosnian intervention in 1995* and the war in Kosovo in 1999 were at best partial successes; they took longer, cost more, and produced more ambiguous results than NATO's defenders like to admit. NATO's efforts in Afghanistan have been mostly a failure, and no member of the alliance wants to do anything like that again. The Libyan debacle now looks like a monument to Western hubris, even though its architects remain loath to admit just how wrong they were. The United States has been trying to "rebalance" to Asia in recent years -- an arena where NATO has little role to play -- and has been coping with the aftermath of George W. Bush's foolish attempt to "transform" the Middle East.

Until the Ukraine crisis arose, NATO looked like a nearly extinct dodo that had somehow managed to last into the 21st century.
Until the Ukraine crisis arose, NATO looked like a nearly extinct dodo that had somehow managed to last into the 21st century.

Yet NATO survived. This is partly because the alliance was heavily institutionalized, and no bureaucracy goes out of business without a fight. Its persistence also gave the United States some residual leverage in Europe and allowed Washington to pretend that its activities elsewhere had broad international support. Military bases in Europe and a long history of cooperation also facilitated U.S. interventions in other areas and didn't require Europeans to do much in return. Finally, liberal internationalists embraced NATO (and EU) expansion as a way to spread democratic institutions and values into the former Soviet empire, toward the ever-elusive goal of "one Europe, united and free."

But as George Kennan, Michael Mandelbaum, and other experts warned in the 1990s, NATO expansion turned out to be a fundamental strategic misstep. It alienated Russia without making NATO stronger; on the contrary, expansion involved extending security guarantees to mostly weak countries that would be the hardest to defend should Russian power ever recover. Instead of sticking with the early 1990s Partnership for Peace, an initiative that provided many of the same benefits as NATO expansion -- including military-to-military contacts, security dialogue, and support for civil society -- but also included Russia, Washington succumbed to hubris and decided to add to its defense burdens without getting much in return.

Undertaken, like the old British Empire, in a "fit of absentmindedness," NATO expansion rested on the assumption that these various guarantees would never need to be honored. It was not until the brief Russo-Georgian war of 2008 that a few Washingtonians (and a larger number of Europeans) begin to recognize that these commitments might actually involve some cost and risk. But by then it was too late, because any challenge in Eastern Europe would be seen as a test of U.S. credibility and NATO's resolve. Needless to say, this is precisely how most people -- including President Barack Obama, who has called the Ukraine crisis a "moment of testing" -- are now interpreting the tussle over Ukraine.

Yet even the current crisis cannot fully reconcile NATO's fundamental strategic problems. Even if one adopts a worst-case view of Russian intentions, today's Russia is nowhere near as threatening as the old Soviet Union. The USSR was a continent-sized superpower with a larger population than the United States and an economy roughly half as large; today's Russia is smaller and less populous, and its economy is roughly one-fifth the size of America's. The USSR outspent the United States on defense during most of the Cold War, but Russia today is a pipsqueak by comparison. Its only appealing products are oil, natural gas, and raw materials, and it no longer boasts an ideology that can rally supporters worldwide. It can be a regional spoiler and a local troublemaker, but it is not and will never again be a true peer competitor.

These realities also mean that Russia does not threaten the vital interests of most of Europe or the United States. It is a genuine threat to Ukraine's well-being, and it is also a potential problem for the small Baltic states, but Europe no longer has to worry about 90-plus divisions massing on the inter-German border. That's a very good thing, but the lack of a serious strategic threat is also why NATO has trouble marshaling the level of coherence and commitment that it did during the Cold War.

In fact (and in sharp contrast to the post-World War II period), Europe now has the latent wherewithal to deal with the Russian bear all by itself, if only it could get its act together. NATO's European members are notoriously reluctant to spend money on defense or create effective military forces, but it's not because they lack the basic resources. Even today, NATO Europe spends four times more on defense each year than Russia does. If these states were really worried, you'd think they would coordinate their activities more effectively, devote more money to the problem, and spend the existing amounts more efficiently, instead of maintaining militaries that are long on creature comforts and short on fighting capacity

The real challenge NATO faces is the classic dilemma of collective action, made all the worse by the modest nature of the threat to which NATO is now trying to respond. This problem is why NATO's new members are working overtime to convince others -- and especially Americans over in the Western Hemisphere -- that Russian President Vladimir Putin is History's Greatest (or Latest) Monster. If you're Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, or even Polish, you don't want to rely on British or French or Spanish help if trouble arises with Moscow. You want to make sure the White House is on your side, and you want hotheads like Joe Biden and John McCain calling for the United States to do everything it can. So these states (and countries like Georgia) spend a lot on lobbying politicians in Washington in order to convince Americans to care as much about their homelands as they do.

Unfortunately, the history of the past 50 years tells us that the more security Uncle Sam provides to others, the less the recipients will do for themselves. Confirmed Atlanticists like the late Richard Holbrooke liked to say that the United States was a "European power," but a momentary glance at the globe shows you that this is nonsense.

America is located in the Western Hemisphere, folks, and the extent of its interests in Europe depend on circumstances.
America is located in the Western Hemisphere, folks, and the extent of its interests in Europe depend on circumstances. When a peer competitor emerges and threatens to dominate the continent, then America's vital interests are fully engaged. When no such rival exists (or when potential peer competitors are located elsewhere), U.S. interests are much reduced. Everybody knows or suspects this, of course, no matter how fervently U.S. officials proclaim their undying support for areas where few vital interests reside.

So what will NATO do at this week's summit? It has already announced plans for a new rapid-reaction force, and Obama has delivered a typically stirring speech pledging U.S. support for all the countries that managed to get themselves into the alliance before anyone thought too hard about the wisdom of this step. There will be the usually pious declarations about enhancing defense capabilities, and a new set of exercises will be planned, provided they don't cost too much. But eventually the war fever will break, and NATO Europe will return to its enfeebled military condition and diplomatic disarray.

Meanwhile, what about Ukraine? In theory, NATO could make a real contribution by forming a united front in favor of genuine diplomacy, something Germany seems especially eager to pursue. By "diplomacy," I mean a process of principled but flexible bargaining whose goal is to resolve the current crisis in a way that gives the various parties what they most need, instead of trying to obtain everything they might occasionally dream about. That process has to begin by recognizing that 1) Russia sees Ukraine's political alignment as a vital interest, 2) it has various cards to play to advance its goals, and 3) it is willing to wreck the country to prevent it from joining the West. You don't have to like those facts -- who would? -- but effective statecraft must begin by acknowledging unpleasant realities. As with most diplomatic efforts, the United States and Europe aren't going to get everything they want and should concentrate instead on getting what is most important.

As I've said before, the best possible outcome here is an agreement that reaffirms Ukraine's independence and sovereignty, ends the fighting, removes any Russian troops on Ukraine's territory, and guarantees Ukraine's status as a neutral buffer state. The status of Crimea is trickier, and I fear it won't be possible to get Russia to disgorge it. We may have to accept that change as the price Ukraine and the West must pay for our prior carelessness. To advance the ball, NATO's leaders should support Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko while simultaneously discouraging him from upping his demands. In particular, they should make it clear that their support is conditional on Ukraine cutting a reasonable deal. It's a bit like the conditional support the United States provides to Taiwan: The United States will defend that country if its independence is threatened by external military action, but all bets are off if Taiwan provokes trouble by crossing Beijing's "red lines."

Is this a perfect result? Hardly. But it is a lot better than prolonging the crisis, which will damage the still-fragile EU economy, poison East-West relations even further, and do further harm to Ukraine itself. I see little evidence that U.S. officials are thinking along these lines, but perhaps some of America's European partners can convince them otherwise. Isn't that what summit meetings are for?

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

Bing Jou, 2014-09-05 19:25
Finally, Stephen Walt is telling what we all need to hear. Victoria Nuland is utterly incapable of thinking her action in the long run. Obama is not much better by sending CIA Director to a troubled country. Kissinger also lament NATO has expanded its role and mission. It has participated too many wars. In pursuit of glory, NATA has transformed from a defense mechanism to an offense tool. As it expands, there should be more conflicts ahead. Military power is effective to intimidate but not a solution to a political problem. Think Transnister. Does NATO have a solution?
This article provides a good realist perspective with regard to Ukrain crisis and it has similar arguments with Mearshimer's article on foreign affairs.
Terry Brennan
@bulentkoremez My complaint with Mearshimer's article is that it is entirely about relations between Great Powers and barely mentions the wishes of the Ukrainian people. They were the one who started this crisis by clearly choosing to look westward rather than eastward. Ignoring Ukrainian wishes is simply bad thinking; they will make their wishes heard.
@Terry Brennan @bulentkoremez Either you did not read Mearshimer's article, or missed this:
"One also hears the claim that Ukraine has the right to determine whom it wants to ally with and the Russians have no right to prevent Kiev from joining the West. This a dangerous way for Ukraine to think about its foreign policy choices. The sad truth is that might often makes right when great-power politics are at play. 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. It is in Ukraine's interest to understand these facts of life and tread carefully when dealing with tis more powerful neighbor."
Your claim that Ukrainian people started this is also disputable. Remember the V. Nuland's call? It can be argued that the current Kiev regime represents West's wishes and not the Ukrainian ones.

[Aug 15, 2014] John Oliver on Nuclear Weapons (Horrifying & Hilarious)

America has over 4,800 nuclear weapons, and we don't take terrific care of them. It's terrifying, basically. Connect with Last Week Tonight online...

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[Aug 14, 2014] The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine by Christof Lehmann

Jul 30, 2014 | New Eastern Outlook

The war in Ukraine became predictable when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. It became unavoidable in December 2012, when the European Union and Russia failed to agree on the EU's 3rd Energy Package. The geopolitical dynamics which are driving the war in Ukraine were known in the early 1980s.

Hundred years after the shots in Sarajevo ignited WW I, Europe is again being driven towards disaster. Hundred years ago the presence of true statesmen could have prevented the war. Today many of the selected front figures of western democracies dress up in pilot uniforms while they hardly have the qualifications needed for a job as flight attendant.

The handling of the tragedy surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 prompted Malaysian PM Najib Razak to leash out at those behind the geopolitical chess game that led to the death of the 298 on board the Boeing 777-200. Showing true statesmanship, PM Najib Razak said:

"As a leader, there has never been an occasion as heart-breaking as what I went through yesterday. Wives losing their husbands, fathers losing their children. Imagine their feelings from such a great loss. … This is what happens when there is a conflict, whatever conflict that cannot be resolved through negotiations, with peace. In the end, who becomes the victim"?

The War in Ukraine Began in Libya and Syria.

In 2007 the discovery of the world's largest known reserves of natural gas, shared by Qatar and Iran, led to the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project that was sold under the trade mark "The Arab Spring".

A joint Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian pipeline project was supposed to transport Iranian gas from the PARS gas fields in the Persian Gulf to Syria's eastern Mediterranean coast and further on to continental Europe. It was this development that played midwife to the birth of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project.

The completion of the Iran – Iraq – Syria pipeline would have caused a cohort of developments which were unacceptable to the US, UK, Israel and Qatar. Several continental European countries, including Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic saw much more favorably at it. Together with the Russian gas which the EU received via Ukraine and the North Stream pipeline, the EU would have been able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.

It would be naive to assume that Israel was not gravely concerned about the prospect of Iran becoming one of the European Union's primary sources of natural gas. Energy security concerns influence foreign relations and foreign policy. EU – Israeli relations and the influence Tehran would have attained with regard to the EU's position on Palestine and the Middle East are no exception to that rule.

The US and UK were not interested in competition to the Nabucco project. Qatar, the main center of gravity with regard to the international Muslim Brotherhood, eyed its chance to become a regional power to be recogned with and sent a 10 billion US dollar check to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmed Davotoglu. The money was reportedly earmarked, to be spent on preparing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood for the Great Project.

An additional dimension that was overlooked by many, if not most analysts, was that the US/UK never would allow Russian – continental European relations to be dominated by an interdependence that had some 50 percent of continental Europe's energy security at its heart. To explain that point, allow me to refer to a conversation the author has had with a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country during a day of sailing on a sailing yacht in the early 1980s. Discussing European security issues, out of the reach of curious ears and microphones he said that (paraphrased):

"American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK's political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe".

It is safe to assume that the discontinuation of the USSR with help of the US and UK has not significantly changed the principle premises of this doctrine and that it is still valid today.

By 2009 the implementation of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project was already in high gear. The former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas recalled during an appearance on the French TV Channel LPC in July 2013. (audio recording).

"I'm going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. … This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me. …

" This does not make sense. … There are some sides who have the desire to destroy Arab States, like what happened in Libya before, particularly given Syria's special relations with Russia., …(emphasis added)…That if an agreement is not reached, then Israel will attack and destroy the governments that stand against Israel".

Note Dumas' reference to Libya. Note that the statement came after NATO abused UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya to implement the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project in that country.

The then U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo H. Daalder and then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the U.S. European Command James G. Stavridis published an article in the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, calling NATO's "intervention" in Libya "A teachable moment and model for future interventions".

The statement was repeated at NATO's 25th Summit in Chicago that year. As Ivo H. Daalder also explained in a Forestal Lecure that year, there was a need for a new warfare, special warfare. Traditional conventional war had become impossible. Moreover, Libya was necessary as a hub for the shipment of arms and the recruiting and training of mercenaries for Syria, Mali, and beyond.

Defeat in Syria Made the Ukraine War Unavoidable.

In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the "Libyan Brigade" was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army.

It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.

The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report "Tentative Jihad". Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself "politically" from the "extremists". Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore. This, and nothing else was why the British parliament turned down the bombing of Syria in August 2013.

The war on Ukraine had become predictable from that point onwards and the timing of the developments in Ukraine during 2012 and 2013 strongly suggest that plans to overthrow the Yanukovich government and to aim at a long-term destabilization of Ukraine were launched after July 2012.

There was one last opportunity to turn the tide with regards to Ukraine in late 2012, during negotiations about the European Union's 3rd Energy Package. Relations between Russia and the EU were stressed by a primarily British-sponsored initiative within the EU that was targeting Russia. The "EU" or UK/US should not accept that a major energy provider like Russia or Gazprom had the majority ownership over both the gas and the transportation System.

On 21 December 2012 the leaders of the 27 EU member states and Russia held a summit in Brussels but failed to resolve the issue. It was from this point onward that the war in Ukraine had become unavoidable, which means that it was from here on, that powerful lobbies in the US and UK became hellbent on starting a 4th generation war in Ukraine. On December 22, 2012, nsnbc published the article "Russia – E.U. Meeting in Brussels: Risk of Middle East and European War Increased". The December 2012 article stated

"The sudden pullout of the Ukraine on Tuesday is by energy insiders with whom the author consulted perceived as yet another Ukrainian, US and UK backed attempt to force the expansion of NATO and to drive a wedge between an increased integration of the Russian and E.U. Economies. As it will become obvious below, it is related to an aggressive attempt to save the value of the petro dollar".

By February 9, 2013, relations between Russia and core NATO members had deteriorated so much over Syria and the lack of convergence in energy issues, that Russia's Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grutchko said:

"Someone here in Brussels made a most profound point by saying that if you are holding a hammer, you should not think that every emerging problem is a nail. We think the world has ample opportunity to engage in energy cooperation and to ensure energy security without making use of military-political organizations as an instrument".

There were not many who at that time understood the bearing of the Russian NATO Ambassador's words.

On February 21 the Ukrainian parliament was seized by masked gunmen. The president was removed from office in a vote held in the presence of gunmen. One of the first official statements of the new powers at be was that the Russian language would no longer be accepted as the second official language in the predominantly Russian speaking eastern regions of Ukraine.

The statement was bound to and didn't fail to elicit a response that would tear Ukraine apart. On February 22, 2013, some 3,500 governors from southern and eastern Ukrainian regions convened in Kharkov and rejected the legality of the putchist parliament and any of the laws it adopted.

Was the tragedy surrounding MAS Flight MH17 another Sarajevo moment and will it be used to throw an additional spanner into attempt to peacefully integrate the Russian and European economies? Michael Emmerson, associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies suggests "After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas".

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

[Aug 12, 2014] The U.S. Wasn't "Drawn" Into Iraq by Daniel Larison

August 12, 2014 |

David Brooks couldn't be more wrong:

We are now living in what we might as well admit is the Age of Iraq. The last four presidents have found themselves drawn into that nation because it epitomizes the core problem at the center of so many crises: the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam [bold mine-DL].

That isn't why the last three presidents were "drawn" into Iraq, and it is at best only part of the reason why Obama is allowing himself to be dragged back in. The previous three presidents chose to use force in Iraq and impose sanctions on Iraq for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with "the interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam." Except in the delusions of pro-war propagandists, there was no "interaction between failing secular governance and radical Islam" in Iraq before 2003 because the latter had little presence and no power. The invasion helped to destroy whatever semblance of secular governance there was. Indeed, it was the principal reason why that governance ceased to exist.

The war created the chaos in which jihadism began to thrive in the country. For that matter, the war was not a matter of being "drawn" into the country, but of illegally invading it on a shaky pretext. Obama entered office when secular governance in Iraq was a thing of the past, and has been drawn back in because of the clash between a sectarian government and its enemies. The U.S. has spent the last twenty-three years bombing, occupying, sanctioning, and otherwise interfering with Iraq, but virtually none of it had anything to do with countering radical Islam, and this was something that the U.S. chose to do. The U.S. wasn't "drawn" into Iraq, but rather opted to be there in some fashion for two decades, and it was the U.S. presence itself that unleashed and drew in these forces as a result of the "aggressive, preventive action" that Brooks now thinks is so necessary.

[Jun 05, 2014] Ukraine The Real Energy Crisis Starts in June

naked capitalism
Banger May 28, 2014 at 8:51 am

The gas situation in Ukraine is kind of humorous–there is one obvious choice that, of course, is seldom made, diplomacy. Europe, the U.S., Russia and Ukraine could sit down and negotiate a good deal. Really there is no reason to hassle over this. Russia needs security guarantees that Ukraine will not become another outpost for NATO expansion, virtual or otherwise. Europe needs gas and Ukraine needs a governable country. It is only the U.S. that has an interest in causing trouble here.

The U.S. goal is to weaken the EU while appearing to be friendly thus making the EU dependent on the U.S. which is the guarantor of Middle Eastern oil supplies and international security. While the current administration in Washington is considered "weak" by critics it still is strong by comparison of European leaders–and as sheeplish as Americans are Europeans, who aren't as profoundly ignorant about political affairs, are beginning to appear to almost beat out Americans in their compliant behavior. Europeans must recognize that the don't need the U.S. any more. The Soviet Union is long gone and Russia while a powerful country, is no threat to anyone. It continues to act, internationally, in a sensible manner, Lavrov and Putin are statesmen and not like von Ribbentrop and Hitler even though the American propagandists who seem to dominate not only the U.S. media but Euro media are telling the world.

The USG deliberately maintained the Cold War well beyond the time it was necessary to feed the dominant military-intelligence-Congressional-industrial complex in the style they are used to and has, in my view, either manufactured conflicts or do their best to inflame nascent conflicts whether in Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Central Asia. This should be glaringly obvious to anyone who cares to look at the record. Europe, interestingly, after following along with U.S.foreign policy no matter how viscous, lying over like beaten dogs when Wall Street and the City looted the financial system, now wants to create a little U.S. with privatized everything and neofeudalism. To Euro-readers–is this what you want just so you can rest in the arms of Uncle Sam? Fortunately there are many signs that point in the right direction for Europe in moving away from the glories of hot or cold war.

6th generation Texan, May 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

In the grand scheme of things, the current world situation is just the latest version of the classic land power vs naval power conflict that has replayed over thousands of years, from the Peloponnesian Wars to the Napoleonic Wars to both World Wars and the Cold War. In most cases the naval power has prevailed (a combination of massive hubris, greed and stupidity finally did in the Athenians - ring any bells regarding the current situation…??)

Many analysts have dubbed the current struggle to control Eurasian resources as the "Energy Wars", being fought primarily over access to those riches. These "Pipeline Wars" lie behind US/NATO aggression from the 1990s Balkan War to the present conflicts in Syria and Ukraine in time, and cover most of the Eurasian land mass in space.

The West is decisively losing the Pipeline Wars. A vast internal network linking Central Asian producers (including Russia and Iran) to hungry markets in the Far East, India and Europe is well under construction, bypassing the sea lanes that the West controls via the US Navy and its carrier battle groups. As this process proceeds at an ever-increasing pace, it will eventually undermine the basis of America's claim to world hegemony: the Petrodollar.

When the Petrodollar dies, so does the Amerikan Empire. The vital question: how will the rulers of that Empire react when that moment finally confronts them? Will they slide into the dustbin of history quietly - or take the world with them in a nuclear Gotterdammerung ?

Given their track record of making increasingly desperate/inept/psychopathic decisions in recent years, the likely answer scares the living hell out of me.

[May 28, 2014] The Russian Gas Carousel: Who Wants Off, and Who Wants On

reggietcs, May 22, 2014 at 7:37 am

I think many of the "America rah-rah" pundits in the west are having a hard time accepting the fact that the USA has serious limitations when it comes to threatening Russia and China and that the world is indeed heading rapidly towards multi-polarity. The so-called "sanctions" the west has levied against Russia is clear evidence of their impotence in the matter.

They are so accustomed to seeing the USA successfully bully, sanction, kill and destroy countries who are disobedient and challenge American hegemony. They've now hit a wall and it's caused many of these talking heads to blow their gaskets. I mean, how else can one explain the numerous articles by enraged western pundits calling for a REAL military confrontation with Russia openly in the op-eds of major newspapers? During the cold war, major American papers would not print belligerent articles like this because it was well understood that it would be an act of global suicide. But today we have pundits who believe that a military confrontation with Russia can be "won" and that's what I find truly FRIGHTENING.

That's why Stephen Cohen recently said that war with Russia is no longer "unthinkable" and that's why he has such a bleak disposition on the matter. We often mock and deride the crude ant-Russian propaganda around here but it takes on a dangerous dimension when the western elite actually start to believe it themselves (one of my favorites being that the Russian nukes/missiles "won't work"). All it now takes is for them to "test" this nonsense, thus ultimately bringing disaster down upon billions of human beings.

rober, May 22, 2014 at 10:50 am

There's a school of thought that many of the Soviet ICBM's were not properly maintained and non functional. But even if every single Russian ICBM in its silo was a dud there's still the nuclear subs.

If this guy's right a full-scale nuclear war between the United States and Russia would produce so much smoke that temperatures would get below freezing even in the summertime, crops would die and there would be global famine.

Moscow Exile, May 22, 2014 at 8:25 am

"She sneers at the deal and says it only means Russia is desperate, Russian economy was about to go down the toilet, so they had to go begging to China, etc. So, the deal is laughable and should just be sneered away, as if nothing really happened."

That's the general line of the Russophobe comments in the UK press: sneering and mockery.

As regards nuking Russia, one such sneering moron (possibly a "modern Warfare" PC game player with the mind of a 12-year-old) suggests that the Russian-China pipeline can easily be put out of action with a missile strike or sabotaged by Muslim fanatics because: "Did you know that 30% of the "Soviet" population is Muslim?"

kirill, May 22, 2014 at 2:09 pm

By the same token the USA can be brought to its knees by the sinking of a few oil supertankers transporting oil from around the world. But the media propaganda has convinced every nitwit out there that the USA exports oil. LOL. It exports *refined* products which has not relevance to the fact that it still needs to import around 7 to 8 million barrels per day.

[May 27, 2014] Albright the Second -- bellicose and incompetent chicken hawk Hilary Clinton

Since it's foreign policy week this week, with President Obama delivering a major speech on Wednesday at West Point, Christie Watch will spend the next few days looking at the foreign policy views of the various 2016 candidates, starting today with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton's foreign policy, start first by disentangling the nonsense about Benghazi-a nonexistent scandal if ever there was one-from the broader palette of Clinton's own, relatively hawkish views. As she consolidates her position as the expected nominee in 2016, with wide leads over all the likely GOP challengers, it ought to worry progressives that the next president of the United States is likely to be much more hawkish than the current one. Expect to be deluged, in the next few weeks, with news about Hard Choices, the memoir of her years as secretary of state under President Obama, to be released June 10.

But we don't need a memoir to know that, comparatively speaking, two things can be said about her tenure at the State Department:

In the brief excerpt that's been released by her publisher, Clinton notes that as secretary of state she "ended up visiting 112 countries and traveling nearly one million miles." But what, if anything, did she accomplish with all that to-ing and fro-ing? Not a lot. She largely avoided the Israel-Palestine tangle, perhaps because she didn't want to risk crossing the Israel lobby at home, and it's hard to see what she actually did, other than to promote the education and empowerment of girls and women in places where they are severely beaten down. And, while it's wrong (and really silly) to call Clinton a neoconservative, she's more of-how to put it?-a "right-wing realist" on foreign policy, who often backed military intervention as a first or second resort, while others in the White House-especially Obama's national security staff and Vice President Biden's own aides, were far more reluctant to employ the troops.

In that vein, it's useful to explore the memoirs of Robert Gates, who was secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then, inexplicably, under President Obama, too. In Duty: Memoir of a Secretary at War (which could also be the subtitle of Clinton's own memoir), Gates says several times that he and Clinton saw eye to eye. (This has also been extensively documented by Bob Woodward, if more narrowly focused, in his 2010 book, Obama's Wars.) In Duty, Gates says that he formed an alliance with Clinton because both he and her had independent power bases and were, in his words, "un-fireable":

Commentators were observing that in an administration where all power and decision making were gravitating toward the White House, Clinton and I represented the only independent "power center", not least because…we were both seen as "unfire-able." [page 289]

Gates confirms that he and Clinton lined up with the hawks against the doves on Afghanistan:

The Obama foreign policy team was splintering. [Joe] Biden, his chief of staff, [Rahm] Emanuel, some of the National Security Council staff, and probably all of the president's White House political advisers were on a different page with respect to Afghanistan than Clinton, [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Mullen, [Dennis] Blair, and me. [page 350]

And Gates says that on the crucial decision to escalate the Afghan war in 2009 and then to slow the drawdown in 2010, he and Clinton were on the same side:

Yet again the president had mostly come down on Hillary's and my side. And yet again the process was ugly and contentious, reaffirming that the split in Obama's team over Afghanistan, after two years in office, was still very real and very deep. [page 502]

And, says Gates (page 587), Obama's efforts to centralize foreign policy decision-making inside the White House "offended Hillary Clinton as much as it did me."

As The Nation noted in 2013, just before the November 2012 election-after Gates had left the administration and was replaced by Leon Panetta-Clinton joined Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and the military in proposing that the United States go to war in Syria. (That the United States didn't act more aggressively in Syria back then was entirely due to President Obama's decision to resist Clinton and the other hawks.)

And, more famously, Clinton-joined by several other administration officials, including Samantha Power and Susan Rice-pushed hard, and successfully, for the United States to go to war in Libya. For Republicans who've endlessly waved the bloody flag of Benghazi, Clinton's hawkish view on Libya contradicts much of the nonsense they go on about. But for progressives, it's an ugly blot on Clinton's résumé. Not only did the war in Libya go far to inflame Russian nationalism, it also created a terrible vacuum in North Africa, toppling Muammar Qaddafi but leaving hundreds of armed militias in his stead, creating chaos and anarchy. (And, because the war against Qaddafi followed the Libyan leader's decision to forgo a nuclear arms program, it also sent the wrong message to Iran, namely, give up your nuclear program and we'll attack you anyway.)

In their book about Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, HRC, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes don't provide much insight into Clinton's role as maker of foreign policy decisions, preferring to concentrate far too much on the politics of the Clinton people vs. the Obama people. But they do suggest that there was far more tension between the White House and the State Department under Clinton than is usually cited. For instance, they write:

Many of the White House aides saw the Clinton network as part of a bipartisan Washington foreign policy establishment that kept getting it wrong. [page 143]

As background, Allen and Parnes note that Clinton's relationship with Gates was founded in part on the fact that both Clinton and Gates backed Barry Goldwater in 1964-Clinton was a "Goldwater Girl"-and that Gates took note of the fact that Clinton, as senator from New York, "had made friends with a number of high-level flag officers-three- and four-star generals and admirals-during her time on Armed Services." She was, Gates noted, "an ardent advocate of a strong military" and "believed in all forms of American power, including force." As important decisions were imminent during the Obama administration, Allen and Parnes quote a "high-ranking Pentagon source" who says:

[Gates and Clinton] often compared notes in advance of some of those meetings to find common ground to allow them to influence or drive the direction of policy on a given issue.

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In its summary of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, The New York Times suggests that even Clinton herself has a hard time deciding what her real accomplishments were, noting that she "seemed flustered" when asked about it at a public forum. In the end, the way she responded was, well, meaningless:

"I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race," Mrs. Clinton finally said at the Women in the World meeting, promising to offer specific examples in a memoir she is writing that is scheduled to be released in June. "I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton."

But the Times adds that, after countless interviews, it is clear that Clinton was the administration's hawk:

But in recent interviews, two dozen current and former administration officials, foreign diplomats, friends and outside analysts described Mrs. Clinton as almost always the advocate of the most aggressive actions considered by Mr. Obama's national security team-and not just in well-documented cases, like the debate over how many additional American troops to send to Afghanistan or the NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Mrs. Clinton's advocates-a swelling number in Washington, where people are already looking to the next administration-are quick to cite other cases in which she took more hawkish positions than the White House: arguing for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels and for leaving more troops behind in postwar Iraq, and criticizing the results of a 2011 parliamentary election in Russia.

And the Times quotes Dennis Ross, the pro-Israel advocate who worked for both Clinton and for the White House on Iran: "It's not that she's quick to use force, but her basic instincts are governed more by the uses of hard power."

Since leaving office, Clinton has gone out of her way to sound more hawkish than Obama on a range of issues, including expressing skepticism on the negotiations with Iran. Some observers say that it's just politics, and that Clinton is positioning herself for 2016. Maybe so. But it sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton is just being, well, Hillary Clinton.

Read Next: Bob Dreyfuss questions Obama's "Goldilocks" approach to foreign policy.

[May 27, 2014] It is time for the West to move ahead without Russia by John McCain, John Barrasso, John Hoeven and Ron Johnson

[May 14, 2014] In Ukraine, the US is dragging us towards war with Russia by John Pilger

May 13, 2014 | The Guardian | Jump to comments (3662)

...Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of "special units" from the CIA and FBI setting up a "security structure" that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by.


For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is threatening to take the world to war.

Don't want to see it happen, obviously, but for several years I've believed the US is the country most likely to start a world war, possibly through self-interest but more probably through the unutterable stupidity of rightwing politicians.

Beckow -> LionelKent

The coming end of "Bush wars" is scaring the military industry. Something has to happen, they are panicking. Russia or Ukraine, maybe Iran, maybe "pivot" to China. But there will not be peace. It is bad for business.

The "rightwing politicians" are quite stupid, true, but they are also basically salesmen for their military industry sponsors. You know "jobs", and all that....

griffinalabama -> LionelKent

John Pilger, did you see that the US government, through the USAID program, funded the violent coup Ukrainian government more media and press money, the day after the Odessa massacre?

....and that the Kiev Post then reported, the very next day, that the victims killed themselves accidentally? I have attached the links for your and others viewing and analysis....this controversial info is easily provable and needs more sunlight. The US government funded neo-nazi's who brutally murdered innocent people and the very same day they gave the Ukrainian media millions of dollars....that media then went on to cover up those murders the very next day.

This is an unbelievable scandal. I have compiled a large amount of video and linked evidence of the events in Odessa at a thread at the Democratic Underground website if your interested in taking a look. It includes videos of the full Odessa build up....including early rally's with "Seig heil" salutes and the post fire 'victory' rally with more salutes and Right sector saying how they stamped out the "Colorado Beetles"....Link here:
Headline at link: Police say pro-Russians accidentally set fatal Odessa fire with Molotov cocktails (LIVE UPDATES, VIDEO)

Much of this information is readily available on the internet but for ease of use I have compiled it all in one discussion thread at DU. Thank you for standing up and writing what you wrote for all the innocent people who are being hurt by all this.

LionelKent -> Beckow

14 May 2014 11:48am

But there will not be peace. It is bad for business.

Yes, it would appear that men (less often women) can become so obsessed with business that they are unwilling to consider what their activities might lead to. Like a smoker who finds the first inhalation after breakfast so good that giving up is inconceivable (and I've been through it myself). The irony is, of course, that a world war at this point of technological development might put an end to business, full stop. It's my impression the rightwing mind refuses to think about such matters. With rare exception, perhaps.


13 May 2014 9:01pm

The sooner the Chinese pull the economic rug from under the feet of corporate America the better. Bon Voyage Uncle Sam.

fred4945 -> WhetherbyPond

Simultaneously, China will put a gun to its own head and pull the trigger.

Or don't you realize that China cannot survive economically without American customers?

Perhaps you Brits would like to go it alone, again. How many times in the last century did we save you miserable backsides? (The world would have been a better place if we'd never entered World War I. We should have left you and the Germans alone. Let your bloody millions lie panting in the mud until you found a way to settle your utterly petty quarrel.)

skinman620 -> WhetherbyPond

13 May 2014 9:19pm

Say what you like against American global dominance, but I'd far rather live in a world dominated by the US than one dominated by China. Only a fool would believe otherwise. Britain has some pretty unsavoury history when it comes to China - history that has not been forgotten.

I'd be careful what you wish for with this particular anti US wet dream.

WhetherbyPond -> skinman620

" Britain has some pretty unsavoury history when it comes to China - history that has not been forgotten."

Thank heavens I'm an Irishman. Yes, The Opium Wars,fought at same time as the genocidal famine caused by England was happening in my country. Well, as the man once said "What goes around, comes around.

There's very little difference twixt the two, save the Chinese lack of sanctimony, but I think the Yanks are worse, as you would soon find out if you were a victim of the torture chambers of Villa Grimaldi, El Salvador, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay...........

[Apr 27, 2014] Orwellian Piece By Ian Morris

April 27, 2014 |

Ian Morris, a professor of Classics at Stanford, argues in the Washington Post that, in the long run, wars make us safer and richer. Perhaps it is just too difficult to make such a counterintuitive argument within the limited space of an opinion column, but his piece is one big mess.

The essence of his point is that modern people are much less likely to die violent deaths (at the hands of other humans) than stone-age people were, and that the reason for this is because we have formed large societies. In order to form large societies, we needed to a long series of subjugations where the vanquished were not killed but brought into the conquerers' system. To accomplish this, governments were formed with the primary job of pacifying their subjects through a variety of means, including law enforcement. Therefore, war and coercion are not the evils that they may seem to be at first consideration. He might have added religion to the mix here, but he didn't.

One might ask why he wrote this column in the first place. Does he think we aren't fighting enough wars? To get some idea of his motivation, you have to read to near the end, where he appears to compare the United States to the British Empire and suggest that we need to have the stomach to be the global sons of bitches the whole world needs us to be.

Like its predecessor, the United States oversaw a huge expansion of trade, intimidated other countries into not making wars that would disturb the world order, and drove rates of violent death even lower. But again like Britain, America made its money by helping trading partners become richer, above all China, which, since 2000, has looked increasingly like a potential rival. The cycle that Britain experienced may be in store for the United States as well, unless Washington embraces its role as the only possible globocop in an increasingly unstable world - a world with far deadlier weapons than Britain could have imagined a century ago.
American attitudes toward government are therefore not just some Beltway debate; they matter to everyone on Earth.

Why is this piece such a mess?

First, retracing the history of societal formation and noting that war and coercion were indispensable tools in those formations doesn't obviously tell us anything about whether or not we can improve people's safety or make them richer by using war and coercion today.

Even in his piece, Prof. Morris notes that war may not make societies bigger and stronger, even in the long term.

For 1,000 years - beginning before Attila the Hun in the AD 400s and ending after Genghis Khan in the 1200s - mounted invaders from the steppes actually threw the process of pacification into reverse everywhere from China to Europe, with war breaking down larger, safer societies into smaller, more dangerous ones.

In fact, he begins his piece by referencing a retrospectively naive book written in 1910 that predicted that war had become obsolete. But he doesn't explain how World War One made people safer or richer.

I think we can see in places like Congo, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Iraq that the absence of sufficient force can make people less safe and much poorer. Perhaps the people in those countries would benefit if someone came along who was strong enough to subjugate all the warring factions and make them live peacefully together. But, of course, these theoretical strongmen would have to kill and threaten to kill a lot of people in order to accomplish their goals. And that would definitely not make people safer or richer in the short term.

To some degree, Prof. Morris seems to be arguing in favor of larger societies that use bigger governmental organizations because these bring more people together and protects them better than smaller societies with less coercive capability. He could have made an argument in favor of the nation-state as an innovation that brought more peace than war. But he chose to argue that war is, in itself, even in this day and age, a positive good. War is Peace, in other words.

And America needs to bring the peace.

[Feb 19, 2014] How a Careerist Culture Leads to Military Scandals by Kelley Vlahos

February 18, 2014 | The American Conservative

Bribes, mistresses, cheating on tests-has the armed forces' professional ethos turned perverse?

Popular culture reveres the U.S. military as an institution of pride and strength, as keeper of the American moral center. But a recent series of scandals suggests that, instead, ethical corrosion may be eating away at its very core.

Sarah Palin was in top rhetorical form when she told an assembled crowd of thousands on the National Mall in 2010 that soldiers were "a force for good in this country, and that is nothing to apologize for … for these men and women, honor was never lost." But behind the partisan politics in which Democrats and Republicans have used the military as props, padded its budgets, and publicly deferred to its leadership in myriad ways over 12 years of war, there lies a complicated breakdown in its culture, military experts tell TAC. Without reform, they believe institution is headed for more embarrassment and transgression.

"I'm not surprised at all-one [scandal] relates to the other," charges Donald Vandergriff, a retired Army officer who often lectures on leadership and reform, including in the service academies. A former deputy director of Army ROTC at Georgetown University, he wrote The Path to Victory: America's Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs, in 2002.

"The [military] system that's evolved over the last 100 years does not test moral courage, it does not test strength of character, or the ability to tell the truth regardless of harm to one's career," Vandergriff added. "We don't do things like that. We are looking at people who follow the process, fall in line, don't cause waves, aren't open to innovation, and these personality traits leave them open to scandal."

Tough words, but a spate of scandals seems to underscore his point, particularly recent ones involving a number of generals and top brass. Most notable is Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, currently facing a court-martial for sexual assault involving a junior officer on this staff. He is also accused of threatening to kill her and her family-and misusing his government credit card.

Meanwhile, last month 92 officers were caught in a widespread cheating scandal at the Air Force nuclear force. Then, on Feb. 7, it was reported that some 100 Naval instructors have been accused of cheating on an exam they need to pass to teach sailors working on nuclear subs and carriers.

Even more seriously, the Navy has been rocked by a sordid kickback investigation, known now as the "Fat Leonard scandal," that highlights the dangerous nexus of high-flying insider defense contractors and the deep pockets of the U.S. military. In this case, a top agent from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has been arrested and two active duty commanders are awaiting trial. Meanwhile, two admirals and two captains have been put on leave pending investigation. The contractor at the heart of the affair, Leonard Francis-known as "Fat Leonard" for his supposed girth and big personality-was arrested back in September on bribery charges and remains behind bars.

The charges stem from a sting operation that found Naval officers were allegedly sending Francis-a Malaysian native who has held more than $200 million in logistical services contracts with the Navy since 2011-classified information about ship deployments in exchange for luxury items, prostitutes, and expensive trips. With the insider knowledge in hand, Francis would allegedly pressure Navy commanders to steer their ships to his ports, where he would not only elaborately wine and dine the top officers but also overcharge the Navy outrageously to service the ships, otherwise known as "husbanding."

... ... ...

Selected Comments

Fran Macadam:

If the standing army so despised by our American Founding Father ancestors really were the supreme force for good in society that we degraded scions now believe it to be, then it would follow that the military dictatorship would be the most perfected, moral way of governing human affairs.

So it does seem our current solons agree, given their penchant for overthrowing pesky foreign democracies and supporting military coups and juntas, from Pinochet to Egypt, now without even communist opponents as handy fig leaves.

Now that there is an overarching fourth branch of secret unaccountable government, unconstrained by law, overruling the other branches, treating the entire domestic population as adversaries to be spied upon, all ruled over by military generals and military-industrial lackeys, we have our own emergent home-grown turnkey totalitarian state infrastructure.

Our biggest businessmen prefer dealing with foreign dictatorships that supply them lackey labor at huge profit, while despising democratic accountability at home, preferring to subvert the republic through donorism, buying their legislation from politicians who were supposed to have been elected to serve the American people instead.

An institution that serves at best only a necessary evil, preparation for mass killing as defense against invasion, and at worst an unnecessary unmitigated evil, waging preemptive wars of imperial conquest and occupation on behalf of financial elites, could hardly be the highest expression of a moral people's national aspirations. That it is seen as so, is symptomatic of the same decline into degraded self-indulgence that permeates our wider brutalized society. The collapsed military morale simply reflects the low estate of us all.

John :

It's tempting for many to think of the military as being somehow different from any other political organization because of the uniform, the oath of office, etc., but it really isn't. If you're at the bottom and have no resources, you can expect to have the book thrown at you for your offenses because the military likes to preach accountability to the rank and file. If you're in the middle, it comes down to whether you have friends above you and whether they are disposed to help under the circumstances. If you're at the top, you will get every courtesy from your peers as they try to figure out how to exonerate you and thus protect the perceived infallibility of command.

I was a junior officer for five years in one branch of service, and I spent most of it stationed in Japan. During my time there, one of my enlisted personnel got caught up in a base-wide DUI dragnet; he elected non-judicial punishment, losing rank and pay. This is the kind of result the military touts when it comes to its judicial process, because it's what you would expect from a civilian judiciary with no reason to care about the rank of the accused.

By contrast, one of my squadron's officers, who had recently promoted to lieutenant colonel, was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer while on exercise; I'll never know all of it, but it involved significant performance failures during the exercise and prostitutes on the government dime. That colonel lost his opportunity to command, but he kept rank and pay as he accepted another job in the transition to military retirement (in his early forties, naturally). My base commander, a brigadier general, had interceded with the military police to keep his wife from receiving a DUI, and – rumor has it – got a favored aide a prestigious job after she became pregnant out of wedlock with his child. Naturally, nothing ever came of these "investigations" and I believe he retired at the next rank years later.

As long as you have a rank-based hierarchy with very few limits on what subordinates may be commanded to do, things like this will happen.


It's more endemic than you know, especially out of the Academies:

And from Jacob Hornberger:

"Also published in April 2003 was my series of articles entitled 'Obedience to Orders,' which produced the biggest firestorm of controversy in FFF's history. The article made the simple point that officers who graduated from Virginia Military Institute were generally of higher caliber than officers who graduated from the professional military academies. (In the interests of full disclosure, I am a 1972 VMI graduate.) The reason? The graduates of the academies (generally, and obviously with exceptions) are taught to maintain an unswerving obedience to orders, and they know that their rise through the ranks of the military depends on such a mindset. VMI officers, on the other hand, being trained as 'citizen-soldiers,' develop a sense of conscience and independent thinking that (again generally, and with exceptions) trumps blind obedience to orders."


Today's academies, he added, tend to force cadets to compete ruthlessly with one another, while setting up an "all or nothing" system that shuns creativity and honesty in favor of "winning" and moving up the ranks.

My time in the naval academy (granted that it was in USSR early 1980s) was spent under the rule of the semi-joke, semi-truth–"the fewer chevrons are on the cadet's epaulets, the cleaner is the consciousness".

The talk, of course, was about cadet ranks which were awarded during the study. Everyone knew, including the guys (class and company mates) who were in the cadet command positions (squad, platoon and company leaders) that the only thing which mattered first of all was academics.

Leadership and command qualities were acquired through number of the activities and courses. And fleet practices and cruises, of course. Obviously, upon graduation and acquiring an officer rank things changed.


Nothing like living in an echo chamber. According to there are 1,433,000 active duty personnel.

This article highlights less than 1% of them involved in some manner of scandal. Far less than 1%. While I do think that 800 involved in a single investigation is a matter of some concern.

less than one percent of the overall manpower hardly reflects some manner of moral crisis. While I have a much lengthier response overall. I think the numbers indicate that most men and women in our Armed Services are not scandal prone or involved in scandal.

Because of the nature of their mission any scandal should be addressed, but I am not sure these media stories demonstrate a trend. And certainly the above examples are part of some aspects of military culture, but hardly any more selective than what occurs in civilian communities.

Joe the Plutocrat

is it me, or am I the only one who understood Ike when he warned of the perils of "misplaced power" inherent to the military industrial complex? more accurately, accepting the "military" is half of the (potential) problem.

just as with the "careerism" of America's political class, the military has developed it's own class of smarmy, self-serving "professionals" who view public service as a vehicle for personal enrichment. there are many professional, dedicated officers who serve(d) honorably, but as with Capitol Hill, there remains a disturbingly high number of pimps and influence peddlers who present themselves as public servants.

[Feb 04, 2014] Chris Hedges Military Metaphysics How Militarism Mangles the Mind

For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience-similar to the approach used to train a dog-work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society.

Homer in "The Iliad" showed his understanding of war. His heroes are not pleasant men. They are vain, imperial, filled with rage and violent. And Homer's central character in "The Odyssey," Odysseus, in his journey home from war must learn to shed his "hero's heart," to strip from himself the military attributes that served him in war but threaten to doom him off the battlefield. The qualities that serve us in war defeat us in peace.

Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one's career. The military is the worst in this respect.

In the military, whether at the Paris Island boot camp or West Point, you are trained not to think but to obey. What amazes me about the military is how stupid and bovine its senior officers are. Those with brains and the willingness to use them seem to be pushed out long before they can rise to the senior-officer ranks.

The many Army generals I met over the years not only lacked the most rudimentary creativity and independence of thought but nearly always saw the press, as well as an informed public, as impinging on their love of order, regimentation, unwavering obedience to authority and single-minded use of force to solve complex problems.

... ... ...

...Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out.

"In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible," C. Wright Mills wrote. "What is being promulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics-the cast of mind that defines international reality as basically military."

[Jan 23, 2014] Guns and Butter by Ron Paul

"Many of the defenders of increased war spending are opponents of welfare, but they are willing to set aside their opposition to increased welfare spending in order to increase warfare spending." ... "While many neocons give lip service to limiting domestic spending, their main priority remains protecting high levels of military spending to maintain an interventionist foreign policy"
Jan 21, 2013 | Mises Institute

Ever since "sequestration" went into effect at the beginning of last year, the military-industrial complex's congressional cheering session has complained that sequestration imposed "draconian cuts" on the Pentagon that will "decimate" our military - even though most of the "cuts" were actually reductions in the "projected rate of growth." In fact, under sequestration, defense spending was to increase by 18 percent over ten years, as opposed to growing by 20 percent without sequestration.

Many of the defenders of increased war spending are opponents of welfare, but they are willing to set aside their opposition to increased welfare spending in order to increase warfare spending. They are supported in this position by the lobbyists for the military-industrial complex and the neoconservatives, whose continued influence on foreign policy is mystifying. After all, the neocons were the major promoters of the disastrous military intervention in Iraq.

While many neocons give lip service to limiting domestic spending, their main priority remains protecting high levels of military spending to maintain an interventionist foreign policy. The influence of the neocons provides intellectual justification for politicians to vote for ever-larger military budgets - and break the campaign promises to vote against increases in spending and debt.

Fortunately, in recent years more Americans have recognized that a constant defense of liberty requires opposing both war and welfare. Many of these Americans, especially the younger ones, have joined the intellectual and political movement in favor of limiting government in all areas. This movement presents the most serious challenge the bipartisan welfare-warfare consensus has faced in generations. Hopefully, the influence of this movement will lead to bipartisan deals cutting both welfare and warfare spending.

The question facing Americans is not whether Congress will ever cut spending. The question is will the spending be reduced in an orderly manner that avoids inflecting massive harm on those depending on government programs, or will spending be slashed in response to an economic crisis caused by ever-increasing levels of deficit spending. Because politicians are followers rather than leaders, it is ultimately up to the people what course we will take. This is why it is vital that those of us who understand the dangerous path we are currently on do all we can to expand the movement for liberty, peace, and prosperity.

[Jan 20, 2014]

Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts says, "The country is not being run by the President. It is being run by spy agencies and private interest groups, Wall Street and military security complex . . .

They run the country. The President is a puppet, a figurehead." Dr. Roberts contends, "If you are a lawless state, which the United States is, it obeys no international law. It does not obey the Geneva Convention . . . It tortures people. It doesn't obey the Constitution. It doesn't obey anything. It does what it wants. . . . If you are a lawless state, you disguise yourself as a democracy."

Former President Jimmy Carter agrees. Just last week, Carter said, "The U.S. has no functioning democracy at this moment."

Why hasn't the mainstream media picked up this astounding comment from a former Democratic President? Dr. Roberts says, "Five firms now own what used to be a large dispersed independent media. Nobody can open their mouth, they'd get fired. They have become a propaganda ministry for government and corporations."

Then, when their grasping hands had reached the very bottom of the treasure chest, they dialed 911 and the emergency team (otherwise known as the US Congress) came to their rescue, doling out trillions to the looters and leaving the rest of America to pay the bill.

The "right" version goes something like the following:

Politically connected Wall Streeters, in league with their bought-and-paid-for cronies in government, destroyed and looted the economy until there was nothing left to steal. Then, when their grasping hands had reached the very bottom of the treasure chest, they dialed BIG-GOV-HELP and the feds showed up with the cash.

The first thing one notices about these two analyses, taken side by side, is their similarity: yes, the "left" blames the free market, and the "right" blames Big Government, but when you get past the blame game their descriptions of what actually happened look like veritable twins. And as much as I agree with the "right" about their proposed solution – a radical cut in government spending – it is the "left" that has the most accurate analysis of who's to blame.

It is, of course, the big banks – the recipients of bailout loot, the ones who profited (and continue to profit) from the economic catastrophe that has befallen us.

During the 1930s, the so-called Red Decade, no leftist agitprop was complete without a cartoon rendering of the top-hatted capitalist with his foot planted firmly on the throat of the proletariat (usually depicted as a muscular-but-passive male in chains). That imagery, while crude, is largely correct – an astonishing statement, I know, coming from an avowed reactionary," no less. Yet my leftist pals, and others with a superficial knowledge of libertarianism, will be even more surprised that the founder of the modern libertarian movement, also an avowed (and proud) "reactionary," agreed with me (or, rather, I with him):

"Businessmen or manufacturers can either be genuine free enterprisers or statists; they can either make their way on the free market or seek special government favors and privileges. They choose according to their individual preferences and values. But bankers are inherently inclined toward statism.

"Commercial bankers, engaged as they are in unsound fractional reserve credit, are, in the free market, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Hence they are always reaching for government aid and bailout.

"Investment bankers do much of their business underwriting government bonds, in the United States and abroad. Therefore, they have a vested interest in promoting deficits and in forcing taxpayers to redeem government debt. Both sets of bankers, then, tend to be tied in with government policy, and try to influence and control government actions in domestic and foreign affairs."

That's Murray N. Rothbard, the great libertarian theorist and economist, in his classic monograph Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy. If you want a lesson in the real motivations behind our foreign policy of global intervention, starting at the very dawn of the American empire, you have only to read this fascinating treatise. The essence of it is this: the very rich have stayed very rich in what would otherwise be a dynamic and ever-changing economic free-for-all by securing government favors, enjoying state-granted monopolies, and using the US military as their private security guards. Conservatives who read Rothbard's short book will never look at the Panama Canal issue in the same light again. Lefties will come away from it marveling at how closely the libertarian Rothbard comes to echoing the old Marxist aphorism that the government is the "executive committee of the capitalist class."

Rothbard's account of the course of American foreign policy as the history of contention between the Morgan interests, the Rockefellers, and the various banking "families," who dealt primarily in buying and selling government bonds, is fascinating stuff, and it illuminates a theme common to both left and right commentators: that the elites are manipulating the policy levers to ensure their own economic interests unto eternity.

In normal times, political movements are centered around elaborate ideologies, complex narratives that purport to explain what is wrong and how to fix it. They have their heroes, and their villains, their creation myths and their dystopian visions of a dark future in store if we don't heed their call to revolution (or restoration, depending on whether they're hailing from the "left" or the "right").

You may have noticed, however, that these are not normal times: we're in a crisis of epic proportions, not only an economic crisis but also a cultural meltdown in which our social institutions are collapsing, and with them longstanding social norms. In such times, ideological categories tend to break down, and we've seen this especially in the foreign policy realm, where both the "extreme" right and the "extreme" left are calling for what the elites deride as "isolationism." On the domestic front, too, the "right" and "left" views of what's wrong with the country are remarkably alike, as demonstrated above. Conservatives and lefties may have different solutions, but they have, I would argue, a common enemy: the banksters.

This characterization of the banking industry as the moral equivalent of gangsters has its proponents on both sides of the political spectrum, and today that ideological convergence is all but complete, with only "centrists" and self-described pragmatists dissenting. What rightists and leftists have in common, in short, is a very powerful enemy – and that's all a mass political movement needs to get going.

In normal times, this wouldn't be enough: but, as I said above, these most assuredly aren't normal times. The crisis lends urgency to a process that has been developing – unfolding, if you will – for quite some time, and that is the evolution of a political movement that openly disdains the "left" and "right" labels, and homes in on the main danger to liberty and peace on earth: the state-privileged banking system that is now foreclosing on America.

This issue is not an abstraction: we see it being played out on the battlefield of the debt ceiling debate. Because, after all, who will lose and who will win if the debt ceiling isn't raised? The losers will be the bankers who buy and sell government bonds, i.e. those who finance the War Machine that is today devastating much of the world. My leftie friends might protest that these bonds also finance Social Security payments, and I would answer that they need to grow a spine: President Obama's threat that Social Security checks may not go out after the August deadline is, like everything out that comes out of his mouth, a lie. The government has the money to pay on those checks: this is just his way of playing havoc with the lives of American citizens, a less violent but nonetheless just as evil version of the havoc he plays with the lives of Afghans, Pakistanis, and Libyans every day.

This isn't about Social Security checks: it's about an attempt to reinflate the bubble of American empire, which has been sagging of late, and keep the government printing presses rolling. For the US government, unlike a private entity, can print its way out of debt – or, these days, by simply adding a few zeroes to the figures on a computer screen. A central bank, owned by "private" individuals, controls this process: it is called the Federal Reserve. And the Fed has been the instrument of the banksters from its very inception [.pdf], at the turn of the 19th century – not coincidentally, roughly the time America embarked on its course of overseas empire.

There is a price to be paid, however, for this orgy of money-printing: the degradation, or cheapening, of the dollar. Most of us suffer on account of this policy: the only beneficiaries are those who receive those dollars first, before it trickles down to the rest of us. The very first to receive them are, of course, the bankers, but there's another class of business types who benefit, and those are the exporters, whose products are suddenly competitive with cheaper foreign goods. This has been a major driving force behind US foreign policy, as Rothbard points out:

"The great turning point of American foreign policy came in the early 1890s, during the second Cleveland Administration. It was then that the U.S. turned sharply and permanently from a foreign policy of peace and non-intervention to an aggressive program of economic and political expansion abroad. At the heart of the new policy were America's leading bankers, eager to use the country's growing economic strength to subsidize and force-feed export markets and investment outlets that they would finance, as well as to guarantee Third World government bonds. The major focus of aggressive expansion in the 1890s was Latin America, and the principal Enemy to be dislodged was Great Britain, which had dominated foreign investments in that vast region.

"In a notable series of articles in 1894, Bankers' Magazine set the agenda for the remainder of the decade. Its conclusion: if 'we could wrest the South American markets from Germany and England and permanently hold them, this would be indeed a conquest worth perhaps a heavy sacrifice.'

"Long-time Morgan associate Richard Olney heeded the call, as Secretary of State from 1895 to 1897, setting the U.S. on the road to Empire. After leaving the State Department, he publicly summarized the policy he had pursued. The old isolationism heralded by George Washington's Farewell Address is over, he thundered. The time has now arrived, Olney declared, when 'it behooves us to accept the commanding position… among the Power of the earth.' And, 'the present crying need of our commercial interests,' he added, 'is more markets and larger markets' for American products, especially in Latin America.'"

The face of the Enemy has long since changed, and Britain is our partner in a vast mercantilist enterprise, but the mechanics and motivation behind US foreign policy remain very much the same. You'll note that the Libyan "rebels," for example, set up a Central Bank right off the bat, even before ensuring their military victory over Gadhafi – and who do you think is going to be selling (and buying) those Libyan "government" bonds? It sure as heck won't be Joe Sixpack: it's the same Wall Streeters who issued an ultimatum to the Tea Party, via Moody's, that they'll either vote to raise the debt ceiling or face the consequences.

But what are those consequences – and who will feel their impact the most?

It's the bankers who will take the biggest hit if US bonds are downgraded: the investment bankers, who invested in such a dodgy enterprise as the US government, whose "full faith and credit" isn't worth the paper it's printed on. In a free market, these losers would pay the full price of their bad business decisions – in our crony-capitalist system, however, they win.

They win because they have the US government behind them - and because their strategy of degrading the dollar will reap mega-profits from American exporters, whose overseas operations they are funding. The "China market," and the rest of the vast undeveloped stretches of the earth that have yet to develop a taste for iPads and Lady Gaga, all this and more will be open to them as long as the dollar continues to fall.

That this will cripple the buying power of the average American, and raise the specter of hyper-inflation, matters not one whit of difference to the corporate and political elites that control our destiny: for with the realization of their vision of a World Central Bank, in which a new global currency controlled by them can be printed to suit their needs, they will be set free from all earthly constraints, or so they believe.

With America as the world policeman and the world banker – in alliance with our European satellites – the Washington elite can extend their rule over the entire earth. It's true we won't have much to show for it, here in America: with the dollar destroyed, we'll lose our economic primacy, and be subsumed into what George Herbert Walker Bush called the "New World Order." Burdened with defending the corporate profits of the big banks and exporters abroad, and also with bailing them out on the home front when their self-created bubbles burst, the American people will see a dramatic drop in their standard of living – our sacrifice to the gods of "internationalism." That's what they mean when they praise the new "globalized" economy.

Yet the American people don't want to be sacrificed, either to corporate gods or some desiccated idol of internationalism, and they are getting increasingly angry – and increasing savvy when it comes to identifying the source of their troubles.

This brings us to the prospects for a left-right alliance, both short term and in the long run. In the immediate future, the US budget crisis could be considerably alleviated if we would simply end the wars started by George W. Bush and vigorously pursued by his successor. Aside from that, how many troops do we still have in Europe – more than half a century after World War II? How many in Korea – long after the Korean war? Getting rid of all this would no doubt provide enough savings to ensure that those Social Security checks go out – but that's a bargain Obama will never make.

All those dollars, shipped overseas, enrich the military-industrial complex and their friends, the exporters – and drain the very life blood out of the rest of us. Opposition to this policy ought to be the basis of a left-right alliance, a movement to bring America home and put America first.

In the long term, there is the basis for a more comprehensive alliance: the de-privileging of the banking sector, which cemented its rule with the establishment of the Federal Reserve. That, however, is a topic too complex to be adequately covered in a single column, and so I'll just leave open the intriguing possibility.

"Left" and "right" mean nothing in the current context: the real division is between government-privileged plutocrats and the rest of us. What you have to ask yourself is this: which side are you on?