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Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win (American Century) by Richard A. Gabriel (Aug 1, 1986)

The army reflects the society as a very sharp mirror that reflects that processes in large organizations, especially multinational corporations. Gabriel argues that 3 issues produce American military failures:
  1. Size of the officer corps (it is too big).
  2. Rapid reassignment of officers (no one learns their job).
  3. Self-promotion ( and self-serving bureaucracies).
  4. Amateurism of leadership.

A rise of somebody with the personal traits of Admiral Nelson among the ranks of modern military is unthinkable. He would be dismissed as a "dangerous and insubordinate maverick."  The military is a bureaucracy and, as in all bureaucracies, it’s far easier to succeed by going along with the flow than by trying to change things. Being a maverick may well make a young officer stand out and get great evaluations; it’s more likely to piss off at least one senior rater during a career, though, and end one’s chances at promotions.

The demonstrable deficiencies of the level of competence of leadership in military (which is no less common for multinationals) lead to cynicism, indifference, and even "mental paralysis" whose ultimately outcome is careerism, "ticket punching," and the accompanying development of new layers within the already massive bureaucracy. Which leads to situation when layers of, say, naval bureaucracy shudder each time they hear the word "ship."

Both Parkinson's Law and Peter's Law  are operating in army at full throttle.

Far worse is the fact that, while leadership failures are evident at all strata of the army, the problem is probably most acute at the officer intake level: the Academy. Honor code notwithstanding, incidents of dishonorable conduct emerge with a fairly high frequency, and underscore inadequacy of the current training. Low half of graduates might be even dangerous for the army. Many of the problems relating to the issues of leadership are intimately related to low personal erudition of officers. Which is reflected in numerous army anecdotes. Thus the need for knowledge-based professional competence is indisputable.

In his superb but long-forgotten book "The Art of Leadership" the late Captain S.W. Roskill, RN stressed most eloquently the need for all-around knowledge that a naval leader must posses. His postulates, based on a long and distinguished naval career and as a Fellow at Cambridge's Churchill College are valid today as in the sixties when the book was written. Yet, the most popular graduate degree among the officer corps is the civilian career-promoting MBA or its variety. Degrees in history, political science, art, etc., are not only viewed as "career-indifferent," but may even be frowned at.


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[Sep 03, 2016] Hillary Clinton Incompetent, Or Criminal

The lost in mail laptop and disappear thumb drive with archived emails story is incredibly fishy. The whole story in incredible. Both Hillary and her close aides (especially Huma ) come out as completely incompetent idiots, who can't be trusted any sensitive information. This level of incompetence combined with recklessness is pretty typical for female sociopath
Notable quotes:
"... The Donald Trump campaign has already called for Clinton to be "locked up" for her carelessness handling sensitive information. The missing laptop and thumb drive raise a new possibility that Clinton's emails could have been obtained by people for whom they weren't intended. ..."
"... The archives on the laptop and thumbdrive were constructed by Clinton aides in 2013, using a convoluted process, before her emails were turned over to State Department officials and later scrubbed to determine which ones had classified information and should either be withheld from public view or could be released with redactions. The archive of messages would contain none of those safeguards, potentially exposing classified information if it were ever opened and its contents read. ..."
"... The archive was created nearly a year before the State Department contacted former secretaries of state and asked them to turn over any emails that they had sent using private accounts that pertained to official business. A senior Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, told the FBI that the archive on the laptop and thumb drive were meant to be "a reference for the future production of a book," according to the FBI report. ..."
"... Whatever the rationale, the transfer of Clinton's emails onto two new storage devices, one of which was shipped twice, created new opportunities for messages to be lost or exposed to people who weren't authorized to see them, according to the FBI report. (The Clinton campaign didn't immediately respond to a request to comment for this story.) ..."
"... The disappearing laptop and thumb drive story is incredibly fishy. Either Team Hillary is lying about it, or they are spectacularly incompetent and reckless with national security information. ..."
"... Hillary Clinton: Incompetent, Or Criminal? Both. ..."
"... Dear God, from the Daily Beast article, apparently they were using one of the laptops as a way to transfer the emails to a contractor they had hired. Since no one knew how to do it, they effected the transfer by sending the entire archive to a personal gmail account, then transfering it again to the contractor. So we have a massive store containing quite classified information going to a major tech company, entirely over the internet with only ssl protection I can only presume, because they could not figure out how to transfer a file system. The incompetence here is astonishing. Even a Google employee who forwards sensitive information to a personal gmail account would risk being fired. ..."
"... Of course the most important detail to come out of this is the use of BleachBit. You don't use that software to delete emails about yoga classes. ..."
"... The employee "transferred all of the Clinton e-mail content to a personal Google e-mail (Gmail) address he created," the FBI found. From that Gmail address, he downloaded the emails into a mailbox named "HRC Archive" on the Platte River server. ..."
"... Honestly, Rod you should highlight this. I can assure you that if something this mindbogglingly reckless were ever done at a major tech company the employee would either be fired or told to find work elsewhere but never enter the office again (because severance is expensive and bad pr). I assume the same is true of the government as well. ..."
The American Conservative

Why, exactly, did the FBI wait until Labor Day Weekend to dump this startling news about Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal? Hard to believe it was a coincidence that official Washington wanted this story to have the best chance of going away. From the Daily Beast:

A laptop containing a copy, or "archive," of the emails on Hillary Clinton's private server was apparently lost-in the postal mail-according to an FBI report released Friday. Along with it, a thumb drive that also contained an archive of Clinton's emails has been lost and is not in the FBI's possession.

The Donald Trump campaign has already called for Clinton to be "locked up" for her carelessness handling sensitive information. The missing laptop and thumb drive raise a new possibility that Clinton's emails could have been obtained by people for whom they weren't intended. The FBI director has already said it's possible Clinton's email system could have been remotely accessed by foreign hackers.

The revelation of the two archives is contained in a detailed report about the FBI's investigation of Clinton's private email account. The report contained new information about how the archives were handled, as well as how a private company deleted emails in its possession, at the same time that congressional investigators were demanding copies.

More:

The archives on the laptop and thumbdrive were constructed by Clinton aides in 2013, using a convoluted process, before her emails were turned over to State Department officials and later scrubbed to determine which ones had classified information and should either be withheld from public view or could be released with redactions. The archive of messages would contain none of those safeguards, potentially exposing classified information if it were ever opened and its contents read.

The FBI has found that Clinton's emails contained classified information, including information derived from U.S. intelligence. Her campaign has disputed the classification of some of the emails.

The archive was created nearly a year before the State Department contacted former secretaries of state and asked them to turn over any emails that they had sent using private accounts that pertained to official business. A senior Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, told the FBI that the archive on the laptop and thumb drive were meant to be "a reference for the future production of a book," according to the FBI report. Another aide, however, said that the archive was set up after the email account of a Clinton confidante and longtime adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, was compromised by a Romanian hacker.

Whatever the rationale, the transfer of Clinton's emails onto two new storage devices, one of which was shipped twice, created new opportunities for messages to be lost or exposed to people who weren't authorized to see them, according to the FBI report. (The Clinton campaign didn't immediately respond to a request to comment for this story.)

Read it all. The disappearing laptop and thumb drive story is incredibly fishy. Either Team Hillary is lying about it, or they are spectacularly incompetent and reckless with national security information.

Clint says: September 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm
The Clintons have gotten away repeatedly by not playing by the rules that others must play by or get punished for breeching.

It's incrementally being exposed and Americans see that The Clintons act as if they're too big to jail.

Noah172 , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm
KevinS wrote:

It is like going through a red light because you weren't paying close enough attention as opposed to consciously choosing to run a red light

Lousy analogy. Running a red is a momentary lapse, not a years-long, well-thought-out conspiracy, with considerable effort given to covering tracks (BleachBit).

Sebastien Cole , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm
No one in the media wants to say it, but this report almost entirely exonerates Clinton. Yes, she's lawyerly and is inclined to walk too close to the line, but no – she didn't do anything immoral or unethical. If at some point it turns out that she's actually done something wrong then we revisit, but the obsession with this 'crimeless coverup' prevents us from stating the obvious – Clinton is a solid candidate for President, intelligent, diligent and serious enough to guide the nation through difficult times. Trump is uncontroversially not.

The moral equivalence games the media plays with the two candidates amounts to a cancer in our civic fiber that allows us not to put away our childish things.

mongoose , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm
…like choosing a hangover…rather than a heroin overdose
Buckeye reader , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm
You're insulting Nixon.

We could have had Carly Fiorina dealing with the challenge of cyber warfare in the 21st century. Voters are choosing a woman who put an insecure server containing national security communications in her basement, and sold our intention and opportunities to do good in the world to rich people for her own financial gain.
(I lean toward voting for Trump. My issue is the immense paperwork drag on health care delivery and the increase in cost caused by the "affordable" care act. I expect more of the same with Clinton. )

Abelard Lindsey , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:37 pm
Hillary Clinton: Incompetent, Or Criminal? Both.
Michael Guarino, says: September 3, 2016 at 12:51 pm
Dear God, from the Daily Beast article, apparently they were using one of the laptops as a way to transfer the emails to a contractor they had hired. Since no one knew how to do it, they effected the transfer by sending the entire archive to a personal gmail account, then transfering it again to the contractor. So we have a massive store containing quite classified information going to a major tech company, entirely over the internet with only ssl protection I can only presume, because they could not figure out how to transfer a file system. The incompetence here is astonishing. Even a Google employee who forwards sensitive information to a personal gmail account would risk being fired.

This sort of astonishing incompetence is exactly why I originally thought this was a big deal. The reason you don't want HRC running her own server is because she plainly doesn't know how to manage, or even hire for, all the inane details of information security.

Of course the most important detail to come out of this is the use of BleachBit. You don't use that software to delete emails about yoga classes.

Will Harrington , says: September 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm
Jay, or, and hear me out, like the other Bill, there has to come a point in time where the shear amount of claims of criminal behavior has to be considered. The other Bill got away with rape for years, maybe its time to consider that this Bill and his wife lack credibility in the face of accusers that HRC has denigrated and called Bimbos.

Leftists make me sick in this. They will cry that we should always believe the victim unless one of their political leaders are accused. You want to take out a conservative? Give credible evidence that he is guilty of rape or sexual harassment. We quit voting for them. Your side, deny, deny, deny….and ultimately demand we move on, just like a previous poster's five stages of a Clinton scandal.

The only exception to this I can think of is Weiner, not because he did something that is horrible. No, you guys abandoned him because he was pathetic and embarrassing.

Michael Guarino, says: September 3, 2016 at 1:08 pm
This is the direct quote from the Daily Beast article:

After trying unsuccessfully to remotely transfer the emails to a Platte River server, Hanley shipped the laptop to the employee's home in February 2014. He then "migrated Clinton's emails" from the laptop to a Platte River server.

That task was hardly straightforward, however, and ended up exposing the email archive yet again, this time to another commercial email service.

The employee "transferred all of the Clinton e-mail content to a personal Google e-mail (Gmail) address he created," the FBI found. From that Gmail address, he downloaded the emails into a mailbox named "HRC Archive" on the Platte River server.

Honestly, Rod you should highlight this. I can assure you that if something this mindbogglingly reckless were ever done at a major tech company the employee would either be fired or told to find work elsewhere but never enter the office again (because severance is expensive and bad pr). I assume the same is true of the government as well.

It really makes the Nixon comparisons seem apt, except she has an out for her supporters in simply claiming that she is a bumbling idiot.

Andrew E. , says: September 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm
The good liberals here who are starting the writing on the wall with Crooked Hillary should begin considering the fact that Trump isn't that bad and is actually pretty good in many ways. Come on over, you will be welcomed warmly.

[May 16, 2015] William J. Astore The American Military Uncontained, Chaos Spread, Casualties Inflicted, Missions Unaccomplished

May 16, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

By William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) who edits the blogThe Contrary Perspective. Originally published at TomDispatch<

It's 1990. I'm a young captain in the U.S. Air Force. I've just witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, something I never thought I'd see, short of a third world war. Right now I'm witnessing the slow death of the Soviet Union, without the accompanying nuclear Armageddon so many feared. Still, I'm slightly nervous as my military gears up for an unexpected new campaign, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, to expel Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein's military from Kuwait. It's a confusing moment. After all, the Soviet Union was forever (until it wasn't) and Saddam had been a stalwart U.S. friend, his country a bulwark against the Iran of the Ayatollahs. (For anyone who doubts that history, just check out the now-infamous 1983 photo of Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy for President Reagan, all smiles and shaking hands with Saddam in Baghdad.) Still, whatever my anxieties, the Soviet Union collapsed without a whimper and the campaign against Saddam's battle-tested forces proved to be a "cakewalk," with ground combat over in a mere 100 hours.

Think of it as the trifecta moment: Vietnam syndrome vanquished forever, Saddam's army destroyed, and the U.S. left standing as the planet's "sole superpower."

Post-Desert Storm, the military of which I was a part stood triumphant on a planet that was visibly ours and ours alone. Washington had won the Cold War. It had won everything, in fact. End of story. Saddam admittedly was still in power in Baghdad, but he had been soundly spanked. Not a single peer enemy loomed on the horizon. It seemed as if, in the words of former U.N. ambassador and uber-conservative Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. could return to being a normal country in normal times.

What Kirkpatrick meant was that, with the triumph of freedom movements in Central and Eastern Europe and the rollback of communism, the U.S. military could return to its historical roots, demobilizing after its victory in the Cold War even as a "new world order" was emerging. But it didn't happen. Not by a long shot. Despite all the happy talk back then about a "new world order," the U.S. military never gave a serious thought to becoming a "normal" military for normal times. Instead, for our leaders, both military and civilian, the thought process took quite a different turn. You might sum up their thinking this way, retrospectively: Why should we demobilize or even downsize significantly or rein in our global ambitions at a moment when we can finally give them full expression? Why would we want a "peace dividend" when we could leverage our military assets and become a global power the likes of which the world has never seen, one that would put the Romans and the British in the historical shade? Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer caught the spirit of the moment in February 2001 when he wrote, "America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will."

What I didn't realize back then was: America's famed "containment policy" vis-à-vis the Soviet Union didn't just contain that superpower — it contained us, too. With the Soviet Union gone, the U.S. military was freed from containment. There was nowhere it couldn't go and nothing it couldn't do — or so the top officials of the Bush administration came into power thinking, even before 9/11. Consider our legacy military bases from the Cold War era that already spanned the globe in an historically unprecedented way. Built largely to contain the Soviets, they could be repurposed as launching pads for interventions of every sort. Consider all those weapon systems meant to deter Soviet aggression. They could be used to project power on a planet seemingly without rivals.

Now was the time to go for broke. Now was the time to go "all in," to borrow the title of Paula Broadwell's fawning biography of her mentor and lover, General David Petraeus. Under the circumstances, peace dividends were for wimps. In 1993, Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton, caught the coming post-Cold War mood of twenty-first-century America perfectly when she challenged Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell angrily over what she considered a too-cautious U.S. approach to the former Yugoslavia. "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about," she asked, "if we can't use it?"

Yet even as civilian leaders hankered to flex America's military muscle in unpromising places like Bosnia and Somalia in the 1990s, and Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen in this century, the military itself has remained remarkably mired in Cold War thinking. If I could transport the 1990 version of me to 2015, here's one thing that would stun him a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union: the force structure of the U.S. military has changed remarkably little. Its nuclear triad of land-based ICBMs, submarine-launched SLBMs, and nuclear-capable bombers remains thoroughly intact. Indeed, it's being updated and enhanced at mind-boggling expense (perhaps as high as a trillion dollars over the next three decades). The U.S. Navy? Still built around large, super-expensive, and vulnerable aircraft carrier task forces. The U.S. Air Force? Still pursuing new, ultra-high-tech strategic bombers and new, wildly expensive fighters and attack aircraft — first the F-22, now the F-35, both supremely disappointing. The U.S. Army? Still configured to fight large-scale, conventional battles, a surplus of M-1 Abrams tanks sitting in mothballs just in case they're needed to plug the Fulda Gap in Germany against a raging Red Army. Except it's 2015, not 1990, and no mass of Soviet T-72 tanks remains poised to surge through that gap.

Much of our military today remains structured to meet and defeat a Soviet threat that long ago ceased to exist. (Occasional sparring matches with Vladimir Putin's Russia in and around Ukraine do not add up to the heated "rumbles in the jungle" we fought with the Soviet leaders of yesteryear.) And it's not just a matter of weaponry. Our military hierarchy remains wildly and unsustainably top-heavy, with a Cold War-style cupboard of generals and admirals, as if we were still stockpiling brass in case of another world war and a further expansion of what is already uncontestably the largest military on the planet. If you had asked me in 1990 what the U.S. military would look like in 2015, the one thing I wouldn't have guessed was that, in its force structure, it would look basically the same.

This persistence of such Cold War structures and the thinking that goes with them is a vivid illustration of military inertia, the plodding last-war conservatism that is a common enough phenomenon in military history. It's also a reminder that the military-industrial-congressional-complex that President Dwight Eisenhower first warned us about in 1961 remains in expansion mode more than half a century later, with its taste for business as usual (meaning, among other things, wildly expensive weapons systems). Above all, though, it's an illustration of something far more disturbing: the failure of democratic America to seize the possibility of a less militarized world.

Today, it's hard to recapture the heady optimism of 1990, the idea that this country, as after any war, might at least begin to take steps to demobilize, however modestly, to become a more peaceable land. That's why 1990 should be considered the high-water mark of the U.S. military. At that moment, we were poised on the brink of a new normalcy — and then it all began to go wrong. To understand how, it's important to see not just what remained the same, but also what began to change and just how we ended up with today's mutant military.

Paramilitaries Without, Militaries Within, Civilian Torturers, and Assassins Withal

Put me back again in my slimmer, uniformed 1990 body and catapult me for a second time to 2015. What do I see in this military moment that surprises me? Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for sure. Networked computers everywhere and the reality of a military preparing for "cyberwar." Incessant talk of terrorism as America's chief threat. A revival, however haltingly, of counterinsurgency operations, or COIN, a phenomenon abandoned in Vietnam with a stake through its heart (or so I thought then). Uncontrolled and largely unaccountable mass surveillance of civilian society that in the Cold War era would have been a hallmark of the "Evil Empire."

More than anything, however, what would truly have shocked the 1990 version of me is the almost unimaginable way the military has "privatized" in the twenty-first century. The presence of paramilitary forces (mercenary companies like DynCorp and the former Blackwater, now joined with Triple Canopy in the Constellis Group) and private corporations like KBR doing typical military tasks like cooking and cleaning (what happened to privates doing KP?), delivering the mail, and mounting guard duty on military bases abroad; an American intelligence system that's filled to the brim with tens of thousands of private contractors; a new Department of Defense called the Department of Homeland Security ("homeland" being a word I would once have associated, to be blunt, with Nazi Germany) that has also embraced paramilitaries and privatizers of every sort; the rapid rise of a special operations community, by the tens of thousands, that has come to constitute a vast, privileged, highly secretive military caste within the larger armed forces; and, most shocking of all, the public embrace of torture and assassination by America's civilian leaders — the very kinds of tactics and techniques I associated in 1990 with the evils of communism.

Walking about in such a world in 2015, the 1990-me would truly find himself a stranger in a strange land. This time-traveling Bill Astore's befuddlement could, I suspect, be summed up in an impolite sentiment expressed in three letters: WTF?

Think about it. In 2015, so many of America's "trigger-pullers" overseas are no longer, strictly speaking, professional military. They're mercenaries, guns for hire, or CIA drone pilots (some on loan from the Air Force), or warrior corporations and intelligence contractors looking to get in on a piece of the action in a war on terror where progress is defined — official denials to the contrary — by body count, by the number of "enemy combatants" killed in drone or other strikes.

Indeed, the very persistence of traditional Cold War structures and postures within the "big" military has helped hide the full-scale emergence of a new and dangerous mutant version of our armed forces. A bewildering mish-mash of special ops, civilian contractors (both armed and unarmed), and CIA and other intelligence operatives, all plunged into a penumbra of secrecy, all largely hidden from view (even as they're openly celebrated in various Hollywood action movies), this mutant military is forever clamoring for a greater piece of the action.

While the old-fashioned, uniformed military guards its Cold War turf, preserved like some set of monstrous museum exhibits, the mutant military strives with great success to expand its power across the globe. Since 9/11, it's the mutant military that has gotten the lion's share of the action and much of the adulation — here's looking at you, SEAL Team 6 — along with its ultimate enabler, the civilian commander-in-chief, now acting in essence as America's assassin-in-chief.

Think of it this way: a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is completely uncontained. Washington's foreign policies are strikingly military-first ones, and nothing seems to be out of bounds. Its two major parts, the Cold War-era "big" military, still very much alive and kicking, and the new-era military of special ops, contractors, and paramilitaries seek to dominate everything. Nuclear, conventional, unconventional, land, sea, air, space, cyber, you name it: all realms must be mastered.

Except it can't master the one realm that matters most: itself. And it can't find the one thing that such an uncontained military was supposed to guarantee: victory (not in a single place anywhere on Earth).

Loaded with loot and praised to the rafters, America's uncontained military has no discipline and no direction. It never has to make truly tough choices, like getting rid of ICBMs or shedding its obscenely bloated top ranks of officers or cancelling redundant weapon systems like the F-35. It just aims to do it all, just about everywhere. As Nick Turse reported recently, U.S. special ops touched down in 150 countries between 2011 and 2014. And the results of all this activity have been remarkably repetitive and should by now be tragically predictable: lots of chaos spread, lots of casualties inflicted, and in every case, mission unaccomplished.

The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

Say what you will of the Cold War, at least it had an end. The overriding danger of the current American military moment is that it may lack one.

Once upon a time, the U.S. military was more or less tied to continental defense and limited by strong rivals in its hegemonic designs. No longer. Today, it has uncontained ambitions across the globe and even as it continually stumbles in achieving them, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, or elsewhere, its growth is assured, as our leaders trip over one another in continuing to shower it with staggering sums of money and unconditional love.

No military should ever be trusted and no military should ever be left uncontained. Our nation's founders knew this lesson. Five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower took pains in his farewell address in 1961 to remind us of it again. How did we as a people come to forget it? WTF, America?

What I do know is this: Take an uncontained, mutating military, sprinkle it with unconditional love and plenty of dough, and you have a recipe for disaster. So excuse me for being more than a little nervous about what we'll all find when America flips the calendar by another quarter-century to the year 2040.

Selected Skeptical Comments

Chris Geary May 15, 2015 at 3:41 am

"Military overreach" is a nice way I guess of putting the US ruthless/reckless plan for military control of the planet.

Christer Kamb May 15, 2015 at 5:57 am

It´s name is POWER-HYBRIS. Trying to put the Roman Empire in the shade is asking for the same end.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm

"The military wants to do everything everywhere". And Americans like it that way: THAT's the problem. Between Hollywood, TV, every Politboro news organ from Business Insider to Fox News, National Friggin' Geographic fer chrissakes extolling military porn, no wonder the plebs are so bloodthirsty. Last Christmas for the first time when Norad tracked Santa Claus on his journey from the North Pole his sleigh was escorted by two fighter jets. Gotta get 'em young.
Doesn't seem to matter to anyone that the American military has not won a major engagement since WWII. Oh, except Grenada. America's defining National Myth Monster rolls on.
Dennis Kucinich proposed a Department of Peace, just fund the hell out of it. Since the plebs operate in a "conscience-free zone", pay enough people to shout "Peace Now!" at every possible turn and you might move the needle. Worked a treat in 1971.

Harriet May 15, 2015 at 4:02 am

It's crushing to think how if even a fraction of the trillions sunk into maintaining military bloat–the F-35 boondoggle, or the mercenary contractors first come to mind–had been invested in U.S. education system, health care, and/or civic infrastructure, so many people and families would be alive and thriving today. And who knows if one of them was the next Marie Curie, George Washington Carver, or Hedy Lamarr?

sufferin'succotash May 15, 2015 at 8:35 am

That's Hedley!

PlutoniumKun May 15, 2015 at 4:55 am

'Not so much a country with an army as an army with a country' they used to say about Prussia. The US is increasingly beginning to resemble that description. Historically, countries with unconfined militaries end up in wars because sections of the military decide there must be a war, not because the civilian leadership decides. What his happening now in parts of the world (most notably Ukraine and elsewhere in eastern Europe) is beginning to resemble Manchuria in the 1930's, when an unconstrained Japanese army simply decided to start a war (actually, more than one war) without even bothering to consult with Tokyo. Increasingly I do not think it is relevant who sits in the White House, the crucial decisions are not made there.

MikeNY May 15, 2015 at 6:03 am

We're the modern-age Sparta.

According to Boehner, our military can't survive on a dime less than $604,000,000,000 a year. Because "it's downright shameful … to even contemplate turning our backs on American troops."

Every time you cut funding for an F-35 or a drone or a nuke, little baby Jesus weeps.

James Levy May 15, 2015 at 6:52 am

With one sad exception: our inequality extends to who bears the ultimate burden for that Sparta-like militarism. We've fobbed off imperial policing to mostly poor rural whites and Hispanics (blacks have largely internalized which way the wind is blowing and their participation rates in recruitment have dropped significantly). Every Spartan male who was not a Helot was a soldier. Here, we've upended that relationship so that those at the bottom make up the soldiery and those at the top never go near a barracks.

MikeNY May 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Yes, ITA.

Felix May 16, 2015 at 12:45 am

Plenty of blacks as well. Basically it is a well funded jobs program…….do nothing jobs…….huge benefits……out of sight medical care abuse……..as General Casey said, "a health care system that occasionally kills a terrorist." What other industry exists in the US that can offer an average citizen a middle or lower middle class income? Local Fire? Good luck if you don't have relatives and same with police.

Brooklin Bridge May 15, 2015 at 7:10 am

The insane expense of operating the military and the impossibility of shutting it down or limiting it in any way it is a good part of the military's (not to mention the empire's) Achilles heel. The other part is it's clunky, crusty, internal structure so resistant by hubris and habit to change and reason as Astore aptly describes. But it's cold comfort.

As always with our Empire, the tragedy is that we seem fated to go through all the machinations, but worse all the unnecessary suffering put mainly on the innocent, of a system that has reached that level of complexity or what ever it is that triggers the downward spiral of self destruction.

Brooklin Bridge May 15, 2015 at 7:21 am

Increasingly I do not think it is relevant who sits in the White House, the crucial decisions are not made there.

Hard to argue that point, but I suspect in reality it does matter in an odd sort of way. Executives have a sort of uncontrolled control like a car where the steering wheel is so loose as to be almost, but not quite, worthless. The President (and Obama with his narcissism is a pip for this) whirls the wheel and imagines he is at the helm, but the whole contraption, in reality, responds with a confused will of its own.

steviefinn May 15, 2015 at 5:17 am

It reminds me of how Bomber Command became like a giant machine during WW2. A bureaucracy which once put in motion ( as Kurt Vonnegut was told by a high level officer within it ), just kept on rolling even when it was realised, by many of the cogs working with in it that it was no longer serving a supposedly useful purpose.

There is a possibility that officer might have been the scientist Freeman Dyson, & here he talks about the sense of helplessness, when knowing something is very wrong within the organisation you are working for, but knowing that there is nothing you can do to change it :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ8jRF5icZQ

Otter May 15, 2015 at 6:31 am

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: "America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will."

"Triumph Des Willens" was a huge fad last century. It came to a bad end 70 years ago.

Maju May 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Actually the best comparison is not Rome but Charles V, who also dreamed with Rome, like all European power-mongers ever. Like Charles V, the endless campaigns of the USA only manage to erode the empire, like Charles V, every other "second" power is trying to erode the influence of the USA, mostly with success, like Charles V, the hypertrophy of the military relies on an huge pile of debt, impossible to pay. The main difference is that Charles V used old-school money (silver and gold), while the USA uses paper-money.

It's kind of an ouroboros of European imperialism: the beginning and the end of it.

Jackrabbit May 15, 2015 at 6:41 am

I think the author is trying to say that our Democracy has been hijacked.

Military people tend to give too little credit to propaganda. Its an Empire of Illusion as much as it is an Empire of Chaos.

Americans have been too complacent about international relations. This allows our bought government a free hand for overseas adventures. But the war comes home in a variety of ways, from spying to cuts in social spending to militarized police and more.

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H O P

juliania May 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

I don't think he is trying to say – he is saying it. Very clearly and concisely and encompassing all aspects of military malfeasance. The 1990 perspective is appropriate and chilling for those of us whose memories as adults reach back that far. It truly was a watershed moment, even perhaps a greater one than the 2000 election as far as this country's potential for actual reversal of course is concerned.

Well done, Mr. Astore.

James Levy May 15, 2015 at 6:47 am

I understand the man's thinking and praise him for it, but he doesn't take the ultimate step which Chalmers Johnson did–to understanding that since NSC68 it was always about aggrandizement, not "containment."

As an historian of Britain, the interesting thing for me intellectually (emotionally if find this all sickening and appalling) is how there was always a constituency for retrenchment in the UK, but it never cohered here, or hasn't since Pearl Harbor. British defence spending was always cut after wars. Hell, it was Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s who carried through the so-called Geddes Axe and slashed the services unmercifully. Despite a vast empire, the British establishment was always leery of paying the high taxes needed for a huge military. I guess we owe a lot of this to Nixon closing the gold window and the death of Bretton Woods. Our unique position as issuer of the global currency with no check on how much of it we can issue makes our military extravaganzas possible.

Carla May 15, 2015 at 7:07 am

In the "WTF America?" department, I wonder what James Levy and William Astore think of Michael J. Glennon's "National Security and Double Government" ?

norm de plume May 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm

The title sounds like it sails close to the borders of the Deep State, but this review I just read:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/10/18/review-national-security-and-double-government-michael-glennon/tUhBBdSj8s0WW1HoWUf20M/story.html

says 'This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created'

Which sounds eerily like stevie's relay of Freeman Dyson's comment about Bomber Command above:

'A bureaucracy which once put in motion ( as Kurt Vonnegut was told by a high level officer within it ), just kept on rolling even when it was realised, by many of the cogs working with in it that it was no longer serving a supposedly useful purpose'

So, if it's just a blind monster driven by thousands of little bureaucratic decisions it should be easier to stop than if it's actually an evil cabal of bad guys, yes? A last quote from Glennon casts some doubt:

"the term Orwellian will have little meaning to a people who have never known anything different, who have scant knowledge of history, civics, or public affairs, and who in any event have never heard of George Orwell."

MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Our unique position as issuer of the global currency with no check on how much of it we can issue makes our military extravaganzas possible.

A fiat-money empire can be a household or not a household.

The choice is up to the people…the masters of the house.

"You have chosen…wisely."

JTMcPhee May 15, 2015 at 8:21 am

See Spot run! Run, Spot, run! See Dick shoot Jane! Shoot, Dick, shoot! See Dick show Vlad how to shoot, American style! And make tactical decisions just like successful US military!

No more topheavy command and control! Except realtime GoPro Battlespace management by fatass dudes at Global Network-Centric Interoperababble Battlespace consoles!

"War In Ukraine," now we know who the official Good Guys are!

https://youtu.be/hx0Y6tWKCB8
We be fu___ed. Like Totally,, Timmy!

OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

The most telling bit is that these glorious, freedom loving defenders of free Ukraine are speaking in … Russian?! WTF??? They speak Russian and the US trainers' instructions get translated to them in Russian.

I guess they haven't had time to learn proper Bandera while fighting other Russian speakers…

Eureka Springs May 15, 2015 at 8:27 am

I think this is the authors most significant blind spot:

Above all, though, it's an illustration of something far more disturbing: the failure of democratic America to seize the possibility of a less militarized world.

We are not now nor have we ever been a democratic America. Beginning with the oft cited point by me that the D word does not exist in the Constitution. I say this understanding that the people even in a Democracy would likely approve if not demand to be a horrifically violent bunch. Who will change this, the Green party?

Maybe, but only in a Democracy, the kind which abhors secrecy and lies as much as bloody war mongering itself.

susan the other May 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

I think this way as well. I sometimes think we really jumped the shark in the Cold War because we created so much advanced (mostly secret) technology it would stagger us all to learn about it. But the Cold War was the perfect window of history to accomplish this applied science. And now we are in a kind of existential crisis. Yes it was and is expensive to advance science at such a pace. And we will never know how that money has been spent because it's all top secret. I wish we could apply block chain accounting to military procurement. Pin down every penny. And for this reason: that money could have been spent on creating a sustainable world but it was "misallocated" as the capitalists like to say.

We failed to modernize our brains and our economy at a critical time. We should send the entire military to the psychologist and appoint a very enlightened bunch to change course at the DoD. The new Secty of Def is a curious guy. Almost likeable. I'd personally love to see the greatest oxymoron – a true peace, green peace preferably, even if it is a fascistic peace. It could be a great new economy.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 3:02 pm

You're right – the money could been spent on creating a sustainable world.

Printing more doesn't address the issue if we don't correct the misallocation, and when we correct it, we will likely see we don't need to print more.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Tinkering at the margins won't work. Do what Ron Paul said: bring the troops home.

When asked when he would do it, he replied "as soon as the boats can get there".
THAT's the world we need to be imagining: America with an unbelievably strong, successful fighting force (1/10th it's current size) ready to defend our borders against every conceivable threat. Take another 1/10th of the force and put them to work on American soil building roads, bridges, TRAIN TRACKS, and hospitals HERE for a change. Aim 1/10th of the force to R&D, techno-science and manufacturing advancements they are already so good at.

Loudly announce to the Taiwanese and the South Koreans and the Europeans and the Israelis that they must pay for their own defense. Faced with the impossibility of doing so just maybe they would find new ways to cooperate with their neighbors rather than simply hiding behind the World's Apex Bully.

Henry May 15, 2015 at 8:30 am

What I find interesting is that the American people are becoming more and more suspicious and fearful of big government but are still enamored and almost fawning of a big military as if they are two separate things. They believe politicians are corrupt but the military brass are honorable and respect worthy. I'm not sure if this is caused by Hollywood, but there is a real cognitive dissidence in the minds of the American people.

I hope they're able to wake from this fantasy before it's too late.

bruno marr May 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm

…I like the creative use of "dissidence" (misbelief) in this comment. I expected to see "dissonance" (inconsistency), but misbelief better describes the American mindset.

A refusal to accept reality.

barutanseijin May 15, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I don't know if it's ALL Hollywood's fault, but they certainly have something to do with it. The military parasitic complex doesn't cooperate with Hollywood projects like Top Gun for nothing.

And it's not just Hollywood, but news media which serves up blatant propaganda as "news" (yellowcake!) & pays members of the military-parasitic class to yabber away on network teevee. Not to mention the NFL which takes Pentagon dollars for salutes to soldiers. It's like an oxoplasma gondii infection, where the protozoans take over rodent brains and drive them towards the cats.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Government is not just for building bridges. Military is a big, big part*.

Let's not overlook this reality when we are not being skeptical (but we should be) of the unlimited money creation authority (so claimed, but debatable) for the government to spend (so that it will trickle down to you), especially when we can do better – we can take away military spending and use it for all those things mentioned above (which we desperately need) by Harriet, at 4:02AM.

*Big Brother says he's being ignored.

vegeholic May 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm

A good start would be to re-institute compulsory national service with NO DEFERMENTS. If there is pushback from uncooperative draftees, maybe that is valuable feedback that should be listened to. I am sure it was a dream come true when the brass got their professional, all volunteer army, and could then forge ahead with their plans knowing there would be little resistance from inside.

For all of the untidiness of the Vietnam era protests, there was valuable feedback indicating the citizens had lost interest in pursuing that lost enterprise. If the policy makers knew that their children and grandchildren (and themselves !) were about to become cannon fodder they might think twice about starting new adventures.

jrs May 15, 2015 at 2:33 pm

You idea of compulsory national service with NO DEFERMENTS is a delusion. The rich will NEVER EVER EVER serve with the grunts. Get that straight. Short of revolution (and even then probably!!!).

We already know the criminal laws don't' apply to the rich. And we expect them not to get out of the law when not just their freedom (ie being sent to the slammer) but their lives are at stake. Yea right. As always we will die, they will profit. That's the case even with voluntary recruitment. And it will be the case if they get the draft only no peasants will have any choice but to die in wars for their profit.

And the feedback from Vietnam took how many years to end the war? How many dead Americans? (dead Vietnamese too, yes but I'm talking about the war being ended out of self-interest and it's impact on Americans, or rather that NOT actually happening historically, or at least not until it had gone on forever).

You want to give our unaccountable rulers in an ever more unaccountable government more power to send us to die (neo-liberals "go die" isn't nothing, compared to being made to die and kill). Hasn't Fast Track and the TPP at least shown us that there's no democracy in the White House, no democracy in the Senate. And as everyone knows there's no democracy in the Supreme Court. What's left that cares what the populous wants? Maybe the House if the stars perfectly align.

If you want to make policy makers responsible for their wars, why not just send them and their children to die in them? They are rarely influenced by us anyway.

jrs May 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

It's sometimes as if we hardly need our rulers to stuff horrible nonsense down our throats (and they do of course), when sections of the population beg for it themselves. Few in power have argued for a draft lately (thank heavens for small mercies, maybe a draft is buried in the TPP text for all we'd know!). Well then we better do so. "Please, please, oh wise ruling class you haven't done enough until you make my children die for you. Just as long as you promise it will be equal, and everyone will have an equal chance of dying, including your children, it will be equal right …. right?"

A draft over my dead body. There aren't enough horrors in the world to worry about. I mean I understand wanting some kind of accountability if they read about another wedding being bombed, another kid having his legs blown off or being made into pink mist by the U.S. empire. But a draft of the powerless (the 99s) is questionable as a solution to that, but is certain to ruin THEIR lives. People who come back from these stupid wars are killing themselves right and left from the trauma already.

JTMcPhee May 15, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Our imperial military has no use for a draft. That just means more unreliable Troops that might , as they've done before, mutiny or decline to obey orders. I'm waiting for still newer versions of the Soldier's Oath, that omit that stuff about supporting and defending the Constitution. The part about obeying LAWFUL orders is fading out, and drones and autonomous battle robots and UAVs and boats and sub's and missiles (and mercenaries, for wet work in meatspace, are just so much more reliable, from the Brass Hat's perspective. Too tired to look stuff up tonight, but a whole lot of planning is going into getting rid of GIs with their long term costs and problems.

So you need not fear having to become a dead body to resist a massive conscription… The Thing this post describes is a stage IV metastatic malignancy. Now we can all go back to our "Call of Duty" and
Blow some heads off, or a quick round of "Game of War" where you have a chance to " build an Empire that will Last Forever!!" A little different theme than "Sim City," right?

tim s May 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Edit. Meant as a reply to Henry

The people in the USA are a little more diverse than that. Many do not harbor such grand feelings about the military. Recall how many were opposed to actions in Syria, Iran, Ukraine. Back in 1990, there was some hoo-rah, but that was largely propaganga based. Many, like the author, were simply confused by Desert Storm. Of course, the light show streamed on TV made those predisposed to being led around by their noses fell all warm and fuzzy, so there was that support to show. That was also a time where the "markets" were just about to lift off and escape from reality, so there was so much $$$ for people to swim in that there was not any pain from these skirmishes, so they didn't give it a 2nd thought. Without thinking, there is only the flashing screens, which do seem to be used by TPTB at every opportunity to mold the thoughts of the masses. At every point in our progression to this point, there was no shortage of Hollywood / propaganda. This is predictable, however. I believe it was Goebbels that said that it works the same in all times and places, and I'm sure that this is correct. I recall reading that a large percentage of the Germans & the Japanese had no idea of the reality of their situation during or even near the end of WW2.

As pervasive as the propaganda is, the USA has such a wide variety of people that they are trying to herd cats, with about as much success as expected. The main thing to remember is that all that is happening militarily is not in support of the USA, but rather of the moneyed interests, which are not actually contained within the borders of the USA, and is is many ways counter to the interests of the people in that country.

There are many contributors to our political campaigns who are not US citizens. Even our super-rich consider themselves to be of a super-national class rather than US citizens. All of this is not about the USA. Our remaining political system still has some of the pesky remnants of a democracy, so there is some need to win us over to keep the charade going. We see that this is not going so well (i.e. TPP).

Still, I'm sure that the MIC gets funding (official and unofficial) regardless of what the people think, just as the TBTF banks get what the need as far as trillions in credit/bailouts, simply because this structure maintains the status of the moneyed interests, which are again super-national. Of course, there are factions within these moneyed interests that would fight each other to the death given the logical progression of events.

Like you, I hope that there is much more wakening. People right now are in that phase of just coming out of sleep, and many are completely confused and disoriented. What a mess. Such is life.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Our super-rich are American-citizen patriots who support military spending, and at the same time, super-nationals with global profit outlook.

They are a long way from the provincial "we speak only one language" American middle class of the 50's. They are fully aware of the global consequences of printing money (hot money in and out, but more significantly, as shown in this article – mutant military) here.

They know there is only one exceptional country that needs never to take out foreign currency loans.

They know there is only one exceptional country that can print fiat money as much as it wants and the rest of the world will share her burden (unlike say, Ukraine who can print as much as she likes, but no one other country will participate in economic-pain-sharing with her).

tim s May 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Per the Merriam–Webster dictionary : Patriotism – : having or showing great love and support for your country

Show me one way our super rich prove this love and support.

All I see is self-love and love of power. Support? How is hiding wealth in offshore accounts and shell companies supportive of their country? Show me the ranks of these rich that have volunteered for military service.

sam s smith May 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Prince, the head of Black Water was Navy SEAL.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef May 15, 2015 at 8:25 pm

My fault.

Should have put quotation marks around 'patriots.'

Crazy Horse May 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm

You commentators have it all wrong. After all, what would the Land of the Free be without its most viable industry, the manufacture and distribution of weapons of death?

Conventional manufacturing and all the jobs it once generated have been off-shored to whatever country comes closest to pure slave labor. Farming has been subsumed into a form of industrial sharecropping , with the chief beneficiary being companies like Monsanto that control the genetic structure of the crops and banksters that supply credit to purchase the chemicals and machinery that are the primary inputs into what was once called farming.

The largest volume of "productive" activity in the country is in "finance" which has exactly the same contribution to the welfare of the nation as a vampire has to that of its' host.

Liberals wring their hands because of what they see as the shortcomings of President Obama, ignoring his contribution to the welfare of the country.

Under his leadership the US share of international arms trade has grown from a mere 60% to over 80%. Thank god we have at least one industry that still leads the world.

Sluggeaux May 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm

One word: Corruption

Congress allocates the funds. The Presidency and the Congress use the "military" as the definitive self-licking ice cream cone, channeling these vast and wasteful appropriations of fiat money to their cronies, while claiming to be anti-Big Government (it was former Nixon-strategist Mevin Phillips who pegged the Bush dynasty as nothing but a snarling hyena-pack of war-profiteers).

Our Fearless Leader, congress-critters, and their cronies will find the rise of unaccountable surveillance and assassination described above to be a convenient resource when the masses who have been out-sourced by globalization continue with ever-larger Katrina/Ferguson/Baltimore-style uprisings. Just watch.

I will, but hopefully from a "resilient" sideline…

VietnamVet May 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I agree with the points of this post. It just does not bring them to a logical conclusion.

Without the draft and tax on the wealthy, none of the wars that America is fighting from Ukraine to Somalia will be won. Simply stated, these privatized conflicts are a means to extract the remaining wealth from Americans until they are so burdened with debt that infrastructure and government collapses.

North America will be borderless fiefdoms separated by language and cartel enforcers; that is if mankind avoids nuclear war, plagues, or a climate collapse.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 6:10 pm

OK, my third comment, this subject is very close to my heart.

Everyone uses an outdated lens when looking at war today, the old paradigm had nations seeking to acquire territory, resources, factories, the "spoils of war". But today *war making itself* IS the treasure: no reason to try to capture and hold territory or resources, the mere act of making a new war pumps dollars to the corporate and government elites.

We waste endless ink trying to parse the strategic implications of this or that conflict, who is in it, and what they could gain. That's meaningless today: just go start punching someone, anyone. This explains America's flailing around the globe, desperate to find a new enemy at every turn. The Cold War ending was a giant blow to these forces, the GWOT worked well for a while but is getting stale, hence the glee at demonizing Russia.

In between we punch Libya, try to punch Syria, get all bloodthirsty about Iran…I mean it's just so obvious. None of these have to have any glimmer of rationale about being in our "strategic interest", when KFC gets multi-million $ no-bid contracts to set up shop behind the trenches, you know the fix is in.

OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm

I generally agree, but I think that there is another dimension: exerting stronger control over the population as its standard of living declines ever more. The War on Terra ushered in the legalization of the tools for control: domestic surveillance, the militarization of police, the creation of the fusion centers, etc. Of course that's good for bidness, so we really have a twofer. So for all the justified criticisms toward the author's belief that we actually had a democracy, he is correct that whatever crapp and imperfect illusion of freedom there was is taken away gradually.

jrs May 15, 2015 at 6:37 pm

The MIC gets rich, but there's really no other purpose?

No oil, no pipelines, no minerals, no petrodollar, no markets to neoliberalize and conquer, noone to overthrow who is not going along, no strategic military bases to establish?

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL May 15, 2015 at 11:56 pm

I dunno, if Iraq was about the oil, then why didn't we get any? The Chinese did. And I'm not sure how we neo-liberalize markets with the military…threaten we will invade?

I know Hilary threatened Sweden with reduced cooperation/funds if they didn't lighten up on Monsanto…pretty sure she didn't say we would invade though.

And as far as installing our own bad guys, maybe it's the one-two punch: green helicopters to get rid of the previous guy, then the rep from the IMF shows up for the Economic Hitman routine.

OIFVet May 16, 2015 at 12:16 am

And I'm not sure how we neo-liberalize markets with the military

Through NATO's military umbrella, NATO being the PC name for the US military occupation of the "allies". When dependent on the US for defense from the "enemies" we spend so much time and treasure to cultivate, we ensure our native compradors' loyalty and also their protection from the natives in case they get restless and dissatisfied. Full spectrum dominance, baby!

Nick May 15, 2015 at 5:47 pm

This column is quite lopsided. Iraq is over, the US is not invading Yemen, there may yet be a nuclear deal signed with Iran, and Russia is contained (for the moment) in Ukraine. The 21st Century is all about Asia and China…and the US pivot to Asia continues.

OIFVet May 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm

The US provides target intelligence to the Saudis, so it is a proxy war. And how, pray tell, is Russia contained in Ukraine? The events of the past coupe of days point to the beginning of Western retreat from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia and China went to great length to project an image of cooperation, with the leadership inseparable during the Victory Day parade and Chinese formations marching on the Red Square (with Russian formations set to return the courtesy in August's celebrations of the end of WW2 in Beijing).

Which shows that the pursuit of the pivot to Asia will only gobble ever increasing amounts…

frosty zoom May 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm

turn off your t.v.!

Jeremy Grimm May 16, 2015 at 1:37 am

A lot of the points made in this post are a little dated. Some sound like the author drank too much of the KoolAid passed around at the time and it's finally wearing off. Just touching on one:

"The U.S. Army? Still configured to fight large-scale, conventional battles, a surplus of M-1 Abrams tanks sitting in mothballs just in case they're needed to plug the Fulda Gap in Germany against a raging Red Army."

Around the end of Poppy Bush's [Mr. CIA and Mr. Shadow Iran Contra Man] Iraq war, the US Army was organized around Corps or Division size force structures best suited for a large scale war. However, following Desert Storm, many of the planners and theorists were re-thinking these basic structures as well as the larger strategy for structuring the world-wide Army forces. "Modular Army", "Army Modernization" grew into large scale efforts to re-structure and re-equip the Army forces.

These efforts coincided with changes to the Army mission. I didn't follow this process and its history well enough to trace its history — but today's Army is organized around modular brigade structures similar to the kinds of smaller force structure the Marine Corps have used for years to enable quick deployment of smaller self-contained forces — "expeditionary" forces. [If you're interested, I believe the Army's Mission Statements and Planning documents are available to the public so you could trace the evolution in thinking if you wanted, but first better make several large urns of coffee.]

I don't know about the hordes of mothballed Abrams, but I believe they exist. What impressed me were the large numbers of Humvees issued to units and replaced in theater with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles using some specially created paperwork and paid for using the unit's discretionary funds. The armor on the initial versions of the Humvees was too thin. "Up-Armor" Humvees replaced Humvees and in turn were replaced with MRAP vehicles as it became evident the Up-Armor Humvees were too vulnerable to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The force structure designs still allocated Humvees the last I was involved with that work. As far as I know many of these expensive vehicles ended up in storage. For a while they were considered temporary bridges to the future force built around the Future Combat Systems (FCS), a multi-billion dollar boondoggle which I suspect still haunts the Army higher command when they struggle for DoD dollars today. Bottom line is that a lot of waste very profitable to the large defense contractors who paid for the Bush trademark, was created during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But this colossal waste isn't evidence that the Army is still organized to fight a major ground war with Russia. It is good evidence that mistakes were made and saving face is more important than saving tax-payer money, and besides none of the big Defense contractors complained.

OIFVet May 16, 2015 at 2:22 am

Pretty much spot on the reorganization of the Army. It began about 2001 with the introduction of the Stryker and accelerated in earnest after we went after Saddam. Remember, during the initial invasion it still was divisions (though stripped down) who did the deed. M1A2s are still being procured, matter of fact, even though there are already a ton of these dinosaurs around. What's more, the development of M1A3s is set to start in two to three years. General Dynamics has to pay the shareholders, don't you know…

Humvees: awesome dune buggies just as long as no one is shooting at you with RPGs or setting off IEDs. The Iraqi rascals even had a sense of humor: I've personally seen IED locations marked with red, white, and blue ribbons to help the triggerman time his blast perfectly. Forget light armor, most humvees had none initially. It was either a stamped metal doors for the combat arms or plastic on tube frame for combat support. A few up-armored humvees here and there. When we deployed in the end of 2003, my unit had no armor of any kind on our humvees. The production of up-armored humvees was just ramping up Stateside, meanwhile combat arms were receiving completely inadequate bolt-on armor kits. Support units were receiving none, even though this was a war with no rear where every unit could become frontline in a heartbeat. The more enterprising of them would get their hands on scrap armor and torches and fashion themselves a Mad Max version of humvees and 5-ton gun trucks. It was mostly worthless protection but it did provide a bit of psychological boost to soldiers. Not much urgency to actually provide proper protection until that dude went of on Rummy in Camp Udairi in Kuwait and people in the States could support our troops not only with yellow ribbon magnets but also by demanding that more money be spent of the war machine. Because the concept of bringing the troops home and not being in constant wars is just unthinkable for the modern American consumer….

[Mar 21, 2015] Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror by George Washington

Mar 18, 2015 | Zero Hedge

There are many documented false flag attacks, where a government carries out a terror attack … and then falsely blames its enemy for political purposes.

In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally or in writing:

(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the "Mukden Incident" or the "Manchurian Incident". The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: "Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the 'Incident' was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army …." And see this.

(2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.

(3) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

(4) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union's Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939 – while blaming the attack on Finland – as a basis for launching the "Winter War" against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor in the Winter War.

(5) The Russian Parliament, current Russian president Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, and then falsely blamed it on the Nazis.

(6) The British government admits that – between 1946 and 1948 – it bombed 5 ships carrying Jews attempting to flee the Holocaust to seek safety in Palestine, set up a fake group called "Defenders of Arab Palestine", and then had the psuedo-group falsely claim responsibility for the bombings (and see this, this and this).

(7) Israel admits that in 1954, an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind "evidence" implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this).

(8) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

(9) The Turkish Prime Minister admitted that the Turkish government carried out the 1955 bombing on a Turkish consulate in Greece – also damaging the nearby birthplace of the founder of modern Turkey – and blamed it on Greece, for the purpose of inciting and justifying anti-Greek violence.

(10) The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change.

(11) The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people's support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: "You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security" (and see this) (Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special. They also allegedly carried out terror attacks in France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and other countries.

False flag attacks carried out pursuant tho this program include – by way of example only:

(12) In 1960, American Senator George Smathers suggested that the U.S. launch "a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]".

(13) Official State Department documents show that, in 1961, the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals.

(14) As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in 1962, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

(15) In 1963, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote a paper promoting attacks on nations within the Organization of American States – such as Trinidad-Tobago or Jamaica – and then falsely blaming them on Cuba.

(16) The U.S. Department of Defense even suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: "The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro's subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on Guantanamo."

(17) The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war.

(18) A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its "Cointelpro" campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

(19) A top Turkish general admitted that Turkish forces burned down a mosque on Cyprus in the 1970s and blamed it on their enemy. He explained: "In Special War, certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance. We did this on Cyprus; we even burnt down a mosque." In response to the surprised correspondent's incredulous look the general said, "I am giving an example".

(20) The German government admitted (and see this) that, in 1978, the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted "escape tools" on a prisoner – a member of the Red Army Faction – which the secret service wished to frame the bombing on.

(21) A Mossad agent admits that, in 1984, Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Gaddaffi's compound in Tripoli, Libya which broadcast fake terrorist trasmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

(22) The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him "to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident", thus framing the ANC for the bombing.

(23) An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author).

(24) The United States Army's 1994 publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces – updated in 2004 – recommends employing terrorists and using false flag operations to destabilize leftist regimes in Latin America. False flag terrorist attacks were carried out in Latin America and other regions as part of the CIA's "Dirty Wars". And see this.

(25) Similarly, a CIA "psychological operations" manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a "martyr" for the cause. The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government. The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other news coverage that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

(26) An Indonesian fact-finding team investigated violent riots which occurred in 1998, and determined that "elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked".

(27) Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion).

(28) According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.

(29) The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings.

(30) As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the "war on terror".

(31) Senior police officials in Genoa, Italy admitted that – in July 2001, at the G8 summit in Genoa – planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.

(32) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is "overwhelming" that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime, that Cheney "probably" had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not 'doing their homework' in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous "lone wolf" claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have alleged that 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).

(33) Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.

(34) Police outside of a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester

(35) Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having "our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda's ranks, causing operatives to doubt others' identities and to question the validity of communications."

(36) United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

(37) Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians.

(38) Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this).

(39) At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.

(40) Egyptian politicians admitted (and see this) that government employees looted priceless museum artifacts in 2011 to try to discredit the protesters.

(41) A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

(42) The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls "Chechen" terrorists.

(43) High-level American sources admitted that the Turkish government – a fellow NATO country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out attacks and blame it on the Syrian government.

(44) The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the Ukrainian coup were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that the Ukrainian snipers fired on both sides, to create maximum chaos.

(45) Britain's spy agency has admitted (and see this) that it carries out "digital false flag" attacks on targets, framing people by writing offensive or unlawful material … and blaming it on the target.

(46) U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then "drop" automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants

(47) Similarly, police frame innocent people for crimes they didn't commit. The practice is so well-known that the New York Times noted in 1981:

In police jargon, a throwdown is a weapon planted on a victim.

Newsweek reported in 1999:

Perez, himself a former [Los Angeles Police Department] cop, was caught stealing eight pounds of cocaine from police evidence lockers. After pleading guilty in September, he bargained for a lighter sentence by telling an appalling story of attempted murder and a "throwdown"–police slang for a weapon planted by cops to make a shooting legally justifiable. Perez said he and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, shot an unarmed 18th Street Gang member named Javier Ovando, then planted a semiautomatic rifle on the unconscious suspect and claimed that Ovando had tried to shoot them during a stakeout.

Wikipedia notes:

As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.

(As a side note – and while not technically false flag attacks – police have been busted framing innocent people in many other ways, as well.)

So Common … There's a Name for It

A former U.S. intelligence officer recently alleged:

Most terrorists are false flag terrorists or are created by our own security services.

This might be an exaggeration (and – as shown above – the U.S. isn't the only one to play this terrible game). The point is that it is a very widespread strategy.

Indeed, this form of deceit is so common that it was given a name hundreds of years ago.

"False flag terrorism" is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension.

The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship. Because the enemy's flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a "false flag" attack.

Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for naval, air and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks. Specifically, the rules of engagement state that a military force can fly the enemy's flag, imitate their markings, or dress in an enemy's clothes … but that the ruse has to be discarded before attacking.

Why are the rules of engagement so specific? Obviously, because nations have been using false flag attacks for many centuries. And the rules of engagement are at least trying to limit false flag attacks so that they aren't used as a false justification for war.

In other words, the rules of engagement themselves are an admission that false flag terrorism is a very common practice.

Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:

"Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death".
– Adolph Hitler

"Why of course the people don't want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

"The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened".
– Josef Stalin

Reaper

These false flags depend upon the trust of their underling sheeple in their leaders and media. Trust is an opiate of each nation's sheeple. Yes, fool, your government/king/media lie to you. Terrorist is word designed to elicit an emote from you Emoting prevents thinking. Power corrupts. Government power corrupts. Media power corrupts. Stupidity enslaves.

"Cui bono" is thinking. Thinking negates blind obeying. There is no virtue, nor honor, nor self-respect in emoting to your leader's stimuli.

I think; therefore I am. I emote; therefore I'm controlled.

raywolf

you missed out the London bombings in 2005, which are riddled with errors, mistakes and evidence of it being organised by military of Britain or perhaps CIA or Israel.... the train the attackers were meant to be on, was cancelled meaning they couldn't even get into London in time to do the bombings... it's all on CCTV and yet the 'official' report just skips over that part....

George Washington

There are scores of false flags I didn't address ... I only focused on the ones that were ADMITTED.

[Mar 21, 2015] Germany riot targets new ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

Quote: "Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB's role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece. The bank, in charge of managing the euro, is also responsible for framing eurozone policy and, along with the IMF and European Commission is part of a troika which has set conditions for bailouts in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. A spokesman for the Blockupy movement said the troika was responsible for austerity measures which have pushed many into poverty."
BBC News

Dozens of people have been hurt and some 350 people arrested as anti-austerity demonstrators clashed with police in the German city of Frankfurt.

Police cars were set alight and stones were thrown in a protest against the opening of a new base for the European Central Bank (ECB).

Violence broke out close to the city's Alte Oper concert hall hours before the ECB building's official opening.

"Blockupy" activists are expected to attend a rally later on Wednesday.

In earlier disturbances, police in riot gear used water cannon to clear hundreds of anti-capitalist protesters from the streets around the new ECB headquarters.

Organisers were bringing a left-wing alliance of protesters from across Germany and the rest of Europe to voice their anger at the ECB's role in austerity measures in EU member states, most recently Greece.

The bank, in charge of managing the euro, is also responsible for framing eurozone policy and, along with the IMF and European Commission is part of a troika which has set conditions for bailouts in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus.

A spokesman for the Blockupy movement said the troika was responsible for austerity measures which have pushed many into poverty.

Police set up a cordon of barbed wire outside the bank's new 185m (600ft) double-tower skyscraper, next to the River Main.

But hopes of a peaceful rally were dashed as clashes began early on Wednesday.

Tyres and rubbish bins were set alight and police responded with water cannon as firefighters complained they were unable to get to the fires to put them out. One fire engine appeared to have had its windscreen broken.

Activists said many protesters had been hurt by police batons, water cannon and by pepper spray.

Police said as many as 80 of their officers had been affected by pepper spray or an acidic liquid. Eight suffered injuries from stone-throwing protesters.

Police spokeswoman Claudia Rogalski spoke of an "aggressive atmosphere" and the Frankfurt force tweeted images of a police van being attacked. They were braced for further violence as increasing numbers of activists arrived for the rally.

Blockupy accused police of using kettling tactics to cordon off hundreds of protesters and appealed for supporters to press for their release.

What is Blockupy?

Europe-wide alliance of left-wing parties, unions and movements Vehemently against austerity polices of European Commission, ECB and IMF First Frankfurt protest attracted thousands in 2012 Activists from Greece's radical left governing party Syriza and Spain's anti-corruption Podemos are joining the rally
Also includes Germany's Die Linke and Occupy Frankfurt

Rallying call: "They want capitalism without democracy, we want democracy without capitalism"

As the number of protesters grew in the streets away from the new ECB building, the bank's president, Mario Draghi, gave a speech marking its inauguration.

Mr Draghi said that the it "may not be a fair charge" to label the ECB as the main perpetrator of unpopular austerity in Europe.

"Our action has been aimed precisely at cushioning the shocks suffered by the economy," he said.

"But as the central bank of the whole euro area, we must listen very carefully to what all our citizens are saying."

The new headquarters, which had been due to open years earlier, cost an estimated €1.3bn (£930m; $1.4bn) to build and is the new home for thousands of central bankers.

Blockupy activists said on their website that there was nothing to celebrate about the politics of austerity and increasing poverty.

[Mar 18, 2015] Russia withdrew from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty

marknesop , March 17, 2015 at 11:57 am
Most here will be aware that Russia withdrew from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, effective about a week ago. But I wonder how many were aware of the lopsided balance of forces Russia was expected to accept in order to ratify the treaty.

"When Russia ratified the adapted CFE Treaty, the agreement's weapons limit for NATO was three times that established for the Russian army. However, NATO required the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdnistria as a condition for the ratification of the treaty.

"NATO countries were not in a hurry to ratify the adapted treaty," Alexei Arbatov said. "Although Russia had withdrawn almost all its troops, there remained some absolutely insignificant contingents and objects. The West sought to pursue its line. On the part of NATO, I think it was extremely short-sighted, it was a big mistake."

In Arbatov's view, this decision by NATO was what "finished off" conventional arms control in Europe."

So for Russia, it now no longer recognizes a balance of forces or limit on conventional arms it may deploy in reaction to what it considers NATO provocations. The temperature looks to be steadily rising.

et Al, March 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm
I advocated this as an option quite some time ago. The time is judged right by the Kremlin to do so. But, even the US has foreseen this:

There was a very interesting article (which of course I cannot now find) from a day or two ago outlining the US military's response to the end of the CFE treaty. The underlining point was that the US could do quite a number of things that could make it more militarily threatening to Russia without breaching any CFE commitmets.

Here's a few mil related stuff that is intersting:

New Radars, IRST Strengthen Stealth-Detection Claims

http://aviationweek.com/defense/new-radars-irst-strengthen-stealth-detection-claims

Counterstealth technologies near service worldwide

Counterstealth technologies, intended to reduce the effectiveness of radar cross-section (RCS) reduction measures, are proliferating worldwide. Since 2013, multiple new programs have been revealed, producers of radar and infrared search and track (IRST) systems have been more ready to claim counterstealth capability, and some operators—notably the U.S. Navy—have openly conceded that stealth technology is being challenged.

These new systems are designed from the outset for sensor fusion—when different sensors detect and track the same target, the track and identification data are merged automatically. This is intended to overcome a critical problem in engaging stealth targets: Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up….
####

I think the point is that stealth has its place, but given the nature of 30 operational lives of aircraft, they are not going to keep their advantage for long. If you follow the tech news, the world is going through a sensor revolution. Price has massively dropped, capabilities have grown hugely, efficiency has significantly increase, its just the case of tying all the data together to make use of it 'data fusion' as they say in the article above. My camera has gps. In the pet shop I've seen gps cat collars not to mention video collars that can record all day or be set by sensor motion. It's only going to get better, cheaper and smaller and continue to reach the consumer in ever more imaginative ways.

Another 'gift' from the Ukraine, except this time to I-ran (the other I mentioned in a previous post of Su-33 naval prototype sold to China that ended up as the J-11B copy no to mention the copies Su-27SKs):

AW&ST: Iran Produces First Long-Range Missile

http://aviationweek.com/defense/iran-produces-first-long-range-missile

TEL-AVIV — Iran has unveiled a domestically produced long-range land attack cruise missile, dubbed Soumar.

Based on the Russian Kh-55, the Soumar is believed to have a range of at least 2,000 km. "This missile represents a significant leap in the Middle East arms race," says Col. Aviram Hasson of Israel's Missile Defense Organization.

"It positions Iran among the world's leaders in missile technology," a Western intelligence source adds….

…Iran secretly received the missiles in the first half of 2001 and began reverse engineering work. But unlike its publicly displayed ballistic missile program, Iran did not admit to having a cruise missile program until 2012. …
###

It's old, subsonic tech, but adds another arrow to the quiver that needs to be countered. Nor does it have a nuke warhead.

Defense Update: France to invest €330 million upgrading 218 Leclerc Main Battle Tanks

http://defense-update.com/20150312_leclerc-2.html

The planned modernization work will enable Leclerc MBTs to employ its heavy, direct firepower and mobility as part of the future "SCORPION" joint tactical groups (GTIA). The contract provides for the delivery of 200 "upgraded Leclerc" tanks and 18 "Renovated DCL" recovery vehicles from 2020….
####

Yup, from 2020. That's a lot of money for an extra reverse gear!

kirill, March 17, 2015 at 2:41 pm
"Even if the target is detected, the "kill chain" by which a target is tracked, identified and engaged by a weapon can still be broken if any sensor in the chain cannot pick the target up"

Total rubbish claim. It perhaps could be true if the "sensor fusion" system consisted of a couple of obsolete radars, but it would not be true for a system consisting of three or more obsolete radars. American idiots ripped off the stealth concept and mathematics from the Soviets and now prance around like they dictate physical reality. American idiots will not see what hit them when people with actual appreciation and skill in physics and mathematics will face their toys.

[Mar 18, 2015] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31921011

bbc.co.uk

Warren , March 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm

France and Germany join UK in Asia bank membership

France and Germany are to join the UK in becoming members of a Chinese-led Asian development bank.

The finance ministries of both countries confirmed on Tuesday that they would be applying for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Last week, the US issued a rare rebuke to the UK over its decision to become a member of the AIIB.

The US considers the AIIB a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank.

The UK was the first Western economy to apply for membership of the bank.

But German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed on Tuesday that his country would also be applying for membership.

France's finance ministry confirmed it would be joining the bank. It is believed Italy also intends to join.

The US has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which is seen as spreading Chinese "soft power".

The AIIB, which was created in October by 21 countries, led by China, will fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects.

When asked about the US rebuke last week, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said: "There will be times when we take a different approach."

The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures.

"We think that it's in the UK's national interest," Mr Cameron's spokesperson added.

'Not normal'

Last week, Pippa Malmgren, a former economic adviser to US President George W Bush, told the BBC that the public chastisement from the US indicates the move might have come as a surprise.

"It's not normal for the United States to be publicly scolding the British," she said, adding that the US's focus on domestic affairs at the moment could have led to the oversight.

However, Mr Cameron's spokesperson said UK Chancellor George Osborne did discuss the measure with his US counterpart before announcing the move.

Some 21 nations came together last year to sign a memorandum for the bank's establishment, including Singapore, India and Thailand.

But in November last year, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered lukewarm support to the AIIB and said its actions must be transparent.

US President Barack Obama, who met Mr Abbott on the sidelines of a Beijing summit last year, agreed the bank had to be transparent, accountable and truly multilateral.

"Those are the same rules by which the World Bank or IMF [International Monetary Fund] or Asian Development Bank or any other international institution needs to abide by," Mr Obama said at the time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31921011

marknesop , March 17, 2015 at 3:11 pm
The USA's grip on Europe, against all odds, is loosening. Who would have thought it would be over money, considering it went meekly along hand-in-hand with Washington in imposing sanctions which had an immediate and deleterious effect on its bottom line? I mean, isn't that money, too?

"The UK insisted it would insist on the bank's adherence to strict banking and oversight procedures. 'We think that it's in the UK's national interest,' Mr Cameron's spokesperson added." Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…Oh, 'pon my word, yes, m'lud. The UK would be everyone's first choice to monitor strict adherence to banking and oversight procedures, after the £2.7 Billion in fines handed the Bank of England for currency rigging – which also resulted in the dismissal of its senior foreign exchange dealer – just a few months ago. Or the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) scam, in which banks greedy for more profit conspired to rig the deck so that insurance which cost more and more stood less and less chance of ever having a successful claim levied against it. And let's not even mention Libor.

I don't think there's too much about crooked banking the Chinese will be able to teach the British.

james, March 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm
there is a straight line that runs from the boe to the federal reserve… moon of alabama has a post up discussing some of the changes afloat which can be read here –

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/03/the-end-of-the-us-dominated-international-money-system.html#comments

davidt, March 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm
My favorite Czech, Vlad Sobell, has an new article "The opportunity cost of America's disastrous foreign policy", which most of us here would agree with:

http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/03/17/4594

He reminds us what could have been if Putin's vision for creating a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok had been realized. (George Friedman has already explained why this could not be allowed.)
I don't think that anyone has mentioned an earlier article by Sobell that appeared as his contribution on the experts' panel on us-russia.org, His is the last contribution.

http://us-russia.org/2982-why-the-minsk-2-settlement-of-the-ukrainian-crisis-will-hold.html

If there were an award for clear thinking then Sobell would have to be a prime candidate.

kat kan , March 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm
Only problem is, this was written in February. And without regard for Poroshenko.

The weapons withdrawals were more or less done. Nothing else was. The Special Status law proposal was based on September lines and not discussed with the Republics so is unacceptable to them. Not only was there no improvement of humanitarian access, but it has been tightened up, to the extent that virtually no medicines are getting through, and no food at all. Travel to and from the Republics involves permits that take 3 weeks to get. The gas got cut off once. No social payments have been made and no wages back-paid. All this is in Minsk2 and Kiev's actually gone backwards on these clauses.

The reality is, Minsk2 will not succeed, because Kiev (and their masters) don't want it to. Poroshenko is carrying in like he can set conditions, as if HE HAD WON when in fact HE LOST.

davidt , March 17, 2015 at 6:17 pm
From memory, I think that Sobell would agree with your penultimate sentence- I don't think that he was very optimistic about Minsk2. (On the positive side, the gap between Europe and the US seems to have hardened.)

[Mar 07, 2015] Meet the Big Wallets Pushing Obama Towards a New Cold War By Christian Stork

February 25, 2015 | Alternet
As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. There's a familiar ring to the U.S. calls to arm Ukraine's post-coup government. That's because the same big-money players who stand to benefit from belligerent relations with Russia haven't forgotten a favorite Cold War tune.

President Obama has said that he won't rule out arming Ukraine if a recent truce, which has all but evaporated, fails like its predecessor. His comments echoed the advice of a report issued a week prior by three prominent U.S. think tanks: the Brookings Institute, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Atlantic Council. The report advocated sending $1 billion worth of "defensive" military assistance to Kiev's pro-Western government.

If followed, those recommendations would bring the U.S. and Russia the closest to conflict since the heyday of the Cold War. Russia has said that it would "respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts" if the U.S. supplies weapons to Kiev.

The powers with the most skin in the game -- France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine -- struck a deal on Feb. 12, which outlines the terms for a ceasefire between Kiev and the pro-Russian, breakaway provinces in eastern Ukraine. It envisages a withdrawal of heavy weaponry followed by local elections and constitutional reform by the end of 2015, granting more autonomy to the eastern regions.

But not all is quiet on the eastern front. The truce appears to be headed the route of a nearly identical compromise in September, which broke down immediately afterward.

Moscow's national security interests are clear. Washington's are less so, unless you look at the bottom lines of defense contractors.

As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn't hard to see what they have to gain. Just take a look below at the blow-by-blow history of their Beltway-bandit benefactors:

No Reds Means Seeing Red

Following the end of the Cold War, defense cuts had presented bottom-line problems for America's military producers. The weapons dealers were told that they had to massively restructure or go bust.

Luckily, carrots were offered. Norm Augustine, a former undersecretary of the Army, advised Defense Secretary William Perry to cover the costs of the industry mergers. Augustine was then the CEO of Martin Marietta -- soon to become the head of Lockheed Martin, thanks to the subsidies.

Augustine was also chairman of a Pentagon advisory council on arms-export policy. In that capacity, he was able to secure yet more subsidy guarantees for NATO-compatible weapons sales to former Warsaw Pact countries.

But in order to buy the types of expensive weapons that would stabilize the industry's books, those countries had to enter into an alliance with the U.S. And some members of Congress were still wary of shelling out money to expand a military alliance that had, on its face, no rationale to exist.

Enter the NATO Expansion Squad

Enter the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Formed in 1996, the Committee wined and dined elected officials to secure their support for NATO enlargement. Meanwhile, Lockheed buttressed its efforts by spending $1.58 million in federal contributions for the 1996 campaign cycle.

The Committee's founder and neocon chairman, Bruce Jackson, was so principled in his desire to see freedom around the globe that he didn't even take a salary. He didn't have to; he was a vice president at Lockheed Martin.

By Clinton's second term, everyone was on board. Ron Asmus, a former RAND Corporation analyst and the "intellectual progenitor" of NATO expansion (who would later co-chair the Committee to Expand NATO), ended what was left of the policy debate in the State Department. He worked with Clinton's diplomatic point man on Eastern Europe, Strobe Talbott.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were all in NATO come 1999. The Baltic States would soon follow. By 2003, those initial inductees had arranged deals to buy just short of $5 billion in fighter jets from Lockheed.

Bruce Jackson began running a new outfit in 2002. It was called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

(36 F-16s are currently slated for delivery to Iraq at an estimated $3 billion.)

Rivers of Cash

Brookings is Washington's oldest think tank. For most of its existence, its research was funded by a large endowment and no-strings-attached grants. But all of that changed when Strobe Talbott took the reins.

Strobe Talbott, President

Talbott sought to bolster Brookings' coffers with aggressive corporate fundraising. He took it from annual revenues of $32 million in 2003 to $100 million by 2013. Though always corporate-friendly, Brookings has become little more than a pay-to-play research hub under Talbott's reign.

Among the many corporate donors to Brookings are Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and cyber-defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

David M. Rubenstein, Co-Chairman of Board of Trustees

Rubenstein is co-founder and co-CEO at the Carlyle Group, a massive private equity firm. Among the companies in which Carlyle has a controlling stake in is Booz Allen Hamilton -- a military and intelligence IT firm that is currently active in Ukraine.

Booz, which both sells to and operates within the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, counts four former Carlyle executives among its directors. Ronald Sanders, a vice president at Booz, serves on the faculty of Brookings.

Atlanticists

The Atlantic Council was formed in 1961 as a "consolidation of the U.S. citizen groups supporting" NATO, according to its website.

Stephen Hadley, Director

A former national security advisor for George W. Bush, Hadley doubles as a director for Raytheon. He was also the driving force behind the creation of the U.S. Committee on NATO, on whose board he sat, and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.

Prior to joining the Bush White House, Hadley was a lawyer for Shea & Gardner, whose clients included Lockheed Martin.

James Cartwright, Director

A retired general and former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright has an active work life. He's "an advisor to defense and intelligence contractor TASC, defense consulting firm Accenture, and Enlightenment Capital, a private equity firm with defense investments," according to the Public Accountability Initiative. He's also on the board of Raytheon, which earned him $124,000 in 2012.

Other notables include:

Nicholas Burns – former diplomat and current senior counselor at The Cohen Group, which advises Lockheed Martin, among other defense companies

James A. Baker III – Bush 41 Secretary of State and partner at law firm Baker Botts. Clients include a slew of defense companies

Thomas R. Pickering – former senior vice president for Boeing

Chi-town Chickenhawks

Founded in 1922, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has since served as the premier voice of Midwest business leaders in American foreign policy. Jeb Bush recently made his "I am my own man" speech, outlining his foreign policy priorities, to the council:

Lester Crown, Chairman

The chair of Henry Crown & Co., the investment firm that handles the fortune started by his father, Henry Crown. Henry put the "dynamic" in General Dynamics, helping to turn it into the world's largest weapons manufacturer by the time Lester became its chairman in 1986. The defense behemoth remains the single largest source of the family's treasure; they're currently the 35th richest clan in America. General Dynamics produces all of the equipment types proposed for transfer to Ukraine in the think-tank report.

Ivo Daalder, President

A co-author of the report, Daalder is a former diplomat and staffer on Clinton's National Security Council. He later served on the Hart-Rudman Commission from 1998-2001. It was chartered by Defense Secretary William Cohen -- later to become a Lockheed consultant -- and tasked with outlining the major shifts in national security strategy for the 21st century. Among its commissioners was none other than Norm Augustine.

The commission concluded that the Department of Defense and intelligence community should drastically reduce their infrastructure costs by outsourcing and privatizing key functions, especially in the field of information technology.

The main beneficiaries have been America's major defense contractors: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton and Lester Crown's outfit, General Dynamics.

General Dynamics' revenue tripled between 2000 and 2010 as it acquired at least 11 smaller firms that specialized in exactly the sort of services recommended for outsourcing. Roughly one-third of GD's overall revenue in 2013, the same year that Daalder was appointed president of the Council by Crown, came from its Information Systems and Technology division.

So even without a Cold War Bear to fuel spending, the re-imagining of that old foe is oiling the revolving door between the government and defense contractors.

Military Incompetence: Why the American Military Doesn't Win (American Century) by Richard A. Gabriel (Aug 1, 1986)

Harry Eagar

Call to arms, October 3, 2009 (Maui) - See all my reviews

The first thing to say about Army Reserve Maj. Richard Gabriel's 1985 book is that it had no influence. Since then, the American military has displayed incompetence in Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Haiti and Yugoslavia. Gabriel was on to something.

In "Military Incompetence," Gabriel submits after-action reports on the five military adventures -- I use the word carefully -- the country had embarked upon since cutting and running from Vietnam: raids to rescue prisoners at Sontay, North Vietnam, Cambodia and Iran; "peacekeeping" in Beirut; and the conquest of Grenada.

Using primarily the findings of congressional investigations and Department of Defense commissions empanelled to review these disasters, but also some interviews of participants and bystanders and some very valuable reporting by newspaper and television reporters, Gabriel lays out a history of unbelievable incompetence.

Grenada, the biggest of these pipsqueak operations, was in many ways the worst as well, even though the Joint Chiefs of Staff by then had had the benefit of four straight disasters to learn from (not counting Vietnam) and had even established a new division to fix things, the Joint Special Operations Center.

Gabriel concludes, correctly, that the problem is at the top, although also systemic. He was not the only man saying so. The late David Hackworth was railing against the "no-fault Army" in those days.

Both men complained that the military had changed from a band of warriors into a managerial bureaucracy. This in itself did not require much perspicuity. Military leaders and their civilian superiors bragged about it.

The valuable insight of both men was that armies, navies and air forces do not need to be managed, they need to be led. Gabriel, a professor of politics, presents a more profound understanding than the better-selling Hackworth. His core criticism deserves to be quoted at length:

"The military must relearn what it once knew, namely, that is is a true profession, and not just one more enterprise awash in the sea of a free society. For the last 25 years and most certainly during the last 15 years, since the advent of the All Volunteer Force, members of the military have come to perceive what they do as just one more occupation, a career in which benefits to the individual have come to outweigh the need for selfless service to the Republic. The process began in 1960 with Robert McNamara's attempts to make the military more `modern' by incorporating a number of business practices and techniques designed to make the Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient.

Such techniques in themselves are no danger. However, with them came the habits, values and practices of civilian business enterprises, especially the belief that motivation within the military is no different from motivation in the larger business community. That motivation, as in the larger society, is rooted in self-interest rather than self-sacrifice. . . .

"The military . . . began to lose the perception of itself as a true profession comprised of a corps of officers and men whose reason for existence rests in something higher than the pursuit of self-interest; namely, in the task of defending the freedoms of the Republic. . . .

Somewhere the military forgot that a true profession is distinguished from a business enterprise by its scope of service. The military serves the common good, not the sum of the individual interests of its members."

Excellent analysis, so far as it goes, but more could be said.

First, it was not only the military that was driving this change. Feminists who openly demanded access to "good careers" were a factor operating against the national interest. Swinging-door munitions makers who valued ex-officers were another. Simple financial corruption was a third.

Without the regular infusion of short-term civilians in uniform, the military began to turn into a caste. Its us-vs-them (that is, us) attitude is growing daily. It is not only becoming a caste, but it is tending to become an hereditary caste. No democracy can survive this in the long run.

Although the military's incompetence is obvious to anyone who opens his daily newspaper, Gabriel does not place sufficient blame on the civilian leadership, which just made a bad situation worse.

Jimmy Carter, a former professional officer, was the last president to follow the historic practice (which had been ignored by Johnson and Nixon) of giving direction to military commanders and then letting them carry out orders without second-guessing. Gabriel says that, contrary to belief, both popular and of Ronald Reagan, Carter did not interfere at any point in the planning or execution of the Iran hostage raid.

The military owned that failure 100 percent.

Reagan, who spent his officer career banging starlets in Culver City, knew nothing about military affairs or the American traditions of civilian control, so he and his band of incompetents interfered at every point in both planning and execution. The results in Grenada were almost beyond belief. It was perhaps the most inept military operation in American history, worse even than the famous failures of the Spanish-American War.

As Gabriel acidly notes, Carter suffered politically for mistakes he did not make, and Reagan profited politically for mistakes that cost American, Lebanese and Grenadian lives to no purpose.

Carter, an honest politician (the last one we have had in the top job), leveled with the public. Reagan and his generals simply lied their way out. Although more than 5,000 Americans were fought to a standstill by fewer than 50 poorly-armed Cubans, Reagan simply crowed and handed out more than 8,000 medals.

Nobody in the military is known to have refused one, and Army officers who wanted to bring charges of cowardice against Air Force and Marine pilots who ran from the battle were "counseled" to stand down. As Gabriel says,

"In terms of career advancement, it is far more important to receive a medal for doing nothing than to have done something worthy and not received a medal."

All Gabriel's recommendations for correcting the problem are valid, and none has been adopted despite the inability of the military in the 25 years since he wrote to accomplish any combat missions it has been given: a much smaller officer corps, with slower promotion, fewer flag officers, 30-year retirement obligations, renewal of the draft, putting operational commanders in charge of planning.

David Pears "Seeker of Truth" (Darwin, Australia) - See all my reviews

Although this book was written in the 1980s, the essential argument, that the U.S. military is incompetent, remains true even now. There are far too many careerist officers who are only interested in getting promoted no matter what.

This in turn encourages risk avoidance and corruption.

If you'd like to read a more recent account of incompetence in the U.S. Navy, I suggest you read Professor Roger Thompson's book "Lessons Not Learned: The U.S. Navy's Status Quo Culture". Dr Gabriel has endorsed Thompson's book, so if you like Gabriel's book, there's a good chance Thompson's book will also satisfy you. Well done, Dr. Gabriel!

Sam Lemon - See all my reviews

Major Richard Gabriel is a distinguished officer, educator, strategist, historian, and scholar. Drawing on his own extensive military experience in addition to tactics and wisdom dating back to Sun Tzu's "Art of War," this work should be required reading at West Point, and for any military -- and especially, our political leaders who are woefully ignorant of world and military history -- responsible for the lives of the brave men and women in our armed forces and the security of our nation.

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