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In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
|"Their goals may or may not coincide with the best interests of the American people.
Think of the divergence of interests, for example, between the grunts who are actually fighting
this war, who have been eating sand and spilling their blood in the desert, and the power
brokers who fought like crazy to make the war happen and are profiteering from it every step of
- Bob Herbert, "Spoils of War," The New York Times, April 10, 2003
"Militarism means a domination of the military man over the civilian, an undue emphasis on military needs, policies, spirit, values and ideals. . . a readiness to defend one's country's interests by force of arms, the acceptance of the military profession as honourable and necessary.
Peter Phillips. The Tragedy of Nazi Germany
If the ability to anticipate future dangers for the nation is the mark of a truly great president then Dwight D. Eisenhower is the greatest president of the XX century. He was the last Republican president to deliver broad-based prosperity. During his presidency, the gains from growth were widely shared and the incomes of the poorest fifth actually grew faster than the incomes of the top fifth. As a result, America became more equal than ever before or since. Under Ike, the marginal tax rate on the richest Americans reached 91%. Eisenhower also presided over the creation of the interstate highway system – the largest infrastructure project in American history — as well as the nation’s biggest expansion of public schools. It’s no coincidence that when Eisenhower was president, over a third of all private sector workers were unionized. Ike can’t be credited for this but at least he didn’t try to stop it or legitimize firing striking workers, as did Ronald Reagan.
At the same time Dwight D. Eisenhower was an architect of the USA "deep state" and subverting by deep state of the remnants of constitutional republic that survived WWII. As part of his own contribution to the creation of military-industrial complex, Eisenhower had overseen the creation of both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, and a "high-risk, high-gain" research unit called the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, that later added the word "Defense" to its name and became DARPA.
The backbone of military industrial complex is not Pentagon (although it is definitely a part of it). It is three letter agencies such as CIA, FBI, NSA and DOE. David Talbot's book The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government fingers CIA director Allen Dulles as the person who plotted and directed the JFK assassination, and portrays him as a psychopath who managed to rise to the high echelons of power. Unfortunately, the book has problems with history, as explained by David M. Barrett in this review.
BTW it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who appointed Dulles brothers to CIA and State Department creating the most dangerous and reckless tandem the USA history ever known and putting the last nail into the coffin of constitutional republic. It was his administration that organized coupe on Iran deposing legitimate government and installing a puppet regime, the prolog of many color revolutions accomplished the USA ever since (including Chile, and many other Latin American republics, and later the xUSSR space). See The Brothers John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War Stephen Kinzer.
Here is one enlightening Amazon review of the book
Jacob G. Hornberger on October 8, 2013A Fantastic Book!
The book is fascinating and gripping. I couldn't put it down. It goes a long way in explaining the plight in which the United States finds itself today.
The book's general focus is on the actions of the CIA and the State Department during the early period of the Cold War, specifically 1947 through the late 1960s and the role that the Dulles brothers played during that period of time. John Foster Dulles was serving as Secretary of State and Allen Dulles was serving as director of the CIA. The book specifically focuses on six regime-change operations during the Dulles brothers' tenure: Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Congo, including the first presidentially authorized assassinations of foreign leaders in American history.
We live in a time today when many Americans exalt the national-security state. They honestly believe that if it weren't for the big standing army, the overseas military empire, the CIA, and the NSA, the United States wouldn't exist for very long. Without the national-security state, these Americans honestly believe, America would quickly fall to the communists, the terrorists, the illegal aliens, the drug dealers, or some combination thereof.
They sing the praises of the troops and automatically assume that the more people they kill over there, they safer we are here at home. They glorify the CIA, even while not knowing exactly what it's doing--and, more important, not wanting to know. They like the fact that the NSA is spying on them but would prefer not knowing that it's spying on them. They simply cannot imagine living the life that our American ancestors lived for more than a century and a half before World War II --a life without a national security state.
Such Americans block out of their minds the fact that a free society and a national-security state are irreconcilable. In fact, they've convinced themselves that they're free because of the national security state.
Books like Kinzer's help to pierce through the falsehoods and misconceptions about the military and the CIA that grip the minds of so many Americans. The book shows how the United States veered off into a different direction after World War II, a direction involving much dark-side activity that the national-security state kept secret from the American people and which the American people, for their part, simply didn't want to know about.
It was all justified under fighting the communists or, more specifically, keeping America safe and secure from America's World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, which supposedly was orchestrating a worldwide communist movement designed to conquer and control the entire world.
There was the CIA's coup in Iran, which ousted the popular Mohammad Mossadegh from power and reinstalled the brutal dictatorial regime of the Shah. There was the CIA's ouster of the democratically elected president of Guatemala and his replacement by a brutal military dictatorship. There was the CIA's instigation of a horrific civil war in Indonesia. There was the CIA's plan to assassinate the leader of the Congo. There was the CIA's coup and the assassination of the U.S.-appointed leader of South Vietnam. There was the CIA's invasion of Cuba and repeated assassination attempts on the life of Fidel Castro.
Never mind that there were other factors involved, such as the nationalization of British oil interests in Iran or the nationalization of land in Guatemala belonging to a U.S. corporation with which the Dulles brothers had close ties. And never mind that Third World rulers simply wanted to stay out of Cold War politics. What mattered was that whenever any foreign ruler didn't do what U.S. officials wanted him to do, that made his regime a Cold War enemy and, therefore, subject to regime-change, including through assassination. The mindset was "If you're not with us, then you're against us." Neutrality was out of the question.
And never mind that Americans and others around the world are still suffering the horrific results of these regime-change operations. Just look at the state of U.S.-Iran relations. Or the hundreds of thousands of graves in Guatemala as a result of the civil war that the CIA's coup brought about. Or the continuous brutal U.S. embargo against Cuba. Or the families who still grieve the loss of loved ones in Vietnam and here in the United States.
It was all a new direction for America, a dark direction, one that the American people had never before engaged in. And it was all justified under the rubric of "the communist threat," specifically the supposed danger that the communists were everywhere and were coming to get us and take over our country, much like we hear about the terrorists today.
Why is this early period of the Cold War so relevant to today? Because the foreign policy-civil liberties woes that America faces today are rooted in that period. That's why that an understanding of that period is so critically important to understanding what we need to do to extricate ourselves from the morass in which we find ourselves. Restoring the right direction for our nation, a direction based on sound moral, economic, and legal principles, necessarily entails an examination of where American went wrong after World War II.
Another great book about this period is The War State: The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite, 1945-1963 by Michael Swanson. That book provides the best summary of the military component of the national-security state during the Cold War. If you read both books--The War State and The Brothers -- you will have an almost perfect understanding of how we got into this mess, what the mess has done to our nation, and what we need to do to get out.--Jacob Hornberger, president, The Future of Freedom Foundation
But paradoxically Dwight Eisenhower's presidency is probably better remembered less for what he did than for what he said while heading for the exit. In a nationally televised address on January 17, 1961, only four days before John F. Kennedy's inaugural and three years from the event which might well be considered to be coup d'etat which brought military-industrial complex in full control of all branches of the government (JFK assassination).
Eisenhower warned of the dangers of "undue influence" exerted by the "military-industrial complex." In other word appearance on the scene a new and formidable political force represented by arm manufactures, intelligence agencies, Army brass and selected supplies industries (oil industry comes to mind) and financial oligarchy.
But the term is more then undue influences, it's actually about a gradual, but inevitable transition of power to MIC either by stealth coup or open coup d'etat. And as soon as MIC came on political scene, it inevitably transforms the state into some variant of totalitarian state, such an "inverted totalitarism" or National Security State. It's not exactly "WAR IS PEACE. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength", but close enough.
This warning represents the historical importance of Eisenhower's farewell address. Here is the video of the address:
Eisenhower cautioned that maintaining a large, permanent military establishment was "new in the American experience," and suggested that an "engaged citizenry" offered the only effective defense against the "misplaced power" of the military-industrial lobby. But there are two problems with his warning:
We can state, that the key result of the second World War was the establishment of the rule of military industrial complex in all major countries, but first of all in the USA. Here is a relevant quote from his famous speech:
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
What we have today is nothing but a full spectrum dominance of military-intelligence-industrial-academic-banking complex (and please note that Wall Street is closely interconnected with CIA and State Department;
Via revolving door mechanisms the US foreign policy is dictated not by US national interests but by interests of top 100 or so largest US corporations). In 2013 the private equity firm KKR named the retired general and CIA director David Petraueus as the chairman of its global institute. Earlier the same year, Sir John Sawers, The former head of Britain MI6 became Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners, a firm that advices business and government on geopolitics (Christina Freeland, Atlantic, May 2015, p 82) Those two examples are just tip of the iceberg, of a much larger trend of intermarriage of intelligence community and Wall Street.
From The Sorrows of Empire:
The 725 U.S. military bases acknowledged by the Department of Defense do not include the many used for communications espionage, control of the world's oil supply, or those that are simply too embarrassing for the government to speak about openly (such as the fourteen permanent bases being built in Iraq). - The United States maintains about 347,000 soldiers, airmen, and marines at military bases in 140 of 189 member states of the United Nations. - The American military budget is so large that the next-highest military budget in the world- Russia's-is only fourteen percent of our own. - Ninety-three percent of the American budget dedicated to international affairs is allocated to the military and only seven percent to the State Department. - The Congressional Budget Office projects federal deficits over the next five years of more than $1 trillion, on top of an already existing government debt in February 2003 of $6.4 trillion. Military operations in Iraq so far have cost $143 billion; reconstruction will run from between $50 and $100 billion.
We can view MIC as consisting of three parts: federal institutions, academia (military or intelligence oriented research labs and individual researchers in universities), and private contractors. The latter is the fastest growing segment (The Military-Industrial Complex is Real, And It’s Bigger Than Ever - The Daily Beast):
As the iconic Washington Post investigation detailed, there are 1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Throughout the D.C. area, 33 buildings containing 17 million square feet of office space have been built since 9/11—the equivalent of 22 Capitol buildings. But despite the growth of government national-security workers, some 500,000 private contractors also have top security clearances.
This might be defensible if private contractors actually saved taxpayer dollars, but they don’t. According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, contractors made up 29 percent of intelligence agency workforce but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of personnel budgets. Consider the fact that Snowden made $122,000 a year in his brief Hawaii-based gig for Booz Allen Hamilton, offering evident tech savvy but only a GED. The average annual salary for a person with a GED is only $37,200. This isn’t an industry interested in belt-tightening.0
The proliferation of military-industrial complex contractors has helped propel the D.C. metro area to include seven of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the United States. Contra Snowden’s formal education, five of the top six counties for college-educated workers are in the D.C. metro area. The overlap between the two is not surprising: Loudoun, Arlington, and Fairfax counties in Virginia are particularly plush places to be in 2013.
If you want to find out what’s really happening in politics and government, follow the money. When it comes to national security, civic concerns compete with financial self-interest—and guess which often wins the tug of war?
The problem, of course, is not just a matter of money. It is the amount of overlap and inevitable turf battles that occur when multiple organizations—both private and public—all strive to prove their relevance to protect their self-interest. To use another example from the Post’s “Top Secret America” series, there are 51 federal organizations and military commands tracking the flow of money in terrorist networks. This just can’t be the most effective way to accomplish the mission.
But the military-industrial complex has a trump card to play with members of Congress and the public: nobody wants to argue with national security, especially when the very real threat of terrorism exists. This ain’t no phantom menace: more than 45 jihadist terror plots had been stopped before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But the combination of real threat and opaque multibillion-dollar budgets leads inevitably to a lack of transparency and accountability. That’s where the risk of not just information-dragnet overreach but also the risk of leakers like Ed Snowden comes in. With this level of complexity in the system, security is ironically almost impossible to maintain.
Abstracting from the ideological bent, totalitarian regimes like USSR (or China) can also be viewed as examples of MIC dominance in the form of merger arms manufacturers, military contractors and the state institutions including top brass of Communist Party, the merger that creates a variant of National Security State depicted in his novel "1984". Moreover the dissolution of the USSR as the result of the bankruptcy of its overcentralized economic model ("state socialism" -- not that different from state capitalism) is directly related to the destruction of the USSR economy imposed by Soviet militarily industrial complex (see Are We Going Down Like the Soviets World). Although arm race with USA played significant role, Soviet military establishment willingly overplayed its hand and killed the host. Collapse of communist ideology and emergence of Neoliberalism was just a final strew that broke the camel back as KGB brass realized that they will be better off under capitalism and changed sides (with gentle encouragements via multimillion bribes from CIA). Still, China, which uses the same bankrupt ideological doctrine with political life dominated by the same Communist Party, managed to survive and even economically prosper using strange mix of communist ideology in governing the state with Neoliberalism in economics in selected economic zones of the country. Extremes meet and while Marxism was highly collectivist, while Neoliberalism is highly individualists "Homo homini lupus est" style ideology it reuses one of core components of Trotskyism -- the idea of Permanent Revolution, which was creatively transformed into Permanent Export of Democracy. The latter is just a smoke screen for forced export of neoliberalism into other countries, via color revolution (Serbia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), or armed invasions (Iraq, Libya) )
In other words MIC dominance means inevitable transformation of modern states into National Security State fighting typical for such a state "Perpetual war for perpetual peace."
There are other important factors/tendencies that contributed to the dominance media-military-industrial complex in the USA
Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. 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 tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
|Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might.|
The term MIC ("Military-Industrial Complex") is also closely related to the phenomena that is defined by the term corporatism and the term National Security State. In a way, it is just a more politically correct way to describe corporatism as a social system. The term corporatism is taunted by the link to Mussolini Italy and quite often is associated with the term "Italian fascism". As such this association instantly makes the discussion more emotional and defensive.
Like the term corporatism, the term "Military-Industrial Complex" is used to denote a mutation of state in which the dominant power belong to the large corporations and banks allied with the government (with officials moving freely between private industry and government via revolving doors) including, but not limited to, a political block between the military and the industrial producers of military equipment and their lobbyists in Congress. In a sense, the key result of WWII was that Nazi Germany and its allies lost, but corporatism as a political movement they represented, actually won. Alliance of government (both Congress and executive branch) and corporate interests is the defining feature of this new form of political regime.
|In a sense, the key result of WWII was that Nazi Germany and its allies lost, but corporatism as a political movement they represented, actually won. Alliance of government (both Congress and executive branch) and corporate interests is the defining feature of this new form of political regime.|
Eisenhower initially wrote "military-industrial-congressional complex" (the term, which is of course is more precise as corporatism is a marriage of state and large corporations, but also more divisive), but changed it moved by strong advice to omit "congressional." We can see his political abilities and instincts of this great president in action in his final speech. It became a hit and people sited it, without understanding the depth and the real meaning of the warning, as well as the nature of the danger: mutation of the state into corporatist national security state which completely excludes public from the political process.
The term is easily extended to any group of corporations for which a significant part of revenue comes from the government contracts or in other way is guaranteed by government, or which depend from the expansion of market by government force (especially foreign expansion). In this sense we can talk about financial complex as another candidate for close and dangerous alliance with government .
No matter what set of industries are the key members of the alliance with the government, the press is controlled by the same players. The net result is a super-aggressive (we are the dominant player and you suckers should not stand on our way), jingoistic foreign policy oriented on acquiring new and protecting old markets. In this sense one of the defining features of such a regime is seeking/protecting/opening foreign markets using direct military power (aka invasions) or threat of thereof. That's why, the USA foreign policy seems unchanged the last 60 years, regardless of who controls the executive, and or, the legislative branches of government.
On the other hand it can be viewed as an implementation of Military Keynesianism: a government economic policy in which the government devotes large amounts of spending to the military in an effort to increase economic growth and the speed of technological advancement (via dual use technologies). Many fundamental technologies such as computers, large scale integral circuits, Internet, GPS, etc are the net results of adoption and enhancement of former military-oriented technologies by the civilian sector.
|"Four sorrows are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative
effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution
National security state is the most common form of corporatism that exist in XX and XXI century. In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer identified seven characteristics of a National Security State :
All those features were also typical for Bolsheviks regime in the USSR, so the term "neo-bolshevism" is also applicable. Here is a pretty telling Amazon review of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
'War is a Racket' - General Smedley Butler USMC, April 1, 2004
Am I the only one who thinks the the rest of his countryman are nuts? For the past 60 years and three generations, Americans have been led to believe that that spending billions for the Defense of the country is not only necessary but patriotic.
Forget conspiracy theories and ideological agendas, just contemplate one fact: The USA spends more on military and intelligence funding in 2004 than it has spent at any one time in history. Fourteen carrier groups to defeat the two remaining countries of the axis of evil, N. Korea and Iran? 750 and counting military bases outside the USA? However, the government tells us it is powerless to defend the country against an attack from a terrorist group with WMD???
So, the next time you watch television and the commentator tells you why we need another aircraft carrier, more tanks, more F-16's, etc., ask yourself: Who are we defending ourselves against? And, as Chalmers Johnson points out, follow the money!
This book is an excellent primer on how our beloved country is being led down the road to ruin by a group of people who are lining the pockets of themselves and their friends and supporters. All of this is being done in the name of Democracy, Freedom and Globalization. But, why do we want to liberate people who sit on oil while those countries being ruthlessly exploited and practically enslaved are ignored since they can contribute little or nothing to the "world economy" (pick any poor third world country)?
This review is written by a conservative American, cold war supporter and US Navy veteran (like Chalmers Johnson) who believes in the old Republic (when is the last time you heard that word mentioned in the era of the imperial presidency). Forget whether you are democrat or republican, take the blinders off and seek the truth, excellently told by Chalmers Johnson.
"The CIA is Wall Street. Wall Street is the CIA"
As US phenomenon military industrial complex was the result of confluence of several powerful forces which has no countervailing forces to check them::
And those process were not limited to the USA. The concept of "deep state" actually originated in Turkey. And MIC suckling resources out of the economy has been one of the factors of collapse of the USSR with elements of the same that can be observed in such different countries as Israel, Pakistan, China, Brazil and France.
The most important fact is the presence of intelligence agencies in this combination of forces and close alignment of intelligence agencies with Wall Street (the first head of CIA came directly from a leading Wall Street Law firm). This hypertrophied role of intelligence agencies in military part of media-military-industrial complex essentially guarantied that it will soon escape civilian control and turn into "state within a state". Or as they call it now the Deep State.
Essentially Dwight Eisenhower correctly predicted inevitable collapse of American democracy, which actually happened in 1963 and gradual but inevitable transformation of the state into National Security State, the conversion which actually started with signing by Truman National Security Act of 1947 which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA) and was in full force during Eisenhower administration. Despite his understanding of the danger and some attempt to reverse the process Dwight Eisenhower was unable even to slow down this process during his administration, although it did cut military.
We can distinguish several phases of conversion of the USA into National Security State:
The level of surveillance of civilians increased gradually, as technology capabilities improved
and reached pretty high level after Vietnam war protests (which were catalyst for introduction is
several other elements on National Security State, such as militarized police) but not yet reached
the level of Stasi as was revealed in June 2013 by
Snowden. Still several
similar program were active even at this time. In 1971 Christopher Pike, an instructor for
the US Army, revealed that the military has been tracking civilian political activists and demonstrations
for several years. Three years later in 1974 Seymour Herch exposed a CIA program called CHAOS which
targeted antiwar activists in the United States. Us military became a volunteer force surviving
by-and-large corporate interests.
It was also period marked by "New American Militarism" as Professor Bacevich called it. The term reflects dominance of Neocon mentality among the US elite which in its neoliberal messianism as such is not that different from early Soviets military adventurism ( its Trotskyite variety), eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism toward other countries. Due to lack of imagination they just replaced Scientific Socialism with the "spread of Democracy" and reused "communist subversion" playbook in a form of "color revolutions". The smoke screen of spreading of the "democracy" ( so called "democracy promotion") conceals conversion of state into vassal states with cruel neoliberal regimes in power and dropping of the standard of living of population (with such examples as Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and, more recently, Ukraine) . In other words Trotsky ideas of Permanent Revolution and export of revolution remains intact; they were just adapted to serve Neoliberalism propagation instead of propagation of socialism with superficial morphing of the goal into "export of democracy" wars and "color revolutions".
This marked the start of the period of Neoliberal Crusades which probably started with the attack of Serbia. This new justifications for Neoliberal Crusades has the same problems as Fourth Crusade -- when Venetians merchants financed Crusades against Christian Byzantium -- greed and lust for power with replacement of Venetian merchants by Wall Street bankers. As George Orwell noted
War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
The US elite lost any caution and now became not just aggressive but reckless, much like in sociopaths. The thinking at this stage is reflected in well known phrase by Madeleine Albright -- an interesting example if not a female sociopath, but pretty much borderline personality. Those personalities do not care about building lasting fundament of international relations based on UN (which was created as an effort for preventing the repeat of WWII), they were hell bent on destroying this framework to provide the USA maximum political and economic advantages of the unipolar world. As such they all work toward unleashing WWIII ( Jen, July 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm ):
Since when Madeleine Albright (she who uttered the notorious line “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” to Colin Powell) was US State Secretary, the US State Department has more or less acted as a rogue element within the US government. Not that this particular gallery of rogues has been the only one with a mind of its own. The US Treasury is dominated by Goldman Sachs management, some of whose people have investments and links with arms companies and thus clear conflicts of interest. Plus US economic and foreign policies have been dictated by University of Chicago alumni who worship Friedrich Hayek / Milton Friedman free market economics and Leo Strauss’s faux-Platonian Republic political philosophy in which a ruling elite tells lies to its subjects to keep them all under control.
At this stage as John Dewey noted politics, especially foreign policy of the nation, became "the shadow cast on society by big business" In line with the Investment Theory of Party Competition, devised by political scientist Thomas Ferguson. Ferguson's theory postulates that political process is dominated by corporate interests which coalesce into factions and compete to guide policy. National Security State became a reality of the US political life with its classic 1994 slogan "War is peace". At this state members of Congress and Presidents such as Barack Obama and George W Bush became merely hired help, useful lighting rods who draw our attention away from the men working the levels of power in Washington D.C. Deep State now completely dominated political life of the country. The USA remained the sole superpower which can dictate the will to other countries. In 2006 journalist John Pilger spoke with Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a CIA officer who supervised agency operations in Latin America back in the 1980s. Pilger queried Clarridge as to what gave the CIA the right to overthrow foreign governments, Clarridge responded:
“Like it or lump it, we’ll do what we like. So just get used to it, world.”
Some information about the power of National Security State in the area of collecting information was revealed by Snowden. After those revelations it is not a surprise the both spies and bankers are now above the law. For example James Clapper perjured himself on camera with no fallout al all. The director of CIA lied about monitoring the Senate Intelligence Committee and received the full backing of POTUS. As CIA officer John Stockwell noted:
"The CIA and the big corporation were, in my experience, in step with each other. Later I realized that they may argue about details of strategy -- a small war here or there. However, both are vigorously committed to supporting the system. Corporate leaders fight amongst themselves like people in any human endeavor. they raid and hostilely take over each other's companies. Losers have been known to commit suicide. However they firmly believe in the system"
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Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the US Military machine to turn. If the world were peaceful, we would never put up with this kind of ruinous expenditure on arms and the cost of our own lives. This is where thousand of CIA destabilization begin to make a macabre kind of economic sense. They function to kill people who never were our enemies -- that's not the problem -- but to leave behind, for each one of the dead, perhaps five loved one who are now traumatically conditioned to violence and hostility toward the United States. This ensures that the world will continue to be a violent place, populated with contras and Cuban exiles and armies in Southeast Asia, justifying the endless, profitable production of arms to 'defend" ourselves in such a violent world"
50th anniversary of JFK assassination and the key cue bono question about assassination:
Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church, to investigate the illegal intelligence gathering by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the Watergate incident. It also investigated the CIA and FBI conduct relating to the JFK assassination.
Numerous books about the assassination suggest that in case actions of government represent a threat to their interests, elements of military industrial complex can overthrow the United States government by force of arms and that's can well be one interpretation of events which happened on November 22, 1963. HSCA had found that there were at least 2 shooters. The circumstances of JFK assassination are so troubling and confusing that they create an impression of CIA coup d'etat. This impression is strengthened by the fact that the US intelligence communities actively deceived the public and stonewalled the JFK murder investigation. This possibility is explored in several books such as Coup d'Etat in America The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Alan J. Weberman, Michael Canfield and German book JFK: Staatsstreich in Amerika. The reading of the former book suggests that some of the same forces the did Kennedy in also brought about the downfall of Nixon. Here is one Amazon review of the book:
The authors believe that two of the tramps arrested in Dealey Plaza that day were Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis, and that JFK was killed by the CIA and Cuban exiles angry over the Bay of Pigs. The assassination was then made to look like the work of Castro. "Members of a specially trained assassination squad called Operation Forty were briefed on their roles in the conspiracy. A CIA agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, who had a high 'expendability rating,' was chosen to play the role of 'patsy' in the killing...Oswald was led to believe he was part of a plot to assassinate Castro when in reality he was being set up as a pro-Castro scapegoat...But the officials of the Cuban consulate in Mexico City refused to issue Oswald a visa. If they had acted differently, and the visa had been found on Oswald's person after the assassination, most Americans would have been convinced that [he] was an agent of Fidel Castro...His CIA case officer ordered him to bring a rifle to the depository on the same day Kennedy was visiting Dallas and told him that there would be a message waiting for him somewhere in the building around 12:30 that day."
There were two men behind the grassy knoll and two phony SS men behind the TSBD. "Meanwhile, the killers, disguised as tramps, hid in some nearby boxcars..." Tippit was supposed to silence Oswald but Oswald shot him first; he then went to the Texas Theater so he would be arrested in front of lots of people to guarantee that he would be taken alive. Ruby was ordered by the mob to kill him.
Bertrand Russell's famous question about the Warren Commission's conclusions, "If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?" was never answered.
That creates a distinct impression that intelligence services ("Big Intelligence") play a very important role in what is called MIC and are the core component of the modern National Security State. To the extent that instead of the term "media military industrial complex" we probably should use "media military intelligence industrial complex". As John Chuckman noted in his Nov 6, 2013 essay HOW AMERICA LEARNED TO PLAY GOD
The record of arrogance and abuse by security organizations, such as CIA or the FBI, is long and costly, filled with errors in judgment, abuse of power, incompetence, and immense dishonesty. Owing to the black magic of classified secrecy, much of the record involves projects about which we will never know, but even what we do know about is distressing enough. And I’m not sure that it can be any other way so long as you have Big Intelligence. Apart from Big Intelligence’s own propensity towards criminal or psychopathic behavior, one of the great ironies of Big Intelligence is that it will always agree to bend, to provide whatever suppressions and fabrications are requested by political leaders working towards the aims of the other great anti-democratic institutions, the military and the corporations. This became blindingly clear in the invasion of Iraq and, even before that, in the first Gulf War.
Among other things by access to "dirt" on politicians they provide powerful political filtering system so that none undesirable slips into important office:
America’s political system, honed and shaped over many decades, fits comfortably with these institutions. National elections are dominated by a two-party duopoly (being kept that way through countless institutional barriers deliberately created to maintain the status quo) , both these parties are dominated by huge flows of campaign contributions (contributions which form what economists call an effective barrier to entry against any third party seriously being able to compete), both parties embrace much the same policies except for some social issues of little interest to the establishment, and election campaigns are reduced to nothing more than gigantic advertising and marketing operations no different in nature to campaigns for two national brands of fast food or pop. It takes an extremely long time for a candidate to rise and be tested before being trusted with the huge amounts of money invested in an important campaign, and by that time he or she is a well-read book with no surprising chapters.
If for any reason this political filtering system fails, and someone slips through to an important office without having spent enough time to make them perfectly predictable, there still remains little chance of serious change on any important matter. The military-industrial-intelligence complex provides a molded space into which any newcomer absolutely must fit. Just imagine the immense pressures exerted by the mere presence of senior Pentagon brass gathered around a long polished oak table or a table surrounded by top corporate figures representing hundreds of billions in sales or representatives or a major lobbying group (and multi-million dollar financing source for the party). We see the recent example of popular hopes being crushed after the election of Obama, a man everyone on the planet hoped to see mend some of the ravages of George Bush and Dick Cheney. But the man who once sometimes wore sandals and bravely avoided a superfluous and rather silly flag pin on his lapel quickly was made to feel the crushing weight of institutional power, and he bent to every demand made on him, becoming indistinguishable from Bush. Of course, the last president who genuinely did challenge at least some of the great institutional powers, even to a modest extent, died in an ambush in Dallas.
New round of debates about the dominance of military industrial complex and the level of control it exert over civil society was caused by recent revelations about NSA activities in the USA (see Big Uncle is Watching You).Technology changes can really change the society. And not always in a beneficial for the society way. There is such thing as "blowback" in technologies. We can view recent NSA activities revealed by Snowden as a classic example of such blowback connected with the spread of Internet. And it is a mistake to assume that such activities started with September 11 events and that Bush II was totally responsible for converting the USA into national-security state. The technology was ready long before September 11 and what is available is always used by clandestine agencies. They tend to adopt technology as soon as it is available, being in a pervert way "early adopters" of any communication technology. And this happens not only in the USA although the USA as technological leader was the most profoundly affected.
It might well be the Rubicon was crossed around JFK assassination time. On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
The creation and use of databases of personal information and the systematic records (archives) of communications of citizens started simultaneously with NSA creation. The first targets were mail and telegraph. Some of this experience came from specialists of Third Reich. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich. The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.” And in 1994, a lawyer with the C.I.A. pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official (In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis - NYTimes.com).
Recording of all email envelopes (which was also done for snail mail) started long before email was invented and became established practice since the WWII. It just a new name now -- collection of metadata. Recording metadata of phone calls and often the calls themselves first started before WWII and technology was polished on international calls, which for obvious reasons are of great interest to all governments.
We don't know then it was extended on domestic calls, this this was trivial extension of already existing capacity and probably abuse was stated gradually as soon as power of computers allow that. That means around 1958. Even in early 1960 three letter agencies were already semi-autonomous entities, a state within the state. And as assassination on President Kennedy had shown they were audacious enough to bypass Congress.
I think that the first attempt to create a comprehensive nation-wide intelligence network that monitors sentiments of the citizens and hunt enemies of the state goes as far bask as Napoleon and his famous minister of police Joseph Fouché. Or may be it even goes as far back as to Byzantine Empire with its first in history systematic network of spies. As for recording of mail envelopes, we can even claim that this function for international mail (in a form of "black chambers") is as old as states are. In the USA it started in full force in August 1919 when J. Edgar Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its explicit goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.
Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover nicknamed as "the most dangerous man in the United States".
After 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the USA government got all the pre-conditions necessary for installing a regime of aggressive total surveillance. Which actually was a hidden intent and 9/11 was just a convenient pretext much like Tonkin incident in Vietnam war. And in this respect Ed Snowden whatever is his motivation (which might be not as simple as most people assume) did the right thin thing, when he with risk to his life informed the US public and the world about those activities. You may approve those revelations you may disapprove them (and they did damage the USA as a state), but keeping them secret from the US public is a crime.
NSA technically is a data collection agency. While it has legitimate function to monitor information that is crossing the national border, we need to understand that the abuse of this function and extension of it into domestic communications started nor after 9/11, but in 1950th. But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers and as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real state within the state and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.
In other words expansionism is an immanent quality, the second nature of large bureaucracies, and unless there is countervailing force it can be deadly for the society at large, as we observe in case with three letter agencies, which tend to escape from civil control and form a state within a state. In a way any state with powerful thre-letter agencies stand with one leg in a tyranny, even if it class itself a democracy. and that fact was already known to everybody in 1975. Actually just after president Kennedy assassination, which, no matter which version of events you adopt, in all cases indirectly pointed out that three letter agencies jumped out of control of civil government. As one Guardian reader commented "The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them."
|The nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.|
But that also means that most of those efforts are highly politicized, inefficient waist of resources as typical for large bureaucracies which are not so far technological but political bodies (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition).
We can admire the immortal foresight of Secretary of State Henry Stimson's who closed the Cipher Bureau in 1929. But this highly ethical, moral and courageous act deprived the U.S. of the capacity to read foreign diplomatic cables as world-wide threats grew. So it was quickly reversed. In a way technology dictates the level of government surveillance in the society and in Internet society it looks like this level is permanently set on "high". That does not mean that we can't fight it. Yes, we can ;-)
The idea that US foreign policy is affected by pressures imposed on US president and his administration by the "national security oligarchy" interested mainly in self-preservation and expansion of their power in not new.
While major factors were conversion of the USA into empire and attempt to secure the world dominance, there was some internal dynamic connected with perverting of goals for which organization was created by any large bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is an organizational model rationally designed to perform complex tasks efficiently. Military and intelligence communities are classic examples of large bureaucratic organizations, and they are characterized by formalized rules and regulations, systematic record-keeping and archiving of past decisions, formalized planning for the future, hierarchies of status, defined career paths (within the organization and across organizations), a concern for organizational identity, and other features. Establish culture is "sticky" and is a very hard thing for any large bureaucratic organization to change. Reforms that run against a long-standing ethos -- especially chose that emphasize restraint and cut the power of the organization -- are very difficult to achieve
But most large bureaucracies, especially government, military and security organizations (CIA, NSA FBI) quickly pervert the gols for which organization was created and start to pursue agenda of their own substituting official goal with the goals of organization growth, and growth of power of top brass. In short that are subject to the same The Iron Law of Oligarchy as political parties.
So they have immanent propensity to become states with a state. For example the goal of army brass became to increase state engagement in any military conflict (aka "surge"). So despite the fact that bureaucracies are governed by rules make them something like staffed with human robots, where rules serve as a program governing the robot behavior. But as in sci-fi such robots very soon start to demonstrate behavior that was not designed by the original programmers ;-).
Once the bureaucracy commits itself to a course of action, it rarely adjusts its path. Bureaucracies prize continuity over innovation and cling to the prevailing orthodoxy even if that means moving strait till everybody start to fall from the cliff. With the notable exception of the top layer of hierarchy ;-)
While each bureaucracy is created with particular mandate, like Frankenstein it very soon it escape the control of its creators and start living the life of its own, pursuing goals that might nothing to do, or worse completely opposite to those to achieve which it was created. At some point a new phenomenon called organizational culture emerge. the latter comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. The elements fit together as a self-reinforcing system and are resistant to any attempt to change it. Hierarchy, with its attendant multiple layers of goals, roles, accountabilities, values and communication channels became entrenched.
Any bureaucracy is a political coalition that is designed to protect and enrich its members and first of all top brass (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition). And that goal explicitly conflict with the goal of efficient and dispassionate service that they theoretically should provide. That means that there is inherent contradiction within any large bureaucratic organization. that also means that one of the most central problem of bureaucracies is Principal-agent problem which is essentially another side of The Iron Law of Oligarchy. This problem recently (in 2008) get some attention in respect to financial sector:
In political science and economics, the principal-agent problem or agency dilemma treats the difficulties that arise under conditions of incomplete and asymmetric information when a principal hires an agent, such as the problem that the two may not have the same interests, while the principal is, presumably, hiring the agent to pursue the interests of the former. The “agency problem” is an inherent dysfunction in all principal/agent relationships, a dysfunction so powerful that such relationships can never fully achieve their stated objectives.. Here is how Wikipedia defines this relationship
The principal–agent problem or agency dilemma occurs when one person or entity (the "agent") is able to make decisions that impact, or on behalf of, another person or entity: the "principal". The dilemma exists because sometimes the agent is motivated to act in his own best interests rather than those of the principal. The agent-principal relationships is a useful analytic tool in political science and economics, but may also apply to other areas.
Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), or politicians (agent) and voters (principal). For another example, consider a dental patient (the principal) wondering whether his dentist (the agent) is recommending expensive treatment because it is truly necessary for the patient's dental health, or because it will generate income for the dentist. In fact the problem potentially arises in almost any context where one party is being paid by another to do something, whether in formal employment or a negotiated deal such as paying for household jobs or car repairs.
The problem arises where the two parties have different interests and asymmetric information (the agent having more information), such that the principal cannot directly ensure that the agent is always acting in its (the principal's) best interests, particularly when activities that are useful to the principal are costly to the agent, and where elements of what the agent does are costly for the principal to observe. Moral hazard and conflict of interest may arise. Indeed, the principal may be sufficiently concerned at the possibility of being exploited by the agent that he chooses not to enter into a transaction at all, when that deal would have actually been in both parties' best interests: a suboptimal outcome that lowers welfare overall. The deviation from the principal's interest by the agent is called "agency costs".
But this problem is no less acute in intelligence organizations. By their statute it is very difficult to control them and check action of their brass. Which means intelligence brass became a new type of players within the elite with its own agenda, which they fiercely defend. Scaremongering is one typical demonstration of "Principal-agent problem" with intelligence organization and military. That's why any attempt to downsize those organization usually are doomed to be a failure. Inflating security threats is the way of preservation and growth for those organization.
“Looting” is a reasonably violent word that conveys with some degree of accuracy the essence of principal-agent problem. Perverse incentives is more politically correct work meaning essentially the same. Attempts to constrain looting by large government organizations such as CIA, NSA and FBI using laws and regulation, or at the individual level by replacing top brass, proved inefficient.
Criminal prosecution is difficult to launch against top officers of such organization and RICO status is inapplicable despite the fact that in many way they demonstrate behavior typical of organized crime. At the same time Stalinism-style purges, while definitely effective contradict norms of the modern societies. Changing situation via regulation is difficult as "national security oligarchy" controls lawmakers and, as Obama elections had shown, also might well controls the nomination of presidential candidates from both parties.
There are three laws that govern this process of corruption:
A former Pentagon official says the history of the Veterans Administration is littered with stunning examples of waste and incompetence, and the latest allegations of delayed care, secret wait lists and multiple sets of books at VA institutions only takes it to a new level.
In any case within any large organization there are powerful mechanisms (filters) which prevent promotion of competent people into higher levels of hierarchy, selection of loyalty dominates selection based on competence and there are well established mechanisms of degradation of previously competent members as they climb up the hierarchical ladder.
Even in cases of indoctrination with ideology which inhibits those impulses, corruption of the organizational elite of security services is a serious problem as collapse of the USSR demonstrated to the surprised world. Only an idiot (or PR prostitute ;-) would say that it was angry Russians who overthrow the Communist regime; in reality it was Communist elite, and first of all KGB elite which changed flags and privatized the state resources.
This is the key to understanding complex dynamics in large organization, where bureaucracies that often engage in actions that look close to absurd (or are absurd) to the uninitiated, but are always directed on preservation and enhancement of power of top bureaucrats. One of the most important features of bureaucracies is that along with "functional side" it also necessarily becomes a political coalition which relentless, consistently and skillfully fights for self-preservation and growth of its influence, often sacrificing "functional" part like pawns in the chess game. As soon as self-preservation become the paramount concern, the original purpose of the bureaucracy to provide efficient and dispassionate service ("functional part") is subverted and buried beneath the higher priority activities of providing benefits, increasing staffing, and, the most importantly, increasing budgets ("political part").
|As soon as self-preservation become the paramount concern, the original purpose of the bureaucracy to provide efficient and dispassionate service ("functional part") is subverted and buried beneath the higher priority activities of providing benefits, increasing staffing, and, the most importantly, increasing budgets ("political part").|
Tendency of mature bureaucracies to pervert their organizational, functional goals necessitates periodic purges and reorganizations. One of the first political party which understood this complex dynamic were Bolsheviks, who under Stalin instituted periodic purges of State-employed bureaucrats ("apparatchiks"), so that the fear for their well-being (and often life) served as a powerful countervailing force to the natural tendency of bureaucracy to pervert its goals. Which of course have had only temporary effect.
In the USA similar mechanisms of appointing as head of government agencies by political appointees (who are often, unfortunately, are completely incompetent in the area of activity they were made responsible for) is much less effective, but also has its positive sides. The US Congress looks more stagnant then the USSR Politburo with the average serving term of senators probably exceeding twice of more the term of a typical Politburo member.
Limitation of term of the President along with natural change of political objectives serves as a periodic, but very mild reorganizing force. This effect is watered down by the short term assigned to the presidency as in such short period it is impossible to institute substantial changes in top departments such as Department of State and Department of Defense (which actually has budget larger then GDP of the USSR and is probably less efficient in spending those money that the socialist economy of the USSR).
Intelligence community is another part that tend quickly escape the control and pervert the goal for which particular organization was created. Here natural tendency of any large bureaucracy to try to enlarge their sphere of influence and minimize the control from above looks really menacing to the very existence of democratic government in the country as Church Committee discovered long ago. To members of the commission CIA looked more like a tail which wags the dog, then as a regular part of the government, and as Assassination of President Kennedy had shown this is really the case. And it was the chief of FBI J. Edgar Hoover who convincingly proved that that idea of rotation of high level executives in the US government has well defined exceptions. None of presidents dared to touch him until he died in the office occupying it for almost 40 years (1935-1972).
In large corporation the role similar to Stalin purges can play periodic changing of location of headquarters, as election of president of the corporation and its board are typically formal and are run by the same clique that runs the organization.
Another negative side of bureaucracies is that they serve as perfect environment for Authoritarians (especially Double High Authoritarians) as well as sociopaths. See The psychopath in the corner office and Analogy between corporate and psychopathic behavior
So it is interesting that the term psychopathic is applicable to bureaucracies too, not only to individuals. Bureaucracies can demonstrate several of typical psychopathic traits. Like psychopathic managers, bureaucracies often prevent subordinates doing their jobs and prevent employees fulfilling their duties. The term Psychopathic corporation is often used to highlight the connection between corporate psychopaths and modern government organizations and mega-corporations. Here is a short but very useful list from Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice
1.Illogical Thinking: The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds: Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.
3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy: The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense: By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..
The key feature of such companies is that do not treat employees as humans, they treat them as animals to be culled when appropriate.
Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. Among them we can note two:
While both books are excellent the weakness of Bacevich approach is that he does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion and "New American Militarism". He provide sharp critique of neocons but never ask the question: which political forces brought those pathetic second or third rate thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle. He also mistakenly believe that American people who were completely estranged from any influence on nation's policies bear some guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred of the largest US corporations,
Here is one Amazon reader review of he first book (Amazon.com David R. Cook Dave Cook's review of The Limits of Power The End of American E...)
David R. Cook, August 15, 2008
Cliche or not, this is a "Must Read" book
This is the bluntest, toughest, most scathing critique of American imperialism as it has become totally unmoored after the demise of the Soviet Communist empire and taken to a new level by the Bush administration. Even the brevity of this book - 182 pages - gives it a particular wallop since every page "concentrates the mind".
In the event a reader knows of the prophetic work of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, you will further appreciate this book. Bacevich is a Niebuhr scholar and this book essentially channels Niebuhr's prophetic warnings from his 1952 book, "The Irony of American History". The latter has just been reissued by University of Chicago Press thanks to Andrew Bacevich who also contributed an introduction.
In essence, American idealism as particularly reflected in Bush's illusory goal to "rid the world of evil" and to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East or wherever people are being tyrannized, is doomed to failure by the tides of history. Niebuhr warned against this and Bacevich updates the history from the Cold War to the present. Now our problems have reached crisis proportions and Bacevich focuses on the three essential elements of the crisis: American profligacy; the political debasing of government; and the crisis in the military.
What renders Bacevich's critique particularly stinging, aside from the historical context he gives it (Bush has simply taken an enduring American exceptionalism to a new level), is that he lays these problems on the doorstep of American citizens. It is we who have elected the governments that have driven us toward near collapse. It is we who have participated willingly in the consumption frenzy in which both individual citizens and the government live beyond their means. Credit card debt is undermining both government and citizenry.
This pathway is unsustainable and this book serves up a direct and meaningful warning to this effect. Niebuhrian "realism" sees through the illusions that fuel our own individual behavior and that of our government. There are limits to American power and limits to our own individual living standards and, of course, there are limits to what the globe can sustain as is becoming evident from climate changes.
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Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
... ... ...
According to the author, the US has reached its limit to project its power in the world. His rationale for this conclusion are three central crises we now face: economic and cultural, political, and military, all of which are our own making.
The first crisis is one of profligacy. Americans want more, whether it is wealth, credit, markets, or oil, without consideration for cost or how these things are acquired. There is complete apathy in what policies are being produced as long as they provide plenty.
The political crisis was born of our mobilization in World War II to meet the threat of tyranny, and from the Cold War to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union. Both gave rise to unprecedented presidential power, an ineffectual Congress, and a disastrous foreign policy. Bacevich contends that our legislature no longer serves their constituents or the common good "but themselves through gerrymandering, doling out prodigious amounts of political pork, seeing to the protection of certain vested interests" with the paramount concern of being re-elected. Our presidents have been willing accomplices in keeping the American dream or greed alive by using our military as part of a coercive diplomatic tool to feed and fuel the first crisis.
Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might. At the same time, the largest intelligence agencies in the world are created to afford us more security, but after seventy years are unable to defend our cities and buildings in the US while it worries about intrigues worldwide. Competition and rivalry lead to a lack of cooperation, intelligence, and security when it was needed most.
The third crisis is our military which has been employed to satisfy the neuroses of the first and second crises. The author puts much of the blame squarely at the feet of inept military leadership, which he believes has confused strategy with operations. Content with the resilience of the American fighting man or woman, he is scathing in his critique of their leadership finding them "guilty of flagrant professional malpractice, if not outright fraud." He illustrates how improvised explosive devices that cost no more than a pizza have checked a military that is designed for speed and maneuver--that was considered invincible.
Andrew Bacevich contends that nothing will change as long as Americans are told to go to Disney World instead of making sacrifices, as long as the same one half percent of our population continue to populate the military that the president sees as his personal army, as long as an apathetic public and an ineffectual Congress continue to make periodic, grand gestures of curbing presidential power, the United States will have reached the limits of its power and exceptionalism.
This book profoundly moved me, and I was impressed by the insight that Professor Bacevich could bring in such few pages. Passages of this book should be plastered in the halls and offices of Congress, as well as the West Wing.
This book really stands out as a jewel in a sea of mediocre publications by radio and TV personalities who think they know what they are talking about when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The difference is that Andrew Bacevich does
- Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side, The Inside Story How The War on Terror Turned into a War on America's Ideals."
- Schlesinger, Arthur, "War and the American Presidency."
- Mann, Thomas & Ornstein, Norman, "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track."
- Zinni, Tony (Gen. Ret.), "The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose."
- Niebuhr, Reinhold, "The Irony of American History."
- Anything else by this author.
There are several very insightful reviews of Bacevich latest book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War on Amazon. I strongly recommend to read them.
Bacevich argues that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of several social forces (and as such has significant social base):
For your convenience some of them which I judge to be the most insightful are reproduced below:
Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517338-4, is the most coherent analysis of how America has come to its present situation in the world that I have ever read. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton. And he is retired military officer. This background makes him almost uniquely qualified to comment on the subject.
Bacevich admits to an outlook of moderate conservatism. But in ascribing fault for our plight to virtually every administration since W.W. II, he is even handed and clear eyed. Since he served in the military, he understands the natural bureaucratic instincts of the best of the officer corps and is not blinded by the almost messianic status that they have achieved in the recent past.
His broad brush includes the classic period, the American Revolution - especially the impact of George Washington, but he moves quickly to the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his direct descendants of our time, the Neoconservatives. The narrative accelerates and becomes relevant for us in the depths of the despair of Vietnam. At that juncture, neocon intellectuals awakened to the horror that without a new day for our military and foreign policy, the future of America would be at stake. At almost the same time, Evangelical Christians abandoned their traditional role in society and came to views not dissimilar to the neocons. America had to get back on track to both power and goodness. The results of Vietnam on American culture, society, and - especially - values were abhorrent to both these groups.
The perfect man to idealize and mythologize America's road back was Ronald Reagan. Again, Bacevich does not shrink from seeing through the surreal qualities brought to the Oval Office by Reagan to the realities beneath them. The Great Communicator transformed the Vietnam experience into an abandonment of American ideals and reacquainted America with those who fought that horrible war. Pop culture of the period, including motion pictures such as Top Gun and best selling novels by many, including Tom Clancy completely rehabilitated the image of the military.
The author describes how Evangelical leaders came to find common cause with the neocons and provided the political muscle for Reagan and his successors of both parties to discover that the projection of military might become a reason for being for America as the last century closed.
One of his major points is that the all volunteer force that resulted from the Vietnam experience has been divorced from American life and that sending this force of ghosts into battle has little impact on our collective psyche. This, too, fit in with the intellectual throw weight of the neocons and the political power of the Evangelicals.
Separate from but related to the neocons, Bacevich describes the loss of strategic input by the military in favor of a new priesthood of intellectual elites from institutions such as the RAND Corporation, The University of Chicago and many others. It was these high priests who saw the potential that technology provided for changing the nature of war itself and how American power might be projected with `smart weapons' that could be the equivalent of the nuclear force that could never be used.
So it was that when the war we are now embroiled in across the globe - which has its antecedents back more than twenty years - all of these forces weighed heavily on the military leaders to start using the force we'd bought them. The famed question by Secretary of State Madeline Albright to General Colin Powell: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" had to have an answer and the skirmishes and wars since tended to provide it.
Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.
It is in his prescriptions that the book tends to drift. The Congress must do its constitutionally mandated jobs or be thrown out by the people. Some of his ideas on military education are creative and might well close the gap between the officer corps and civilians that he points to as a great problem.
But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for those who wonder how we got to Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to this juncture. Where we go from here is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.
READ THIS BOOK
===This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.
Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.
How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.
- After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
- Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
- Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
- Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
- Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
- Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.
Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hotile to republican liberty."K. Johnson:Robert S. Frey
Relevant and Objective,
January 3, 2007
... ... ...
The author astutely reinforces the fact that the Militarist Mentality won't change, regardless of which political party is in control of the Executive and Houses of Congress in the United States. Here only some examples out of many:
Entry of the U.S. military into the Middle East:
THE CARTER DOCTRINE:
The Carter Doctrine was prescribed at the State of the Union Address in 1980. Another civilian prescription utilizing the military as medicine to alleviate and even cure, political symptoms. This Doctrine began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, specifically using the American military to enforce its economic interests and lifestyle dependence on oil. The Carter Doctrine was a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. It specifically stated that use of the military can and will be used to enforce U.S. economic interests.
At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:
"Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be declared as an assault on the vital interest of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (p. 181).
Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a adversary to check U.S interests. Today, that rival is gone.
Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American foreign policy interests in using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.
WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:
War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport. Live reports, video display, and laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to the civilian public at press conferences.
One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when reporting about American soldiers in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis 'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to a football game. Slogans such as "Shock and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members. "Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this propaganda.
Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:
Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action figure doll was created and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval Aviator" (p. 31).
Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week in War." More simulation of the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the "Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo of a soldier, his name, age, and hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home. Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and at times tearful family in their living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always wanted to help people."
The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, and in some enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public. To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion is often injected into the deceased soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military cemeteries around the world.
GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:
Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture, and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing. As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly reinforced to the public of all ages and socio-economic levels.
It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.
Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center 4) California Dreaming 5) Onward 6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense
"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty thinking is perpetuated by the electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners. The government intentionally steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and outcome of most *political* conflicts.
Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time show did not honor the "troops." He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the "troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered interests, like everyone else.
The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate foreign policy. The military just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's not the military nor the men and women serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in the governmental and corporate world who must be held accountable.
General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military after Vietnam. Civilians and politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political. History will be the judge.
This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current situation the United States is in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions made by upper-class civilians from the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.
... ... ...An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today,Dr. Lee D. Carlson
December 23, 2006
... What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical "meta-narratives" that are much more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional wisdom." A case in point is the periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American Militarism" carefully and credibly brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions, and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today. Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand and appreciate that the global projection of American military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors of the second half of the twentieth century.
Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
Brenau UniversityR. Albin:
Interesting, insightful, and motivating,
October 21, 2006
...If one examines carefully American history, it is fair to say that Americans have been reluctant to go to war, preferring instead to settle conflicts via negotiation and trade agreements. Americans have been led to the horrors of war kicking and screaming, and breath a sigh of relief when they are over. Historically, Americans have applied extreme skepticism to those politicians, like Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to participate in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy." So if Americans are "seduced by war", as the author contends they have been in recent decades, an explanation must be found. It is tempting to say that they have been merely "brainwashed", and contemporary neuroscience lends some credence to this claim, but one must still be open to alternative explanations, and let the evidence determine the proper interpretation. Once the causes have been identified, it becomes necessary to find methodologies and strategies to counter these causes, lest we find ourselves in another unnecessary and brutal conflict, initiated by some who do not directly participate in it, and have no intention ever to do so.
... ... ...Adam Bahner
Exceptional Polemic; 4.5 Stars,
October 19, 2006
This concise and well written book is the best kind of polemic; clear, well argued, and designed to provoke debate. Bacevich is definitely interested in persuading readers of the truth of his views but his calm and invective free prose, insistence on careful documentation, and logical presentation indicate that his primary concern is promote a high level of discussion of this important issue. Bacevich argues well that a form of militarism based on an exaggerated sense of both American mission and American power, specifically military power, has infected public life. He views this militarism as both leading to unnecessary and dangerous adventures abroad, epitomized by the Iraq fiasco, and corrupting the quality of domestic debate and policy making. Beyond documenting the existence of this phenomenon, Bacevich is concerned with explicating how this form of militarism, which he views as contrary to American traditions, came to be so popular.
Bacevich argues well that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of actions by a number of different actors including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals. For a variety of reasons, these sometimes overlapping groups converged on ideas of the primacy of American military power and the need to use it aggressively abroad. Bacevich devotes a series of chapters to examining each of these actors, discussing their motivations and actions, often exposing shabby and inconsistent thinking. Some of these, like the role of neoconservative intellectuals and the Religous Right, are fairly well known.
Others, like the behavior of professional military over the last generation, will be novel to many readers. Bacevich's chapters have underlying themes. One is the persisent occurrence of ironic events as the actions of many of these groups produced events counter to their goals. The post-Vietnam professional military attempted to produce a large, vigorous military poised to fight conventional, WWII-like, combats. This force was intended to be difficult for politicians to use. But as these often highly competent professionals succeeded to restoring the quality of the American military, the temptation to use it became stronger and stronger, and control escaped the professionals back into the hands of politicians as varied as Bush II and Clinton. Another theme is that politicians seized on use military force as an alternative to more difficult and politically unpalatable alternatives. Jimmy Carter is described correctly as initiating the American preoccupation with control of the Persian Gulf oil supplies, which has generated a great deal of conflict over the past generation. Bacevich presents Carter as having to act this way because his efforts to persuade Americans to pursue sacrifice and a rational energy policy were political losers. Ronald Reagan is presented as the epitome of this unfortunate trend.
Bacevich is generally convincing though, perhaps because this is a short book, there are some issues which are presented one-sidedly. For example, its true that Carter began the military preoccupation with the Persian Gulf. But, its true as well that his administration established the Dept. of Energy, began a significant program of energy related research, moved towards fuel standards for vehicles and began the regulatory policies that would successfully improve energy efficiency for many household items. No subsequent administration had done more to lessen dependence on foreign oil.
Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored the new militarism tended to converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate and relatively unstable coalition. The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal integrity of the Republican party and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.
An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army officer, and self-described cultural conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward by Leftist critics.
Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational but bound to be controversial and probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to change the nature of the discussion about these issues.How Permanent Military Deployment Became Congruent With World Peace,M. Ward:
June 29, 2006
In The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich contends that American culture and policy since the end of the Cold War has merged a militaristic ethos with a utopian global imaginary. He notes that American militarism is a "bipartisan project" with "deep roots" that even garner support on the political margins, with some leftist activists seeing a humanitarian mission for U.S. global military hegemony. He traces these roots to the worldview of Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned a globe "remade in America's image and therefore permanently at peace." Yet Wilson's view was moderated by a public and policy perception of war as an ugly, costly, brutal, traumatic and unpredictable last resort. This is corroborated by the massive military demobilizations that followed U.S. involvement in both world wars. Bacevich also points to works of popular culture, from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front to Oliver Stone's Platoon, that reflect on the inhumanity of war from World War I through Vietnam.
Bacevich sees a massive deviation from these historical trends after the end of the Cold War. While conceding that a permanent military mobilization was expected during the Cold War (from roughly NSC-68 to the fall of the Berlin Wall)--no significant demobilization followed. Forces slated for deactivation were quickly mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. No successful popular culture critiques of that war's brutality would emerge. The author sees the end of the cold war and Desert Storm as framing a period of "new American militarism" that breaks from historical precedent in several regards. He claims that since the 1988 presidential campaign, the character of the presidency has emphasized military more than civilian leadership. This contradicts previous presidents of military stature (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower) who obsessively positioned themselves as civilians. Post-Cold War military budgets have been dramatically larger despite no global adversary. The public has uncritically accepted a permanent military stance. The perception of war as ghastly and treacherous has been replaced with war as a clinical and technologically managed spectacle. The link between the covenant of citizenship and military service has been replaced by a specialized force of volunteers. The numbers of veterans serving in congress has steadily decreased since World War II. Bacevich correlates this with the shunning of military service by elites as the military has increasingly drawn from areas of the population that are poor and brown. Because of this, force is "outsourced" and in turn the stature of soldiers has dramatically increased through an infrastructure of praise by the majority who are not involved in military operations. Senior military officers have tremendous clout in politics, policy, and spending.
To understand this new militarism, Bacevich notes that it is point-for-point an inversion of Vietnam's military milieu. There, politicians up through the president framed themselves as civilians, officers felt out of touch with bureaucratic decisions, and war was perceived as carnal and bumbling. The book traces cultural responses to Vietnam that reformed the American relationship to militarism. As military leaders like Creighton Abrams sought to mandate broad political investment for military action by creating interdependence with reserves and to limit the criteria for deployment with the Weinberger doctrine, politicians like Ronald Reagan rehabilitated an American demoralization that peaked with Carter's failed Operation Eagle Claw by invoking popular culture mythologies like Rambo.
Bacevich is unabashedly religious. He ultimately couches America's outsourced and technocratic militarism as a departure from natural Gods in the pursuit of a scientistic idol that more perfectly regulates human affairs. He openly sees in this scientism the same flaw and outcome as Communism or Fascism. He suggests that affirmation of military service across economic privilege would raise the stakes of military engagements and help to contradict the cultural illusions that form the basis of American militarism. (That war is technical, distant, clinical, predictable, outsourced, humane, and everything contrary to what writers like Remarque tell us.) He meticulously synthesizes a new paradigm that relates the difficult subjects of military policy and popular sanction. In this regard, The New American Militarism is an exciting contribution to historical scholarship.David Friedman:
The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs,
February 4, 2006
...The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions" that have become part of the American conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy. According to Bacevich, American militarism has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military effectiveness that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing issues that have contributed to this state of affairs.
Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson administration. Wilson's vision was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the US as a `divine agent' to make the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if necessary.
Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due, in part, to the officer corps of the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do this by reversing the roles of the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The Weinberger and Powell doctrines were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions for the use of the US military in combat.
Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument for good and the time was right to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.
Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a Christian nation singled out by God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also a cultural and moral crisis threatening our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US from internal collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military would become the role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.
Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals whose main contribution was to bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich, they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative war' and reinforced American militarism.
Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of American militarism by wrapping militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using a political sleight-of-hand trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with a list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.
... ... ...Patrick Connor
...Refreshingly, Bacevich approaches the new American militarism as neither a Democrat nor Republican, from neither the left nor the right. No doubt, those with a stake in defending the policy of the present Administration no matter how foolish, or in castigating it as the main source of our current militarism, will see "bias" in this book. The truth though is that Bacevich makes a genuine effort to approach his subject in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. He has earned the right to say, near the end of his book, that "this account has not sought to assign or impute blame." As a result, he is not stymied by the possibility of embarrassing one political side or the other by his arguments or conclusions. This leads to a nuanced and highly independent and original treatment of the subject.
In chronicling the rise of American militarism, Bacevich rightly starts with Wilson's vision of American exceptionalism: an America leading the world beyond the slaughterhouse of European battlefields to an international order of peaceful democratic states. But where President Wilson wanted to create such a world for the express purpose of rendering war obsolete, Bacevich notes that today's "Wilsonians" want to export American democracy through the use of force. He follows this overview with an insider's thumbnail history of American military thinking from Vietnam to the first Gulf war. He explains how the military in effect re-invented itself after Vietnam so as to make it far more difficult "to send the Army off to fight while leaving the country behind." Today's highly professionalized and elite force is largely the result of this thinking. In turn this professional military presented to the country and its civilian leaders a re-invented model of war: war waged with surgical precision and offering "the prospect of decision rather than pointing ineluctably toward stalemate and quagmire." Gulf War I was the triumphant culmination of this model. The unintended and ironic consequence, of course, was that war and the aggressive projection of American military power throughout the world came to be viewed by some in our nation's leadership as an increasingly attractive policy option.
The body of the book analyzes how the legitimate attempt to recover from the national trauma of Vietnam led ultimately to a militarism increasingly reflected in crucial aspects of American life. In religion he traces how a "crusade" theory of warfare has supplanted the more mainstream "just war" theory. In popular culture he discusses the rise of a genre of pop fiction and movies reflecting a glamorized and uncritical idealization of war (he examines "An Officer and A Gentleman", "Rambo: First Blood Part II", and "Top Gun" as examples). In politics he identifies the neo-conservative movement as bringing into the mainstream ideas that "a decade earlier might have seemed reckless or preposterous"; for example the idea that the United States is "the most revolutionary force on earth" with an "inescapable mission" to spread democracy -- by the sword if necessary. Bacevich calls these ideas "inverted Trotskyism", and notes that the neo-conservative movement shares with Mao the assumption that revolution springs "from the barrel of a gun".
Bacevich concludes his book with a pithy ten-point critique offered as a starting point for "a change in consciousness, seeing war and America's relationship to war in a fundamentally different way." Among his points are greater fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the Constituional provisions regarding war and the military, and increased strategic self-sufficiency for America. Perhaps the most important points of his critique are those about ending or at least reducing the current disconnect between er how we might reduceAndrew S. Rogers:
... If you criticize anything about the United States, you're automatically anti-Bush. If you question the wisdom of viewing the military as a first-option in handling international problems, you're even worse: a liberal anti-Bush peacenick. History supposedly demonstrates that diplomacy never works with any "tyrant" (whatever that is), while war allegedly always work. It's just one stark claim after another, with never any gray area in the middle.
If you read the book, this "you're either with us or with the terrorists, either dream war or hate President Bush" mentality should remind you of something. It very closely resembles the description Bacevich gives of neoconservatism, which he says engenders a worldview that is constantly in crisis mode. Things are always so dire for neocons, Bacevich explains, that only two feasible options present themselves at any given time: doing what the neocons want (usually deploying military force in pursuit of some lofty but unrealistic goal), or suffering irreversible and potentially fatal setbacks to our national cause.
... ... ...
Their most important objective was to ensure that no more Wilsonian misadventures (like Vietnam) would happen. The officer corps did this by carving out a space of authority for the top brass, from which they could have unprecedented input in policy decisions, and be able to guide strategy and tactics once the military deployed into action. After ascending to a position of greater prominence, they implemented the "Weinberger Doctrine," followed by the "Powell Doctrine," both specifically tailored to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires. The Gulf War, claims Bacevich, saw the fruition of fifteen years of hard work to accomplish these reforms. And they worked beautifully.
However, the end of the last decade saw the Neo-conservatives challenge the status quo. And with the election of W. Bush, they were finally in a position where their ideas could again have a disproportionate influence on foreign policy. What we now have in Iraq is another military quagmire, where the solution must be political, but where military occupation renders political solutions impossible...Izaak VanGaalen:
Baedecker on the road to perdition,
December 5, 2005
I was sorry to see Andrew J. Bacevich dismiss Chalmers Johnson's 2004 The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project) quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact), because I think these two books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed -- look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism" as heartily as I did "The Sorrows of Empire."
Bacevich's capsule summary of Johnson's work notwithstanding, both these books take the long view of America's international military presence and are quick to grasp one key point. As Bacevich notes on page 205, "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11. Further, it is counterproductive to think in these terms -- to assign culpability to a particular president or administration and to imagine that throwing the bums out will put things right."
In several insightful chapters, Bacevich traces the rise of militarism over the course of several administrations and many decades. A former Army officer himself, the author is particularly insightful in charting the efforts of the military's officer corps to recover from the stigma of Vietnam and reshape the *ethos* of the armed services as an elite intentionally separate from, and morally superior to, the society it exists to defend. But the officers are only one of the strands Bacevich weaves together. He also looks at the influence of the "defense intellectuals;" the importance of evangelical Christians and how their view of Biblical prophecy shapes their understanding of politics; the rise of (yes) the neo-conservatives; and even the role of Hollywood in changing America's understandings of the "lessons of Vietnam" and the re-glamorization of the military in films like "Top Gun."
The author is a sharp-eyed analyst, but also an engaging writer, and he gives the reader a lot to think about. I was intrigued, for example, by his discussion of how "supporting the troops" has become the *sine qua non* of modern politics and how doing so has replaced actual military service as an indicator of one's love of country. More fundamentally, his identification and analysis of "World War III" (already over) and "World War IV" (currently underway, and declared [surprisingly] by Jimmy Carter) struck me as a remarkably useful lens for interpreting current events.
In tying his threads together, Bacevich is not afraid to make arguments and draw conclusions that may make the reader uncomfortable. As the passage I quoted above makes clear, for example, someone looking for a straightforward declaration that "It's all Bush's fault!" will have to go someplace else. As a further implication of the above passage, Bacevich argues that the "defense intellectuals," the evangelicals, and even the neocons were and are doing what they believe are most likely to promote peace, freedom, and the security of the American people. "To the extent that we may find fault with the results of their efforts, that fault is more appropriately attributable to human fallibility than to malicious intent" (p. 207). Additionally, Bacevich is unashamed of his military service, holds up several military leaders as heroes, has some choice words for the self-delusions of leftist "peace activists," and even argues that federal education loans should be made conditional on military service.
This doesn't mean the president and his fellow conservatives get off much easier, though. Bacevich is roundly critical of Bush and his administration, including Colin Powell; dismisses the Iraq invasion ("this preposterous enterprise" [p. 202]); and in a move that will probably get him crossed off the Thayer Award nominations list, suggests officer candidates be required to graduate from civilian universities instead of West Point (his alma mater) or Annapolis -- intellectually-isolated institutions that reinforce the officer caste's separation from civil society.
So this book isn't one that will blindly reinforce anyone's prejudices. In part for that reason -- but mostly for its trenchant analysis, readable prose, and broad historical view -- I'm happy to list "The New American Militarism" as one of the best and most important books I've read in some time. Perhaps even since "The Sorrows of Empire."Militarism and Public Opinion,
August 12, 2005
According to many of the custodians of public opinion, Andrew Bacevich has earned his right to a fair hearing. Not only is he a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative Catholic, he is a professor of international relations and a contributor to "The Weekly Standard" and "The National Review." Obviously, if he were a left-leaning anti-war Democrat and a contributor to, say, "The Nation," he wouldn't be taken seriously as a critic of American militarism - he would be merely another "blame-America-first" defeatist.
Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America has always gauged the size of its military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats receded. Not so after the fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater - by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling the globe and the American public seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing uneasy.
The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea, land, air, space or cyberspace." In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign policy tool. From 1989 (Operation Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations and a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military strength (the proverbial unipolar moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the idea of using military force to solve international problems. In earlier times, war was always an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.
War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also Vietnam and Korea the battlefield was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as moments of national unity to carry out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.
The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled professional who is undertaking socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards than the nation they serve.
In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military, but now even Democrats have thrown off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was actually arguing that Bush had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of the oppressed and that we should be assisting them in establishing more representative government.
But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their self-interest. That's probably why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will. This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion in the America on the use of military force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from this conservative ex-soldier. \
The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European peers, the American public never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now. This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that tells a forty-year tale of creeping over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator. Actually the trend has been in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival of military glory, contrived though it was.
Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru Norman Podhoretz and other elites got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of enthusiastic neo-cons charted a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All in all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing up the Will of the People, except for maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious means and noble end, nor do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets, eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's a practical problem here the crew is very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep John Q. Public supportive, especially with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on the beat and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition of minding-one's-own-business and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.
Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real Department of Defense, a revived Department of State, and a much more modest role in international affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few genuine conservatives around, (a breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book, especially the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up and conquest. But then that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily. At day's end, however, someone needs to inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature. With all its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the past indicate that, despite the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing your part.
Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional military officer. Professor Bacevich argues that the US new militarism which emerged after the dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions by a number of different groups including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see New American Militarism).
Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz, in the current Harper's. You have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be subscribing to any publication whose work you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they included:
- Dick Cheney, who was becoming a comic-book churl by this stage of his public life;
- Colin Powell, the loyal soldier, staffer, and diplomat whose "Powell Doctrine" and entire life's work stood in opposition to the kind of war that he, with misguided loyalty, was to play so central a role in selling;
- Tony Blair, the crucial ally who added rhetorical polish and international resolve to the case for war;
- Donald Rumsfeld, with his breezy contempt for those who said the effort would be difficult or long;
- Paul Bremer, whose sudden, thoughtless dismantling of the Iraqi army proved so disastrous;
- Condoleezza Rice, miscast in her role as White House national-security advisor;
- George Tenet, the long-time staffer who cooperated with the "slam-dunk!" intelligence assessment despite serious disagreement within the CIA;
- and of course George W. Bush himself, whose combination of limited knowledge and strong desire to be "decisive" made him so vulnerable to the argument that the "real" response to the 9/11 attacks should be invading a country that had nothing to do with them.
But Paul Wolfowitz was in a category of his own because he was the one who provided the highest-concept rationale for the war. As James Galbraith of the University of Texas has put it, "Wolfowitz is the real-life version of Halberstam's caricature of McNamara" [in The Best and the Brightest].
Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty that Wolfowitz thought the U.S. would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did a much more limited version of this assessment as an Atlantic article. As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from his one-time mentor, Albert Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United States could maximize stability for itself and others.
As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified version of his world-view. You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief sample (within fair-use limits):With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge that he says Wolfowitz should now meet:
Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military action against Iraq. Critics have chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.
In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's Precepts, and Iraq offered a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading Iraq stemmed from the need to validate that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint yield results that differed so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly the strongest military in history produce a cataclysm?
Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination of honesty, courage, and wit to answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...
What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is that he wouldn't flinch from taking on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure, whatever you might choose to say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there. Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But you don't have to know that to respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at some point rise to it.
For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see John Judis's piece in The New Republic.
The disastrous period on neocon domination in Bush II administration was not accidental . It was a natural development of previous trends. But this was the first time when the USA foreign policy decisions were dominated by a small clique of mostly Jewish "defense intellectuals". James Mann called this new breed of super aggressive and reckless "defense intellectuals" "Vulcans" and allied with them figures like Colin Power and Condoleezza Rice by deceit dragged the USA into Iraq war which brought a disastrous consequences for the USA. Consequences that we are feeling right now.
Neocon's worldview can be summed up as the following four themes (Rise of the Vulcans by James Mann Political Books)
Here is a short overview of the book Rise of the Vulcans by James Mann Political Books that covers the same theme as Bacevich's books:
Realize: When George W. Bush was elected as President he had no prior foreign policy experience and frequently bumbled on naming other foreign leaders. Not only did Bush have no experience, he also did not have a basic rudimentary conception about America’s role in the world or specific foreign policy other than his campaign platitudes against “nation building.” To strengthen that weakness, Bush sought to surround himself with a cabinet team of experienced and trusted members that he could ultimately rely on to help him forge a path. Enter the Vulcans. Author James Mann puts together an enthralling account of the rise of the Bush cabinet and their place in the last 30 to 40 years in contemporary history with his book Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet.
Broadly, the book is the mini biographies of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleeza Rice. However, by detailing the careers of these people Mann also gives the reader great insight into modern foreign policy, from the Nixon era to Bush II. The book was published in 2004 so it lacks the hindsight that we now have 6 years later with regards to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, yet this detracts not at all from the book. Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet, I have no doubt, will become a central reference point to any future inquisitor looking into American policy from the 1970’s on.
Many may be tempted to classify all of the subjects as neoconservatives, however one of the driving themes of the book is the role of the foreign policy realists versus the idealists (neo-cons). Yet this was not just a battle that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union as some may have asserted. Even in the midst of the Cold War, there was definite conservative in-fighting between the pragmatists, led by the Kissinger camp, and the neo-cons, who believed that America’s military might must be unchallenged. Rumsfeld opposed Kissinger’s policy of détente and played an active role in the Ford Administration in decreasing the power and influence that Kissinger once had.
While Rumsfeld and Cheney believed mightily in American military might and hegemony, it might be hard to classify them as idealists of spreading democracy throughout the world. However, Paul Wolfowitz meets the classic definition of neoconservative which spread from the Dixie Democrats who left the Democratic Party to join the Republicans in the Reagan Revolution. Wolfowitz was an academic greatly admired for his intelligence. He was highly influenced by the ideology of Leo Strauss and was also mentored by Scoop Jackson, US Senator from Washington. Wolfowitz spent his whole career in the Defense Department and focused on policies that opposed the ideas of moral relativity or balance of power. Instead Wolfowitz operated from a stance that Democracy and justice were grand ideas that should be spread throughout the world through the might and force of the US military. It should also be noted that Wolfowitz had been focused on Iraq as a threat to Middle East stability long before the Middle East was on anybody’s map.
Powell and Armitage were often the counter balance to the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Cheney forces, not only in Bush II but also Bush I. Powell was also a dynamic political figure who ascended Washington’s power structure with amazing speed and was always an admired figure. Both Powell and Armitage believed in a strong American military and were proponents of a hefty defense budget. However, where they differed from the other cabinet members was in how the use of force should be applied. Powell believed that if force was to be applied it must be done with the support of the public, with overwhelming force, and with a clear, communicable goal in mind. This mindset, shared by Armitage, became known as the Powell Doctrine and was shaped by the experience of Vietnam. The Vietnam experience made Powell and Armitage suspicious of the civilian leaders like Rumsfeld and Cheney who may recklessly damage the military and American power by engaging long term commitments with no exit plans.
Condoleeza Rice was mentored in the camp of Brent Scowcroft who was a realist. Rice, a specialist in Russia, came to government in the first Bush Administration and made a lasting impression on everyone she worked for. When George W. Bush was putting together a foreign policy team during his campaign, he instantly connected with Rice on a personal level and made her a central part of putting together his foreign policy. Mann portrays Rice as somewhat amorphous, her ideas and beliefs are seemingly tied to the politics and she oftens acts as a sounding board to Bush II. Instead of becoming a proponent of her realist background, she instead starts to reflect the President and his beliefs which were largely shaped by the dominant members of his cabinet. In other words, Rice aimed to please, it seems, more than to persuade.
The book culminates with the decision to invade Iraq and Mann sums up that decision as a reflection of the Vulcan’s world view with four themes:
- The belief in the centrality and efficacy of American Military power.
- The belief in America as a force for good around the globe.
- The unfettered optimism of American capabilities and the rejection of American decline.
- The reluctance to enter into agreements or accommodations with other countries.
Mann makes an understated point that most historians make a clear distinction, a line in the sand, marking the end of the Cold War as the distinctive point where American foreign policy changed. Yet, it started to occur much earlier than that with the rise of these Vulcan’s and their world view. The end of the Cold War was merely a middle point in the chapter. The fact that the US has mostly had Republican Presidents in the last 40 years the Vulcans have remained in power and shaped the events of modern history and to understand that story you have to understand their story. James Mann gives a clearly written and highly detailed account of some of the most influential actors in American politics. Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet is an utterly fascinating account and should be read by anyone seeking answers on the role of America in the world today.
The militarization of science, particularly at physics, biology and medicine (anthrax research, experiments on humans in Guatemala, etc) is widespread trend at the University level. Unfortunately it should be called not an aberration, but a a feature of US academic science. Recently social sciences such as psychology and anthropology were also put into service of MIC (The Militarization of Social Science CIFAS)
One of the most notable was COIN system:
Human Terrain System, a COIN application, was conceived as a means to employ social science as a force multiplier in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq: embedded with combat patrols, anthropologists would map the human terrain across the full spectrum of conflict, and recommend to commanders methods by which they could more effectively achieve strategic goals by engaging “the people” as “the center of gravity” in their operations. The “social science” evolved into a major focus on “social networks,” which, once described, could be analyzed to reveal such critical features as “key informants,” “influencers,” and “centers of influence,” and how, for example, information may travel among participants in the network. It was believed that such analyses could offer important insights on how insurgent sympathies originate, are diffused, mobilize adherents, and are then translated into the organization and commission of hostile actions that threaten ISAF forces; or conversely, how they could be prevented or stopped. More specifically, individuals could be targeted, and then either rewarded or eliminated. Pioneered by anthropologists, such as Julian Barnes, Elizabeth Bott, Clyde Mitchell, Jeremy Boissevain, Fredrik Barth, Joan Vincent, and others, who used them to study kinship, ethnic and political organization, and agricultural production, trade, and markets, among other topics, the study of social networks and social networks analysis have become a staple of ethnographic fieldwork.
For example, I made extensive use of them studying the production, distribution, use, and misuse of illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, in low-income neighborhoods of New York City and several Caribbean islands, which I reported in The Ganja Complex: Rastafari and Marijuana (Lexington Books 2000). Let me tell you about them, as you may then appreciate how valuable a tool they have been in traditional, or academic, anthropology and social science.
Armed with Expertise, The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon launched a controversial counterinsurgency program called the Human Terrain System. The program embedded social scientists within military units to provide commanders with information about the cultures and grievances of local populations. Yet the controversy it inspired was not new. Decades earlier, similar national security concerns brought the Department of Defense and American social scientists together in the search for intellectual weapons that could combat the spread of communism during the Cold War. In Armed with Expertise, Joy Rohde traces the optimistic rise, anguished fall, and surprising rebirth of Cold War–era military-sponsored social research.
Seeking expert knowledge that would enable the United States to contain communism, the Pentagon turned to social scientists. Beginning in the 1950s, political scientists, social psychologists, and anthropologists optimistically applied their expertise to military problems, convinced that their work would enhance democracy around the world. As Rohde shows, by the late 1960s, a growing number of scholars and activists condemned Pentagon-funded social scientists as handmaidens of a technocratic warfare state and sought to eliminate military-sponsored research from American intellectual life.
But the Pentagon's social research projects had remarkable institutional momentum and intellectual flexibility. Instead of severing their ties to the military, the Pentagon’s experts relocated to a burgeoning network of private consulting agencies and for-profit research offices. Now shielded from public scrutiny, they continued to influence national security affairs. They also diversified their portfolios to include the study of domestic problems, including urban violence and racial conflict. In examining the controversies over Cold War social science, Rohde reveals the persistent militarization of American political and intellectual life, a phenomenon that continues to raise grave questions about the relationship between expert knowledge and American democracy.
In his article The Militarization of American Life Justin Raimondo notes
March 27, 2013 | Antiwar.com
It isn’t just them, however: militarism is a disease that spreads without effort, once it’s implanted in the body politic. It quite naturally infects the sciences, what with the diversion of scientific and technical talent that might have gone into productive civilian projects, and I’m not just talking about the hard sciences. Witness the co-opting of the "soft" science of anthropology by the same people who brought us the war in Afghanistan and the "COIN" strategy that was supposed to give us victory. These folks have created the so-called Human Terrain System, which seeks to utilize anthropology as a weapon in counterinsurgency warfare. Billions are being poured into "scientific research" on how best to subdue recalcitrant natives out in the colonies: when you’re talking about the military-industrial complex, it isn’t just Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.
The marriage of science and militarism is nothing new, but there are some resistors. As Inside Higher Education reports:
"The eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins resigned from the National Academy of Sciences on Friday, citing his objections to its military partnerships and to its electing as a member Napoleon Chagnon, a long-controversial anthropologist who is back in the news thanks to the publication of his new book, Noble Savages." [Hat tip: Jordan Bloom at The American Conservative]
You don’t have to be an anthropologist to get in on the action: yes, you too can access via live webcast the April 3 Pentagon/NAS "workshop," "New Directions in Assessing Individuals and Groups,"and hear the keynote address by Frederick Vollrath, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management. I’ll bet those anthropologists are making out like bandits!
As for Napoleon Chagnon – could a novelist have gotten away with such a name? – he is an extremely dubious character who apparently believes violence is not only genetically encoded in humans, but that there is an evolutionary bias in favor of homicidal homo sapiens. Instead of an atavistic trait surviving from pre-civilized man, wars of aggression – according to the Chagnonite version of biological determinism – are the mark of high civilization. It is a Bizarro World perspective on the nature of human progress, one that owes much to that great anthropologist, the Marquis de Sade.
Chagnon dismisses his critics as "left-wing anthropologists" and "anti-Darwinian romantics": he and his claque present themselves as true "scientists," and treat the study of anthropology – that is, of human nature – as if it were one of the "hard" sciences, like chemistry. Armed with "scientific" certitude, their one-dimensional view of life – "impoverished," as one critic remarked – is the perfect instrument of the modern Warfare State: bloodless, dogmatic, and cruel. Chagnon’s elevation to the NAS – which used to be a prestigious organization – is an absolute disgrace, and Prof. Sahlins was right to render his resignation in protest.
Citing his own objections to Chagnon’s research methods – see here – Sahlins went on to explain the core reason for his resignation. Because of "the toll" that military action overseas "has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples,” Sahlins said, “the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war."
In this age of Empire, militarism pervades American culture like a poisonous fog, hypnotizing a complacent population with narratives that valorize and justify a foreign policy of perpetual war. It reaches into every corner of everyday life, from the war propaganda spewed forth by the "mainstream" media to the movies we watch and what we learn in "science" class. Once this kind of cultural rot sets in, it is hard to root out: this is the true meaning of decadence, of a society suffering the latter stages of a fatal hubris.
Yet root it out we must. The battle for peace must be waged on the cultural and scientific front, as well as in the day to day world of the pundits and the Washington policy wonks. Indeed, victory on the battlefield of the culture necessarily precedes success on the political front, as we should have learned back in the 1960s.
In best traditions of Third Reich psychologists participated in the design of torture methods in Guatanamo.
|"In 1990, only a quarter of a million people used the Internet; today a third of the world population is connected and the growth is exponential. Our understanding of the implications for international relations struggles to keep up." -- Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University; author of The Future of Power|
Innovative weapons were always in the focus of military and intelligence agencies planners. And Cyberspace is not an exception. First of all it proved to be a tremendous resource for SIGINT. Not accidentally, on June 23, 2009 Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a memorandum which established the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). The order specifies that the new office will be a "subordinate unified command" under U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM). According to the memorandum, CYBERCOM "will reach initial operating capability not later than October 2009 and full operating capability not later than October 2010." Lt. General Keith Alexander, the Director of National Security Agency (NSA) was assigned to lead this new intelligence unit that reside at Fort Meade, Maryland, the NSA headquarters.
But even earlier that that, around 1996, the US military became interesting in usage of malware and established research programs which at the end of the day proceed several weaponazed malware packages used to attack Iranian uranium enrichment facilities and collect intelligence information from computer of researchers involved in this project.
During the occupation on Iraq the USA (which first established full control over Iraq cellular networks) launched comprehensive metadata collection which allow them to identify "suspicious persons" without analyzing content of the communication, just based on pattern of connection of their cell phones. Those efforts were later transferred and implemented within the USA and were subject of so called "Snowden revelations" in which it became clear the NSA blatantly overstepped all legal boundaries and essentially treated the US population as "enemy combatants".
Technological supremacy of the USA allow not only dominate cyberspace intelligence activities, but also created preconditions for future attacks via set of backdoor in equipment and software produced by US companies. After Stixnet, the equipment from leading US companies such as Dell, Cisco and HP as well as software companies such as Microsoft is now reasonably suspected of having backdoor that allow NSA access to the data/traffic. Even if there is no such backdoors US produced equipment is now tainted from the security standpoint and there will be conscious efforts to limit its use in government and military of other countries. That especially badly hurt CISCO and Microsoft.
And it is now government not some hacker groups who use sophisticated malicious code and hacking platforms to compromise computer networks worldwide. Private companies, government entities, critical infrastructure and citizens are all potential targets.
The overall activities of government entities in cyberspace are generally described as the “militarization of the cyberspace.” Governments are investing significant resources to improve their cyber capabilities, creating ‘cyberarmies’ to defend attacks from cyber space.
Smart phones, which initially were productivity enhancing device, now more and more are viewed by individuals as "eyes and ears" of the government. With predictable results on more security conscious individuals withdrawing from this market (which does not ends interception of all their call and collection of metadata as those activities does not depend on the type of the phone used (although geo-location is more difficult with regular phone -- you need to record the tower with which the phone is communicating)
To preserve the open Internet we must stop the cyber arms race.
It has become fashionable these days to express skepticism about “cyber war”–and for good reason. The concept is ill defined; it has been used to describe everything from defacing websites to attacking critical infrastructure to committing espionage over computer networks. More troubling is that many of the heralds of cyber war have a commercial stake in the cyber security market. Some may have more ulterior motives for ramping up fears, such as a desire to fan the flames of Sino-American rivalry or to diminish privacy on the Internet.
But a troubling shift toward censorship, surveillance, and–yes–militarization in cyberspace is very real. Internet filtering is increasingly accepted worldwide, companies have imposed heavy-handed copyright controls, and surveillance in both the public and private sectors is widespread. Meanwhile, there are no international rules of engagement in this domain, and a burgeoning ecosystem of crime and espionage –- cultivated by shadowy actors and state intelligence systems that stand to benefit –- is ensnaring governments, civil society, and industry (see “Moore’s Outlaws”). All this could soon generate a perfect storm. Individuals might withdraw from cyberspace altogether, gradually eroding the network effects that have benefited us for 20 years.
The basic principle underlying Neoliberalism, which is a dominant social system in the USA and most other countries is “to make rich people happy and make everybody else frightened.” The MIC has used a succession of bogeymen—the Soviets, Communist insurgents around the world, and now global terrorism—to scare taxpayers into supporting core defense programs whose technologies ultimately spin off into private hands
Total surveillance is not about terrorism. It's about population control. Terrorism is a false pretext -- a smoke screen, if you like. Let's state clearly -- the main goal of total surveillance was the same since it was introduced in Nazi Germany. it's the same as in former German Democratic Republic (with its famous STASI). In all cases it is to prevent any challenge to the ruling elite or in US-speak "regime change". In other words total surveillance is part and parcel of the totalitarian state even if it more reserved as for violence form called inverted totalitarism.
State actors and well funded terrorist organization are a difficult nut to clack. that have access to technology and know how. that means that NSA has great difficulties intercepting and decoding traffic that is intended to be hidden. But for "open" traffic the situation is completely different. Here they are king of the hill. Of cause correlation of open traffic can reveal some hidden information, but this is a pretty expensive undertaking.
The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as
“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”
The term means an association of elements of government. security services, selected top-level figures of financial oligarchy and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process. Assassination of JFK was probably a pivotal moment in the US history, the historical moment when "deep state" really came to power. In this sense Patriot Act was just an icing on the cake: like "nomenklatura" rule in the USSR the system actually stands above the law.
In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.
As for aggressive foreign policy there is one important difference between "predator states" and fascist regimes: extreme, rabid nationalism is typical only for fascist regimes, but is not a defining feature of "predator states". But aggressive foreign policy is and that's why the term invented by Jamie Galbraith ( “the predator state”) in his book bearing that title aptly reflect the defining feature of such states. In other words aggressive foreign policy is an immanent feature of the regime -- such regimes are almost always are engaged in some kind of war. Related, but more narrow term is "disaster capitalism" introduced by Naomi Klein which explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Her Shock Doctrine book is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies were pushed through the throat of states in trouble, and prevailed through the brutal exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.
Since WWII there were very few years when the USA was not fighting some local war or two or even three. This is a powerful testament of MIC dominance in society and, especially, the power of lobby of major arms manufactures.
Of course, both the American society and the U.S. armaments industry today are different then it was when Dwight Eisenhower made his farewell speech. See also The Farewell Address 50 Years Later. The USA now is the world's greatest producer and exporter of arms on the planet. It is spending more on armed equipment and research than all other nations combined -- while converting all American citizens into "debt slaves" to do so.
It also stations over 500,000 troops, and untold number of spies, contractors, consultants, etc. on more than 737 bases around the world in 130 countries (even this is not a complete count) at a cost of near 100 billions a year. The 2008 Pentagon inventory includes 190,000 troops in 46 nations and territories, and 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. In just Japan, we have almost hundred thousand people who are either members of US forces or are closely connected to US. The explicit purpose is to provide control over as many nations as possible. Funny, but among other items Pentagon also maintains 234 golf courses around the world, 70 Lear Jet airplanes for generals and admirals (to make it more convenient to fly there), and a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps.
Statistics compiled by the Federation of American Scientists analyzed by Gore Vidal show 201 military operations initiated by the U.S. against others between the end of WWII and 9/11 - none of which directly resulted in the creation of a democracy. These included Iran (1953, 1979), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959-present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961-73), Laos (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-73), Greece (1967-73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-present), El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua (1980s), Iraq (1991-present), Panama (1989), Grenada (1983). (The Korean War is a notable positive exception.)
Per Johnson, Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA director Gates made it clear that U.S. aid to the mujaheddin began six months prior to the Soviet invasion, and helped to provoke it (with the direct goal of seeking Vietnam for Soviet troops). So the USA by-and-large created, organized and financed global Islamic fundamentalist forces, which at some point became less controllable from the former center.
A recent 'Newsweek' article also pointed out waste in the Pentagon - Secretary Gates estimates there are 30 levels between himself and line officers, and expects by 2020 for the U.S. to have 'only' 20X China's number of advanced stealth fighters; other researchers recently found 530 deputy assistant secretaries of defense, compared to 78 in 1960. See also Dismantling the Empire .
Despite the economic decline, of may be because of it, New Militarism is now pandemic, supported by both parties and aggressively used by Republican Party to maintain the unity of fragile coalition of rag tag groups (see Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians). Neo-conservative ideology still dominates foreign policy and its essence (spread of "liberal democracy" with a shadow goal of defending/promoting own geo-strategical interests and first of all access to cheap oil) is not that different from the old Soviets militarism, eager to spread or "defend" the blessings of "Scientific Socialism (Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Poles remember those attempts all too well).
While far from historic high (reached during World War II, when it represented 20% of the civilian workforce) US military still employs 2.2 million people, or about 2% of the civilian workforce. So they represent a society within a society. If we add Department of Energy and military contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, United Technologies. L-3 Communications, etc as well as servicing firms such as Halliburton/KBR/Blackwater/DynCorp we can add to this figure another million people. That means that all-in all at least three million US citizen directly or indirectly works for military-industrial complex.
There are also around five million (five million !!!) people in the USA with security clearance. Of them about three million has top security clearance.
But what is more important that military-industrial complex spends up to 50% of all taxes:
In Fiscal Year 1999 the Department of Defense awarded $118 billion to contractors for goods and services. The "Big Three" in the defense industry -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon -- alone accounted for 26% of all defense contracts in FY'99.
In fiscal year 2003 the United States Government will spend on the military more than all the rest of the countries on Earth combined. Current expenditures are 437 billion and our past obligations are 339 billion, this equals 776 billion. 46% of our Taxes go to the Military Industrial Complex: http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm.This figure doesn't even begin to account for all of the off-budget, black projects, homeland security nor the 40+ billion the United States Government will spend on intelligence in 2003. -- Mark Elsis Lovearth, Jan. 8, 2002
Pentagon's Anual Top Ten Defense Contractors
Lockheed Martin Corp. $17.0 billion Boeing Co. $16.6 billion Northrop Grumman Corp. $8.7 billion Raytheon Co. $7.0 billion General Dynamics Corp. $7.0 billion United Technologies Corp. $3.6 billion Science Applications International Corp. $2.1 billion TRW Inc. $2.0 billion Health Net, Inc. $1.7 billion L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. $1.7 billion
Arrival on political scene of military industrial complex inevitably lead to its political dominance and establishing of some variant of National Security State with managed democracy which is promoted by subservient, corrupt and totally controlled media. But this new regime, called by Sheldon Wolin "Inverted totalitalism" is different from such classic "National Security State" as Third Reich.
Sheldon Wolin, who taught the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present in Berkeley and Princeton, introduced the term "inverted totalitarism", which probably can be better called neo-bolshevism. This is an interesting, uniquely American variant of National Security State. He thinks that the latter is based on two forces:
"democracy will alter its character, not only by assuming new behaviors abroad (e.g., ruthlessness, indifference to suffering, disregard of local norms, the inequalities in ruling a subject population) but also by operating on revised, power-expansive assumptions at home.
It will, more often than not, try to manipulate the public rather than engage its members in deliberation. It will demand greater powers and broader discretion in their use ('state secrets'), a tighter control over society's resources, more summary methods of justice, and less patience for legalities, opposition, and clamor for socioeconomic reforms."
See an excellent review of his book at AlterNet:
"Among the factors that have promoted inverted totalitarianism are the practice and psychology of advertising and the rule of "market forces" in many other contexts than markets, continuous technological advances that encourage elaborate fantasies (computer games, virtual avatars, space travel), the penetration of mass media communication and propaganda into every household in the country, and the total co-optation of the universities. Among the commonplace fables of our society are hero worship and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, action measured in nanoseconds, and a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose adepts are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge.
Masters of this world are masters of images and their manipulation.
Wolin reminds us that the image of Adolf Hitler flying to Nuremberg in 1934 that opens Leni Riefenstahl's classic film "Triumph of the Will" was repeated on May 1, 2003, with President George Bush's apparent landing of a Navy warplane on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to proclaim "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq."
It a way it is so similar to the brand of totalitarism practiced in the late USSR that some call the USA USSA. It has the same strong "total surveillance" tendencies. It looks exactly like Bolshevism minus:
As Oscar Wilde's once noted: "The truth is seldom pure and never simple". Here is a relevant quote:
Wolin writes, "Our thesis is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively 'strong democracy' instead of a 'failed' one." His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. "Democracy," he writes, "is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs." It depends on the existence of a demos -- "a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office." Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.
"No working man or ordinary farmer or shopkeeper," Wolin points out, "helped to write the Constitution." He argues, "The American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy. It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has been and continues to be ordered." Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a true demos prevailed.
To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: "inverted totalitarianism," a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens in prison -- 751 per 100,000 people -- of any nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has "emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions."
The genius of our inverted totalitarian system "lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. A demotion in the status and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."
MIC elite is uniquw in a sense that it closely resembled the Politburo of CPSU. What distinguishes the “power agencies elite” (Russians use the term "siloviki" when talking about those agencies and their elite) from other elite groups in American society such as closely related to them financial oligarchy, is that this is thier elite position is not based solely on the ownership of property. Like CEO of large corporation they are in a position to rip benefits from advancement of thier corporation. And that, unfortunately, means that for them militarism is a way of advancement of thier own business interests. The MIC elite’s goal is not to protect the nation from emerging threats, but “to appropriate the lion’s share of existing wealth for the military establishment” If necessary by creation of new threats (like Islamic fundamentalism which was organized, financed and molded into formidable political force by the USA MIC). In other words like financial oligarchy they are predatory/parasitic in relation to the "host nation" and as such they represent serious threat for the civil society.
... the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending.
This line of thinking is well illustrated by the paper of Aminata M. Kone The Military-Industrial Complex in the United States Evolution and Expansion from World War II to the War on Terror which we will reproduce in full:
Student Pulse 2013, Vol. 5 No. 08
After World War II, the United States military gradually came into a position of overwhelming dominance in the world. Military spending in the United States far outpaces that of other countries, with their world share of military expenditures at 41% in 2011, followed by Russia and China with only eight and four percent respectively (SIPRI 2012). This has been the case since the Second World War and has been justified in different ways over time. The arguments for continued military dominance have ranged from “long-term economic gains” at the start of the war (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45) to Soviet containment during the Cold War, “a broader responsibility of global militarism” since the 1980s (Ryan 1991, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 73), and most recently the need to protect citizens against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, there has been consistent concern that powerful groups in military, political, and corporate positions, profiteering from conflict and sharing interests in intensifying defense expenditure, have become the primary actors for making and administering U.S. foreign policy. Today the scope of the defense industry is now much bigger than legitimate security needs justify (see, for example, Moskos 1974, Mintz 1985, Waddell 2001 and Hossein-zadeh 2006).
This analysis argues that expansion of the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending. This essay is divided into two sections: the first focuses on the origins of America’s military-industrial complex, beginning with a definition of the elite group that the complex comprises. Next, by focusing on the period in which the foundation for the complex was laid – the Second World War – it is argued that the complex arose unintentionally in some ways, although important characteristics of it were visible from the start. Third, military Keynesianism, often used to defend high military budgets once the complex was in place, will be discussed and refuted. The second section focuses on the most important argument in favor of high military budgets today: the need to protect American citizens from the global threat of terrorism. It is argued that public perceptions of the causes of terrorism are incorrect, yet have been gladly utilized and fostered by the American military-industrial complex to justify an ineffective global war.
The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States
What distinguishes the “power elite” that constitutes the military-industrial complex from other powerful groups in American society who also seek advancement of their own interests, is that this is not a ruling class based solely on the ownership of property (Mills 1956, cited in Moskos 1974: 499-500). Rather, it is a coalition of civilian agencies that formally shape military policy (such as the Senate and the CIA), military institutions, private firms, research institutions and think tanks – all centered on and linked to the Pentagon (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 13). As a result of power arising from the occupancy in top bureaucratic positions as well as from capital ownership, the interests of the ruling elite go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and include desires to maintain themselves in power and to press for specific forms of public policy. Their most important common interest is intensifying defense expenditure. War profiteering in itself is not new – wars have always been fought at least in part for economic gains. Today’s military-industrial complex is different in that it treats war as a business: the ruling elite’s goal of having a large military establishment is not to expand the nation’s wealth, but “to appropriate the lion’s share of existing wealth for the military establishment” (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 90). As a consequence, decisions on defense allocation, arms production and military operations are motivated by desires for profit and personal power, not necessarily by security requirements.
This is not to say that expansion of the military budget has always been an ‘end’ for a powerful group of elites, but in fact was initially a means to serve other ends. The first big expansion of the military establishment took place in the early years of the Second World War, when the U.S. had legitimate concerns for its own national security due to such events as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared the war would negatively impact foreign trade. Military expansion is a logical result of the former concern, as it is a means to preserve physical security. However, it is closely linked to the latter concern, too. The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the nation’s most influential think foreign policy think-tanks, advised the U.S. government that it needed free access to markets and raw materials in all regions outside of continental Europe for economic self-sufficiency. To this end, the U.S. advocated globalization and open economic cooperation through multilateralism. At the time, the crisis of the ‘30s and the war had made the concept of the free market highly unpopular. This made “military supremacy for the U.S. within the non-German world” a complementary requirement to ensure all countries within the “U.S.-led, non-German Grand Area,” including Japan, would accept American conditions (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45). In short, military spending was not yet an end in itself, it was the combined result of needing to increase power in the face of security challenges and wanting to restore trust in and stabilize the global capitalist system.
Key characteristics of the current military-industrial complex, however, were already present when the objectives of U.S. foreign policy during World War II were drafted. As Hossein-zadeh points out, a brief look at the social status and class composition of the Council on Foreign Relations, which consisted of wealthy, influential people with ties to major industrial corporations and politicians, shows that a ruling class shaped major government policies “operating through the institutional umbrella of the Council, and providing intellectual justification for major foreign policy overhauls” (2006: 41). The military-industrial complex in its present form might not have been in place then or have been created intentionally, but clearly there already was a power elite based on more than capital ownership, and strong ties between the military, political, and corporate spheres.
After World War II, the Cold War stabilized U.S. foreign policy for over forty years1. With its demise, a “vacuum in the organizing principles of national government” had emerged (Waddell 2001: 133). Even if unintended, the military-industrial complex was well in place by now, and suggestions to curtail the military budget were met with fierce opposition. However, cutting back on non-military public expenditures while an expensive military establishment is preserved proved harder to justify with the loss of the perceived Soviet threat. An argument in favor of military spending that has been used consistently is that it boosts economic growth (Dreze 2000: 180). Mintz, for instance, notes that the military-industrial complex is seen by many to have “considerable influence on levels of employment, … the profitability of arms manufacture and the scope of exports” (1983: 124).
The view that large military spending is an effective means of demand stimulation and job creation, and hence of economic growth, is called military Keynesianism. Keynes’ (non-military) theory holds that in times of inadequate purchasing power, the (non-military) private sector becomes wary of expansion, and so the government should spend money in order to boost the stagnant economy by stimulating demand. Since expansion of the military industry is a government investment, it could have the desired economic effects in times of recession. However, it is important to keep in mind that Keynes argues for little government spending in times of high employment and sufficient demand. Military Keynesianists seem to ignore this fact completely and have argued for high government expenditures even during the Golden Age after World War II – and in no other sector than the military-industrial one. This can only be explained by the fact that it is a constantly shrinking number of people experiencing the economic benefits of high military spending (Waddell 2001: 135). The same people tend to switch positions between the Pentagon, its prime contractors and lobbying think tanks supporting those contractors, meaning that military spending is no longer an economic stimulus for the entire nation. Instead, it has become a redistributive mechanism of national resources in favor of the wealthy (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 226).
Cashing In on the War on Terror
What gets lots in the debate over the economic consequences of military spending is the effect it has on international stability. An old principle asserts that military threats are essential in preventing wars from occurring (Dreze 2000: 1178), but an overly extended military establishment means actual military operations are necessary from time to time to ‘prove’ the necessity of the army. And indeed, militarists have found that the most effective manner of convincing the American public of the need of a large military establishment is the constant ‘discovery’ of external threats. The threat currently most emphasized by the U.S. is global terrorism. We argue that while some fears of Islamic fundamentalism are justified, most are not; and that the threat of terrorism is not logically followed by higher military investment.
The U.S. is not being fair in its assessment of the Arab threat. Public discourse today implies that Islam is inherently more rigid and anti-modern than other religions. Huntington famously predicted that most major conflicts would be between Muslims and non-Muslims, as “Islam has bloody borders” (1993: 12). In 1990, historian Bernard Lewis described a “surge of hatred” rising from the Islamic world that “becomes a rejection of Western civilisation as such” (cited in Coll 2012). Richard Perle, American neoconservative militarist and advisor to Israel’s Likud Party, proposes a strategy of “de-contextualization” to explain acts of terrorism and violent resistance to occupation, arguing that we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to fundamentalism; instead, reasons for the violence of such groups must be sought in the Islamic way of thinking (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101).
Religious fundamentalism, however, is universal: it arises in response to modernity and secularism, both of which tend to weaken or threaten religious traditions. John Voll points out that by the early 1990s, “violent militancy was clearly manifest among Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and others elsewhere” (1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 110-11). As one scholar points out, if the Bosnians, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris are asked about their borders they would say that, respectively, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are the ones that have bloody borders (Ahmed 2002: 29). Yet statements like the ones by Huntington, Lewis and Perle cited above single out Islam as the most dangerous potential enemy of the West. They all interpret the militancy of Islamic fundamentalism as being somehow directly caused by distinctive Islamic doctrines and traditions (Voll 1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 111) and attribute terrorist attacks to “pathological problems of the Muslim mind” (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101). In doing so, they posit a characteristic supposedly shared by Muslims from Indonesia through Iran to Senegal, that makes conflict with the West inevitable.
An incorrect assessment of the roots of terrorism does not justify the extent to which the U.S. expanded its military activity after 2001; nor does it explain why it continues to fight an ineffective war. As Peña points out, a larger military would not have prevented the tragedy of 9/11, and it will not prevent future terrorist actions (2001, cited in Snider 2004). Terrorism, much like the war that is fought against it, is a means of pursuing objectives, not an actor. It cannot be stopped by military action as fighting does nothing to address the issues that terrorists feel can only be resolved violently; if anything, this is more likely to lead to a vicious cycle of constantly growing military budgets and an ever higher number of terrorist attacks. As one author put it: “the moral crusade to end terrorism can only begin with a realistic assessment of its cause” (Snider 2004). So far, the global war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism.
On the contrary, it seems the threat of an attack is now bigger: the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has increased from just over 1800 in 2001, to a staggering five-thousand ten years later (START 2012). The question that arises, then, is why successive U.S. administrations have found it so difficult to accept that perhaps their assessment of the causes of terrorism is incorrect; that perhaps, the policies built on their premises are not effective, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a vicious cycle of constantly expanding military activities and an increasing number of individuals who believe their grievances cannot be settled non-violently. This has everything to do with the never-ending need for militarism: 9/11 was approached by the U.S. as an opportunity for aggression. The attacks, however heinous, were approached by the government not as crimes (which would require criminal prosecution and law enforcement), but as a personal attack against Americans (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 91). With the views expressed by Huntington, Lewis and Perle widespread among the American public already, pre-emptive war and military expansion was easily justifiable to Americans. After all, how would dialogue help if the Muslim mind is pathologically troubled? An American citizen might cringe at the idea, but it is true: the 9/11 tragedy “came from heaven to an administration determined to ramp up military budgets” (Johnson 2004: 64).
This essay has sought to argue that the U.S. military-industrial complex was the unintentional result of both a desire to stabilize the global capitalist system and to protect national security interests, but that military spending is now closely linked to the personal interests of a small, influential group of elites. In the first section, it was illustrated that the context of the Second World War made increased military expenditures a necessary means to other ends, although the power elite that would eventually come to benefit from these expenditures was already in place. Once in place, this power elite has constantly needed to justify the disproportionate allocation of national resources to the military establishment. Emphasizing the economic benefits of military investment by drawing on Keynesian theory is a way of doing so, but military Keynesianists seem to give a one-sided account of the theory, one that suits their interests.
The second section focused on the global war on terror, arguing that the U.S. is capitalizing on public fears which are based on an incorrect assessment of the causes of terrorism. The war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism, but as long as the public continues believing it is a necessary war, the U.S. military-industrial complex will continue using it as an opportunity to keep military budgets high.
- Ahmed, A. (2002) ‘Ibn Khaldun’s understanding of civilizations and the dilemmas of Islam and the West today’, Middle East Journal, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 20-45
- Coll, S. (2012) ‘Days of Rage’, The New Yorker, 1 October. [Online] Available at http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/10/01/121001taco_talk_coll (accessed 7 January 2013)
- Dreze, J. (2000) ‘Militarism, development and democracy’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 14, pp. 1171-1183
- Hossein-zadeh, I. (2006). The political economy of U.S. militarism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
- Huntington, S. P. (1993) ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’ in The Council on Foreign Relations, ed. 1996, Samuel P. Huntington’s the clash of civilizations: the debate, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, pp. 1-26
- Johnson, C. (2004) The sorrows of empire: militarism, secrecy, and the end of the republic. New York: Henry Holt and Company
- Mintz, A. (1985) ‘The military-industrial complex: American concepts and Israeli realities’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 623-639
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- Snider, B. (2004) ‘Manufacturing terrorism’, antiwar.com, 14 June. [Online] Available at http://antiwar.com/blog/2004/06/14/manufacturing-terrorism/ (accessed 6 January 2013)
- START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism). (2012) Incidents over time. Maryland: Global Terrorism Database. [Data file] Available at http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?region= (accessed 7 January 2013)
- Waddell, B. (2001) ‘Limiting national interventionism in the United States: the warfare-welfare state as a restrictive government paradigm’, Capital and class, Vol. 74, pp. 109-140
1.) The U.S. did have to rethink the expenses of their policies during the crisis of the ‘70s, when expanding on both warfare and welfare became too expensive. Allocating taxpayers’ money to the military had become harder to justify for several reasons; by this time, however, the military-industrial complex was well in place. Beneficiaries of militarism succeeded in maintaining high military budgets, mainly by exaggerating the ‘Soviet threat’ (such as in the now-discredited Team B report by the Committee on the Present Danger). This was clearly a way of defining the elite group’s interests in terms of national interests and is relevant to the topic, but it is not within the scope of the essay to discuss this in detail.
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