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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Introduction to Libertarian Philosophy

News Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Invisible Hand Hypothesys: The Theory of Self-regulation of the Markets Small government smoke screen "Starving the beast" bait and switch Free Markets Newspeak
Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism Media-Military-Industrial Complex What's the matter with Kansas Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Modern forms of  slavery in the USA
Small government smoke screen Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market Pollyanna creep Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Obscurantism Short Introduction to Lysenkoism
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Obama: a yet another Neocon Numbers racket and "Potemkin numbers" Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy
Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy: Chicago School of Market Fundamentalism Neo-classical Economists as fifth column of financial oligarchy Two Party System as polyarchy Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Groupthink
Myth of fairness of the market Ron Paul Hyman Minsky Casino Capitalism Dictionary Humor Etc

Introduction

Mark Curtis said "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad". Similarity, Rule of financial oligarchy is that libertarians actually means when they promote "free market" in the USA.

The term Libertarianism as used in the USA should probably be more properly called Anarcho Capitalism.

Like anarchism it is a natural philosophy of small business owners who are squeezed by banks and landlords and are trying to survive by using cheap labor. In a way, Libertarianism offers its believers a clear conscience to do things society presently restrains. In this case that means the use of wages below subsistence level, unsafe conditions, child labor, etc.

Still because it is a natural philosophy of small business owners it has a wide social base. It is their natural reaction to being squeezing between landlords and banks and attempt to survive by abandoning all ethical restrain in handling the work force. as David M. Kotz noted (Globalization and Neoliberalism)

Small business has remained adamantly opposed to the big, interventionist state, from the Progressive Era through the New Deal down to the present. This division between big and small business is chronicled for the Progressive Era in Weinstein (1968). In the decades immediately following World War II one can observe this division in the divergent views of the Business Roundtable, a big business organization which often supported interventionist programs, and the US Chambers of Commerce, the premier small business organization, which hewed to an antigovernment stance.

What explains this political difference between large and small business? When large corporations achieve significant market power and become freed from fear concerning their immediate survival, they tend to develop a long time horizon and pay attention to the requirements for assuring growing profits over time.9 They come to see the state as a potential ally. Having high and stable monopoly profits, they tend to view the cost of government programs as something they can afford, given their potential benefits. By contrast, the typical small business faces a daily battle for survival, which prevents attention to long-run considerations and which places a premium on avoiding the short-run costs of taxation and state regulation. This explains the radically different positions that big business and small business held regarding the proper state role in the economy for the first two-thirds of the twentieth century.

This long-standing division between big business and small business appeared to vanish in the US starting in the 1970s. Large corporations and banks which had formerly supported foundations that advocated an active government role in the economy, such as the Brookings Institution, became big donors to neoliberal foundations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. As a result, such right-wing foundations, which previously had to rely mainly on contributions from small business, became very wealthy and influential.10 It was big business's desertion of the political coalition supporting state intervention and its shift to neoliberalism that rebuilt support for neoliberal theories and policies in the US, starting in the 1970s. With business now unified on economic policy, the shift was dramatic. Big grants became available for economics research having a neoliberal slant. The major media shifted their spin on political developments, and the phrase "government programs" now could not be printed except with the word "bloated" before it.

Its central dream of a "freedom of contract", is a wet dream of a small business owner to be able to do business with no government intervention and squeezing everything he can from the labor force in order to survive and expand. In this sense, Libertarian freedom is essentially the freedom to exploit labor. From what I see, the libertarian answer for any problem they face is cheap labor. As  evil tongues say, they will not be happy until they turn the US into Bangladesh.

The central dream of a "freedom of contract", is a wet dream of a small business owner to be able to do business with no government intervention and squeezing everything he can from the labor force in order to survive and expand.

That partially explains political differences between large and small business.  When a large corporation acquire its formidable market power and become freed from fear concerning its immediate survival, they tend to develop a long time horizon and pay attention to the society constrains and externalities that can endanger the growth of their profits over time. And at this point they have political power -- transnational corporations are, for example, dominant political players under neoliberalism. In a sense they see the government as a servant, or, at least, an ally.  Having high and stable monopoly profits, they can afford the cost of government programs and environmental and labor regulations, and they can even reap benefit from them.  While they hate and fight attempts of state to impose controls over them, the state measures for them are not life threatening. They can affect only the rate of profits extracted from a particular country, but extent of this drop can be mitigated by exploiting the corruption of the government and their formidable political power under  neoliberalism (look at Clinton Cash scandal for some interesting details).  They are kings of the neoliberal hill.

By contrast, the typical small and medium business are completely absorbed in the brutal battle for the survival, in which any government  regulations can be the straw that broke the camel back. They just can't and do not want to pay attention to a long-term  consequences of their actions and are concentrated on minimizing the cost of running business, which includes labor cost and taxes. Any measures that increase iether of them are viewed highly negatively.  The same is true for the  state regulations. For them government is the  Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. This explains the radically different positions that big business and small business held regarding the proper state role in the economy. While big business generally subscribes to neoliberalism, small business predominantly favor Libertarian Philosophy 

War of all against all mentality naturally leads to the rise of providers of protective services, which naturally turn into Mafiosi structures

The most typical critique of Anarcho Capitalism is that an anarcho-capitalist society which by removing all regulations essentially impose the "law of jungle" on the society would degenerate into a "war of all against all".  As a next step war of all against all mentality naturally leads to rise of providers of protective services, which naturally turn into Mafiosi structures. The free rider problem makes the providers of protection services in an anarcho-capitalist society naturally turn into Mafiosi structures. So instead of freedom we get something completely different. We saw this affect  it in several xUSSR states and first of all Yeltsin Russia.

Holcombe, in an essay titled Is Government Inevitable?, argues that:

Firms might prey on their competitors' customers, as competing mafia groups do, to show those customers that their current protective firm is not doing the job and thus to induce them to switch protection firms.

This action seems to be a profit-maximizing strategy; hence, protection firms that do not prey on noncustomers may not survive.

Holcombe states that "the mafia offers protection for a fee, but it also uses its resources for predation; and thus profit-maximizing firms could be expected to employ them in the dual roles of protection and predation."

Believing  in two mutually exclusive ideas

Libertarians seem to believe in two mutually excusive ideas:

These two beliefs are in direct contradiction with each other -- how can you prevent the one with the most property from having monopoly power, if government exists only to protect property?

This is also some kind of quasi-religious Randian belief system in this libertarian paradox -- the idea that those who amass the most property are necessarily the most virtuous and deserving, and therefore will not abuse their power.

"Libertarian paradox" essentially guarantee that the only logical outcome of libertarian governance is oligarchy, and the wealthy peddlers of this philosophy know that very well. The rest are just pawns (see: Tea Party).

Libertarian philosophy connections to Nietzschean philosophy and Marxism

Libertarian philosophy provides Illusions de grandeur of coherent philosophy while in reality it does not have any empirical justification. Anarcho-capitalism is essentially a variant of Nietzschean philosophy with business-owners as Übermensch  and free to do with employees whatever they wish. 

Nietzsche argued that two types of morality existed: a master morality that springs actively from the 'noble man', and a slave morality that develops reactively within the weak man. These two moralities do not present simple inversions of one another; they form two different value systems. They key for Übermensch is the "will to power" — interpreted later by national socialists as a "will for domination". Here is the famous quote from Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? [...] All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughingstock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape...The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth...Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope over an abyss...what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end...

In a way Ann Rand works which are so popular in the USA right-ring politics were a primitive plagiarism of  Nietzsche  ideas. As they say, Americans  are  masters of reinvention (actually she was a Russian émigré ;-).

That makes it similar to Marxism The American Conservative -- Marxism of the Right

This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism.

Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.

While like many philosophies and religions it contains grains of truth, but as a whole it is a seductive, but backward mistake.

Libertarians don't consider community in the bargain, not realizing that in jungles beasts don't have a "catch and release" program. Government and community values have an important role in improving man's lot in life. Claiming that the world operates otherwise simply means that (as conservatives are so fond of saying about liberals) being "willfully ignorant."

Libertarians typically used the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by switching to a more refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. We’ve seen Marxists pull that before.

The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it.

Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon’s wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments.

Libertarians try to get around this fact that freedom is not the only good thing by trying to reduce all other goods to it through the concept of choice, claiming that everything that is good is so because we choose to partake of it. Therefore freedom, by giving us choice, supposedly embraces all other goods. But this violates common sense by denying that anything is good by nature, independently of whether we choose it. Nourishing foods are good for us by nature, not because we choose to eat them. Taken to its logical conclusion, the reduction of the good to the freely chosen means there are no inherently good or bad choices at all, but that a man who chose to spend his life playing tiddlywinks has lived as worthy a life as a Washington or a Churchill.

Furthermore, the reduction of all goods to individual choices presupposes that all goods are individual. But some, like national security, clean air, or a healthy culture, are inherently collective. It may be possible to privatize some, but only some, and the efforts can be comically inefficient. Do you really want to trace every pollutant in the air back to the factory that emitted it and sue?

Libertarians rightly concede that one’s freedom must end at the point at which it starts to impinge upon another person’s, but they radically underestimate how easily this happens. So even if the libertarian principle of “an it harm none, do as thou wilt,” is true, it does not license the behavior libertarians claim. Consider pornography: libertarians say it should be permitted because if someone doesn’t like it, he can choose not to view it. But what he can’t do is choose not to live in a culture that has been vulgarized by it.

Libertarians in real life rarely live up to their own theory but tend to indulge in the pleasant parts while declining to live up to the difficult portions. They flout the drug laws but continue to collect government benefits they consider illegitimate. This is not just an accidental failing of libertarianism’s believers but an intrinsic temptation of the doctrine that sets it up to fail whenever tried, just like Marxism.

Some hard questions to libertarians

Libertarians need to be asked some hard questions.:

In each of these cases, less freedom today is the price of more freedom tomorrow. Total freedom today would just be a way of running down accumulated social capital and storing up problems for the future. So even if libertarianism is true in some ultimate sense, this does not prove that the libertarian policy choice is the right one today on any particular question.

Furthermore, if limiting freedom today may prolong it tomorrow, then limiting freedom tomorrow may prolong it the day after and so on, so the right amount of freedom may in fact be limited freedom in perpetuity. But if limited freedom is the right choice, then libertarianism, which makes freedom an absolute, is simply wrong. If all we want is limited freedom, then mere liberalism will do, or even better, a Burkean conservatism that reveres traditional liberties. There is no need to embrace outright libertarianism just because we want a healthy portion of freedom, and the alternative to libertarianism is not the USSR, it is America’s traditional liberties.

Libertarianism’s abstract and absolutist view of freedom leads to bizarre conclusions. Like slavery, libertarianism would have to allow one to sell oneself into it. (It has been possible at certain times in history to do just that by assuming debts one could not repay.) And libertarianism degenerates into outright idiocy when confronted with the problem of children, whom it treats like adults, supporting the abolition of compulsory education and all child-specific laws, like those against child labor and child sex. It likewise cannot handle the insane and the senile.

Libertarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a libertarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen. Furthermore, this means libertarianism is an all-or-nothing proposition: if society continues to protect people from the consequences of their actions in any way, libertarianism regarding specific freedoms is illegitimate. And since society does so protect people, libertarianism is an illegitimate moral position until the Great Libertarian Revolution has occurred.

And is society really wrong to protect people against the negative consequences of some of their free choices? While it is obviously fair to let people enjoy the benefits of their wise choices and suffer the costs of their stupid ones, decent societies set limits on both these outcomes. People are allowed to become millionaires, but they are taxed. They are allowed to go broke, but they are not then forced to starve. They are deprived of the most extreme benefits of freedom in order to spare us the most extreme costs. The libertarian alternative would be perhaps a more glittering society, but also a crueler one.

Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians.

The political corollary of this is that since no electorate will support libertarianism, a libertarian government could never be achieved democratically but would have to be imposed by some kind of authoritarian state, which rather puts the lie to libertarians’ claim that under any other philosophy, busybodies who claim to know what’s best for other people impose their values on the rest of us. Like Marxism, Libertarianism itself is based on the conviction that it is the one true political philosophy and all others are false. It entails imposing a certain kind of society, with all its attendant pluses and minuses, which the inhabitants thereof will not be free to opt out of except by leaving.

And if libertarians ever do acquire power, we may expect a farrago of bizarre policies. Many support abolition of government-issued money in favor of that minted by private banks. But this has already been tried, in various epochs, and doesn’t lead to any wonderful paradise of freedom but only to an explosion of fraud and currency debasement followed by the concentration of financial power in those few banks that survive the inevitable shaking-out. Many other libertarian schemes similarly are not supported by the empirical record.

Legitimate criticism of over-regulation does not entail going to the opposite extreme

A major reason for this naïve view of economics that seems to have stopped paying attention to the actual history of capitalism around 1880. There is not the space here to refute simplistic laissez faire, but note for now that the second-richest nation in the world, Japan, has one of the most regulated economies, while nations in which government has essentially lost control over economic life, like Yeltsin Russia, were hardly economic paradises. Legitimate criticism of over-regulation does not entail going to the opposite extreme.

Naive support of economic deregulation in reality means support of neoliberalism, which is completely hostile to libertarians social doctrine, although is quite capable to use it as a smoke screen. 

That means that Libertarian economic naïveté extends to politics. They confuse the absence of government impingements of  freedom with freedom as such. But without a sufficiently strong state, individual freedom falls prey to most powerful individuals (this is what "the law of jungle" is about). A weak state and a freedom-respecting state are not the same thing, as shown by Iraq, Libya and other countries were low intensity civil war which peacefully exist with authoritarian but weak government in capital, the government which does not control the rest of country.

Despite all the talk about freedom, politically libertarians act as implicit supporters of financial oligarchy (serving as a fifth column of financial oligarchy, if you wish). Here are a couple of apt comments from the discussion Keynes on Laissez-Faire on Mark Thoma Economist's View blog:

hapa:

i remember saying to someone here a while ago that keynes was "a laissez-faire kind of guy" or some such. it comes out to the question of 'belief' in markets. are they what they are, or would you call them miraculous? among people who see them having good & bad qualities, then keynes seems to have wanted them given pretty free hand.

one thing's for sure, if the corporations have their way, the fetters will NEVER come off, neither through the legislatures nor the courts. so everything else they say about the miracles is junk, or worse, attempting to bias the next jury.

Blorch said in reply to hapa...

That's my problem with libertarians. Of course well funded interests are going to solicit the favorable interventions from the government that ossify their rents in place. The libertarians are against it in principle but what can you do? Them that gots gets.

But when poorly funded, loosely organized interests initiate advocacy for government intervention to redirect policy in favor of resource challenged constituencies, the libertarians smell blood and grab on like sharks, pulling and twisting.

As the libertarians fail to prevent intervention from institutional wealth (which they obliged by dogma to do) but are able to find common cause with institutional wealth in stomping out the burgeoning interventions of resource challenged upstarts, they promote policy outcomes biased towards the rich.

What's grating, is they don't knowledge this convenient discrepancy. It's convenient because they can solicit support from wealthy, institutional donors. In other words, Libertarians are a complete scam!

That does not mean that people like Ron Paul are completely misguided (he actually has great insights into the US imperial foreign policy and was one of the most intellectually deep critics of it in Congress), but the reader Blorch comment above still rings true.

Libertarian contempt for self-restraint is a symptom of a deeper problem

Libertarians are also naïve about the range and perversity of human desires they propose to unleash. They can imagine nothing more threatening than a bit of Sunday-afternoon sadomasochism, followed by some recreational drug use and work on Monday. They assume that if people are given freedom, they will gravitate towards essentially bourgeois lives, but this takes for granted things like the deferral of gratification that were pounded into them as children without their being free to refuse. They forget that for much of the population, preaching maximum freedom merely results in drunkenness, drugs, failure to hold a job, and pregnancy out of wedlock. Society is dependent upon socially inoculated self-restraint in order not to slide into barbarism, and libertarians attack this self-restraint. Ironically, this often results in internal restraints being replaced by the external restraints of police and prison, resulting in less freedom, not more.

This contempt for self-restraint is emblematic of a deeper problem: Libertarianism emphasizes the value freedom, but de-emphasize the importance of learning of how to handle it. Freedom without a sound judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving into a theory of how to use freedom virtuously because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal...

Libertarianism emphasizes the value freedom, but de-emphasize the importance of learning of  how to handle it. Freedom without a sound judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving into a theory of how to use freedom virtuously because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal...

Noninterventionalism

The most strong point of libertarians is their foreign policy stance. They are noninterventionists ( Jacob H. Huebert, Libertarianism Today, pp 175-177):

Libertarianism and war are not compatible. One reason why should be obvious: In war, governments commit legalized mass murder. In modern warfare especially, war is not just waged among voluntary combatants, but kills, maims, and otherwise harms innocent people. Then, of course, wars must be funded through taxes, which are extracted from U.S. citizens by force—a form of legalized theft, as far as libertarians are concerned. And, historically, the United States has used conscription — legalized slavery — to force people to fight and die. In addition, an interventionist foreign policy makes civilians targets for retaliation, so governments indirectly cause more violence against their own people when they become involved in other countries’ affairs. In addition, war is always accompanied by many other new restrictions on liberty, many of which are sold as supposedly temporary wartime measures but then never go away.

War Involves Mass Murder

Today, people mostly accept that innocent civilians die in wars, and it does not seem to bother them too much as long as it is happening to other people on the other side of the world. The military calls this “collateral damage” and the American media mostly ignores it, but libertarians call attention to it and call it what it is: mass murder.

Historically, war did not necessarily involve killing innocents on a large scale. War was always terrible and undesirable, but by the eighteenth century, Europe had developed rules of “civilized warfare,” and wars were generally fought only between armies, with civilians off-limits.1 From the libertarian perspective, this type of war is not so much of a problem; if people choose to engage in mortal combat with each other, that may be foolish, self-destructive, and even immoral, but it is not aggression in the libertarian sense. (Of course, those wars still have objectionable ends—generally, the right to dominate a particular territory—but at least the means are not so offensive.)

Modern warfare is another story. Modern governments, including but not limited to democracies, claim to represent “the people,” so modern wars are seen as being fought, not just between rulers, but between whole peoples. By this way of thinking, it is not two governments fighting; it is “all of us versus all of them.”2 This is how politicians and some conservative pundits talk: either one is rooting “for America” or one “wants America to lose”—they do not distinguish between the country’s government and its citizens. If their view is correct—if governments really do represent the people—then it follows (more easily) that the people are fair game in war.

Of course, libertarians reject this view of government and democracy. Governments do not actually represent their people—they prey on their people. Many people in any given country, democratic or otherwise, do not support all of their government’s policies, and do not deserve to be punished, let alone killed, for what their government does. But many are unwillingly implicated in their government’s crimes through taxation, conscription, and other ways in which they are forced to directly and indirectly support the war effort.

The United States led the way in destroying the historic prohibition on targeting civilians. In the Civil War, with Abraham Lincoln’s approval, General William Tecumseh Sherman unleashed “total war” in the South, burning cities and towns to the ground and destroying huge amounts of civilian property—food, housing, tools—mostly for no reason except to terrorize the “enemy” population.3

Britain also played its part, thanks to Winston Churchill. In World War I, as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill implemented a blockade that caused about 750,000 German civilians to die of hunger or malnutrition.4 In World War II, Churchill urged the deliberate bombing of civilians in German cities, which killed 600,000 people and severely injured some 800,000 more.5

President Harry S. Truman contributed as well, killing more than 200,000 people with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the first and so far only nuclear attacks by any country. The United States also killed on the other side of the world. The military calls this “collateral damage” and the American media mostly ignores it, but libertarians call attention to it and call it what it is: mass murder.

Historically, war did not necessarily involve killing innocents on a large scale. War was always terrible and undesirable, but by the eighteenth century, Europe had developed rules of “civilized warfare,” and wars were generally fought only between armies, with civilians off-limits.1 From the libertarian perspective, this type of war is not so much of a problem; if people choose to engage in mortal combat with each other, that may be foolish, self-destructive, and even immoral, but it is not aggression in the libertarian sense. (Of course, those wars still have objectionable ends—generally, the right to dominate a particular territory—but at least the means are not so offensive.)

Modern warfare is another story. Modern governments, including but not limited to democracies, claim to represent “the people,” so modern wars are seen as being fought, not just between rulers, but between whole peoples. By this way of thinking, it is not two governments fighting; it is “all of us versus all of them.”2 This is how politicians and some conservative pundits talk: either one is rooting “for America” or one “wants America to lose”—they do not distinguish between the country’s government and its citizens. If their view is correct—if governments really do represent the people—then it follows (more easily) that the people are fair game in war.

Of course, libertarians reject this view of government and democracy. Governments do not actually represent their people—they prey on their people. Many people in any given country, democratic or otherwise, do not support all of their government’s policies, and do not deserve to be punished, let alone killed, for what their government does. But many are unwillingly implicated in their government’s crimes through taxation, conscription, and other ways in which they are forced to directly and indirectly support the war effort.

The United States led the way in destroying the historic prohibition on targeting civilians. In the Civil War, with Abraham Lincoln’s approval, General William Tecumseh Sherman unleashed “total war” in the South, burning cities and towns to the ground and destroying huge amounts of civilian property—food, housing, tools—mostly for no reason except to terrorize the “enemy” population.3

Britain also played its part, thanks to Winston Churchill. In World War I, as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill implemented a blockade that caused about 750,000 German civilians to die of hunger or malnutrition.4 In World War II, Churchill urged the deliberate bombing of civilians in German cities, which killed 600,000 people and severely injured some 800,000 more.5

President Harry S. Truman contributed as well, killing more than 200,000 people with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the first and so far only nuclear attacks by any country. The United States also killed more than 100,000 more civilians in raids on Tokyo, including one major raid that took place after the atomic bombs had been dropped and Japan had indicated its willingness to surrender.6 Libertarians would consider the killing of all those civilians to be an unjustifiable war crime in any event, but libertarian historian Ralph Raico has argued that, contrary to popular belief, the atomic bombs were not even necessary to save American soldiers’ lives or win the war.7

In the Cold War, the United States (and the Soviets) continued to produce and accumulate nuclear weapons, which, if used, would destroy enormous civilian populations. Even now, as it condemns other countries for wanting even one nuclear weapon, the United States maintains a huge nuclear arsenal, with nearly 4,000 nuclear missiles ready to use.8 Unlike guns and other traditional weapons, nuclear weapons have no legitimate defensive purpose; they cannot even theoretically be limited to target only enemy combatants. True, they serve as a “deterrent” without being detonated, but this provides little comfort because it assumes that the President of the United States is, in fact, ready, willing, and able to bring a nuclear holocaust on millions of people if put to the test. For these reasons, libertarianism calls for immediate, total nuclear disarmament.9 Libertarians might also point out that the very existence of nuclear weapons provides a powerful argument against large governments. Without big government, there is no reason why these weapons, which have the potential to destroy the entire human race, would ever have existed.

 

Opposition to New American Militarism

Libertarians (along will less numerous and less influential paleoconservatives) are the only more or less influential faction of the US society that oppose what Basevich called New American Militarism. The foreign policy of the USA since the dissolution of the USSR was and is "open militarism". Recently  John Quiggin  tried to define militarism is came to the following definition (crookedtimber.org):

100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative. Wikipedia offers a definition of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population in nearly every country in the world.

Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national interests

This new epidemic of the US militarism which started after Cold War ended was well analyzed by Professor Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army) who called it New American Militarism. Bacevich's book  Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War  describe the "sacred trinity" of global military presence, global power projection, global interventionism is used to achieve those ends. 

Professor Bacevich had shown that the main driver of the US militarism is neocons domination of the US foreign policy, and, especially, neocons domination in State Department regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power.  They profess that the US that we are uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts:

Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.

In other words they advocate permanent war for permanent peace. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, his book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections that some may find very troubling. Here is the summary:

UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII: September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m. 

Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).

Thesis

The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.

Introduction: Slow Learner

The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany (4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).

"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition" (10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century") and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of  global interventionism") together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).

In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).

This book aspires to

(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;

(2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;

(3) explain how itis perpetuated;

(4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;

and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).

The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the reining national security paradigm" (16-18).

Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.

As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).

It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23).

Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).

American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).

Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).

Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).

Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control

Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).

This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).

McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what they wanted" (66-72).

In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible" Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).

U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).

Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).

He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).

Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.

William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).

Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored" (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).

By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). Andthe end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).

Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity

 The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "not retrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The 

Except from Macmillan

Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.

My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened. The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history. 

Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown.

A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.

.... ... ...

Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.

... ... ...

Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray

... ... ...

Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction: that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies, and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve as to believe that the American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom, not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.

The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.

Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.

The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.

Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner. Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and Berlin

My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was, after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy, which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted myself to ensuring that they remained inert.

Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War, my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity. In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard. After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform, that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.

Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.

History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead, it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions, while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially acute.

George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely. *

What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past, to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia. Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.

The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo. In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured what remains even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So, too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.

Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well. Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic five-sided building.

Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France, it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong. Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.

The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose, the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and exertions.

Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression; second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or "radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century. Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of the past decade have demonstrated.

To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise, the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American people.

Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense, the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War, thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.

In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore problems demanding attention here at home.

Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then real education just might begin.

Ron Paul and "virtuous" libertarians

Despite severe limitations of libertarian philosophy, some libertarians were able to transcend them at least in one very important area -- the nation foreign policy. They also serve as a important watchdogs of  tricks which financial oligarchy plays with the USA population under current neoliberal regime, putting some restrain on most bizarre pro-oligarchic policies, especially in post-2008 years. The primary example here is Ron Paul who while professing libertarian philosophy, actually has more complex and more realistic views on several aspects of the American society, and, especially the USA foreign policy. 

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity is a project of Dr. Paul’s Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (F.R.E.E.), founded in the 1970s as an educational organization. The Institute continues and expands Dr. Paul’s lifetime of public advocacy for a peaceful foreign policy and the protection of civil liberties at home. It provides one of the most interesting analysis of US foreign policy and critique of neoliberal expansionism that the USA is engaged in.

You might disagree with Ron Paul views on some domestic problems and social programs in the USA but his articles and interview about the US foreign policy resonate with all thinking Americans, independently of their political affiliation.

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The Last but not Least


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Last modified: September, 17, 2017