|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
“Plunderers of the world, when nothing remains on the lands to which they have laid waste by wanton thievery, they search out across the seas. The wealth of another region excites their greed; and if it is weak, their lust for power as well. Nothing from the rising to the setting of the sun is enough for them. Among all others only they are compelled to attack the poor as well as the rich. Robbery, rape, and slaughter they falsely call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”
|News||Corporatism||Recommended Links||Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism||Neofascism||Nation under attack meme|
|Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative||Inverted Totalitarism||The Deep State||Mystery of Building 7 Collapse||Reconciling Human Rights With Total Surveillance||Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?|
|Total Surveillance||Media-Military-Industrial Complex||The Grand Chessboard||Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite||Two Party System as Polyarchy||The Iron Law of Oligarchy|
|Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State||Facebook as Giant Database about Users||Social Sites as intelligence collection tools||Systematic Breach of Vienna Convention||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism||Corporate Media: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few|
|American Exceptionalism||New American Militarism||Machiavellism||Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?||Humor||Etc|
"The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us"
the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”
Books have been written about President Eisenhower’s famous farewell warning in 1961 about the “military-industrial complex,” and what he described as its “unwarranted influence.” But an even greater leviathan today, one that the public knows little about, is the “intelligence-industrial complex.”
Michael Hirsh in
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
- James Madison
The National Security State is an ideology and practice of the USA elite, closely connected with the idea of the rule of the Media-Military-Industrial Complex, and especially three-letter agencies ("Trumanites" because of our 33rd president's role in founding the CIA, the modern Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency). It is somewhat different from national socialist idea as it is married to neoliberalism and does not included the decisive influence of the state in economic sphere.
Under neoliberalism society has become increasingly militarized, meaning that as most aspects of the social-democratic state (New Deal state) are eliminated, a police state is rising in its place. All problems that in the past were seen as social problems, and hence required social solutions, now acquire police solutions. Heavily militarized police became praetorian guard of 0.1% that is in power.
In economic sphere deregulation (economic liberalism or neoliberalism) produce social conflict, which at some point can not be masked by neoliberal demagogy ("shareholder value", "stakeholder participation" and other neoliberal crap). As the state now represents interest only of the top 0.1% population, economic and political spheres became merged under authoritarian rule of financial oligarchy, not unlike the USSR under bolshevism with the only difference that "nomenklatura" was more aligned with the interests of the society then financial oligarchy, Tax laws, inheritance rules, status to trade unions, "revolving door" regulations (which highly correlates with the degree of corruption of the society) became political decisions and require constant brainwashing of the population and instilling fear using external threat. Terrorism is used for this purpose not unlike permanent war between Oceania and Eurasia in the Orwell's famous novel 1984, It is clear that the war with terrorism is quintessential for waging "permanent war for permanent peace". This link to rampant militarism is close to what we observe in typical neo-fascist movements (Fascism - Wikipedia ):
Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, influenced by national syndicalism. Fascism originated in Italy during World War I and spread to other European countries. Fascism opposes liberalism, Marxism and anarchism and is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war. The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.
Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th century fascist movements.
In this social system US intelligence apparatus and military establishment are raised to the level above and beyond civilian control and become a somewhat autonomous system, a hidden government of the USA. Deep state as it is now called. Which, as a minimum, assume the role of king maker for the most top positions in the USA government. And, if necessary, can act as a king remover (JFK assassination is a nice example here; CIA fingerprints are all over the place, but nobody from CIA went to jail for this "accomplishment": mission accomplished).
The colossal budget with juicy cost-plus contracts of affiliated private companies gives those agencies not only tremendous power, but also vested ideological and financial interests. For example, for the moment of its creation, due to Allen Dulles background CIA was aligned with the interests of Wall Street. There no real overseeing of three letter agencies from neither executive branch, not from the Congress, nor from the Supreme Court.
But the reverse is not true. In a way they can serve as a surrogate king. In other words, instead of the servant of the state intelligence agencies became the master. This phenomenon is not limited to the USA. The same hijacking of executive, parliamentarian and judicial braches of govern happened in other countries. A very interesting example provides the USSR: it was actually betrayal of KGB brass, who switched side and decided to privatize the country, that among other things doomed the USSR.
The key "three letter agencies" (CIA, DOD, NSA, FBI) were established by the National Security Act of 1947, signed in September 18, 1947 by President Harry S. Truman. This year can be considered as the year when National Security State was born and probably should be celebrated accordingly instead of old-fashioned Independence Day. Very little was preserved from the "old republic" after this transformation of the USA.
It is prudent to view National Security State as a modern form of corporatism, closely related to concepts of neo-fascism and Inverted Totalitarism. As ellatynemouth noted in the comment to the Guardian article Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay (Dec 26, 2013):
The surveillance state is the ruling class's key hole through which they monitor us and our potential dissent. It's now an integral part of capitalism and can't be removed.
The game has changed. It's now about convincing us as much as possible that they will stop snooping on us. They won't though. It will just become more heavily hidden.
Surveillance state was made possible with the advent of computers, Internet and wireless communication. In some features it is close to neo-fascism and Latin-American far right authoritarian regimes, but there are important difference. Instead of organized violence against opponents it achieved its goals without relentless physical repression/elimination of opponents. It's key feature is mass surveillance, discreditation and blackmailing of opponents (like in German Democratic Republic there are dossier for every member of society and skeletons from the closet can be revealed for any politician or activist) as well as control and manipulation of media, not mass repression of opponents. Like neofascist regimes of the past (such as Pinochet regime in Chile) and authoritarian "communist" regimes of the past and present, it make organized opposition to the government virtually impossible. Of the 20 characteristic traits of neo-fascist regimes probably around the half are applicable to the national security state.
After 9/11, Bush government's behavior and especially appeals to public clearly resonate with the proto-fascist "... uber alles" ideas. As an amazing example of doublespeak Bushists managed to integrate American exceptionalism into the framework of globalist neoliberal regime (as the command-and-control center for neoliberal world empire, no less). Bush government inspired post-9/11 paranoia doesn’t come cheaply, though. Costs were staggering: the military ($682 billion), Homeland Security (about $60 billion), and 15 intelligence agencies (official figure of combined budget is perhaps $75 billion; but in reality in many times more then that). The total is probably over a trillion.
Nothing changed under President Obama, which suggests that he is just a figurehead and the "deep state" is actually in charge. In most area Obama administration was more like Bush II administration , then "change we can believe in". In this sense this was the most blatant "bait and switch" in the recent political history of the USA. This is the view of Professor Michel Greenon, who in his book advocated the view that tradition troika of powers in the USA became by and large ceremonial and that real actors, at least in area of national security are not non-elected executives of super-powerful and well financed three-letter agencies. Here is a brief overview taken from review published by Reason (National Security State - Reason.com):
Though Glennon doesn't describe his thesis in terms of public choice theory, it echoes that discipline's insight that institutions are run for the benefit of the people who run the institutions. For the Trumanites, Glennon explains, "benefits take the form of enlarged budgets, personnel, missions; costs take the form of retrenchments in each." Witness the vast archipelago of intelligence facilities-nearly three Pentagons' worth of office space-that have been erected in greater Washington, D.C., since 9/11.
The national security state is becoming an autonomous, self-perpetuating entity, Glennon warns. It sets the table for elected officials' choices and increasingly dictates terms to them. The permanent bureaucracy basks in the "glow" of Madisonian institutions, drawing legitimacy from the illusion that elected officials are in charge. But while the buck may stop with the president, the real power resides with the Trumanites.This explanation is strongest in the realm of state surveillance, which serves as Glennon's central case study. Recall the embarrassing revelation, in the summer of 2013, that the NSA was tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. What did the president know, and when did he know it? If you believe top administration officials, Obama was almost as surprised as Merkel. Glennon quotes Secretary of State John Kerry to the effect that the Merkel wiretap, like a lot of NSA programs, occurred "on autopilot."
On one hand, that's what you'd expect them to say. On the other hand, the claim is entirely plausible, and it is consistent with the earlier history of NSA abuses uncovered by the Church Committee in the 1970s. Under Project SHAMROCK, for example, the NSA collected the content of virtually all cable traffic entering or leaving the United States for three decades-150,000 messages a month at its height. It was, the committee's final report concluded, "probably the largest governmental interception program affecting Americans ever undertaken." And yet it's not clear that any president ordered, approved, or was even aware of SHAMROCK. When the program's existence was exposed in the mid-'70s, Louis Tordella, longtime deputy director of the NSA, admitted that he didn't know whether any president or attorney general had ever been briefed on it.
The picture grows somewhat more complicated when we look at the modern practice of presidential war making. From the Truman administration onward, the president has accumulated enormous unchecked authority, despite James Madison's conviction that, since the executive department was "most distinguished by its propensity to war," it is "the practice of all states, in proportion as they are free, to disarm this propensity of its influence."
When it comes to picking the wars we wage, it's not clear that the Trumanites are fully in charge. Take four major war-powers decisions during the Obama administration: the Afghan surge, the escalation of drone attacks, the Libya intervention, and the current war against ISIS. I put the Trumanite win-loss record at roughly .500 here. The military and national security bureaucracy fought hard for the surge and the drone escalation, and got them. They generally opposed the Libyan action, and some prominent Trumanites-such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs -appear to have been reluctant to endorse our latest war in the Middle East.
In the case of this most recent war, domestic politics seems a better explanation: The president yielded to the near-irresistible demand that he "do something" about the beheading of Americans and the implosion of the Iraqi state. Bombing ISIS is something, so we're doing it.
The Obama experience suggests we get the wars the Trumanites want -- and also some they don't. But this is hardly fatal to Glennon's thesis. He stresses that "a good theory of institutional behavior can predict, at best, only tendency over time"; his "predicts only that national security policy will change little from one administration to the next." So far, that theory is holding up rather well.
Even so, I've always been partial to one version of the "government politics" explanation. A few years ago, I wrote a book arguing that "Americans' unconfined conception of presidential responsibility is the source of much of our political woe and some of the gravest threats to our liberties." If the political reality is such that the president will be held personally accountable for any domestic terror attack, don't be surprised when he seeks powers nearly as vast as the expectations put upon him.
Glennon acknowledges it's not either-or; "explanations overlap," he writes. Dumb wars and security-state overreach are the result of political choices and the bureaucratic imperative. Policy continuity is depressingly overdetermined.
Real-time histories of key national security decisions in the Obama years tend to underscore this point. In Kill or Capture, reporter Daniel Klaidman describes the enormous political pressure the Obama administration was under after the failed "underwear bomber" attack on December 25, 2009. "For the White House," Klaidman writes, "the psychic toll of Christmas Day was profound. Obama realized that if a failed terror attempt could suck up so much political oxygen, a successful attack would absolutely devastate his presidency. And much as he liked to talk about returning to first principles, Obama also had a powerful instinct for self-correction-as well as self-preservation."
The psychic aftershock of Christmas 2009 helped shape a lot of what followed: from body scanners at airports to ramped-up drone strikes to the lethal targeting of an American citizen.
But to Glennon's point, the administration was under pressure from the Trumanites well before that. In the 2012 book, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, James Mann describes a concerted effort by then-CIA director Michael Hayden and other senior intelligence officials to preserve business as usual by scaring the hell out of the incoming Obama team. Their private name for this scheme was the "Aw, Shit! Campaign."
The scare tactics worked. Klaidman reports that both Harold Koh, legal advisor at the State Department, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel, used the same metaphor to describe the military pressure for more targeted killings: a runaway train. It was like "a massive freight train hurling down the tracks" Koh said. "You would have to throw yourself on the tracks to try to stop it," said Johnson.
All this helps shed light on Obama's strange and disorienting May 2013 "drone speech" at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., in which the president seemed to be speaking not as commander in chief, but as his own loyal opposition.
In the speech, Obama said things like "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don't need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers." And: "The very precision of drone strikes can also lead a president and his team to view [them] as a cure-all for terrorism." I remember thinking: "A president"? Which one? Anyone in particular? Who's in charge here, anyway?
National Security and Double Government suggests that the answer to that last question isn't quite so obvious, that the "most powerful man in the world" isn't nearly as powerful as he might appear.
It remains the case that Obama had the formal authority to say no to mass surveillance and perpetual war. But saying no would require resisting enormous bureaucratic and political pressure. And anybody willing to do what it takes to become president is unlikely to transform himself into a self-denying Cincinnatus once in office. Political survivors don't jump in front of trains.
While US government spent around $3.67 trillion in 2013, the revenue was just $2.77 trillion. Of that amount over one trillion went to three-letter agencies and DOD. Now you understand to whom real power belongs. Moreover the government has to borrow about $900 billion in order to maintain national security state programs intact. And there are 5 million (yes million) people in the USA with security clearance and around 3 million with top security clearance. In other words "Welcome to the USSR." or even Third Reich (actually republican senators opposed Truman initiative due to fear that he replicated institution of the Third Reich in the USA and only support of powerful Democrats allowed the president to push the act through the Congress.
But even if it was close to the Third Reich in political effects and its essence, this type of political structure is different, because it does not rely on mass mobilization. Instead it relied on the power of "deep state" and mass surveillance as well as passivity of most electorate.
As Paxton describes it (Tracking Fascism) fascism as just hypertrophied and misguided nationalism, a specific flavor of far right nationalism. The central emotions in fascism and nationalism are identical. In other words at the core of fascist emotional mobilization always lies far right nationalism and that is important distinction with national security state and neoliberalism which are globalist and "imperial" and does not stress particular nationality as long of the person/group serves empire interests:
...Feelings propel fascism more than thought does. We might call them mobilizing passions, since they function in fascist movements to recruit followers and in fascist regimes to "weld" the fascist "tribe" to its leader. The following mobilizing passions are present in fascisms, though they may sometimes be articulated only implicitly:
- The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual.
- The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action against the group's enemies, internal as well as external.
- Dread of the group's decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan liberalism.
- Closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio) whose unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
- An enhanced sense of identity and belonging, in which the grandeur of the group reinforces individual self-esteem.
- Authority of natural leaders (always male) throughout society, culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.
- The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle.
Post 9/11 "passions" in the USA were definitely skillfully used by Bush administration to push the nation into the Iraq war and the attacks on dissenters that occurred during it were pretty vicious, really in traditions of Third Reich ("you are either with us, or with our enemies").
But public was not really central in this whole issue. Americans were extras at best, patsies at worst, Essentially all major decisions were made "behind the curtain" by deep state structures and public was just brainwashed into approval of those action. That's an important different between national security state and classical fascist regimes. In classic fascist state the leading fascist party would be central to unleashing such a war. Here it was bust a bunch of highly placed bureaucrats in Bush II administration (so called neocons, which is an ideological group allied with the military industrial complex, but not an organized party as such).
Here is a more extended treatment of this issue (cited from Rush, Newspeak and Fascism An exegesis IV Tracking Fascism):
1. [Group primacy]: See, again, the Bush Doctrine. An extension of this sentiment is at play among those jingoes who argue that Americans may need to sacrifice some of their civil rights -- say, free speech -- during wartime.
2. [Victim mentality]: This meme is clearly present in all the appeals to the victims of Sept. 11 as justifications for the war. It is present at nearly all levels of the debate: from the White House, from the media, even from the jingoist entertainment industry (see, e.g., the lyric of Darryl Worley's extraordinarily popular country-western hit, "Have You Forgotten?": "Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right.").
3. [Dread of liberal decadence]: This meme has been stock in trade of the talk-radio crowd since at least 1994 -- at one time it focused primarily on the person of Bill Clinton -- and has reached ferocious levels during the runup to the war and after it, during which antiwar leftists have regularly and remorselessly been accused of treason.
4. [Group integration] and 5. [Group identity as personal validation] are, of course, among the primary purposes of the campaign to demonize liberals -- to simultaneously build a cohesive brotherhood of like-minded "conservatives" who might not agree on the details but are united in their loathing of all things liberal. It plays out in such localized manifestations as the KVI Radio 570th On-Air Cavalry, which has made a habit of deliberately invading antiwar protests with the express purpose of disrupting them and breaking them up. Sometimes, as they did recently in Bellingham, this is done with caravans of big trucks blaring their horns; and they are also accompanied by threatening rhetoric and acts of physical intimidation. They haven't yet bonded in violence -- someone did phone in a threat to sniper-shoot protesters -- but they are rapidly headed in that direction.
6. [Authority of leaders]: This needs hardly any further explanation, except to note that George W. Bush is actually surprisingly uncharismatic for someone who inspires as much rabid loyalty as he does. But then, that is part of the purpose of Bush's PR campaign stressing that he receives "divine guidance" -- it assures in his supporters' mind the notion that he is carrying out God's destiny for the nation, and for the conservative movement in particular.
7. [An aesthetic of violence]: One again needs only turn to the voluminous jingoes of Fox News or the jubilant warbloggers to find abundant examples of celebrations of the virtues -- many of them evidently aesthetic -- of the evidently just-completed war.
I would like to stress that similar processes occurred in different states after WWII as well (Latin America military dictatorships are one example). And with new force and on the new level after the dissolution of the USSR in Russia. Of course the USSR was a National Security Surveillance State even before WWII, being one of the "pioneers" of this form of state along with Italy and Germany. But it was a rather "primitive" form of national security state in a sense that it did not rely on computers, collecting "envelope" of all Internet communication, emails headers and other "meta-data" as well as systematic interception of SMS-based communications as well interception of wireless communication and financial operations via computerized banking (especially credit card transactions) for surveillance.
Mickey Edwards, who served in Congress from 1977 to 1993, and is the author of “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats Into Americans.” published a very penetrating review of the book in The Boston Globe. In which he stated:
It has long been the province of conspiracy theorists to claim that the real power of government is not wielded by the obvious practitioners of statecraft — presidents, members of Congress, the judiciary — but by secret or semi-secret entities, real wizards whose hidden machinations send us to war, sell us out to enemies, siphon public treasure into private hands. Depending on your talk show or paranoia of choice, these are the bankers, oil barons, one-worlders, war profiteers, Bilderbergers, Masons, Catholics, Jews, or Trilateralists. Our formal institutions, in this scenario, are stage sets, Potemkin villages; our officials are puppets; we are an unsuspecting audience.
Michael Glennon, a respected academic (Tufts’s FLETCHER SCHOOL) and author of a book brought to us by an equally respected publisher (Oxford University Press), is hardly the sort to indulge in such fantasies. And that makes the picture he paints in “National Security and Double Government” all the more arresting. Considering Barack Obama’s harsh pre-election criticisms of his predecessor’s surveillance policies, for example, Glennon notes that many of those same policies — and more of the same kind — were continued after Obama took office. “Why,” he asks, “does national security policy remain constant even when one President is replaced by another, who as a candidate repeatedly, forcefully, and eloquently promised fundamental changes in that policy?”
The answer Glennon places before us is not reassuring: “a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of US national security policy.” The result, he writes, is a system of dual institutions that have evolved “toward greater centralization, less accountability, and emergent autocracy.”
If this were a movie, it would soon become clear that some evil force, bent on consolidating power and undermining democratic governance, has surreptitiously tunneled into the under-structure of the nation. Not so. In fact, Glennon observes, this hyper-secret and difficult-to-control network arose in part as an attempt to head off just such an outcome. In the aftermath of World War II, with the Soviet Union a serious threat from abroad and a growing domestic concern about weakened civilian control over the military (in 1949, the Hoover Commission had warned that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had become “virtually a law unto themselves”), President Truman set out to create a separate national security structure.
By 2011, according to The Washington Post, there were 46 separate federal departments and agencies and 2,000 private companies engaged in classified national security operations with millions of employees and spending of roughly a trillion dollars a year. As Glennon points out, presidents get to name fewer than 250 political appointees among the Defense Department’s nearly 700,000 civilian employees, with hundreds more drawn from a national security bureaucracy that comprise “America’s Trumanite network” — in effect, on matters of national security, a second government.
Glennon’s book is not a breezy read: It’s thick with fact and not unappreciative of conundrum (“The government is seen increasingly by elements of the public as hiding what they ought to know, criminalizing what they ought to be able to do, and spying upon what ought to be private. The people are seen increasingly by the government as unable to comprehend the gravity of security threats.”). Nor is he glib with proposed solutions: to adequately respond to the threats posed by a below-the-radar second government will require “a general public possessed of civic virtue,” which prompts Glennon to cite retired Supreme Court justice David Souter’s bemoaning of a “pervasive civic ignorance.” Not all of the problem can be laid at Truman’s feet. And if we ourselves are part of the zeitgeist that allows invisible governments to flourish, repair will be difficult. As Glennon puts it, “the term Orwellian will have little meaning to a people who have never known anything different, who have scant knowledge of history, civics, or public affairs, and who in any event have never heard of George Orwell.”
This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created. But if Glennon’s book is enlightening it is also scary. And it’s not fiction.
There are multiple reasons such as to instill fear, and to demonstrate competence (Big Brother’s Liberal Friends — Crooked Timber)
Dr. Hilarius, 10.27.14 at 11:44 pmAn excellent analysis and summation.
Any defense of the national security state requires the proponent to show, at a minimum, that the present apparatus is competent at its task. Having lived through Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention many smaller governmental adventures) I see no evidence of competence. Instead, it’s repetitive failures of analysis and imagination no matter how much raw intelligence is gathered.
Nor is there any evidence that existing oversight mechanisms function as intended. Recent revelations about the CIA spying on the Senate should be enough to dispel the idea that leakers have no role to play.
Kinsley is particularly loathsome. His position is little more than “your betters know best” and that the state’s critics are guttersnipes needing to be kicked to the curb. Kinsley doesn’t need a coherent position, his goal is to be a spokesman for the better sorts, nothing more...
Tremendous push (or acceleration of pre-existing tendencies) toward National Security State occurred after 9/11 under the banner of fighting terrorism. At the point technological capabilities of mass surveillance using computers and the ability to have a dossier for everybody were in place, while mass deployment of PC, credit cards and cell phones provides constant stream of information to those dossiers, not that different from "gum shoes" reports. On November, 2001 the phone records of most Americans begin flowing to the N.S.A. After 9/11, President Bush authorizes the N.S.A. to collect phone and Internet content and metadata without a warrant. Within weeks, under the so-called President’s Surveillance Program (P.S.P.), the major telephone companies voluntarily hand over the data. The N.S.A. creates a twenty-four-hour “Metadata Analysis Center” (MAC) to search the phone records. In October 26, 2001: The Patriot Act is passed. Section 215 allows the government to seize “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”
At this point the process started with adoption of Truman doctrine came to a logical end: national surveillance state became a reality. Formally Truman Doctrine was created "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." but in reality their function was more questionable and after 9/11 (some people date this event as early as 1963 -- JFK assassination) those activities created what is called "The State Within a State" similar to the USSR KGB role (see The State Within a State by Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick). Here is one review of the book:
passionate albeit muddled, August 24, 1999
I have problems with the author's obvious hatred of the Russian Revolution and Stalin and the way she claims there is an unbroken chain of horror going all the way back to 1917. Obviously things are better today -- hence her book! She says 66.7 million people died under "Chekist" rule since the Russian Revolution -- and then cites the Guiness Book of Records as her source!? No one could ever prove such a figure, I think its one of things that's repeated 'til it becomes fact.
I also find the author's lack of knowledge about our own CIA kind of disheartening. This fine organization has spread as much death and terror in the Third World (Indonesia, Guatemala,Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc. etc. ) as the KGB ever did anywhere, yet she seems to make them out to be benevolent compared to the KGB (which if you read this book are responsible for everything wrong with the world today).
After reading this book I still don't understand why she thinks the KGB or its incarnations are as bad today as they were at the height of the Terror in 1937. Its not really explained in the book. I still am not convinced that the KGB was the NKVD, and definitely convinced that either was the SS. Research I have done casually has never come up with hard, convincing figures for a Nazi style genocide in the USSR, and this anecdotal, unconvincing book didn't change my historical views.
See Michael J. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945-1954. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; which "explains the transformative process that ended in the ultimate demise of the New Deal state with its emphasis on social spending and ushered in the militarist National Security State." From Amazon review:
Hogan, a specialist in American diplomatic and national security studies, has written a complex but interesting work on the emergence of the national security state. To create this state, it was necessary to merge the armed forces, the Defense Department, and scientists into a single unit to enhance the military's capabilities. To a large extent, this unification was accomplished in the 1950s. The driving forces were James Forrestal, Dean Acheson, and powerful members of Congress such as Carl Vinson (D-GA), who chaired the Committee on Naval Affairs, along with presidents Truman and Eisenhower.
Hogan presents a compelling case but overemphasizes the importance of Truman and Eisenhower while downplaying the role of Vinson and others in the security state's creation. In fact, both Truman and Eisenhower often seemed opposed to it but succumbed to pressure from Congress and key figures like Acheson. This extremely complex study, which deals with a subject few other books handle, is designed for scholars and informed lay readers interested in the creation of the "military-industrial complex." by Richard P. Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., KY
Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti in his book "Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History" noted:
"As I pointed out in the preface to The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby destroying democracy. By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the CIA, with its obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective knowledge of the past.
As long as the CIA continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and present."
Attempts to curtain the surveillance proved to by fruitless. Church Committee was probably the most important "after JFK assassination" attempt to somewhat tame three latter agencies and especially CIA, but it ended in nothing.
Later NSA overtook CIA in many areas of intelligence gathering activities. Which create internal frictions between two agencies. State Department also "infringed" in CIA role in foreign countries and, for example, in organization of neoliberal color revolutions in oil rich or strategically important countries it is difficult to tell when clandestine actions of State Department ends and clandestine actions of CIA stars and vice versa.
In is interesting to note that even Senators feel threatened by this total surveillance system. In December 14, 2005 Senators Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Richard Durbin, and several colleagues sign a letter warning that Section 215 “would allow the government to obtain library, medical and gun records and other sensitive personal information” that “would allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans.” They demand that the records requested should “have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy,” a requirement that would
protect innocent Americans from unnecessary surveillance and ensure that government scrutiny is based on individualized suspicion, a fundamental principle of our legal system.
In March, 2006, the Patriot Act is reauthorized without the changes sought by Obama and others.
In his October 19, 2012 review of the book Saman Mohammadi (The Excavator) wrote:
The case could be made that the creation of the CIA and the National Security State in 1947 was necessary. But after sixty years of human rights abuses, systematic attacks on the constitution, false flag terror events, assassinations of political reformers, and other horrible crimes against humanity, should not the CIA be reformed?
Let's put the question of morality aside. What are the "national security" reasons that legitimize the existence of the CIA? Once you learn that Al-Qaeda is a CIA creation and proxy insurgent army and that 9/11 was a massive false flag operation, you come to the natural conclusion that the CIA does not perform a national security role.
The CIA plays a much dirtier role: engineering the American mind. It is not denied that the shadow CIA has major influence in the mainstream media, especially amongst top newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Michael S. Rozeff speculates that the New York Times is entirely run by the CIA.
We can't know for certain if that is true because of the lack of historical documentation in the public domain, but there is a mountain of observable evidence that proves the CIA has many of its spooks working for the New York Times. Go here for just one example.
Until the American people demand that the U.S. government commit to radical transparency and the principles enshrined in the U.S. constitution, the shadow CIA and the mainstream media can twist history and manage public perceptions of reality as much as they like.
The shadow CIA's greatest power comes from its command of the American public mind as well as its ability to create a fictional version of history. The false flag September 11 events was the shadow CIA's biggest media operation to date. It was their Mona Lisa. They painted the canvas of reality with the brush of myth, and worked day and night to shape the collective memory of the American people while the horror of the tragic attacks was still fresh in the nation's mind.
Although the shadow CIA doesn't have a total command of the American mind and of history, as proven by the rise of the global 9/11 truth and justice movement, it possesses enough media power to mold world public opinion and dictate government policy for the United States with ease. There is no question that its power is totalitarian in nature and its aims are evil. It does not serve the interests of the American people; that much is clear.
How can there be freedom when CIA officials in television studios, newspaper offices, and publishing companies drive the public conversation and form the national narrative on every issue of significance. The global alternative media is the only global civil society actor that is putting limits on the CIA's power to make up history and suppress the truth about historical events like 9/11 and the occult sacrifice of JFK.
In the past, the shadow CIA was presented with roadblocks in the Congress. But 9/11 fixed that problem. The laws and the politics changed. In "The Big Chill," author Dan Froomkin says the absence of Congressional leadership in the post-9/11 political universe has strengthened executive power. Here is an excerpt his article:After past periods of executive excess, the Fourth Estate was certainly more robust and arguably more persistent, but it also found natural allies in the other branches of government—particularly Congress. By contrast, over the summer of 2012, the publication of a minimal amount of new information regarding drones, cyberwarfare and targeted killings incited bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill—not to conduct hearings into what had been revealed, but to demand criminal investigations into the leaking.Since the Congress is not willing to stand up for the rights of the American people, the truth, human rights, and the U.S. Constitution, then the American people and global civil society must stand up. Congress has no real power. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, Congress only has an eight percent approval rating. There are underground, neo-Nazi groups in Europe that are more popular than the Congress.
That's how Congress has been ever since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. "We never got our post 9/11 Church Committee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists's Project on Government Secrecy, referring to a special investigative Senate committee that held hearings on widespread intelligence abuses after the Watergate scandal. "What we've got instead is the intelligence oversight committee drafting legislation to penalize leaks."
The mainstream media is no better. It is content with its role as a propaganda arm of the shadow CIA, and that is a tragedy. American newspapers have the power to improve their nation and change the world for the better, but instead they choose to cover up independent investigations of shady events like 9/11 that shed light on how the U.S. government really operates.
Alternative media outlets like Infowars.com, Veterans Today, Lew Rockwell.com, Washington's Blog, The Corbett Report, and countless others are doing the best they can to educate the American people and wake up humanity.
The last thing the shadow CIA wants to see is an informed and awakened America. It is waging a silent war on human consciousness because it is scared of an enlightened world. A world that is awake and aware of its crimes against humanity is its greatest nightmare.
If the shadow CIA has its way, it will continue inventing stories and passing it off as history with total immunity. But the global alternative media is telling the shadow CIA: Enough is enough, stop lying to the American people and the world.
The CIA's reckless disregard of U.S. traditions and laws made former President Harry Truman rethink his decision to create the CIA in the first place. On December 22, 1963, Truman wrote in The Washington Post:
On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency (Wikipedia):
For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.
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.
In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argues that the Bush I war in Iraq (as well as Bush II invasion and occupation of the country) was an action of the military industrial complex usurping the "peace dividend". Iraq was attractive target as it has oil and far enough away to prove a good vehicle for eating up contract cash. He views the rise of the National Security Defense State as a consequence of "the threat of peace" for military industrial complex and identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:
Compare that definition of the National Security State with the definition of Inverted Totalitarism. Most countries now have features of both.
The debate about National Security State reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL.
Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):
Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...
We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.
We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…
These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...
They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.
Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?
Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.
Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…
The following link shows how connected the world is… http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm
We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…
"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.
"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”
There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...
Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...
Pretty good bet they win...
The book American Exceptionalism and Human Rights (edited by Ignatieff) raised an important and probably the most controversial question in world politics: whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it.
Following are based on the article by Laurence W. Britt published in Free Inquiry magazine
To a secular humanist, the principles of international law seems logical, right, and crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.
We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.
Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.
The following regimes can be studies in this respect: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. They constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible. Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.One can wonder how many of those are applicable to Bush/McCain. What do you think ?
Propaganda of nationalism and Exceptionalism ("shining city on the hill", beckon of democracy, etc). Prominent displays of flags and ubiquitous lapel pins. The fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy. Pride in the military, and demands for unity are way of expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a level of suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia (French fries - Freedom fries).
Disdain for the importance of human rights. Despite "freedom rhetorics" the party views human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious and truth about gulags is out, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the parties would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, such as Muslims, communists/socialists/liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Opponents of these party were inevitably labeled as terrorists stooges and dealt with accordingly.
The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites identified closely with the military. A disproportionate share of national budget is allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an ultimate expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
Sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, the party covertly views women as second-class citizens. Often are both anti-abortion and homophobic with the cover of religious values. For propaganda reasons those attitudes were masterfully blended into strong support of the fundamentalist religious sects, thus lending the party some legitimacy to cover for its abuses.
A controlled mass media. The mass media could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Control can be indirect and subtle with formal adoption of slogan about "free media". Methods included the control of licensing, access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders and owners of the mass media are part of the power elite. The result is rampant brainwashing, which usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the party's excesses.
Obsession with national security. A national security apparatus is bend to come under direct control of the ruling elite. It is used to bypass laws as a direct instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
Abuse of religion. The party attaches itself to the dominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of religious values. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with those values is swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents are “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the party is tantamount to an attack on religion.
Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
Power of organized labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Being poor was considered akin to a vice.
Disdain and suppression of intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these party. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities professors come under close scrutiny; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or scientific theories, especially economic, are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed.
Obsession with crime and punishment. Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police is often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Criminal charges sometimes are used against political opponents. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of two candidates representing the same power elite are usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, suppressing responsibilities for legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
The most recent debate about the legitimacy of national security state as exists in the USA was sparked by Edward Snowden revelations. The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about National Security State modus operandi might send a chill up your spine...
Dec 06, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.comGeneral Mattis reportedly spoke of his concerns during discussions over attacking Iran and thus fell afoul of the Washington establishment, so President Obama hastened his retirement. Foreign Policy 's Thomas Ricks reported :
Why the hurry? Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way-not because he went all "mad dog," which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, "And then what?"
Washington did have a "strategy" when it attacked Iraq, the neoconservative one. This was to intimidate the Muslim world with massive bombing, "Shock and Awe" we called it, so all Muslims would be afraid of us and then do what we ordered. Then we planted giant, billion-dollar American air bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. These would, they thought, give us hegemony over Central Asia, intimidate Russia and Iran, while Iraq would turn into a friendly, modern democracy dependent upon Washington. Other Muslim nations would then follow with democratic regimes which would co-operate and obey Washington's plans.
With the neocons discredited, no other strategy has replaced theirs except to "win" and come home. This is not unusual in our history. In past wars American "strategy" has usually been to return to the status quo ante, the prewar situation. Washington violates nearly all of Sun Tzu's dictums for success. Endless wars for little purpose and with no end strategy are thus likely to continue. They are, however, profitable or beneficial for many Washington interests.
www.moonofalabama.orgben | Dec 3, 2016 2:01:32 PM | 10
http://www.addictedtowar.com/ read the books online. don't let the books format fool you, massive thought, with footnotes.
Penelope | Dec 3, 2016 11:47:02 PM | 59
Ben @ 10, it's not the USA that's addicted to war. Rather it is the US govt AS CAPTURED BY THE OLIGARCHS. Nor is it truly an addiction, but a means to the end of a global oligarchy. It isn't enough to see the evil of US aggression. One must also understand why the international institutions which have usurped nationhood around the world are evil: Fed/IMF system, World Bank, WTO and the entire UN system to which they belong. US hegemony has never been intended as the endgame. Oligarchical global govt is-- initially as a decentralized administration which they are already trying to sell you as "multipolarity".
Dec 03, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org
james | Dec 3, 2016 11:39:28 AM | 2sst comment -psychohistorian | Dec 3, 2016 12:10:21 PM | 4
Well, if you looked at it and decided against it why am I wasting my time? "unlike the U.S. military which is used to destroys foreign cities without much thought of the aftermath" Always with the nasty, sneering, condescending attitude toward us. I remind you that it was the BRITISH army that destroyed your grandparents house, not the US Army. pl"
and the usa has learned and followed the British in so many of it's imperialist ways carrying the mantel for empire building forward into the 20th and 21st century.. enough of British or American bullshit..okie farmer | Dec 3, 2016 12:15:14 PM | 5@ james who wrote " and the usa has learned and followed the british in so many of it's imperialist ways caring the mantel for empire building forward into the 20th and 21st century.. enough of british or american bullshit."
I keep trying to point out that these nations are proxies for the global plutocrats that own private finance and everything else. That is the social cancer we need to eliminate. The British people are not all bad any more than all Americans but all of private finance is bad and has been for centuries."the state made war and war made the state."james | Dec 3, 2016 1:03:24 PM | 6
Lords of 'Pride and Plunder' by Robert Bartlett
The Crisis of the Twelfth Century: Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government by Thomas N. Bisson Princeton University Press, 677 pp., $39.50
One of the major institutions of pre-industrial society, and one that makes it hard for people in the modern Western world fully to grasp the past, is lordship. Lordship means a personal bond, reciprocal but not equal, tying inferiors to superiors, bringing the latter a power over the former that modern democratic and egalitarian ideologies would abhor. We are not accustomed to address others as "Master" or "Mistress," "My Lord" or "My Lady."
Of course modern Western societies are not communities of equals. Vast differences in wealth and access to education exist. But the world of lordship embraced and endorsed those differences. Hierarchy was a valued ideal, and some people considered themselves better born than others-remember those nineteenth-century novels with characters "of good family." The aristocrats ("aristocracy" means "rule by the best") did not court their inferiors. They ruled them, and, if they were just and well disposed, they protected them and furthered their interests. This is what "good lordship" meant. Not all lords, of course, were good. Submission to cruel, arbitrary, or unhinged masters could mean misery or death. Much of the savagery of the French Revolution is to be explained by the fact that thousands of peasants had suffered just such a submission.
Thomas Bisson's new book concerns itself with lordship, that all-pervasive institution, in a formative period of European history, the twelfth century (or rather the "long twelfth century," starting well before 1100 and continuing after 1200). It is an age that evokes for many the majesty of the great cathedrals, like Chartres and Canterbury, the rise of a new kind of intellectual inquiry, embodied in the questing spirit of Abelard or the emergence of the first universities, and the flourishing of the love lyrics of the troubadours and the tales of Arthurian romance. There is even the (now well established but initially paradoxical) notion of "the Twelfth-Century Renaissance." This book, however, presents a different, and much darker, twelfth century.
Bisson, professor of medieval history emeritus at Harvard, is one of the leading historians of the Middle Ages. His early work concentrated on Catalonia, a region with particularly rich archival sources from this period; he has continually expanded both his geographical range and the breadth of the historical questions he asks. In the 1990s he was a participant in a lively debate on the so-called "Feudal Revolution," the theory that a transformation in the patterns of power and authority took place in Europe in the decades around the year 1000. In those years it was argued that older, official, and public structures of justice and administration were replaced by new, more violent, and more localized forms, based on strongmen and their fortresses.
In his new book many of the elements of that "Feudal Revolution" recur, now extended to a later period. Bisson's summary of developments in Catalonia in the years 1020 to 1060 presents such a picture very clearly: there was "a terrifying collapse of public justice and the imposition of a new order of coercive lordship over an intimidated peasantry." Moving on into the twelfth century, the model is still recognizable: there is an "old passing world" ruled by a few nobles, and a "burgeoning new world" of "vicious men," castle-lords and knights prepared to use violence against the despised peasantry. This book is indeed an extended discussion of the issues arising from that earlier debate. Bisson acknowledges that it is "not a systematic treatise, still less a textbook," and those unfamiliar with the period may soon be lost. The book is an interpretation, an individual assessment of European history of that period, one that takes a stand on a dozen debated issues, often in implicit dialogue with other scholars. The main topics are lordship, violence, and the state.
Lordship was a building block of most societies until relatively recently -- serfdom was abolished in Russia only in 1861. Such societies were distinguished by extreme inequalities, made visible by costume and gestures, like bowing and doffing of hats, and often supported by belief in hereditary superiority and inferiority of blood. Collective groupings existed, but were not powerful, and conflict and ambition were channeled more by vertical than horizontal solidarities: retainers, servants, and other followers and dependants sought patronage from the great, not action alongside their peers. At the highest level, lesser aristocrats became followers of great aristocrats, who themselves would be competing for the ruler's favor. Costume dramas set in Tudor England, like Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth, convey some of the flavor of such a world.
It was the prevalence of lordship that complicates any discussion of the medieval state. Bisson repeatedly uses the far from standard formulations "lord-king," "lord-ruler," and even "lord-archbishop" to convey the point that every ruler of this time was also a lord, a master of men, a patriarch of some kind, possessing his position as inheritance or property, rather than (or as well as) holding it as an office-indeed, he writes, "there is no sign that European people in the twelfth century thought of lordship and office as contrasting categories."
Kings were lords, but also more than lords. Like the great barons, their power was patrimonial: that is, inherited, dynastic, based on ideas of property we might call "private." A king's kingdom was his in the same way that a baron's landed estates were his. Transmission of power was through father-to-son inheritance, not by election. Hence marriages, births, and deaths were the great punctuating points of medieval politics, not caucuses and ballots. Yet a king was also more than just the greatest of the barons. Both the Church and a long secular tradition saw him as having special duties as a ruler, duties that might be called "public."
This dualism of lordship and the state meant that medieval rulership had two distinct faces, which were close to being opposites: on the one hand, the grand promises made at coronation by kings and emperors, to ensure justice and the protection of the weak and the Church; on the other hand, the reality of being a warlord trained in mounted warfare, a leader of proud, hard men, used to wielding lethal edged weapons, and the center of a court full of envy, ambition, and suspicion.
Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries was a militarized world: it was "an age of castles," when "those astride horses and bearing weapons routinely injured or intimidated people" -- although, of course, they were still doing it in the thirteenth century, fourteenth century, fifteenth century, and beyond. The Cossacks were still doing it in the twentieth century. This raises a problem. In the absence of even a hint of dependable statistics, it is virtually impossible to weigh up the relative violence of different periods and places of the past. We know all the difficulties involved in dealing with modern crime figures; for the past we rarely have figures of any kind, but must rely on stories told by chroniclers (often ecclesiastical) and interested parties (usually plaintiffs). Historians read the laments, the individual accounts of plunder, murder, and rape, and try to assess whether this was the way life was then, or whether it simply reflects a very bad moment in that world. And while there can be little doubt that levels of violence were higher in the medieval period than in modern Western peacetime societies, we, who live in the aftermath of the worst genocidal atrocities in recorded history, should not make that claim with any complacency.
It is not difficult to gather stories of local violence and oppression from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. But if we put these twelfth-century tales alongside those of the sixth-century historian-bishop Gregory of Tours, whose History of the Franks reveals a world of monstrous cruelty, we might wonder if things had really gotten much worse in the intervening six hundred years. On one occasion, Gregory writes, a noble discovered that two of his serfs had married without his consent: he supposedly said how delighted he was that they had at least not married serfs from another lordship; he promised that he would not separate them, and then kept his word by having them buried alive together. And was the twelfth century any more full of violence than, say, late medieval France, a happy hunting ground for mercenaries and freebooters during the Hundred Years' War?
The rulers of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were trained in, and glorified, war, and expected to live off it, as well as off the tribute of a subjugated peasantry. If such rulers formed "the state" of their day, what are the implications? The state engages in violence; it takes away our property. How then does it differ from a criminal enterprise? This was a question that went back at least as far as Saint Augustine in the fourth century:
What are robber gangs, except little kingdoms? If their wickedness prospers, so that they set up fixed abodes, occupy cities and subjugate whole populations, they then can take the name of kingdom with impunity.
Augustine's ponderings stem from the worrying doubt that states and kingdoms, indeed all lawfully constituted governments, are just the most successful of the robber gangs. This idea, that the state and the criminal gang are but larger and smaller versions of the same thing, was one recurrent strand in medieval thinking. In the words of Gregory VII, the reformist pope of the eleventh century:
Who does not know that kings and dukes had their origin in men who disregarded God and, with blind desire and intolerable presumption, strove to dominate their equals, that is, other men, through pride, plunder, perfidy, homicides, and every kind of crime, under the inspiration of the lord of this world, the devil?
Westerns (like Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) often explore the thin line between the gunslinger and the sheriff, or the poignancy of the bandit turned law officer; and the thinness of that line is clear in the Middle Ages. In the fourteenth century the kings of France, wishing to concentrate their forces against the English, called upon their barons to curtail their own feuds and vendettas: "We forbid anyone to wage war (guerre) during our war (guerre)." What the king does and what the feuding nobles do is the same kind of thing-"war." Nowadays, we make a sharper distinction. For instance, in the modern world, someone who takes our property away is either a criminal or a tax collector. If the latter, then it is the state taking our property away, and most people, of most political outlooks, distinguish the lawmakers from the lawbreakers.
Traditionally the state took away people's property in order to finance war. In Charles Tilly's phrase, "the state made war and war made the state." The war-making, tax-raising state is indeed the standard, familiar political unit of modern world history. If we go back in time, do we reach a period when such an entity did not exist?
Bisson is not a scholar who throws the term "state" around freely. Indeed, the conceptual vocabulary of his book is worth a mention. On the one hand, Bisson is happy to use the traditional but deeply contested terms "feudal" and "feudalism," both of which even have entries in his glossary at the end of the book. He can write of "a massive feudalizing of England by the Normans." Some historians would do away with these concepts altogether. Even if some kinds of estates were called "fiefs" (feoda), they argue, why should that fact lead us to a characterization of a whole society? Perhaps a touch of self-questioning is visible in Bisson's embrace of the terminology: "'Feudal monarchy': is this the right concept?" he asks.
In contrast to his acceptance of this traditional terminology, Bisson has a marked tendency to use large conceptual terms with a peculiar, even personal, connotation. "Political" is an example. The bishops of this period, he says, "vied with one another for visible precedence," yet such struggles "were not political disputes; they were concerned with status, not process." A footnote refers us to an infamous incident when the archbishop of York, noticing that the archbishop of Canterbury had a seat higher than his, kicked it over and refused to be seated until he had a seat as high. Now, one might reasonably class this as a nursery tantrum, but why should not a public dispute over precedence count as "political"?
This wariness about the term "political" (usually in scare quotes in the book) is based on the idea that lordship "was personal, affective, and unpolitical in nature." Might it not be clearer to say that the politics of that time was not the same as the politics of ours? It may be that we have here an example of a recurrent dilemma, either to say that the power relations of long ago are not politics at all, or to say that they are, but that we must differentiate between medieval and modern politics. Similarly, we may say that the superior authorities of that time cannot be called states at all; or we can argue that they were, but that we must distinguish medieval and modern states.
One of the most important examples of Bisson's idiosyncratic use of general terms is his treatment of the word "government." He is reluctant even to apply the term to Norman England. "Royal lordship" was not the same thing as "government." Sometimes government is completely absent. Late-twelfth-century Europe was "an ungoverned society," although there were also "proto-governments" at this time; by the mid-thirteenth century "something like government hovered." This unwillingness to see the rulers of the central Middle Ages as constituting "governments" is to be explained partly because, in Bisson's view, the people of that time lacked any understanding of the state as distinct from lordship, but also because there are certain criteria for government, as distinct from lordship, that the rulers did not meet. He identifies three: accountability, official conduct, and social purpose.
"Accountability" is an important term in Bisson's historical vocabulary. Sometimes it means quite literally the rendering of financial accounts, like the Catalan fiscal records which Bisson himself has edited. He emphasizes the birth, in the twelfth century, of "a newly searching and flexible accountability," as simple surveys of resources and fixed revenues, which can be found from early in the Middle Ages, were supplemented by balance sheets of incoming and outgoing assets. The English Pipe Rolls, annual audits of income and expenditures of the royal sheriffs, are a classic example. The English Dialogue of the Exchequer of 1178, or thereabouts, reveals a department of government that is professional, with its own technical expertise, and (in the Dialogue) its own handbook or manual. Slightly later, in 1202, there appears what has been called "the first budget of the French monarchy."
But Bisson also uses the word in a broader sense: accountability means official responsibility, answerability. He associates it with the idea of office. Record-keeping is in fact one test of official status. And true government is "the exercise of power for social purpose," "social purpose" perhaps to be glossed here as "the common good." It is the emergence of "official conduct aimed at social purpose," linked, interestingly, with the rise of public taxation, that, for Bisson, signals the shift of the balance from lordship to government in the thirteenth century.
However, the chronology of state formation in the Middle Ages is a disputed issue. Some historians talk as if there were a stateless period at some point in the central Middle Ages. Others hold the view that, to take one notable example, the kingdom of England of the year 1000 was not only a state but a strong, centralized, and pervasive state. If taxation and a standardized coinage are, in Bisson's words, parts of "a new model of associative power" around the year 1200, then the uniform land tax and centralized currency of eleventh-century England show that that model already existed in some places two hundred years earlier.
What cannot be disputed is that over the course of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, the state became increasingly bureaucratic. The documents produced by the English government in the eleventh century could be placed on one large table (even given that monumental oddity, Domesday Book, the extensive survey of land ownership made in 1086 under William the Conqueror). The documents produced by the English government in the thirteenth century fill whole rooms and could never be read in one person's lifetime. Written records supplemented or replaced older oral forms of information gathering, testimony, or command (Michael Clanchy's 1979 masterpiece, From Memory to Written Record, analyzes this development for precociously bureaucratic England in the Norman and Plantagenet period). But more bureaucratic government does not necessarily mean less violent, or even less arbitrary, government.
Historians like bureaucracy, because it feeds their hunger for written sources, the raw material with which they work; but the bond between historians and government is deeper than that. The historical profession grew up in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in close symbiosis with government. Not only was the heart of historical study usually the archives produced by past governments, but many of the students and teachers in those generations, the first to study history as a discipline, entered government service. Charles Homer Haskins, the founding father of American medieval scholarship, was an adviser to Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
He was also the teacher of Joseph Strayer, himself the teacher of Bisson. Such academic genealogies can be overplayed, but there is no doubt that all three great medievalists, Haskins, Strayer, and Bisson, demonstrate a deep-rooted concern with the techniques and records of administration, with the procedures of the bureaucrats and officials. Strayer was as familiar with the modern as with the medieval version, since he worked for the CIA. One of his most vigorous pieces of work is entitled On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (1970; one might notice the emphasis on both the "origins" and the "modern"; we live in the modern state; its origins go back a long way, but the state of those days was not the state of ours). The book contains Strayer's cogent definition of feudalism as "public powers in private hands," with that confident assurance that these adjectives, "public" and "private," convey a simple and evident distinction that will arouse no intellectual discomfort in readers. By contrast, Bisson's book is generated in part by his wrestling with such concepts and their implications.
Bisson's book is called The Crisis of the Twelfth Century. "Crisis" means a vitally important or decisive stage in the progress of anything. But in that sense, any century of human history is a crisis. One might even say that this is simply the condition of human life-we are always in an Age of Crisis (although the situation might not always be as alarming as today's). Bisson acknowledges that "'crisis' was not a common word in the verbiage of the day," and the one instance he cites of the contemporary use of the word (in its Latin form discrimen) refers to a succession crisis in Poland in 1180. He wishes to see the various distinct political crises he discusses (such as the Saxon revolt of 1075, the communal insurrection in Laon in 1111, the "anarchy" of King Stephen's reign) as part of "the same wider crisis of multiplied knights and castles."
However, a case can be made that the levels of violence and disorder in this period were largely dictated by the patterns of high politics rather than by a deep-seated structural malaise. Disputed successions, or the accession of a child-king, could indeed upset the world of knights and castles, unleashing the strongmen and their castle-based predatory attacks. Yet a regime of knights and castles could also form the basis for fairly stable feudal monarchies, such as one sees in France and England for most of the thirteenth century. If this is so, there were, of course, crises in the twelfth century, but no Crisis.
The violence and greed of European knights of this period were directed beyond the local victims. Bisson's "long twelfth century" was not only an age of predatory lords in their castles bullying their peasantry but also an age of expansionary, one could say colonialist, violence. Christian armies, led by these predatory lords, crossed into Muslim lands, capturing Toledo in 1085, Jerusalem in 1099, and landing in North Africa in 1148; they destroyed the last remnants of West Slav paganism in the Baltic in 1168; they even turned their formidable fighting strength against their estranged Christian cousins in the Greek East, and sacked Constantinople in 1204. The energies generated in the conflicts between mounted men in the West, and the expertise they acquired in subjugating and fleecing the local peasantry, could be exported. The story of European violence is far from unique, but it was in the central Middle Ages that it took a form that shaped the subsequent history of the world.
A traditional view of the development of European society in the central Middle Ages, a view to be found in textbooks past and present, is that the empire of Charlemagne (747–814) and his successors had important elements of public authority, in the form of officials with delegated powers and courts open to all free men, but that this regime was replaced, around the year 1000, with a heavily militarized and violent world of strongmen in castles, lording it over peasants. Over the course of time this world was, in its turn, transformed by the persistent efforts of the kings of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries into a network of more centralized and bureaucratic states, which led ultimately to modern systems of government. Like every model at this level of generality, as long as people who know something about the subject have created it, there must be some truth in this picture, however little it can be the whole truth. But we might have questions. Was the "old public order" of Charlemagne and his successors so public and so ordered? Was the subsequent regime so close to anarchy?
Bisson adds to this traditional account by thinking deeply about the benefits and disadvantages of government. He is very aware of the inhumanity of the past he studies. He refers, with allusion to the words of the twelfth-century cleric John of Salisbury, to "hunter-lords." John was talking about the way that aristocrats were obsessed with the chase, but we might apply his phrase in a wider sense. Since some theorists believe that human society is imprinted with its origins in hunting packs and the mentality of the pack, the predatory lordship of the central Middle Ages could be conceived of as just such a hunting pack-but its prey being fellow human beings, rather than beasts.
Confronting this world of hunter and hunted, Bisson is inspired by attractively humane impulses. In an earlier book, Tormented Voices, a microhistorical analysis of complaints raised by Catalan peasants in the twelfth century, he stated explicitly that he was attempting "an essay in compassionate history." Likewise in this book. And he looks for public, accountable, official remedies for suffering and oppression. He seems sympathetic to the idea that "power is rightly oriented towards the social needs of people." "If ever government was the solution, not the problem," he writes, "it was so for European peoples in the twelfth century." Is the modern world so happy in its governments? Whether we should endure the violence of the state, as a defense against the yet more fearful violence of our neighbors, and whether there comes a point where the violence of the state must be resisted are great recurrent questions of moral and political life. The questions raised by Bisson's book remain open.@4 psychohistorian.. and i agree with you in that too.. it has to do with the packaging and a tendency in people to identify with the packaging - in this example 'made in the usa' as some sort of rationale for that social sickness many suffer from called 'patriotism'.. it seems to be especially prevalent in the worst nations, the usa at this point in time being the focal point for much of this marketing...psychohistorian | Dec 3, 2016 1:28:39 PM | 8@ okie farmer who added a loooong comment that contained the following about the definition of government:ben | Dec 3, 2016 2:01:32 PM | 10
He identifies three: accountability, official conduct, and social purpose.
The narrative provided did not get into a discussion of "social purpose" but I think that it is an important concept. The example I would posit is the original humanistic motto of the US, E Pluribus Unum which was instantiated by government creations of the time like the pony express....true socialism, if you need an ism to cling to. Social Security INSURANCE is another example of an instantiation of social purpose.
The original US motto was replaced by In God We Trust in the mid 1950's which, IMO, destroyed the social purpose concept of government and instead tells you to trust the leaders and religious institutions.....reversion to kings and feudalism.
You get the government you demand. What sort of world do you want to pass to the children?Why is the U$A addicted to war?
read the books online. don't let the books format fool you, massive thought, with footnotes.
The United States might claim a broader democracy than those that prevailed in Europe. On the other hand, European states mobilized their populations with an efficiency that dazzled some Americans (notably Theodore Roosevelt) and appalled others (notably Wilson). The magazine founded by pro-war intellectuals in 1914, The New Republic, took its title precisely because its editors regarded the existing American republic as anything but the hope of tomorrow.
Yet as World War I entered its third year-and the first year of Tooze's story-the balance of power was visibly tilting from Europe to America. The belligerents could no longer sustain the costs of offensive war. Cut off from world trade, Germany hunkered into a defensive siege, concentrating its attacks on weak enemies like Romania. The Western allies, and especially Britain, outfitted their forces by placing larger and larger war orders with the United States. In 1916, Britain bought more than a quarter of the engines for its new air fleet, more than half of its shell casings, more than two-thirds of its grain, and nearly all of its oil from foreign suppliers, with the United States heading the list. Britain and France paid for these purchases by floating larger and larger bond issues to American buyers-denominated in dollars, not pounds or francs. "By the end of 1916, American investors had wagered two billion dollars on an Entente victory," computes Tooze (relative to America's estimated GDP of $50 billion in 1916, the equivalent of $560 billion in today's money).
That staggering quantity of Allied purchases called forth something like a war mobilization in the United States. American factories switched from civilian to military production; American farmers planted food and fiber to feed and clothe the combatants of Europe. But unlike in 1940-41, the decision to commit so much to one side's victory in a European war was not a political decision by the U.S. government. Quite the contrary: President Wilson wished to stay out of the war entirely. He famously preferred a "peace without victory." The trouble was that by 1916, the U.S. commitment to Britain and France had grown-to borrow a phrase from the future-too big to fail.
Tooze's portrait of Woodrow Wilson is one of the most arresting novelties of his book. His Wilson is no dreamy idealist. The president's animating idea was an American exceptionalism of a now-familiar but then-startling kind. His Republican opponents-men like Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Elihu Root-wished to see America take its place among the powers of the earth. They wanted a navy, an army, a central bank, and all the other instrumentalities of power possessed by Britain, France, and Germany. These political rivals are commonly derided as "isolationists" because they mistrusted the Wilson's League of Nations project. That's a big mistake. They doubted the League because they feared it would encroach on American sovereignty. It was Wilson who wished to remain aloof from the Entente, who feared that too close an association with Britain and France would limit American options. This aloofness enraged Theodore Roosevelt, who complained that the Wilson-led United States was "sitting idle, uttering cheap platitudes, and picking up [European] trade, whilst they had poured out their blood like water in support of ideals in which, with all their hearts and souls, they believe."
Wilson was guided by a different vision: Rather than join the struggle of imperial rivalries, the United States could use its emerging power to suppress those rivalries altogether. Wilson was the first American statesman to perceive that the United States had grown, in Tooze's words, into "a power unlike any other. It had emerged, quite suddenly, as a novel kind of 'super-state,' exercising a veto over the financial and security concerns of the other major states of the world."
Wilson hoped to deploy this emerging super-power to enforce an enduring peace. His own mistakes and those of his successors doomed the project, setting in motion the disastrous events that would lead to the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, and a second and even more awful world war.
What went wrong? "When all is said and done," Tooze writes, "the answer must be sought in the failure of the United States to cooperate with the efforts of the French, British, Germans and the Japanese [leaders of the early 1920s] to stabilize a viable world economy and to establish new institutions of collective security. Given the violence they had already experienced and the risk of even greater future devastation, France, Germany, Japan, and Britain could all see this. But what was no less obvious was that only the US could anchor such a new order." And that was what Americans of the 1920s and 1930s declined to do-because doing so implied too much change at home for them: "At the hub of the rapidly evolving, American-centered world system there was a polity wedded to a conservative vision of its own future."
Widen the view, however, and the "forgotten depression" takes on a broader meaning as one of the most ominous milestones on the world's way to the Second World War. After World War II, Europe recovered largely as a result of American aid; the nation that had suffered least from the war contributed most to reconstruction. But after World War I, the money flowed the other way.
Take the case of France, which suffered more in material terms than any World War I belligerent except Belgium. Northeastern France, the country's most industrialized region in 1914, had been ravaged by war and German occupation. Millions of men in their prime were dead or crippled. On top of everything, the country was deeply in debt, owing billions to the United States and billions more to Britain. France had been a lender during the conflict too, but most of its credits had been extended to Russia, which repudiated all its foreign debts after the Revolution of 1917. The French solution was to exact reparations from Germany.
Britain was willing to relax its demands on France. But it owed the United States even more than France did. Unless it collected from France-and from Italy and all the other smaller combatants as well-it could not hope to pay its American debts.
Americans, meanwhile, were preoccupied with the problem of German recovery. How could Germany achieve political stability if it had to pay so much to France and Belgium? The Americans pressed the French to relent when it came to Germany, but insisted that their own claims be paid in full by both France and Britain.
Germany, for its part, could only pay if it could export, and especially to the world's biggest and richest consumer market, the United States. The depression of 1920 killed those export hopes. Most immediately, the economic crisis sliced American consumer demand precisely when Europe needed it most. True, World War I was not nearly as positive an experience for working Americans as World War II would be; between 1914 and 1918, for example, wages lagged behind prices. Still, millions of Americans had bought billions of dollars of small-denomination Liberty bonds. They had accumulated savings that could have been spent on imported products. Instead, many used their savings for food, rent, and mortgage interest during the hard times of 1920-21.
But the gravest harm done by the depression to postwar recovery lasted long past 1921. To appreciate that, you have to understand the reasons why U.S. monetary authorities plunged the country into depression in 1920.
Grant rightly points out that wars are usually followed by economic downturns. Such a downturn occurred in late 1918-early 1919. "Within four weeks of the Armistice, the [U.S.] War Department had canceled $2.5 billion of its then outstanding $6 billion in contracts; for perspective, $2.5 billion represented 3.3 percent of the 1918 gross national product," he observes. Even this understates the shock, because it counts only Army contracts, not Navy ones. The postwar recession checked wartime inflation, and by March 1919, the U.S. economy was growing again.
As the economy revived, workers scrambled for wage increases to offset the price inflation they'd experienced during the war. Monetary authorities, worried that inflation would revive and accelerate, made the fateful decision to slam the credit brakes, hard. Unlike the 1918 recession, that of 1920 was deliberately engineered. There was nothing invisible about it. Nor did the depression "cure itself." U.S. officials cut interest rates and relaxed credit, and the economy predictably recovered-just as it did after the similarly inflation-crushing recessions of 1974-75 and 1981-82.
But 1920-21 was an inflation-stopper with a difference. In post-World War II America, anti-inflationists have been content to stop prices from rising. In 1920-21, monetary authorities actually sought to drive prices back to their pre-war levels. They did not wholly succeed, but they succeeded well enough. One price especially concerned them: In 1913, a dollar bought a little less than one-twentieth of an ounce of gold; by 1922, it comfortably did so again.
... ... ...
The American depression of 1920 made that decision all the more difficult. The war had vaulted the United States to a new status as the world's leading creditor, the world's largest owner of gold, and, by extension, the effective custodian of the international gold standard. When the U.S. opted for massive deflation, it thrust upon every country that wished to return to the gold standard (and what respectable country would not?) an agonizing dilemma. Return to gold at 1913 values, and you would have to match U.S. deflation with an even steeper deflation of your own, accepting increased unemployment along the way. Alternatively, you could re-peg your currency to gold at a diminished rate. But that amounted to an admission that your money had permanently lost value-and that your own people, who had trusted their government with loans in local money, would receive a weaker return on their bonds than American creditors who had lent in dollars.
Britain chose the former course; pretty much everybody else chose the latter.
The consequences of these choices fill much of the second half of The Deluge. For Europeans, they were uniformly grim, and worse. But one important effect ultimately rebounded on Americans. America's determination to restore a dollar "as good as gold" not only imposed terrible hardship on war-ravaged Europe, it also threatened to flood American markets with low-cost European imports. The flip side of the Lost Generation enjoying cheap European travel with their strong dollars was German steelmakers and shipyards underpricing their American competitors with weak marks.
Such a situation also prevailed after World War II, when the U.S. acquiesced in the undervaluation of the Deutsche mark and yen to aid German and Japanese recovery. But American leaders of the 1920s weren't willing to accept this outcome. In 1921 and 1923, they raised tariffs, terminating a brief experiment with freer trade undertaken after the election of 1912. The world owed the United States billions of dollars, but the world was going to have to find another way of earning that money than selling goods to the United States.
That way was found: more debt, especially more German debt. The 1923 hyper-inflation that wiped out Germany's savers also tidied up the country's balance sheet. Post-inflation Germany looked like a very creditworthy borrower. Between 1924 and 1930, world financial flows could be simplified into a daisy chain of debt. Germans borrowed from Americans, and used the proceeds to pay reparations to the Belgians and French. The French and Belgians, in turn, repaid war debts to the British and Americans. The British then used their French and Italian debt payments to repay the United States, who set the whole crazy contraption in motion again. Everybody could see the system was crazy. Only the United States could fix it. It never did.
Peter Heather, the great British historian of Late Antiquity, explains human catastrophes with a saying of his father's, a mining engineer: "If man accumulates enough combustible material, God will provide the spark." So it happened in 1929. The Deluge that had inundated the rest of the developed world roared back upon the United States.
... ... ...
"The United States has the Earth, and Germany wants it." Thus might Hitler's war aims have been summed up by a latter-day Woodrow Wilson. From the start, the United States was Hitler's ultimate target. "In seeking to explain the urgency of Hitler's aggression, historians have underestimated his acute awareness of the threat posed to Germany, along with the rest of the European powers, by the emergence of the United States as the dominant global superpower," Tooze writes.
"The originality of National Socialism was that, rather than meekly accepting a place for Germany within a global economic order dominated by the affluent English-speaking countries, Hitler sought to mobilize the pent-up frustrations of his population to mount an epic challenge to this order." Of course, Hitler was not engaged in rational calculation. He could not accept subordination to the United States because, according to his lurid paranoia, "this would result in enslavement to the world Jewish conspiracy, and ultimately race death." He dreamed of conquering Poland, Ukraine, and Russia as a means of gaining the resources to match those of the United States.
The vast landscape in between Berlin and Moscow would become Germany's equivalent of the American west, filled with German homesteaders living comfortably on land and labor appropriated from conquered peoples-a nightmare parody of the American experience with which to challenge American power.
Could this vision have ever been realized? Tooze argues in The Wages of Destruction that Germany had already missed its chance. "In 1870, at the time of German national unification, the population of the United States and Germany was roughly equal and the total output of America, despite its enormous abundance of land and resources, was only one-third larger than that of Germany," he writes. "Just before the outbreak of World War I the American economy had expanded to roughly twice the size of that of Imperial Germany. By 1943, before the aerial bombardment had hit top gear, total American output was almost four times that of the Third Reich."
Germany was a weaker and poorer country in 1939 than it had been in 1914. Compared with Britain, let alone the United States, it lacked the basic elements of modernity: There were just 486,000 automobiles in Germany in 1932, and one-quarter of all Germans still worked as farmers as of 1925. Yet this backward land, with an income per capita comparable to contemporary "South Africa, Iran and Tunisia," wagered on a second world war even more audacious than the first.
The reckless desperation of Hitler's war provides context for the horrific crimes of his regime. Hitler's empire could not feed itself, so his invasion plan for the Soviet Union contemplated the death by starvation of 20 to 30 million Soviet urban dwellers after the invaders stole all foodstuffs for their own use. Germany lacked workers, so it plundered the labor of its conquered peoples. By 1944, foreigners constituted 20 percent of the German workforce and 33 percent of armaments workers (less than 9 percent of the population of today's liberal and multicultural Germany is foreign-born).
On paper, the Nazi empire of 1942 represented a substantial economic bloc. But pillage and slavery are not workable bases for an industrial economy. Under German rule, the output of conquered Europe collapsed. The Hitlerian vision of a united German-led Eurasia equaling the Anglo-American bloc proved a crazed and genocidal fantasy.
How the Great War Shaped the World
Aug 16, 2013 | WSJ
...Among the pertinent definitions of privacy from the Oxford English Dictionary: "freedom from disturbance or intrusion," "intended only for the use of a particular person or persons," belonging to "the property of a particular person." Also: "confidential, not to be disclosed to others." Among others, the OED quotes the playwright Arthur Miller, describing the McCarthy era: "Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration."
Privacy is connected to personhood. It has to do with intimate things-the innards of your head and heart, the workings of your mind-and the boundary between those things and the world outside.
A loss of the expectation of privacy in communications is a loss of something personal and intimate, and it will have broader implications. That is the view of Nat Hentoff, the great journalist and civil libertarian. He is 88 now and on fire on the issue of privacy. "The media has awakened," he told me. "Congress has awakened, to some extent." Both are beginning to realize "that there are particular constitutional liberty rights that [Americans] have that distinguish them from all other people, and one of them is privacy."
Mr. Hentoff sees excessive government surveillance as violative of the Fourth Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" and requires that warrants be issued only "upon probable cause . . . particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
But Mr. Hentoff sees the surveillance state as a threat to free speech, too. About a year ago he went up to Harvard to speak to a class. He asked, he recalled: "How many of you realize the connection between what's happening with the Fourth Amendment with the First Amendment?" He told the students that if citizens don't have basic privacies-firm protections against the search and seizure of your private communications, for instance-they will be left feeling "threatened." This will make citizens increasingly concerned "about what they say, and they do, and they think." It will have the effect of constricting freedom of expression. Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood. The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship.
All of a sudden, the room became quiet. "These were bright kids, interested, concerned, but they hadn't made an obvious connection about who we are as a people." We are "free citizens in a self-governing republic."
Mr. Hentoff once asked Justice William Brennan "a schoolboy's question": What is the most important amendment to the Constitution? "Brennan said the First Amendment, because all the other ones come from that. If you don't have free speech you have to be afraid, you lack a vital part of what it is to be a human being who is free to be who you want to be." Your own growth as a person will in time be constricted, because we come to know ourselves by our thoughts.
He wonders if Americans know who they are compared to what the Constitution says they are.
Mr. Hentoff's second point: An entrenched surveillance state will change and distort the balance that allows free government to function successfully. Broad and intrusive surveillance will, definitively, put government in charge. But a republic only works, Mr. Hentoff notes, if public officials know that they-and the government itself-answer to the citizens. It doesn't work, and is distorted, if the citizens must answer to the government. And that will happen more and more if the government knows-and you know-that the government has something, or some things, on you. "The bad thing is you no longer have the one thing we're supposed to have as Americans living in a self-governing republic," Mr. Hentoff said. "The people we elect are not your bosses, they are responsible to us." They must answer to us. But if they increasingly control our privacy, "suddenly they're in charge if they know what you're thinking."
This is a shift in the democratic dynamic. "If we don't have free speech then what can we do if the people who govern us have no respect for us, may indeed make life difficult for us, and in fact belittle us?"
If massive surveillance continues and grows, could it change the national character? "Yes, because it will change free speech."
What of those who say, "I have nothing to fear, I don't do anything wrong"? Mr. Hentoff suggests that's a false sense of security.
"When you have this amount of privacy invasion put into these huge data banks, who knows what will come out?"
Or can be made to come out through misunderstanding the data, or finagling, or mischief of one sort or another.
"People say, 'Well I've done nothing wrong so why should I worry?' But that's too easy a way to get out of what is in our history-constant attempts to try to change who we are as Americans."
Asked about those attempts, he mentions the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Red Scare of the 1920s and the McCarthy era. Those times and incidents, he says, were more than specific scandals or news stories, they were attempts to change our nature as a people.
What of those who say they don't care what the federal government does as long as it keeps us safe? The threat of terrorism is real, Mr. Hentoff acknowledges. Al Qaeda is still here, its networks are growing. But you have to be careful about who's running U.S. intelligence and U.S. security, and they have to be fully versed in and obey constitutional guarantees.
"There has to be somebody supervising them who knows what's right. . . . Terrorism is not going to go away. But we need someone in charge of the whole apparatus who has read the Constitution."
Advances in technology constantly up the ability of what government can do. Its technological expertise will only become deeper and broader.
"They think they're getting to how you think. The technology is such that with the masses of databases, then privacy will get even weaker."
Mr. Hentoff notes that J. Edgar Hoover didn't have all this technology. "He would be so envious of what NSA can do."
Jul 08, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
The United States already has by far the per capita largest prison population of any developed country but I am probably one of the few Americans who on this Independence Day would like to see a lot more people in prison, mostly drawn from politicians and senior bureaucrats who have long believed that their status makes them untouchable, giving them license to steal and even to kill. The sad fact is that while whistleblowers have been imprisoned for revealing government criminality, no one in the federal bureaucracy has ever actually been punished for the crimes of torture, kidnapping and assassination committed during the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies.
Why is accountability important? After the Second World War, the victorious allies believed it was important to establish responsibility for the crimes that had been committed by officials of the Axis powers. The judges at the Nuremberg Trials called the initiation of a war of aggression the ultimate war crime because it inevitably unleashed so many other evils. Ten leading Nazis were executed at Nuremberg and ninety-three Japanese officials at similar trials staged in Asia, including several guilty of waterboarding. Those who were not executed for being complicit in the actual launching of war were tried for torture of both military personnel and civilians and crimes against humanity, including the mass killing of civilians as well as of soldiers who had surrendered or been captured.
No matter how one tries to avoid making comparisons between 1939 and 2015, the American invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, precisely the type of conflict that the framework of accountability provided by Nuremberg was supposed to prevent in the years after 1946. High level US government officials knew that Iraq represented no threat to the United States but they nevertheless described an imminent danger posed by Saddam Hussein in the most graphic terms, replete with weapons of mass destruction, armed drones flying across the Atlantic, terrorists being unleashed against the homeland, and mushroom clouds on the horizon. The precedent of Iraq, even though it was an abject failure, has led to further military action against Libya and Syria to bring about "regime change" as well as a continuing conflict in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the US has been waging a largely secret "long war" against terrorists employing torture and secret prisons. The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington?
Many Americans would now consider the leading figures in the Bush Administration aided and abetted by many enablers in congress from both political parties to be unindicted war criminals. Together they ignited a global conflict that is still running strong fourteen years later with a tally of more than 7,000 dead Americans and a minimum of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis and Syrians.
War breeds more war, due largely to the fact that guilty parties in Washington who piggyback on the prevailing narrative move onward and upward, rewarded in this life even if not necessarily so in the hereafter. A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. Though not 100% accurate as I know at least a couple of honorable former senior officials who wound up teaching, it would seem to be a generalization that has considerable validity. The implication is that many senior government officials ascend to their positions based on being accommodating and "political" rather than being honest and they continue to do the same when they switch over to corporate America or the equally corrupted world of academia.
I thought of my friend's comment when I turned on the television a week ago to be confronted by the serious, somewhat intense gaze of Michael Morell, warning about the danger that ISIS will strike the US over the Fourth of July weekend. Morell, a former senior CIA official, is in the terror business. He had no evidence whatsoever that terrorists were planning an attack and should have realized that maneuvering the United States into constantly going on alert based on empty threats is precisely what militant groups tend to do.
When not fronting as a handsomely paid national security consultant for the CBS television network Morell is employed by Beacon Global Strategies as a Senior Counselor, presumably warning well-heeled clients to watch out for terrorists. His lifestyle and substantial emoluments depend on people being afraid of terrorism so they will turn to an expert like him and ask serious questions that he will answer in a serious way suggesting that Islamic militants could potentially bring about some kind of global apocalypse.
Morell, a torture apologist, also has a book out that he wants to sell, positing somewhat ridiculously that he and his former employer had been fighting The Great War of Our Time against Islamic terrorists, something comparable to the World Wars of the past century, hence the title. Morell needs to take some valium and relax. He would also benefit from a little introspection regarding the bad guys versus good guys narrative that he is peddling. His credentials as a warrior are somewhat suspect in any event as he never did any military service and his combat in the world of intelligence consisted largely of sitting behind a desk in Washington and providing briefings to George W. Bush and Barack Obama in which he presumably told them what they wanted to hear.
Morell is one of a host of pundits who are successful in selling the military-industrial-lobbyist-congressional-intelligence community line of BS on the war on terror. Throw in the neocons as the in-your-face agents provocateurs who provide instant intellectual and media credibility for developments and you have large groups of engaged individuals with good access who are on the receiving end of the seemingly unending cash pipeline that began with 9/11. Frances Townsend, who was the Bush Homeland Security adviser and who is now a consultant with CNN, is another such creature as is Michael Chertoff, formerly Director of the Department of Homeland Security, who has successfully marketed his defective airport scanners to his former employer.
But the guys and gals who are out feathering their own nests are at least comprehensible given our predatory capitalist system of government. More to the point, the gang that ordered or carried out torture and assassination are the ones who should be doing some hard time in the slammer but instead they too are riding the gravy train and cashing in. To name only a few of those who knew about the torture and ordered it carried out I would cite George Tenet, James Pavitt, Cofer Black and Jose Rodriguez from the intelligence community. The assassination program meanwhile is accredited to John Brennan, currently CIA Director, during his tenure as Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor. And then there are Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon together with John Yoo at Justice and Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice at the White House, all of whom outright lied, dissimulated and conspired their way to bring about a war of aggression against Iraq.
There are plenty of nameless others who were "only carrying out orders" and who should be included in any reckoning of America's crimes over the past fifteen years, particularly if one also considers the illegal NSA spying program headed by Michael Hayden, who defended the practice and has also referred to those who oppose enhanced interrogation torture as "interrogation deniers." And then there are Presidents Bush and Obama who certainly knew what was going on in the name of the American people as well as John Brennan, who was involved in both the torture and renditions programs as well as the more recent assassinations by drone.
So where are they now? Living in obscurity ashamed of what they did? Hardly. Not only have they not been vilified or marginalized, they have, in most cases, been rewarded. George W. Bush lives in Dallas near his Presidential Library and eponymous Think (sic) Tank. Cheney lives in semi-retirement in McLean Virginia with a multi-million dollar waterfront weekend retreat in St. Michaels Maryland, not too far from Donald Rumsfeld's similar digs.
George Tenet, the CIA Director notorious for his "slam-dunk" comment, a man who cooked the intelligence to make the Iraq war possible to curry favor with the White House, has generously remunerated positions on the boards of Allen & Company merchant bank, QinetiQ, and L-1 Identity Solutions. He sold his memoir At the Center of the Storm, which has been described as a "self-justifying apologia," in 2007 for a reported advance of $4 million. His book, ironically, admits that the US invaded Iraq for no good reason.
James Pavitt, who was the point man responsible for the "enhanced interrogation" program as Tenet's Deputy Director for Operations, is currently a principal with The Scowcroft Group and also serves on several boards. Cofer Black, who headed the Counter-Terrorism Center, which actually carried out renditions and "enhanced interrogations," was vice chairman of Blackwater Worldwide (now called Xe) and chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions, a Blackwater spin-off. He is now vice president of Blackbird Technologies, a defense and intelligence contractor. Rodriguez, who succeeded Black and in 2005 illegally destroyed video tapes made of Agency interrogations to avoid possible repercussions, is a senior vice president with Edge Consulting, a defense contractor currently owned by IBM that is located in Virginia.
John Yoo is a Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley while Condoleezza Rice, who spoke of mushroom clouds and is widely regarded as the worst National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in history, has returned to Stanford University. She is a professor at the Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy as well as a fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is occasionally spoken of as either a possible GOP presidential candidate or as a future Commissioner of the National Football League. Her interaction with students is limited, but when challenged on her record she has responded that it was a difficult situation post 9/11, something that everyone understands, though few would have come to her conclusion that attacking Iraq might be a good way to destroy al-Qaeda.
Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush Deputy Secretary of Defense, is seen by many as the "intellectual" driving force behind the invasion of Iraq. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and advises Jeb Bush on foreign policy. A bid to reward Wolfie for his zeal by giving him a huge golden parachute as President of the World Bank at a salary of $391,000 tax free failed when, after 23 months in the position, he was ousted over promoting a subordinate with whom he was having an affair. His chief deputy at the Pentagon Doug Feith left the Defense Department to take up a visiting professorship at the school of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, which was subsequently not renewed. He is reported to be again practicing law and thinking deep thoughts about his hero Edmund Burke, who no doubt would have been appalled to make Feith's acquaintance. Feith is a senior fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute and the Director of the Center for National Security Strategies. His memoir War and Decision did not make the best seller list and is now available used on Amazon for $.01 plus shipping. If the marketplace is anything to go by Feith and Tenet are running neck-and-neck on secondary book exchanges as George also can be had for $.01.
The over-rewarding of former officials who have in reality done great harm to the United States and its interests might well seem inexplicable, but it is all part of a style of bureaucracy that cannot admit failure and truly believes that all its actions are ipso facto legitimate because the executive and its minions can do no wrong. It is also a symptom of the classic American character flaw that all things are of necessity measured by money. Does anyone remember the ancient Roman symbol of republican virtue Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his farm after being named Dictator in order to defeat Rome's enemies? He then handed power back to the Senate before returning to his plowing after the job was done. The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story." George Washington was America's Cincinnatus and it is not a coincidence that officers of the continental army founded the Cincinnati Society, the nation's oldest patriotic organization, in 1783. It is also reported that Edward Snowden used the alias "Cincinnatus."
Lord Acton once observed that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." More recently essayist Edward Abbey put it in an American context, noting "Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." That senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds is a fault that is perhaps not unique to the United States but it is nevertheless unacceptable. Handing out a couple of exemplary prison sentences for the caste that believes itself untouchable would be a good place to start. An opportunity was missed with David Petraeus, who was fined and avoided jail time, and it will be interesting to see how the Dennis Hastert case develops. Hastert will no doubt be slapped on the wrist for the crime of moving around his own money while the corruption that was the source of that money, both as a legislator and lobbyist, will be ignored. As will his molestation of at least one and possibly several young boys. One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry.
Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.
Revelations about US surveillance of the global internet – and the part played by some of the biggest American internet companies in facilitating it – have stirred angst around the world.Far from being seen as the guardian of a free and open online medium, the US has been painted as an oppressor, cynically using its privileged position to spy on foreign nationals. The result, warn analysts, could well be an acceleration of a process that has been under way for some time as other countries ringfence their networks to protect their citizens' data and limit the flow of information.
"It is difficult to imagine the internet not becoming more compartmentalised and Balkanised," says Rebecca MacKinnon, an expert on online censorship. "Ten years from now, we will look back on the free and open internet" with nostalgia, she adds.
At the most obvious level, the secret data-collection efforts being conducted by the US National Security Agency threaten to give would-be censors of the internet in authoritarian countries rhetorical cover as they put their own stamp on their local networks.
But the distrust of the US that the disclosures are generating in the democratic world, including in Europe, are also likely to have an impact. From the operation of a nation's telecoms infrastructure to the regulation of the emerging cloud computing industry, changes in the architecture of networks as countries seek more control look set to cause a sea change in the broader internet.
naked capitalismFree Trade," the banner of Globalization, has not only wrecked the world's economy, it has left Western Democracy in shambles. Europe edges ever closer to deflation. The Fed dare not increase interest rates, now poised at barely above zero. As China's stock market threatened collapse, China poured billions to prop it up. It's export machine is collapsing. Not once, but twice, it recently manipulated its currency to makes its goods cheaper on the world market. What is happening?
The following two graphs tell most of the story. First, an overview of Free Trade.
Capital fled from developed countries to undeveloped countries with slave-cheap labor, countries with no environmental standards, countries with no support for collective bargaining. Corporations, like Apple, set up shop in China and other undeveloped countries. Some, like China, manipulated its currency to make exported goods to the West even cheaper. Some, like China, gave preferential tax treatment to Western firm over indigenous firms. Economists cheered as corporate efficiency unsurprisingly rose. U.S. citizens became mere consumers.
Thanks to Bill Clinton and the Financial Modernization Act, banks, now unconstrained, could peddle rigged financial services, offer insurance on its own investment products–in short, banks were free to play with everyone's money–and simply too big to fail. Credit was easy and breezy. If nasty Arabs bombed the Trade Center, why the solution was simple: Go to the shopping mall–and buy. That remarkable piece of advice is just what freedom has been all about.
Next: China's export machine sputters.
China's problem is that there are not enough orders to keep the export machine going. There comes a time when industrialized nations simply run out of cash–I mean the little people run out of cash. CEOs and those just below them–along with slick Wall Street gauchos–made bundles on Free Trade, corporate capital that could set up shop in any impoverished nation in the world.. No worries about labor–dirt cheap–or environmental regulations–just bring your gas masks. At some point the Western consumer well was bound to run dry. Credit was exhausted; the little guy could not buy anymore. Free trade was on its last legs.
So what did China do then? As its markets crashed, it tried to revive its export model, a model based on foreign firms exporting cheap goods to the West. China lowered its exchange rates, not once but twice. Then China tried to rescue the markets with cash infusion of billions. Still its market continued to crash. Manufacturing plants had closed–thousands of them. Free Trade and Globalization had run its course.
And what has the Fed been doing? Why quantitative easy–increase the money supply and lower short term interest rates. Like China's latest currency manipulation, both were merely stop-gap measures. No one, least of all Obama and his corporate advisors, was ready to address corporate outsourcing that has cost millions of jobs. Prime the pump a little, but never address the real problem.
The WTO sets the groundwork for trade among its member states. That groundwork is deeply flawed. Trade between impoverished third world countries and sophisticated first world economies is not merely a matter of regulating "dumping"-not allowing one country to flood the market with cheap goods-nor is it a matter of insuring that the each country does not favor its indigenous firms over foreign firms. Comparable labor and environmental standards are necessary. Does anyone think that a first world worker can compete with virtual slave labor? Does anyone think that a first world nation with excellent environmental regulations can compete with a third world nation that refuses to protect its environment?
Only lately has Apple even mentioned that it might clean up its mess in China. The Apple miracle has been on the backs of the Chinese poor and abysmal environmental wreckage that is China.
The WTO allows three forms of inequities-all of which encourage outsourcing: labor arbitrage, tax arbitrage, and environmental arbitrage. For a fuller explanation of these inequities and the "race to the bottom," see here.
Of course now we have the mother of all Free Trade deals –the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)– carefully wrapped in a black box so that none of us can see what finally is in store for us. Nothing is ever "Free"–even trade. I suspect that China is becoming a bit too noxious and poisonous. It simply has to deal with its massive environmental problems. Time to move the game to less despoiled and maybe more impoverished countries. Meanwhile, newscasters are always careful to tout TPP.
Fast Tracking is a con man's game. Do it so fast that the marks never have a chance to watch their wallets. In hiding negotiations from prying, public eyes, Obama, has given the con men a bigger edge: A screen to hide the corporations making deals. Their interest is in profits, not in public good.
Consider the media. Our only defense is a strong independent media. At one time, newsrooms were not required to be profitable. Reporting the news was considered a community service. Corporate ownership provided the necessary funding for its newsrooms–and did not interfere.
But the 70′s and 80′s corporate ownership required its newsrooms to be profitable. Slowly but surely, newsrooms focused on personality, entertainment, and wedge issues–always careful not to rock the corporate boat, always careful not to tread on governmental policy. Whoever thought that one major news service–Fox–would become a breeding ground for one particular party.
But consider CNN: It organizes endless GOP debates; then spends hours dissecting them. Create the news; then sell it–and be sure to spin it in the direction you want.
Are matters of substance ever discussed? When has a serious foreign policy debate ever been allowed occurred–without editorial interference from the media itself. When has trade and outsourcing been seriously discussed–other than by peripheral news media?
Meanwhile, news media becomes more and more centralized. Murdoch now owns National Geographic!
Now, thanks to Bush and Obama, we have the chilling effect of the NSA. Just whom does the NSA serve when it collects all of our digital information? Is it being used to ferret out the plans of those exercising their right of dissent? Is it being used to increase the profits of favored corporations? Why does it need all of your and my personal information–from bank accounts, to credit cards, to travel plans, to friends with whom we chat .Why is it afraid of us?
jefemt, October 23, 2015 at 9:43 am
As Mr. Buffet so keenly said it, There is a war going on, and we are winning.
If 'they' are failing, I'd hate to see success!
Isn't it the un-collective WE who are failing?
failing to organize,
failing to come up with plausible, 90 degrees off present Lemming-to-Brink path alternative plans and policies,
failing to agree on any of many plausible alternatives that might work
Divided- for now- hopefully not conquered ..
I gotta scoot and get back to Dancing with the Master Chefs
allan, October 23, 2015 at 10:03 am
Just type `TPP editorial' into news.google.com and watch a toxic sludge of straw men, misdirection, and historical revisionism flow across your screen. And the `objective' straight news reporting is no better.
Vatch, October 23, 2015 at 10:36 am
Don't just watch the toxic sludge; respond to it with a letter to the editor (LTE) of the offending publication! For some of those toxic editorials, and contact information for LTEs, see:
A few of the editorials may now be obscured by paywalls or registration requirements, but most should still be visible. Let them know that we see through their nonsense!
TedWa, October 23, 2015 at 10:38 am
"Why is it afraid of us?" Because we the people are perceived to be the enemy of America the Corporation. Whistleblowers have already stated that the NSA info is used to blackmail politicians and military leaders, provide corporate espionage to the highest payers and more devious machinations than the mind can grasp from behind a single computer. 9/11 was a coup – I say that because looking around the results tell me that.
TG, October 23, 2015 at 3:27 pm
The fourth estate (the media) has been purchased outright by the second estate (the nobility). I guess you could call this an 'estate sale'. All power to the markets!
Pelham, October 23, 2015 at 8:32 pm
Even when newsrooms were more independent they probably would not, in general, have reported on free trade with any degree of skepticism. The recent disappearance of the old firewall between the news and corporate sides has made things worse, but at least since the "professionalization" of newsrooms that began to really take hold in the '60s, journalists have tended to identify far more with their sources in power than with their readers.
There have, of course, been notable exceptions. But even these sometimes serve more to obscure the real day-to-day nature of journalism's fealty to the corporate world than to bring about any significant change.
Dec 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.orgPatrick 12.01.16 at 6:34 pm 88 "Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism. "
And the political left has been increasingly dominated by neoliberalism.
WLGR 12.01.16 at 7:02 pm 89 ( 89 )faustusnotes, to blur the divide between the neoliberal center and the socialist left is to fall totally and completely into the trap. At the end of the day Trump isn't a real national-chauvinist, the compromise term I'll settle for here instead of you-know-what. He's a backbench member of the neoliberal ruling class, and a participant in the ongoing game in which two neoliberal electoral blocs make vague rhetorical overtures toward leftism and national-chauvinism while taking turns implementing different aspects of a thoroughly neoliberal governing agenda.
The fact that all these "never Trump" Republicans are now clamoring for roles in what's predictably shaping up as a neoliberal administration with a national-chauvinist veneer should validate what the left has been saying all along: that Trump as a politician is not in any meaningful sense unprecedented, his rhetoric proceeds logically or even inevitably from the long (and bipartisan) tradition of national-chauvinist ideology in US electoral politics, and if anything the greater danger this US election season was Democrats' decision to validate and legitimize the so-called "moderate Republicans" who for decades have been laying the groundwork for Trump and all the future Trumps to come.
... ... ...
In that vein, MisterMr touches on the crucial point that fascism or national-chauvinism is a tool purposefully utilized by the liberal center to divert economic discontent that might otherwise find a home on the left.
... ... ...
Sebastian H 12.02.16 at 8:03 am 93 ( 93 )
"WLGR, where is the democratic policy statement that they are "dropping" the interests of blue collar workers?"
This isn't a clear way of analyzing the problem. Politics is about priorities. You don't need a policy statement "dropping" someone to drop them. All you have to do is make them one of your lowest priorities.
Nov 30, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on November 29, 2016 by Yves Smith By Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Originally published at TomDispatch
President-elect Donald Trump's message for the nation's senior military leadership is ambiguously unambiguous. Here is he on 60 Minutes just days after winning the election.
- Trump: "We have some great generals. We have great generals."
- Lesley Stahl: "You said you knew more than the generals about ISIS."
- Trump: "Well, I'll be honest with you, I probably do because look at the job they've done. OK, look at the job they've done. They haven't done the job."
In reality, Trump, the former reality show host, knows next to nothing about ISIS, one of many gaps in his education that his impending encounter with actual reality is likely to fill. Yet when it comes to America's generals, our president-to-be is onto something. No doubt our three- and four-star officers qualify as "great" in the sense that they mean well, work hard, and are altogether fine men and women. That they have not "done the job," however, is indisputable - at least if their job is to bring America's wars to a timely and successful conclusion.
Trump's unhappy verdict - that the senior U.S. military leadership doesn't know how to win - applies in spades to the two principal conflicts of the post-9/11 era: the Afghanistan War, now in its 16th year, and the Iraq War, launched in 2003 and (after a brief hiatus) once more grinding on. Yet the verdict applies equally to lesser theaters of conflict, largely overlooked by the American public, that in recent years have engaged the attention of U.S. forces, a list that would include conflicts in Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
Granted, our generals have demonstrated an impressive aptitude for moving pieces around on a dauntingly complex military chessboard. Brigades, battle groups, and squadrons shuttle in and out of various war zones, responding to the needs of the moment. The sheer immensity of the enterprise across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa - the sorties flown , munitions expended , the seamless deployment and redeployment of thousands of troops over thousands of miles, the vast stockpiles of material positioned, expended, and continuously resupplied - represents a staggering achievement. Measured by these or similar quantifiable outputs, America's military has excelled. No other military establishment in history could have come close to duplicating the logistical feats being performed year in, year out by the armed forces of the United States.
Nor should we overlook the resulting body count. Since the autumn of 2001, something like 370,000 combatants and noncombatants have been killed in the various theaters of operations where U.S. forces have been active. Although modest by twentieth century standards, this post-9/11 harvest of death is hardly trivial.
Yet in evaluating military operations, it's a mistake to confuse how much with how well . Only rarely do the outcomes of armed conflicts turn on comparative statistics. Ultimately, the one measure of success that really matters involves achieving war's political purposes. By that standard, victory requires not simply the defeat of the enemy, but accomplishing the nation's stated war aims, and not just in part or temporarily but definitively. Anything less constitutes failure, not to mention utter waste for taxpayers, and for those called upon to fight, it constitutes cause for mourning.
By that standard, having been "at war" for virtually the entire twenty-first century, the United States military is still looking for its first win. And however strong the disinclination to concede that Donald Trump could be right about anything, his verdict on American generalship qualifies as apt.
A Never-Ending Parade of Commanders for Wars That Never End
That verdict brings to mind three questions. First, with Trump a rare exception, why have the recurring shortcomings of America's military leadership largely escaped notice? Second, to what degree does faulty generalship suffice to explain why actual victory has proven so elusive? Third, to the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy bear directly on the outcome of our wars, how might the generals improve their game?
As to the first question, the explanation is quite simple: During protracted wars, traditional standards for measuring generalship lose their salience. Without pertinent standards, there can be no accountability. Absent accountability, failings and weaknesses escape notice. Eventually, what you've become accustomed to seems tolerable. Twenty-first century Americans inured to wars that never end have long since forgotten that bringing such conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion once defined the very essence of what generals were expected to do.
Senior military officers were presumed to possess unique expertise in designing campaigns and directing engagements. Not found among mere civilians or even among soldiers of lesser rank, this expertise provided the rationale for conferring status and authority on generals.
In earlier eras, the very structure of wars provided a relatively straightforward mechanism for testing such claims to expertise. Events on the battlefield rendered harsh judgments, creating or destroying reputations with brutal efficiency.
Back then, standards employed in evaluating generalship were clear-cut and uncompromising. Those who won battles earned fame, glory, and the gratitude of their countrymen. Those who lost battles got fired or were put out to pasture.
During the Civil War, for example, Abraham Lincoln did not need an advanced degree in strategic studies to conclude that Union generals like John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, and Joseph Hooker didn't have what it took to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Humiliating defeats sustained by the Army of the Potomac at the Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville made that obvious enough. Similarly, the victories Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman gained at Shiloh, at Vicksburg, and in the Chattanooga campaign strongly suggested that here was the team to which the president could entrust the task of bringing the Confederacy to its knees.
Today, public drunkenness , petty corruption , or sexual shenanigans with a subordinate might land generals in hot water. But as long as they avoid egregious misbehavior, senior officers charged with prosecuting America's wars are largely spared judgments of any sort. Trying hard is enough to get a passing grade.
With the country's political leaders and public conditioned to conflicts seemingly destined to drag on for years, if not decades, no one expects the current general-in-chief in Iraq or Afghanistan to bring things to a successful conclusion. His job is merely to manage the situation until he passes it along to a successor, while duly adding to his collection of personal decorations and perhaps advancing his career.
Today, for example, Army General John Nicholson commands U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. He's only the latest in a long line of senior officers to preside over that war, beginning with General Tommy Franks in 2001 and continuing with Generals Mikolashek, Barno, Eikenberry, McNeill, McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Allen, Dunford, and Campbell. The title carried by these officers changed over time. So, too, did the specifics of their "mission" as Operation Enduring Freedom evolved into Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Yet even as expectations slipped lower and lower, none of the commanders rotating through Kabul delivered. Not a single one has, in our president-elect's concise formulation, "done the job." Indeed, it's increasingly difficult to know what that job is, apart from preventing the Taliban from quite literally toppling the government.
In Iraq, meanwhile, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend currently serves as the - count 'em - ninth American to command U.S. and coalition forces in that country since the George W. Bush administration ordered the invasion of 2003. The first in that line, (once again) General Tommy Franks, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime and thereby broke Iraq. The next five, Generals Sanchez, Casey, Petraeus, Odierno, and Austin, labored for eight years to put it back together again.
At the end of 2011, President Obama declared that they had done just that and terminated the U.S. military occupation. The Islamic State soon exposed Obama's claim as specious when its militants put a U.S.-trained Iraqi army to flight and annexed large swathes of that country's territory. Following in the footsteps of his immediate predecessors Generals James Terry and Sean MacFarland, General Townsend now shoulders the task of trying to restore Iraq's status as a more or less genuinely sovereign state. He directs what the Pentagon calls Operation Inherent Resolve, dating from June 2014, the follow-on to Operation New Dawn (September 2010-December 2011), which was itself the successor to Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003-August 2010).
When and how Inherent Resolve will conclude is difficult to forecast. This much we can, however, say with some confidence: with the end nowhere in sight, General Townsend won't be its last commander. Other generals are waiting in the wings with their own careers to polish. As in Kabul, the parade of U.S. military commanders through Baghdad will continue.
For some readers, this listing of mostly forgotten names and dates may have a soporific effect. Yet it should also drive home Trump's point. The United States may today have the world's most powerful and capable military - so at least we are constantly told. Yet the record shows that it does not have a corps of senior officers who know how to translate capability into successful outcomes.
Draining Which Swamp?
That brings us to the second question: Even if commander-in-chief Trump were somehow able to identify modern day equivalents of Grant and Sherman to implement his war plans, secret or otherwise, would they deliver victory?
On that score, we would do well to entertain doubts. Although senior officers charged with running recent American wars have not exactly covered themselves in glory, it doesn't follow that their shortcomings offer the sole or even a principal explanation for why those wars have yielded such disappointing results. The truth is that some wars aren't winnable and shouldn't be fought.
So, yes, Trump's critique of American generalship possesses merit, but whether he knows it or not, the question truly demanding his attention as the incoming commander-in-chief isn't: Who should I hire (or fire) to fight my wars? Instead, far more urgent is: Does further war promise to solve any of my problems?
One mark of a successful business executive is knowing when to cut your losses. It's also the mark of a successful statesman. Trump claims to be the former. Whether his putative business savvy will translate into the world of statecraft remains to be seen. Early signs are not promising.
As a candidate, Trump vowed to "defeat radical Islamic terrorism," destroy ISIS, "decimate al-Qaeda," and "starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah." Those promises imply a significant escalation of what Americans used to call the Global War on Terrorism.
Toward that end, the incoming administration may well revive some aspects of the George W. Bush playbook, including repopulating the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and "if it's so important to the American people," reinstituting torture. The Trump administration will at least consider re-imposing sanctions on countries like Iran. It may aggressively exploit the offensive potential of cyber-weapons, betting that America's cyber-defenses will hold.
Yet President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force. In that regard, his promise to "quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS" offers a hint of what is to come. His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James ("Mad Dog") Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says. In sum, a Trump administration seems unlikely to reexamine the conviction that the problems roiling the Greater Middle East will someday, somehow yield to a U.S.-imposed military solution. Indeed, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, that conviction will deepen, with genuinely ironic implications for the Trump presidency.
In the immediate wake of 9/11, George W. Bush concocted a fantasy of American soldiers liberating oppressed Afghans and Iraqis and thereby " draining the swamp " that served to incubate anti-Western terrorism. The results achieved proved beyond disappointing, while the costs exacted in terms of lives and dollars squandered were painful indeed. Incrementally, with the passage of time, many Americans concluded that perhaps the swamp most in need of attention was not on the far side of the planet but much closer at hand - right in the imperial city nestled alongside the Potomac River.
To a very considerable extent, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, preferred candidate of the establishment, because he advertised himself as just the guy disgruntled Americans could count on to drain that swamp.
Yet here's what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place. War empowers Washington. It centralizes. It provides a rationale for federal authorities to accumulate and exercise new powers. It makes government bigger and more intrusive. It lubricates the machinery of waste, fraud, and abuse that causes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to vanish every year. When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war.
Were Trump really intent on draining that swamp - if he genuinely seeks to "Make America Great Again" - then he would extricate the United States from war. His liquidation of Trump University, which was to higher education what Freedom's Sentinel and Inherent Resolve are to modern warfare, provides a potentially instructive precedent for how to proceed.
But don't hold your breath on that one. All signs indicate that, in one fashion or another, our combative next president will perpetuate the wars he's inheriting. Trump may fancy that, as a veteran of Celebrity Apprentice (but not of military service), he possesses a special knack for spotting the next Grant or Sherman. But acting on that impulse will merely replenish the swamp in the Greater Middle East along with the one in Washington. And soon enough, those who elected him with expectations of seeing the much-despised establishment dismantled will realize that they've been had.
Which brings us, finally, to that third question: To the extent that deficiencies at the top of the military hierarchy do affect the outcome of wars, what can be done to fix the problem?
The most expeditious approach: purge all currently serving three- and four-star officers; then, make a precondition for promotion to those ranks confinement in a reeducation camp run by Iraq and Afghanistan war amputees, with a curriculum designed by Veterans for Peace . Graduation should require each student to submit an essay reflecting on these words of wisdom from U.S. Grant himself: "There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword."
True, such an approach may seem a bit draconian. But this is no time for half-measures - as even Donald Trump may eventually recognize.
DanB November 29, 2016 at 9:05 amPlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 10:21 am
As much s I have appreciated Bacevich's views over the past decade, my reaction to this is that he's asking the wrong questions. Just what would a "victory" in these imperial interventions look like? Does he really think our military is protecting our nation? I don't.Colonel Smithers November 29, 2016 at 11:37 am
I believe his point is narrower. Victory in Afghanistan and Iraq would (in the eyes of the establishment) have involved the pacification of those countries with pro-capitalist and pro-western nominally democratic governments in charge (i.e. puppets). That is what the explicit and implicit aim of those invasions was to be. The military was charged with achieving those ends, and they failed (as they've failed elsewhere). And yet, even by the criteria set by the establishment, there has been zero accountability.
And this is the double failure of Washington. You might give them some credit if they were competent imperialists. But they are the worst of all worlds. They are reckless imperialists who can't even achieve their own stated aims with a modicum of competence. Real imperialists of the past would be rolling around laughing at this lot.Foppe November 29, 2016 at 11:54 am
Thank you. Well said. You are right to make the distinction between competent, incompetent and real imperialists. My parents came to the UK from a colony in the mid-1960s and talk about the colonial officials they came across. It was the same with my grandparents. I have come across the aspiring neo-cons on the make (and on the take) in the City, marking time until they can be parachuted into a safe seat.
Few, if any, speak a foreign language and / or spent much time abroad. They give the impression of playing chess from Tory Central Office or some "think tank", but with other countries and lives of people they know nothing, much less care, about. As we watched Obama being crowned in 2009, one (an aspiring Tory MP and former central office staffer) forecasted that Obama would go down as the worst president in history and added that Bush would go down as one of the greats. I made my excuses and went home.hemeantwell November 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm
They're not imperialists, they're corporatists. Graft is the object, and given that construction companies like Halliburton and mercs like Xe don't bankroll Ds, and since bombing campaigns are easy to keep up/out of the news, the money has now shifted to drones.
As such, they're not failing, except insofar as they are losing access to markets. And that isn't really the case either, since the iraqi don't form a market that matters; whereas the notional 'rebuilding effort' - which did provide opportunities for looting - is/was pretty much over anyway, once it became impossible to deny it "failed".Crosley Bendix November 29, 2016 at 8:57 pm
I think they are imperialists in the sense that, as William Appleman Williams and others have argued, their primary orienting goal is to extend and sustain the US dominance of a world market.
If you read what US foreign policy and military planners were saying in after WW2, that's an inescapable conclusion. Your focus on the corporation takes as a given what those planners have felt they need to strategically and militarily secure. Bacevich consistently avoids this issue and so ends up promoting a naive and implicitly hopeful view of US motives and the flexibility with which they can be pursued.
It's really quite something to go back and read Dean Acheson testifying to a congressional committee that, unlike the Soviet Union, the US requires steady expansion of the world market to survive. He sounds like Rosa Luxemburg.b. November 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm
Do you have a source for that Dean Acheson quote?steelhead23 November 29, 2016 at 7:18 pm
Close but not quite there yet who benefits?
The US is a nation of racketeers, which are perfecting the corruption of services into means of converting tax revenue into private profits. Some of these services are in fact essential, all have been – at least until recently – unassailable regardless of merit. Examples are housing, education, health care, private transportation and of course "national security". The rackets trace back to the exceptional US economic circumstances of WW2, and the leading racket was well established at the end of the Eisenhower presidency (his CYA address notwithstanding).
For the "self-licking ice-cream cone" of military/security/intelligence/public safety expenditures to continue to grow exponentially, it is not only unnecessary for the tax-purchased services and goods to be functional, let alone deliver results – it is positively counterproductive. The question is not whether any captured government institution is dysfunctional, the question is merely whether and how the profitability it delivers to the "accounting control frauds" in charge of the incumbents can be increased.
There are many aspects of this particular proud strain of dysfunction capitalism – US weapon exports, "foreign aid" to Israel or Saudi Arabia, support for proxy forces, actual direct expenditure of armaments, and of course force modernization and extension are some of the many flavors. The fuel cost alone for moving men and materiel "fuels" entire industries. It would not at all be surprising to find that those 700 bases maintained – and expanded – are completely useless – if not even significant liabilities – while at the same time improving the bottom line of many suppliers. PMC's and the growing industry supporting ever-increasing logistical "needs" are another vector of the disease. Terrorism, of course, and the market for global and domestic surveillance and "public safety", is both a consequence and a pretext. The perfect racket produces its own justification while profit shares increase and "product" cost decrease.
It is the privilege of the continental US that, wedged between two oceans, a colony of the crown and a failed state, that it is largely insulated from the blowback of the various theaters of war profiteering (this is, after all, the major advantage the national security racket has over the competing domestic leeches). It stand to reason that the weaker the coupling to the fallout from profitable dysfunction, the longer trends that cannot continue will.
Iraq 2003 might well have been the last time that any of the major industries involved had any earnest intention to profit from the theater itself. Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. are in the main write-offs, pretexts that open profit channels but not part of it. It is usually ignored that the main issue China and Russia have with the US and its minion states is the abrogation of the concept of sovereign nation stages, going all the way back to Clinton's interventions in the Balkans. By accident or design, US foreign policy is one of scorched earth, preferring failed states to nations capable of resistance. This, too, is a consequence of that "splendid insulation".Seth November 29, 2016 at 9:24 pm
Bravo – spot on.JTMcPhee November 30, 2016 at 8:15 am
Yes. As Gen John Smedley Butler said, "War is a racket."steelhead23 November 29, 2016 at 7:10 pm
Thank you, b., for saying clearly what so many of us perceive dimly through the fog of propaganda, and struggle to name.
Next question: is there a prayer of catalyzing a healthier political economy, or do we ordinary people just live until we die, as best we can manage? Maybe "judiciously studying the actions" and talking learnedly about them among our percipient selves, until even that illusion of action is finally blocked?
"In the end, he found he could not help himself: He loved Big Brother."john bougearel November 30, 2016 at 7:23 am
The truth is that some wars aren't winnable and shouldn't be fought.
Success in any enterprise requires the definition of a goal. I believe that the goal of U.S. military action in MENA is two-fold: display fealty to Israel and the kings of the Arabian Peninsula; and to grow the corporate coffers of the MIC here at home. Defined in that way, the U.S. military has "hit it outta da park." Winning? Winning was a pipe dream of the likes of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Cheney knew better and took GWB along for a ride.
Let us pray that President Trump's small mind and loose tongue substantially degrades the willingness of the U.S.'s partners to continue to play along. May he make America un-great again. Amen.Kemal Erdogan November 30, 2016 at 5:51 am
In the US today, we have raised a whole generation of kids where "winning matters not." To that extent we, and our generals – whether imperialistic or corporatistic, are all "special snowflakes" that deserve "participation trophy's" so we don't cry and act out over not winning. I say give all our general's another star for starting and participating in wars that can't be won to begin with. Where participation and not winning is the objective. Three cheers: hip, hip, hooray!Lee November 29, 2016 at 10:35 am
I am highly suspicious that publicly stated goals of the wars were the actual targets. My take is that the actual goal has always been to keep those places in chaos; on US terms and under its control. with a safe US military base to punch those second-rate nations if necessary; By that measure, I believe both the Iraq and Afghan invasions were a success but they cannot pat each other's backs publicly.
However, they must now admit that they did not think the case of Iraq through, and the case of Syria is a complete failure, raising the stature of Russia to a super power again, while slowly but surely losing influence on Iraq and Egypt. But, that, arguably, could not have been realistically expected of the generals of the time to predict.NotTimothyGeithner November 29, 2016 at 11:15 am
I think that may have been his point, albeit delivered obliquely, as in his statement that "some wars should not be fought"; his quote from Grant, "There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword", as well as elsewhere in the piece.Norb November 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm
Grant's rise from drunk who couldn't get a job in 1861 and W Scott's efforts to recruit Bobby Lee, a guy who was out of the army for years by that point, are indications the general class was never particularly competent.Whine Country November 29, 2016 at 9:22 am
I think you need to re-read the post again. He is asking the right questions and provides a history lesson besides. The beginning paragraphs could be interpreted as the standard, we need victory fare, but all is designed to lead to his final prescription for action- all the while being very diplomatic and appreciative to those who serve in the military.
Drain the swamp indeed, extricate the military from our national misadventures and retire the top brass more intent on career advancement that the true needs of the nation. Problems solved and we can move on as a nation. Will the world fall apart, if true men and women of honor step forward, I highly doubt it.
Pretty radical stuff actually, but something that resonates with many people, people without a voice. Change will come from within the military, and it is refreshing to hear words of sanity form those inside the military system-Tulsi Gabbard for one.
Could Trump shake up the gridlock, we shall see. Like a toxic mine tailing pit, once the retaining walls are breached, the effluence tends to spill out very quickly.tony November 29, 2016 at 10:20 am
Silly question: Does the fault lie in our generals or in our commander in chief? Which leads to another silly question: Who does our commander in chief answer to?neo-realist November 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm
The Praetorian Guard. aka the CIA and associates.Pete November 29, 2016 at 9:24 pm
In addition to the Praetorian Guard, uber wealthy plutocrats and corporations.ambrit November 29, 2016 at 2:05 pm
The generals seem to be only as effective as the policy they are prescribed to carry out. They ultimately answer to the President. So if they're ordered to carry out an impossible task they will obviously fail and they will kick the can down the road to save their own reputations.
There isn't too much of an incentive to win if you're a careerist either which many of them are since the military is a giant welfare program/bureaucracy largely based on licking boots to advance. It might be nice to add another accolade to that fat stack of attendance ribbons on their chests but that's all it is. Also, even if you were super serious about winning the war look at what happened to Shinseki when he clashed with the civilian leadership over the numbers of troops needed to pacify Iraq post-war. He was marginalized and finally canned altogether.integer November 29, 2016 at 7:37 pm
Yes, the good doctor should resolutely shoulder the burden of "opposition party spokesman" and return to the fray. If we all took every slight and injury offered online to heart, there would be nary a rational word communicated, and, we would have much recourse to the suppressed Rogers Profanisaurus.
Besides, Upstate New York must be cold now, and the Professor spending a lot of time being housebound.Colonel Smithers November 29, 2016 at 9:38 am
I stood in James' corner once or twice as he started lashing out, as I thought he was just having a few bad days. It went on and I simply ran out of patience with him when he wrote his farewell screed and signed off with: James P. Levy , Ph.D. FRHistS, a man who never hid behind a goddamned nom de plumeWhine Country November 29, 2016 at 12:28 pm
It will be interesting to hear from readers if they have colleagues who are former service men and women. There has been an influx in the City since the crisis, but they were always there in fewer numbers. Some thrive in admin / COO roles, but many are frustrated and last no more than a couple of years. Dad retired from the Royal Air Force in March 1991 after 25 years. He found it difficult to settle in civilian life (employed as a doctor at St Mary's hospital in west London) and left at the end of 1991 for a development project in southern Africa (a year or so of being a middle class welfare junkie masquerading as a Foreign Office adviser) and twenty years working for Persian Gulf despots around MENA.weinerdog43 November 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm
I'm a Vietnam vet and I did respond but it has been ignored as usual. The point of my post was that the generals do what they are ordered to do by the commander in chief and the problem lies with whoever that is at any given time. From that flows the logical point that we elect the commander in chief and don't really pay much attention to what he orders. The fault lies with the electorate. Bacevich has made the point (as have others) that when the draft was eliminated voters no longer had skin in the game and became ambivalent which is why the founding fathers set up the system with the citizen soldier as a cornerstone principle. The president at any given time just does what he wants and the only possible means of accountability is through the voting booth. Our wars last stopped when the populace had skin in the game and made it extremely clear to Nixon that we wanted an end. We have met the enemy and he is us.Norb November 29, 2016 at 1:57 pm
The fault lies partly with the electorate, but also with Congress. For more than a decade, Charlie Rangel has been introducing bills to reinstate the draft. Crickets from Congress.
I'm a former member of the Selective Service Board, and yes, they still exist. A draft in order to be effective, cannot offer deferments (a la Dick Cheney) and still be fair. Only until those who order the wars have family members (including women) subject to a draft, will we cease our idiotic imperialist impulses.voxhumana November 29, 2016 at 5:41 pm
While all you say is true, 40 years of corporate evolution in the political sphere has changed the equation. As the last election cycle has shown, any attempt to alter current relationships will need political activism intended to change the system not just gaining office to make slight course corrections. We as a people are too far off course for that. The Vietnam era was a turning point and business interests mobilized to never let that fiasco- people power- take root again. They have been very successful in their mission, but now they have to deal with the problem of an unwanted and underused population. The unemployable if you will.
Re-instituting the draft is no longer necessary and would be counterproductive to the corporate mission. As long as our current standing army can be paid off, why bother with a draft, it is no longer necessary. You avoid the military coup problem also. Our military continues to be bought off and as long as the economic incentives supporting an excessively large military remain unchallenged, the draft is unnecessary. Unnecessary from the maintenance of corporate power that is. Corporate power must be minimized first, then talk of a draft will make more sense. What values are learned in the military today? USA has ben turned into a corporate brand.
Being poor, unemployable, or one illness away form such a fate is the new skin in the game. While national service is a force that must be worked into our social responsibilities, its true meaning for strengthening and protecting the people has been subverted into a tool for corruption. Voices within the military that call for a return to the ideal of a citizen soldier instead of a mercenary warrior is what I think Bacevich has in mind.cocomaan November 29, 2016 at 10:01 am
"now they have to deal with the problem of an unwanted and underused population. The unemployable if you will."
I call them the "discontinued."PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 10:26 am
Andrew Bacevich, as usual, writes a great article. But Grant and Sherman benefited from having a war with a clear goal: destroy the Confederate army and its government. I hesitate to call anything happening with the US in the Middle East or North Africa or SE Asia a "war" of that nature. There are no clear objectives. There are no criteria for an end of the conflict.
Instead, this looks a whole lot more like the North's occupation of the South during Reconstruction. We all know how that ended: the North had to pull itself out after an economic depression, more or less leading to a reign of terror through Jim Crow.
The United States is trying to do Reconstruction in a whole lot of spheres and is failing at that because it's generally an impossible enterprise.RUKidding November 29, 2016 at 11:11 am
I would disagree that there were no clear objectives. The objective was to turn Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, etc., in to countries like Egypt or Jordan or Indonesia – weakened pro-western (or at least western-dependent) puppets with a sheen of democratic respectability, where US corporations could roam free. I don't think there is any need to read anything else into the objectives – that is the 'ideal' for the neocons, and that was their objective, both stated and unstated.PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 11:41 am
You make a good, concise case for what the real objectives are for these unending expensive wars. Of course, this level of clarity re these goals are seldom stated to the populace at large. Rather we're mostly fed bullshit about terrrrists and being kept "safe" and other noodleheaded claptrap.
Given your definition, however, with which I agree, the Generals have still FAILED. And again, where's the accountability? There is none.
Trump plans to give himself and all the other Oligarchs, and the corporations giant tax cuts. There will be some in the middle class who experience a tax increase. Yet we're supposed to bloat the MIC budget by some huge amount for what purpose?? So Trump can build hotels, golf courses and casinos in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq? Not being all that snarky.Norb November 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm
Yes, as I said above, the neocons objective have been an abject failure. They display incompetence at all levels. And yet nobody pays the price. And the fact that the neocons don't try to fire the generals who failed (as numerous political leaders in the past have done) is a reflection of both their incompetence and the fact that the wars have become the ultimate in self licking ice creams.neo-realist November 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm
While a plan might not be 100% successful, I don't see how you characterize the neocon program an abject failure. It is chugging along just fine. If waste and chaos are states of being that directly benefit your program, they are probably 90% successful.
If war is a racket, then the good times roll on and talking about failed generals being replaced, or accountability will be served by getting hold of better generals, those sentiments must make them chuckle when they are discussing their private positions. Win/Win for the neocons.
Ordinary people make the mistake of believing that the current crop of leaders have their interests in mind at all. They do not. If Clintons Public/Private mumbo jumbo didn't clear you of that thinking I don't know what will.
The proper way to think about these things is the neocon plan is succeeding wonderfully but they are truly too short sighted- i.e. stupid in the long term- to understand the consequences. They understand short term profit completely and how to dispense physical power but little else. Consequences and payback are externalized in their world. If you live in the moment, who cares about the future. As the illuminist Karl Rove once stated, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Well, people don't stay passive actors forever. Just as nature cannot absorb carelessness forever. A day of reckoning will come- it alway does. Failure is in the mind of the beholder. It depends on perspective. As the neocons double, tripple, quadruple down on their policies, they will be able to ride the flaming mess into the ground. Think Clinton.
It is up to us- the sane- to realize the success of the neoliberal program and want out- or off- or whatever phrase makes sense. In our wars of misadventure, it will be those in the military that finally say enough is enough. If someone pulls that off, it would be viewed as the most courageous act in decades.PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 5:50 pm
In our wars of misadventure, it will be those in the military that finally say enough is enough. If someone pulls that off, it would be viewed as the most courageous act in decades.
30 years in lockup for Chelsea Manning is a warning for those, I suspect, who want to say "enough is enough." I also believe that your ability to move up the hierarchy to make those decisions to keep fighting is determined by your willingness to continue to see through the neoliberal project.Norb November 30, 2016 at 1:09 pm
I disagree to the extent that the ideological neocons had a very clearly stated and unambiguous strategic purpose – re-engineering the world as America's corporate playground, with any possible competitor (i.e. Russia and China) firmly penned in. This meant replacing all the mid-size States which were still refusing to be part of the Washington Consensus.
Its no secret or mystery about what they were seeking. In this, they have failed – Afghanistan remains in chaos, Iraq is more Iran controlled than US controlled, Iran still refuses to come to heel, and Russia and China are making increasing inroads to Central Asia, eastern Europe, Africa and South America. The neocon project is slowly unravelling, with Trump hopefully about to put it out of its misery.
The issue of war profiteering is something that I see as something entirely different. What the neocons failed to anticipate was that their Clash of Civilisations would result in a hugely powerful military-industrial process which has become self replicating. There are now more people in Washington who's job depends on finding more wars to fight than there are people employed to stop wars. This is the neocons fault, but its not the neocons project – they are just useful idiots for the profiteers.Brian M November 30, 2016 at 2:08 pm
I don't make a distinction between the neocons and the profiteers. The worst possible outcome from this neocon disaster would be for the profiteers, the rentiers, to be able to reconstitute their hold over society- or to hold onto it for that matter. What will it take, complete destruction of the biosphere for people to understand that cooperation is the only means of survival?
While I agree with what you are saying, if desiring a peaceful world is on your agenda, then every effort must be made to not allow the rentiers to take the position of, well now, we overstepped somewhat, will do better next time.
Making neat divisions is the reason humanity is in the predicament we find ourselves in the first place. We have dissected the whole into so many parts, it is no longer recognizable.
Modernity has been a dissecting force- a unifying force is needed.cocomaan November 29, 2016 at 11:40 am
I agree with so much of the analysis here. But why do people insist still (especially given his recent appointments) that Trump has any interest at all in putting "it" out of our misery? Color me skeptical.visitor November 29, 2016 at 1:44 pm
Hey Kim, as RUKidding says, I wouldn't argue that those are clear objectives, because the generals that are being talked about above aren't being told up front that they are working toward that goal.
Don't get me wrong, I think you're exactly right about those being the objectives.River November 29, 2016 at 4:44 pm
Those are the ultimate political goals and the ends of the wars - but generals are never given them as objectives in this form. Concisely, the objectives of any general are threefold:
1) destroy the enemy forces;
2) break their will to fight;
3) control the territory under dispute.
They learned that at the military academy - after all, these were the fundamental principles articulated by Carl von Clausewitz almost 200 years ago. Well, in those purely military terms, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria are total failures.
- Enemy forces destroyed? They seem inexhaustible.
- Territory controlled? Those countries have basically been "no-go" areas ever since war started.
- Breaking the enemy's will to fight? Mmmwaaahahahahaha.
Trump is correct on this point: job not done. At all.H. Alexander Ivey November 30, 2016 at 6:10 am
Glad you brought up Carl von Clausewitz. I remember the Newsweek article when Gen. Tommy Franks said there were 9 centers of gravity in Iraq. The article took this as some type of wisdom. It was clear that Franks hadn't even read the Cliff notes version of On War as there is only one center of gravity according to Carl von C in which you focus your effort on.
Probably one reason when Franks was put on the Outback Steakhouse board of directors it did so poorly and was pulled out of Canada. He was a great strategist after all /sarc.
Part of the problem with the U.S military is that the Army sees enemy #2 as the Air Force and Navy. Gotta get those dollars. Another problem is that the U.S fails at the oft quote dictum of Sun Tzu, know yourself and know your enemy.
The U.S seems to create the enemy they would like to fight rather than the one that's actually there and as a nation has no sense of self anymore. They don't understand their limitations or even their strengths it seems. It seems the Pentagon and the Gov. thinks throwing money equals effectiveness. I'd argue that the unlimited money is the problem. Actual innovation often stems from being limited in some way. Mother is the necessity of invention and all that. Look the German assault teams that were born out of desperation in the final days of WWI. This concept helped tremendously in WW2 and it wasn't unlimited money that created them.
In America's defense they are great at logistics side of war.JTMcPhee November 29, 2016 at 3:55 pm
To further this thread as to why the generals have failed:
If the point of these wars is to install a pro-Western style (aka USA business friendly) society and government, a point to which I agree is the reason for the US's fighting, then how, in God's name!, are you going to do that when the point of a military is to destroy things and kill people? (words taken from the cover of DoD's documents). The US military is not to build things and help people! The generals are asked to do what their own training prevents them and those they direct from doing.pictboy3 November 29, 2016 at 11:51 am
Generals and admirals are all adept politicians and bureaucrats. they have to be to get to that level in the structure. War-fighters, no so much, with few exceptions, https://fabiusmaximus.com/2008/01/14/millennium-challenge/ .
From all I can see, it's all about looking, emphasize "looking," STRAC, a term from my callow military youth: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=STRAC , a pejorative applied to ambitious second lieutenants and Real Lifer Troopers with those creases in their fatigues and dress greens you could cut your finger on. And sucking up. And kicking down. and feathering one's nest, both now ("Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny," https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/petraeus-scandal-puts-four-star-general-lifestyle-under-scrutiny/2012/11/17/33a14f48-3043-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html ) and "going forward" (generals never retreat - they "execute strategic rearward advances to previously prepared positions," as in "Pentagon's revolving door in full swing," http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/department-of-defenses-revolving-door-in-full-swing-098813 )
Anyone remember this 2010 bit of PowerPoint-ia? "'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war:' US generals given baffling PowerPoint presentation to try to explain Afghanistan mess," http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1269463/Afghanistan-PowerPoint-slide-Generals-left-baffled-PowerPoint-slide.html (And note the Brass Balls of the contractor, PA Knowledge Group Ltd, claiming a COPYRIGHT over this obvious work-for-hire.) This kind of stuff is the daily grist of the strategic/tactical mill that grinds out body counts, serial deployments in search of missions, and the endless floods of corrupt cash, destabilizing weapons and internal and external subterfuges, along with a lot of wry humor and a large helping of despair for the Troops and the mope civilians who "stand too close to Unlawful Enema Combatants ™".
It's long seemed to me one of the many failings of the species is that some of us produce wise counsel that actually looks to the horizon and beyond, like the fundamental questions articulated by Sun Tzu about whether to commit the peasants who pay for it to a prolonged foreign war with long supply lines that will bankrupt the nation - http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html . And then the idiot few that gain, psychically or monetarily, from conflict, blow that kind of fundamental test of wisdom off and "go to war" or more accurately "send other people to hack and blast each other while the senders get rich."
There's a fundamental problem that to me gets too little attention: What the Empire is doing is an entirely Barmicide game. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/barmecide Our rulers here in the Empire are pretty good at the procurement, deployment and logistical mechanics of Milo Minderbinder's complex Enterprise, the "war as a racket" thing, the extracting of public wealth to build shiny or stealthy or smart "systems." But as Bacevitch notes, they get to completely escape from the consequences of Only-tool-in-the-box monomania, of applying the big hammer of "War" to the subtle tasks of creating and maintaining a survivable space for the species. Which patently is not the "goal" in any event. And never answered, as pointed out, is the daring question of "what is the goal/are the goals, and what actions or refraining from actions are likely to get there?"
The talk about "asymmetric warfare" is mostly whining about little wogs who dare to adopt the wisdoms of other ambitious and thoughtful humans, like the Afghans and, yes, even ISIS, on how to defeat (within the terms of the game they are playing and understand that the Empire does NOT understand the terrain or the rules or moves) invaders and colonialists and even corporatists. Though the latter are often victorious in the after-conflict processes, if you can't clobber your enemy, corrupt him! works too.) There are wheels within wheels, of course, and "we mopes" in the Imperial homeland are too busy eking out a survival locally to even try to contemplate let alone understand the complexities of even the Middle East, let alone the Great Game being played out again with Russia and China and the aggressive and Teutonic bosses of the Eurozone All while the "defence" establishment figures out ever more exotic ways to kill humans, via code (genetic and cyber) and "smart weapons" like autonomous killing robots "on land, in air, at sea "
So is it just the inevitable case that Empires rise up, loot, murder, grow the usual huge corrupt capitals and the militaries to support the looting and keep the mopes in line, and finally succumb to some kind of wasting disease where all the corruption and interest-seeking honeycombs and finally collapses the structure? Is there no other way for humans to organize, because so many of us have the drive to dominate and to grab all the pleasure and stuff we can get away with?RUKidding November 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm
I've grown up hearing commentaries that echo this one as relating to our foreign policy adventures since WWII, and if you take a results oriented approach, they're probably true. But having gone to school for foreign policy work and talking to people who were involved with the foreign policy apparatus (doing the leg work, not the people at the top who basically have no idea what they're doing), I've become more and more convinced that it's simply incompetence.
I think that the people dictating policy are basically a bunch of Tom Friedmans, who are utterly convinced that their empirically wrong views about how policy is executed are correct. Look at Iraq in the aftermath. Not only did they get not understand that the Sunnis and Shia might not have the best of intentions towards each other, but US companies aren't even getting all the plum oil contracts. Now surely a country that guarantees the security of the Iraqi elite could ensure that it's own companies got the best deals?
I think the most probable explanation is that they believed their own propaganda. They believed that the Iraqis wanted to be a liberal democracy with a free market, and that US firms would obviously be the most competitive in a bid for the oil contracts. People like Kerry believe in the ideas of human rights and war crimes, condemning the Russians for bombing Aleppo even though we do the exact same thing with a ever so slightly less flimsy justification.PlutoniumKun November 29, 2016 at 12:53 pm
Yes, again, good points, esp in re to the fact that US companies aren't even getting the plum oil contracts. We were told by feckless Cheney via W that there would be that magical mythical Iraqi "Oil Dividend" that would not only pay for the War on Iraq – essentially giving us back the money we spent on it (conveniently ignoring the collateral damage of many US combatant deaths, and many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizen deaths, but who cares about that piddling, trifling detail) – as well as getting more besides.
Eh? And then what? Well that Dick, Cheney, got very very rich offa US taxpayer dollars, and no doubt some other Oligarchs did as well. But we never ever got paid back for our "investment" in "freeing" the Iraqi's from their oppressor, Saddam.
And that salient detail was flushed down the memory hole, and duly noted, that at least the Oligarchs did learn ONE lesson from that bullshit, which is to never ever again even go so far as to make a promise that the hapless proles in the USA will ever see one thin dime from these foreign misadventures.Ignacio November 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm
I can't talk from personal experience but I've read plenty of foreign policy publications of the type taken seriously by academics and politicians, and I'd agree with you. Some are laughably stupid, they don't know the first thing about the countries they are talking about. It wasn't just Bush jnr in 2002 who didn't know the difference between Shia and Sunni, I strongly suspect that many 'experts' consulted had only the faintest knowledge of what they were dealing with. There are a scary number of second and third rate intellects roaming around sharing their 'knowledge'.
I think the standard textbook for this should be Graham Greenes 'The Quiet American' . I've always been amazed at the prescience of that book (he pretty much predicted the arc of the Vietnam War in 1959), but I always think of the main character, Pyle, when I see yet another Middle Eastern mess. Pyle is a generally well meaning young man with far too much power, who is convinced by some academic that he has the key to sorting out the whole Vietnam mess. Needless to say, lots of innocents die because of his half baked ideas. The establishment is full of Pyles, although many I think are not quite so well meaning.Mark P. November 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm
I would like to agree with you, but I don't. First and foremost the US is the greatest spender in weapons, and why does anyone spend in weapons if there is not plan to use them? The first objective is to use the weapons and avoid piling a dusting mountain of missiles, bombs, or any other kind of armament. Many wars are mainly the testing battlefields for new weaponry. For that reason, having endless localized wars can be quite useful. Besides using it, the second objective is spread fear. I have it, I have the will to use it, and I am well trained. Spreading fear might not be the best strategy but is has clearly been one of the main objectives in some cases, particularly Iraq.
The best case of a president looking for an excuse to use the weapons and spread fear was G.W. Bush and Iraq v2.0. The fact that Bush excuses were clumsily manufactured and exposed without shame in the UN is a feature. It means: when we decide that we will attack you nothing will stop us. No democratic control and no international rules can stop us.
All the rest is palaver.voteforno6 November 29, 2016 at 10:37 am
'why does anyone spend in weapons if there is not plan to use them?'
And yet the U.S.'s recent, most stupendously expensive weapons systems are unusable. Literally , they cannot be used for most practical purposes in combat.
The F-35, for instance, has trouble flying and would be bested by air fighters of the previous generation in combat. The Littoral Combat Ship's aluminum superstructure would burn down to the waterline if ever one were hit by a missile (among other problems). And there are other projects that are almost equally ridiculous.
The point is, of course, that with their cost overruns and sheer unusability, these projects continue precisely because they're stupendously profitable. The American economic system is utterly dependent on such military Keynesianism, which is a principle means of redistribution from rich U.S. states to small ones. And consequently we live in a world reminiscent of the world of useless wepfash designers - weapons fashions designers - envisaged by Philip K. Dick's The Zap Gun.
One takeaway may be that the U.S. can either have the largest level of military Keynesianism in history or win its wars. It apparently cannot do both.Bill Smith November 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Remember when Trump threatened to fire a bunch of generals? That really upset a lot of people in Washington. Replacing a flag officer is a very complicated affair – they have a whole rotation system set up, to move them from one job to another. That's certainly reflected in the combat commands as well. They all need to check that box, in order to burnish their credentials. It seems to be just achieving that rank is the real accomplishment. Measuring their performance afterward is irrelevant – in that way, it's very similar to how CEOs are treated in the corporate world. It would be nice if Trump fired a bunch of generals, just because we have too many of them already. I don't see that happening, though.Enquiring Mind November 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm
Generals get removed. Mattis was retired a year early because he didn't get along with Obama. Whatever "get along' means. Flynn left early. Remember McChrystal?Eureka Springs November 29, 2016 at 11:03 am
Rotation may have benefits of exposure to new areas and skill development opportunities. It may also hide failures, and demonstrate the military equivalent of the "dance of the lemons" that shuffles incompetent, corrupt or lazy principals around to different schools. There is more of a meritocracy in the military, with less overt politicization, although the politics takes different forms. I write that sadly as one from a family that supports the military and has many veterans.
American discussions about military are sidetracked easily by any number of stakeholders. Politicians posture for patriotism (alliteration intended to elicit Porky Pig), while collecting campaign cash. They are only the most visible of those that would shout down or hijack any objective discussion of mission failures or weapons systems debacles such as the F-35. Their less visible neo-con enablers, dual loyalty pundits and effective taskmasters all have their snouts in the trough and their rear ends displayed to the citizens. If there is no other change in DC than to unmask those Acela bandits, then many will applaud.Jim Haygood November 29, 2016 at 1:59 pm
War is failure. Do not engage. And for dawgs sake do not arm, train, fund al Q types. I think the last point in re Trumps way of doing things will be most telling. That would be victory.a different chris November 29, 2016 at 11:04 am
Precisely. The US is situated in the safest neighborhood on the planet - oceans on two sides; Canada and Mexico on the other two. All of the other dozens of nations in the western hemisphere get along just fine without a global network of military bases and a 350-ship navy.
What the f*** is our problem? As history demonstrates, a value-subtracting global empire is an infallible recipe for economic decline.Plenue November 30, 2016 at 3:16 am
To try to look at the bright side, here's the thing about military people who are "uber hawkish", or actually managed to get a nickname like "Mad Dog" . they like decisive, "clean" (funny word to use for blowing people and the landscape to smithereens, but that's what people label it as) engagements where bad guys are taken out and good guys rejoice.
If they are, and I'm sure they are, smart enough to see that this is exactly not what the Middle East messes are, they may well tell Trump "let's just get our stuff and go home".
What we have been trying to do in the ME is not, and has never been (going back to before us, the Russians in Afghanistan) anything where a military makes any sense at all. It's police+political work at best, and despite what we've been turning the police departments into at home, police work is very, very different from military work. Hopefully the warrior types see this, whereas the Hillary Clintons of the world simply won't.
Again, no more than just hopingblert November 30, 2016 at 5:03 am
The US can win any standup fight. We quickly smashed the Taliban's military, and Saddam didn't last long at all. It's the long, grinding guerrilla war that comes after that we inevitably lose. And even there we will win 99% of the engagements (if all else fails, drop a giant bomb on them) and yet sooner or later we'll run home with our tail between our legs.Synoia November 29, 2016 at 11:14 am
Washington is addicted to gold-plated occupations. Whereas the only route to success is minimalist, an economy of force strategy. That also entails economy of injuries. Occupying forces ought to spend most of their time like Firemen - in their bunks back at the barracks. That's how success was achieved in the 19th Century. ( British Empire, American nation, French Empire. )
Such a scheme is still working wonders in South Korea. Not a whole lot of casualties that way.
Nation building is crazy all across the ummah. They won't suffer it. You would NOT believe the amount of infrastructure blown up by our Iraqi allies - as a financial hustle.
It took forever for the American Army to figure out that the reason the power system kept crashing was that the fellow building it up was corrupt and cashing in hugely by re-doing the same work five times over. He would pull security off the power grid at point X so that his cousins could dynamite the towers. Yes, he fled when the jig was up.
With his departure, the system started to work. This fiasco was an extreme embarrassement to the US Army and the Iraqi officials. The perp had his whole clan involved. (!) Yes, this story is suppressed. Guess why ?
The dollar figures involved are staggering.
There were hundreds of Shia grifters, too.Mark P. November 29, 2016 at 5:30 pm
1. The Generals have won. They are Generals.
2. The Military does not win wars, it prolongs the stalemate until the enemy's economy collapses.
3. With no public definition of win (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria), what is win?
4. The MIC is very lucrative. There are man, many winners there.blert November 29, 2016 at 11:21 am
All correct.voislav November 29, 2016 at 11:25 am
The Bush Administration arrogantly assumed that all peoples are enough alike that they can be rescued the same way as Western Europeans were - after the Nazis were driven off. This premis was an epic error for the ages. The entire Washington establishment - to include the Pentagon - and the MSM went along with this premis. In many ways they STILL buy into it.
You never read MSM articles questioning whether Iraqis or Afghans can buy into republican democracy. The assumption is that the whole world is waiting with baited breath to achieve this Western political-cultural ideal.
But Islam proscribes democracy, and these lands are emotionally Islamic in the extreme. When queried, virtually every man demands Shariah law, under Islam.
Changing Afghan culture is what doomed the Soviet 'project.' So the Pentagon was not ever going to touch cultural issues. This has proved very controvesial as Afghans practice pederasty on a grand scale. Likewise, the NATO nations were not going to 'touch' the opium trade.
They were also wholly dependent upon Pakistan for logistics. Ultimately, a second rail route was established at horrific expense across Russia. But no military specific goods could travel by that route.
So the entire campaign was both necessary - to punish al Qaeda and the Taliban - and unwinnable in a WWII sense. There never was a thought about expanding the scope of the conflict up to WWII purportions, of course.
The problem is not that of Pentagon leadership.
The folly starts at the strategic level - straight out of the White House.
It was a mistake for Bush to be so optomistic, grandiose.
It was a mistake for Obama to run away from Iraq. A corps sized garrison force would've permitted him enough influence to stop Maliki from sabotaging his own army - with crony appointments. ( The Shia simply did not have enough senior talent. So he over promoted his buddies and his tribe. This set the stage for ghost soldiers and a collapse in morale across entire divisions. )
The correct solution, in 2011, was to endure - like we have in South Korea.
The correct solution, in 2009, was to NOT expand Afghan operations. I spent many an hour arguing the folly of said expansion. It was inevitable that after any expansion there would be a massive draw down - which would destablize the Kabul government.
The correct solution for both was a steady-state, economy of operations mode - with the US Army largely standing idle in their barracks - letting the locals run all day to day operations.
You end up with the best of all worlds, low American casualties, low interference with the locals, yet a psychological back-bone for young governments – – who are financial cripples.
At this time, the best route is to cut off Pakistan from all Western aid, and to entirely stop Pakistani immigration to the West. Islamabad is as much an enemy of the West as Riyadh or Tehran.
This would also help calm Pakistan down, as it's the cultural embarrassment vis a vis the West that's driving Pakistanis crazy. Let them interact with their blood cousins, the Hindus of India. That'll be plenty enough modernity for Islamabad and Riyadh.
Pull out of Syria entirely. Stop funding al Nusrah - which is an acknowledged branch of al Qaeda. Egypt has entered the conflict on the side of Assad, Iran and Russia, most recently. The "White Hats" are a fraud.Mick Steers November 29, 2016 at 11:27 am
Comparing "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan with Civil War or such conflicts confuses the issue and shifts the responsibility from the policy makers to the military. Iraq and Afghanistan are not wars, they are occupations and as such are unwinnable.
US is caught in a typical occupation trap, where they want a subservient regime that is under their control. Subservient regimes are subservient because they lack a large power base and are dependent on their foreign backers. A subservient regime with a power base does not stay subservient for long, they quickly develop an independent streak at which point you have to overthrow them and install a different, weaker regime.
US imposed regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan are classic examples of this. Al-Maliki in Iraq was a marginal figure before becoming prime minister, similar to Karzai in Afghanistan. The new leaders, Ashraf Ghani as the new Afghan president and Haider Al-Abadi as the Iraqi prime minister are both ex-pats that only returned to the country after US occupation. Both Al-Maliki and Karzai have been in power long enough that they were starting to develop a power base and show signs of breaking away from the US, so they had to be replaced.
Stabilizing a subservient regime with a weak power base requires US presence and boots on the ground. A subservient regime with a strong power base that can support itself quickly stops being subservient and has to be replaced. A "victory", where US troops would not be necessary for the regime support, means loss of control over the regime.
So US is stuck in a loop. Political considerations force them to build up a regime to a point of independence, only to have to tear it down when it looks like it might go against American interests. US military takes the blame because they have to fight the latest insurgent group CIA built up to effect regime change.Leigh November 29, 2016 at 11:30 am
I would never gainsay that many technocratic, careerist general officers might be looking for ways to enhance their glory and bid up their asking price for CNN slots and board positions at Lockheed Martin. But the swamp you seek to drain has an apex predator; wealthy and powerful civilians. I seem to recall some generals, Eric Shinseki and Jay Garner come to mind, who tried to bring a little truth to power and avoid the biggest mistakes of the Iraq war.
Ideologues in the administration had other plans. The first being the original sin of the war itself, supported by a vast industry of defense, finance and media interests who knew opportunity when they saw it. As for now, what the hell is the mission that the military is supposed to win? I get the sense we will have our next big, proper war on account of using the military to solve problems that no military could, like say a GWOT.
Eisenhower's prophecy has metastasized so deeply into the body politic, only a profound change in the views of the citizenry could possibly make a difference. Short of economic or military upheaval, it's hard to see how do we do this when our best paying jobs are strategically sprinkled across the country, making every procurement and every base sacrosanct to even the most liberal, libertarian or even peace-nick politicians? So, isn't the swamp much larger that the military officer corps? Drain this one part, and it would fill back in rather quickly if that was the main thrust of our attack on this nightmare.
I suspect Trump is headed to the White House partly because a significant number of people concluded that social upheaval will be hastened by his administration, and that the consequences, whatever they may be, will be worth bearing so that we can rebuild on the ashes of the neoliberal/neoconservative era.
I sympathize, but with three college aged daughters, I was willing to work for, wait for, another shot at a Bernie Sanders shaped attack on the system rather than throwing a Trump grenade. Trump will only disrupt the system by accident, and absolutely unpredictably. His family's interests are superbly served by the status quo, give or take a tax break or another busted union. It's madness not to see his run for presidency as a vanity project run amok. If his cabinet and congress play him right, it's pedal to the metal for the most reactionary, avaricious, vindictive and bellicose impulses in this country.
Someone might get hurt, and with bugger all to show for it.RUKidding November 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm
Isn't victory the one thing we seek to avoid ? If there were victory anywhere, it would mean "the end", and everyone knows arm sales cannot, should not, must not, end. After all, it is the only industrial endeavor we are still good at.Colonel Smithers November 29, 2016 at 11:40 am
Yes, well there's that as well. And that's not an insignificant issue. So again, the witless proles are fed endless propaganda about terrrrrists and being "safe" in order to keep on keeping on. Trump played the rubes about safety with his vitriolic Anti-Muslim rhetoric. Although Trump claimed not to want to continue the wars, I seriously doubt he'll do one damn thing to make improvements in this regard.NotTimothyGeithner November 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm
Have readers seen / thought of the amount of decorations modern US generals and admirals wear in comparison to their WW2 equivalents? I know Uncle Sam has been in permanent war for a long time, but does beating up Grenada and Panama count? The other lot to wear a lot of bling are the welfare junkies occupying Buck House.rd November 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm
Compared to Ike and Bradley, but Beedle wrote a book where he claimed credit for single-handedly winning the war. West Point is ultimately a self selective group which poses a set of problems. What kind of kid wants to be a soldier for 30 to 40 years at age 16 when they need to start the application process? No one accidentally winds up at West Point or the other academies anymore. What kind of kid in 1810 thought he could carry on for Washington at age 16? I bet he's arrogant and loves pomp and pageantry.
I'm convinced we need to draft the officer corp from college bound seniors.Fec November 29, 2016 at 11:48 am
Only Mussolini and Goering had a leg up on MacArthur regarding bling.susan the other November 29, 2016 at 3:00 pm
From Nafeez Ahmed , last year:
Unfolding the Future of the Long War, a 2008 RAND Corporation report, was sponsored by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command's Army Capability Integration Centre. It set out US government policy options for prosecuting what it described as "the long war" against "adversaries" in "the Muslim world," who are "bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant Western dominance".Chauncey Gardiner November 29, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Interesting. Rand was enlisted to write up a report almost a decade later on a decision that was made in 2000 when Little George decided to run for office. Making it appear to have just evolved into this situation today, no doubt. Remember Rumsfeld's name for the ME war in 2002 was "Odyssey Dawn". When he first tried to call it a "Crusade" he horrified everyone and had to find something more genteel. But Odyssey Dawn clearly says it all – it will be a very long war and it will carry us around the world and we will stagger in confusion but in the end we will find our way. Not the kind of war you can win by "bombing the shit out of em," as Donald might do. The victory we will get from Odyssey Dawn will be the benefits of attrition and engagement. But the devastation we cause will never be worth it.David November 29, 2016 at 12:20 pm
Bacevich: "Yet here's what too few of those Americans appreciate, even today: war created that swamp in the first place. War empowers Washington. It centralizes. It provides a rationale for federal authorities to accumulate and exercise new powers. It makes government bigger and more intrusive. It lubricates the machinery of waste, fraud, and abuse that causes tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to vanish every year. When it comes to sustaining the swamp, nothing works better than war."
Appreciated Bacevich's three questions, particularly the second. Far past time to come clean on the real strategy in MENA. The mission and "the job" of military leaders has NOT been to bring America's wars to a timely and successful conclusion. Instead, there is a strategy to balkanize that region, keep it in chaos, keep the American people in perpetual wars and "support our troops" mode, threaten Europeans with a flood of immigrants, assure profits for the MIC and access for oil majors, and simply keep the military and other agencies occupied. "Winning a war" (and subsequent occupation) in terms of "bringing conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion" doesn't appear to be high on the priority list of those who set the nation's geopolitical and military strategy. Project for a New American Century indeed.
In terms of "draining the swamp" that war has created, as Bacevich points out, the names mentioned as prospective appointees as national security adviser and defense secretary are not cause for optimism that the incoming administration will implement policies that will lead to resolution rather than perpetuating this mess.optimader November 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm
Well, the US military's performance in WW1 and WW2, often against weak opposition, was less than stunning. They won their battles with massively superior firepower, for the most part. But many of the same criticisms that Bacevich makes could be, and indeed were, made of the Vietnam War, which is an odd omission from his article. If anything, the level of generalship then was probably worse than it is today.
But the real problem does, indeed, lie in Washington; Accepting that the US strategy in Iraq, for example, was indeed to create a pliable, pro-western democratic state, it's not clear that there was actually much the military could do when it started to unravel because of the inherent stupidity of the idea. At what the military call the "operational" level of war, there seems to have been a complete thought vacuum in Washington. I can imagine successive generals asking the political leadership "yes, but what exactly do you want me to do " and never getting a coherent answer.annie moose November 29, 2016 at 1:04 pm
Nor should we overlook the resulting body count. Since the autumn of 2001, something like 370,000 combatants and noncombatants have been killed in the various theaters of operations where U.S. forces have been active. Although modest by twentieth century standards, this post-9/11 harvest of death is hardly trivial.
figure ~$5T squandered to date
A dozen terrorism scholars gave a wide range of answers when asked to estimate how many members there are, how the numbers have changed during al Qaeda's lifespan and how many countries the group operates in. Analysts put the core membership at anywhere from 200 to 1,000
My recollection is toward the low end ( towards 200ppl) at the time of GWB addle-minded decision to pull the relatively modest special forces resources out of Tora Bora in Afghanistan that had the AlQ Principles in the crosshairs. Instead GWB pursued a bizarre and unrelated non-sequitur mission of tipping over SH in Iraq– allegedly because Saddam had threatened his Dad?
What was a reasonable response with explicit objectives to remedy a criminal act (as well at the time with fairly unanimous sympathies of other Countries) could have been accomplished with a modest Military footprint before getting the fk out of Afghanistan.
Instead it was scaled up into stupid endless Perpetual War without achievable objectives. In retrospect divide $5T by 200-1,000 and consider how little it may have cost if 9/11 had been treated as a criminal act by non-state actors, instead of sticking our foot into the role of destabilizing other sovereign countries, killing /antagonizing the citizens and generally fking up their countries??
Am I missing something here?rd November 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm
oooo ooooo hand flailing wildly I want to build the next 43 million dollar gas station!
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/11/02/pentagon-afghanistan-gas-station-boondoggle/75037032/Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg November 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm
I think the US is falling into the old imperialist trap of thinking of these places as countries with capital cities and leaders recognized as such by the population. The British had that issue in the 1770s when they captured the capital(s) of the new US but the revolution didn't stop. External superpower (French) support was able to keep the resistance functioning and the British eventually gave up. Both of those superpowers kept duking it out on other battlefields for another 30 years.
Yugoslavia was a temporary post-WW II construct based on a personality cult of Tito. When he died, the real Yugoslavia turned out to be a bunch of tribes that really, really hated each other and it all went to pieces.
North America is unusual with a huge moat around it other than a little isthmus at the south end. Even so, there are millions of illegal immigrants that come over that isthmus or cross over the southern moat (Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean) over the years. Only three countries (Mexico, US, Canada) are in play and those borders have been stable for over a century. This was after the US fought a massive civil war to keep that basic structure instead of having another country. Even so, Quebec has come close to secession, Texas and California mumble about it periodically, and Mexico effectively has a civil war with drug cartels. However, this is VERY stable compared to nearly anywhere else in the world, so it leads us to false equivalencies about how other parts of the world should work.
Putting in corrupt leaders with no popular support doesn't work as we have recently proved again in Afghanistan and Iraq after having proved it previously in Vietnam and Cuba (pre-Castro). The Afghanistan outcome may have worked better if the concept of Afghanistan disappeared and NATO had worked with each region to come up with rational boundaries based on historical tribal alliances. T.E. Lawrence had drawn a map like that for Iraq c.1918 but it did not fit the colonial power requirements.. Turkey vs. the Kurds and Iran linking with the Shiites ensured that natural map wasn't going to happen in 2003 either.
So, it is not clear what victory means in these areas. I think in many cases our concept of victory is very different than what the locals think is acceptable. It appears that Assad, Russia, and Iran may be "victorious" in Syria because it is clear they are willing to wipe out the village to save it. They may find that there is nobody left there to rule though, so they will repopulate those areas with allies, thereby probably sowing the seeds for another future war.optimader November 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm
The nearest analog to what the US is trying to do in all these places is a lot like the imposition of the Spanish Empire; total destruction of native culture and replacement with Roman forms. The places the Spanish controlled are still broken, so don't look for success in this endeavor anytime soonrd November 29, 2016 at 4:38 pm
The nearest analog to what the US is trying to do in all these places is a lot like the imposition of the Spanish Empire
At least the Spanish had a quantifiable, albeit indefensible objective (resource extraction) that drove their predatory behavior. Our quizzical form of imperialism is a net resource drag with fuzzy morphing objectivesRanger Rick November 29, 2016 at 1:33 pm
Say what you want about the British Empire, but they did leave behind functioning legal and political systems in most of the countries they controlled. In India's case, they also left them a common language since there are so many languages there. Many of the countries remained in the Commonwealth after independence which is something that none of the other colonial powers achieved.
I think the key was the British focused on empire as an extension of commerce, not ideology (they already knew they were superior, so they didn't have to prove it, which allows for pragmatism). In the end, when it was clear that they couldn't hold on, they backed out more gracefully than many other empires.rd November 29, 2016 at 2:43 pm
If there's one thing we can hope for in a Trump presidency, it's going to be Trump looking at the disaster of biblical proportions that continues to unfold in the arena of government contracting. It doesn't matter which sector his gaze falls upon, he's going to find an appalling failure in contract negotiation: the F-35, the Zumwalt, the LCS, the KC-46, the B-21 (really, just the idea of cost-plus contracts in general), the SLS, the FCC's Universal Service Fund, the EPA's Superfund, the Department of Education's "Race to the Top" and "No Child Left Behind" mandates, the ACA, the dollar value on whatever classified contract the telecommunications industry has to spy on the American people, the private contractors presently employed by the military to perform its duties - the list is endless.dcblogger November 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm
The military-industrial complex has perfected the art of putting parts of the design, manufacturing, testing, and deployment of these programs into just about Congressional District so that everybody wants their constituents to have a shot at one part of the trough.
This is how empires fall. Asymmetrical economic and military warfare against entrenched bureaucracies and corruption.jo6pac November 29, 2016 at 4:26 pm
the only way to win is to not play the gameJoaquin Closet November 29, 2016 at 5:14 pm
potus wants to make money giving speeches after office and also needs $$$$$$$$$$$ for his lieberry.
The merchants of death will hire him for those speeches and send money for lieberry.
The generals of today help the merchants of death make money so when the retire they can go to work for the merchants of death.
The idea is to never win so there is always an enemy so the merchants of death can continue to profit.
The easy way to control a country is to have chaos all the time. This makes easier to steal resources and keep citizens from pulling their own levers of justice. We only have to look at Amerika but other countries around the globe have the same going on. austerity for all.
The .01% would like to thank you for staying at each others throats.Wombat November 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm
I matriculated at one of the U.S. Military Service Academies. I had my share of classes on "War Footing," "War Strategies" and "War, War, War – The Scarlet O'Hara Doctrine." (That last one was mine and mine alone.)
And then I took the typical post-grad Naval War College assortment of "think-tanked" war symposiums. All for naught, I must say.
Then came my time in the field. Most of my peers were good soldiers, junior officers and even a few were leaders. But no one I knew had the stomach for the orders passed down – they were seen just as watered-down "march-in-place" bullshit until the next wave of senior leadership flew in.
We junior officers were in the field just as much as our men – I'd say half (or more) of my squadrons were comprised of men and women on their second, third, fourth – or more – tours of duty. I'm so glad they didn't hear the bullshit we had to listen to. In fact, to this day, my greatest gift to my men and women was the translation and humanizing effect of taking bullshit orders and making them palatable for them.
No, we haven't won a war since WWII for many reasons; but, in my humble estimation, the two biggest culprits are politics and logistics. For one, our politicians don't know what it's like to wage war, what it's like for the combatants or the civilians seemingly always caught in the middle. Or what the hell we're going to do in the off-chance that we win one of these puppies.
No, the Generals have not forgotten how to win wars – in fact, there are no generals alive now who ever had the good fortune to win one. So the Generals don't know how to win wars.
Oh, by the way – this was during Vietnam. Nothing has changed.knowbuddha November 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm
Glad to read a comment from someone with first hand experience. Generals know how to win conventional wars, where success is measured based on % enemy destroyed or seizing an objective. One could argue Norman Schwarzkopf won the 1st Gulf War, only difference is that U.S. Generals weren't left to perform humanitarian functions after. As the author eludes to - but still doesn't stray from attacking the competence of senior military leaders– without an objective can success be determined? If one's mission as a Colonel is to lead a Brigade security operation on a Forward Operating Base for a year, can he/she be successful based on the author's arbitrary standards of success? I would argue with minimal casualties and no breaches over the year, the mission would be a success, but these everyday successes are neglected. Accordingly, if a Component Combatant Commander leads coalition operations in Iraq for two years with 0.05% coalition casualties and no FOBs being breached, shouldn't that be a success?
It's too bad that General's success can't be measured like their CEO equivalents based on an quarterly earnings, instead they have to answer to often ill-informed civilian leadership being judged by vacant metrics and arbitrary standards by those like Bakevich. At least the military's top executives (Generals) make about 4x their median worker's salary. These men and women could take far better jobs in the MIC or the Corporate Realm, many I'm sure stay for noble reasons to lead their servicemembers.integer November 30, 2016 at 12:28 am
Sounds like the lament of an aging mafia don that's forgotten what he's talking about is illegal. "Why can't our generals pull off a good old-fashioned smash and grab like they used to? They must be incompetent!"
That's so last millennium. We've moved on, don. Smash & grabs are penny ante. Now the game is Full-Spectrum Dominance.
Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance
So I don't think an old-fashioned smash & grab has been the goal for a long time. For decades (ever since WWII?) we've been trying to regime change our way to the goal of every Hollywood mad scientist and super-villian: everlasting world dominance.
What have they actually accomplished? Hard to say, from my vantage point. "Insufficient data," as the old Star Trek computer said.
I know that one of the main goals is to prevent there from ever being any threat to our dominance. So while China and Russia aim for Eurasian integration, we're all about it's disintegration. We're also determined to keep the EU from ever threatening our dominance. South America is slipping the yoke, but we haven't given up.
At the very least, our generals are doing a smashing job of spreading chaos. And then there's weaponized economics.
Here in the "Homeland" (genuflects), on the "home front," in the domestic "battle space," it's important to realize that when the Pentagon says "full-spectrum dominance," that means us, comrades. Wall-to-wall surveillance? Check. POTUS power to execute or disappear dissidents? Check. Torture enshrined in secret laws and the public mind? Check.
On what level are the relevant decisions being made: public discourse, or top security? We're not privy to the councils where super secret intelligence is discussed and the big decisions are made. We're out here, on the receiving end of weapons-grade PSYOPS.
So what are we talking about, here? I don't think analyses based in kayfabe will ever arrive at real insight. Analyzing events in terms of the cover stories meant to dupe us is much ado about nothing.
The above article was published in 2000. Obama never renounced FSD. AFAIK it's still the strategy. Why doesn't the esteemed colonel frame his analysis in terms of our official defense posture? Are we any closer to FSD, or not?
But I must say, nice job of framing the debate. /s
As far as any hope for change under the new don, I don't see any. He'd have to publicly renounce FSD, wind down the empire of bases, and find something to do with all those now in its employ, all while "pivoting" to climate change and rejuvenating the economy, to actually respond to our actual conditions. The Don is many things, but a martyr for peace and Mother Earth ain't one.
I'll be impressed when the colonel starts calling our wars crimes against humanity and for their immediate cessation and full reparations. "Moar better generals" will not succeed at accomplishing a basically insane strategy. Until then, I'll file Bacevich under "modified limited hangout."ewmayer November 29, 2016 at 5:17 pm
Great comment. Thanks.Lambert Strether November 30, 2016 at 3:30 am
"But can he do anything about it?" - Don't go to war without a damn good reason seems like it might be a pretty good start. Despite his typically being all over the map on this – e.g. tough-on-terrorism-and-ISIS – I found myself repeatedly surprised during the primary season at Trump being the only major-party candidate – even including Bernie – to consistently talk good sense on Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Russia.VietnamVet November 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm
Agreed. I was surprised, too. Of course, it's the working class children in the flyover states who join the military and go to war, and come back maimed or with PTSD to a rotten job market. So that may have been politically astute on Trump's part and, if so, good for him.Synoia November 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm
Andrew Bacevich is correct if one wears blinders and looks strictly at DoD Generals. The reality is that there is a Western Imperium that is intent only on short term profits and has degenerated into looting its own people and destroying sovereign nations. The Vietnam War showed that colonial wars could not be fought with a conscript army. The volunteer US Army is too small to put a platoon of soldiers in every village and town square in Afghanistan let alone Iraq. The endless wars were unwinnable from the get go. The globalist empire is supremely efficient in looting taxpayers, trashing Deplorables and spreading regime change campaigns across the world. The forever wars are being fought by proxy forces with Western military support without a single thought for their deadly consequences to make money.medon November 29, 2016 at 11:40 pm
Let's be brutally frank. The US both wants an empire, but also wants to pretend it is encouraging democracy everywhere. Objectives where the result is deceitful and duplicitous behavior. Ask the Indians about the methods, or the beneficiaries of the "Monroe Doctrine." The British wanted an empire. A simple objective. If you are not England, you are a colony, and we, the English, make the rules. At the heart of American activities is a kernel of deceit. Self determination for people, but only if you do what we say. The kernel of deceit poisons every walk of life connected to Washington. Every single one.
The US is called the empire of chaos. It could also be called the empire of Deceit. Do as we say, but we are not taking any responsibility for you if you do what we say. Don't do what we say, and we will fund your opposition until they stuff a dagger up you ass.blert November 30, 2016 at 4:51 am
I don't understand why we're in the Middle East at all. The US seems taken by the 4000 year old, 5th grade concept of controlling the "Fertile Crescent." Why don't we just buy the oil we want at prevailing prices.
Winning for the Boykin-ites is when the Middle East becomes Christian! lol As Smedley said. "It's a racket." Whatever, then there's Israel's push to steal Palestinian gas and pipe it thru Syria and Turkey to markets in the Europe.JTMcPhee November 30, 2016 at 10:12 am
1) You've got Qatar crossed up with the West Bank.
2) Israel has plenty of its own natural gas it wants to export.
Helping out Wahhabist Qatar is not in the playbook.
Wahhabish ~ Nazisim in all but name.
They line up almost perfectly right down the line starting with pathological Jew-hatred.Davidt November 29, 2016 at 11:49 pm
HJi, blurt - Can you spell "Hasbarah"?Dick Burkhart November 30, 2016 at 4:37 am
Think about Democrats using identity politics to claim religious fervor and war used to show being strong on defense. With both political parties using corruption to align power and control at home and abroad. Choosing your enemies carefully, for you will become them.Clark Landwehr November 30, 2016 at 6:01 am
Right on, Andrew!
Let's just pull out of the Middle East and do everything we can to de-escalate these wars: especially to keep the other great powers out too, unless called back in as a true UN peacekeeping force after the locals have found a way to cool things down.fresno dan November 30, 2016 at 7:07 am
The US military was the first part of the government to be turned into a business, the first neo-liberal institution created in America. The real problem is that the US military is run by managers and not soldiers. The Germans used to make fun of the British Army in WWI by calling it an army of lions led by donkeys. The US military is an army of lions led by managers.S Haust November 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm
War on Crime.
War on Poverty.
War on Cancer.
War on Drugs.
War on Terror.
So many, many wars .so little victory.
A cynic might suggest its all a PR campaignPaul Art November 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm
Oddly enough, Tomdispatch does not appear to be on (drum roll)
Are they that stupid and careless or is it meaningful?
If Andrew is looking for a denouement to the Military Industrial complex then one need look no further than the British empire – specifically what made it shrink and shrivel very rapidly. WWI and WWII. The decimation of the economy and the inability to keep spending money to maintain empire is what reversed the entire machine. It will be the same with the US as well.
As long as the dollar is high and Wall Street keeps it that way, there will be no pressure to do anything different. When people start going hungry and jobless and start getting the bejesus bombed out of them as happened during the blitz then they begin to understand what war truly means. In America there has been no war for too long and the people here know nothing about war's sufferings and privations. There was a little window via the draft during 'Nam' but that's about it. Nothing will happen until a majority of the populace start hurting real bad.
Nov 30, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
likbez 11.29.16 at 2:17 am 6
John Quiggin on November 28, 2016:
Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism
The sustainability of tribalism as a political force will depend, in large measure, on the perceived success or failure of Brexit.
I see it differently. I think tribalism is a bad term to describe this phenomenon. In reality what we see should be properly called "far right nationalism". And in several countries this is a specific flavor of far right nationalism which is called neofascism , if we understand neofascism asneofascism = fascism – physical violence as the main tool of controlling opposition – attempts to replace parliamentary democracy with the authoritarian rule + some degree of acceptance of "unearned income" and financial oligarchy + weaker demands for social protection of middle class and Drang nach Osten
Brexit is just a symptom of growing resistance to neoliberalism, and the loss of power of neoliberal propaganda. Much like "Prague Spring" was in the past.
And the sustainability of modern far right nationalism depends mainly on continuation of austerity policies and uncontrolled neoliberal globalization with its outsourcing of local manufacturing, services and replacing well paying jobs with McJobs. Which cannot be stopped without betraying of fundamental tenets of neoliberalism as an ideology and economic theory.
Thanks to "neoliberalism achievements" far right nationalism already achieved the status of mass movement with own political party(ies) in most EU countries. Trumpism in the USA is pretty modest demonstration of the same trend in comparison with EuroMaydan (Yanukovich government was a typical corrupt neoliberal government). And first attempts might fail (as they failed in Ukraine)
In other words neoliberalism is digging its own grave, but not the way Marx assumed.
Nov 30, 2016 | www.aljazeera.comAround a decade ago, Columbia University historian Robert Paxton rightly pointed out how "a fascism of the future - an emergency response to some still unimagined crisis - need not resemble classical fascism perfectly in its outward signs and symbols ... the enemy would not necessarily be Jews.
An authentically popular fascism in America would be pious, anti-black, and, since September 11, 2001, anti-Islamic as well; in Western Europe it would be secular and, these days, more likely anti-Islamic than anti-Semitic; and in Russia and Eastern Europe it would be religious, anti-Semitic, Slavophile, and anti- Western.
New fascisms would probably prefer the mainstream patriotic dress of their own place and time." Does any of this sound familiar across the Atlantic?
Moreover, the use of labels such as "populist right" are not really helping. Populism is not an ideology. The widespread use of the term by the majority of commentators distracts from the true nature of far-right parties.
Are we then really sure that these movements moderated their agenda? In fact, they promote a narrow concept of community, that excludes all the "different" and foreigners.
There is also a sense of decline and threat that was widely exploited by interwar fascism, and by these extreme-right parties, which - after 1945 - resisted immigration on the grounds of defending the so-called "European civilization".
The future of Europe?
The future of European societies could, however, follow these specific lines: "Our European cultures, our values and our freedom are under attack. They are threatened by the crushing and dictatorial powers of the European Union. They are threatened by mass immigration, by open borders and by a single European currency," as Marcel de Graaff, co-president of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, declared.
Another fellow party, the Belgian Vlaams Belang , calls for an opposition to multiculturalism. It "defends the interests of the Dutch-speaking people wherever this is necessary", and would "dissolve Belgium and establish an independent Flemish state. This state ... will include Brussels", the current capital of the EU institutions.
The Austrian Freedom Party , on a similar line, "supports the interests of all German native speakers from the territories of the former Habsburg monarchy" and the "right of self-determination" of the German-speaking Italian bordering region of South Tyrol.
On the other hand, Marine Le Pen, president of the French National Front, promotes a principle of "national priority" for French citizens in many areas, from welfare to jobs in the public sector.
She also wants to renegotiate the European treaties and establish a " pan-European Union " including Russia.
At the end of these inward-looking changes, there will be no free movement of Europeans across Europe, and this will be replaced with a reconsolidation of the sovereignty of nation states.
Resentments among regional powers might rise again, while privileges will be based on ethnic origins - and their alleged purity. In sum, this is how Europe will probably look if one follows the "moderate" far-right policies. The dream of building the United States of Europe will become an obsolete memory of the past. And the old continent will be surely less similar to the post-national one which guaranteed peace and - relative - prosperity after the disaster of World War II.
Andrea Mammone is a historian of modern Europe at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of "Transnational Neofascism in France and Italy". He is currently writing a book on the recent nationalist turn in Europe.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
rickstersherpa November 30, 2016 11:35 am
- OPINION: It is time to protect democracy and tolerance in Europerickstersherpa, November 30, 2016 11:46 am
I note that some of your factual assumptions e.g. "Immigrants are disproportionate users of welfare" appear to be wrong and may be drawn from corrupt sources (FAIR and/or AIC, in particular Steve Camarota). See https://newrepublic.com/article/122714/immigrants-dont-drain-welfare-they-fund-it .
Exception of course are refugees (which one could say we have some moral responsibility to rescue since our 15 year war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria (since we are bombing quite a bit in Syria), and many other places has more than done or bit fan disorder and violence from which the refugees flee rather than die, ditto the children fleeing Mexico and Central America where our war on (some people) who use drugs has created both right wing Governments and drug gangs and associated violence.)
I think it is bad form when left wing sites repeat right-wing memes (falsehoods and half-truths), particularly when the new right-wing authoritarian kleptocrats who are taking over the Government are talking about rounding up, placing in concentration camps, and deporting millions of people, citizens and non-citizens alike..Beverly Mann, November 30, 2016 3:47 pm
Just out curiosity, since Mr. Kimel used the example of Iran, there was a huge Iranian immigration to the U.S. In sense they both support (since many of the these people were high skill immigrants) and rebut his point (since they came from a culture he marks as particularly "foreign" to U.S. culture. http://xpatnation.com/a-look-at-the-history-of-iranian-immigrants-in-the-u-s/ It has actually been an amazingly successful immigration, with many now millionaires (a mark of "success" that I find rather reflects the worse part of America, the presumption by Americans, Rich, Middle, or poor, that if you are not rich, you are nothing, a loser; but still it appears to be a marker that Mr. Kimel is using.
To add to Rickstersherpa's comments, I'll also point out that among the Muslim immigrants who've committed acts of terrorism in this country, none to my knowledge was on welfare nor were their parents on welfare, None.
This post is just the latest in what is now many-months-long series of white supremacist/ white nationalist posts by Kimel, whose original bailiwick at this blog was standard left-of-center economics but obviously is something close to the opposite now. He left the blog for two or three years, and came back earlier this year unrecognizable and with a vengeance. Literally.
I was a blogger here for six-and-a-half years until earlier this month, and was among regulars who comment in the Comments threads who repeatedly expressed dismay. Kimel's last few posts, lik this one, are published directly under his name. Before that Dan Crawford and run75441 were posting them for him and crediting him with the posts.
In my comments int those threads, I've suggested as you did here that this blogger belongs at Breitbart, or more accurately, you say that this blog is providing the same type of voice as Breitbart.
But at least Breitbart hasn't been known as left-of-center blog. Allowing these posts on a blog that has misleads readers into thinking, if only for a moment, that maybe this guy's saying something that you're missing, or not saying something that you think he's saying. It's really jarring.The Rage November 30, 2016 3:49 pmBeverly Mann November 30, 2016 4:34 pmThe Rage November 30, 2016 3:54 pm
Sorry, but leftists were the originators of anti-immigration. They blasted classical liberals and their "open borders" to buy talent on the market rather than "building within" and using the state to develop talent.
"right wing" Christians are some of the worst people in terms of helping the underground railroad for immigrants in the US.Jack November 30, 2016 4:24 pm
Beverly, Breitbart loves illegal immigration and wants it to stay, indeed quite illegal.
You represent the problem of modern politics. Anyone you don't agree with, you start making dialectical points rather than going under the hood to find out the point.Beverly Mann November 30, 2016 4:27 pm
Your points leave out any consideration of the cultural variabilities of this host country. Given that the USofA is a country made up of immigrants from a wide variety of places across the globe I would think that there is some benefit to varying the sources of immigration in the present given the past. Some of the cultural distinctions that you suggest as different from our own are not homogeneous within our own culture. For example, I wouldn't choose to live in some parts of the US because of the degree of antisemitism that I might find even though I am what one might call an agnostic Jew. There are many Americans that don't make that distinction.
Face it Mike, there is probably a place for just about anyone from any place that would be suitable for their emigration within the US. We don't all have to share the same values with the new comer. We don't share values amongst ourselves as it is. We've got large numbers of immigrants and their off spring from the Far East, South East Asia, Africa, South America and the middle East. We even have many Europeans. Keep in mind that that last category is made up of people who have spent the past two thousand years trying as hard as possible to kill one another. So who is to say what immigrant group is best for the US? We've been moving backwards for the past several decades. Maybe we need some new blood to get thinks going forward again.
Apparently you aren't able to distinguish between racist proclamations and fears unrelated to racism and ethnicity bias masquerading as "cultural" differences, on the one hand, and immigrants willing to work for lower wages irrespective of their race and ethnicity, on the other hand, The Rage. Even when the writer is extremely open, clear, and repetitive about his claims.
Rickstersherpa and I are able to make that distinction, and have done so.Jack, November 30, 2016 4:45 pm
CORRECTED COMMENT: Apparently, The Rage, you aren't able to distinguish between racist proclamations masquerading as "cultural" differences, on the one hand, and fears unrelated to racism and ethnicity bias, that immigrants willing to work for lower wages will put downward pressure on wages in this country, irrespective of the race and ethnicity or the immigrant willing to work for the low wages. Even when the writer is extremely open, clear, and repetitive about his claims.
Rickstersherpa and I are able to make that distinction, and have done so.
(Definitely a cut-and-paste issue there with that first comment, which I accidentally clicked "Post Comment" for before it was ready for posting.)
I will accept one category of immigrant for exclusion. No identifiable criminals allowed. We haven't always done so well on that trait. So let's do a better job of excluding those seeking admission who can be shown to be actively involved with any form of criminal behavior. That goes for Euros, Russians, Chinese, South Americans, etc. That also includes very wealthy criminals whose wealth is the result of their positions of authority in their home country.
"The fact that there is homegrown dysfunction isn't a good argument for importing more dysfunction." What manner of dysfunction beyond criminality did you have in mind?
" it makes sense to be selective, both for our sake and the sake of those who are unlikely to function well and would become alienated and unable to fend for themselves in the US." Please define "unlikely to function well" more precisely. Remember that the goal of our immigration quotas is to allow a reasonable balance of people from varying countries to achieve admission.
"To be blunt, some people have attitudes that allow them to function well in the West. Typically they are dissidents in non Western countries." That statement is generally problematic. What measure of attitude do we use here? Is it the rabble rousers that you want to give preference to? Then why only from non Western countries?
openanthcoop.ning.comFascism is authoritarian political ideology that promotes nationalism and glorifies the state. It is a totalitarian in orientation, meaning that those benefiting from the system work to exclude any challenges to state hegemony. Generally state leaders prefer a single-party state, but nascent fascism can exist in a two-party state, as in the United States with one party attempting to dominate politically in order to bring to the fore the essentialist views of its leaders.
Today this force is the Republican Party, now infiltrated by Tea Party radicals. Those views stress past values, nationalist spirit and strong cultural unity. Neo-fascists tend to exclude ideas and changes that they see as threatening their cherished value system.
They want a solidified nation that fights degeneration and decadence as defined by them. They seek a rebirth of and a return to traditional values. In the modern context it is politically incorrect to openly espouse an ideal of racial purity, so neo-fascists stress the need for cultural unity based on ancestry and past values as idealized in their exclusionist ideology.
Nonetheless, in the United States this idealized viewpoint has overtones of racism and tends to focus around Christianity as the source of needed values. For instance, one slogan of the Tea Party is "Regular Folks United – The Bully Pulpit for Regular Folks." Irregulars need not apply.
In fascism a strong leader is sought to exemplify and promote this singular collective identity. This leader and his cohort are committed to maintain national strength and are willing to wage war and create systems of national security, such as the Patriot Act, to keep the nation unified and powerful. Opposition to the state and its idealized values is defined as heretical. Militarism is defined as being essential to maintaining the nation's power and the military industrial complex becomes sacrosanct in the pursuit of national defense.
In present-day America such neo-fascist ideas are combatively percolating in national politics and are exemplified in the rhetoric of such radical figures as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, Rush Limbaugh and Michele Bachmann.
Neo-fascist rhetoric is being propagated during a time when global capitalism is creating a gaping chasm between the super rich and the masses of humanity, ecological degradation and widespread violence. Furthermore, global capitalism is advancing at a time when, according to Oxfam, by 2050, the global population is forecast to rise by one-third to more than 9 billion, while demand for food will rise even higher – by 70 percent – as more prosperous economies demand more calories and crop production continues to fall relative to population.
The British charity projects that prices of staple foods could more than double in the next 20 years, pushing millions of people deeper into poverty. The effects of a combination of population growth and the growing numbers of unemployed and impoverished people in the world is creating international crises, most recently in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen; but the emergency is global and we face a crisis of humanity. The world is a powder keg and the fuse is burning.
Fascists use this time of great upheavals and uncertainties as their raison d'etre to return to an imagined world where such problems did not exist. Uneducated people are prone to heed their simplistic slogans and ideas.
Nov 23, 2016 | ahtribune.com
Mohsen Abdelmoumen : According to you, when we see the numerous demonstrations anti-Trump in the United States after the election of Donald Trump at the presidency, are we witnessing a colored revolution?
Wayne Madsen: It is classic Soros-funded color revolution. Soros is financing MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, Demos, and other of his groups to turn out protesters and is even running ads in papers looking for paid drivers and protest coordinators.
In your very relevant books devoted to George Soros: "Soros: Quantum of Chaos", you reveal the true face of this figure who is the spearhead of several destabilization operations in the world. From where does all the power come that this criminal holds and why is he untouchable?
Soros is very wealthy and actually a frontman for an even more powerful and wealthy person, Evelyn de Rothschild, along with his family. They are all the true puppet masters of the world.
Soros remains a major element in the anti-Trump device. Can Trump resist him?
Trump is actually now being surrounded by people who will serve in his administration who will be loyal to the Soros-Rothschild puppet masters and certainly not to Trump.
Can we say that the occult world is more powerful than legal institutions?
Secret societies with their crazy rituals have been the bane of human existence since the time of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees in Palestine and the Dionysian cults of the Nile Valley and the Mediterranean region.
In your book " ISIS is US - The Shocking Truth Behind the Army of Terror", you detail the relations between the USA and ISIS/Daesh. What is the triggering element that has put you on this trail?
Trump's national security adviser retired Lt Gen Michael Flynn revealed that the US was supporting ISIS and then he was forced to resign. My own sources in the Middle East confirmed this long before Flynn made his public statement and was fired as Defense Intelligence Agency chief by Obama.
You mention Western Sahara and the involvement of the Clintons in a deal with the Kingdom of Morocco while this case is under the authority of UN. Aren't the Clintons outlaws such Bonnie and Clyde by supporting Morocco against the Sahrawi people and the UN's resolutions?
The Clintons received at least $12 million from the Moroccan government in return for buying their loyalty to Morocco's agenda, which includes permanently annexing Western Sahara as the "Southern Province." Morocco and Israel share the same policy on annexing illegally-occupied territories.
According to your diverse very interesting analysis, can we assert that the World Government or the false prophets of the New World Order are the real decision-makers of this world?
I mentioned a few already, Soros/Rothschild. Others are the Bilderbergs, Bohemian Club, and the Council on Foreign Relations and their counterparts.
You know very well some American intelligence agencies like the NSA. Do these intelligence agencies serve the US' interests or, rather, the oligarchy's interests?
The CIA has always served the interests of Wall Street. NSA now serves the interests of the global security network it leads.
You were an officer in the US Navy. Was the whistleblower you are today born after your military career or before?
Before. I was an FBI-Navy whistleblower in 1982 and helped to uncover a major pedophile ring in the US Navy that reached into the Reagan-Bush White House and was ultimately exposed in The Washington Times in 1988-89. My whistleblowing cost me my Navy career, however, and a subsequent series of fairly bad jobs.
In the recent US election, we saw the mass media bankruptcy despite their manipulations and their fake polls. Didn't one of the pillars of world oligarchy collapse under our eyes? Don't we witness a historic moment announcing the end of the New World Order and its purely capitalist product, globalization?
99 percent of major newspapers endorsed Clinton. Many alternative news sources supported Trump. We are seeing a massive shift away from newspapers and corporate TV and websites to the alternative media, of which WayneMadsenReport.com has been prominent since its founding in 2005.
Snowden has denounced the Prism program and you have denounced Echelon, both of which serve the interests of the world's oligarchic caste. What is known is not only the immersed part of the iceberg?
What is still relatively unknown is the close cooperation between NSA and private companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and major telecommunications companies. It is much greater than even Snowden's documents describe.
The quantity and especially the quality of your reports reveal to us a world unknown by millions of human beings. How all these truths have been hidden?
The major media cooperates with the government in covering up news events.
I advise everyone to read the Wayne Madsen Report as well as your books and follow your various interventions in the alternative media. How do you explain that we, who are resisting to what I call the fascist oligarchic caste, are called conspiracy theorists? Is this concept the only weapon of the fascist imperialists to reduce to silence all those who resist them and to reinforce the ranks of those whose who have been brainwashed?
The term conspiracy theorist was developed by the CIA in the mid-1960s to ridicule those who believed there was a wide government role in the assassination of President Kennedy. It has been used ever since to describe legitimate researchers into Iran-Contra, 9/11, and other deep state crimes.
Your book " The Star and The Sword " is one of the few to talk about intimate and opaque links between the Zionist entity of Israel and Saudi Arabia. You claim that they organize false flag attacks, including the 9/11. What is the origin and nature of this Israeli-Saudi strategic alliance? Do you think that the JASTA law will succeed or will it be countered by the Zionist allies of Saudi Arabia? Do the fact that the USA and the Westerners turn a blind eye on the criminal war led by the Saudis to Yemen isn't due to the weight of the lobby Zionist?
The Zionist-Wahhabi/Saudi alliance goes back to Ibn Saud who wrote the British and Zionist leaders that he did not oppose a Jewish homeland in Palestine so long as it did not lay claim to Saudi territory on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. The relationship has always been close, except for the time of King Faisal, who was conveniently shot in the face and killed by a relative.
Do you undergo pressure or threats in relation to the remarkable work you do? If so, how do you live it?
I was forced to move my domicile from Washington because the outgoing Obama administration put pressure on some media organizations I did work for. These included RT (contributor agreement canceled) and Al Jazeera America (which is now defunct).
The FBI entered my apartment in Washington at least twice and I've had three visits by them at my new home in Florida. I was informed of 3 personal threats in Washington. I ignore all these pressures and continue to exercise the freedom of the press. Are you optimistic or do you think that the Satanist project of the oligarchy still has a nuisance capacity that can plunge the world into chaos?
As with cockroaches, which detest light, the shadow figures of covert power cannot stand what is known as the disinfectant of sunshine. Light has always fought against darkness and will continue to do so.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Wayne Madsen is an American journalist, television news commentator, online editor of Wayne Madsen Report.com , investigative journalist and author specializing intelligence and international affairs.Starting in 1997, after his military service as a U.S. Navy lieutenant assigned to Anti-Submarine Warfare duties and to the National Security Agency as a COMSEC analyst, he applied his military intelligence training to investigative journalism.He has since written for many daily, weekly, and monthly publications including The Progressive , The Village Voice , Counterpunch , Philadelphia Inquirer , Houston Chronicle , Allentown Morning Call , Juneau Empire , Cleveland Plain Dealer , Real Clear Politics , Danbury Newstimes , Newsday and many others.Throughout his journalistic career, he has been a television commentator on many programs, including 60 Minutes , Russia Today , Press TV , and many others.He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC , NBC , CBS , PBS , CNN , BBC , Al Jazeera , and MS-NBC .
He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and a terrorism investigation judicial inquiry of the French government. Wayne Madsen has some thirty-five years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation. Wayne Madsen was a Senior Fellow for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy public advocacy organization. Mr. Madsen is a member of the National Press Club.
Wayne Madsen is the author of The Handbook of Personal Data Protection (London: Macmillan, 1992), an acclaimed reference book on international data protection law; Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999 (Edwin Mellen Press, 1999); co-author of America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II ( Dandelion, 2003); Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for bin Laden ; author of Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plates ; Overthrow a Fascist Regime on $15 a Day ; The star and the sword ; The Manufacturing of a President: the CIA's Insertion of Barack H. Obama, Jr. into the White House ; L'Affaire Petraeus ; and National Security Agency Surveillance: Reflections and Revelations ; Soros: Quantum of Chaos (2015); Unmasking ISIS: The Shocking Truth (2016).
His website: http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/
Nov 25, 2016 | www.activistpost.com
Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. It's been 53 years since the assassination. Since that fateful November day, conspiracy theories have abounded. However, when we sift through the disinformation and look at only verifiable facts, we find no need for theories - as the conspiracy was a fact.
In 2015, while the world debated the Kardashians and Miss Universe, the CIA quietly declassified a report showing that former CIA director John McCone was complicit in withholding information regarding the assassination – a de facto conspiracy.
As Politico noted, according to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a "benign cover-up" at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on "what the Agency believed at the time was the 'best truth'-that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy." The most important information that McCone withheld from the commission in its 1964 investigation, the report found, was the existence, for years, of CIA plots to assassinate Castro, some of which put the CIA in cahoots with the Mafia. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots.
"If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations about Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions about where to look," the CIA report notes.
While the report may be referred to as 'benign' by the CIA as an attempt to downplay its significance, it was a cover-up nonetheless - a cover-up that halted any further investigation into Oswald and his potential ties to Cuba and any of his possible connections or accomplices.
McCone's conspiracy effectively rendered any further investigation into Oswald is important as he directed the CIA to only provide "passive, reactive and selective" assistance to the Warren Commission. In fact, the report notes that McCone attempted and was successful at steering the direction of the investigation into his sole control.
According to the report, another senior CIA official was quoted saying he heard McCone say that he intended to "handle the whole (commission) business myself, directly."
Initially stamped "SECRET/NOFORN," meaning it was not to be shared outside the agency or with foreign governments, the report makes no mention as to why McCone was motivated to go to such great lengths to cover up this information. However, it does suggest that the White House may have directed him to hide it.
According to the report, McCone "shared the administration's interest in avoiding disclosures about covert actions that would circumstantially implicate [the] CIA in conspiracy theories and possibly lead to calls for a tough US response against the perpetrators of the assassination," the article reads. "If the commission did not know to ask about covert operations about Cuba, he was not going to give them any suggestions about where to look."
Outside of the bombshell admission of a CIA cover-up, the report also admits that the CIA was actually in communication with Oswald before the assassination, and the spy agency had been secretly monitoring his mail.
According to Politico , the CIA mail-opening program, which was later determined to have been blatantly illegal, had the code name HTLINGUAL. "It would be surprising if the DCI [director of central intelligence] were not told about the program" after the Kennedy assassination, the report reads. "If not, his subordinates deceived him. If he did know about HTLINGUAL reporting on Oswald, he was not being forthright with the commission-presumably to protect an operation that was highly compartmented and, if disclosed, sure to arouse much controversy."
As the corporate media remembers JFK, you can rest assured that they will most certainly avoid any mention of this report. While it is certainly not the holy grail, it does add credence to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not believe the official government story - as they have every reason not to trust a word the CIA says.
"The decision of McCone and Agency leaders in 1964 not to disclose information about CIA's anti-Castro schemes might have done more to undermine the credibility of the commission than anything else that happened while it was conducting its investigation," the report reads. "In that sense-and in that sense alone-McCone may be regarded as a 'co-conspirator' in the JFK assassination 'cover-up.'"
Matt Agorist is the co-founder of TheFreeThoughtProject.com , where this article first appeared . He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.
Jun 21, 2013 | The Guardian
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Two weeks ago, the Guardian began publishing a series of eye-opening revelations about the National Security Agency and its surveillance efforts both in the United States and overseas. These stories raised long-moribund and often-ignored questions about the pervasiveness of government surveillance and the extent to which privacy rights are being violated by this secret and seemingly unaccountable security apparatus.
However, over the past two weeks, we've begun to get a clearer understanding of the story and the implications of what has been published – informed in part by a new-found (if forced upon them) transparency from the intelligence community. So here's one columnist's effort to sort the wheat from the chaff and offer a few answers to the big questions that have been raised.These revelations are a big deal, right?
To fully answer this question, it's important to clarify the revelations that have sparked such controversy. The Guardian (along with the Washington Post) has broken a number of stories, each of which tells us very different things about what is happening inside the US government around matters of surveillance and cyber operations. Some are relatively mundane, others more controversial.
The story that has shaped press coverage and received the most attention was the first one – namely, the publication of a judicial order from the Fisa court to Verizon that indicated the US is "hoovering" up millions of phone records (so-called "metadata") into a giant NSA database. When it broke, the story was quickly portrayed as a frightening tale of government overreach and violation of privacy rights. After all, such metadata – though it contains no actual content – can be used rather easily as a stepping-stone to more intrusive forms of surveillance.
But what is the true extent of the story here: is this picture of government Big Brotherism correct or is this massive government surveillance actually quite benign?
First of all, such a collection of data is not, in and of itself, illegal. The Obama administration was clearly acting within the constraints of federal law and received judicial approval for this broad request for data. That doesn't necessarily mean that the law is good or that the government's interpretation of that law is not too broad, but unlike the Bush "warrantless wiretapping" stories of several years ago, the US government is here acting within the law.
The real question that should concern us is one raised by the TV writer David Simon in a widely cited blogpost looking at the issues raised by the Guardian's reporting, namely:
"Is government accessing the data for the legitimate public safety needs of the society, or are they accessing it in ways that abuse individual liberties and violate personal privacy – and in a manner that is unsupervised."
We know, for example, that the NSA is required to abide by laws that prevent the international targeting of American citizens (you can read more about that here). So, while metadata about phone calls made can be used to discover information about the individuals making the calls, there are "minimization" rules, procedures and laws that guide the use of such data and prevent possible abuse and misuse of protected data.
The minimization procedures used by the NSA are controlled by secret Fisa courts. In fact, last year, the Fisa court ruled that these procedures didn't pass constitutional muster and had to be rewritten.
Sure, the potential for abuse exists – but so, too, does the potential for the lawful use of metadata in a way that protects the privacy of individual Americans – and also assists the US government in pursuit of potential terrorist suspects. Of course, without information on the specific procedures used by the NSA to minimize the collection of protected data, it is impossible to know that no laws are being broken or no abuse is occurring.
In that sense, we have to take the government's word for it. And that is especially problematic when you consider the Fisa court decisions authorizing this snooping are secret and the congressional intelligence committees tasked with conducting oversight tend to be toothless.
But assumptions of bad faith and violations of privacy by the US government are just that assumptions. When President Obama says that the NSA is not violating privacy rights because it would be against the law, we can't simply disregard such statements as self-serving. Moreover, when one considers the privacy violations that Americans willingly submit to at airports, what personal data they give to the government in their tax returns, and what is regularly posted voluntarily on Facebook, sent via email and searched for online, highly-regulated data-mining by the NSA seems relatively tame.
Edward Snowden: is he a hero or a traitor?
One of the key questions that have emerged over this story is the motivation of the leaker in question, Edward Snowden. In his initial public interview, with Glenn Greenwald on 9 June, Snowden explained his actions, in part, thus:
"I'm willing to sacrifice because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
Now, while one can argue that Snowden's actions do not involve personal sacrifice, whether they are heroic is a much higher bar to cross. First of all, it's far from clear that the US government is destroying privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world. Snowden may sincere about being "valiant for truth", but he wouldn't be the first person to believe himself such and yet be wrong.
Second, one can make the case that there is a public interest in knowing that the US is collecting reams of phone records, but where is the public interest – and indeed, to Snowden's own justification, the violation of privacy – in leaking a presidential directive on cyber operations or leaking that the US is spying on the Russian president?
The latter is both not a crime it's actually what the NSA was established to do! In his recent online chat hosted by the Guardian, Snowden suggested that the US should not be spying on any country with whom it's not formally at war. That is, at best, a dubious assertion, and one that is at odds with years of spycraft.
On the presidential directive on cyber operations, the damning evidence that Snowden revealed was that President Obama has asked his advisers to create a list of potential targets for cyber operations – but such planning efforts are rather routine contingency operations. For example, if the US military drew up war plans in case conflict ever occurred between the US and North Korea – and that included offensive operations – would that be considered untoward or perhaps illegitimate military planning?
This does not mean, however, that Snowden is a traitor. Leaking classified data is a serious offense, but treason is something else altogether.
The problem for Snowden is that he has now also leaked classified information about ongoing US intelligence-gathering efforts to foreign governments, including China and Russia. That may be crossing a line, which means that the jury is still out on what label we should use to describe Snowden.
Shouldn't Snowden be protected as a whistleblower?
This question of leakers v whistleblowers has frequently been conflated in the public reporting about the NSA leak (and many others). But this is a crucial error. As Tara Lee, a lawyer at the law firm DLA Piper, with expertise in defense industry and national security litigation said to me there is an important distinction between leakers and whistleblowers, "One reports a crime; and one commits a crime."
Traditionally (and often technically), whistleblowing refers to specific actions that are taken to bring to attention illegal behavior, fraud, waste, abuse etc. Moreover, the US government provides federal employees and contractors with the protection to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. In the case of Snowden, he could have gone to the inspector general at the Department of Justice or relevant congressional committees.
From all accounts, it appears that he did not go down this path. Of course, since the material he was releasing was approved by the Fisa court and had the sign-off of the intelligence committee, he had good reason to believe that he would have not received the most receptive hearing for his complaints.
Nevertheless, that does not give him carte blanche to leak to the press – and certainly doesn't give him carte blanche to leak information on activities that he personally finds objectionable but are clearly legal. Indeed, according to the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA), whistleblowers can make complaints over matter of what the law calls "urgent concern", which includes "a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operations of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinion concerning public policy matters [my italics]."
In other words, simply believing that a law or government action is wrong does not give one the right to leak information; and in the eyes of the law, it is not considered whistleblowing. Even if one accepts the view that the leaked Verizon order fell within the bounds of being in the "public interest", it's a harder case to make for the presidential directive on cyber operations or the eavesdropping on foreign leaders.
The same problem is evident in the incorrect description of Bradley Manning as a whistleblower. When you leak hundreds of thousands of documents – not all of which you reviewed and most of which contain the mundane and not illegal diplomatic behavior of the US government – you're leaking. Both Manning and now Snowden have taken it upon themselves to decide what should be in the public domain; quite simply, they don't have the right to do that. If every government employee decided actions that offended their sense of morality should be leaked, the government would never be able to keep any secrets at all and, frankly, would be unable to operate effectively.
So, like Manning, Snowden is almost certainly not a whistleblower, but rather a leaker. And that would mean that he, like Manning, is liable to prosecution for leaking classified material.
Are Democrats hypocrites over the NSA's activities?
A couple of days ago, my Guardian colleague, Glenn Greenwald made the following assertion:
"The most vehement defenders of NSA surveillance have been, by far, Democratic (especially Obama-loyal) pundits. One of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy has been the transformation of Democrats from pretend-opponents of the Bush "war on terror" and national security state into their biggest proponents."
This is regular line of argument from Glenn, but it's one that, for a variety of reasons, I believe is not fair. (I don't say this because I'm an Obama partisan – though I may be called one for writing this.)
First, the lion's share of criticism of these recent revelations has come, overwhelmingly, from Democrats and, indeed, from many of the same people, including Greenwald, who were up in arms when the so-called warrantless wiretapping program was revealed in 2006. The reality is that outside a minority of activists, it's not clear that many Americans – Democrats or Republicans – get all that excited about these types of stories. (Not that this is necessarily a good thing.)
Second, opposition to the Bush program was two-fold: first, it was illegal and was conducted with no judicial or congressional oversight; second, Bush's surveillance policies did not occur in a vacuum – they were part of a pattern of law-breaking, disastrous policy decisions and Manichean rhetoric over the "war on terror". So, if you opposed the manner in which Bush waged war on the "axis of evil", it's not surprising that you would oppose its specific elements. In the same way, if you now support how President Obama conducts counter-terrorism efforts, it's not surprising that you'd be more inclined to view specific anti-terror policies as more benign.
Critics will, of course, argue – and rightly so – that we are a country of laws first. In which case it shouldn't matter who is the president, but rather what the laws are that govern his or her conduct. Back in the world of political reality, though, that's not how most Americans think of their government. Their perceptions are defined in large measure by how the current president conducts himself, so there is nothing at all surprising about Republicans having greater confidence in a Republican president and Democrats having greater confidence in a Democratic one, when asked about specific government programs.
Beyond that, simply having greater confidence in President Obama than President Bush to wield the awesome powers granted the commander-in-chief to conduct foreign policy is not partisanship. It's common sense.
George Bush was, undoubtedly, one of the two or three worst foreign policy presidents in American history (and arguably, our worst president, period). He and Dick Cheney habitually broke the law, including but not limited to the abuse of NSA surveillance. President Obama is far from perfect: he made the terrible decision to surge in Afghanistan, and he's fought two wars of dubious legality in Libya and Pakistan, but he's very far from the sheer awfulness of the Bush/Cheney years.
Unless you believe the US should have no NSA, and conduct no intelligence-gathering in the fight against terrorism, you have to choose a president to manage that agency. And there is nothing hypocritical or partisan about believing that one president is better than another to handle those responsibilities.
Has NSA surveillance prevented terrorist attacks, as claimed?
In congressional testimony this week, officials from the Department of Justice and the NSA argued that surveillance efforts stopped "potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11". Having spent far too many years listening to public officials describe terrifying terror plots that fell apart under greater scrutiny, this assertion sets off for me a set of red flags (even though it may be true).
I have no doubt that NSA surveillance has contributed to national security investigations, but whether it's as extensive or as vital as the claims of government officials is more doubtful. To be honest, I'm not sure it matters. Part of the reason the US government conducts NSA surveillance in the first place is not necessarily to stop every potential attack (though that would be nice), but to deter potential terrorists from acting in the first place.
Critics of the program like to argue that "of course, terrorists know their phones are being tapped and emails are being read", but that's kind of the point. If they know this, it forces them to choose more inefficient means of communicating, and perhaps to put aside potential attacks for fear of being uncovered.
We also know that not every terrorist has the skills of a Jason Bourne. In fact, many appear to be not terribly bright, which means that even if they know about the NSA's enormous dragnet, it doesn't mean they won't occasionally screw up and get caught.
Yet, this gets to a larger issue that is raised by the NSA revelations.
When is enough counter-terrorism enough?
Over the past 12 years, the US has developed what can best be described as a dysfunctional relationship with terrorism. We've become obsessed with it and with a zero-tolerance approach to stopping it. While the former is obviously an important goal, it has led the US to take steps that not only undermine our values (such as torture), but also make us weaker (the invasion of Iraq, the surge in Afghanistan, etc).
To be sure, this is not true of every anti-terror program of the past dozen years. For example, the US does a better job of sharing intelligence among government agencies, and of screening those who are entering the country. And military efforts in the early days of the "war on terror" clearly did enormous damage to al-Qaida's capabilities.
In general, though, when one considers the relatively low risk of terrorist attacks – and the formidable defenses of the United States – the US response to terrorism has been one of hysterical over-reaction. Indeed, the balance we so often hear about when it comes to protecting privacy while also ensuring security is only one part of the equation. The other is how do we balance the need to stop terrorists (who certainly aspire to attack the United States) and the need to prevent anti-terrorism from driving our foreign policy to a disproportionate degree. While the NSA revelations might not be proof that we've gone too far in one direction, there's not doubt that, for much of the past 12 years, terrorism has distorted and marred our foreign policy.
Last month, President Obama gave a seminal speech at the National Defense University, in which he essentially declared the "war on terror" over. With troops coming home from Afghanistan, and drone strikes on the decline, that certainly seems to be the case. But as the national freakout over the Boston Marathon bombing – and the extraordinary over-reaction of a city-wide lockdown for one wounded terrorist on the loose – remind us, we still have a ways to go.
Moreover, since no politician wants to find him- or herself in a situation after a terrorist attack when the criticism "why didn't you do more?" can be aired, that political imperative of zero tolerance will drive our counterterrorism policies. At some point, that needs to end.
In fact, nine years ago, our current secretary of state, John Kerry, made this exact point; it's worth reviewing his words:
"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''
What the NSA revelations should spark is not just a debate on surveillance, but on the way we think about terrorism and the steps that we should be willing to take both to stop it and ensure that it does not control us. We're not there yet.007Prometheus
No GCHQ - MI5 - MI6 - NSA - CIA - FBI etc........... ad nausem!
How many Billions / Trillions are spent on these services? If 11/9 and 7/7 were homegrown attacks, then i think, they will take us all down with them.NOTaREALmerican
Re: How many Billions / Trillions are spent on these services?
The wonderful thing about living in a "Keynesian" perpetually increasing debt paradise is you NEVER have to say you can't afford anything. (Well, unless you want to say it, but if you do it's just political bullshit).
So, to answer your question... A "Keynesian" never asks how much, just how much do you want.
"Frankly, I don't see evidence of huge abuse of US liberties"
Just wait until they come for you.Tonieja
"When one considers the privacy violations that Americans willingly submit to at airports, what personal data they give to the government in their tax returns, and what is regularly posted voluntarily on Facebook, sent via email and searched for online, highly-regulated data-mining by the NSA seems relatively tame."
Dear Sir: Please post your email addresses, bank accounts, and passwords. We'd like to look at everything.
Got a problem with that?
"When one considers the privacy violations that Americans willingly submit to at airports, what personal data they give to the government in their tax returns, and what is regularly posted voluntarily on Facebook, sent via email and searched for online [...]"
Wow! I don't really care about my personal email. I do care about all political activists, journalists, lawyers etc. That a journalist would support Stasi style surveillance state is astonishing.
I wish I had the time to go through this article and demolish it sentence by sentence as it so richly deserves, but at the moment I don't. Instead, might I suggest to the author that he go to the guardian archive, read every single story about this in chronological order and then read every damn link posted in the comment threads on the three most recent stories.
Most especially the links in the comment threads. If after that, he cannot see why we "civil libertarian freaks" are not just outraged, but frightened, he frankly lacks both historical knowledge and any ability to analyze the facts that are staring him in the face. I can't believe I am going to have to say this again but here goes: YOU do not get to give away my contitutional rights, Mr. Cohen.
I don't give a shit how much you trust Obama compared to dubya. The Bill of Rights states in clear, unambiguous language what the Federal government may NOT do do its citizens no matter WHO is president.
Frankly, I don't see evidence of huge abuse of US liberties.
Well of course you wont see them.
But the abuses are very probably already happening on a one to one basis in the same shadows in which the intelligence was first gathered.
Nov 23, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.comThis unadmitted ignorance was previously displayed for those with eyes to see it in the Libya debacle, perhaps not coincidentally Clinton's pet war. Cast by the Obama White House as a surgical display of "smart power" that would defend human rights and foster democracy in the Muslim world, the 2011 Libyan intervention did precisely the opposite. There is credible evidence that the U.S.-led NATO campaign prolonged and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, and far from creating a flourishing democracy, the ouster of strongman Muammar Qaddafi led to a power vacuum into which ISIS and other rival unsavories surged.
The 2011 intervention and the follow-up escalation in which we are presently entangled were both fundamentally informed by "the underlying belief that military force will produce stability and that the U.S. can reasonably predict the result of such a campaign," as Christopher Preble has argued in a must-read Libya analysis at Politico . Both have proven resoundingly wrong.
Before Libya, Washington espoused the same false certainty in advance of intervention and nation-building Iraq and Afghanistan. The rhetoric around the former was particularly telling: we would find nuclear weapons and "be greeted as liberators," said Vice President Dick Cheney. The whole thing would take five months or less, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It would be a "cakewalk." As months dragged into years of nation-building stagnation, the ignored truth became increasingly evident: the United States cannot reshape entire countries without obscene risk and investment, and even when those costly commitments are made, success cannot be predicted with certainty.
Nearly 14 years later, with Iraq demonstrably more violent and less stable than it was before U.S. intervention, wisdom demands we reject Washington's recycled snake oil.
Recent polls (let alone the anti-elite backlash Trump's win represents ) suggest Americans are ready to do precisely that. But a lack of public enthusiasm has never stopped Washington from hawking its fraudulent wares-this time in the form of yet-again unfounded certainty that escalating American intervention in Syria is a sure-fire solution to that beleaguered nation's woes.
We must not let ourselves be fooled. Rather, we "should understand that we don't need to overthrow distant governments and roll the dice on what comes after in order to keep America safe," as Preble, reflecting on Libya, contends . "On the contrary, our track record over the last quarter-century shows that such interventions often have the opposite effect."
And as for the political establishment, let Trump's triumph be a constant reminder of the necessity of expecting the unexpected and proceeding with due (indeed, much overdue) prudence and restraint abroad. If Washington so grossly misunderstood the direction of its own heartland-without the muddling, as in foreign policy, of massive geographic and cultural differences-how naïve it is to believe that our government can successfully play armed puppet-master over an entire region of the world?
Bonnie Kristian is a fellow at Defense Priorities. She is a weekend editor at The Week and a columnist at Rare , and her writing has also appeared at Time , Politico , Relevant , The Hill , and other outlets.
That "Navy ship that broke down in the Panama Canal" - it cost $4.4 *billion* dollars. And there is a second one just finishing construction with a third coming in at the basement bargain price of $3.7B:
The Zumwalt cost more than $4.4bn and was commissioned in October in Maryland. It also suffered a leak in its propulsion system before it was commissioned. The leak required the ship to remain at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia longer than expected for repairs.
The ship is part of the first new class of warship built at Bath Iron Works in more than 25 years.
The second Zumwalt-class destroyer, which also cost more than $4.4bn, was christened in a June ceremony during which US Rep Bruce Poliquin called it an "extraordinary machine of peace and security". The third ship is expected to cost a bit less than $3.7bn.
US navy's most expensive destroyer breaks down in Panama Canal
Well, I understand that these are magnificent "machines of peace and security" but it seems rather a shame that some of that money couldn't be spent on delivering, say, clean water to residents of Flint and elsewhere.
US Dems and Republicans both:
Money for ENDLESS WAR - no problem!
Money for housing, health, education, environment - how the hell can we find money for that?PlutoniumKun
Given that the ammo is one million a shell, $3.7 billion is a bargain of sorts.
It isn't a shame that money couldn't be used elsewhere. It's a God Damn outrage.
Well, not quite a million, but $800,000 a shell according to Stars and Stripes magazine. And each ship is supposed to carry 600 of them. The Zumwelt is basically a very expensive mobile artillery ship, with no clear military purpose. The Navy have pretty much confirmed this by cancelling the system (there were originally to be 38 of them). The worst thing is that despite it having no clear purpose and costing vast sums of money, nobody seems willing to call anyone to account for having blown billions on an entirely worthless defence system.
www.counterpunch.org... ... ...
If the discourse of humanitarianism seduced the North, it has not been so in the South, even less in the Near and Middle East, which no longer believe in it. The patent humanitarian disasters in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have disillusioned them.
It is in this sense that Trump's victory is felt as a release, a hope for change, and a rupture from the policy of Clinton, Bush, and Obama. This policy, in the name of edifying nations ("nation building"), has destroyed some of the oldest nations and civilizations on earth; in the name of delivering well-being, it has delivered misery; in the name of liberal values, it has galvanized religious zeal; in the name of democracy and human rights, it has installed autocracies and Sharia law.
Who is to blame?
Did the United States not know that intervening in "the lands of Islam" would act as a catalyst for Jihad? Was it by chance that the United States intervened only in secular states, turning them into manholes of religious extremism? Is it a coincidence that these interventions were and are often supported by regimes that sponsor political Islam? Conspiracy theory, you say? No, these are historical facts.
Can the United States not learn from history, or does it just doom itself to repeat it? Does it not pose itself the question of how al-Qaeda and Daesh originated? How did they organize themselves? Who trained them? What is their mobilizing discourse? (1) Why is the US their target? None of this seems to matter to the US: all it cares about is projecting its own idealism. (2)
The death of thousands of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or Syria, has it contributed to the well being of these peoples? Or does the United States perhaps respond to this question in the manner of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, who regretted the death of five-hundred-thousand Iraqi children, deprived of medications by the American embargo, to conclude with the infamous sentence, "[But] it was worth it "?
Was it worth it that people came to perceive humanitarian intervention as the new crusades? Was it worth it that they now perceive democracy as a pagan, pre-Islamic model, abjured by their belief? Was it worth it that they now perceive modernity as deviating believers from the "true" path? Was it worth that they now perceive human rights as human standards as contrary to the divine will? Was it worth it that people now perceive secularism as atheism whose defenders are punishable by beheading?
Have universal values become a problem rather than a solution? What then to think of making war in their name? Has humanitarian intervention become punishment rather than help?
The South has understood where the North has not: the selective nature of humanitarian interventions reflects their punitive nature; sanctions go to non-client regimes; interventions seem to be a new excuse for the hegemonic ambitions of the United States and its allies; they are a new rationale for NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they are a way to suppress Russia and deprive it of its zones of influence. (3)
What a far-sighted motion was that of the coalition of the countries of the Third World (G77) at the Havana Summit in 2000! It declared its rejection of any intervention, including humanitarian, which did not respect the sovereignty of the states concerned. (4) This was nothing other than a rejection of the Clinton Doctrine, announced in 1999, in the wake of the war of Kosovo, which made "humanitarian intervention" the new bedrock, or perhaps the new facade, of the foreign policy of the United States. It was the same policy followed and developed by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. (5)
The end of interventionism?
But are Clinton's defeat and Trump's accession to power sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism?
Donald Trump is a nationalist, whose rise has been the result of a coalition of anti-interventionists within the Republican Party. They professe a foreign policy that Trump has summarized in these words: "We will use military force only in cases of vital necessity to the national security of the United States. We will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving ourselves in situations in which we have no right to intervene." (6)
But drawing conclusions about the foreign policy of the United States from unofficial statements seems simplistic. At the moment of this writing, any speculation as to the policy choices of Trump's foreign policy is premature. One can't predict his policy with regard to the Near and Middle East, since he has not yet even formed his cabinet. Moreover, presidents in office can change their tune in the course of their tenure. The case of George W. Bush provides an excellent example.
Like Donald Trump, George W. Bush was a conservative Republican non-interventionist. He advocated "America First," called for a more subdued foreign policy and adopted Colin Powell's realism "to attend without stress" (7) with regard to the Near and Middle East. But his policy shifted to become the most aggressive and most brutal in the history of the United States. Many international observers argue that this shift came as a response to the September 11 attacks, but they fail to note that the aggressive germs already existed within Bush's cabinet and advisers: the neo-conservatives occupied key functions in his administration. (8)
Up until now, Trump's links with the neo-cons remain unclear. The best-known neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, and Robert Kagan, appear to have lost their bet by supporting Hillary Clinton's candidacy. But others, less prominent or influential, seem to have won it by supporting Trump: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and James Woolsey, his adviser and one of the architects of the wars in the Middle East.
These indices show that nothing seems to have been gained by the South, still less by the Near and Middle East. There appears to be no guarantee that the situation will improve.
The non-interventionism promised by Trump may not necessarily equate to a policy of isolationism. A non-interventionist policy does not automatically mean that the United States will stop protecting their interests abroad, strategic or otherwise. Rather, it could mean that the United States will not intervene abroad except to defend their own interests, unilaterally -- and perhaps even more aggressively. Such a potential is implied in Trump's promise to increase the budget for the army and the military-industrial complex. Thus, it is more realistic to suppose that as long as the United States has interests in the countries of the South and the Near and Middle East, so long it will not hesitate to intervene.
In this context, Trump's defeat and Clinton's accession are not sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism -- the end of an era and the beginning of another. The political reality is too complex to be reduced to statements by a presidential candidate campaigning for election, by an elected president, or even by a president in the course of performing his office.
No one knows what the future will bring.
Marwen Bouassida is a researcher in international law at North African-European relations, University of Carthage, Tunisia. He regularly contributes to the online magazine Kapitalis.
(Translated from the French by Luciana Bohne)
Nov 17, 2016 | www.newswithviews.com
After my post-election column last week, a lady wrote to me and said, "I have confidence he [Trump] plans to do what is best for the country." With all due respect, I don't! I agree wholeheartedly with Thomas Jefferson. He said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
If Donald Trump is going to be anything more than just another say-anything-to-get-elected phony, he is going to have to put raw elbow grease to his rhetoric. His talk got him elected, but it is going to be his walk that is going to prove his worth.
And, as I wrote last week, the biggest indicator as to whether or not he is truly going to follow through with his rhetoric is who he selects for his cabinet and top-level government positions. So far, he has picked Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and Stephen Bannon as White House chief strategist.
Reince Priebus is an establishment insider. He did NOTHING to help Trump get elected until toward the very end of the campaign. He is the current chairman of the Republican National Committee. If that doesn't tell you what he is, nothing will. Trump probably picked him because he is in so tight with House Speaker Paul Ryan (a globalist neocon of the highest order) and the GOP establishment, thinking Priebus will help him get his agenda through the GOP Congress. But ideologically, Priebus does NOT share Trump's anti-establishment agenda. So, this appointment is a risk at best and a sell-out at worst.
On the other hand, Stephen Bannon is probably a very good pick. He headed Breitbart.com, which is one of the premier "alt-right" media outlets that has consistently led the charge against the globalist, anti-freedom agenda of the political establishment in Washington, D.C. Albeit, Bannon is probably blind to the dangers of Zionism and is, therefore, probably naïve about the New World Order. I don't believe anyone can truly understand the New World Order without being aware of the role that Zionism plays in it.
To be honest, the possible appointments of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, John Bolton and especially Newt Gingrich are MORE than troubling. Rudy Giuliani is "Mr. Police State," and if he is selected as the new attorney general, the burgeoning Police State in this country will go into hyperdrive. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is already warning us about this. Chris Christie is a typical New England liberal Republican. His appointment to any position bodes NOTHING good. And John Bolton is a Bush pro-war neocon. But Newt Gingrich is the quintessential insider, globalist, and establishment hack.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the globalist elite gave Newt Gingrich the assignment of cozying up to (and "supporting") Trump during his campaign with the sole intention of being in a position for Trump to think he owes Gingrich something so as to appoint him to a key cabinet post in the event that he won. Gingrich could then weave his evil magic during a Donald Trump presidential administration.
Newt Gingrich is a HIGH LEVEL globalist and longtime CFR member. He is the consummate neocon. And he has a brilliant mind (NO morals, but a brilliant mind--a deadly combination, for sure). If Donald Trump does not see through this man, and if he appoints him as a cabinet head in his administration, I will be forced to believe that Donald Trump is clueless about "draining the swamp." You cannot drain the swamp by putting the very people who filled the swamp back in charge. And that's exactly what Trump would be doing if he appoints Gingrich to any high-level position in his administration.
Trump is already softening his position on illegal immigration, on dismantling the EPA, on repealing Obamacare, on investigating and prosecuting Hillary Clinton, etc. Granted, he hasn't even been sworn in yet, and it's still way too early to make a true judgment of his presidency. But for a fact, his cabinet appointments and his first one hundred days in office will tell us most of what we need to know.
What we need to know right now is that WE CANNOT GO TO SLEEP. We cannot sit back in lethargy and complacency and just assume that Donald Trump is going to do what he said he would do. If we do that, we might as well have elected Hillary Clinton, because at least then we would be forever on guard against her forthcoming assaults against our liberties.
There is a reason we have lost more liberties under Republican administrations than Democratic ones over the past few decades. And that reason is the conservative, constitutionalist, Christian, pro-freedom people who should be resisting government's assaults against our liberties are sound asleep because they trust a Republican President and Congress to do the right thing -- and they give the GOP a pass as our liberties are expunged piece by piece. A pass they would NEVER give to a Democrat.
The difference in this election is that Donald Trump didn't run against the Democrats; he ran against the entire Washington establishment, including the Republican establishment. Hopefully that means that the people who supported and voted for Trump will NOT be inclined to go into political hibernation now that Trump is elected.
I tell you again: this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course of a nation. Frankly, if this opportunity is squandered, there likely will not be another one in most of our lifetimes.
Nov 17, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.comRusty tell us of Android hacking by the Chinese and today we learn the iphone has issues too
"Russian security firm says iPhone secretly logs all your phone calls"
By Mike Wehner...Nov 17, 2016...10:36 AM
"A Russian security firm is casting doubt on just how big of an ally Apple is when it comes to consumer privacy. In a new report, the company alleges that Apple's iCloud retains the entire call history of every iPhone for as long as four months, making it an easy target for law enforcement and surveillance.
The firm, Elcomsoft, discovered that as long as a user has iCloud enabled, their call history is synced and stored. The log includes phone numbers, dates and durations of the calls, and even missed calls, but the log doesn't stop there; FaceTime call logs, as well as calls from apps that utilize the "Call History" feature, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, are also stored.
There is also apparently no way to actually disable the feature without disabling iCloud entirely, as there is no toggle for call syncing.
"We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices," an Apple spokesperson told The Intercept via email."Device data is encrypted with a user's passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user's Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication."
But security from unauthorized eyes isn't what users should be worrying about, according to former FBI agent and computer forensics expert Robert Osgood. "Absolutely this is an advantage [for law enforcement]," Osgood told The Intercept. ""Four months is a long time [to retain call logs]. It's generally 30 or 60 days for telecom providers, because they don't want to keep more [records] than they absolutely have to."
If the name Elcomsoft sounds familiar, it's because the company's phone-cracking software was used by many of the hackers involved in 2014's massive celebrity nudes leak. Elcomsoft's "Phone Breaker" software claims the ability to crack iCloud backups, as well as backup files from Microsoft OneDrive and BlackBerry."
Michael Flynn, expected to advise Donald Trump on counterproductive killing operations misleading labeled "national security," is generally depicted as a lawless torturer and assassin. But, whether for partisan reasons or otherwise, he's a lawless torturer and assassin who has blurted out some truths he shouldn't be allowed to forget.
"Lt. Gen. Flynn, who since leaving the DIA has become an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, charges that the White House relies heavily on drone strikes for reasons of expediency, rather than effectiveness. 'We've tended to say, drop another bomb via a drone and put out a headline that "we killed Abu Bag of Doughnuts" and it makes us all feel good for 24 hours,' Flynn said. 'And you know what? It doesn't matter. It just made them a martyr, it just created a new reason to fight us even harder.'"
Or even more clearly:
"When you drop a bomb from a drone you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict."
Will Flynn then advise Trump to cease dropping bombs from drones? Or will he go ahead and advise drone murders, knowing full well that this is counterproductive from the point of view of anyone other than war profiteers?
From the same report:
"Asked . . . if drone strikes tend to create more terrorists than they kill, Flynn . . . replied: 'I don't disagree with that,' adding: 'I think as an overarching strategy, it is a failed strategy.'"
So Trump's almost inevitable string of drone murders will be conducted under the guidance of a man who knows they produce terrorism rather than reducing it, that they endanger the United States rather than protecting it. In that assessment, he agrees with the vast majority of Americans who believe that the wars of the past 15 years have made the United States less safe, which is the view of numerous other experts as well.
Flynn, too, expanded his comments from drones to the wars as a whole:
"What we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done but I am looking for the other solutions."
Flynn also, like Trump, accurately cites the criminal 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as critical to the creation of ISIS:
"Commenting on the rise of ISIL in Iraq, Flynn acknowledged the role played by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. 'We definitely put fuel on a fire,' he told Hasan. 'Absolutely there is no doubt, history will not be kind to the decisions that were made certainly in 2003. Going into Iraq, definitely it was a strategic mistake."
So there will be no advice to make similar strategic mistakes that are highly profitable to the weapons industry?
Flynn, despite perhaps being a leading advocate of lawless imprisonment and torture, also admits to the counterproductive nature of those crimes:
"The former lieutenant general denied any involvement in the litany of abuses carried out by JSOC interrogators at Camp Nama in Iraq, as revealed by the New York Times and Human Rights Watch, but admitted the US prison system in Iraq in the post-war period 'absolutely' helped radicalise Iraqis who later joined Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its successor organisation, ISIL."
Recently the International Criminal Court teased the world with the news that it might possible consider indicting US and other war criminals for their actions in Afghanistan. One might expect all-out resistance to such a proposal from Trump and his gang of hyper-nationalist war mongers, except that . . .
"Flynn also called for greater accountability for US soldiers involved in abuses against Iraqi detainees: 'You know I hope that as more and more information comes out that people are held accountable History is not going to look kind on those actions and we will be held, we should be held, accountable for many, many years to come.'"
Let's not let Flynn forget any of these words. On Syria he has blurted out some similar facts to those Trump has also articulated:
"Publicly commenting for the first time on a previously-classified August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo, which had predicted 'the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria ( ) this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want' and confirmed that 'the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,' the former DIA chief told Head to Head that 'the [Obama] Administration' didn't 'listen' to these warnings issued by his agency's analysts. 'I don't know if they turned a blind eye,' he said. 'I think it was a decision, I think it was a willful decision.'"
Let that sink in. Flynn is taking credit for having predicted that backing fighters in Syria could lead to something like ISIS. And he's suggesting that Obama received this information and chose to ignore it.
Now, here's a question: What impact will "bombing the hell" out of people have? What good will "killing their families" do? Spreading nukes around? "Stealing their oil"? Making lists of and banning Muslims? Is it Flynn's turn to willfully ignore key facts and common sense in order to "advise" against his better judgment a new president who prefers to be advised to do what he was going to do anyway?
Or can Flynn be convinced to apply lessons learned at huge human cost to similar situations going forward even with a president of a different party, race, and IQ?
www.moonofalabama.orgPosted by: Circe | Nov 19, 2016 8:37:46 PM | 23
95% or more of the individuals Trump is considering for his administration, including those already picked have a deep-seated obsession with Iran. This is very troubling. It's going to lead to war and not a regular war where 300,000 people die. This is a catastrophic error in judgment I don't give a sh...t who makes such an error, Trump or the representative from Kalamazoo! This is so bad that it disqualifies whatever else appears positive at this time.
And one more deeply disturbing thing; Pompeo, chosen to head the CIA has threatened Ed Snowden with the death penalty, if Snowden is caught, and now as CIA Director he can send operatives to chase him down wherever he is and render him somewhere, torture him to find out who he shared intelligence with and kill him on the spot and pretend it was a foreign agent who did the job. He already stated before he was assigned this powerful post that Snowden should be brought back from Russia and get the death penalty for treason.
Pompeo also sided with the Obama Administration on using U. S. military force in Syria against Assad and wrote this in the Washington Post: "Russia continues to side with rogue states and terrorist organizations, following Vladimir Putin's pattern of gratuitous and unpunished affronts to U.S. interests,".
That's not all, Pompeo wants to enhance the surveillance state, and he too wants to tear up the Iran deal.
Many of you here are extremely naïve regarding Trump.
b's speculation has the ring of truth. I've often wondered if Trump was encouraged to run by a deep-state faction that found the neocons to be abhorrent and dangerous.
Aside: I find those who talk about "factions" in foreign policy making to be un-credible. Among these were those that spoke of 'Obama's legacy'. A bullshit concept for a puppet.The neocons control FP. And they could only be unseated if a neocon-unfriendly President was elected.
Jackrabbit | Nov 19, 2016 10:20:57 PM | 26Trump is turning animosity away from Russia and toward Iran. But I doubt that it will result in a shooting war with Iran. The 'deep-state' (arms industry and security agencies) just wants a foreign enemy as a means of ensuring that US govt continues to fund security agencies and buy arms.
And really, Obama's "peace deal" with Iran was bogus anyway. It was really just a placeholder until Assad could be toppled. Only a small amount of funds were released to Iran, and US-Iranian relations have been just as bad as they were before the "peace deal". So all the hand-wringing about Trump vs. Iran is silly.
What is important is that with Iran as the nominal enemy du jour plus Trump's campaign pledge to have the "strongest" military (note: every candidate was for a strong military), the neocons have no case to make that Trump is weak on defense.
And so it is interesting that those that want to undermine Trump have resorted to the claim that he is close to Jews/Zionists/Israel or even Jewish himself. Funny that Trump wasn't attacked like that before the election, huh?
The profound changes and profound butt-hurt lead to the following poignant questions:>> Have we just witnessed a counter-coup?
>> Isn't it sad that, in 2016(!), the only check on elites are other elite factions? An enormous cultural failure that has produced a brittle social fabric.
>> If control of NSA snooping power is so crucial, why would ANY ruling block ever allow the another to gain power?
Indeed, the answer to this question informs one's view on whether the anti-Trump protests are just Democratic Party ass-covering/distraction or a real attempt at a 'color revolution'.
Nov 20, 2016 | www.slate.com
One of the most-read takes on fascism comes from Italian philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco in an essay for the New York Review of Books titled " Ur-Fascism ." Eco emphasizes the extent to which fascism is ad hoc and opportunistic. It's "philosophically out of joint," he writes, with features that "cannot be organized into a system" since "many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanacticism."With that said, it is true that there are fascist movements, and it's also true that when you strip their cultural clothing-the German paganism in Nazism, for example-there are common properties. Not every fascist movement shows all of them, but-Eco writes-"it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it." Eco identifies 14, but for this column, I want to focus on seven. They are: A cult of "action for action's sake ," where "thinking is a form of emasculation"; an intolerance of "analytical criticism," where disagreement is condemned; a profound "fear of difference," where leaders appeal against "intruders"; appeals to individual and social frustration and specifically a "frustrated middle class" suffering from "feelings of political humiliation and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups"; a nationalist identity set against internal and external enemies (an "obsession with a plot"); a feeling of humiliation by the "ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies"; a "popular elitism" where "every citizen belongs to the best people of the world" and underscored by contempt for the weak; and a celebration of aggressive (and often violent) masculinity.
... ... ...Now, let's look at Trump. His campaign revolves around one theme: That the United States is weak, that it loses, and that it needs leadership to become "great again." "We don't have victories anymore," he said in his announcement speech . "When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let's say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're laughing at us, at our stupidity." He continued: "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems," and "Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker." This includes unauthorized immigrants, and now refugees, whom he attacks as a menace to ordinary Americans. The former, according to Trump, take jobs and threaten American safety-"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."-while the latter are a "Trojan horse." But Trump promises action. He will cut new deals and make foreign competitors subordinate. He will deport immigrants and build a wall on the border, financed by Mexico. He will bring " spectacular " economic growth. And Trump isn't an ideologue; he's an opportunist who borrows freely from both parties.
... ... ...
Alone and disconnected, this rhetoric isn't necessarily fascist... In the Europe of the 1920s and '30s, fascist parties organized armed gangs to intimidate political opponents. Despite assaults at Trump events, that still seems unlikely....
Nov 19, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
dbk 11.18.16 at 6:41 pm 130Bruce Wilder @102
The question is no longer her neoliberalism, but yours. Keep it or throw it away?
I wish this issue was being seriously discussed. Neoliberalism has been disastrous for the Rust Belt, and I think we need to envision a new future for what was once the country's industrial heartland, now little more than its wasteland (cf. "flyover zone" – a pejorative term which inhabitants of the zone are not too stupid to understand perfectly, btw).
The question of what the many millions of often-unionized factory workers, SMEs which supplied them, family farmers (now fully industrialized and owned by corporations), and all those in secondary production and services who once supported them are to actually do in future to earn a decent living is what I believe should really be the subject of debate.
As noted upthread, two factors (or three, I guess) have contributed to this state of despair: offshoring and outsourcing, and technology. The jobs that have been lost will not return, and indeed will be lost in ever greater numbers – just consider what will happen to the trucking sector when self-driving trucks hit the roads sometime in the next 10-20 years (3.5 million truckers; 8.7 in allied jobs).
Medicaid, the CHIP program, the SNAP program and others (including NGOs and private charitable giving) may alleviate some of the suffering, but there is currently no substitute for jobs that would enable men and women to live lives of dignity – a decent place to live, good educations for their children, and a reasonable, secure pension in old age. Near-, at-, and below-minimum wage jobs devoid of any benefits don't allow any of these – at most, they make possible a subsistence life, one which requires continued reliance on public assistance throughout one's lifetime.
In the U.S. (a neoliberal pioneer), poverty is closely linked with inequality and thus, a high GINI coefficient (near that of Turkey); where there is both poverty and a very unequal distribution of resources, this inevitably affects women (and children) and racial (and ethnic) minorities disproportionately. The economic system, racism, sexism, and xenophobia are not separate, stand-alone issues; they are profoundly intertwined.
I appreciate and espouse the goals of identity politics in all their multiplicity, and also understand that the institutions of slavery and sexism predated modern capitalist economies. But really, if you think about it, slavery was defined as ownership, ownership of human capital (which was convertible into cash), and women in many societies throughout history were acquired as part of a financial transaction (either through purchase or through sale), and control of their capital (land, property [farmland, herds], valuables and later, money) often entrusted to a spouse or male guardian. All of these practices were economically-driven, even if the driver wasn't 21st-century capitalism.
For example Indiana took the ACA Medicaid expansion but did so with additional conditions that make it worse than in neighboring states run by democratic governors.
And what states would those be? IL, IA, MI, OH, WI, KY, and TN have Republican governors. Were you thinking pre-2014? pre-2012?
To conclude and return to my original point: what's to become of the Rust Belt in future? Did the Democratic platform include a New New Deal for PA, OH, MI, WI, and IA (to name only the five Rust Belt states Trump flipped)?
kidneystones 11.18.16 at 11:32 pm ( 135 )Thomas Pickety
" Let it be said at once: Trump's victory is primarily due to the explosion in economic and geographic inequality in the United States over several decades and the inability of successive governments to deal with this.
Both the Clinton and the Obama administrations frequently went along with the market liberalization launched under Reagan and both Bush presidencies. At times they even outdid them: the financial and commercial deregulation carried out under Clinton is an example. What sealed the deal, though, was the suspicion that the Democrats were too close to Wall Street – and the inability of the Democratic media elite to learn the lessons from the Sanders vote. "
kidneystones 11.18.16 at 11:56 pm 137 ( 137 )What should have been one comment came out as 4, so apologies on that front.
I spent the last week explaining the US election to my students in Japan in pretty much the terms outlined by Lilla and PIketty, so I was delighted to discover these two articles.
Regional inequality and globalization are the principal drivers in Japanese politics, too, along with a number of social drivers. It was therefore very easy to call for a show of hands to identify students studying here in Tokyo who are trying to decide whether or not to return to areas such as Tohoku to build their lives; or remain in Kanto/Tokyo – the NY/Washington/LA of Japan put crudely.
I asked students from regions close to Tohoku how they might feel if the Japanese prime minister decided not to visit the region following Fukushima after the disaster, or preceding an election. The tsunami/nuclear meltdown combined with the Japanese government's uneven response is an apt metaphor for the impact of neo-liberalism/globalization on Japan; and on the US. I then explained that the income inequality in the US was far more severe than that of Japan and that many Americans did not support the export of jobs to China/Mexico.
I then asked the students, particularly those from outlying regions whether they believe Japan needed a leader who would 'bring back Japanese jobs' from Viet Nam and China, etc. Many/most agreed wholeheartedly. I then asked whether they believed Tokyo people treated those outside Kanto as 'inferiors.' Many do.
Piketty may be right regarding Trump's long-term effects on income inequality. He is wrong, I suggest, to argue that Democrats failed to respond to Sanders' support. I contend that in some hypothetical universe the DNC and corrupt Clinton machine could have been torn out, root and branch, within months. As I noted, however, the decision to run HRC effectively unopposed was made several years, at least, before the stark evidence of the consequences of such a decision appeared in sharp relief with Brexit.
Faustusnotes 11.19.16 at 12:14 am 138
Also worth noting is that the rust belts problems are as old as Reagan – even the term dates from the 80s, the issue is so uncool that there is a dire straits song about it. Some portion of the decline of manufacturing there is due to manufacturers shifting to the south, where the anti Union states have an advantage. Also there has been new investment – there were no Japanese car companies in the us in the 1980s, so they are new job creators, yet insufficient to make up the losses. Just as the decline of Virginia coal is due to global forces and corporate stupidity, so the decline of the rust belt is due to long (30 year plus) global forces and corporate decisions that predate the emergence of identity politics.
It's interesting that the clear headed thinkers of the Marxist left, who pride themselves on not being distracted by identity, don't want to talk about these factors when discussing the plight of their cherished white working class. Suddenly it's not the forces of capital and the objective facts of history, but a bunch of whiny black trannies demanding safe spaces and protesting police violence, that drove those towns to ruin.
And what solutions do they think the dems should have proposed? It can't be welfare, since we got the ACA (watered down by representatives of the rust belt states). Is it, seriously, tariffs? Short of going to an election promising w revolution, what should the dems have done? Give us a clear answer so we can see what the alternative to identity politics is.
basil 11.19.16 at 5:11 am
Did this go through?
Thinking with WLGR @15, Yan @81, engels variously above,
The construction 'white working class' is a useful governing tool that splits poor people and possible coalitions against the violence of capital. Now, discussion focuses on how some of the least powerful, most vulnerable people in the United States are the perpetrators of a great injustice against racialised and minoritised groups. Such commentary colludes in the pathologisation of the working class, of poor people. Victims are inculpated as the vectors of noxious, atavistic vices while the perpetrators get off with impunity, showing off their multihued, cosmopolitan C-suites and even proposing that their free trade agreements are a form of anti-racist solidarity. Most crucially, such analysis ignores the continuities between a Trumpian dystopia and our satisfactory present.
I get that the tropes around race are easy, and super-available. Privilege confessing is very in vogue as a prophylactic against charges of racism. But does it threaten the structures that produce this abjection – either as embittered, immiserated 'white working class' or as threatened minority group? It is always *those* 'white' people, the South, the Working Class, and never the accusers some of whom are themselves happy to vote for a party that drowns out anti-war protesters with chants of USA! USA!
Race-thinking forecloses the possibility of the coalitions that you imagine, and reproduces ideas of difference in ways that always, always privilege 'whiteness'.
Historical examples of ethnic groups becoming 'white', how it was legal and political decision-making that defined the present racial taxonomy, suggest that groups can also lose or have their 'whiteness' threatened. CB has written here about how, in the UK at least, Eastern and Southern Europeans are racialised, and so refused 'whiteness'. JQ has written about southern white minoritisation. Many commentators have pointed that the 'white working class' vote this year looked a lot like a minority vote.
Given the subordination of groups presently defined as 'white working class', I wonder if we could think beyond ethnic and epidermal definition to consider that the impossibility of the American Dream refuses these groups whiteness; i.e the hoped for privileges of racial superiority, much in the same way that African Americans, Latin Americans and other racialised minorities are denied whiteness. Can a poor West Virginian living in a toxified drugged out impoverished landscape really be defined as a carrier of 'white privilege'?
I was first pointed at this by the juxtapositions of racialised working class and immigrants in Imogen Tyler's Revolting Subjects – Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain but this below is a useful short article that takes a historical perspective.
Why the Working Class was Never 'White'
The 'racialisation' of class in Britain has been a consequence of the weakening of 'class' as a political idea since the 1970s – it is a new construction, not an historic one.
This is not to deny the existence of working-class racism, or to suggest that racism is somehow acceptable if rooted in perceived socio-economic grievances. But it is to suggest that the concept of a 'white working class' needs problematizing, as does the claim that the British working-class was strongly committed to a post-war vision of 'White Britain' analogous to the politics which sustained the idea of a 'White Australia' until the 1960s.
Yes, old, settled neighbourhoods could be profoundly distrustful of outsiders – all outsiders, including the researchers seeking to study them – but, when it came to race, they were internally divided. We certainly hear working-class racist voices – often echoing stock racist complaints about over-crowding, welfare dependency or exploitative landlords and small businessmen, but we don't hear the deep pathological racial fears laid bare in the letters sent to Enoch Powell after his so-called 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968 (Whipple, 2009).
But more importantly, we also hear strong anti-racist voices loudly and clearly. At Wallsend on Tyneside, where the researchers were gathering their data just as Powell shot to notoriety, we find workers expressing casual racism, but we also find eloquent expressions of an internationalist, solidaristic perspective in which, crucially, black and white are seen as sharing the same working-class interests.
Racism is denounced as a deliberate capitalist strategy to divide workers against themselves, weakening their ability to challenge those with power over their lives (shipbuilding had long been a very fractious industry and its workers had plenty of experience of the dangers of internal sectarian battles).
To be able to mobilize across across racialised divisions, to have race wither away entirely would, for me, be the beginning of a politics that allowed humanity to deal with the inescapable violence of climate change and corporate power.
*To add to the bibliography – David R. Roediger, Elizabeth D. Esch – The Production of Difference – Race and the Management of Labour, and Denise Ferreira da Silva – Toward a Global Idea of Race. And I have just been pointed at Ian Haney-López, White By Law – The Legal Construction of Race.
Hidari 11.19.16 at 8:16 am 152
FWIW 'merica's constitutional democracy is going to collapse.
Some day - not tomorrow, not next year, but probably sometime before runaway climate change forces us to seek a new life in outer-space colonies - there is going to be a collapse of the legal and political order and its replacement by something else. If we're lucky, it won't be violent. If we're very lucky, it will lead us to tackle the underlying problems and result in a better, more robust, political system. If we're less lucky, well, then, something worse will happen .
In a 1990 essay, the late Yale political scientist Juan Linz observed that "aside from the United States, only Chile has managed a century and a half of relatively undisturbed constitutional continuity under presidential government - but Chilean democracy broke down in the 1970s."
Linz offered several reasons why presidential systems are so prone to crisis. One particularly important one is the nature of the checks and balances system. Since both the president and the Congress are directly elected by the people, they can both claim to speak for the people. When they have a serious disagreement, according to Linz, "there is no democratic principle on the basis of which it can be resolved." The constitution offers no help in these cases, he wrote: "the mechanisms the constitution might provide are likely to prove too complicated and aridly legalistic to be of much force in the eyes of the electorate."
In a parliamentary system, deadlocks get resolved. A prime minister who lacks the backing of a parliamentary majority is replaced by a new one who has it. If no such majority can be found, a new election is held and the new parliament picks a leader. It can get a little messy for a period of weeks, but there's simply no possibility of a years-long spell in which the legislative and executive branches glare at each other unproductively.'
Given that the basic point is polarisation (i.e. that both the President and Congress have equally strong arguments to be the the 'voice of the people') and that under the US appalling constitutional set up, there is no way to decide between them, one can easily imagine the so to speak 'hyperpolarisation' of a Trump Presidency as being the straw (or anvil) that breaks the camel's back.
In any case, as I pointed out before, given that the US is increasingly an urbanised country, and the Electoral College was created to protect rural (slave) states, the grotesque electoral result we have just seen is likely to recur, which means more and more Presidents with dubious democratic legitimacy. Thanks to Bush (and Obama) these Presidents will have, at the same time, more and more power.
Eventually something is going to break.
dbk 11.19.16 at 10:39 am ( 153 )nastywoman @ 150
Just study the program of the 'Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschland' or the Program of 'Die Grünen' in Germany (take it through google translate) and you get all the answers you are looking for.
No need to run it through google translate, it's available in English on their site. [Or one could refer to the Green Party of the U.S. site/platform, which is very similar in scope and overall philosophy. (www.gp.org).]
I looked at several of their topic areas (Agricultural, Global, Health, Rural) and yes, these are general theses I would support. But they're hardly policy/project proposals for specific regions or communities – the Greens espouse "think global, act local", so programs and projects must be tailored to individual communities and regions.
To return to my original question and answer it myself: I'm forced to conclude that the Democrats did not specifically address the revitalization – rebirth of the Rust Belt in their 2016 platform. Its failure to do so carried a heavy cost that (nearly) all of us will be forced to pay.
Soullite 11.19.16 at 12:46 pm 156
This sub seems to have largely fallen into the psychologically comfortable trap of declaring that everyone who voted against their preferred candidate is racist. It's a view pushed by the neoliberals, who want to maintain he stranglehold of identity politics over the DNC, and it makes upper-class 'intellectuals' feel better about themselves and their betrayal of the filthy, subhuman white underclass (or so they see it).
I expect at this point that Trump will be reelected comfortably. If not only the party itself, but also most of its activists, refuse to actually change, it's more or less inevitable.
You can scream 'those jobs are never coming back!' all you want, but people are never going to accept it. So either you come up with a genuine solution (instead of simply complaining that your opponents solutions won't work; you're partisan and biased, most voters won't believe you), you may as well resign yourself to fascism. Because whining that you don't know what to do won't stop people from lining up behind someone who says that they do have one, whether it'll work or not. Nobody trusts the elite enough to believe them when they say that jobs are never coming back. Nobody trusts the elite at all.
You sound just like the Wiemar elite. No will to solve the problem, but filled with terror at the inevitable result of failing to solve the problem.
mclaren 11.19.16 at 2:37 pm 160
One brutal fact tells us everything we need to know about the Democratic party in 2016: the American Nazi party is running on a platform of free health care to working class people. This means that the American Nazi Party is now running to the left of the Democratic party.
Folks, we have seen this before. Let's not descend in backbiting and recriminations, okay? We've got some commenters charging that other commenters are "mansplaining," meanwhile we've got other commenters claiming that it's economics and not racism/misogyny. It's all of the above.
Back in the 1930s, when the economy collapsed, fascists appeared and took power. Racists also came out of the woodwork, ditto misogynists. Fast forward 80 years, and the same thing has happened all over again. The global economy melted down in 2008 and fascists appeared promising to fix the problems that the pols in power wouldn't because they were too closely tied to the existing (failed) system. Along with the fascists, racists gained power because they were able to scapegoat minorities as the alleged cause of everyone's misery.
None of this is surprising. We have seen it before. Whenever you get a depression in a modern industrial economy, you get scapegoating, racism, and fascists. We know what to do. The problem is that the current Democratic party isn't doing it.
Instead, what we're seeing is a whirlwind of finger-pointing from the Democratic leadership that lost this election and probably let the entire New Deal get rolled back and wiped out. Putin is to blame! Julian Assange is to blame! The biased media are to blame! Voter suppression is to blame! Bernie Sanders is to blame! Jill Stein is to blame! Everyone and anyone except the current out-of-touch influence-peddling elites who currently have run the Democratic party into the ground.
We need the feminists and the black lives matter groups and we also need the green party people and the Bernie Sanders activists. But everyone has to understand that this is not an isolated event. Trump did not just happen by accident. First there was Greece, then there was Brexit, then there was Trump, next it'll be Renzi losing the referendum in Italy and a constitutional crisis there, and after that, Marine Le Pen in France is going to win the first round of elections. (Probably not the presidency, since all the other French parties will band together to stop her, but the National Front is currently polling at 40% of all registered French voters.) And Marine LePen is the real deal, a genuine full-on out-and-out fascist. Not a closet fascist like Steve Bannon, LePen is the full monty with everything but a Hugo Boss suit and the death's heads on the cap.
Does anyone notice a pattern here?
This is an international movement. It is sweeping the world . It is the end of neoliberalism and the start of the era of authoritarian nationalism, and we all need to come together to stamp out the authoritarian part.
Feminists, BLM, black bloc anarchiest anti-globalists, Sandernistas, and, yes, the former Hillary supporters. Because it not just a coincidence that all these things are happening in all these countries at the same time. The bottom 90% of the population in the developed world has been ripped off by a managerial and financial and political class for the last 30 years and they have all noticed that while the world GDP was skyrocketing and international trade agreements were getting signed with zero input from the average citizen, a few people were getting very very rich but nobody else was getting anything.
This hammered people on the bottom, disproportionately African Americans and especially single AA mothers in America. It crushed the blue collar workers. It is wiping out the savings and careers of college-educated white collar workers now, at least, the ones who didn't go to the Ivy League, which is 90% of them.
And the Democratic party is so helpless and so hopeless that it is letting the American Nazi Party run to the left of them on health care, fer cripes sake! We are now in a situation where the American Nazi Party is advocating single-payer nationalized health care, while the former Democratic presidential nominee who just got defeated assured everyone that single-payer "will never, ever happen."
C'mon! Is anyone surprised that Hillary lost? Let's cut the crap with the "Hillary was a flawed candidate" arguments. The plain fact of the matter is that Hillary was running mainly on getting rid of the problems she and her husband created 25 years ago. Hillary promised criminal justice reform and Black Lives Matter-friendly policing policies - and guess who started the mass incarceration trend and gave speeches calling black kids "superpredators" 20 years ago? Hillary promised to fix the problems with the wretched mandate law forcing everyone to buy unaffordable for-profit private insurance with no cost controls - and guess who originally ran for president in 2008 on a policy of health care mandates with no cost controls? Yes, Hillary (ironically, Obama's big surge in popularity as a candidate came when he ran against Hillary from the left, ridiculing helath care mandates). Hillary promises to reform an out-of-control deregulated financial system run amok - and guess who signed all those laws revoking Glass-Steagal and setting up the Securities Trading Modernization Act? Yes, Bill Clinton, and Hillary was right there with him cheering the whole process on.
So pardon me and lots of other folks for being less than impressed by Hillary's trustworthiness and honesty. Run for president by promising to undo the damage you did to the country 25 years ago is (let say) a suboptimal campaign strategy, and a distinctly suboptimal choice of presidential candidate for a party in the same sense that the Hiroshima air defense was suboptimal in 1945.
Calling Hillary an "imperfect candidate" is like calling what happened to the Titanic a "boating accident." Trump was an imperfect candidate. Why did he win?
Because we're back in the 1930s again, the economy has crashed hard and still hasn't recovered (maybe because we still haven't convened a Pecora Commission and jailed a bunch of the thieves, and we also haven't set up any alphabet government job programs like the CCC) so fascists and racists and all kinds of other bottom-feeders are crawling out of the political woodwork to promise to fix the problems that the Democratic party establishment won't.
Rule of thumb: any social or political or economic writer virulently hated by the current Democratic party establishment is someone we should listen to closely right now.
Cornel West is at the top of the current Democratic establishment's hate list, and he has got a great article in The Guardian that I think is spot-on:
"The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians."
Glenn Greenwald is another writer who has been showered with more hate by the Democratic establishment recently than even Trump or Steve Bannon, so you know Greenwald is saying something important. He has a great piece in The Intercept on the head-in-the-ground attitude of Democratic elites toward their recent loss:
"It is not an exaggeration to say that the Democratic Party is in shambles as a political force. Not only did it just lose the White House to a wildly unpopular farce of a candidate despite a virtually unified establishment behind it, and not only is it the minority party in both the Senate and the House, but it is getting crushed at historical record rates on the state and local levels as well. Surveying this wreckage last week, party stalwart Matthew Yglesias of Vox minced no words: `the Obama years have created a Democratic Party that's essentially a smoking pile of rubble.'
"One would assume that the operatives and loyalists of such a weak, defeated and wrecked political party would be eager to engage in some introspection and self-critique, and to produce a frank accounting of what they did wrong so as to alter their plight. In the case of 2016 Democrats, one would be quite mistaken."
Last but far from least, Scottish economist Mark Blyth has what looks to me like the single best analysis of the entire global Trumpism tidal wave in Foreign Affairs magazine:
"At the end of World War II, the United States and its allies decided that sustained mass unemployment was an existential threat to capitalism and had to be avoided at all costs. In response, governments everywhere targeted full employment as the master policy variable-trying to get to, and sustain, an unemployment rate of roughly four percent. The problem with doing so, over time, is that targeting any variable long enough undermines the value of the variable itself-a phenomenon known as Goodhart's law. (..)
" what we see [today] is a reversal of power between creditors and debtors as the anti-inflationary regime of the past 30 years undermines itself-what we might call "Goodhart's revenge." In this world, yields compress and creditors fret about their earnings, demanding repayment of debt at all costs. Macro-economically, this makes the situation worse: the debtors can't pay-but politically, and this is crucial-it empowers debtors since they can't pay, won't pay, and still have the right to vote.
"The traditional parties of the center-left and center-right, the builders of this anti-inflationary order, get clobbered in such a world, since they are correctly identified by these debtors as the political backers of those demanding repayment in an already unequal system, and all from those with the least assets. This produces anti-creditor, pro-debtor coalitions-in-waiting that are ripe for the picking by insurgents of the left and the right, which is exactly what has happened.
"In short, to understand the election of Donald Trump we need to listen to the trumpets blowing everywhere in the highly indebted developed countries and the people who vote for them.
"The global revolt against elites is not just driven by revulsion and loss and racism. It's also driven by the global economy itself. This is a global phenomenon that marks one thing above all. The era of neoliberalism is over. The era of neonationalism has just begun."
efcdons 11.19.16 at 3:07 pm 161 ( 161 )Faustusnotes @147
You don't live here, do you? I'm really asking a genuine question because the way you are framing the question ("SPECIFICS!!!!!!) suggests you don't. (Just to show my background, born and raised in Australia (In the electoral division of Kooyong, home of Menzies) but I've lived in the US since 2000 in the midwest (MO, OH) and currently in the south (GA))
If this election has taught us anything it's no one cared about "specifics". It was a mood, a feeling which brought trump over the top (and I'm not talking about the "average" trump voter because that is meaningless. The average trunp voter was a republican voter in the south who the Dems will never get so examining their motivations is immaterial to future strategy. I'm talking about the voters in the Upper Midwest from places which voted for Obama twice then switched to trump this year to give him his margin of victory).
trump voters have been pretty clear they don't actually care about the way trump does (or even doesn't) do what he said he would do during the campaign. It was important to them he showed he was "with" people like them. They way he did that was partially racialized (law and order, islamophobia) but also a particular emphasis on blue collar work that focused on the work. Unfortunately these voters, however much you tell them they should suck it up and accept their generations of familial experience as relatively highly paid industrial workers (even if it is something only their fathers and grandfathers experienced because the factories were closing when the voters came of age in the 80s and 90s) is never coming back and they should be happy to retrain as something else, don't want it. They want what their families have had which is secure, paid, benefits rich, blue collar work.
trump's campaign empathized with that feeling just by focusing on the factory jobs as jobs and not as anachronisms that are slowly fading away for whatever reason. Clinton might have been "correct", but these voters didn't want to hear "the truth". And as much as you can complain about how stupid they are for wanting to be lied to, that is the unfortunate reality you, and the Democratic party, have to accept.
The idea they don't want "government help" is ridiculous. They love the government. They just want the government to do things for them and not for other people (which unfortunately includes blah people but also "the coasts", "sillicon valley", etc.). Obama won in 2008 and 2012 in part due to the auto bailout.
trump was offering a "bailout" writ large. Clinton had no (good) counteroffer. It was like the tables were turned. Romney was the one talking about "change" and "restructuring" while Obama was defending keeping what was already there.
"Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course - the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check."
So yes. Clinton needed vague promises. She needed something more than retraining and "jobs of the future" and "restructuring". She needed to show she was committed to their way of life, however those voters saw it, and would do something, anything, to keep it alive. trump did that even though his plan won't work. And maybe he'll be punished for it. In 4 years. But in the interim the gop will destroy so many things we need and rely on as well as entrench their power for generations through the Supreme Court.
But really, it was hard for Clinton to be trusted to act like she cared about these peoples' way of life because she (through her husband fairly or unfairly) was associated with some of the larger actions and choices which helped usher in the decline.
Clinton toward the end offered tariffs. But the trump campaign hit back with what turned out to be a pretty strong counter attack – ""How's she going to get tough on China?" said Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro on CNN's Quest Means Business. He notes that some of Clinton's economic advisors have supported TPP or even worked on it. ""
Nov 19, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
From: Michael Flynn will be a disaster as national security adviser by Richard WolffeLike his new boss, Flynn appears very comfortable with the current Russian regime, working with Russia Today , the Kremlin's propaganda TV network. He apparently received classified intelligence briefings while running a lobbying firm for foreign clients. He seems to favor working with Russia to combat Islamist terrorists while turning a blind eye to Russia's designs on Ukraine and its support for the Assad regime in Syria.
... ... ..
In the brief time since he won the election, Trump's first call with a world leader was not with a trusted US ally but with the Egyptian dictator President al-Sisi. He sat with prime minister Abe of Japan this week, but his aides told the Japanese not to believe every word Trump said.
He met with the populist right wing British politician Nigel Farage before meeting the British prime minister Theresa May. But he somehow found time to meet with several Indian real estate developers to discuss his property interests with them, and the Trump Organization signed a Kolkata deal on Friday.
Amid his many interactions with foreign powers, Trump is speaking without briefing papers from the State Department because his transition team is in such chaos that they have yet to establish meaningful contact with the nation's foreign policy professionals.
Nov 13, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.comEven before the Iraq War, John Bolton was a leading brain behind the neoconservatives' war-and-conquest agenda. Long ago I wrote about him, in "John Bolton and U.S. Lawlessness," "The Bush administration's international lawlessness did not come from nowhere. Its intellectual foundations were laid long before 9/11 by neoconservatives." I quoted Bolton, "It is a big mistake to for us to grant any validity to international law because over the long term, the goal of those who think that it really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States." In fact I set up a web page, the John Bolton File , containing various links about him and the neocons.
Nearly all of Donald Trump's appointments to his transition team are very encouraging. Indeed, I have known many of them for years. But he could undermine his whole agenda by allowing neocons back into their former staffing and leadership role over Republican foreign policy. The New York Times reported how many are now scrambling to get back into their old dominant positions. And now National Review , which supported all the disasters in Iraq, has come out to promote Bolton for secretary of state.
I have written about the neocons for many years. Their originators were former leftists who later became anti-communists. After the collapse of communism, they provided the intellectual firepower for hawks and imperialists who wanted an aggressive American foreign policy. Having lived and done business for many years in the Third World, I thought they would only bring about disasters for America. What especially interested me was their almost total lack of experience in and knowledge about the outside world, particularly Asia and Latin America. I even set up a web page called War Party Neoconservative Biographies as I researched their education and experience.
Brilliant academics as many of them were, their "foreign" experience was at best a semester or two in London or, for the more daring, some studies in Paris or, for the Jewish ones, a summer on a kibbutz in Israel.
They are above all Washington insiders. John Bolton is very typical. A summa cum laude graduate of Yale, then Yale Law School, time with a top Washington law firm, and then various academic and political appointments, but no foreign living or work experience.
Also, as sheltered intellectuals, often in cluttered small offices, many found it exciting to imagine themselves ruling much of the world, like the old Roman proconsuls.
Long ago Peter Viereck explained them with his observation about the vicarious "lust of many intellectuals for brute violence." No wonder they urged Bush on to his disastrous war and occupation policies. Even before Iraq they were first urging dominance over Russia and then military confrontation with China, when a U.S. spy plane was collided by a Chinese fighter plane. It wasn't just the Arab world which was in their sights.
I write about all this based on my own experience of studying in Germany and France, working 15 years in South America, and speaking four languages fluently.
Trump appointments so far are really showing his focus upon getting America back on track with faster economic growth, which has been so stunted by Obama's runaway regulatory regime. To understand their costs, see analysis in the Competitive Enterprise Institute's "Ten Thousand Commandments."
But more unending wars will continue to sap America's strength and prejudice the world's former goodwill toward our nation. Empires all eventually make a transition from where they are profitable to when they become destructively bankrupting. Few would now doubt that America has crossed this threshold. When it costs us a million dollars per year per man to field combat infantry in unending wars, we will face economic ruin just like happened with the Roman Empire.
The risk is that Trump's foreign-affairs transition team becomes infiltrated. Much of the transition is being run out of the Heritage Foundation, which was a big promoter of the Iraq War.
Mainly, however, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the transition team, was another war wanter and still supports the neoconservative agenda-e.g., he strongly supported the attack on Libya . He also wants much more military spending.
Pence is great on domestic issues but not on foreign policy. Although a Catholic, he also is very close to those evangelicals who believe that supporting Israel's expansion will help to speed up the second coming of Christ and, consequently, Armageddon. One must assume that he, together with the military-industrial complex, is plugging for the neoconservatives again to work their agenda upon America and the world.
Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative .
Nov 13, 2016 | duffelblog.com
ALEPPO, Syria - In the midst of sectarian violence that has overtaken Syria for more than five years, nine-year-old Asil Kassab is shocked by the defeat of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"I am so unhappy that a woman was not elected President," Asil said, briefly ducking as a bomb from an American MQ-1 Predator drone leveled the hospital behind her. "Hillary Clinton is truly a role model for young girls like me. I was so hoping that she'd be the one to order the drone strike that would inevitably end my life."
Despite Clinton's support for regime change in Syria, leading to what is arguably one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the early century, Kassab surprisingly says she holds no ill will.
"I don't put much stock in the misogynist agenda of American politics," said Kassab, who, like many children, cannot remember a time before the war that has killed 400,000 people, including her family, and created over 4.7 million refugees. "People will always criticize her because she is a woman in a man's world; One who has the audacity to run for President."
"It is sexism that motivates her critics, plain and simple," she added. "It is sexism, and racism, that caused her to lose the election!"
... ... ...
Nov 18, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
paulmeli November 17, 2016 at 3:00 pmPeter Pan November 17, 2016 at 6:37 pm
"Top US intelligence official: I submitted my resignation" As of January 20th or so. When he was going to be gone anyway. Just had to get his name in the news one more time.fresno dan November 17, 2016 at 6:54 pm
Clapper has been like a difficult to eradicate sexually transmitted disease in the intelligence community. Unfortunately, I suspect he may have already infected others who will remain and pass it around.
November 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm
So, is Obama gonna pardon him? Silly me, I keep forgetting that indisputable violations of the law are not prosecuted when done by those at the top
www.nakedcapitalism.comLarryB November 17, 2016 at 2:59 pmKnifecatcher November 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm
The "Poison Tap" is not really that big of deal. It's usually trivially easy to break into any computer that you can physically access. You can boot from a CD or USB drive, for instance, or even just steal the hard drive. Security on USB needs to be improved, but this is not even close to being the end of the world.Daryl November 17, 2016 at 6:30 pm
+1. If someone has direct physical access to your device – PC or smartphone – you're pretty much hosed.River November 17, 2016 at 7:35 pm
Yep. Physical access is root access.hunkerdown November 17, 2016 at 7:51 pm
If you have the time with the physical machine anyway.
I could see kids having fun with this though. Going into a box store that has computers on display, getting access (even better if they have a web cam on it). Upload porn or shocking material and showing the customers and watching/recording the reactions and putting it on youtube.
Or more nefarious, the same thing but for casing a store (limited vantage from the web cam .but may better than nothing).
Etc. lots you could do and more importantly not a lot of skill required. Lower bar for entry for hacking mischief and a low cost.
LarryB, and how long will that take you? And will you have the computer back together by the time they see you? And will logs suggest anything funny happened around that time? What if the disk is passworded? What about that not all systems are exclusively for business/corporate use (see also BYOD) and therefore may be tuned to varying security postures owing to other factors?
Physical access ≠ game over. Physical access + unguarded time + experience + tooling = game over. One used to could safely leave someone alone with their computer while one went to the kitchen for a glass of water. Now this tooling has made the time and experience components a bit less relevant to successful, quick pwnage with few or no tracks. Neato!
Nov 18, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Pat November 17, 2016 at 2:38 pmKatharine November 17, 2016 at 3:26 pm
I gather our President lectured our President Elect on the necessity to stand up to Russia. (My first thought is that like that stupid charitable campaign to Stand Up to Cancer!, another place where the phrase was either meaningless or foolhardy.)
IF Russia ever started actually interfering in our relations with our neighbors or attempted to get us thrown out of our legal bases in foreign nations, I would say that Barack Obama might have a point. Since we are the party guilty of such actions, he would do better to clean up his own administration's relations with Russia, apologize to Russia, and then STFU.
Which I am sure he will do once everyone recognizes that that is the appropriate thing to do. But as we well know everyone else will have to do the heavy lifting of figuring that out before he will even acknowledge the possibility.JSM November 17, 2016 at 10:15 pm
The Guardian headline struck me as hilarious:
Obama urges Trump against realpolitik in relations with Russia
I mean, we can't have people actually taking our real interests into consideration in foreign relations, can we? That would be so–unexceptional.Knot Galt November 17, 2016 at 3:46 pm
Why not make it affirmative?
'Obama Urges Trump to Maintain Pointless, Hyper-Aggresive Encirclement of Russia Strategy, Acknowledge Nuclear Apocalypse "Inevitable"'OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL November 18, 2016 at 12:28 am
In the best of circumstances, Obama in his post-presidency will be akin to Jimmy Carter and stay out of politics, less or less. (I think he has exhausted all trust and value.) If he goes the Jimmy Carter route; he is bound to do worse and will fade away. I don't think he'll go the Clinton route unless Michelle tries to run for office.
In this case, Obama is probably too vain and Michelle being the saner of the two might rein him in? Best of any world would, as you say, STFU. (As the Ex Prez. Obamamometer, that is probably not in the cards.)Adamski November 18, 2016 at 5:18 am
Maybe he will end up like Geo Bush, sitting in the bathtub drooling while he paints childish self-portraits
Or maybe he will end up like OJ, where he tries to go hang out with all his cool friends and they tell him to get lostJTMcPhee November 17, 2016 at 3:53 pm
Ppl still mention him as a master orator, etc. Lots of post presidency speaking engagements I suppose. I'd prefer him not to but then again if he makes enough annually from it to beat the Clintons we might get the satisfaction of annoying themJSM November 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm
"legal bases in foreign nations " Another reason why "we" are Fokked, thinking like that.Steve C November 17, 2016 at 5:08 pm
The good people of the US are awaiting DHS' final report on Russia's attempts to hack our elections. We deserve as much.NotTimothyGeithner November 17, 2016 at 6:11 pm
If there's any basis to the allegations it's about time someone provided it. Up till now it's been unfounded assertions. Highly suspect at that.timbers November 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm
My guess is the whole Russian boogeyman was a ploy to attract those "moderate Republicans" who liked Romney.RMO November 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm
"My hope is that the president-elect coming in takes a similarly constructive approach, finding areas where we can cooperate with Russia where our values and interests align, but that the president-elect also is willing to stand up to Russia when they are deviating from our values and international norms," Obama said. "But I don't expect that the president-elect will follow exactly our approach." What Obama is saying is he wants Russia to join America in bombing hospitals, schools, children, doctors, public facilities like water treatment plants, bridges, weddings, homes, and civilians to list just few – while arming and supporting terrorists for regime change. And if anyone points this out, Russia like the US is supposed to say "I know you are but what am I?"Lemmy November 17, 2016 at 2:42 pm
Yes, because "U.S. values" as defined by the actions of the last 16 years have been so enlightened and successful and because the U.S. is a sterling example of adhering to international norms
Just how deluded, ignorant or sociopathic does a person need to be that they can say things like that without vomiting?
Is this the same Russia that just hacked our election and subverted our fine democracy? Why, President Obama, I believe it behooves you to stand up to Russia yourself. Show President-Elect Trump how it is done sir!
Nov 16, 2016 | www.unz.comCastigating the US electorate as accomplices and facilitators of wars, or at best describing it as ignorant sheep herded by political elites, speaks only to a partial reality; in public opinion polls, even in ones weighted overwhelmingly to the center-right, the American people consistently opposse militarism and wars, past and present.
The right and Left, each in their own way, fail to grasp the contradiction that define US political life, namely, the profound gap between the American public and the Washington elite on questions of war and peace, and the electoral process which results in the perpetuation of militarism. We will proceed to analyze the most recent polling of US public opinion and then turn to the electoral outcomes. In the second part we will discuss the contradictions and raise several ways in which the contradiction can be resolved.
... ... ...Analysis and Perspectives
On all major issues of foreign policy pertaining to war and peace, the political elite is far more bellicose than the US public; far more likely to ignore wars that threaten national security; more likely to violate the Constitution;and are committed to increasing military spending even as it reduces social programs.
The political elites are more likely to intervene or become "entangled" in Middle East wars, against the opinion of majoritarian popular opinion. No doubt the decidedly oligarchical military-industrial complexes, Israeli power configuration and mass media publicists, are far more influential than the pro-democracy public.
The future portends the political elites' continuation of military policies, increasing security threats and diminishing public representation.
Some Hypothesis on the Contradiction between Popular Opinion and Electoral Outcomes
There is clearly a substantial gap between the majority of Americans and the political elite regarding the military's role overseas, wars, constitutional prerogives, the demonization of Russia, the deployment of US troops to Syria and the US entanglement in Middle East wars, which it is understood to be Israel.
Yet it is also a fact that the US electorate votes for the two major political parties that supports wars, back Middle East alliances with warring states, Saudi Arabia and Israel,and sanction Russia as the main threat to US security.ORDER IT NOW
Several hypotheses regarding this contradiction should be considered.
1. Close to 50% of the electorate abstain from voting in Presidential and Congressional elections, which most likely includes those Americans that oppose the US military role overseas. In other words the war parties 'win' elections with 25% or less of the electorate.
2. The fact that the mass media vehemently supports one or the other of the two war parties probably influences a minority of the electorate which votes in the elections. However, critics of the mass media have exaggerated their influence because they fail to explain why the majority of the American public respondents are in contrary to the mass media and oppose their militarist propaganda.
3. Many of the anti-militarism Americans who decide to vote for war parties may be choosing the lesser evil. They may decide there are possible degrees of war mongering.
4. Americans who oppose militarism may decide to vote for militarist politicians for reasons other than overseas wars. For example, majoritarian Americans may vote for a militarist politician who secures financing for local infrastructure programs, or dairy subsidies or promises of employment, or lowering the public debt or opposing corrupt incumbents.
5. Americans opposed to militarism may be deceived by demagogic war party presidential candidates who promise peace and who, once in power, escalate wars.
6. Likewise, 'identity politics' can divert anti-militarist voters into supporting war party candidates who claim office because of their race, ethnicity, gender, loyalties to overseas states and sexual preference.7. The war parties block anti-militarist parties from access to the mass media, especially during electoral debates viewed by tens of millions. War parties establish onerous restrictions for registering anti-militarist parties, voters with non-violent prison records or lacking photo identification or transport to voting sites or time-off from work. In other words the electoral process is rigged and imposes 'forced voting' and abstention: limited choices obligate abstention or voting for war parties.
Only if elections were open and democratic, where anti-militarist parties were allowed equal rights to register and debate in the mass media, and where financial campaigns are equalized will the contradictions between anti-militarist majorities and voters for pro-war elites be resolved.
Clinton's defeat is more than anything else a rejection of Obama. Obama descended into the fray to bolster her campaign and witnessed the rejection of his own presidency. Conquered, in the 2008 electoral campaign, with a pledge of support not only for Wall Street but also "Main Street", that is, the ordinary citizen. Since then, the middle class has witnessed its conditions deteriorate, the rate of poverty has increased while the rich have become even richer. Now, marketing himself as the champion of the middle class, the billionaire outsider, Donald Trump, has won the presidency.
How will this change of guard at the White House change US foreign policy? Certainly, the core objective of remaining the dominant global power will remain untouched. [Yet] this position is increasing fragile. The USA is losing ground both within the economic and the political domains, [ceding] it to China, Russia and other "emerging countries". This is why it is throwing the sword onto the scale. This is followed by a series of wars where Hillary Clinton played the [lead] protagonist.
As her authorized biography reveals, she was the one as First Lady, to convince the President, her consort, to engage in war to destroy Yugoslavia, initiating a series of "humanitarian interventions" against "dictators" charged with "genocide".
As her e-mails make clear, when she was Secretary of State, she convinced President Obama to engage in war to demolish Libya and to roll out the same operation against Syria. She was the one to promote the internal destabilization of Venezuela and Brazil and the US "Pivot to Asia" – an anti-Chinese manoeuvre. And yet again, she also used the Clinton Foundation as a vehicle to prepare the terrain in Ukraine for the Maidan Square putsch which paved the way for Usa/Nato escalation against Russia.
Given that all this has not prevented the relative decline of US power, it is up to the Trump Administration to correct its shot, while keeping its gaze fixed on the same target. There is no air of reality to the hypothesis that Trump intends to abandon the system of alliances centered around US-led Nato. But he will of course thump his fists on the table to secure a deeper commitment, particularly on military expenditure from the allies.
Trump could seek an agreement with Russia, an additional objective of which would be to pull it away from China. China: against which Trump announces economic measures, accompanied by an additional strengthening of US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Such decisions, that will surely open the door for further wars, do not depend on Trump's warrior-like temperament, but on centres of power wherein lies the matrix of command on which the White House itself depends.
Here you have the colossal financial groups that dominate the economy (the share value alone of the companies listed on Wall Street is higher than the entire US national income).
Then you have the multinationals whose economic dimensions exceed those of entire states and which delocalize production to countries offering cheap labour. The knock-on effect? Domestically, factories will close and unemployment will increase, which will in turn lead to the conditions of the US middle class becoming even worse.
Then you have the giants of the war industry that extract profit from war.
It is 21st century capitalism, which the USA expresses in its most extreme form, that increasingly polarizes the rich and poor. 1% of the global population has more than the other 99%. The President[-elect], Trump, belongs to the class of the superrich.
Nov 14, 2016 | marknesop.wordpress.comIndependent: Government rejects MPs' call to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia over alleged war crimes
Dr Liam Fox, Boris Johnson, Sir Michael Fallon, and Priti Patel issued a joint rejection
The Government has rejected calls by two parliamentary committees for it to stop the sale of British bombs to Saudi Arabia's armed forces in Yemen.
Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in the country, where reports on the ground suggest they have blown up international hospitals, funerals, schools, and weddings.
Despite the reported incidents and the worsening humanitarian situation in the country since the bombardment began, the UK has signed off £3.3 billion in arms sales to the country since the start of the offensive….
What's not to like about supping from the Wahabbi cup?
Nov 16, 2016 | rare.usBolton was one of the loudest advocates of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and still stupefyingly insists it was the right call 13 years later. "I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct," Bolton said just last year.
Trump, rightly, believes that decision was a colossal mistake that destabilized the region. "Iraq used to be no terrorists," Trump said in 2015. "(N)ow it's the Harvard of terrorism."
"If you look at Iraq from years ago, I'm not saying he was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy," Trump said of Saddam Hussein, "but it was a lot better than it is right now."
Trump has said U.S. intervention in Iraq in 2003 "helped to throw the region into chaos and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper." In contrast, Bolton has said explicitly that he wants to repeat Iraq-style regime change in Syrian and Iran.
You can't learn from mistakes if you don't see mistakes.
Trump has blamed George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for helping to create ISIS - but should add John Bolton to that list, who essentially agreed with all three on our regime change debacles.
In 2011, Bolton bashed Obama "for his refusal to directly target Gaddafi" and declared, "there is a strategic interest in toppling Gaddafi… But Obama missed it." In fact, Obama actually took Bolton's advice and bombed the Libyan dictator into the next world. Secretary of State Clinton bragged , "We came, we saw, he died."
When Trump was asked last year if Libya and the region would be more stable today with Gaddafi in power, he replied "100 percent." Mr. Trump is 100 percent right .
No man is more out of touch with the situation in the Middle East or more dangerous to our national security than Bolton.
All nuance is lost on the man. The fact that Russia has had a base in Syria for 50 years doesn't deter Bolton from calling for all out, no holds barred war in Syria. Bolton criticized the current administration for offering only a tepid war. For Bolton, only a hot-blooded war to create democracy across the globe is demanded.
Woodrow Wilson would be proud, but the parents of our soldiers should be mortified. War should be the last resort, never the first. War should be understood to be a hell no one wishes for. Dwight Eisenhower understood this when he wrote, "I hate war like only a soldier can, the stupidity, the banality, the futility."
Bolton would not understand this because, like many of his generation, he used every privilege to avoid serving himself. Bolton said, with the threat of the Vietnam draft over his head, that "he had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy."
But he's seems to be okay with your son or daughter dying wherever his neoconservative impulse leads us: "Even before the Iraq War, John Bolton was a leading brain behind the neoconservatives' war-and-conquest agenda," notes The American Conservative's Jon Utley.
At a time when Americans thirst for change and new thinking, Bolton is an old hand at failed foreign policy.
The man is a menace.
Rand Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky.
Nov 16, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
likbez 11.16.16 at 2:17 am 2
I think the most interesting point that Eric made is the following:
…These trends owe to a decades-long effort to discredit Keynesianism and the New Deal in favor of leaner budgets, lower taxes, and fewer public services. But it is worth noting that in the 1930s, the US diverged from a global trend toward right-wing extremism owing in large measure to the rapid and visible successes of the New Deal. In the years after the 2008 crash, it did not.
This idea that "the next stop after neoliberal austerity is neofascism" became recently popular. And we so see the rise of far right forces in most European countries, although details differ greatly.
It proved to be partially true at least at one country - Ukraine, were corrupt neoliberal regime of Yanikovich got under pressure of external debts repayment and despite Russian provision of the bridge loan was forcefully replaced by far right Provisional government of Turchinov-Yatsenyuk. Not without help from the US embassy.
As far as Ukraine can tell us, "after neoliberalism" flavor of neofascism has greatly suppressed ethnic component (preserved mainly in a form of an external scapegoat like Russia as a state, and, especially, Russian language). In other words, ethnic component is replaced/supplemented by cultural, with the emphasis on the mastery and actual usage of the language, as the key criteria of "belonging".
I think somewhat similar processes are under way in Hungary and Poland. Both countries have far nationalist right government. With Poland being more similar to Ukraine, and Hungary more of a special case. Both have strong anti-immigration sentiments, which in Poland extends to Ukrainians. In Greece devastated by EU "bailout" far right parties also have a very strong showing.
It is interesting to note that, if we look at NSDAP program of 1920 (Munich program), it is much more radical then any of proposal that supposedly belong to "Trump program" (if such exists, as Trump has only one grate speech in which he described his program watch-v=d2s9AV910NY):
The 25-point Program of the NSDAP
… … …
7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.
8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
9.All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.
10.The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently, we demand:
11.Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.
12.In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore, we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
13.We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
14.We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
15.We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
16.We demand the creation of a healthy middle class and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.
17.We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.
18.We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.
… … …
21.The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.
22. We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.
Nov 15, 2016 | eadaily.comNearly 60% (58.3%) of the population in Ukraine lives below the poverty line, according to data of the M.V. Ptukha Institute of Demography and Social Surveys, the National Academy of Science of Ukraine.
In 2015, this indicator was half as much – 28.6%. "The poverty index has increased twofold along with the actual cost of living," says Svetlana Polyakova , the leading research fellow at the Living Standard Department at the Demography Institute. "In addition, within the past year, we saw a growth of the poverty level defined by the UN criteria for estimation of internationally comparable poverty line in Central and Eastern Europe."
The highest poverty line was registered among the families having at least one child – 38.6% and pensioners – 23%. The situation may deteriorate this year. According to the State Service of Statistics, savings of Ukrainians in April-June fell by 5.297billion hryvnias (more than $200 million at the current exchange rate).
The cost of living in Ukraine in 2016 makes up 1,544 hryvnias (about $60).
Earlier, Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman said the previous policy of populism and "money printing and distribution to people" made the country weaker and the people poorer.
Nov 12, 2016 | www.thedailybeast.com
'At the height of World War II, the U.S. intelligence service recruited world-famous Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung as 'Agent 488' to work against the Nazis'
"PARIS - By the middle of 1942, a handful of senior officers in the German army and intelligence apparatus worried that their Führer, Adolf Hitler, had gone completely insane.
That may sound, today, like an understatement. But as happens when any populist demagogue takes power, many people embraced him at first, many others were willing to makes excuses for him, and still others convinced themselves that they could live with him at least. Indeed, over the previous decade the vast majority of Germans were persuaded that Hitler understood them, and they understood him-such was the chemistry between the man and his constituents-even if much of the rest of the world found him appalling.
"He is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul," world-renowned Swiss pyschotherapist Carl Jung told an American reporter in 1938.
But at this moment in 1942, Hitler was drinking heavily and had become increasingly erratic. Three million German soldiers fighting through a bitter winter had failed to take Moscow and his grand plans for conquest of the Soviet Union were turning to disaster. The United States had entered the war, and was beginning to bring its enormous resources to bear. A growing group of officers around Hitler wanted to remove him from power before he brought upon the Fatherland complete destruction.
But who could diagnose Hitler's illness?
They thought of Jung, and not for entirely laudable reasons.
For years, Jung's famous schism with his erstwhile mentor, Sigmund Freud, had been portrayed by the Nazis as a great divide between the Jewish Freud, decadently obsessed with the role of sex in the psyche, and the Aryan Jung, who drew on more mystical, symbolic, cultural elements for his analysis. And while Jung did not see himself as anti-Semitic and often told skeptical American audiences emphatically that he was not, he nonetheless allowed many Germans to believe that he was-even as he helped Jewish colleagues to escape the Holocaust. As Robert Boynton observed in The New York Times a few years ago, "He played all sides."
With Hitler's sanity a growing question, and believing Jung was someone Hitler would trust, one of the Führer's physicians telephoned Jung in Switzerland and asked him to come to Hitler's retreat in Berchtesgarden. The idea was to observe him discreetly and provide a neutral-sounding analysis of his condition that could then be used to persuade other officers that the time had come to oust the leader of the Third Reich before he brought the German heartland to utter ruin.
Jung declined, citing his age, 67, and the difficulty of crossing borders. But he may also have thought Germany was getting, in Hitler, exactly what it deserved.
Had the doctor and the conspiring military officers studied Jung's work a little more closely in its original form, not the bowdlerized versions available in the Reich, they might have discovered that the demise of Hitler and the destruction of Germany as a unified nation was proceeding almost precisely as Jung predicted it should.
In early November 1942, just as Britain and the United States were launching their invasion of North Africa, a Wall Street lawyer and former diplomat named Allen Dulles made his way to Switzerland as the point man for the newly established American intelligence operation, the Office of Strategic Services. It later evolved into the vast Central Intelligence Agency with Dulles as its first and longest lasting civilian director, overseeing coups in Iran and Guatemala, and finally the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. But in 1942 the OSS was a seat of the pants operation, and Dulles, based in the Swiss capital Bern, was making things up as he went along.
Switzerland was a neutral island in the middle of Europe's vast war, and its sleepy little capital was a nest of espionage and intrigue. (Scott Miller's book, Agent 110: An American Spymaster and the German Resistance in WWII, to be published in March, gives a particularly vivid picture of the place, the people, and their times.)
One of Dulles's earliest recruits there was an American woman, Mary Bancroft, who was living with her second husband, a French-Swiss businessman, in Zurich. She was, in the context of the times, quite notorious. Her marriage was open, and she made no secret of her many affairs. Indeed, she liked to regale people with the intimate details. She spoke bad German and worse Swiss-German, loudly, and was famously incapable of keeping secrets in any language. Not a good candidate for the clandestine service, one would think.
But Bancroft did some work as a journalist, trying to explain Switzerland to the United States and vice versa, which gave her a little cover. She was a very patriotic American. And at 39 she was full of energy. At a cocktail or dinner, she might be the only person you'd remember. "I used up all the oxygen," she boasted years later.
Mary Bancroft was also an "analysand" of Dr. Jung and part of the group around him known as the Psychological Club. Some members-maybe most of them-loathed her. But Jung liked her and so did his "second wife," Toni Wolff, who asked Bancroft to write a paper for the group.
Dulles, then pushing 50, not only liked Bancroft, he put her in direct touch with a senior German intelligence officer, Hans-Bernd Gisevius, who was in possession of extraordinary and deeply granular information about the inner workings of the Abwehr, German military intelligence, and some of the several plots to kill or remove Hitler.
Dulles also took Bancroft into his bed.
And Bancroft told Jung… everything. Then she reported back to Dulles what Jung told her, often briefing Dulles during "the ritual cigarette after lovemaking," as she wrote afterward. Much of this before Dulles and Jung had ever met face to face.
According to Jung biographer Deirdre Bair, "Dulles was aware of the gossip about Jung's alleged sympathy for the Nazi cause as well as the allegations of his active collaboration. From his many different intelligence sources, he ordered a thorough appraisal which he believed proved such allegations unfounded and untrue."
It's doubtful that Dulles spent much time poring over Jung's academic works on the collective unconscious, introversion and extroversion, symbolism, alchemy, or other topics, but he almost certainly took the time to read an interview with Jung published in 1938, just after British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain crumbled before Hitler, acceding to Germany's claims on the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.
The Pulitzer-Prize-winning American foreign correspondent H.R. Knickerbocker, who had spent years covering the Soviets and Germans, asked Jung to sit down for Cosmopolitan magazine (a rather different publication in those days) and share his thoughts on the three most infamous dictators of the time: Hitler, the Italian Benito Mussolini, and the Soviet Josef Stalin.
As Dulles himself wrote afterwards, Jung's "judgment on these leaders and their likely reactions to passing events was of real help to me in gauging the political situation."
Indeed the Cosmopolitan interview showed a level of foresight any observer then, or now, would appreciate, especially when he described the way a dictator can engage-and be engaged by-his people.
Jung saw Hitler as a mystic, a "medicine man," channeling the unconscious as well as conscious desires of the German people, and saw similarities with some of his patients who heard voices telling them what to do:
"He is like a man who listens intently to a stream of suggestions in a whispered voice from a mysterious source and then acts upon them. In our case, even if occasionally our unconscious does reach us as through dreams, we have too much rationality, too much cerebrum to obey it… but Hitler listens and obeys… He is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German's unconscious ear. He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate…"
And Jung understood well the dangers of nationalist populism, even in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan society:
"Don't you know that if you choose one hundred of the most intelligent people in the world and get them all together, they are a stupid mob? Ten thousand of them together would have the collective intelligence of an alligator… In a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd. Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicions and vicious traits of the savage."
But what surely was most interesting for Dulles, who believed even in 1943 that the Soviets were as great a threat as the Nazis, was Jung's prescient prescription in 1938 for how to deal with Hitler, this shaman who listened only to his inner voices, ignoring advisors and and critics.
"Turn his attention away from the West," said Jung. "Let him go to Russia. That is the logical cure for Hitler…"
Knickerbocker asked what would happen to Germany then.
"Ah, that's her own business. Our interest in it is simply that it will save the West," said Jung, almost three years before Hitler launched his ill-fated Operation Barbarossa. "Nobody has ever bitten into Russia without regretting it."
In fact, Jung had concluded that the only way for Europe to have peace was for Germany to be divided. A nation as led by these dictators was a huge mob, "a lizard, or a crocodile, or a wolf." It is "a monster," he said. "That's why I am for small nations. Small nations mean small catastrophes. Big nations mean big catastrophes…"
No, he was not going to be a party to saving the Reich, with or without the Führer. But he would use the information he had learned from others plotting Hitler's overthrow for the benefit of the Allies.
By early 1943, Jung and Dulles had met in person, according to Deirdre Bair's 2004 biography, Jung, which first focused attention on his relationship with the OSS. By then Dulles and Jung were engaged in a "still-experimental marriage between espionage and psychology," the psychological profiling of political and military leaders.
Dulles gave Jung the code name Agent 488 and sent a telegram to David Bruce at the operational headquarters of the OSS in London suggesting he pay careful attention to the information as well as analysis Jung was producing. Among other things, Jung predicted Hitler would commit suicide as the end came near.
"Without specifying," Bair writes, "Dulles told Bruce that Jung's opinion was based on 'dependable information,'" most likely from some of those who had been plotting to oust Hitler, "and perhaps from unidentified patients.
"Jung knew that Hitler was already living underground in his East Prussian bunker and that anyone who wished to see him had first to be disarmed and X-rayed. Guests invited to dine had to sit in silence as Hitler did all the talking, and the resulting 'mental strain' had already 'broken several officers.'"
Jung believed that the leaders of the army were too disorganized to carry out a coup even though Bancroft had told him all about Gisevius (with whom she had started another affair), and about Gisevius's involvement with German military and intelligence factions plotting Hitler's demise.
In February 1944, Carl Jung was out walking and had a bad fall, breaking his leg. A few days later he suffered a heart attack and found himself bed-ridden for the next several months under the protective gaze of his "first" wife, Emma. By the time she allowed Mary Bancroft to visit him in mid-August, much had happened.
Enormous armies were closing in on Germany from the east and the west, racing to see who could conquer the most territory and determine the future shape of Europe. The Allies had landed on Normandy's beaches in June and were on their way to liberating Paris before charging on toward Germany. The Soviets were pushing through the Balkans. And the German officers who had plotted for so long to eliminate Hitler were determined to make their move.
In mid-July 1944, Gisevius had decided to return from Switzerland to Germany, knowing that the last, best effort to overthrow the Führer was about to take place. He met with the leader of what was called "Operation Valkyrie," Claus von Stauffenberg, and realized that part of the plan was to cut a deal with the Soviets. It was thought they might be more tolerant of the horrendous atrocities committed by the Nazi Reich.
Eight days later, on July 20, 1944, the massive bomb that Stauffenberg had left in a conference room with Hitler at the Wolf's Lair, the Fürher's secret command center, somehow failed to kill him. But it spelled death for the many conspirators plotting against him.
When Bancroft met Jung on Aug. 19, she was stunned by his physical frailty, but impressed by his still voracious curiosity. He quizzed her "at white heat" about the failed plot at the Wolf's Lair. He said that he had not heard in any reports the names of the two most senior officers he knew were plotting against Hitler: Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, and Gen. Hans Oster, so he hoped there might be new attempts to kill Hitler. But at the same time, the mystic side of him saw the surprising failure of the well-conceived plot as Hitler being given a chance once again "to lead the German people to destruction."
And thus it came to pass.
By the spring of 1945, the Third Reich was no more, Germany was in ruins, and the challenge for the Western Allies was to persuade the German people to surrender to them more quickly than to the Russians.
Jung wrote a note to Dulles that he passed on to Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, saying that Nazi propaganda could no longer be effective, constructed as it was around a moral hole, or vacuum, and praising Eisenhower's own proclamations to the German people, which gave them hope.
Shortly after the war, Allen Dulles told one of Agent 488's longtime disciples, "Nobody will probably ever know how much Professor Jung contributed to the Allied Cause during the war, by seeing people who were connected somehow with the other side." But Dulles said there was no way to reveal them: Jung's services were "highly classified," they "would have to remain undocumented," and so they are.
But that has not prevented Jung's views from becoming part of our collective unconscious, helping to make us wary of dictators and demagogues, and warier still of those who embrace them." Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 12:11 PM ken melvin said in reply to im1dc... Thanks! Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 04:57 PM sglover said in reply to im1dc... Jesus Christ.... Trump is a lot of undesirable things, but do you think you persuade **anybody** by dragging in Hitler? And what's more, trying to do it with decades-old spook psychoanalysis?
You know who else tried this amateur-hour horseshit? Krauthammer, who back in the 90's publicly deployed his "expertise" as a shrink to "analyze" Bill Clinton. Yeah, yeah, I know he has the M.D. credential. When has he ever had time to practice, between all the specious TeeVee bloviating? I don't recall what "clinical diagnosis" he came up with -- I didn't bother to read it -- but of course it wasn't good.
Marked Krauthammer in my mind as a deeply unscrupulous hack. A guy who wasn't worth paying attention to at all. I guess the same metric still works.... Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 06:21 PM im1dc said in reply to sglover... In my defense, I did not drag up the Hitler reference.
That was Christopher Dickey describing what happened in WWII by Alan Dulles and Karl Jung at the time of the genesis of the CIA, then the OSI, and the emergence of the different schools of psychoanalysis applied to the new art of remote diagnosis of assessing the mental status of world leaders.
Obviously such analysis can only be as good as the analyst and the data given. Jung had particularly good data from pillow talk of Mary Bancroft's various trysts. I'm sure that source of high quality data isn't available as much these days.
It seems Karl Jung did an impressive job of it for free as told in the Cosmopolitan article of 1938 and the parallels Dickey draws are of one state of 'nationalist populism' to today, here in the USA after Trump and the Republicans but also globally, Putin in Russia, Xi Jinping in China, Assad in Syria, and Duterte in the Phillipines to name a few.
But perhaps more importantly Dickey points out that Jung was as interested in the effect of what he called the "collective unconscious" among Germans and dictators that enabled Hitler and the others to rampage across the globe and how to use it to best deflate and deflect their evil to beat them by letting them beat themselves while redirecting the worst away from the West.
A short leap from the above psychobabble, which it surely is, if I follow Jung's reasoning, is that the best way to defeat Donald Trump, his enablers, his Zeitgeist, and his supporters is to let them wreck havoc on everybody and everything until their rage is cold, dead, impotent, and their failure undeniable and exposed to all.
Unfortunately and undeniably there will be blood, pain, and loss of innocents.
Of course, that is based solely upon mystical psychobabble which is scoffed at by you and many today.
Kind of or perhaps exactly like Keynesian Economics among certain segments of our Policy elites and Politicians. Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 08:23 PM im1dc said... Day 317 2016 Theme
Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I'm expecting all hell to break loose
People are crazy and Times are Strange
"Things Have Changed" Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 04:03 PM Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... (This Kelly Ayotte?)
Kelly Ayotte: 'I wouldn't want my daughter in the room' with Trump
@CNNPolitics - Nov 2 Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 08:00 PM Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... Trump's Hires Will Set Course of His
NYT - MARK LANDLER =- Nov 12
WASHINGTON - "Busy day planned in New York," President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Twitter on Friday morning, two days after his astonishing victory. "Will soon be making some very important decisions on the people who will be running our government!"
If anything, that understates the gravity of the personnel choices Mr. Trump and his transition team are weighing.
Rarely in the history of the American presidency has the exercise of choosing people to fill jobs had such a far-reaching impact on the nature and priorities of an incoming administration. Unlike most new presidents, Mr. Trump comes into office with no elective-office experience, no coherent political agenda and no bulging binder of policy proposals. And he has left a trail of inflammatory, often contradictory, statements on issues from immigration and race to terrorism and geopolitics.
In such a chaotic environment, serving a president who is in many ways a tabula rasa, the appointees to key White House jobs like chief of staff and cabinet posts like secretary of state, defense secretary and Treasury secretary could wield outsize influence. Their selection will help determine whether the Trump administration governs like the firebrand Mr. Trump was on the campaign trail or the pragmatist he often appears to be behind closed doors. ...
Reply Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 08:49 PM
Mar 24, 2016 | forbes.com/
Still, Trump, to a degree previously matched only by such outlier presidential candidates as Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, is challenging Washington's conventional wisdom that America must dominate the globe. The "usual suspects" who manage foreign policy in every administration, Republican and Democrat, believe that the U.S. must cow every adversary, fight every war, defend every ally, enforce every peace, settle every conflict, pay every bill, and otherwise ensure that the lion lies down with the lamb at the end of time, if not before.
Not Donald Trump. He recently shocked polite war-making society in the nation's capital when he criticized NATO, essentially a welfare agency for Europeans determined to safeguard their generous social benefits. Before the Washington Post editorial board he made the obvious point that "NATO was set up at a different time." Moreover, Ukraine "affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we're doing all of the lifting." Why, he wondered? It's a good question.
His view that foreign policy should change along with the world scandalized Washington policymakers, who embody Public Choice economics, which teaches that government officials and agencies are self-interested and dedicated to self-preservation. In foreign policy that means what has ever been must ever be and everything is more important today than in the past, no matter how much circumstances have changed.
Trump expressed skepticism about American defense subsidies for other wealthy allies, such as South Korea and Saudi Arabia as well as military deployments in Asia. "We spent billions of dollars on Saudi Arabia and they have nothing but money," he observed. Similarly, he contended, "South Korea is very rich, great industrial country, and yet we're not reimbursed fairly for what we do." He also criticized nation-building. "We have a country that's in bad shape," he reasonably allowed: "I just think we have to rebuild our country."
Unlike presidents dating back at least to George H.W. Bush, Trump appears reluctant to go to war. He opposed sending tens of thousands of troops to fight the Islamic State: "I would put tremendous pressure on other countries that are over there to use their troops." Equally sensibly, he warned against starting World War III over Crimea or useless rocks in East Asian seas. He made a point that should be obvious at a time of budget crisis: "We certainly can't afford to do this anymore."
... ... ...
Fifth, foreign policy is ultimately about domestic policy. "War is the health of the state," Randolph Bourne presciently declared a century ago. There is no bigger big government program war, no graver threat to civil liberties than perpetual conflict with the homeland the battlefield, no greater danger to daily life than blowback from military overreach.
Nov 12, 2016 | www.unz.com
So it has happened: Hillary did not win! I say that instead of saying that "Trump won" because I consider the former even more important than the latter. Why? Because I have no idea whatsoever what Trump will do next. I do, however, have an excellent idea of what Hillary would have done: war with Russia. Trump most likely won't do that. In fact, he specifically said in his acceptance speech:
I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America's interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone - all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict .
And Putin's reply was immediate:
We heard the statements he made as candidate for president expressing a desire to restore relations between our countries. We realise and understand that this will not be an easy road given the level to which our relations have degraded today, regrettably. But, as I have said before, it is not Russia's fault that our relations with the United States have reached this point.
Russia is ready to and seeks a return to full-format relations with the United States. Let me say again, we know that this will not be easy, but are ready to take this road, take steps on our side and do all we can to set Russian-US relations back on a stable development track.
This would benefit both the Russian and American peoples and would have a positive impact on the general climate in international affairs, given the particular responsibility that Russia and the US share for maintaining global stability and security.
This exchange, right there, is enough of a reason for the entire planet to rejoice at the defeat of Hillary and the victory of Trump.
Will Trump now have the courage, willpower and intelligence to purge the US Executive from the Neocon cabal which has been infiltrating it for decades now? Will he have the strength to confront an extremely hostile Congress and media? Or will he try to meet them halfway and naively hope that they will not use their power, money and influence to sabotage his presidency?
I don't know. Nobody does.
One of the first signs to look for will be the names and backgrounds of the folks he will appoint in his new administration. Especially his Chief of Staff and Secretary of State.
I have always said that the choice for the lesser evil is morally wrong and pragmatically misguided. I still believe that. In this case, however, the greater evil was thermonuclear war with Russia and the lesser evil just might turn out to be one which will gradually give up the Empire to save the USA rather than sacrifice the USA for the needs of the Empire. In the case of Hillary vs Trump the choice was simple: war or peace.
Trump can already be credited with am immense achievement: his campaign has forced the US corporate media to show its true face – the face of an evil, lying, morally corrupt propaganda machine. The American people by their vote have rewarded their media with a gigantic "f*ck you!" – a vote of no-confidence and total rejection which will forever demolish the credibility of the Empire's propaganda machine.
I am not so naive as to not realize that billionaire Donald Trump is also one of the 1%ers, a pure product of the US oligarchy. But neither am I so ignorant of history to forget that elites do turn on each other , especially when their regime is threatened. Do I need to remind anybody that Putin also came from the Soviet elites?!
Ideally, the next step would be for Trump and Putin to meet, with all their key ministers, in a long, Camp David like week of negotiations in which everything, every outstanding dispute, should be put on the table and a compromise sought in each case. Paradoxically, this could be rather easy: the crisis in Europe is entirely artificial, the war in Syria has an absolutely obvious solution, and the international order can easily accommodate a United States which would " deal fairly with everyone, with everyone - all people and all other nations " and " seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict ".
The truth is that the USA and Russia have no objective reasons for conflict – only ideological issues resulting directly from the insane ideology of messianic imperialism of those who believe, or pretend to believe, that the USA is an "indispensable nation". What the world wants – needs – is the USA as a *normal* nation.
The worst case? Trump could turn out to be a total fraud. I personally very much doubt it, but I admit that this is possible. More likely is that he just won't have the foresight and courage to crush the Neocons and that he will try to placate them. If he does so, they will instead crush him. It is a fact that while administrations have changed every 4 or 8 years, the regime in power has not, and that US internal and foreign policies have been amazingly consistent since the end of WWII. Will Trump finally bring not just a new administration but real "regime change"? I don't know.
Make no mistake – even if Trump does end up disappointing those who believed in him what happened today has dealt a death blow to the Empire. The "Occupy Wall Street" did not succeed in achieving anything tangible, but the notion of "rule of the 1%" did emerge from that movement and it stayed. This is a direct blow to the credibility and legitimacy of the entire socio-political order of the USA: far from being a democracy, it is a plutocracy/oligarchy – everybody pretty much accepts that today. Likewise, the election of Trump has already proved that the US media is a prostitute and that the majority of the American people hate their ruling class. Again, this is a direct blow to the credibility and legitimacy of the entire socio-political order. One by one the founding myths of the US Empire are crashing down and what remains is a system which can only rule by force.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn used to say that regimes can be measured on a spectrum which ranges from regimes whose authority is their power and regimes whose power in in their authority. In the case of the USA we now clearly can see that the regime has no other authority than its power and that makes it both illegitimate and unsustainable.
Finally, whether the US elites can accept this or not, the US Empire is coming to an end.
With Hillary, we would have had a Titanic-like denial up to the last moment which might well have come in the shape of a thermonuclear mushroom over Washington DC. Trump, however, might use the remaining power of the USA to negotiate the US global draw-down thereby getting the best possible conditions for his country. Frankly, I am pretty sure that all the key world leaders realize that it is in their interest to make as many (reasonable) concessions to Trump as possible and work with him, rather than to deal with the people whom he just removed from power.
If Trump can stick to his campaign promises he will find solid and reliable partners in Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Neither Russia nor China have anything at all to gain from a confrontation or, even less so, a conflict with the USA. Will Trump have the wisdom to realize this and use it for the benefit of the USA? Or will he continue with his anti-Chinese and anti-Iranian rhetoric?
Only time will tell.
The extraordinary repudiation -- partly based on Trump's rejection of basic US foreign policy tenets, including support for close allies -- helped spark the hashtag #NeverTrump. Now, a source familiar with transition planning says that hard wall of resistance is crumbling fast.
There are "boxes" of applications, the source said. "There are many more than people realize."
Some of those applications are coming from the #NeverTrump crowd, the source said, and include former national security officials who signed one or more of the letters opposing Trump. "Mea culpas" are being considered -- and in some cases being granted, the source said -- for people who did not go a step further in attacking Trump personally.
... ... ...
Fifty GOP national security experts signed an August letter saying Trump "would put at risk our country's national security and well-being" because he "lacks the character, values and experience" to occupy the Oval Office, making him "the most reckless president in American history."
Another bipartisan letter cited concern about potential foreign conflicts of interest Trump might encounter as president, and called on him to disclose them by releasing his tax returns. Trump has refused to do so, saying he is under audit and will make the returns public only once that is done.
It remains to be seen what kind of team Trump will pull together, how many "NeverTrumpers" will apply for positions and to what degree the President-elect will be willing to accept them.
There's a fight underway within the Trump transition team about whether to consider "never Trumpers" for jobs, one official tells CNN. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is leading the transition team, has been working to persuade Trump and other top officials to consider Republicans who openly opposed his campaign. That has caused some friction with those who see no place for people who didn't support their candidate.
Nov 12, 2016 | www.rt.comNATO strategists are reportedly planning for a scenario in which Trump orders US troops out of Europe, as the shock result of the US presidential election sinks in, spreading an atmosphere of uncertainty. According to Spiegel magazine, strategists from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's staff have drafted a secret report which includes a worst-case scenario in which Trump orders US troops to withdraw from Europe and fulfills his threat to make Washington less involved in European security. Read more German defense minister says Trump should be firm with Russia as NATO stood by US after 9/11
"For the first time, the US exit from NATO has become a threat" which would mean the end of the bloc, a German NATO officer told the magazine.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly slammed NATO, calling the alliance "obsolete." He also suggested that under his administration, the US may refuse to come to the aid of NATO allies unless they "pay their bills" and "fulfill their obligations to us."
"We are experiencing a moment of the highest and yet unprecedented uncertainty in the transatlantic relationship," said Wolfgang Ischinger, former German ambassador in Washington and head of the prominent Munich Security Conference. By criticizing the collective defense, Trump has questioned the basic pillar of NATO as a whole, Ischinger added.
The president-elect therefore has to reassure the European allies that he remains firm on the US commitment under Article 5 of the NATO charter prior to his inauguration, the top diplomat stressed.
Earlier this week, Stoltenberg lambasted Trump's agenda, saying: "All allies have made a solemn commitment to defend each other. This is something absolutely unconditioned."
Fearing that Trump would not appear in Brussels even after his inauguration, NATO has re-scheduled its summit – expected to take place in early 2017 – to next summer, Spiegel said.
The report might reflect current moods within the EU establishment as well, as Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has called on the member states to establish Europe's own military.
Washington "will not ensure the security of the Europeans in the long term... we have to do this ourselves," he argued on Thursday.
If Trump is serious about reducing the number of US troops stationed in Europe, large NATO countries like Germany have little to offer, Spiegel said. Even major member states' militaries lack units able to replace the Americans, which in turn may trigger debate on strengthening NATO's nuclear arm, a sensitive issue in most European countries for domestic reasons.
Still, an increase in defense spending has already been approved by the Europeans following pressure from the outgoing US administration. Over the past few days in Brussels, representatives of NATO states have been working on the so-called "Blue Book," a secret strategy paper which stipulates each member's contribution in the form of troops, aircraft, warships, and heavy armor until 2032, Spiegel reported.
The document stipulates an increase in each NATO members' military spending by one percent of each nation's GDP, in addition to the current two percent.
Uncertainty over Trump's NATO policy seems to be taking its toll; Germany, one of the largest military powers in Europe, plans to allocate 130 billion euros ($140bn) to military expenditures by 2030, but the remarkable figure may be a drop in the ocean.
"No one knows yet if the one percent more would be enough," the German NATO officer told Spiegel.
Nevertheless, the US is continuing to deploy troops to eastern Europe, justifying the move with the need to protect the region from "assertive Russia." Earlier this week, the largest arms shipment yet, 600 containers, arrived in Germany to supply the US armored and combat aviation brigades, expected to deploy in Europe by January 2017.
Read more EU Commission president wants clarity from Trump on NATO, trade
Nov 11, 2016 | www.nbcnews.com
A widespread problem
In the last few years, the Federal Trade Commission has sued more than dozen debt relief companies. "They simply lie to consumers," says the FTC's Alice Hrdy.
FTC ad IRS investigators have also found some counseling services that claim to be non-profit when they are actually a for-profit company. The non-profit pitch can make a potential client feel confident about signing up for the service. "They're preying on the consumer's trust," Hrdy says.
Some of the bad apples in this industry mislead people about their charges. "They either say there are no fees involved or just a small fee," Hrdy explains. Sometimes, they don't mention fees at all.
Bruce, who lives near Seattle, signed up with a company that promised to lower his interest rates. He was told to send them a check for $265.
"It was my clear understanding that money was going to pay off my credit card bills," Bruce told me. It turned out to be a "referral fee" to find him a company that would supposedly help him.
"It was a nasty experience," Bruce says. "They basically stole my money."
Warning: Debt settlement programs
Some companies now claim they can negotiate a one-time settlement with all of your creditors that will reduce your principal by as much as 50 to 70 percent. By doing this, they say, your monthly payments will drop dramatically.
"That is virtually impossible under any circumstances," says Travis Plunkett, Legislative Director of the Consumer Federation of America. That's why CFA warns consumers not to use debt settlement programs. "They are promising something they can't deliver," Plunkett says.
Credit counselors - a better option
Charles Helms, president of Consumer Counseling Northwest, sees a lot of people who have been burned by these phony debt relief programs. "It's horrible," he says. Because most of them have a large up-front fee, they'll take anyone who can pay.
"Their goal is to get you to sign up, not to successfully complete the program," Helms says. "So here's someone who is financially damaged to begin with and then these companies just go out and take the last of their resources and kill any hope they have of getting out of that situation."
With a legitimate credit counselor, there is no right answer for everyone. They sit down with you and give you a free and objective assessment of your financial situation. At Credit Counseling Northwest, they saw 6,000 people last year and found that debt management was the right option for only 19 percent of them. The rest were given a plan to work things out on their own.
With a customized consolidated payment plan you should be able to pay off your credit card debt in 3 to 5 years. You write the counseling agency one check each month and they pay all your creditors.Advertise Advertise Advertise
Do your homework
Facing mounting bills can be frightening, but getting debt relief is not a decision that should be based on hearing a radio commercial or getting a sales call. You want to find an organization that will design a debt relief plan specifically for you.
Shop around. Compare a couple of services and get a feel for how they operate. The credit counselor should spend at least 20 to 30 minutes with you in order to get a complete picture of your finances. If they don't do that, you're not really getting any counseling.
Ask a lot of questions and get those answers in writing. Find out about the fees. The Consumer Federation of America says you shouldn't pay more than $50 for the set-up fee and no more than a $25 monthly maintenance fee. If the agency is vague or reluctant to talk about fees, go someplace else.
Don't rely on names or the claim of a non-profit status. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer protection office.
By doing your homework you should be able to find a service that doesn't over-charge or over-promise. Here's a good place to start: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling . They'll help you find a certified counselor near you.
Nov 08, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.comBy Daniel Larison James Traub gamely tries to convince us (and himself) that Clinton's foreign policy won't be as aggressive and meddlesome as she says it will be, but he undermines his argument when he says this:
As a senator and later secretary of state, she rarely departed from the counsel of senior military officials. She was far more persuaded of the merits of Gen. David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan for Afghanistan, which would have sent an additional 40,000 troops there, than Obama was and maybe even more than then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was. She rarely departed from Gates on any significant issue. Of course, the one time she did so was on Libya, where she advocated intervention and he did not [bold mine-DL]. On Syria, Clinton may have to choose between her own expressed commitments and a Pentagon that is far more cautious and more inclined to see mishap than are civilian interventionists. I wonder how Kagan-esque she will be in the White House. Less so, perhaps, than she was as secretary of state.
In other words, when military officers recommended a larger escalation, she agreed with them, and when Gates didn't support intervention she didn't agree. Clinton was fine with advice from the military when it meant supporting deeper involvement, but she broke with Gates when he didn't want to take sides in a foreign war. That isn't a picture of someone who consistently heeds military advice, but rather someone who always opts for the more aggressive option available at the time. It doesn't make much sense that Clinton as president would be less "Kagan-esque" than she was as a member of Obama's Cabinet. As president, she will have considerable leeway to do as she sees fit, Congress will be pathetically quiescent as usual, and most of the foreign policy establishment will be encouraging her to do more in Syria and elsewhere. Clinton will be predisposed to agree with what they urge her to do, and in the last twenty years she has never seen a military intervention that she thought was unnecessary or too risky. Why is that suddenly going to change when she has the power of the presidency? In virtually every modern case, a new president ends up behaving more hawkishly than expected based on campaign rhetoric. All of the pressures and incentives in Washington push a president towards do-somethingism, and Clinton has typically been among the least resistant to the demand to "do something" in response to crises and conflicts, so why would we think she would become more cautious once she is in office? I can understand why many of her supporters wish that to be the case, but it flies in the face of all the available evidence, including most of what we know about how Washington works.
Traub makes a number of predictions at the end of his article:
She will not make dumb mistakes. She will reassure every ally who needs reassurance. She will try to mute China's adventurism in the South China Sea without provoking a storm of nationalism. She'll probably disappoint the neocons. She won't go out on any limbs. She won't shake the policymaking consensus.
I don't know where this confidence in Clinton's good judgment comes from, but it seems misplaced. I suppose it depends on what you think smart foreign policy looks like, but there is a fair amount of evidence from Clinton's own record that she is quite capable of making dumb mistakes.
That doesn't just apply to her vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq and her backing for intervention in Libya, but could also refer to her support for sending weapons to Ukraine, her endorsement of "no-fly" and safe zones in Syria, her preference for more sanctions on Iran while negotiations were still taking place, and her belief that the U.S. has to bomb another country to retain its "credibility." All of these are mistakes, and some are quite dumb.
It isn't at all reassuring to know that Clinton will "reassure every ally who needs reassurance," because in practice that means indulging bad behavior from reckless clients and rewarding them with more aid and weapons. Earlier in the article, Traub seems to understand that enabling the Saudis is a bad idea:
This last policy, which for Clinton will come under the heading of "alliance management," would only deepen the violence and sectarian strife rending the region. She would be better advised to tell the Saudis that the United States will reduce its support of their war effort unless they make serious efforts toward a lasting cease-fire.
That would certainly be wiser than offering uncritical backing of their intervention, but what is the evidence that Clinton thinks U.S. support for the war on Yemen needs to be curtailed? Yemen has been devastated in no small part because of Obama's willingness to "reassure" the Saudis and their allies. What other countries will be made to suffer so Clinton can keep them happy? Clinton may disappoint neocons, but then they are disappointed by anything short of preventive war. Even if Clinton's foreign policy isn't aggressive enough to satisfy them, it is likely to be far more aggressive than necessary.
Nov 08, 2016 | www.unz.com
The American people don't know very much about war even if Washington has been fighting on multiple fronts since 9/11. The continental United States has not experienced the presence a hostile military force for more than 100 years and war for the current generation of Americans consists largely of the insights provided by video games and movies. The Pentagon's invention of embedded journalists, which limits any independent media insight into what is going on overseas, has contributed to the rendering of war as some kind of abstraction. Gone forever is anything like the press coverage of Vietnam, with nightly news and other media presentations showing prisoners being executed and young girls screaming while racing down the street in flames.
Given all of that, it is perhaps no surprise that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom has served in uniform, should regard violence inflicted on people overseas with a considerable level of detachment. Hillary is notorious for her assessment of the brutal killing of Libya's Moammar Gaddafi, saying "We came, we saw, he died." They both share to an extent the dominant New York-Washington policy consensus view that dealing with foreigners can sometimes get a bit bloody, but that is a price that someone in power has to be prepared to pay. One of Hillary's top advisers, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. led sanctions were "worth it."
In the election campaign there has, in fact, been little discussion of the issue of war and peace or even of America's place in the world, though Trump did at one point note correctly that implementation of Hillary's suggested foreign policy could escalate into World War III. It has been my contention that the issue of war should be more front and center in the minds of Americans when they cast their ballots as the prospect of an armed conflict in which little is actually at stake escalating and going nuclear could conceivably end life on this planet as we know it.
With that in mind, it is useful to consider what the two candidates have been promising. First, Hillary, who might reasonably be designated the Establishment's war candidate though she carefully wraps it in humanitarian "liberal interventionism." As Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has always viewed a foreign crisis as an opportunity to use aggressive measures to seek a resolution. She can always be relied upon to "do something," a reflection of the neocon driven Washington foreign policy consensus.
Hillary Clinton and her advisors, who believe strongly in Washington's leadership role globally and embrace their own definition of American exceptionalism, have been explicit in terms of what they would do to employ our military power.
She would be an extremely proactive president in foreign policy, with a particular animus directed against Russia. And, unfortunately, there would be little or no pushback against the exercise of her admittedly poor instincts regarding what to do, as was demonstrated regarding Libya and also with Benghazi. She would find little opposition in Congress and the media for an extremely risky foreign policy, and would benefit from the Washington groupthink that prevails over the alleged threats emanating from Russia, Iran, and China.
Hillary has received support from foreign policy hawks, including a large number of formerly Republican neocons, to include Robert Kagan, Michael Chertoff, Michael Hayden, Eliot Cohen and Eric Edelman. James Stavridis, a retired admiral who was once vetted by Clinton as a possible vice president, recently warned of "the need to use deadly force against the Iranians. I think it's coming. It's going to be maritime confrontation and if it doesn't happen immediately, I'll bet you a dollar it's going to be happening after the presidential election, whoever is elected."
Hillary believes that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is the root cause of the turmoil in that country and must be removed as the first priority. . It is a foolish policy as al-Assad in no way threatens the United States while his enemy ISIS does and regime change would create a power vacuum that will benefit the latter. She has also called for a no-fly zone in Syria to protect the local population as well as the insurgent groups that the U.S. supports, some of which had been labeled as terrorists before they were renamed by current Secretary of State John Kerry. Such a zone would dramatically raise the prospect of armed conflict with Russia and it puts Washington in an odd position vis-à-vis what is occurring in Syria. The U.S. is not at war with the Syrian government, which, like it or not, is under international law sovereign within its own recognized borders. Damascus has invited the Russians in to help against the rebels and objects to any other foreign presence on Syrian territory. In spite of all that, Washington is asserting some kind of authority to intervene and to confront the Russians as both a humanitarian mission and as an "inherent right of self-defense."
Hillary has not recommended doing anything about Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of which have at one time or another for various reasons supported ISIS, but she is clearly no friend of Iran, which has been fighting ISIS. As a Senator, she threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran but she has more recently reluctantly supported the recent nuclear agreement with that country negotiated by President Barack Obama. But she has nevertheless warned that she will monitor the situation closely for possible violations and will otherwise pushback against activity by the Islamic Republic. As one of her key financial supporters is Israeli Haim Saban, who has said he is a one issue guy and that issue is Israel, she is likely to pursue aggressive policies in the Persian Gulf. She has also promised to move America's relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a "new level" and has repeatedly declared that her support for Israel is unconditional.
One of Hillary's advisors, former CIA acting Director Michael Morell, has called for new sanctions on Tehran and has also recently recommended that the U.S. begin intercepting Iranian ships presumed to be carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen. Washington is not at war with either Iran or Yemen and the Houthis are not on the State Department terrorist list but our good friends the Saudis have been assiduously bombing them for reasons that seem obscure. Stopping ships in international waters without any legal pretext would be considered by many an act of piracy. Morell has also called for covertly assassinating Iranians and Russians to express our displeasure with the foreign policies of their respective governments.
Hillary's dislike for Russia's Vladimir Putin is notorious. Syria aside, she has advocated arming Ukraine with game changing offensive weapons and also bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, which would force a sharp Russian reaction. One suspects that she might be sympathetic to the views expressed recently by Carl Gershman in a Washington Post op-ed that received curiously little additional coverage in the media. Gershman is the head of the taxpayer funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which means that he is a powerful figure in Washington's foreign-policy establishment. NED has plausibly been described as doing the sorts of things that the CIA used to do.
After making a number of bumper-sticker claims about Russia and Putin that are either partially true, unproven or even ridiculous, Gershman concluded that "the United States has the power to contain and defeat this danger. The issue is whether we can summon the will to do so." It is basically a call for the next administration to remove Putin from power-as foolish a suggestion as has ever been seen in a leading newspaper, as it implies that the risk of nuclear war is completely acceptable to bring about regime change in a country whose very popular, democratically elected leadership we disapprove of. But it is nevertheless symptomatic of the kind of thinking that goes on inside the beltway and is quite possibly a position that Hillary Clinton will embrace. She also benefits from having the perfect implementer of such a policy in Robert Kagan's wife Victoria Nuland, her extremely dangerous protégé who is currently Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and who might wind up as Secretary of State in a Clinton Administration.
Shifting to East Asia, Hillary sees the admittedly genuine threat from North Korea but her response is focused more on China. She would increase U.S. military presence in the South China Sea to deter any further attempts by Beijing to develop disputed islands and would also "ring China with defensive missiles," ostensibly as "protection" against Pyongyang but also to convince China to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. One wonders what Beijing might think about being surrounded by made-in-America missiles.
Trump's foreign policy is admittedly quite sketchy and he has not always been consistent. He has been appropriately enough slammed for being simple minded in saying that he would "bomb the crap out of ISIS," but he has also taken on the Republican establishment by specifically condemning the George W. Bush invasion of Iraq and has more than once indicated that he is not interested in either being the world's policeman or in new wars in the Middle East. He has repeatedly stated that he supports NATO but it should not be construed as hostile to Russia. He would work with Putin to address concerns over Syria and Eastern Europe. He would demand that NATO countries spend more for their own defense and also help pay for the maintenance of U.S. bases.
Trump's controversial call to stop all Muslim immigration has been rightly condemned but it contains a kernel of truth in that the current process for vetting new arrivals in this country is far from transparent and apparently not very effective. The Obama Administration has not been very forthcoming on what might be done to fix the entire immigration process but Trump is promising to shake things up, which is overdue, though what exactly a Trump Administration would try to accomplish is far from clear.
Continuing on the negative side, Trump, who is largely ignorant of the world and its leaders, has relied on a mixed bag of advisors. Former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency General Michael Flynn appears to be the most prominent. Flynn is associated with arch neocon Michael Ledeen and both are rabid about Iran, with Flynn suggesting that nearly all the unrest in the Middle East should be laid at Tehran's door. Ledeen is, of course, a prominent Israel-firster who has long had Iran in his sights. The advice of Ledeen and Flynn may have been instrumental in Trump's vehement denunciation of the Iran nuclear agreement, which he has called a "disgrace," which he has said he would "tear up." It is vintage dumb-think. The agreement cannot be canceled because there are five other signatories to it and the denial of a nuclear weapons program to Tehran benefits everyone in the region, including Israel. It is far better to have the agreement than to scrap it, if that were even possible.
Trump has said that he would be an even-handed negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians but he has also declared that he is strongly pro-Israel and would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which is a bad idea, not in America's interest, even if Netanyahu would like it. It would produce serious blowback from the Arab world and would inspire a new wave of terrorism directed against the U.S.
Regarding the rest of the Middle East, Trump would prefer strong leaders, i.e. autocrats, who are friendly rather than chaotic reformers. He rejects arming rebels as in Syria because we know little about whom we are dealing with and find that we cannot control what develops. He is against foreign aid in principle, particularly to countries like Pakistan where the U.S. is strongly disliked.
In East Asia, Trump would encourage Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear arsenals to deter North Korea. It is a very bad idea, a proliferation nightmare. Like Hillary, he would prefer that China intervene in North Korea and make Kim Jong Un "step down." He would put pressure on China to devalue its currency because it is "bilking us of billions of dollars" and would also increase U.S. military presence in the region to limit Beijing's expansion in the South China Sea.
So there you have it as you enter the voting booth. President Obama is going around warning that "the fate of the world is teetering" over the electoral verdict, which he intends to be a ringing endorsement of Hillary even though the choice is not nearly that clear cut. Part of the problem with Trump is that he has some very bad ideas mixed in with a few good ones and no one knows what he would actually do if he were president. Unfortunately, it is all too clear what Hillary would do.
Nov 08, 2016 | comehomeamerica.wordpress.comPosted on March 7, 2016 by comehomeamerica by Joe Scarry I think if you asked most people, they would say that (a) war is deeply ingrained in society; and (b) society over and over again decides to engage in war.
There is a growing discourse around point (a): people are starting to unpack the idea that "war is deeply ingrained in society," and growing in understanding that this is not the same as saying "war is part of human nature."
I worry that there is less insight around point (b). At least in the United States, I think people continue to believe that war is a societal choice. I think this is not true.
In theory our Constitution is all about the people - through Congress - maintaining control over the decision to go to war. As it stands now, as a practical matter, that's not really what's happening.
I invite people to study the graph of historical US military spending below. It shows that there was a time when military spending went up when the US began to engage in a specific war, and then went back down after that war. Later, that pattern changed.
US Defense Spending - FY 1800 to FY 2010
(More at usgovernmentspending.com )
It is very interesting to consider why this change occurred. (Perhaps that's a topic for a later blog post or two.)
But I think the more fundamental point is:
Does Society "Decide" to Engage in War?Posted on March 7, 2016 by comehomeamerica by Joe Scarry I think if you asked most people, they would say that (a) war is deeply ingrained in society; and (b) society over and over again decides to engage in war.
There is a growing discourse around point (a): people are starting to unpack the idea that "war is deeply ingrained in society," and growing in understanding that this is not the same as saying "war is part of human nature."
I worry that there is less insight around point (b). At least in the United States, I think people continue to believe that war is a societal choice. I think this is not true.
In theory our Constitution is all about the people - through Congress - maintaining control over the decision to go to war. As it stands now, as a practical matter, that's not really what's happening.
I invite people to study the graph of historical US military spending below. It shows that there was a time when military spending went up when the US began to engage in a specific war, and then went back down after that war. Later, that pattern changed.
US Defense Spending - FY 1800 to FY 2010
(More at usgovernmentspending.com )
It is very interesting to consider why this change occurred. (Perhaps that's a topic for a later blog post or two.)
But I think the more fundamental point is: at some point US society stopped being the "decider" about war. The US began to engage in war, and more war, and more war . . . but US society was no longer really making that decision in any real way.
(Think about US military action during your lifetime. In what ways, if any, did society at large determine what happened?)
If we confront this reality, what might this cause us to do differently?
(Think about US military action during your lifetime. In what ways, if any, did society at large determine what happened?)
If we confront this reality, what might this cause us to do differently?
The 2016 presidential race will be remembered for many ugly moments, but the most lasting historical marker may be one that neither voters nor American intelligence agencies saw coming: It is the first time that a foreign power has unleashed cyberweapons to disrupt, or perhaps influence, a United States election.
And there is a foreboding sense that, in elections to come, there is no turning back.
The steady drumbeat of allegations of Russian troublemaking - leaks from stolen emails and probes of election-system defenses - has continued through the campaign's last days. These intrusions, current and former administration officials agree, will embolden other American adversaries, which have been given a vivid demonstration that, when used with some subtlety, their growing digital arsenals can be particularly damaging in the frenzy of a democratic election.
"Most of the biggest stories of this election cycle have had a cybercomponent to them - or the use of information warfare techniques that the Russians, in particular, honed over decades," said David Rothkopf, the chief executive and editor of Foreign Policy, who has written two histories of the National Security Council. "From stolen emails, to WikiLeaks, to the hacking of the N.S.A.'s tools, and even the debate about how much of this the Russians are responsible for, it's dominated in a way that we haven't seen in any prior election."
The magnitude of this shift has gone largely unrecognized in the cacophony of a campaign dominated by charges of groping and pay-for-play access. Yet the lessons have ranged from the intensely personal to the geostrategic.
Email, a main conduit of communication for two decades, now appears so vulnerable that the nation seems to be wondering whether its bursting inboxes can ever be safe. Election systems, the underpinning of democracy, seem to be at such risk that it is unimaginable that the United States will go into another national election without treating them as "critical infrastructure."
But President Obama has been oddly quiet on these issues. He delivered a private warning to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during their final face-to-face encounter two months ago, aides say. Still, Mr. Obama has barely spoken publicly about the implications of foreign meddling in the election. His instincts, those who have worked with him on cyberissues say, are to deal with the problem by developing new norms of international behavior or authorizing covert action rather than direct confrontation.
After a series of debates in the Situation Room, Mr. Obama and his aides concluded that any public retaliation should be postponed until after the election - to avoid the appearance that politics influenced his decision and to avoid provoking Russian counterstrikes while voting is underway. It remains unclear whether Mr. Obama will act after Tuesday, as his aides hint, or leave the decision about a "proportional response" to his successor.
Cybersleuths, historians and strategists will debate for years whether Russia's actions reflected a grand campaign of interference or mere opportunism on the part of Mr. Putin. While the administration has warned for years about the possibility of catastrophic attacks, what has happened in the past six months has been far more subtle.
Russia has used the techniques - what they call "hybrid war," mixing new technologies with old-fashioned propaganda, misinformation and disruption - for years in former Soviet states and elsewhere in Europe. The only surprise was that Mr. Putin, as he intensified confrontations with Washington as part of a nationalist campaign to solidify his own power amid a deteriorating economy, was willing to take them to American shores.
The most common theory is that while the Russian leader would prefer the election of Donald J. Trump - in part because Mr. Trump has suggested that NATO is irrelevant and that the United States should pull its troops back to American shores - his primary motive is to undercut what he views as a smug American sense of superiority about its democratic processes.
Madeleine K. Albright, a former secretary of state who is vigorously supporting Hillary Clinton, wrote recently that Mr. Putin's goal was "to create doubt about the validity of the U.S. election results, and to make us seem hypocritical when we question the conduct of elections in other countries."
If so, this is a very different use of power than what the Obama administration has long prepared the nation for.
Four years ago, Leon E. Panetta, the defense secretary at the time, warned of an impending "cyber Pearl Harbor" in which enemies could "contaminate the water supply in major cities or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country," perhaps in conjunction with a conventional attack.
Nov 07, 2016 | ronpaulinstitute.org
I have said throughout this presidential campaign that it doesn't matter much which candidate wins. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are authoritarians and neither can be expected to roll back the leviathan state that destroys our civil liberties at home while destroying our economy and security with endless wars overseas. Candidates do not matter all that much, despite what the media would have us believe. Ideas do matter, however. And regardless of which of these candidates is elected, the battle of ideas now becomes critical.
The day after the election is our time to really focus our efforts on making the case for a peaceful foreign policy and the prosperity it will bring. While we may not have much to cheer in Tuesday's successful candidate, we have learned a good deal about the state of the nation from the campaigns. From the surprising success of the insurgent Bernie Sanders to a Donald Trump campaign that broke all the mainstream Republican Party rules – and may have broken the Republican Party itself – what we now understand more clearly than ever is that the American people are fed up with politics as usual. And more importantly they are fed up with the same tired old policies.
Last month a fascinating poll was conducted by the Center for the National Interest and the Charles Koch Institute. A broad ranging 1,000 Americans were asked a series of questions about US foreign policy and the 15 year "war on terror." You might think that after a decade and a half, trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives lost, Americans might take a more positive view of this massive effort to "rid the world of evil-doers," as then-president George W. Bush promised. But the poll found that only 14 percent of Americans believe US foreign policy has made them more safe! More than 50 percent of those polled said the next US president should use less force overseas, and 80 percent said the president must get authorization from Congress before taking the country to war.
These results should make us very optimistic about our movement, as it shows that we are rapidly approaching the "critical mass" where new ideas will triumph over the armies of the status quo.
We know those in Washington with a vested interest in maintaining a US empire overseas will fight to the end to keep the financial gravy train flowing. The neocons and the liberal interventionists will continue to preach that we must run the world or everything will fall to ruin. But this election and many recent polls demonstrate that their time has passed. They may not know it yet, but their failures are too obvious and Americans are sick of paying for them.
What is to be done? We must continue to educate ourselves and others. We must resist those who are preaching "interventionism-lite" and calling it a real alternative. Claiming we must protect our "interests" overseas really means using the US military to benefit special interests. That is not what the military is for. We must stick to our non-interventionist guns. No more regime change. No more covert destabilization programs overseas. A solid defense budget, not an imperial military budget. US troops home now. End US military action in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and so on. Just come home.
Americans want change, no matter who wins. We need to be ready to provide that alternative.
Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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Nov 07, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.comBy Michael T. Klare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What's Left . A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation . Follow him on Twitter at @mklare1. Originally published at TomDispatch
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With passions running high on both sides in this year's election and rising fears about Donald Trump's impulsive nature and Hillary Clinton's hawkish one, it's hardly surprising that the "nuclear button" question has surfaced repeatedly throughout the campaign. In one of the more pointed exchanges of the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton declared that Donald Trump lacked the mental composure for the job. "A man who can be provoked by a tweet," she commented , "should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes." Donald Trump has reciprocated by charging that Clinton is too prone to intervene abroad. "You're going to end up in World War III over Syria," he told reporters in Florida last month.
For most election observers, however, the matter of personal character and temperament has dominated discussions of the nuclear issue, with partisans on each side insisting that the other candidate is temperamentally unfit to exercise control over the nuclear codes. There is, however, a more important reason to worry about whose finger will be on that button this time around: at this very moment, for a variety of reasons, the "nuclear threshold" - the point at which some party to a "conventional" (non-nuclear) conflict chooses to employ atomic weapons - seems to be moving dangerously lower.
Not so long ago, it was implausible that a major nuclear power - the United States, Russia, or China - would consider using atomic weapons in any imaginable conflict scenario. No longer. Worse yet, this is likely to be our reality for years to come, which means that the next president will face a world in which a nuclear decision-making point might arrive far sooner than anyone would have thought possible just a year or two ago - with potentially catastrophic consequences for us all.
No less worrisome, the major nuclear powers (and some smaller ones) are all in the process of acquiring new nuclear arms, which could, in theory, push that threshold lower still. These include a variety of cruise missiles and other delivery systems capable of being used in "limited" nuclear wars - atomic conflicts that, in theory at least, could be confined to just a single country or one area of the world (say, Eastern Europe) and so might be even easier for decision-makers to initiate. The next president will have to decide whether the U.S. should actually produce weapons of this type and also what measures should be taken in response to similar decisions by Washington's likely adversaries.
Lowering the Nuclear Threshold
During the dark days of the Cold War, nuclear strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union conjured up elaborate conflict scenarios in which military actions by the two superpowers and their allies might lead from, say, minor skirmishing along the Iron Curtain to full-scale tank combat to, in the end, the use of "battlefield" nuclear weapons, and then city-busting versions of the same to avert defeat. In some of these scenarios, strategists hypothesized about wielding "tactical" or battlefield weaponry - nukes powerful enough to wipe out a major tank formation, but not Paris or Moscow - and claimed that it would be possible to contain atomic warfare at such a devastating but still sub-apocalyptic level. (Henry Kissinger, for instance, made his reputation by preaching this lunatic doctrine in his first book, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy .) Eventually, leaders on both sides concluded that the only feasible role for their atomic arsenals was to act as deterrents to the use of such weaponry by the other side. This was, of course, the concept of " mutually assured destruction ," or - in one of the most classically apt acronyms of all times: MAD. It would, in the end, form the basis for all subsequent arms control agreements between the two superpowers.
Anxiety over the escalatory potential of tactical nuclear weapons peaked in the 1970s when the Soviet Union began deploying the SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missile (capable of striking cities in Europe, but not the U.S.) and Washington responded with plans to deploy nuclear-armed, ground-launched cruise missiles and the Pershing-II ballistic missile in Europe. The announcement of such plans provoked massive antinuclear demonstrations across Europe and the United States. On December 8, 1987, at a time when worries had been growing about how a nuclear conflagration in Europe might trigger an all-out nuclear exchange between the superpowers, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
That historic agreement - the first to eliminate an entire class of nuclear delivery systems - banned the deployment of ground-based cruise or ballistic missiles with a range of 500 and 5,500 kilometers and required the destruction of all those then in existence. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation inherited the USSR's treaty obligations and pledged to uphold the INF along with other U.S.-Soviet arms control agreements. In the view of most observers, the prospect of a nuclear war between the two countries practically vanished as both sides made deep cuts in their atomic stockpiles in accordance with already existing accords and then signed others, including the New START , the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 2010.
... ... ...
To put this in perspective, Russian leaders ardently believe that they are the victims of a U.S.-led drive by NATO to encircle their country and diminish its international influence. They point, in particular, to the build-up of NATO forces in the Baltic countries, involving the semi-permanent deployment of combat battalions in what was once the territory of the Soviet Union, and in apparent violation of promises made to Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not do so. As a result, Russia has been bolstering its defenses in areas bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states, and training its troops for a possible clash with the NATO forces stationed there.
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On the American side, the weapon of immediate concern is a new version of the AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile, usually carried by B-52 bombers. Also known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), it is, like the Iskander-M, expected to be deployed in both nuclear and conventional versions, leaving those on the potential receiving end unsure what might be heading their way.
In other words, as with the Iskander-M, the intended target might assume the worst in a crisis, leading to the early use of nuclear weapons. Put another way, such missiles make for twitchy trigger fingers and are likely to lead to a heightened risk of nuclear war, which, once started, might in turn take Washington and Moscow right up the escalatory ladder to a planetary holocaust.
No wonder former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry called on President Obama to cancel the ALCM program in a recent Washington Post op-ed piece. "Because they… come in both nuclear and conventional variants," he wrote, "cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon." And this issue is going to fall directly into the lap of the next president.pretzelattack November 7, 2016 at 1:46 amLambert Strether November 7, 2016 at 2:29 am
scanning it, it keeps referring to the obama administration's beliefs about russia, and claims by american officials. given the hysteria about putin allegedly hacking the us election, and the propaganda surrounding the war on terror, i'm reluctant to rely on this kind of evidence.integer November 7, 2016 at 2:50 am
But Hillary Clinton, for all her experience as secretary of state, is likely to have a hard time grappling with the pressures and dangers that are likely to arise in the years ahead, especially given that her inclination is to toughen U.S. policy toward Russia.
"Even" is a little rich, given that the Clinton campaign has systematically - I hate to use the word, but - demonized* Putin. One can regard the political class as cynically able to turn on a dime when the election is done, but Clinton has also induced her base of "NPR tote baggers" to buy in, and the more massive base is harder to turn. And then of course the neo-cons have gone over to her, and they certainly know which side their bread has blood on.
So, if Clinton wins, the dominant faction of the Democrat Party is - from the leadership through the nomenklatura to the base - committed to a "muscular" foreign policy, including a "No Fly Zone" in Syria, where shooting down a Russian plane would be an act of war, so far as Russia is concerned. (In the last debate, Clinton pointedly didn't answer what she would do in that eventuality.)
It is what it is. We are where we are.
NOTE * I mean, come on. Trump and Comey as Putin's agents of influence? Beyond bizarre.
UPDATE One of the salient features of the bureaucratic infighters who brought about World War I is their utter mediocrity; see this review of The Sleepwalkers , a diplomatic history of how World War I came out. If you want to see real mediocrity in today's terms, read the Podesta emails.timotheus November 7, 2016 at 5:35 am
And contrast that quote with:
Whoever is elected on November 8th, we are evidently all headed into a world in which Trumpian-style itchy trigger fingers could be the norm.
So even Hillary Clinton might not be able to handle a world full of Trumpian-style itchy trigger fingers. That's a bit hard to swallow imo.hemeantwell November 7, 2016 at 8:44 am
"Muscular" policy towards Russia: [echo "muscular policy! muscular policy!" slow fade]. And we think Putin is a clownish macho.
Joins "innovation", economic "liftoff" and "headwinds", "fight for", etc.Massinissa November 7, 2016 at 2:38 am
Agreed. Klare's order of presentation creates a questionable sense of causality by talking first about Russian tech and strategy and then about what appear to be US responses. For example, my understanding of recent developments of low yield nuclear weapons - I'm thinking of the "dial a bomb" - has the US once again opening up a new strategic front the Russians feel compelled to duplicate. His discussion of the Iskander M similarly elides the question of how the Russians think about the B52-based cruise missiles the US has had for years.
He also seems to lose track of a point he introduces by referring to Kissinger's advocacy of the use of low yield nukes. Kissinger's book came out in 1957, and afair only the US had battlefield nuclear missile delivery systems back in early 60s. After Kissinger gained power in the Nixon administration, they both thought that it was useful to look rationally irrational, to set out a logic for dangerous policies in order to make opponents fearful of a catastrophic reaction. The Russians are likely doing the same thing. I'm sure, too, that talking of a low first use threshold is a way to split Europe from the US.Roland November 7, 2016 at 3:10 am
I like the article, but it seems like its putting too much of the fault on Russia.integer November 7, 2016 at 5:20 am
This article on nuclear strategy makes no mention of the single most destabilizing thing that happened in nuclear affairs in this century: the USA's unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty.
How could the author make such an omission?
The biggest nuclear problem we face is that there are "serious" military and political leaders in the USA who think that their new ABM systems will allow them to burst the shackles of assured-destruction, and thus to actively employ escalation dominance as a foreign policy tool..charles 2 November 7, 2016 at 5:06 am
political leaders in the USA who think that their new ABM systems will allow them to burst the shackles of assured-destruction
"Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand."
― Archibald Puttfajensen November 7, 2016 at 6:13 am
The author puts too much emphasis on anti-cities warfare at a pre-strategic level. A strike will be more likely to be an EMP anti-infrastructure strike. In modern societies, one doesn't need to kill people to break their resolve. Disrupting the provision of electricity, mobile, cable and internet connection is amply enough to eliminate the appetite for overseas military adventures.Disturbed Voter November 7, 2016 at 6:31 am
The nukes run on a dead-man switch. If one EMP's "everything", the periodic "please do not launch today, sir"-signal will not reach the silos/submarines and missiles will launch automatically.
We can be pretty sure that the last missiles launched will be salted with some "well, fuck you too!"-concoction to create massive fallout and maybe even some bio-weapons on top for all those weakened immune systems (from the gamma radiation). The USSR did a lot of very high quality research on biological weapons, obviously, everyone else has whatever they had in the 1980's. People who ingest radioactive dust are goners sooner or later. Sooner with bio-weapons on top of the radiation poisoning.
People, especially people "on top" who should be informed and know better, yet still think ABM systems work effectively for any other purpose than moving billions of USD to into the pockets of defense industry cronies, are simply deluded. Even with cooked tests, where the speed and trajectory of the opposition missile is known to the missile defence in advance, the odds of an intercept are low.fajensen November 7, 2016 at 8:04 am
The only way to win is not play – War-games
Why would the elites not want to win, compared to the first 70 years of the nuclear age?Jim A November 7, 2016 at 9:01 am
Why would the elites not want to win, compared to the first 70 years of the nuclear age?
They are like 70-80 years old, geriatrics already, soon diaper-cases. All thes powerful people are in a desparate race with time to "set things right", before they lose all of their faculties (or start smelling of poo so no-one invites them anymore).
Even more troubling, Russia has adopted a military doctrine that favors the early use of nuclear weapons if it faces defeat in a conventional war, and NATO is considering comparable measures in response. The nuclear threshold, in other words, is dropping rapidly.
Of course this is the exact mirror image of the US policy during the Cold War. We relied on the threat of "theater nuclear war" to deter the huge Soviet conventional forces that NATO had little chance of stopping with conventional forces. Of course the Germans joked that the definition of a "theater" nuclear weapon was one that went off in Germany.
Alex S -> Julio ... , November 05, 2016 at 03:50 PMWe have moved left. The gays and blacks are treated better. We no longer tolerate wars like Vietnam. The Iraq war was an order of magnitude smaller. War helps scientific discovery and progress. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/14/upshot/the-lack-of-major-wars-may-be-hurting-economic-growth.html?_r=0 For more capable nations to help civilize weaker and more chaotic ones is helpful, but leftists won't accept that.anne -> Alex S... , November 05, 2016 at 04:08 PMOh, I understand:anne -> anne... , November 05, 2016 at 04:20 PM
June 13, 2014
The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth
By Tyler Cowen
[ Who else could possibly have written such an essay? The guy is really, really scary. ]http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/does-the-right-hold-the-economy-hostage-to-advance-its-militarist-agendaAlex S -> anne... , November 05, 2016 at 05:15 PM
June 14, 2014
Does the Right Hold the Economy Hostage to Advance Its Militarist Agenda?
That's one way to read Tyler Cowen's New York Times column * noting that wars have often been associated with major economic advances which carries the headline "the lack of major wars may be hurting economic growth." Tyler lays out his central argument:
"It may seem repugnant to find a positive side to war in this regard, but a look at American history suggests we cannot dismiss the idea so easily. Fundamental innovations such as nuclear power, the computer and the modern aircraft were all pushed along by an American government eager to defeat the Axis powers or, later, to win the Cold War. The Internet was initially designed to help this country withstand a nuclear exchange, and Silicon Valley had its origins with military contracting, not today's entrepreneurial social media start-ups. The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite spurred American interest in science and technology, to the benefit of later economic growth."
This is all quite true, but a moment's reflection may give a bit different spin to the story. There has always been substantial support among liberals for the sort of government sponsored research that he describes here. The opposition has largely come from the right. However the right has been willing to go along with such spending in the context of meeting national defense needs. Its support made these accomplishments possible.
This brings up the suggestion Paul Krugman made a while back (jokingly) that maybe we need to convince the public that we face a threat from an attack from Mars. Krugman suggested this as a way to prompt traditional Keynesian stimulus, but perhaps we can also use the threat to promote an ambitious public investment agenda to bring us the next major set of technological breakthroughs.
-- Dean BakerThree pointsanne -> anne... , November 05, 2016 at 04:24 PM
1. Baker's peaceful spending scenario is not likely because of human nature.
2. Even if Baker's scenario happened, a given dollar will be used more efficiently in a war. If there is a threat of losing, you have an incentive to cut waste and spend on what produces results.
3. The United States would not exist at all if we had not conquered the territory.http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf
US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
By Neta C. Crawford
Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.
As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.
But of course, a full accounting of any war's burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger....
Nov 07, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The War Party called the Peace Party Nazis in 1941, Communists in 1951, Soviet dupes in 1961, dirty hippies in 1971 … must I go on? In 2011, those who heed George Washington's counsel to seek "peace and harmony with all" will be called mullah-headed appeasers of Irano-fascism.
We live in an age in which one is free to view pornography that would make de Sade wince and gore that would make Leatherface retch, yet we have less "free speech," as the Founders would have conceived it, than ever before. The range of permissible political opinions has narrowed to encompass the rat-hair's breadth separating Mitt Romney from Joe Lieberman, and woe betide the straggler who wanders away from the cage.
Blame war. Blame TV. Blame the nationalization of political discourse, as regional variations and individual peculiarities are washed away by the generic slime of poli-talk shows. Radicals-even naïve Tea Partiers or idealistic left-wing kids-are dehumanized in ways unthinkable when America was a free country. No one was barred from the conversation back when there was a conversation. No dispatch ever read, "Wingnut Henry David Thoreau today issued a manifesto from his compound near Walden Pond…"
... ... ...The squeezing out even of establishment dissent-especially since 9/11-has left us with an antiwar movement so feeble it makes the Esperanto lobby look like the AARP. Enter the new organization Come Home, America, its name taken from the magnificent 1972 acceptance speech delivered by George McGovern in the last unscripted Democratic convention.
Discussed in recent issues of this magazine, Come Home, America is based on the now decidedly radical premise that young men and women belong home, with their families and in their communities, rather than fighting needless wars on the other side of the globe. I am a small part of what I hope will become a chorus of patriotic dissent ringing from Main Street and Copperhead Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard, from farm and church and coffeehouse.
Nov 06, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org
Molin | Nov 5, 2016 7:21:49 AM | 52
Obama hack Russia openly,
"Russia expects Washington to provide an explanation after a report claimed that Pentagon cyber-offensive specialists have hacked into Russia's power grids, telecommunications networks, and the Kremlin's command systems for a possible sabotage."
Nov 02, 2016 | The Unz Review
Wall Street and the Pentagon greeted the onset of 2016 as a 'banner year', a glorious turning point in the quest for malleable regimes willing to sell-off the most lucrative economic resources, to sign off on onerous new debt to Wall Street and to grant use of their strategic military bases to the Pentagon.
Brazil and Argentina, the most powerful and richest countries in South America and the Philippines, Washington's most strategic military platform in Southeast Asia, were the objects of intense US political operations in the run-up to 2016.
In each instance, Wall Street and the Pentagon secured smashing successes leading to premature ejaculations over the 'new golden era' of financial pillage and unfettered military adventures. Unfortunately, the early ecstasy has turned to agony: Wall Street made easy entries and even faster departures once the 'honeymoon' gave way to reality. ; The political procurers persecuted center-left incumbents but, were soon to have their turn facing prosecution. The political prostitutes, who had decreed the sale of sovereignty, were replaced by nationalists who would turn the bordello back into a sovereign nation state.
This essay outlines the rapid rise and dramatic demise of these erstwhile 'progeny' of Wall Street and the Pentagon in Argentina and Brazil, and then reviews Washington's shock and awe as the newly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte embraced new ties with China while proclaiming, 'We are no one's 'tuta' (puppy dog)!'
Argentina and Brazil: Grandiose Schemes and Crapulous Outcomes
The international financial press was ecstatic over the election of President Mauricio Macri in Argentina and the appointment of former Wall Street bankers to his cabinet. They celebrated the ouster of the 'evil populists', accusing them of inflating economic results, reneging on debt obligations and discouraging foreign lenders and investors. Under the Macri regime all market obstacles were to be removed and all the bankers trembled with anticipation at the 'good times' to come.
After taking office in December 2015, President Macri unleashed the 'animal instincts' of the market and the carrion birds flocked in. US 'vulture funds' scooped up and demanded payment for on old Argentine debt 'valued' at $3.5 billion – constituting a 1,000% return on their initial investment. A devaluation of the peso of 50% tripled inflation and drove down wages by 20%.
Firing over 200,000 public sector employees, slapping 400% price increases on utilities and transport, driving small and medium size firms into bankruptcy and enraged consumers into the streets ended the honeymoon with the Argentine electorate quite abruptly. This initial massive dose of free enterprise 'medicine' was prescribed by the local and Wall Street bankers and investors who had promised a new golden era for capitalism!
Now that he had banished the 'populists', Macri was free to tap into the international financial markets. Argentina raised $16.5 billion from a bond sale taken up by the big bankers and speculators, mostly from Wall Street, who were eager to cash in on the high rates in the belief that there was no risk with their champion President Macri at the helm. Wall Street based its giddy predictions on a mere three-month experience with Mauricio!
But then… some of the hedge fund managers began to raise questions about the viability of Mauricio Macri's presidency. Instead of reducing the fiscal deficit, Macri began to increase public spending to offset mass discontent over his triple digit increases in utility fees and transportation, the mass layoffs in the public sector and the slashing of pension funds.
The major banks had counted on the abrupt devaluation of the currency to invest in the export sector, but instead they were confronted with a sudden 11% appreciation of the peso and a skyrocketing inflation of 40% leading to high interest rates. As a result, the economy fell even deeper in recession exceeding minus 3% for the year.
While most Wall Street bankers still retain some faith in the Macri regime, they are not willing to fork-over the kind of cash that might allow this increasingly unpopular regime to survive. What keep Wall Street on board the sinking ship are the political and ideological commitments rather than any objective assessment of their protégée's dismal economic performance. Wall Street counts on free market bankers appointed to the ministries, the massive purge of social services (health and education) personnel and the lucrative bond sales to cover the burgeoning deficit. They hope the vast increase in profits resulting from increased utility fees and the sharp cuts in salaries, pensions and subsidies will ultimately lead them into the promised land.
Wall Street has expressed dismay over Macri's failure to stimulate growth – in fact GDP is falling. Furthermore, their 'golden boy' failed to attract productive investments. Instead thousands of Argentine small and medium businesses have 'gone under' as consumer spending tanked and extortionate tariffs were slapped on vital public utilities and transport – devastating profits. Inflation has undermined the purchasing power of the vast majority of households. Wall Street speculators, concentrating on fixed-rate peso denominated debt, are at risk of losing their shirts.
In other words, the administration's 'free enterprise' regime is based largely on attracting foreign loans, plundering the national treasury, firing tens of thousands of public sector workers and slashing spending on social services and business-friendly subsidies. Macri has yet to generate any large-scale investment in new innovative productive sectors, which might sustain long-term growth.
Already facing growing discontent and a general strike of private and public sector workers, the 'bankers' regime' lacks the political links with the trade unions to neutralize the growing opposition.ORDER IT NOW
To hold back the growing tidal wave of discontent, President Macri had to betray his overseas investors by boosting fiscal spending, which has had little or no impact on the national economy.
Wall Street's hopes that President Mauricio Macri would inaugurate a 'golden era' of free market capitalism lasted less than a year and is turning into a real fiasco. Rising foreign debt, economic depression and class warfare ensures Macri's rapid demise.
Brazil: Wall Street's Three Month 'Whirl-Wind' Honeymoon
Most of the current elected members of the Brazilian Congress, Senate and the recently-installed (rather than elected) President, as well as his cabinet, are in trouble: The hero, Michael Temer and his argonauts, chosen by Wall Street to privatize the Brazilian economy and usher in another 'golden dawn' for finance capital, now all face criminal changes, arrest and long prison sentences for money laundering, bribery, fraud, tax evasion and corruption.
In less than four months, the entire political edifice constructed to impeach the elected President Dilma Rousseff and then de-nationalize key sectors of the economy, is shaking. So much for the financial press's proclamation of a new era of "business friendly" policies in Brazilia.
The pundits, politicians, journalists and editors, who prematurely celebrated the appointment of Michael Temer to the Presidency by legislative coup, now have to face a new reality. The key to understanding the rapid collapse of the New Right project in Brazil lies in the growing 'rap sheets' of the very same politicians who engineered the ouster of Rousseff.
Eduardo Cunha, the ex-president of the Congress in Brasilia, used his influence to ensure the super majority of Congressional votes for the impeachment. Cunha was godfather to ensuring the appointment of Michael Temer as interim president.
Cunha's influence and control over the Congress was based on his wide network of bribes and corruption involving over a hundred members of congress, including the newly anointed President Temer.
Once Cunha secured the ouster of Rousseff, the Brazilian elite washed their collective hands of the 'fixer', overwhelmed by the stench of his corruption. In September 2016, Cunha was suspended from Congress and lost his immunity. One month later, he was arrested on over a dozen charges, including fraud and tax evasion. It was public knowledge that Cunha had squirreled away a 'tidy nest' of over $70 million in Swiss banks.
Cunha directed (extorted) public and private firms to finance the campaigns of many of his political colleagues. He had intervened to secure bribes for President Temer, his foreign minister and even the next presidential hopeful, Jose Serra. One of the most powerful representatives of the new regime, Moreira Franco, Grand Wizard of the Privatization Program, was 'in hock' to Cunha.
As all this has come to light, Cunha has been negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor and judges in return for his 'singing' a few arias. He is facing over a hundred years in jail; his wife and daughter face trial; Eduardo Cunha is prepared to talk and finger political leaders to save his own neck. Most knowledgeable observers and judicial experts fully expect Cunha to bring down the Temer Administration with him and devastate the leadership of Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, as well as ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso's Brazilian Social Democratic Party.
The Brazilian elite, Wall Street bankers and their mass media propagandists, who wrote and directed the impeachment plot scenario are now discredited and bereft of political front men. Their expectations of a new 'golden era of free market capitalism' in Brazil has turned into a political mad scramble with every politico and corporate leader desperate to save his own skin and illicit fortune by denouncing each other.
With the demise of the 'Brazilian takeover', Wall Street and Washington are bereft of key markets and allies in Latin America.
The Philippines: The Duterte turn from the US to China
In April 2014, Washington 'secured' an agreement granting access to five strategic military bases in the Philippines critical to its 'pivot to target' China. Under the outgoing President 'Noynoy' Aquino, Jr. the Pentagon believed it had an 'iron-clad' agreement to organize the Philippines as its satrap and military springboard throughout Southeast Asia. Washington even prodded the Aquino government to bring its Spratly Island dispute with China before the obscure Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. Washington anticipated using the Court's 'favorable' ruling as a pretext to confront the Chinese.
All this has changed with the June 2016 ascent to the Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte: In only four months, all Washington's imperial designs had been swept off the table. By October 21, 2016 President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington because they threatened Philippine sovereignty and made his country vulnerable to a military confrontation with China. He promised to end sea patrols of disputed waters that the US uses to harass China in the South China Sea.
In advance of the Philippines President's meeting with China, he had already declared that he would not press the Dutch-based ruling over the South China Sea island dispute against Beijing but rely on diplomacy and compromise. During the China meeting President Duterte declared that the two countries would engage in a constructive dialogue to resolve the Spratly Islands as well as other outstanding issues. The 'agreement' over US access to bases in the Philippines was put in doubt as the President declared "a separation from the US" and promised long-term, large scale economic and investment ties with China. Undergirding the Philippines pivot to China were 13 trade and investment agreements worth more than $20 billion, covering financing of infrastructure, transport, social projects, tourism, industry and agriculture.
The military base agreement, signed by the notoriously servile ex-President Aquino without Congressional approval, was review by the Philippine Supreme Court and can be revoked by the new President Duterte by decree.
Inside of four months, the US strategy of armed encirclement and intervention against China has been dealt a major blow. The newly emerging China-Philippines linkage strikes a fatal blow to Washington's overtly militarist 'pivot' against China.
2016 opened with great fanfare: The defeat of the two major center-left governments (Argentina and Brazil) and the advent of hard-right US-backed regimes would inaugurate a 'golden era of free market capitalism'. This promised to usher in a prolonged period of profit and pillage by rolling back 'populist' reforms and creating a bankers paradise. In Southeast Asia, US officials and pundits would proclaim another 'golden era', this time of rampant militarism, encircling and provoking China on its vital sea lanes, and operating from five strategic military bases obtained through a Philippine Presidential decree by an unpopular and recently replaced puppet, 'Noynoy' Aquino, Jr.
These dreams of 'golden eras' lasted a few months before objective reality intruded.
By the autumn of 2016 the rightist regimes had been replaced in the Manila by a colorful ardent nationalist, while the 'banker boys' in Brasilia faced prison, and the 'Golden Boys' of Buenos Aires were mired in deep crisis. The notion of an easy Rightist restoration was based on several profound misunderstandings:
- The belief that the reversal of social reforms and denial of popular demands would smoothly give way to an explosion of foreign financing and investment was shattered when private bond purchases profited the financial sector but did not bring in large-scale productive investment. Devaluation of the currency was followed by skyrocketing inflation, which led to fiscal deficits and the loss of business confidence.
- Washington's promotion of 'corruption investigations' started with prosecuting democratically elected center-left politicians and ended up with the arrest of Wall Street's own protégés encompassing the entire right-wing political class and decimating the 'Golden' regimes.
- The belief that long-term hegemonic relations, based on client regimes in Asia, could resist the attraction of signing trade and investment agreements with the rising Chinese mega-economy, while sacrificing vital economic development, and relegating their masses to more stagnation and unemployment, collapsed with the massive electoral of nationalist Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines.
In fact, these and other political assessments among the decision makers in Washington and on Wall Street were proven wrong leading to a strategic retreat of the empire in both Latin America and Asia. The policy failures were not merely 'mistakes' but the inevitable results of changing structural conditions embedded in a declining empire.
These decisions were based on a calculus of power, rooted in class and national relations that may have held true two decades ago. At the dawn of the new millennium the US still dominated Asia and China was not yet an economic alternative for its neighbors eager for investment. Washington could and did dictate policy in Southeast Asia.
Twenty years ago, the US had the economic leverage to sustain the neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus throughout Latin America.
Today the US continues to pursue policies based on anachronistic power relations, seeming to ignore the fact that China is now a world power and a viable economic trade and investment alternative successfully competing for markets and influence in Asia. Washington is failing to compete in that marketplace and, therefore, can no longer rely on docile client state.
Washington cannot effectively control and direct large-scale capital flows to shore-up its newly installed rightist regimes in Argentina and Brazil as they crumble under their own corruption and incompetence. Meanwhile the world is watching a domestic US economy, mired in stagnation with its own political elites torn by corruption and scandals at the highest level, and staging the most bizarre presidential campaign in its history. Corruption has become the mode of governing under conditions of deregulation and rule by political warlords. Political allegiance to the empire and open doors to foreign pillage do not attract capital when those making political decisions are facing prison and the business 'doormen' are busy stuffing their suitcases with cash and making a mad-dash for the airports!
For Wall Street and the Pentagon, Latin America and Asia are lost opportunities – betrayals to be mourned at the officers clubs and exclusive Manhattan restaurants. For the people in mass social movements these are emerging opportunities for struggle and change.
The strenuous US effort to rebuild its empire in Latin America and Southeast Asia has suffered a rapid succession of blows. Washington can still seize power but it lacks the talent and the favorable conditions to hold it.
The vision of a Brazilian state, build on the edifice of the privatized oil giant, Petrobras, and the political incarceration of its left adversaries, with foreign capital attracted and seduced by political procurers, pimps and prostitutes, has ended in a debacle.
In this vacuum, it will be up to the new governments and peoples' movements to seize the opportunity to advance their struggles and explore political and economic alternatives. The aborted rightist power grab inadvertently has done the peoples' movements a great favor by exposing and ousting the corrupt and compromised center-left regimes opening the door for a genuine anti-imperialist transformation.
Nov 04, 2016 | www.unz.com
October 25, 2016 at 9:25 pm GMT • 100 Words
The 11th Anniversary of 9/11 ~ Paul Craig Roberts
9/11 and the Orwellian Redefinition of "Conspiracy Theory"
9/11 After 13 years
The Tide is Turning: The Official Story Is Now The Conspiracy Theory - Paul Craig Roberts
No Airliner Black Boxes Found at the World Trade Center? Senior Officials Dispute Official 9/11 Claim
Oct 25, 2016 | The Unz Review
For the first time a presidential candidate, admittedly from a fringe party, is calling for a reexamination of 9/11. Jill Stein of the Green Party has recognized that exercises in which the United States government examines its own behavior are certain to come up with a result that basically exonerates the politicians and the federal bureaucracy. This has been the case since the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which, inter alia, failed to thoroughly investigate key players like Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby and came up with a single gunman scenario in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary.
When it comes to 9/11, I have been reluctant to enter the fray largely because I do not have the scientific and technical chops to seriously assess how buildings collapse or how a large passenger airliner might be completely consumed by a fire. In my own area, of expertise, which is intelligence, I have repeatedly noted that the Commission investigators failed to look into the potential foreign government involvement in the events that took place that day. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan just for starters may have been involved in or had knowledge relating to 9/11 but the only investigation that took place, insofar as I can determine, was a perfunctory look at the possible Saudi role, the notorious 28 pages, which have recently been released in a redacted form.
A friend recently recommended that I take a look at a film on 9/11 that was first produced back in 2005. It is called Loose Change 9/11 and is available on Amazon Video or in DVD form as well as elsewhere in a number of updated versions. The first version reportedly provides the most coherent account, though the later updates certainly are worth watching, add significantly to the narrative, and are currently more accessible.
Loose Change is an examination of the inconsistencies in the standard 9/11 narrative, a subject that has been thoroughly poked and prodded in a number of other documentaries and books, but it benefits from the immediacy of the account and the fresh memories of the participants in the events who were interviewed by the documentary's director Dylan Avery starting in 2004. It also includes a bit of a history lesson for the average viewer, recalling Hitler's Reichstag fire, Pearl Harbor and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, all of which were essentially fraudulent and led to the assumption of emergency powers by the respective heads of state.
The underlying premise of most 9/11 revisionism is that the United States government, or at least parts of it, is capable of almost anything. Loose Change describes how leading hawkish Republicans were, as early as 2000, pushing to increase U.S. military capabilities so that the country would be able to fight multi-front wars. The signatories of the neocon Project for the New American Century paper observed that was needed was a catalyst to produce a public demand to "do something," that "something" being an event comparable to Pearl Harbor. Seventeen signatories of the document wound up in senior positions in the Bush Administration.
The new Pearl Harbor turned out to be 9/11. Given developments since 9/11 itself, to include the way the U.S. has persisted in going to war and the constant search for enemies worldwide to justify our own form of Deep State government, I would, to a large extent, have to believe that PNAC was either prescient or perhaps, more diabolically, actively engaged in creating a new reality.
That is not to suggest that either then or now most federal employees in the national security industry were part of some vast conspiracy but rather an indictment of the behavior and values of those at the top