|Home||Switchboard||Unix Administration||Red Hat||TCP/IP Networks||Neoliberalism||Toxic Managers|
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better
|News||Who Rules America||Recommended books||Recommended Links||Anatol Leiven on American Messianism||Economic costs of American Exceptionalism||American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony|
|Narcissism as Key American Value||Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money||NeoMcCartyism||Russiagate: Special Prosecutor Mueller and his fishing expedition||Neoconservatism||Antirussian hysteria as a method of suppressing of dissent against neoliberalism and militarism||What's the Matter with Kansas|
|Cultural imperialism||Technological imperialism||Andrew Bacevich on the American militarism||Anti-Americanism||Industrial Espionage||Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State||Diplomacy by deception|
|National Security State||Corporatism||Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization||Fighting Russophobia||Fifth Column of Globalization||Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians (Rovism)||The History of Media-Military-Industrial Complex Concept|
|Big Uncle is Watching You||Nation under attack meme||Antirussian hysteria as a method of suppressing of dissent against neoliberalism and militarism||National Socialism and Military Keysianism||Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime||Authoritarian Corporatism||Terrorism as a smokesreen for National Security State implementation|
|Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite||William Browder, MI6, economic rape of Russia, and Magnitsky Act||Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?||American Exceptionalism as Civil Religion||Fighting Neo-Theocracy||Inside democratization hypocrisy fair||The Unlikely History of American Exceptionalism Walter A. McDougall|
|Quotes||Mark Twain Quotes||Niccolo Machiavelli||Reinhold Niebuhr||Propaganda Quotes||Politically Incorrect Humor||Etc|
|I call it a tribal phenomena. A tribe can be a religion, a nation, a gender, a race, or any group which is different
from the group you identify with. It is not confined to religion.
And it seems to be an inherent trait in the human species that was one aspect of our evolution. Only when we learn that it is better to cooperate with each other rather than kill each other will we be free from this deadly disease which may, in the end, destroy us all.
sheridan44 comment in The Guardian
“[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.”
According to George Soros, the events of 9/11 renewed a "distorted view" of American supremacy that "postulates that because we are stronger than others, we must know better and we must have right on our side." In other words 9/11 was important step to the transformation of the USA in the "National Security State" with the permanent regime of Total surveillance" over the population. The next step were events of 2008, which signified crisis of neoliberalism as an ideology. Neoliberalism now can mostly be propagated by brute force, via military intervention or some form of coup d'état (aka color revolutions) much like Trotskyites planned to propagate socialism to other countries via Permanent Revolution. With "Democracy promotion" instead of "liberation of proletariat".
Rise of American exeptionalism is also connected with the reaction to neoliberalism with its redistribution of wealth up by most of US population. Actually this is global phenomenon: neoliberalism gives strong impulse to the rise of neofascism in many countries, not only in the USA. As William I. Robinson noted in his article Global Capitalism Crisis of Humanity and the Specter of 21st Century Fascism
Yet another response [ to globalization] is that I term 21st century fascism.5 The ultra-right is an insurgent force in many countries. In broad strokes, this project seeks to fuse reactionary political power with transnational capital and to organise a mass base among historically privileged sectors of the global working class – such as white workers in the North and middle layers in the South – that are now experiencing heightened insecurity and the specter of downward mobility. It involves militarism, extreme masculinisation, homophobia, racism and racist mobilisations, including the search for scapegoats, such as immigrant workers and, in the West, Muslims.
Twenty-first century fascism evokes mystifying ideologies, often involving race/culture supremacy and xenophobia, embracing an idealised and mythical past. Neo-fascist culture normalises and glamorises warfare and social violence, indeed, generates a fascination with domination that is portrayed even as heroic.
American exceptionalism is unique in many ways as it does not include mass mobilization (see Inverted Totalitarism). "Go shopping" famously recommended George W Bush after 9/11. It should probably be more correctly called US-specific version of far right nationalism. The latter is a milder variant of one that existed in 30th of the last century in national-socialist countries of Europe, such as Italy and Spain, which does not necessarily employ physical violence against political opponents.
The sad fact is that the America of today is even more arrogant than the America in the days of Manifest Destiny and gunboat diplomacy. Indeed, the dissolution of the USSR cemented the national myth of superiority. The establishment of unparalleled industrial might, military victories in two world wars and on both sides of the globe, and the staggering economic defeat of Communism in the Cold War all have combined to cement America’s presumption of chapters in a long history of escalating national illusions of pre-eminence and blind national egoism. The dominant view about the USA from most countries is that it has a split paranoid personality, a “Jekyll and Hyde” America, “a democracy inside, an empire outside.” American policy makers, with their pretensions of global superiority after collapse of the USSR and with ever-increasing power of their military machine moved steadily toward making the whole globe a US preserve. Despite its vulgarity and borderline obsession with pornography (or may be because of that) the US culture made inroad all over the globe, and even in Europe and Russia despite rich cultural traditions of both. While the blatant American imperialism of the turn of the last century is now only a memory, today the nations face policies evidence more insidious brands of imperialism: cultural imperialism, economic imperialism, the imperialism of neoliberal ideology and forced globalization on the US terms. All are spread by the same national arrogance, the same cock-sure certainly that we are right. Many nations fear the United States practices a contemporary brand of “soft imperialism,” enslaving nations with IMF debt meachisms under the auspice of economic globalization. Converting the Third World in debt slaves or simply exploit it. In spite of such fears, and despite the setbacks, Americans remain convinced that eventually all nations are destined to fall into step and adopt “the American way.” All the while, the US politicians decry the rigid fundamentalism of our enemies while we remain utterly blind to our own.
Americans have been, and are today, exposed almost from birth to a particularly virulent strain of nationalism unlike that found in other modern nations. The resulting affliction stems from an unswerving faith in national superiority and uniqueness that is deeply ingrained in the American mind. Historically, these notions of superiority sprang from myths of the visions of chosen-ness, and high destiny; from the myth of frontier self-sufficiency; and finally from the perceived universality of American ideology and dominance of US culture and English language over the globe. While in some of us, nationalist feelings are not that pronounced, few of us are immune, and that is especially visible in times of anger, or fear. In spite of, and perhaps because of, our many strengths, practically all of us as Americans share this particularly prideful, unlovely, and potentially fatal weakness. In one form or another and to some degree or another, we carry national pride across the invisible boundary that separates benign patriotism from malignant far right nationalism. Hillary candidacy demonstrates that this process went too far and became really malignant:
Still, Americans are sure that they, like Woodrow Wilson, have seen “visions that other nations have not seen,” and that, accordingly, the United States’ mission has always been to become the “light of the world.”28 Indeed, from the very beginning, the American national identity was built on audacious visions of chosen-ness, destiny, and mission. Ronald Reagan was not the first nor the last in a long line of entrenched American visionaries to proclaim American exceptionalism, with its missionary implications of the Puritan “city on the hill,” no longer a stationary beacon, but an active force, the “leader of the free world” directing its forces against “empires of evil.”29
With such visions comes a warning: “the adoption of political and social values … as a framework for national identification is possible only if these values are based on some source of apparent ultimate truth which confers on them absolute validity — if they can claim universality.”30 If Americans unflinchingly believe that theirs is the single principle of Absolute Truth representing the universal interests of humankind, then any opposition will appear either criminal or inhuman.31 As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. puts it, “Those who are convinced that they have a monopoly on Truth always feel that they are saving the world when they slaughter heretics. Their object remains the making of the world over in the image of their dogmatic ideology — their goal is a monolithic world, organized on the principle of the infallibility of a single creed.”32 If Americans are so egotistical as to believe that their nation with its gleaming lamp of Ultimate Truth is the envy of the world, then they will perceive no wrong in trying to make the world over in America’s image, by whatever means. However, the world is a very complex and diverse place, and Ultimate Truth is a highly elusive and unstable substance. Thus, these are not only very arrogant ideas; they are also very dangerous ideas.
The way in which American elite as a whole relates with the rest of the world demonstrates a strong nationalistic (as in cultural nationalism) and chauvinistic point of view. That means that mass media presents events only from the particular point of view, that militarism is always encouraged and defended. With the considerable part of brainwashed lemmings (aka American public) believing that their nation, or culture, is superior to all others.
This view involves a unique mixture of prejudice, xenophobia and inter-group and in-group violence, with the latter directed at suppression of dissent. Indeed, the United States’ inflated sense of eminence create additional, non-economic stimulus for the country elite to act in fundamentally ethnocentric ways, and to to strive for unilateral rule of the world using military supremacy as door opener to resources of other nations. And first of all oil.
The other key support of American exeptionalism are large financial institutions, which depend on the success of the US "financial imperialism". We can view imperialism as ethnocentrism in action. And "financial imperialism" is very similar to "old-style" European imperialism, where European nations discovered new lands and imposed capitalism, their system of law and culture on the native peoples usually through violence. Like old colonies were forced to abandon their way of life and adopt a “superior” lifestyle and became resource base of metropolia, financial imperialism impose debt on other nations keeping them in a kind of debt slavery with the same result: they also became resource base for metropolia.
American exceptionalism might also have religious overtones as "citi on the hill" metaphor implies. It is not thus accidental that the first deep analyses of American exceptionalism was done by Niebuhr from the religious positions in his famous book The Irony of American History. Niebuhr as a theologian came to conclusion that it represents a sin that inevitably lead to the false allure of simple solutions and lack of appreciation of limits of power. In his opinion "Messianic consciousness" which constitute the core of American exceptionalism, was partially inherited form religious dogmas of early religious sects which came to colonize America. Those views were later enhanced and developed further by Professor Bacevich. See more details exposition of his views on the subject in the page New American Militarism
Any unbiased analysis of the nationalist activities leads to a disappointing conclusion: nationalists can behave as compradors: as enthusiastic servants of a foreign occupier of their own territory. In this case international banking cartel. Ukraine is one example, Serbia and Georgia are other but very similar examples. In the same way the USA can be viewed as a country occupied by financial oligarchy with most of its citizents converted into "debt slaves".
The policy which oppose exceptionalism is often called Noninterventionism
Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.
There were several important thinkers who contributed to understand of this complex and multifaceted, like any type of nationalism, phenomena. We will discuss (in breif) just four thinkers that made significant impact in understanding of this very complex concept. Among them:
American neo-conservatism is a closely related phenomenon. In this case the key point is that the pre-eminence of the USA as the sole superpower needs to be maintained at all costs and with wide use of military force. Among prominent neocons we can name Hillary Clinton and most of republican candidates for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race. That means that American exeptionalism is an establishment view, the view of the US elite, not some anomaly.
In his brilliant foreword to Niebuhr's book The Irony of American History Bacevich noted:
In Niebuhr's view, America's rise to power derived less from divine favor than from good fortune combines with a fierce determination to convert that good fortune in wealth and power. The good fortune cane in the form of vast landscape, rich in resources, ripe for exploitation, and apparently insulated from the bloody cockpit of [European] power politics. The determination found expression in a strategy of commercial and territorial expansionism that proved staggeringly successful, evidence not of superior virtue but of shrewdness punctuated with a considerable capacity for ruthlessness.
In describing America's rise to power Niebuhr does not shrink from using words like "hegemony" and "imperialism". His point is not to tag the United States with responsibility for all the world's evils. Rather, it is to suggest that it does not differ from other great powers as much as Americans may imagine.
...Niebuhr has little patience for those who portray the United States as acting on God's behalf. "All men are naturally inclined to obscure the morally ambiguous element in this political cause by investing it with religious sanctity," he once observed. " This is why religion is more frequently a source of confusion then of light in the political realm.". In the United States, he continued "The tendency to equate our political [goals] with our Christian convictions cause politics to generate idolatry."
In the introduction to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights Michael Ignatieff identifies three main types of exceptionalism:
I would add to it
The contributors to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights use Ignatieff's essay as a starting point to discuss specific types of exceptionalism -- America's approach to capital punishment and to free speech, for example -- or to explore the social, cultural, and institutional roots of exceptionalism.
The second important contribution to to the studies of American exceptionalism is Anatol Lieven. He correctly linked American exceptionalism with far right nationalism which Wikipedia defined as
Far-right politics or extreme-right politics are right-wing politics to the right of the mainstream centre right on the traditional left-right spectrum. They often involve a focus on tradition as opposed to policies and customs that are regarded as reflective of modernism. They tend to include disregard or disdain for egalitarianism, if not overt support for social inequality and social hierarchy, elements of social conservatism and opposition to most forms of liberalism and socialism.
"America keeps a fine house," Anatol Lieven writes in his probably best book on the American Exceptionalism (America Right or Wrong An Anatomy of American Nationalism ) "but in its cellar there lives a demon, whose name is nationalism." In a way US neocons, who commanded key position in Bush II and Barack Obama administrations are not that different from Israeli Likud Party.
While neocons definitely played an important role in shaping the US policy immediately after 9/11, the origins of aggressive U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 also reflect controversial character of the US national identity, which according to Anatol Lieven embraces two contradictory features.
Both of those tendencies are much older then 9/11. The first aggressive, expansionist war by the US was the war of 1812. See American Loyalists, The Most Important War You Probably Know Nothing About - By James Traub Foreign Policy
The War of 1812 matters because it was America’s first war of choice. The United States did not have to declare war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, to survive as a nation and indeed President James Madison did not want to. The newly founded United States was growing westward but the “war hawks” in Congress pressed for a conflict with America’s former colonial masters in the hopes of gaining even more territory to the north. The term “hawk” was coined in the run-up to the War of 1812 and the hawks of U.S. foreign policy have been with us ever since.
The War of 1812 was America’s first neocon war. With an audacity that would become familiar, the war hawks appealed to a combination of personal pride — the British navy was forcibly conscripting Americans — and the prospect of material gain — the absorption of British Canada — wrapped up in love of country. No one said the conquest of Canada would be a “cakewalk,” but the hawks were confident the Americans would be greeted as liberators.
These two mutually-excusive impulses caused wild oscillations of the US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and influenced the nature of U.S. support for Israel. Due to those oscillations those two contradictory impulses are undermining the U.S. foreign policy credibility in the eyes of the worlds and complicates reaching important national objectives.
Some attribute the term “American Exceptionalism” to Alexis de Tocqueville — though he never penned the phrase. In reality this term originated by German Marxists who were trying to explain weakness of worker movement in the USA. The idiom was popularized by neo-conservative pundits (aka former Trotskyites) soon after WWII.
In reality the term "American Exceptionalism is nothing but a disguised, more "politically correct" reference to America's Janus-faced nationalism. It has some mystical components like long vanished under the hill of financial oligarchy the "American dream" and its German-style refrain "God bless America". What is interesting about "God bless America" is that most founding fathers were Deists, profoundly critical of organized religions and they sought to separate personal -- what many of them described as mythologies -- from government. They were profoundly respectful of personal religious belief, but saw government as necessarily secular if freedom was to prevail. Not until the religious revivals of the 1820s through the 1860s can you find many identifying religion as a component of American exceptionalism.
As Martin Woollacott aptly noted in his review of Anatol Lieven book America, Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism ( Guardian):
He cuts through the conformist political rhetoric of America, the obfuscating special language of the "American dream", or the "American exception", which infects even foreign accounts. Even to use the word "nationalism" to describe an American phenomenon is, as he notes, not normal. Americans are not "nationalist", they are "patriotic". It is a patriotism which too often leaves no room for the patriotism of others, combining a theoretical care for all humanity with, in practice, an "indifference verging on contempt" for the interests and hopes of non-Americans. Nothing could be more distant from "the decent respect to the opinions of mankind" recommended to Americans in the early years of their independent existence
Lieven first paints a picture of an in some ways admirable American "civic nationalism", based on respect for the rule of law, constitutionality, democracy, and social (but not economic) equality, and a desire to spread these values in the world. But because this nationalism unrealistically holds that such "American" values can be exported at will, it blinds Americans to the different nature of other societies, sustaining the mistaken idea that if only particular rulers or classes can be displaced, "democracy" will prevail - a "decapitation" theory which contributed to the decision to attack Saddam. The American campaign to democratize other societies, Lieven says, harshly but fairly, "combines sloppiness of intellect and meanness of spirit". But, while in part mythic and not entirely rational, this side of American nationalism is of some value not only to the United States, but to the world as a whole.
...The result, Lieven argues, is that instead of the mature nationalism of a satisfied and dominant state, American nationalism is more akin to that of late developing and insecure states such as Wilhelmine Germany and Tsarist Russia.
"While America keeps a splendid and welcoming house," Lieven writes in his preface, "it also keeps a family of demons in its cellar.
His book supports Mark Twain quite to the effect that we are blessed with three things in this country, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and, thirdly, the common sense to practice neither one!
He also points at the very important side effect of Exceptionalism: "America's hypocrisy," (see for example Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair). An outstanding level of hypocrisy in the US foreign policy also is corroborated by other scholars, among them James Hillman in his recent book "A Terrible Love of War" in which he characterizes hypocrisy as quintessentially American (although British are strong competitors). Now after Snowden, Libya, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc we might be appear to be entering an new stage on which "The era of easy hypocrisy is over."
The regime of easy hypocrisy means that America position itself as a blessed nation created by God and (here’s the rub) therefore privileged in what actions it can take around the world and the nation that can safely ignore international norms, which are created only for suckers. It is above the international law.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "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."
This is pretty precise definition of the idea of introduced by Nazi idea of “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. Decisionism is a defining feature of any totalitarian state. By extension if you find decisionism exists in particular state, it is rational to expect other F-features of such states. Umberto Eco has listed fourteen attributes along with two major features: irrationalism and decisionism. Eco has them listed as attributes 2 and 3.
The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.Fascism has an irrational element that rejects modern thought because it conflicts with traditional beliefs of the Christian religion and because fascism views communist ideology as a child of the Age of Reason and Jewish intellectuals. The Nazis were well aware that Karl Marx was a German Jew. Evolution is seen as modernist and is rejected in favor of Christian creationism. This debate is repeating itself today in American society with Christian fundamentalism attempting to gain control of state education.
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
Very closely related to irrationalism is “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. This is an existential element in fascism that elevates action over thought. Action is a sign of unambiguous power, and thought is associated with weakness and indecision. Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist, wrote that a decision is “(an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea).” The a priori is overshadowed by the posteriori. Actions over abstract principles, Fact over Idea, Power over pure thought, Certainty over ambiguity are the values and ideological norms that are primary in a totalitarian state.
After fleeing Germany, Marcuse wrote in 1934 a critique of German fascist society and attempted to identify those beliefs and philosophical themes found within fascist ideology. Marcuse believed that the seeds of fascism could be found in the Capitalist Democratic Liberal State, which over time mutate as Monopoly Capitalism gain control of the State as in the case of Germany. The evolution of Capitalism is also the concealed dialectic of Fascism. Those mutated liberal democratic ideas and values are betrayed by a totalitarianism based on action and force.
Using Germany as his example of a fascist society Marcuse writes:From what social idea in Capitalistic Liberalism did this decisionism evolve? It is none other than the economic hero, the free independent entrepreneur of industrial capitalism.The idea of the charismatic, authoritarian leader is already preformed in the liberalist celebration of the gifted economic leader, the “born” executive. Negations, page 18.
And within the political sphere all relationships are oriented in turn toward the most extreme “crisis,” toward the decision about the “state of emergency,” of war and peace. The true possessor of power is defined as beyond all legality and legitimacy: “Sovereign is he who decides on the state of emergency.” (Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie,1922).
Sovereignty is founded on the factual power to make this decision (decisionism). The basic political relationship is the “friend-enemy relationship.” Its crisis is war, which proceeds until the enemy has been physically annihilated.
There is no social relationship that does not in a crisis turn into a political relationship. Behind all economic, social, religious, and cultural relations stands total politicization. There is no sphere of private or public life, no legal or rational court of appeal that could oppose it.
Negations, page 36.
The total-authoritarian state is born out of the Liberal state and the former concept of the economic leader is transformed into a Fuhrer. We can see this mutation of the concept of the “born” executive into the leader-state (Fuhrerstaat) in George Bush’s speech and actions.
An uneducated but privileged man, George Bush, has merged the idea of the CEO with that of the State Leader. But society has also made this same concatenation of ideas. He is a president of action and seen as a “strong” president. He is doer and not a thinker and his followers are proud of this persona. His opponents are “feminine” and members of the “reality based community.” Consequently, the Bush administration has attempted to engineer the executive branch to be the strongest in American history by claiming “inherent” presidential powers. It is precisely the concept of “state of emergency” that Bush has used to grab more and more state power in the name of security.
He has instituted the hyper-surveillance of Americas with the Patriot act, which is based on the same justification Nazi Law used to empower the Fuhrer. A Bush lawyer and advisor, John Yoo, wrote, Just two weeks after the September 11 attacks, a secret memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales’ office concluded that President Bush had the power to deploy military force “preemptively” against any terrorist groups or countries that supported them—regardless of whether they had any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Towers or the Pentagon. The memo, written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, argues that there are effectively “no limits” on the president’s authority to wage war—a sweeping assertion of executive power that some constitutional scholars say goes considerably beyond any that had previously been articulated by the department. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6732484/site/newsweek/
Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist in Hitler’s Third Reich, wrote a similar justification of power for the State Leader using the concept of the “exception” in his work “Political Theology,” Hence, the thundering opening of his treatise: 'The sovereign is he who decides on the exception.' It is a disturbingly 'realistic' view of politics, which, in the manner of Hobbes, subordinates de jure authority to de facto power: autoritas, non veritas facit legem. (The law is made by the one who has authority (i.e. power) and not the one who possesses the truth (the legitimate sovereign).)
The problem of the exception, for the constitutional jurist Schmitt, can only be resolved within the framework of a decision (an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea). Moreover, the legal act which decides what constitutes an exception is 'a decision in the true sense of the word', because a general norm, an ordinary legal prescription, 'can never encompass a total exception'. If so, then, 'the decision that a real exception exists cannot be derived entirely from this norm.' The problem of the exception, in other words, demarcates the limit of the rule of law and opens up that trans-legal space, that no-man's land of existential exigency, which is bereft of legal authority and where the decision of the sovereign abrogates the anomaly of the legal void. …against the legal positivism of his times, Schmitt seems to be arguing that not law but the sovereign, not the legal text but the political will, is the supreme authority in a state. States are not legal entities but historical polities; they are engaged in a constant battle for survival where any moment of their existence may constitute an exception, it may engender a political crisis that cannot be remedied by the application of the rule of law. From the existential priority of the sovereign over the legitimacy of the norm, it would also follow that according to Schmitt, law is subservient to politics and not autonomous of it. The Sovereignty of the Political Carl Schmitt and the Nemesis of Liberalism http://www.algonet.se/~pmanzoor/CarlSchmitt.htm
When the Bush administration argues that increased presidential power is needed to fight terrorism by suspending or overriding the constitutional protections against search and seizures, they are arguing the principles of Nazi constitutional law. Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday vigorously defended the Bush administration's use of secret domestic spying and efforts to expand presidential powers, saying "it's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years." Talking to reporters aboard his government plane as he flew from Islamabad, Pakistan to Muscat, Oman on an overseas mission, Cheney said a contraction in the power of the presidency since the Vietnam and Watergate era must be reversed. "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority and I think that the world we live in demands it. And to some extent, that we have an obligation as the administration to pass on the offices we hold to our successors in as good of shape as we found them," he said.
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/20/D8EK28B82.htmlAgainst these ever expanding powers of the State stand the once traditional individual freedoms upheld by the Liberal Democratic State. The theologian and philosopher of the Age of Reason, Immanuel Kant wrote…Human right must be kept sacred, no matter how great the sacrifice it costs the ruling powers. One cannot go only halfway and contrive a pragmatically conditioned right….All politics, rather, must bend the knee before sacred human right…
The same idea from slightly different angle is reflected in term "Faith-based community" vs. Reality-based community ( Wikipedia )
Reality-based community is a popular term among liberal political commentators in the United States. In the fall of 2004, the phrase "proud member of the reality-based community" was first used to suggest the commentator's opinions are based more on observation than on faith, assumption, or ideology. The term has been defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality." Some commentators have gone as far as to suggest that there is an overarching conflict in society between the reality-based community and the "faith-based community" as a whole. It can be seen as an example of political framing.
The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "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."
Commentators who use this term generally oppose former President Bush's policies and by using this term imply that Bush's policies (and, by extension, those of the conservative movement generally) were (or are) out of touch with reality. Others use the term to draw a contrast with the perceived arrogance of the Bush Administration's unilateral policies, in accordance with the aide's quote. Its popularity has prompted some conservative commentators to use the term ironically, to accuse the left-leaning "reality-based community" of ignoring reality.
The Republican Party — and more particularly the neo-con wing of the party — is particularly susceptible to imperial outreach. This imperial mentality is well exemplified by Fox News reporting.
For example, Matt Lewis, a conservative political Pundit on MSNBC attacked Barack Obama for saying “Any world order that elevates one nation above another will fall flat.” In response Lewis stated:
“I think that goes against the idea of American exceptionalism…most Americans believe that America was gifted by God and is a blessed nation and therefore we are better.”
For any conservative the concept of “American Exceptionalism” is rather bemusing. America is not more democratic, more free, more enterprising, more tolerant, or more anything else be it Canada, New Zealand or for that matter Australia. America is just a bigger country and due to its size, human resources and industrial potential it the leading Western country and the owner of world reserve currency, after Great Britain became financially exhausted after WWII. That means that American Exceptionalism is simply a politically correct work for a combustible mixture of nationalism (with Christian messianism component similar to Crusades with "democracy" instead Jesus) and Jingoism. In a very deep sense this is negation of the idea "all men are created equal" and as such is anti-American ;-).
America is a blessed nation as everybody in the country is an immigrant, the nation that at some point of time was freer and more prosperous than many others, but as a great Nazarene once said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS
Here is one of those neon sentences. Quote,
"The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people," you write, "is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad."
In other words, you're saying that our foreign policy is the result of a dependence on consumer goods and credit.
Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us. Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.
We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the book's balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want this unending line of credit.
Quite logically the imperial actions is a source of widespread Anti-Americanism. As Ian Tyrrell noted in What is American exceptionalism
It is also important to realize that there is a “negative” version of exceptionalism, i.e. that the US has been exceptionally bad, racist, violent. While this is less a part of the common myths about American history, the attempt to compensate for American exceptionalism by emphasizing unique American evils is equally distorting. We need to think more about this matter, especially when we deal with racial divisions and gender prejudice. Is the US experience a variant on wider racial and gender patterns? While social history has provided new perspectives on the role of women, African Americans, and ethnics in the making of American history, has that new history discredited or qualified ideas of American exceptionalism?
The actual term “American exceptionalism” was originally coined by German Marxists who wished to explain why the US seemed to have by-passed the rise of socialism and Marxism. (Actually the US had much class conflict, some Marxist parties and theorists, and a lively socialist movement, though the latter was not on the scale of, say, France and Germany.) But exceptionalism is much more than about class conflict.
Some historians prefer the terms “differences” or “uniqueness?” Are these suitable substitutes? Whatever the terminology, the implications of American difference/uniqueness have long been debated. Some have said the difference was temporary, and eventually the US would be like other countries. Others have argued that American “specialness” stems from its political, intellectual, and even religious heritage, and is enduring.
Skeptic view on American Exceptionalism is valuable for different reasons some of which were listed by Stephen M. Walt in his The Myth of American Exceptionalism (Foreign Policy, November 2011)
The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America's global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities -- from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom -- the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.
This unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about U.S. dominance, often alarmed by U.S. policies, and frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is possession of nuclear weapons, conformity with international law, or America's tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings. Ironically, U.S. foreign policy would probably be more effective if Americans were less convinced of their own unique virtues and less eager to proclaim them.
What we need, in short, is a more realistic and critical assessment of America's true character and contributions. In that spirit, I offer here the Top 5 Myths about American Exceptionalism.
Myth 1: There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.
Whenever American leaders refer to the "unique" responsibilities of the United States, they are saying that it is different from other powers and that these differences require them to take on special burdens.
Yet there is nothing unusual about such lofty declarations; indeed, those who make them are treading a well-worn path. Most great powers have considered themselves superior to their rivals and have believed that they were advancing some greater good when they imposed their preferences on others. The British thought they were bearing the "white man's burden," while French colonialists invoked la mission civilisatrice to justify their empire. Portugal, whose imperial activities were hardly distinguished, believed it was promoting a certain missão civilizadora. Even many of the officials of the former Soviet Union genuinely believed they were leading the world toward a socialist utopia despite the many cruelties that communist rule inflicted. Of course, the United States has by far the better claim to virtue than Stalin or his successors, but Obama was right to remind us that all countries prize their own particular qualities.
So when Americans proclaim they are exceptional and indispensable, they are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song. Among great powers, thinking you're special is the norm, not the exception.
Myth 2: The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.
Declarations of American exceptionalism rest on the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation, one that loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law. Americans like to think their country behaves much better than other states do, and certainly better than other great powers.
If only it were true. The United States may not have been as brutal as the worst states in world history, but a dispassionate look at the historical record belies most claims about America's moral superiority.
For starters, the United States has been one of the most expansionist powers in modern history. It began as 13 small colonies clinging to the Eastern Seaboard, but eventually expanded across North America, seizing Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1846. Along the way, it eliminated most of the native population and confined the survivors to impoverished reservations. By the mid-19th century, it had pushed Britain out of the Pacific Northwest and consolidated its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere.
The United States has fought numerous wars since then -- starting several of them -- and its wartime conduct has hardly been a model of restraint. The 1899-1902 conquest of the Philippines killed some 200,000 to 400,000 Filipinos, most of them civilians, and the United States and its allies did not hesitate to dispatch some 305,000 German and 330,000 Japanese civilians through aerial bombing during World War II, mostly through deliberate campaigns against enemy cities. No wonder Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the bombing campaign against Japan, told an aide, "If the U.S. lost the war, we would be prosecuted as war criminals." The United States dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs during the Indochina war, including tons of napalm and lethal defoliants like Agent Orange, and it is directly responsible for the deaths of many of the roughly 1 million civilians who died in that war.
More recently, the U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, a percentage of their population equivalent to 2 million dead Americans. U.S. military action has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of 250,000 Muslims over the past three decades (and that's a low-end estimate, not counting the deaths resulting from the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s), including the more than 100,000 people who died following the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. U.S. drones and Special Forces are going after suspected terrorists in at least five countries at present and have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians in the process. Some of these actions may have been necessary to make Americans more prosperous and secure. But while Americans would undoubtedly regard such acts as indefensible if some foreign country were doing them to us, hardly any U.S. politicians have questioned these policies. Instead, Americans still wonder, "Why do they hate us?"
The United States talks a good game on human rights and international law, but it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, is not a party to the International Criminal Court, and has been all too willing to cozy up to dictators -- remember our friend Hosni Mubarak? -- with abysmal human rights records. If that were not enough, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the George W. Bush administration's reliance on waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, and preventive detention should shake America's belief that it consistently acts in a morally superior fashion. Obama's decision to retain many of these policies suggests they were not a temporary aberration.
The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China's Great Leap Forward or Stalin's forced collectivization. And given the vast power at its disposal for much of the past century, Washington could certainly have done much worse. But the record is clear: U.S. leaders have done what they thought they had to do when confronted by external dangers, and they paid scant attention to moral principles along the way. The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it's not true.
Myth 3: America's Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.
The United States has enjoyed remarkable success, and Americans tend to portray their rise to world power as a direct result of the political foresight of the Founding Fathers, the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, the priority placed on individual liberty, and the creativity and hard work of the American people. In this narrative, the United States enjoys an exceptional global position today because it is, well, exceptional.
There is more than a grain of truth to this version of American history. It's not an accident that immigrants came to America in droves in search of economic opportunity, and the "melting pot" myth facilitated the assimilation of each wave of new Americans. America's scientific and technological achievements are fully deserving of praise and owe something to the openness and vitality of the American political order.
But America's past success is due as much to good luck as to any uniquely American virtues. The new nation was lucky that the continent was lavishly endowed with natural resources and traversed by navigable rivers. It was lucky to have been founded far from the other great powers and even luckier that the native population was less advanced and highly susceptible to European diseases. Americans were fortunate that the European great powers were at war for much of the republic's early history, which greatly facilitated its expansion across the continent, and its global primacy was ensured after the other great powers fought two devastating world wars. This account of America's rise does not deny that the United States did many things right, but it also acknowledges that America's present position owes as much to good fortune as to any special genius or "manifest destiny."
Myth 4: The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.
Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America's global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith's America's Mission and G. John Ikenberry's Liberal Leviathan emphasize America's contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.
Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington's wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.
For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler's war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe's post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.
Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality -- Europe's got those areas covered.
Finally, any honest accounting of the past half-century must acknowledge the downside of American primacy. The United States has been the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years and thus a principal cause of the adverse changes that are altering the global environment. The United States stood on the wrong side of the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa and backed plenty of unsavory dictatorships -- including Saddam Hussein's -- when short-term strategic interests dictated. Americans may be justly proud of their role in creating and defending Israel and in combating global anti-Semitism, but its one-sided policies have also prolonged Palestinian statelessness and sustained Israel's brutal occupation.
Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive. Americans are blind to their weak spots, and in ways that have real-world consequences. Remember when Pentagon planners thought U.S. troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and parades? They mostly got RPGs and IEDs instead.
Myth 5: God Is on Our Side.
A crucial component of American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States has a divinely ordained mission to lead the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan told audiences that there was "some divine plan" that had placed America here, and once quoted Pope Pius XII saying, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." Bush offered a similar view in 2004, saying, "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." The same idea was expressed, albeit less nobly, in Otto von Bismarck's alleged quip that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States."
Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.
Despite America's many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln's admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God's side."
Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it's unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting -- and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America's role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.
America has its own special qualities, as all countries do, but it is still a state embedded in a competitive global system. It is far stronger and richer than most, and its geopolitical position is remarkably favorable. These advantages give the United States a wider range of choice in its conduct of foreign affairs, but they don't ensure that its choices will be good ones. Far from being a unique state whose behavior is radically different from that of other great powers, the United States has behaved like all the rest, pursuing its own self-interest first and foremost, seeking to improve its relative position over time, and devoting relatively little blood or treasure to purely idealistic pursuits. Yet, just like past great powers, it has convinced itself that it is different, and better, than everyone else.
International politics is a contact sport, and even powerful states must compromise their political principles for the sake of security and prosperity. Nationalism is also a powerful force, and it inevitably highlights the country's virtues and sugarcoats its less savory aspects.
But if Americans want to be truly exceptional, they might start by viewing the whole idea of "American exceptionalism" with a much more skeptical eye.
For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section
Jul 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Dmitry Orlov via Club Orlov blog,
Within the vast bureaucratic sprawl of the Pentagon there is a group in charge of monitoring the general state of the military-industrial complex and its continued ability to fulfill the requirements of the national defense strategy. Office for acquisition and sustainment and office for industrial policy spends some $100,000 a year producing an Annual Report to Congress. It is available to the general public. It is even available to the general public in Russia, and Russian experts had a really good time poring over it.
In fact, it filled them with optimism. You see, Russia wants peace but the US seems to want war and keeps making threatening gestures against a longish list of countries that refuse to do its bidding or simply don't share its "universal values." But now it turns out that threats (and the increasingly toothless economic sanctions) are pretty much all that the US is still capable of dishing out -- this in spite of absolutely astronomical levels of defense spending.
Let's see what the US military-industrial complex looks like through a Russian lens.
It is important to note that the report's authors were not aiming to force legislators to finance some specific project. This makes it more valuable than numerous other sources, whose authors' main objective was to belly up to the federal feeding trough, and which therefore tend to be light on facts and heavy on hype. No doubt, politics still played a part in how various details are portrayed, but there seems to be a limit to the number of problems its authors can airbrush out of the picture and still do a reasonable job in analyzing the situation and in formulating their recommendations.
What knocked Russian analysis over with a feather is the fact that these INDPOL experts (who, like the rest of the US DOD, love acronyms) evaluate the US military-industrial complex from a market-based perspective! You see, the Russian military-industrial complex is fully owned by the Russian government and works exclusively in its interests; anything else would be considered treason. But the US military-industrial complex is evaluated based on its profitability! According to INDPOL, it must not only produce products for the military but also acquire market share in the global weapons trade and, perhaps most importantly, maximize profitability for private investors. By this standard, it is doing well: for 2017 the gross margin (EBITDA) for US defense contractors ranged from 15 to 17%, and some subcontractors - Transdigm, for example - managed to deliver no less than 42-45%. "Ah!" cry the Russian experts, "We've found the problem! The Americans have legalized war profiteering !" (This, by the way, is but one of many instances of something called systemic corruption, which is rife in the US.)
It would be one thing if each defense contractor simply took its cut off the top, but instead there is an entire food chain of defense contractors, all of which are legally required, no less, to maximize profits for their shareholders. More than 28,000 companies are involved, but the actual first-tier defense contractors with which the Pentagon places 2/3 of all defense contracts are just the Big Six: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynmics, BAE Systems and Boeing. All the other companies are organized into a pyramid of subcontractors with five levels of hierarchy, and at each level they do their best to milk the tier above them.
The insistence on market-based methods and the requirement of maximizing profitability turns out to be incompatible with defense spending on a very basic level: defense spending is intermittent and cyclical, with long fallow intervals between major orders. This has forced even the Big Six to make cuts to their defense-directed departments in favor of expanding civilian production. Also, in spite of the huge size of the US defense budget, it is of finite size (there being just one planet to blow up), as is the global weapons market. Since, in a market economy, every company faces the choice of grow or get bought out, this has precipitated scores of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in a highly consolidated marketplace with a few major players in each space.
As a result, in most spaces, of which the report's authors discuss 17, including the Navy, land forces, air force, electronics, nuclear weapons, space technology and so on, at least a third of the time the Pentagon has a choice of exactly one contractor for any given contract, causing quality and timeliness to suffer and driving up prices.
In a number of cases, in spite of its industrial and financial might, the Pentagon has encountered insoluble problems. Specifically, it turns out that the US has only one shipyard left that is capable of building nuclear aircraft carriers (at all, that is; the USS Gerald Ford is not exactly a success). That is Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport, Virginia. In theory, it could work on three ships in parallel, but two of the slips are permanently occupied by existing aircraft carriers that require maintenance. This is not a unique case: the number of shipyards capable of building nuclear submarines, destroyers and other types of vessels is also exactly one. Thus, in case of a protracted conflict with a serious adversary in which a significant portion of the US Navy has been sunk, ships will be impossible to replace within any reasonable amount of time.
The situation is somewhat better with regard to aircraft manufacturing. The plants that exist can produce 40 planes a month and could produce 130 a month if pressed. On the other hand, the situation with tanks and artillery is absolutely dismal. According to this report, the US has completely lost the competency for building the new generation of tanks. It is no longer even a question of missing plant and equipment; in the US, a second generation of engineers who have never designed a tank is currently going into retirement. Their replacements have no one to learn from and only know about modern tanks from movies and video games. As far as artillery, there is just one remaining production line in the US that can produce barrels larger than 40mm; it is fully booked up and would be unable to ramp up production in case of war. The contractor is unwilling to expand production without the Pentagon guaranteeing at least 45% utilization, since that would be unprofitable.
The situation is similar for the entire list of areas; it is better for dual-use technologies that can be sourced from civilian companies and significantly worse for highly specialized ones. Unit cost for every type of military equipment goes up year after year while the volumes being acquired continuously trend lower -- sometimes all the way to zero. Over the past 15 years the US hasn't acquired a single new tank. They keep modernizing the old ones, but at a rate that's no higher than 100 a year.
Because of all these tendencies and trends, the defense industry continues to lose not only qualified personnel but also the very ability to perform the work. INDPOL experts estimate that the deficit in machine tools has reached 27%. Over the past quarter-century the US has stopped manufacturing a wide variety of manufacturing equipment. Only half of these tools can be imported from allies or friendly nations; for the rest, there is just one source: China. They analyzed the supply chains for 600 of the most important types of weapons and found that a third of them have breaks in them while another third have completely broken down. In the Pentagon's five-tier subcontractor pyramid, component manufacturers are almost always relegated to the bottommost tier, and the notices they issue when they terminate production or shut down completely tend to drown in the Pentagon's bureaucratic swamp.
The end result of all this is that theoretically the Pentagon is still capable of doing small production runs of weapons to compensate for ongoing losses in localized, low-intensity conflicts during a general time of peace, but even today this is at the extreme end of its capabilities. In case of a serious conflict with any well-armed nation, all it will be able to rely on is the existing stockpile of ordnance and spare parts, which will be quickly depleted.
A similar situation prevails in the area of rare earth elements and other materials for producing electronics. At the moment, the accumulated stockpile of these supplies needed for producing missiles and space technology -- most importantly, satellites -- is sufficient for five years at the current rate of use.
The report specifically calls out the dire situation in the area of strategic nuclear weapons. Almost all the technology for communications, targeting, trajectory calculations and arming of the ICBM warheads was developed in the 1960s and 70s. To this day, data is loaded from 5-inch floppy diskettes, which were last mass-produced 15 years ago. There are no replacements for them and the people who designed them are busy pushing up daisies. The choice is between buying tiny production runs of all the consumables at an extravagant expense and developing from scratch the entire land-based strategic triad component at the cost of three annual Pentagon budgets.
There are lots of specific problems in each area described in the report, but the main one is loss of competence among technical and engineering staff caused by a low level of orders for replacements or for new product development. The situation is such that promising new theoretical developments coming out of research centers such as DARPA cannot be realized given the present set of technical competencies. For a number of key specializations there are fewer than three dozen trained, experienced specialists.
This situation is expected to continue to deteriorate, with the number of personnel employed in the defense sector declining 11-16% over the next decade, mainly due to a shortage of young candidates qualified to replace those who are retiring. A specific example: development work on the F-35 is nearing completion and there won't be a need to develop a new jet fighter until 2035-2040; in the meantime, the personnel who were involved in its development will be idled and their level of competence will deteriorate.
Although at the moment the US still leads the world in defense spending ($610 billion of $1.7 trillion in 2017, which is roughly 36% of all the military spending on the planet) the US economy is no longer able to support the entire technology pyramid even in a time of relative peace and prosperity. On paper the US still looks like a leader in military technology, but the foundations of its military supremacy have eroded. Results of this are plainly visible:
- The US threatened North Korea with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.
- The US threatened Iran with military action but was then forced to back off because it has no ability to fight a war against it.
- The US lost the war in Afghanistan to the Taliban, and once the longest military conflict in US history is finally over the political situation there will return to status quo ante with the Taliban in charge and Islamic terrorist training camps back in operation.
- US proxies (Saudi Arabia, mostly) fighting in Yemen have produced a humanitarian disaster but have been unable to prevail militarily.
- US actions in Syria have led to a consolidation of power and territory by the Syrian government and newly dominant regional position for Russia, Iran and Turkey.
- The second-largest NATO power Turkey has purchased Russian S-400 air defense systems. The US alternative is the Patriot system, which is twice as expensive and doesn't really work.
All of this points to the fact that the US is no longer much a military power at all. This is good news for at least the following four reasons.Tags War Conflict
First, the US is by far the most belligerent country on Earth, having invaded scores of nations and continuing to occupy many of them. The fact that it can't fight any more means that opportunities for peace are bound to increase.
Second, once the news sinks in that the Pentagon is nothing more than a flush toilet for public funds its funding will be cut off and the population of the US might see the money that is currently fattening up war profiteers being spent on some roads and bridges, although it's looking far more likely that it will all go into paying interest expense on federal debt (while supplies last).
Third, US politicians will lose the ability to keep the populace in a state of permanent anxiety about "national security." In fact, the US has "natural security" -- two oceans -- and doesn't need much national defense at all (provided it keeps to itself and doesn't try to make trouble for others). The Canadians aren't going to invade, and while the southern border does need some guarding, that can be taken care of at the state/county level by some good ol' boys using weapons and ammo they already happen to have on hand. Once this $1.7 trillion "national defense" monkey is off their backs, ordinary American citizens will be able to work less, play more and feel less aggressive, anxious, depressed and paranoid.
Last but not least, it will be wonderful to see the war profiteers reduced to scraping under sofa cushions for loose change. All that the US military has been able to produce for a long time now is misery, the technical term for which is "humanitarian disaster." Look at the aftermath of US military involvement in Serbia/Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and what do you see? You see misery -- both for the locals and for US citizens who lost their family members, had their limbs blown off, or are now suffering from PTSD or brain injury. It would be only fair if that misery were to circle back to those who had profited from it.
Jul 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
rwe2late , 1 hour ago linkKlassenfeind , 2 hours ago link
Draining the swamp means hiring the lobbyists
...err, I meant Trump.
War is Peace
- well, now that's Orwell
(and many others in government and elsewhere)
The Donald Trump Administration is looking more and more like George W. Bush's Administration: a dumb clueless idiot surrounded by neocons.
Remember Donald Rumsfeld , Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton , George Tenet, Henry Paulson, Paul Wolfowitz , and **** Cheney from the George W Bush Administration?
Tell me Trumptards, what's so "different this time" about Donald Trump hiring Bolton, Pompeo, Mattis/Shanahan/Esper, Haley, Haspel and Mnuchin?
Jul 20, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org
Mark Esper is expected to be confirmed in coming days as the new US Secretary of Defense. His appointment is awaiting final Congressional approval after customary hearings this week before senators. The 55-year-old nominee put forward by President Trump was previously a decorated Lieutenant Colonel and has served in government office during the GW Bush administration.
But what stands out as his most conspicuous past occupation is working for seven years as a senior lobbyist for Raytheon, the US' third biggest military manufacturing company. The firm specializes in missile-defense systems, including the Patriot, Iron Dome and the Aegis Ashore system (the latter in partnership with Lockheed Martin).
As Defense Secretary, Esper will be the most senior civilian executive member of the US government, next to the president, on overseeing military policy, including decisions about declaring war and deployment of American armed forces around the globe. His military counterpart at the Pentagon is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, currently held by Marine General Joseph Dunford who is expected to be replaced soon by General Mark Milley (also in the process of senate hearings).
Esper's confirmation hearings this week were pretty much a rubber-stamp procedure, receiving lame questioning from senators about his credentials and viewpoints. The only exception was Senator Elizabeth Warren, who slammed the potential "conflict of interest" due to his past lobbying service for Raytheon. She said it "smacks of corruption". Other than her solitary objection, Esper was treated with kid gloves by other senators and his appointment is expected to be whistled through by next week. During hearings, the former lobbyist even pointedly refused to recuse himself of any matters involving Raytheon if he becomes the defense boss.
As Rolling Stone magazine quipped on Esper's nomination, "it is as swampy as you'd expect".
"President Trump's Cabinet is already rife with corruption, stocked full of former lobbyists and other private industry power players who don't seem to mind leveraging their government positions to enrich themselves personally. Esper should fit right in," wrote Rolling Stone.
The linkage between officials in US government, the Pentagon and private manufacturers is a notorious example of "revolving door". It is not unusual, or even remarkable, that individuals go from one sector to another and vice versa. That crony relationship is fundamental to the functioning of the "military-industrial complex" which dominates the entire American economy and the fiscal budget ($730 billion annually – half the total discretionary public spend by federal government).
Nevertheless, Esper is a particularly brazen embodiment of the revolving-door's seamless connection.
Raytheon is a $25 billion company whose business is all about selling missile-defense systems. Its products have been deployed in dozens of countries, including in the Middle East, as well as Japan, Romania and, as of next year, Poland. It is in Raytheon's vital vested interest to capitalize on alleged security threats from Iran, Russia, China and North Korea in order to sell "defense" systems to nations that then perceive a "threat" and need to be "protected".
It is a certainty that Esper shares the same worldview, not just for engrained ideological reasons, but also because of his own personal motives for self-aggrandizement as a former employee of Raytheon and quite possibly as a future board member when he retires from the Pentagon. The issue is not just merely about corruption and ethics, huge that those concerns are.
It is also about how US foreign policy and military decisions are formulated and executed, including decisions on matters of conflict and ultimately war. The insidiousness is almost farcical, if the implications weren't so disturbing, worthy of satire from the genre of Dr Strangelove or Catch 22.
How is Esper's advice to the president about tensions with Russia, Iran, China or North Korea, or any other alleged adversary, supposed to be independent, credible or objective? Esper is a de facto lobbyist for the military-industrial complex sitting in the Oval Office and Situation Room. Tensions, conflict and war are meat and potatoes to this person.
During senate hearings this week, Esper openly revealed his dubious quality of thinking and the kind of policies he will pursue as Pentagon chief. He told credulous senators that Russia was to blame for the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. That equates to more Raytheon profits from selling defense systems in Europe. Also, in a clumsy inadvertent admission he advised that the US needs to get out of the INF in order to develop medium-range missiles to "counter China". The latter admission explains the cynical purpose for why the Trump administration unilaterally ditched the INF earlier this year. It is not about alleged Russian breaches of the treaty; the real reason is for the US to obtain a freer hand to confront China.
It is ludicrous how blatant a so-called democratic nation (the self-declared "leader of the free world") is in actuality an oligarchic corporate state whose international relations are conducted on the basis of making obscene profits from conflict and war.
Little wonder then than bilateral relations between the US and Russia are in such dire condition. Trump's soon-to-be top military advisor Mark Esper is not going to make bilateral relations any better, that's for sure.
Also at a precarious time of possible war with Iran, the last person Trump should consult is someone whose corporate cronies are craving for more weapons sales. The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Tags: Esper INF Treaty Pentagon US
Jul 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
... ... ...
The clichés poured forth from Milley's lips with all the practiced smarminess of a car salesman promoting a new line of pickup trucks. But what does this mean in practice, Senator James Inhofe, Senate Armed Services Committee chair, wanted to know? What is General Milley's top priority?
"The very number one for me," Milley replied, "is the modernization, recapitalization of the nation's nuclear triad."
Now pause here for a moment. The triad -- the claim that the safety and security of the United States requires a nuclear strike force consisting of long-range bombers and long-range land-based missiles and missile-firing submarines -- represented fresh thinking some 60 years ago. That was when ICBMs and Polaris submarines were entering service to complement Strategic Air Command's fleet of B47s and B52s. If indeed "the fundamental character of war is changing rapidly," how can it be that Milley's conception of originality is to field glitzier versions of weapons dating back to when he was born? To make such a claim is on a par with arguing that what the U.S. Army needed in 1940 was more horses and the U.S. Navy more battleships.
It is small wonder that so few observers pay serious attention to what senior military officers have to say. What they say is mostly drivel.
Andrew Bacevich is TAC 's writer-at-large and a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
TomG • 17 hours ago"What they say is mostly drivel."JohnT • 17 hours ago
Pathetic, expensive, immoral, divisive, destructive drivel with no end in sight...Wow! Finally! No retreat to the comfort of broad generalization like "the eilites" but rather a well considered, on target consideration of one of the individuals in a position of power and responsibility sufficient to make the absolutely necessary changes our remarkable nation's health demands. Thank you!SteveM • 15 hours ago
And, if the general can't make use of well a intended and considered constructive critique he is not the experienced, compassionate adult the task requires.interguru • 15 hours agoIt is small wonder that so few observers pay serious attention to what senior military officers have to say. What they say is mostly drivel.
Professor Bacevich has this one exactly backwards. Notice that when the sanctified Pentagon Generals make their fear-monger saturated pronouncements there is zero pushback from either the Politicos or the lapdog MSM. It is not that they are not listening. It's that they fully concur because they are intimidated by anyone wearing Stars on their shoulders.
They accept the "drivel" of the Pentagon Brass by default. BTW, which also includes the includes the updated National Defense Strategy which has the U.S. playing belligerent Global Cop in perpetuity and wasting taxpayer dollars out the wazoo.
If anything, the Congress and MSM should be paying more serious attention to the obsolete and unaffordable pronouncements of the Generals and start questioning their own instinctive deference to Pentagon authority which permits the warped, fully militarized and largely failed U.S. foreign policy to continue as is.I am not the first person to note that the US is displaying more and more symptoms of a dying empire. To name a few; a broken political system, crony capitalism, a bloated military, use of mercenaries, and unpayable debt.baldwin • 15 hours ago
The other day, while watching some general being interviewed, I noticed another symptom. He, and other contemporary generals, have so many ribbons and metals on their chest that they could be melted down for ore. I found a site that lets me compare our beribboned commanders with those of yesteryear.
Civil War generals had few or no ribbons. World War I's General of the Armies Pershing displays two rows of narrow ribbons. By World War II General Eisenhower showed three ribbon rows. In 1950 General Bradley showed 6 rows ( you can see a detailed picture here ).
The pictures of today's generals and officers are bedazzling. Just one example, The page describing William J. Gainey, USA, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, JCS ( not even a general ), shows a picture with at least 8 rows of ribbons, with a list 24 lines long describing 56 awards after accounting for multiple awards.
As our military officers watch the country fall apart, at least they can fondle their decorations.The role of the generals and admirals is to advise. They can not make the politicians listen.Sid Finster • 14 hours agoThe absolute last thing this country needs is celebrity generals, or even generals who hold power in the shadows as a sort of eminence grise.Kent • 14 hours agoAndrew J Bacevich does more for the long-term military strength and international standing of the USA than much of the military and political leadership of this country. A true patriot.bbkingfish • 14 hours agoWow. That photograph of Gen. Milley illustrates the author's case beautifully. Worth a thousand words.marku52 • 13 hours agoThat was amazing. "War is changing rapidly" coupled with "Most important: updating a 60 year old weapon system"Taras77 • 13 hours ago
Not a single world about figuring out why every war since Gulf 1 has been an abject failure? Or the threat of our defense manufacturing infrastructure being sold by Wall Street to China? Not a word?
The man can really talk out of both sides of his mouth, can't he? Should do great on Capitol Hill...Not sure how we got to this pathetic stage but my guess is that some of the pomposity is directly related to the armies of press following the generals around in Iraq, e.g. petraeus, et alThomas Cass • 12 hours ago
As a snarky comment, what in the world is with all of these "impressive" ribbons to the top of these generals' shoulders-from what I understand, about 70-80% of them are meaningless, only a few are for combat, valor, some are for merit, but are more or less automatic. Talk about grade creep, how about ribbon creep.
Ike had about one or two rows, all meaningful awards. Marshall had maybe one row, meaningful awards to a very competent general.
Those generals that came out of Iraq and Afghan were mostly mouth pieces for the press and the politicians, i.e. drivel. None of them could win a meaningful engagement without bombing the heck out of civilians and associated cities. In a word, pathetic.Unless politicians feel pressure to act on military matters in a way that honors their or their constituents' lived experiences, how are they to be incentivized to ask the right questions? Some flavor of draft to increase stakeholders among the citizenry, or a service requirement for government office, might realize the serious attention for which Mr. Bacevich protests here, and drive the selection of better leaders.James B • 11 hours agoTo me for, both the nation and the military, we need to have an update of the high tech weapon systems that the General talks about but we also need to have a reassessment of how we fight wars. The wars the US won are (in my mind) the Revolution and WWII. I think the Civil war was "lost" because although the US defeated the Confederacy it did not reunite the nation. WWI was said to be the war to end all wars - - that didn't happen. No question that both Korea and Vietnam were not won, despite the heroism of those fighting there - - those wars were handled by Washington politics. MacAuthor could have won Korea but was fired. The whole Vietnam was was managed by politics. Now to the middle east. Afghanistan is another example of political warfare as is Iraq and potentially Iran. I believe that a war can be partly won by high tech missiles, bombs, etc. but cannot be actually won except by occupying the ground. We did this in Europe with the troops giving out cigarettes and candy as they patrolled. That made them human to the previous "enemy". Our professional volunteer army doesn't have the manpower to do this. I believe we need to have a secondary low-tech army of drafted men and women who can be trained quickly to be able to follow commands, to use a rifle with accuracy, and to be able to reduce civilian conflict without violent response. The high tech folk require extended training, the low tech force is able to move in and actually win the war. How would this help the nation? It would force people to live and work with a diverse population and realize that we can be a single nation of people of different backgrounds and ethnicity. The "fly over land" people really aren't a bunch of idiot racist red-necks. The coastals are not (all) anxious to destroy America.Kent James B • 11 hours agoThe US didn't just win in WWII because we occupied the ground. We won because we showed the German people that we were happy to fire bomb entire ancient cities and indiscriminately kill their women and children without a second thought.Steve Naidamast • 10 hours ago
And we were the good ones to surrender to. The Russians were happy to kill them all, with the exception of a few pretty blonds who would henceforth bear strong Russian boys.
You can't win a war without utterly defeating an entire population. Which is why we can't win our wars. None of these people have done anything to really harm us. And the American people still have enough dignity to not just slaughter these people for no reason. We're not entirely evil, yet.I have always wondered what such people mean when they say that the character of warfare is changing and the US has to adopt to such changes.
War is about 2 things; killing and destruction. That in a nutshell is the character of war. Anything else may describe the complexities of tactics and strategies or the causes of such conflicts but the actual features of any conflict are always the same.
The only thing that does change is the types of weapon systems used. The stupidity that has led militaries to use them hasn't changed since the dawn of time...
Jul 15, 2019 | www.rollcall.com
The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm -- either accidentally or on purpose.
The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day.
The amendment, by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith , says the inspector general "shall conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975."
If the answer is yes, then the IG must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report on the experiments' scope and "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design." The amendment is an attempt to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers -- at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York -- implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents.
President Richard Nixon banned U.S. government research into biological weapons in 1969, but research into protecting U.S. military personnel from such agents may have continued, Smith said in an interview Monday.
A book called "Bitten," published this year, makes the case that the Defense Department research occurred and hints at a possible connection between the experiments and the spread of maladies such as Lyme disease, which is borne by ticks.
To Smith and other advocates of the Pentagon IG report, studying the past may provide data that can help stem the spread of Lyme disease in the future.
Between 300,000 and 427,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur each year, with further growth expected in the years ahead, said Smith, a founding co-chairman of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, which advocates for greater awareness of the disease and for more funding for research into a cure.
"We need answers and we need them now," Smith said.
Smith's amendment was co-sponsored by Minnesota Democrat Collin C. Peterson , who is the House caucus's other leader, and by Maryland Republican Andy Harris .
Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association, said in an interview Monday that she is hopeful the IG report could provide information that could save lives.
"We need to find out: is there anything in this research that was supposedly done that can help us to find information that is germane to patient health and combating the spread of the disease," she said.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will send President Donald Trump a defense authorization bill with the weaponized ticks amendment. The Senate has passed its version without any similar provision, and now House and Senate negotiators must reconcile the two bills.
Jul 06, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com
plantman , 06 July 2019 at 11:30 AMSbin , 06 July 2019 at 12:50 PM
What is most interesting to me, is that the Russian air force is actually pounding Turkey's militant allies on the ground in Idlib, but both men (Erdogan and Putin) are still strengthening their ties thru Turkstream, Russian tourism and building of a nuclear power plant. Diplomacy seems to have surpassed conditions on the ground in Syria.
Also, Iran's leaders feel slightly betrayed by Putin's deference to Erdogan. They must believe (as I do) that Putin has agreed to allow Turkey to occupy parts of Syria following the war.
Turkey has been very consistent on this issue from the very beginning...and it has plans to resettle parts of N Syria with the nearly 3 million refugees it is housing in S Turkey.
Many critics will blame Putin for betraying Assad, but I think he is merely showing that he is a master negotiator who recognizes the importance of 'good' relations with Turkey, and knows he will not get everything he wants in Syria. Compromise with Turkey opens up a path to ending the war and for pressuring US-Turkey relations which continue to worsen as Washington continues to support a de facto Kurdistan in E Syria.Barbara Ann , 06 July 2019 at 12:50 PM
Buying S400 and losing F35 is a win win.
Letting a committee design an aicraft instead of aerospace engineers is a bad idea. Pentagon should cut their loss much like with the Zumwalt program.JJackson , 06 July 2019 at 12:53 PM
M K Bhadrakumar is a great source for following the frenetic pace of developments in Eurasian geopolitics and he covered this very topic yesterday (see link).
His view of where the Trump administration currently sees Turkey is essentially as a lever in relation to Iran. He suspects Erdo & Trump have a deal since the G20 whereby S-400 sanctions may be held in abeyance, in return for Turkey's acquiescence to, or even assistance with the maximum pressure campaign.
Whilst S-400 delivery is contrary to US/NATO wishes/policy, it makes sense to me that it gets treated as a second order issue in this context. Turkey also wants Iran out of Syria, but if pushed even further into a corner Turkey could make life difficult for the US on Iran and therefore even potentially endanger Trump's re-election chances.
Erdogan is still in the regime-changers' sights, under siege in all areas and consequently in a very weak position. I think those forecasting a full-scale defection into Russia's orbit misunderstand the realities of the maximum pressure campaign on Turkey itself and much further it can be pushed if need be. IMO it is more likely NATO will eventually welcome the reluctant black sheep back into the fold.
The slippery Sultan has pushed it to the limit, but the anti-Iran coalition now needs him - at least in the short term. My guess is he gets to keep his shiny new AD system.
Where Turkey chooses to put it is a very interesting question; facing its ancient enemy in the West, or perhaps sited to cover the Cyprus EEZ and its oil?
https://indianpunchline.com/trump-outflanks-iran-to-the-west-and-east/JamesT -> JJackson... , 06 July 2019 at 05:03 PM
Re. 2 and possibly 5.
Does anyone understand the F35 deal between the participating partner nations.
Wikipedia say Turkey is a level 3 partner which cost it $4.3 billion and that sales are handled via the Pentagon.
Who decides if a partner in the project can be denied the right to buy their product? What I did not see is what F35 components were produced in Turkey and if they stopped exports what redundancy their was in the system.
Can Turkey say fine I will take my $4.3 billion back as the Russians and Chinese have both made me very attractive offers?Eugene Owens , 06 July 2019 at 01:14 PM
Turkey is going to get their $4.3 billion dollars back at about the same time that Iran gets all of its money back, and Venezuela gets its gold back from the Bank of England - that is to say, never. As soon as Turkey asks for its money back, the US govt will impose sanctions on Turkey and that will be that.JamesT -> Eugene Owens... , 06 July 2019 at 04:44 PM
Regarding #1 and #2: S-400 is already in Algeria. And it will be in India by next year.
Reuters claims that Trump's good buddy King Salman signed a deal with Russia to buy S-400s.
Reuters also reported that Qatar was considering an S-400 purchase. So why is Pom-Pom only jumping on Turkey's back and not castigating the Saudis, Qataris, Algeriens, and Indians about the S-400? Keeping F-35 stealth capability from snooping by S-400s is the stated reason we don't want Turkey to have the S-400.
But when carrier based F35s are flying in the eastern Med, that stealth capability could be snooped on by the Algerien systems (or by Russian "field service reps" in Algeria with those systems). Ditto for the F35s in Italy. Could Israeli F35 stealth already be jeopardized by Russian system at Khmeimim AB in Syria?
#3 Idiots. But they are being used by Trump. He puts them up to it, so that he can pull back at the last minute and be Mr World Peace.
#4: State owned Rossiya TV lampooned Trump's Fourth of July celebration. Called it фигня (pronounced as 'fignya' and translates as bullshit). They mocked the tanks on display, said "the paint on these vehicles is peeling off. They have no cannons, and the optics were pasted on with adhesive tape" . Host Yevgeny Popov called the President "our Donald Trump" . Co-host Olga Skabeeva calls the parade "Putin's America" .
#5: See #3
#6 & 7: I was hoping #6 would stall #7, but I have serious doubts.Eugene Owens -> JamesT ... , 06 July 2019 at 09:48 PM
Is the S-400 in Algeria already? I have found reports that it was scheduled to be delivered in 2015 - but I can't find any reports on it actually being delivered. I don't think the Russians would have sold it to anyone other than Belarus and China until they had the S-500 ready to go.Walrus , 06 July 2019 at 01:33 PM
Wiki says yes but their references to it are speculative.
Besides those there is a Business Insider article, German Edition, which claims Algeria has the S-400. It was dated last November.
Plus there is a report on Sputnik re S-400 in Algeria. But that is based on a MENAdefense.net article, which has photos (irrefutable they claim??) of several S-400 launchers in Algeria. Plus BAZ-64022 truck-tractors which are used with the S-400 and NOT the S-300. So maybe they do and are trying to hide the fact in order to avoid sanctions? Or maybe they have upgraded their S-300 PMU-2s to the PMU-3, which is a close match to the S-400. Or perhaps it is all propaganda?The Twisted Genius , 06 July 2019 at 03:58 PM
Regarding the F35 and the S400, the obvious thing to do is to let them have both and swap information. We get S400 info and Russia gets F35 data.......except erdo will try and screw both of us.JamesT -> The Twisted Genius ... , 06 July 2019 at 04:58 PM
I believe Putin's goal is to transform Turkey from a NATO state into an integral part of Russia's near abroad to eventually secure a guaranteed access to the Mediterranean and beyond and have a reliable buffer between Russia and Middle East. It's ensuring peace of mind, not rebuilding an empire.CK -> The Twisted Genius ... , 06 July 2019 at 05:09 PM
I think Putin's goal is more about forming a partnership with Turkey to build an energy corridor through Turkey to Europe. Control of this corridor, or at least membership in the alliance that controls this corridor, is a big deal from a geopolitical standpoint.
Thus Russia and Turkey can form something along the lines of an "OPEC on steroids" - Turkey can control who gets to pipe hydrocarbons to Europe and Russia can provide protection to those who wish to join their alliance (as they have already done for Syria).
Any energy corridor that goes from the Persian Gulf to Europe has to pass through Turkey and also has to pass through either Syria or Iraq. The fact that Syria and Iraq are now effectively in Russia's sphere of influence makes a Turkish-Russian alliance make all the more sense.
What Turkey has to gain from such an arrangement is not only transit fees for the hydrocarbons, but also a chance to develop their economy - if Turkey is at the head of the line for receipt of hydrocarbons to Europe, they are at the head of the line for building industry and businesses which use those hydrocarbons as inputs (eg refineries, plastics, aluminum, chemical production).Eugene Owens -> CK... , 06 July 2019 at 10:01 PM
Access to the Med is already guaranteed by treaty just as is access to the Black Sea. Access beyond the Med is controlled at the Suez and the pillars of Hercules.Lars , 06 July 2019 at 05:52 PM
Guaranteed during peacetime. During any hostilities you can throw that treaty out the window.
Which is why TTG is correct that Putin's goal is to get Turkey out of NATO. And he may doublecross Assad by blessing Turkey's permanent occupation (or annexation) of those four districts of northern Aleppo Province (i.e. Afrin, Azaz, al-Bab, & Jarabulus). As payment for getting out of NATO.Mark Logan , 06 July 2019 at 05:52 PM
Until you fix the problem with, according to a poll, 56% of American parents not wanting Arabic numerals taught to their children. I suspect that an equal number would not be able to find any of the mentioned places on a map.
Where those with crystal balls find certainty, I find something much less. We do know that containment polices can work very well, but any involvement in the world's longest contested area is not worth the cost, nor the risk. The US has already spent a fortune, with very little to show for it.
Maybe it is all about learning?
Reports from several months ago indicate the S-400 was cheaper than the Patriot, more mobile, and Russia was willing to share the technology and the US wasn't. Could be the S-400 being a better deal value factored in there somewhere. Putin? He's a businessman too.
Yosemite Sam Bolton is probably being told to go out there and do his thing, and suffering from whip-lash when Trump yanks the carpet out from under them without apology. The poor dear must be like...
Jul 05, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
... ... ...
The US today is a global empire. Our country's military, ballooning to some 2.1 million in uniform at a time that there is really no significant war underway. US military spending, greater in constant dollars than at any time since WWII, represents 34% of all global military spending, and the US military budget, depending on how one counts it, is larger than the next largest eight-to-ten countries' military budgets combined.
To show how ridiculously huge the US military is, consider that at $220 billion for fiscal year 2020, the US budget for Veterans Affairs alone (that's the agency that provides assistance of all kinds, including medical, to those who served in the military, not counting career soldiers who receive a pension that is counted separately) this one military budget line item is larger than the entire military budget of China, and is more than three times as large as the entire military budget of Russia, considered by many to be our primary "adversary"!
And remember -- US empire and militarism is and has always been supported by both political parties.
... ... ...
I read that a recent Gallup Organization poll shows a significant drop in the percentage of US Americans who are "extremely proud" of their country. True, 45% still say they are "proud" of America, but normally that is how many say they are "extremely proud" to be Americans. That's a significant fall-off. Even among normally super-patriotic Republicans the percentage of those saying they are "extremely proud" this July 4 of this country was down to 76%, a 10% drop from 2003, and close to the 68% low point reached at one point during the Obama administration.
The main cause of the loss of patriotic ardor appears to be dismay or disgust with the US political system. According to the poll, only 32% of Americans say they are "proud" (forget "extremely proud"!) of America's vaunted political system. In a close second for popular disgust, only 37% said they are "proud" of the US health care system.
So I guess I'm in pretty good company. I won't be oohing and aaahing at the local fireworks display this year. It's basically a glorification of US war-making anyhow, and there's nothing at all to be proud of in that regard, particularly with the US in the midst of a $1.5-trillion upgrade of its nuclear arsenal, threatening war with Iran, pulling out of a Reagan-era treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and embarking in a new arms race both in space and in virtually unstoppable hypersonic cruise missiles.
In my view, my country has become the world's leading "rogue" nation, dismissive of all international laws and codes of conduct, actively attacking many countries on its own authority, without the support of UN Security Council resolutions, exonerating war crimes committed by its soldiers, and committed to the first use of nuclear weapons, both as a first strike against major power rivals like Russia and China, and against non-nuclear nations like Iran, and equally dismissive of all efforts, large and small, to respond to the crisis of catastrophic global heating. [
At home, the US legal system has become a supine supporter of virtually unlimited executive power, of unchecked police power, and of repressive actions against the supposedly constitutionally protected free press.
It's tempting to hope that the decline noted by Gallup in the percent of Americans expressing "extreme pride" and even of "pride" in the US, but support for the US among the country's citizens still remains shamefully high in the face of all these negatives.
Anyhow, count me among those who won't be celebrating today's July 4 national holiday.Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: DAVE LINDORFF
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening! , an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
cnchal, July 5, 2019 at 5:38 am
Peace though procurement malpractice. The current batch of military hardware is so much garbage that when the President wants to use the "superb" pieces of crap (F35 and the new boats are prime examples) a general will have to become the sacrificial lamb and give the president the news that this stuff is for show only.
Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
onebornfree says: Website July 2, 2019 at 3:49 pm GMT 100 Words @Your connection is not secure
Your connection is not secure says: "Wake up people. The military works for the evil masters. They don't really want war of course, they want peace – particularly between your ears."
It's all about welfare- welfare specifically for the military industrial complex , that is.
The armed forces are just a bunch of heavily entrenched welfare recipients who get uniforms, guns, bombs etc. , and are always angling for more money so that they to get more uniforms, guns, bombs etc., to be happily provided by the "private" inc. sycophants, otherwise collectively known as "weapons manufacturers".
Welfare/warfare, don't you just love it?
Pancho Perico , says: July 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm GMTJacques Sheete , says: July 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm GMT
Council on Foreign Relations Tulsi Gabbard U.S. President? You have to be very gullible, to say the least, to believe that she is going to end America's endless wars.@Realist
Yes, indeed. The Deep State will only be beaten by force.
I vote for rotting from within. Not as dramatic as force, but more effective and long lasting. I'll enjoy the show when they start, Cronus-like, knocking one another off though.
Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
J. Gutierrez says: July 2, 2019 at 9:36 pm GMT 500 Words @Harold Smith
With all due respect Mr. Smith things have really gone down hill after Bush Sr. I'm talking about direct attacks on the rights of American citizens. Bush Sr. (R) with his CIA drug dealing with the help of Noriega. He purchased weapons with the proceeds to arm terrorist guerrilla groups in Nicaragua. Bill Clinton (D) helped Bush Sr. as governor of Arkansas by covering up any investigation targeting the operation and laundering their money through a state owned bank. Bush Jr. (R) secured lands in Afghanistan in order to restart athe heroine trade by growing poppy fields to process and ship back to the US. Obama (R) made sure the Mexican drug cartels were well armed in order to launch a drug war that supported the Merida Initiative, which allowed armed DEA, CIA and Mercenaries into Mexican territory. Trump (R) will be the clean up hitter that will usher in the dollar collapse.
Mr. Smith do you really believe it is a coincidence that Rep 8 yrs, Dem 8yrs, Rep 8yrs, Dem 8yrs, Rep 3 yrs are voted in? Please sir, don't fool yourself because in the next election I will bet money the orange fool will be president for another 4 years unless the owners don't want him there. But we can safely say that history tells us he will. All I'm saying that people like you, waiting for someone to throw you a rope because you've fallen into deep water are waiting on a rescue boat that doesn't care if you drown.
Your best bet for change was thrown away when Dr. Ron Paul failed to be nominated. Us dumb asses in Mexico didn't need another election fraud this time around! The people started YouTube channels that reported the "real" news (Chapucero – Quesadillas de Verdades – Charro Politico – Sin Censura, etc.). Those channels made a big difference, countering the negative reporting by Mexican and US MSM that the Presidential Candidate for MORENA as "Leftist", "Communist", "Socialist", "Like Hugo Chavez", "Dangerous", etc.
With all of the US propaganda, Mexican propaganda, the negative MSM and Elite financing, Mexicans knew they had to get out and vote in record numbers and they did! Otherwise a close election was seen as another loss and the end of Mexico as a country. People were ready to fight and die if necessary. They had seen the Energy Reforms forced down our throat by the corrupt PRI/PAN parties (Mex version o DEM/REP), with the help of Hillary Clinton and the US State Department. They drafting the changes needed to the Mexican Constitution to allow a vote. Totally against the Law in Mexico and I'm sure the laws of the US.
There is a saying that goes something like, "If you're not ready to die for Freedom, take it out of your Vocabulary"!
Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
alexander says: July 2, 2019 at 8:57 pm GMT 400 Words
Those are interesting proposals but wishful thinking: wars are necessary for Electing Tulsi Gabbard as our next Commander in Chief will not solve our biggest problems alone.
Her candidacy, I believe , must be augmented by two new laws which should be demanded by the taxpayer and enforced by her administration on "day one".
The first is "The War Fraud Accountability Act of 2020″ Retroactive to 2002, it states that any and all individuals who conspired to defraud the United States into illegal war of aggression should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, any and all assets owned by these individuals shall be made forfeit . to pay down the cost of the wars they lied us into.
If they lied us into war .they pay for it NOT the US taxpayer.
The second is " The Terror Fraud Accountability Act of 2020″ also retroactive to 2001, it states that any and all individuals found to have engaged in plotting, planning, or staging "false terror events" will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, any and all of the assets owned by these individuals shall be made forfeit to pay down the cost of our War on Terror.
Americans should not have to sacrifice one cent of their tax dollars to pay for their own defrauding by "staged" or "phony" terror events.
I believe that were Tulsi to be elected, she should set up two new task forces designed especially for these reasons, Try to think of them as the " Office of Special Plans" IN REVERSO.!.
Moreover she should hold weekly press briefings to notify the taxpayer of her progress, and also how much of our 23 trillion in losses , FROM THEIR LIES, she has been able to recoup.
Getting these two initiatives up and running is the most potent force the taxpayers have in cleaning out the fraud and larceny in DC, .ending our illegal wars overseas .. and (finally)holding our "establishment elite " accountable for "LYING US INTO THEM"
It is way overdue for the American Taxpayer to take back control of our government from those who ALMOST BANKRUPTED OUR ENTIRE NATION BY LYING US INTO ILLEGAL WARS.
It is not enough any more just to complain or "kvetch" about our problems .put on your thinking caps .and start coming up with solutions and initiatives .start fighting for your freedom, your finances and your future.
Elect the leaders YOU WANT and tell them exactly what you want them to do!
Tulsi has promised us all "SERVICE OVER SELF"
There you go !
I say that means not only ENDING our ILLEGAL, CRIMINAL WARS .but GETTING AS MUCH OF OUR MONEY BACK from those who lied us into them !
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR WAR FRAUD it is $23,000,000,000,000.00. in "heinous debt" .overdue!
Jul 04, 2019 | www.unz.com
J. Gutierrez, July 2, 2019 at 5:49 pm GMT 600 Words @Commentator Mike
There is an article on here by Michael Hudson, an economist who wrote about U.S. control of the World Bank and IMF since 1948. He claims that the U.S. wages war because it gets other countries to unwittingly finance them and the trade deficit. After WWII the U.S. forced European countries to pay their war debt, by selling corporate assets, reducing barriers and reduce their social programs. They had 3/4 of the world gold reserves because of those loans during the war. Korea and Vietnam reduced their gold reserves to 10 billion by the late 60's and were forced to get out off the Gold Standard. The French Banks that had a big presense in Indochina sending their dollars to the French Central Bank and they were trading dollars for gold. Nixon stopped it.
The dollar gave U.S. the means to have other countries finance their trade deficit, all their wars and the military buildup. By ending the Gold backed dollar they forced the countries that had U.S. debt dollars to purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds. As the U.S. debt grew so did the dollars being held by those countries and the purchase of Treasury Bonds. The U.S. does not allow countries holding those dollars to buy US property or buy Corporations and risk being acused of commiting an act of war. So they are forced to buy U.S. debt while the US uses its dollars to buy other countries resources with those worthless dollars.
The U.S. forces countries that default on their loans to pay penalties and huge interest payments while the U.S. debt goes un checked and growing without the threat of being in default...
Jun 29, 2019 | www.wsws.org
Four hours of nationally televised debates Wednesday and Thursday among 20 Democratic presidential candidates demonstrated the gigantic disconnect between the claims of this pro-war, pro-corporate party to be driven by concerns for the well-being of working people and the reality of poverty and oppression in America, for which the Democratic Party is no less responsible than the Republicans.
The stage-managed spectacle mounted by NBC marked the formal beginning of an electoral process dominated by big money and thoroughly manipulated by the corporate-controlled media.
The attempt to contain the growing left-wing opposition in the working class and channel it behind the second oldest capitalist party in the world necessarily assumed the form of lies and demagogy. For the most part, the vying politicians, all of them in the top 10 percent on the income ladder, made promises to provide healthcare, jobs, decent schools, tuition-free college and a clean environment for all, knowing full well they had no intention of carrying them out.
No one -- neither the millionaire media talking heads asking the questions nor the candidates -- dared to mention the fact that that Democratic Party has just voted to give Trump an additional $4.9 billion to round up, detain and torture hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including children, in the growing network of concentration camps being set up within the US. Facts, as they say, are stubborn things, and this one demonstrates the complicity of the Democratic Party in the fascistic policies of the Trump administration.
The second night of the debate featured the front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden has a long record of reactionary politics, including in the Obama administration. Sanders is continuing in this election his role in 2016 of channeling growing support for socialism into the framework of a right-wing party.
The fraud of a "progressive" Democratic Party and presidential candidate was summed up in the near-universal declaration of the media that Senator Kamala Harris had emerged as the clear winner, part of a coordinated effort to promote her candidacy. The African-American senator was lauded for attacking Biden for statements boasting of his ability in the past to collaborate with segregationist senators and his past opposition to busing for school integration.
It was Harris who adopted the most transparently bogus posture of left-radicalism in Thursday night's debate, repeatedly declaring her agreement with Bernie Sanders and raising her hand, along with Sanders, to support the abolition of private health insurance in favor of a single-payer system. By Friday morning, however, she had reversed that stand, claiming she had "misheard" the question and declaring her support for the continuation of private insurance.
Harris climbed to the Senate by serving for years in the Bay Area of California as a law-and-order district attorney and state attorney general, defending police killers and bankers engaged in foreclosure fraud, including Trump's current treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has been among the most rabid of Democrats in attacking Trump as a stooge of Russian President Putin. In Thursday's debate, her main foray into foreign policy was to denounce Trump for being soft on Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
She is being promoted most enthusiastically by those sections of the ruling class, whose views are promoted by the New York Times , who want the Democratic campaign to be dominated by racial and gender politics so as to mobilize the party's wealthy upper-middle class base and divert and divide the mass working class anger over social inequality.
Many of the candidates fondly recalled the Obama administration. But those eight years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from working people to the super-rich in American history. The pace was set by the initial $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, which was expanded to uncounted trillions in the course of 2009, combined with the bailout of the auto companies at the expense of the autoworkers, who suffered massive cuts in benefits and a 50 percent cut in pay for new hires, rubber-stamped by the United Auto Workers.
The Obama administration also deported more immigrants than any other, a fact that was raised in a question to Vice President Biden, who confined himself to empty declarations of sympathy for the victims of Trump's persecution, while denying any comparison between Trump and Obama.
Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado attacked Biden for claiming credit for a bipartisan budget deal in 2011 with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. Far from a genuine compromise, he said, the deal "was a complete victory for the Tea Party. It extended the Bush tax cuts permanently," as well as putting in place major cuts in social spending which continue to this day. Bennet neglected to mention that he had voted for the deal himself when it passed the Senate by a huge majority.
It was remarkable, under conditions where President Trump himself declared that the United States was only 10 minutes away from launching a major assault on Iran earlier this month, that the 20 Democratic candidates spent almost no time discussing foreign policy.
In the course of four hours, there were only a few minutes devoted to the world outside the United States. The silence on the rest of the world cannot be dismissed as mere parochialism.
Many of the Democratic presidential candidates are deeply implicated in either the policy-making or combat operations of US imperialism. The 20 candidates include two who were deployed as military officers to Iraq and Afghanistan, Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard; Biden, vice president for eight years and the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and five senators who are members of high-profile national security committees: Harris and Bennet on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand on the Armed Services Committee, and Cory Booker on the Foreign Relations Committee.
If these ladies and gentlemen decide not to engage on foreign policy, the reason is clear: the Democrats know that the American people are adamantly opposed to new military interventions. They therefore seek to conceal the preparations of American imperialism for major wars, whether regional conflicts with Iran, North Korea or Venezuela, or conflicts with nuclear-armed global rivals like China and Russia.
In the handful of comments that were made on foreign policy, the Democratic candidates struck a belligerent note. On Wednesday, four of the ten candidates declared the main global threat to the United States to be China, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio opted for Russia. Many candidates referred to the need to combat Russian interference in the US election -- recycling the phony claims that Russian "meddling" helped Trump into the White House in 2016.
On the first night, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, asked to name the greatest global security threat, replied, "The greatest threat that we face is the fact we are at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history." This remarkable declaration was passed over in silence by the moderators and the other candidates, and the subject was not raised on the second night at all, including by Bernie Sanders.
Jun 26, 2019 | Washington Post
When two giant Pentagon contractors -- Raytheon and United Technologies -- proposed to merge into Raytheon Technologies, it hit the headlines. President Trump said he was "a little bit concerned" that the merger would dampen competition in the defense industry. Coincidentally, Congress was at the same time debating the administration's request for substantial increases in military spending -- particularly in weapons procurement and research and development.
We used to call the nexus of private interests and national defense the "military-industrial complex." But that Cold War term no longer fits. "Industrial" does not capture the breadth of the activities involved. And "military" fails to describe the range of government policies and interests implicated. Over the past two decades we've seen transformations that include new government reliance on private security firms, revolutions in digital technology, a post-9/11 surge in the number of veterans, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). What we have now could be called a "National Security Corporate Complex."
Here are four things you need to know about this transformation.
1. President Dwight Eisenhower coined the term, and it stuck
In the heyday of the Cold War, with corporate giants bending metal for the Pentagon in its titanic competition with the Soviet Union, President Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase as part of a famous warning about the unprecedented "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry."
Eisenhower was concerned about the potential influence of industry over government policy and budgets. Since then, analysts and pundits have used the term to suggest that arms manufacturers unduly influence lawmakers in voting on the size and nature of military spending, including decisions about war and peace.
2. 9/11 changed the business of national security
Before September 11, 2001 and the resulting military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the Department of Energy (DOE) was the only executive branch department other than the Pentagon with major military contracts. DOE was involved because it built and dismantled nuclear warheads.
We can see how, post-9/11, more agencies got involved in national security contracting. I used federal contracting data to measure the changes from 1981 to 2018.
As you can see, much of the jump in post-9/11 spending comes from the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in late 2002 and early 2003 . Before DHS was created, some of that contracting was already being done by the agencies brought together to form the new department, particularly the Coast Guard. But the scope and amount of DHS contracting increased dramatically -- averaging nearly $14 billion a year from 2005 onward.
But two other departments also expanded their contracting substantially after 9/11. In the 1990s, the State Department had an average of under $700 million in contracts per year in national security related matters. From 2009 onward, that average jumped to $8.4 billion a year.
But the most stunning increases in both overall budgets and contracting came from VA. Few Americans would guess that from 2001 to 2011, VA budget grew faster than the Pentagon's -- 271 percent compared to 240 percent -- even if the Pentagon includes its extra spending for the wars. Part of VA's growth came in contracting. In the 1990s, VA had contracted out under $2.4 billion in work per year in the 1990s. From 2009 onward, VA contracted out nearly $20 billion of work each year.
3. Defense contracting extends far beyond the purchase of weapons
As national security contracting has ramped up across government agencies, we've also seen a change in the focus of these contracts. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a great deal of media attention focused on contracts with private security firms like Blackwater and logistics firms like Halliburton. Such "privatization" of military force continues, but it is only part of the story.
The government also expanded its outsourcing of military and veterans' health care. Three of the top 15 Pentagon contractors were health care corporations, including two that were in the top five for VA.
National security departments further expanded their contracting in information technology, for tasks ranging from the prosaic, like bookkeeping, to the exotic, including cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence. That work went both to traditional arms-making giants such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, and also enterprises such as Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC that specialize in such work.
[ The Senate and the intelligence community rebuked Trump on national security. Here's why that matters -- a lot. ]
4. A web of bigger contractors with broader reach
As a result of the government's expanded spending on national security, many corporations now have sizable contracts with more than one federal agency. Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics -- and perhaps the new Raytheon Technologies -- have become diversified "Walmarts of war," as some researchers call them, delivering a wide range of goods and services to various parts of the federal government. The Pentagon's top contractor, Lockheed Martin, has been a major contractor for VA and DHS. General Dynamics was fourth among Pentagon contractors, second for DHS, and third for the Department of State.
Large IT specialists also contract across departments. Booz Allen Hamilton, for example, was the government's 14th largest contractor in 2018, ranking 19th for the Pentagon, 7th for VA, and 32nd for DHS. Engineering giant Fluor Corporation was in the top 15 for Defense, DOE, and DHS. Other examples include CACI, Jacobs Engineering, and Leidos Holdings. And of course, several health care companies do business with VA and Pentagon.
What does all this mean?
Some observers argue that the general decline in overall military spending and weapons procurement after the peak of the recent wars -- before the Trump administration increased that spending -- meant the U.S. no longer had to worry about the influence of a military-industrial complex.
But focusing narrowly on weapons procurement misses the bigger picture. Since 9/11, an increasingly diverse array of firms have a significant stake in federal national security spending. Those funds now flow from a large portion of the federal government and into many sectors of the U.S. economy. If anything, Eisenhower's complex has become more complex and potentially influential.
Don't miss anything! Sign up to get TMC's smart analysis in your inbox, three days a week.
Daniel Wirls is professor of politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of several books, including " Irrational Security: The Politics of Defense from Reagan to Obama " (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) .
https://outline.com/DGG3zD Read & annotate articles
Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,
After getting curb stomped on the debate stage by Tulsi Gabbard, the campaign for Tim "Who the fuck is Tim Ryan?" Ryan posted a statement decrying the Hawaii congresswoman's desire to end a pointless 18-year military occupation as "isolationism".
"While making a point as to why America can't cede its international leadership and retreat from around the world, Tim was interrupted by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard," the statement reads.
"When he tried to answer her, she contorted a factual point Tim was making -- about the Taliban being complicit in the 9/11 attacks by providing training, bases and refuge for Al Qaeda and its leaders. The characterization that Tim Ryan doesn't know who is responsible for the attacks on 9/11 is simply unfair reporting. Further, we continue to reject Gabbard's isolationism and her misguided beliefs on foreign policy . We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people."
Ryan's campaign is lying. During an exchange that was explicitly about the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ryan plainly said "When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings." At best, Ryan can argue that when he said "they" he had suddenly shifted from talking about the Taliban to talking about Al Qaeda without bothering to say so, in which case he obviously can't legitimately claim that Gabbard "contorted" anything he had said. At worst, he was simply unaware at the time of the very clear distinction between the Afghan military and political body called the Taliban and the multinational extremist organization called Al Qaeda.
More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good.
Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option.
This is entirely by design. This bit of word magic has been employed for a long time to tar any idea which deviates from the neoconservative agenda of total global unipolarity via violent imperialism as something freakish and dangerous. In his farewell address to the nation , war criminal George W Bush said the following:
"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."
A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense.
"Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent."
"A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations."
"A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences."
Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". Yet you'll see this ridiculous label applied to both Gabbard and Trump, neither of whom are isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, or even proper non-interventionists. Gabbard supports most US military alliances and continues to voice full support for the bogus "war on terror" implemented by the Bush administration which serves no purpose other than to facilitate endless military expansionism; Trump is openly pushing regime change interventionism in both Venezuela and Iran while declining to make good on his promises to withdraw the US military from Syria and Afghanistan.
Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq.
This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, virtually no one is a pure pacifist who opposes war under any and all possible circumstances; anyone who claims that they can't imagine any possible scenario in which they'd support using some kind of coordinated violence either hasn't imagined very hard or is fooling themselves. If your loved ones were going to be raped, tortured and killed by hostile forces unless an opposing group took up arms to defend them, for example, you would support that. Hell, you would probably join in. Secondly, equating opposition to US-led regime change interventionism, which is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful, is not even a tiny bit remotely like opposing all war under any possible circumstance.
Another common distortion you'll see is the specious argument that a given opponent of US interventionism "isn't anti-war" because they don't oppose all war under any and all circumstances. This tweet by The Intercept 's Mehdi Hasan is a perfect example, claiming that Gabbard is not anti-war because she supports Syria's sovereign right to defend itself with the help of its allies from the violent extremist factions which overran the country with western backing. Again, virtually no one is opposed to all war under any and all circumstances; if a coalition of foreign governments had helped flood Hasan's own country of Britain with extremist militias who'd been murdering their way across the UK with the ultimate goal of toppling London, both Tulsi Gabbard and Hasan would support fighting back against those militias.
The label "anti-war" can for these reasons be a little misleading. The term anti-interventionist or non-interventionist comes closest to describing the value system of most people who oppose the warmongering of the western empire, because they understand that calls for military interventionism which go mainstream in today's environment are almost universally based on imperialist agendas grabbing at power, profit, and global hegemony. The label "isolationist" comes nowhere close.
It all comes down to sovereignty. An anti-interventionist believes that a country has the right to defend itself, but it doesn't have the right to conquer, capture, infiltrate or overthrow other nations whether covertly or overtly. At the "end" of colonialism we all agreed we were done with that, except that the nationless manipulators have found far trickier ways to seize a country's will and resources without actually planting a flag there. We need to get clearer on these distinctions and get louder about defending them as the only sane, coherent way to run foreign policy.
* * *
The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I'm trying to do with this platform, click here . Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I've written) in any way they like free of charge.
Vitor , 31 minutes ago linkAussiekiwi , 49 minutes ago link
It's like someone being labeled anti-social for stopping to bully and pick up fights.Quivering Lip , 57 minutes ago link
"If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."
Fascinating belief, has he been to Libya lately, perhaps attended an open air slave Market in a country that was very developed before the US decided to 'free' it.Toshie , 1 hour ago link
Until Tulsi pimp slapped that Ryan guy I never heard of him. I would imagine I'll never here about him in another 2 months.onasip123 , 1 hour ago link
yeah , keep at it US Govt ;- keep fighting those wars overseas on behalf the 5th foreign column.
Keep wasting precious lives ,and the country's wealth while foreign rising powers like China are laughing all the way to the bank.
may you live in interesting times !Dr Anon , 1 hour ago link
War forever and ever, Amen.thisguyoverhere , 1 hour ago link
When we weren't there, they flew planes into our buildings?
Excuse me mutant, but I believe we paid Israel our jewtax that year like all the others and they still flew planes into our buildings. And then danced in the streets about it. Sick people.Dougs Decks , 2 hours ago link
All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger
Picture if you will Jesus. Seriously? Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents?
Do you see Jesus piloting a drone and killing Muslims, other non-believers, or anyone for that matter? Can you picture Jesus as a sniper?
Impossible.Brazen Heist II , 2 hours ago link
Soooo,,, If my favorite evening activity, is to sit on the front porch steps, while the dog and the cats run around, with my shotgun leaning up next to me,,, Is that Isolationist, or Protectionist,,,vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link
You know the system is completely broken when they want to silence/kill/smear anybody talking sense and peace.Herdee , 2 hours ago link
and isis are referred to as freedom fightersardent , 2 hours ago link
The CIA and MI6 staged all the fake chemical incidents in Syria as well as the recent one in England. False Flags.vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link
What America needs is to get rid of all those Jewish Zionist Neocons leading us into those forever wars.
ALL MidEast terrorism and warmongering are for APARTHEID Israhell.Wild Bill Steamcock , 2 hours ago link
instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. we can't do **** if we're glazed over in a nuclear holocaust. maybe Tulsi is lying through her teeth, but i am so pissed Trump went full neoconJD Rock , 2 hours ago link
"Won't Get Fooled Again"- The Whovienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link
funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America.WillyGroper , 2 hours ago link
she did slam NetanyahuKnightsofNee , 2 hours ago link
saying & doing are different animals. she's powerless. more hope n chains.White Nat , 2 hours ago link
If you read her positions on various issues, a quick survey shows that she supports the New Green Deal, more gun control (ban on assault rifles, etc.), Medicare for all. Stopped reading at that point.New_Meat , 2 hours ago link
We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph GoebbelsDebt Slave , 1 hour ago link
- Edward Bernays, relative of Sigmund Fraud, propagandist for Woodrow Wilson.
Back then, being a "propagandist" held no stigma nor antipathy.
fifyLOL123 , 3 hours ago link
The better educated among us know exactly as to who Goebblels was referring to. Even a dullard should be able to figure out who benefits from all of our Middle East adventures.vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link
"Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. "
Under military might WAS the old world order... Under the new world order the strength is in cyber warfare .
If under technology the profiteers can control the masses through crowd control ( which they can-" Department of Defense has developed a non-lethal crowd control device called the Active Denial System (ADS) . The ADS works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a target that is, millimeter wavelengths. Anyone caught in the beam will feel like their skin is burning.) your spending power ( they can through e- commetce and digital banking) and isolation cells called homes ( they can through directed microwaves from GWEN stations).... We already are isolated and exposed at the same time.
That war is an exceptable means of engagement as a solution to world power is a confirmation of the psychological warfare imposed on us since the creation of our Nation.
Either we reel it in and back now or we destroy ourselves from within.
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Abraham Lincolnmetachron , 2 hours ago link
if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that importantHurricane Baby , 3 hours ago link
Idiot, Tulsi is a sovereign nationalist on the left. You have just never seen one before. If you were truly anti-globalist you'd would realize left and right are invented to divide us. The politics are global and national, so wake the **** upFred box , 3 hours ago link
Actually, I don't see where a few decades of US isolationism would be all that bad.Malleus Maleficarum , 3 hours ago link
""War Is the U.S. Racket!"" They are not good at it, there "great at it". My entire life 63yrs,they been fighting someone or something. When times where rough in the 1800s,Hell! they fought themselves(Civil War. As I said b4 No one seems to ask, Where does the gold go of the vanquished foe? Truly Is A Well Practiced Racket.dunlin , 2 hours ago link
Good article with several salient points, thought I would ask "what's wrong with a little isolationism?" Peace through internal strength is desirable, but good fences make good neighbors and charity begins at home!
The gradual twisting of language really is one of most insidious tactics employed by the NWO Luciferians. I think we'd all like to see the traitorous Neocons gone for good. Better yet, strip them of their American citizenship and ill-gotten wealth and banish them to Israel. Let them earn their citizenship serving in a front-line IDF rifle company.
As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member and avowed gun-grabber, to boot. Two HUGE red flags!
She almost strikes me as a half-assed 'Manchurian Candidate.' So, if she's elected (a big 'if' at this point) I ask myself 'what happens after the next (probably nuclear) false flag?' How quickly will she disavow her present stance on non-interventionism? How quickly and viciously will the 2nd Amendment be raped? Besides, I'm not foolish enough to believe that one person can turn the SS Deep State away from it's final disastrous course.tardpill , 2 hours ago link
What's cfr? Duck duck gives lots of law firms.tardpill , 2 hours ago link
council on foreign relationsSinophile , 32 minutes ago link
the whos who of globalist satanists..Justapleb , 3 hours ago link
Mal, she is NOT a CFR member. You are misinformed.Smi1ey , 3 hours ago link
These word games were already in use looong ago. Tulsi Gabbard is using Obama's line about fighting the wrong war. She would have taken out Al Qaeda, captured Bin Laden, and put a dog leash on him. So that she could make a green economy, a new century of virtue signalling tyranny. No thanks.I am Groot , 3 hours ago link
You beat me to that. Thanks for saving my breath.
Rule #1 All politcians lie
Rule #2 See Rule #1Boogity , 3 hours ago link
Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out.
All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden.
I went to some of the so-called liberal websites and blogs and the only mention of Gabbard is in the context of her being a Putin stooge. This combined with the fact that virtually all establishment Republicans are eager to fight any war for Israel clearly shows that it will take something other than the ballot box to end Uncle Scam's endless wars.
Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comIf Bolton gets his way, New START is not long for this world :
At the same time, the administration has signaled in recent days that it plans to let the New Start treaty, negotiated by Barack Obama, expire in February 2021 rather than renew it for another five years. John R. Bolton, the president's national security adviser, who met with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, in Jerusalem this week, said before leaving Washington that "there's no decision, but I think it's unlikely" the treaty would be renewed.
Mr. Bolton, a longtime skeptic of arms control agreements, said that New Start was flawed because it did not cover short-range tactical nuclear weapons or new Russian delivery systems. "So to extend for five years and not take these new delivery system threats into account would be malpractice," he told The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet.
Like all of his complaints about arms control agreements, Bolton's criticisms of New START are made in bad faith. Opponents of New START have long pretended that they oppose the treaty because it did not cover everything imaginable, including tactical nuclear weapons, but this has always been an excuse for them to reject a treaty that they have never wanted ratified in the first place. If the concern about negotiating a treaty that covered tactical nuclear weapons were genuine, the smart thing to do would be to extend New START and then begin negotiations for a more comprehensive arms control agreement. Faulting New START for failing to include things that are by definition not going to be included in a strategic arms reduction treaty gives the game away. This is what die-hard opponents of the treaty have been doing for almost ten years, and they do it because they want to dismantle the last vestiges of arms control. The proposal to include China as part of a new treaty is another tell that the Trump administration just wants the treaty to die.
The article concludes:
Some experts suspect talk of a three-way accord is merely a feint to get rid of the New Start treaty. "If a trilateral deal is meant as a substitute or prerequisite for extending New Start, it is a poison pill, no ifs, ands or buts," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "If the president is seeking a trilateral deal as a follow-on to New Start, that's a different thing."
Knowing Bolton, it has to be a poison pill. Just as Bolton is ideologically opposed to making any deal with Iran, he is ideologically opposed to any arms control agreement that places limits on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The "flaws" he identifies aren't really flaws that he wants to fix (and they may not be flaws at all), but excuses for trashing the agreement. He will make noises about how the current deal or treaty doesn't go far enough, but the truth is that he doesn't want any agreements to exist. In Bolton's worldview, nonproliferation and arms control agreements either give the other government too much or hamper the U.S. too much, and so he wants to destroy them all. He has had a lot of success at killing agreements and treaties that have been in the U.S. interest. Bolton has had a hand in blowing up the Agreed Framework with North Korea, abandoning the ABM Treaty, killing the INF Treaty, and reneging on the JCPOA. Unless the president can be persuaded to ignore or fire Bolton, New START will be his next victim.
If New START dies, it will be a loss for both the U.S. and Russia, it will make the world less secure, and it will make U.S.-Russian relations even worse. The stability that these treaties have provided has been important for U.S. security for almost fifty years. New START is the last of the treaties that constrain the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and when it is gone there will be nothing to replace it for a long time. The collapse of arms control almost certainly means that the top two nuclear weapons states will expand their arsenals and put us back on the path of an insane and unwinnable arms race. Killing New START is irrational and purely destructive, and it needs to be opposed.
Taras77 • a day agobolton is opposed to any treaty, to any agreement, whereby the other side can expect to obtain equally favorable terms-he wants the other side on their knees permanently without any expectation of compromise by the empire.Sid Finster • a day agoI wonder how long it will take for Trump to finally figure out that Bolton and Pompeo regard him as expendable.Tony • 9 hours ago
Whether Trump wins or loses in 2020 will not matter, as long as the neocons get what they want.John Bolton will not be satisfied until he has got us all killed.
He is an extremely dangerous man.
Jun 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
karlof1 , Jun 28, 2019 1:50:32 PM | 190I'm about halfway through Putin's financial Times interview and suggest it be read by all. There is much to be gleaned from it with a view to the 2020 Election Cycle and candidate's positions. Just consider the following very small excerpt and its implications for policy formulation by candidates:
"What we should be talking about is not how to make North Korea disarm, but how to ensure the unconditional security of North Korea and how to make any country, including North Korea feel safe and protected by international law that is strictly honoured by all members of the international community . This is what we should be thinking about." [My Emphasis]
Putin's insights into Trump's 2016 election strategy, IMO, is very enlightening and essential reading as the conditions that contributed to Trump's victory have worsened under his tenure and can be used against him if wisely pursued.
Jun 25, 2019 | www.thenation.comAs they take the stage for the first Democratic debates of the 2020 presidential campaign, the 20 participating candidates should be ready for one frequently asked question: How will you pay for it? Democrats often pledge to finance their most ambitious plans -- Medicare for All, debt-free college, a Green New Deal -- with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. That is both sensible and fair. But candidates hoping to distinguish themselves in the limited time they will be allotted should also consider taking a stand against the United States' bloated defense budget.
This month, the House Armed Services Committee advanced a $733 billion defense budget on a mostly party-line vote. According to Defense News , the lack of Republican support for the bill illustrated "the stark divide in defense policy between the two parties." Yet that divide is far narrower than you might think. The bill's price tag is just $17 billion less than the $750 billion that President Trump requested ; it still was, as Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) boasted, the "largest" defense budget in history. There remains a near-universal commitment in both parties to massive defense spending -- a case of Washington bipartisanship that the country would be better off without.
A timely new report from the Center for International Policy's Sustainable Defense Task Force offers an alternative path forward. In the report, "A Sustainable Defense: More Security, Less Spending," the nonpartisan group of military and budget experts outlines a strategy that it says would save $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years without harming national-security interests. In fact, through a sober reassessment of the biggest threats to the United States in the 21st century, including climate change and cyberattacks, the proposal would keep the country safer than an outdated approach that relies on perpetual spending increases.
Read the full text of Katrina's column here .
Jun 27, 2019 | www.unz.com
This awesome demonstration of American resolve was meant to be punishment for the vicious slaughter of an expensive U.S. military drone, which was peacefully invading Iranian airspace, and not at all attempting to provoke the Iranians into blowing it out of the sky with a missile so the U.S. military could "retaliate."
The military-industrial complex would never dream of doing anything like that, not even to further the destabilization and restructuring of the Greater Middle East that they've been systematically carrying out the since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which more on that in just a moment.
Jun 27, 2019 | www.wsws.org
Charlotte Ruse • 3 days ago"Thirty years of endless war have created a veritable cult of militarism within the American ruling elite, whose guiding assumption seems to be that wars can be waged without drastic global consequences, including for the United States itself."erroll -> jet1685 • 3 days ago • edited
The military/security surveillance state is a trillion dollar enterprise that instigates conflicts to expand its profits. Militarism works hand-in-hand with the neoliberal corporatists who deploy the military to secure natural resources, wage slaves, and geostrategic hegemony. It should be noted, that the US imperialist agenda left unhindered after the dissolution of the Soviet Union only intensified.
However, in order for the US ruling class to achieve the "ultimate goal" of unilateral hegemony in the Middle East the military must confront Iran a powerful sizable country with economic and political ties to China and Russia. This is the dilemma confronting the warmongering psychopaths
who are influenced by Israel and Saudi Arabia.
A significant military attack against Iran will NOT go unanswered and if the Iranian Military destroys a US warship and kills hundreds of sailors it would unleash another major war in the Middle East igniting the entire region and possibly leading to a world war.
What should traumatize the US population and awaken them from their hypnotic warmongering stupur created by propaganda proliferated on FOX, MSNBC, and CNN is that the United States came within minutes of launching a war whose military consequences it had NOT seriously examined.Some people have speculated that if the U.S. does attack Iran then Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia's oil fields which will then send oil prices skyrocketing to $130 dollars a barrel. The article also notes that:
"While Trump's foreign policy team -- headed by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- 'unanimously' supported the attack, General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'cautioned about the possible repercussions of a strike, warning that it could endanger American forces,' the Times wrote."
Apparently the good general cannot get too worked up at the sight of thousands and thousands of Iranian children, women, and old men who would be slaughtered and grievously wounded by U.S. bombs and the water supply which would be contaminated when those bombs would land at a nuclear power plant. But these horrific actions by the United States are of no consequence because, as Madeline Albright observed on a television a few decades ago, the deaths of a half million Iraqi children by the U.S. was worth it. It would appear that the lives of foreigners are of little consequence to those who are in power. Threatening to start a war against another country for the most specious of reasons is simply another reason why a malignant narcissist like Trump needs to be removed from office as quickly as possible. Or perhaps Trump believes that the best way to improve his low poll numbers is to start dropping 500 lb. bombs on a country which does not in any remote way pose a threat to the United States.
"Almost all propaganda is designed to create fear. Heads of governments and their officials know that a frightened people is easier to govern, will forfeit rights it would otherwise defend, is less likely to demand a better life, and will agree to millions and millions being spent on 'Defense'."-John Boynton Priestly [1894-1984], English writer
"Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god."-Jean Rostand [1894-1977], French philosopher and biologist
Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Just recently, John Judis, undisguisedly a political commentator of the Left, made an important argument in favor of nationalism. "Nationalist sentiment," he writes in his book The Nationalist Revival , "is an essential ingredient of a democracy, which is based on the assumptions of a common identity, and of a welfare state, which is based on the acceptance by citizens of their financial responsibility for people whom they may not know at all, and who may have widely different backgrounds from theirs."
Of course, nationalism can be "the basis of social generosity or of bigoted exclusion." It is therefore important, according to Judis, that enlightened state leaders push nationalism in the proper direction.
Judis points out that while "globalism" is a force that nationalists understandably oppose, "internationalism" need not clash with nationalist sentiment. In a op-ed in The New York Times last October, Judis praised his kind of nationalism as being beneficial to a successful and growing welfare state and a happier world. It can also be, he said, a stepping stone that leads beyond itself to international cooperation .
For those who study European socialism, it is clear that Judis is reprising the position of French sociologist Pierre Bordieu , who argued for decades that a socialist regime must create some kind of social glue to hold its subjects together. Judis is now transferring Bordieu's view to the American political scene.Advertisement
Now, a conference on "conservative nationalism," which will take place in Washington in July , may be pushing a "nationalism" that is at least as adaptable as Judis's. One featured speaker , Claire Lehmann, the founder of Quillette, will be talking about how nationalism "is the antidote to racism." Presumably the more inclusive the operative term, the less likely will be the Left's attack on those wielding it.
The presence of Daniel Pipes and other neoconservatives at this gathering also suggests that at least some of the panelists will be offering two approved concepts of nationalism: propositional nationhood for the United States and solidarity with Israeli nationalism. In both cases, however, the nationalism being advocated ends up tied to an aggressive foreign policy.
Nationalism, in any case, means different things for different peoples. It doesn't hold the same meaning for Estonians or Hungarians, who belong to ethnic, historic communities, as it does for a pluralistic country with hundreds of millions of people and a constantly expanding immigrant population.
In the latest issue of the Rassemblement National monthly L'Incorrect , Steve Bannon speaks of the natural fit between European nationalism and the nationalist movement that he has been promoting in the United States. Both these ideologies, Bannon says, derive from the same national principle. In an interview with me in the same publication, I treated Bannon's contention as wishful thinking. The United States has become too diverse and too culturally disunited to fit a traditional national model. Our use of nationalism will likely lead to something less quaint and less organic but more explosive than what comes from the Baltic nationalists or Viktor Orbán.The Nationalist Delusion The New Nationalism Won't Save the Right
The nationalist label has now fallen into the hands of the neocon establishment, which has managed to identify it with international meddling and a creedal nation. In other words, it's been appropriated by those who already wielded power.
The same protean label is also likely to wander onto the Left, given the nontraditional and very pliable nature of our "nationalism." John Judis may in fact be the harbinger of a new American Left that celebrates nationalism, provided that Left is allowed to define that term for the rest of us. Indeed, it may be possible to frame LGBT rights and reparations for blacks as "nationalist" issues. Nationalism also need not hinder us from letting in lots of undocumented immigrants who are only trying to join our team and learn our values.
Men and women of the interwar Right, down to such later figures as Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet, were understandably critical of American nationalism. They identified it with social engineering and centralized government and preferred localism and regionalism to any justification for an expansionist administrative state.
But what makes American nationalism even more unpalatable now than when Robert Nisbet famously denounced it in The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America is its rhetorical availability. It serves different agendas, depending on which power bloc appeals to it. The hope once entertained by Pat Buchanan that a nationalist cause would help slow down immigration and preserve America's traditional moral and cultural identity has not worked out as planned. Those who control our politics and culture determine the meaning of terms, which is as true of nationalism as it is of other political labels like "freedom" and "equality."
Until recently, nationalism had portentous associations for much of the political class. It signified, rightly or wrongly, ethnocentricity and dislike for outsiders. Now that's all changing. Those in power have tamed the concept and are recycling it for their own purposes. Stay tuned.Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents .
Jun 27, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Wall Street's short-term incentives have decimated our defense industrial base and undermined our national security.Early this year, U.S. authorities filed criminal charges -- including bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and theft of technology -- against the largest maker of telecommunications equipment in the world, a Chinese giant named Huawei. Chinese dominance in telecom equipment has created a crisis among Western espionage agencies, who, fearful of Chinese spying, are attempting to prevent the spread of Huawei equipment worldwide, especially
in the critical 5G next-generation mobile networking space.
In response to the campaign to block the purchase of Huawei equipment, the company has engaged in a public relations offensive. The company's CEO, Ren Zhengfei, portrayed Western fears as an advertisement for its products, which are, he said, "so good that the U.S. government is scared." There's little question the Chinese government is interested in using equipment to spy. What is surprising is Zhengfei is right about the products. Huawei, a relatively new company in the telecom equipment space, has amassed top market share because its equipment -- espionage vulnerabilities aside -- is the best value on the market.
In historical terms, this is a shocking turnaround. Americans invented the telephone business and until recently dominated production and research. But in the last 20 years, every single American producer of key telecommunication equipment sectors is gone. Today, only two European makers -- Ericsson and Nokia -- are left to compete with Huawei and another Chinese competitor, ZTE.
This story of lost American leadership and production is not unique. In fact, the destruction of America's once vibrant military and commercial industrial capacity in many sectors has become the single biggest unacknowledged threat to our national security. Because of public policies focused on finance instead of production, the United States increasingly cannot produce or maintain vital systems upon which our economy, our military, and our allies rely. Huawei is just a particularly prominent example.
When national security specialists consider preparedness, they usually think in terms of the amount of money spent on the Pentagon. One of President Donald Trump's key campaign promises was to aggressively raise the military budget, which he, along with Congress, started doing in 2017. The reaction was instant. "I'm heartened that Congress recognizes the sobering effect of budgetary uncertainty on America's military and on the men and women who provide for our nation's defense," then-defense secretary Jim Mattis said. Budgets have gone up every year since.
Higher budgets would seem to make sense. According to the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the United States is shifting away from armed conflicts in the Middle East to "great power" competition with China and Russia, which have technological parity in many areas with the United States. As part of his case for higher budgets, Mattis told Congress that "our military remains capable, but our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare -- air, land, sea, space, and cyber."
In some cases, our competitive edge has not just been eroded, but is at risk of being -- or already is -- surpassed. The Chinese surge in 5G telecom equipment, which has dual civilian and military uses, is one example. China is making key investments in artificial intelligence, another area of competition. They even seem to be able to mount a rail gun on a naval ship , an important next generation weapons technology that the U.S. Navy has yet to incorporate.
And yet, the U.S. military budget, even at stalled levels, is still larger than the next nine countries' budgets combined. So there's a second natural follow-up question: is the defense budget the primary reason our military advantage is slipping away, or is it something deeper?Why the Regulators Went Soft on Monopolies The Conservative Case for Antitrust
The story of Huawei, and many others, suggests the latter.
For over a century, America led the world in producing telecommunications equipment. The American telecom industry, according to Zach Mottl of Atlas Tool Works, a subcontractor in the industry, used to be a "crown jewel of American manufacturing." Mottl's company had been a manufacturing supplier to AT&T and its Bell Labs from the early 1900s until the early 2000s. "The radar system was invented here. The transistor came out of Bell Labs. The laser. I mean all of these high-tech inventions that have both commercial and military applications were funded out of the research," Mottl told TAC . More than just the sexy inventions, there was a domestic industrial sector which could make the equipment. Now, in a strategic coup for our adversaries, that capability is gone.
Yet it wasn't one of those adversaries that killed our telecommunications capacity, but one of our own institutions, Wall Street, and its pressure on executives to make decisions designed to impress financial markets, rather than for the long-term health of their companies. In 1996, AT&T spun off Bell Labs into a telecom equipment company, Lucent Technologies, to take advantage of investors' appetite for an independent player selling high-tech telecom gear after Congress deregulated the telecommuncations space. At the time, it was the biggest initial public offering in history, and became the foundation of a relationship with financial markets that led to its eventual collapse.
The focus on stock price at Lucent was systematic. The stock price was posted daily to encourage everyone to focus on the company's relationship with short-term oriented financial markets. All employees got a small number of "Founder's Grant Share Options," with executives offered much larger slugs of stock to solidify the connection. When Richard McGinn became CEO in 1997, he focused on financial markets.
Lucent began to buy up companies. According to two scholars , "The perceived need to compete for acquisitions became a 'strategic' justification for keeping stock prices high. This in turn demanded meeting or exceeding quarterly revenue and earnings targets, objectives with which Lucent top executives, led by the hard-driving McGinn, became obsessed."
Lucent got even more aggressive. McGinn's subordinate, an executive named Carly Fiorina, juiced returns with a strategy based on lending money to risky startups who would then turn around and buy Lucent equipment. Fiorina collected $65 million in compensation as the stock soared. And then, when the dot-com boom turned to bust, the company, beset by accounting scandals designed to impress shareholders and the financial markets, embarked on massive layoffs. CEO McGinn was among those laid off, but with a $12.5 million severance package -- royal compensation for taking one of America's strategic industrial assets down the road toward total destruction.
In the early 2000s, the telecom equipment market began to recover from the recession. Lucent's new strategy, as Mottl put it, was to seek "margin" by offshoring production to China, continuing layoffs of American workers and hiring abroad. At first, it was the simpler parts of the telecom equipment, the boxes and assembly, but soon contract manufacturers in China were making virtually all of it. American telecom capacity would never return.
Lucent didn't recover its former position. Chinese entrants, subsidized heavily by the Chinese state and using Western technology, underpriced Western companies. American policymakers, unconcerned with industrial capacity, allowed Chinese companies to capture market share despite the predatory subsidies and stolen technology. In 2006, French telecom equipment maker Alcatel bought Lucent, signifying the end of American control of Bell Labs. Today, Huawei, with state backing, dominates the market.
The erosion of much of the American industrial and defense industrial base proceeded like Lucent. First, in the 1980s and 1990s, Wall Street financiers focused on short-term profits, market power, and executive pay-outs over core competencies like research and production, often rolling an industry up into a monopoly producer. Then, in the 2000s, they offshored production to the lowest cost producer. This finance-centric approach opened the door to the Chinese government's ability to strategically pick off industrial capacity by subsidizing its producers. Hand over cash to Wall Street, and China could get the American crown jewels.
The loss of manufacturing capacity has been devastating for American research capacity. "Innovation doesn't just hover above the Great Plains," Mottl said. "It is built on steady incremental changes and knowledge learned out of basic manufacturing." Telecommunications equipment is dual use, meaning it can be used for both commercial and military purposes. The loss of an industrial base in telecom equipment meant that the American national security apparatus lost military capacity.
This loss goes well beyond telecom equipment. Talking to small manufacturers and distributors who operate in the guts of our industrial systems offers a perspective on the danger of this process of financial predation and offshoring. Bill Hickey, who headed his family's metal distributor, processor, and fabricator, has been watching the collapse for decades. Hickey sells to "everyone who uses steel," from truck, car, and agricultural equipment manufacturers to stadiums and the military.
Hickey, like many manufacturers, has watched the rise of China with alarm for decades. "Everyone's upset about the China 2025 plan," he told TAC , referencing the current Chinese plan causing alarm among national security thinkers in Washington. "Well there was a China 2020 plan, 2016 plan, 2012 plan." The United States has, for instance, lost much of its fasteners and casting industries, which are key inputs to virtually every industrial product. It has lost much of its capacity in grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel, a specialized metal required for highly efficient electrical motors. Aluminum that goes into American aircraft carriers now often comes from China.
Hickey told a story of how the United States is even losing its submarine fleet. He had a conversation with an admiral in charge of the U.S. sub fleet at the commissioning of the USS Illinois , a Virginia-class attack submarine, who complained that the United States was retiring three worn-out boats a year, but could only build one and a half in that time. The Trump military budget has boosted funding to build two a year, but the United States no longer has the capacity to do high quality castings to build any more than that. The supply chain that could support such surge production should be in the commercial world, but it has been offshored to China. "You can't run a really high-end casting business on making three submarines a year," Hickey said. "You just can't do it." This shift happened because Wall Street, or "the LBO (leveraged buy-out) guys" as Hickey put it, bought up manufacturing facilities in the 1990s and moved them to China.
"The middle-class Americans who did the manufacturing work, all that capability, machine tools, knowledge, it just became worthless, driven by the stock price," he said. "The national ability to produce is a national treasure. If you can't produce you won't consume, and you can't defend yourself."
The Loss of the Defense Industrial Base
But it's not just the dual-use commercial manufacturing base that is collapsing. Our policy empowering Wall Street and offshoring has also damaged the more specialized defense base, which directly produces weaponry and equipment for the military.
How pervasive is the loss of such capacity? In September 2018, the Department of Defense released findings of its analysis into its supply chain. The results highlighted how fragile our ability to supply our own military has become.
The report listed dozens of militarily significant items and inputs with only one or two domestic producers, or even none at all. Many production facilities are owned by companies that are financially vulnerable and at high risk of being shut down. Some of the risk comes from limited production capability. Mortar tubes, for example, are made on just one production line, and some Marine aircraft parts are made by just one company -- one which recently filed for bankruptcy.
At risk is everything from chaff to flares to high voltage cable, fittings for ships, valves, key inputs for satellites and missiles, and even material for tents. As Americans no longer work in key industrial fields, the engineering and production skills evaporate as the legacy workforce retires.
Even more unsettling is the reliance on foreign, and often adversarial, manufacturing and supplies. The report found that "China is the single or sole supplier for a number of specialty chemicals used in munitions and missiles . A sudden and catastrophic loss of supply would disrupt DoD missile, satellite, space launch, and other defense manufacturing programs. In many cases, there are no substitutes readily available." Other examples of foreign reliance included circuit boards, night vision systems, batteries, and space sensors.
The story here is similar. When Wall Street targeted the commercial industrial base in the 1990s, the same financial trends shifted the defense industry. Well before any of the more recent conflicts, financial pressure led to a change in focus for many in the defense industry -- from technological engineering to balance sheet engineering. The result is that some of the biggest names in the industry have never created any defense product. Instead of innovating new technology to support our national security, they innovate new ways of creating monopolies to take advantage of it.
A good example is a company called TransDigm. While TransDigm presents itself as a designer and producer of aerospace products, it can more accurately be described as a designer of monopolies. TransDigm began as a private equity firm, a type of investment business, in 1993. Its mission, per its earnings call , is to give "private equity-like returns" to shareholders, returns that are much higher than the stock market or other standard investment vehicles.
It achieves these returns for its shareholders by buying up companies that are sole or single-source suppliers of obscure airplane parts that the government needs, and then increasing prices by as much as eight times the original amount . If the government balks at paying, TransDigm has no qualms daring the military to risk its mission and its crew by not buying the parts. The military, held hostage, often pays the ransom. TransDigm's gross profit margins using this model to gouge the U.S. government are a robust 54.5 percent. To put that into perspective, Boeing and Lockheed's profit margins are listed at 13.6 percent and 10.91 percent. In many ways, TransDigm is like the pharmaceutical company run by Martin Shkreli, which bought rare treatments and then price gouged those who could not do without the product. Earlier this year, TransDigm recently bought the remaining supplier of chaff and one of two suppliers of flares, products identified in the Defense Department's supply chain fragility report.
TransDigm was caught manipulating the parts market by the Department of Defense Inspector General in 2006 , again in 2008 , and finally again this year. It is currently facing yet another investigation by the Government Accountability Office .
Yet, Trandigm's stock price thrives because Wall Street loves monopolies, regardless of who they are taking advantage of. Take this analysis from TheStreet from March 2019, published after the latest Inspector General report and directly citing many of the concerning facts from the report as pure positives for the investor:
The company is now the sole supplier for 80% of the end markets it serves. And 90% of the items in the supply chain are proprietary to TransDigm. In other words, the company is operating a monopoly for parts needed to operate aircraft that will typically be in service for 30 years . Managers are uniquely motivated to increase shareholder value and they have an enviable record, with shares up 2,503% since 2009.
Fleecing the Defense Department is big business. Its executive chairman W. Nicholas Howley, skewered by Democrats and Republicans alike in a May 2019 House Oversight hearing for making up to 4,000 percent excess profit on some parts and stealing from the American taxpayer, received total compensation of over $64 million in 2013 , the fifth most among all CEOs, and over $13 million in 2018 , making him one of the most highly compensated CEOs no one has ever heard of . Shortly after May's hearing, the company agreed to voluntarily return $16 million in overcharges to the Pentagon, but the share price is at near record highs.
L3 Technologies, created in 1997, has taken a different, but also damaging, approach to monopolizing Defense Department contracts. Originally, it sought to become "the Home Depot of the defense industry" by going on an acquisition binge, according to its former CEO Frank Lanza. Today, L3 uses its size, its connections within the government, and its willingness to offer federal employees good-paying jobs at L3, to muscle out competitors and win contracts, even if the competitor has more innovative and better priced products . This practice attracted the ire of two Republican congressmen from North Carolina, Ted Budd and the late Walter Jones, who found in 2017 that L3 succeeds, in part, due to "blatant corruption and obvious disregard of American foreign interest in the name of personal economic profit."
Like TransDigm, this isn't L3's first brush with trouble. It was temporarily suspended from U.S. government contracting for using "extremely sensitive and classified information" from a government system to help its international business interests. It was the subject of a scathing Senate Armed Services Committee investigation for failing to notify the Defense Department that it supplied faulty Chinese counterfeit parts for some of its aircraft displays. And it agreed to pay a $25.6 million settlement to the U.S. government for knowingly providing defective weapon sights for years to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet, also like TransDigm, L3 has thrived despite its troubles. When the company was granted an open-ended contract to update the Air Force's electronics jamming airplane in 2017, Lieutenant General Arnold Bunch outlined the Air Force's logic at a House Armed Services Subcommittee meeting. L3, he said, is the only company that can do the job. "They have all the tooling, they have all the existing knowledge, and they have the modeling and all the information to do that work," he said.
In other words, because L3 has a monopoly, there was no one else to pick. The system -- a system designed by the financial industry that rewards monopoly and consolidation at the expense of innovation and national security -- essentially made the pick for him. It is no wonder our military capacities are ebbing, despite the large budget outlays -- the money isn't going to defense.
In fact, in some ways, our own defense budgets are being used against us when potential adversaries use Wall Street to take control of our own Pentagon-developed technologies.
There's no better example than China's takeover of the rare earth metal industry, which is key to both defense and electronics. The issue has frequently made the front page during the recent trade war, but the seldom-discussed background to our dependence on China for rare earths is that, just like with telecom equipment, the United States used to be the world leader in the industry until the financial sector shipped the whole thing to China.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Defense Department invested in the development of a technology to use what are known as rare-earth magnets. The investment was so successful that General Motors engineers, using Pentagon grants, succeeded in creating a rare earth magnet that is now essential for nearly every high-tech piece of military equipment in the U.S. inventory, from smart bombs and fighter jets to lasers and communications devices. The benefit of DARPA's investment wasn't restricted to the military. The magnets make cell phones and modern commercial electronics possible.
China recognized the value of these magnets early on. Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping famously said in 1992 that "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earth," to underscore the importance of a rare earth strategy he adopted for China. Part of that strategy was to take control of the industry by manipulating the motivations of Wall Street.
Two of Xiaoping's sons-in-law approached investment banker Archibald Cox, Jr. in the mid-1990s to use his hedge fund as a front for their companies to buy the U.S. rare-earth magnet enterprise. They were successful, purchasing and then moving the factory, the Indiana jobs, the patents, and the expertise to China. This was not the only big move, as Cox later moved into a $12 million luxury New York residence . The result is remarkably similar to Huawei: the United States has entirely divested of a technology and market it created and dominated just 30 years ago. China has a near-complete monopoly on rare earth elements, and the U.S. military, according to U.S. government studies, is now 100 percent reliant upon China for the resources to produce its advanced weapon systems.
Wall Street's outsized control over defense contracting and industry means that every place a foreign adversary can insert itself into American financial institutions, it can insert itself into our defense industry.
At an Armed Services Committee hearing in 2018, Representative Carol Shea-Porter talked about how constant the conflict between financial concentration and patriotism had been in her six years on the committee. She recounted a CEO once telling her, in response to her concern about the outsourcing of defense industry parts, that he "[has] to answer to stockholders."
Who are these stockholders that CEOs are so compelled to answer to? Oftentimes, China. Jennifer M. Harris , an expert in global markets with experience at the U.S. State Department and the U.S. National Intelligence Council, researched a recent explosion of Chinese strategic investment in American technology companies. She found that China has systematically targeted U.S. greenfield investments, "technology goods (especially semiconductors), R&D networks, and advanced manufacturing."
The trend accelerated, until the recent flare-up of tensions between the United States and China. "China's foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the U.S. increased some 800% between 2009 and 2015," she wrote. Then, from 2015 to 2017, "Chinese FDI in the U.S. climbed nearly four-fold, reaching roughly $45.6 billion in 2016 , up from just $12.8 billion in 2014."
This investment runs right through Wall Street, the key lobbying group trying to ratchet down Trump's tough negotiating posture with the Chinese. Rather than showing concern about the increasing influence of a foreign power in our commerce and industry, Wall Street banks have repeatedly followed Archie Cox down the path of easy returns.
In 2016, J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to pay a $264 million bribery settlement to the U.S. government for creating a program, called "Sons and Daughters," to gain access to Chinese money by selectively hiring the unqualified offspring of high-ranking Communist Party officials and other Chinese elites. Several other banks are under investigation for similar practices, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, who, not coincidentally, hired the son of China's commerce minister. It appears to have worked out for them. In 2017, Goldman Sachs partnered with the Chinese government's sovereign wealth fund to invest $5 billion Chinese government dollars in American industry.
In short, China is becoming a significant shareholder in U.S. industries, and is selectively targeting those with strategic implications. Congresswoman Shea-Porter's discovery that defense industry CEOs aren't able to worry about national security because they "[have] to answer to shareholders" was disturbing enough. But the fact that it potentially translates as CEOs not being able to worry about national security because they have to answer to the Chinese should elevate the issue to the top of our national security discussion. This nexus of China, Wall Street, and our defense industrial base may be the answer to why our military advantage is ebbing. Even when American ingenuity can thrive, too often the fruits go to the Chinese.
In short, the financial industry, with its emphasis on short-term profit and monopoly , and its willingness to ignore national security for profit, has warped our very ability to defend ourselves.
How Did We Get Here?
Believe it or not, America has been here before. In the 1920s and 1930s, the American defense industrial base was being similarly manipulated by domestic financiers for their own purposes, retarding innovation and damaging the nation's ability to defend itself. And American military readiness was ebbing in the midst of an increasingly dangerous world full of rising autocracies.
Today it might be artificial intelligence or drones, but in the 1930s the key military technology was the airplane. And as with much digital technology today, while Americans invented the airplane, many of the fruits went elsewhere. The reason was similar to the problem of Wall Street today. The American aerospace industry in the 1930s was undermined by fights among bankers over who got to profit from associated patent rights.
In 1935, Brigadier General William Mitchell told Congress that the United States didn't have a single plane that could go against a "first-class power." "It is a disgraceful situation and is due," he said, "for one thing, to this pool of patents." The lack of aerospace capacity reflected a broader industrial problem. Monopolists refused to invest in factories to produce enough steel, aluminum, and magnesium for adequate military readiness, for fear of losing control over prices.
New Dealers investigated, and by the time war broke out, the Roosevelt administration was in the midst of a sustained anti-monopoly campaign. The Nazi war machine, like China today, gave added impetus to the problem of monopoly in key technology-heavy industries. In 1941, an assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, Norman Littell, gave a speech to the Indiana State Bar Association about what he called "The German Invasion of American Business."
The Nazis, he argued, used legal techniques, like patent laws, stock ownership, dummy corporations, and cartel arrangements, to extend their power into the United States. "The distinction between bombing a vital plant out of existence from an airplane and preventing that plant from coming into existence in the first place [through cartel arrangements]," he said, "is largely a difference in the amount of noise involved."
Nazis used their American subsidiary corporations to spy on U.S. industrial capacity and steal technology, such as walkie-talkies, intertank and ground-air radio communication systems, and shortwave sets developed by the U.S. Army and Navy. They used patents or cartel arrangements to restrict the production of stainless steel, tungsten-carbide, and fuel injection equipment. According to the U.S. military after the war, I.G. Farben, the Nazi chemical monopoly, had influence over American production of "synthetic gas and oils, dyestuffs, explosives, synthetic rubber ('Buna'), menthol, cellophane, and other products," and sought to keep the United States "entirely dependent" on Germany for certain types of electrical equipment.
The Nazis took advantage of an industrial system that was, like the current one, organized along short-term objectives. But seeing the danger, New Dealers attacked the power of financiers through direct financing of factories, excess profits taxes, and the breaking of the power of the Rockefeller, Dupont, and Mellon empires through bank regulation and antitrust suits. They separated the makers of airplanes from airlines, a sort of Glass Steagall for aerospace. During the war itself, antitrust chief Thurman Arnold, and those he influenced, sought to end international cartels and loosen patent rules in part because they allowed control over American industry by the Nazis.
After the war, the link between global cartels and national security vulnerabilities was a key driver of American trade and military strategy. America pursued globalization, but with two differences from the form we have today. First, strategists sought to prevent the recurrence of global cartels and monopolies. Second, they sought to become industrially intertwined with allies, not rivals. While multinational corporations stretched across the West, they did not locate production or technology development in Moscow or among strategic rivals, as we do today in China.
Domestically, anti-profiteering institutions and rules protected against corruption, especially important when the defense budget comprised a large chunk of overall American research and development. The Defense Department's procurement agency -- the Defense Logistics Agency -- was enormously powerful and oversaw procurement and supply challenges. The Pentagon had the power to force suppliers of sole source products -- contractors that had monopolies -- to reveal cost information to the government. The financial health of defense contractors mattered, but so did value to the taxpayer, a skilled defense industrial workforce, and the ability to deliver quality products to aid in national defense.
A fragmented base of contractors and subcontractors ensured redundancy and competition, and a powerful federal apparatus with thousands of employees with expertise in pricing and negotiation kept prices reasonable. The Defense Department could even take ownership of specialized tooling rights to create competition in monopolistic markets with specialized spare part needs -- which is precisely where TransDigm specializes. This authority and expertise had been carefully cultivated over decades to provide the material necessary to equip American soldiers for World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the first Gulf war.
In the 1980s, while Ronald Reagan allowed Wall Street free rein elsewhere in the economy, he mostly kept Wall Street from going after the defense base. But scholars began debating whether it made sense to have such a large and expensive negotiating apparatus to deal with contractors, or if a more "cooperative" approach should be taken. Business consultants argued that the Pentagon could save money if it would simply be "a better customer, by being less adversarial and more trusting" of defense contractors.
With the end of the Cold War, these arguments found new resonance. Bill Clinton took the philosophical change that Reagan had pushed on the civilian economy, and moved it into the defense base. In 1993, Defense Department official William Perry gathered CEOs of top defense contractors and told them that they would have to merge into larger entities because of reduced Cold War spending. "Consolidate or evaporate," he said at what became known as "The Last Supper" in military lore. Former secretary of the Navy John Lehman noted, "industry leaders took the warning to heart." They reduced the number of prime contractors from 16 to six; subcontractor mergers quadrupled from 1990 to 1998. They also loosened rules on sole source -- i.e. monopoly -- contracts, and slashed the Defense Logistics Agency, resulting in thousands of employees with deep knowledge of defense contracting leaving the public sector.
Contractors increasingly dictated procurement rules. The Clinton administration approved laws changing procurement, which, as the Los Angeles Times put it, got rid of the government's traditional goals of ensuring "fair competition and low prices." They reversed what the New Dealers had done to insulate American military power from financiers.
The administration also pushed Congress to allow foreign imports into American weapons through waivers of the Buy America Act, and demanded procurement officers stop asking for cost data. Mass offshoring took place, and businesses could increase prices radically.
This environment attracted private-equity shops, and swaths of the defense industry shifted their focus from aerospace engineering to balance sheet engineering. From 1993 to 2000, despite dramatic declines in Cold War military spending and declines in the number of workers in the defense industrial base and within the military, defense stocks outperformed the S&P.
Today, the American defense establishment quietly finds itself in the same predicament it did in the 1930s. Despite spending large amounts of money on weapons systems, it often gets substandard equipment. It is dependent for key sources of supply on business arrangements with potentially hostile powers. The problem is so big, so toxic, and so difficult that few lawmakers even want to take it on. But the increasingly obvious danger of Chinese power means we can no longer ignore it.
Fortunately, this is fixable. Huawei's predatory pricing success has shown policymakers all over the world what happens when we don't protect our vital industrial capacity. Last year, Congress strengthened the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the committee that reviews foreign investment and mergers. The Trump tariffs have begun forcing a long-overdue conversation across the globe about Chinese steel and aluminum overcapacity, and Democrats like Representative Dan Lipinski are focused on reconstituting domestic manufacturing ability.
Within the defense base itself, every example -- from TransDigm to L3 to Chinese infiltration of American business -- has drawn the attention of members of Congress. Representatives Ted Budd and Paul Cook are Republicans and Representatives Jackie Speier and Ro Khanna are Democrats. They are not alone. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Tim Ryan have joined Khanna's demand for a TransDigm investigation.
Moreover, focus on production is bipartisan. One of the most ardent opponents of consolidation in the 1990s is current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who in 1996 passed an amendment to block Pentagon subsidies for defense mergers, or what he called "Payoffs for Layoffs." On the other end of the spectrum, Trump has refocused national security and trade officials on the importance of domestic manufacturing.
Defense officials have also become acutely aware of the problem. In a 2015 briefing at the Pentagon, in response to questions about Lockheed's acquisition of Sikorsky, then secretary of defense Ash Carter emphasized the importance of not having "excessive consolidation," including so-called vertical integration, in the defense industry because it is "[not] good for the defense marketplace, and therefore, for the taxpayer and warfighter in the long run." Carter's acquisition chief, Frank Kendall, also noted the "significant policy concerns" posed by the "continuing march toward greater consolidation in the defense industry at the prime contractor level" and the effect it has on innovation.
American policymakers in the 1990s lost the ability to recognize the value of production capacity. Today, many of the problems highlighted here are still seen in isolation, perhaps as instances of corruption or reduced capacity. But the problems -- diminished innovation, marginal quality, higher prices, less redundancy, dependence on overseas supply chains, a lack of defense industry competition, and reduced investment in research and development -- are not independent. They are the result of the financialization of industry and of monopoly. It's time for a new strategic posture, one that puts a premium not just on spending the right amount on military budgets, but also on ensuring that financial actors don't capture what we do spend. We must begin once again to recognize that private industrial capacity is a vital national security asset that we can no longer allow Wall Street to pillage. By seeing the problem in its totality, we can attack the power of finance within the commercial and defense base and restore our national security capacity once again.
There are many levers we can use to reorder our national priorities. The Defense Department, along with its new higher budgets, should have more authority to promote competition, break up defense conglomerates, restrict excess defense contractor profits, empower contracting officers to get cost information, and block private equity takeovers of suppliers. Congress could reinstate the authority of the Defense Department to simply take ownership of specialized tooling rights to create competition in monopolistic markets with specialized spare part needs, a power it once had.
In the commercial sector, rebuilding the industrial base will require an aggressive national mobilization strategy. This means aggressive investment by government to rebuild manufacturing capacity, selective tariffs to protect against Chinese or foreign predation, regulation to stop financial predation by Wall Street, and anti-monopoly enforcement to block the exploitation of market power.
Policymakers must recognize that industrial capacity is a public good and short-term actors on Wall Street have become a serious national security vulnerability. While private businesses are essential to our common defense, the public sector must once again structure how we organize our national defense and protect our defense industrial base from predatory finance. For several decades, Wall Street has been organizing not just the financing of defense contractors, but the capabilities of our very defense posture. That experiment has been a failure. It is time to wake up, before it's too late.
Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute. His book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, is due out this fall from Simon & Schuster. Lucas Kunce spent 12 years in the United States Marine Corps, and is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The views presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense or its components. This article was supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors.
polistra24 • 13 hours agoBest article of the century. Gets everything right, in full detail.kouroi • 15 hours ago
But I doubt that the problem is fixable. It could have been fixable if we turned around in 1980, but all the factories and SKILLS are gone now.Sobering read. However, it is likely that only a major war will spur legislators and administrators into action. Until then Wall Street will reign and the US administrations will keep threatening countries with sanctions if they buy equipment that prevents the US to conduct an easy bombing campaign on them.chris chuba kouroi • 8 hours agoI've heard similar stories about the imminent collapse of the Russian Defense sector, they can't make their own parts, they lack diversity of suppliers, there is a huge brain drain, no customers (somewhat true since we practice extortion).MontDLaw • 6 hours ago
I'm not dismissing the author, actually quite the opposite and I am agreeing with you. The secret ingredient is an actual sense of danger. The Russians are terrified, we pretend to be terrified but know it's all threat inflation. If we had honest people in Congress proposing targeted budgets for real needs rather than 'freedom of navigation' when we know it's power projection then the fear of God might return to our habits. The author brought up the 20/30's I bet WW2 gave us that fear again.Dude, your government stopped being able to do anything this complicated somewhere around 1995. Your infrastructure is in shambles and diabetics are dying because of an insulin monopoly that forces them to ration medication. The rope remark resembles you.soliton • 7 hours agoNo need to worry about L3. They were acquired by Harris, making another monster.vpurto • 12 hours ago • editedThis is the longest litany about demise of American prowess in technology that I've ever read in TAC so far. The story of destruction of Bell Labs, described in details by Matt Stoller is very accurate: I have been eyewitness to it from 1983 and up to its gruesome end. Carly Fiorina, one of the runners for President in 2016, delivered American icon coup-the-grace. She even justified her claim on presidency on business experience: destruction of another icon of American high-tech – Hewlett-Packard. Alas, there is the most fundamental reason for the current situation in the 21-st century USA, was formulated 100+ years ago by Vladimir Lenin: "For profit capitalists will be eager to sell us rope, with which we'll hung them" .soliton vpurto • 6 hours ago
Would anybody protest today that profit IS the Nature of capitalism ? And more: those who substitute Reality with their wet dreams might be cured by watching Democratic 2020 debates.CF pretty much destroyed the best test equipment house in the world to make printers PCs.Steve Smith • 16 hours agoGreat piece. There are lots of good articles here but not that many that tell something I really didn't already know. Great perspective on the whole China issue. Amazing how sick our financialized economy really is when you look under the hood.Kessler • 11 hours ago
This is excellent information. Hope folks on the Hill are reading this.The Wall Street and finance industry depend on US military, long-term this is a disaster, but they care only for short-term profits. Whoever thought that principles of free market apply internationally, where other goverments are free to influence "free trade" in any way they wish, while US goverment will do nothing is an idiot.
Jun 25, 2019 | theamericanconservative.com
Arms Dealers and Lobbyists Get Rich as Yemen Burns See the Top 4 U.S. contractors' profits explode, all while their weapons have been used against civilian targets for years. • June 25, 2019
And make no mistake: U.S. defense contractors and their lobbyists and supporters in government are getting rich in the process. "Our role is not to make policy, our role is to comply with it," John Harris, CEO of defense contractor Raytheon International, said to CNBC in February. But his statement vastly understates the role that defense contractors and lobbyists play in Washington's halls of power, where their influence on policy directly impacts their bottom lines. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have waged war against Yemen, killing and injuring thousands of Yemeni civilians. An estimated 90,000 people have been killed, according to one international tracker.
By December 2017, the number of cholera cases in Yemen had surged past one million , the largest such outbreak in modern history. An estimated 113,000 children have died since April 2018 from war-related starvation and disease. The United Nations calls the situation in Yemen the largest humanitarian crisis on earth, as over 14 million face starvation. The majority of the 6,872 Yemeni civilians killed and 10,768 wounded have been victims of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) .
Nearly 90 coalition airstrikes have hit homes , schools, markets, hospitals, and mosques since 2015, according to Human Rights Watch. In 2018, the coalition bombed a wedding, killing 22 people, including eight children. Another strike hit a bus , killing at least 26 children.
American-origin munitions produced by companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon were identified at the site of over two dozen attacks throughout Yemen. Indeed, the United States is the single largest arms supplier to the Middle East and has been for decades, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. From 2014 to 2018, the United States supplied 68 percent of Saudi Arabia's arms imports, 64 percent of the UAE's imports, and 65 percent of Qatar's imports. Some of this weaponry was subsequently stolen or sold to al-Qaeda linked groups in the Arabian Peninsula , where they could be used against the U.S. military, according to reports . The Saudi use of U.S.-made jets, bombs, and missiles against Yemeni civilian centers constitutes a war crime. It was an American laser-guided MK-82 bomb that killed the children on the bus; Raytheon's technology killed the 22 people attending the wedding in 2018 as well as a family traveling in their car; and another American-made MK-82 bomb ended the lives of at least 80 men, women, and children in a Yemeni marketplace in March 2016. Yet American defense contractors continue to spend millions of dollars to lobby Washington to maintain the flow of arms to these countries.
Pentagon Chief Shanahan Steps Down, Former Raytheon Executive Steps Up Cronyism in Action: Government's Cozy Ties to Big Tech and Big War"Companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and other defense contractors see countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE as huge potential markets," Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War , told TAC . "They see them as massive opportunities to make a lot of money; that's why they're investing billions and billions of dollars. This is a huge revenue stream to these companies." Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics have all highlighted business with Saudi Arabia in their shareholder reports.
"Operations and maintenance have become a very profitable niche market for U.S. corporations," said Richard Aboulafia, a vice president at Teal Group. He added that defense contractors can make as much as 150 percent more profit off of operations and maintenance than from the original arms sale. U.S. weapons supply 57 percent of the military aircraft used by the Royal Saudi Air Force, and mechanics and technicians hired by American companies repair and maintain their fighter jets and helicopters. In 2018 alone, the United States made $4.5 billion worth of arms deals to Saudi Arabia and $1.2 billion to the United Arab Emirates , a report by William Hartung and Christina Arabia found.
From the report : "Lockheed Martin was involved in deals worth $25 billion; Boeing, $7.1 billion in deals; Raytheon, $5.5 billion in deals; Northrop Grumman had one deal worth $2.5 billion; and BAE systems had a $1.3 billion deal." "Because of the nature of U.S. arms control law, most of these sales have to get government approval, and we've absolutely seen lobbyists weighing in heavily on this," Miles said. "The last time I saw the numbers, the arms industry had nearly 1,000 registered lobbyists.
They're not on the Hill lobbying Congress about how many schools we should open next year. They're lobbying for defense contractors. The past 18 years of endless wars have been incredibly lucrative for the arms industry, and they have a vested industry in seeing these wars continue, and not curtailing the cash cow that has been for them." The defense industry spent $125 million on lobbying in 2018. Of that, Boeing spent $15 million on lobbyists, Lockheed Martin spent $13.2 million , General Dynamics $11.9 million , and Raytheon $4.4 million , according to the Lobbying Disclosure Act website. Writes Ben Freeman:According to a new report firms registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act have reported receiving more than $40 million from Saudi Arabia in 2017 and 2018. Saudi lobbyists and public relations professionals have contacted Congress, the executive branch, media outlets and think tanks more than 4,000 times. Much of this work has been focused on ensuring that sales of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia continue unabated and blocking congressional actions that would end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Lobbyists, lawyers and public relations firms working for the Saudis have also reported doling out more than $4.5 million in campaign contributions in the past two years, including at least $6,000 to Trump. In many cases, these contributions have gone to members of Congress they've contacted regarding the Yemen war. In fact, some contributions have gone to members of Congress on the exact same day they were contacted by Saudi lobbyists, and some were made to key members just before, and even on the day of, important Yemen votes.Over a dozen lobbying firms employed by defense contractors have also been working on behalf of the Saudi or Emiratis, efficiently lobbying for both the arms buyers and sellers in one fell swoop .
One of these lobbying firms, the McKeon Group, led by former Republican congressman and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Howard McKeon, represents both Saudi Arabia and the American defense contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK, MBDA, and L3 Technologies. Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman are the biggest suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia. In 2018, the McKeon Group took $1,697,000 from 10 defense contractors " to, among other objectives, continue the flow of arms to Saudi Arabia," reports National Memo. Freeman details multiple examples where lobbyists working on behalf of the Saudis met with a senator's staff and then made a substantial contribution to that senator's campaign within days of a key vote to keep the United States in the Yemen war.
American Defense International (ADI) represents the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia's coalition partner in the war against Yemen, as well as several American defense contractors, including General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, L3 Technologies, and General Atomics.
Not to be outdone by the McKeon Group, ADI's lobbyists have also aggressively pursued possible swing votes in the U.S. Senate for the hefty sum of $45,000 a month, paid for by the UAE . ADI lobbyists discussed the "situation in Yemen" and the "Paveway sale to the UAE," the same bomb used in the deadly wedding strike, with the office of Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Armed Services Committee, according to FARA reports .
ADI's lobbyists also met with Congressman Steve Scalise's legislative director to advise his office to vote against the congressional resolution on Yemen.
For their lobbying, Raytheon paid ADI $120,000 in 2018. In addition to the overt influence exercised by lobbyists for the defense industry, many former arms industry executives are embedded in influential posts throughout the Trump administration: from former Airbus, Huntington Ingalls, and Raytheon lobbyist Charles Faulkner at the State Department, who pushed Mike Pompeo to support arms sales in the Yemen war ; to former Boeing executive and erstwhile head of the Department of Defense Patrick Shanahan; to his interim replacement Mark Esper, secretary of the Army and another former lobbyist for Raytheon.
The war in Yemen has been good for American defense contractors' bottom lines. Since the conflict began, General Dynamics' stock price has risen from about $135 to $169 per share, Raytheon's from about $108 to more than $180, and Boeing's from about $150 to $360, according to In These Times. Their analysis found that those four companies have had at least $30.1 billion in Saudi military contracts approved by the State Department over the last 10 years. In April, President Donald Trump vetoed a resolution that would have ended American support for the Saudi-UAE coalition war against Yemen. Such efforts have failed to meet the 60-vote veto-proof threshold needed in the Senate. There are a few senators who didn't vote for the War Powers resolution "that will probably vote for the Raytheon sales," Brittany Benowitz, a lawyer and former adviser to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told TAC. "I think you'll continue to see horrific bombings and as the famine rages on, people will start to ask, 'Why are we a part of this war?' Unfortunately, I don't think that will start to happen anytime soon." Barbara Boland is TAC's foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC
chris chuba • a day agoYes indeed, we are the #1 arms exporter and very proud about it. Meanwhile, Rubio, Pompeo, et. al. are also proud about how they are finally clamping down on the nefarious arrangement that Venezuela and Cuba have to prop up their regimes.Fran Macadam • 2 days ago
Venezuela gives Cuba low cost oil and Cuba sends them about 25,000 doctors for free medical care to help prop up Maduro. Hmm ... sounds like one is exporting medical services in return for energy, pure, unabridged evil. Our second best export is misinformation and lies.
I know, someone will give the State Dept line that the doctors are underpaid and the oil is below market price. The point is that both countries export what they have more of in order to get what they need. This is the basics of any trade relationship. Both countries are better off after the transaction and now both countries are suffering because of our benighted intervention.
I keep wondering when God is going to punish us for our appalling arrogance, pride, and our unwavering faith in our own righteousness. God is certainly punishing me. I wish I was one of the blissfully ignorant.The biggest business of America is war. The symptom of how all pervasive this has become is there is a new definition of defeat: the only war that is lost, is one that ends. The new victory is now war without end.EliteCommInc. • 2 days agoIf the Saudis have not yet routed the Houthis, I am doubt they ever will. Without invading the country and holding ground, I am unclear of the point of constantly bombing.Sid Finster EliteCommInc. • a day ago
The Houthis won their civil conflict, best allow them to constitute a government and deal with it.The Saudis have invaded Yemen, but they and their mercenaries keep getting ambushed and ganked. The Yemeni tribes have a very long and successful history of guerrilla warfare.Nelson • a day ago
Admittedly, it's mostly the mercenaries, as the Saudis don't like a centralized military in particular and don't like fighting opponents who can shoot back in general."Such efforts have failed to meet the 60-vote veto-proof threshold needed in the Senate."polistra24 • a day ago
A veto override requires 2/3 of the votes, which is 67 in the Senate.Not surprising. Dow = genocide, both internally and externally. Every added point on the Dow is built on a massive pile of carcasses.LFC • 18 hours agoLily Sandoz • a day ago"Our role is not to make policy, our role is to comply with it," John Harris, CEO of defense contractor Raytheon International, said to CNBC in February.
Yeah and Wells Fargo were just practicing "innovation" that the financial companies have told us they need to do.The Republic is a total failure. It cares nothing for the Constitution the representatives are sworn to uphold and abide by. It's all about the symbiosis of power in gov. and money in business. Those two factions exchange what they other needs to gain more power and money at the expense of the taxpayers and countries abroad being destroyed. It's pretty simple if you ask 'cui bono' and then follow the money. This time following the money may take the USA/world to thermo-nuclear war which psychos like Bolton, Pompeo, Pence, Netanyahu, the MIC and all the other neo-cons want. Currently the war policy against Iran seems to be tied up in Christian-Zionist eschatology to bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ. Does it get any more loony than this? Metaphysics driving political and foreign policy is really a recipe for a disaster and may actually bring about loosing the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse on the world, but that's OK I guess because Wash. sees the 'big picture.'Doom Incarnate • a day agoSeriously people.EliteCommInc. • 2 days ago
Buy the stocks of those companies.
Sure what your government is doing is wrong. It should do something else. But in the meantime, there's no reason for you not to profit.
This is America after all and warfighting is good business.
Boo yaa!!!!Ohhh Here's my short response . . . .
Jun 25, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comIt is utterly bizarre to hear people who believe Trump is unfit to lead seem disappointed that he isn't taking us to war.
... ... ...Adriana Pena • a day agoNo matter how laudable averting war is, the fact is that we would have never been in this situation if Trump had not unilaterally abandoned the Iran deal. This is a crisis of his own making and he should get kudos for not making it any worse, but that's it.ron_goodman • 2 days agoThe author seems to think this was some kind of well-considered decision, while Trump is quoted as saying he "thought about it for a second". He could, and almost certainly will change his mind after about the same amount of reflection.Bill In Montgomey • a day ago • editedI don't know. Maybe a wise president would not have appointed Bolton and Pompeo in the first place. Nor would a wise president have had a $130 million drone flying over Iranian air space (or right on its border).=marco01= • 2 days ago • edited
Yes, Iran dodged a bullet in this instance. So did our country. Maybe if Trump gets enough positive reinforcement from his last-second audible, he'll be less inclined to "cock and load" the American military in the future. For my part, I'm starting to think his "hawk" advisors are getting closer and closer to hitting pay dirt. By the way, who are his "dove" advisors?Please, he didn't even know about projected casualties until ten minutes before the attack was to be launched, no doubt because he's tooKen T • a day ago
lazysmart to attend planning meetings/briefings.
If anyone believes the reason Trump gave for calling off the strike, I refer them to his 10,000+ lies since he's been in office. My guess is he changed his mind watching Tucker.Trump staggers through his presidency like a pinball bouncing its way through the machine - first this side, then that side, then being flipped back up to the top by a comment he hears on Fox News to start it all over again.Dave Sullivan • 14 hours ago
But just because on this pass he happened to randomly bounce off of a "good" bumper, we're supposed to congratulate him for finally "becoming President". The only thing bizarre here is the contortions his supporters put themselves through to try to deny what is obvious to everyone else.If I go to my neighbors front yard with a gun, point it at their house, then don't shoot, I am not practicing restraint. I should be arrested for brandishing a firearm. This article is crop.paradoctor • 18 hours agoI'm glad that he didn't, but I'm not glad that he almost did.FL_Cottonmouth • a day agoLighten up, folks. Obviously, Antle's headline, "The Night Donald Trump Became President," is a play on the same words that a lot of talking heads (not just unreconstructed neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, but "mainstream" centrists like Fareed Zakaria) used when Trump bombed Syria for the first time.Taras77 • a day ago
He's being facetious, not serious. He isn't praising Trump or his "B-Team" for their restraint (on the contrary, they have created a crisis for no good reason and have brought us to the brink of war as a result) so much as he's criticizing the media for its warmongering.
The media is actually trying to bait the President into a unilateral act of war against another country that hasn't attacked us and couldn't threaten us even if it did.SteveM • a day ago"It does not require Nostradamus-like skills to anticipate how the good cop, bad cop routine Trump appears to be trying with Bolton in particular could end in disaster."
At this point, I am almost afraid to check the latest news-with tapeworm Bolton, it is a matter of time before the situation blows up.Re: "If Trump continues to break with this pattern, however, it will be less celebrated in Washington than it would deserve to be. Putting the unelected hawks in their proper place would be a truly presidential act."
However, note that Trump refuses to concede any Imperial authority to wage war that illegally violates the Constitution. He just chose not to start a war with Iran - this time. (And also note that the Pentagon is always happy to oblige the Imperial President and kill and destroy without question.)
So the entire U.S. foreign policy architecture remains hyper-busted. I.e., An Imperial President, a feckless Congress that has abrogated its constitutional responsibilities, and Pentagon Brass who think that they swore an oath to be mindless automatons obeying the illegal orders of the Imperial President rather than being defenders of the Constitution.
And Tucker Carlson aside, the MSM, sycophantic lapdog of the Pentagon, is still all in to the illegal and unconstitutional Warfare State con.
Jun 25, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
UPC Arch Stanton • a day ago...This Administration's handling of Iran, as compared to the last, is anything but stupid. Unless, of course, you're of the opinion we should be going to war, and you're pissed that this President made the right decision at the right time. Nice try, because thinking the way you are is stupid.Adriana Pena • a day agoNo matter how laudable averting war is, the fact is that we would have never been in this situation if Trump had not unilaterally abandoned the Iran deal. This is a crisis of his own making and he should get kudos for not making it any worse, but that's it.ron_goodman • 2 days agoThe author seems to think this was some kind of well-considered decision, while Trump is quoted as saying he "thought about it for a second". He could, and almost certainly will change his mind after about the same amount of reflection.Bill In Montgomey • a day ago • editedI don't know. Maybe a wise president would not have appointed Bolton and Pompeo in the first place. Nor would a wise president have had a $130 million drone flying over Iranian air space (or right on its border).John D. Thullen • a day ago
Yes, Iran dodged a bullet in this instance. So did our country. Maybe if Trump gets enough positive reinforcement from his last-second audible, he'll be less inclined to "cock and load" the American military in the future.
For my part, I'm starting to think his "hawk" advisors are getting closer and closer to hitting pay dirt.
By the way, who are his "dove" advisors?Well, this article vanquished my very recent admiration for Michael Brendan Dougherty, acquired by way of Mr. Dreher.=marco01= • 2 days ago • edited
"articulates a classical Augustinian just war argument ..."
That's like claiming Mrs O'Leary's cow that kicked over the lantern and burned Chicago to the ground was articulating the finer points of preventing forest fires originated by Smokey the Bear.
Do the writers here do a little physical stretching before contorting yourselves into pretzel shapes trying to justify every lantern Trump kicks over into poles of dry hay as he goes along?
Of course conservative Christians hate pulling back from imminent, and possibly nuclear war. When haven't they in American history?Please, he didn't even know about projected casualties until ten minutes before the attack was to be launched, no doubt because he's tooKen T • a day ago
lazysmart to attend planning meetings/briefings.
If anyone believes the reason Trump gave for calling off the strike, I refer them to his 10,000+ lies since he's been in office. My guess is he changed his mind watching Tucker.Trump staggers through his presidency like a pinball bouncing its way through the machine - first this side, then that side, then being flipped back up to the top by a comment he hears on Fox News to start it all over again. But just because on this pass he happened to randomly bounce off of a "good" bumper, we're supposed to congratulate him for finally "becoming President". The only thing bizarre here is the contortions his supporters put themselves through to try to deny what is obvious to everyone else.Dave Sullivan • 14 hours agoIf I go to my neighbors front yard with a gun, point it at their house, then don't shoot, I am not practicing restraint. I should be arrested for brandishing a firearm. This article is crop.paradoctor • 18 hours agoI'm glad that he didn't, but I'm not glad that he almost did.FL_Cottonmouth • a day agoLighten up, folks. Obviously, Antle's headline, "The Night Donald Trump Became President," is a play on the same words that a lot of talking heads (not just unreconstructed neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, but "mainstream" centrists like Fareed Zakaria) used when Trump bombed Syria for the first time. He's being facetious, not serious. He isn't praising Trump or his "B-Team" for their restraint (on the contrary, they have created a crisis for no good reason and have brought us to the brink of war as a result) so much as he's criticizing the media for its warmongering. The media is actually trying to bait the President into a unilateral act of war against another country that hasn't attacked us and couldn't threaten us even if it did.Emma Liame • a day agothank you!!!Taras77 • a day ago"It does not require Nostradamus-likeSteveM • a day ago
skills to anticipate how the good cop, bad cop routine Trump appears to
be trying with Bolton in particular could end in disaster."
At this point, I am almost afraid to check the latest news-with tapeworm bolton, it is a matter of time before the situation blows up.Re: "If Trump continues to break with thisJessica Ramer • a day ago
pattern, however, it will be less celebrated in Washington than it would
deserve to be. Putting the unelected hawks in their proper place would
be a truly presidential act."
However, note that Trump refuses to concede any Imperial authority to wage war that illegally violates the Constitution. He just chose not to start a war with Iran - this time. (And also note that the Pentagon is always happy to oblige the Imperial President and kill and destroy without question.)
So the entire U.S. foreign policy architecture remains hyper-busted. I.e., An Imperial President, a feckless Congress that has abrogated its constitutional responsibilities, and Pentagon Brass who think that they swore an oath to be mindless automatons obeying the illegal orders of the Imperial President rather than being defenders of the Constitution.
And Tucker Carlson aside, the MSM, sycophantic lapdog of the Pentagon, is still all in to the illegal and unconstitutional Warfare State con.This type of article is the reason I read The American Conservative. Thank you for addressing this important issue from a cautious and realistic perspective.Cascade Joe • 2 days ago
Although Donald Trump and I are on opposite sides of the fence on nearly every issue, I do prefer his restrained foreign policy instincts to the hawkish ones of Hillary Clinton.One hundred thumbs up for this article.Apex_Predator • a day ago"Neocons gonna neocon"PeterTx52 • a day ago
"In other breaking news, water is still wet!"lots of anti-Trumper commentersEliteCommInc. • a day agoGoodness you people and your Nobel prize obsession. The last guy got one he didn't deserve so I should get one too. Whether the decision was presidential or not is hinged on motive in my view.MrNIKOLA • 2 days ago
If it was an assessment that if our drone did in fly over US airspace, then it represented a legitimate target for Iran - then certainly critical thinking as expressed has some merit to sound management.
If the matter was decided on the messiness of conflict and calculating one's political carreer, the level of sound management is simply not a factor.THIS is what white supremacy looks like: Punish Iran because one day in the far off future they may develop an atomic bomb but gift Israel $3 billion a year while it harbors hundreds of nukes. Meanwhile, pat head choppers like Saudi Arabia on the head -- As long as they buys billions in US weapons and force nations to use US dollars to buy oil.Wardog00 MrNIKOLA • a day agoDo you realize that Iran is an Aryan nation, which would make them white? Israel is a Jewish nation, which most white supremacists hate. And Saudi Arabia is an Arab country, which would not make it a white country.
So how in the world is this what white supremacy looks like?
Jun 25, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Thursday night was the night Donald Trump became president. You can imagine the hyperbolic hosannahs that would have been sung if Trump had gone ahead with his planned strikes against Iran, adding to the list of undeclared presidential wars. Instead he pulled back.
Hugh Hewitt called it the "big blink," inviting Liz Cheney -- who is very much her father's daughter on foreign policy -- on his show to warn, "Weakness is provocative." Hewitt compared it to Barack Obama's failure to enforce his "red line" in Syria. "Much worse" argued Kori Schake in The Atlantic . Other reporting focused on a "total breakdown in process."
It was not a picture perfect approach to national security, to be sure. But it did sharply illustrate the Beltway's strange priorities. When Trump twice bombed Syria, few of those who fret about his erosion of constitutional norms or authoritarian tendencies protested his failure to seek congressional authorization as required by the Constitution. There was a much larger process-related panic when Trump said late last year he wanted to bring American troops home from Syria.
... ... ...
"How many more deaths? How many more lost limbs? How much longer are we going to be there?" Woodward quotes Trump as asking. One Post write-up folded these lines into a broader story about the White House's "nervous breakdown" and the national security team's impatience with the president. But these are morally serious questions, not exaggerated inaugural crowd size estimates.
Jun 25, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
@ jayc 57
US Hook says Iran knew what getting into when struck deal
Yes they did, and now they regret it.
In 2013 Ali Khamenei said: "Certainly, we are pessimistic about the Americans. We do not trust them. We consider the government of the United States of America as an unreliable, arrogant, illogical, and trespassing government,"
The JCPOA was not a unilateral deal between USA and Iran, it was a multilateral deal
That's correct de jure, but not de facto. The US all by itself is leading the current attack on Iran, despite what the other members might think. Iran has not gotten any significant support from other JCPOA participants.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 24, 2019 5:10:10 PM | 66
The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook...
Brian Hook is a "special" envoy in the sense that the "Special Olympics" are special.
Posted by: Ort | Jun 24, 2019 5:16:44 PM | 69
Good one. Although Brian Hook is an insult to special olympians and humanity in general.
Posted by: Uncle Jon | Jun 24, 2019 5:22:51 PM | 71
Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Don Bacon , Jun 25, 2019 12:26:26 AM | 136
Let's talk human rights.
Bloomberg, Jun 24, 2019
Pompeo is starting a commission on human rights to rethink what they are and how they should fit into U.S. foreign policy. . . here
Office of the high Commissioner
United Nations Human Rights
May 6, 2019
US sanctions violate human rights and international code of conduct, UN expert says. . .On 17 April the United States banned the Central Bank of Venezuela from conducting transactions in US dollars after 17 May, and will cut off access to US personal remittances and credit cards by March 2020.
"It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela's economy, and preventing Venezuelans from sending home money, can be aimed at 'helping the Venezuelan people', as claimed by the US Treasury," the expert said.
His statements follow claims in a recent report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research that 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of US sanctions .
Jazairy also said he was concerned the US would not renew waivers for international buyers of Iranian oil, despite protests from NATO ally Turkey, among others. Washington has demanded that all remaining States which benefited from waivers stop purchases on May 1, or face sanctions.
"The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law," the expert said. " I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them.
"The international community must come together to challenge what amounts to blockades ignoring a country's sovereignty, the human rights of its people, and the rights of third countries trading with sanctioned States, all while constituting a threat to world peace and security.
"I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new 'normal'." . . here
Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgChristian J Chuba , Jun 24, 2019 3:39:32 PM | 25Favorite lie Trump willing to meet w/no pre-conditions
100 Pinocchio's. He even says that he wants to negotiate about Iran's so-called nuclear weapons program. If the premise of the talks is that Iran has to abandon the JCPOA then how is this not a precondition?
Nothing left to sanction, what's next?
You will know that war is certain when the U.S. forbids Iranian tankers from leaving port (a blockade) so that they cannot even sell oil to China. Iran will rightly call this an act of war and declare that stopping a single tanker will result in them firing on a U.S. naval ship. The morons in the U.S. MSM will bleat and call this Iranian aggression even though it is the U.S. that is blocking the sacred right of 'international shipping'. The number one excuse we use to send our navy to the shores of China and Iran.
Arta , Jun 24, 2019 4:32:13 PM | 45American way of diplomacy: impose sanction on Iran Foreign Minister, at the same time requesting negotiation with him
Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
jayc , Jun 24, 2019 6:01:16 PM | 85Don Bacon #65
"The US all by itself is leading the current attack on Iran, despite what the other members might think. Iran has not gotten any significant support from other JCPOA participants."
The American's bluff was called way back in Obama's first term when Turkey and Brazil proposed a plan which would settle concerns over Iran's nuclear centrifuges. Sec State Clinton shut that down quickly, confirming the nuclear concerns were merely a pretext for a regime-change policy. That established, the overriding interest, internationally, became preventing a shooting war involving US and Iran -to which the negotiating of the JCPOA played a strong role. The Russians and Chinese were criticized for supporting this process, including the UNSC directed sanctions. But the process strengthened multilateral cooperation and highlighted the obvious downsides of a self-avowed hegemonic power. By rejecting the JCPOA, the Americans rejected the UN and international law/agreements for the second time in 15 short years. The overriding concern remains to expose the negative consequences of a hegemonic entity while avoiding, to the extent possible, an actual shooting war.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
bonefisher -> Livemike , 6 Mar 2012 06:52Great post
The problem is that as De Toqueville realises (his quote below) most of the people commenting here are simply living a parasitic existence benefiting from state largesse - sucking the teat of a bloated and overburdened state caring not whether their sustenance is remotely sustainable and just voting for ever more
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy" - Alexis de Toqueville
Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
interlocutor , Jun 21, 2019 6:13:43 PM | 186The Babylon Bee: Report: Internet Users Who Call For Attacking Other Countries Will Now Be Enlisted In The Military Automatically
U.S. -- A new policy issued by the United States Department of Defense, in conjunction with online platforms like Twitter and Facebook, will automatically enlist you to fight in a foreign war if you post your support for attacking another country.
People who bravely post about how the U.S. needs to invade some country in the Middle East or Asia or outer space will get a pop-up notice indicating they've been enlisted in the military. A recruiter will then show up at their house and whisk them away to fight in the foreign war they wanted to happen so badly.
"Frankly, recruitment numbers are down, and we needed some way to find people who are really enthusiastic about fighting wars," said a DOD official. "Then it hit us like a drone strike: there are plenty of people who argue vehemently for foreign intervention. It doesn't matter what war we're trying to create: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China---these people are always reliable supporters of any invasion abroad. So why not get them there on the frontlines?"
"After all, we want people who are passionate about occupying foreign lands, not grunts who are just there for the paycheck," he added.
Strangely, as soon as the policy was implemented, 99% of saber-rattling suddenly ceased.Note: The Babylon Bee is the world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.
The Babylon Bee was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812. We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.
If you would like to complain about something on our site, take it up with God.
Unlike other satire sites, everything we post is 100% verified by Snopes.com.
Jun 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Doug Bandow via National Interest,
Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob...
How to describe US foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.
Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily -- invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical "caliphate" the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.
Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.
Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors' policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.
U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as "The Blob." Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob's defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.
First is overweening hubris. In 1998 Secretary of State Albright declared that
"If we have to use force, it is because we are America: we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."
Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People's Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe.
U.S. officials rarely were prepared for events that occurred in the next week or month, let alone years later. Americans did no better than the French in Vietnam. Americans managed events in Africa no better than the British, French, and Portuguese colonial overlords. Washington made more than its share of bad, even awful decisions in dealing with other nations around the globe.
Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those most affected -- hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world's industrialized national states.
The U.S. record since September 11 has been uniquely counterproductive. Rather than minimize hostility toward America, Washington adopted a policy -- highlighted by launching new wars, killing more civilians, and ravaging additional societies -- guaranteed to create enemies, exacerbate radicalism, and spread terrorism. Blowback is everywhere. Among the worst examples: Iraqi insurgents mutated into ISIS, which wreaked military havoc throughout the Middle East and turned to terrorism.
Albright's assumption that members of The Blob were far-seeing was matched by her belief that the same people were entitled to make life-and-death decisions for the entire planet. When queried 1996 about her justification for sanctions against Iraq which had killed a half million babies -- notably, she did not dispute the accuracy of that estimate -- she responded that "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." Exactly who "we" were she did not say. Most likely she meant those Americans admitted to the foreign policy priesthood, empowered to make foreign policy and take the practical steps necessary to enforce it. (She later stated of her reply: "I never should have made it. It was stupid." It was, but it reflected her mindset.)
In any normal country, such a claim would be shocking -- a few people sitting in another capital deciding who lived and died. Foreign elites, a world away from the hardship that they imposed, deciding the value of those dying versus the purported interests being promoted. Those paying the price had no voice in the decision, no way to hold their persecutors accountable.
The willingness to so callously sacrifice so many helps explain why "they" often hate us, usually meaning the U.S. government. This is also because "they" believe average Americans hate them. Understandably, it too often turns out, given the impact of the full range of American interventions -- imposing economic sanctions, bombing, invading, and occupying other nations, unleashing drone campaigns, underwriting tyrannical regimes, supporting governments which occupy and oppress other peoples, displaying ostentatious hypocrisy and bias, and more.
This mindset is reinforced by contempt toward even those being aided by Washington. Although American diplomats had termed the Kosovo Liberation Army as "terrorist," the Clinton Administration decided to use the growing insurgency as an opportunity to expand Washington's influence. At the 1999 Rambouillet conference Albright made demands of Yugoslavia that no independent, sovereign state could accept: that, for instance, it act like defeated and occupied territory by allowing the free transit of NATO forces. Washington expected the inevitable refusal, which was calculated to provide justification for launching an unprovoked, aggressive war against the Serb-dominated remnant of Yugoslavia.
However, initially the KLA, determined on independence, refused to sign Albright's agreement. She exploded. One of her officials anonymously complained: "Here is the greatest nation on earth pleading with some nothingballs to do something entirely in their own interest -- which is to say yes to an interim agreement -- and they stiff us." Someone described as "a close associate" observed: "She is so stung by what happened. She's angry at everyone -- the Serbs, the Albanians and NATO." For Albright, the determination of others to achieve their own goals, even at risk to their lives, was an insult to America and her.
Alas, members of the Blob view Americans with little more respect. The ignorant masses should do what they are told. (Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently complained of public war-weariness from fighting in Afghanistan for no good reason for more than seventeen years.) Even more so, believed Albright, members of the military should cheerfully patrol the quasi-empire being established by Washington's far-sighted leaders.
As Albright famously asked Colin Powell in 1992:
"What's the use of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" To her, American military personnel apparently were but gambit pawns in a global chess game, to be sacrificed for the interest and convenience of those playing. No wonder then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell's reaction stated in his autobiography was: "I thought I would have an aneurysm."
When asked in 2003 about the incident, she said "what I thought was that we had -- we were in a kind of a mode of thinking that we were never going to be able to use our military effectively again." Although sixty-five years had passed, she admitted that "my mindset is Munich," a unique circumstance and threat without even plausible parallel today.
Such a philosophy explains a 1997 comment by a cabinet member, likely Albright, to General Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "Hugh, I know I shouldn't even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event -- something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough -- and slow enough -- so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?" He responded sure, as soon as she qualified to fly the plane.
For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal of Albright and her peers in The Blob.
Anyone of these comments could be dismissed as a careless aside. Taken together, however, they reflect an attitude dangerous for Americans and foreigners alike. Unfortunately, the vagaries of U.S. foreign policy suggest that this mindset is not limited to any one person. Any president serious about taking a new foreign-policy direction must do more than drain the swamp. He or she must sideline The Blob.
* * *
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .
Feb 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Andrew Bacevich recalls Madeleine Albright's infamous statement about American indispensability, and notes how poorly it has held up over the last twenty-one years:
Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."
In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping.
Albright's statement is even more damning for her and her fellow interventionists when we consider that the context of her remarks was a discussion of the supposed threat from Iraq. The full sentence went like this: "We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us." Albright was making a general claim about our supposed superiority to other nations when it came to looking into the future, but she was also specifically warning against a "danger" from Iraq that she claimed threatened "all of us." She answered one of Matt Lauer's questions with this assertion:
I think that we know what we have to do, and that is help enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, which demand that Saddam Hussein abide by those resolutions, and get rid of his weapons of mass destruction, and allow the inspectors to have unfettered and unconditional access.
Albright's rhetoric from 1998 is a grim reminder that policymakers from both parties accepted the existence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" as a given and never seriously questioned a policy aimed at eliminating something that did not exist. American hawks couldn't see further in the future. They weren't even perceiving the present correctly, and tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis would suffer because they insisted that they saw something that wasn't there.
A little more than five years after she uttered these words, the same wild threat inflation that Albright was engaged in led to the invasion of Iraq, the greatest blunder and one of the worst crimes in the history of modern U.S. foreign policy . Not only did Albright and other later war supporters not see what was coming, but their deluded belief in being able to anticipate future threats caused them to buy into and promote a bogus case for a war that was completely unnecessary and should never have been fought.
Jun 21, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org
From the standpoint of Information Warfare, it is very critical when a new event happens to put forward one's version of the "truth" first before any other possible competing theories can arise. This could be why Pompeo or someone like him would chose to immediately come out with accusations thrown around as facts with no evidence to support them and no respect for the great Western concepts of "innocence until proven guilty" or the "right to a fair trial".
Pompeo's objective here is not the truth but to take that virgin intellectual territory regarding the interpretation of this issue before anyone else can, because once a concept has become normalized in the minds of the masses it is very difficult to change it and many people in Washington cannot risk blowing the chance to waste thousands of American lives invading Iran based on an ultimately false but widely accepted/believed narrative.
Not surprisingly foreign and especially Russian media has quickly attempted to counter the "Iran obviously did it" narrative before it becomes an accepted fact. Shockingly Slavic infowarriors actually decided to speak to the captain of a tanker that was hit to get his opinion rather than simply assert that Iran didn't do it because they are a long time buddy of Moscow. The captain's testimony of what happened strongly contradicts the version of reality that Washington is pushing. And over all Russia as usual takes the reasonable position of "let's gather the evidence and then see who did it", which is good PR for itself as a nation beyond this single issue.
In terms of finding the actual guilty party the media on both sides has thus far ignored the simple fact that if Iran wanted to sink a tanker it would be sunk. No civilian vessel is going to withstand an attack from a 21st century navy by having a particularly thick hull and the idea that the Iranians need to physically attach bombs to boats is mental. Physically planting bombs is for goofball inept terrorists, not a professional military. After all, even the West acknowledges that the Iranians use the best Russian goodies that they can afford and Russian 21 st century arms will sink civilian ship guaranteed. The Iranians have everything they need to smoke any civilian vessel on the planet guaranteed from much farther away than 3 feet.
If Iran's goal was to scare or intimidate the tanker they could have just shot at it with rifles or done something else to spook the crew and get a media response. When looked at from the standpoint of military logic, these "attacks" seem baffling as Iran could have just destroyed the boats or directly tried to terrorize them to make a statement.
Jun 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
We now know that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the crushing of Libya had nothing to do with "stopping a bad man."
If one does even a cursory check of what dictators around the world are up to recently, you'll find that the U.S. doesn't care in the slightest whether they are bad or good, whether they're using their free time to kill thousands of innocent people or to harmonize their rock garden.
In fact, the U.S. gives military aid to 70 percent of the world's dictators . (One would hope that's only around the holidays though.)
Jun 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Not if_ But When , 11 minutes ago linkSurfingUSA , 2 minutes ago link
...What else did you expect other than the MIC/Intelligence Agencies/Pentagon/embedded war mongers handling this stuff?joego1 , 11 minutes ago link
Gen. Buck Turgidson is most certainly going rogue.LetThemEatRand , 17 minutes ago link
It's all about the bankers bitches.
...That's really the bigger story here. It has become a mainstream idea that it is a GOOD thing that an elected President is a figurehead with no real power.
Of course it's been true for a long time, but it's a fairly recent phenomenon that a large number of Americans like it. Russiagate is another example.
Huge portions of America were cheering for the unseating of an elected President by unelected police state apparatus because they don't like him.
Jun 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Bias, Lies & Videotape: Doubts Dog 'Confirmed' Syria Chemical Attacks Disturbing new evidence suggests 2018 incident might've been staged, putting everything else, including U.S. retaliation, into question. By Scott Ritter • June 20, 2019(By Mikhail Semenov /Shutterstock) Thanks to an explosive internal memo, there is no reason to believe the claims put forward by the Syrian opposition that President Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Douma back in April. This is a scenario I have questioned from the beginning.
It also calls into question all the other conclusions and reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) , which was assigned in 2014 "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic."
As you recall, the Trump administration initiated a coordinated bombing of Syrian government facilities with the UK and France within days of the Douma incident and before a full investigation of the scene could be completed, charging Assad with the "barbaric act" of using "banned chemical weapons" to kill dozens of people on the scene. Bomb first, ask questions later.
The OPCW began their investigation days after the strikes . The group drew on witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical sample analysis results, and additional digital information from witnesses (i.e. video and still photography), as well as toxicological and ballistic analyses. In July 2018, the OPCW released an interim report on Douma that said "no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties," but that chlorine, which is not a banned chemical weapon, was detected there.Advertisement
The report cited ballistic tests that indicated that the canisters found at two locations on the scene were dropped from the air (witnesses blamed Assad's forces), but investigations were ongoing. The final report in March reiterated the ballistics data, and the conclusions were just as underwhelming, saying that all of the evidence gathered there provides "reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place," due in part to traces of chlorine and explosives at the impact sites.
Now, the leaked internal report apparently suppressed by the OPCW says there is a "high probability" that a pair of chlorine gas cylinders that had been claimed as the source of the toxic chemical had been planted there by hand and not dropped by aircraft. This was based on extensive engineering assessments and computer modeling as well as all of the evidence previously afforded to the OPCW.
What does this mean? To my mind, the canisters were planted by the opposition in an effort to frame the Syrian government.
The OPCW has confirmed with the validity of this shocking document and has offered statements to reporters, including Peter Hitchens, who published the organization's response to him on May 16.
The ramifications of this turn of events extend far beyond simply disproving the allegations concerning the events in April 2018. The credibility of the OPCW itself and every report and conclusion it has released concerning allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government are now suspect. The extent to which the OPCW has, almost exclusively, relied upon the same Syrian opposition sources who are now suspected of fabricating the Douma events raises serious questions about both the methodology and motivation of an organization that had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for "its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons."
In a response to Agence France-Presse (AFP) , OPCW director general Fernando Arias acknowledged there is an internal probe into the memo leak but that he continues to "stand by the impartial and professional conclusions" of the group's original report. He played down the role of the memo's author, Ian Henderson, and said his alternative hypotheses were not included in the final OPCW report because they "pointed at possible attribution" and were therefore outside the scope of the OPCW's fact finding mission in Syria.
Self-produced videos and witness statements provided by the pro-opposition Violations Documentation Center, Syrian Civil Defense (also known as the White Helmets), and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) , a non-profit organization that operates hospitals in opposition-controlled Syria, represented the heart and soul of the case against the Syrian government regarding the events in Douma. To my mind, the internal memo now suggests that these actors were engaging in a systemic effort to disseminate disinformation that would facilitate Western military intervention with the goal of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
This theory has been advanced by pro-Assad forces and their Russian partners for some time. But independent reporting on the ground since the Douma incident has sussed out many of the same concerns. From James Harkin, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism and a fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center, who traveled to the site of the attacks and reported for The Intercept in February of this year:
The imperative to grab the fleeting attention of an international audience certainly seems to have influenced the presentation of the evidence. In the videos and photos that appeared that evening, most analysts and observers agree that there were some signs that the bodies and gas canisters had been moved or tampered with after the event for maximum impact. The Syrian media activists who'd arrived at the apartment block with the dead people weren't the first to arrive on the scene; they'd heard about the deaths from White Helmet workers and doctors at the hospital.
The relationship between the OPCW and the Syrian opposition can be traced back to 2013. That was when the OPCW was given the responsibility of eliminating Syria's declared arsenal of chemical weapons; this task was largely completed by 2014. However, the Syrian opposition began making persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian government in which chlorine, a substance not covered by Syria's obligation to be disarmed of chemical weapons, was used. In response, the OPCW established the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) in 2014 "to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic."
The priority of effort for the FFM early on was to investigate allegations of the use of chlorine as a weapon. Since, according to its May 2014 summary, "all reported incidents took place at locations that the Syrian Government considers to be outside its effective control," the FFM determined that the success of its mission was contingent upon "identification of key actors, such as local authorities and/or representatives of armed opposition groups in charge of the territories in which these locations are situated; the establishment of contacts with these groups in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence that allows the mandate and objectives of the FFM to be communicated."
So from its very inception, the FFM had to rely on the anti-Assad opposition and its supporters for nearly everything. The document that governed the conduct of the FFM's work in Syria was premised on the fact that the mission would be dependent in part upon "opposition representatives" to coordinate, along with the United Nations, the "security, logistical and operational aspects of the OPCW FFM," including liaising "for the purposes of making available persons for interviews."
One could sense the bias resulting from such an arrangement when, acting on information provided to it by the opposition regarding an "alleged attack with chlorine" on the towns of Kafr Zeyta and Al-Lataminah, the FFM changed its original plans to investigate an alleged chlorine attack on the town of Harasta. This decision, the FFM reported, "was welcomed by the opposition." When the FFM attempted to inspect Kafr Zeyta, however, it was attacked by opposition forces, with one of its vehicles destroyed by a roadside bomb, one inspector wounded, and several inspectors detained by opposition fighters.
The inability to go to Kafr Zeyta precluded the group from "presenting definitive conclusions," according to the report. But that did not stop the FFM from saying that the information given to them from these opposition sources, "including treating physicians with whom the FFM was able to establish contact," and public domain material, "lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks" against Kafr Zeyta.
So the conclusion/non-conclusion was based not on any onsite investigation, but rather videos produced by the opposition and subsequently released via social media and interviews also likely set up by opposition groups (White Helmets, SAMS, etc.), which we know, according to their own documents, served as the key liaisons for the FFM on the ground.
All of this is worrisome. It is unclear at this point how many Syrian chemical attacks have been truly confirmed since the start of the war. In February of this year, the Global Policy Institute released a report saying there were 336 such reports, but they were broken down into "confirmed," "credibly substantiated," and "comprehensively confirmed." Out of the total, 111 were given the rigorous "comprehensively confirmed" tag, which, according to the group, meant the incidents were "were investigated and confirmed by competent international bodies or backed up by at least three highly reliable independent sources of evidence."
They do not go into further detail about those bodies and sources, but are sure to thank the White Helmets and their "implementing partner" Mayday Rescue and Violations Documentation Center, among other groups, as "friends and partners" in the study. So it becomes clear, looking at the Kafr Zeytan inspection and beyond, that the same opposition sources that are informing the now-dubious OPCW reports are also delivering data and "assistance" to outside groups reaching international audiences, too.
The role of the OPCW in sustaining the claims made by the obviously biased Syrian opposition sources cannot be understated -- by confirming the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, the OPCW lent credibility to claims that otherwise should not -- and indeed would not -- have been granted, and in doing so violated the very operating procedures that had been put in place by the OPCW to protect the credibility of the organization and its findings.
There is an old prosecutorial rule -- one lie, all lies -- that comes into play in this case. With the leaked internal report out there, suggesting that the sources in the Douma investigation were agenda-driven and dishonest, all information ever provided to the OPCW by the White Helmets, SAMS, and other Syrian opposition groups must now, in my mind, be viewed as tainted and therefore unusable.
Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.
JPH • 8 hours agoThe OPCW reaction clearly considering the investigation into the leak instead of apologizing for not publishing this report is revealing its bias.john • 11 hours ago
There has been a push from 'the West' to have the OPCW also attributing responsibility. Given the bias already on display this will further politicize the OPCW.
As soon as such organizations become propaganda tools their credibility goes into the wind.
Given what we know of the Skripal hoax and the Tories attitude to the truth with their government funded 'Integrity Initiative' through the Institute of Statecraft' that exactly what the British Intelligence intended.
One may note the specific personal links through Orbis/Steele/Miller between the 'Integrity Initiative' and the fake 'Trump Dossier' and one ought to be alarmed by 'services' of a British intelligence out of control, but given the FBI/CIA involvement and exploitation of that fake 'Trump Dossier' it looks that the US has a quite similar problem.Our government lied to start a war! When has that always happened.
Jun 19, 2019 | www.unz.com
The most optimistic explanation: Trump intends to use immigration as an election issue in 2020. Yet his fecklessness in office will be as unappealing to many voters as the Democrats' extremism. [ Trump Is Vulnerable to Biden on Immigration , by Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, June 11, 2019] After all, Trump began his campaign vowing to solve the immigration problem almost exactly four years ago -- but essentially nothing has been done.
Instead, the president has been reduced to asking Mexico to solve our problem for us. He supposedly cut a deal with the Mexican government after threatening tariffs , but even that is in dispute. [ Mexico denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal , by Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, and Maria Verza, Associated Press, June 10, 2019] The president left powerful negotiating tools on the side, including, most importantly, a remittance tax . As in his dealings with Congress, the president insists on negotiating from weakness in his dealings with Mexico.
In contrast, in the Middle East the president has been extraordinarily bellicose. In April, the Administration revoked waivers that allowed certain countries to buy oil from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions [ U.S. Won't Renew Sanction Exemptions For Countries Buying Iran's Oil , by Bill Chappell, NPR, April 22, 2019]. In early May, the president imposed new sanctions on Iranian metals, a direct threat to the regime's economic viability. [ Trump sanctions Iranian metals, Tehran's largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue , by Amanda Macias, CNBC, May 8, 2019]
Later that month, the president said a fight would mean "the official end of Iran" [ Trump threatens Iran With 'Official End' by Kenneth Walsh, US News and World Report, May 20, 2019].
The "maximum pressure campaign," as it has been called, puts Iran in the position of either accepting a humiliating surrender or striking out where it can [ Maximum pressure on Iran Means Maximum Risk of War , by Ilan Goldenberg, Foreign Policy, June 14, 2019].
This has culminated in Iran's alleged attack on two tankers traveling in the Strait of Hormuz. [ Pompeo Says 'There's No Doubt' Iran Attacked 2 Tankers , by Daniella Cheslow, NPR, June 16, 2019] Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the president's most fervent opponents, agrees Iran is to blame [ Schiff agrees with Trump: 'No question' Iran attacked oil tankers , by Ronn Blitzer, Fox News, June 16, 2019], Senator Tom Cotton (who has a relatively strong immigration policy ) has gone so far as to call for direct military action. [ Senator Tom Cotton Calls For 'Retaliatory Military Strike,' Against Iran After Tanker Attacks, by Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek, June 16, 2019]
Why Iran would do this is questionable, unless it's just a move of desperation.
But did Iran actually do it? Washington has a credibility gap with the rest of the world and its own people thanks to the disaster of the Iraq War . There were, it turned out, no "Weapons of Mass Destruction." So now many Americans openly question whether Iran attacked these tankers. This includes some MSM reporters who trusted the "intelligence community" when it was attacking Trump but now want an "international investigation of the incident". [ Ben Rhodes, CNN, And Others Purposefully Fuel Pro-Iranian "False Flag Conspiracy Theories After Tanker Attacks , RedState, June 14, 2019]
This is not the same country that re-elected George W. Bush in 2004. The trust in institutions is gone; America is war-weary.
And regardless of who did it, who cares? What American interest is at stake? The Iraq War made the region more unstable ; an Iran War would unleash sectarian warfare all over again. [ Attacking Iran Would Unleash Chaos on the Middle East , by Robert Gaines and Scott Horton, National Interest, June 15, 2019]
We can't even say it's "about the oil" -- the United States is now the world's biggest oil producer and may soon be the world's top exporter [ US will soon threaten to topple Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil exporter: IEA by Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, March 11, 2019]. Who cares about Iran's oil?
There is also a deeper fundamental question. Our country is crumbling. The border is non-existent; entire communities are being overrun. There's something perverse about even entertaining a dangerous and costly military intervention halfway around the world. It's akin to a Roman emperor declaring he will conquer India while barbarians are crossing the Rhine.
President Trump ran on a policy of non-intervention and promised it even after being elected. [ Trump lays out non-interventionist U.S. military policy , by Steve Holland, Reuters, December 6, 2016] He repeatedly pushed back against efforts to get more deeply involved in Syria. He must now resist efforts to get involved in Iran, especially from those who may hint it will win him re-election.
Jun 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Norwegian , Jun 18, 2019 3:52:24 PM | 14
Purely euphemistic of course, though it actually did used to be called the Department of War.
Norwegian , Jun 18, 2019 3:52:24 PM | 15It is unlikely that the U.S. would launch a war without a Secretary of Defense in place.
Well, they are not exactly planning to defend themselves.
Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com
Anna Faktorovich , December 17, 2018The War for Oil and the New Holocaust
The premise of this book is to say what most of the world's public has probably been thinking since the War on Terror began, or that it is a "war for natural resources -- and that terrorism has little to do with it. Once the military became mechanized, oil quickly became the most sought-after commodity on the planet, and the race for energy was eventually framed as a matter of national security."
John Maszka argues that the "oil conglomerates" are the real "threats to national security". Demonizing "an entire religion" is a repercussion of this policy. My own research in Rebellion as Genre a few years ago also attempted to point out the misuse of the term terrorism in its current application, or as a weapon against one's enemies rather than as a reference to a type of attacks intended to terrorize. Governments that accuse others of terrorism while legitimizing their own "acts of violence" as "retributive" are clearly breaking human rights agreements and their stated commitments to freedom.
Maszka's perspective is of particular interest because he teaches this subject at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, and has published widely his criticisms of the War on Terror, including Terrorism and the Bush Doctrine.
Many of the books I have read on terrorism from American supporters of this pro-War on Terror doctrine are troubling in their references to spreading Christianity and other similarly questionable ideologies, so it is refreshing to hear from somebody with a fresh perspective that is more likely to bring about world peace. The preface acknowledges that this book contrasts with the bulk of other books in this field. It also explains that it focuses primarily on two "Islamic militant organizations -- al-Qaeda and the Islamic State".
He explains that perception has a lot to do with who a country is willing to commit violence against, giving the example of Nazis being able to commit violence on Jews in the Holocaust because of this blindness. Thus, violence against Muslims by the West in the past two decade is shown as possibly a new Holocaust where the militaries are carrying out orders because Muslims have been demonized.
Terrorism has historically been the work of a few extremists, or terms like "war" or "revolution" is employed to describe large groups of such fighters; so it is strange that the West has entered the War on Terror with entire Muslim-majority countries, killing so many civilians that it is not a stretch to call these Holocaust-like.
The Islamic State targets Muslims as well, also showing dehumanized traits that are even harder to explain (x-xi). The preface also acknowledges that the author will be using "contractions and anecdotal digressions" as "intentional literary devices", shooing the standard scholarly style (this is troubling for me personally, as I'm allergic to digressions, but at least he tells readers what to expect).
As promised, Chapter One begins with a poet's story about the Tree of Life, then discusses the Boston Marathon bombings from the perspective of the author as he worked in Kyrgyzstan, and goes off on other tangents before reaching this conclusion -- the marathon's bombers were not terrorists: "They had no political aspirations. They weren't attempting to obtain concessions from the government or provoke a reaction. They simply believed that they were 'wave sheaves' -- first fruits of God -- and that they would be instrumental in ushering in the apocalypse" (5).
This conclusion explains the relationship between all of the digressions across this section, so these digressions were necessary to prove this point, and thus are suitable for a scholarly book. And this is exactly the type of logical reasoning that is missing in most of the oratory on terrorism. The entire book similarly uses specific acts of supposed terrorism to explain what really happened and working to understand th motivations of the actors.
Since the author's digressions into his own life are typically very relevant to the subject, they are definitely helpful: "I was stationed in Riyadh at an American military base that was attacked by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber" (135).
It would actually be unethical if Maszka did not explain that he has been personally affected by al-Qaeda in this context; and since he has seen this War as a civilian living in the affected countries and as a member of the military that is attaching these "terrorists", his opinions should be trustworthy for both sides. Given how emotional writing this book with detachment and carefully crafted research must have been for somebody who has been bombed, it is only fitting that the final chapter is called, "The Definition of Insanity."
And here is the final chapter:
"A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225).
Very powerful words that are justly supported. I would strongly recommend that everybody in the West's militaries who is responsible for making decisions in the War on Terror read this book before they make their next decision. Who are they shooting at? Why? Who is benefiting? Who is dying? Are they committing war crimes as serious as the Nazis? If there is any chance these allegations are true what kind of a military leader can proceed without understanding the explanations that Maszka offers here? This would probably also work well in an advanced graduate class, despite its digressions, it will probably help students write better dissertations on related topics.
Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Fall 2018
Jun 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgLochearn , Jun 18, 2019 8:29:55 AM | 98@ 71 b4real
"Do you really believe those bankers with their terminals and wingtip shoes are telling the boys with the billion dollars of weaponry what to do?"
Simple answer: Yes. US weapons sales in 2018 were worth $192 billion. Total miltary budget in 2018 was $650 billion. That does not add up to even a trillion which is a paltry sum when compared to about $30 trillion sloshing around US banks and fund management companies.
Let's take the example of the world's biggest arms producer – Lockhead Martin. The State Street Corporation (fund management) holds 16.6% of the shares of Lockhead Martin, Capital World Investors (California) hold 7.7%, Vanguard Group 7% and BlackRock Inc. 6.7%. That means 4 fund management companies own 38% of the stock of Lockead Martin. These guys with the wingtip shoes can fire the entire management team of Lockhead Martin at the drop of a hat.
The finance, insurance and real estate sector accounted for 20% of US GDP in 2016 (Forbes), which means approximately $18 trillion. You may argue that real estate has little to do with bankers but every sale needs a mortgage and private equity has moved into real estate in a big way over the last decade.
It should also be recalled that the man who created the CIA and ran it for over a decade - Allen Dulles - was a Wall Street lawyer.
Jun 18, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by William Astore via TomDispatch.com,
The American Cult of Bombing and Endless War
From Syria to Yemen in the Middle East, Libya to Somalia in Africa, Afghanistan to Pakistan in South Asia, an American aerial curtain has descended across a huge swath of the planet. Its stated purpose: combatting terrorism. Its primary method: constant surveillance and bombing -- and yet more bombing.
Its political benefit: minimizing the number of U.S. "boots on the ground" and so American casualties in the never-ending war on terror, as well as any public outcry about Washington's many conflicts.
Its economic benefit: plenty of high-profit business for weapons makers for whom the president can now declare a national security emergency whenever he likes and so sell their warplanes and munitions to preferred dictatorships in the Middle East (no congressional approval required).
Its reality for various foreign peoples: a steady diet of " Made in USA " bombs and missiles bursting here, there, and everywhere.
Think of all this as a cult of bombing on a global scale. America's wars are increasingly waged from the air, not on the ground, a reality that makes the prospect of ending them ever more daunting. The question is: What's driving this process?
For many of America's decision-makers, air power has clearly become something of an abstraction. After all, except for the 9/11 attacks by those four hijacked commercial airliners, Americans haven't been the target of such strikes since World War II. On Washington's battlefields across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa, air power is always almost literally a one-way affair. There are no enemy air forces or significant air defenses. The skies are the exclusive property of the U.S. Air Force (and allied air forces), which means that we're no longer talking about "war" in the normal sense. No wonder Washington policymakers and military officials see it as our strong suit, our asymmetrical advantage , our way of settling scores with evildoers, real and imagined.
In a bizarre fashion, you might even say that, in the twenty-first century, the bomb and missile count replaced the Vietnam-era body count as a metric of (false) progress . Using data supplied by the U.S. military, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that the U.S. dropped at least 26,172 bombs in seven countries in 2016, the bulk of them in Iraq and Syria. Against Raqqa alone, ISIS's "capital," the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 20,000 bombs in 2017, reducing that provincial Syrian city to literal rubble . Combined with artillery fire, the bombing of Raqqa killed more than 1,600 civilians, according to Amnesty International .
Meanwhile, since Donald Trump has become president, after claiming that he would get us out of our various never-ending wars, U.S. bombing has surged, not only against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq but in Afghanistan as well. It has driven up the civilian death toll there even as "friendly" Afghan forces are sometimes mistaken for the enemy and killed , too. Air strikes from Somalia to Yemen have also been on the rise under Trump, while civilian casualties due to U.S. bombing continue to be underreported in the American media and downplayed by the Trump administration.
U.S. air campaigns today, deadly as they are, pale in comparison to past ones like the Tokyo firebombing of 1945, which killed more than 100,000 civilians; the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that year (roughly 250,000); the death toll against German civilians in World War II (at least 600,000); or civilians in the Vietnam War. (Estimates vary, but when napalm and the long-term effects of cluster munitions and defoliants like Agent Orange are added to conventional high-explosive bombs, the death toll in Southeast Asia may well have exceeded one million.) Today's air strikes are more limited than in those past campaigns and may be more accurate, but never confuse a 500-pound bomb with a surgeon's scalpel, even rhetorically. When " surgical " is applied to bombing in today's age of lasers, GPS, and other precision-guidance technologies, it only obscures the very real human carnage being produced by all these American-made bombs and missiles.
This country's propensity for believing that its ability to rain hellfire from the sky provides a winning methodology for its wars has proven to be a fantasy of our age. Whether in Korea in the early 1950s, Vietnam in the 1960s, or more recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the U.S. may control the air, but that dominance simply hasn't led to ultimate success. In the case of Afghanistan, weapons like the Mother of All Bombs, or MOAB (the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. military's arsenal), have been celebrated as game changers even when they change nothing. (Indeed, the Taliban only continues to grow stronger , as does the branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan.) As is often the case when it comes to U.S. air power, such destruction leads neither to victory, nor closure of any sort; only to yet more destruction.
Such results are contrary to the rationale for air power that I absorbed in a career spent in the U.S. Air Force. (I retired in 2005.) The fundamental tenets of air power that I learned, which are still taught today, speak of decisiveness. They promise that air power, defined as "flexible and versatile," will have "synergistic effects" with other military operations. When bombing is "concentrated," "persistent," and "executed" properly (meaning not micro-managed by know-nothing politicians), air power should be fundamental to ultimate victory. As we used to insist, putting bombs on target is really what it's all about. End of story -- and of thought.
Given the banality and vacuity of those official Air Force tenets, given the twenty-first-century history of air power gone to hell and back, and based on my own experience teaching such history and strategy in and outside the military, I'd like to offer some air power tenets of my own. These are the ones the Air Force didn't teach me, but that our leaders might consider before launching their next "decisive" air campaign.Ten Cautionary Tenets About Air PowerThe Road to Perdition
1. Just because U.S. warplanes and drones can strike almost anywhere on the globe with relative impunity doesn't mean that they should. Given the history of air power since World War II, ease of access should never be mistaken for efficacious results.
2. Bombing alone will never be the key to victory. If that were true, the U.S. would have easily won in Korea and Vietnam, as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. American air power pulverized both North Korea and Vietnam (not to speak of neighboring Laos and Cambodia ), yet the Korean War ended in a stalemate and the Vietnam War in defeat. (It tells you the world about such thinking that air power enthusiasts, reconsidering the Vietnam debacle, tend to argue the U.S. should have bombed even more -- lots more .) Despite total air supremacy, the recent Iraq War was a disaster even as the Afghan War staggers on into its 18th catastrophic year.
3. No matter how much it's advertised as "precise," "discriminate," and "measured," bombing (or using missiles like the Tomahawk ) rarely is. The deaths of innocents are guaranteed. Air power and those deaths are joined at the hip, while such killings only generate anger and blowback, thereby prolonging the wars they are meant to end.
Consider, for instance, the "decapitation" strikes launched against Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and his top officials in the opening moments of the Bush administration's invasion of 2003. Despite the hype about that being the beginning of the most precise air campaign in all of history, 50 of those attacks, supposedly based on the best intelligence around, failed to take out Saddam or a single one of his targeted officials. They did, however, cause "dozens" of civilian deaths. Think of it as a monstrous repeat of the precision air attacks launched on Belgrade in 1999 against Slobodan Milosevic and his regime that hit the Chinese embassy instead, killing three journalists.
Here, then, is the question of the day: Why is it that, despite all the "precision" talk about it, air power so regularly proves at best a blunt instrument of destruction? As a start, intelligence is often faulty. Then bombs and missiles, even "smart" ones, do go astray. And even when U.S. forces actually kill high-value targets (HVTs), there are always more HVTs out there. A paradox emerges from almost 18 years of the war on terror: the imprecision of air power only leads to repetitious cycles of violence and, even when air strikes prove precise, there always turn out to be fresh targets, fresh terrorists, fresh insurgents to strike.
4. Using air power to send political messages about resolve or seriousness rarely works. If it did, the U.S. would have swept to victory in Vietnam. In Lyndon Johnson's presidency, for instance, Operation Rolling Thunder (1965-1968), a graduated campaign of bombing, was meant to, but didn't, convince the North Vietnamese to give up their goal of expelling the foreign invaders -- us -- from South Vietnam. Fast-forward to our era and consider recent signals sent to North Korea and Iran by the Trump administration via B-52 bomber deployments, among other military "messages." There's no evidence that either country modified its behavior significantly in the face of the menace of those baby-boomer-era airplanes.
5. Air power is enormously expensive. Spending on aircraft, helicopters, and their munitions accounted for roughly half the cost of the Vietnam War. Similarly, in the present moment, making operational and then maintaining Lockheed Martin's boondoggle of a jet fighter, the F-35, is expected to cost at least $1.45 trillion over its lifetime. The new B-21 stealth bomber will cost more than $100 billion simply to buy. Naval air wings on aircraft carriers cost billions each year to maintain and operate. These days, when the sky's the limit for the Pentagon budget, such costs may be (barely) tolerable. When the money finally begins to run out, however, the military will likely suffer a serious hangover from its wildly extravagant spending on air power.
6. Aerial surveillance (as with drones), while useful, can also be misleading. Command of the high ground is not synonymous with god-like "total situational awareness ." It can instead prove to be a kind of delusion, while war practiced in its spirit often becomes little more than an exercise in destruction. You simply can't negotiate a truce or take prisoners or foster other options when you're high above a potential battlefield and your main recourse is blowing up people and things.
7. Air power is inherently offensive. That means it's more consistent with imperial power projection than with national defense . As such, it fuels imperial ventures, while fostering the kind of " global reach, global power " thinking that has in these years had Air Force generals in its grip.
8. Despite the fantasies of those sending out the planes, air power often lengthens wars rather than shortening them. Consider Vietnam again. In the early 1960s, the Air Force argued that it alone could resolve that conflict at the lowest cost (mainly in American bodies). With enough bombs, napalm, and defoliants, victory was a sure thing and U.S. ground troops a kind of afterthought. (Initially, they were sent in mainly to protect the airfields from which those planes took off.) But bombing solved nothing and then the Army and the Marines decided that, if the Air Force couldn't win, they sure as hell could. The result was escalation and disaster that left in the dust the original vision of a war won quickly and on the cheap due to American air supremacy.
9. Air power, even of the shock-and-awe variety, loses its impact over time. The enemy, lacking it, nonetheless learns to adapt by developing countermeasures -- both active (like missiles) and passive (like camouflage and dispersion), even as those being bombed become more resilient and resolute.
10. Pounding peasants from two miles up is not exactly an ideal way to occupy the moral high ground in war.
If I had to reduce these tenets to a single maxim, it would be this: all the happy talk about the techno-wonders of modern air power obscures its darker facets, especially its ability to lock America into what are effectively one-way wars with dead-end results.
For this reason, precision warfare is truly an oxymoron. War isn't precise. It's nasty, bloody, and murderous. War's inherent nature -- its unpredictability, horrors, and tendency to outlast its original causes and goals -- isn't changed when the bombs and missiles are guided by GPS. Washington's enemies in its war on terror, moreover, have learned to adapt to air power in a grimly Darwinian fashion and have the advantage of fighting on their own turf.
Who doesn't know the old riddle: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Here's a twenty-first-century air power variant on it: If foreign children die from American bombs but no U.S. media outlets report their deaths, will anyone grieve? Far too often, the answer here in the U.S. is no and so our wars go on into an endless future of global destruction.
In reality, this country might do better to simply ground its many fighter planes, bombers, and drones. Paradoxically, instead of gaining the high ground, they are keeping us on a low road to perdition.
Joiningupthedots , 11 minutes ago link107cicero , 17 minutes ago link
All off that may be true BUT.......
The myth of Tomahawk has already been dispelled
Countries with reasonable to excellent A2D2 are seriously avoided.
The solution is for Russia to sell equipment and training packages of A2D2 to any country that wants then at BE prices.
Thousands of decoys with spoof emitters and......
Planes take like 3 years to build and pilots take at least 5-6 years to train.
Do the math!Theedrich , 1 hour ago link
From a marketing/profit perspective , BOMBS are the perfect product.
Insanely expensive, used once.
Rinse and repeat.He–Mene Mox Mox , 2 hours ago link
In December of 2017, Daniel Ellsberg published a book, "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner" . Among many other things, he revealed the actual Strangelovian nature of our military establishment. Most enlightening is his revelation that many in the high command of our nuclear triggers do not trust, or even have contempt for, civilian oversight and control of the military. They covertly regard the presidential leadership as naïve and inept, though it would be professional suicide to admit such an attitude openly.
Comes now 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕹𝖊𝖜 𝖄𝖔𝖗𝖐 𝕿𝖎𝖒𝖊𝖘 with the revelation that the Pentagon's Cyber Command has attacked Russia's power grid with software "implants" designed to destroy that grid the instant a mouse click is given, thereby possibly initiating global war. Most alarmingly, the details of this secret action were kept from the President, lest he countermand the operation or leak it to the Russians.
So now we have a general staff that is conducting critical international military operations on its own, with no civilian input, permission or hindrances of any kind. A formula for national suicide, executed by a tiny junta of unelected officers who decide to play nuclear Russian roulette.
We seem to be ineluctably and irreversibly trapped in a state of national dementia.Uskatex , 2 hours ago link
Just remember this: The U.S. had the technological advantage in Viet Nam, and blasted that country, along with Cambodia, and Laos, with 7.5 million tons of bombs, (more than the entire WWII campaign of 2.25 million tons), and the Vietnamese were still able to kick our *** out of the country by 1975.Groundround , 44 minutes ago link
There is a 11th tenet: air force operations need airports or aircraft carriers, and these are very vulnerable to modern, high precision missiles. If the enemy has plenty of missiles, your fighters and bombers can be impeded to take off and land, or even be destroyed. Modern aircrafts need very sophisticated and working infrastructures to be operational.
In the case of a full war with Iran, I see all hostile bases and airports destroyed or damaged by Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian missiles. They have tens of thousand of them - it is 30 years they have been accumulating missiles in prevision of a possible forthcoming war.Wantoknow , 3 hours ago link
You are right. Also, there are many nations with subs and probably more countries have acquired nukes than are willing to admit. I strongly suspect Iran already has nukes. If North Korea has them, I see no reason that Iran wouldn't be even further ahead. They have been under threat of US attacks for my entire lifetime. Anyway, I would not put it past some other countries to hit US coastal cities and then deny any knowledge about who did it. There are many capable and many people have been made enemies by our foreign policy. Surely these people have treaties to help each other should be attack. And why would they make these treaties public and antagonize the US military further. I'm sure there are many well kept secrets out there. We must evolve, or the US and Israel could find it is us against the world.wildfry , 5 hours ago link
War is hell. It has always been so. The failure here is that since World War II all US wars have been fatuously political. Actions have not been taken to win but to posture about moral greatness and the ability to force the enemy to deal without destroying his capacity to resist.
How can you say the US lost in Vietnam when the entire country could have been removed from the face of the Earth? Yes the price of such removal would have been very high but it could have been done. Do such considerations mean that if one withdraws one has lost?
The US won the war in the Pacific but it is now considered an excessive use of force that the US used nuclear weapons to conclude the war. Perhaps the US did not use enough force then to successfully conclude the Vietnam war? Perhaps, it failed to field the right kind of force?
The definition of lost is an interesting one. The practical answer is that the US did lose in many places because it was unwilling to pay the price of victory as publicly expressed. Yet it could have won if it paid the price.
So an interesting question for military types is to ask how to lower the price. What kind of weapons would have been needed to quickly sweep the enemy into oblivion in Vietnam let us say, given the limits of the war? Could the war have been won without ground troops and choppers but with half a million computer controlled drones armed with machine guns and grenades flying in swarms close to the ground?
The factories to produce those weapons could have been located in Thailand or Taiwan or Japan and the product shipped to Vietnam. Since only machines would be destroyed and the drones are obviously meant to substitute for ground troops then how about a million or two million of the drones in place of the half a million ground troops? Could the US, with anachronistic technology to be sure, have won the war for a price that would have been acceptable to the US?
The idea here is that one constructs an army, robot or otherwise, than can destroy the enemy it is going to fight at a price which is acceptable. This is actually a form of asymmetric warfare which requires a thorough understanding of the enemy and his capabilities. The US did not enter Vietnam with such an army but with one not meant to serve in Vietnam and whose losses would be deeply resented at home. The price of victory was too high.
But this does not mean that the US cannot win. It only means that the commitment to win in a poorly thought out war must be great enough to pay the price of victory. This may be a stupid thing to do but it does not mean that it cannot be done. One cannot assume that the US will never again show sufficient commitment to win.herbivore , 5 hours ago link
Victory means you get to write your own ******** version of history.The most devastating civilian bombing campaign in human history is not even mentioned in this article. The US fire bombing of 30 major cities in Korea with the death toll estimated at between 1.2 million and 1.6 million. I bet most US citizens aren't even aware of this atrocity or that the military requested Truman to authorize the use of nuclear warheads which he, thankfully, declined to do.sonoftx , 5 hours ago link
What does the word "victory" mean? It means whatever the rulers want it to mean. In this case, "victory" is synonymous with prolongation and expansion of warmaking around the world. Victory does not mean an end to combat. In fact, victory, in the classic sense, means defeat, at least from the standpoint of those who profit from war. If someone were to come up with a cure for cancer, it would mean a huge defeat for the cancer industry. Millions would lose their jobs. CEO's would lose their fat pay packages. Therefore, we need to be clearheaded about this, and recognize that victory is not what you think it is.ardent , 6 hours ago link
Talked with a guy recently. He is a pilot. He flies planes over Afghanistan. He is a private contractor.
The program began under the Air Force. It then was taken over by the Army. It is now a private contractor.
There are approx 400 pilots in country at a time with 3 rotations. He told me what he gets paid. $200,000 and up.
They go up with a NSA agent running the equipment in back. He state that the dumbass really does not know what the plane is capable of. They collect all video, audio, infrared, and more? (You have to sense when to stop asking questions)
I just wanted to know the logistics of the info gathered.
So, the info is gathered. The NSA officer then gets with the CIA and the State Dept to see what they can release to the end user. The end user is the SOCOM. After it has been through review then the info is released to SOCOM.
So with all of this info on "goatherders" we still cannot pinpoint and defeat the "enemy"? No. Too many avenues of profit and deceit and infighting. It will always be. May justice here and abroad win in the end.
Concentrate on the true enemies. It is not your black, or Jewish, or brown, or Muslim neighbor. It is the owners of the Fed, Dow chemical, the Rockefellers, McDonnel Douglas and on and on and on and on and on and on..............Boogity , 6 hours ago link
The ROAD to perdition passes through APARTHEID Israhell.
"It does not take a genius to figure out that the United States... has no vital interests at stake in places like Syria, Libya, Iran and Iraq. Who is driving the process and benefiting? Israel is clearly the intended beneficiary... " – Philip Giraldi, Former CIA officer.HideTheWeenie , 6 hours ago link
As Dubya famously said they hate us for our freedoms not because we've been dropping bombs on 'em for a couple of decades.
Bombing and war tech looks pretty cool in movies and controlled demonstrations. On reality, it doesn't get you too far. Never has.
Boots on the ground is what wins wars and all the generals know that. So do our enemy combatants.
On the ground, your chances of dying are 5-10% of your chances of getting maimed or permanently disabled, which are pretty high.
Maybe that's why we're letting in all the illegals, so they can fight our next war(s).
Jun 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comNotafanoyall • a day ago
Mr. Cotton must be running low on those AIPAC dollars again. Nothing like some good ol' Iran-bashing to keep the coffers full.
Jun 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
There is a report that the Trump administration may be preparing an attack on Iran:
Diplomatic sources at the UN headquarters in New York revealed to Maariv that they are assessing the United States' plans to carry out a tactical assault on Iran in response to the tanker attack in the Persian Gulf on Thursday.
According to the officials, since Friday, the White House has been holding incessant discussions involving senior military commanders, Pentagon representatives and advisers to President Donald Trump.
The military action under consideration would be an aerial bombardment of an Iranian facility linked to its nuclear program, the officials further claimed.
If this report is true, that would mean that the worst of the Iran hawks in the administration are prevailing once again. The report goes on to say that "Trump himself was not enthusiastic about a military move against Iran, but lost his patience on the matter and would grant Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is pushing for action, what he wants." If that is true, that is an absurdly casual way to blunder into an unnecessary war. Trump should understand that if he takes the U.S. into a war against Iran, especially without Congressional authorization, it will consume the rest of his presidency and it should cost him his re-election. Starting an unnecessary war with Iran would go down as one of the dumbest, most reckless, illegal acts in the history of U.S. foreign policy.
Congress must make absolutely clear that the president does not have the authority to initiate hostilities against Iran. Both houses should pass a resolution this week saying as much, and they should block any funds that could be used to support such an action. There is no legal justification for attacking Iran, and if Trump approves an attack he would be violating the Constitution and should be impeached for it.
The risk of war with Iran is greater than it was six months ago, and it is much greater than it was two and a half years ago when Trump took office. The U.S. and Iran are in this dangerous position solely because of the determined efforts of Iran hawks in and around this administration to drive our country on a collision course with theirs. Those efforts accelerated significantly thirteen months ago with the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and the reimposition of sanctions, and things have been getting steadily worse with each passing month. It is not too late to avert the collision, but it requires the U.S. to make a dramatic change in policy very soon. Since we know we can't count on the president to make the right decision, Congress and the public need to make him understand what the political price will be if he makes the wrong one.
Jun 10, 2019 | www.fff.org
Covert Regime Change: America's Secret Cold War by Lindsey A. O'Rourke (Cornell University Press, 2018); 330 pages.
For most of history, seizing another country or territory was a straightforward proposition. You assembled an army and ordered it to invade. Combat determined the victor. The toll in death and suffering was usually horrific, but it was all done in the open. That is how Alexander overran Persia and how countless conquerors since have bent weaker nations to their will. Invasion is the old-fashioned way.
When the United States joined the race for empire at the end of the 19th century, that was the tactic it used. It sent a large expeditionary force to the Philippines to crush an independence movement, ultimately killing some 200,000 Filipinos. At the other end of the carnage spectrum, it seized Guam without the loss of a single life and Puerto Rico with few casualties. Every time, though, U.S. victory was the result of superior military power. In the few cases when the United States failed, as in its attempt to defend a client regime by suppressing Augusto Cesar Sandino's nationalist rebellion in Nicaragua during the 1920s and 30s, the failure was also the product of military confrontation. For the United States, as for all warlike nations, military power has traditionally been the decisive factor determining whether it wins or loses its campaigns to capture or subdue other countries. World War II was the climax of that bloody history.
After that war, however, something important changed. The United States no longer felt free to land troops on every foreign shore that was ruled by a government it disliked or considered threatening. Suddenly there was a new constraint: the Red Army. If American troops invaded a country and overthrew its government, the Soviets might respond in kind. Combat between American and Soviet forces could easily escalate into nuclear holocaust, so it had to be avoided at all costs. Yet during the Cold War, the United States remained determined to shape the world according to its liking -- perhaps more determined than ever. The United States needed a new weapon. The search led to covert action.
A news agency
During World War II the United States used a covert agency, the Office of Strategic Services, to carry out clandestine actions across Europe and Asia. As soon as the war ended, to the shock of many OSS agents, Harry Truman abolished it. He believed there was no need for such an agency during peacetime. In 1947 he changed his mind and signed the National Security Act, under which the Central Intelligence Agency was established. That marked the beginning of a new era. Covert action replaced overt action as the principal means of projecting American power around the world.
Truman later insisted that he had intended the CIA to serve as a kind of private global news service. "It was not intended as a 'Cloak & Dagger Outfit!'" he wrote. "It was intended merely as a center for keeping the President informed on what was going on in the world [not] to act as a spy organization. That was never the intention when it was organized." Nonetheless he did not hesitate to use the new CIA for covert action. Its first major campaign, aimed at influencing the 1948 Italian election to ensure that pro-American Christian Democrats would defeat their Communist rivals, was vast in scale and ultimately successful -- setting the pattern for CIA intervention in every Italian election for the next two decades. Yet Truman drew the line at covert action to overthrow governments.
The CIA's covert-action chief, Allen Dulles, twice proposed such projects. In both cases, the target he chose was a government that had inflicted harm on corporations that he and his brother, John Foster Dulles, had represented during their years as partners at the globally powerful Wall Street law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. In 1952 he proposed that the CIA overthrow President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, whose government was carrying out land reform that affected the interests of United Fruit. By one account, State Department officials "hit the roof" when they heard his proposal, and the diplomat David Bruce told him that the Department "disapproves of the entire deal." Then Dulles proposed an operation to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran, who had nationalized his country's oil industry. Secretary of State Dean Acheson flatly rejected it.
White House resistance to covert regime-change operations dissolved when Dwight Eisenhower succeeded Truman at the beginning of 1953. Part of the new administration's enthusiasm came from Allen Dulles, Washington's most relentless advocate of such operations, whom Eisenhower named to head the CIA. The fact that he named Dulles's brother as secretary of State ensured that covert operations would have all the necessary diplomatic cover from the State Department. During the Dulles brothers' long careers at Sullivan & Cromwell, they had not only learned the techniques of covert regime change but practiced them. They were masters at marshaling hidden power in the service of their corporate clients overseas. Now they could do the same with all the worldwide resources of the CIA.
It was not only the Dulles brothers, however, who brought the United States into the regime-change era in the early 1950s. Eisenhower himself was a fervent advocate of covert action. Officially his defense and security policy, which he called the "New Look," rested on two foundations, a smaller army and an increased nuclear arsenal. In reality, the "New Look" had a third foundation: covert action. Eisenhower may have been the last president to believe that no one would ever discover what he sent the CIA to do. With a soldier's commitment to keeping secrets, he never admitted that he had ordered covert regime-change operations, much less explained why he favored them. He would, however, have had at least two reasons.
Since Eisenhower had commanded Allied forces in Europe during World War II, he was aware of the role that covert operations such as breaking Nazi codes had played in the war victory -- something few other people knew at the time. That would have given him an appreciation for how important and effective such operations could be. His second reason was even more powerful. In Europe he had had the grim responsibility of sending thousands of young men out to die. That must have weighed on him. He saw covert action as a kind of peace project. After all, if the CIA could overthrow a government with the loss of just a few lives, wasn't that preferable to war? Like most Americans, Eisenhower saw a world of threats. He also understood that the threat of nuclear war made overt invasions all but unthinkable. Covert action was his answer. Within a year and a half of his inauguration, the CIA had deposed the governments of both Guatemala and Iran. It went on to other regime-change operations from Albania to Cuba to Indonesia. Successive presidents followed his lead.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was once again free to launch direct military invasions. When it found a leader it didn't like -- such as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qaddafi -- it deposed him not through covert action, but by returning to the approach it had used before World War II: the force of arms. Covert efforts to overthrow governments have hardly ceased, as any Iranian or Venezuelan could attest. The era when covert action was America's principal weapon in world affairs, however, is over. That makes this a good time to look back.
Metrics for covert action
Books about the Cold War heyday of covert action era are a mini-genre. Lindsey A. O'Rourke's contribution is especially valuable. Unlike many other books built around accounts of CIA plots, Covert Regime Change takes a scholarly and quantitative approach. It provides charts, graphs, and data sets. Meticulous analysis makes this not the quickest read of any book on the subject, but certainly one of the best informed. Chapters on the disastrous effort to overthrow communist rule in Eastern Europe, which cost the lives of hundreds of deceived partisans, and on the covert-action aspects of America's doomed campaign in Vietnam are especially trenchant.
O'Rourke identifies three kinds of covert operations that are aimed at securing perceived friends in power and keeping perceived enemies out: offensive operations to overthrow governments, preventive operations aimed at preserving the status quo, and hegemonic operations aimed at keeping a foreign nation subservient. From 1947 to 1989, by her count, the United States launched 64 covert regime-change operations, while using the overt tool -- war -- just six times. She traces the motivations behind these operations, the means by which they were carried out, and their effects. Her text is based on meticulous analysis of individual operations. Some other books about covert action are rip-roaring yarns. This one injects a dose of
rigorous analysis into a debate that is often based on emotion. That rigor lends credence to her conclusions:
- When policymakers want to conduct an operation that they know violates international norms, they simply conduct it covertly to hide their involvement.
- Covert missions typically have lower potential costs than their overt counterparts, but they are also less likely to succeed.
- Can interveners acquire reliable allies by covertly overthrowing foreign governments? Overall, I find the answer is no. Covert regime changes seldom worked out as intended.
- The new leader's opponents often accused him of being a U.S. puppet and, in some cases, even took up arms against the regime. In fact, approximately half of the governments that came to power in a U.S.-backed covert regime change during the Cold War were later violently removed from power.
- States targeted in a covert regime-change operation appear less likely to be democratic afterward and more likely to experience civil war, adverse regime changes, or human-rights abuses
- Covert regime changes can have disastrous consequences for civilians within the target states. Countries that were targeted by the United States for a covert regime change during the Cold War were more likely to experience a civil war or an episode of mass killing afterward.
- Even nominally successful covert regime changes -- where U.S.-backed forces came to power -- seldom delivered on their promise to improve interstate relations.
Although these conclusions are not new, they have rarely if ever been presented as the result of such persuasive statistical evidence. Yet even this evidence seems unlikely to force a reassessment of covert action as a way to influence or depose governments. It is an American "addiction." The reasons are many and varied, but one of the simplest is that covert action seems so easy. Changing an unfriendly country's behavior through diplomacy is a long, complex, multi-faceted project. It takes careful thought and planning. Often it requires compromise. Sending the CIA to overthrow a "bad guy" is far more tempting. It's the cheap and easy way out. History shows that it often produces terrible results for both the target country and the United States. To a military and security elite as contemptuous of history as America's, however, that is no obstacle.
Although covert regime-change operations remain a major part of American foreign policy, they are not as effective as they once were. The first victims of CIA overthrows, Prime Minister Mossadegh and President Arbenz, did not understand the tools the CIA had at its disposal and so were easy targets. They were also democratic, meaning that they allowed open societies in which the press, political parties, and civic groups functioned freely -- making them easy for the CI