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American Exceptionalism as the USA version of nationalism

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

Introduction


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.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

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: 

  1. Niebuhr
  2. Michael Ignatieff
  3. Anatol Lieven
  4. Andrew Basevich

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.  

Niebuhr's contribution to understanding of American exeptionalism

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."

Michael Ignatieff contribution to understanding of American exeptionalism

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.

Anatol Lieven contribution

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.

We create our own reality

The source of the term, which implicitly stresses that the USA stands outside international norms and treaties and can act as it please, is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove[1]):

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."[2]

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.

Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

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.

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:

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.

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.

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…

"Faith-based community" vs. Reality-based community

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."[1]

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[2].

Imperial Outreach

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

sample:

BILL MOYERS:

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.

ANDREW BACEVICH:

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.

Anti-Americanism as blowback of American exeptionalism

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.

Conclusions

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.


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For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section

[Sep 16, 2019] President Trump Called Former President Carter To Talk About China

Sep 16, 2019 | www.wabe.org

- WABE , Apr 14, 2019

Carter suggested that instead of war, China has been investing in its own infrastructure, mentioning that China has 18,000 miles of high-speed railroad.

"How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?"

Zero, the congregation answered.

"We have wasted I think $3 trillion," Carter said of American military spending. " It's more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war and that's why they're ahead of us. In almost every way."

[Sep 15, 2019] Trump's new world disorder: competitive, chaotic, conflicted by

The key to understanding the c
The collapse of neoliberalism naturally lead to the collapse of the US influence over the globe. and to the treats to the dollar as the world reserve currency. That's why the US foreign policy became so aggressive and violent. Neocons want to fight for the world hegemony to the last American.
Notable quotes:
"... US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational ..."
"... Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel. ..."
"... Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. ..."
"... The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched. ..."
"... driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university. ..."
"... "The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy." ..."
"... This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible. ..."
"... The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along. ..."
"... With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely. ..."
"... "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", ..."
Sep 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

With John Bolton dismissed, Taliban peace talks a fiasco and a trade war with China, US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational

It was by all accounts, a furious row. Donald Trump was talking about relaxing sanctions on Iran and holding a summit with its president, Hassan Rouhani, at this month's UN general assembly in New York. John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser, was dead against it and forcefully rejected Trump's ideas during a tense meeting in the Oval Office on Monday.

...Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel.

The US president is now saying he is also open to a repeat meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, to reboot stalled nuclear disarmament talks. On another front, he has offered an olive branch to China, delaying a planned tariff increase on $250bn of Chinese goods pending renewed trade negotiations next month. Meanwhile, he says, new tariffs on European car imports could be dropped, too.

Is a genuine dove-ish shift under way? It seems improbable. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. He has cosied up to autocrats, attacked old friends and blundered into sensitive conflicts he does not fully comprehend.

The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched.

The suggestion that Trump will make nice and back off as election time nears thus elicits considerable scepticism. US analysts and commentators say the president's erratic, impulsive and egotistic personality means any shift towards conciliation may be short-lived and could quickly be reversed, Bolton or no Bolton.

Trump wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal in Afghanistan with the Taliban, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute

Trump is notorious for blowing hot and cold, performing policy zigzags and suddenly changing his mind. "Regardless of who has advised Mr Trump on foreign affairs all have proved powerless before [his] zest for chaos," the New York Times noted last week .

Lacking experienced diplomatic and military advisers (he has sacked most of the good ones), surrounded by an inner circle of cynical sycophants such as secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university.

"The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy."

This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible.

As a result, the US today finds itself at odds with much of the world to an unprecedented and dangerous degree. America, the postwar global saviour, has been widely recast as villain. Nor is this a passing phase. Trump seems to have permanently changed the way the US views the world and vice versa. Whatever follows, it will never be quite the same again.

Clues as to what he does next may be found in what he has done so far. His is a truly calamitous record, as exemplified by Afghanistan. Having vowed in 2016 to end America's longest war, he began with a troop surge, lost interest and sued for peace. A withdrawal deal proved elusive. Meanwhile, US-led forces inflicted record civilian casualties .

Facebook Twitter Pinterest The US and Israeli flags are projected on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in May, marking the anniversary of the US embassy transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/Getty

The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along.

All sides are now vowing to step up the violence, with the insurgents aiming to disrupt this month's presidential election in Afghanistan. In short, Trump's self-glorifying Afghan reality show, of which he was the Nobel-winning star, has made matters worse. Much the same is true of his North Korea summitry, where expectations were raised, then dashed when he got cold feet in Hanoi , provoking a backlash from Pyongyang.

The current crisis over Iran's nuclear programme is almost entirely of Trump's making, sparked by his decision last year to renege on the 2015 UN-endorsed deal with Tehran. His subsequent "maximum pressure" campaign of punitive sanctions has failed to cow Iranians while alienating European allies. And it has led Iran to resume banned nuclear activities – a seriously counterproductive, entirely predictable outcome.

Trump's unconditional, unthinking support for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's aggressively rightwing prime minister – including tacit US backing for his proposed annexation of swathes of the occupied territories – is pushing the Palestinians back to the brink, energising Hamas and Hezbollah, and raising tensions across the region .

With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely.

The bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived

Stephen Wertheim, historian

Yet Trump, oblivious to the point of recklessness, remains determined to unveil his absurdly unbalanced Israel-Palestine "deal of the century" after Tuesday's Israeli elections. He and his gormless son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may be the only people who don't realise their plan has a shorter life expectancy than a snowball on a hot day in Gaza.

... ... ...

...he is consistently out of line, out on his own – and out of control. This, broadly, is Trump world as it has come to exist since January 2017. And this, in a nutshell, is the intensifying foreign policy crisis of which Professor Cohen warned. The days when responsible, trustworthy, principled US international leadership could be taken for granted are gone. No vague change of tone on North Korea or Iran will by itself halt the Trump-led slide into expanding global conflict and division.

Historians such as Stephen Wertheim say change had to come. US politicians of left and right mostly agreed that "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", Wertheim wrote earlier this year . "But agreement ends there " he continued: "One camp holds that the US erred by coddling China and Russia, and urges a new competition against these great power rivals. The other camp, which says the US has been too belligerent and ambitious around the world, counsels restraint, not another crusade against grand enemies."

This debate among grownups over America's future place in the world will form part of next year's election contest. But before any fundamental change of direction can occur, the international community – and the US itself – must first survive another 16 months of Trump world and the wayward child-president's poll-fixated, ego-driven destructive tendencies.

Survival is not guaranteed. The immediate choice facing US friends and foes alike is stark and urgent: ignore, bypass and marginalise Trump – or actively, openly, resist him.

Here are some of the key flashpoints around the globe

United Nations

Trump is deeply hostile to the UN. It embodies the multilateralist, globalist policy approaches he most abhors – because they supposedly infringe America's sovereignty and inhibit its freedom of action. Under him, self-interested US behaviour has undermined the authority of the UN security council's authority. The US has rejected a series of international treaties and agreements, including the Paris climate change accord and the Iran nuclear deal. The UN-backed international criminal court is beyond the pale. Trump's attitude fits with his "America First" isolationism, which questions traditional ideas about America's essential global leadership role.

Germany

Trump rarely misses a chance to bash Germany, perhaps because it is Europe's most successful economy and represents the EU, which he detests. He is obsessed by German car imports, on which protectionist US tariffs will be levied this autumn. He accuses Berlin – and Europe– of piggy-backing on America by failing to pay its fair share of Nato defence costs. Special venom is reserved for Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, most likely because she is a woman who stands up to him . Trump recently insulted another female European leader, Denmark's Mette Frederiksen, after she refused to sell him Greenland .

Israel

Trump has made a great show of unconditional friendship towards Israel and its rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has skilfully maximised his White House influence. But by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, officially condoning Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, and withdrawing funding and other support from the Palestinians, the president has abandoned the long-standing US policy of playing honest broker in the peace process. Trump has also tried to exploit antisemitism for political advantage, accusing US Democrat Jews who oppose Netanyahu's policies of "disloyalty" to Israel.

... ... ...

[Sep 12, 2019] The stars-and-stripes-wavers you meet in comment forums are usually blissfully ignorant, happy in their fool's paradise where everyone wants to be an American, and resistance to Uncle Sam's ruthless bullying is inspired by jealousy and inadequacy.

Sep 12, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 10, 2019 at 8:42 am

One reaction Americans are unaccustomed to is pity. When I meet them on the boats, traveling, I am always extra nice to them, because I feel sorry for them. They have to go back. They're nice people, mostly, they've never done anything to me personally. But sooner or later, they have to go back to where those license plates were issued. They can't stay here. And I'm sorry for them. But I would imagine most of them feel they are envied, and their citizenship is coveted by the less-fortunate. That might be true in some third-world hellholes where people would go anywhere to get out, but it certainly isn't so here.

The stars-and-stripes-wavers you meet in comment forums are usually blissfully ignorant, happy in their fool's paradise where everyone wants to be an American, and resistance to Uncle Sam's ruthless bullying is inspired by jealousy and inadequacy. For them, simply acknowledging that Washington sometimes makes mistakes – which it's allowed to do, because it's exceptional – is the essence of responsibility and fairness. There, I said we aren't always right – what could be more fair? But when America invades a country that did nothing to provoke it except refuse when it was ordered to do this or that, sometimes things it couldn't do, like abandon the nuclear weapons program it didn't have well, that was a mistake, but it was an honest mistake because no end of smart people the world over agreed they did indeed have a nuclear weapons program. I mean, if you don't do something quick, the consequences could be a mushroom cloud, ya know. And when it orders the democratically-elected president of a country to stand down and make way for a hand-picked replacement, it's not being arrogant. No; it's taking necessary on behalf of that leader's benighted people, who suffer awful oppression at his hands, and America only wants them to be free to make good choices.

A lot of those comments go unanswered; some because many of those forums now insist you sign in with Facebook so they can go behind the scenes and see who and where you are and gain all sorts of personal information about you, because dimwits love to blabber their entire personal lives on Facebook. But some go unanswered simply because there is no real use in trying to change such made-up minds. You will never dent the my-country-right-or-wrong blathering of ignorant people who know nothing beyond what they see on CNN.

[Sep 11, 2019] Video Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 The Bamboozle Has Captured Us

Highly recommended!
David Warner Mathisen definitely know what he is talking about due to his long military career... Free fall speed is documented and is an embarrassment to the official story, because free fall is impossible for a naturally collapsing building.
Now we need to dig into the role of Larry Silverstein in the Building 7 collapse.
Notable quotes:
"... Below is a video showing several film sequences taken from different locations and documenting multiple angles of World Trade Center Building 7 collapsing at freefall speed eighteen years ago on September 11, 2001. ..."
"... The four words "Building Seven Freefall Speed" provide all the evidence needed to conclude that the so-called "official narrative" promoted by the mainstream media for the past eighteen years is a lie, as is the fraudulent 9/11 Commission Report of 2004. ..."
"... Earlier this month, a team of engineers at the University of Alaska published their draft findings from a five-year investigation into the collapse of Building 7 ..."
"... This damning report by a team of university engineers has received no attention from the mainstream media outlets which continue to promote the bankrupt "official" narrative of the events of September 11, 2001. ..."
"... its rate of collapse can be measured and found to be indistinguishable from freefall speed, as physics teacher David Chandler explains in an interview here (and as he eventually forced NIST to admit), beginning at around 0:43:00 in the interview. ..."
"... the collapse of the 47-story steel-beam building World Trade Center 7 into its own footprint at freefall speed is all the evidence needed to reveal extensive and deliberate premeditated criminal activity by powerful forces that had the ability to prepare pre-positioned demolition charges in that building ..."
"... Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming, to the point that no one can any longer be excused for accepting the official story. Certainly during the first few days and weeks after the attacks, or even during the first few years, men and women could be excused for accepting the official story (particularly given the level to which the mainstream media controls opinion in the united states). ..."
"... Additionally, I would also recommend the interviews which are archived at the website of Visibility 9-11 , which includes valuable interviews with Kevin Ryan but also numerous important interviews with former military officers who explain that the failure of the military to scramble fighters to intercept the hijacked airplanes, and the failure of air defense weapons to stop a jet from hitting the Pentagon (if indeed a jet did hit the Pentagon), are also completely inexplicable to anyone who knows anything at all about military operations, unless the official story is completely false and something else was going on that day. ..."
"... In addition to these interviews and the Dig Within blog of Kevin Ryan, I would also strongly recommend everybody read the article by Dr. Gary G. Kohls entitled " Why Do Good People Become Silent About the Documented Facts that Disprove the Official 9/11 Narrative? " which was published on Global Research a few days ago, on September 6, 2019. ..."
"... on some level, we already know we have been bamboozled, even if our conscious mind refuses to accept what we already know. ..."
"... Previous posts have compared this tendency of the egoic mind to the blissfully ignorant character of Michael Scott in the television series The Office (US version): see here for example, and also here . ..."
"... The imposition of a vast surveillance mechanism upon the people of this country (and of other countries) based on the fraudulent pretext of "preventing terrorism" (and the lying narrative that has been perpetuated with the full complicity of the mainstream media for the past eighteen years) is in complete violation of the human rights which are enumerated in the Bill of Rights and which declare: ..."
"... David Warner Mathisen graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and became an Infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 4th Infantry Division. He is a graduate of the US Army's Ranger School and the 82nd Airborne Division's Jumpmaster Course, among many other awards and decorations. He was later selected to become an instructor in the Department of English Literature and Philosophy at West Point and has a Masters degree from Texas A&M University. ..."
Sep 11, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Below is a video showing several film sequences taken from different locations and documenting multiple angles of World Trade Center Building 7 collapsing at freefall speed eighteen years ago on September 11, 2001.

The four words "Building Seven Freefall Speed" provide all the evidence needed to conclude that the so-called "official narrative" promoted by the mainstream media for the past eighteen years is a lie, as is the fraudulent 9/11 Commission Report of 2004.

  1. Building.
  2. Seven.
  3. Freefall.
  4. Speed.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Mamvq7LWqRU

Earlier this month, a team of engineers at the University of Alaska published their draft findings from a five-year investigation into the collapse of Building 7, which was not hit by any airplane on September 11, 2001, and concluded that fires could not possibly have caused the collapse of that 47-story steel-frame building -- rather, the collapse seen could have only been caused by the near-simultaneous failure of every support column (43 in number).

This damning report by a team of university engineers has received no attention from the mainstream media outlets which continue to promote the bankrupt "official" narrative of the events of September 11, 2001.

Various individuals at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tried to argue that the collapse of Building 7 was slower than freefall speed, but its rate of collapse can be measured and found to be indistinguishable from freefall speed, as physics teacher David Chandler explains in an interview here (and as he eventually forced NIST to admit), beginning at around 0:43:00 in the interview.

Although the collapse of the 47-story steel-beam building World Trade Center 7 into its own footprint at freefall speed is all the evidence needed to reveal extensive and deliberate premeditated criminal activity by powerful forces that had the ability to prepare pre-positioned demolition charges in that building prior to the flight of the aircraft into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (Buildings One and Two), as well as the power to cover up the evidence of this criminal activity and to deflect questioning by government agencies and suppress the story in the mainstream news, the collapse of Building 7 is by no means the only evidence which points to the same conclusion.

Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming, to the point that no one can any longer be excused for accepting the official story. Certainly during the first few days and weeks after the attacks, or even during the first few years, men and women could be excused for accepting the official story (particularly given the level to which the mainstream media controls opinion in the united states).

However, eighteen years later there is simply no excuse anymore -- except for the fact that the ramifications of the admission that the official story is a flagrant fraud and a lie are so distressing that many people cannot actually bring themselves to consciously admit what they in fact already know subconsciously.

For additional evidence, I strongly recommend the work of the indefatigable Kevin Robert Ryan , whose blog at Dig Within should be required reading for every man and woman in the united states -- as well as those in the rest of the world, since the ramifications of the murders of innocent men, women and children on September 11, 2001 have led to the murders of literally millions of other innocent men, women and children around the world since that day, and the consequences of the failure to absorb the truth of what actually took place, and the consequences of the failure to address the lies that are built upon the fraudulent explanation of what took place on September 11, continue to negatively impact men and women everywhere on our planet.

Additionally, I would also recommend the interviews which are archived at the website of Visibility 9-11 , which includes valuable interviews with Kevin Ryan but also numerous important interviews with former military officers who explain that the failure of the military to scramble fighters to intercept the hijacked airplanes, and the failure of air defense weapons to stop a jet from hitting the Pentagon (if indeed a jet did hit the Pentagon), are also completely inexplicable to anyone who knows anything at all about military operations, unless the official story is completely false and something else was going on that day.

I would also strongly recommend listening very carefully to the series of five interviews with Kevin Ryan on Guns and Butter with Bonnie Faulkner, which can be found in the Guns and Butter podcast archive here . These interviews, from 2013, are numbered 287, 288, 289, 290, and 291 in the archive.

Selected Articles: 9/11: Do You Still Believe that Al Qaeda Masterminded the Attacks?

I would in fact recommend listening to nearly every interview in that archive of Bonnie Faulkner's show, even though I do not of course agree with every single guest nor with every single view expressed in every single interview. Indeed, if you carefully read Kevin Ryan's blog which was linked above, you will find a blog post by Kevin Ryan dated June 24, 2018 in which he explicitly names James Fetzer along with Judy Woods as likely disinformation agents working to discredit and divert the efforts of 9/11 researchers. James Fetzer appears on Guns and Butter several times in the archived interview page linked above.

In addition to these interviews and the Dig Within blog of Kevin Ryan, I would also strongly recommend everybody read the article by Dr. Gary G. Kohls entitled " Why Do Good People Become Silent About the Documented Facts that Disprove the Official 9/11 Narrative? " which was published on Global Research a few days ago, on September 6, 2019.

That article contains a number of stunning quotations about the ongoing failure to address the now-obvious lies we are being told about the attacks of September 11. One of these quotations, by astronomer Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996), is particularly noteworthy -- even though I certainly do not agree with everything Carl Sagan ever said or wrote. Regarding our propensity to refuse to acknowledge what we already know deep down to be true, Carl Sagan said:

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken.

This quotation is from Sagan's 1995 text, The Demon-Haunted World (with which I have points of disagreement, but which is extremely valuable for that quotation alone, and which I might suggest turning around on some of the points that Sagan was arguing as well, as a cautionary warning to those who have accepted too wholeheartedly some of Sagan's teachings and opinions).

This quotation shows that on some level, we already know we have been bamboozled, even if our conscious mind refuses to accept what we already know. This internal division is actually addressed in the world's ancient myths, which consistently illustrate that our egoic mind often refuses to acknowledge the higher wisdom we have available to us through the reality of our authentic self, sometimes called our Higher Self. Previous posts have compared this tendency of the egoic mind to the blissfully ignorant character of Michael Scott in the television series The Office (US version): see here for example, and also here .

The important author Peter Kingsley has noted that in ancient myth, the role of the prophet was to bring awareness and acknowledgement of that which the egoic mind refuses to see -- which is consistent with the observation that it is through our authentic self (which already knows) that we have access to the realm of the gods. In the Iliad, for example, Dr. Kingsley notes that Apollo sends disaster upon the Achaean forces until the prophet Calchas reveals the source of the god's anger: Agamemnon's refusal to free the young woman Chryseis, whom Agamemnon has seized in the course of the fighting during the Trojan War, and who is the daughter of a priest of Apollo. Until Agamemnon atones for this insult to the god, Apollo will continue to visit destruction upon those following Agamemnon.

Until we acknowledge and correct what our Higher Self already knows to be the problem, we ourselves will be out of step with the divine realm.

If we look the other way at the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children on September 11, 2001, and deliberately refuse to see the truth that we already know deep down in our subconscious, then we will face the displeasure of the Invisible Realm. Just as we are shown in the ancient myths, the truth must be acknowledged and admitted, and then the wrong that has been done must be corrected.

In the case of the mass murder perpetrated on September 11, eighteen years ago, that admission requires us to face the fact that the "terrorists" who were blamed for that attack were not the actual terrorists that we need to be focusing on.

Please note that I am very careful not to say that "the government" is the source of the problem: I would argue that the government is the lawful expression of the will of the people and that the government, rightly understood, is exactly what these criminal perpetrators actually fear the most, if the people ever become aware of what is going on. The government, which is established by the Constitution, forbids the perpetration of murder upon innocent men, women and children in order to initiate wars of aggression against countries that never invaded or attacked us (under the false pretense that they did so). Those who do so are actually opposed to our government under the Constitution and can be dealt with within the framework of the law as established by the Constitution, which establishes a very clear penalty for treason.

When the people acknowledge and admit the complete bankruptcy of the lie we have been told about the attacks of September 11, the correction of that lie will involve demanding the immediate repeal and dismantling of the so-called "USA PATRIOT Act" which was enacted in the weeks immediately following September 11, 2001 and which clearly violates the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Additionally, the correction of that lie will involve demanding the immediate cessation of the military operations which were initiated based upon the fraudulent narrative of the attacks of that day, and which have led to invasion and overthrow of the nations that were falsely blamed as being the perpetrators of those attacks and the seizure of their natural resources.

The imposition of a vast surveillance mechanism upon the people of this country (and of other countries) based on the fraudulent pretext of "preventing terrorism" (and the lying narrative that has been perpetuated with the full complicity of the mainstream media for the past eighteen years) is in complete violation of the human rights which are enumerated in the Bill of Rights and which declare:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That human right has been grievously trampled upon under the false description of what actually took place during the September 11 attacks. Numerous technology companies have been allowed and even encouraged (and paid, with public moneys) to create technologies which flagrantly and shamelessly violate "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" and which track their every move and even enable secret eavesdropping upon their conversation and the secret capture of video within their homes and private settings, without any probable cause whatsoever.

When we admit and acknowledge that we have been lied to about the events of September 11, which has been falsely used as a supposed justification for the violation of these human rights (with complete disregard for the supreme law of the land as established in the Constitution), then we will also demand the immediate cessation of any such intrusion upon the right of the people to "be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" -- including the cessation of any business models which involve spying on men and women.

Companies which cannot find a business model that does not violate the Bill of Rights should lose their corporate charter and the privilege of limited liability, which are extended to them by the people (through the government of the people, by the people and for the people) only upon the condition that their behavior as corporations do not violate the inherent rights of men and women as acknowledged in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

It is well beyond the time when we must acknowledge and admit that we have been lied to about the events of September 11, 2001 -- and that we continue to be lied to about the events of that awful day. September 11, 2001 is in fact only one such event in a long history which stretches back prior to 2001, to other events which should have awakened the people to the presence of a very powerful and very dangerous criminal cabal acting in direct contravention to the Constitution long before we ever got to 2001 -- but the events of September 11 are so blatant, so violent, and so full of evidence which contradicts the fraudulent narrative that they actually cannot be believed by anyone who spends even the slightest amount of time looking at that evidence.

Indeed, we already know deep down that we have been bamboozled by the lie of the so-called "official narrative" of September 11.

But until we admit to ourselves and acknowledge to others that we've ignored the truth that we already know, then the bamboozle still has us .

*

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David Warner Mathisen graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and became an Infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 4th Infantry Division. He is a graduate of the US Army's Ranger School and the 82nd Airborne Division's Jumpmaster Course, among many other awards and decorations. He was later selected to become an instructor in the Department of English Literature and Philosophy at West Point and has a Masters degree from Texas A&M University.

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © David W. Mathisen , Global Research, 2019 Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

David Warner Mathisen graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and became an Infantry officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 4th Infantry Division. He is a graduate of the US Army's Ranger School and the 82nd Airborne Division's Jumpmaster Course, among many other awards and decorations. He was later selected to become an instructor in the Department of English Literature and Philosophy at West Point and has a Masters degree from Texas A&M University.

[Sep 11, 2019] Andrew Bacevich, Ending War, American-Style

Sep 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

September 11, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Note that for all of Trump's considerable faults, including hiring John Bolton in the first place and taking too long to get rid of him, Bolton's opposition to finding a way for the US to extricate itself from the war in Afghanistan was reportedly the last straw.

By Andrew Bacevich, who serves as president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft . His new book The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory will be published in January. Originally published at TomDispatch

When the conflict that the Vietnamese refer to as the American War ended in April 1975, I was a U.S. Army captain attending a course at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In those days, the student body at any of our Army's myriad schools typically included officers from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).

Since ARVN's founding two decades earlier, the United States had assigned itself the task of professionalizing that fledgling military establishment. Based on a conviction that the standards, methods, and ethos of our armed forces were universally applicable and readily exportable, the attendance of ARVN personnel at such Army schools was believed to contribute to the professionalizing of the South Vietnamese military.

Evidence that the U.S. military's own professional standards had recently taken a hit -- memories of the My Lai massacre were then still fresh -- elicited no second thoughts on our part. Association with American officers like me was sure to rub off on our South Vietnamese counterparts in ways that would make them better soldiers. So we professed to believe, even while subjecting that claim to no more scrutiny than we did the question of why most of us had spent a year or more of our lives participating in an obviously misbegotten and misguided war in Indochina.

For serving officers at that time one question in particular remained off-limits (though it had been posed incessantly for years by antiwar protestors in the streets of America): Why Vietnam? Prizing compliance as a precondition for upward mobility, military service rarely encourages critical thinking.

On the day that Saigon, the capital of the Republic of Vietnam, fell and that country ceased to exist, I approached one of my ARVN classmates, also a captain, wanting at least to acknowledge the magnitude of the disaster that had occurred. "I'm sorry about what happened to your country," I told him.

I did not know that officer well and no longer recall his name. Let's call him Captain Nguyen. In my dim recollection, he didn't even bother to reply. He simply looked at me with an expression both distressed and mournful. Our encounter lasted no more than a handful of seconds. I then went on with my life and Captain Nguyen presumably with his. Although I have no inkling of his fate, I like to think that he is now retired in Southern California after a successful career in real estate. But who knows?

All I do know is that today I recall our exchange with a profound sense of embarrassment and even shame. My pathetic effort to console Captain Nguyen had been both presumptuous and inadequate. Far worse was my failure -- inability? refusal? -- to acknowledge the context within which that catastrophe was occurring: the United States and its armed forces had, over years, inflicted horrendous harm on the people of South Vietnam.

In reality, their defeat was our defeat. Yet while we had decided that we were done paying, they were going to pay and pay for a long time to come.

Rather than offering a fatuous expression of regret for the collapse of his country, I ought to have apologized for having played even a miniscule role in what was, by any measure, a catastrophe of epic proportions. It's a wonder Captain Nguyen didn't spit in my eye.

I genuinely empathized with Captain Nguyen. Yet the truth is that, along with most other Americans, soldiers and civilians alike, I was only too happy to be done with South Vietnam and all its troubles. Dating back to the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the United States and its armed forces had made a gargantuan effort to impart legitimacy to the Republic of Vietnam and to coerce the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to its north into giving up its determination to exercise sovereignty over the entirety of the country. In that, we had failed spectacularly and at a staggering cost.

"Our" war in Indochina -- the conflict we chose to call the Vietnam War -- officially ended in January 1973 with the signing in Paris of an "Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam." Under the terms of that fraudulent pact, American prisoners of war were freed from captivity in North Vietnam and the last U.S. combat troops in the south left for home, completing a withdrawal begun several years earlier. Primary responsibility for securing the Republic of Vietnam thereby fell to ARVN, long deemed by U.S. commanders incapable of accomplishing that mission.

Meanwhile, despite a nominal cessation of hostilities, approximately 150,000 North Vietnamese regulars still occupied a large swathe of South Vietnamese territory -- more or less the equivalent to agreeing to end World War II when there were still several German panzer tank divisions lurking in Belgium's Ardennes Forest. In effect, our message to our enemy and our ally was this: We're outta here; you guys sort this out . In a bit more than two years, that sorting-out process would extinguish the Republic of Vietnam.

Been There, Done That

The course Captain Nguyen and I were attending in the spring of 1975 paid little attention to fighting wars like the one that, for years, had occupied the attention of my army and his. Our Army, in fact, was already moving on. Having had their fill of triple-canopy jungles in Indochina, America's officer corps now turned to defending the Fulda Gap, the region in West Germany deemed most hospitable to a future Soviet invasion. As if by fiat, gearing up to fight those Soviet forces and their Warsaw Pact allies, should they (however improbably) decide to take on NATO and lunge toward the English Channel, suddenly emerged as priority number one. At Fort Knox and throughout the Army's ranks, we were suddenly focused on "high-intensity combined arms operations" -- essentially, a replay of World War II-style combat with fancier weaponry. In short, the armed forces of the United States had reverted to "real soldiering."

And so it is again today. At the end of the 17th year of what Americans commonly call the Afghanistan War -- one wonders what name Afghans will eventually assign it -- U.S. military forces are moving on. Pentagon planners are shifting their attention back to Russia and China. Great power competition has become the name of the game. However we might define Washington's evolving purposes in its Afghanistan War -- "nation building," "democratization," "pacification" -- the likelihood of mission accomplishment is nil. As in the early 1970s, so in 2019, rather than admitting failure, the Pentagon has chosen to change the subject and is once again turning its attention to "real soldiering."

Remember the infatuation with counterinsurgency (commonly known by its acronym COIN) that gripped the national security establishment around 2007 when the Iraq "surge" overseen by General David Petraeus briefly ranked alongside Gettysburg as a historic victory? Well, these days promoting COIN as the new American way of war has become, to put it mildly, a tough sell. Given that few in Washington will openly acknowledge the magnitude of the military failure in Afghanistan, the incentive for identifying new enemies in settings deemed more congenial becomes all but irresistible.

Only one thing is required to validate this reshuffling of military priorities. Washington needs to create the appearance, as in 1973, that it's exiting Afghanistan on its own terms. What's needed, in short, is an updated equivalent of that "Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam."

Until last weekend, the signing of such an agreement seemed imminent. Donald Trump and his envoy, former ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, appeared poised to repeat the trick that President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger pulled off in 1973 in Paris: pause the war and call it peace. Should fighting subsequently resume after a "decent interval," it would no longer be America's problem. Now, however, to judge by the president's twitter account -- currently the authoritative record of U.S. diplomacy -- the proposed deal has been postponed, or perhaps shelved, or even abandoned altogether. If National Security Advisor John Bolton has his way , U.S. forces might just withdraw in any case, without an agreement of any sort being signed.

Based on what we can divine from press reports, the terms of that prospective Afghan deal would mirror those of the 1973 Paris Accords in one important respect. It would, in effect, serve as a ticket home for the remaining U.S. and NATO troops still in that country (though for the present only the first 5,000 of them would immediately depart). Beyond that, the Taliban was to promise not to provide sanctuary to anti-American terrorist groups, even though the Afghan branch of ISIS is already firmly lodged there. Still, this proviso would allow the Trump administration to claim that it had averted any possible recurrence of the 9/11 terror attacks that were, of course, planned by Osama bin Laden while residing in Afghanistan in 2001 as a guest of the Taliban-controlled government. Mission accomplished , as it were.

Back in 1973, North Vietnamese forces occupying parts of South Vietnam neither disarmed nor withdrew. Should this new agreement be finalized, Taliban forces currently controlling or influencing significant swaths of Afghan territory will neither disarm nor withdraw. Indeed, their declared intention is to continue fighting.

In 1973, policymakers in Washington were counting on ARVN to hold off Communist forces. In 2019, almost no one expects Afghan security forces to hold off a threat consisting of both the Taliban and ISIS. In a final insult, just as the Saigon government was excluded from U.S. negotiations with the North Vietnamese, so, too, has the Western-installed government in Kabul been excluded from U.S. negotiations with its sworn enemy, the Taliban.

A host of uncertainties remain. As with the olive branches that President Trump has ostentatiously offered to Russia, China, and North Koea, this particular peace initiative may come to naught -- or, given the approach of the 2020 elections, he may decide that Afghanistan offers his last best hope of claiming at least one foreign policy success. One way or another, in all likelihood, the deathwatch for the U.S.-backed Afghan government has now begun. One thing only is for sure. Having had their fill of Afghanistan, when the Americans finally leave, they won't look back. In that sense, it will be Vietnam all over again.

What Price Peace?

However great my distaste for President Trump, I support his administration's efforts to extricate the United States from Afghanistan. I do so for the same reason I supported the Paris Peace Accords of 1973. Prolonging this folly any longer does not serve U.S. interests. Rule number one of statecraft ought to be: when you're doing something really stupid, stop. To my mind, this rule seems especially applicable when the lives of American soldiers are at stake.

In Vietnam, Washington wasted 58,000 of those lives for nothing. In Afghanistan, we have lost more than 2,300 troops , with another 20,000 wounded, again for next to nothing. Last month, two American Special Forces soldiers were killed in a firefight in Faryab Province. For what?

That said, I'm painfully aware of the fact that, on the long-ago day when I offered Captain Nguyen my feeble condolences, I lacked the imagination to conceive of the trials about to befall his countrymen. In the aftermath of the American War, something on the order of 800,000 Vietnamese took to open and unseaworthy boats to flee their country. According to estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 boat people died at sea. Most of those who survived were destined to spend years in squalid refugee camps scattered throughout Southeast Asia. Back in Vietnam itself, some 300,000 former ARVN officers and South Vietnamese officials were imprisoned in so-called reeducation camps for up to 18 years. Reconciliation did not rank high on the postwar agenda of the unified country's new leaders.

Meanwhile, for the Vietnamese, north and south, the American War has in certain ways only continued. Mines and unexploded ordnance left from that war have inflicted more than 100,000 casualties since the last American troops departed. Even today, the toll caused by Agent Orange and other herbicides that the U.S. Air Force sprayed with abandon over vast stretches of territory continues to mount. The Red Cross calculates that more than one million Vietnamese have suffered health problems, including serious birth defects and cancers as a direct consequence of the promiscuous use of those poisons as weapons of war.

For anyone caring to calculate the moral responsibility of the United States for its actions in Vietnam, all of those would have to find a place on the final balance sheet. The 1.3 million Vietnamese admitted to the United States as immigrants since the American War formally concluded can hardly be said to make up for the immense damage suffered by the people of Vietnam as a direct or indirect result of U.S. policy.

As to what will follow if Washington does succeed in cutting a deal with the Taliban, well, don't count on President Trump (or his successor for that matter) welcoming anything like 1.3 million Afghan refugees to the United States once a "decent interval" has passed. Yet again, our position will be: we're outta here; you guys sort this out.

Near the end of his famed novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald described two of his privileged characters, Tom and Daisy, as "careless people" who "smashed up things and creatures" and then "retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness" to "let other people clean up the mess they had made." That description applies to the United States as a whole, especially when Americans tire of a misguided war. We are a careless people. In Vietnam, we smashed up things and human beings with abandon, only to retreat into our money, leaving others to clean up the mess in a distinctly bloody fashion.

Count on us, probably sooner rather than later, doing precisely the same thing in Afghanistan.


RBHoughton , September 11, 2019 at 1:05 am

Bacevich is right. Vietnam was a tragedy. Here we are at Ground Hog Day in Afghanistan.

I was touched by the author's recollection of Capt Nguyen. I well know that awful moment when , reflecting on some past event, I have recognised my own actions as insensitive, crass and unfeeling. How do we get so wrapped-up in ourselves that the feelings of others hardly impinge on our sensitivities? What happened to society? Is that where the West has gone wrong?

Btw, quote "to judge by the president's twitter account -- currently the authoritative record of U.S. diplomacy" unquote. I hope those owning the Twitter Nest note the future use of their archive.

VietnamVet , September 11, 2019 at 3:42 am

Andrew Bacevich is right. However, there is an amazing human disinclination to face facts but live with delusions which risk extinction for immediate gratification. The lessons from Vietnam were never learned. The Bush/Cheney fateful decision to occupy Afghanistan at the same time as invading Iraq ultimately led to the current predatory corporate military rule that will never voluntarily withdraw from overseas. The intent of the media/intelligence coup against the President is to prevent peace from breaking out. Executives and wealthy shareholders would lose their taxpayer gravy train. The troops and contractors now in Eastern Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are expendable. They will not have two years to get out. No planning, deep-sixing science, and profits over safety all assure that sooner or later there will be another black swan event. Be it Brexit, closure of Strait of Hormuz, subprime auto loans, WWIII, or climate change, assuredly something will give the final push and the American Empire will collapse.

Mattski , September 11, 2019 at 7:43 am

"Après moi, le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society."

No Pasaran , September 11, 2019 at 5:05 am

Prof. Bacevich is very perceptive and he writes well; his essays are always worth reading. Nevertheless, he is a retired US Army officer after all and there is that thing about leopards and spots. There is a tell in this article, when he speaks of the day that Saigon 'fell'. I too remember well that day in April of '75. I was studying in Madison, on the GI Bill. My friends and I all rejoiced on that day, as Saigon had finally been 'liberated'.

Ian Perkins , September 11, 2019 at 11:13 am

I was at high school in the UK, and my friends and I also rejoiced on that day.

Donald , September 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Why rejoice? The point should be that the US had no business in Vietnam, not that one group finally succeeded in uniting the country under the rule of one dictatorial party. Not all Vietnamese welcomed the "liberation" and many died fleeing the country.

I am sure this will be misunderstood, so I'll add that I think that the US role was one massive war crime and we never should have been there at all, that Ho Chi Minh probably would have won a fair election in the 1950's etc

Being antiwar has nothing necessarily to do with favoring the side our government opposes. It simply means that there is no moral justification for the US invading Vietnam or Iraq, supporting jihadists in Syria, helping the Saudis and the Israelis bomb civilians, and so on.

The Rev Kev , September 11, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Prof. Bacevich has an personal stake in what he writes about. His son, Lt. Andrew John Bacevich, was killed in action by an IED during the occupation back in 2007. He was already a severe critic of the war at the time but I am guessing that this underlined the futility of it tall.

Ignacio , September 11, 2019 at 6:01 am

Although it is true that the willing of Trump to put an end to the Afghan occupation must be seen as a positive, his policy of ever increasing military budgets make this affirmation from Bacevich "the incentive for identifying new enemies in settings deemed more congenial becomes all but irresistible" truer that ever. These expenditures must be justified in practical terms and It worries me what the new enemies in Trump's brain are.

fajensen , September 11, 2019 at 8:17 am

One was hoping that the Space Marines would focus The Decider's attention firmly on those pesky Centaurians .

Ignacio , September 11, 2019 at 9:23 am

Ha, ha hah!
Yes, Hollywood has made a big effort to explain us, the common people, that US's military expenses will protect us from Centaurians, Klingons, meteorites and some other rogue invaders. I cannot imagine any other reason.

Steve H. , September 11, 2019 at 6:37 am

> Prizing compliance as a precondition for upward mobility, military service rarely encourages critical thinking.

John Boyd: "And you're going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go." He raised his hand and pointed. "If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments." Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. "Or you can go that way and you can do something -- something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won't have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?" [Robert Coram]

Jesper , September 11, 2019 at 7:42 am

Which is worse? Living in a cave in Afghanistan or living in a prison in Europe/US?
If the invasion of Afghanistan was about capturing some people and then imprisoning them then that question might possibly be relevant.
If the invasion was about prestige then sometimes the best revenge and biggest insult is to treat that someone as irrelevant and insignificant. If the opportunity presents itself to do something then by all means do something, do what prestige demands but if that does not happen then what?
Sometimes the measure of someone is had by the measure of his/her enemies. Giving someone the significance of being the enemy might provide that someone with a better life. There are people with money who'd be willing to fund the enemy of their enemy. But how do those financiers know if they are funding some chancers/charlatans or the real thing? Spread some uncertainty about who are charlatans/chancers and see what happens to the funding . Maybe the guilty ones might feel it necessary to publicly provide the necessary proof of their guilt, doubtful but & if the location of them is found then threaten closure of the diplomatic missions of the nation where they are unless they are handed over. The diplomatic missions are cushy positions and closing them will only hurt the 'elite', the general population is left unharmed.

Afghanistan is unlikely to change anytime soon. As with all predictions of the future that one might be very wrong. However, the ones predicting that Afghanistan can and will change due to military occupation are in my opinion the ones who need to somehow provide support for their prediction.

The Rev Kev , September 11, 2019 at 9:11 am

A few predictions here. After the US and the rest of the Coalition leaves Afghanistan, not much happens for awhile. But then the government starts to lose ground. Slowly at first, and then quickly. Eventually Kabul falls. Long before then the US and other countries would have had evacuated their embassies so that there is no repeat of the frantic helicopter evacuations like happened in Saigon. There is a swell of refugees, particularly those who worked with the Coalition but Trump refuses all entry of them into the US saying that there are "very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers" in Afghanistan.
Five years after the last troops are out of Afghanistan the war is all but forgotten in the same way that the vets of the Korean War were forgotten. Not for nothing did they call Korea the "Forgotten War.' By then the US is immersed in another campaign – probably in Africa – and news about what is happening in Afghanistan is relegated to the back pages. The vets will remember, but the nation will ignore them in the same way that Vietnam vets were forgotten after that war ended until the striking Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in Washington by the vets themselves. In West Point text books, the war is relegated to the back pages as the cadets will instead study peer warfare with Russia and China.

Alex Cox , September 11, 2019 at 1:50 pm

One very important question remains.
By 2001 the Taliban had reduced opium production to virtually zero. Every year since the US/NATO invasion, opium production has increased.
What will the Afghans do when the US and British are no longer around to facilitate the heroin trade? Perhaps that's why negotiations are proving so difficult.

ewmayer , September 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm

"By 2001 the Taliban had reduced opium production to virtually zero."

You need to update things past 2001 :

The Taliban banned the cultivation of opium in 2001, shortly before being ousted by the US-led NATO coalition. However, after 2005, the Taliban began to regroup, and encouraged opium production to finance its insurgency by forcing locals to grow opium and punishing those who refused. Besides, major opium traffickers annually pay vast amounts to the Taliban in exchange for safe transport routes secured by the group.

The Taliban uses the money it collects from the opium trade to pay fighters' salaries, buy fuel, food, weapons and explosives. Based on some reports, around 40% of the Taliban's funding comes from opium production, while the rest of its expenditure is borne by foreign patrons and tax collections. The group's annual income from the opium trade was estimated to be $400 million in 2011, but it is believed to have significantly increased in recent years.

The Taliban collect two types of taxes from opium businesses: a transportation tax from drug trafficking and a 10% tax from opium cultivation. In exchange, the group provides security for the drug convoys and carries out attacks on government institutions like checkpoints in order to allow drug convoys to pass. The group has also launched attacks on government forces to safeguard drug labs and factories.

The Taliban don't need US/UK to facilitate things. In fact, getting the US out of the country might eliminate one of their major Heroin-related business rivals, the CIA.

Ian Perkins , September 11, 2019 at 11:10 am

Bacevich states, "Rule number one of statecraft ought to be: when you're doing something really stupid, stop. To my mind, this rule seems especially applicable when the lives of American soldiers are at stake. In Vietnam, Washington wasted 58,000 of those lives for nothing."
Why does he find his rule especially applicable to the paltry number of US dead, given that at least fifty times as many Indochinese died?
This attitude is surely one reason for the loathing felt by much of the world toward the USA. People are justifiably sick of hearing how US lives are inherently more valuable than their own.

juliania , September 11, 2019 at 12:24 pm

I guess you missed this part of the article:

" That said, I'm painfully aware of the fact that, on the long-ago day when I offered Captain Nguyen my feeble condolences, I lacked the imagination to conceive of the trials about to befall his countrymen. In the aftermath of the American War, something on the order of 800,000 Vietnamese took to open and unseaworthy boats to flee their country. According to estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 boat people died at sea. Most of those who survived were destined to spend years in squalid refugee camps scattered throughout Southeast Asia. Back in Vietnam itself, some 300,000 former ARVN officers and South Vietnamese officials were imprisoned in so-called reeducation camps for up to 18 years. Reconciliation did not rank high on the postwar agenda of the unified country's new leaders.

Meanwhile, for the Vietnamese, north and south, the American War has in certain ways only continued. Mines and unexploded ordnance left from that war have inflicted more than 100,000 casualties since the last American troops departed. Even today, the toll caused by Agent Orange and other herbicides that the U.S. Air Force sprayed with abandon over vast stretches of territory continues to mount. The Red Cross calculates that more than one million Vietnamese have suffered health problems, including serious birth defects and cancers as a direct consequence of the promiscuous use of those poisons as weapons of war.

For anyone caring to calculate the moral responsibility of the United States for its actions in Vietnam, all of those would have to find a place on the final balance sheet. The 1.3 million Vietnamese admitted to the United States as immigrants since the American War formally concluded can hardly be said to make up for the immense damage suffered by the people of Vietnam as a direct or indirect result of U.S. policy ."

Note in particular the phrase "the people of Vietnam" in the last sentence. I find your criticism to be unwarranted.

Ian Perkins , September 11, 2019 at 1:01 pm

I neither missed nor ignored Bacevich's caveat.
I was focusing on his 'rule number one', which seems to make the lives of a few US soldiers more sacred than those of the many people – civilians as well as soldiers – they kill.
I am not trying to say that Bacevich is as evil and abhorrent as say Bolton. I don't think he is, though I suspect he's on the same side when it comes down to it.
I am suggesting that the USA will fail to win the hearts and minds of the world's people while killing them and belittling their deaths.

(and you might note the phrase "can hardly be said to make up for" in the last sentence!)

John Wright , September 11, 2019 at 6:38 pm

As I remember the movie Dr. Strangelove, as the USA nuclear weapon was launched toward Russia, Russia was given an option to destroy some USA cities as a way of the USA doing fair and suitable penance.

I don't imagine the USA's military is viewed in the world as other than operating in the USA elites' interests, despite any media (Cable, internet, print,Hollywood films) verbiage about "bringing democracy" or "bringing freedom" to other nations.

I believe the Peace Corps was established as a way to make the world a better place with USA's expertise and as a way to win "hearts and minds of the world's people".

Per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Corps , the Peace Corps budget in 2018 was 398 million.

The USA defense budget for 2019 is shown as 686 billion putting the Peace Corps budget as 0.058% of the, perhaps understated, defense budget.

I believe winning the world's hearts and minds via USA military action is very unlikely at best.

The small Peace Corps budget is evidence that concern about winning hearts and minds in foreign countries is a very small priority in Washington D.C.

Ford Prefect , September 11, 2019 at 11:44 am

If you fund, arm, and train an army for a decade and it still can't defend itself against insurgents, then you have to wonder whose side is right? If it actually had the backing of the people on the ground and dedicated troops and government, then it should be able to hold its ground well.

The US has had exactly the same outcomes in Vietnam and Afghanistan with training the respective armies.

In Iraq, it is largely coherent tribal entities of Kurds and Shiites that have been providing the backbone of relatively successful military organizations (not the same one despite being in the same country). Both groups have their own independent goals. The US forefeited its abiltiy to create a true national army in Iraq when they disbanded the former Iraqi Army shortly after invading. That resulted in a well-trained insurgency.

Ian Perkins , September 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

"The US has had exactly the same outcomes in Vietnam and Afghanistan with training the respective armies."
Hardly. From 1979 the US funded, armed and trained the Mujaheddin, who won. I'm not aware of them funding, arming or training the Viet Cong or Viet Minh.
They didn't win when they backed the losing sides, that's true. But it isn't saying much beyond the obvious.

Susan the other` , September 11, 2019 at 3:12 pm

I like Bacevich but he really demurred from making his underlying point. He asked "Why Vietnam" and then he proceeded to fluff through that question. But the analogy to Afghanistan remains at a much deeper level. That level (imo) is this: Why Vietnam? Because, at that hysterical cold war turning point, Vietnam was the gateway to Southern China (Gore Vidal). Our main objective was to position ourselves to invade Southern China and protect the old imperialist interests of the UK and France (aka Nato). But we dithered and hesitated. Thank god. It could have been a much worse debacle. So here it is: We invaded Afghanistan and sent a zillion dollars worth of materiel to Iraq in order to take over the Middle East. And that meant invading Iran. But just like China, Iran was a dangerous plan. Too many things could go wrong, so everyone knew they would go wrong. Duh. And so we dithered and hesitated. And made up for it by blatant propaganda for 15 years. We're "outta there" because we should never have been in there. And one of the tragedies is our abandonment of the Kurds. Just like the South Vietnamese. Bacevich didn't mention the Kurds. He implied our abandonment would upset the poor Afghans. But, they won't care at all. They'll be flipping all of our departing helicopters the bird. Still there was a point to be made about our fecklessness. Interesting aside here that Bacevich, a well thought-out moral person, is the new President of the Quincy Institute. It will probably become famous for deep, murky contradictions. And pompous rationalizations without ever really making the point. Just to the taste of Soros and the Kochs.

Susan the other` , September 11, 2019 at 3:25 pm

I suspect, re Afghanistan, there is an upside that will never be made into a finer point. That is, we have worn out the appetite for a wider war for all concerned and managed to come to agreement with all parties of interest in Middle East oil. Including Russia. And Israel. And nobody will make much fuss about it, but we will still leave a very high-tech military contingent in Afghanistan because Eurasia is a vast opportunity.

barrisj , September 11, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Vietnam War strictly motivated by the "Domino Theory" and "monolithic Asian communism", per Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, et al. Kennedy was said to be having "second thoughts" about expanded US presence at the time of his assassination; however, LBJ went all-in, urged on by McNamara and the generals 11 years later it all went tits-up, Nixon ended the draft, all relatively quiet on the war front, then Carter and Brzezinski funded Islamic militants in Afghanistan to harry the Russkies and ca. 20yrs later, Cheney-Bush repeat the Russian quagmire plus ça change etc" .

stan6565 , September 11, 2019 at 3:55 pm

The author is too limited in his appraisals of USA wars, and the commentariat here too polite to expand on the list of the criminal wars waged by the USA since Vietnam.

Iraq and Afghanistan were mentioned, yes, but there were also open wars of aggression against Yugoslavia, then Serbia, Grenada and Libya as well as clandestine wars against a good chunk of the globe, Israel/Palestine, Russian backyard countries, China, Venezuela, a swathe of Central American countries, and so on ad infinitum.

USA's holy grail of subjugating all oil producing countries in the world, except for those that can fight back, and purported payment to those unable to fight back, with readily printable papers of questionable value, is not a long term strategy. Not long term as in 10 or 20 more years. Then what? John Bolton or his clone on a cocktail of steroids and amphetamine, lobbing nuclear weapons indiscriminately all over the place?

The Indispensable Nation.

[Sep 10, 2019] The msm , Hollywood, etc. all sing from the same song-sheet. "USA is great", ignore all the wars they have lost, ignore the astronomical military financial expenditure (declared and hidden)

Sep 05, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Sally Snyder | Sep 5 2019 19:04 utc | 18

The American military is advanced over both Russia and China in one sense - they have access to endless taxpayers' dollars to fund their programs, many of which are complete failures.

Ike , Sep 5 2019 19:45 utc | 23
Putin can offer Trump hyper-sonic missiles knowing he cannot accept. To accept these would display the USA's technical military inferiority for all to see. The msm , Hollywood, etc. all sing from the same song-sheet. "USA is great", ignore all the wars they have lost, ignore the astronomical military financial expenditure (declared and hidden).

Just like Reagan's star-wars program public perception is everything

[Sep 10, 2019] If bombing is/was punishment for use chemical weapons, US would have to keep bombing itself to this day , as punishments for what they did to Vietnam

Sep 10, 2019 | www.unz.com

Paw , says: September 10, 2019 at 3:26 am GMT

If bombing is/was punishment for use chemical weapons , US would have to keep bombing itself to this day , as punishments for what they did to Vietnam ..And elsewhere.

On its own population as well..

[Sep 10, 2019] Behaving like a normal country

Sep 10, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Martin , Sep 10 2019 4:56 utc | 24

As newly appointed US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, was reported to have claimed about wanting for Russia to ''behave like a normal country'', Sergey Lavrov urged for him to clarify what he means by ''normality'' during a press conference in the Russian capital; if Russia was to behave like the US, it would have had to bomb Iraq, Libya, supporting an armed, anti-constitutional coup in Kiev, and allocating millions in the interference in the affairs of other countries, as in the ''promotion of democracy'' in Russia.

Sergey Shoygu did not have much to add, but what he did add could not be clearer: Russia will probably have to remain being ''not normal''.

[Sep 10, 2019] A recurring theme in international relations and diplomacy is that dealing with the Americans is like dealing with children. Of course when the American is trying to kill you, as they a often want to do, the actions of the petulant child take on new meaning.

Notable quotes:
"... For the detached observer the juvenile behavior of groups of Americans is plain to see, both in this comment section and in the world at large. ..."
"... This is somewhat curious as this "normal nation" seems to have hit the neocon talking points as SecDef Esper used similiar phrase as applied to Russia. Russian MinFin responded: "he called upon us to act as a normal country [as such] and not like the United States," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing in the Russian capital: Otherwise, we should have been acting like the US, bombing Iraq and Libya in blatant violation of international law " ..."
"... If there is any country in the world that is less "normal" in the scope and ambitions of its foreign policy than ours, I can't think of which one it would be ..."
"... I can think of one in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. As a matter of fact, USA's foreign policy is their foreign policy. ..."
"... This is somewhat curious as this "normal nation" seems to have hit the neocon talking points as SecDef Esper used similar phrase as applied to Russia. ..."
"... Russian MinFin responded: "he called upon us to act as a normal country [as such] and not like the United States," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing in the Russian capital: Otherwise, we should have been acting like the US, bombing Iraq and Libya in blatant violation of international law " ..."
"... Similar to his rhetoric about other countries not following the "rules-based order". The US, which abandons and ignores treaties, or doesn't enter them in the first place but lectures others who have that they need to follow them. Who refuses to be judged by the ICC, UN and others yet wants them to hold others to account. And who call for regime-change of others based on rigged or suspect elections, yet refuses to fix its own crappy system and corruption. ..."
Sep 10, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

ted01 , Sep 10 2019 7:17 utc | 26

"...and hope an adult wins."

This can never happen. All Americans are inherently childish. They are all a product of the same environment, the same educational system and the same all pervasive 'cultural' influences. This transcends ethnic boundaries for those born in the US or those who arrived at an early age.

For the detached observer the juvenile behavior of groups of Americans is plain to see, both in this comment section and in the world at large.

A recurring theme in international relations and diplomacy is that dealing with 'the Americans' is like dealing with children. Of course when the American is trying to kill you, as they a often want to do, the actions of the petulant child take on new meaning.

Taras77 11 hours ago
This is somewhat curious as this "normal nation" seems to have hit the neocon talking points as SecDef Esper used similiar phrase as applied to Russia.
Russian MinFin responded: "he called upon us to act as a normal country [as such] and not like the United States," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing in the Russian capital: Otherwise, we should have been acting like the US, bombing Iraq and Libya in blatant violation of international law "
Chris in Appalachia 10 hours ago
" If there is any country in the world that is less "normal" in the scope and ambitions of its foreign policy than ours, I can't think of which one it would be."

I can think of one in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. As a matter of fact, USA's foreign policy is their foreign policy.

Taras77 11 hours ago
This is somewhat curious as this "normal nation" seems to have hit the neocon talking points as SecDef Esper used similar phrase as applied to Russia.

Russian MinFin responded: "he called upon us to act as a normal country [as such] and not like the United States," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press briefing in the Russian capital: Otherwise, we should have been acting like the US, bombing Iraq and Libya in blatant violation of international law "

Chris in Appalachia 10 hours ago
" If there is any country in the world that is less "normal" in the scope and ambitions of its foreign policy than ours, I can't think of which one it would be."

I can think of one in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. As a matter of fact, USA's foreign policy is their foreign policy.

Humboldt Octopus 7 hours ago
Similar to his rhetoric about other countries not following the "rules-based order". The US, which abandons and ignores treaties, or doesn't enter them in the first place but lectures others who have that they need to follow them. Who refuses to be judged by the ICC, UN and others yet wants them to hold others to account. And who call for regime-change of others based on rigged or suspect elections, yet refuses to fix its own crappy system and corruption.

This is also a thing about leftists with Trump Derangement Syndrome, who are oh-so-upset about Trump, either ignorant or lying that he's at all an aberration. The US has consistently flouted international law, waged illegal wars and staged violent coups and assassinations, and killed tens of thousands of innocents, under nearly all Presidents, including Obama.

[Sep 10, 2019] Trump has, unfortunately, shown himself to be completely untrustworthy on the international stage

Notable quotes:
"... I personally suspect that Trump has a negative net worth, and hopes that if he marches to Adelson's orders, he might get a nice pay-off at the end. It's the only thing that explains all this. ..."
Sep 10, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Kent19 hours ago

I think it is highly unlikely Trump can pull off detente with the Chinese or anyone else before the next election. He has, unfortunately, shown himself to be completely untrustworthy on the international stage. Under what circumstance are the Chinese going to sign some agreement with him, when he might just throw out new tariffs a week later?

What are the Taliban going to agree to when the US wants to leave thousands of troops in Afghanistan?

I personally suspect that Trump has a negative net worth, and hopes that if he marches to Adelson's orders, he might get a nice pay-off at the end. It's the only thing that explains all this.

[Sep 09, 2019] American exceptionalism, for example, takes it for granted that we in the West are good, and therefore the East must become more like us

Sep 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

wardropper

And we certainly must stop talking about "taking down" the Chinese, and instead actually try to understand where they come from, with their roots in a far more ancient civilized society than ours.

. But we are logically, and morally, obliged to look at this from the opposite perspective too: What if the Chinese take it for granted that they are good, and therefore the West must become more like them?

I have been to China, and found the people there to consist of the same mixtures of honest, good, nondescript, sinister and deplorable as we have here at home.

They also share exactly the same fundamental problem as we do: Their politicians and their people, like ours, are two entirely separate things. Of course the origins of Chinese, or Russian, society are different from ours, but that is no reason to despise them. Our origins are often pretty despicable too.

[Sep 09, 2019] "'The New Normal': Trump's 'China Bind' Can Be Iran's Opportunity" by Alastair Crooke, and "Who Is Holding Back the Russian Economy?" by Tom Luongo.

Notable quotes:
"... Twice in the same sentence we get told what that assumption is: "America's technology leadership" which so clearly no longer exists in weaponry, electronics, nuclear engineering, rocketry, high speed rail and mass transportation, low energy building techniques, and a host of other realms. This same sort of thinking pervades every defense doctrine paper produced during Trump's administration--the planners have eaten and all too well digested their own propaganda about the backwardness of Russia, China and Iran. ..."
"... This does not imply some rabid anti-Americanism, but simply the experience that that path is pointless. If there is a 'clock being played out', it is that of the tic-toc of western political and economic hegemony in the Middle East is running down ..."
"... [with] Iran repeating the same old routines, whilst expecting different outcomes is, of course, one definition of madness. A new US Administration will inherit the same genes as the last. ..."
"... "And in any case, the US is institutionally incapable of making a substantive deal with Iran. A US President – any President – cannot lift Congressional sanctions on Iran. The American multitudinous sanctions on Iran have become a decades' long knot of interpenetrating legislation: a vast rhizome of tangled, root-legislation that not even Alexander the Great might disentangle: that is why the JCPOA was constructed around a core of US Presidential 'waivers' needing to be renewed each six months. Whatever might be agreed in the future, the sanctions – 'waived' or not – are, as it were, 'forever'. ..."
"... "If recent history has taught the Iranians anything, it is that such flimsy 'process' in the hands of a mercurial US President can simply be blown away like old dead leaves. Yes, the US has a systemic problem: US sanctions are a one-way valve: so easy to flow out, but once poured forth, there is no return inlet (beyond uncertain waivers issued at the pleasure of an incumbent President)." ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Speculation's abounded about the political loyalty of the head of Russia's central bank Elvira Nabullina. Luongo simply explains:

"Nabullina has always been a controversial figure because she is western trained and because the banking system in Russia is still staffed by those who operate along IMF prescriptions on how to deal with crises.

"But those IMF rules are there to protect the IMF making the loans to the troubled nation, not to assist the troubled nation actually recover....

"The fundamental problem is a miseducation about what interest rates are, and how they interact with inflation and capital flow. Because of this, the medicine for saving an economy in trouble is, more often than not, worse than the disease itself.

"If Argentina's fourth default in twenty years doesn't prove that to you, nothing will."

It sounds like he's been reading Hudson's J is for Junk Economics !

The real rescue is Putin's aggressive de-dollarization policy that's finally rid Russia of "dollar-dependency":

"She [Nabullina] keeps jumping at the shadows of a dollar-induced crisis. But the Russian economy of 2019 is not the Russian economy of 2015. Dollar lending has all but evaporated and the major source of demand for dollars domestically are legacy corporate loans not converted to rubles or euros."

The key for me is to weave the content emphasis of Putin's Eastern Economic Conference speech with his increasing pressure on Nabullina for the bank to support this very important development policy direction and show China and other nations that Russia's extremely serious about the direction being taken. Just Putin's language about mortgage rate reductions as an attracter ought to be a huge message for Nabullina to respond properly. And a further kick in the pants was provided by the massive deal announced between China and Iran. Luongo briefly alludes to foreign policy in his article, its regional economic aspects, while omitting aspects hidden by the US-China Trade War, specifically Russia's now very clear technological supremacy to the Outlaw US Empire.

This brings us to Crooke's article in which he inadvertently tells us the #1 false assumption in Trump's Trade War policy with China:

"To defend America's technology leadership , policymakers must upgrade their toolkit to ensure that US technology leadership can withstand the aftershocks." [My Emphasis]

Twice in the same sentence we get told what that assumption is: "America's technology leadership" which so clearly no longer exists in weaponry, electronics, nuclear engineering, rocketry, high speed rail and mass transportation, low energy building techniques, and a host of other realms. This same sort of thinking pervades every defense doctrine paper produced during Trump's administration--the planners have eaten and all too well digested their own propaganda about the backwardness of Russia, China and Iran.

I could write further about the supposed handcuffing of POTUS by the unconstitutional and illegal sanction regime "imposed" by the US Congress. Crooke mentions as a significant hindrance--but if it was indeed a hindrance, any POTUS could break it by suing to prove its unconstitutional, illegal standing, yet no effort is put into that, begging the question Why? Crooke spends lots of space about this but fails to see the above solution:

"The pages to that chapter have been shut. This does not imply some rabid anti-Americanism, but simply the experience that that path is pointless. If there is a 'clock being played out', it is that of the tic-toc of western political and economic hegemony in the Middle East is running down , and not the 'clock' of US domestic politics. The old adage that the 'sea is always the sea' holds true for US foreign policy.

And [with] Iran repeating the same old routines, whilst expecting different outcomes is, of course, one definition of madness. A new US Administration will inherit the same genes as the last.

"And in any case, the US is institutionally incapable of making a substantive deal with Iran. A US President – any President – cannot lift Congressional sanctions on Iran. The American multitudinous sanctions on Iran have become a decades' long knot of interpenetrating legislation: a vast rhizome of tangled, root-legislation that not even Alexander the Great might disentangle: that is why the JCPOA was constructed around a core of US Presidential 'waivers' needing to be renewed each six months. Whatever might be agreed in the future, the sanctions – 'waived' or not – are, as it were, 'forever'.

"If recent history has taught the Iranians anything, it is that such flimsy 'process' in the hands of a mercurial US President can simply be blown away like old dead leaves. Yes, the US has a systemic problem: US sanctions are a one-way valve: so easy to flow out, but once poured forth, there is no return inlet (beyond uncertain waivers issued at the pleasure of an incumbent President)."

Being British, we should excuse Crooke for not knowing about the crucial Supremacy Clause within the US Constitution, but that doesn't absolve any POTUS if that person is really intent on talking with Iran--or any other sanctioned nation. IMO, the Iranians know what I know and have finally decided the Outlaw US Empire's marriage to Occupied Palestine won't suffer a divorce anytime soon. The result is the recent very active change in policy direction aimed at solidifying the Arc of Resistance and establishing a Persian Gulf Collective Security Pact that will end in check mating the Empire's King thus causing further economic problems for the Empire.

Crooke does a good job of summarizing my comment and many more made over the year regarding the reasons for the utter failure of Outlaw US Empire policy:

"Well, here is the key point: Washington seems to have lost the ability to summon the resources to try to fathom either China, or the Iranian 'closed book', let alone a 'Byzantine' Russia. It is a colossal attenuation of consciousness in Washington; a loss of conscious 'vitality' to the grip of some 'irrefutable logic' that allows no empathy, no outreach, to 'otherness'. Washington (and some European élites) have retreated into their 'niche' consciousness, their mental enclave, gated and protected, from having to understand – or engage – with wider human experience."

The only real way for the Outlaw US Empire to regain its competitive "niche" with the rest of the world is to mount a massive program of internal reform verging on a revolution in its outcome. It's patently obvious that more of the same will yield more of the same--FAILURE--and the chorus of inane caterwauling by BigLie Media over where to place the blame.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 9 2019 17:24 utc | 118

[Sep 08, 2019] The Case for Restraint Drawing the Curtain on the American Empire by Stewart M. Patrick

Notable quotes:
"... " Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Do Better) " is a scalding indictment not only of the 45th U.S. president, but also of a morally bankrupt national security establishment whose addiction to empire has embroiled the nation in misbegotten military misadventures. ..."
"... Glaser, Preble and Thrall see Trump -- the "least informed, least experienced, and least intellectually prepared U.S. president in modern memory" -- as more bark than bite. True, he has altered specific U.S. positions on trade (more protectionism), immigration (greater closure) and human rights (deafening silence). But, on balance, they perceive a depressing continuity between Trump's foreign policy and what preceded it. Abetted by an invertebrate Congress and emboldened by the military-industrial complex, Trump has doubled down on the imperial presidency, on inflated threat perceptions, on defense spending and on the pursuit of global domination. In so doing, they claim, Trump is setting a course for continued interventionism that is at odds with U.S. ideals and dangerous to American liberty. ... ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.worldpoliticsreview.com

In a provocative new book, three scholars from the libertarian Cato Institute -- John Glaser, Christopher A. Preble and A. Trevor Thrall -- counsel the United States to abandon the pursuit of global primacy for a policy of prudence and restraint. " Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Do Better) " is a scalding indictment not only of the 45th U.S. president, but also of a morally bankrupt national security establishment whose addiction to empire has embroiled the nation in misbegotten military misadventures. American foreign policy professionals may cast the United States as a benevolent hegemon, defending the liberal or "rules-based" international order. But this self-serving argument is hard to take seriously, they write, given the hubris, hypocrisy and coerciveness of the American imperium.

The most surprising argument in "Fuel to the Fire" is that this misguided orientation has persisted under Donald Trump. This seems counterintuitive. Washington's mandarins have recoiled in bipartisan horror as the president dismantles their handiwork and pursues his "America First" agenda. Glaser, Preble and Thrall see Trump -- the "least informed, least experienced, and least intellectually prepared U.S. president in modern memory" -- as more bark than bite. True, he has altered specific U.S. positions on trade (more protectionism), immigration (greater closure) and human rights (deafening silence). But, on balance, they perceive a depressing continuity between Trump's foreign policy and what preceded it. Abetted by an invertebrate Congress and emboldened by the military-industrial complex, Trump has doubled down on the imperial presidency, on inflated threat perceptions, on defense spending and on the pursuit of global domination. In so doing, they claim, Trump is setting a course for continued interventionism that is at odds with U.S. ideals and dangerous to American liberty. ...

[Sep 06, 2019] Didn't I tell you American get their reality from their Plato's Cave screens?

Sep 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Gruff , Sep 5 2019 20:00 utc | 28

"Do you really think they spend $400 on a hammer?"

That line comes straight out of a movie . Didn't I tell you American get their reality from their Plato's Cave screens?

I briefly worked in a machine shop that did DoD contract work. We would buy washers by the pound from the hardware store down the street, heat seal them individually into little plastic baggies with the part number printed on them, and then sell them to the Navy for $50 each .

Yeah, the military pays $400 each, if not a good deal more, for their hammers.

[Sep 06, 2019] The Myopia of American Strategic Planning

they will spend a lot of money replicating Russian technology...
Sep 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Grieved , Sep 6 2019 2:14 utc | 103
I actually had read that news report in Tass about Putin's offer to Trump and I didn't regard it as trolling until I saw b's article. Putin's logic was that Russia had already invested the money and could make some back, and meanwhile the US could save some money and move towards a strategic parity - which I believe Russia would actually prefer over a superiority, since a stable balance is far less frantic than an arms race.

So it all made sense to me.

This has been a fun thread but it's all a nonsense here tonight of course. Pity. I liked what I was reading from Putin:

Putin told the plenary session of the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on Thursday that at the last meeting with his American partners in Osaka, Japan "the issue was raised as to how and in what way it would be possible to count Russian modern weapons, including the hypersonic missile systems, into the common agreements, considering that so far not a single country in the world possesses these weapons, not even the US."

"I told Donald the following: "if you want, we can sell you some and this way we will balance everything out. But truth be told, they are saying that they will soon produce it themselves.

Perhaps they will, but why waste money when we already have spent some and can get something back, and at the same time not harm our security but rather create a situation where there is a balance," Putin elaborated.

G'night all.


Tonymike , Sep 5 2019 17:54 utc | 8

In reading this excellent brief analysis, I would suggest that followers read the also excellent books, Losing Military Supremacy "The Myopia of American Strategic Planning" by Andrei Martyanov and In the Shadows of the American Century "The Rise and Decline of US Global Power," by Alfred w. McCoy, to get an understanding of the minds of the Military Industrial Complex. The book by Mr. Martyanov provides examples of why the American military can't win battles against 2nd and 3rd peer adversaries (Vietnam (The American War as the Vietnamese call it), Korean War (The UN Police Action), Afghanistan War, and their future inability to win any future wars against a 1st peer adversary (Russia, China). The American military tells itself it is a great fighting force without peer but it also believes it's own press that the US military brought the German Werhmarcht to their knees, when we know the Russians won War World II. McCoy's book, which is well researched, also states the same premise but from an american perspective.

The MIC will be the downfall of the US and it the deepest of the Deep State. The 1 TRILLION dollar yearly military budget (minus the unknown Black budget) will bankrupt this country. It is also unfortunate that the noble peace prize winner Obama, authorized a Trillion dollar upgrade to the US nuclear arsenal, when he could have halved the number of warheads and still had plenty to destroy the planet a hundred times over. So much for the prince of peace.
We would also do well to stop giving other countries billions in military aid (israhell, saudi barbaria, UAE, etc) to drop bombs and snipe poor people attempting to live free. Hopefully the end is near.

PS: If you want to read a near term fictional book on the demise of the MIC and changes to the culture in America, the book "Twilight's Last Gleaming" by John Michael Greer is spellbinding and a great read. Interestingly enough, he has written over thirty books and writes about post industrial collapse and their outcomes.

steven t johnson , Sep 5 2019 20:01 utc | 29
Carriers are floating air bases for attacking weaker nations with miniscule inexperienced air forces and skimpy ground air defense. They are for force projection in wars of aggression, not general wars in defense of the nation. The only sense in which they are weaknesses is that high losses for the master race that expects easy victory are doubly shocking.

Stealth aircraft are equally first strike weapons aimed at knocking out radar, hitting enemy planes on the ground and sowing confusion. As they are not tactical aircraft such flaws as rain shadow, etc. that render them unfit combat aircraft against an enemy in the air may be irrelevant.

Missile defenses have a lousy record against missiles in flight, but the radar targeting makes them very adaptable as first strike weapons against enemy launch sites. All "antimissile" missile defense systems should be regarded as being an effort in that direction. Air defense systems that concentrate on electronic warfare, confusing the air with flak, taking down manned aircraft, camouflage, etc. are something else, unromantic but vital.

Nobody can effectively use mass drone attacks or cruise missile attacks for strategic victory, because strategic bombing does not actually work without ground attacks interdicting supplies and/or actively preventing rebuilding/reorganization. Thus it is not a meaningful failure for US air defenses to fail against Houthi air attacks. The Houthi air attacks are also not going to win the war. The inability of the Saudis to win ground loses it for them, meaning endless war is financially debilitating, plus, again, self-sacrifice is not something the Saudi monarchy can call upon.

Lastly, the Russians do no have hypersonic weapons. Even if they did, the notion that weapon systems largely useful in first strikes indicates a horrible misreading of Russia's military situation. There is no reasonable strategy for them that involves a first strike.

Bemildred , Sep 6 2019 7:23 utc | 120
Meanwhile, in reality:
WASHINGTON: Yesterday, the Army awarded two key contracts to catch up to Russia and China in the race to field battle-ready hypersonic missiles. After years of one-off experimental prototypes, the US plans to produce and field actual weapons.

Hypersonics: Army Awards $699M To Build First Missiles For A Combat Unit

Barovsky , Sep 6 2019 11:35 utc | 131
FYI:

https://southfront.org/us-army-awards-two-key-hypersonic-missile-contracts/

Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

The race for hypersonic missiles heated up last week when the US Army awarded two key contracts to catch up to Russia and China. After a decade of experimental prototypes, the Army is expected to get its hands on hypersonic missiles that will be fielded in the next four years, reported Breaking Defense.

Harry Law , Sep 6 2019 12:36 utc | 136
"Carriers are today, at least for Russia, India and China, not threats but large and juicy targets".

Gary Brecher 'the war nerd' said years ago that carriers were obsolete this article both informative and witty is a must read...

"The Chinese military has developed a ballistic missile, Dong Feng 21, specifically designed to kill US aircraft carriers: "Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes." That's the US Naval Institute talking, remember. They're understating the case when they say that, with speed, satellite guidance and maneuverability like that, "the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased."

You know why that's an understatement? Because of a short little sentence I found farther on in the article -- and before you read that sentence, I want all you trusting Pentagon groupies to promise me that you'll think hard about what it implies. Here's the sentence: "Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack." http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-this-is-how-the-carriers-will-die/

[Sep 04, 2019] Veterans Mattis Spent Career Tending the Status Quo The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... But what happens when those "standards of excellence" lead to 20 years of fighting unwinnable wars on the peripheries of the planet? When do habits and practices turn into mental stagnation? ..."
"... You know when it comes to generals, whether they're Marines, whether they're Army, whether they're Mattis who's supposedly this "warrior monk," these guys talk tactics and then claim it's strategy. What they consider to be strategic thinking really is just tactical thinking on a broad scale . I think the biggest problem with all the four-star generals are they're "how" thinkers not "if" thinkers. ..."
"... This inability of America's elites (including its generals) to grapple with strategic concepts is a result of the United States' post-Cold War unipolar moment. When there's only one superpower, geopolitics and the need for international balancing fall by the wayside. ..."
"... Mattis, like virtually all of his four-star peers, is a reactionary, fighting every day against the forces of change in modern warfare ..."
"... "[W]hen you shave it all down, his problem with being the epitome of establishment Washington is that he sees the alliance as the end, not as a means to an end," says Davis. "The means should be to the end of improving American security and supporting our interests." ..."
"... "By clinging to unsustainable military solutions from the distant past, he has condemned future generations of soldiers and marines to repeat disasters like Pickett's Charge," says Macgregor. ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy op-ed written by former secretary of defense James Mattis, his first public statement since his resignation in December. The article is adopted from his forthcoming book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead , out this week.

The former Pentagon chief opens a window into his decision making process, explaining that accepting President Trump's nomination was part of his lifelong devotion to public service: "When the president asks you to do something, you don't play Hamlet on the wall, wringing your hands. So long as you are prepared, you say yes." Mattis's two years at DoD capped off 44 years in the Marine Corps, where he gained a popular following as a tough and scholarly leader.

Mattis received widespread praise from the foreign policy establishment when he resigned in protest over President Trump's directive for a full U.S. military withdrawal from Syria and a partial withdrawal from Afghanistan. "When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign, despite the limitless joy I felt serving alongside our troops in defense of our Constitution," he writes.

But did Mattis really offer "concrete solutions and strategic advice" regarding America's two decades of endless war? spoke with four military experts, all veterans, who painted a very different picture of the man called "Mad Dog."

"I think over time, in General Mattis's case a little over 40 years, if you spend that many years in an institution, it is extremely hard not to get institutionalized," says Gil Barndollar, military fellow-in-residence at the Catholic University of America's Center for the Study of Statesmanship. Barndollar served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps and deployed twice to Afghanistan. "In my experiences, there are not too many iconoclasts or really outside-the-box people in the higher ranks of the U.S. military."

It's just that sort of institutionalized thinking that makes the political establishment love Mattis. "[A] person with an institutional mind-set has a deep reverence for the organization he has joined and how it was built by those who came before. He understands that institutions pass down certain habits, practices and standards of excellence," wrote David Brooks in a hagiographic New York Times column .

But what happens when those "standards of excellence" lead to 20 years of fighting unwinnable wars on the peripheries of the planet? When do habits and practices turn into mental stagnation?

"The problem is, from at least the one-star the whole way through, for the last two decades, you've seen them do nothing but just repeat the status quo over and over," observes Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis, a senior fellow at Defense Priorities, who served 21 years in the U.S. Army and deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan. "I mean every single general that was in charge of Afghanistan said almost the same boilerplate thing every time they came in (which was nearly one a year). You see the same results, nothing changed."

"And if those guys took someone from a major to a two-star general, we'd probably have a lot of better outcomes," he adds.

Major Danny Sjursen, who served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, agrees:

You know when it comes to generals, whether they're Marines, whether they're Army, whether they're Mattis who's supposedly this "warrior monk," these guys talk tactics and then claim it's strategy. What they consider to be strategic thinking really is just tactical thinking on a broad scale . I think the biggest problem with all the four-star generals are they're "how" thinkers not "if" thinkers.

Barndollar says: "The vast majority of military leaders, up to and including generals at the three-, four-star level, are not operating at the strategic level, in terms of what that word means in military doctrine. They're not operating at the level of massive nation-state resources and alliances and things like that. They're at the operational level or often even at the tactical level."

This inability of America's elites (including its generals) to grapple with strategic concepts is a result of the United States' post-Cold War unipolar moment. When there's only one superpower, geopolitics and the need for international balancing fall by the wayside.

The only component of national security policy Mattis discusses in his op-ed is America's system of alliances, which he believes is the key to our preeminence on the world stage. "Returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we occupy together," he writes.

"Mattis, like virtually all of his four-star peers, is a reactionary, fighting every day against the forces of change in modern warfare," counters Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who served 28 years in the U.S. Army. "He lives in denial of the technological breakthroughs that make the World War II force structure (that he as SecDef insisted on funding) an expensive tribute to the past."

Mattis muses that the Department of Defense "budget [is] larger than the GDPs of all but two dozen countries." Yet having acknowledged that disparity, how can such underpowered foreign nations possibly contribute to American security?

"He has that line in there about bringing as many guns as possible to a gun fight. What are those guns?" asked Barndollar. For example, the British Royal Navy is the United States' most significant allied naval force. But the United Kingdom has only seven vessels stationed in the Persian Gulf and they're "stretched to the absolute limit to do that."

"Our problem has been double-edged," says Davis of America's reliance on others. "On the one hand, we try to bludgeon a lot of our allies to do what we want irrespective of their interests as an asset. And then simultaneously, especially in previous administrations, we've almost gone too far [in] the other direction: 'we'll subordinate our interests for yours.'"

"[W]hen you shave it all down, his problem with being the epitome of establishment Washington is that he sees the alliance as the end, not as a means to an end," says Davis. "The means should be to the end of improving American security and supporting our interests."

Sjursen says:

Mattis's view is the old Einstein adage: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity." Well that's all he's proposed. He has no new or creative solutions. For him, it's stay the course, more of the same, stay in place, fight the terrorists, maintain the illegitimate and corrupt governments that we back. That's what he's been talking about for 18 years. It's all the same interventionist dogma that's failed us over and over again since September 12, 2001.

"In the two years he was in office, what did he do that changed anything? He was a caretaker of the status quo. That's the bottom line," says Davis, adding, "you need somebody in that job especially that is willing to take some chances and some risk and is willing to honestly look at 18 consecutive years of failure and say, 'We're not doing that anymore. We're going to do something different.' And that just never happened."

Barndollar is more generous in his estimation of Mattis: "He needs to be lauded for standing for his principles, ultimately walking away when he decided he could no longer execute U.S. national security policy. I give him all the credit for that, for doing it I think in a relatively good manner, and for trying to do his best to stay above the fray and refuse to be dragged in at a partisan level to this point."

Mattis ends his Wall Street Journal op-ed by recounting a vignette from the 2010 Battle of Marjah, where he spoke with two soldiers on the front lines and in good cheer. But his story didn't sit well with Sjursen, who says it encapsulates Mattis' inability to ask the bigger questions: "He never talks about how those charming soldiers with the can-do attitude maybe shouldn't have been there at all. Maybe the mission that they were asked to do was ill-informed, ill-advised, and potentially unwinnable."

All this suggests that a fair evaluation of Mattis is as a soldier who is intelligent but unoriginal. A homegrown patriot, but one who'd like to plant the Stars and Stripes in Central Asia forever. A public servant, but one who would rather resign than serve the cause of restraint.

"By clinging to unsustainable military solutions from the distant past, he has condemned future generations of soldiers and marines to repeat disasters like Pickett's Charge," says Macgregor.

Hunter DeRensis is a reporter for The National Interest . Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis .

[Sep 04, 2019] America's-Own Ministry Of Truth Unleashes The Military To Fight Disinformation

Notable quotes:
"... The Soviets tried to police thought but it was an embarrassing failure. What makes America think they can achieve better results? ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

When "disinformation" is redefined to include all potentially polarizing stories that don't conform to the establishment narrative, reality is discarded as so much fake news and replaced with Pentagon-approved pablum ...

... ... ...

But perhaps the worst part about all of this is that the government itself, including the Pentagon, has an extensive history of running fake social media profiles to collect data on persons of interest , including through the NSA's JTRIG information-war program revealed in the Snowden documents. Agents regularly deploy reputational attacks against dissidents using false information. Fake identities are used to cajole unsuspecting individuals into collaborating in fake FBI "terror" plots, a phenomenon which might once have been called entrapment but is merely business as usual in the post-9/11 U.S.SA.

All of this begs the question: how will DARPA determine the "intent" behind any meme or bit of information? Will they punish journalists who push fakes for the political establishment? Probably not. This is where the "impact" and "intent" fields come in handy for them: fakes from "trusted sources" will be let through, while fakes and real stories designed to "undermine key individuals and organizations" (dissent and those who seek freedom from the political class) will be terminated before they have an impact on the thoughts of others. When "disinformation" is redefined to include all potentially polarizing stories that don't conform to the establishment narrative, reality is discarded as so much fake news and replaced with Pentagon-approved pablum.


beijing expat , 40 minutes ago link

The Soviets tried to police thought but it was an embarrassing failure. What makes America think they can achieve better results? Rather than risk the embarrassment of failure, perhaps the pentagon should simply exterminate the human population and replace us with robots programmed to consume and obey. Consume and obey. That's all they want from us. And in refusing to do so, the people have failed the ruling class.

07564111 , 39 minutes ago link

Plan B ;-)

TheFQ , 32 minutes ago link

Or GULAGS...

[Sep 04, 2019] A Debauched Culture Leads to a Debauched Foreign Policy

The author should use the word "neoliberal" instead of "debauched"
Notable quotes:
"... When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control. ..."
"... In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power. ..."
"... The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy? ..."
"... Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution. ..."
"... Belligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism ..."
"... I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it. ..."
"... The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out. ..."
"... We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us. ..."
"... It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment. ..."
"... The problem is that we are led by sociopaths. ..."
"... This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted. ..."
"... I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package. ..."
Sep 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
TAC are no doubt familiar with the truism that "politics is downstream of culture." This maxim, which is undoubtedly true, should not, however, only be applied to social issues. In fact, culture shapes our public policy very broadly, far more than do dispassionate "policymakers" exercising careful reason and judgment. The nature of our governance tends to reflect the cultural and philosophical orientation of our elites, and this orientation is increasingly debauched.

When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control.

All the great religious and philosophical traditions understood that there is a part of our nature that can get out of control and a divine part that can exert control. A culture thus becomes debauched when elites lose the sense that they need to rein themselves in, that "there is an immortal essence presiding like a king over" their appetites, as Walter Lippmann put it. In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power.

The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy?

Let's start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home? One might surmise, for example, that their lack of self-control might cause them to spend federal money as a means of keeping themselves in power. They might also attempt to bribe their constituents by promising a variety of domestic programs while also pledging that the programs will be funded out of the pockets of others. If they were really debauched, they might even borrow money from future generations to pay for these incumbency protection initiatives. They might run up staggering debt for the sake of their expedient political needs and promise that "the rich" can provide for it all. In short, the hallmark domestic policy of a debauched democracy is, and has always been, class warfare.

It should be pointed out that class warfare is not simply a creation of demagogues on the left. Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution.

While most conservatives might agree about the dangers of class warfare, it is on the foreign policy front where they seem most debauched themselves. They remain stuck in a vortex of GOP clichés, with standard references to Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, leaders who were closer in their time to the American Civil War than we are to them now. For many of these "conservatives," every contemporary authoritarian leader is the progeny of Hitler and any attempt to establish cordial relations is a rerun of Munich 1938.

As with domestic policy, the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others with no particular nexus to the national interest. A debauched foreign policy might just look like the decision to invade Iraq -- a war whose supporters offered numerous justifications, including alleged weapons of mass destruction, democracy promotion, and anti-terrorism. Yet in hindsight, its real cause seems to have been the simple desire by our leaders to impose their will. In a debauched democracy, class warfare is the paradigmatic domestic policy and profligate war making is the paradigmatic foreign policy.

Given that self-control and restraint are the hallmarks of a genuinely conservative foreign policy -- because they remain humble about what human nature can actually achieve -- one should receive the recent conference on national conservatism with some skepticism . The retinue of experts who spoke generally espoused a foreign policy that sought dominion over others -- in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. This may be nationalism, but it seems not to be conservatism.

One hopes that the leaders of this new movement will re-consider their foreign policy orientation as they have increasingly formidable resources to draw upon. The creation of the Quincy Institute and the rise of an intellectually formidable network of foreign policy "restrainers" provide hope.

Given that culture is king, however, these intellectuals may want to keep top of mind that restraint is not simply a policy option but a character trait -- a virtue -- that needs to be developed in leaders who are then elevated. Prudent policies are no doubt essential but the most important challenge in politics is, and always will be, attracting and encouraging the best leaders to rule. Our system often does the opposite. This is at root a cultural problem.

William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America, and author of the new book Democracy and Imperialism .


Chris in Appalachia 21 hours ago

Belligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism. The two opposing teams loathe each other.

Other than that, a good analysis.

Wayne Lusvardi 19 hours ago
I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it.

Moreover, has the author never heard of the concept "reasons of state"?: a purely political reason for action on the part of a ruler or government, especially where a departure from openness, justice, or honesty is involved (e.g. "the king returned that he had reasons of state for all he did"). In an existential emergency, would the leader of a nation be justified in using amoral means to save his nation; but in all other circumstances should rely on conventional Christian morality as the default position? This is what Pres. Truman apparently did when he dropped a-bombs on two Japanese cities. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer was apparently involved with in the assassination attempt on Hitler. What Moses was embroiled with when he slayed 3,000 of his "debauched" followers in the Exodus from Egypt.

The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out.

The opponent who beat her in the election promised the opposite and pretty much has delivered on his promises. Just how is the current administration "unrestrained" other than he has not fulfilled pacifist's fantasies of pulling out of every foreign country and conflict? Such pull outs have to be weighed on a case by case basis to determine the cost to human life and world order. If the current administration has a policy it is that our allies have to fight and fund their own wars and conflicts rather than rely on the U.S. to fight their wars for them.

The article is full of inflationary clichés ('politics is downstream of culture', 'class warfare', etc. And just how does the author connect the dots between pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was elected to nothing and held no power over anyone, and our "debauched' foreign policy? Correlation is not causation but there isn't even a correlation there.

tweets21 12 hours ago
The more one reads opinions of Intellectuals , and as anyone with half a brain knows, to never believe a Politician, I am always reminded, after considerable research why I personally choose Realism . Realism is certainly not new and has some varied forms. Realism re-surfaced leading up to and during WW 2.
chris chuba 11 hours ago
"...the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others"


I love this.

We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us.

This reminds me of a Nick Pemberton article when he wrote ...

"We still play the victim. And amazingly we believe it ... We believe we can take whatever we want. We believe that this world does not contain differences to be negotiated, but foes to be defeated."

I could never get this out of my head.

It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment.

Trump the adulterer was the one who decided against bombing because he did not have a taste for blood while the pious were eager for it.

TruthsRonin 10 hours ago
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth."
-Matthew 5:5

"Meek" is the wrong word/translation. In the original Greek, the word is "preais" and it does not mean docile and submissive. Rather the word means gentleness blended with restrained strength/power.

The passage should read, "Blessed are those who have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed: for they shall inherit the Earth."

Sid Finster 10 hours ago
The problem is that we are led by sociopaths.
fedupindian 10 hours ago
There is a simpler explanation of what has happened to the US. When it comes to human beings, the only thing you need to remember is Lord Acton's dictum: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted.

The same thing is true domestically in the US. A small ethnic minority gave 50% and 25% of the money spent by the Democrats and Republicans in the last presidential election. That gives them huge influence over the foreign policy of the country. Best of all, no one else can question what is going on because classic tropes etc. Give a small group absolute power, get the swamp.

PAX 9 hours ago
I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package.

The destruction of main core Christianity has not helped stem this tide (subtle Happy Holidays, CE, BCE, etc.) . Brave women and men must arise and sewerize (drain the swamp) this mob of miscreants defiling our belief system. .They have a right to exist but not dictate by subterfuge and fake news our values as they have been doing.

NotCatholic 11 hours ago
I find it interesting the author is at Catholic u. I wonder how he feels about the Crusades or the Inquisition as an example of debauchery of power.
Joe R. 8 hours ago
Remove the OP pic of the Marines NOW, and fix the rest of your whine later.

This is America, we have no "betters" and our "gov't" has never, and will never, be comprised of anything other than our idiot ay-whole neighbors who needed a job, whose sole job it is to govern the machinations of gov't and not us, as an un-self-governed Society is otherwise un-governable.

And [due to human nature and physics (of which neither has or will change in the entire history of humanity)] sometimes you have to go to war at the slightest of hints of provocation in order to achieve "illimitably sustainable conflict" of "Society" [J.M. Thomas R., TERMS, 2012] not have to haphazardly fight minute to minute of every day.

If when Political objects are unimportant, motives weak, the excitement of forces small, a cautious commander tries in all kinds of ways, without great crises and bloody solutions, to twist himself skillfully into peace through the characteristic weakness of his enemy in the field and in the cabinet, we have no right to find fault with him, if the premise on which he acts are well founded and justified by success;

still we must require him to remember that he only travels on forbidden tracks, where the God of War may surprise him; that he ought always to keep his eye on the enemy, in order that he may not have to defend himself with a dress rapier if the enemy takes up a sharp sword ”.

(Clausewitz, “On War” pg. 137)

Loosely paraphrased: " peaceable resolution to conflict is only effective, and should only be sought and relied upon, when it is certain that the other party will never resort to arms, with the implication that that is never " [J.M.Thomas R., TERMS, 2012 Pg. 80]

Weakness is provocative don't provoke your enemies. Quit whining.

LFC 8 hours ago
Let’s start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home?

Let's see. They'd likely repeatedly cut taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations and skyrocket deficits. They'd likely increase military spending to insane levels to the benefit of the military industrial complex. They'd likely perform wide scale deregulation on polluting industries. They'd ignore all inconvenient science, especially that which didn't support the fossil fuel industry. They'd likely avoid meaningful action on a healthcare system that is more broken and expensive than any other OECD nation. Then they'd look for targets, the "others", to bash and attack in attempt to hide the real world consequences of what they were doing.

Why would they do this? They do it for campaign contributions, "a means of keeping themselves in power."

Clyde Schechter 6 hours ago
"...in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. "

And the Clinton administration before it, and the Obama and Trump administrations following it.

Stephen J. 5 hours ago
I believe we are in the hands of:
The Demons of “Democracy”

The demons of “democracy” speak of “peace”
While their selling of weapons does not cease
Hypocrites from hell who posture on the world stage
When they should be in a gigantic prison cage

Evil reprobates in positions of power
Anything that’s good they devour
Destroying countries and families too
This is the satanic work they do

Fancy titles are given to their names
Such is the state of a system insane
Madness and filth has become “normal”
Nobody speaks or asks: “Is it moral”?

Principals and ethics, they are of them, devoid
Speaking of decency and truth has them annoyed
Pimping for war is their diabolical expertise
Killing and bombing is the forte of this demonic sleaze

Training and supporting terrorists, they do this as well
Will nobody arrest this treacherous crew from hell?
These people are devils and full of hypocrisy
We need to be freed from these, demons of “democracy”...

[much more info on this at link below]

http://graysinfo.blogspot.c...

[Sep 04, 2019] US army now and then: Today's soldiers aren't too different than the slave legions of ancient Rome

Sep 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

VietnamVet , September 3, 2019 at 11:13 pm

This discussion avoids comparing society in the mid-19th century and today. It really isn't that long ago. I've lived through almost half of it. Except for officers most of the soldiers I served with were conscripted or enlisted because of the draft. In a war your choices are limited. If they were in the march, driving wagons, armed to the teeth, they were soldiers; no matter how they got there.

Today's volunteer Army most of the soldiers and contractors are there because they couldn't get a better job unless they are adrenaline junkies or psychopaths. The current neoliberal economy purposefully exploits people and the environment to make a profit. Today's soldiers aren't too different than the slave legions of ancient Rome. Perhaps, "warriors" isn't that much of a misnomer.

[Aug 31, 2019] A few more words on neocon war propaganda

Aug 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Donald , August 31, 2019 at 8:35 am

A few more words

"Saddam Hussein has WMD's."

"Assad (and by implication Assad's forces alone) killed 500,000 Syrians."

"Israel is just defending itself."

I can't squeeze the dishonesty about the war in Yemen into a short slogan, but I know from personal experience that getting liberals to care when it was Obama's war was virtually impossible. Even under Trump it was hard, until Khashoggi's murder. On the part of politicians and think tanks this was corruption by Saudi money. With ordinary people it was the usual partisan tribal hypocrisy.

[Aug 27, 2019] How to Enlarge NATO The Debate inside the Clinton Administration, 1993 95

The main problem was the the USA elite after the dissolution of the USSR was hell-bent on world dominance. And Clinton was in the vanguard of this trend.
Clinton has pretty destructive, toxic legacy, is not he? He and his administration essentially acted as a short sited and greedy gangster and he sowed the teeth of dragon into US-Russia relations.
Clinton tried to exploit Russian weakness during this period to the fullest extent possible,. This is the policy similar to policy of GB toward Germany after WWI. In short Clinton was a typical imperialist from the very beginning and like all subsequent Presidents valued international treaties and obligation only when they benefited the USA. The stance that illegal bombing of Serbia only confirmed. At this point by Nuremberg standards he and all top official ion his administration and first of all Madeline not so bright Albright became war criminals. The fact they they were not prosecuted is just a historical aberration stemming from the dominant USA position at this time.
Essentially Clinton transformed NATO into aggressive alliance which is an expansion of the USA military.
Notable quotes:
"... As President Bill Clinton repeatedly remarked, the two key questions about enlargement were when and how ..."
Aug 27, 2019 | www.mitpressjournals.org

Newly available sources show how the 1993–95 debate over the best means of expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unfolded inside the Clinton administration. This evidence comes from documents recently declassified by the Clinton Presidential Library, the Defense Department, and the State Department because of appeals by the author.

As President Bill Clinton repeatedly remarked, the two key questions about enlargement were when and how . The sources make apparent that, during a critical decision making period twenty-five years ago, supporters of a relatively swift conferral of full membership to a narrow range of countries outmaneuvered proponents of a slower, phased conferral of limited membership to a wide range of states.

Pleas from Central and Eastern European leaders, missteps by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and victory by the pro-expansion Republican Party in the 1994 U.S. congressional election all helped advocates of full-membership enlargement to win.

The documents also reveal the surprising impact of Ukrainian politics on this debate and the complex roles played by both Strobe Talbott, a U.S. ambassador and later deputy secretary of state, and Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian foreign minister.

Finally, the sources suggest ways in which the debate's outcome remains significant for transatlantic and U.S.-Russian relations today.

... ... ...

In other words, the Bush administration performed the first “ratcheting down” of options, a process not without its costs. It raised the question, controversial to this day, of whether the Bush administration promised Moscow that, in exchange for tolerating the extension of NATO across a united Germany, the alliance would not seek further expansion eastward. Opinions on this topic range from absolutely not to absolutely yes.15

... ... ...

Without advance warning, Yeltsin decided to vent his frustrations publicly at the Budapest summit with Clinton in attendance. The Russian president accused the United States, in the interest of NATO expansion, of risking a “‘cold peace’” to follow the Cold War.108 On the flight back from Budapest to Washington, Talbott recalled that the president “was furious at his foreign-policy team for dragging him across the Atlantic to serve as a punching bag for Yeltsin.”

... ... ...

The shift in U.S. thinking unsurprisingly contributed to more tensions with Moscow, as evidenced by Talbott's subsequent negotiations. Kozyrev tried to convince Talbott that a better idea would be to transform NATO into “a collective security organization rather than a vehicle for containment” by amending the North Atlantic Treaty.122 Talbott rejected the idea, saying “no way are we going to entertain the possibility of redefining NATO in any way that compromises its basic mission.”123 Put bluntly, “We're not in the business of having to ‘compensate’ Russia or buy it off. Russia is not doing us a favor by allowing NATO to expand.”124

...Finally, interacting with the other five factors was President Clinton's increasing sympathy to the appeals of CEE leaders, which inclined him toward those aides pushing for full Article 5 expansion, and his personal optimism that Russia would eventually tolerate enlargement.

...In Perry's view, arms control—most notably, START II, which would have eliminated two-thirds of the U.S. and Russian arsenals, but never went into effect—ended up being “‘a casualty of NATO expansion’” and of fighting between the Kremlin and the Duma.139 START III suffered a similar fate, not even progressing to a signing. Looking back in 2015, Perry concluded: “The downsides of early NATO membership for Eastern European nations were even worse than I had feared.”140

.... Viewed from twenty-five years on, with U.S.-Russian confrontation on the rise, democracy crumbling in Hungary and Poland, and U.S. tanks returning to Europe, there is room for doubt. Given that the window of opportunity for changes is now firmly shut, however, NATO must make the best of the status quo; for the foreseeable future, confrontation with Russia is once again the order of the day.

[Aug 24, 2019] Putin strongly objects to the USA start of production of midrange rockets which can be used from Romania s and Poland s existing launching facilities

While this is a Russian site with specific audience, comments show that people reject the USA policy which might creates problems for the USA in the future. Not the USA neoliberal/neocon elite cares.
This decisions just had shown to the whole would that Trump is a clown capable of twitting, not much more. Other people make key decisions for the county.
Aug 24, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Drew Hunkins , August 23, 2019 at 13:33

off topic:

Putin's taking the gloves off:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAfyftONbFY&list=LLWzo4sS343MNLWEG7VvwJ_Q&index=3&t=222s

Franz Bauer , 1 day ago

The deep state that controls the US are lying criminal psychopaths. Any agreements and treaties negotiated with them aren't worth the time or paper they are written on.

Narayana Narayana , 1 day ago

We love honourable putin's each decision because he always gives with legal proof. Love you honourable putin and Russia people. From India.

rafael albizu , 1 day ago (edited)

Super hypersonic russian rockets need just 5 minutes to hit target, & they're in Russian land, not in foreign usurped countries

Brian Ahern , 1 day ago

all.putin wants world peace but the Americans whats to tell everyone what to do and start wars what.they.sould buid a wall.around america stop them getting out

394pjo , 1 day ago (edited) div tabindex="0" role="artic

le"> We can certainly expect Poland and Romania to be targeted with Nuclear munitions at the very least. There will likely be an official Russian announcement of this fact as well. In the event of a breakout of hostilities with Nato then Russia will target the military infrastructure in both countries and vaporise them immediately. Unfortunately a very large number of Polish and Romanian civilians will be caught in the blasts. That will be tragic of course.

pulaat , 1 day ago

I live in the Netherlands and I am on the side of Russia. Europe is disgusting for not condemning the USA intentions. Eu will regret it. When bombs fall on Europe because of these incompetent leaders we will not forget.

Drew Hunkins , 1 day ago div tabindex="0" role="art

icle"> The Western public MUST, MUST become very familiar pronto with the few intellectuals, scholars, journalists, writers and authors who have been at the forefront for global peace and world justice for decades! It's our only hope! Right now the only sane voice on the national stage is Tulsi Gabbard. People must start reading: John Pilger, James Petras, Diana Johnstone, Stephen Lendman, Ray McGovern, Finian Cunningham, Andre Vltchek, Michael Parenti, Stephen Cohen, The Saker, Caitlin Johnstone, Paul Craig Roberts.

Techno Tard , 1 day ago

Good one U.S.A. government! Lets try to instigate a fkn war where we can actually be attacked on our home land!

Luis martins , 1 day ago (edited)

tit-for-tat that was the right words from Putin

Madaleine , 1 day ago

USA a decadent nation run by global mafia . Cannot trust what they say , is proven by their actions Sold their soul to the devil for money and power. Yet they will fail God is in charge!

Drew Hunkins , 1 day ago div tabindex="0" role="articl

e"> The double standard in the West is breathtaking. It's as simple as the Golden Rule: merely try to imagine the reaction in New York, London, Washington, Paris, Chicago, Boston if Russia or China were to do the exact same thing in southern Canada or the Caribbean. The Washington military empire builders could possibly destroy humanity with their reckless and imperial behavior. They simply cannot accept any sovereign nation-states that 1.) give the finger to Wall Street or the idea of the uni-polar world Washington's intent on establishing, or 2.) gives diplomatic support to the Palestinians or is even a mild thorn in the side of Israel. For further reading, see the following scholars, intellectuals, journalists and writers: James Petras, Diana Johnstone, John Pilger, Stephen Lendman, Michael Parenti, Finian Cunningham, Andre Vltchek and a few others I'm forgetting at the moment.

George Mavrides , 1 hour ago

US ramping up for a war before dollar collapse. However, a war against Russia and China is not one they can win.

JimmyRJump , 1 day ago (edited) div tabindex="0" role="articl

e"> Under Trump the USA are rapidly steering towards an open dictatorship, something they've been doing for years but more covertly. The USA have always been shouting the loudest about democracy and freedom but that's just a façade while they bully the world and their own people into submission. The curtain is falling faster and faster now. Oh, and ask the American Natives what the Americans do with treaties...

orderoutofchaos621 , 20 hours ago

The US does not want friendship with Russia, it seeks to either control it or destroy it. Since the first option isn't going to happen, it's obvious what's next and it'll start with more sanctions, expanding NATO into Georgia and Ukraine and placing nuclear missiles on Russia's Eastern and Western border.

Bernt Sunde , 1 day ago div class=

"comment-renderer-text-content expanded"> All it takes, is 1 single warhead fired from ex. Poland to reach Moscow. How many launchers do USA have placed in these countries near Russia? Is Moscow more than 500 KM away from any NATO border? If the enemy sets up catapults outside your city walls, isn't that a clear sign the enemy intend to fire those catapults against your walls? So what do you do? Do you sit and wait? Or do you take out the catapults before they break down your walls? As far as any strategist see this, it can be only one solution for survival.

joshron99 , 1 day ago div class="c

omment-renderer-text-content expanded"> During FDR's 'Pearl Harbor' speech he said, "It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago." There are echoes of this speech in Putin's words ( 02:18 ) and the type of treachery referred to by Roosevelt applies to the American exit from the INF. America has become a nation holding "a big stick" and loudly shouting about it (contrary to an earlier Roosevelt's advice). The White House acknowledged (and the NYT reported) that we are involved in seven wars right now (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Niger). We have 38 "named" foreign military bases as well as upwards of 600 overseas military installations of some sort including "lily pads," i.e., "cooperative security locations" and an undisclosed number of "black" locations. Our military budget is pushing towards a trillion dollars per year ($717 billion this year). We are threatening small countries such as Venezuela with military action (and yes, something needs to be done for the good of the people there but that should not include an American military attack which President Trump, our Secretary of State ("and his colleague") have said is "on the table." And now, we are dumping nuclear weapons treaties. We have truly become a country which "lives by the sword." Good luck to us all.

Deon Richards , 10 hours ago

Okay , so this is a broadcast of the President of Russia speaking to his security council right , this is official researched factual intel ....has to be on that level ...right . Now to the few negative responses I have come across ,what intel do you have and where did you get it...

Mad Rooky , 4 hours ago

Poland and Romania wanted to be on the safe side, but now they are getting a crosshair painted on their countries. What irony.

Drew Hunkins , 1 day ago

Instead of addressing and trying to ameliorate this most dangerous development, let's instead focus on Trump's idiotic and diversionary comments and tweets about buying Greenland or some such other nonsense.

[Aug 22, 2019] Trump Doesn t Know How to Negotiate by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
The problem with Trump is that everything in him is second rate. Even bulling. and many americans were aware of that and voted for him just because that thought that Hillary was worse. Much worse.
Actually Madeleine (not so bright) Albright was of the same mold... Gangster style bulling and extortion as the only Modus operandi
And Daniel Larison is correct: when Trump faces strong backlash he just declare the partner in negotiation "terrible" and walks out and try to justify his defeat ex post facto.
Notable quotes:
"... As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation. ..."
"... The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender. ..."
"... he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up. ..."
"... "Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas." ..."
"... The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price. ..."
"... "Trump has always been a lousy negotiator." ..."
"... But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Michael Hirsh reminds us that Trump has always been a lousy negotiator:

Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer who interviewed him many times, agrees with Lapidus that there is no discernible difference in the way Trump negotiates today, as president, compared to his career in business. "His style involves a hostile attitude and a bullying method designed to wring every possible concession out of the other side while maximizing his own gain," D'Antonio said. "As he explained to me, he's not interested in 'win-win' deals, only in 'I win' outcomes. When I asked if he ever left anything on the table as a sign of goodwill so that he might do business with the same party in the future he said no, and pointed out that there are many people in the world he can work with, one at a time."

As we have seen, Trump's bullying, maximalist approach does not work with other governments, and this approach cannot work because the president sees everything as a zero-sum game and winning requires the other side's capitulation.

The result is that no government gives Trump anything and instead all of them retaliate in whatever way is available to them. He can't agree to a mutually beneficial compromise because he rejects the idea that the other side might come away with something. Because every existing agreement negotiated in the past has required some compromise on our government's part, he condemns all of them as "terrible" because they did not result in the other party's surrender.

He seems particularly obsessed with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) because the trade-off inherent in any agreement made with Iran was that they would regain access to frozen assets, and he ignorantly equates this with "giving" them money. The fact that the JCPOA heavily favored the U.S. and the rest of the P5+1 doesn't interest Trump. Iran was allowed to come away with something at the end, and even the little bit they were able to get is far too much for him. This is one reason he has been so closely aligned with Iran hawks over the last four years, and it helps explain why he endorses absurd, unrealistic demands and "maximum pressure" of collective punishment. He is doing more or less the same thing he has always done, and he is so clueless about international relations and diplomacy that he still thinks it can get him what he wants. The reality is that all of his foreign policy initiatives are failing or have already failed, and the costs for ordinary people in the targeted countries and here at home keep going up.

Here is another relevant point from the article:

"Temperamentally, the president is unprepared for diplomacy and negotiations with sovereign states," said D'Antonio. "He doesn't know how to practice the give-and-take that would produce bilateral or multilateral achievements and he takes things so personally that he considers those with a different point of view to be enemies. He is offended when others decline to be bullied and angered by those who counter his proposals with their own ideas."

The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it. Now the U.S. and many other countries around the world are paying the price.


JSC2397 8 hours ago

Pulling off that "greatest trick" was amazing easy, actually: all Trump and his creatures had to do was go on the assumption that most Americans will readily believe what they see on television. Especially when it jibes with their prejudices.
david 8 hours ago
"Trump has always been a lousy negotiator."

But, but, but... he is very good in breaking up negotiated treaties, and breaking up negotiation itself.

Martin Ranger 6 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

While I agree with pretty much all of the article, let us not forget that a majority of Americans was not, in fact, fooled.

Zsuzsi Kruska 6 hours ago
He can negotiate, but the thugs in Wash. don't want to. They are doing everything they can to start a war somewhere.
me 5 hours ago
Americans are certainly paying a price Benjamin Franklin warned about. But as for other countries, theirs is due strictly to their own doing, for relying excessively on the goodwill of America and turning a blind-eye to our imperialism. Quite frankly, up to now, US allies have been enablers.
Gary Rosenberg 5 hours ago
Add to that, " When someone hits me, I hit them back ten times harder."
This is not what we teach our children. It is a miserable way to live, or to run a country. No wonder the President is longer referred to as "the leader of the free world." He gave up that title. These are sad days.
d_hochberg 3 hours ago
Yes, he is utterly incompetent on his main selling point, his supposed skill at negotiating. It is very inconvenient having Trump as our standard-bearer.
Alan Vanneman 3 hours ago
"The greatest trick that Trump pulled on Americans was to make many of them believe that he understood how to negotiate when he has never been any good at it."

Actually, the people who voted for Trump and who support him now love him for being a bully. That's what they want. They want a Tony Soprano as their president, a guy who will go out and beat up all the people they hate. They don't want "negotiation". They want a guy who has a baseball bat and knows how to use it. What's "interesting" is that despite all of Trump's appeals to violence, and his willingness to support violence (for example, Saudi Arabia), he largely shrinks from it himself. We've seen far fewer Tomahawks than one might have expected, particularly considering the great press he received the first time around. Will we continue to be lucky? I hope so, but it's hard to be optimistic.

[Aug 22, 2019] The US Can't 'Get' Iran to 'Shut Down' Its Nuclear Program

That's how polls distort public opinion and promote militarism...
Aug 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
survey shows that most Americans don't want war with Iran. Only 18% of all American adults favor military action against Iran, and even among Republicans that number is just 25%. 78% favor economic and diplomatic efforts. That's fine as far as it goes, and it shows that there is very little support for a new war at this time. The framing of the question is the bigger problem and makes the results from the poll much less useful.

The poll asks, "What do you think the United States should do to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program -- take military action against Iran, or rely mainly on economic and diplomatic efforts?" The question assumes that it is within our government's power to "get Iran to shut down its nuclear program," when the experience of the last twenty years tells us that it is not. The nuclear negotiations that produced the JCPOA show beyond any doubt that there are limits to what Iran is willing to concede on this point. It is good that most Americans prefer non-military options to pursue this fantastical goal, but the assumption that Iran will one day "shut down" its nuclear program is completely unrealistic. On the contrary, the more pressure that the U.S. puts on Iran in an attempt to force such a shutdown, the more inclined Iran's government is to build up its program.

If Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful, there is no need for them to shut it down. The long-term goal of the JCPOA has been to demonstrate to the satisfaction of all parties that Iran's nuclear program is and will remain peaceful, and then at that point Iran will be treated like any other member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The U.S. doesn't need to do anything to "get" Iran to do this because the goal of shutting down the program is a foolish and impossible one. Perceiving Iran's possession of a peaceful nuclear program as a problem to be solved is one of the reasons why our debate over Iran policy is so warped and biased in favor of coercive measures. The idea that Iran has to "shut down" a program that it is legally entitled to have under the NPT is bizarre, but it is obviously a common view here in the U.S.

The question is misleading in another way, since it suggests that military action could be effective in forcing Iran to "shut down" the program. In reality, attacking Iran's nuclear facilities would at most set back the program, but it would give the Iranian government a strong incentive to develop and build a deterrent that would discourage the U.S. from launching more attacks in the future. Attacking a country when it doesn't have nuclear weapons is a good way to encourage them to acquire those weapons as quickly as possible.

That makes the results to the follow-up question all the more dispiriting. The poll also asks, "Suppose U.S. economic and diplomatic efforts do not work. If that happens, do you think the United States should -- or should not -- take military action against Iran?" Once again, the question assumes that getting Iran to "shut down" its nuclear program is both a legitimate and realistic goal. If non-military measures "do not work," there is additional support for military action from a depressing 42% of those who initially favored "economic and diplomatic efforts." Put them together with the initial supporters of military action, and you have a narrow majority of all American adults that thinks the U.S. should take military action:

The 42% of those who favor military action if nonmilitary efforts fail translates to 35% of all U.S. adults. Combining that group with the 18% who favor military action outright means a slim majority of Americans, 53%, would support military action against Iran if diplomatic and economic efforts are unsuccessful.

There is a disturbingly high level of support for launching an illegal attack on another country for something it is legally permitted to have. The assumption that "economic and diplomatic efforts" will be "unsuccessful" if they don't force Iran to abandon its nuclear program helps to push respondents to give that answer, but they wouldn't endorse a military option if they hadn't been led to think that Iran's nuclear program is an intolerable danger. That is partly because of the bad framing of the questions, but it is also a product of decades of relentless propagandizing about a supposed threat from Iran's nuclear program that is completely divorced from reality. We need better poll questions on this subject, but we also need better, more informed debate about Iran and we have to stamp out the threat inflation that poisons and distorts the public's perceptions of threats from other states.

[Aug 19, 2019] Rest assured "The Great War" did not mean "The Splendid war"

Aug 19, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

It was the World's largest war at that time and surpassed WW II in many statistics, although probably not "tonnage of bombs dropped". That latter was WW II, not surpassed until the Gulf War when USAF used up all it's old arsenal (the better to let more contracts, my dear).
To be fair, military aviation was in its infancy then. The slaughter on the Western front broke England's Social Structure and paved the way for the destruction of the British Empire. Four other empire's died as a consequence of WW I (German, Austrian, Russian, and Turkish)
Note: "Kaiser" derives from "Caesar" which was an Imperial title of the late Roman Empire besides being Gaius Julius Caesar's family name). Promises made to both Arabs and Jews by the two-faced British Foreign Office paved the way for today's Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It was a shattering event which tend to occur at 100 year intervals. The one previous was the Napoleonic Wars. I forget the one before that. War of the Spanish succession? And coincidentally, we are now living a hundred years later in the Middle east Forever war, which I fully expect to have similar consequences. The rights and civil liberties of free Americans are already a casualty.

The Great War set the stage for the Great Depression. I think a similar depression occurred after the War of 1812 (Napoleonic War in Europe). I'd have to consult a history text to see about others, but our 1970's economic travails were mirrored after the Civil war and the dot com bust is eerily similar to the Depression of 1890.

There is a theory that wars and revolutions occur at two cycles of approximately 100 and 170 years based on temperature and rainfall cycles. Every 500 years they coincide in a 5-3 resonance and whole civilizations fall or are transformed. Toynbee's 1000 year cycles can be seen as two such resonances. Following his analysis, the first crisis turns the civilization inwards and autocratic. The second breaks it entirely. Religions change too. I forget how. My Toynbee is packed away. does anyone here know what were the religious changes? Interestingly, the next 500 year supercycle fell in 2000 AD, so we are now in the first major crisis of Western Technical Civilization? (my name for the Renaissance and beyond, usually prosaically called "Modern"). this should turn WTC inward and autocratic, eventually dying in the next event around 2500 AD which should entire the collapse of civilization and a great folk-wandering sparked by environmental collapse. (loss of Eurasian pasture in the case of 500AD, turning steppe peoples westward (China was having a civilization peak, no way were the Huns turning east. In fact, they were expelled from China.

Ain't history fun? unless you are living it.

[Aug 19, 2019] There Once Was a President Who Hated War. American elites used to see war as a tragic necessity. Now they're completely addicted to it by Stephen M. Walt

Notable quotes:
"... Stephen M. Walt ..."
"... Steven A. Cook ..."
"... Jeffrey Lewis ..."
Aug 18, 2019 | foreignpolicy.com
A statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his dog Fala are seen at the FDR Memorial September 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt is often hailed as one of the United States' greatest presidents. FDR gave Americans hope during the Great Depression, created key institutions like Social Security that remain broadly popular today, led the country to victory in World War II, and created a broad political coalition that endured for decades. He made mistakes -- as all presidents do -- but it's no wonder he's still regarded with reverence.

On Aug. 14, 1936 -- 83 years ago -- FDR gave a speech at Chautauqua in upstate New York, fulfilling a promise he had made at his inauguration in 1933. It is a remarkable speech, where FDR lays out his thoughts on the proper American approach to international affairs. He explains his "good neighbor" policy toward Latin America, along with his belief that although a more liberal international trade may not prevent war, "without a more liberal international trade, war is a natural sequence."

For me, the most remarkable feature of this speech is Roosevelt's blunt, vivid, and passionate denunciation of war, expressed with a candor that is almost entirely absent from political discourse today. After making it clear that "we are not isolationists, except insofar as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war," he acknowledges that "so long as war exists on Earth, there will be some danger that even the nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war."

But then he goes on:

"I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line -- the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war."

Roosevelt then reminds his listeners that war can result from many causes (including, in a passage that surely speaks to us today, "political fanaticisms in which are intertwined race hatreds"). He hopes to preserve U.S. neutrality should conflict erupt elsewhere and warns against the few selfish men who would seek to embroil the country in war solely to reap war profits. To make sure the country does not foolishly choose profits over peace, he calls for the "meditation, the prayer, and the positive support of the people of America who go along with us in seeking peace."

Yet, for all that, FDR leaves no doubt that the American people will defend themselves and their interests if war is forced on them. In his closing paragraph, he declares: "If there are remoter nations that wish us not good but ill, they know that we are strong; they know that we can and will defend ourselves and defend our neighborhood." And it is precisely what Roosevelt ultimately did.

Seriously, can you think of a recent U.S. president who spoke of war and peace in similar terms, with equal passion and frankness?

Bill Clinton was no militarist, but he was so worried about being labeled a dove that he kept boosting defense spending, firing off cruise missiles without thinking, and blindly assuming that exporting democracy, expanding trade, and issuing open-ended security guarantees would suffice to bring peace around the world. And when he had a golden opportunity to broker a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, he whiffed.

By contrast, George W. Bush was a swaggering frat boy who brought wars to several places and peace nowhere. He liked to pose in a nifty flight suit and give high-minded, tough-talking speeches, but the unnecessary wars he launched killed hundreds of thousands of people and severely damaged America's global position.

Barack Obama may have agonized over every targeted killing and major military decision, but he also ramped up the drone war, sent additional troops to Afghanistan to no good purpose, helped turn Libya into a failed state, and tacitly backed the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (!), his acceptance speech focused as much on defending America's role in the world -- including its widespread use of military force -- as it did on extolling the virtues of peace and the measures that must be taken to advance it.

Ironically, though Donald Trump loves military parades, flybys, and the other visible trappings of military power, he seems rather leery of war. Like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who sought and received five separate deferments from the draft during Vietnam, Trump (or his father) apparently saw military service as something that only less fortunate people ought to participate in. As president, he does seem to recognize that starting some new war could hurt him politically, even as his more hawkish advisors keep pushing him in that direction. And we've yet to hear him extolling the virtues of peace as candidly as Roosevelt did in 1936.

Look, you don't have to tell a realist like me that we live in an imperfect world and that perpetual peace is a pipe dream. But the difficulty of the task is precisely why it merits serious attention. Yet instead of embracing peace as a virtue, U.S. politicians go to great lengths to show how tough they are and how ready they are to send Americans into harm's way in order to take out some alleged enemy. But how often do they talk about trying to understand the complex origins of most contemporary conflicts? How often do they try to empathize with the United States' adversaries, not in order to agree with them but so as to understand their position and to figure out a way to change their behavior without resorting to threats, coercion, or violence? How often do prominent politicians say, as Roosevelt did, that they "hate war"?

As I've said before , the U.S. disinterest in peace isn't just morally dubious; it's strategically myopic.

The United States should not shrink from fighting if such fighting is forced on it, but it should be the country's last resort rather than its first impulse. The United States is remarkably secure from most external dangers, and apart from political malfeasance at home (see: the Trump administration), the only thing that could really screw things up in the short term is a big war. War is bad for business (unless you're Boeing or Lockheed Martin), and it tends to elevate people who are good at manipulating violence but not so good at building up institutions, communities, or companies. When you're already on top of the world, encouraging the use of force isn't prudent; it's dumb. Peace, in short, is almost always in America's strategic interest.

Which makes it even more surprising that the word has mostly vanished from Americans' strategic vocabulary, and here I think two big factors are responsible. First, fewer politicians (and especially presidents) have "seen war" in the way that Roosevelt had. Harry Truman did, and so did Dwight D. Eisenhower (obviously), John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush. Needless to say, none of the post-Cold War presidents ever saw war in the same way.

Equally important, both the political class and the public have been imbibing an intoxicating brew of militarist rhetoric, imagery, and argument for decades. Americans cheer the troops at baseball games, wave giddily at thunderous aerial flybys, and finance all of their military adventures by borrowing money so that no one has to make obvious sacrifices now.

In Roosevelt's era, Americans were still reluctant to "go abroad in search of monsters to destroy," but they fought with unexpected ferocity when attacked. They were slow to anger but united in response. The situation today is the exact opposite -- they are quick on the trigger provided that none of them have to do very much once the bullets are flying. Instead of seeing war as a tragic necessity that is to be avoided if at all possible, Americans regard it as a rather sanitary "policy option" that takes place in countries most of them cannot locate and is conducted primarily by drones, aircraft, and volunteers. Americans fight all the time but without clear purpose or firm resolve. As one would expect, they usually lose, although others often pay a much larger price than they do.

There are faint signs that this situation is changing, after nearly 25 years of mostly failed adventures abroad. The foreign-policy elite may have acquired a certain addiction to war , but longtime addicts sometimes decide to turn their lives around and kick the habit. As noted above, Trump hasn't started any new wars yet, and his various Democratic challengers aren't pushing for more war either. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard have pretty fair ( but not perfect ) records on this broad issue, and each has been vocal in opposing U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Pete Buttigieg wants the United States to rely less on military force in some places (but not others), Kamala Harris has been mostly silent on the issue, and the other leading candidates have more mixed records. Don't forget that Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, and both Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar lean in more hawkish directions.

I'm waiting for one of them to start talking openly and intelligently about peace. What is needed to promote it, and how can the United States use its still considerable power to keep itself out of war and to help others escape its destructive clutches? If any of the 2020 candidates decide to tackle this issue head-on, they might start by reading what a great president once said, 83 years ago.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. View
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Tags: Peace , U.S. Foreign Policy , United States , Voice , War

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Voices There Once Was a President Who Hated War Stephen M. Walt Erdogan Plays Washington Like a Fiddle Steven A. Cook A Mysterious Explosion Took Place in Russia. What Really Happened? Jeffrey Lewis ❌

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[Aug 17, 2019] Debunking the Putin Panic by Stephen F. Cohen

Highly recommended!
Aug 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

STEPHEN COHEN: I'm not aware that Russia attacked Georgia. The European Commission, if you're talking about the 2008 war, the European Commission, investigating what happened, found that Georgia, which was backed by the United States, fighting with an American-built army under the control of the, shall we say, slightly unpredictable Georgian president then, Saakashvili, that he began the war by firing on Russian enclaves. And the Kremlin, which by the way was not occupied by Putin, but by Michael McFaul and Obama's best friend and reset partner then-president Dmitry Medvedev, did what any Kremlin leader, what any leader in any country would have had to do: it reacted. It sent troops across the border through the tunnel, and drove the Georgian forces out of what essentially were kind of Russian protectorate areas of Georgia.

So that- Russia didn't begin that war. And it didn't begin the one in Ukraine, either. We did that by [continents], the overthrow of the Ukrainian president in [20]14 after President Obama told Putin that he would not permit that to happen. And I think it happened within 36 hours. The Russians, like them or not, feel that they have been lied to and betrayed. They use this word, predatl'stvo, betrayal, about American policy toward Russia ever since 1991, when it wasn't just President George Bush, all the documents have been published by the National Security Archive in Washington, all the leaders of the main Western powers promised the Soviet Union that under Gorbachev, if Gorbachev would allow a reunited Germany to be NATO, NATO would not, in the famous expression, move two inches to the east.

Now NATO is sitting on Russia's borders from the Baltic to Ukraine. So Russians aren't fools, and they're good-hearted, but they become resentful. They're worried about being attacked by the United States. In fact, you read and hear in the Russian media daily, we are under attack by the United States. And this is a lot more real and meaningful than this crap that is being put out that Russia somehow attacked us in 2016. I must have been sleeping. I didn't see Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and 2016. This is reckless, dangerous, warmongering talk. It needs to stop. Russia has a better case for saying they've been attacked by us since 1991. We put our military alliance on the front door. Maybe it's not an attack, but it looks like one, feels like one. Could be one.


Disturbed Voter , July 30, 2018 at 6:32 am

Real politik. Don't bring a knife to a gun fight. Don't start fights in the first place. The idea that American leadership is any better than mid-Victorian imperialism, is laughable.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield , July 30, 2018 at 8:15 am

Here's the RNN link to part one: The Russia "National Security Crisis" is a U.S. Creation .

integer , July 30, 2018 at 7:12 am

AARON MATE: We hear, often, talk of Putin possibly being the richest person in the world as a result of his entanglement with the very corruption of Russia you're speaking about

Few appear to be aware that Bill Browder is single-handedly responsible for starting, and spreading, the rumor that Putin's net worth is $200 billion (for those who are unfamiliar with Browder, I highly recommend watching Andrei Nekrasov's documentary titled " The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes "). Browder appears to have first started this rumor early in 2015 , and has repeated it ad nauseam since then, including in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 . While Browder has always framed the $200 billion figure as his own estimate, that subtle qualifier has had little effect on the media's willingness to accept it as fact.

Interestingly, during the press conference at the Helsinki Summit, Putin claimed Browder sent $400 million of ill-gotten gains to the Clinton campaign. Putin retracted the statement and claimed to have misspoke a week or so later, however by that time the $400 million figure had been cited by numerous media outlets around the world. I think it is at least possible that Putin purposely exaggerated the amount of money in question as a kind of tit-for-tat response to Browder having started the rumor about his net worth being $200 billion.

Blue Pilgrim , July 30, 2018 at 11:39 am

The stories I saw said there was a mistranslation -- but that the figure should have $400 thousand and not $400 million. Maybe Putin misspoke, but the $400,000 number is still significant, albeit far more reasonable.

Putin never was on the Forbes list of billionaires, btw, and his campaign finance statement comes to far less. It never seems to occur to rabid capitalists or crooks that not everyone is like them, placing such importance on vast fortunes, or want to be dishonest, greedy, or power hungry. Putin is only 'well off' and that seems to satisfy him just fine as he gets on with other interests, values, and goals.

integer , July 30, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Yes, $400,000 is the revised/correct figure. My having written that "Putin retracted the statement" was not the best choice of phrase. Also, the figure was corrected the day after it was made, not "a week or so later" as I wrote in my previous comment. From the Russia Insider link:

Browder's criminal group used many tax evasion methods, including offshore companies. They siphoned shares and funds from Russia worth over 1.5 billion dollars. By the way, $400,000 was transferred to the US Democratic Party's accounts from these funds. The Russian president asked us to correct his statement from yesterday. During the briefing, he said it was $400,000,000, not $400,000. Either way, it's still a significant amount of money.

JohnnyGL , July 30, 2018 at 2:54 pm

I hadn't heard about the revision/edit to the $400M, thanks!

Seems crazy to think how much Russo-phobia seems to have been ginned up by one tax-dodging hedgie with an axe to grind.

Procopius , July 31, 2018 at 1:11 am

There's something weird about the anti-Putin hysteria. Somehow, many, many people have come to believe they must demonstrate their membership in the tribe by accepting completely unsupported assertions that go against common sense.

Eureka Springs , July 30, 2018 at 7:58 am

In a sane world we the people would be furious with the Clinton campaign, especially the D party but the R's as well, our media (again), and our intel/police State (again). Holding them all accountable while making sure this tsunami of deception and lies never happens again.

It's amazing even in time of the internetz those of us who really dig can only come up with a few sane voices. It's much worse now in terms of the numbers of sane voices than it was in the run up to Iraq 2.

CenterOfGravity , July 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Regardless of broad access to far more information in the digital age, never under estimate the self-preservation instinct of American exceptionalist mythology. There is an inverse relationship between the decline of US global primacy and increasingly desperate quest for adventurism. Like any case of addiction, looking outward for blame/salvation is imperative in order to prevent the mirror of self-reflection/realization from turning back onto ourselves.

integer , July 30, 2018 at 9:28 am

we're not to believe we're not supposed to believe we're supposed to believe

Believe whatever you want, however your comment gives the impression that you came to this article because you felt the need to push back against anything that does not conform to the liberal international order's narrative on Putin and Russia, rather than "with an eagerness to counterbalance the media's portrayal of Putin". WRT to whataboutism, I like Greenwald's definition of the term :

"Whataboutism": the term used to bar inquiry into whether someone adheres to the moral and behavioral standards they seek to impose on everyone else. That's its functional definition.

Rojo , July 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Invoking "whataboutism" is a liberal team-Dem tell.

Amfortas the Hippie , July 30, 2018 at 2:20 pm

aye. I've never seen it used by anyone aside from the worst Hill Trolls.
Indeed, when it was first thrown at me, I endeavored to look it up, and found that all references to it were from Hillaryites attempting to diss apostates and heretics.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , July 30, 2018 at 8:22 pm

Eh, probably

John Oliver, whos been completely sucking lately with TDS, did a semi decent segment on Whataboutism.

Eureka Springs , July 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

The degree of consistency and or lack of hypocrisy based on words and actions separates US from Russia to an astonishing level. That is Russia's largest threat to US, our deceivers. The propaganda tables have turned and we are deceiving ourselves to points of collective insanity and warmongering with a great nuclear power while we are at it. Warmongering is who we are and what we do.

Does Russia have a GITMO, torture Chelsea Manning, openly say they want to kill Snowden and Assange? Is Russia building up arsenals on our borders while maintaining hundreds of foreign bases and conducting several wars at any given moment while constantly threatening to foment more wars? Is Russia dropping another trillion on nuclear arsenals? Is Russia forcing us to maintain such an anti democratic system and an even worse, an entirely hackable electronic voting system?

You ready to destroy the world, including your own, rather than look in the mirror?

rkka , July 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

You're talking about extending Russian military power into Europe when the military spending of NATO Europe alone exceeds Russia's by almost 5-1 (more like 12-1 when one includes the US and Canada), have about triple the number of soldiers than Russia has, and when the Russian ground forces are numerically smaller than they have been in at least 200 years?

" to put their self-interests above those of their constituents and employees, why can't we apply this same lens to Putin and his oligarchs?"

The oligarchs got their start under Yeltsin and his FreeMarketDemocraticReformers, whose policies were so catastrophic that deaths were exceeding births by almost a million a year by the late '90s, with no end in sight. Central to Yeltsin's governance was the corrupt privatization, by which means the Seven Bankers came to control the Russian economy and Russian politics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semibankirschina

Central to Putin's popularity are the measures he took to curb oligarchic predation in 2003-2005. Because of this, Russia's debt:GDP ratio went from 1.0 to about 0.2, and Russia's demographic recovery began while Western analysis were still predicting the death of Russia.

So Putin is the anti-oligarch in Russian domestic politics.

Blue Pilgrim , July 30, 2018 at 12:17 pm

"While it's true that power corrupts"

I know of many people who sacrifice their own interests for those of their children (over whom they have virtually absolute power), family member and friends. I know of others who dedicate their lives to justice, peace, the well being of their nation, the world, and other people -- people who find far greater meaning and satisfaction in this than in accumulating power or money. Other people have their own goals, such as producing art, inventing interesting things, reading and learning, and don't care two hoots about power or money as long as their immediate needs are met.

I'm cynical enough about humans without thinking the worst of everyone and every group or culture. Not everyone thinks only of nails and wants to be hammers, or are sociopaths. There are times when people are more or less forced into taking power, or getting more money, even if they don't want it, because they want to change things for the better or need to defend themselves.
There are people who get guns and learn how to use them only because they feel a need for defending themselves and family but who don't like guns and don't want to shoot anyone or anything.

There are many people who do not want to be controlled and bossed around, but neither want to boss around anyone else. The world is full of such people. If they are threatened and attacked, however, expect defensive reactions. Same as for most animals which are not predators, and even predators will generally not attack other animals if they are not hungry or threatened -- but that does not mean they are not competent or can be dangerous.

Capitalism is not only inherently predatory, but is inherently expansive without limits, with unlimited ambition for profits and control. It's intrinsically very competitive and imperialist. Capitalism is also a thing which was exported to Russia, starting soon after the Russian Revolution, which was immediately attacked and invaded by the West, and especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. Soviet Russia had it's own problems, which it met with varying degrees of success, but were quite different from the aggressive capitalism and imperialism of the US and Europe.

Not every culture and person are the same.

BenX , July 30, 2018 at 3:28 pm

The pro-Putin propaganda is pretty interesting to witness, and of course not everything Cohen says is skewed pro-Putin – that's what provides credibility. But "Putin kills everybody" is something NOBODY says (except Cohen, twice in one interview) – Putin is actually pretty selective of those he decides to have killed. But of course, he doesn't kill anyone, personally – therefore he's an innocent lamb, accidentally running Russia as a dictator.

rkka , July 31, 2018 at 9:11 am

The most recent dictator in Russian history was Boris Yeltsin, who turned tanks on his legislature while it was in the legal and constitutional process of impeaching him, and whose policies were so catastrophic for Russians (who were dying off at the rate of 900k/yr) that he had to steal his re-election because he had a 5% approval rating.

But he did as the US gvt told him, so I guess that makes him a Democrat.

Under Putin Russia recovered from being helpless, bankrupt & dying, but Russia has an independent foreign policy, so that makes Putin a dictator.

Plenue , July 30, 2018 at 3:54 pm

"Does any sane person believe that there will ever be a Putin-signed contract provided as evidence? Does any sane person believe that Putin actually needs to "approve" a contract rather than signaling to his oligarch/mafia hierarchy that he's unhappy about a newspaper or journalist's reporting?"

Why do you think Putin even needs, or feels a need, to have journalists killed in the first place? I see no evidence to support this basic assumption.

The idea of Russia poised to attack Europe is interesting, in light of the fact that they've cut their military spending by 20%. And even before that the budgets of France, Germany, and the UK combined well exceeded that of Russia, to say nothing of the rest of NATO or the US.

Putin's record speaks for itself. This again points to the absurdity of claiming he's had reporters killed: he doesn't need to. He has a vast amount of genuine public support because he's salvaged the country and pieced it back together after the pillaging of the Yeltsin years. That he himself is a corrupt oligarch I have no particular doubt of. But if he just wanted to enrich himself, he's had a very funny way of going about it. Pray tell, what are these 'other interpretations'?

"The US foreign policy has been disastrous for millions of people since world war 2. But Cohen's arguments that Russia isn't as bad as the US is just a bunch of whattaboutism."

What countries has the Russian Federation destroyed?

witters , July 31, 2018 at 1:30 am

Here is a fascinating essay ["Are We Reading Russia Right?"] by Nicolai N. Petro who currently holds the Silvia-Chandley Professorship of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island. His books include, Ukraine
in Crisis (Routledge, 2017), Crafting Democracy (Cornell, 2004), The Rebirth of Russian Democracy (Harvard, 1995), and Russian Foreign Policy, co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein (Longman, 1997). A graduate of the University of Virginia, he is the recipient of Fulbright awards to Russia and to Ukraine, as well as fellowships from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington,
D.C., and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. As a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990. In addition to scholarly publications
on Russia and Ukraine, he has written for Asia Times, American Interest, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (UK), The Nation, New York Times, and Wilson Quarterly. His writings have appeared frequently on the web sites of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and The National Interest.

I warn you – it is terrifying!

http://npetro.net/resources/Petro-FF+Spring+2018.pdf

Carolinian , July 30, 2018 at 8:55 am

Thanks for so much for this. Great stuff. Cohen says the emperor has no clothes so naturally the empire doesn't want him on television. I believe he has been on CNN one or two times and I saw him once on the PBS Newshour where the interviewer asked skeptical questions with a pained and skeptical look. He seems to be the only prominent person willing to stand up and call bs on the Russia hate. There are plenty of pundits and commentators who do that but not many Princeton professors.

Thye Rev Kev , July 30, 2018 at 9:04 am

It has been said in recent years that the greatest failure of American foreign policy was the invasion of Iraq. I think that they are wrong. The greatest failure, in my opinion, is to push both China and Russia together into a semi-official pact against American ambitions. In the same way that the US was able to split China from the USSR back in the seventies, the best option was for America to split Russia from China and help incorporate them into the western system. The waters for that idea have been so fouled by the Russia hysteria, if not dementia, that that is no longer a possibility. I just wish that the US would stop sowing dragon's teeth – it never ends well.

NotTimothyGeithner , July 30, 2018 at 9:45 am

The best option, but the "American exceptionalists" went nuts. Also, the usual play book of stoking fears of the "yellow menace" would have been too on the nose. Americans might not buy it, and there was a whole cottage industry of "the rising China threat" except the potential consumer market place and slave labor factories stopped that from happening.

Bringing Russia into the West effectively means Europe, and I think that creates a similar dynamic to a Russian/Chinese pact. The basic problem with the EU is its led by a relatively weak but very German power which makes the EU relatively weak or controllable as long as the German electorate is relatively sedate. I think they still need the international structures run by the U.S. to maintain their dominance. What Russia and the pre-Erdogan Turkey (which was never going to be admitted to the EU) presented was significant upsets to the existing EU order with major balances to Germany which I always believed would make the EU potentially more dynamic. Every decision wouldn't require a pilgrimage to Berlin. The British were always disinterested. The French had made arrangements with Germany, and Italy is still Italy. Putting Russia or Turkey (pre-Erdogan) would have disrupted this arrangement.

John Wright , July 30, 2018 at 11:11 am

>which is oddly not easy to locate on its site

It appeared to me that Aaron Mate knew he was dealing with a weak hand by the end of the interview.

When Mate stated "it's widely held that Putin is responsible for the killing of journalists and opposition activists who oppose him."

There are many widely held beliefs in the world, and that does not make them true.

For example, It was widely held, and still may be believed by some, that Saddam Hussein was involved in the events of 9/11.

It is widely believed that humans are not responsible, in any part, for climate change.

Mate may have been embarrassed when he saw the final version and as a courtesy to him, the interview was made more difficult to find.

pretzelattack , July 30, 2018 at 11:35 am

iirc he didn't say it was true.

Elizabeth Burton , July 30, 2018 at 7:18 pm

The Crimea voted to be annexed by Russia by a clear majority. The US overran Hawaii with total disregard for the wishes of the native population. Your comparison is invalid.

vato , July 31, 2018 at 3:37 am

"Putin's finger prints are all over the Balkan fiasco".How is that with Putin only becoming president in 2000 and the Nato bombing started way beforehand. It's ridiculous to think that Putin had any major influence at that time as govenor or director of the domestic intelligence service on what was going during the bombing of NATO on Belgrad. Even Gerhard Schroeder, then chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, admitted in an interview in 2014 with a major German Newspaper (Die Zeit) that this invasion of Nato was a fault and against international law!

Can you concrete what you mean by "fingerprints" or is this just another platitudes?

ewmayer , July 31, 2018 at 6:05 pm

"Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome."

I believe that the full and proper name of the psychiatric disorder in question is Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome [PTDS].

Symptoms include:

o Eager and uncritical ingestion and social-media regurgitation of even the most patently absurd MSM propaganda. For example, the meme that releasing factual information about actual election-meddling (as Wikileaks did about the Dem-establishment's rigging of its own nomination process in 2016) is a grave threat to American Democracy™;

o Recent-onset veneration of the intelligence agencies, whose stock in trade is spying on and lying to the American people, spreading disinformation, election rigging, torture and assassination and its agents, such as liar and perjurer Clapper and torturer Brennan;

o Rehabilitation of horrid unindicted GOP war criminals like G.W. Bush as alleged examples of "norms-respecting Republican patriots";

o Smearing of anyone who dares question the MSM-stoked hysteria as an America-hating Russian stooge.

[Aug 17, 2019] Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome (PTDS)

Highly recommended!
Aug 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ewmayer , July 31, 2018 at 6:05 pm

"Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome."

I believe that the full and proper name of the psychiatric disorder in question is Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome [PTDS].

Symptoms include:

[Aug 16, 2019] Two key questions facing the nation is the unchecked power of MIC and financial oligarchy. Unless they are tamed the USA will follow the road of the USSR sooner or later

Notable quotes:
"... The election will be waged, like the primaries, around race-baiting. Biden will be the first victim. The other white candidates are running scared & becoming more shrill in their denunciations of whites in general by the hour. ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

swamped , says: August 16, 2019 at 8:20 am GMT

"the Great Arsenal of Democracy was looted by" the military-industrial complex Arsenal & it's unending wars & nothing short of nuclear annihilation is going to change that. There is no Democrat who is willing to bet their chance at the presidency on pulling it down.

And the American public, by and large, is put to sleep by lengthy discussions of the intricacies of trade policy.

The election will be waged, like the primaries, around race-baiting. Biden will be the first victim. The other white candidates are running scared & becoming more shrill in their denunciations of whites in general by the hour.

There's no telling where it all may lead but it's becoming clearer day by day that the hostility will outlast the primaries & the general election will be a very ugly affair. There's no turning back to the soothing center now, it will be an us-vs.-them type election & hopefully, Pat Buchanan, still America's shrewdest pundit, will keep us fully apprised.

[Aug 06, 2019] The Military-Industrial Jobs Scam naked capitalism

Aug 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This is a very important post, documenting how despite defense contractor claims to the contrary, increased military spending has been accompanied by job losses in the US. This should come as no surprise. Military contracting is an exercise in pork, and regularly flagrantly disregards national security. A classic example: US uniforms and boots are made in China.

Another example of the benefits of military pork going outside the US was the use of contractors during the war in Iraq. From a 2007 Vanity Fair story:

In one place the job of laundering soldiers' uniforms, for example, might be performed by a company working directly for KBR. But in another a subcontractor will have sub-subcontracted the work to someone else, and sometimes even sub-sub-sub-subcontracted it. "I've come across examples where you get down four or five levels," says a government auditor who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There's the U.S. prime, the subcontractor from the Middle East, then a sub-subcontractor from Pakistan, then a shell corporation with a box number in Michigan, and finally the Iraqis who're actually doing the work -- for next to nothing."

This system has created great difficulties for anyone attempting to oversee the process on behalf of American taxpayers. It has also substantially increased the overall costs of the war by creating the conditions for obscene markups between contract levels. "There is an enormous need to get a closer handle on the detail in the field," says the auditor. "If you go ask one of the inspectors general, 'Tell me about the subcontracts,' they can't tell you anything. It's a black hole. What this means for oversight, and basic issues of fairness, is that there is none."

On top of that, inflating the number of people tasked to an activity was routine, and the article has first hand accounts from individuals who tried opposing the practice.

In other words, the contracting fraud results in US taxpayers paying way more than it would have cost for US personnel to do the work with the added insult that the tasks were performed by locals for a pittance.

By Nia Harris, a Research Associate at the Center for International Policy, Cassandra Stimpson, a Research Associate at the Center for International Policy and Ben Freeman, Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy and Co-Chair of its Sustainable Defense Task Force. Originally published at TomDispatch

A Marilyn has once again seduced a president. This time, though, it's not a movie star ; it's Marillyn Hewson, the head of Lockheed Martin, the nation's top defense contractor and the largest weapons producer in the world. In the last month, Donald Trump and Hewson have seemed inseparable. They " saved " jobs at a helicopter plant. They took the stage together at a Lockheed subsidiary in Milwaukee. The president vetoed three bills that would have blocked the arms sales of Lockheed (and other companies) to Saudi Arabia. Recently, the president's daughter Ivanka even toured a Lockheed space facility with Hewson.

On July 15th, the official White House Twitter account tweeted a video of the Lockheed CEO extolling the virtues of the company's THAAD missile defense system, claiming that it "supports 25,000 American workers." Not only was Hewson promoting her company's product, but she was making her pitch -- with the weapon in the background -- on the White House lawn. Twitter immediately burst with outrage over the White House posting an ad for a private company, with some calling it "unethical" and "likely unlawful."

None of this, however, was really out of the ordinary as the Trump administration has stopped at nothing to push the argument that job creation is justification enough for supporting weapons manufacturers to the hilt. Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, he was already insisting that military spending was a great jobs creator. He's only doubled down on this assertion during his presidency. Recently, overriding congressional objections, he even declared a national "emergency" to force through part of an arms sale to Saudi Arabia that he had once claimed would create more than a million jobs. While this claim has been thoroughly debunked , the most essential part of his argument -- that more money flowing to defense contractors will create significant numbers of new jobs -- is considered truth personified by many in the defense industry, especially Marillyn Hewson.

The facts tell a different story.

Lockheed Locks Down Taxpayer Dollars, While Cutting American Jobs

To test Trump's and Hewson's argument, we asked a simple question: When contractors receive more taxpayer money, do they generally create more jobs? To answer it, we analyzed the reports of major defense contractors filed annually with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ). Among other things, these reveal the total number of people employed by a firm and the salary of its chief executive officer. We then compared those figures to the federal tax dollars each company received, according to the Federal Procurement Data System, which measures the "dollars obligated," or funds, the government awards company by company.

We focused on the top five Pentagon defense contractors, the very heartland of the military-industrial complex, for the years 2012 to 2018. As it happened, 2012 was a pivotal year because the Budget Control Act (BCA) first went into effect then, establishing caps on how much money could be spent by Congress and mandating cuts to defense spending through 2021. Those caps were never fully adhered to. Ultimately, in fact, the Pentagon will receive significantly more money in the BCA decade than in the prior one, a period when the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were at their heights.

In 2012, concerned that those caps on defense spending would cut into their bottom lines, the five top contractors went on the political offensive, making future jobs their weapon of choice. After the Budget Control Act passed, the Aerospace Industries Association -- the leading trade group of the weapons-makers -- warned that more than one million jobs would be at risk if Pentagon spending were cut significantly. To emphasize the point, Lockheed sent layoff notices to 123,000 employees just before the BCA was implemented and only days before the 2012 election. Those layoffs never actually happened, but the fear of lost jobs would prove real indeed and would last.

Consider it mission accomplished, since Pentagon spending was actually higher in 2018 than in 2012 and Lockheed received a sizeable chunk of that cash infusion. From 2012 to 2018, among government contractors, that company would, in fact, be the top recipient of taxpayer dollars every single year, those funds reaching their zenith in 2017, as it raked in more than $50.6 billion federal dollars. By contrast, in 2012, when Lockheed was threatening its employees with mass layoffs , the firm received nearly $37 billion .

So what did Lockheed do with those additional $13 billion taxpayer dollars? It would be reasonable to assume that it used some of that windfall (like those of previous years) to invest in growing its workforce. If you came to that conclusion, however, you would be sorely mistaken. From 2012 to 2018, overall employment at Lockheed actually fell from 120,000 to 105,000 , according to the firm's filings with the SEC and the company itself reported a slightly larger reduction of 16,350 jobs in the U.S. In other words, in the last six years Lockheed dramatically reduced its U.S. workforce, even as it hired more employees abroad and received more taxpayer dollars.

So where is all that additional taxpayer money actually going, if not job creation? At least part of the answer is contractor profits and soaring CEO salaries. In those six years, Lockheed's stock price rose from $82 at the beginning of 2012 to $305 at the end of 2018, a nearly four-fold increase. In 2018 , the company also reported a 9% ($590 million) rise in its profits, the best in the industry. And in those same years, the salary of its CEO increased by $1.4 million, again according to its SEC filings .

In short, since 2012 the number of taxpayer dollars going to Lockheed has expanded by billions, the value of its stock has nearly quadrupled, and its CEO's salary went up 32%, even as it cut 14% of its American work force. Yet Lockheed continues to use job creation, as well as its employees' present jobs, as political pawns to get yet more taxpayer money. The president himself has bought into the ruse in his race to funnel ever more money to the Pentagon and promote arms deals to countries like Saudi Arabia, even over the nearly unified objections of an otherwise incredibly divided Congress.

Lockheed Is the Norm, Not the Exception

Despite being this country's and the world's top weapons maker, Lockheed isn't the exception but the norm. From 2012 to 2018, the unemployment rate in the U.S. plummeted from roughly 8% to 4%, with more than 13 million new jobs added to the economy. Yet, in those same years, three of the five top defense contractors slashed jobs. In 2018, the Pentagon committed approximately $118 billion in federal money to those firms, including Lockheed -- nearly half of all the money it spent on contractors. This was almost $12 billion more than they had received in 2012 . Yet, cumulatively, those companies lost jobs and now employ a total of 6,900 fewer employees than they did in 2012, according to their SEC filings .

In addition to the reductions at Lockheed, Boeing slashed 21,400 jobs and Raytheon cut 800 employees from its payroll. Only General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman added jobs -- 13,400 and 16,900 employees, respectively -- making that total figure look modestly better. However, even those "gains" can't qualify as job creation in the normal sense, since they resulted almost entirely from the fact that each of those companies bought another Pentagon contractor and added its employees to its own payroll. CSRA, which General Dynamics acquired in 2018, had 18,500 employees before the merger, while Orbital ATK, which General Dynamics acquired last year, had 13,900 employees. Subtract these 32,400 jobs from the corporate totals and job losses at the firms become staggering.

In addition, those employment figures include all company employees, even those now working outside the U.S. Lockheed is the only top five Pentagon contractor that provides information on the percentage of its employees in the U.S., so if the other firms are shipping jobs overseas, as Lockheed has done and as Raytheon is planning to do, far more than 6,900 full-time jobs in the U.S. have been lost in the last six years.

Where, then, did all that job-creation money really go? Just as at Lockheed, at least part of the answer is that the money went to the bottom-line and to top executives. According to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consulting firm that provides annual analyses of the defense industry, "the aerospace and defense (A&D) sector scored record revenues and profits in 2018" with an "operating profit of $81 billion, surpassing the previous record set in 2017." According to the report, Pentagon contractors were at the forefront of these profit gains. For example, Lockheed's profit improvement was $590 million, followed closely by General Dynamics at $562 million. As employment shrank, CEO salaries at some of these firms only grew. In addition to compensation for Lockheed's CEO jumping from $4.2 million in 2012 to $5.6 million in 2018, compensation for the CEO of General Dynamics increased from $6.9 million in 2012 to a whopping $20.7 million in 2018.

Perpetuating the Same Old Story

This is hardly the first time that these companies have extolled their ability to create jobs while cutting them. As Ben Freeman previously documented for the Project On Government Oversight, these very same firms cut almost 10% of their workforce in the six years before the BCA came into effect, even as taxpayer dollars heading their way annually jumped by nearly 25% from $91 billion to $113 billion.

Just as then, the contractors and their advocates -- and there are many of them, given that the weapons-making outfits spend more than $100 million on lobbying yearly, donate tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of members of Congress every election season, and give millions to think tanks annually -- will rush to defend such job losses. They will, for instance, note that defense spending leads to job growth among the subcontractors used by the major weapons firms. Yet research has repeatedly shown that, even with this supposed "multiplier effect," defense spending produces fewer jobs than just about anything else the government puts our money into. In fact, it's about 50% less effective at creating jobs than if taxpayers were simply allowed to keep their money and use it as they wished.

As Brown University's Costs of War project has reported , "$1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs, compared with 26,700 in education, 16,800 in clean energy, and 17,200 in health care." Military spending actually proved to be the worst job creator of any federal government spending option those researchers analyzed. Similarly, according to a report by Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for every $1 million of spending on defense, 6.9 jobs are created both directly in defense industries and in the supply chain. Spending the same amount in the fields of wind or solar energy, she notes, leads to 8.4 or 9.5 jobs, respectively. As for the education sector, the same amount of money produced 19.2 jobs in primary and secondary education and 11.2 jobs in higher education. In other words, not only are the green energy and education areas vital to the future of the country, they are also genuine job-creating machines. Yet, the government gives more taxpayer dollars to the defense industry than all these other government functions combined .

You don't, however, have to turn to critics of defense spending to make the case. Reports from the industry's own trade association show that it has been shedding jobs. According to an Aerospace Industries Association analysis , it supported approximately 300,000 fewer jobs in 2018 than it had reported supporting just three years earlier.

If the nation's top defense contractor and the industry as a whole have been shedding jobs, how have they been able to consistently and effectively perpetuate the myth that they are engines of job creation? To explain this, add to their army of lobbyists, their treasure trove of campaign contributions, and those think tanks on the take, the famed revolving door that sends retired government officials into the world of the weapons makers and those working for them to Washington.

While there has always been a cozy relationship between the Pentagon and the defense industry, the lines between contractors and the government have blurred far more radically in the Trump years. Mark Esper, the newly minted secretary of defense, for example, previously worked as Raytheon's top lobbyist in Washington. Spinning the other way, the present head of the Aerospace Industries Association, Eric Fanning , had been both secretary of the Army and acting secretary of the Air Force. In fact, since 2008, as the Project On Government Oversight's Mandy Smithberger found , "at least 380 high-ranking Department of Defense officials and military officers shifted into the private sector to become lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants for defense contractors."

Whatever the spin, whether of that revolving door or of the defense industry's publicists, the bottom line couldn't be clearer: if job creation is your metric of choice, Pentagon contractors are a bad taxpayer investment. So whenever Marillyn Hewson or any other CEO in the military-industrial complex claims that spending yet more taxpayer dollars on defense contractors will give a jobs break to Americans, just remember their track record so far: ever more dollars invested means ever fewer Americans employed.


JBird4049 , August 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

I seem to recall reading repeatedly that half of the American combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were private contractors hired by such upstanding companies like Blackwater as well as much, or perhaps mostly, were the staffing in such as cooks, janitors, even drivers. Workers doing gig work in a war zone.

The American government got to use statistical legerdemain to cut the number of Americans fighting, dying, and being injured, which means that the official numbers of American military casualties is a lie, but it played well in the "news" stories sound bites.

The funds to pay for the hidden forces were used to pay the inflated contracts with the money often going more to companies' profits than in paying the workers. Sometimes, as in the case of the "retired" combat veterans, the pay was very, very good, but too often it was chump pay especially as the wounded did not qualify for the benefits of the military such as long term medical care or disability payments. This last bit also reduces the long term costs of the wars for the government as any help that they might get would be something like Social Security.

There are probably a fair number of disabled Americans wasting away from their unofficial military service without any of the support, problematic as it is sometimes, that the military veterans get. Then there are the lack of survivors benefits.

And yes, many people took those jobs because they were none to be had that paid the bills, but the companies made bank.

sd , August 5, 2019 at 3:01 am

To be clear, it wasn't combat troops. It was logistics support which was contracted out to Halliburton under LOGCAP. Halliburton in turn used a subsidiary and subbed it out further. USAID and various "reconstruction" contracts further inflated the number of contractors.

The significance of participating in the "Coalition" of nations was that their citizens would not be considered mercenaries under UN agreements. Hence everyone jumping on board for a piece of the pie.

JCC , August 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

True, the vast majority were logistical support personnel. I was one of them, IT services.

The layers were 3 to 5 deep, everything from laundry services and kitchen people from Pakistan and electricians and carpenters from the Philippines. KBR made bank while paying these people squat. And not only was KBR/Haliburton getting rich over over there, they failed to deliver on many of the services they were paid to provide.

Oh the stories I could tell. I learned the true meaning of War Profiteering courtesy of companies like KBR.

The Rev Kev , August 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

Then I suppose that the contents of this old 2010 article would be no surprise to you-

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jun/09/arianna-huffington/halliburton-kbr-and-iraq-war-contracting-history-s/

JCC , August 5, 2019 at 10:49 am

I thought about doing a list of just what I saw, including the illegal billed for "force protection" mentioned in this article:

In April 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil fraud case against KBR over the issue of using private security forces in Iraq to protect its workers and subcontractors. Private security wasn't allowed under the LOGCAP contract because the U.S. military was supposed to provide protection.

Not only did Haliburton/KBR bill for it, they never provided it, at least not at the largest post there, Balad Air Base.

This article is a decent summary of the big picture, on the ground level it looked a lot worse, including costing some their lives as a direct result of incompetence and worse.

Oh , August 5, 2019 at 6:49 pm

A small biz without Cheney connections would have been nailed to the wall with the management going to prison for a crime like this.

David in Santa Cruz , August 5, 2019 at 1:20 am

This used to be called the "self-licking ice cream cone." These people have no morals, and don't care about anyone but themselves. They are merchants of death.

Off The Street , August 5, 2019 at 10:39 am

That sweet tooth got extended once the perps could brag about drinking your milkshake . Strange how they didn't get any cavities but the rest of the populace did.

skippy , August 5, 2019 at 4:05 am

Sniff I remember all the Bush Jr years of buddies getting sweetheart contracts and doing nada besides shuffling some papers .

Joe Well , August 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

>>A classic example: US uniforms and boots are made in China.

New Balance, the sneaker company with a small but significant US manufacturing capability, has been protesting this vociferously for years.

After the most recent presidential election, one of their executives told a trade publication that they were still optimistic for the future (what else were they supposed to say?) and said specifically that they were hopeful that the new administration would enforce Made-in-USA rules more forcefully (which they had been saying like a mantra forever).

And you can probably guess what happened. There was a Twitter storm of people burning New Balance sneakers. The Intercept columnist Sean King put New Balance on a list of companies to boycott.

And that is how this particular scam-laden military empire perpetuates itself: with a fake opposition stuffed with scams of its own. How much do you wanna bet that the current holders of said military contracts were astroturfing this opposition?

shinola , August 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

From the article:
As Brown University's Costs of War project has reported, "$1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs, compared with 26,700 in education "
This implies that a job in the MIC sector making WMD pays nearly 2.4x more than a job educating our children. What's wrong with this picture?

Trump throws billion$ more into the "defense" budget than was requested. MIC related stock prices seem to be doing rather well. Mr. President, what's in your portfolio?

Eugene , August 5, 2019 at 12:23 pm

At least we get to voice our concerns – free speech – guaranteed so far, but that's all. One day, the Ponzi will collapse, probably sooner than we think. And who will get blamed? None other then the POTUS, but he'll escape any legal hassle's because he'll be diagnosed with the dreaded "DEMENTIA". Where have we heard that before.

[Aug 06, 2019] The Declining Empire Of Chaos Is Going Nuts Over Iran

Notable quotes:
"... Tensions were then focused on Syria , where a mercenary army of at least 200,000 men, armed and trained by the US, UK, Israel, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, almost managed to completely topple the country. ..."
"... As the Americans, British, French and Israelis conducted their bombing missions in Syria, the danger of a deliberate attack on Russian positions always remained, something that would have had devastating consequences for the region and beyond. It is no secret that US military planners have repeatedly argued for a direct conflict with Moscow in a contained regional theater. (Clinton called for the downing of Russian jets over Syria, and former US officials claimed that some Russians had to " pay a little price ".) ..."
"... Trump's dramatic U-turn following his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un (a public relations/photo opportunity) began to paint a fairly comical and unreliable picture of US power, revealing to the world the new US president's strategy. The president threatens to nuke a country, but only as a negotiating tactic to bring his opponent to the negotiating table and thereby clinch a deal. He then presents himself to his domestic audience as the "great" deal-maker. ..."
"... With Iran, the recent target of the US administration, the bargaining method is the same, though with decidedly different results. In the cases of Ukraine and North Korea, the two most powerful lobbies in Washington, the Israeli and Saudi lobbies, have had little to say. Of course the neocons and the arms lobbyists are always gunning for war, but these two powerful state-backed lobbies were notably silent with regard to these countries, less towards Syria obviously. As distinguished political scientist John J. Mearsheimer has repeatedly explained , the Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals. ..."
"... These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict. ..."
"... The reasons vary with each case, and I have previously explained extensively why the possibilities for conflict are unthinkable. With Ukraine, a conflict on European soil between Russia and NATO was unthinkable , bringing to mind the type of devastation that was seen during the Second World War. Good sense prevailed, and even NATO somewhat refused to fully arm the Ukrainian army with weapons that would have given them an overwhelming advantage over the Donbass militias. ..."
"... In Syria, any involvement with ground troops would have been collective suicide, given the overwhelming air power deployed in the country by Russia. Recall that since the Second World War, the US has never fought a war in an airspace that was seriously contested (in Vietnam, US air losses were only elevated because of Sino-Soviet help), allowing for ground troops to receive air cover and protection . A ground assault in Syria would have therefore been catastrophic without the requisite control of Syria's skies. ..."
"... Because a war with Iran would be difficult to de-escalate, we can conclude that the possibility of war being waged against the country is unlikely if not impossible. The level of damage the belligerents would inflict on each other would make any diplomatic resolution of the conflict difficult. While the powerful Israeli and Saudi lobbies in the US may be beating the war drums, an indication of what would happen if war followed can be seen in Yemen. Egypt and the UAE were forced to withdraw from the coalition fighting the Houthis after the UAE suffered considerable damage from legitimate retaliatory missile strikes from the Yemen's Army Missile Forces. ..."
"... An open war against Iran continues to be a red line that the ruling financial elites in the US, Israelis and Saudis don't want to cross, having so much at stake. ..."
"... With an election looming, Trump cannot risk triggering a new conflict and betraying one of his most important electoral promises. The Western elite does not seem to have any intention of destroying the petrodollar-based world economy with which it generates its own profits and controls global finance. ..."
"... Even if we consider the possibility of Netanyahu and Bin Salman being mentally unstable, someone within the royal palace in Riyadh or the government in Tel Aviv would have counseled them on the political and personal consequences of an attack on Iran. ..."
Aug 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

In 2014 we were almost at the point of no return in Ukraine following the coup d'etat supported and funded by NATO and involving extremist right-wing Ukrainian nationalists. The conflict in the Donbass risked escalating into a conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation, every day in the summer and autumn of 2014 threatening to be doomsday. Rather than respond to the understandable impulse to send Russian troops into Ukraine to defend the population of Donbass, Putin had the presense of mind to pursue the less direct and more sensible strategy of supporting the material capacity of the residents of Donbass to resist the depredations of the Ukrainian army and their neo-Nazi Banderite thugs. Meanwhile, Europe's inept leaders initially egged on Ukraine's destabilization, only to get cold feet after reflecting on the possibility of having a conflict between Moscow and Washington fought on European soil.

With the resistance in Donbass managing to successfully hold back Ukrainian assaults, the conflict began to freeze, almost to the point of a complete ceasefire, even as Ukrainian provocations continue to this day.

Tensions were then focused on Syria , where a mercenary army of at least 200,000 men, armed and trained by the US, UK, Israel, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, almost managed to completely topple the country. Russian intervention in 2015 managed to save the country with no time to spare, destroying large numbers of terrorists and reorganizing the Syrian armed forces and training and equipping them with the necessary means to beat back the jihadi waves. The Russians also ensured control of the skies through their network of Pantsir-S1, Pantsir-S2, S-300 and S-400 air-defence systems, together with their impressive jamming (Krasukha-4), command and control information management system (Strelets C4ISR System) and electronic-warfare technologies (1RL257 Krasukha-4).

As the Americans, British, French and Israelis conducted their bombing missions in Syria, the danger of a deliberate attack on Russian positions always remained, something that would have had devastating consequences for the region and beyond. It is no secret that US military planners have repeatedly argued for a direct conflict with Moscow in a contained regional theater. (Clinton called for the downing of Russian jets over Syria, and former US officials claimed that some Russians had to " pay a little price ".)

Since Trump became president, the rhetoric of war has soared considerably, even as the awareness remains that any new conflict would sink Trump's chances of re-election. Despite this, Trump's bombings in Syria were real and potentially very harmful to the Syrian state. Nevertheless, they were foiled by Russia's electronic-warfare capability, which was able to send veering away from their intended target more than 70% of the latest-generation missiles launched by the British, French, Americans and Israelis.

One of the most terrifying moments for the future of humanity came a few months later when Trump started hurling threats and abuses at Kim Jong-un , threatening to reduce Pyongyang to ashes. Trump, moreover, delivered his fiery threats in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump's dramatic U-turn following his historic meeting with Kim Jong-un (a public relations/photo opportunity) began to paint a fairly comical and unreliable picture of US power, revealing to the world the new US president's strategy. The president threatens to nuke a country, but only as a negotiating tactic to bring his opponent to the negotiating table and thereby clinch a deal. He then presents himself to his domestic audience as the "great" deal-maker.

With Iran, the recent target of the US administration, the bargaining method is the same, though with decidedly different results. In the cases of Ukraine and North Korea, the two most powerful lobbies in Washington, the Israeli and Saudi lobbies, have had little to say. Of course the neocons and the arms lobbyists are always gunning for war, but these two powerful state-backed lobbies were notably silent with regard to these countries, less towards Syria obviously. As distinguished political scientist John J. Mearsheimer has repeatedly explained , the Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals.

The difference between the case of Iran and the aforementioned cases of Ukraine, Syria and North Korea is precisely the direct involvement of these two lobbies in the decision-making process underway in the US.

These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict.

What readers can be assured of is that in the cases of Ukraine, Syria, North Korea and Iran, the US is unable to militarily impose its geopolitical or economic will.

The reasons vary with each case, and I have previously explained extensively why the possibilities for conflict are unthinkable. With Ukraine, a conflict on European soil between Russia and NATO was unthinkable , bringing to mind the type of devastation that was seen during the Second World War. Good sense prevailed, and even NATO somewhat refused to fully arm the Ukrainian army with weapons that would have given them an overwhelming advantage over the Donbass militias.

In Syria, any involvement with ground troops would have been collective suicide, given the overwhelming air power deployed in the country by Russia. Recall that since the Second World War, the US has never fought a war in an airspace that was seriously contested (in Vietnam, US air losses were only elevated because of Sino-Soviet help), allowing for ground troops to receive air cover and protection . A ground assault in Syria would have therefore been catastrophic without the requisite control of Syria's skies.

In North Korea, the country's tactical and strategic nuclear and conventional deterrence discourages any missile attack. Any overland attack is out of the question, given the high number of active as well as reserve personnel in the DPRK army. If the US struggled to control a completely defeated Iraq in 2003, how much more difficult would be to deal with a country with a resilient population that is indisposed to bowing to the US? The 2003 Iraq campaign would really be a "cakewalk" in comparison. Another reason why a missile attack on North Korea is impossible is because of the conventional power that Pyongyang possesses in the form of tens of thousands of missiles and artillery pieces that could easily reduce Seoul to rubble in a matter of minutes. This would then lead to a war between the US and the DPRK being fought on the Korean Peninsula. Moon Jae-in, like Merkel and Sarkozy in the case of Ukraine, did everything in his power to prevent such a devastating conflict.

Concerning tensions between the US and Iran and the resulting threats of war, these should be taken as bluster and bluff. America's European allies are heavily involved in Iran and depend on the Middle East for their oil and gas imports. A US war against Iran would have devastating consequences for the world economy, with the Europeans seeing their imports halved or reduced. As Professor Chossudovsky of the strategic think tank Global Research has so ably argued , an attack on Iran is unsustainable, as the oil sectors of the UAE and Saudi Arabia would be hit and shut down. Exports would instantly end after the pipelines going West are bombed by the Houthis and the Strait of Hormuz closed. The economies of these two countries would implode and their ruling class wiped out by internal revolts. The state of Israel as well as US bases in the region would see themselves overwhelmed with missiles coming from Syria, Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Iran. The Tel Aviv government would last a few hours before capitulating under the pressure of its own citizens, who, like the Europeans, are unused to suffering war at home.

Because a war with Iran would be difficult to de-escalate, we can conclude that the possibility of war being waged against the country is unlikely if not impossible. The level of damage the belligerents would inflict on each other would make any diplomatic resolution of the conflict difficult. While the powerful Israeli and Saudi lobbies in the US may be beating the war drums, an indication of what would happen if war followed can be seen in Yemen. Egypt and the UAE were forced to withdraw from the coalition fighting the Houthis after the UAE suffered considerable damage from legitimate retaliatory missile strikes from the Yemen's Army Missile Forces.

An open war against Iran continues to be a red line that the ruling financial elites in the US, Israelis and Saudis don't want to cross, having so much at stake.

With an election looming, Trump cannot risk triggering a new conflict and betraying one of his most important electoral promises. The Western elite does not seem to have any intention of destroying the petrodollar-based world economy with which it generates its own profits and controls global finance. And finally, US military planners do not intend to suffer a humiliating defeat in Iran that would reveal the extent to which US military power is based on propaganda built over the years through Hollywood movies and wars successfully executed against relatively defenceless countries. Even if we consider the possibility of Netanyahu and Bin Salman being mentally unstable, someone within the royal palace in Riyadh or the government in Tel Aviv would have counseled them on the political and personal consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is telling that Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Riyadh have to resort to numerous but ultimately useless provocations against Iran, as they can only rely on hybrid attacks in order to economically isolate it from the rest of the world.

Paradoxically, this strategy has had devastating consequences for the role of the US dollar as a reserve currency together with the SWIFT system. In today's multipolar environment, acting in such an imperious manner leads to the acceleration of de-dollarization as a way of circumventing sanctions and bans imposed by the US.

A reserve currency is used to facilitate transactions. If the disadvantages come to exceed the benefits, it will progressively be used less and less, until it is replaced by a basket of currencies that more closely reflect the multipolar geopolitical reality.

The warmongers in Washington are exasperated by their continuing inability to curb the resilience and resistance of the people in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Donbass, countries and regions understood by the healthy part of the globe as representing the axis of resistance to US Imperialism.


Batman11 , 14 minutes ago link

A multi-polar world became a uni-polar world with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Francis Fukuyama said it was the end of history.

That didn't last long, did it?

The US came up with a great plan for an open, globalised world.

China went from almost nothing to become a global superpower.

It was a great plan for China, which is now the problem for the US.

Batman11 , 24 minutes ago link

The cry of US elites can be heard across the world.

Mummy.

What's gone wrong?

I am used to always getting my own way.

Thought.Adjuster , 55 minutes ago link

If Folks would just accept a unipolar World, we could all live together in peace.

ZeroPorridge , 6 minutes ago link

Monopoly means utter slavery.

Like in a living body, each cells on their own, grouped by function, none really being the boss of the rest.

uhland62 , 1 hour ago link

America must always threaten someone with war. Syria, Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia, so many to choose from.

Conflicts must never be resolved; they must always kept simmering, so a hot war can be triggered quickly. All Presidents are turned in the first three months after sworn in.

Jazzman , 1 hour ago link

Without required air superiority they are what? Say it! Say it loud!

Dude-dude , 49 minutes ago link

It's what happens as empires mature. Governance becomes bloated, corrupt and inept (often leading to wars). Maturity time has become significantly reduced due to the rate of information technology advance. America is five years away from going insolvent according to most models and forecasts. All new debt after 2024 will be used to pay the interest on existing debts and liabilities. There is simply no stopping it. The US already pays close to 500 billion in annual interest on debts and liabilities. Factor in a 600 billion or 700 billion dollar annual military budget, and unrestrained deficit spending clocking in at over a trillion, and, well, it isn't going to work for long. Considering most new well paying jobs are government jobs... The end is either full socialism / fascism (folks still don't get how similar these are), a currency crisis and panic, depression and institutional deterioration. The only good news to libertarians I guess - if you can call it good - is that the blotted government along with the crony corporations will mostly and eventually collapse. Libertarian governance might not be a choice by an electorate, it might simply become fact in the aftermath.

-- ALIEN -- , 3 hours ago link

As the falling EROEI of oil gets worse; countries will collapse... It's all downhill from here

...what few are left.

Lokiban , 3 hours ago link

I guess Trump eventually will understand this lesson in politics that friendship, mutual respect and helping each other accomplishes way way more then threatening countries to be bombed back into the stoneage.
Noone likes to do a cutthroat deal enforced upon them by thuggery. Trump's got to learn that you can't run politics like you do your bussinesses, it's not working unles that was his plan all this time, to destroy America.

NumbersUsa , 3 hours ago link

"The Israel and Saudi lobbies have unlimited funds for corrupting Democrats and Republicans in order to push their foreign-policy goals.

These two lobbies (together with their neocon allies) have for years been pushing to have a few hundred thousand young Americans sent to Iran to sacrifice themselves for the purposes of destroying Iran and her people. Such geopolitical games are played at the cost of US taxpayers, the lives of their children sent to war, and the lives of the people of the Middle East, who have been devastated by decades of conflict."

Excellent and Factual points! Thank You!

Scaliger , 3 hours ago link

https://www.jta.org/2019/07/01/united-states/the-israel-projects-ceo-is-leaving-amid-advocacy-groups-fundraising-difficulties

Minamoto , 3 hours ago link

America is increasingly looking like Ancient Rome towards the end. It is overstretched, nearly insolvent, fewer allies want to be allies, it's population is sick, physically and mentally. Obesity, diabetes, drug use/addiction make it impossible for the Pentagon to meet recruitment goal. Mental illness causes daily mass killing. The education system is so broken/broke that there is little real education being done. Americans are among the most ignorant, least educated and least educate-able people in the developed world.

Militarily, the USA can bomb but that's about it... defeats upon defeats over the past two decades demonstrate the US military is a paper tiger of astonishing incompetence.

Boeing can't make planes anymore. Lockheed is not much better. Parts of the F-35 are made by Chinese subsidiaries. The most recently built aircraft carrier cannot launch fighter jets.

-- ALIEN -- , 3 hours ago link

We gots NASCAR, big trucks, free TV, fast food, and endless ****.

Go 'Merica!

Justin Case , 2 hours ago link

Recent estimates indicate that more than 550,000 people experience homelessness in the US on any given night, with about two-thirds ending up in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, and one-third finding their way to unsheltered locations like parks, vehicles, and metro stations. According to the Urban Institute, about 25% of homeless people have jobs.

I find that it is difficult for me to wrap my head around pain and suffering on such an immense scale. Americans often think of the homeless as drug-addicted men that don't want to work, but the truth is that about a quarter of the homeless population is made up of children.

foxenburg , 2 hours ago link

Seriously, why would Iran want to hijack a German ship? Iran took the UK one in retaliation for the Brits seizing the one at Gibraltar. Had that not happened, no Brit ships in the Persian Gulf would have been touched. This is all a carefully engineered USA provocation designed to, inter alia, increase tension in the Persian Gulf, put more nails in coffin of JCPOA...and most importantly give UK an excuse, as remaining signatory, to call for the original UN sanctions on Iran to be snapped-back.

terrific , 4 hours ago link

Federico, let me explain it simply: the U.S. is allied with Israel, and Iran hates Israel. Why, I don't know (nor do I care), but that's why the U.S. needs to keep Iran in check.

Grouchy-Bear , 4 hours ago link

You are confused...

Israel hates Iran and it is Israel that needs to be kept in check...

CatInTheHat , 4 hours ago link

Yet CONGRESS just passed the largest defense bill in history. The WAR industry is bankrupting us financially spiritually and morally.

A war is coming. But upon whom this time (or STILL?), because with President Bolton and Vice President Adelson in power, China Iran or Russia or maybe all three, are open options.

Ofelas , 4 hours ago link

Interview with a Russian I saw 2 years ago "USA wants to create local conflicts on foreign shores, ...on our borders, we will not allow that to happen and make the war international" I will translate: Russia will not be pulled in to some stupid small war draining their resources while the US sits comfortable, they will throw their missiles around - no escape from nuclear winter.

libtears , 3 hours ago link

Us pays more in interest than defense spending now. You'll need to factor that into your predictions

UBrexitUPay4it , 3 hours ago link

If spending has reached the limit now, during peacetime....what will happen during a protracted war? Even if it stays conventional, it would appear that a huge war effort, comparable to WWII, just won't be possible. The US seems to be in a pre-war Britain position, but there isn't a friendly giant across the water to bail them out with both cash and resources.

Either things become insane in fairly short order, or wiser heads will prevail and the US will step back from the brink. Do we have any wiser heads at the moment?

I keep seeing John Bolton's moustache, Andi am not filled with confidence.

[Aug 06, 2019] Congress Spending Surge is National Suicide by Ron Paul

Aug 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

With a national debt approaching $23 trillion and a trillion dollar deficit for this year alone, Congress last week decided to double down on suicidal spending, passing a two year budget that has the United States careening toward catastrophe. While we cannot say precisely when the economic crash will occur, we do know that it is coming. And last week Congress pounded down on the accelerator.

We are told that the US economy is experiencing unprecedented growth, while at the same time the Fed is behaving as it does when we are in recession by cutting rates and dodging insults from the President because it's not cutting fast enough. This is not economic policy – it's schizophrenia!

But that's only the beginning.

Take what they call "national defense" spending. This is the misnomer they use to try and convince us that pumping trillions into the military-industrial complex will make us safe and free. Nothing could be further from the truth: probably ninety percent of the "defense" budget is aggressive militarism and welfare for the rich.

Under this budget deal the military budget would increase to nearly $1.4 trillion for two years. Of course that's only a fraction of real military spending, which is, all told, well over one trillion dollars per year.

What do we get for this money? Are we safer? Not at all. We are more vulnerable than ever. We spend billions fighting "terrorism" in Africa while terrorism has actually increased since the creation of the US Africa Command – "AFRICOM" – in 2007. Meanwhile we continue to spend to maintain our illegal military occupation of a large section of Syria – which benefits terrorist groups seeking to overthrow Assad.

We're sending thousands more troops to the Middle East including basing US troops in Saudi Arabia for the first time since 2003. Back then, even neocon Paul Wolfowitz praised our departure from Saudi Arabia because, as he rightly stated, US troops on Saudi soil was a great recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.

Now we've pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty so that we can deploy once-forbidden missiles on China's front door. A new arms race with China will mean a new boon for our new Defense Secretary's former colleagues at Raytheon!

[Aug 05, 2019] Don t Underestimate Iran s Ability to Fight a Bloody War

Aug 05, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Don't Underestimate Iran's Ability to Fight a Bloody War They already proved themselves against Iraq during the 1980s -- and they're far stronger today. By Pouya Alimagham August 6, 2019

Circa 1980's; an Iranian soldier wearing gas mask during Iran-Iraq War. Iraq used chemical weapons against military and civilian targets throughout the eight year war. Declassified reports indicate that Saddam Hussein had international assistance in obtaining the weapons, including from the U.S. and U.K, and the CIA assisted in targeting. (Creative Commons/Wikipedia) On July 29, President Trump tweeted: "Just remember, Iranians never won a war, but never lost a negotiation." In just 12 words, Trump leveled a multi-layered, ahistorical insult against both his predecessor, Barack Obama, and Iran.

More importantly, the remarks betray a dangerously ignorant understanding of Iran that could result in another careless Middle East war of choice.

The tweet invokes a clichéd, colonial-era stereotype that Iranians, like other Middle Eastern peoples, are wily swindlers -- rapacious, greedy bazaar merchants who aim to take advantage of honest and unsuspecting Westerners. Trump is hardly the first American leader to dabble in such denigrating stereotypes. Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official and former lead negotiator who helped forge the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, infamously quipped that Iranians could not be trusted because they have "deception in their DNA."

The president deployed the stereotype of Iranian cunning to imply that they tricked a naïve president, Barack Obama, into signing a flawed nuclear deal. According to the world's foremost nuclear security experts , however, the accord was ensuring Iran's compliance, thereby preventing a nuclear weapons program -- that is, until Trump subverted the agreement in 2018.

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More importantly, Trump's words underscore the idea that Iranians are cowardly and militarily ineffectual, but make up for such unflattering character flaws by swindling their foes during negotiations to achieve victory.

Iran's last war, however, should dispel any notion of cowardice and military weakness -- a history President Trump and anti-Iran hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton must face with clear eyes if the United States is to avoid another needless, catastrophic war in the Middle East.

Iraq Invades Iran

In the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iran faced one of its most vulnerable moments in modern times. During the revolutionary upheaval, many arms depots were raided and weapons were distributed to volunteers ready to deliver the monarchy its coup de grace .

After the watershed moment, the Revolutionary Council feared that, given the Anglo-American coup in 1953 through the Iranian military, Iran's generals could not be trusted. The subsequent purge resulted in the decimation of the country's military leadership. Moreover, political infighting between revolutionary factions also led to unrest. To make matters worse, militant students were fearful that the U.S. was planning to undermine the revolution through a coup -- as it did the nationalist government of Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953 -- so they resolved to ward off any such attempts. Consequently, they seized the U.S. embassy and held its personnel hostage. The international community responded by isolating Iran for its blatant disregard for international norms.

Capitalizing on Iran's internal post-revolutionary chaos, military disarray, and international isolation, Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of his neighboring rival on September 22, 1980. Shortly after, Iran's internal power struggle between the various revolutionary factions erupted into open warfare.

So devastating was the power struggle that many of the leading personalities of the Iranian Revolution died in assassinations and bomb blasts, including Iran's president and prime minister. Thus, the Iranian state was forced to fight on two battlefronts -- internally against its challengers and externally against Iraqi invaders. The government did not, however, collapse under the weight of its domestic rivals and foreign aggressors. In fact, the war enlivened Charles Tilly's timeless words: "War makes states."

Iranian Resilience

The Iranian state harnessed a powerful ideology that intertwined nationalism with Islamic revolutionary zeal in order to prompt Iranians to close rank behind it, marshaling hundreds of thousands of soldiers to liberate Iranian territory occupied by the Iraqi military. By May 24, 1982, and after tens of thousands of deaths, Iran freed the border city of Khorramshahr after a brutal two-year siege.

Soon after Khorramshahr's liberation, the invading Iraqis were on the defensive, and Saddam's wartime financiers, namely Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, offered Iran a multi-billion dollar reparations package to end the war. Iran's leader refused, declaring that the only way the war would end was with Saddam Hussein's bloody demise. He then spearheaded the conflict onto Iraqi soil for the first time. Time captured the moment by phrasing the counter-invasion as " Iran on the march ."

Iran Versus the World

Iraq enjoyed the support of the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and the Arab League -- with the exception of Syria and Libya -- and even used chemical weapons on Iranian troops. Yet Iran persisted despite such horrible odds, and hundreds of thousands continued to go to the battlefront knowing it was possible that they, too, could fall victim to Iraq's horrific chemical weapons.

The violence dragged on for eight bitter years, making it the longest conventional war of the 20th century -- with an Iranian death toll estimated between half a million to a million. To put that staggering number into perspective, the conservative estimate exceeds the total American loss of life in World War II.

The war's conclusion was a failure in Iranian eyes, as it did not end in Saddam Hussein's overthrow and Iraqis and the region would continue to suffer at his hands. Two years later, he refused to demobilize his million-man army to a jobless future in a war-ravaged economy, and instead dispatched them across Iraq's border again -- this time to Kuwait.

Yet neither did Iran lose the war. In fact, it was the first conflict since the two 19th-century wars with Czarist Russia in which Iran did not lose any territory. Above all, the country survived a genocidal conflict -- and survival was its own victory.

Iran Today

Today, Iran's population is more than double what it was in 1980 -- estimated at roughly 83 million . After lacking military support from abroad during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran now has extensive domestic weapons manufacturing capabilities. Also unlike 1980, it has more allies in the region. In other words, if Iran fought so stubbornly under such dire circumstances during the '80s, it will only fight more effectively today. It has already proven itself militarily by coordinating the fight alongside the U.S. to defeat ISIS in Iraq while simultaneously working with Russia to help the Syrian government win an unrelenting civil war.

The Iranian military budget may be a fraction of America's, but the Trump administration -- especially anti-Iran hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo -- should consider this history and current reality objectively. If they don't, if they continue to underestimate Iran the same way the Bush administration did with a far weaker Iraq in 2003, they risk another war of choice. Indeed, on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney infamously stated : "I think it will go relatively quickly weeks rather than months." To be sure, history has been unkind to his rosy assessment.

Thinking a war with Iran will be over before it begins -- or that it will, as Senator Tom Cotton boasted , not require more than "two strikes, the first strike and the last strike" -- is the first step towards another needless, ruinous war.

Pouya Alimagham is a historian of the modern Middle East at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , and author of the forthcoming Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings (Cambridge University Press). Follow him on Twitter @iPouya .

[Aug 03, 2019] Democratic Party under Clinton and Obama was converted into the party of war and neocolonialism

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

nottheonly1 , Aug 2 2019 19:08 utc | 9

While I am aware of Eric Zuesse being somewhat controversial to some people, I do concur with his assessment of the party that should be stripped of the 'Democratic' prefix. There is nothing democratic in this organization and its members are either willful stooges, or the most gullible people on earth - responsible for heinous crimes against humanity under the cover of 'humanitarian aid'.

To even consider to allow this organization to continue in its deception of the American electorate, shows the deepest infiltration of foreign influence, for whom this deception is not only natural, but also compulsive. You may have guessed it, it's not the Russians.

The Democratic Party's AIPAC Candidates

However, an article by the Strategic Culture Organization, linked to on MOA yesterday

The 'Special Relationship' is collapsing , goes even further. It makes obvious the unholy filth that has been plaguing humanity for a very long time. And while some may find it questionable, it turns out that the Queen does appear to be the longest sitting Fascist in the history of mankind.

Sometimes it is necessary to connect the dots beyond personal beliefs in regards to the real conspiracy against working people all over the world.

[Aug 03, 2019] Democratic party now is a war party. As such it does not need to win the elections to stay in power

Aug 03, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Emma Peele , August 2, 2019 at 16:05

Pro war democrats are now using the Russian ruse to go after anti war candidates like Gabbard.

It's despicable to even insinuate Gabbard is working for Putin or had any other rationale for going to Syria than seeking peace.

This alone proved Harris unfit for the presidency.

Her awful record speaks for itself.

[Aug 03, 2019] Russian General recently remarked specific to electronic countermeasures/jammers that the more complex they are, the easier they are to confound or defeat.

Aug 03, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Aug 3 2019 11:27 utc | 76

@ # 41 > "With the USAF and the military as a whole, increasing amounts of money are thrown at ever increasingly complex weapons systems yet performance in all sectors deteriorates while the ability to recruit also degrades. The problems are widely written..."

Indeed, Ruskie General recently remarked specific to electronic countermeasures/jammers that the more complex they are, the easier they are to confound or defeat.

The general principle operates in all realms.

I did make a note of the guy's name...but it is obvious, isn't it? I mean one has only to look...

[Aug 02, 2019] A lot of US debt is "invested" in bombing sand piles for Prince bin Salman.

Aug 02, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 23, 2019 at 04:05 AM

A lot of US debt is "invested" in bombing sand piles for Prince bin Salman.

The budget deal raises the pentagon's budget from $733 to 738B the 733B the glut that got through the House.

The total US G debt is pretty close to the sum of pentagon largesse since 1947.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 04:22 AM
According to Tim Taylor we should save some of that sand. Maybe sand will be the next oil for funding ME dictators.

Hey, everyone loves a parade and what's a parade without tanks? If gives us something in common with the commies. On the one hand, this is a paranoid world and on the other hand, people love to see stuff get blown up. Battling against empire is an uphill battle with a long historical track record of failures so obscure that mostly no one has even ever heard of them. I guess if someone is committed to fighting a losing battle then they might as well go for losing big.

mulp -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 05:50 AM
"According to Tim Taylor we should save some of that sand. Maybe sand will be the next oil for funding ME dictators"

Wrong kind of sand. Not sure why, but water borne sand is jagged, but wind borne sand is smooth.

RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to mulp ... , July 24, 2019 at 09:52 AM
[Good to know. Thanks. Do you think that finite (made from desert sand) will eventually be formulated to last long enough for general construction use?]

https://materialdistrict.com/article/finite-concrete-desert-sand/

Finite: a more sustainable alternative to concrete made from desert sand


26 March 2018

Sand is worldwide in high demand and heavily used in many industries, especially construction. With deserts full of it, one can easily be fooled into thinking that sand is an almost infinite resource. However, desert sand has little use; the grains are too smooth and fine to bind together, so it is not suitable for the making of for instance concrete. The start-up Finite, founded by researchers from Imperial College London, created a material composite made with desert sand that serves as a more sustainable alternative to concrete.

The supply of construction-grade sand is dwindling worldwide. This type of sand is stripped from beaches and riverbeds, but because of the heavy use, the supply is diminishing rapidly. Desert sand, on the other hand, is plentiful. This sand is not used in construction, as its grains are too smooth and fine to bind together for building materials.

The newly developed composite makes use of desert sand and "other abundant fine powders that traditionally have no use". According to the inventors, Finite can be turned into structures that have the same strength as housing bricks and residential concrete.

The material is more environmentally friendly than concrete, with a concrete footprint that is less than half that of concrete. Unlike concrete, which must be either downcycled or sent to the landfill at the end of its life, the new material can easily be reused as it can be remoulded for multiple lifecycle uses. The material can be coloured using natural dyes.

Finite can be used in desert areas, made with local sand rather than imported concrete. For now, the material is only suitable for temporary constructions, after which the material can be reused or left to decompose. For permanent structures, the material still has to pass rounds of testing and regulations...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 05:59 AM
As ice melts, Greenland could become big sand
exporter: study https://reut.rs/2Gmryx1

Alister Doyle - February 11, 2019

OSLO (Reuters) - Greenland could start to export sand in a rare positive spinoff from global warming that is melting the island's vast ice sheet and washing large amounts of sediment into the sea, scientists said on Monday.

Mining of sand and gravel, widely used in the construction industry, could boost the economy for Greenland's 56,000 population who have wide powers of self-rule within Denmark but rely heavily on subsidies from Copenhagen.

By mining sand, "Greenland could benefit from the challenges brought by climate change," a team of scientists in Denmark and the United States wrote in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The study, headlined "Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland", said the Arctic island would have to assess risks of coastal mining, especially to fisheries.

Rising global temperatures are melting the Greenland ice sheet, which locks up enough water to raise global sea levels by about seven meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed, and carrying ever more sand and gravel into coastal fjords.

"You can think of it (the melting ice) as a tap that pours out sediment to the coast," said lead author Mette Bendixen, a researcher at the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Worldwide demand for sand totaled about 9.55 billion tonnes in 2017 with a market value of $99.5 billion and is projected to reach almost $481 billion in 2100, driven by rising demand and likely shortages, the study said.

That meant a rare opportunity for the island. ...


RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , July 23, 2019 at 09:56 AM
"As you be muche the worse. and I cast awaie.
An yll wynde, that blowth no man to good, men saie.
Wel (quoth he) euery wind blowth not down the corn
I hope (I saie) good hap [luck] be not all out worn." - John Heywood - 1546
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 03:57 AM
Hmmm. "It's an Ille Wynde
that blows no Bodye Goode?"
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , July 24, 2019 at 05:03 AM
Mister Sandman brings dream to Greenland.
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , July 24, 2019 at 05:06 AM
Mister Sandman is moving into Frosty the Snowman's old digs in uptown Nuuk.
anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:11 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/22/opinion/biden-sanders-health-care.html

July 22, 2019

Biden and Sanders, Behaving Badly
A bad-faith debate over health care coverage.
By Paul Krugman

Health care was a key factor in Democrats' victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a big plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position -- that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status -- is immensely popular. The de facto Republican position -- that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don't come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can't get insurance -- is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.

But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party's chances. There are real, important differences between the two men's policy proposals, and it's fine to point that out. What's not fine is the name-calling and false assertions. Both men are behaving badly. And for their party's sake, and their country's, they need to stop it.

Let's back up. There are, broadly speaking, two ways a country can try to achieve universal health insurance. One is single-payer: The government simply pays the bills. The other retains a role for private insurance but relies on a combination of regulations and subsidies to ensure that everyone gets covered.

We don't have to speculate about how these systems would work in practice, because every advanced country except the U.S. has some form of universal coverage. Some, like Canada and Britain, use single-payer (in Britain the government also operates the hospitals and pays the doctors). Others, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, have a large role for private insurers.

The clean little secret of health care is that both approaches work when countries try to make them work. In fact, we can see both systems at work right here in America.

More than 100 million Americans are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, which are both single-payer programs; despite Ronald Reagan's ominous warnings back in 1961, neither destroyed American freedom. Since 2014, millions more have been covered by the Affordable Care Act, which was underfunded and has been subject to extensive Republican sabotage; nonetheless, states like California that have tried to make the act work have experienced huge declines in the number of residents without insurance.

Which brings us back to the Democratic quarrel.

Sanders, of course, has made Medicare for All his signature proposal. Could such a plan work? Absolutely. But there are two valid criticisms of his proposal.

First, it would have to be paid for with higher taxes. While many people would find the increased tax burden offset by lower premiums, the required tax increases would be daunting. And while Sanders has in fact proposed a number of new taxes, independent estimates say that the revenue they'd generate would fall far short of what his plan would cost.

Second, the Sanders plan would require that roughly 180 million Americans give up their current private insurance and replace it with something different. Persuading them that this would be an improvement, even if true, would be a tall order. Indeed, there's good reason to believe that eliminating the option of retaining private insurance would be an electoral loser. (Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, take heed.)

On the other side, Biden is proposing to build on Obamacare. That can sound like tinkering at the edges. But his actual plan is much bigger and better than is widely realized, with large increases in funding, a public option, and more. It would, arguably, bring the A.C.A. close to the standards of successful European systems.

That said, the Biden plan would preserve the crazy-quilt, Rube Goldberg aspects of our current system, which impose a lot of unnecessary costs and make it too easy for people to fall through the cracks.

So there's plenty of room for a good-faith Sanders-Biden argument. Unfortunately, that's not the argument they're having.

Instead, Sanders is arguing that only single-payer can purge "corporate greed" from the system -- an assertion belied by European experience -- and broadly hinting that Biden is in the pocket of corporate interests. That's a criticism you can level about some of Biden's past policy positions, like his advocacy of the 2005 bankruptcy law. But it's not a fair criticism of a health plan that's actually pretty good, and which most people would have considered radical just a few years ago.

For his part, Biden is declaring that the Sanders plan would undermine Medicare. In fact, it would enhance current recipients' benefits. And it's a bad sign that Biden, who poses as Obamacare's great defender, is using a G.O.P. scare tactic familiar from the utterly dishonest campaign against the A.C.A. No Democrat should be stooping to that level.

Unfortunately, Biden and Sanders will be appearing on different nights during the next Democratic debates. So it will be up to other candidates, or the moderators, to put them on the spot. It's time for both men to stop poisoning their own party's well.

ilsm -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 04:18 AM
It may get ugly if Sanders points to the elephant in the room......

US remains, and Obamacare did nothing to alter it, the only "developed" country where establishments that finance the health of human beings are run as profit generating businesses.

ilsm -> ilsm... , July 23, 2019 at 01:47 PM
The established democrats are against any progress, as they diss Bernie they are done with me.
mulp -> ilsm... , July 24, 2019 at 06:41 AM
Medicare is a bad model for health care because its based on a piece work production system, ie, payment only for doing medical work, and no payment for preventing preventable medical treatment.

For example, prescribing opiates repeatedly was paid for each and every time, but working to not prescribe opiates is not.

And now getting people off it opiate addiction is paid for, but not working with patients to prevent addiction to opiates.

Thanks to Nixon, a number of very good HMOs were created and required to be options in employer benefit programs, in NH, this resulted in half of all NH residents picking the HMO Mathew Thornton health plan over BCBS which in 1970 covered 80% of NH residents. The HMO only had clinics covering only 60-70% of the population while BCBS paid almost any doctor in the four state region.

MTHP was extremely well liked. It provided great health care. Doctors ran it, not bean counters. Doctors didn't need to invent diseases to get paid for spending time with patients.

But Bernie has stated that HMOs are bad because they seek to not provide medical treatments, as if health care is about making patients suffer both illnesses and then the treatments.

HMOs operate on the Deming model. Design the system for high quality so less work is required, thus lower cost to deliver the best outcome, whether a qualty car, walkman, TV, health.

JohnH -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 07:46 AM
Coming from Krugman, with a view of how he trashed Bernie's plan on behalf of Hillary in 2016, this is pretty rich.

I guess it's up to Krugman to decide when it's OK to behave badly

And then he attacks Bernie's plan: people won't want to pay more in taxes to fund Medicare for All. Nowhere is it mentioned that the taxes would be in lieu of insurance premiums and as we all know (!!!) people are just delighted to pay those insurance companies because, you know it's better to be ripped off by private enterprise than to pay taxes for real insurance coverage with no deductibles and co-pays!!!

Krugman just can't seem to wean himself of those industry talking points

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , July 23, 2019 at 07:58 AM
Krugman has gone back to his 2016 ways. It is really sad. I'm surprised Kurt and EMike haven't joined him yet. There's still time.

"It's time for both men to stop poisoning their own party's well."

You need to turn out your base to win, not soft-peddle to win in purple and red states.

Hillary tried EMike's and the centrists' strat and she lost.

If Biden is the nominee, there's a chance he could lose, but then Krugman was never serious about beating Trump despite his overheated rhetoric.

Julio -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 10:27 AM
"And while Sanders has in fact proposed a number of new taxes, independent estimates say that the revenue they'd generate would fall far short of what his plan would cost."

Mealy-mouthed way of saying that Sanders is lying.

JohnH -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 01:11 PM
It seems that Krugman is programmed to object strenuously to anything that does not preserve the inefficient, Rube Goldberg health insurance system were have in place today. And here I thought that economists were all about efficiency!!!

I guess industry talking points override efficiency!!!

anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:13 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/opinion/2020-trump-economy.html

July 18, 2019

Deficit Man and the 2020 Election
The Trump bump probably peaked too early.
By Paul Krugman

I've seen a number of people suggest that the 2020 election will be a sort of test: Can a sufficiently terrible president lose an election despite a good economy? And that is, in fact, the test we'd be running if the election were tomorrow.

On one side, Donald Trump wastes no opportunity to remind us how awful he is. His latest foray into overt racism delights his base but repels everyone else. On the other side, he presides over an economy in which unemployment is very low and real G.D.P. grew 3.2 percent over the past year.

But the election won't be tomorrow, it will be an exhausting 15 months from now. Trump's character won't change, except possibly for the worse. But the economy might look significantly different.

So let's talk about the Trump economy.

The first thing you need to know is that the Trump tax cut caused a huge rise in the budget deficit, which the administration expects to hit $1 trillion this year, up from less than $600 billion in 2016. This tidal wave of red ink is even more extraordinary than it looks, because it has taken place despite falling unemployment, which usually leads to a falling deficit.

Strange to say, none of the Republicans who warned of a debt apocalypse under President Barack Obama have protested the Trump deficits. (Should we put Paul Ryan's face on milk cartons?) For that matter, even the centrists who obsessed over federal debt during the Obama years have been pretty quiet. Clearly, deficits only matter when there's a Democrat in the White House.

Oh, and the imminent fiscal crisis people like Erskine Bowles used to warn about keeps not happening: Long-term interest rates remain very low.

Now, the evidence on the effects of deficit spending is clear: It gives the economy a short-run boost, even when we're already close to full employment. If anything, the growth bump under Trump has been smaller than you might have expected given the deficit surge, perhaps because the tax cut was so badly designed, perhaps because Trump's trade wars have deterred business spending.

For now, however, Deficit Man is beating Tariff Man. As I said, we've seen good growth over the past year.

But the tax cut was supposed to be more than a short-run Keynesian stimulus. It was sold as something that would greatly improve the economy's long-run performance; in particular, lower corporate tax rates were supposed to lead to a huge boom in business investment that would, among other things, lead to sharply higher wages. And this big rise in long-run growth would supposedly create a boom in tax revenues, offsetting the upfront cost of tax cuts.

None of this is happening. Corporations are getting to keep a lot more of their profits, but they've been using the money to buy back their own stock, not raise investment. Wages are rising, but not at an extraordinary pace, and many Americans don't feel that they're sharing in the benefits of a growing economy.

And this is probably as good as it gets.

I'm not forecasting a recession. It could happen, and we're very badly positioned to respond if it does, but the more likely story is just a slowdown as the effects of the deficit splurge wear off. In fact, if you believe the "nowcasters" (economists who try to get an early read on the economy from partial data), that slowdown is already happening. For example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that the economy's growth was down to 1.5 percent in the second quarter.

And it's hard to see where another economic bump can come from. With Democrats controlling the House, there won't be another big tax cut. The Fed may cut interest rates, but those cuts are already priced into long-term interest rates, which are what matter for spending, and the economy seems to be slowing anyway.

Which brings us back to the 2020 election.

Political scientists have carried out many studies of the electoral impact of the economy, and as far as I know they all agree that what matters is the trend, not the level. The unemployment rate was still over 7 percent when Ronald Reagan won his 1984 landslide; it was 7.7 percent when Obama won in 2012. In both cases, however, things were clearly getting better.

That's probably not going to be the story next year. If we don't have a recession, unemployment will still be low. But economic growth will probably be meh at best -- which means, if past experience is any guide, that the economy won't give Trump much of a boost, that it will be more or less a neutral factor.

And on the other hand, Trump's awfulness will remain.

Republicans will, of course, portray the Democratic nominee -- whoever she or he may be -- as a radical socialist poised to throw the border open to hordes of brown-skinned rapists. And one has to admit that this strategy might work, although it failed last year in the midterms. To be honest, I'm more worried about the effects of sexism if the nominee is a woman -- not just the sexism of voters, but that of the news media, which still holds women to different standards.

But as far as the economy goes, the odds are that Trump's deficit-fueled bump came too soon to do him much political good.

ilsm -> anne... , July 23, 2019 at 04:21 AM
There remains time for democrats to preside over a new debt ceiling crisis...... anything to oust Trump!

Cover will be provided by the, 30 months too long, Mueller circus.

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , July 23, 2019 at 09:12 AM
Krugman was predicting overheating in 2016. It would be nice if he admitted when he was wrong.

He's very dismissive of monetary policy and the Fed here. Maybe the Fed has been overly tight?

Maybe Trump's jawboning on the Fed pushed it to stop tightening?

You won't get honest objective answers from Krugman. He's much like the Republicans who are always lying.

mulp -> Christopher H.... , July 24, 2019 at 06:48 AM
Right, zero inflation, just housing prices going up 10% per year.

Hey, you are getting richer as the house you can't buy because your savings and income isn't rising faster than 10% per year so you can finally go into debt and then do cash out refis so you have a constant 80% debt in rising "wealth".

Constantly increasing debt on constantly incressing "wealth" is not inflation.

Just keep saying "there is no inflation, just higher living costs".

Christopher H. said in reply to mulp ... , July 24, 2019 at 08:15 AM
asset appreciation isn't *inflation*

inflation is all prices going up like in the 1970s.

This is why I skip your comments

kurt -> mulp ... , July 25, 2019 at 04:12 PM
You are correct in that housing should be included in CPI. It is now most families biggest cost and housing insecurity is a thing.
Christopher H. said in reply to kurt... , July 27, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Dean Baker disagrees with you and I'd take his opinion over yours and mulps any time of the day. He called the housing bubble.

My guess is that you have no idea but just wanted to try to troll me.

http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/inflation-housing-2018-06.pdf

Measuring the Inflation Rate:
Is Housing Different?

anne , July 23, 2019 at 04:20 AM
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/the-aging-crisis-is-actually-just-a-labor-crisis-for-the-wealthy

July 22, 2019

The "Aging Crisis" Is Actually Just a Labor Crisis for the Wealthy
By Dean Baker

The New York Times told us * last week that China is running out of people. That might seem an odd concern for a country with a population of more than 1.4 billion, but you can read it for yourself:

"Driving this regression in women's status is a looming aging crisis, and the relaxing of the draconian 'one-child' birth restrictions that contributed to the graying population. The Communist Party now wants to try to stimulate a baby boom."

What exactly is supposed to be China's "aging crisis?" China has had a low birth rate for the last four decades, as the government consciously tried to slow the country's population growth. As a result, it does have an aging population and a declining ratio of workers to retirees, but this raises the obvious question, "So what?"

We see endless news articles and columns implying that the prospect of a declining number of workers supporting a growing population of retirees is some sort of crisis. The people making such assertions really need some knowledge of demographics.

The United States and other wealthy countries have been seeing drops in the ratio of workers to retirees for many decades. In the U.S. case, we went from having 5.1 workers for every Social Security retiree in 1960 to just 2.8 workers for each retiree today.

We pay higher taxes for Social Security and Medicare today than we did in 1960 (Medicare did not yet exist), but few would say that current tax rates are a crisis. If China has to see equivalent increases in taxes in the next decade or two to support its retirees, it is hard to see it as a major problem.

Reporters and media commentators like to report on taxes as the biggest concern for working people, but as economists like to point out, the main factor determining living standards is what goes into workers' paychecks, not what the government takes out in taxes.

The Social Security payroll tax rose by 6.4 percentage points between 1960 and 1990. The Medicare tax rose by 2.95 percentage points, for a total increase in federal payroll taxes of 9.35 percentage points.

In spite of this large increase in payroll taxes over this period, workers enjoyed considerably higher after-tax wages in 1990 than in 1960. This was true because real wages rose, especially in the first part of this period (1960 to 1973), when real wages for the typical worker rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate.

The story is even more dramatic in China. Real wages have risen just over 7.0 percent annually over the last decade. Suppose wage growth slows to 5.0 percent over the next two decades. Suppose the country has to raise taxes on workers by 20 percentage points over this period to cover the cost of its aging population. In that case, after taxes, wages would still be more than twice as high as they are today. What is the problem?

The basic story is that if an economy maintains a healthy rate of productivity growth, which allows for healthy real wage growth, then the demographic changes are a relatively small matter. This doesn't mean that society will not face some problems in adjusting for the needs of an aging population ― the U.S. faced many problems associated with the care and education of the Baby Boomers when we were children ― but these problems are far from insoluble.

If simple arithmetic shows that the people shortage story is nonsense, then why does it continually appear in the media? The most obvious explanation is that the concerns over a smaller workforce fall into the well-known "it's hard to get good help" problem.

This is the standard refrain of rich people, employers and major media outlets. A smaller labor market could present employers with a world where workers have more bargaining power and can therefore demand wage increases that are equal to, possibly even greater than, the rate of productivity growth.

As workers move from lower-paying to higher-paying ― and therefore higher productivity ― jobs, it will be harder to get people to work at many of the lowest-paying jobs, such as domestic workers, valets in restaurants, and other jobs that primarily involve providing services to the wealthy.

That probably does look like a crisis to a small segment of the population. The wealthy may really have some cause to be concerned about the prospect of a declining population and workforce. The rest of us, not so much.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/world/asia/china-women-discrimination.html

mulp -> anne... , July 24, 2019 at 06:57 AM
The workers in fast food serve primarily the wealthy???

The workers in dollar stores serve primarily the wealthy?

The workers serving the wealthy are primarily middle class, whether food service, retail, child care, etc.

The problem for China is providing opportunity for the young entrepreneurs. Without an abundant eager labor force, the old established businesses will dominate and slow change. Thhey won't be challenged to do better.

Joe , July 23, 2019 at 04:31 AM
Modern money theory and its challenges - VoxEU
---------

Some misperceptions.

MMT is not modern, it is standard generational practice.
Given the nearly unlimited history of humans doing MMT some rules have emerged:
1) MMTs generally last anywhere from three days to three months.
2) The exception to rule 1 is war time where MMT hangs around with price controls.
3) We have a legal issue. This is the first time we have done a good old MMT using double accounting money, we usually do it by repricing gold or exiting the gold market.

I am not sure we have the brains in DC to pull this off without a nightmare result, due to MMT becoming a tribal slogan with no real definition attached.

im1dc , July 23, 2019 at 04:52 AM
The 'Bond Market' agrees with S. Warren, to a point...

S. Warren does not have a friend in Bond World yet they agree...interesting

https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/454198-the-bond-market-agrees-with-elizabeth-warren-up-to-a-point

"The bond market agrees with Elizabeth Warren, up to a point"

By Desmond Lachman, Opinion Contributor...07/23/19...07:30 AM EDT

'The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill'

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is not known for her enthusiasm for the financial markets in general and for the bond market in particular. But there seems to be one important point on which Warren and the world's bond markets currently agree: both the U.S. and the rest of the world could soon be heading for a nasty economic recession.

In a recent article, Warren warned that the odds of another economic downturn were high and growing. In her view, this is due to the precarious state of our economy, which is built on an excessive amount of household and corporate debt. That makes the U.S. economy particularly vulnerable to a number of serious shocks that she now sees on the horizon and that she thinks "could cause our economy's shaky foundation to crumble."

By its nature, the bond market does not spell out the reasons why it prices bonds in any particular manner. But we can infer the bond market's economic outlook from market bond prices.

One indication that the government bond markets now seem to be sharing Warren's gloomy economic prognosis is the fact that long-term U.S. Treasury bond rates have declined to significantly below the Federal Reserve's short-term policy rate. This so-called yield curve inversion implies that the U.S. Treasury bond market is expecting that the U.S. economy will soon go into a recession that will keep interest rates low for a long time.

A more dramatic indication of sovereign bond market pessimism is the fact that a record US$13 trillion of global sovereign bonds, and around one half of all European sovereign bonds, now offer negative interest rates."...

RC (Ron) Weakley , July 23, 2019 at 04:54 AM
RE: Acknowledging and pricing macroeconomic uncertainties

Lars Peter Hansen, Thomas Sargent 22 July 2019


False pretences of knowledge about complicated economic situations have become all too common in public policy debates. While we do know some things, we don't know everything. We believe that prudent decision-making should acknowledge what we don't know. Decision makers should strive to quantify dimensions of their ignorance and adjust their decisions accordingly. This essay describes a tractable approach for acknowledging, characterizing, and responding to the limited understandings discovered by researchers' efforts to interpret existing evidence by using theories and statistical methods available at any particular moment.

An economic model tells how chance, occurrences, and purposeful decisions influence future outcomes. Economic researchers use formal statistical models to describe and interpret data and to formulate policy advice for government and private decision makers. Whether they acknowledge it explicitly or not, real world decision makers also use models or 'views' about how their decisions affect future outcomes. Because they ignore some forces and oversimplify others, all models are just approximations to reality, some better than others depending on the purposes to which they are put. Furthermore, at any time, we can choose among multiple models and are unsure how much credibility to assign to each of them.

Data can surely help us assess the credibility of alternative models, but the real world is so complicated and data are so limited that data can only tell us so much. Therefore, economic modellers and decision makers require ways to express their opinions about the plausibility and usefulness of alternative models for the problem at hand. Because data are only partially informative about a model's plausibility, a decision-maker's purpose as well as his or her 'subjective beliefs' play important roles too. The more complex the situation, the bigger the challenge of confronting uncertainty.

Economists and other scholars have created theoretical foundations for uncertainty. For instance, both John Maynard Keynes (1921) and Frank Knight (1921) wrote on the subject, but mostly in literary ways that are challenging to interpret and to make operational so that they can be applied in quantitative work. The eminent statistician Abraham Wald (1950) introduced a theoretic framework for making decisions under uncertainty. Leonard J. Savage (1954) constructed a complete axiomatic approach to Bayesian decision theory by including subjective probabilities that are entirely in the mind of a decision maker. Itzhak Gilboa and David Schmeidler (1989) extended this approach in ways that acknowledged that a decision maker might not have a unique subjective probability distribution. Recent research in control theory and in dynamic decision theory provides useful practical tools for assessing and coping with various sources of uncertainty. We have worked on these topics for a number of years. Along with others, we have used mathematics and statistics to construct operational quantitative tools that shed light on how financial markets and the macroeconomy work and how alternative fiscal and monetary policies affect them.

In a recent paper (Hansen and Sargent 2019), we propose ways to categorise and respond to the multiple forms of uncertainty that confront decision makers and model builders. Thus, we distinguish among (1) uncertainty within a model; (2) uncertainty across a set of available known models; and (3) uncertainty about each model. We refer to (1) as risk – uncertainty about future outcomes that is described by a single known probability distribution. (This is the type of uncertainty assumed up until now in most work in theoretical and applied finance and macroeconomics.) We call uncertainty of type (2) ambiguity and represent it as being unsure about what weights or probabilities to attach to the available models. We call (3) model misspecification and represent it by surrounding each available model with a vast cloud statistical models with unknown forms that nevertheless fit the available data nearly as well as does an available model.

The models that we economists build and use are highly stylised

*

[These guys both need a new stylist.

Just how certain can they be about uncertainty? If uncertainty were quantifiable then how uncertain would it be? Uncertainty is a lot more than just confidence intervals on statistical data sets. Operators and relationships among interdependent variables are often uncertain while data is just distributed within variance. The past may not be a reliable indicator of the future. I will take Keynes on uncertainty and stay out of the deep end of the pool.]

[Jul 30, 2019] Empires in decline tend to behave badly

Notable quotes:
"... Aggressive wars abroad pollute the domestic political discourse and breed hypernationalism, racism and xenophobia. The 18 or so years of war following the 9/11 attacks have seen this ostensible republic sink to new lows of behavior. ..."
Jul 30, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"Empires in decline tend to behave badly. Indeed, whether British, French or Russian, the twilight years of imperialism often brought brutal repression of subjects abroad, the suppression of civil liberties at home and general varieties of brutality toward foreigners, be they refugees or migrants.

Aggressive wars abroad pollute the domestic political discourse and breed hypernationalism, racism and xenophobia. The 18 or so years of war following the 9/11 attacks have seen this ostensible republic sink to new lows of behavior.

Aggressive wars of choice have ushered in rampant torture, atrocities in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, warrantless wiretapping, mass surveillance of the citizenry...

It's all connected. The empire -- all empires -- eventually come home."

Maj. Danny Sjursen, An American Tragedy: Empire at Home and Abroad

[Jul 30, 2019] The New Quincy Institute Seeks Warmongering Monsters to Destroy The American Conservative

Jul 30, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The New Quincy Institute Seeks Warmongering Monsters to Destroy Andrew Bacevich on his new left-right group, which is going hammer and tongs against the establishment on foreign policy. By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos July 30, 2019

Andrew J. Bacevich participates in a panel discussion at the U.S. Naval War College in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christian S. Eskelund/Released) For the last month, the foreign policy establishment has been abuzz over the new kid on the block: the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft , named for John Quincy Adams. Adams, along with our first president George Washington, warned of foreign entanglements and the urge to go abroad in "search of monsters to destroy," lest America's fundamental policy "insensibly change from liberty to force . She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit ."

Those in the foreign policy Blob have had different reactions to the "upstart" think tank. These are the preeminent organizations that stand imperious in size and square footage, but have lacked greatly in wisdom and clarity over the last 20 years. Quincy will stand apart from them in two significant ways: it is drawing its intellectual and political firepower from both the anti-war Left and the realist and restraint Right. And it is poised to support a new "responsible statecraft," one that challenges the conditions of endless war, including persistent American militarism here and abroad, the military industrial complex, and a doctrine that worships primacy and a liberal world order over peace and the sovereignty of other nations.

Quincy, which is rolling out its statement of principles this week (its official launch will be in the fall), is the brainchild of Trita Parsi, former head of the National Iranian-American Council, who saw an opening to bring together Left and Right academics, activists, and media disenchanted by both sides' pro-war proclivities. Together with Vietnam veteran and former Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich (also a longtime TAC contributor), the Carnegie Endowment's Suzanne DiMaggio, Columbia University's Stephen Wertheim, and investigative journalist Eli Clifton, the group wants to serve as a counterweight to both liberal interventionists like the Brookings Institution and Council on Foreign Relations, and the war hawks and neoconservatives of the Heritage Foundation and Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

They've already taken hits from both sides of the establishment, dismissed brusquely as naive , or worse, isolationist (that swipe from neoconservative Bill Kristol, whose now-defunct Weekly Standard once ran a manifesto headlined "The Case for American Empire" ). The fact that Quincy will be funded by both George Soros on the Left and the Charles Koch Foundation on the Right has brought some rebuke from unfriendlies and even some friendlies. The former hate on one or the other powerful billionaire, while the latter are wary of Soros' intentions (he's has long been a financial supporter of "soft-power" democracy movements overseas, some of which have encouraged revolution and regime change).

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But Quincy's timing couldn't be more perfect. With a president in the White House who has promised to draw down U.S. involvement overseas (with the exception of his Iran policy, he has so far held to much of that pledge), and national conservatives coming around to TAC's long-held worldview on realism and restraint (and an increasing willingness to reach across the aisle to work with like-minded groups and individuals), Quincy appears poised to make some noise in Washington.

According to the group's new statement of principles , "responsible statecraft" 1) serves the public interest, 2) engages the world, 3) builds a peaceful world, 4) abhors war, and 5) is democratic.

Andrew Bacevich and Trita Parsi expanded on this further in a recent Q&A with TAC.

(Full disclosure: the author is on Quincy's steering committee and TAC also receives funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.)

TAC : Quincy's principles -- and thus it's name -- are rooted in the mission of "responsible statecraft." Can you give me a sense of what that means in practical terms, and why you settled on this phrasing for the institute?

AB: With the end of the Cold War, policy elites succumbed to an extraordinary bout of hubris, perhaps best expressed in the claim that history had designated the United States as its "indispensable nation." Hubris bred recklessness and irresponsibility, with the Iraq war of 2003 as Exhibit A. We see "responsible statecraft" as the necessary antidote. Its abiding qualities are realism, restraint, prudence, and vigorous engagement. While the QI is not anti-military, we are wary of war except when all other alternatives have been exhausted. We are acutely conscious of war's tendency to produce unintended consequences and to exact unexpectedly high costs.

TAC : Quincy is a trans-partisan effort that is bringing together Left and Right for common cause. Is it a challenge?

AB: It seems apparent to us that the myriad foreign policy failures and disappointments of the past couple of decades have induced among both progressives and at least some conservatives a growing disenchantment with the trajectory of U.S. policy. Out of that disenchantment comes the potential for a Left-Right coalition to challenge the status quo. The QI hopes to build on that potential.

TAC : Two of the principles take direct aim at the current foreign policy status quo: responsible statecraft abhors war, and responsible statecraft is democratic (calling out a closed system in which Americans have had little input into the wars waged in their names). How much of what Quincy aims to do involves upending conventional norms, particularly those bred and defended by the Washington "Blob"?

AB: In a fundamental sense, the purpose of the QI is to educate the American people and their leaders regarding the Blob's shortcomings, exposing the deficiencies of old ideas and proposing new ones to take their place.

TAC: That said, how much blowback do you anticipate from the Washington establishment, particularly those think tanks and individuals whose careers and very existence depend on the wheels of militarism forever turning?

AB : Plenty. Proponents of the status quo are entrenched and well-funded. Breaking old habits -- for example, the practice of scattering U.S. military bases around the world -- will not come easily.

TAC : There has been much ado about your two primary funders -- Charles Koch and George Soros. What do you say to critics who suggest you will be tied to/limited by their agendas?

AB: Our funding sources are not confined to Koch and Soros and we will continue to broaden our support base. It's not for me to speak for Koch or Soros. But my guess is they decided to support the QI because they support our principles. They too believe in policies based on realism, restraint, prudence, and vigorous engagement.

TAC : Better yet, how did you convince these two men to fund something together?

TP: It is important to recognize that they have collaborated in the past before, for instance on criminal justice reform. This is, however, the first time they've come together to be founding funders of a new entity. I cannot speak for them, but I think they both recognize that there currently is a conceptual deficit in our foreign policy. U.S. elite consensus on foreign policy has collapsed and the void that has been created begs to be filled. But it has to be filled with new ideas, not just a repackaging of old ideas. And those new ideas cannot simply follow the old political alignments. Transpartisan collaboration is necessary in order to create a new consensus. Koch and Soros are showing tremendous leadership in that regard.

TAC : The last refuge of a scorned hawk is to call his critics "isolationist." It would seem as though your statement of principles takes this on directly. How else does Quincy take this often-used invective into account?

AB : We will demonstrate through our own actions that the charge is false.

TAC : Critics (including James Traub, in his own piece on Quincy ) say that Washington leaders, once in office, are "mugged by reality," suggesting that the idea of rolling back military interventions and avoiding others sounds good on paper but presidents like Barack Obama had no choice, that this is all about protecting interests and hard-nosed realism. The alternative is a bit naive. How do you respond?

AB: Choices are available if our leaders have the creativity to recognize them and the gumption to pursue them. Obama's patient and resolute pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal affirms this possibility. The QI will expose the "we have no choice" argument as false. We will identify and promote choice, thereby freeing U.S. policy from outmoded habits and stale routines.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is e xecutive editor at . Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC