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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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[Jul 05, 2020] Afghanistan and the Endless War Caucus by DANIEL LARISON

Looks like Liz Cheney words for Russians. Her action suggest growing alliance between Bush repoblicans and neolibral interventionaistsof the Democratic Party. The alliance directed against Trump.
Notable quotes:
"... As Boland explains, the amendment passed by the committee yesterday sets so many conditions on withdrawal that it makes it all but impossible to satisfy them: ..."
"... The longer that the U.S. stays at war in Afghanistan, the more incentives other states will have to make that continued presence more costly for the U.S. When the knee-jerk reaction in Washington to news of these bounties is to throw up obstacles to withdrawal, that gives other states another incentive to do more of this. ..."
"... Prolonging our involvement in the war amounts to playing into Moscow's hands. For all of their posturing about security and strength, hard-liners routinely support destructive and irrational policies that redound to the advantage of other states. This is still happening with the war in Afghanistan, and if these hard-liners get their way it will continue happening for many years to come. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The immediate response to a story that U.S. forces were being targeted is to keep fighting a losing conflict.

Barbara Boland reported yesterday on the House Armed Services Committee's vote to impede withdrawal of U.S. from Afghanistan:

The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday night to put roadblocks on President Donald Trump's vow to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, apparently in response to bombshell report published by The New York Times Friday that alleges Russia paid dollar bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill U.S troops.

It speaks volumes about Congress' abdication of its responsibilities that one of the few times that most members want to challenge the president over a war is when they think he might bring it to an end. Many of the members that want to block withdrawals from other countries have no problem when the president wants to use U.S. forces illegally and to keep them in other countries without authorization for years at a time. The role of hard-liner Liz Cheney in pushing the measure passed yesterday is a good example of what I mean. The hawkish outrage in Congress is only triggered when the president entertains the possibility of taking troops out of harm's way. When he takes reckless and illegal action that puts them at risk, as he did when he ordered the illegal assassination of Soleimani, the same members that are crying foul today applauded the action. As Boland explains, the amendment passed by the committee yesterday sets so many conditions on withdrawal that it makes it all but impossible to satisfy them:

Crow's amendment adds several layers of policy goals to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, which has already stretched on for 19 years and cost over a trillion dollars. As made clear in the Afghanistan Papers, most of these policy goals were never the original intention of the mission in Afghanistan, and were haphazardly added after the defeat of al Qaeda. With no clear vision for what achieving these fuzzy goals would look like, the mission stretches on indefinitely, an unarticulated victory unachievable.

The immediate Congressional response to a story that U.S. forces were being targeted is to make it much more difficult to pull them out of a war that cannot be won. Congressional hawks bemoan "micromanaging" presidential decisions and mock the idea of having "535 commanders-in-chief," but when it comes to prolonging pointless wars they are only too happy to meddle and tie the president's hands. When it comes to defending Congress' proper role in matters of war, these members are typically on the other side of the argument. They are content to let the president get us into as many wars as he might want, but they are horrified at the thought that any of those wars might one day be concluded. Yesterday's vote confirmed that there is an endless war caucus in the House, and it is bipartisan.

The original reporting of the bounty story is questionable for the reasons that Boland has pointed out before, but for the sake of argument let's assume that Russia has been offering bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. When the U.S. keeps its troops at war in a country for almost twenty years, it is setting them up as targets for other governments. Just as the U.S. has armed and supported forces hostile to Russia and its clients in Syria, it should not come as a shock when they do to the same elsewhere. If Russia has been doing this, refusing to withdraw U.S. forces ensures that they will continue to have someone that they can target.

The longer that the U.S. stays at war in Afghanistan, the more incentives other states will have to make that continued presence more costly for the U.S. When the knee-jerk reaction in Washington to news of these bounties is to throw up obstacles to withdrawal, that gives other states another incentive to do more of this.

Because the current state of debate about Russia is so toxic and irrational, our political leaders seem incapable of responding carefully to Russian actions. It doesn't seem to occur to the war hawks that Russia might prefer that the U.S. remains preoccupied and tied down in Afghanistan indefinitely.

Prolonging our involvement in the war amounts to playing into Moscow's hands. For all of their posturing about security and strength, hard-liners routinely support destructive and irrational policies that redound to the advantage of other states. This is still happening with the war in Afghanistan, and if these hard-liners get their way it will continue happening for many years to come.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review , Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter .

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kouroi a day ago

One needs to mention the democratic deficit in the US. All the members voting yes are representatives, they represent the people in their constituencies, and presumably vote for what the majority in those constituencies would want, or past promises.

Any poll shows that Americans would rather have the troops brought back home, thank you very much. But this is not what their representatives are voting for. Talk about democracy!

Fran Macadam a day ago

For elite war profiteers and the politicians they own, the only war that is lost is one that ends. No lives matter.

chris chuba a day ago

And what's the logic, if you make an accusation against someone you don't like it must be true. Okay well then let's drone strike Putin. If you are going to be Exceptional and consistent, Putin did everything Soleimani did so how can Liz Cotton argue for a different punishment?
1. Killed U.S. troops in a war zone, 2. planning attacks on U.S. troops.

The entire Russian military plans for attacks all the time just like ours does but the Neocons have declared that we are the only ones allowed to do that. Verdict, death penalty for Putin.

kouroi chris chuba a day ago

If you have watched Oliver Stone's interview with Putin, it comes through that in fact there were at least three or four attempts to Putin's life...

William Toffan chris chuba 21 hours ago

Death penalty for Putin = Death Penalty for continental USA.

RBH 15 hours ago

So you can get into a war without Congressional approval, but you can't get out of one without Congressional approval. Gotcha.

Lavinia 10 hours ago • edited

Interesting, well reasoned article as usual from Mr. Larison. However, I have to say that I don't see why Russia would want the US in Afghanistan indefinitely. In primis, they have a strategic partnership with China (even though we've got to see how Russia will behave now when there is the India-China rift), and China has been championing the idea of rebuilding the Silk Road (brilliant idea if you ask me) so in this sense it's more reasonable to assume that they might be aiming to get stability in the region rather than keep it in a state of unrest (as to be strategic partners you need to have some kind of common strategy, or at least not a completely different strategy). In 2018 they (Russia) actually were trying to organise a mediation process which would have the Afghan Gvt. and the Talibans discuss before the US would retire the troops, and it was very significative as they managed to get all the parties sitting around a table for the very first time (even the US participated as an observer).

Secondly, Russia also has pretty decent relations with Iran (at least according to Iranian press, which seems to be realistic as Russia is compliant to the JCPOA, is not aggressive towards them, and they're cooperating in the Astana process for a political solution for Syria, for example), and it wouldn't be so if Russia would pursue a policy which would aim to keep the US in the Middle East indefinitely, as Iran's WHOLE point is that they want the US out of the region, so if Russia would be trying to keep the US in the Middle East indefinitely, that would seriously upset Iran.

Thirdly, Russia is one of the founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which now includes most of the states in Central Asia, China, India and Pakistan. The association never made overt statements about their stance on the US's presence in the region; yet they've been hinting that they don't approve of it, which is reasonable, as it is very likely that those countries would all have different plans for the region, which might include some consideration for human and economic development rather than constant and never-ending militarisation (of course Pakistan would be problematic here, as the funds for the Afghan warlords get channeled through Pakistan, which receives a lot of US money, so I don't know how they're managing this issue).

Last but not least, I cannot logically believe that the Talibans, who've been coherent in their message since the late 70's ("we will fight to the death until the invaders are defeated and out of our national soil") would now need to be "convinced" by the Russians to defeat and chase out the invader. This is just NOT believable at all. Afghanistan is called the Graveyard of Empires for a reason, I would argue.

In any case I am pleased to see that at TAC you have been starting debunking the Russia-narrative, as it is very problematic - most media just systematically misrepresents Russia in order to justify aggressive military action (Europe, specifically Northern Europe, is doing this literally CONSTANTLY, I'm so over it, really). The misrepresentation of Russia as an aggressive wannabe-empire is a cornerstone of the pro-war narrative, so it is imperative to get some actual realism into that.

wynn an hour ago • edited

As if the Afghan freedom fighters need additional incentive to eliminate the invaders? In case Amerikans don't know, Afghans, except those on the US payroll, intensely despise Amerika and its 'godless' ways. Amerikans forces have been sadistic, bombing Afghan weddings, funerals, etc.

Even if the Russians are providing bounties to the Afghans, to take out the invaders, don't the Amerikans remember the 80s when Washington (rightfully) supported the mujahedin with funds, arms, Stinger missiles, etc.? Again, the US is on shaky ground because of the neocons.

Afghanistan is known through the ages to be the graveyard of empires. They have done it on their own shedding blood, sweat, and tears. Also, the Afghan resistance have been principled about Amerikans getting out before making deals.

Blood Alcohol wynn an hour ago

Same argument goes for the Iraqi people.

[Jul 04, 2020] It's Time to Stop Defending the Status Quo of Foreign Policy Failure by Daniel L. Davis

Notable quotes:
"... These failures have not been merely "policy mistakes" but have had profound consequences for our country, both in terms of blood unnecessarily wasted and trillions of dollars irretrievably lost. The very last thing we should do is defend a failed status quo and subvert new thinking. McMaster does both in his essay. ..."
"... We had won all that was militarily winnable on the ground in Afghanistan by the summer of 2002 and we should have withdrawn. Instead, we have refused to accept reality for eighteen additional years and we have lost thousands of American service members and trillions of American tax dollars to finance permanent failure. ..."
"... our interests are far better served by being an exemplar to the world rather than trying to force it to behave a certain way. ..."
"... The time has come to admit our foreign policy theories of the past two decades have utterly failed in their objective. We have not been made safer because of them and the price continually imposed on our service members is unnecessary and unacceptably high. ..."
Jul 04, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

In February 1991 I fought as a green 2 nd Lieutenant under then-Captain H.R. McMaster, who would go on to win combat fame in 2005 Iraq and as Trump's National Security Advisor. I watched McMaster provide exceptional leadership of our unit prior to war and watched him perform brilliantly under fire during combat. It gives me no pleasure, therefore, to note that his most recent work in Foreign Affairs has to be one of the most flawed analyses I've ever seen.

McMaster's essay, " The Retrenchment Syndrome ," is an attempted take-down of a growing number of experts who argue American foreign policy has become addicted to the employment of military power. I, and other likeminded advocates, argue this military-first foreign policy does not increase America's security, but perversely undercuts it.

We advocate a foreign policy that elevates diplomacy, promotes the maintenance of a powerful military that can defend America globally, and seeks to expand U.S. economic opportunity abroad. This perspective takes the world as it is, soberly assesses America's policy successes and failures of the past decades, and recommends sane policies going forward that have the best chance to achieve outcomes beneficial to our country.

Adopting this new foreign policy mentality, however, requires an honest recognition that our existing approach -- especially since 9/11 -- has at times been catastrophically bad for America. The status quo has to be jettisoned for us to turn failure into success.

These failures have not been merely "policy mistakes" but have had profound consequences for our country, both in terms of blood unnecessarily wasted and trillions of dollars irretrievably lost. The very last thing we should do is defend a failed status quo and subvert new thinking. McMaster does both in his essay.

McMaster grievously mischaracterizes the positions of those who advocate for a sane, rational foreign policy. He tries to pin a pejorative moniker on restraint-oriented viewpoints via the term "retrenchment syndrome."

Advocates for a restrained foreign policy, he says, "subscribe to the romantic view that restraint abroad is almost always an unmitigated good." McMaster claims Obama's 2011 intervention in Libya failed not because it destabilized the country but because Washington didn't "shape Libya's political environment in the wake of Qaddafi's demise." And he claims Trump's desire to withdraw from Afghanistan "will allow the Taliban, al Qaeda, and various other jihadi terrorists to claim victory."

In other words, the only policy option is to keep doing what has manifestly failed for the past two decades. Just do it harder, faster, and deeper.

But the reality of the situation is rather different.

We had won all that was militarily winnable on the ground in Afghanistan by the summer of 2002 and we should have withdrawn. Instead, we have refused to accept reality for eighteen additional years and we have lost thousands of American service members and trillions of American tax dollars to finance permanent failure.

We should never have invaded Iraq in 2003. But once we realized the justification for the war had been wrong, we should have rapidly withdrawn our combat troops and diplomatically helped facilitate the establishment of an Iraqi-led state. Instead, we refused to acknowledge our mistake, fought a pointless eight-year insurgency, and then instead of allowing Iraq to solve its own problems when ISIS arose in 2014, unnecessarily went back to help Baghdad fight its battles.

Likewise, the U.S. continues to fight or support never-ending combat actions in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Niger, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other lesser-known locations. There is no risk to American national security in any of these locations that engaging in routine and perpetual combat operations will solve.

Lastly, large portions of the American public -- and even greater percentages of service members who have served in forever-wars -- are against the continuation of these wars and do not believe they keep us safer. What would make the country more secure, however, is adopting a realistic foreign policy that recognizes the world as it truly is, acknowledges that the reason we maintain a world-class military is to deter our enemies without having to fight, and recognizing that our interests are far better served by being an exemplar to the world rather than trying to force it to behave a certain way.

The time has come to admit our foreign policy theories of the past two decades have utterly failed in their objective. We have not been made safer because of them and the price continually imposed on our service members is unnecessary and unacceptably high. It is time to abandon the status quo and adopt a new policy that is based on a realistic view of the world, an honest recognition of our genuinely powerful military, and realize that there are better ways to assure our security and prosperity.

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

[Jul 01, 2020] Madcap Militarism- H.R. McMaster's Dishonest Attack on Restraint -

Notable quotes:
"... The purpose of McMaster's essay is to discredit "retrenchers" -- that's his term for anyone advocating restraint as an alternative to the madcap militarism that has characterized U.S. policy in recent decades. Substituting retrenchment for restraint is a bit like referring to conservatives as fascists or liberals as pinks : It reveals a preference for labeling rather than serious engagement. In short, it's a not very subtle smear, as indeed is the phrase madcap militarism. But, hey, I'm only playing by his rules. ..."
"... The militarization of American statecraft that followed the end of the Cold War produced results that were bad for the United States and bad for the world. If McMaster can't figure that out, then he's the one who is behind the times. ..."
"... While Hillary was very clear on her drive against Russia, Trump promised the opposite, so many people had hopes for something on that. Nevertheless, he also promised to go against China and JPCOA, which many people forgot or thought not likely. But lo and behold, with Trump we ended up having the worst of both worlds ..."
"... just because of Trump's rhetoric against military adventurism, I would have voted for him. I would have been wrong, so now I am now extremely weary of any promises on this direction, but still hoped for Tulsi... ..."
Jul 01, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Home / Articles / Realism & Restraint / Madcap Militarism: H.R. McMaster's Dishonest Attack On Restraint REALISM & RESTRAINT Madcap Militarism: H.R. McMaster's Dishonest Attack On Restraint

Anyone looking for new grand strategy won't find it in the retired general's latest 'think piece.' Gen. H.R. McMaster in 2013. By CSIS/Flickr

JUNE 29, 2020

|

12:01 AM

ANDREW J. BACEVICH

H.R. McMaster looks to be one of those old soldiers with an aversion to following Douglas MacArthur's advice to "just fade away."

The retired army three-star general who served an abbreviated term as national security adviser has a memoir due out in September. Perhaps in anticipation of its publication, he has now contributed a big think-piece to the new issue of Foreign Affairs. The essay is unlikely to help sell the book.

The purpose of McMaster's essay is to discredit "retrenchers" -- that's his term for anyone advocating restraint as an alternative to the madcap militarism that has characterized U.S. policy in recent decades. Substituting retrenchment for restraint is a bit like referring to conservatives as fascists or liberals as pinks : It reveals a preference for labeling rather than serious engagement. In short, it's a not very subtle smear, as indeed is the phrase madcap militarism. But, hey, I'm only playing by his rules.

Yet if not madcap militarism, what term or phrase accurately describes post-9/11 U.S. policy? McMaster never says. It's among the many matters that he passes over in silence. As a result, his essay amounts to little more than a dodge, carefully designed to ignore the void between what assertive "American global leadership" was supposed to accomplish back when we fancied ourselves the sole superpower and what actually ensued.

Here's what McMaster dislikes about restraint: It is based on "emotions" and a "romantic view" of the world rather than reason and analysis. It is synonymous with "disengagement" -- McMaster uses the terms interchangeably. "Retrenchers ignore the fact that the risks and costs of inaction are sometimes higher than those of engagement," which, of course, is not a fact, but an assertion dear to the hearts of interventionists. Retrenchers assume that the "vast oceans" separating the United States "from the rest of the world" will suffice to "keep Americans safe." They also believe that "an overly powerful United States is the principal cause of the world's problems." Perhaps worst of all, "retrenchers are out of step with history and way behind the times."

Forgive me for saying so, but there is a Trumpian quality to this line of argument: broad claims supported by virtually no substantiating evidence. Just as President Trump is adamant in refusing to fess up to mistakes in responding to Covid-19 -- "We've made every decision correctly" -- so too McMaster avoids reckoning with what actually happened when the never-retrench crowd was calling the shots in Washington and set out after 9/11 to transform the Greater Middle East.

What gives the game away is McMaster's apparent aversion to numbers. This is an essay devoid of stats. McMaster acknowledges the "visceral feelings of war weariness" felt by more than a few Americans. Yet he refrains from exploring the source of such feelings. So he does not mention casualties -- the number of Americans killed or wounded in our post-9/11 misadventures. He does not discuss how much those wars have cost , which, of course, spares him from considering how the trillions expended in Afghanistan and Iraq might have been better invested at home. He does not even reflect on the duration of those wars, which by itself suffices to reveal the epic failure of recent U.S. military policy. Instead, McMaster mocks what he calls the "new mantra" of "ending endless wars."

Well, if not endless, our recent wars have certainly dragged on for far longer than the proponents of those wars expected. Given the hundreds of billions funneled to the Pentagon each year -- another data point that McMaster chooses to overlook -- shouldn't Americans expect more positive outcomes? And, of course, we are still looking for the general who will make good on the oft-repeated promise of victory.

What is McMaster's alternative to restraint? Anyone looking for the outlines of a new grand strategy in step with history and keeping up with the times won't find it here. The best McMaster can come up with is to suggest that policymakers embrace "strategic empathy: an understanding of the ideology, emotions, and aspirations that drive and constrain other actors" -- a bit of advice likely to find favor with just about anyone apart from President Trump himself.

But strategic empathy is not a strategy; it's an attitude. By contrast, a policy of principled restraint does provide the basis for an alternative strategy, one that implies neither retrenchment nor disengagement. Indeed, restraint emphasizes engagement, albeit through other than military means.

Unless I missed it, McMaster's essay contains not a single reference to diplomacy, a revealing oversight. Let me amend that: A disregard for diplomacy may not be surprising in someone with decades of schooling in the arts of madcap militarism.

The militarization of American statecraft that followed the end of the Cold War produced results that were bad for the United States and bad for the world. If McMaster can't figure that out, then he's the one who is behind the times. Here's the truth: Those who support the principle of restraint believe in vigorous engagement, emphasizing diplomacy, trade, cultural exchange, and the promotion of global norms, with war as a last resort. Whether such an approach to policy is in or out of step with history, I leave for others to divine.

Andrew Bacevich, TAC's writer-at-large, is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.


kouroi2 days ago

Surveys show over and over that the Americans overwhelmingly share Dr. Bacevich's views. There was even hope that Trump will reign on the US military adventurism.

The fact that all this continues unabated and that the general is given space in the Foreign Affairs is in our face evidence of the glaring democratic deficit existent in the US, and that in fact democracy is nonexistent being long ago fully replaced by a de facto Oligarchy.

Doesn't matter what Dr. Bachevich writes or says or does. Unless and until the internal political issues in the US are not addressed, the world will suffer.

libertarianlwyr kouroi2 days ago

only idiots and fools were under any delusion that Trump would "reign in US military adventurism".

kouroi libertarianlwyr2 days ago

While Hillary was very clear on her drive against Russia, Trump promised the opposite, so many people had hopes for something on that. Nevertheless, he also promised to go against China and JPCOA, which many people forgot or thought not likely. But lo and behold, with Trump we ended up having the worst of both worlds...

and the tragedy is that even if Biden is elected, that direction will not be reversed, or not likely. While I cannot vote, just because of Trump's rhetoric against military adventurism, I would have voted for him. I would have been wrong, so now I am now extremely weary of any promises on this direction, but still hoped for Tulsi...

[Jun 28, 2020] Russian position for Start talks: "We don't believe the US in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever".

Highly recommended!
Jun 28, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

START. Talks began in Vienna with a childish stunt by the American side . I wouldn't expect any results: the Americans are fatally deluded . As for the Russians: " We don't believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever ".Russian has a word for that: недоговороспособны and it's characterised US behaviour since at least this event (in Obama's time). Can't make an agreement with them and, even if you do, they won't keep it.

[Jun 22, 2020] MoA community discussion of Bolton book

Notable quotes:
"... let us not forget that bolton threatened a un officials kids because they guy wasn't going along with the iraq war propaganda. ..."
"... Close -- the threatened official was Jose Bustani, at that time (2002) the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)as he had been for five years. ..."
"... Bustani had been working to bring Iraq and Libya into the organization, which would have required those two countries to eliminate all of their chemical weapons. ..."
"... The US, though, had other ideas -- chiefly invading and destroying both of those nations, and when Bustani insisted on continuing his efforts then Bolton threatened Bustani's adult children. ..."
Jun 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

pretzelattack , Jun 17 2020 21:49 utc | 14

let us not forget that bolton threatened a un officials kids because they guy wasn't going along with the iraq war propaganda.

Duncan Idaho , Jun 17 2020 22:03 utc | 15

Only with Late Stage Capitalism could we have a vicious war criminal write a book criticizing a psychopathic sociopath.
Anonymous , Jun 17 2020 22:06 utc | 16
The political establishment in Canada appeared dismayed at the prospect of Bolton as National Security Adviser. See these interviews with Hill + Knowlton strategies Vice-chairman, Peter Donolo, from 2018:

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video/there-s-risk-trump-s-actions-are-driving-the-u-s-into-a-recession-peter-donolo~1342264
https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video/trade-wars-easy-to-start-not-so-easy-to-finish-peter-donolo~1365104

So Bolton gets in, Meng Wangzhou is detained in Vancouver on the US request (that's another story), and in time, Canada appoints a new Ambassador to China - Mr. Dominic Barton.

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

Then Bolton gets fired. 'Nuff said. Just to let everyone know that Bolton is well and truly hated, as a government official, in certain circles.

AntiSpin , Jun 17 2020 22:07 utc | 17
@ pretzelattack | Jun 17 2020 21:49 utc | 14

Close -- the threatened official was Jose Bustani, at that time (2002) the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)as he had been for five years.

Bustani had been working to bring Iraq and Libya into the organization, which would have required those two countries to eliminate all of their chemical weapons.

The US, though, had other ideas -- chiefly invading and destroying both of those nations, and when Bustani insisted on continuing his efforts then Bolton threatened Bustani's adult children.

Jpc , Jun 17 2020 22:32 utc | 18
Why was he appointment made in the first place anyone,?
Ian2 , Jun 17 2020 23:08 utc | 19
Jpc | Jun 17 2020 22:32 utc | 18:

My guess Trump went along with the tough guy image that Bolton projected in media and recommendations by others.

james , Jun 17 2020 23:13 utc | 20
let the lobbyists with the most money win... that's what defines the usa system, leadership and decision making process... no one in their right mind would support this doofus..
Jen , Jun 17 2020 23:40 utc | 21
At least the one saving grace about John Bolton's memoir is that it might be a tad closer to reality than Christopher Steele's infamous dossier and might prove valuable as a source of evidence in a court of law. Maybe Yosemite Sam himself should start quaking in his boots.
jen , Jun 17 2020 23:42 utc | 22
Jpc @ 18, Ian2 @ 19:

Personal interest on DJT's part? :-)

JC , Jun 17 2020 23:43 utc | 23
Posted by: Tower | Jun 17 2020 21:43 utc | 13

This is the most intelligent post so far.

Yes why not? If Obama awarded the Noble prize even before he begins serving his first term I can't see why Bolton not nominated now. America is a joke, not a banana republic. It deserves Obama, Trump, Bolton or Biden another stoopid joker.

Stoopid president elected by stoopid citizens

Don Bacon , Jun 17 2020 23:44 utc | 24
@ Jpc
When faced with Trump's behavior of employing warmongers, including several generals, some observers opined that Trump wanted people with contrasting opinions so that he could consider them and then say "no." He did more with Bolton eventually, sending him to Mongolia while he (Trump) went to Singapore (or somewhere over there).
A User , Jun 17 2020 23:47 utc | 25
re Ian2 | Jun 17 2020 23:08 utc | 19
who hazarded : My guess Trump went along with the tough guy image that Bolton projected in media and recommendations by others.
Not at all, if you go back to the earliest days of the orangeman's prezdency, you will see Trump resisted the efforts by Mercer & the zionist casino owner to give Bolton a gig.
He knew that shrub had problems with the boasts of Bolton and as his reputation was as an arsehole who sounded his own trumpet at his boss's expense orangeman refused for a long time. Trump believes the trump prezdency is about trump no one else.
Thing was at the time he was running for the prez gig trump was on his uppers, making a few dollars from his tv show, plus licensing other people's buildings by selling his name to be stuck on them. trump tower azerbnajan etc.
He put virtually none of his own money into the 'race' so when he won the people who had put up the dosh had power over him.
Bolton has always been an arse kisser to any zionist cause he suspects he can claw a penny outta, so he used the extreme loony end of the totally looney zionist spectrum to hook him (Bolton) up with a gig by pushing for him with trump.

It was always gonna end the way it did as Bolton is forever briefing the media against anyone who tried to resist his murderous fantasies. Trump is never gonna argue for any scheme that doesn't have lotsa dollars for him in it so he had plenty of run ins with Bolton who then went to his media mates & told tales.
When bolton was appointed orangey's stakes were at a really low ebb among DC warmongers, so he reluctantly took him on then spent the next 18 months getting rid of the grubby parasite.

div> Yosemite Sam did it better. I would prefer a Foghorn Leghorn-type character, for US diplomacy.

Posted by: Ribbit , Jun 18 2020 0:20 utc | 26

Yosemite Sam did it better. I would prefer a Foghorn Leghorn-type character, for US diplomacy.

Posted by: Ribbit | Jun 18 2020 0:20 utc | 26

Kristan hinton , Jun 18 2020 0:46 utc | 27
Real History: Candidate Trump praised Bolton and named him as THE number one Foreign Policy expert he (Trump) respected.

Imagine the mustachioed Mister Potatoe (sic) Head and zany highjinks!

Bolton and one of his first wives were regulars at Plato's Retreat for wife swapping orgies. The wife was not real keen on the behavior, but she allegedly found herself verbally and physically abused for objecting.

DannyC , Jun 18 2020 1:17 utc | 28
Trump is at fault for hiring him to appease the Zionist lobby. We all knew the guy was a warmonger and a scumbag. It's not a surprise. Trump surrounds himself with the worst people
jadan , Jun 18 2020 1:30 utc | 29
Did John Bolton put his personal interests above the will of congress in an attempt to extort the Ukrainian government? You're making a false equivalence. You seem to have a soft spot for Trump. Bolton is an in-your-face son of a bitch, but Trump, Trump is just human garbage.
Kay Fabe , Jun 18 2020 2:27 utc | 30
Pretty much a nothing burger if thats all he has got. Just a distraction. Trumps outrage just meant help Bolton sell some books. Lol. People are so easy to fool.

I still think Bolton managing the operations as COG in Cheneys old bunker. Coming out for a vacation while next phase is planned

Jackrabbit , Jun 18 2020 2:56 utc | 31
Kay Fabe @Jun18 2:27 #29
Pretty much a nothing burger if thats all he has got.

You underestimate the craftiness of this kayfabe.

The tiff with Bolton makes Trump look like a peace-loving moderate so that he's acceptable to Independent voters.

!!

Den lille abe , Jun 18 2020 3:03 utc | 32
Bolton is just another American arsehole. Nothing new. When they do not get their way, the y always turn on their superiors, or those in charge. Bolton is just another "Anhänger" personal gain is what motivates him.
He should have been a blot on his parents bedsheets or at least a forced abortion, but unfortunately that did not happen...
Piotr Berman , Jun 18 2020 3:53 utc | 33
The self-appointed Deep State has pretty much thwarted him (Trump) and his voters.

Posted by: bob sykes | Jun 17 2020 20:55 utc | 11

Trump thwarted Trump. Before he got elected, Trump mentioned his admiration of Bolton more than once. Voters of Trump elected a liar and an incoherent person -- at time, incomprehensible, a nice bonus. But it is worth noticing that Trump never liked being binded by agreement, like, say, an agreement to pay money back to creditors, or whatever international agreement would restrict USA from doing what they damn please.

Superficially, it is mysterious why Trump made an impression that he wants to negotiate with North Korea with some agreement at the end. Was he forced to make a mockery from the negotiation by someone sticking knife to his back?

Some may remember that Trump promised to abolish Affordable Care Act and replace it with "something marvelous". The latest version is that he will start thinking about it again after re-election. If you believe that...

Granted, Trump is more sane than Bolton, but just a bit, unlike Bolton he has some moments of lucidity.

In conclusion, I would advocate to vote for Biden. If you need a reason, that would be that Biden never tweets, or if he does, it is forgettable before the typing is done. Unlike the hideous Trumpian productions.

jason , Jun 18 2020 3:55 utc | 34
"men fit to be shaved," Tiberius, on Bolton and Friedman.

he is the best & brightest we have. when a dreadful mouth is called for. his insights into the Trump WH are probably as deep as his knowledge of VZ, Iran, Cuba, etc. he's a useful idiot, a willing fool. like Trump, he's the verbal equivalent of the cops on the street, in foreign "policy." another abusive father figure

reading the imperial steak turds - an American form of reading the tea leaves or goat livers or chicken flight or celestial what have you. an emperor craps out a big hairy one like Bolton and the priests and hierophants and lawyers and scribes come for a long, close up inspection and fact-gathering smell of another steaming pile of gmo-corn-and-downer-cow-fed, colon cancer causing, Kansas feed-lot raised, grade A Murkin BEEF. guess what they in their wisdom find? Trump stinks.

kiwiklown , Jun 18 2020 4:20 utc | 35
Scotch Bingeington @ 6 -- "Take a look at his face. It's obvious to me that even John Bolton does not enjoy being John Bolton. That mouth, it's drooping to an absurd degree. Comparable to Merkel's face, come to think of it.

At last, someone who notices physionomy!

That face drips with false modesty, kind of trying to make his face say, "... look at harmless old me..."

That walrus bushiness points at an attempt to hide, to camouflage his true thoughts, his malevolence.

That pretended stoop, with one hand clutching a sheaf of briefing papers, emulating the posture of deferential court clerks, speaks to a lifetime of a snake in the grass "fighting" from below for things important to himself.

But those of us who have been around the block a couple times will know to watch our backs around this type. Poisoned-tipped daggers are their fave weapons, and your backs are their fave "battle space". LOL

This statement by Jeffrey Sachs may as well also describe America's leadership crisis: "At the root of America's economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America's political and economic elite."

kiwiklown , Jun 18 2020 5:29 utc | 36
GeorgeV @ 8 -- "It's like standing on a street corner watching two prostitutes calling each other a whore! How low has the US sunk."

And the US "leadeship" sends these types out to lecture other peoples on "values"? on how to become "normal nations"? on how to "contain" old civilisations such as Iran, Russia, China?

It is axiomatic that the stupid do not know they are stupid. Same goes for morals. The immoral do not know they are immoral. Or, perhaps, as Phat Pomp-arse shows, they know they are immoral, but do not care. Which makes one rightly guess that people like Bolt-On and him must be depraved.

Yes, it may take centuries before the leadership in this depraved Exceptionally Indispensable Nation to become truly normal again.

snake , Jun 18 2020 5:38 utc | 37
Of course, Trump actually campaigned to leave Afghanistan and Syria, and he was elected to do so. The self-appointed Deep State has pretty much thwarted him and his voters. by: bob sykes 11

I wondered about He King claims that Trump actually attempted to do those awful things, . .. , I looked for evidence to prove the claim.. I asked just about every librarian I could find to please show me evidence that confirms the deep state over rode Mr. Trump's actual attempt to remove USA anything from Afghanistan and Syria. thus far, no confirming or supporting facts have been produced. to support such a claim. Mr. Trump could easily have tweeted to his supporters something to the effect that the damn military, CIA, homeland security, state department, foreign service, federal reserve, women's underwear association and smiley Joe's hamburger stand in fact every militant in the USA governed America were holding hands, locked in a conspiracy to block President Trumps attempt to remove USA anything from Afghanistan or Syria.. If Mr. Trump has asked for those things, they would have happened. The next day there would have been parties in the streets as the militant agency heads began rolling as Mr. Trump fired them each and everyone.. No firings happened, the party providers were disappointed, no troops, USA contractors or privatization pirates left any foreign place.. as far as I can tell. 500 + military bases still remain in Europe none have been abandoned.. and one was added in Israel. BTW i heard that Mr. Trump managed to get 17 trillion dollars into the hands of many who are contractors or suppliers to those foreign operations. I can't say I am against Trump, but i can ask you to show me some evidence to prove your claim.

Jackrabbit , Jun 18 2020 5:50 utc | 38
snake @Jun18 5:38 #36

As always, watch what they do, not what they say.

Trump is the Republican Obama. A faux populist 'insider' who pretends to be an 'outsider'.

Trump was selected to be the nationalist President that meets the challenge from Russia and China. And serves all the usual interests while doing so.

Americans fools keep electing these establishment stooges and then wonder why nothing seems to get any better.

!!

Mao , Jun 18 2020 6:25 utc | 39
Sack cartoon: Trump's 'swamp'

https://www.startribune.com/sack-cartoon-trump-s-swamp/401964365/

https://www.startribune.com/sack-cartoon-the-swamp/420668223/

Mao , Jun 18 2020 6:39 utc | 40
Trump searches for new slogan as he abandons Keep America Great amid George Floyd and covid turmoil

The president has taken to inserting the term 'Transition to Greatness' into his remarks. His 2016 slogan was 'Make America Great Again'. After election he polled audiences on whether to go with 'Keep America Great'. He told CPAC this year and said at the State of the Union 'The Best is Yet to Come'. Tweaks come as he trails Biden in new NBC and CNN polls, as the nation struggles with the coronavirus and protests over police violence.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8398993/Donald-Trump-searches-new-slogan-amid-cratering-polls-against-Joe-Biden.html

Mao , Jun 18 2020 6:44 utc | 41
Rudy W. Giuliani @RudyGiuliani

Ukrainian police seize $6 Million in bribes paid to kill the new case into crooked Burisma.

This money is a Followup to the multi-millions in bribes Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and President Poroshenko earned to leverage their offices to kill the original case.

All covered up!

https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1273298170966159366

Ghost Ship , Jun 18 2020 7:28 utc | 42
Christian J. Chuba @ 3
goals that you consider important are different from personal interests.

What personal interests has Trump actually advanced during his time as president. Leaving out the fake allegations, I'm hard put to think of any. If you look at Trump's actual behaviour rather than his bullshit or the bullshit aimed at him, I'm also hard put to think of anything illegal he's done while in office that wasn't done by previous administrations.
Mao , Jun 18 2020 7:41 utc | 43
US President Donald Trump sought help from Xi Jinping to win the upcoming 2020 election, "pleading" with the Chinese president to boost imports of American agricultural products, according to a new book by former national security adviser John Bolton. The accusations were included in an excerpt from The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, which is set to be released on June 23. Bolton also wrote that Trump demonstrated other "fundamentally unacceptable behaviour", including privately expressing support for China's mass interment of Uygur Muslims and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.*This video has been updated to fix a spelling mistake.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agk61kyDS1k

Yeah, Right , Jun 18 2020 8:35 utc | 44
@42 Mao I'm struggling to see how "pleading" with any country for it to purchase more US goods is "fundamentally unacceptable behaviour" from a US President.

Pleading to Xi for China to give, say, Israel preferential access to markets, sure.

Down South , Jun 18 2020 9:56 utc | 45
The Saker takes an interesting look at this "spontaneous or popular" revolt taking place in America

https://thesaker.is/what-kind-of-popular-revolution-is-this/#comments

Mao , Jun 18 2020 10:35 utc | 46
The Saker:

I have lived in the United States for a total of 24 years and I have witnessed many crises over this long period, but what is taking place today is truly unique and much more serious than any previous crisis I can recall. And to explain my point, I would like to begin by saying what I believe the riots we are seeing taking place in hundreds of US cities are not about. They are not about:

* Racism or "White privilege"
* Police violence
* Social alienation and despair
* Poverty
* Trump
* The liberals pouring fuel on social fires
* The infighting of the US elites/deep state

They are not about any of these because they encompass all of these issues, and more.

It is important to always keep in mind the distinction between the concepts of "cause" and "pretext". And while it is true that all the factors listed above are real (at least to some degree, and without looking at the distinction between cause and effect), none of them are the true cause of what we are witnessing. At most, the above are pretexts, triggers if you want, but the real cause of what is taking place today is the systemic collapse of the US society.

https://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-systemic-collapse-of-the-us-society-has-begun/

Steve , Jun 18 2020 10:57 utc | 47
The only time I'd be interested in anything Bolton had to say is if he were saying it from the docket at The Hague
Matt , Jun 18 2020 11:40 utc | 48
Don't really want to take sides between those two odious characters, but I think there's a difference in what the paper is saying.

One is about someone pursuing policy goals they favour, the other "personal interest". From what I have seen so far, Bolton's main definition of Trump's "personal interest" is his chances for re-election (rather than any personal business interest).

I think Bolton was happy for Trump to pursue the policy goals he favoured, at least when they coincided with Bolton's!

Tadlak Davidovitsh , Jun 18 2020 12:04 utc | 49
In modern Italy, mentioning Jupiter (Jove) and the ox (Bove) in the same sentence usually implies a demand that the two be treated the same.
450.org , Jun 18 2020 12:07 utc | 50
How many people have cashed in on Trump so far? Countless numbers of them. An ocean of them. Scathing books about Trump is one way to cash in on thr Trump effect, and the authors, many of whom don't even write the book themselves, get promoted and their books promoted in the mainstream media and elsewhere.

There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to Trump. We know everything there is to know about Trump. Some of us knew everything there was to know about him before he became POTUS. And yet, there he is, sitting like the Cheshire Cat in the Oval Office, untouchable and beyond reproach. Meanwhile, even more scathing books are in the pipeline because there's money, so much money, to be made don't you know.

Bolton is a shitbird every bit as much as Trump is and in fact an argument can be made Bolton is even worse and even more dangerous than Trump because if Bolton had his druthers, Iran would be a failed state right about now and America would be bogged down in a senseless money-making (for the defense contractors owned by the extractive wealthy elite) quagmire in Iran just as it was in Iraq and still is in Afghanistan.

Colbert is all into the Bolton book because he and his staff managed to secure an interview with Bolton. Bolton, of course, has agreed to this because it's a great way to promote his book to the likes of Cher who is the perfect example of the demographic Colbert caters to with his show. Some of the commercials during Colbert's show last night? One was an Old Navy commercial where they bragged about how they're giving to the poor. The family they used for the commercial, the recipients of this beneficence, was a black family. Biden is proud of Old Navy because don't you know, poor and black are one and the same. In otherwords, there are no poor people except black people. No, that's not racist. Not at all. Also, another commercial during Colbert's show was for the reopening of Las Vegas amidst the spreading pandemic. This is immediately after a segment where Colbert is decrying Republican governors for opening southern states too early. The hypocritical irony is so stark, you can cut it with a chainsaw.

kiwiklown , Jun 18 2020 12:24 utc | 51
Mao @ 45 quoting The Saker -- ".... the real cause of what is taking place today is the systemic collapse of the US society."

And the cause of American societal collapse has been corrupt US leadership.

In my 50 years of studying American society, I have learned to watch what US leaders do, not what they preach. More profitable is to look at what declassified US documents tell us about the truth, not what the presstitudes of the day pretend to dish up. Also, what other world leaders might, in a candid moment, tell us about America.

450.org , Jun 18 2020 12:30 utc | 52
@50
And the cause of American societal collapse has been corrupt US leadership.

I would argue that this is a symptom or a feature versus the root of the problem. Afterall, a system that allows for creeping entrenched endemic corruption, is a crappy system. It's the system that's the root of this and it's not just isolated to the United States. It's civilization itself that's the root and what enabled civilization -- the spirit in our genes as Reg asserts.

450.org , Jun 18 2020 12:47 utc | 53
@4
I'm fully expecting the Dem "left" to try and praise the monsterous Bolton for "going against Trump", as they did with war criminal Mad Dog Matis and Bush. Bolton has to be one of the most evil mass murders on the face of the Earth. The world will be an infinitely better place when he and his ilk like Netanyahu, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Chertoff..etc finally go back to hell.

I agree. They would, because they already have and continue to do so, coddle and provide apologia for any and all monsters who decry Trump. Hell, I'm convinced they would clamor for Derek Chauvin's exoneration if he vocally decried Trump. Chauvin would make the rounds on the media circuit excoriating Trump and telling the world, contritely of course, that it was Trump who made him do it and now he sees the error of his ways. He'd be on Morning Joe and Chris Cuomo's and Don Lemon's shows not to mention Ari Melber and Anderson Cooper and Lawrence O'Donnell. The conservatives and their networks, who have provided apologia for Chauvin thus far, would now be his worst enemy. Colbert and Kimmel would have him on and guffawing with him asking him how it felt to choke the life out of someone, laughing all the way so long as he hates Trump and tells the world how much he hates Trump.

This world is an insane asylum, especially America. All under the banner and aegis of progress. And to think, humanity wants to export this madness to space and the universe at large. Any intelligent life that would ever make its way to Planet Earth, if ever, would be well-advised to exterminate the species human before it spread its poison to the universe at large. Not that that is possible, but just in case the .000000000001% chance of that does miraculously manifest.

kiwiklown , Jun 18 2020 12:48 utc | 54
Mao @ 42

Concerning Trump "pleading" with Xi, it is only right for a leader to request others to buy more US farm produce. We have only Bolton's word that the request was a plea. We also have only Bolton's word that the request / plea was to seek "help from Xi Jinping to win the upcoming 2020 election". Too early to believe Bolton. Wait till we see the meeting transcripts.

Bolton also alleged that Trump exhibited "fundamentally unacceptable behaviour" concerning the Uygurs. Again, only Bolton's word. Even so, saying it is "unacceptable behavior" presumes that China does wrong to incarcerate Uygurs. If not, ie, China either does not incarcerate them, or if China has good moral grounds to do so, then Bolton is wrong to disagree with his boss for uttering the right sentiment. Judging by how the anglo-zios shout about China's "crime", I tend to think the opposite just might be the truth, and that says that Bolton is simply mudslinging to sell books; score brownie points with the anglo-zios, virtue-signalling for his next gig.

Sabine , Jun 18 2020 12:56 utc | 55
so is Trump or Biden the Yeltsin of the US? And who is gonna be the US version of Putin? Mr. Cotton from Arkansas?
vk , Jun 18 2020 13:00 utc | 56
The American people must decide if Trump is anti-China or Xi's bff. He can't be both at the same time.
murgen23 , Jun 18 2020 13:04 utc | 57
I don't see a contradiction with both sentences.

NYT writes Bolton direct US policy to fit his own political agenda,
while Bolton emphasizes Trump direct US policy in the way that pocket him most money.

Politician Bolton is consistent with his politician job (like it or not), Trump is corrupted.

This is how I understand.

450.org , Jun 18 2020 13:14 utc | 58
@56, I would argue that if one person could be both at the same time, that one person would be Donald Trump. He's already proven, like Chauncey Gardner, he can walk on water. Seriously, that excellent movie, Being There , starring the incomparable Peter Sellers, was about Donald Trump's ascension to the Oval Office.

There Are No Limits Except The Limits We Invent And Impose

augusto , Jun 18 2020 13:44 utc | 59
Using this 'quod licet jovi ...' the author apparently knows quite a bit of Latin, the dead language!
But seriously, the nomination of Bolton who had always behaved like 2nd rate advisor, a 3rd rate mcarthist cold warrior was a surprise to me. Such a short sighted heavily biased person could be, yes, chosen a Minister or advisor in a banana Republic but was picked up by the United states.
One can only conclude such a choice was driven by very specific interests of the deep state.They needed a bulldog and got it for one year and half and threw the stinky perro soon as the job was done.
BM , Jun 18 2020 14:05 utc | 60
And the cause of American societal collapse has been corrupt US leadership.
I would argue that this is a symptom or a feature versus the root of the problem.
Posted by: 450.org | Jun 18 2020 12:30 utc | 52

The primary cause of corrupt leadership is corrupt and corruption-accepting population.

Without a population that is fundamentally corrupt and immoral, corrupt leadership is unstable. Conversely - and this is important to recognise as the same phenomenon - democracy cannot exist if the population accepts and takes for granted corruption, as the two are mutually exclusive. In other words if you root out the corrupt leadership without dealing with the mentality of the population, the corruption will quickly come back and any democratic experiment will collapse very quickly.

There is one important qualifier - an overwhelming external influence (since WWII always the USA, either directly or as secondary effect) can leverage latent corruption so that it becomes more exaggerated than it normally would be.

Down South , Jun 18 2020 14:48 utc | 61
What is clear from only this account of the crucial role of big money foundations behind protest groups such as Black lives Matter is that there is a far more complex agenda driving the protests now destabilizing cities across America. The role of tax-exempt foundations tied to the fortunes of the greatest industrial and financial companies such as Rockefeller, Ford, Kellogg, Hewlett and Soros says that there is a far deeper and far more sinister agenda to current disturbances than spontaneous outrage would suggest.

https://m.journal-neo.org/2020/06/16/america-s-own-color-revolution/

michael888 , Jun 18 2020 15:53 utc | 62
Bolton pretended to be President, screwing up negotiations with his Libya Model talk, threatening Venezuela (and anywhere generally) and directing fleets all over the world (including Britain's to capture that Iranian oil tanker). Vindman revered "Ambassador" Bolton because he was keeping the Ukraine corruption in Americans (and Ukrainian Americans') hands, and daring the Russians to "start" WWIII. Bolton might have been a bit more bearable if he had ever been elected, but was happy to see him go. Trump seemed mystified by him.
juliania , Jun 18 2020 16:29 utc | 63
b has presented us (knowingly or not, but I wouldn't put it past him) with the Socratic question of the presumed identity between the morality of the State and personal morality, as best encountered in Plato's dialogue, 'The Republic' ['Politeia' in the Greek] That dialogue begins by examining personal morality, but changes to an examination of what would bring into being a perfect state. In doing the latter, however, it is how to create public spirited persons, in the best sense, which is the actual concern, and the conversation ranges far and wide, becoming more and more complex.

I've always thought that to consider the perfect state had to be an impossibility if the individual, the person him or herself isn't up to the task - and that is the point of the Politeia enterprise. Like the ongoing relay race on horseback that is happening at the same time in the Piraeus, the passing of the argument one person to another that happens in the dialogue demonstrates that what is most crucial for the state as well as for the individual is personal integrity.

I take as an example the message of Saker's essay, linked by Down South and commented on above by others. Saker is pointing out that the protests have been seized upon by the anti-Trumpists who have been disrupting things from the beginning of his administration. But he also says:

"My personal feeling is that Trump is too weak and too much of a coward to fight his political enemies"

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The discussion of different kinds of states, which we often have here pursued, or the discussion of what makes a person able to function in one or another state? I don't think Plato was saying that Greece had it made, that Greece needed to throw its weight around more to be great. He's pointing out that it had lost greatness, the same way every empire loses when it forgets that individual spark that is in a single person, his virtue. And the sad thing is it all comes down to the education of our young people in the values, the virtues that apply both to his own personal life and to the life of the state.

At its heart, the protests which are beginning, only beginning, and which are peaceful, may be politeia vs. republic, the 'polis' itself against 'things political'. A new and true enlightenment, multipolar.

karlof1 , Jun 18 2020 16:39 utc | 64
BM @60--

Corruption's been a fact of life in North America ever since it was "discovered." Bernard Bailyn captured it quite well in his The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century , that is during the very first stages of plantation, with most corruption taking place in Old England then exported to the West. Even the Founders were corrupt, although they didn't see themselves as such. Isn't Adam & Eve's corruption detailed in Genesis merely an indicator of a general human trait that needs to be managed via culture? That human culture has generally failed to contain and discipline corruption speaks volumes about both. John Dos Passos in his opus USA noted that everyone everywhere was on the "hustle"--from the hobo to the banker. "Every child gots to have its own" are some of the truest lyrics ever written. Will humanity ever transcend this major failure in its nature?

Allen Edmundson , Jun 18 2020 23:30 utc | 65
Who is behind the claim that China is imprisoning vast numbers of Uighurs in concentration camps and what evidence has been presented? See the Greyzone for its recent report on this.

Edmundson

Jpc , Jun 18 2020 23:39 utc | 66
Thanks to all of you for your insights on Bolton.
I still don't see anything to explain why he got a second gig in the Whitehouse.
Or anything that he did that enhanced US security long term.
And another guy who dodged active service.
Strange angry dude,!
Hoarsewhisperer , Jun 19 2020 14:47 utc | 67
Pat Lang believes that Bolton has breached a law requiring US Officials with access to Top Secret Stuff to submit personal memoirs for scrutiny before publishing. Col Lang is awaiting similar approval for a memoir of his own and thinks Bolton didn't bother waiting for the Official OK.
There's a diverse range of comments. Most commentators like the idea of Bolton being tossed in the slammer. Others speculate that as a Swamp Creature, Bolton will escape prosecution. It's interesting that no-one has asked to see the publisher's copy of the USG's signed & dated Approval To Publish document, relevant to Bolton's book.
arby , Jun 19 2020 19:34 utc | 68
Jut a little thread on Bolton and his book.

It is amazing the way these clowns sit around and talk about countries and people as if they were so much dirt. The arrogance and power is disgusting.

link

[Jun 16, 2020] Progressive pseudo-democracy vs liberal democracy

Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

Stogumber , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm GMT

Cook here represents a tradition of progressive pseudo-democracy which contradicts liberal democracy.
In progressive pseudo-democracy, men "at the side of history" have a privilege in destroying other people's values.
In liberal democracy, the defenders of the old system are recognized as a legitimate opposition with the possibility of becoming the government again. so there are no privileges for "men at the side of history". Of course there can be changes who are, in hindsight, consensually accepted by both sides. Nearly nobody sees a reason to reestablish slavery – but the acceptance of a gollywog or the acceptance of a statue is not slavery, not even similar to it. The "pain" of people who conflate these matters is self-inflicted.

[Jun 16, 2020] No form of the word 'democracy' is found in the US Declaration of Independence or Constitution. To the contrary, democracy is forbidden by Constitution Article IV Section 4.

Jun 16, 2020 | www.unz.com

schnellandine , says: Show Comment June 13, 2020 at 3:16 am GMT

Any article discussing 'democracy' without defining it is the work of a hack.

Oh yes, it's supposed that everyone knows 'democracy'. He doesn't. It's a bullshit word meant to gloss around the writer's refusal to reason by way of first principles. It's cowardice.

We are all supposed to accept as the major premise that democracy's good, and thus desirable. Ergo, if the writer can somehow tie his conclusion to 'democratic' roots, he's carried the day.

Shameless fraud. Thousands of words of spittle.

Interesting truth: No form of the word 'democracy' is found in the US Declaration of Independence or Constitution. To the contrary, democracy is forbidden by Constitution Article IV Section 4.

Beavertales , says: Show Comment June 12, 2020 at 9:12 pm GMT
The Holocaust memorial museum in Washington should be stormed by Americans outraged by Israel's theft of US resources and its corruption of US politics, and for Israel's attack on the USS Liberty.

This may or may not include the defenestration of the directors, the casting of exhibits into the street, and the bulldozing of the entire structure into a landfill.

Yes, more democratic tradition, please, until justice is done and seen to be done.

[Jun 15, 2020] Full Special Investigation - Donald Trump vs The Deep State

Highly recommended!
This is an amazing video. highly recommended
Notable quotes:
"... Firstly your definition of 'deep state' is too limited, it includes the bureaucracy, much of the judiciary, banks and other financial institutions, and the major political parties. It is not restricted only to the intelligence agencies. It is not a US-specific issue, but a global one. For the deep state exists everywhere, and is often more powerful in commonwealth countries, such as here in apathetic Australia. ..."
"... When the CIA kills Kennedy you know you've got problems... And whilst agents in the CIA probably did not pull the trigger - their "assets" did... If you don't believe me spare me your tiresome ignorant replies and go and do some research... ..."
"... " We were warned about the Military Industrial Complex, Sadly the Government Media Complex, has done way more damage, and will be much harder to overcome" ~ Dr. Mike Savage 2008 ..."
Jun 15, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Sky News Australia In this Special Investigation Sky News speaks to former spies, politicians and investigative journalists to uncover whether US President Donald Trump is really at war with "unelected Deep State operatives who defy the voters".


Cee Zee , 7 months ago

Was it not for Trump, we would never have had a clue just how evil and corrupt the fbi, cia, leftist media and big tech giants are!

Tron Javolta , 6 months ago

George Soros, The clintons, The royal family, The Rothschild's, the Federal reserve as a whole, The modern Democrat, cia, fbi, nsa, Facebook, Google, not to mention all the faceless unelected bureaucrats who create and push policies that impact our every day lives. This, my lads, is the deep state. They run our world and get away with whatever they want until someone in their circle loses their use (Epstein)

k-carl Manley , 1 month ago

JFK was right: dismantle the CIA and throw the remaining dust to the wind - same for the traitorous leaders in the FBI!

Nick Krikorian , 7 months ago

The deep state killed JFK

Joe Mamma , 1 week ago

The deep state is real and they are powerful and have an evil agenda!

Joe Graves , 1 month ago

Anyone that says a "deep state" doesn't exist in America, is part of the American deep state.

ceokc13 , 3 days ago (edited)

The Cabal owns the US intelligence agencies, the media, and Hollywood. That's how all these big name corrupted figure heads aren't in prison for their crimes. The Clinton email scandal is a prime example. This is much bigger than the USA... it's effects are world wide.

Francis Gee , 1 week ago (edited)

The Four Stages of Ideological Subversion: 1 - Demoralization 2 - Destabilization 3 - Crisis 4 - Normalization Are you not entertained? The above is "their" roadmap. Learn what it means and spread this far & wide, as that will be the means by which to end this.

TheConnected Chris , 1 day ago

President JFK on April 17, 1961: "Today no war has been declared--and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired. If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of 'clear and present danger,' then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent. It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions--by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match." thoughts: by saying, 'conducts the Cold War' did he directly call out the CIA???

Fact Chitanda , 2 weeks ago

The secret services are only one arm of the deep state. Its bigger than them!

David Stanley , 3 days ago

Most troubling now it is known about the deep state: is Trump a double agent just another puppet just giving the appearance of working against the deep state?

Miroslav Skoric , 2 months ago

"I' never saw corruption" said the blind monkey "I never heard any corruption " said the deaf monkey The mute monkey,of course said nothing.

Franco Lust , 2 months ago

Thank you Australians for having rhe courage to speak out for us Patriots!!! We know the Deep State Cabal retaliated with the fires. We love you guys from 💖💗

Always Keen , 7 months ago

Drain that swamp!

joe wood , 2 days ago

Found and cause all wars. Mislead both sides .

Peter Kondogonis , 1 month ago (edited)

Well done Skynews. THE DEEP STATE IS REAL. I woke up 10+ years ago. Turn off the TV for 1-2 years to study and awaken. Make a start on learning with David ickes Videos and books. WWG1 WGA

silva lloyd , 1 month ago

"How does democracy survive" We don't live in a democracy. The English isles and commonwealth are a constitutional monarchy, America is a republic.

Rhsheeda Russell , 5 days ago

And President Trump was right. Senator Graham is a sneaky, lying, sloth who enjoys his status and takes taxpayers money to do nothing.

Jerry Kays , 1 day ago

Before I go and pass this on to as many as I can get to follow it I just wanted to commend those that produced this and I hope that it gets fuller dissemination because it is such a rare truth in such a time of utter deceit by most all of the MSM (Main Stream Media) that this country I reside in uses to supposedly inform the American people ...what a crock! Thank You, Australia for making this available (but beware, the Five Eyes are always very active in related matters to this) ... This has been welcome confirmation of what many of us have known and attempted to tell others for about 5 years now. Sadly, I doubt that has or will help very much, The System is so corrupted from top to bottom ... IMnsHO and E.

Jonathan King , 7 months ago (edited)

Firstly your definition of 'deep state' is too limited, it includes the bureaucracy, much of the judiciary, banks and other financial institutions, and the major political parties. It is not restricted only to the intelligence agencies. It is not a US-specific issue, but a global one. For the deep state exists everywhere, and is often more powerful in commonwealth countries, such as here in apathetic Australia.

GB3770 , 1 month ago (edited)

When the CIA kills Kennedy you know you've got problems... And whilst agents in the CIA probably did not pull the trigger - their "assets" did... If you don't believe me spare me your tiresome ignorant replies and go and do some research...

BassBreath100 , 2 months ago

" We were warned about the Military Industrial Complex, Sadly the Government Media Complex, has done way more damage, and will be much harder to overcome" ~ Dr. Mike Savage 2008

Scocasso Vegetus , 1 month ago (edited)

14:20 I met a guy from Canada in the early 2000s, a telephone technician, told me about when he worked at the time for the government telephone company in the early 80s. He was given a really strange job one day, to go do some work in the USA. Some kind of repair work that required someone with experience and know-how, but apparently someone from out-of-country, he guesses, because there certainly must have been many people in the USA who could have done it, he figured. He flew down to oregon, then was driven for hours out into the middle of nowhere in navada, he said. They came to a small building that was surrounded by fencing etc. Nothing interesting. Nothing else around, he said, as far as he could see. They went in, and pretty much all that was there was an elevator. They went in, and he said, he didn't know how many floors down it went, or how fast it was moving, but seemed to take quite sometime, he figured about 8 stories down, was his guess, but he didn't know. He was astounded to see that there was telephone recording stuff in there about the size of two football-fields. He said they were recording everything. He said, even at that time, it was all digital, but they didn't have the capacity to record everything, so it was set up to monitor phone calls, and if any key words were spoken, it would start recording, and of course it would record all phone calls at certain numbers. "So, who knows what they've got in there today, he said" back in the early 2000s. So, imagine what they've got there today, in the 2020s. I didn't know whether or not to believe this story, until I saw a doc about all of the telephone recording tapes they have in storage, rotting away, which were used to record everyone's phone calls onto magnetic tape. Literally tonnes and tonnes of tapes, just sitting there in storage now, from the 1970s, the pre-digital days. They've always been doing it. They're just much better at it today than ever. Now they can tell who you are by your voice, your cadence, your intonation, etc. and record not just a call here and there, but everything.

cuppateadee , 3 days ago

Assange got banged up because he exposed war crimes by this lot on film Chelsea Manning also. They are heroes.

Shaun Ellis , 7 months ago

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he didnt exist" Credit the --- Usual Suspects ---- That's the playbook of the "Deep State"

Cheryl Lawlor , 2 weeks ago

Even Obama said, "the CIA gets what the CIA wants." Even he wouldn't upset them.

NeXus Prime , 1 week ago

The last guy (denying the deep state's existence) was lying. When someone shakes their head when talking in the affirmative you can be 100% sure it is a lie (micro expressions 101).

zetayoru , 1 month ago

JFK said he wanted to expose a deeper and more sinister group. And when he was moving closer to it, he got killed.

adolthitler , 1 week ago

Yuri Bezmenov will tell you the deepstate has too much power. Yuri was right about much.

Ed P , 3 weeks ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULZdtvhtYQI

Shirley van der Heijden , 1 month ago

Evil never is satisfied!

The Vault , 5 days ago

https://www.facebook.com/kyle.darbyshire/posts/1085832538454860

Bitcoin Blockchain , 1 day ago


Bitcoin Blockchain
1 day ago
1950–1953:	Korean War United States (as part of the United Nations) and South Korea vs. North Korea and Communist China
1960–1975:	Vietnam War	United States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam
1961: Bay of Pigs Invasion	United States vs. Cuba
1983: Grenada United States intervention
1989: U.S.Invasion of Panama	United States vs. Panama
1990–1991: Persian Gulf War United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq
1995–1996: Intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina	United States as part of NATO acted as peacekeepers in former Yugoslavia
2001–present: Invasion of Afghanistan	United States and Coalition Forces vs. the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to fight terrorism
2003–2011: Invasion of Iraq The United States and Coalition Forces vs. Iraq
2004–present: War in Northwest Pakistan United States vs. Pakistan, mainly drone attacks
2007–present: Somalia and Northeastern Kenya	United States and Coalition forces vs. al-Shabaab militants
2009–2016: Operation Ocean Shield (Indian Ocean) NATO allies vs. Somali pirates
2011: Intervention in Libya	U.S. and NATO allies vs. Libya
2011–2017: Lord's Resistance Army U.S. and allies against the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda
2014–2017: U.S.-led Intervention in Iraq U.S. and coalition forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
2014–present: U.S.-led intervention in Syria U.S. and coalition forces against al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Syria
2015–present: Yemeni Civil War Saudi-led coalition and the U.S., France, and Kingdom against the Houthi rebels, Supreme Political Council in Yemen, and allies
2015–present: U.S. intervention in Libya
Ken Martin , 5 months ago

Deep State is the "Wealthy Oligarchy", an "International Mafia" who controls the Central Bank (a privacy owned banking system which controls the worlds currencies). The Wealthy Oligarchy "aka Deep State" controls most all Democratic countries, and controls the International Media. In the United States, both the Republican and Democrat parties are controlled by the Wealthy Oligarchy aka Deep State.

pharcyde110573 , 6 months ago (edited)

A beautifully crafted and delivered discourse, impressive! As a Londoner I have become increasingly interested in Sky News Australia, you are a breath of fresh air and common sense in this world of ever growing liberal media hysteria!

Gord Pittman , 22 hours ago

I have to laugh at the people, including our supposedly unbiased and intelligent media, who said the Russia thing was the truth when it was nothing but a conspiracy theory. Everything else was a conspiacy theory according to the dems ans the mainstream media..

joe wood , 1 week ago

CIA did 9-11 with bush cabal pulling strings

Joseph Hinton , 1 month ago

Wall Street and the banksters control the CIA. One can imagine the ramifications of control of the world via the moneyed interests backed by James Bond and the Green Berets, the latter, under control of the CIA.

Karen Reaves , 2 weeks ago (edited)

Every nation has the same deep state. CIA Mossad MI6 and CCP protect the deep state like one big Mafia. Thank you Sky News. outofshadows.org

killtheglobalists , 2 days ago (edited)

Deep State Powers have been messing with your USA long before your War of Independence . Your Founding Fathers knew , why do you think they wrote your Constitution that way. Now everyone is always crying about something but fail to realize you gave your freedoms away over time . The Deep State never left it just disguised itself and continued to regain control under a new face or ideaology. Follow the money . "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."― Edmund Burke

Kauz , 1 week ago

Timothy Leary gives the CIA TOTAL CREDIT for sponsoring and initiating, the entire consciousness movement and counter-culture events of the 1960's.

Sierra1 Tngo , 2 weeks ago

After the John F. Kennedy assassination the took full power,those who are in power now are the descendants of the criminals who did it,some of their sons just have a different last name but they are the same family,like George Bush and John Kerry are cousins but different last name and the list goes and goes.

iwonka k , 3 hours ago

Council on Foreign Relation is more Deep State than CIA and FBI . The two worked for CFR. CFR tel president whom to appoint to what positions. Nixon got a list of 22 deep state candidates for top US position and all were hired. Obama appointed 11 from the list. Kissinger is behind the scenes strings puller also.

R Tarz , 2 months ago

Thanks Sky and Peter for bringing this to the mainstream attention, it really is time! Wished you had aired John Kiriakou,s other claims off child sex trafficking to the elites which has been corroborated by so many other sources now and is the grossest deformity of this deep state which you can see footage of trump talking about. I am amazed and greatful to see Trump has done more about this than all other presidents in the last 20 years. Lets end this group. All we need to do is shine the light on them

Adronicus -IF- , 2 months ago

The CIA are only an intelligence and operations functioning part of the deep state its much more complex and larger than just the CIA. The British empire controls the deep state they always have it is just a modern version of the old East India Company controlled by the same families with the same ideology. https://theduran.com/the-origins-of-the-deep-state-in-north-america/

John Doe , 1 month ago

It's funny how for decades "the people" were crying on their knees about how bad every president was n how corrupt n controlled they were. Now you've got a president with no special interest groups publicly calling out the deep state n ur still bitching. U know you've got someone representing the people when the cia n fbi r out to get him. In 50 years trump will be looked back at with the likes of Washington, Lincoln n jfk. Once the msm smear campaign is out of everyone's brain.

Nicholas Napier , 2 months ago (edited)

When they start spying on people within the United States and when they used in National Defense authorization act that gave them a lot of power since after 911 to give them more power now they have Homeland Security which is the next biggest threat to the United States it can be abused and some of these people have a higher security clearance than the president.... they're not under control the NSA is one of them you don't mention in here either one is about the more that you don't even know about that they don't have names are acronyms that we knew about that's why the American people have been blindsided by this overtime they've been giving all this money to do things... allocation of money they gathered to do this and now Congress itself doesn't know temperature of Schumer when you caught him saying to see I can get back at you three ways to Sunday I mean he's got some words in this saying to the president of usa donald trump... basically threatening the President right there.. you can see it's alive and well when Congress is immune from prosecution from anything or anyone....

itsmemuffins , 7 months ago

"I think in light of all of the things going on, and you know what I mean by that: the fake news, the Comeys of the world, all of the bad things that went on, it's called the swamp you know what I did," he asked. "A big favor. I caught the swamp. I caught them all. Let's see what happens. Nobody else could have done that but me. I caught all of this corruption that was going on and nobody else could have done it."

msciciel14therope , 1 month ago

there is no big secret that CIA is deeply involved in drug smuggling operations...i remember interview with ex marine colonel who said that he was indirectly involved in such operations in panama...

Vaclav Haval , 6 days ago

The Deep State (CIA, NSA, FBI, and Israeli Mossad) did 9/11.

Wilf Jones , 1 week ago

Super Geek Zuckerberg was made a CIA useful Idiot ... I mean agent , lol .

Chubs Fatboy , 2 weeks ago

Attempting to infiltrate News rooms😆😅😂 all those faces you see in the MSM are all working for Cia. In 1967 one of the 3 letter agencys bragged about having a reporter working in 1 of the 3 letter news channel!

Rue Porter , 1 day ago

Wow this was really good. It's funny you showed a clip from abc of kouriakow and it reminded me how much the news in america has been propagandized and just fake. I'm 38 and it's sad that these days the news is unpatriotic. Well most . Ty sky news Australia

peemaster Bjarne , 1 week ago

Why no mention of what facilitates the surveilance? Telecom infrastructure is a nations nerve system and the powergrid its bloodsystem. Who controls them? That is where you find the head of the deep state!

richard bello , 2 weeks ago

What people aren't aware of is that Facebook YouTube Twitter Instagram Google maps and Google search are all NSA CIA and DIA creations and CEO's are only highly paid operatives who are not the creators but the face of a product and what better way to collect all of your information is by you giving it to them

AussieMaleTuber , 7 months ago (edited)

More please? A subject for another installment regarding the Deep State could be Banking, Federal Reserves and Fiat currencies. Later, another video could be Russia's success at expelling the Deep State in 2000 after it took them over (for a 2nd time) in 1991. Be cognizant, the Deep State initially had for a short time from 1917 via 'it's' 'Bolshivics,' orchestrated the creation of the Soviet Union through the Bolshivic take over of Russia from it's independence minded and Soveriegn Czarist led Eastern Orthodox State. Now, President Trump is preventing a similar Deep State take-over by Intelligence agencies, Corporations and elected political thugs as bad as Leon Trotsky and V I Lennin were to the Russian Czar. The Soviets soon after their (1917) take-over went Rogue on the Deep State and therefore the Soviet Union was independent until The Deep State orchestrated it's downfall and anexation of it's substantial wealth and some territory (1991). More, more, more please Sky News, this video was great!

Trevor Pike , 2 months ago

Amazing, Sky News is the ONLY TV News Service in Australia Trying to deliver true news. Australia's ABC news are CIA Deep State Shills and propagandists - Sarah Ferguson Especially - see her totally CIA scripted Four Corners Report on the Russia Hoax. John Gantz IS a Deep State Operative Liar.

Michael Small , 1 month ago

Isnt it time to see TERM LIMITS in Co gress and to realign our school education to teach the real history of these unites states? End the control of Congress and watch the agencies fall in step with OUR Conatitution. No one should ever be allowed in Congress or any other elected position of trust if they are not a devout Constitutionalist. Anyone who takes the oath to see w the people and fails to so so should be charged with TREASON and removed immediately. Is there a DEEP STATE? Damn right there is and has been for many decades. Where is our sovereignty? Where is the wealth of a capitalist nation? Why so much poverty and welfare and why do communists and socialist get away with damaging our country, state or communities. Yes, there has been a deep state filled with criminals who all need to be charged, tried and executed for TREASON.

Barry Atkins , 7 months ago (edited)

The CIA and Australias Federal police have One main Job/activity to feed their Populations with Propaganda & Lies to give them their Thoughts & Opinions on Everything using their psyOps through MSM News & Programming...you prolly beLIEve this informative News Story as well. : (

price , 7 months ago

Sky news is owned by rupert Murdoch...the same guy that owns fox news. Nuff said😘

Marie Hurst , 6 days ago

These people denying a deep state with such straight faces are psychopaths. Unwittingly, or maybe not, Schumer made liars of them with his comment to Maddow

Debbie Kirby , 7 months ago

President Trump is correct. He knows exactly what's going on. The 3 letter agencies are up to no good and work against the fabric of our nation's founding fathers. It's despicable behavior. Just one example is John Brennan (CIA Director) and Barack Hussein Obama's Terror Tuesdays. Read all about it on the internet now before it's permanently removed. Thank you for creating this video.

James dow , 1 week ago

When was the last time we ever witnessed an American President openly abused continually attacked over manufactured news treated with absolutely no respect for him or the office his family unfairly attacked and misrepresented etc, etc, that's right never, which proves he threatens the existence of the deep state as discussed. He should declare Martial Law Hang the consequences and remove every single deep state player everywhere. Foreign influence? read Israel.

mary rosario , 5 days ago

People are so fixated on trumps outspoken Sometimes outrageous demeanor which in my opinion it's just being really honest and yes he can Be rude at times but when you look at the facts He's the only one that has gone against the deep state! those are the real devils dressed up in sheep's clothing! Wake up!

evan c , 2 weeks ago

You are missing the point. It goes further then intelligence agency working against the people. It's the ultra rich literally trillionaires like the rothchilds that control the cia etc. That is who trump is fighting. The globalists line gates soros etc.

[Jun 13, 2020] Korea is just another distraction: false conflicts with China, North Korea, Russia and Iran are needed to keep support for MIC and Security State which cost 1.2 trillion a year

Highly recommended!
The saying "War is racket" means not only that conquered nations are loots, but the the USA taxpayers will be looted as well
Jun 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Kay Fabe , Jun 13 2020 0:10 utc | 35
Just another distraction.

Heck US aircraft carriers used to visit HK quite often until recently, even after the hand over. They anchored in the harbor while thousands of sailors headed to the Wanchai bars, although after the hand over they anchored in a less visible part of the harbor. China didn't have a problem.

I doubt China sweats a couple of aircraft carriers when we have large bases in Japan and South Korea, not to mention Guam.

False conflicts with China, North Korea, Russia and Iran are needed to keep support for MIC and Security State which cost 1.2 trillion a year.

If the US were serious about confronting China there would be sanctions and not tariffs. China and US are partners. We sell them chips that they put in our electronics and sell to us, so we can spy on our people, and they test out our social control technology on their own people. They clothe us, sell cheap API's for drugs and they invest in treasuries and other US assets and we educate their young talent and give them access to our research and technology and fund some of their own research and share numerous patents

[Jun 09, 2020] How Interventionists Hijack the Rhetoric of Morality

Jun 09, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

ori Schake objects to Biden's foreign policy record on the grounds that he is not hawkish enough and too skeptical of military intervention. She restates a bankrupt hawkish view of U.S. military action:

This half-in-half-out approach to military intervention also strips U.S. foreign policy of its moral element of making the world a better place. It is inadequate to the cause of advancing democracy and human rights [bold mine-DL].

The belief that military intervention is an expression of the "moral element" of U.S. foreign policy is deeply wrong, but it is unfortunately just as deeply-ingrained among many foreign policy professionals. Military intervention has typically been disastrous for the cause of advancing democracy and human rights. First, by linking this cause with armed aggression, regime change, and chaos, it tends to bring discredit on that cause in the eyes of the people that suffer during the war. Military interventions have usually worsened conditions in the targeted countries, and in the upheaval and violence that result there have been many hundreds of thousands of deaths and countless other violations of human rights.

Destabilizing other countries, displacing millions of people, and wrecking their infrastructure and economy obviously do not make anything better. As a rule, our wars of choice have not been moral or just, and they have inflicted tremendous death and destruction on other nations. When we look at the wreckage created by just the last twenty years of U.S. foreign policy, we have to reject the fantasy that military action has something to do with moral leadership. Each time that the U.S. has gone to war unnecessarily, that is a moral failure. Each time that the U.S. has attacked another country when it was not threatened, that is a moral abomination.

Schake continues:

Biden claims that the U.S. has a moral obligation to respond with military force to genocide or chemical-weapons use, but was skeptical of intervention in Syria. The former vice president's rhetoric doesn't match his policies on American values.

If Biden's rhetoric doesn't match his policies here, we should be glad that the presumptive Democratic nominee for president isn't such an ideological zealot that he would insist on waging wars that have nothing to do with the security of the United States. If there is a mismatch, the problem lies with the expansive rhetoric and not with the skepticism about intervention. That is particularly true in the Syria debate, where interventionists kept demanding more aggressive policies without even bothering to show how escalation wouldn't make things worse. Biden's skepticism about intervention in Syria of all places is supposed to be held against him as proof of his poor judgment? That criticism speaks volumes about the discredited hawkish crowd in Washington that wanted to sink the U.S. even more deeply into that morass of conflict.

One of the chief problems with U.S. foreign policy for the last several decades is that it has been far too militarized. To justify the constant resort to the threat and use of force, supporters have insisted on portraying military action as if it were beneficent. They have managed to trick a lot of Americans into thinking that "doing something" to another country is the same thing as doing good. Interventionists emphasize the goodness of their intentions while ignoring or minimizing the horrors that result from the policies they advocate, and they have been able to co-opt the rhetoric of morality to mislead the public into thinking that attacking other countries is legitimate and even obligatory. This has had the effect of degrading and distorting our foreign policy debates by framing every argument over war in terms of righteous "action" vs. squalid "inaction." This turns everything on its head. It treats aggression as virtue and violence as salutary. Even a bog-standard hawk like Biden gets criticized for lacking moral conviction if he isn't gung-ho for every unnecessary war.


Feral Finster a day ago

That America's wars of aggression advance the cause of human rights is a hoot.
Rkramden66 Feral Finster a day ago
"Ya gotta laugh to keep from cryin.'"
kouroi 17 hours ago
Very strong words Mr. Larison, kudos for them.

As for Mr. Biden's "but was skeptical of intervention in Syria", maybe he was aware of the actual perpetrators of the gas attacks (as several OPCW whistle-blowers testified) and was maybe uncomfortable being again the spearhead for another war, like he was with Iraq as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Feral Finster kouroi 6 hours ago
Biden has been out of office for four years now. If I recall correctly, he didn't say jack to support Trump's two failed attempts to pull out from Syria.

TL;DR Don't get your hopes up.

Carpenter E 7 hours ago • edited
Kori Schake writes for the British neocon IISS, which has been secretly funded by the Sunni dictator in Bahrain, who holds down the Shia majority with imported Pakistanis as soldiers and police. Ordinary Bahrainis are like occupied prisoners in their own country. Everything is for the small Sunni elite. Though there are also ordinary Sunnis who oppose them.

Kori Schake is simply paid to promote neocon interests, which the Bahraini dictator is closely aligned with. The Sunni king dissolved parliament and took all the power, aided by Saudi tanks crushing protesters, who were tortured and had their lives destroyed. The dictator even destroyed Bahrain's famous Pearl Monument, near which the protesters had camped out, so it wouldn't be a symbol of resistance. (Forever making it a symbol of resistance.) The tower was on all the postcards from Bahrain and it appeared on the coins. It's like destroying the Eiffel Tower. Kori's Sunni paymasters want Shia Iran destroyed as it speaks up for the oppressed Shias in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen and the UAE.

Mark Thomason 3 hours ago
Biden is and for over four decades always was an example of all that is worst in militarized US foreign policy. The idea that he isn't hawkish enough is itself crazy.

[Jun 06, 2020] For more than two centuries, the country which calls itself the pinnacle of freedom, has been in fact the absolute opposite of that; the epicenter of brutality and terror

Jun 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mao , Jun 6 2020 10:00 utc | 120

"The World Cannot Breathe!" Squashed By The U.S. - A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery

More than two centuries of lies are now getting exposed. Bizarre tales about freedom and democracy are collapsing like houses of cards.

One man's death triggers an avalanche of rage in those who for years, decades and centuries, have been humiliated, ruined, and exterminated.

It always happens just like this throughout the history of humankind – one single death, one single "last drop", an occurrence that triggers an entire chain of events, and suddenly nothing is the same, anymore. Nothing can be the same. What seemed to be unimaginable just yesterday, becomes "the new normal" literally overnight.

*

For more than two centuries, the country which calls itself the pinnacle of freedom, has been in fact the absolute opposite of that; the epicenter of brutality and terror.

From its birth, in order to 'clear the space' for its brutal, ruthless European settlers, it systematically liquidated the local population of the continent, during what could easily be described as one of the more outrageous genocides in the human history.

When whites wanted land, they took it. In North America, or anywhere in the world. In what is now the United States of America, millions of "natives" were murdered, infected with deadly diseases on purpose, or exterminated in various different ways. The great majority of the original and rightful owners of the land, vanished. The rest were locked up in "reservations".

Simultaneously, the "Land Of The Free" thrived on slavery. European colonialist powers literally hunted down human beings all over the African continent, stuffing them, like animals, into ships, in order to satisfy demand for free labor on the plantations of North and South America. European colonialist, hand in hand, cooperated, in committing crimes, in all parts of the world.

What really is the United States? Is anyone asking, searching for its roots? What about this; a simple, honest answer: The United States is essentially the beefy offspring of European colonialist culture, of its exceptionalism, racism and barbarity.

Again, simple facts: huge parts of the United States were constructed on slavery. Slaves were humiliated, raped, tortured, murdered. Oh, what a monstrous way to write the first chapters of the country's history!

The United States, a country of liberty and freedom? For whom? Seriously! For Christian whites?

How twisted the narrative is! No wonder our humanity has become so perverse, so immoral, so lost and confused, after being shaped by a narrative which has been fabricated by a country that exterminated the great majority of its own native sons and daughters, while getting insanely rich thanks to unimaginable theft, mass-murder, slavery and later – the semi-slavery of the savage corporate dictatorship!

The endemic, institutionalized brutality at home eventually spilled over to all parts of the planet. Now, for many decades, the United Stated has treated the entire world as full of its personal multitude of slaves. What does it offer to all of us: constant wars, occupations, punitive expeditions, coups, regular assassinations of progressive leaders, as well as thorough corporate plunder. Hundreds of millions of people have been sacrificed on the grotesque U.S. altar of "freedom" and "democracy".

Freedom and democracy, really?

Or perhaps just genocide, slavery, fear and the violation of all those wonderful and natural human dreams, and of human dignity?

https://countercurrents.org/2020/06/the-world-cannot-breathe-squashed-by-the-u-s-a-country-built-on-genocide-and-slavery/

[Jun 03, 2020] Internet Users Who Call For Attacking Other Countries Will Now Be Enlisted In The Military Automatically

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... People who bravely post about how the U.S. needs to invade some country in the Middle East or Asia or outer space will get a pop-up notice indicating they've been enlisted in the military. A recruiter will then show up at their house and whisk them away to fight in the foreign war they wanted to happen so badly. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

interlocutor , Jun 21, 2019 6:13:43 PM | 186

The Babylon Bee: Report: Internet Users Who Call For Attacking Other Countries Will Now Be Enlisted In The Military Automatically

https://babylonbee.com/img/articles/article-4404-1.jpg

U.S. -- A new policy issued by the United States Department of Defense, in conjunction with online platforms like Twitter and Facebook, will automatically enlist you to fight in a foreign war if you post your support for attacking another country.

People who bravely post about how the U.S. needs to invade some country in the Middle East or Asia or outer space will get a pop-up notice indicating they've been enlisted in the military. A recruiter will then show up at their house and whisk them away to fight in the foreign war they wanted to happen so badly.

"Frankly, recruitment numbers are down, and we needed some way to find people who are really enthusiastic about fighting wars," said a DOD official. "Then it hit us like a drone strike: there are plenty of people who argue vehemently for foreign intervention. It doesn't matter what war we're trying to create: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China---these people are always reliable supporters of any invasion abroad. So why not get them there on the frontlines?"

"After all, we want people who are passionate about occupying foreign lands, not grunts who are just there for the paycheck," he added.

Strangely, as soon as the policy was implemented, 99% of saber-rattling suddenly ceased.

Note: The Babylon Bee is the world's best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims. We write satire about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.

The Babylon Bee was created ex nihilo on the eighth day of the creation week, exactly 6,000 years ago. We have been the premier news source through every major world event, from the Tower of Babel and the Exodus to the Reformation and the War of 1812. We focus on just the facts, leaving spin and bias to other news sites like CNN and Fox News.

If you would like to complain about something on our site, take it up with God.

Unlike other satire sites, everything we post is 100% verified by Snopes.com.

[Jun 02, 2020] According to the standards set by the Trump administration when the Guaido coup first launched, the video footage of these protests is full justification for a foreign nation to directly intervene and remove Trump from office by force right now.

Trump's threat to deploy the military here is an excessive and dangerous one. Mark Perry reports on the reaction from military officers to the president's threat:
Jun 02, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Senior military officer on Trump statement: "So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

-- Mark Perry (@markperrydc) June 2, 2020

Feral Finster35 minutes ago • edited

According to the standards set by the Trump administration when the Guaido coup first launched, the video footage of these protests is full justification for a foreign nation to directly intervene and remove Trump from office by force right now.

[Jun 02, 2020] So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

Trump's threat to deploy the military here is an excessive and dangerous one. Mark Perry reports on the reaction from military officers to the president's threat:
Jun 02, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Senior military officer on Trump statement: "So we're going to tell our soldiers that we're redeploying them from the Middle East to the midwest? What do we think they're going to say, 'yeah, sure, no problem?' Guess again."

-- Mark Perry (@markperrydc) June 2, 2020

Earlier in the day yesterday, audio has leaked in which the Secretary of Defense referred to U.S. cities as the "battlespace." Separately, Sen. Tom Cotton was making vile remarks about using the military to give "no quarter" to looters. This is the language of militarism.

It is a consequence of decades of endless war and the government's tendency to rely on militarized options as their answer for every problem. Endless war has had a deeply corrosive effect on this country's political system: presidential overreach, the normalization of illegal uses of force, a lack of legal accountability for crimes committed in the wars, and a lack of political accountability for the leaders that continue to wage pointless and illegal wars. Now we see new abuses committed and encouraged by a lawless president, but this time it is Americans that are on the receiving end. Trump hasn't ended any of the foreign wars he inherited, and now it seems that he will use the military in an llegal mission here at home.

Megan San hour ago

The military is the only American institution that young people still have any real degree of faith in, it will be interesting to see the polls when this is all over with.

[Jun 02, 2020] Burn Amerikastan burn

Jun 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist , says: Website Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 9:58 am GMT

Burn Amerikastan burn. It's beautiful watching you burn

You who had your knee on our necks and killed us as the world looked on.

You who broke into our countries on false pretences, you who killed wives in front of husbands, fathers in front of daughters, you who said it was your right to do so,

You who stole our resources, you who watched without words
You who claimed you were Exceptional
The world sees you for what you are
Now you burn.

Burn Amerikastan burn.

In the name of the children of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Donbass, Yemen, Afghanistan

Burn to ashes, Amerikastan.

Emily , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 11:17 am GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist You missed out the Serbs.
'Bombed back to the Stoneage' by direction of Bill Clinton and by the butcher of WACO.
Breaking international law by the stealing of Kosovo and handing it to a bunch of radical islamists – the KLA – thousands of whom have been fighting for ISIS.
Kosovo is Serbia.
They will get it back.
Ashino Wolf Sushanti , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 1:26 pm GMT
Oh, dear poor USA..

Yet Meanwhile

Our Disaster – YEMEN !!

by Kathy Kelly / June 1st, 2020
https://dissidentvoice.org/2020/06/our-disaster/

[Hide MORE]
United Nations reports a death toll of 100,000 people!!!!!!!!!!!!! in that nation's ongoing war
Additional 131 ,000 people !!!!!!!!!!!! dying from hunger, disease and a lack of medical care.
Since then, 3.65 million people have been internally displaced
The worst cholera outbreak ever recorded has infected 2.26 million !!!!!! and cost nearly 4,000 lives (Even so this number is just the official account.)
Attacks on hospitals, clinics by Saudis & Co. have led to the closure of more than half of Yemen's prewar facilities.

The policies of the USA and much of the entire WEST are deeply implicated in Yemen's suffering, through the sale of billions of dollars in munitions to Saudi Arabia and other countries that have intervened in the civil war.

Harold Smith , says: Show Comment June 1, 2020 at 7:03 pm GMT

"If Trump sent in military troops on his own the press would call it unconstitutional."

Since when has the constitution or any law – or anyone citing them – been an obstacle to the evil orange clown?

If he can commit war crimes in Syria and illegally seize Syrian oilfields and seize Russian and Venezuelan diplomatic property, etc., he can send in military troops or whatever he feels like doing. He was accused of abusing his office and acquitted. He can do whatever he pleases.

[Jun 01, 2020] Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov "We Have No Trust, No Confidence Whatsoever" in America by Jacob Heilbrunn

May 29, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

TNI editor Jacob Heilbrunn interviews Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov about the New START Treaty and the state of U.S.-Russia relations.

Jacob Heilbrunn : What is your assessment of the state of U.S.-Russia relations?

Sergei Ryabkov : The current state of our bilateral relations is probably worse than we have experienced for decades preceding this current moment. I don't want to compare this with Cold War times because that era was different from what we have now -- in some ways, more predictable; in some ways, more dangerous. From Moscow's perspective, the Trump era is worrying because we move from one low point to another, and as the famous Polish thinker Jerzy Lec said once, "We thought we had reached the ground, and then someone knocked from beneath."

This is exactly how things happen today. We try hard to improve the situation through different proposals in practically all areas that pull Moscow and Washington apart. It doesn't happen. We recognize that everything that is associated with Russia policy is now quite problematic, to put it mildly -- quite toxic for the U.S. mainstream in the broader sense of the word. But the only answer to this, we believe, is to intensify dialogue and search for ways that both governments, businesses -- structures that impact the general mood of the public -- maintain and probably deepen their interaction and discourse so as to remove possible misunderstandings or grounds for miscalculations.

One of the most troubling areas in this very dark and dull picture is of course arms control. There we see a downward spiral that is being systematically enhanced and intensified by the U.S. government. It looks like America doesn't believe in arms control as a concept altogether. Instead, it tries to find pretexts to depart from as many arms control treaties, agreements, and arrangements that Russia is also a party to. This is very regrettable. But make no mistake: we will not pay any price higher than the one we would pay for our own security in order to save something or keep the U.S. within this system. It's squarely and straightforwardly the choice that the American government may or, in our view, even should make -- because we still think that the maintenance of these agreements ultimately serves American national interests.

Heilbrunn : What is your view of the Trump administration's approach to the START Treaty?

Ryabkov : I can easily say that the Trump administration's approach to the START Treaty is quite strange. Number one: we understand the reasons why the Trump administration wants China to become a party to any future arms control talks or arrangements -- although we equally understand the reasons why China doesn't want to be part of these agreements, and thus we believe that it's up to Washington to deal with Beijing on this issue. And in the absence of a very clear and open and considered consent from the other side -- that is, from China -- there would be no talks with China or with China's participation. That's an obvious reality that we face.

So the next element of this logic brings us to the natural conclusion that it would be in everyone's interest just to extend what we have now -- that is, a new START in the form as it was signed and subsequently ratified -- and then defer contentious issues and unresolved problems, including the one that is associated with U.S. non-compliance with this treaty, to a later point. An eventual extension of the treaty for five more years would give sufficient time to both Washington and Moscow, and eventually for others, to consider the situation and make decisions not in a hurry but with due regard to all aspects and to the gravity of the challenges before us, including those associated with new military technologies. But again, we are not there to trade this approach for anything on the U.S. side, to get something from the U.S. side in return. I think it's quite logical and natural as it stands, so we invite the U.S. to consider what we are telling them at face value.

Heilbrunn: Traditionally, Russia has worked well with Republican administrations starting with Nixon. Is that era at an end?

Ryabkov: I don't know. It completely depends on the U.S. We do believe that irrespective of what party is in the government in the U.S., there are choices; there are opportunities; and there are possibilities that at least should be explored with Russia. I don't know if this administration regards Russia as a party worth having a serious dialogue with. I tend to believe it's not because of domestic political reasons, because of different approaches to matters that are quite obvious at least for us, including the international system of treaties and international law in general.

But then again, it may well be so that the current Republican administration will in effect become a line in history in which a considerable number of useful international instruments were abrogated and that America exited them in the anticipation that this approach would serve U.S. interests better. Having said that, I will never say or never suggest that it was for us -- at least in the mid-2010s -- better with the previous administration.

It was under the previous Obama administration that endless rounds of sanctions were imposed upon Russia. That was continued under Trump. The pretext for that policy is totally rejected by Russia as an invalid and illegal one. The previous administration, weeks before it departed, stole Russian property that was protected by diplomatic immunity, and we are still deprived of this property by the Trump administration. We have sent 350 diplomatic notes to both the Obama and the Trump administrations demanding the return of this property, only to see an endless series of rejections. It is one of the most vivid and obvious examples of where we are in our relationship.

There is no such thing as "which administration is better for Russia in the U.S.?" Both are bad, and this is our conclusion after more than a decade of talking to Washington on different topics.

Heilbrunn: Given the dire situation you portray, do you believe that America has become a rogue state?

Ryabkov: I wouldn't say so, that's not our conclusion. But the U.S. is clearly an entity that stands for itself, one that creates uncertainty for the world. America is a source of trouble for many international actors. They are trying to find ways to protect and defend themselves from this malign and malicious policy of America that many of the people around the world believe should come to an end, hopefully in the near future.

Heilbrunn : If President Trump were to respond to your last point, he might say, "What's wrong with uncertainty from the American perspective? What's wrong with keeping your adversaries off balance? Why should the U.S. be a predictable power?" What would your response be to that?

Ryabkov : My response to this would be that we are not asking the U.S. to be a responsible and predictable partner because we don't believe it would be possible any time soon. We are saying that this is a reality that we all face, and thus we only adjust our own reaction and our own response to it trying the best way possible to protect our own interests.

Heilbrunn : Related to that, and on the START Treaty, a Trump administration State Department official recently announced that the U.S. was ready, essentially, to bury Russia, to spend it into the ground in a new arms race just as it had in the 1980s.

Ryabkov : To bring it into oblivion.

Heilbrunn : Right. What is your response to those kinds of threats?

Ryabkov : There is no response. We just take note of it, and we draw our lessons from the past. We will never, ever allow anyone to draw us into an arms race that would exceed our own capabilities. But we will find ways how to sustain this pressure, both in terms of rhetoric and also in terms of possible action.

Heilbrunn : What does this kind of rhetoric imply for the future of an extension of the START Treaty? Doesn't it suggest that the treaty may in fact already be doomed and that the Trump administration is using China as a poison pill to kill the treaty altogether?

Ryabkov : On China, I think the U.S. administration is obsessed with the issue, and it tries to introduce "Chinese discourse" into every single international issue at the table. So it's not about the START Treaty. It's much broader, deeper, and it's by far more multifaceted than anything that relates to arms control as such. My view on this is that chances for the new START Treaty to be sustained are rapidly moving close to zero, and I think that on February 5, 2021, this treaty will just lapse, and it will end. We will have no START as of February 6, 2021.

Heilbrunn : Do you feel the American stance toward Russia is inadvertently helping to promote a Russia-China rapprochement that is actually not in Washington's interest?

Ryabkov : We don't think we can operate on the premise that because of some pressure or some external impact on us, something happens in terms of the evolution of priorities or approaches to China or to anyone else. We don't believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing than to many, many other things. And we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further. Heilbrunn : The U.S. is pushing very hard against China right now, at least rhetorically. China has vowed to smash any Taiwanese move toward independence and looks to be cracking down in Hong Kong as well. Do you see this as another instance where American overt bellicosity ends up boomeranging and pushing its adversaries to take more drastic measures?

Ryabkov : Of course, it's not possible for me to judge what China will do in those cases or in those instances, but I do think that every single area where the U.S. believes there is an opportunity to pressure China is being currently used in a most energetic and most forceful manner. I think it clearly entails a further growth of uncertainty in international relations. I still hope though that at some point, the natural instinct to talk and agree and conclude deals will prevail rather than this ongoing effort to squeeze something out of others -- not only China, but Russia and others who tend to follow their independent policy from America.

Heilbrunn : In this regard, when it comes to Russia -- because you see the U.S. as trying to increase the pressure on Russia as well -- do you draw a distinction between President Trump and his administration, or do you see them as aligned in their approach toward Russia? Because during the 2016 election campaign, Trump was explicit about trying to revive the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Ryabkov : No, I see no lines anywhere. I see no distinction, as you have described. Moreover, I see no distinction between the previous administration and this one.

Heilbrunn : Let me put it another way: what about differences between Trump and his own advisers? Do you think Trump himself is inclined to take a more diplomatic route, or do you think that U.S.-Russia policy is being driven by him?

Ryabkov : I don't know who drives U.S. policy toward Russia. We welcome any signal from the Americans, including from the President himself in favor of improvement, in favor of going along, and we are prepared to bear our share in this. But unfortunately, it doesn't work. And I suspect to some extent that it's also my own fear that in my modest position, I was not able to offer anything to my bosses that may help to change things for the better.

Heilbrunn : Final question: do you think that matters, at least in the area of arms control, would change under a Biden presidency? Because the Democrats are much more sympathetic to arms control agreements than Republicans currently appear to be. What's your take?

Ryabkov : I have no idea how things will unfold in relation to the forthcoming election in the U.S. No predictions, no expectations. I do think, though, that it would be very late in the process for any administration -- including the second Trump administration if he is reelected -- to deal with the issue of a new START extension after the day of elections in America. I think more broadly that the current, almost one-hundred percent watertight anti-Russian bipartisan consensus in the U.S. doesn't promise much good for this relationship for the future, irrespective of who wins the next election. So we will see. We will continuously work hard to try to devise alternative paths forward, but we have no partner on the American side.

Sergei Ryabkov is Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.

[Jun 01, 2020] Reminiscence of the Future... Non-Agreement Capable, Or Agreement Incapable, Or...

Jun 01, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 Non-Agreement Capable, Or Agreement Incapable, Or... Agreement-unworthy, or.... I didn't find many English-language report on Putin's last week interview on this issue:

"You know, Obama is no longer president, but there are certain things we don't talk about publicly," Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin as saying to Stone. "In any case, I can say that our agreements reached in [a] telephone conversation were not fulfilled by the American side," Putin said, declining to go further into details.
We knew this all along, didn't we? It is not just about personalities, however repulsive in his narcissism and lack of statesmanship Obama was. It is systemic, no matter who comes to power to the Oval Office--it will make no difference. No difference, whatsoever. What is known as US power (political) elite has been on the downward spiral for some time and, in some sense, the whole Epstein affair with serious pedophilia charges, not to mention an unspeakable slap on the wrist in which this well-connected pervert was let go ten years ago, is just one of many indications of a complete moral and cognitive decomposition of this so called "elite" which continues to provide one after another specimens of human depravity. Remarkably, as much as I always feel nauseated when seeing GOPers, it is impossible to hide the fact that Epstein's clients in their majority are mostly associated with putrid creatures from the so called "left", with Bill Clinton featuring prominently in the company of this pervert.
There were some attempts to even conceive a possibility of somehow "progressives" and "conservatives" getting together in their condemnation of this heinous crime (yeah, yeah, I know, Presumption of Innocence).
Now back to Epstein. If we learn that he was actually running something called the "Lolita Express," that would be a signal that prosecutors have a lot of work to do, rounding up the pedophile joyriders. So it was interesting on July 6 to see Christine Pelosi, daughter of the House speaker, posting a stern tweet: "This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice. It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may -- whether on Republicans or Democrats." So we can see: the younger Pelosi wants one standard -- a standard that applies to all.
Doesn't it sound wonderful, warm and fuzzy, or too good to be true? It sure does, because, as much as most American elite "conservatives" are not really conservatives, what passes as "progressive" in the United States is PRIMARILY based on sexual deviancy, including implicit promotion of pedophilia by "intellectual class", and "environmental" agenda, period! Everything else is secondary. Those who think that actual conservatism (not a caricature it is known in the United States) has anything to discuss with the so called "progressives"--they unwittingly support this very "progressive" cause which, in its very many manifestations, is a realization of the worst kind of suppression of many millennia old natural, including biological, order of things and, in the end, elimination of normality as such--a future even Orwell would have had difficulty describing.
Of course, Pinkerton gets some flashes of common sense, when states that:
Most likely, a true solution will have "conservative" elements, as in social and cultural norming, and "liberal" elements, as in higher taxes on city slickers coupled with conscious economic development for the proletarians and for the heartland. Only with these economic and governmental changes can we be sure that it's possible to have a nice life in Anytown, safely far away from beguiling pleasuredomes.
Well, he puts it very crudely, but I see where he is at least trying to get it from. I will add, until nation, as in American nation, recognizes itself as a nation, as people who have common history, culture and mission, thus, inevitably producing this aforementioned healthy social and cultural norming--no amount of wishful thinking or social-economic doctrine-mongering will help. There is no United States without European-keen, white Christian, heterosexual folk, both with acutely developed sense of both masculinity and femininity, period. But this is precisely the state of the affairs which American "progressives" are fighting against; this is the state of the affairs which they must destroy be that by imposition of suffocating political correctness, the insanity of multi-gender and LGBT totalitarianism, or by criminal opening of the borders to anyone, who, in the end, will vote for the Democratic Party. You cannot negotiate with such people. In the end, WHO is going to negotiate? A cowardly, utterly corrupt, current GOPers and geriatric remnants of Holy Reaganites? Really? Ask how many of them are Mossad assets and are in the pockets of rich Israeli-firsters and Gulfies?
True "Left" economics, which seeks more just distribution (not re-distribution) of wealth, based on a fusion of economic models and types of property, cannot exist within cultural liberal paradigm of "privileged" minorities, be them racial or sexual ones, aided by massive grievance-generating machine--it is not going to last. Both economic and social normality can exist ONLY within cohesive nation and that, due to activity on both nominal sides (in reality it is the same) of American political spectrum, has been utterly destroyed. The mechanism of this destruction is rather simple and it comes down, in the end, to the, pardon my French, number of ass-holes populating unit-volume (density, that is) of political space in America. It goes without saying that such a density in the US reached deadly toxic levels, and Russiagate coup, Epstein's Affair, or the parade of POTUSes with the maturity levels of high school kids are just numerous partial manifestations of what one can characterize as the end of the rope. After all, who would be making any agreements with representatives of the system which is rotting and decomposing?
Paul Craig Roberts penned today a good piece: The Obituary for Western Civilization Can Now be Written . I have to disagree somewhat with PCR's one assertion:
Europeans Are as Dumbshit as Americans
I would pause a little here. Yes and no. Here is Colonel Wilkerson who talks about both wealth (starts roughly at 14:00) and about other very important strategic and operational fact: overwhelming majority of weapons on hands today are among those who either support Trump openly or simply had it with system in general.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kZA2yIFkhKg/0.jpg
And here is the issue: my bets are on people with military backgrounds, who had first hand experience with military organization (standard manuals, combat manuals et al) and have operational and command experience in their conflict with American Social Justice Warriors (you know--"progressives") and other openly terrorist "progressive" organizations such as Antifa. At least ruined Portland started to do something about it . Is there any real left left in the US? And I don't mean this a-hole Bernie Sanders.

And here is my rephrasing of Tolstoy's conclusion to War and Peace: there are too many ass-holes in American politics today , very many of them being so called "progressives" . This number must be reduced by all legal means today, and if American ass-holes can work together terrorizing majority of good, not ass-hole people, what's precluding those good people to work together? Nothing, except for the rotting corpse of GOP which had audacity to call itself "conservative". If not, all is lost and we do not want to live in the world which will come. And the guns will start speaking.

UPDATE : 07/11/19

Oh goody, do they read me or is it one of those moments when, in Lenin's description of Revolutionary Situation, economic slogans transform into political ones? Evidently Catholic Conservative Michael Warren speaks in unison with Lenin and me, with both me and Warren certainly not being Marxists or "communists". Here is what Warren has to say today:

Whew. Now I get why people become communists. Not the new-wave, gender-fluid, pink-haired Trots, of course. Nor the new far Left, which condemns child predators like Epstein out one side of its mouth while demanding sympathy for pedophiles out the other. No: I mean the old-fashioned, blue-collar, square-jawed Stalinists. I mean the guy with eight fingers and 12 kids who saw photos of the annual Manhattan debutantes' ball, felt the rumble in his stomach, and figured he may as well eat the rich. Of course, we know where that leads us. For two centuries, conservatives have tried to dampen the passions that led France to cannibalize herself circa 1789. Nevertheless, those passions weren't illegitimate -- they were just misdirected. Only an Englishman like Edmund Burke could have referred to the reign of Louis XIV as "the age of chivalry." Joseph de Maistre spoke for real French conservatives when he said the decadent, feckless aristocracy deserved to be guillotined. The problem is, Maistre argued, there was no one more suitable to succeed them.
It is a very loaded statement. It is also not an incorrect one. It is also relevant to what I preach for years, decades really, that history of the so called "communism" in USSR was a conservative history--a transition from depravity and corruption of Russian Imperial "elites" to what resulted in the mutated nationalism of sorts in late 1930s and led to the defeat of Nazism, historically unprecedented restoration of the destroyed country and then breaking out into space. But that is a separate story--in USSR, as it is the case in Russia today, sexual perversion and deviancy are not looked at lightly. Nor are, in general, "liberal values" which are precisely designed to end up with the legitimization of pedophilia--a long held, and hidden, desire of Western "elites" . Guess why such an obsession with, realistically, literary mediocrity of Nabokov's Lolita by Western moneyed and "intellectual" class. Who in their own mind, unless one is a forensic psychiatrist or detective, would be interested in such a topic, not to mention writing a book on it, not to mention a variety of Hollywood and, in general, Western cinematography artsy class making scores of Lolita movies? Each time I read Lolita, in both Russian and English, I felt an urgent desire to take a shower after reading this concoction. I guess, I am not "sophisticated" enough to recognize appeals of this type of "art". As Warren notes:
Yes: those passions are legitimate. We should feel contempt for our leaders when we discover that two presidents cavorted with Epstein, almost certainly aware that he preyed on minors. We should feel disgust at the mere possibility that Pope Francis rehabilitated Theodore McCarrick. And we should be furious that these injustices haven't even come close to being properly redressed. This is how revolutions are born. America is reaching the point where, 200 years ago, a couple French peasants begin eyeing the Bastille. The question is, can conservatives channel that outrage into serious reform before it's too late? Can we call out the fetid, decadent elites within our own ranks ? Are we prepared to hold our own "faves" to account -- even Trump himself? Alas, it's only a matter of time until we find out.
In this, I, essentially an atheist, and a conservative Catholic, are speaking in the same voice.

[Jun 01, 2020] This is one war party -- war party, imperial party of militarism, conquest and killing of civilians

Highly recommended!
Jun 01, 2020 | www.antiwar.com

Antiwar.com contributing editor Danny Sjursen appeared for an extensive interview with Jimmy Dore:

https://youtu.be/VfmWC1bYUrc

[May 31, 2020] We Are Combat Vets, and We Want America to Reboot Memorial Day by Matthew Hoh and Danny Sjursen

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In recent years, U.S. troops were killed not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger. Few Americans could locate these countries on a map; fewer knew its soldiers fought there. Additionally, Pentagon pilots and proxies killed people in Libya, Pakistan, and elsewhere in West Africa without losing a single soldier. ..."
"... The campaigns in Somalia and Yemen best expose the absurd casualty inequity of modern American warfare. In the former, only a few U.S. service members have been killed in an 18-year intervention. Conversely, hundreds of thousands of Somalis died or were displaced as a direct or indirect result (an exacerbated famine , for example) of a largely U.S.-catalyzed war. In Yemen, just one American soldier died in combat, compared to more than 100,000 locals -- including 85,000 children starved to death -- in a terror campaign the Saudis couldn't wage without U.S. complicity . ..."
"... With unemployment sky-rocketing to Great Depression rates, and income inequality at Gilded Age levels , both holidays now "celebrate" egregious blood and treasure disparity. For example, sifting through the Department of Labor's statistics reveals that some 8,000 contractors have been killed in America's war zones. That outnumbers U.S. military fatalities. Since Washington has progressively privatized and outsourced its wars, perhaps Americans should also observe a Mercenary Memorial Day. ..."
"... Faced with unrecognizable brands of war, most people substitute nostalgia and myth. Grappling with war's reality has implications that are too disturbing. Far simpler and more satisfying is to commemorate long past sacrifices at Normandy and Iwo Jima, rather than more confounding losses in Niger and Iraq. The temptation persists even as the last World War II veterans pass; old notions of what combat is ..."
"... The United States has lost its ethical and strategic way. Riddled with a virus that has now killed more Americans than the Revolutionary, Mexican, Spanish, Indian, Philippine, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghan Wars combined , this nation requires serious soul-searching. Reimagining its bookended summer celebrations might be a good start; but it won't be easy. ..."
May 25, 2020 | www.motherjones.com

Pandemic or no, resilient Americans will celebrate Memorial Day together. Be it through Zoom or spaced six feet apart from ten or less loved ones at backyard cookouts, folks will find a way. In these peculiar gatherings, is it still considered cynical to wonder if people will spare much actual thought for American soldiers still dying abroad -- or question the utility of America's forever wars? Etiquette aside, we think it's obscene not to.

Just as the coronavirus has exposed systemic rot, this moment also reveals how obsolete common conceptions of U.S. warfare truly are -- raising core questions about the holiday devoted to its sacrifices. The truth is that today's " way of war " is so abstract, distant, and short on (at least American) casualties as to be nearly invisible to the public. With little to show for it, Washington still directs bloody global campaigns, killing thousands of locals. America has no space on its calendar to memorialize these victims: even the children among them.

"Just as the coronavirus exposed much internal systemic rot, this moment also reveals how obsolete common conceptions of U.S. warfare truly are."

Eighteen years ago, as a cadet and young marine officer, we celebrated the first post-9/11 Memorial Day -- both brimming with enthusiasm for the wars we knew lay ahead. In the intervening decades, for individual yet strikingly similar reasons, we ultimately chose paths of dissent. Since then, we've penned critical editorials around Memorial Days. These challenged the wars' prospects , questioned the efficacy of the volunteer military, and encouraged citizens to honor the fallen by creating fewer of them.

Little has changed, except how America fights. But that's the point: outsourcing combat to machines, mercenaries, and militias rendered war so opaque that Washington wages it absent public oversight or awareness -- and empathy. That's the formula for forever war.

In recent years, U.S. troops were killed not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger. Few Americans could locate these countries on a map; fewer knew its soldiers fought there. Additionally, Pentagon pilots and proxies killed people in Libya, Pakistan, and elsewhere in West Africa without losing a single soldier.

The campaigns in Somalia and Yemen best expose the absurd casualty inequity of modern American warfare. In the former, only a few U.S. service members have been killed in an 18-year intervention. Conversely, hundreds of thousands of Somalis died or were displaced as a direct or indirect result (an exacerbated famine , for example) of a largely U.S.-catalyzed war. In Yemen, just one American soldier died in combat, compared to more than 100,000 locals -- including 85,000 children starved to death -- in a terror campaign the Saudis couldn't wage without U.S. complicity .

No one wants to see American troops killed, but a death disparity so stark stretches classic definitions of combat. Yet for locals, it likely feels a whole lot like "real" war on the business end of U.S. bombs and bullets.

So this year, given the stark reality that even a deadly pandemic -- and pleas for global ceasefire -- hasn't slowed Washington's war machine, it's reasonable to question the very concept of Memorial Day. There are also important parallels with Labor Day -- the holiday bookend to today's seasonal kick off. Just as memorializing America's obscenely lopsided battle deaths is increasingly indecent, a federal holiday devoted to a labor movement the government has aggressively eviscerated is deeply troubling.

With unemployment sky-rocketing to Great Depression rates, and income inequality at Gilded Age levels , both holidays now "celebrate" egregious blood and treasure disparity. For example, sifting through the Department of Labor's statistics reveals that some 8,000 contractors have been killed in America's war zones. That outnumbers U.S. military fatalities. Since Washington has progressively privatized and outsourced its wars, perhaps Americans should also observe a Mercenary Memorial Day.

Widening the aperture unveils thousands more "non-combat" -- but war-related -- uniformed deaths in desperate need of memorializing. From 2006-2018 alone , 3,540 active-duty service members took their own lives -- just a fraction of the 15-20 daily veteran suicides -- and another 640 died in accidents involving substance-abuse. Each death is unique, but studies demonstrate that the combined effects of PTSD and moral injury -- these wars' " signature wound " -- contributed to this massive loss of life. On a personal level, at least four soldiers under our commands took their own lives, as have several friends. These are real folks who left behind real loved ones.

Faced with unrecognizable brands of war, most people substitute nostalgia and myth. Grappling with war's reality has implications that are too disturbing. Far simpler and more satisfying is to commemorate long past sacrifices at Normandy and Iwo Jima, rather than more confounding losses in Niger and Iraq. The temptation persists even as the last World War II veterans pass; old notions of what combat is die with them.

The United States has lost its ethical and strategic way. Riddled with a virus that has now killed more Americans than the Revolutionary, Mexican, Spanish, Indian, Philippine, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghan Wars combined , this nation requires serious soul-searching. Reimagining its bookended summer celebrations might be a good start; but it won't be easy.

In a new take on an old tradition, perhaps it's proper to not only pack away the whites, but don black as a memorial to a republic in peril.

Matthew Hoh is a member of the advisory boards of Expose Facts, Veterans For Peace and World Beyond War. He previously served in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and contributing editor at antiwar.com . He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at West Point. He is the author of a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge .

[May 30, 2020] Cutting our excessive defense budget post-COVID-19 will be difficult. Here's how to do it by Gordon Adams

Sound like wishful thinking. Looks like cutting US military budget is impossible as "Full spectrum Dominance" doctrine is still in place and neocons are at the helm of the USA foreign policy. COVID-19 or not COVID-19.
May 29, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

The other day an aerospace industry analyst asked me whether I thought the defense budget would start to go down, courtesy of the huge cost of dealing with the pandemic and the massive deficits the nation faces. I said it was unlikely and he agreed.

This is not the conventional wisdom in DC. Some national security analysts and advocates for higher defense budgets have warned that the defense budget is now under siege . Critics of the Pentagon and its spending are equally convinced that the pandemic opens the door to necessary, deep, sensible cuts in defense in order to fund the mountain of debt and take care of pressing needs for income, employment, health care, global warming, and other major threats to the well-being of Americans.

Whatever the nation's strategy, critics argue, the pandemic has changed the face of the threat to America. COVID-19 is an invisible, lethal threat to human security, a viral neutron bomb that spares buildings but kills their occupants.

Congress has appropriated more than 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, so far, to cope with this threat. Additional funds for the military, ironically, have become a "rounding error" in this spending -- little more than $10 billion of the more than $4 trillion appropriated to date. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned about the likelihood of defense cuts and wanted more funds for the Pentagon, but Rep. Adam Smith, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee said there was no way defense would get more funds through the pandemic bills.

So it looks bad for defense, and good for the advocates of cuts. But not so fast. Yes, it is true; history shows that defense budgets do decline. It happens, predictably, when we get out of a war – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War. Even when we left Iraq in 2011, the budget went down.

There is a secret ingredient in defense budget reductions: they seem to happen, as well, when the politics of deficit reduction appear. Defense also declined after Korea because a fiscal conservative, Eisenhower, was in office, with five virtual stars on his shoulders, making it possible to put a lid on the budgetary appetites of the services.

In fact, in 1985, well before the end of the Cold War, Congress, focused on the deficit, passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, which was then was reinforced in the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act that set hard spending limits on domestic and defense spending. It had to cover both parts of discretionary spending or Congress could not agree. It was 17 years before the defense budget began to rise .

Put the end of war together with a dollop of deficit reduction and defense budgets will go down. They become the caboose, rather than the engine, of the budgetary train. But beware of what you ask for. The price of constraints on defense has been constraints on domestic spending, as the nation has learned over the past three decades. In fact, the Budget Control Act of 2011 constrained domestic spending, while allowing defense to escape almost unscathed, thanks to war supplementals.

When attention shifts to debates over priorities and deficits, it opens the door to a real discussion about defense. But they do not ensure cuts. While the military services may not see their appetite for real growth of 3-5 percent fulfilled, it is unlikely to decline very much.

There is a floor under the defense budget. But you need to change the level of analysis to see it and look at who actually makes defense budget decisions and why they make the decisions they do. It's about something I called the "Iron Triangle."

We all like to think that strategy drives defense budgets. For the most part, however, defense decisions are made inside a political system involving constant, relatively closed interaction between the military services, the Congress, and the community and industry beneficiaries of defense spending.

In outline, budget planners in the military services start with last year's budget and graft on new funds, rarely giving up a program, a mission, or part of the force. This dynamic points the budgets upwards over time. Secretaries and under-secretaries work to add preferences and projects, like national missile defense, to the services' budget plans. On top of that, presidents have made promises, adding such things as bomber funds (Reagan) and space forces (Trump) the services do not want.

Then there is the second leg of the triangle: Congress. For all their efforts to cut Pentagon waste, progressive members do not drive defense decisions in the Congress. The defense authorizers and appropriators do. The associated committees are dominated by defense spending advocates, deeply interested in the outcomes, encouraged by industry campaign contributions and community lobbying. These outside interests are the third leg of the triangle. Contracts and community-based impacts give them a deep stake in the outcomes.

This system is not a conspiracy; it is a visible part of American politics, similar in shape to the players in farm price supports or health care policy. But it is a system that operates somewhat separately from and parallel to the politics of deficit reduction and has a major impact on the content and levels of the defense budget. And its work bakes a kind of sclerosis into efforts to have a broader debate over spending priorities.

The politics of the Iron Triangle will set limits on the defense budget debate making deep cuts unlikely. So what might be the options to end-run this system? Politics, of course. If the advocates of deeper defense reductions want to change America's spending and budgeting priorities, they will need to join forces with advocates of a "new, new deal" in America -- one that would put priority on the national health system, infrastructure investment, climate change, immigration, and educational reform. Only a very large, very deep coalition has a chance of overcoming the inertia imposed by the Iron Triangle.

And that coalition will need to focus on Joe Biden. The president is the key actor here, particularly at the start of an administration. As Bill Clinton learned, the first months are critical to changing overall budget priorities, before the departments, including Defense, can begin the Iron Triangle dance.

Even then, major cuts in defense budgets are an uphill fight. The opening for a broader priorities debate has been provided by the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcome depends significantly on bringing this kind of focus to actions over the next seven months.

[May 29, 2020] A huge portion of the Pentagon's budget goes toward preparing for war with China -- and, frankly, provoking war as well.

May 29, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the Pentagon continues to demand the lion's share of the U.S. budget. It wants another $705 billion for 2021, after increasing its budget by 20 percent between 2016 and 2020.

This appalling waste of government resources has already caused long-term damage to the economic competitiveness of the United States. But it's all the money the Pentagon is spending on "deterring China" that might prove more devastating in the short term.

The U.S. Navy announced this month that it was sending its entire forward-deployed sub fleet on "contingency response operations" as a warning to China. Last month, the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Strike Group sailed into the South China Sea to support Malaysia's oil exploration in an area that China claims. Aside from the reality that oil exploration makes no economic sense at a time of record low oil prices, the United States should be helping the countries bordering the South China Sea come to a fair resolution of their disputes, not throwing more armaments at the problem.

There's also heightened risk of confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and even in outer space . A huge portion of the Pentagon's budget goes toward preparing for war with China -- and, frankly, provoking war as well.

What does this all have to do with the Great Disentanglement?

The close economic ties between the United States and China have always represented a significant constraint on military confrontation. Surely the two countries would not risk grievous economic harm by coming to blows. Economic cooperation also provides multiple channels for resolving conflicts and communicating discontent. The United States and Soviet Union never had that kind of buffer.

If the Great Disentanglement goes forward, however, then the two countries have less to lose economically in a military confrontation. Trading partners, of course, sometimes go to war with one another. But as the data demonstrates , more trade generally translates into less war.

There are lots and lots of problems in the U.S.-China economic relationship. But they pale in comparison to World War III.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus , where this article originally appeared.

[May 28, 2020] US Public Remain the Tacit Accomplice in America's Dead End Wars Common Dreams Views by Andrew Bacevich

May 25, 2020 | www.commondreams.org
by Los Angeles Times US Public Remain the Tacit Accomplice in America's Dead End Wars Honor the fallen, but not every war they were sent to fight by Andrew Bacevich 19 Comments A U.S. soldier fires an anti-tank rocket during a live-fire exercise in Zabul province, Afghanistan, in July 2010. (Photo: U.S. Army /flickr/cc) Not least among the victims claimed by the coronavirus pandemic was a poetry recital that was to have occurred in March at a theater in downtown Boston.

I had been invited to read aloud a poem, and I chose "On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines," written in 1899 by William Vaughn Moody (1869-1910). You are unlikely to have heard of the poet or his composition. Great literature, it is not. Yet its message is memorable.

The subject of Moody's poem is death, a matter today much on all our minds. It recounts the coming home of a nameless American soldier, killed in the conflict commonly but misleadingly known as the Philippine Insurrection.

In 1898, U.S. troops landed in Manila to oust the Spanish overlords who had ruled the Philippines for more than three centuries. They accomplished this mission with the dispatch that a later generation of U.S. forces demonstrated in ousting regimes in Kabul and Baghdad. Yet as was the case with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars of our own day, real victory proved elusive.

Back in Washington, President McKinley decided that having liberated the Philippines, the United States would now keep them. The entire archipelago of several thousand islands was to become an American colony.

McKinley's decision met with immediate disfavor among Filipinos. To oust the foreign occupiers, they mounted an armed resistance. A vicious conflict ensued, one that ultimately took the lives of 4,200 American soldiers and at least 200,000 Filipinos. In the end, however, the United States prevailed.

Denying Filipino independence was the cause for which the subject of Moody's poem died.

Long since forgotten by Americans, the war to pacify the Philippines generated in its day great controversy. Moody's poem is an artifact of that controversy. In it, he chastises those who perform the rituals of honoring the fallen while refusing to acknowledge the dubious nature of the cause for which they fought. "Toll! Let the great bells toll," he writes,

Till the clashing air is dim,
Did we wrong this parted soul?
We will make it up to him.
Toll! Let him never guess
What work we sent him to.
Laurel, laurel, yes.
He did what we bade him do.
Praise, and never a whispered hint
but the fight he fought was good;

In actuality, the fight was anything but good. It was ill-advised and resulted in great evil. "On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines" expresses a demand for reckoning with that evil. Americans of Moody's generation rejected that demand, just as Americans today balk at reckoning with the consequences of our own ill-advised wars.

Yet the imperative persists. "O banners, banners here," Moody concludes,

That he doubt not nor misgive!
That he heed not from the tomb
The evil days draw near
When the nation robed in gloom
With its faithless past shall strive.
Let him never dream that his bullet's scream
went wide of its island mark,
Home to the heart of his darling land
where she stumbled and sinned in the dark.

At the end of the 19th century, the United States stumbled and sinned in the dark by waging a misbegotten campaign to advance nakedly imperial ambitions. At the beginning of the 21st century, new wars became the basis of comparable sin. The war of Moody's time and the wars of our own have almost nothing in common except this: In each instance, through their passivity disguised as patriotism, the American people became tacitly complicit in wrongdoing committed in their name.

It is no doubt too glib by half to claim that today, besieged by a virus, we are reaping the consequences caused by our refusal to reckon with past sins. Yet it is not too glib to argue that the need for such a reckoning remains. Have we wronged the departed souls of those who died -- indeed, are still dying -- in Afghanistan and Iraq? The question cries out for an answer. In our cacophonous age, it just might be that we will find that answer in poetry.

Andrew Bacevich Andrew J. Bacevich , a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, is the author of America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History , which has just been published by Random House. He is also editor of the book, The Short American Century (Harvard Univ. Press) , and author of several others, including: Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country (American Empire Project) ; Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War , The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War , The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project) , and The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II . © 2019 Los Angeles Times

[May 26, 2020] America, Kissinger, and the Overexpansion Trap by Daniel Larison

May 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As a general rule, the more that hawks harp on the need to preserve U.S. "credibility," the weaker their argument for armed aggression.

We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America," George W. Bush said in a 2007 speech to the American Legion, in a labored defense of his disastrous foreign policy record.

This is one of the better-known and more ridiculous rationalizations for both the endless "war on terror" and for the Iraq war. The Bush administration conflated these two very different conflicts and pretended that an aggressive, illegal invasion of Iraq had something to do with defending the United States. There is absolutely no reason to think that having U.S. forces fighting in Iraq in 2003 or 2007 or 2020 has made Americans the least bit more secure, but this is the official line that we are still being fed today. Many of us could see long ago that this was false, but the toxic legacy of the myth that aggression brings security remains with us even now.

This myth that aggression brings security is certainly not unique to the U.S., but over the last several decades our government has been one of its most prominent promoters. It is the myth that has distorted our counterterrorism and counterproliferation policies for most of my lifetime, and it continues to provide fodder to advocates of preventive war against Iran, North Korea, and any other adversary that they think might possibly pose a threat in the distant future.

The practical consequences of believing this myth are overexpansion and overreach. Once you accept that your security is contingent on going on the offensive against potential threats, you begin to lose the ability to calculate costs and benefits rationally. Instead, you begin to see every nuisance as an intolerable menace. That encourages increasingly reckless and destructive policies as you lash out against anything and everything that you think might be a danger to you. As a result, you exhaust yourself, alienate your allies, and drive other states to band together to protect themselves from you. The U.S. has not quite reached that last stage, but it is heading in that direction.

Great powers fall into the trap of overexpansion again and again. These states make this costly error because they embrace myths that encourage them to fight in places that don't matter and to make commitments that they don't have to make. Even though expansion inflicts significant damage on the state that engages in it, advocates of aggressive policies never stop insisting that expansion brings security. The U.S. has been going through a period of overexpansion for almost twenty years, and the costs of continue to mount. At the same time, there is tremendous resistance in Washington to anything even resembling retrenchment.

Jack Snyder wrote the classic study of the myths behind great power overexpansion, Myths of Empire: Domestic Politics and International Ambition , thirty years ago. When he concluded his book, the Soviet Union still existed and he had some reason to believe that the United States had learned from its disastrous intervention in Vietnam. Snyder's work is arguably more relevant now than it was then. However, the last thirty years of U.S. foreign policy show that he was far too optimistic about the U.S. government's ability to learn from its past excesses and failures.

Snyder argued that "American intervention in the Vietnam War was a clear case of strategic overextension." He added that it is "difficult to explain in terms of any Realist criteria, judging either from hindsight or from information available at the time."

U.S. intervention in Vietnam was fueled by ideology and the misguided belief that U.S. "credibility" elsewhere would be jeopardized if the U.S. did not keep fighting there. This argument made no sense when it was made, and our allies at the time rejected it. As Snyder puts it, "American allies denied that American credibility was at stake in Vietnam, but American decision makers insisted that it was." As usual, the people invoking "credibility" then were just looking for an excuse to legitimize their reckless policy. It is a common claim put forward by promoters of empire, and it usually doesn't have the slightest connection to the real world.

That is why it is discouraging but also very revealing that a new study of Henry Kissinger by Barry Gewen essentially endorses Kissinger's preposterous rationalizations for continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the escalation of the war into neighboring Cambodia. According to John Farrell's review of The Inevitability of Tragedy , Gewen accepts the standard Cold War-era arguments for some of the worst policies of the Nixon administration:

He takes on the "war crimes" arraignments in chapters on Chile and Southeast Asia, concluding that the threat posed by Chilean socialism to hemispheric tranquillity generally absolved the United States for helping to foster a bloody coup, and that the Cold War necessity of preserving U.S. "credibility" and "prestige" justified Nixon's callous choice of four more years of war in Southeast Asia.

As a general rule, the more that hawks harp on the "need" to preserve "credibility," the weaker the argument for U.S. involvement in a conflict is. It is only when there are no obvious vital interests at stake that hawks are reduced to summoning the mystical spirits of reputation and resolve in a séance, and they do this because they have no other arguments left. The sad thing is that this mumbo-jumbo continues to hold sway in our foreign policy debates. It is used to override correct assessments of costs and benefits by pretending that the U.S. risks suffering an enormous loss if it "fails" to intervene in some strategic backwater. Yesterday, it was Vietnam, and today we hear much the same thing about Afghanistan.

There is no worse reason to fight a war than the preservation of supposed "credibility." For one thing, fighting an unnecessary war always does more damage to a nation's reputation and strength than avoiding it. Even if the U.S. managed to "win" such a war in a limited fashion, it would not be worth the losses incurred. There is virtually nothing more debilitating to a great power than an inability to extricate itself from a mistaken commitment. There is nothing more foolish than persisting in such a commitment when there is an opportunity to get out.

One of the themes of the new study of Kissinger is that tragedy is unavoidable in this world. That may be true as a general observation, but the terrible thing about continued U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was that it was entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, because of the ideological blinders of our leaders and the flaws of our political culture the war continued and expanded even further for many more years under Nixon. The U.S. was merely prolonging the inevitable by refusing to leave a war that it had no business fighting, and there was nothing realistic or wise about this.

When Snyder wrote Myths of Empire , he could plausibly argue that "America's 'imperial overstretch' has been moderate and self-correcting," but after almost two decades of continuous desultory warfare in Afghanistan and almost three decades of being engaged in hostilities in Iraq that verdict is no longer credible. Snyder was interested to explain both "America's Cold War penchant for limited overexpansion and also its ability to learn from its mistakes," but thirty years on there is no need to explain America's ability to learn from mistakes because it has almost completely atrophied.

If we were to update Myths of Empire today, we would have to say that the elements of democratic government that were supposed to protect the United States against the failings of other systems have been waning. The "more open debate on foreign policy issues" that Snyder found in the post-Vietnam era turned out to be narrower and more closed than he supposed. He concluded that "the use of myths of empire to justify the Gulf War shows that democratic scrutiny of strategic assertions is still needed."

What we have learned over the last thirty years is that Congress has mostly functioned as a willing rubber stamp for whatever the executive wants to do, and its scrutiny of presidential assertions about foreign threats is woefully lacking. It turns out that Snyder's judgment that "there was no overexpansion, no disproportion between strategic costs and benefits" after the Gulf War was premature. It was not evident in 1991, but we can see now that the costs of that intervention were much higher than they seemed at the time. The U.S. embarked then on what would prove to be a three-decade entanglement in the affairs of Iraq, and each time that there was a chance of extricating ourselves from it one president after another used the myths of empire to keep our forces there indefinitely.


Tradcon 12 days ago

I can think of no better way of building credibility than fighting embarrassingly long wars that leave the nations we fight in worse off and our actual enemies stronger, can't you?
Feral Finster 12 days ago
It's called an "excuse". Any excuse will do for a bully looking to start a fight.
L RNY 12 days ago
Maybe I am wrong but this is my opinion. The strongest warmongerers have been the neocons and the neoliberals (which in the case of foreign military intervention are interchangeable) who are closely linked with AIPAC and Isael. If the US has an existential threat then its usually plain for all to see but I will concede that the media has been politicized and does not present objective factual news to the public. As an example, Breitbart, Trump and others have been warning about China for decades but many politicians have major business dealings ( bribes, payoffs, business dealings for their son and relatives, etc) with China so they deflected to Russia whenever military or economic concerns about China could not be hushed up. It was reported long before BushII went into Iraq that the US and Israel had a plan for regime change in 7 middle eastern countries which has always led me to believe that our military interventionism in the middle east is not based on the US interest but in fact are proxy wars for US allies Israel / Saudi (and other middle east allies) intentions at regime change in Iran. This is where Kissinger should not be missed nor his supporters. It took a long time to switch the American consciousness away from Russia toward China. Identifying foreign lobbyists or lobbyists for a foreign country are easy because they must be disclosed to the Federal Govt. However, the US needs to take a close look at its domestic lobbies, its internal corruption, its internal conflicts of interest and its internal loyalties of those who are employees of the federal govt or have capabilities to influence decision making of the federal govt. It appears that we will never be able to extricate ourselves (ie USA) from foreign military intervention in the middle east as long as we have powerful and wealthy middle eastern allies using their influence to engage the US in proxy wars on its behalf.
TheSnark 12 days ago • edited
That author says: "you begin to see every nuisance as an intolerable menace".

That says it all.

kouroi 12 days ago
The polls, where the desires of hoi poloi are captured, consistently show that US "citizens" do not want military engagements and do not feel their security threatened all the time. Enjoy your oligarchical run Republic.
Alan Vanneman 11 days ago
Nothing Dan writes is without value, but I think he fails to recognize the extent to which policymakers are worried about, not the credibility of the U.S., but that of the "Establishment", of their own "right" to be in charge, to be important and to have vast resources at their disposal. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the "military-intellectual complex"--the Pentagon, the military suppliers, the intelligence community and its myriad of contractors, the various think tanks, etc.--have all been seeking an excuse for their continued existence. The real purpose of the invasion of Iraq was to create a ground for a massive US overseas military commitment to replace NATO as a source for funding and promotions. This enterprise has sadly dovetailed with the desires of the "Wilsonians" of the Democratic Party. The domestic scene, after all, is clotted and congested. There's so much more room to do good overseas! The strength of the Peace movement was significantly vitiated first by the end of the draft (shrewd move, Mr. Nixon!) and then by the end of the Cold War, for which Ronald Reagan deserved significant credit. Democrats proved sadly susceptible to treating the Defense budget as an unlimited pork barrel. Since the Republicans were buying, why not dig in? And, of course, pressure from AIPAC made voting for a "firm" policy in the Middle East a political no-brainer.

[May 24, 2020] Trump is mostly concerned with giving handouts to the MIC because he thinks "the economy" is based on jobs in the MIC since that is what they tell him is where US manufacturing is now based

May 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , May 23 2020 19:01 utc | 7

Trump is mostly concerned with giving handouts to the MIC because he thinks "the economy" is based on jobs in the MIC since that is what they tell him is where US manufacturing is now based.
Posted by: Kali | May 23 2020 18:16 utc | 2

To a degree, it is true. However, the problem with MIC as an economic stimulant is rather pitiful multiplier effect. For starters, the costs are hopelessly bloated. Under rather watchful Putin, Russia does its piece of arms race at a very small fraction of American costs. By the same token, pro-economy effects of arms spending in USA are seriously diluted -- the spending is surely there, but the extend of activity is debatable For example, in aerospace, there is a big potential for civilian applications of technologies developed for the military. Scant evidence in Boeing that should be a prime beneficiary. The fabled toilet seat (that cost many thousands of dollars) similarly failed to find civilian applications. Civilians inclined to overpriced toilets, like Mr. Trump himself, rely on low-tech methods like gold-plating.

A wider problem is shared by entire GOP: aversion to any government programs, and least of all industry promoting programs, that could benefit ordinary citizens. This is the exclusive domain of the free market! Once you refuse to consider that, only MIC remains, plus some boondogles like interstate highways. Heaven forfend to improve public transit or to repair almost-proverbial crumbling dams and bridges.


Charles D , May 23 2020 19:19 utc | 11

We have to ask cui bono - who benefits from a new nuclear arms race? General Electric, Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman et al. No one else really. Since these corporations also own the Congress and have zillions to fund Trump's re-election, they will probably get the go-ahead to spend the rest of the world into oblivion.
vk , May 23 2020 19:42 utc | 12
Apart from the obvious fact that the MIC is the only viable engine of propulsion of the American "real economy" (a.k.a. "manufacturing"), there's the more macabre fact that, if we take Trump's administration first military papers into consideration, it seems there's a growing coterie inside the Pentagon and the WH that firmly believes MAD can be broken vis-a-vis China.

Hence the "Prompt Global Strike" doctrine (which is taking form with the commission of the new B-21 "Raider" strategic bomber, won by Northrop Grumman), the rise of the concept of "tactical nukes" (hence the extinction of the START, and the Incirlik Base imbroglio post failed coup against Erdogan) and, most importantly, the new doctrine of "bringing manufacture back".

The USA is suffering from a structural valorization problem. The only way out is finding new vital space through which it can initiate a new cycle of valorization. The only significant vital space to be carved out in the 21st Century is China, with its 600 million-sized middle class (the world's largest middle class, therefore the world's largest potential consumer market). It won two decades with the opening of the ex-Soviet vital space, but it was depleted in the 2000s, finally exploding in 2006-2008.

How many decades does the Americans think they can earn by a hypothetical unilateral destruction of China?

DontBelieveEitherPr , May 23 2020 19:58 utc | 15
Having a treaty that limits power (in this case nuclear) on the same level for the US and any other country is simply totally against the ideology of US Superority/Exeptionalism.
That seems to be the driving (psychological and ideological) factor behind this charade.
And like this sick ideology always ends: It too will backfire.

@gepay: another problem is people that disagree with Bernhard on COVID, but then use this disagreement to not read his artciles anymore.
So many people only want to read what they want to hear, and run away at the first real different view.
The narcissism, that our neoliberal societies inducded in its people the last decade shows.. And seeing both sides and everything in between is not possible anymore for a majority it seems.
And living in a bubble is so comforting and easy in todays world. On MSM and on Alt Media alike.

bevin , May 23 2020 20:33 utc | 19
"...that may well fit Trump's plans of pushing all arms control regimes into oblivion."
It's not just arms control regimes, as the WHO business showed. This is the Roy Cohn agenda showing up again- the old GOP objection to the UN and all other international organisations. It is pure ideology-the US has gained immensely from dominating the organisations of which it is a part, leaving them makes no sense at all.

As to 'spending China to oblivion". This only works when every Pentagon dollar spent forces China or Russia to spend a dollar themselves. In such a contest the richest country wins. But that only works in the context of pre-nuclear warfare. With the nuclear deterrent it becomes possible to opt out of all the money wasting nonsense represented by the Pentagon budget, sit back and say, as the Chinese diplomat evidently did, "Just try it."
Which adds up to the conclusion that it is wholly irrational of the United States to denounce treaties designed to reduce the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used: it is to the advantage of Washington that other powers, potential rivals, are forced to build up conventional forces because they are bound by treaty not to rely on nuclear weapons.
So, again: pure ideology designed for domestic consumption and advanced by the most reactionary elements in American society- the Jesse Helms good ol' boys who make the neo-cons look almost human.

Piotr Berman , May 23 2020 20:38 utc | 21
He likes economic war (against everybody), they want actual war. Laguerre | May 23 2020 20:17 utc

Trump has a primitive mercantile mind. There is nothing inherently wrong about mercantilism, but a primitive version of anything tends to be mediocre at best. Thus he loves war that give profit, like Yemen where natives are bombed with expensive products made in USA (and unfortunately, also UK, France etc., but the bulk goes to USA). Then he loves wars the he thinks will give profit, like "keeping oil fields in Syria". Some people told him that oil fields are profitable (although they can go bankrupt just like casinos).

Privately, I think that Trump wanted to make a war with Iran, but the generals explained him what kind of disaster that would be.

One difference is that Democrats are aligned with uber Zionist of slightly less rabid variety than Republicans. A bit like black bears vs grizzlies. Unfortunately, like in the animal kingdom, when the push comes to shove, black bears defer to grizzlies, so on the side of Palestinians etc. there is no difference.

Jen , May 23 2020 21:17 utc | 24
Billingslea's "spending ... into oblivion" statement reflects the belief, still widespread among US neocon political / military elites, that the Soviet Union was brought down and destroyed by its attempts to keep up with US military spending throughout the 1980s. This alone tells us how steeped in past fantasy the entire US political and military establishment must be. Compared to Rip van Winkle, these people are comatose.

Spending the enemy into oblivion may be "tried and true" practice but only when the enemy is much poorer than yourself in arms production and in one type of weapons manufacture. That certainly does not apply to either Russia or China these days. Both nations think more strategically and do not waste precious resources in parading and projecting military power abroad, or rely almost exclusively on old, decaying technologies and a narrow mindset obsessed with always being top dog in everything.

[May 23, 2020] With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional.

May 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12: 22 pm GMT

With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional.

That is correct and that is because it works the majority of Americans are stupid.
Do you see a solution suggested here?

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:27 pm GMT

It is also an unfortunate indication that the neoconservatives, pronounced dead after the election of Trump, are back and resuming their drive to obtain the positions of power that will permit endless war, starting with Iran.

The neocons never went anywhere. Trump is a minion of the Deep State and staffs his administration accordingly.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 12:32 pm GMT
@BL

My point is simple and ineluctable, whatever our demerits, our great republic is supposed to weed out psychopaths like Brennan long before they get as close as he has to destroying the whole shebang.

Never happens all administrations are full of psychopaths.

Hiram of Tyre , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 1:19 pm GMT
Frankly nothing new. Every Empire sought to rule the world and committed a long list of atrocities in the process. "The empire on which the sun never sets", in reference to the British Empire (the one currently still ruling the world), comes from Xerxes' "We shall extend the Persian territory as far as God's heaven reaches. The sun will then shine on no land beyond our borders." as he invaded Greece.

That said, a word on the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski Doctrine and their Pentagon world map would be on point here

[May 22, 2020] No US president who can withdraw the USA from the Forever Wars

Highly recommended!
But may be coronavirus can. Although Perfumed Princes of Pentagon and MIC with it neocon fifth column will fiercely resist.
May 22, 2020 | www.unz.com

Nikolai Vladivostok , says: Website Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 6:21 am GMT

I've long since concluded, there is no president who can withdraw the US from the Forever Wars. Obama couldn't. Trump can't. Biden/Harris/Oprah/Gabbard/Pence won't.

There are a half-dozen permanent US policies that Americans don't get to vote on, and the Permawar is one of them.

Anon [151] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 6:36 am GMT
My God, Buchanan, I am staggered by the arrogance of this column. Where in the name of all that's holy did you ever get the idea that America has the right to impose on anyone, from Afghans through to Venezuelans, your (perceived) systems of thought, values and democracy? How many American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan can even speak the local language? Understand the local customs? None!!! They swan around in their sunglasses and battle gear thinking that they are they return of the Terminator and wander why the locals absolutely hate their collective guts! It's time that you collectively learned that America is NOT the world's sheriff and that, as Benjamin Franklin said "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still".
animalogic , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 7:00 am GMT
Pat is not entirely wrong -- he hints at the explanation for failure:
"As imperialists, we Americans are conspicuous failures.

Moreover, with us, the national interest inevitably asserts itself."
As Imperialists there has never been anything but the (Elite) "national interest".
In short, these so called "losing" wars have been wars of aggression -- ie "bad" wars. All Pat's talk of conversion, democracy etc is just so much nonsense.

swamped , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 8:14 am GMT
"While we can defeat our enemies in the air and on the seas and in cyberspace, we cannot persuade them to embrace secular democracy and its values any more than we can convert them to Christianity" although they might be better persuaded to convert to Christianity – traditional Christianity – than to embrace secular democracy and its "values".

Why would anyone want to embrace homosexuality, transgenderism, rad-feminism, opioids, prozac, inequality, broken homes, mass shootings, mountainous debt, corrupt media, puppet politicians & the rest of the filth & perversion that passes for "values" in secular democracies like America or Western Europe?

Indeed, why would anyone in these decadent countries even want to defend these venal "values", let alone try to spread them around the world like the Chinese plague?
No, "they are not trying to change us" but maybe they should.

Donald Duck , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 10:07 am GMT
As the British and French ultimately found out it costs more to run an empire than to loot it. So the long retreat ensues. One would have thought that the Americans might have learned this from history, but no! After all they were "the exceptional people, they stood taller than the others and saw further." Errrm, no they didn't. Like their forbears they got bogged down as well getting into debt which was only bailed out by their insistence that they would not convert the dollar into gold.

Human nature and stupidity has got a long track-record and it isn't going to end anytime soon.

paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 12:30 pm GMT
The writer, and most commenters' are still under the erroneous belief that AMerica goes to war in places then AMerica wins or loses or wastes lives or kill children. This is the saddest part of the Yankee war machine: Americans joining the Army because they think theya re joining the fight to defend the American Dream.

You-all are corporate gunmonkeys, fighting and killing and burning and bombing, not in the name of freedom or apple pie, but in the name of Gulf Oil, Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, JPMorgan, Monsanto, PHBBillington, whatever Devil Rumsfeld calls his sack of shit these days .

America has not won any war anywhere, even their civil war was mostly just clearing the land for the banks. That is because it is not America at war, she just supplies the cannon fodder. And cannons. And radiactive scrapmetal to make bullets to mow down women and children in the name of Investor Confidence.
But then, that is what your Zionist bible tells you to do, isn't it?

Realist , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 1:26 pm GMT

What Does Winning Mean in a Forever War?

Winning a war is not in the interest of the Deep State. Being at war makes the Deep State more wealthy and powerful not winning at war.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm GMT
@Anon

I just don't think the US has the immoral fortitude to engage in genocide, so it's hopeless trying to "win."

If by the US you mean most of the people you may be right. But the people in the US have no say in the actions of the US government which is controlled by psychopaths.

anonymous [400] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm GMT
Afghanistan is hardly even a country as the average American might define one. There's really nothing to "win"; we only occupy. The infrastructure is primitive so it's not cost effective to try to take whatever natural resources they may have, if any, so there's nothing they have that we want. The Taliban were not "ousted". In the face of massive firepower they split up and scattered; they're still there. After all, the US has been negotiating with them for a peace deal of some sort hasn't it? "Democracy crusades" is just a propaganda fig leaf to bamboozle stupid Americans. It's amazing that there's people who actually believe stuff like that but PT Barnum had it right. "Eventually, we give up and go home". That's because they live there and we don't. "They apparently have an inexhaustible supply of volunteers" willing to fight and die. They don't want foreign robo-soldiers pointing guns at them in their own country. We have our own version, it's called "Remember the Alamo", men who stood their ground against the odds.
Amerimutt Golems , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 2:03 pm GMT
@Anon

If a country is not willing to do that, and I would hope the United States is not willing to do that, then they (we) should go home and leave the Afghans to murder each other without our assistance. If they return to supporting terrorism or go whole hog in producing opium, perhaps the US should decapitate their entire government and let the next batch of losers give governing a try. I just don't think the US has the immoral fortitude to engage in genocide, so it's hopeless trying to "win."

The growth in opium cultivation correlates with CIA activities in the area and the $3 billion from American taxpayers which financed Mujahideen 'terrorism' against the Russians and their local proxies just to avenge the fall of Saigon.

In 1980 Afghanistan accounted for about only 5% of total world heroin production. This was mainly for the local market and neighbor Iran.

That is how you get forever wars.

Rurik , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 3:04 pm GMT

They refuse to surrender and submit because it is their beliefs, their values, their faith, their traditions, their tribe, their God, their culture, their civilization, their honor that they believe they are fighting for in what is, after all, their land, not ours.

If I may..

another way of looking at this, and I feel a profound respect for the Afghans, and only wish we were made of the same mettle. If only ((they)) could say of us..

They refuse to surrender and submit because it is their beliefs, their values, their faith, their traditions, their tribe, their God, their culture, their civilization, their honor that they believe they are fighting for in what is, after all, their land, not (((ours)))).

They are not trying to change ((((us. We))) are trying to change them. And they wish to remain who they are.

IOW, we white Westerners, have proved willing to surrender and submit to all of it. Without nary a peep of protest. Even as ((they)) send us around the globe to kill people like these Afghans, for being slightly inconvenient to their agenda. [And so the CIA can reconstitute its global heroin trafficking operation$.]

If only history would look back on this epic moment, at the last Death throes of the West, and say of whitey, that he refused to surrender his values and faith and traditions and tribe and God, and culture and civilization and honor.. to ((those)) who would pervert his values, and mock his faith, and trash his traditions, and exterminate his tribe, while mocking his God, and poisoning his culture, and destroying his civilization and all because at the end of the day, he had no honor.

These men may be backwater, illiterate villagers,

but at least they have enough mettle and honor, to tell the Beast that they would rather die killing as many of the Beast's stupid goons as they're able, than ever sacrifice their sacred honor- or lands or sovereignty, or the destinies of their children – over to the fiend, which is more than I can say for Western "man".

They are not trying to change us. We are trying to change them. And they wish to remain who they are.

Would that the Swedish people had a Nano-shred of the blood-honor of an Afghan, Barbara Spectre would be pounding sand.

Historically, the Afghans are fundamentalist, tribal and impervious to foreign intervention.

Obviously, there is a great deal we need to learn from them.

What will the Taliban do when we leave?

They will not give up their dream of again ruling the Afghan nation and people. And they will fight until they have achieved that goal and their idea of victory: dominance.

Um.. Pat. Whose land is it anyways? Is it such a horror that Afghans should be dominant in Afghanistan ?

The Taliban was welcomed into most of the regions it governed, because they drove out local war lords who often treated the villager's children as their sex toys, and the foreign (CIA) opioid growers and traffickers. And it was the Taliban that put an end to all of that. They're harsh, but they're effective, and that is their land, not ours.

Also, the Taliban offered to turn over Osama Bin Laden, if the West could provide a shred of proof that he had anything whatsoever to do with 9/11. (he didn't ; ) But the West had zero proof, (as the FBI admits to this day), that they have zero proof that ties Bin Laden to 9/11.

And n0w that we all know 9/11 was an Israeli false flag, intended to use the American military as their bitch, to burn down 'seven nations in five years' .. that the Jewish supremacists wanted destroyed, our whole pretext for being over there has been a sham from day one. Duh.
.
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I remember long ago when I had a subscription to National Geographic and this photo came out, I cut the picture out, and stuck it somewhere to look at- it was so visceral and haunting.

Leave them alone. I don't care how many Jews at the WSJ demand whitey has to stay and die for Israel. (Afghanistan is on Iran's border, and that's why we have to stay, to menace all those anti-Semites over there, trying to gas all the Jews and make soap).

Good on Trump for calling out the ((WSJ)).

follyofwar , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 3:42 pm GMT
@paranoid goy I very much doubt if many are joining the military to "defend the American Dream." Most are more practical and are joining to escape poverty, even if it might cost them their lives. Recruiters will now be inundated with volunteers since there are no jobs in the covid depression.
Exile , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 4:15 pm GMT
If the neo-con clown car Trump has permitted to run foreign policy since his election gets us into a war with Iran and/or Venezuela before November, will Pat still be stumping for him, or will we see the return of non-election-year Pat?
VinnyVette , says: Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 4:46 pm GMT
Excellent question Pat! Unfortunately there is no answer, we've been at "forever war" seemingly forever, and the whole point as Eisenhower so preciently warned us is THE objective.
Priss Factor , says: Website Show Comment May 22, 2020 at 5:36 pm GMT
It's not 'forever war'. It is Empire. Empire exists to continue and expand. War is about win or lose. Empire is about keep and dominate.

US wars are not to win and then depart. It is to keep occupying and controlling.

And US is rich enough to buy off the local elites as collaborators forever.

Marshal Marlow , says: Show Comment May 23, 2020 at 1:56 am GMT
@Anon

If they return to supporting terrorism

The thing is that the Afghan government wasn't supporting terrorism. Rather, it had no on-going control anywhere except the cities, which made the tribal areas useful hideouts / bases for a raft of groups.

I well remember the prelude to the invasion where the US was demanding that its government (which merely happened to be Taliban that year) hand over OBL in 72hrs. The truth was that the US knew Afghanistan didn't have the capability to do that and it merely wanted to use OBL as an excuse to invade and continue the encirclement of the old soviet states.

[May 21, 2020] The War State The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite, 1945-1963 by Michael Swanson

Paperback: 430 pages Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 16, 2013)
This period is the period when the CIA gradually became a political force able and willing to act acted on its own initiative. Which culminated in the assassination of JFK.
Notable quotes:
"... When I say 'they' I mean the Military Industrial Complex. I have no doubt that John Kennedy was stabbed in the back by treasonous elements within his own country. It's hard for me to tell how extensive this conspiracy really went and into what areas of the Military Industrial Complex. The CIA and the Joint Chiefs Of Staff are on the suspect list though. There was no love lost between President Kennedy and the military and intelligence establishments. Mr. Swanson tells how Robert Kennedy was concerned that the military brass might kill his brother during the ominous Cuban Missile Crisis. ..."
"... And as a consumer of what must be in excess of 3-400 books on this subject, I can say this is quite simply the best one-volume analysis of U.S. defense policy 1945 - 1964 that has been produced. ..."
"... While Preparata's Conjuring Hitler presents Montagu Norman and Bank of England as financing the rise of the Third Reich as the initiation of the modern military-intelligence age, and Stephen Kinzer's The Brothers introduces Dulles & Dulles as the twin inventors of America's role as stage manager, Michael Swanson raises the curtain on Eisenhower's finale, the introduction of the Colossus astride Washington ..."
"... David Martin's signal work uncovering the termination of the first Secretary of Defense James Forrestal for resisting the Truman-Marshall military steroid injection, itself inextricably entwined with the Acheson-enabled Korean War. ..."
"... The National Security Act of 1947 and its follow-on codas, the 1948 plausible deniability agreement and 1949 amendments, lead to the SAC/ICBM buildup, the preamble to Northwoods and the dream of a first strike. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Today when you factor in the interest on the national debt from past wars and total defense expenditures the United States spends almost 40% of its federal budget on the military. It accounts for over 46% of total world arms spending. Before World War II it spent almost nothing on defense and hardly anyone paid any income taxes. You can't have big wars without big government. Such big expenditures are now threatening to harm the national economy. How did this situation come to be?

In this book you'll learn how in the critical twenty years after World War II the United States changed from being a continental democratic republic to a global imperial superpower. Since then nothing has ever been the same again. In this book you will discover this secret history of the United States that formed the basis of the world we live in today.

By buying this book you will discover:

In this book you will discover this secret history of the United States that formed the basis of the world we live in today.


Jeff Marzano 5.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview Of The Cold War , May 10, 2018

Good Overview Of The Cold War

This book provides a good overview of the so called Cold War I thought.

I read this book as part of my ongoing research about the assassination of President Kennedy. At this point in my research I need to move past the nuts and bolts of the assassination like how many times JFK was shot and things like that. Those aren't the most important questions. The important issues are who wanted John Kennedy dead and why and how were they able to do something like that. There had to be some major reasons why they would commit such a monumental crime. And those reasons are revealed in books like this somewhere.

When I say 'they' I mean the Military Industrial Complex. I have no doubt that John Kennedy was stabbed in the back by treasonous elements within his own country. It's hard for me to tell how extensive this conspiracy really went and into what areas of the Military Industrial Complex. The CIA and the Joint Chiefs Of Staff are on the suspect list though. There was no love lost between President Kennedy and the military and intelligence establishments. Mr. Swanson tells how Robert Kennedy was concerned that the military brass might kill his brother during the ominous Cuban Missile Crisis.

Some of those generals like Curtis 'Bombs Away' Lemay lost their marbles during World II I think. Lemay didn't seem to understand what nuclear weapons really are. Lemay seemed to speak about the use of nuclear weapons in World War II terms like they were just another type of bomb.

Near the end of the book Mr. Swanson mentions some things Jackie Kennedy said her husband John was planning to do:

  1. Attend a peace summit in Moscow.
  2. Remove J. Edgar Hoover as the director of the FBI.
  3. Replace Dean Rusk in the State Department.
  4. Get control of the government's policy in Vietnam.

That list right there is an excellent starting point for understanding some of the many reasons why the War State wanted John Kennedy dead.

Mr. Swanson talks about an important government directive called NSC-68. This National Security Council directive labelled any country that refused to bow to the will of the United States a communist sympathizer. And any country that got on that list was then subject to the CIA's evil machinations.

Some authors such as the great Fletcher Prouty felt the entire Cold War was a myth that was fabricated by the War State to justify their own existence.

For me the assassination of President Kennedy and the quagmire in Vietnam confirm that hypothesis. Those are two historical realities which indicate that the War State had flown off the rails.

LCH Burris 5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful February 8, 2016
Masterful

Having studied this period of history for over 45 years, as a history major in exactly this subject at University.

And as a consumer of what must be in excess of 3-400 books on this subject, I can say this is quite simply the best one-volume analysis of U.S. defense policy 1945 - 1964 that has been produced. The bulk of it presents facts known to students of the period, plus certain additional lesser-known facts revealed by recent declassifications in both the US and Russia.

However, it re-analyzes these facts to produce a masterful synthesis more clearly stated here than I have seen in any other volume.

The only complaint is that the book should be more fully footnoted -- not only to source some of the factual statements, but also to explain the author's chain of reasoning from the source to the statement -- as well as be re-published with a proper index and bibliography. In a sense, the author has under-rated himself. Properly footnoted and indexed, this would be not merely an excellent popular read but a work of scholarship with which students of the field would have to reckon from now on.

Bob Valdez 4.0 out of 5 stars How the US came to be influenced by the military-industrial complex , September 28, 2015
How the US came to be influenced by the military-industrial complex

This book is a pretty well done tome about how the military-industrial complex came to be. The overall layout is much like a history book but if the reader is patient it begins to unfold with some level of comfort after a few dozen pages. The properly told story is long overdue and it probably will not have wide acceptance but that is the overall sign of our times. The author does not go into enough detail to tie in today's US government administration and how deep the corruption has grown.

If you wish to be an informed voter or just a more informed citizen, reading such books as this one will help bring you around to becoming a bit better enlightened. Read, recognize, respond. All comes in time.

Phil Dragoo 5.0 out of 5 stars Ike named it; it buried JFK; Swanson reveals it July 23, 2019
Ike named it; it buried JFK; Swanson reveals it.

Verified Purchase Ike named it -- it buried JFK

Michael Swanson's The War State is a keystone work in understanding modern America's lone superpower position.

While Preparata's Conjuring Hitler presents Montagu Norman and Bank of England as financing the rise of the Third Reich as the initiation of the modern military-intelligence age, and Stephen Kinzer's The Brothers introduces Dulles & Dulles as the twin inventors of America's role as stage manager, Michael Swanson raises the curtain on Eisenhower's finale, the introduction of the Colossus astride Washington .

The War State punctuates Robert Wilcox' Target: Patton, the removal of the threat of premature end to the Cold War, and David Martin's signal work uncovering the termination of the first Secretary of Defense James Forrestal for resisting the Truman-Marshall military steroid injection, itself inextricably entwined with the Acheson-enabled Korean War.

The National Security Act of 1947 and its follow-on codas, the 1948 plausible deniability agreement and 1949 amendments, lead to the SAC/ICBM buildup, the preamble to Northwoods and the dream of a first strike.

The Vietnam War fought over the dead body of the thirty-fifth president is examined in John Newman's two editions of JFK and Vietnam, and the sequence of subsequent research works, all adding to Douglas Horne's view of JFK's War with the National Security Establishment, as well as James Douglass' eerie scene through a glass darkly, JFK and the Unspeakable.

We are gifted with Michael Swanson's concise and unitized depiction of the threat President Eisenhower succeeded in naming January 1961 despite repeated attempts to airbrush the indictment from history.

Why are we faced with unending war in Afghanistan against a shadowy enemy first introduced by April Glaspy's invitation to Saddam Hussein echoing Acheson's omission of Korea in the January 1950 Press Club speech?

Why do towers fall in unprecedented fashion defying laws of physics?

As Litvinenko and Felshtinsky's Blowing Up Russia reveals Putin as the rebranding mastermind of Golitsyn and Bezemov, and Xi Jinping rides the dragon into the fifth millenium, Oceania's capital remains in the orbit of the Pentagon and Langley and the constellation of corporations involved in Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennett's Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil.

Michael Swanson pulls the construct from the mist and plants it front and center in the dramatic end of the Republic and the bulletins from the frontlines of Big Brother's proxy wars in the nonaligned quadrangle.

It isn't personal -- it's business.

SkyNet and The Matrix and the gigantic digital nemeses of Person of Interest are mere terms of art.

The military-industrial complex is as real as LBJ's heart attack -- and exposed in The War State.

[May 20, 2020] McGovern Turn Out The Lights, Russiagate Is Over by Ray McGovern

Highly recommended!
It is not. Forces behind Russiagate are intact and still have the same agenda. CrowdStrike was just a tool. As long as Full Spectrum Dominance dourine is alive, Russiagate will flourish in one form or another
Notable quotes:
"... The need for a scapegoat to blame for Hillary Clinton's snatching defeat out of the jaws victory also played a role; as did the need for the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT) to keep front and center in the minds of Americans the alleged multifaceted threat coming from an "aggressive" Russia. (Recall that John McCain called the, now disproven , "Russian hacking" of the DNC emails an "act of war.") ..."
"... Though the corporate media is trying to bury it, the Russiagate narrative has in the past few weeks finally collapsed with the revelation that CrowdStrike had no evidence Russia took anything from the DNC servers and that the FBI set a perjury trap for Gen. Michael Flynn. There was already the previous government finding that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia and the indictment of a Russian troll farm that supposedly was destroying American democracy with $100,000 in Facebook ads was dropped after the St. Petersburg defendants sought discovery. ..."
"... Given the diffident attitude the Security State plotters adopted regarding hiding their tracks, Durham's challenge, with subpoena power, is not as formidable as were he, for example, investigating a Mafia family. ..."
"... Meanwhile, the corporate media have all been singing from the same sheet since Trump had the audacity a week ago to coin yet another "-gate" -- this time "Obamagate." Leading the apoplectic reaction in corporate media, Saturday's Washington Post offered a pot-calling-the-kettle-black pronouncement by its editorial board entitled "The absurd cynicism of 'Obamagate"? ..."
"... So if we dug in and found large payments from George Soros or Mrs Clinton to these 'journalists', what crime could they be accused of? No crimes, I don't think. ..."
"... There never was anything to Russiagate. It was always just politics. I knew that from the beginning. There was, however, a lot of something to the torture scandal. Obama said "We are not going to look back." And now Gina Haspel, one of the chief torturers, partly responsible for destroying the torture tapes, despite a court order to preserve them, is now head of the CIA. ..."
"... Drain the Swamp my ***. He's started by firing all the IG's? Trump "looking back," not forward. He could start by investigating Gina Haspel. ..."
"... For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal." ..."
"... By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip." ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

Seldom mentioned among the motives behind the persistent drumming on alleged Russian interference was an over-arching need to help the Security State hide their tracks.

The need for a scapegoat to blame for Hillary Clinton's snatching defeat out of the jaws victory also played a role; as did the need for the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT) to keep front and center in the minds of Americans the alleged multifaceted threat coming from an "aggressive" Russia. (Recall that John McCain called the, now disproven , "Russian hacking" of the DNC emails an "act of war.")

But that was then. This is now.

Though the corporate media is trying to bury it, the Russiagate narrative has in the past few weeks finally collapsed with the revelation that CrowdStrike had no evidence Russia took anything from the DNC servers and that the FBI set a perjury trap for Gen. Michael Flynn. There was already the previous government finding that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia and the indictment of a Russian troll farm that supposedly was destroying American democracy with $100,000 in Facebook ads was dropped after the St. Petersburg defendants sought discovery.

All that's left is to discover how this all happened.

Attorney General William Barr, and U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr commissioned to investigate this whole sordid mess seem intent on getting to the bottom of it. The possibility that Trump will not chicken out this time, and rather will challenge the Security State looms large since he felt personally under attack.

Writing on the Wall

Given the diffident attitude the Security State plotters adopted regarding hiding their tracks, Durham's challenge, with subpoena power, is not as formidable as were he, for example, investigating a Mafia family.

Plus, former NSA Director Adm. Michael S. Rogers reportedly is cooperating. The handwriting is on the wall. It remains to be seen what kind of role in the scandal Barack Obama may have played.

But former directors James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan, captains of Obama's Security State, can take little solace from Barr's remarks Monday to a reporter who asked about Trump's recent claims that top officials of the Obama administration, including the former president had committed crimes. Barr replied:

"As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don't expect Mr. Durham's work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concerns over potential criminality is focused on others."

In a more ominous vein, Barr gratuitously added that law enforcement and intelligence officials were involved in "a false and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the president. It was a grave injustice, and it was unprecedented in American history."

Meanwhile, the corporate media have all been singing from the same sheet since Trump had the audacity a week ago to coin yet another "-gate" -- this time "Obamagate." Leading the apoplectic reaction in corporate media, Saturday's Washington Post offered a pot-calling-the-kettle-black pronouncement by its editorial board entitled "The absurd cynicism of 'Obamagate"?

The outrage voiced by the Post called to mind disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok's indignant response to criticism of the FBI by candidate Trump, in a Oct. 20, 2016 text exchange with FBI attorney Lisa Page:

Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.

Strzok -- I CAN'T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY

Page -- I don't know. But we'll get it back. We're America. We rock.

Strzok -- Donald just said "bad hombres"

Strzok -- Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

Less vitriolic, but incisive commentary came from widely respected author and lawyer Glenn Greenwald on May 14, four days after Trump coined "Obamagate": ( See "System Update with Glenn Greenwald -- The Sham Prosecution of Michael Flynn").

For a shorter, equally instructive video of Greenwald on the broader issue of Russia-gate, see this clip from a March 2019 Democracy Now! -sponsored debate he had with David Cay Johnston titled, "As Mueller Finds No Collusion, Did Press Overhype Russiagate? Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston":

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qdYw6jk3TTA

(The entire debate is worth listening to). I found one of the comments below the Democracy Now! video as big as a bummer as the commentator did:

"I think this is one of the most depressing parts about the whole situation. In their dogmatic pushing for this false narrative, the Russiagaters might have guaranteed Trump a second term. They have done more damage to our democracy than Russia ever has done and will do ." (From "Clamity2007")

In any case, Johnston, undaunted by his embarrassment at the hands of Greenwald, is still at it, and so is the avuncular Frank Rich -- both of them some 20 years older than Greenwald and set in their evidence-impoverished, media-indoctrinated ways.

... ... ...


Uncle Frank, 40 seconds ago

So if we dug in and found large payments from George Soros or Mrs Clinton to these 'journalists', what crime could they be accused of? No crimes, I don't think.

But when journalists are revealed to be issuing paid-for propaganda/lies mixed with their own internal opinions, and their publisher allows it to be presented as if it were reporting rather than opinion, said writers, editors, and publishers are relegated to obscurity and derision.

Their work will never be taken seriously again by anyone who wasn't already brain-washed.

They don't get that, I guess.

QABubba, 47 minutes ago (Edited)

There never was anything to Russiagate. It was always just politics. I knew that from the beginning. There was, however, a lot of something to the torture scandal. Obama said "We are not going to look back." And now Gina Haspel, one of the chief torturers, partly responsible for destroying the torture tapes, despite a court order to preserve them, is now head of the CIA.

General Flynn was so involved with Turkey he should have been registered as a foreign agent.

And as I have said before, the real crime was laundering Russian Mafia/Heroin money through Deutsche Bank into New York real estate. It is curious that Turkey is also a huge transport spot for heroin into the EU. And France and other EU nations have a migrant population that lives off the drug trade.

Drain the Swamp my ***. He's started by firing all the IG's? Trump "looking back," not forward. He could start by investigating Gina Haspel.

1911A1, 55 minutes ago

Operation Mockingbird

The MSM disinformation campaign with consistent common talking points is not difficult to see with a little discernment. The bigger question is has this happened organically or is there a larger agency manipulating the public discourse?

Question_Mark, 43 minutes ago

4AM secure drop from Senior Executive Services ( SES ) is a threat to our democracy.

Our greatest responsibility is to serve our [insert name of community here] community.

1surrounded2, 1 hour ago

" It remains to be seen what kind of role in the scandal Barack Obama may have played. "

Come on, Ray, I know you are not that stupid, but you ARE that libtarded.

Obama's very obvious role in all of this: KINGPIN .

Moribundus, 3 hours ago

Amazon.com The American Mission and the 'Evil Empire' The Crusade for a Free Russia Since 1881 (8580000721935) Foglesong,

"By 1905," Foglesong stated, "this fundamental reorientation of American views of Russia had set up a historical pattern in which missionary zeal and messianic euphoria would be followed by disenchantment and embittered denunciation of Russia's evil and oppressive rulers." The first cycle, according to Foglesong, culminated in 1905, when the October Manifesto, perceived initially by Americans as a transformation to democracy, gave way to a violent socialist revolt. Foglesong observed similar cycles of euphoria to despair during the collapse of the tsarist government in 1917, during the partial religious revival of World War II, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s

Crucial to Foglesong's analysis was how these cycles coincided with a contemporaneous need to deflect attention away from America's own blemishes and enhance America's claim to its global mission.

For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal."

By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip."

Moribundus, 3 hours ago

America's imperialism rules: Never to admit a fault or wrong; never to accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time; blame that enemy for everything that goes wrong; take advantage of every opportunity to raise a political whirlwind.

Kidbuck, 5 hours ago

Trump hasn't engaged in a fight in his life. He's a sissy at heart wants to negotiate. He can't even do that right. He's caved on nearly every campaign promise he made. The only thing his administration fights for is their salary and their retirement. Hillary still waddles free and farts in his general direction.

ChaoKrungThep, 4 hours ago

Trump the Mafia punk, like his dad, and draft dodger like his German grand dad. Barr, old CIA asset from the Clinton-Mena coke smuggling op. This crappy crew is running their masters' game in front of the redneck rabble who are dumber than their mutts.

Save_America1st, 9 hours ago

Geez...how far behind can most of these assholes be after all these years????

For one...there was no "Russia-gate". It was all a hoax from the beginning, and anyone with a few functioning brain cells knew that from the start.

And as of about 3 years ago we have all known this as "Obamagate" for the most part...we all knew the corruption of the hoax totally led up to O-Scumbag.

And now as of the recent disclosures it is a total fact.

Haven't most of you been watching Dan Bongino for over 2 years now and haven't you read his books? Haven't you been reading Sarah Carter and John Soloman among others for nearly 3 years now???

Surely, you haven't been just sitting around sucking leftist media **** for over 3 years, right???????? I'm sure you haven't.

So why is this article even necessary on ZeroHedge?????

We already knew and have known the truth since before even the 2016 election. Drop it.

Posa, 9 hours ago

So funny. The 85 Year old "American century' is palpably disintegrating before our very eyes. In particular the Deep State permanent bureaucracy is completely untethered and facing what seems to be a Great Reckoning in the form of Barr- Durham. Cognitve Derangement prevails in the press and spills overto the body politic. The country teeters a slo-mo Civil War. Meanwhile, The dollar is disintegrating and we seem to face an economic abyss, the Terminal Depression. Real "last Days of Rome" stuff.

BaNNeD oN THe RuN, 5 hours ago (Edited)

The Israeli dual citizens like Adelson and Mercer bought the Presidency.

Mossad was the organization handling the mole Seth Rich.

Blaming Russia also worked for those 2 groups because it deflected attention away from (((them))).

Ray McGovern, being ex-intel, must know this to be true.

LetThemEatRand, 11 hours ago

Russiagate. The supposed target of said coup d'etat just Presided over the largest bailout of banks ever by a factor of five or more. Trump supporters are asleep for the bailout, Trump haters are asleep for the bailout. Let's fight about transgender bathrooms and Russiagate, shall we?

yojimbo, 8 hours ago

I glance at the MSM, so here is a Guardian article along strongly TDS lines https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/19/will-donald-trump-end-up-in-prison-arwa-mahdawi

It's projection again, implying Obama gate is fake, like Russiagate actually was.. Tough to even want to get through!

[May 18, 2020] Pundits with undisclosed funding from arms manufacturers urge 'stronger force posture' to counter China by Eli Clifton

May 14, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

The Trump administration's efforts to blame China for COVID-19's rising death toll in the U.S. have not been backed up by intelligence assessments, but it has not stopped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from making the baseless assertion that the virus originated in a Chinese lab or the Trump campaign from attacking the presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, as too weak on China. But there may be more than political opportunism at play. Weapons manufacturers stand to reap huge profits if they can stoke a new cold war between the U.S. and China.

Those overlapping interests were on display last week when The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by two former Trump administration officials claiming, "The Covid-19 pandemic has convinced many that the U.S. must fundamentally change its policy toward China. Shifting course is necessary, but it won't be achieved with a few policy tweaks."

"That's because," they added, "the pandemic's political and economic effects are bringing about a more assertive Chinese grand strategy."

There are at least two big problems with this op-ed.

First, there's no actual evidence or explanation provided about COVID-19 "bringing about a more assertive Chinese grand strategy" but the authors plow forward with their theory that "Beijing was cruising to global domination" unchallenged.

Second, both of the op-ed's authors have undisclosed conflicts of interest that might motivate their prescription for a new U.S. grand strategy centered on, among other things, "maritime and aerospace power."

The authors, Elbridge Colby (who served as assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017-2018) and A. Wess Mitchell (who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs from 2017-2019), are both employed by institutions that receive considerable funding from weapons manufacturers.

The Wall Street Journal describes Colby and Mitchell as "principals of the Marathon Initiative," an entity that has no website and about which there is little public information other than that it was formed on May 7, 2020 according to the Washington, DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The Marathon Initiative shares an address with the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) where Mitchell serves as vice chairman and received $227,500 in compensation in 2017 . Donors to CEPA include a defense industry who's who: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, and BAE Systems.

Mitchell's co-author, Colby, also appears to have benefited financially from funding originating from arms manufacturers.

Colby is a senior adviser at WestExec Advisors, which does not disclose its client list. But one of the company's co-founders, Obama Defense Department appointee Michèle Flournoy, told The Intercept back in 2018 that "we help tech firms who are trying to figure out how to sell in the public sector space, to navigate the DOD, the intel community, law enforcement ."

And from 2014 to 2017 and 2018 to 2019 Colby worked at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) which counts Northrop Grumman as one of its biggest donors (contributing more than $500,000 between October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019) as well as contributions from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Boeing and DynCorp.

None of this is to say that Colby and Mitchell don't genuinely believe that COVID-19's spread and China's lack of transparency about the virus's initial outbreak justifies the military-heavy strategies they propose.

But when the op-ed concludes, "The West must recognize that it will either pay now or pay later to contain China. Paying now is likely to produce a more tolerable bill," it's worth noting that weapons manufacturers and defense contractors, who have helped finance the authors' careers in the Beltway, will be the ones sending that bill to taxpayers.

[May 13, 2020] Dramatic change of direction for Syrian envoy

Highly recommended!
This is MIGA in action...
Notable quotes:
"... former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell admitted in a TV interview he views that the US should be in the business of "killing Russians and Iranians covertly" ). ..."
"... Ironically, Jeffrey's official title has been Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, but apparently the mission is now to essentially "give the Russians hell". His comments were made Tuesday during a video conference hosted by the neocon Hudson Institute : ..."
"... He also emphasized that the Syrian state would continue to be squeezed into submission as part of long-term US efforts (going back to at least 2011) to legitimize a Syria government in exile of sorts. This after the Trump administration recently piled new sanctions on Damascus. As University of Oklahoma professor and expert on the region Joshua Landis summarized of Jeffrey's remarks: "He pledged that the United States will continue to deny Syria - international funding, reconstruction, oil, banking, agriculture & recognition of government." ..."
May 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Washington now says it's all about defeating the Russians . While it's not the first time this has been thrown around in policy circles (recall that a year after Russia's 2015 entry into Syria at Assad's invitation, former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell admitted in a TV interview he views that the US should be in the business of "killing Russians and Iranians covertly" ).

And now the top US special envoy to region, James Jeffrey, has this to say on US troops in Syria :

"My job is to make it a quagmire for the Russians."

Ironically, Jeffrey's official title has been Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, but apparently the mission is now to essentially "give the Russians hell". His comments were made Tuesday during a video conference hosted by the neocon Hudson Institute :

Asked why the American public should tolerate US involvement in Syria, Special Envoy James Jeffrey points out the small US footprint in the fight against ISIS. "This isn't Afghanistan. This isn't Vietnam. This isn't a quagmire. My job is to make it a quagmire for the Russians."

He also emphasized that the Syrian state would continue to be squeezed into submission as part of long-term US efforts (going back to at least 2011) to legitimize a Syria government in exile of sorts. This after the Trump administration recently piled new sanctions on Damascus. As University of Oklahoma professor and expert on the region Joshua Landis summarized of Jeffrey's remarks: "He pledged that the United States will continue to deny Syria - international funding, reconstruction, oil, banking, agriculture & recognition of government."

"My job is to make it a quagmire for the Russians."

Special US envoy to Syria - James Jeffery

He pledged that the United States will continue to deny Syria - international funding, reconstruction, oil, banking, agriculture & recognition of government. https://t.co/MSAkQqAmdh

-- Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) May 12, 2020

But no doubt both Putin and Assad have understood Washington's real proxy war interests all along, which is why last year Russia delivered it's lethal S-300 into the hands of Assad (and amid constant Israeli attacks). But no doubt both Putin and Assad have understood Washington's real proxy war interests all along, which is why last year Russia delivered it's lethal S-300 into the hands of Assad (and amid constant Israeli attacks).

As for oil, currently Damascus is well supplied by the Iranians, eager to dump their stock in fuel-starved Syria amid the global glut. Trump has previously voiced that part of US troops "securing the oil fields" is to keep them out of the hands of Russia and Iran.

* * *

Recall the CIA's 2016 admission of what's really going on in terms of US action in Syria:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/OJ3fTFHQ0KA

[May 06, 2020] McMaster and the Myths of Empire by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Myths of Empire ..."
May 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
| Ethan Paul dismantles H.R. McMaster's "analysis" of the Chinese government and shows how McMaster abuses the idea of strategic empathy for his own ends:

But the reality is that McMaster, and others committed to great power competition, is actually playing the role of Johnson and McNamara. This shines through clearest in McMaster's selective, and ultimately flawed, application of strategic empathy.

Just as Johnson and McNamara used the Joint Chiefs as political props, soliciting their advice or endorsement only when it could legitimize policy conclusions they had already come to, McMaster uses strategic empathy as a symbolic exercise in self-validation. By conceiving of China's perspective solely in terms of its tumultuous history and the Communist Party's pathological pursuit of power and control, McMaster presents only those biproducts of strategic empathy that confirm his policy conclusions (i.e. an intuitive grasp of China's apparent drive to reassert itself as the "Middle Kingdom" at the expense of the United States).

McMaster calls for "strategic empathy" in understanding how the Chinese government sees the world, but he then stacks the deck by asserting that the government in question sees the world in exactly the way that China hawks want to believe that they see it. That suggests that McMaster wasn't trying terribly hard to see the world as they do. McMaster's article has been likened to Kennan's seminal article on Soviet foreign policy at the start of the Cold War, but the comparison only serves to highlight how lacking McMaster's argument is and how inappropriate a similar containment strategy would be today. Where Kennan rooted his analysis of Soviet conduct in a lifetime of expertise in Russian history and language and his experience as a diplomat in Moscow, McMaster bases his assessment of Chinese conduct on one visit to Beijing, a superficial survey of Chinese history, and some boilerplate ideological claims about communism. McMaster's article prompted some strong criticism along these lines when it came out:

I have heard from other colleagues that several CN scholars met w/ McMaster before he wrote this (while working on his book) and corrected him on many issues. He apparently ignored all of their views. This is what we face people: a simple, deceptive narrative is more seductive.

-- Michael D. Swaine (@Dalzell60) April 20, 2020

McMaster's narrative is all the more deceptive because he claims to want to understand the official Chinese government view, but he just substitutes the standard hawkish caricature. Near the end of the article, he asserts, "Without effective pushback from the United States and like-minded nations, China will become even more aggressive in promoting its statist economy and authoritarian political model." It is possible that this could happen, but McMaster treats it as a given without offering much proof that this is so. McMaster makes a mistake common to China hawks that assumes that every other great power must have the same missionary, world-spanning goals that they have. Suppose instead that the Chinese government is not interested in that, but has a more limited strategy aimed at securing itself and establishing itself as the leading power in its region.

Paul does a fine job of using McMaster's earlier work on the Vietnam War to expose the flaws in his thinking about China. McMaster has often been praised for his criticism of the military's top leaders over their role in running the war in Vietnam, but this usually overlooks that McMaster was really arguing for a much more aggressive war effort. He faulted the Joint Chiefs for "dereliction" because they didn't insist on escalation. Paul observes:

McMaster's tale of Vietnam is, counterintuitively, one of enduring confidence in the U.S.'s ability to do good in the world and conquer all potential challengers, if only it finds the will to overcome the temptations of political cowardice and stamp out bureaucratic ineptitude. This same message runs through McMaster's tale about China: "If we compete aggressively," and "no longer adhere to a view of China based mainly on Western aspirations," McMaster says, "we have reason for confidence."

McMaster would have the U.S. view China in the worst possible light as an implacable adversary. Following this recommendation will guarantee decades of heightened tensions and increased risks of conflict. McMaster's dangerous China hawkishness calls to mind something that Jim Mattis said about him regarding a different issue when they served together in the Trump administration: "Oh my God, that moron is going to get us all killed." His aggressiveness towards China is not driven by an assessment of the threat from China, but comes from his tendency to advocate for aggressive measures everywhere.

As Paul notes, McMaster is minimizing the dangers and risks that his preferred policy of confrontation entails. In that respect, he is making the same error that American leaders made in Vietnam:

Like Johnson and McNamara before him, McMaster is misleading both the public and himself about the costs, consequences, and likelihood for success of the path he is committed to pursuing, and in so doing is laying the groundwork for yet another national tragedy.

McMaster's China argument is reminiscent of other arguments made by imperialists in the past, and he relies on many of the same shoddy assumptions that they did. Like British Russophobes in the mid-19th century, McMaster decided on a policy of aggressive containment and then searched for rationalizations that might justify it. Jack Snyder described this in his classic study Myths of Empire thirty years ago:

Russia is portrayed as a unitary, rational actor with unlimited aims of conquest, but fortunately averse to risk and weak if stopped soon enough. (p. 168)

McMaster uses the same "paper tiger image" to portray China as an unstoppable aggressor that can nonetheless be stopped at minimal risk. He wants us to believe that China is at once implacable but easily deterred, insatiable but quick to back off under pressure. We have seen the same contradictory arguments from hawks on other issues, but it is particularly dangerous to promote such a misleading image of a nuclear-armed major power. about the author Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review , Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter .

[May 05, 2020] 50 Years Of Unhinged, Televised Presidential Warmongering by Jim Bovard

Notable quotes:
"... Presidential determinations based on secret (and often false) information were sufficient to legally absolve any killings or calamities abroad. ..."
"... In 1999, Clinton unilaterally attacked Serbia, killing up to 1,500 Serb civilians in a 78 day bombing campaign justified to force the Serb government to embrace human rights and ethnic tolerance. Serbia had taken no aggression against the United States, but that did not deter Clinton from bombing Serb marketplaces, hospitals, factories, bridges, and the nation's largest television station (which was supposedly guilty of broadcasting anti-NATO propaganda). The House of Representatives took a vote and failed to support Clinton's war effort, and 31 congressmen sued Clinton for violating the War Powers Act. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit after deciding that the congressmen did not have legal standing to sue. Most of the U.S. media ignored dead Serb women and children and instead portrayed the bombing as a triumph of American benevolence. ..."
"... In 2011, Obama decided to bomb Libya because the U.S. disapproved of its ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton notified Congress that the White House "would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission." Plagiarizing the Bush administration, the Obama administration indicated that congressional restraints would be "an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power." ..."
May 03, 2020 | libertarianinstitute.org
Fifty years ago, President Richard Nixon popped up on national television on a Thursday night to proudly announce that he invaded Cambodia. At that time, Nixon was selling himself as a peacemaker, promising to withdraw U.S. troops from the Vietnam War. But after the sixth time that Nixon watched the movie "Patton," he was overwhelmed by martial fervor and could not resist sending U.S. troops crashing into another nation.

Presidents had announced military action prior to Nixon's Cambodia surprise but there was a surreal element to Nixon's declaration that helped launch a new era of presidential grandstanding. Ever since then, presidents have routinely gone on television to announce foreign attacks that almost always provoke widespread applause -- at least initially.

Back in 1970, congressional Democrats were outraged and denounced Nixon for launching an illegal war. In his televised speech, Nixon also warned that "the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world." Four days after Nixon's speech, Ohio National Guard troops suppressed the anarchist threat by gunning down thirteen antiwar protestors and bystanders on the campus of Kent State University, leaving four students dead.

Three years after Nixon's surprise invasion, Congress passed the War Powers Act which required the president to get authorization from Congress after committing U.S. troops to any combat situation that lasted more than 60 days. Congress was seeking to check out-of-control presidential war-making. But the law has failed to deter U.S. attacks abroad in the subsequent decades.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton launched a missile strike against Sudan after U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by terrorists. The U.S. government never produced any evidence linking the targets in Sudan to the terrorist attacks. The owners of the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant -- the largest pharmaceutical factory in East Africa -- sued for compensation after Clinton's attack demolished their facility. Eleven years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit effectively dismissed the case: "President Clinton, in his capacity as commander in chief, fired missiles at a target of his choosing to pursue a military objective he had determined was in the national interest. Under the Constitution, this decision is immune from judicial review." Presidential determinations based on secret (and often false) information were sufficient to legally absolve any killings or calamities abroad.

In 1999, Clinton unilaterally attacked Serbia, killing up to 1,500 Serb civilians in a 78 day bombing campaign justified to force the Serb government to embrace human rights and ethnic tolerance. Serbia had taken no aggression against the United States, but that did not deter Clinton from bombing Serb marketplaces, hospitals, factories, bridges, and the nation's largest television station (which was supposedly guilty of broadcasting anti-NATO propaganda). The House of Representatives took a vote and failed to support Clinton's war effort, and 31 congressmen sued Clinton for violating the War Powers Act. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit after deciding that the congressmen did not have legal standing to sue. Most of the U.S. media ignored dead Serb women and children and instead portrayed the bombing as a triumph of American benevolence.

After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush acted entitled to attack anywhere to "rid the world of evil." Congress speedily passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which the Bush administration and subsequent presidents have asserted authorizes U.S. attacks on bad guys on any square mile on earth. Congressional and judicial restraints on Bush administration killing and torturing were practically nonexistent.

Bush's excesses spurred a brief resurgence of antiwar protests which largely vanished after the election of President Barack Obama, who quickly received a Nobel Peace Prize after taking office. That honorific did not dissuade Obama from bombing seven nations, often based on secret evidence accompanied by false denials of the civilian casualties inflicted by American bombings of weddings and other bad photo ops.

In 2011, Obama decided to bomb Libya because the U.S. disapproved of its ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton notified Congress that the White House "would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission." Plagiarizing the Bush administration, the Obama administration indicated that congressional restraints would be "an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power." Obama "had the constitutional authority" to attack Libya "because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest," according to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Yale professor Bruce Ackerman lamented that "history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking."

On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump denounced his opponent as "Trigger Happy Hillary" for her enthusiasm for foreign warring. But shortly after taking office, Trump reaped his greatest inside-the-Beltway applause for launching cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government after allegations the Assad regime had used chemical weapons.

The following year, the Trump administration joined France and Britain in bombing Syria after another alleged chemical weapons attack. Several officials with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons leaked information showing that the chemical weapons accusations against the Syria government were false or contrived but that was irrelevant to the legality of the U.S. attack.

Why? Because the Justice Department ruled that President Trump could "lawfully" attack Syria "because he had reasonably determined that the use of force would be in the national interest." That legal vindication for attacking Syria cited a Justice Department analysis on Cambodia from 1970 that stated that presidents could engage U.S. forces in hostilities abroad based on a "long continued practice on the part of the Executive, acquiesced in by the Congress." The Justice Department stressed that "no U.S. airplanes crossed into Syrian air-space" and that "the actual attack lasted only a few minutes." So the bombs didn't count? If a foreign government used the same argument to shrug off a few missiles launched at Washington D.C., no one in America would be swayed that the foreign regime had not committed an act of war. But it's different when the U.S. president orders killings.

In the decades since Nixon's Cambodia speech, presidents have avoided repeating his reference to America being perceived as "a pitiful, helpless giant." But too many presidents have repeated his refrain that failing to bomb abroad would mean that "our will and character" were tested and failed. Unfortunately, the anniversary of Nixon's invasion of Cambodia passed with little or no recognition that the unchecked power of American presidents remains a grave threat to world peace.

About Jim Bovard Jim Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan (2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (2006), Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), and 7 other books. He is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, and other publications. His articles have been publicly denounced by the chief of the FBI, the Postmaster General, the Secretary of HUD, and the heads of the DEA, FEMA, and EEOC and numerous federal agencies.

[May 04, 2020] There is a disconnect between what average people feel as threats to their security and what the Beltway does

May 04, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

"There is a disconnect between what average people feel as threats to their security and what the Beltway does," said Khanna, "I don't dismiss traditional challenges. Obviously you have Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, and Russian election interference. Obviously, you have the rise of China authoritarian capitalism and their foray into Africa and their potential disruption of the navigation of the seas."

Khanna said his constituents understand the challenges posed by Russia and China, but they want the country to balance these priorities against the need to prepare for future pandemics, the effects of climate change and the risks posed by cyberattacks and emerging technologies.

For years, the former threats have dominated American national security strategy - and federal spending priorities. "We have a $740 billion Pentagon budget," Khanna said. "That's $130 billion more than where Obama had it. To put that into context, that $130 billion could triple the NIH budget" and boost funds for the CDC and FEMA.

"In other words, if Trump had put that money into our public health, we would not have had this pandemic to the extent that we have," he continued. "We would have had testing earlier. We possibly could have had a faster track to a cure or to a vaccine."

Concern over this programmatic imbalance could also dog passage of the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. Khanna said that progressives are likely to withhold support if the bill does not "show very compelling reasons" spending increases are tied directly to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Asked if he thought moderate Democrats could join with Republicans to force the bill through the House, Khanna replied that he was "not dismissing" the possibility but warned that they would be "writing off a lot of the progressive base and the independent base."

Khanna says that he has learned from last year, when all the measures passed by the House were stripped out in conference with the Republican-controlled Senate. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on us. We're not going to pass a bill without an iron commitment that they're going to keep some of those top priorities." Included in his list are prohibitions for any unauthorized war with North Korea and with Iran, both passed last year by the House and stripped by the Senate.

Khanna hopes the House will serve as a proving ground for new ideas about the relationship between military spending and the nation's safety. "We need to have a new approach to national security in the 21st century," he said. "We need people in our generation who are not derivative thinkers, recycling what they learned from the Cold War, but who are willing to be original."

"I don't underestimate the status quo," Khanna concluded. "We can be optimistic and then end up defaulting to the same thinking and same people. But I'm hopeful that this crisis really will make us re-examine some of these questions."

"That's our challenge."

The entire interview with Rep. Khanna is available here on Press The Button starting at 10pm tonight.

Joe Cirincione is the president and Zack Brown a policy associate at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

[May 04, 2020] Masks Over Missiles New Rules for Pentagon Funding Could Mean No New ICBMs The National Interest

May 04, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

Representative Ro Khanna (D.-CA) recently laid down some new rules for the Pentagon budget: Fund public health over weapons; freeze defense programs at current levels; resist Senate pressure to cave on House priorities; and develop a "modern, expansive definition of national security that includes the risk of pandemics and climate change." High on his list of possible cuts are the massive increases for new nuclear weapons proposed by President Donald Trump, including a freeze on the new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

High on his list of possible cuts are the massive increases for new nuclear weapons proposed by President Donald Trump, including a freeze on the new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He will also press for sound national security policies to be included in the annual Pentagon spending bill and for the House leadership to defend these priorities.

"One place we're looking is to limit the modernization of ICBMs," he said in an interview on the national security podcast, Press The Button . Instead, Khanna wants Congress to "put that money into coronavirus research, or vaccine research, or developing manufacturing capacity for masks. I think those types of red lines are not only possible but would be politically very popular."

Khanna's views carry great weight with his colleagues and within national security circles. Serving his second term in the House, he is the first vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus , a member of the House Armed Services Committee , and was co-chair for Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

His opposition to the new missile comes just weeks after the U.S. Air Force announced it seeks to accelerate the missile program marked by cost overruns and a controversial bidding process that left Northrop Grumman as the sole contractor. The new missile could cost as much as $150 billion . Air Force program managers are speeding "to get things awarded on contract as quickly as possible," noted budget expert Todd Harrison, "so that becomes harder to reverse if there's a new administration."

Khanna called the land-based leg of the nuclear triad "one of the greatest threats of nuclear war," noting that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis once testified to their "false alarm danger." He said he is working with another former defense secretary, William Perry, who has termed these missiles "some of the most dangerous weapons in the world," and called for their phase-out.

Khanna's new rules could thwart the furious lobbying by defense contractors for billions of dollars in the next COVID aid package. He says these funds should be put into more critical areas and that defense contractors should get "not a dime." "We should not be increasing funding for industries that don't need it, that aren't critical to coronavirus, that aren't critical to our national security, that are just going to the defense industrial base," Khanna said. "It's just not the priority right now."

Khanna picked up some heavyweight support for this position when Rep. Adam Smith (D.-WA), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced last Wednesday that he, too, was opposed to new funds for defense contractors.

"The defense [budget] last year was $738 billion," said Smith. "I'm not saying that there aren't needs within the Department of Defense, I'm saying they have a lot of money and ought to spend that money to meet those needs." A letter by 62 national organizations to the House leadership last week also opposed any additional funds to the Pentagon this year.

This opposition by a leader of the Progressive Caucus and by the highest-ranking national security Democrat in Congress, moreover, comes amid growing calls for a fundamental rethink of U.S. national security in response to the pandemic.

... ... ...

For years, the former threats have dominated American national security strategy - and federal spending priorities. "We have a $740 billion Pentagon budget," Khanna said. "That's $130 billion more than where Obama had it. To put that into context, that $130 billion could triple the NIH budget" and boost funds for the CDC and FEMA.

"In other words, if Trump had put that money into our public health, we would not have had this pandemic to the extent that we have," he continued. "We would have had testing earlier. We possibly could have had a faster track to a cure or to a vaccine."

Concern over this programmatic imbalance could also dog passage of the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. Khanna said that progressives are likely to withhold support if the bill does not "show very compelling reasons" spending increases are tied directly to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Asked if he thought moderate Democrats could join with Republicans to force the bill through the House, Khanna replied that he was "not dismissing" the possibility but warned that they would be "writing off a lot of the progressive base and the independent base."

Khanna says that he has learned from last year, when all the measures passed by the House were stripped out in conference with the Republican-controlled Senate. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on us. We're not going to pass a bill without an iron commitment that they're going to keep some of those top priorities." Included in his list are prohibitions for any unauthorized war with North Korea and with Iran, both passed last year by the House and stripped by the Senate.

Khanna hopes the House will serve as a proving ground for new ideas about the relationship between military spending and the nation's safety. "We need to have a new approach to national security in the 21st century," he said. "We need people in our generation who are not derivative thinkers, recycling what they learned from the Cold War, but who are willing to be original."

"I don't underestimate the status quo," Khanna concluded. "We can be optimistic and then end up defaulting to the same thinking and same people. But I'm hopeful that this crisis really will make us re-examine some of these questions."

"That's our challenge."

The entire interview with Rep. Khanna is available here on Press The Button starting at 10pm tonight.

[May 03, 2020] Never in my country: COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Notable quotes:
"... Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World." ..."
"... In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy. ..."
"... The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization. ..."
"... In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit. ..."
"... Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness. ..."
"... The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace. ..."
"... To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over. ..."
Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[May 02, 2020] Exceptionalism is not a mandate for the reckless pursuit of peripheral objectives at the expense of real global priorities, nor for championing short-term gains over America's long-term interest without anticipating predictable consequences

May 02, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

America was and remains an exceptional nation in terms of the spirit of its people, creativity of its economic system, and ability to adapt to new circumstances. But exceptionalism is not a mandate for the reckless pursuit of peripheral objectives at the expense of real global priorities, nor for championing short-term gains over America's long-term interest without anticipating predictable consequences. The Chinese character for "crisis" famously carries a second meaning: "opportunity." Although the world currently finds itself in the center of an existential crisis, a promising opportunity may well rest just over the horizon.

[May 01, 2020] American exceptionalism marriage to "Full spectrum Dominance" doctrine proved to be especially toxic: neocons were so preoccupied with remaking the world they failed to see that our country was falling apart

May 01, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The heart of the American exceptionalism in question is American hubris. It is based on the assumption that we are better than the rest of the world, and that this superiority both entitles and obligates us to take on an outsized role in the world.

In our current foreign policy debates, the phrase "American exceptionalism" has served as a shorthand for justifying and celebrating U.S. dominance, and when necessary it has served as a blanket excuse for U.S. wrongdoing. Seongjong Song defined it in an 2015 article for The Korean Journal of International Studies this way: "American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is "qualitatively different" from all other nations." In practice, that has meant that the U.S. does not consider itself to be bound by the same rules that apply to other states, and it reserves the right to interfere whenever and wherever it wishes.

American exceptionalism has been used in our political debates as an ideological purity test to determine whether certain political leaders are sufficiently supportive of an activist and interventionist foreign policy. The main purpose of invoking American exceptionalism in foreign policy debate has been to denigrate less hawkish policy views as unpatriotic and beyond the pale. The phrase was often used as a partisan cudgel in the previous decade as the Obama administration's critics tried to cast doubt on the former president's acceptance of this idea, but in the years since then it has become a rallying point for devotees of U.S. primacy regardless of party. There was an explosion in the use of the phrase in just the first few years of the 2010s compared with the previous decades. Song cited a study that showed this massive increase:

Exceptionalist discourse is on the rise in American politics. Terrence McCoy (2012) found that the term "American exceptionalism" appeared in US publications 457 times between 1980 and 2000, climbing to 2,558 times in the 2000s and 4,172 times in 2010-12.

The more that U.S. policies have proved "American exceptionalism" to be a pernicious myth at odds with reality, the more we have heard the phrase used to defend those policies. Republican hawks began the decade by accusing Obama of not believing in this "exceptionalism," and some Democratic hawks closed it out by "reclaiming" the idea on behalf of their own discredited foreign policy vision. There may be differences in emphasis between the two camps, but there is a consensus that the U.S. has special rights and privileges that other nations cannot have. That has translated into waging unnecessary wars, assuming excessive overseas burdens, and trampling on the rights of other states, and all the while congratulating ourselves on how virtuous we are for doing all of it.

The contemporary version of American exceptionalism is tied up inextricably with the belief that the U.S. is the "indispensable nation." According to this view, without U.S. "leadership" other countries will be unable or unwilling to respond to major international problems and threats. We have seen just how divorced from reality that belief is in just the last few months. There has been no meaningful U.S. leadership in response to the pandemic, but for the most part our allies have managed on their own fairly well. In the absence of U.S. "leadership," many other countries have demonstrated that they haven't really needed the U.S. Our "indispensability" is a story that we like to tell ourselves, but it isn't true. Not only are we no longer indispensable, but as Micah Zenko pointed out many years ago, we never were.


Vhailor 2 days ago

We would do well if we put away this boastful fantasy and learned how to live like a normal nation.

You won't. It always takes a humiliating military defeat or a societal collapse to reevalute such myths.

Megan S Vhailor a day ago
What has been the history of this country since the end of the cold war aside from humiliating military defeats and societal collapse?
Vhailor Megan S a day ago
The numerous foreign misadventures of the US military since 1989 are far from a humiliating military defeat, they are more of an embarassment for the ruling elites. Take for example Afganistan - how many soldiers did the US army lose there in 18 years? 2500? That's nothing compared to the strength and resources available to the Pentagon.

Societal collapse? I admit the living standards of the average working class Joe fell dramatically compared to the 90's, but you are far from a societal collapse. It won't happen as long as the US Dollar is the world currency. Believe me :)

Gary Sellars Vhailor a day ago • edited
The dollars days are numbered. You can't degrade a fiat currency by endless printing with reckless abandon and expect that the other nations of the planet will retain any trust that the scrip will remain a reliable store of value.

BTW Afghanistan is an unmitigated DISASTER. The "hyperpower" cannot impose its will on one of the most backward and impoverised nations on the planet. Heck the Soviets did better in their day, and they had to face a billion-dollar-a-year foreign-backed insurgency funded by US & Saudi, and backed to the hilt by Pakistan. By comparison, the Taliban have NO allies and no foreign funding, yet try as they might, neither the US nor its feckless puppet regime in Kabul can succeed in grinding them down.

Feral Finster Gary Sellars a day ago
Were to God that you are correct.
Inn caritas Vhailor a day ago
If I were a statistical man, I'd wager that civil war within the decade is highly unlikely if the current trajectory of US society continues
Inn caritas Inn caritas a day ago
Highly likely*
Vhailor Inn caritas a day ago
Hmmm... I wouldn't. Who would fight whom? Or would it be a free for all Mad Max style?

You Americans have this weird fascination with the apocalyptic. Seriously, just look at your movies - each year Hollywood dishes out at least half a dozen blockbusters dealing with societal collapse - be it due to an alien invasion, zombie plague, impact event or something else...

I admit, you have problems. The middle class is getting poorer each year, mass imigration from the southern side of your continent is tearing apart the social fabric and your elite got richer and more arrogant sice they embraced globalisation in the 90's. But this doesn't mean that the country is heading towards a civil war.

Inn caritas Vhailor a day ago
Well .... I'm not even American so I feel I can look at this somewhat More objectively than a hardcore blue or red stater. Still hard to tell whether covid will put a wrench in the trajectory or accelerate it. And if you want apocalypticism, go see Rod.
Gio Con Vhailor a day ago
Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan -- how many more humiliating military defeats will it take for Americans to realize that they are anything but exceptional?
ZizaNiam Gio Con a day ago • edited
Americans view killing foreign men, women, and children as a successful endeavor of their efforts to fight for freedom. American also are not bothered if their soldiers torture and rape foreign men, women and children. So these wars are not seen as failures but successes, even if actual geopolitical goals are not realized.
Gutbomb Vhailor a day ago
"You won't. It always takes a humiliating military defeat or a societal collapse to reevalute such myths."

I would go a bit further and say that Americans won't reevaluate those myths until they personally feel the pain from those things and they blame their pain on the government that caused them. So much of our current policies are guided by the principal of making sure that Americans do not feel the pain of their government's actions. We eliminated the draft so most Americans have no skin in the game regarding military conflicts (not to mention no war taxes, no goods rationing, etc.). We have come to expect bottomless economic "stimulus," borrowed from our children's future labor, so we feel minimal pain from the poor preparation for the pandemic. Bread and circuses have proven to be powerful manipulation tools indeed.

Fazal Majid 2 days ago • edited
The US is remarkably insular, in large part because it is a mostly self-sufficient (or used to be) nation-continent, but the hubristic idea of exceptionalism also makes us resistant to good ideas invented elsewhere.

As concerns COVID-19, I have a number of physicians in my family, and it's only on March 16th that they awakened to the crisis, a week after France officially announced it was going into lockdown or after London basically became a ghost town. One of them even took her kids to Disneyland around that time, something that seemed the height of irresponsibility to us at the time. Thus obliviousness is not just a feature of the Trump administration. The lone exception is tech companies, perhaps because they are more globalized than most, but the Washington policy navel-gazing circle-jerk is mostly oblivious to the West Coast.

Now the idea that some crises can only be solved with US leadership is not without merit. Just because we cannot solve all doesn't mean there aren't some important categories where our military might and logistic prowess carry the day. That COVID-19 would prove to be an especially tough challenge for the US was entirely predictable. From our fractured decision-making due to federalism, our abysmally inefficient health-care system with its huge swathes of uninsured, our ideology of free market solutions to everything, and our polarized and ineffectual legislature, made this crisis almost tailor-made to expose the fault-lines in our brittle society in the worst possible light.

I don't think we need to ape the Chinese, but certainly we need to look outward for a change, shed our not-invented-here mentality and look at how South Korea or New Zealand succeeded where we failed, despite having a fraction of our resources.

Augustine Fazal Majid 9 hours ago • edited
What military might which has not been able to win any war that it started ever? What logistic prowess that cannot make PPEs for at least the healthcare workers, not to mention toilet paper for the people?
t44s 2 days ago
excellent article Daniel! My thoughts exactly!
Jeffrey Groom 2 days ago
Great article Daniel.
Wally 2 days ago
I would love to see all our political leaders (and their media friends) respond to the observations by Mr. Bacevich and Mr. Larison. Of course, I agree with both of them. Perhaps this economic crisis combined with the pandemic will finally break america. It's a shame it has come to this. Must we endure economic collapse, starvation, and the corruption / looting by the wealthy in order to finally stop caring about imaginary threats half way around the world? I suspect the answer is yes. Americans will never abandon their arrogance until they are laid low by something.
Feral Finster Wally a day ago
"A wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf's right to eat him. He thus addressed him: "Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me."

"Indeed," bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, "I was not then born."

Then said the Wolf, "You feed in my pasture."

"No, good sir," replied the Lamb, "I have not yet tasted grass."

Again said the Wolf, "You drink of my well."

"No," exclaimed the Lamb, "I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me."
Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, "Well! I won't remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations."

Moral: The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny."

**************************

For a few more years, the US will have absolute power over other people and we will use that power in an absolutely corrupt way at the behest of our overlords in Riyadh and Jerusalem. When retribution finally comes our way, no one will shed a tear for us.

Nor should they, for we do evil.

Sidney Caesar Wally a day ago
I'd endorse restoring civics classes in American schools, with a reading list comprised of Daniel Larison, Andrew Bacevich, and Noam Chomsky.
JoeBu 2 days ago • edited
How long will it take and how bad will it get?

The Qianlong Emperor dismissed Lord Macartney's trade mission in 1792 because the celestial kingdom had no need for the manufacturers of barbarians.

China then got whooped in the first Opium War in 1841. It continued to rot for +100 years.

China had a major exceptionalism problem which hamstrung reform efforts for a century. Some of it is still ongoing (another topic).

I'm trying to figure out what psychological decompensation will look like and how long it will last.

Kent JoeBu 2 days ago
The US has long been a myth-making factory for the population. The average American has a pretty rough life. Generally strapped with debt (mortgage, cars), working a dead-end job with little protection should you lose it. But people are tribal and can get their sense of self-worth from the tribe. So to be constantly told you are "exceptional" and part of the "greatest nation the world has ever known" can cover up a lot of pain in real life. See New England Patriots fans or LSU Tigers fans.

So while being so exceptional, you get to spend hours trying to figure out which Obamacare policy won't cost so much that it takes up all of your extra monthly cash while simultaneously leaving you thousands in debt if you actually needed to use it.

JoeBu Kent 2 days ago • edited
Agree. So decompensation. Is it an opportunity to right the ship or does it get real ugly?
Kent JoeBu a day ago • edited
I tend to think the psychological decomposition is on-going. Americans know that something is terribly wrong, but they can't seem to put their collective finger on it. The Trump vote was a big signal that folks know something is wrong. The hope was that Trump could fix it, but he just knew something was wrong too. He didn't know how to fix it, but at least he is willing to talk about it.

But I don't see how you right the ship. What's wrong is that what got us to be a wealthy powerful country today isn't what is going to keep us that way going forward. That's very hard for people at all levels of society to understand and accept.

So I expect a continued devolution. Where it gets increasingly "real ugly" for a lot of people, while a lot of us continue to do fairly well. You have to have a lot of hope your kids can make it too.

Feral Finster Kent a day ago
Americans know that something is terribly wrong and getting worse by the day and by the crisis, but they seems to think that tribal solutions are the answer.
JoeBu Feral Finster a day ago
Agree.

America, as a society, has high functioning autism.

Something is wrong but in good times, it can really outperform and faults can be overlooked.

But when its routine is disrupted, it will have meltdowns and tantrums.

Feral Finster JoeBu 9 hours ago
Empires tend to do that, especially as they find that they are no longer as omnipotent as they think they are, or as they once were.
JoeBu Kent a day ago
Decompensation cratered China for over a century.

Modernity should speed up this cycle, no?

Russia cratered for a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has moderately recovered. Not so great but not 100 years.

kouroi Kent a day ago
So true. An eye opening set of essays goes to the hart of this: Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War Paperback by Joe Bageant.

However, that book hasn't received the same fame and traction as this other one (and I am looking at you TAC and Rod Dreher as well): Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance and this is because in the first the author focuses on the system as the one that produces certain results while on the other the author puts more weight on individual choices, the darling idea of conservatives, the lifting oneself by bootstraps, the American success story of rags to riches...

Feral Finster JoeBu a day ago
Opium is not native to China. The reason that the British pushed opium on China, in spite of the strenuous objections of the Chinese governments and officials of the time, is because before the Opium Wars, trade with China was causing a worldwide shortage of silver. Silver was about the only thing that non-Chinese had that Chinese wanted. Until opium.

In fact, at least one Chinse official wrote Queen Victoria a letter to the effect that opium is forbidden in Great Britain, so why are you trying to push it on us here?

EliteCommInc. 2 days ago
"The coronavirus pandemic is a curse. It should also serve as an opportunity, Americans at long last realizing that they are not God's agents. Out of suffering and loss, humility and self-awareness might emerge. We can only hope."

Laugh. ohhh you guys need to stop. The virus is not an indication that God is denying an exceptional role for the US. A star athlete is exceptional and may even be fascinating. However,

the reality remains that in order to stay exceptional, fascinating and "indispensable" ---- there are things that athelete must do and and there are things that athelete must avoid doing.

We have engaged in a lot of things we should avoid and neglected some matters that would be helpful in maintaining our own health and care --- damaging our exceptional performance.

Jesse Owens and the Bolt, Usain bolt don't participate in every event and they don't run in every race all the time . . .

It simply is unsustainable.

I of course reject all the whining bout how we, the US, are not exceptional --- and while dispensable, or value on the planet remains vital.

kouroi EliteCommInc. a day ago
"value"? more like "impact"... and "vital"? For about 100 years China was an object of history rather than subject, no biggie. The World would need a breather with a bit of hiatus concerning the US.
Wally EliteCommInc. a day ago
If the virus is not gods curse then the equally foolish notion that Americans are gods agents ought to be rejected as well. I think you have misunderstood the context of the reference to gods.
=marco01= EliteCommInc. a day ago
The virus is not an indication that God is denying an exceptional role for the US.

But a natural disaster striking a blue state, that totally is an indication God is punishing them for their degeneracy.

EmpireLoyalist 2 days ago
Two constitutional amendment movements must come out of this crisis:
1) Large metropolitan areas must be detached from the states in which they reside. It is beyond tragic to see civilised people, with deep roots and traditional values, come under the tyranny of brutal marxist regimes - as we see in so many places from Virginia to NY to Pennsylvania to Illinois. We have giant colonies of government dependents and cube-dwellers, which are being used by the Left as vote plantations. The governments they produce are then inflicted on normal decent innocent people who just happen to live within the same state lines. This can't be allowed to continue.
2) Anybody (like Bill Gates) who engages in planning or promoting policies that would treat humans as livestock (e.g., by tracking them with implanted micro-chips) should be charged with crimes against humanity.
It would be an uphill battle to achieve these goals, but if we do not start right away, the next crisis could be used by the Left to impose their sick vicious perverted social engineering programme - which would mean the end of human civilisation and of the human race as we know it.
Doug Fister EmpireLoyalist a day ago
wow, what a deranged, reality-free comment.
Freespeak EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Whoa amazing, this is like unreasoning.
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Who would want to implant chips in people who willingly pay hundreds of dollars for a portable device that facilitates tracking the owner?

As far as separating metropolitan areas from surrounding rural areas, it would exacerbate a problem that is already developing. The structure of Congress is already weighted toward rural states. Anything that increases that advantage will mean that more people are governed by fewer people. That's not going to make the US a more stable country.

Awake and Uttering a Song EmpireLoyalist a day ago
View Hide
EmpireLoyalist EmpireLoyalist a day ago • edited
The readership of TAC are predominantly committed Leftists.
This comment appears to have touched a nerve.
These measures would impede implementation of The Agenda.
Excellent.
Sidney Caesar EmpireLoyalist a day ago
While there are certainly leftists (like myself) among TAC readership, the thing that distinguishes most TAC readers from folks like yourself is that we reside on the left side of the sanity/insanity divide.
EmpireLoyalist Sidney Caesar a day ago
The commenters here seem to feel these two ideas are crazy:
1) Civilised people should not be placed under the power of people they view as primitive bloodthirsty degenerates.
2) Human beings should not be treated as livestock - tracked and managed by a post-human ruling class.
If The Left believes these ideas are insane, we have a big problem.
That is confirmation that the chasm between Western Civilisation and the marxist ideology is absolutely unbridgeable. There is zero overlap - zero common ground. [In fact, the two are so far apart that one can't see the other with a telescope on a clear day.]
We need to be moving toward some form of separation - whether that means a peaceful partition like the Soviet Union in the early nineties, a loose confederation like the British Commonwealth, or maybe a defence/foreign policy alliance based on the NATO model.
Sidney Caesar EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Ideas are just ideas.
It's the people with those ideas who are crazy.
EmpireLoyalist Sidney Caesar a day ago
"Sane people have crazy ideas. Crazy people have sane ideas."
It's gonna be tough to sell that one.
Are you really just saying that we should submit to an insane ideology because the people promoting it are just the coolest, most fabulous people ever?
The normal humans are not buying that garbage.
That's why marxism always turns to extreme violence.
Socialism cannot compete, so it must conquer. It cannot persuade, so it must coerce and terrorise.
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Have you not noticed that we seem to be doing our fair share of conquering, coercing and terrorizing in the last 40 years?
Ruth Harris EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Probably the difference is in who either side defines as "primitive bloodthirsty degenerates" and "a post-human ruling class."
gnt EmpireLoyalist a day ago
Every time I see the "the Left" used as the subject of a sentence, it always seems to follow that the writer does not know what he's talking about, and probably does not know any actual leftists who think or do what the writer is claiming they think or do. When you build straw men from information you get on Fox News, you're not likely to get much more than ill-founded generalizations.
Gutbomb gnt a day ago
Any time you see a comment that repeats "the Left/Liberals/Democrats believe X" and "the Right/Conservatives/Republicans believe Y" you can bet that it will not be insightful.

[May 01, 2020] It Took COVID To Expose the Fraud of 'American Exceptionalism' by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
Apr 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

12:01 am

Our leaders were so preoccupied with remaking the world they failed to see that our country was falling apart around them. Has the time come to bury the conceit of American exceptionalism? In an article for the American edition of The Spectator , Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich concludes just that:

The coronavirus pandemic is a curse. It should also serve as an opportunity, Americans at long last realizing that they are not God's agents. Out of suffering and loss, humility and self-awareness might emerge. We can only hope.

The heart of the American exceptionalism in question is American hubris. It is based on the assumption that we are better than the rest of the world, and that this superiority both entitles and obligates us to take on an outsized role in the world.

In our current foreign policy debates, the phrase "American exceptionalism" has served as a shorthand for justifying and celebrating U.S. dominance, and when necessary it has served as a blanket excuse for U.S. wrongdoing. Seongjong Song defined it in an 2015 article for The Korean Journal of International Studies this way: "American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is "qualitatively different" from all other nations." In practice, that has meant that the U.S. does not consider itself to be bound by the same rules that apply to other states, and it reserves the right to interfere whenever and wherever it wishes.

American exceptionalism has been used in our political debates as an ideological purity test to determine whether certain political leaders are sufficiently supportive of an activist and interventionist foreign policy. The main purpose of invoking American exceptionalism in foreign policy debate has been to denigrate less hawkish policy views as unpatriotic and beyond the pale. The phrase was often used as a partisan cudgel in the previous decade as the Obama administration's critics tried to cast doubt on the former president's acceptance of this idea, but in the years since then it has become a rallying point for devotees of U.S. primacy regardless of party. There was an explosion in the use of the phrase in just the first few years of the 2010s compared with the previous decades. Song cited a study that showed this massive increase:

Exceptionalist discourse is on the rise in American politics. Terrence McCoy (2012) found that the term "American exceptionalism" appeared in US publications 457 times between 1980 and 2000, climbing to 2,558 times in the 2000s and 4,172 times in 2010-12.

The more that U.S. policies have proved "American exceptionalism" to be a pernicious myth at odds with reality, the more we have heard the phrase used to defend those policies. Republican hawks began the decade by accusing Obama of not believing in this "exceptionalism," and some Democratic hawks closed it out by "reclaiming" the idea on behalf of their own discredited foreign policy vision. There may be differences in emphasis between the two camps, but there is a consensus that the U.S. has special rights and privileges that other nations cannot have. That has translated into waging unnecessary wars, assuming excessive overseas burdens, and trampling on the rights of other states, and all the while congratulating ourselves on how virtuous we are for doing all of it.

The contemporary version of American exceptionalism is tied up inextricably with the belief that the U.S. is the "indispensable nation." According to this view, without U.S. "leadership" other countries will be unable or unwilling to respond to major international problems and threats. We have seen just how divorced from reality that belief is in just the last few months. There has been no meaningful U.S. leadership in response to the pandemic, but for the most part our allies have managed on their own fairly well. In the absence of U.S. "leadership," many other countries have demonstrated that they haven't really needed the U.S. Our "indispensability" is a story that we like to tell ourselves, but it isn't true. Not only are we no longer indispensable, but as Micah Zenko pointed out many years ago, we never were.

It was 22 years ago when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright publicly declared the United States to be the "indispensable nation": "If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us."

In a recent interview with The New York T imes, Albright sounded much less sure of her old position: "There's nothing in the definition of indispensable that says "alone." It means that the United States needs to be engaged with its partners. And people's backgrounds make a difference." Albright's original statement was an aggressive assertion that America was both extraordinarily powerful and unusually farsighted, and that legitimized the frequent U.S. recourse to using force.

After two decades of calamitous failures that have highlighted our weaknesses and foolishness, even she can't muster up the old enthusiasm that she once had. No one could look back at the last 20 years of U.S. foreign policy and still honestly say that "we see further" into the future than others. Not only are we no better than other countries at anticipating and preparing for future dangers, but judging from the country's lack of preparedness for a pandemic we are actually far behind many of the countries that we have presumed to "lead." It is impossible to square our official self-congratulatory rhetoric with the reality of a government that is incapable of protecting its citizens from disaster.

The poor U.S. response to the pandemic has not only exposed many of the country's serious faults, but it has also caused a crisis of faith in the prevailing mythology that American political leaders and pundits have been promoting for decades. This found expression most recently in a rather odd article in The New York Times last week. The framing of the story makes it into a lament for a collapsing ideology:

The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism -- the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.

The curious thing about this description is that it takes for granted that "fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism" haven't been thoroughly shaken long before now. The "special role" mentioned here was never going to last forever, and in some respects it was more imaginary than real. It was a period in our history that we should seek to understand and learn from, but we also need to recognize that it was transitory and already ended some time ago.

If American exceptionalism is now "on trial," as another recent article put it , it is because it offered up a pleasing but false picture of how we relate to the rest of the world. Over the last two decades, we have seen that picture diverge more and more from real life. The false picture gives political leaders an excuse to take reckless and disastrous actions as long as they can spin them as being expressions of "who we are" as a country. At the same time, they remain blind to the country's real vulnerabilities. It is a measure of how powerful the illusion of American exceptionalism is that it still has such a hold on so many people's minds even now, but it has not been a harmless illusion.

While our leaders have been patting themselves on the back for the enlightened "leadership" that they imagine they are providing to the world, they have neglected the country's urgent needs and allowed many parts of our system to fall into disrepair and ruin. They have also visited enormous destruction on many other countries in the name of "helping" them. The same hubris that has warped foreign policy decisions over the decades has encouraged a dangerous complacency about the problems in our own country. We can't let that continue. Our leaders were so preoccupied with trying to remake other parts of the world that they failed to see that our country was falling apart all around them.

American exceptionalism has been the story that our leaders told us to excuse their neglect of America. It is a flattering story, but ultimately it is a vain one that distracts us from protecting our own country and people. We would do well if we put away this boastful fantasy and learned how to live like a normal nation.

[Apr 30, 2020] Pompeo's Cynical Attack on the Nuclear Deal by Daniel Larison

Apr 27, 2020 | www.antiwar.com

Originally appeared at The American Conservative .

The Trump administration has been desperately trying to kill the nuclear deal for the last two years after reneging on it. Now they will try to kill it by pretending to be part of it again:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a legal argument that the United States remains a participant in the Iran nuclear accord that President Trump has renounced, part of an intricate strategy to pressure the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Tehran or see far more stringent sanctions reimposed on the country.

The administration's latest destructive ploy won't find any support on the Security Council. There is nothing "intricate" about this idea. It is a crude, heavy-handed attempt to employ the JCPOA's own provisions to destroy it. It is just the latest in a series of administration moves that tries to have things both ways. They want to renege on U.S. commitments while still refusing to allow Iran to benefit from the agreement, and they ultimately hope to make things difficult enough for Iran that their government chooses to give up on the agreement. It reeks of bad faith and contempt for international law, and all other governments will be able to see right through it. Some of our European allies have already said as much:

European diplomats who have learned of the effort maintain that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo are selectively choosing whether they are still in the agreement to fit their agenda.

It is significant that the Trump administration feels compelled to go through this charade after telling everyone for years that the U.S. is no longer in the deal. Until now, Trump administration officials have been unwavering in saying that the U.S. is out of the deal and can't be considered a participant in it:

Can't wait to see the tortured memo out of State/L claiming that somehow the U.S. is still a participant in the JCPOA. The May 8, 2018 announcement is literally titled "Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA ." https://t.co/I5t8LaC7dN

-- Richard Johnson (@johnsonrc01) April 26, 2020

[Apr 29, 2020] Trump, despite pretty slick deception during his election campaign, is an typical imperialist and rabid militarist. His administration continuredand in some areas exceeded the hostility of Obama couse against Russia

Highly recommended!
One of trademarks of Trump administration is his that he despises international law and relies on "might makes right" principle all the time. In a way he is a one trick pony, typical unhinged bully.
In a way Pompeo is the fact of Trump administration foreign policy, and it is not pretty
Apr 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Passer by , Apr 29 2020 17:32 utc | 7
It is mostly, though not only, Trump related or libertarian pseudo "alt media" behind "just the flu" theories or "China unleashed virus to attack US".

There is a small military/zionist cabal at the White House that is pushing for that information war in order to prop up the dying US empire as well as US oligarhic business interests, and to secure Trump reelection prospects.

It is enough to see how Zerohedge have been turned into full blown imperialist media with many "evil China" outbursts every day.

Beware of Trumptards infiltrating alt media to prop up the dying US Empire and its business interests.

Trump is the biggest US imperialist for the last 30 years. He made a good job at deceiving many anti-system voices.

His WTO attacks are too part of US efforts to take over the organisation. His has no problem with international institutions as long as they are US empire controlled (such as OPCW, WADA, etc.)

Trump-tards and related libertarians (Zerohedge etc.) made their choice on the side of global US imperialism (driven by their hidden racism, hence the evil "chinks" making a good enemy) and are now the enemy of the multipolar world.

Trump is scum. He turned on Russia and Assange after he got into the White House and did far more against Russia than even Obama. I say that as someone who initially made the mistake to support him.

[Apr 29, 2020] Even a Pandemic Can't Kill Threat Inflation

Notable quotes:
"... The US behaves this way because increasingly its the military that forms the primary lever of US power. They need to create a sense of fear to justify the $1T that the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex consumes every year with zero real-world benefit for the poor tax-payers who are given no choice but to fund it. ..."
"... Oh no... imagine a nation-state exerting regional control over a regional issue without us being involved! The horror! The HORROR! ..."
"... Neocons never saw a country they didn't want to invade, nor any event beyond our national borders which was not a threat, nor any thing happening within our borders that did not justify a military escalation. Sadly, instead of remaining ex- Trotskyites on the fringe, they have become the mainstream in certain circles, mostly centering on the Pentagon and Congress. ..."
"... Unfortunately the US has forgotten that it was once a weak military power and that only through lengthy diplomatic negotiations would they have any real chance of achieving its commercial and political goals. Now that the US has massive military power successive administrations have been blindly seduced in to thinking that using military power is a rational substitute for diplomacy. ..."
"... Imagine all the nice things America could have if its defense budget were only, say, $300 billion dollars, i.e. still larger than any other country's . The $400 billion saved would buy a lot of ventilators and PPE, among other things. ..."
Apr 29, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

here have been news reports in the last few days that have portrayed fairly routine behavior by other states as an attempt to "take advantage" of the U.S. during the pandemic. The incidents in question are consistent with how these states were behaving before the outbreak. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that China continues increasing its control in the Spratly and Paracel islands. This is something that the Chinese government has been doing for decades before now, but this is how it was described in the article:

In recent weeks, Beijing has conducted operations to gain more of a foothold in the Spratly and Paracel island chains in the South China Sea, emblematic of China's attempts to assert its influence around the world.

In other words, China continued a policy in its own backyard that it has been pursuing since before the turn of the century, but because it is happening at the same time as the pandemic it is treated as somehow more menacing than before. How asserting territorial claims on their doorstep is "emblematic" of asserting influence "around the world" is left to the reader's imagination. This is not just a problem of strange framing in media reports. U.S. officials are promoting the idea that other states are "taking advantage" by simply doing the same things they have done many times in the past:

While some of the operations might have been planned before the pandemic swept the globe, U.S. officials said American rivals like China are capitalizing on the Trump administration's diverted attention and the strains on its military.

"Beijing is a net beneficiary of global attention diverted towards the pandemic rather than military activities in the South China Sea," said Navy Capt. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Indo-Pacific Command, Honolulu.

Claims like this raise an obvious question: what would the U.S. have been doing to discourage this behavior if there were no pandemic? As far as I can tell, there is nothing that the U.S. could or should be doing that would make China less likely to pursue its claims in the South China Sea. The U.S. conducts so-called "freedom of navigation" operations (FONOPs) all the time, but this has had no effect on anything China does. If the U.S. is not able to conduct these operations right now, that doesn't invite more aggressive behavior from China because the FONOPs weren't deterring anything in the first place. That strongly suggests that the U.S. is wasting its time and resources on operations that serve no purpose.

The claim here that adversaries are using the coronavirus timeout to test US will is silly; they're calling military activity that would've occurred anyway a test. What we're really seeing is that presence patrols said to be vital to deterrence are an expensive waste of time. pic.twitter.com/RzNBpHUm16

-- Ben Friedman (@BH_Friedman) April 17, 2020

Similarly, recent "harassment" of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf by Iranian boats is more proof that the U.S. did not "restore deterrence" with Iran when it assassinated Soleimani at the start of the year. That shows that the administration's Iran policy continues to backfire. If adversaries are supposed to be taking advantage of a distracted U.S., the Iranian example doesn't support that because the administration remains obsessively focused on Iran even now. The Pentagon started drawing up plans for massive escalation last month :

Last month, the Pentagon began drafting plans for a major escalation against the Iran-backed factions -- namely the hardline Kataeb Hezbollah -- blamed for the rockets.

"Washington told us they'd simultaneously hit 122 targets in Iraq if more Americans died," a top Iraqi official said.

If tensions between the U.S. and Iran remain high, that is a consequence of earlier American escalation. It is not happening because the U.S. is preoccupied by the pandemic.

All of the incidents cited in these reports pose no serious threat to the U.S. or our military, and were it not for the pandemic they would be seen as fairly typical and predictable behavior from all of these governments. The only reason that these activities are being portrayed as "tests" of U.S. "resolve" is that our interests have been inflated so absurdly over the decades that anything these governments do in their own immediate neighborhood is viewed as a challenge. As we rightly focus on the threat from the pandemic here at home, we should expect to hear more exaggerated warnings about minor foreign nuisances as supporters of a bloated military budget seek to justify unnecessary missions and deployments.


threats etc 9 days ago

""Beijing is a net beneficiary of global attention diverted towards the pandemic rather than military activities in the South China Sea," said Navy Capt. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for Indo-Pacific Command, Honolulu."

Capt. Kafka (his real name, I assume) is too polite to add that Beijing has also been a net beneficiary of global attention having been diverted by twenty years of pointless, botched Middle East wars that only benefited Saudi Arabia and Israel , and that that is, oh I don't known, maybe a hundred times more important factor in causing our neglect of real American national security issues than the past few months of coronavirus botches.

john 9 days ago
Yes funny thing we an actual threat right here in river city and we are being told to ignore it and get out and go to ball games and go shopping. Meanwhile 10,000 miles from our shores some souped up Chris Crafts got a little to near to our ships.
chris chuba 9 days ago
The 'Iranian harassment' is especially foolish theater of the absurd.

1. It took place in 'international waters in the north Arabian Gulf', you mean the Persian Gulf, that would be very close to Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran. You could say near the Iranian coastline.

2. The video they released showed the IRGC speedboat running parallel to the ship going about 15 mph with its machine gun pointing safely straight into the air.

A made for FOX headline.

PAX 8 days ago
... I doubt these communist billionaires will risk losing everything on a war with the U.S.and its allies.

The Middle East is an unstable cauldron largely of our own making as directed by insatiable Bibi and his gallant crew who are courageously prepared to fight to the last American.

Biden will likely be even more subservient to this group. If he picks their darling Kamala Harris - even more so. Wash your hands and carefully avoid contact with the NYT. & MSM in general. .

Gary Sellars 8 days ago • edited
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like nail.

The US behaves this way because increasingly its the military that forms the primary lever of US power. They need to create a sense of fear to justify the $1T that the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex consumes every year with zero real-world benefit for the poor tax-payers who are given no choice but to fund it.

rayray Gary Sellars 8 days ago
@Gary Sellars

That is well said, Gary. And the stakes for that justification get higher as the military must get more and more money in an economy and zeitgeist that has less and less of it to spare...until we get this kind of farce.

Old Man Shadow 8 days ago
Oh no... imagine a nation-state exerting regional control over a regional issue without us being involved! The horror! The HORROR!

WHY AREN'T YOU ALL HORRIFIED, DAMN IT?!?!

rayray 8 days ago
A quote I never thought I would post...but it's making more and more sense: "It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber."
HenionJD 8 days ago
Apparently, the so somebody must think Trump administration is easily distracted. C'mon....the impeachment, the pandemic, hostile news coverage...you can only expect so much from these folks.
David Naas 8 days ago
Neocons never saw a country they didn't want to invade, nor any event beyond our national borders which was not a threat, nor any thing happening within our borders that did not justify a military escalation. Sadly, instead of remaining ex- Trotskyites on the fringe, they have become the mainstream in certain circles, mostly centering on the Pentagon and Congress.

But, hey, what would all those Generals do if they didn't have any Military-Industrial Complex corporation board of directors to sit on after they "retire".

PR Doucette 7 days ago
Unfortunately the US has forgotten that it was once a weak military power and that only through lengthy diplomatic negotiations would they have any real chance of achieving its commercial and political goals. Now that the US has massive military power successive administrations have been blindly seduced in to thinking that using military power is a rational substitute for diplomacy. The current Trump administration approach to foreign policy is a total failure as it seems to be based on nothing more than bravado and pathetic threats of using military force to attempt to influence international outcomes.

If the US wants international approval and support, it is only going to be able to be rebuilt if the US stops pretending that every treaty, international organization and agreement is biased against the US and should be withdrawn from and instead return to the more proactive approach of diplomacy.

Jon Lester 7 days ago
I've thought all along, if we're expecting a manufacturing renaissance in this country and a big increase in exports, and China wants to secure some of the shipping lanes we'll need on their own dime, why not just let them?
West_of_the_Cascades 7 days ago
Imagine all the nice things America could have if its defense budget were only, say, $300 billion dollars, i.e. still larger than any other country's . The $400 billion saved would buy a lot of ventilators and PPE, among other things.
Foreign Affairs contributor West_of_the_Cascades 7 days ago
"The $400 billion saved would buy a lot of ventilators and PPE"

No go. If we cut back to $300 billion we couldn't keep sacrificing American lives and money for Saudi Arabia and Israel. The ventilators and PPE you mention would only benefit Americans. What we do for Saudi Arabia and Israel is far more important than that. Indeed, cutting our defense budget necessarily entails bigotry and antisemitism because its practical effect would be to deny the Jewish and Muslim heartlands full access to American money and blood.

Cutting the defense budget and husbanding resources for our own use would also undermine American credibility, because geopolitical competitors are invariably impressed and deterred when a Great Power fritters away its resources on client states rather than defending the lives and wealth of its own people.

[Apr 28, 2020] MoA - To Finally Kill The Nuclear Deal With Iran The U.S. Will Try To Rejoin It

Notable quotes:
"... I guess when an administration has shown over and over again that it does not respect, international law, domestic law, the US constitution, logic, meaning or the English Language then it can say anything and do anything. ..."
"... The power of the United States is rapidly fading. The country is on the eve of a massive social crisis, as its ruling class fails even to understand the extent of the system's failure. ..."
"... Israel is nobody's real need. Zionism is a philosophical oddity stranded by the tides of history, a mid Victorian nonsense entirely composed of racism and silly ideas about human inequality. ..."
Apr 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

, Apr 27 2020 16:54 utc | 9

!! a "deal" with "Not Agreement-Capable" entity.

... is that akin to the portion of a George Carlin comedy sketch ?

"From 1778 to 1871, the United States government
entered into more than 500 treaties with
the Native American tribes;
all of these treaties have since been violated
in some way or outright broken by the US government,

while at least one treaty was violated
or broken by Native American tribes."


Red Ryder , Apr 27 2020 17:07 utc | 11

The EU rapprochement with Iran is all about the huge market the EU wants. Their interest in the JCPOA was always about Iran developing, and the EU benefiting for its trade and investment potential.

Crippling Iran again with snapback sanctions certainly would end Iran-EU relations for a decade or longer.

With the EU economy in the toilet due to the pandemic, now more than ever the EU needs Iran free of sanctions, not laden with crippling new ones.

Only one country benefits from the economic strangulation of Iran--Israel.

Huginn , Apr 27 2020 17:16 utc | 12
In these times of memory holes, sometimes it pays to remember:
As much as I'd like to be optimistic that justice might actually be served for both Epstein and his myriad clients/co-conspirators, I think the powers-that-be will again squash this - or liquidate Epstein - before things get out of hand for them.

The American justice system has been corrupted in much the same way the political system has been, and it's primary objective is to protect the rulers from the common folk, not to actually deliver true justice.

I'll watch with anticipation, but I haven't had any satisfaction from either a political or justice perspective since at least the 2000 coup d'etat, so I won't hold my breath this time.

Does this seem precient?

Peter AU1 , Apr 27 2020 17:17 utc | 13
Glasshopper

You have got to be a paid to be putting to be putting that shit up here. US doesn't accept peace deals.

Nathan Mulcahy , Apr 27 2020 17:22 utc | 14
Economist Michael Hudson explains how American imperialism has created a global free lunch, where the US makes foreign countries pay for its wars, and even their own military occupation.

https://moderaterebels.com/transcript-economics-american-imperialism-michael-hudson/

Stonebird , Apr 27 2020 19:17 utc | 28
Background reading on Pompeo and his mafia.

This is part of Tom's description of the Article on Pompeo, Esper and the gang of 1986 (west pointers). They are well embedded.
In fact, one class from West Point, that of 1986, from which both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo graduated, is essentially everywhere in a distinctly militarized (if still officially civilian) and wildly hawkish Washington in the Trumpian moment.
In case you missed it the first time, I repeat this link from the beginning of April,
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176686/tomgram%3A_danny_sjursen%2C_trump%27s_own_military_mafia_/

-----------------
Red Ryder | Apr 27 2020 17:07 utc | 14

One addition there. The EU lost "market share" in Iran due to US sanctions. (As they did with Russia). What they would like to do is to get it back. (France was one of the bigger losers)

El Cid , Apr 27 2020 19:24 utc | 29
Before any aggression, the United States want Iran to be hermetically sealed with sanction just like Iraq was before our invasion. Everybody knows the US's intentions because we've seen it before. There will be NO domestic support for war on Iran as Americans die due to no public healthcare and massive unemployment and poverty. Iran and the Middle East view a war on Iran as an Israeli wet dream. Israel is viewed as the intellectual author of aggression against Iran, and Iran will respond appropriately. So, is AIPAC willing to get Israel destroyed? Is AIPAC on a suicide mission? Looks that way.
Noah Way , Apr 27 2020 19:38 utc | 33
@ #8 Grasshopper

Israel and Saudi Arabia are de facto allies aiming to carve up the entire Middle East between them. Forget about Sunni / Shia / Hebrew, that is a manufactured excuse to war for resources (oil first, then water).

Proof? Mutual "enemies" (oil-rich Iran and Syria, which is the nexus for pipelines) and mutual ally (Uncle Sam). Also not a single complaint from Israel over the $100b US-Saudi Arms deal. As to Palestine, that is a human rights issue and has no weight because water is not recognized as a strategic resource (yet).

RT , Apr 27 2020 19:56 utc | 35
I guess when an administration has shown over and over again that it does not respect, international law, domestic law, the US constitution, logic, meaning or the English Language then it can say anything and do anything.
bevin , Apr 27 2020 20:11 utc | 38
"The Iranians are not helping the Palestinians one iota. They are splitting the opposition."
Glasshopper@29

Whoever has been helping Hezbollah has been helping the Palestinians. And whoever has been holding Syria together, despite the pressure of the imperialists and their sunni-state puppets, has also been helping the Palestinians by bringing some kind of balance into regional power calculations.

It is imperative that Iran continues not only to provide political support to the Palestinian cause but to democratise the Gulf, to the extent of bringing about the demise of the autocracies, and the Arabian world generally.

Israel has already exerted its maximum influence. The power of the United States is rapidly fading. The country is on the eve of a massive social crisis, as its ruling class fails even to understand the extent of the system's failure. (There will be no war to divert attention from the crisis.) And Israel will be left to solve its own problems as its 'allies' find themselves increasingly pre-occupied with real problems.

Supporting Israel and building it up as an imperialist base has been part of an era in which the empire was hegemonic and thus able to define international events in terms of domestic politics.

That era has ended. The USA is still powerful but it is no longer anything more than one of the major participants in geopolitical competition. Even to maintain its position it is going to have to do, what other powers have done and concentrate its resources on its real needs.

Israel is nobody's real need. Zionism is a philosophical oddity stranded by the tides of history, a mid Victorian nonsense entirely composed of racism and silly ideas about human inequality. Israel has one choice, to divest itself of its fascist government and its fascistic culture and seek accommodation within the neighbourhood or to wither away as its population emigrates leaving only the committed fascists to play with Armageddon.

Long before that happens the imperialists will have taken its weapons away from it.

It may very well be the case that the ordinary Iranian is no more committed to fighting on behalf of Palestinians than the average American is committed to risking all, or anything, for the sake of Israel. But Iran's commitment to Palestine is a powerful political statement and one that counters the divisive tactics of the wahhabis and their imperial friends. Iran has taken up the mantle that Nasser briefly wore, in the vanguard of a muslim and Arab nationalist movement. This makes it very difficult for the sunni tyrants actually to commit forces to defend Israel or attack Iran. Their duplicity is a measure of their own weakness.

Does anyone imagine that the pro-Israeli policies pursued by the Sauds are actually popular? The Gulf and Saudi policies of sucking up to Israel are far more damaging to them than Iran's stance is to it.

Arch , Apr 28 2020 5:12 utc | 61
@jiri #75

The United States announced its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the "Iran nuclear deal" or the "Iran deal", on May 8, 2018.

This document discusses the legal rationale for the US withdrawal from tje JCPOA in detail:


https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44761.pdf

Since when does announcing your "withdrawal" from a contract NOT mean "leaving the agreement" ?

Piotr Berman , Apr 28 2020 6:26 utc | 65
Iran should sign a peace deal with the Israelis.
Posted by: Glasshopper | Apr 27 2020 16:42 utc | 8

Some people should stick to what they do well, like hopping on glass. A simple observation: peace deal with "the Israelis" is not possible. Gulfie princes tried. No cigar. They genuinely tried to be nice with Israel, out of "anti-Semitic delusion that Jews control USA". I conjecture that Glasshopper made a similar assumption -- why would Iran consider a "peace deal with the Israelis" if its direct conflict is with USA (and the Gulfies)? How it would help them unless "Jews control USA"?

As a mental experiment, let Grasshopper sketch a putative "deal with Israelis". Kushner plan?

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 6:36 utc | 66
@70 BraveNewWorld, you haven't added up the numbers correctly. Take China, Russia and Iran out of the equation leaves you with five (including the EU as a whole, which is not a given). Take the USA out as well and it doesn't matter how sycophantic the Europeans are, Pompeo can only muster four votes.

And he needs five to refer the issue to the UNSC.

That's why Pompous wants to waddle his way back in: no matter which way he looks at this, without the USA sitting at the table he is one-short.

John Bolton, the gift that keeps giving.....

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 7:12 utc | 67
Actually, I've just read the JCPOA and UNSC Resolution 2231 and neither has any mention of a "majority vote" requirement for a referral to the UNSC for a vote on "snapping back" sanctions. It appears that any one JCPOA participant can refer the issue of alleged non-compliance to the UNSC, provided that they first exhaust the Joint Commission dispute mechanism.

But I do note this in the JCPOA (my bold): "Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA , the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting"

Seems to me that there is a procedural "out" there for the UN Secretariat i.e. it may use that highlighted section to decide that the participant is a vexatious litigant whose participation in the Joint Commission was not in good faith, ergo, the UN can refuse to even take receipt of the complaint.

Everything else then becomes moot.

The USA would raise merry-hell, sure, it would. But that would be no more outrageous a ploy by the UN than was the USA's own argument that it can have its cake and eat it too.

After all, if a participant to the JCPOA referred its complaint to the UNSC without first going through the Joint Commission then it is a given that the UNSC is under no obligation to receive that complaint. No question.

So why can't the UNSC also refuse to accept a complaint when it is clear that the complainant has not gone through the Joint Commission process in "good faith"?

One for the lawyers and ambassadors to argue, I would suggest, but it is not a given that the USA can ram this through even if everyone were to agree that it were still a participant in the JCPOA.

Yeah, Right , Apr 28 2020 7:50 utc | 68
@61 Arch: "This document discusses the legal rationale for the US withdrawal from tje JCPOA in detail"

Arch, the crux of that CRS legal paper boils down to this:
.."under current domestic law, the President may possess authority to terminate U.S. participation in the JCPOA and to re-impose U.S. sanctions on Iran, either through executive order or by declining to renew statutory waivers"..

All the other fluff in that paper is inconsequential compared to this question posed by that quote: can the US claim to be half-pregnant?

I suspect not.

Note that at the time the CRS paper was written (May 2018) it did have a valid point i.e. while Trump *had* refused to re-certify Iranian compliance, he had *not* reimposed US sanctions on Iran, and so the CRS paper could credibly argue that Trump wasn't pregnant, he just talking dirty to the Congress.

But that was then, and this is now, and - as b points out - Executive Order 13846 is the smoking gun because in it Trump is OFFICIALLY stating that he has decided to " cease the participation of the United States in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ".

That EO is clearly the killing blow to Pompeo's nonsense, and even the CRS legal paper you linked to would agree.

Zeug , Apr 28 2020 12:29 utc | 74
As I see it, the historical problem with European fascism has been that when push comes to shove the knife comes out and its either give in to enforced collaboration or take a stabbing, it's your choice. Even if that means helping murder millions of your neighbours or being murdered. As Celan said "Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland."

The US has been enforcing a morally sanitised Disney Adult version of this old world order since at least the 2003 Supreme Crime of Aggression against Iraq. Sooner or later as this global pandemic, political, and financial crisis unfolds, the US leaders will be forced to choose whether or not the UN is a viable vehicle through which to continue the elite lunatic project for planetary full spectrum dominance of 21st C financial and military affairs.

So I reckon the Pentagon at some point either gets to finally execute the long awaited 'Operation Conquer Persia' or the politicians and their chickenhawk ideologues will back off again and continue the death by a thousand cuts of the last 40 years. I'd probably bet the latter but that's the trouble with genuine psychopaths, push comes to shove they will go for it if they think they'll get away with it.

This last 2 decades has been like watching a reality TV series about a fat drunken psychopath with a bloody knife going around and stabbing people at a party, but now the psycho is starting to stagger and everyone in the house is watchful trying to keep their distance. House rules are that anyone starts an actual fight to the death with the psycho then everyone dies!

I more or less trust that if we ever get there, a multipolar world order won't collapse into outright fascism but we're closer to collapse every year, especially from this year on, and most especially in the Persian Gulf.

jared , Apr 28 2020 12:44 utc | 75
In current US political system, it is not necessary to propose a valid claim, or proposal or argument - they intend to act from a position of authority. They know where you live.

[Apr 28, 2020] To end endless wars, I support 75% military spending cuts

This amount of money would end COVID-19 epidemic really quickly
Apr 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
blues , Apr 26 2020 21:26 utc | 31
Howie Hawkins -- Peace and Freedom Party 2020

I am a retired Teamster in Syracuse, New York, who joined the civil rights, antiwar, and environmental movements as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s. In 1984, I co-founded the Green Party. In 2010, I was the first U.S. candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in the first of three campaigns for New York governor that won Green Party ballot lines.

To end the climate crisis, I have detailed an Ecosocialist Green New Deal to create 38 million new jobs, 100% clean energy, and zero carbon emissions by 2030.

To end poverty and economic insecurity, I propose an Economic Bill of Rights: job guarantee, guaranteed minimum income, affordable housing, improved Medicare for all, tuition-free public education pre–K to college, and secure retirement by doubling Social Security.

To end endless wars, I support 75% military spending cuts, U.S. troops home, diplomacy, international law, human rights, and a Global Green New Deal.

To end the new nuclear arms race, I favor no first use, minimum credible deterrent, and ratification of the new Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

I support unions, $20 minimum wage, worker co-ops, public banks, public energy, public railroads, progressive taxation, net neutrality, internet privacy, ending mass surveillance, no nukes, no fracking, abortion rights, student and medical debt relief, decriminalizing drugs, ending mass incarceration, police under community control, immigrant amnesty, African-American reparations, Indian and Mexican-American treaty rights, whistleblower and political prisoner pardons, and presidential elections by National Popular Vote using Ranked-Choice Voting. [Ranked Choice Voting is a huge fraud -- which many well-meaning people fall for]
// ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So --

HowieHawkins20 -- Account suspended -- Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules

You catching on yet?

[Apr 26, 2020] Militarization in a Time of Pandemic Crisis by Henry Giroux and Ourania Filippakou

Apr 24, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

We live at a time when the terrors of life suggests the world has descended into darkness. The COVID-19 crisis has created a dystopian nightmare which floods our screens and media with images of fear. Bodies, doorknobs, cardboard packages, plastic bags, and the breath we exhale and anything else that offers the virus a resting place is comparable to a bomb ready to explode resulting in massive suffering and untold deaths. We can no longer shake hands, embrace our friends, use public transportation, sit in a coffee shop, or walk down the street without experiencing real anxiety and fear. We are told by politicians, media pundits, and others that everyday life has taken on the character of a war zone.

The metaphor of war has a deep sense of urgency and has a long rhetorical history in times of crisis. Militarization has become a central feature of the pandemic age and points to the dominance of warlike values in society. More specifically, Michael Geyer defines it as the 'contradictory and tense social process in which civil society organizes itself for the production of violence' (Geyer, 1989: 9). Geyer was writing about the militarization of Europe between 1914-1945, but his description seems even more relevant today. This is clear in the way right-wing politicians such as Trump promote the increasing militarization of language, public spaces, and bodies. Terms such as 'war footing', 'mounting an assault', and 'rallying the troops' have been normalized in the face of the pandemic crisis. At the same time, the language of war privileges the proliferation of surveillance capitalism, the defense of borders, and the suspension of civil liberties.

As the virus brings the engines of capitalism to a halt, the discourse of war takes on a new significance as a medical term that highlights the struggles to grapple with underfunded public health care systems, the lack of resources for testing, the surge towards downward mobility, expanding unemployment and the ongoing, heart-wrenching, efforts to provide protective essentials for front line and emergency workers. At the heart of this epic tragedy is an understated political struggle to reverse and amend decades of a war waged by neoliberal capitalism against the welfare state, essential social provisions, public goods, and the social contract. The failure of this oppressive death-dealing form of casino capitalism can be heard as Arundhati Roy observes in:

the stories of overwhelmed hospitals in the US, of underpaid, overworked nurses having to make masks out of garbage bin liners and old raincoats, risking everything to bring succor to the sick. About states being forced to bid against each other for ventilators, about doctors' dilemmas over which patient should get one and which left to die.

The language of war is used by the mandarins of power to both address the indiscriminate viral pandemic that has brought capitalism to its knees and to reinforce and expand the political formations and global financial system that are incapable of dealing with the pandemic. Rather than using rage, emotion, and fear to sharpen our understanding of the conditions that abetted this global plague and what it might mean to address it and prevent it in the future, the ruling elite in a number of right wing countries such as the U.S. and Brazil use the discourse of war either to remove such questions from public debate or dismisses them as acts of bad faith in a time of crisis. Amartya Sen is right in arguing that '[o]vercoming a pandemic may look like fighting a war, but the real need is far from that'.

Instead the language of war creates an echo chamber produced in both the highest circles of power and the right-wing cultural apparatuses that serve to turn trauma, exhaustion, and mourning into a fog of conspiracy theories, state repression, and a deepening abyss of darkness that ' serves the ends of those in power' . Edward Snowden is right in warning that governments will use the pandemic crisis to expand their attack on civil liberties, roll back constitutional rights, repress dissent and create what he calls an ' architecture of oppression' . He writes :

As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world. Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what' is being built is the architecture of oppression.

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis will test the limits of democracy worldwide. Right-wing movements, neo-Nazis, authoritarian politicians, religious fundamentalists and a host of other extremists are energized by what Slavoj Zizek calls the 'ideological viruses [lying] dormant in our societies'. These include closing of borders, the quarantining of so-called enemies, the claim that undocumented immigrants spread the virus, the demand for increased police power, and the rush by religious fundamentalists to relegate women to the home to assume their 'traditional' gendered role.

On the economic level and under the cover of fear, the U.S. in particular, is transferring what Jonathan Cook refers to as:

huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

This constitutes a politics of 'opportunistic authoritarianism' and is already in play in a number of countries that are using the cover of enforcing public health measures to enforce a range of anti-democratic policies and wave of repression. The pandemic has made clear that market mechanisms cannot address the depth and scope of the current crisis. The failure of neoliberalism not only reveals a profound sense of despair and moral void at the heart of casino capitalism, but also makes clear that the spell of neoliberalism is broken and as such is in the midst of a legitimation crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has both made clear that the neoliberal notion that all problems are a matter of individual responsibility and that each of us are defined exclusively by our self-interest has completely broken down as the effects of neoliberalism's failure to deal with the pandemic unfold in shortages in crucial medical equipment, lack of testing, and failed public health services, largely due to austerity measures.

One consequence the failed neoliberal state is an uptake in levels of oppression in order to prevent the emergence of massive protests movements and radical forms of collective resistance. The suspension of civil rights, repression of dissent, upending of constitutional liberties, and the massive use of state surveillance in the service of anti-democratic ends has become normalized. Many of the countries driven by austerity policies and a culture of cruelty are using the pandemic crisis as a way shaping their modes of governance by drawing from what activist Ejeris Dixon calls elements of a ' fascist emergency playbook' . These include :

Use the emergency to restrict civil liberties -- particularly rights regarding movement, protest, freedom of the press, a right to a trial and freedom to gather. Use the emergency to suspend governmental institutions, consolidate power, reduce institutional checks and balances, and reduce access to elections and other forms of participatory governance. Promote a sense of fear and individual helplessness, particularly in relationship to the state, to reduce outcry and to create a culture where people consent to the power of the fascist state; Replace democratic institutions with autocratic institutions using the emergency as justification. Create scapegoats for the emergency, such as immigrants, people of color, disabled people, ethnic and religious minorities, to distract public attention away from the failures of the state and the loss of civil liberties .

The evidence for the spread of this ideological virus and its apparatuses and polices of repression are no longer simply dormant fears of those fearful of the rise of authoritarian movements and modes of governance. For instance, Viktor Orbán, Hungary's prime minister passed a bill that gave him 'sweeping emergency powers for an indefinite period of time .The measures were invoked as part of the government's response to the global pandemic'. What is becoming obvious is that the pandemic crisis produces mass anxiety that enables governments to turn a medical crisis into a political opportunity for leaders across the globe to push through dictatorial powers with little resistance.

For instance, as Selam Gebrekidan observes : 'In Britain, ministers have what a critic called 'eye-watering' power to detain people and close borders. Israel's prime minister has shut down courts and begun an intrusive surveillance of citizens. Chile has sent the military to public squares once occupied by protesters. Bolivia has postponed elections'. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has flagrantly violated civil rights in the past, was given emergency powers by the congress. Under the cloak of invoking public health measures because of the threat posed by the coronavirus plague, China has broken up protests in Hong Kong and arrested many of its leaders. In the United States, Trump's Justice Department has asked Congress 'for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies -- part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States'.

In the U.S. Trump blames the media for spreading fake news about the virus, attacks reporters who ask critical questions, packs the courts with federal sycophants, dehumanizes undocumented immigrants by labeling them as carriers of the virus, and claims that he has 'total authority' to reopen the economy, however dangerous the policy, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. In this instance, Trump markets fear to endorse elements of white supremacy, ultra-nationalism, and social cleansing while unleashing the mobilizing passions of fascism. He supports voter suppression and has publicly stated that making it easier to vote for many Americans such as blacks and other minorities of color would mean 'you would never have a Republican elected in this country again'. In the midst of economic hardships and widespread suffering due to the raging pandemic, Trump has tapped into a combination of fear and a cathartic cruelty while emboldening a savage lawlessness aimed at the most vulnerable populations. How else to explain his calling the coronavirus the ' Chinese virus' , regardless of the violence it enables by right wingers against Asian-Americans, or his call to reopen the economy to hastily knowing that thousands could die as a result, mostly the elderly, poor, and other vulnerable.

Militarizing the Media and the Politics of Pandemic Pedagogy

In the age of the pandemic, culture has been militarized. Donald Trump and the right-wing media in the United States have both politicized and weaponized the coronavirus pandemic. They have weaponized it by using a state of emergency to promote Trump's political attacks on critics, the press, journalists, and politicians who have questioned his bungling response to the pandemic crisis. They have politicized it by introducing a series of policies under the rubric of a state of exception that diverts bailout money to the ruling elite, militarizes public space, increases the power of the police, wages attacks on undocumented immigrants as a public health threat, and promotes voter suppression. In addition Trump has further strengthened the surveillance state, fired public servants for participating in the impeachment process, and initially claimed that the virus was a hoax perpetuated by the media and Democrats who were trying to undermine Trump's re-election.

Trump's language of dehumanization coupled with his appalling ignorance and toxic incompetence appears as a perfect fit for the media spectacle that he has made a central feature of his presidency. Trump's 'anti-intellectualism has been simmering in the United States for decades and has now fully boiled over' and when incorporated as a central feature of the right-wing social media becomes 'a tremendously successful tool of hegemonic control, manipulation, and false consciousness'. Trump's apocalyptic rhetoric appears to match the tenor of the moment as there is a surge in right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism, explosive racism, and a culture of lies, immediacy, and cruelty. What we are witnessing as the pandemic intensifies in the United States, and in some other countries across the globe, is the increasing threat of authoritarian regimes that both use the media to normalize their actions and wage war against dissidents and others struggling to preserve democratic ideas and principles.

Given his experience in the realms of Reality TV and celebrity culture, Trump is driven by mutually reinforcing registers of spectacular fits of self-promotion, joy in producing troves of Orwellian doublespeak, and the ratings his media coverage receives. One of the insults he throws out at reporters in his coronavirus briefings is that their networks have low ratings as if that is a measure of the relevance of the question being asked. Unlike any other president, Trump has used the mainstream media and social media to mobilize his followers, attack his enemies, and produce a twitter universe of misinformation, lies, and civic illiteracy. He has championed the right-wing media by both echoing their positions on a number of issues and using them to air his own. The conservative media such as Fox News has been enormously complicitous in justifying Trump's call for the Justice Department to dig up dirt on his political rivals, including the impeachable offense of extorting the Ukrainian government through the promise to withhold military aid if they did not launch an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden. Moreover, they have supported his instigation of armed rebellions via his tweets urging his followers to liberate Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia by refusing to comply with stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions . Ironically, he is urging anti-social distancing protests that violate his own federal guidelines.

Trump has used the police powers of the state, especially ICE to round up children and separate them from their parents at the border. Placing loyalty above expertise, he surrounds himself with incompetent sycophants, and makes policy decisions from his gut, often in opposition to the advice of public health experts. All of this is echoed and supported by the conservative and right wing eco-system, especially Fox News, Breitbart News, and what appears to be a legion of right wing commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, who falsely claimed the virus is a common cold and Laura Ingraham, who deceitfully compared Covid-19 to the flu. Fox News not only produced conspiracy theories such as the claim the virus was the product of the 'deep state' and was being used by Democrats to prevent Trump from being re-elected, it also produced misinformation about the virus and represented what 74 journalism professors and leading journalists described as ' a danger to public health' . Like most authoritarians, Trump does everything to control the truth by flooding the media with lies, denouncing scientific evidence, and critical judgment as fake news. The latter is a direct attack on the free press, critical journalists, and the notion that the search for the truth is crucial to any valid and shared notion of citizenship.

The crisis of politics is now matched by a mainstream and corporate controlled digital media and screen culture that revels in political theater, embraces ignorance, fractured narratives, and racial hysteria (cf. Butsch, 2019). In addition, it authorizes and produces a culture of sensationalism designed to increase ratings and profits at the expense of truth. As a disimagination machine and form of pandemic pedagogy, it undermines a complex rendering of social problems and suppresses a culture of dissent and informed judgments. This pandemic pedagogy functions so as to shape human agency, desire, and modes of identification both in the logic of consumerism while privileging a hyper form of masculinity and legitimating a friend/enemy distinction. We live in an age in which theater and the spectacle of performance empty politics of any moral substance and contribute to the revival of an updated version of fascist politics. Thoughtlessness has become a national ideal as the corporate controlled media mirror the Trump administration demand that reality be echoed rather than be analyzed, interrogated and critically comprehended. Politics is now leaden with bombast, words strung together to shock, numb the mind, and images overwrought with self-serving sense of riotousness and anger. Trump shamelessly reinforces such a politics by showing propaganda videos at presidential news conferences.

What is distinct about this historical period, especially under the Trump regime, is what Susan Sontag has called a form of aesthetic fascism with its contempt of 'all that is reflective, critical, and pluralistic'. One distinctive element of the current moment is the rise of what we call hard and soft disimagination machines. The hard disimagination machines, such as Fox News, conservative talk radio, and Breitbart media, function as overt and unapologetic propaganda machines that trade in nativism, misrepresentations, and racist hysteria, all wrapped in the cloak of a regressive view of patriotism.

As Joel Bleifuss points out , Fox News , in particular, is 'blatant in its contempt for the truth, and engages nightly in the 'ritual of burying the truth in 'memory holes' and spinning a new version of reality [that keeps] the spirit of 1984 alive and well . This, the most-watched cable news network, functions in its fealty to Trump like a real-world Ministry of Truth from George Orwell's 1984 , where bureaucrats 'rectify' the historical record to conform to Big Brother's decrees'. Trump's fascist politics and fantasies of racial purity could not succeed without the disimagination machines, pedagogical apparatuses, and the practitioners needed to make his 'vision not merely real but grotesquely normal'. What Trump makes clear is that the weaponization of language into a discourse of racism and hate is deeply indebted to a politics of forgetting and is a crucial tool in the battle to undermine historical consciousness and memory itself.

The soft disimagination machines or liberal mainstream media such as NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, and the established press function largely to cater to Trump's Twitter universe, celebrity culture, and the cut throat ethos of the market, all the while isolating social issues, individualizing social problems, and making the workings of power superficially visible. This is obvious in their mainstream's continuous coverage of his daily press briefings, which as Oscar Zambrano puts it 'is like watching a disease in progress that is infecting us all: a parallel to coronavirus' (Zambrano, 2020). Unfortunately, high ratings are more important than refusing to participate in Trump disinformation spectacles. Politics as a spectacle saturates the senses with noise, cheap melodrama, lies, and buffoonery. This is not to suggest that the spectacle that now shapes politics as pure theater is meant merely to entertain and distract.

On the contrary, the current spectacle, most recently evident in the midst of the coronavirus crisis functions as a war machine, functioning largely to nurture the notion of war as a permanent social relation, the primary organizing principle of society and politics merely one of its means or guises. War has now become the operative and defining feature of language and the matrix for all relations of power.

The militarization of the media, and culture itself, now function as a form of social and historical amnesia. That is, in both form and content it separates the past from a politics that in its current form has turned deadly in its attack on the values and institutions crucial to a functioning democracy. In this instance, echoes of a fascist past remain hidden, invisible beneath the histrionic shouting and disinformation campaigns that rail against alleged 'enemies of the state' and 'fake news', which is a euphemism for dissent, holding power accountable, and an oppositional media. A flair for the overly dramatic eliminates the distinction between fact and fiction, lies and the truth.

Under such circumstances, the spectacle of militarization functions as part of a culture of distraction, division, and fragmentation, all the while refusing to pose the question of how the United States shares elements of a fascist politics that connects it to a number of other authoritarian countries such as Brazil, Turkey, Hungary, and Poland. All of these countries in the midst of the pandemic have embraced a form of fascist aesthetics and politics that combines a cruel culture of neoliberal austerity with the discourses of hate, nativism, and state repression. The militarization of culture and the media in its current forms can only appeal to the state of exception, death, and war. Under such circumstances, the relationship between civil liberties and democracy, politics and death, and justice and injustice is lost. War should be a source of alarm, not pride , and its linguistic repositories should be actively demilitarized.

Conclusion

Under the Trump regime, historical amnesia is used as a weapon of (mis)education, politics, and power and is waged primarily through the militarization and weaponization of the media. This constitutes a form of pandemic pedagogy -- a pedagogical virus that erodes the modes of agency, values, and civic institutions central to a robust democracy. The notion that the past is a burden that must be forgotten is a center piece of authoritarian regimes, one that allows public memory to wither and the threads of fascism to become normalized. While some critics eschew the comparison of Trump with the Nazi era, it is crucial to recognize the alarming signs in this administration that echo a fascist politics of the past. As Jonathan Freedland points out , 'the signs are there, if only we can bear to look'. Rejecting the Trump-Nazi comparison makes it easier to believe that we have nothing to learn from history and to take comfort in the assumption that it cannot happen once again. Democracy cannot survive if it ignores the lessons of the past, reduces education to mass conformity, celebrates civic illiteracy, and makes consumerism the only obligation of citizenship. Max Horkheimer added a more specific register to the relationship between fascism and capitalism in his comment 'If you don't want to talk about capitalism then you had better keep quiet about fascism.'

The lessons to be learned from the pandemic crisis have to exceed making visible the lies, misinformation, and corruption at the heart of the Trump regime. Such an approach fails to address the most serious of Trump's crimes. Moreover, it fails to examine a number of political threads that together constitute elements common to a global crisis in the age of the pandemic. The global response to the pandemic crisis by a number of authoritarian states when viewed as part of a broader crisis of democracy needs to be analyzed by connecting ideological, economic, and cultural threads that weave through often isolated issues such as white nationalism, the rise of a Republican Party dominated by right-wing extremists, the collapse of the two party system, and the ascent of a corporate controlled media as a disimagination machine and the proliferation of corrosive systems of power and dehumanization.

Crucial to any politics of resistance is the necessity to take seriously the notion that education is central to politics itself, and that social problems have to be critically understood before people can act as a force for empowerment and liberation. This suggests analyzing Trump's use of politics as a militarized spectacle not in isolation from the larger social totality -- as simply one of incompetence, for instance- but as part of a more comprehensive political project in which updated forms of authoritarianism and contemporary versions of fascism are being mobilized and gaining traction both in the United States and across the globe. Federico Mayor, the former director general of UNESCO once stated that 'You cannot expect anything from uneducated citizens except unstable democracy'. In the current historical moment and age of Trump, it might be more appropriate to say that what can be expected from a society in which ignorance is a virtue and civic literacy and education are viewed as a liability, one cannot expect anything but fascism.

The pandemic crisis should be a rallying cry to create massive collective resistance against both the Republican and Democratic Parties and the naked brutality of the political and economic system they have supported since the 1970s. That is, the criminogenic response to the crisis on the part of the Trump administration should become a call to arms, if not a model on a global level, for a massive protest movement that moves beyond the ritual of trying Trump and other authoritarian politicians for an abuse of power. Instead, such a movement should become a call to put on trial a capitalist system while fighting for structural and ideological reforms that will usher in a radical and socialist democracy worthy of the struggle.

What is crucial to remember is no democracy cannot survive without an informed citizenry. Moreover, solidarity among individuals cannot be assumed and must fought for as part of a wider struggle to break down the walls ideological and material repression that isolate, depoliticize, and pit individuals and groups against each other. Community and a robust public sphere cannot be built on the bonds of shared fears, isolation, and oppression. Authoritarian governments will work to contain both any semblance of democratic politics and any attempts at large scale transformations of society. Power lies in more than understanding and the ability to disrupt, it also lies in a vision of a future that does not imitate the present and the courage to collectively struggle to bring a radical democratic socialist vision into fruition.

References.

Butsch, R. (2019). Screen Culture: A Global History . London: Polity.

Geyer, M. (1989). 'The Militarization of Europe, 1914-1945', in J. R. Gillis (ed) Militarization of the Western World . New Brunswick: NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Zambrano. O. (2020). Personal correspondence. March 20.

This article first appeared on E-International Relations . Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Henry Giroux – Ourania Filippakou Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018), On Critical Pedagogy , 2nd edition (Bloomsbury, 2020); The Terror of the Unforeseen (Los Angeles Review of books, 2019), and Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education , 2nd edition (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2020). Ourania Filippakou is Reader and Director of Teaching and Learning in the Department of Education at Brunel University London. Her most recent book, co-authored with Ted Tapper, is ' Creating the Future? The 1960s New English Universities ' (Dordrecht: Springer, 2019). Her forthcoming books are: 'Higher education and the Crisis of Europe' (2021) and 'Restructuring Knowledge in Higher Education' (with Ted Tapper) both to be published by Routledge. She is co-editor of the British Educational Research Journal

[Apr 25, 2020] Did This Virus Come From a Lab? Maybe Not But It Exposes the Threat of a Biowarfare Arms Race by Sam Husseini

Highly recommended!
Apr 25, 2020 | salon.com

Dangerous pathogens are captured in the wild and made deadlier in government biowarfare labs. Did that happen here?

There has been no scientific finding that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered, but its origins are not entirely clear. Deadly pathogens discovered in the wild are sometimes studied in labs – and sometimes made more dangerous. That possibility, and other plausible scenarios, have been incorrectly dismissed in remarks by some scientists and government officials, and in the coverage of most major media outlets.

Regardless of the source of this pandemic, there is considerable documentation that a global biological arms race going on outside of public view could produce even more deadly pandemics in the future.

While much of the media and political establishment have minimized the threat from such lab work, some hawks on the American right like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark ., have singled out Chinese biodefense researchers as uniquely dangerous.

But there is every indication that U.S. lab work is every bit as threatening as that in Chinese labs. American labs also operate in secret, and are also known to be accident-prone .

The current dynamics of the biological arms race have been driven by US government decisions that extend back decades. In December 2009, Reuters reported that the Obama administration was refusing even to negotiate the possible monitoring of biological weapons.

Much of the left in the US now appears unwilling to scrutinize the origin of the pandemic – or the wider issue of biowarfare – perhaps because portions of the anti-Chinese right have been so vocal in making unfounded allegations.

Governments that participate in such biological weapon research generally distinguish between "biowarfare" and "biodefense," as if to paint such "defense" programs as necessary. But this is rhetorical sleight-of-hand; the two concepts are largely indistinguishable.

"Biodefense" implies tacit biowarfare, breeding more dangerous pathogens for the alleged purpose of finding a way to fight them. While this work appears to have succeeded in creating deadly and infectious agents, including deadlier flu strains, such "defense" research is impotent in its ability to defend us from this pandemic.

The legal scholar who drafted the main US law on the subject, Francis Boyle, warned in his 2005 book " Biowarfare and Terrorism " that an "illegal biological arms race with potentially catastrophic consequences" was underway, largely driven by the US government.

For years, many scientists have raised concerns regarding bioweapons/biodefense lab work, and specifically about the fact that huge increases in funding have taken place since 9/11. This was especially true after the anthrax-by-mail attacks that killed five people in the weeks after 9/11, which the FBI ultimately blamed on a US government biodefense scientist. A 2013 study found that biodefense funding since 2001 had totaled at least $78 billion , and more has surely been spent since then. This has led to a proliferation of laboratories , scientists and new organisms, effectively setting off a biological arms race.

Following the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014, the US government paused funding for what are known as "gain-of-function" research on certain organisms. This work actually seeks to make deadly pathogens deadlier, in some cases making pathogens airborne that previously were not. With little notice outside the field, the pause on such research was lifted in late 2017 .

During this pause, exceptions for funding were made for dangerous gain-of-function lab work. This included work jointly done by US scientists from the University of North Carolina, Harvard and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This work – which had funding from USAID and EcoHealth Alliance not originally acknowledged – was published in 2015 in Nature Medicine .

A different Nature Medicine article about the origin of the current pandemic, authored by five scientists and published on March 17, has been touted by major media outlet and some officials – including current National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins – as definitively disproving a lab origin for the novel coronavirus. That journal article, titled "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2," stated unequivocally: "Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus." This is a subtly misleading sentence. While the scientists state that there is no known laboratory "signature" in the SARS-Cov-2 RNA, their argument fails to take account of other lab methods that could have created coronavirus mutations without leaving such a signature.

Indeed, there is also the question of conflict of interest in the Nature Medicine article. Some of the authors of that article, as well as a February 2020 Lancet letter condemning "conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin" – which seemed calculated to minimize outside scrutiny of biodefense lab work – have troubling ties to the biodefense complex, as well as to the US government. Notably, neither of these articles makes clear that a virus can have a natural origin and then be captured and studied in a controlled laboratory setting before being let loose, either intentionally or accidentally – which is clearly a possibility in the case of the coronavirus.

Facts as "rumors"

This reporter raised questions about the subject at a news conference with a Center for Disease Control (CDC) representative at the now-shuttered National Press Club on Feb. 11. I asked if it was a "complete coincidence" that the pandemic had started in Wuhan, the only place in China with a declared biosafety level 4 (BSL4) laboratory. BSL4 laboratories have the most stringent safety mechanisms, but handle the most deadly pathogens. As I mentioned, it was odd that the ostensible origin of the novel coronavirus was bat caves in Yunnan province – more than 1,000 miles from Wuhan. I noted that "gain-of-function" lab work can results in more deadly pathogens, and that major labs, including some in the US, have had accidental releases .

CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said that based on the information she had seen, the virus was of "zoonotic origin." She also stated, regarding gain-of-function lab work, that it is important to "protect researchers and their laboratory workers as well as the community around them and that we use science for the benefit of people."

I followed up by asking whether an alleged natural origin did not preclude the possibility that this virus came through a lab, since a lab could have acquired a bat virus and been working on it. Schuchat replied to the assembled journalists that "it is very common for rumors to emerge that can take on life of their own," but did not directly answer the question. She noted that in the 2014 Ebola outbreak some observers had pointed to nearby labs as the possible cause, claiming this "was a key rumor that had to be overcome in order to help control the outbreak." She reiterated: "So based on everything that I know right now, I can tell you the circumstances of the origin really look like animals-to-human. But your question, I heard."

This is no rumor. It's a fact: Labs work with dangerous pathogens. The US and China each have dual-use biowarfare/biodefense programs. China has major facilities at Wuhan – a biosafety level 4 lab and a biosafety level 2 lab. There are leaks from labs. (See " Preventing a Biological Arms Race ," MIT Press, 1990, edited by Susan Wright; also, a partial review in Journal of International Law from October 1992.)

Much of the discussion of this deadly serious subject is marred with snark that avoids or dodges the "gain-of-function" question. ABC ran a story on March 27 titled "Sorry, Conspiracy Theorists. Study Concludes COVID-19 'Is Not a Laboratory Construct.'" That story did not address the possibility that the virus could have been found in the wild, studied in a lab and then released.

On March 21, USA Today published a piece headlined "Fact Check: Did the Coronavirus Originate In a Chinese Laboratory?" – and rated it "FALSE."

That USA Today story relied on the Washington Post, which published a widely cited article on Feb. 17 headlined, "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked." That article quoted public comments from Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard Ebright, but out of context and only in part. Specifically, the story quoted from Ebright's tweet that the coronavirus was not an "engineered bioweapon." In fact, his full quote included the clarification that the virus could have " entered human population through lab accident ." (An email requesting clarification sent to Post reporter Paulina Firozi was met with silence.)

Bioengineered ≠ From a lab

Other pieces in the Post since then ( some heavily sourced to US government officials ) have conveyed Ebright's thinking, but it gets worse. In a private exchange, Ebright – who, again, has said clearly that the novel coronavirus was not technically bioengineered using known coronavirus sequences – stated that other forms of lab manipulation could have been responsible for the current pandemic. This runs counter to much reporting, which is perhaps too scientifically illiterate to perceive the difference.

In response to the suggestion that the novel coronavirus could have come about through various methods besides bioengineering – made by Dr. Meryl Nass , who has done groundbreaking work on biowarfare – Ebright responded in an email:

The genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 has no signatures of human manipulation.

This rules out the kinds of gain-of-function (GoF) research that leave signatures of human manipulation in genome sequences (e.g., use of recombinant DNA methods to construct chimeric viruses), but does not rule out kinds of GoF research that do not leave signatures (e.g., serial passage in animals). [emphasis added]

Very easy to imagine the equivalent of the Fouchier's "10 passages in ferrets" with H5N1 influenza virus, but, in this case, with 10 passages in non-human primates with bat coronavirus RaTG13 or bat coronavirus KP876546.

That last paragraph is very important. It refers to virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, who performed research on intentionally increasing rates of viral mutation rate by spreading a virus from one animal to another in a sequence. The New York Times wrote about this in an editorial in January 2012, warning of "An Engineered Doomsday."

"Now scientists financed by the National Institutes of Health" have created a "virus that could kill tens or hundreds of millions of people" if it escaped confinement, the Times wrote. The story continued:

Working with ferrets, the animal that is most like humans in responding to influenza, the researchers found that a mere five genetic mutations allowed the virus to spread through the air from one ferret to another while maintaining its lethality. A separate study at the University of Wisconsin, about which little is known publicly, produced a virus that is thought to be less virulent.

The word "engineering" in the New York Times headline is technically incorrect, since passing a virus through animals is not "genetic engineering." This same distinction has hindered some from understanding the possible origins of the current pandemic.

Fouchier's flu work, in which an H5N1 virus was made more virulent by transmitting it repeatedly between individual ferrets, briefly sent shockwaves through the media. "Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free," wrote Science magazine in 2011 in a story titled "Scientists Brace for Media Storm Around Controversial Flu Studies." It continues:

The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it's likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.

In a 17th floor office in the same building, virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center calmly explains why his team created what he says is "probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make" – and why he wants to publish a paper describing how they did it. Fouchier is also bracing for a media storm. After he talked to ScienceInsider yesterday, he had an appointment with an institutional press officer to chart a communication strategy.

Fouchier's paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism.

Despite objections, Fouchier's article was published by Science in June 2012 . Titled "Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets," it summarized how Fouchier's research team made the pathogen more virulent:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1 virus can cause morbidity and mortality in humans but thus far has not acquired the ability to be transmitted by aerosol or respiratory droplet ("airborne transmission") between humans. To address the concern that the virus could acquire this ability under natural conditions, we genetically modified A/H5N1 virus by site-directed mutagenesis and subsequent serial passage in ferrets. The genetically modified A/H5N1 virus acquired mutations during passage in ferrets, ultimately becoming airborne transmissible in ferrets.

In other words, Fouchier's research took a flu virus that did not exhibit airborne transmission, then infected a number of ferrets until it mutated to the point that it was transmissible by air.

In that same year, 2012, a similar study by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin was published in Nature :

Highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza A viruses occasionally infect humans, but currently do not transmit efficiently among humans. Here we assess the molecular changes that would allow a virus to be transmissible among mammals. We identified a virus with four mutations and the remaining seven gene segments from a 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus – that was capable of droplet transmission in a ferret model.

In 2014, Marc Lipsitch of Harvard and Alison P. Galvani of Yale wrote regarding Fouchier and Kawaoka's work :

Recent experiments that create novel, highly virulent and transmissible pathogens against which there is no human immunity are unethical they impose a risk of accidental and deliberate release that, if it led to extensive spread of the new agent, could cost many lives. While such a release is unlikely in a specific laboratory conducting research under strict biosafety procedures, even a low likelihood should be taken seriously, given the scale of destruction if such an unlikely event were to occur. Furthermore, the likelihood of risk is multiplied as the number of laboratories conducting such research increases around the globe.

Given this risk, ethical principles, such as those embodied in the Nuremberg Code , dictate that such experiments would be permissible only if they provide humanitarian benefits commensurate with the risk, and if these benefits cannot be achieved by less risky means.

We argue that the two main benefits claimed for these experiments – improved vaccine design and improved interpretation of surveillance – are unlikely to be achieved by the creation of potential pandemic pathogens (PPP), often termed "gain-of-function" (GOF) experiments.

There may be a widespread notion that there is scientific consensus that the pandemic did not come out of a lab. But in fact many of the most knowledgeable scientists in the field are notably silent. This includes Lipsitch at Harvard, Jonathan A. King at MIT and many others.

Just last year, Lynn Klotz of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation wrote a paper in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled "Human Error in High-biocontainment Labs: A Likely Pandemic Threat." Wrote Klotz:

Incidents causing potential exposures to pathogens occur frequently in the high security laboratories often known by their acronyms, BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3) and BSL4. Lab incidents that lead to undetected or unreported laboratory-acquired infections can lead to the release of a disease into the community outside the lab; lab workers with such infections will leave work carrying the pathogen with them. If the agent involved were a potential pandemic pathogen, such a community release could lead to a worldwide pandemic with many fatalities. Of greatest concern is a release of a lab-created, mammalian-airborne- transmissible, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, such as the airborne-transmissible H5N1 viruses created in the laboratories of Ron Fouchier in the Netherlands and Yoshihiro Kawaoka in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Crazy, dangerous"

Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois , has condemned Fouchier, Kawaoka and others – including at least one of the authors of the recent Nature Medicine article in the strongest terms, calling such work a "criminal enterprise." While Boyle has been embroiled in numerous controversies, he's been especially dismissed by many on this issue. The "fact-checking" website Snopes has described him as "a lawyer with no formal training in virology" – without noting that he wrote the relevant U.S. law.

As Boyle said in 2015 :

Since September 11, 2001, we have spent around $100 billion on biological warfare. Effectively we now have an Offensive Biological Warfare Industry in this country that violates the Biological Weapons Convention and my Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 .

The law Boyle drafted states: "Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section committed by or against a national of the United States."

Boyle also warned:

Russia and China have undoubtedly reached the same conclusions I have derived from the same open and public sources, and have responded in kind. So what the world now witnesses is an all-out offensive biological warfare arms race among the major military powers of the world: United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, inter alia.

We have reconstructed the Offensive Biological Warfare Industry that we had deployed in this county before its prohibition by the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, described by Seymour Hersh in his groundbreaking expose " Chemical and Biological Warfare: America's Hidden Arsenal ." (1968)

Boyle now states that he has been "blackballed" in the media on this issue, despite his having written the relevant statute. The group he worked with on the law, the Council for Responsible Genetics, went under several years ago, making Boyle's views against "biodefense" even more marginal as government money for dual use work poured into the field and critics within the scientific community have fallen silent. In turn, his denunciations have grown more sweeping.

In the 1990 book " Preventing a Biological Arms Race ," scholar Susan Wright argued that current laws regarding bioweapons were insufficient, as there were "projects in which offensive and defensive aspects can be distinguished only by claimed motive." Boyle notes, correctly, that current law he drafted does not make an exception for "defensive" work, but only for "prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes."

While Boyle is particularly vociferous in his condemnations, he is not alone. There has been irregular, but occasional media attention to this threat. The Guardian ran a piece in 2014, " Scientists condemn 'crazy, dangerous' creation of deadly airborne flu virus ," after Kawaoka created a life-threatening virus that "closely resembles the 1918 Spanish flu strain that killed an estimated 50m people":

"The work they are doing is absolutely crazy. The whole thing is exceedingly dangerous," said Lord May, the former president of the Royal Society and one time chief science adviser to the UK government. "Yes, there is a danger, but it's not arising from the viruses out there in the animals, it's arising from the labs of grossly ambitious people."

Boyle's charges beginning early this year that the coronavirus was bioengineered – allegations recently mirrored by French virologist and Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier – have not been corroborated by any publicly produced findings of any US scientist. Boyle even charges that scientists like Ebright, who is at Rutgers, are compromised because the university got a biosafety level 3 lab in 2017 – though Ebright is perhaps the most vocal eminent critic of this research, among US scientists. These and other controversies aside, Boyle's concerns about the dangers of biowarfare are legitimate; indeed, Ebright shares them.

Some of the most vocal voices to discuss the origins of the novel coronavirus have been eager to minimize the dangers of lab work, or have focused almost exclusively on "wet markets" or "exotic" animals as the likely cause.

The media celebrated Laurie Garrett, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, when she declared on Twitter on March 3 (in a since-deleted tweet) that the origin of the pandemic was discovered: "It's pangolins. #COVID19 Researchers studied lung tissue from 12 of the scaled mammals that were illegally trafficked in Asia and found #SARSCoV2 in 3. The animals were found in Guangxi, China. Another virus+ smuggled sample found in Guangzhou."

She was swiftly corrected by Ebright: "Arrant nonsense. Did you even read the paper? Reported pangolin coronavirus is not SARS-CoV-2 and is not even particularly close to SARS-CoV-2. Bat coronavirus RaTG13 is much closer to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% identical) than reported pangolin coronavirus (92.4% identical)." He added: "No reason to invoke pangolin as intermediate. When A is much closer than B to C, in the absence of additional data, there is no rational basis to favor pathway A>B>C over pathway A>C." When someone asked what Garrett was saying, Ebright responded : "She is saying she is scientifically illiterate."

The following day, Garrett corrected herself ( without acknowledging Ebright ): "I blew it on the #Pangolins paper, & then took a few hours break from Twitter. It did NOT prove the species = source of #SARSCoV2. There's a torrent of critique now, deservedly denouncing me & my posting. A lot of the critique is super-informative so leaving it all up 4 while."

At least one Chinese government official has responded to the allegation that the labs in Wuhan could be the source for the pandemic by alleging that perhaps the US is responsible instead. In American mainstream media, that has been reflexively treated as even more ridiculous than the original allegation that the virus could have come from a lab.

Obviously the Chinese government's allegations should not be taken at face value, but neither should US government claims – especially considering that US government labs were the apparent source for the anthrax attacks in 2001 . Those attacks sent panic through the US and shut down Congress, allowing the Bush administration to enact the PATRIOT Act and ramp up the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, in October 2001, media darlings like Richard Butler and Andrew Sullivan propagandized for war with Iraq because of the anthrax attacks. (Neither Iraq nor al-Qaida was involved.)

The 2001 anthrax attacks also provided much of the pretext for the surge in biolab spending since then, even though they apparently originated in a US or U.S.-allied lab. Indeed, those attacks remain shrouded in mystery .

The US government has also come up with elaborate cover stories to distract from its bioweapons work. For instance, the US government infamously claimed the 1953 death of Frank Olson, a scientist at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was an LSD experiment gone wrong; it now appears to have been an execution to cover up for US biological warfare.

Regardless of the cause of the current pandemic, these biowarfare/biodefense labs need far more scrutiny. The call to shut them down by Boyle and others needs to be clearly heard – and light must be shone on precisely what research is being conducted.

The secrecy of these labs may prevent us ever knowing with certainty the origins of the current pandemic. What we do know is this kind of lab work comes with real dangers. One might make a comparison to climate change: We cannot attribute an individual hurricane to man-made climate disruption, yet science tells us that human activity makes stronger hurricanes more likely. That brings us back to the imperative to cease the kinds of activities that produce such dangers in the first place.

If that doesn't happen, the people of the planet will be at the mercy of the machinations and mistakes of state actors who are playing with fire for their geopolitical interests.

Sam Husseini is senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy . He's also set up VotePact.org – which helps break out of the two party bind. His latest personal writings are at http://husseini.posthaven.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/samhusseini . Reprinted from Salon with permission.

[Apr 24, 2020] Please Tell the Establishment That U.S. Hegemony is Over by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world. ..."
"... Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order ..."
Apr 23, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

More than 10 years ago, the columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted that American "decline is a choice," and argued tendentiously that Barack Obama had chosen it. Yet looking back over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want.

The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the "unipolar moment" with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world.

There was a brief period during the 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. could claim to be the world's hegemonic power. America had no near-peer rivals; it was at the height of its influence across most of the globe. That status, however, was always a transitory one, and was lost quickly thanks to self-inflicted wounds in Iraq and the natural growth of other powers that began to compete for influence. While America remains the most powerful state in the world, it no longer dominates as it did 20 years ago. And there can be no recapturing what was lost.

Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon explore these matters in their new book, Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order . They make a strong case for distinguishing between the old hegemonic order and the larger international order of which it is a part. As they put it, "global international order is not synonymous with American hegemony." They also make careful distinctions between the different components of what is often simply called the "liberal international order": political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberal intergovernmentalism. The first involves the protection of rights, the second open economic exchange, and the third the form of international order that recognizes legally equal sovereign states. Cooley and Nexon note that both critics and defenders of the "liberal international order" tend to assume that all three come as a "package deal," but point out that these parts do not necessarily reinforce each other and do not have to coexist.

While the authors are quite critical of Trump's foreign policy, they don't pin the decline of the old order solely on him. They argue that hegemonic unraveling takes place when the hegemon loses its monopoly over patronage and "more states can compete when it comes to providing economic, security, diplomatic, and other goods." The U.S. has been losing ground for the better part of the last 20 years, much of it unavoidable as other states grew wealthier and sought to wield greater influence. The authors make a persuasive case that the "exit" from hegemony is already taking place and has been for some time.

Many defenders of U.S. hegemony insist that the "liberal international order" depends on it. That has never made much sense. For one, the continued maintenance of American hegemony frequently conflicts with the rules of international order. The hegemon reserves the right to interfere anywhere it wants, and tramples on the sovereignty and legal rights of other states as it sees fit. In practice, the U.S. has frequently acted as more of a rogue in its efforts to "enforce" order than many of the states it likes to condemn. The most vocal defenders of U.S. hegemony are unsurprisingly some of the biggest opponents of international law -- at least when it gets in their way. Cooley and Nexon make a very important observation related to this in their discussion of the role of revisionist powers in the world today:

But the key point is that we need to be extremely careful that we don't conflate "revisionism" with opposition to the United States. The desire to undermine hegemony and replace it with a multipolar system entails revisionism with respect to the distribution of power, but it may or may not be revisionist with respect to various elements of international architecture or infrastructure.

The core of the book is a survey of three different sources for the unraveling of U.S. hegemony: major powers, weaker states, and transnational "counter-order" movements. Cooley and Nexon trace how Russia and China have become increasingly effective at wielding influence over many smaller states through patronage and the creation of parallel institutions and projects such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They discuss a number of weaker states that have begun hedging their bets by seeking patronage from these major powers as well as the U.S. Where once America had a "near monopoly" on such patronage, this has ceased to be the case. They also track the role of "counter-order" movements, especially nationalist and populist groups, in bringing pressure to bear on their national governments and cooperating across borders to challenge international institutions. Finally, they spell out how the U.S. itself has contributed to the erosion of its own position through reckless policies dating back at least to the invasion of Iraq.

The conventional response to the unraveling of America's hegemony here at home has been either a retreat into nostalgia with simplistic paeans to the wonders of the "liberal international order" that ignore the failures of that earlier era or an intensified commitment to hard-power dominance in the form of ever-increasing military budgets (or some combination of the two). Cooley and Nexon contend that the Trump administration has opted for the second of these responses. Citing the president's emphasis on maintaining military dominance and his support for exorbitant military spending, they say "it suggests an approach to hegemony more dependent upon military instruments, and thus on the ability (and willingness) of the United States to continue extremely high defense spending. It depends on the wager that the United States both can and should substitute raw military power for its hegemonic infrastructure." That not only points to what Barry Posen has called "illiberal hegemony," but also leads to a foreign policy that is even more militarized and unchecked by international law.

Cooley and Nexon make a compelling observation about how Trump's demand for more allied military spending differs from normal calls for burden-sharing. Normally, burden-sharing advocates call on allies to spend more so the U.S. can spend less. But that isn't Trump's position at all. His administration pressures allied governments to increase their spending, while showing no desire to curtail the Pentagon budget:

Retrenchment entails some combination of shedding international security commitments and shifting defense burdens onto allies and partners. This allows the retrenching power, in principle, to redirect military spending toward domestic priorities, particularly those critical to long-term productivity and economic growth. In the current American context, this means making long-overdue investments in transportation infrastructure, increasing educational spending to develop human capital, and ramping up support for research and development. This rationale makes substantially less sense if retrenchment policies do not produce reductions in defense spending–which is why Trump's aggressive, public, and coercive push for burden sharing seems odd. Recall that Trump and his supporters want, and have already implemented, increases in the military budget. There is no indication that the Trump administration would change defense spending if, for example, Germany or South Korea increased their own military spending or more heavily subsidized American bases.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed how misguided our priorities as a nation have been. There is now a chance to change course, but that will require our leaders to shift their thinking. U.S. hegemony is already on its way out; now Americans need to decide what our role in the world will look like afterwards. Warmed-over platitudes about "leadership" won't suffice and throwing more money at the Pentagon is a dead end. The way forward is a strategy of retrenchment, restraint, and renewal.


Tradcon 2 days ago

They can't possibly grapple with the fact that they were wrong and that their policies were catastrophic failures in almost every regard.
Kessler Tradcon 2 days ago
Yeah. US just happened to decline, a completely natural process, some universal constant, like gravity of which we have no control.

No. A decadent US population, informed by clueless media, put in charge incompetent and self-serving leaders, who made a series of very poor choices for the nation, but financially beneficial for themselves.

HenionJD Kessler a day ago • edited
And thus our betrayed America's version of the White Man's Burden. It's sad to think our children having to endure living in a world where they aren't called to die in God-forsaken hellholes for reasons that have nothing to do with this nation's core principles. Sad!
AlexanderHistory X Kessler a day ago
Lol. Sort of. Except the very oligarchs you speak of, on both sides, set the stage for all of it.
This is the inevitable result of voting as a right, ans they knew it. Universal suffrage is a tool of control, not liberty.
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
The oligarchs are really just like other Americans, who got their hands on a whole lot of money. I have no doubt the rest of the population would behave like oligarchs if given the same resources.
JonF311 AlexanderHistory X a day ago
We don't have universal suffrage and voting is no where named as a right in the Constitution. The most it has to say is that voting can not be denied to people based on their membership in certain classes, nor limited based on the payment of a tax.
Meddersville 2 days ago
"it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want."

It isn't "irrespective of". It is because of what they wanted. They wanted and aggressively pushed for US foreign policy to serve the narrow regional interests of client states like Israel and Saudi Arabia. They got what they wanted, in spades, and now America's geopolitical and economic fortunes are in a tail-spin.

If America had ignored these people, with their stupid interventionism, their almost blatant service of foreign interests by demanding "no daylight" with "allies" who did nothing but suck our blood, we would have been far better off. We would have been far better able to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic. It's impossible not to think ruefully of the trillions we wasted on Middle East wars and other interventions, money now so badly needed here at home.

Jason Kennedy 2 days ago
The US will pursue a similar path to Israel. Advantage is relative. Rather than repair the US economy it is simpler to destroy those of one's rivals. I see war as the only attractive option for the US elite as that is the only area where they still enjoy clear superiority (or believe they do, same thing policy-wise.)
Kathleen King a day ago
Cooley and Nevon's book appears to be a good read - I will put it on my 'to read so buy' book list. China is the next hegemon - this is inevitable due to design. As time goes by during this 'coronavirus pandemic' I have been waiting to hear a politician, any politician, assert that they will support legislation to require 'essential supply lines' to be returned to the U.S. Aside from 'murmurs', not a 'lucid' peep. Just 'sue china' legislation, or smoke and mirrors blame on those within the U.S. via the media or politicians. This is just embarrassing and surreal.

The priority should be to bring these supply lines back to the U.S. [i.e., medical]. Too hell if I am going to be forced to pay for 'Obamacare' or 'Medicare For All' like a Russian Serf, to the Corporations [vassals] of China [Tatars] - enforced by their 'Eunuchs', greedy politicians in Washington. {Eunuchs were castrated lackies of Emperors]. Yet Chinese slave labour on these medical products, including pharmaceutical ingredients, and precious metals for parts for the Department of Defense, keep profit margins very high.

Because of their cowardice one must ask: Why increase defense spending on any project - or be concerned with Iran or Venezuela or Russia or keeping NATO afloat? Allowing China to continue to be the 'sole source' provider of essential goods is just asking for another scenario like the one before us. If so, I am convinced that my country is nothing more than a 'dead carcass' being ripped apart by 'Corporate Vassals of China'. This, of course, includes the Tech Companies as well.

Bankotsu Kathleen King a day ago • edited
China won't be next hegemon. It has no ambition to be one.
joeo Bankotsu a day ago
Are Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India aware of this?
Bankotsu joeo a day ago
Time will tell.
Feral Finster joeo a day ago • edited
China does not have ideal geography to be world hegemon.

For one thing, it is too easy to prevent any ships from leaving the South China Sea.

The fact that China has not gone to war with anyone since 1953, except for two sharp but short border conflicts in 1962 and 1979, should tell you something. Contrast with the peace-loving liberal democracy of the United States.

J Villain joeo a day ago
You mean the counties that have signed numerous trade and defence agreements with China?
Comicus Bankotsu 20 hours ago
China has seen the cost we've paid. I don't think they see the value.
dstraws Kathleen King a day ago
The answer of course is a functional international system--environmental protection, world health, a transparent financial system, world court, and policing. All agreed on by at least the major players which makes it costly for others not to participate.
Kathleen King dstraws a day ago
With good reason many 'mistrust' this int'l system given the threat to sovereignty of a country, most importantly the freedom of its citizens. An int'l system is asymmetrical, a radical 're-distribution' program that preys on citizens of the 'pseudo-wealthy' west. The United States will be, post-Corona Virus, potentially $30T in debt. Yet they contribute the most to the WHO. The largest contribution to the UN comes from the United States. This fact seems to rebut your 'costly for others not to participate'.

The Paris Agreement, like the UN and WHO, will rely on most of the funds coming from the U.S. and redistributed to other countries. And this will further destroy the standard of living in this country to the degree of crashing the economy. The expected Utopian Outcome for this so-called 'One-World' order will be a great disappointment to those that advocate for it. Because, after all, it is nothing more than a Utopian dream gambling on the cohesive nature of different demographic groups combined with significant reduction in freedoms for all - based on flawed models, including so-called 'man made global warming' models. To define the Demographic is use in the context of my response: does not = race; it equals culture. Right now this is being demonstrated in the super state of the EU. There can be no harmony in a world like this. It is like forcing a 'square peg' into a 'round hole'.

And who are these major players? The Eunuch Politicians in Washington and Western Europe? What are their priorities? Their wallets or their constituents? And I do not mean in a parental way. That is not the role of government.

Jim Chilton a day ago
Viewed from a global perspective at this time, there is a decline in American power and influence, but the vanity of politicians prevents them from seeing it and they don't want to let go.

The British government makes the same mistakes as it clings to an imaginary "prestige" as a world power - a power that vanished in 1914.

Lars a day ago
We don't have to collapse like the Western Roman Empire; we can adjust like the Byzantine Empire and stay around a thousand years longer.
Lee a day ago
After Eden was removed as PM post-Suez the new PM Harold McMillan came in and was honest with the British ppl in explaining their new role in the world, just 10-15 years after the triumph of WW2 a UK Prime Minister had the courage to tell the British people that they were no longer at the top table, that the age of Empire was over and to put in place the policies required to remove the burden of empire from Britain and adjust to its new role in the world. Do you see an American politician with the capability to tell some uncomfortable home truths to the American people and still win an election?
joeo Lee a day ago
i think that is why voters elected Trump. The citizens of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin have lived the decline of the United States. At least under trump there have been no new wars but the withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan NATO, Japan, Korea needs to occur with the Military-Industrial-Media Complex kicking and screaming.with each step. Also ending sanctions on Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela.
WolfNippleChips joeo a day ago
We are in Japan because it allows us to patrol the sea lanes which is vital for our economy and it gives us a large force ready to respond in case of Chinese or North Korean aggression. The Status of Forces Agreement and other treaties with Japan stipulate what percentage of costs are born by Japan.
joeo WolfNippleChips a day ago
Allowing Japan to destroy consumer electronics, damage steel and automotive is vital to our economy? Could we not patrol the sea lanes if we wanted to from Guam? Is not freedom of the sea just as vital to Japan, Europe and India? How is China or North Korea the aggressor when Japan, Korea and Taiwan have been client states of China with the US thousands of miles away?
Imperialism has bankrupt the United States just as it did Europe. The time has come to end these treaties.
MPC joeo a day ago
Ultra protectionism, retreat to our island and no one can find us, 'make America great again' I dare say, thinking is naive and unrealistic.

America wil be poorer, weaker, and more vulnerable if it tried to only make its own goods and had to rely on only its own labor. Trade is profit and profit is the ability to develop, build, and defend what we have. Where do the profits go is the question. Who loses in the trade is another question. Does the benefit from the former outweigh the latter?

I don't see Japanese trade as making much of a dent in employment rates. The profits go to the Japanese state and industry, who are important counterweights to Chinese ambitions in Asia, a mutual interest. So, the costs are few, and the profits are used in significant measure to mutual benefit.

The liberal hegemon is dead, yes our imperialism is dead even if it doesn't know it, but it is essential to remain strategically involved in the world around us. Even if we stop playing the game, the world around us does not. Did Russia have the luxury of turning into a turtle after the Cold War? No. Nations, which are all wolves, smell weakness. Yet the Trumpian right wants to hide, put its finger in its ear, and pretend that everything will be fine it seems.

Lee joeo 16 hours ago
What are these withdrawals from Iraq & Afghanistan you speak of? They just have not happened, like not even a little bit, so tired of people pushing this completely false narrative as if it is true, just maddening. A democracy cannot function if people exist in their own worlds with their own facts that are just not true
David Naas a day ago
The Brits after WW2 offer a lesson here. Hurt badly by WW1, their whole system began teetering as that illusion of the "natural superiority" of the British took massive hits in the various colonies of the Empire. By exposing the ordinariness of the administrators and soldiers, it encouraged revolt (see Gandhi in India). But WW2 arguably devastated the UK. It's "win" over Germany was Pyrrhic, as it needed both the USSR and the USA , and each took a chunk of prestige and of the "hegemon". George VI recognized this, and British politicians encouraged the shift from Empire to Commonwealth. (Which, if they had never involved themselves in the EU beyond trade and had kept up the Commonwealth as it was intended, would have been a better path than what they did, IMHO.) Nevertheless, they handled it better than I think we will.

As Jefferson said, "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."

But to get there, we have a lot of nonsense -- damned nonsense - - to overcome.

John Achterhof a day ago
Excellent review and outlook on an encouraging transition from the compulsion of hegemony within a generally agreeable paradigm of economic liberalism (rules-based international markets).
john a day ago
Well this present regime is actively smashing "international organizations" constructed largely by the Americans after WW2. This makes it even easier for the Chinese to fill the vacuum we have created. It would be better to hold them in a Western biased "international organization"
engineerscotty a day ago
Would be nice if there were no global hegemon, actually.
NoNonsensingPlease engineerscotty a day ago
All indications are that ship has sailed. Will there be hegemons? Yes, but more than one. The US will not be the only hegemon and the COVID-19 helped the world see the emperor has no clothes.
MPC engineerscotty a day ago
I think that's the likely course, unless the US remains especially incompetent in ensuring that China isn't the one cleaning up at all the empire liquidation sales.

No nation should be entrusted with anything like the power the US has had.

WolfNippleChips a day ago
Until they start shooting down our airliners, sinking our cruise ships, attacking our Naval Bases, and invading their neighbors and committing genocide against people of other races and religions.

Then, the doves will wake up and realize that the Big Stick is what kept us safe afterall.

MPC WolfNippleChips a day ago
Yes, we need the Big Stick.

We just need a rethinking of strategy, since we're just hitting ourselves with it right now.

Some people feel inclined to toss away the stick to prevent the foolish use of it.

chris chuba WolfNippleChips a day ago
You mean fight people who actually threaten us rather than attack people because we dream up scenarios where it's possible or we just don't like them? I'll take that over preemptive genocide.

If we focused on actual defense 9/11 would not have happened. We ignored Al Qaeda despite the fact the bombed us multiple times because we were too busy bombing Serbia, blowing up their TV stations and expanding NATO to gobble up former Russian Republics.

Feral Finster a day ago
"Liberal international order" my royal Irish @ss.

The United States routinely ignores any international laws, whenever it sees fit. Anyway, the idea that United States hegemony is obligatory because muh international order is an argument from consequences.

AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Lol, America Is what's in the rear view, not just our status as the sole superpower.
People better get ready, this empire is getting ready to collapse.
NoNonsensingPlease AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Surely the shortest live empire in history.
JonF311 NoNonsensingPlease a day ago
Alexander's barely outlived his brief life.
M Orban AlexanderHistory X a day ago
You wouldn't be the first one to say that...
MPC AlexanderHistory X a day ago
Meh, people better get ready, we're getting ready to muddle along for the next several decades.

The American state is way too tasty a prize. No one is going to dismantle it, and people will unite against any threat that has the potential to. Eventually someone will figure out a Bernie/Trump fusion and that person will be our Peron or Putin. Radical leftists will be crushed by the police if they try anything, and the white nationalists will all be in prison.

We're somewhere between Argentina and Russia heading forward.

MPC a day ago
Sell the empire. Ignore the Middle East outside of the oil trade lanes. Reorient our trade networks on SE Asia, India, and Latin America - no more feeding China. End of hostile moves towards Russia - let Europe reconcile with Russia. Fully support multipolar world order.

Militarily we don't need the plodding battleship of a force we have now. No need to occupy whole countries with 'boots on the ground'. Maintain top notch special forces, advisor and coordination programs with allies, and anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles.

Platonist_82 MPC 21 hours ago • edited
Lots of good ideas here. Would trading with India involve a "reorient[ation]?" (I don't know.) That is to say, would still trading with India mean that we have to maintain our current naval position, or would that still be consistent with some sort of drawdown? Or are you saying that since India is not a hostile force, we would not have to worry about it? Or does is that problem met with the "anything useful for blowing up Chinese force projection especially the PLA navy. Subs and missiles." Conceivably, China could increase its presence in the Indian Ocean to create problems, no? Overall, agree with a lot of it--I'm just curious about the logistics.
MPC Platonist_82 15 hours ago
India in the longer term could ostensibly do much of what China does for us now trade wise. Needs to finish developing its infrastructure and its manufacturing tech. SE Asia and Mexico are closer short term.

I think due to the commercial value of the seas our navy is our most cost effective means of force projection. Patrolling the Persian Gulf means we have our thumb on the number one petroleum artery. I would focus more on cost effective means to deny China (and Chinese trade) access to the seas in the event of tension. Carriers are expensive targets when subs and strategic missile emplacements can inspire even more fear due to unpredictability. But yes we still need bases and partnerships throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. China can roam around in peacetime as it wishes, what matters is that it stays totally bottled up in port, along with its maritime trade, in a conflict.

Allow these places to run up trade surpluses with us rather than China.

Platonist_82 a day ago • edited
I think Mr. Larison is on the right track. However, even if the logic of abandoning the Liberal International Order (LIO) is accepted--and the LIO most certainly should be abandoned--the entire story or narrative of post-World War II America narrative must be either abandoned or refashioned. It seems that the LIO functions as some sort of purpose for American citizens, and a higher-level theology for those who work in the United States Government, especially those who are involved in foreign policy making. Countering or reshaping the narrative of United States foreign policy and its link with domestic policy will be a challenge, but one that needs to be taken up, and taken up successfully. In personal conversations with those who support the LIO, they seem to take [my] criticisms of the LIO as some sort of ad hominem attack. This reaction is obviously illogical, but it is one that those who see the wisdom of abandoning the LIO must tactically and tactfully counter. Regrettably, supporting the LIO is conflated with being an American, or conflated with the raison d'etre of the existence of the United States. Many think the abandonment of the LIO cannot rationally be replaced and will necessarily be replaced with some sort of nihilism or the most cynical form of "realism," of which they mistakenly believe they possess understanding. For a start, reforming the educational system, insofar as it not already dominated by incorrect-but-fashionable far-leftist ideas that advocate a narrative of American history and purpose as false as it is pernicious, would seem to necessary. Many children grow into adulthood falsely thinking maintaining the LIO is their responsibility. It is, at root, a theological sickness.
MidnightDancer 9 hours ago
It is very difficult for me to see the U.S. changing course anytime soon. Neoliberal globalists, political, and financial, are in control.
Tony 7 hours ago
I hope it is over. To hell with the Europeans who have made a national sport of mocking Americans and all things America, while we risk nuclear war on their behalf. Let them face Putin and the Islamic invasion on their own - those problems are Europe's, not ours.
Frank Blangeard 7 hours ago
The United States is ramping up for the "Great Final War' with both Russia and China. Throw in Iran, Syria, North Korea etc. as an afterthought. The U.S. will bring the temple down on itself rather than give up the goal of 'Full Spectrum Dominance'.that it has been pursuing since the end of WWII.
Anti_Govt_Rebel 5 hours ago
Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon may think the glory days are coming to an end, but I don't think Trump and the neocons got the memo yet. I see no evidence of any intent to change.
Matthew W. Hall 13 minutes ago
There is no "international order." That's just rhetoric that is useful for certain economic interests. A world without american hegemony will be divided and filled with conflict. Globalization can't work politically.

[Apr 24, 2020] Creating the enemies they need: US militarism's strange bedfellows by Danny Sjursen

Apr 23, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

Listen to America's imperial proconsuls long enough and they often let slip something approaching truth -- perhaps exceptionalist confession is more accurate. Take Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with responsibility for all of Latin America. Just before the COVID-19 crisis shifted into full gear, on March 11 he testified before the House Armed Services Committee and admitted , "There will be an increase in the U.S. military presence in the hemisphere later this year." Naturally, admiral, but why?

Well, if one can push past the standard, mindless military dialectics -- i.e. "bad guys" -- the admiral posits a ready justification: Russia and (most especially) China. With his early career molded in the last, triumphalist Reagan-era Cold War, Faller may be a true believer in new dichotomies that must feel like coming home for the 1983 Naval Academy graduate. Before the committee, he described China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela as "malign state actors" who constitute "a vicious circle of threats." Faller is right about the circle, but it is his own country that produces it.

These are strange bedfellows, no matter how hard a criminally ahistorical White House and Pentagon try to sell such disparate nations as naturally allied antagonists. A few of these countries have tortured recent pasts, and three of them are several thousand miles from the very hemisphere they ostensibly contest. The truth is that it's U.S. imperialism, intransigence, and hyper-intervention -- anywhere and everywhere -- that links these historically and geopolitically unnatural partners together. This holds true both in policy and imagination. In the Corona Age, the Trump team -- anti-interventionist populist campaign rhetoric aside -- have outed themselves as pandemic-opportunists and gleeful slaves to the " New Cold War ."

Today, Washington sets policies that consistently make mountains out of "malign" molehills, and quite literally construct the Orwellian enemies it needs. It's hardly anything new. From Reagan's "confederation of terrorist states" in a new "international Murder Inc." and Bush II's "axis of evil," to Trump's (or actually John Bolton's ) recent "troika of tyranny," the utility of the nuance-absent idiom is clear: manufacture public fear, demonize opponents, and link the otherwise unlinked. Only there's a catch: Decry a concocted connection often enough and one drives inorganic rivals into each other's arms.

Exhibit A is East Asia. China and Russia are hardly historically simpatico. During the Cold War, the Sino-Soviet split put the lie to communism as mythical monolith and resulted in a shooting war along the immense border between them. Furthermore, Beijing -- the rising regional power -- won't forever acquiesce to the archaic imperial boundaries, especially as a demographic tipping point nears whereby Russia's scant Siberian population is overrun by Chinese migrants. And Putin knows it.

Luckily for Vlad, U.S. demonization of China and Uncle Sam's insistence on perpetual preeminence in the Western Pacific places that impending conflict on ice as Xi Jinping seeks out Moscow as an ally of convenience. Remove the American challenge, as the East-West Center's Denny Roy recently wrote , and "the primary strategic motivation for Sino-Russian cooperation would fade," and relations return to "their historically more normal adversarial character."

Back in Latin America, Washington inverts the spatial relationship, but adheres to the formula of countering -- and creating -- " imagined communities " of distant enemy "alliances." Though neither Russia or China (and certainly not Iran) have any meaningful military presence, Admiral Faller sees these nefarious ghosts behind every palm tree in his area of responsibility. Their essential crime: trading with and recognizing regimes Washington doesn't particularly care for in Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela. The SOUTHCOM chief spoke of how "Russia once again projected power in our neighborhood ," and that his "aha moment" this past year was "the extent to which China is aggressively pursuing their interests right here in our neighborhood ." (emphases added)

That's some fascinating language. As was Faller's reference to Chinese regional loans as "predatory financing." Pot meet kettle! Surely, even the " company man " admiral must know that his own navy right now -- as always -- cruises warships through the disputed South China Sea, and that Washington has long set the gold standard in predatory loans through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Besides, even assume that, say, Russia is wrong to back what Faller had the temerity to label the "former Maduro regime," in Venezuela, what of Washington's support for Bolivia's military coup-installed extremists in Bolivia, and of the right-wing strongman Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil?

Faller's "neighborhood" fallacy illustrates an American hypocrisy without recognizable bounds. How instructive -- and disturbing -- it is to hear a purportedly educated four-star flag officer peddle foolish binaries and prattle on in such coarse platitudes. The ease with which this nonsense passes public and congressional muster is surely symptomatic of an obtuse U.S. militarist disease. For if the admiral counts as one of those (establishment darling) " adults " in the Trumpian room, then the republic is in even bigger trouble than many thought. Either way, it's high time to recognize Faller and his ilk for what they usually are: staggeringly "small" thinkers without an inkling of strategic imagination.

It is, however, regarding Iran that the U.S. makes the bed for the most absurd of fellows. Trump's withdrawal from a functioning nuclear deal, and recent off-the-rails escalations , accomplish little more than driving Tehran into Russia's arms. Incidentally, these are decidedly unnatural friends, seeing as they fought repeated wars over the last few centuries, Moscow occupied northern Iran after World War II, and their respective contours of regional influence have long been contested.

Furthermore, it was U.S. complicity in the Saudi terror war on Yemen that deepened ties between the Houthis and a Tehran that had hardly given them much thought previously. Not only were Iranian military and religious (the two peoples actually follow different strands of Shia Islam) ties initially exaggerated , but the sequence of increased support is usually confused. Serious support from Tehran postdated the Saudi assaults.

Lastly, Trump's seemingly self-sabotaging actions decisively empower the very hardliners in Tehran whom they purport to loathe. Rather than encourage nascent moderates like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, The Donald's unnecessary pugnacity led to conservative legislative victories in Tehran, and so increased the popularity of the Supreme Leader that Iranian people are apt to believe the ayatollah's insane COVID-conspiracy theories.

If the rank absurdity of today's U.S. military posturing, and its outcomes, tend to confuse, it is important to remember that Trump's audience is us -- the public and the media that serves it -- not Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or even Ayatollah Khomeini. After all, not even Trump (I think?) believes the "harassing" Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf, that he just ordered the navy to "to shoot down and destroy" if they misbehave, are headed for Baltimore. Should Washington's policies appear incoherent, and consequently near masochistic, well, that might be precisely the point, or, conversely (if unsatisfyingly), all there actually is to say about that.

If the ultimate goal, as I'm increasingly persuaded, is simply to manufacture the enemy coalitions necessary to frighten (thus discipline) the people and ensure endless profits for the military-industrial complex that funds the resultant buildup -- well, then, Mr. Trump's policies are far more lucid and effective than they're usually credited to be.

On the other hand, if chaos and contingency reign -- as they often have -- in Washington, then U.S. foreign policy represents nothing less than counter-productivity incarnate. Lord only knows which is worse.

[Apr 24, 2020] Trump's Own Military Mafia by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Apr 10, 2020 | original.antiwar.com
Originally posted at TomDispatch .

I'm sure you still remember them. The president regularly called them " my generals ." They were, he claimed , from "central casting" and there were three of them: retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, who was first appointed secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and then White House chief of staff; Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who became the president's national security advisor; and last (but hardly least) retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, whom Trump particularly adored for his nickname " Mad Dog " and appointed as secretary of defense. Of him, the president said, "If I'm doing a movie, I pick you, General Mattis, who's doing really well."

They were referred to in Washington and in the media more generally as " the adults in the room ," indicating what most observers (as well as insiders) seemed to think about the president – that he was, in effect, the impulsive, unpredictable, self-obsessed toddler in that same room. All of them had been commanders in the very conflicts that Donald Trump had labeled " ridiculous Endless Wars " and were distinctly hawkish and uncritical of those same wars (like the rest of the U.S. high command). It was even rumored that, as "adults," Kelly and Mattis had made a private pact not to be out of the country at the same time for fear of what might happen in their absence. By the end of 2018, of course, all three were gone. "My generals" were no more, but the toddler remained.

As TomDispatch regular , West Point graduate (class of 2005), and retired Army Major Danny Sjursen explains in remarkable detail today, while the president finally tossed "his" generals in the nearest trash can, the "adults" (and you do have to keep that word in quotation marks) didn't, in fact, leave the toddler alone in the Oval Office. They simply militarized and demilitarized at the same time. In fact, one class from West Point, that of 1986, from which both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo graduated, is essentially everywhere in a distinctly militarized (if still officially civilian) and wildly hawkish Washington in the Trumpian moment. ~ Tom


"Courage Never Quits"? : The Price of Power and West Point's Class of 1986

By Danny Sjursen

Every West Point class votes on an official motto. Most are then inscribed on their class rings. Hence, the pejorative West Point label " ring knocker ." (As legend has it, at military meetings a West Pointer "need only knock his large ring on the table and all Pointers present are obliged to rally to his point of view.") Last August, the class of 2023 announced theirs: "Freedom Is Not Free." Mine from the class of 2005 was "Keeping Freedom Alive." Each class takes pride in its motto and, at least theoretically, aspires to live according to its sentiments, while championing the accomplishments of fellow graduates.

But some cohorts do stand out. Take the class of 1986 (" Courage Never Quits "). As it happens, both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are members of that very class, as are a surprisingly wide range of influential leaders in Congress, corporate America, the Pentagon, the defense industry, lobbying firms, Big Pharma , high-end financial services , and even security-consulting firms. Still, given their striking hawkishness on the subject of American war-making, Esper and Pompeo rise above the rest. Even in a pandemic, they are as good as their class motto. When it comes to this country's wars, neither of them ever quits.

Once upon a time, retired Lieutenant General Douglas Lute (Class of '75), a former US Ambassador to NATO and a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, taught both Esper and Pompeo in his West Point social sciences class. However, it was Pompeo, the class of '86 valedictorian, whom Lute singled out for praise, remembering him as "a very strong student – fastidious, deliberate." Of course, as the Afghanistan Papers, released by the Washington Post late last year, so starkly revealed , Lute told an interviewer that, like so many US officials, he "didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking in Afghanistan." Though at one point he was President George W. Bush's "Afghan war czar ," the general never expressed such doubts publicly and his record of dissent is hardly an impressive one. Still, on one point at least, Lute was on target: Esper and Pompeo are smart and that's what worries me (as in the phrase "too smart for their own good").

Esper, a former Raytheon lobbyist, had particularly hawkish views on Russia and China before he ever took over at the Pentagon and he wasn't alone when it came to the urge to continue America's wars. Pompeo, then a congressman, exhibited a striking pre-Trump-era foreign policy pugnacity , particularly vis-à-vis the Islamic world . It has since solidified into a veritable obsession with toppling the Iranian regime.

Their militarized obsessions have recently taken striking form in two ways: the secretary of defense instructed US commanders to prepare plans to escalate combat against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, an order the mission's senior leader there, Lieutenant General Robert "Pat" White, reportedly resisted; meanwhile, the secretary of state evidently is eager to convince President Trump to use the Covid-19 pandemic, now devastating Iran, to bomb that country and further strangle it with sanctions. Worse yet, Pompeo might be just cunning enough to convince his ill-informed, insecure boss (so open to clever flattery) that war is the answer.

The militarism of both men matters greatly, but they hardly pilot the ship of state alone, any more than Trump does (whatever he thinks). Would that it were the case. Sadly, even if voters threw them all out, the disease runs much deeper than them. Enter the rest of the illustrative class of '86.

As it happens, Pompeo's and Esper's classmates permeate the deeper structure of imperial America . And let's admit it, they are, by the numbers, an impressive crew. As another '86 alumnus, Congressman Mark Green (R-TN), bragged on the House floor in 2019, "My class [has] produced 18 general officers 22-plus presidents and CEOs of major corporations two state legislators [and] three judges," as well as "at least four deans and chancellors of universities." He closed his remarks by exclaiming, "Courage never quits, '86!"

However, for all his gushing, Green's list conceals much. It illuminates neither the mechanics nor the motives of his illustrious classmates; that is, what they're actually doing and why. Many are key players in a corporate-military machine bent on, and reliant on, endless war for profit and professional advancement. A brief look at key '86ers offers insight into President Dwight D. Eisenhower's military-industrial complex in 2020 – and it should take your breath away.

The West Point Mafia

The core group of '86 grads cheekily refer to themselves as "the West Point mafia." And for some, that's an uplifting thought. Take Joe DePinto, CEO of 7-Eleven. He says that he's "someone who sleeps better at night knowing that those guys are in the positions they're in." Of course, he's an '86 grad, too .

Back when I called the academy home, we branded such self-important cadets " toolbags ." More than a decade later, when I taught there, I found my students still using the term. Face facts, however: those "toolbags," thick as thieves today, now run the show in Washington (and despite their busy schedules, they still find time to socialize as a group).

Given Donald Trump's shady past – one doesn't build an Atlantic City casino-and-hotel empire without " mobbing-it-up " – that Mafia moniker is actually fitting. So perhaps it's worth thinking of Mike Pompeo as the president's latest consigliere . And since gangsters rarely countenance a challenge without striking back, Lieutenant General White should watch his back after his prudent attempt to stop the further escalation of America's wars in Iraq and Iran in the midst of a deadly global pandemic. Worse yet for him, he's not a West Pointer (though he did, oddly enough, earn his Army commission on the very day that class of '86 graduated). White's once promising career is unlikely to be long for this world.

In addition to Esper and Pompeo, other Class of '86 alums serve in key executive branch roles. They include the vice chief of staff of the Army General Joseph Martin, the director of the Army National Guard, the commander of NATO's Allied Land Command, the deputy commanding general of Army Forces Command, and the deputy commanding general of Army Cyber Command. Civilian-side classmates in the Pentagon serve as: deputy assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy, and environment; a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; and the director of stabilization and peace operations policy for the secretary of defense. These Pentagon career civil servants aren't, strictly speaking, part of the "Mafia" itself, but two Pompeo loyalists are indeed charter members.

Pompeo brought Ulrich Brechbuhl and Brian Butalao, two of his closest cadet friends, in from the corporate world. The three of them had, at one point, served as CEO, CFO, and COO of Thayer Aerospace, named for the " father" of West Point, Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, and started with Koch Industries seed money . Among other things, that corporation sold the Pentagon military aircraft components.

Brechbuhl and Butalao were given senior positions at the CIA when Pompeo was its director. Currently, Brechbuhl is the State Department's counselor (and reportedly Pompeo's de facto chief of staff), while Butalao serves as under secretary for management. According to his official bio, Butalao is responsible "for managing the State Department on a day-to-day basis and [serving as its] Chief Operating Officer." Funny, that was his exact position under Pompeo at that aerospace company.

Still, this Mafia trio can't run the show by themselves. The national security structure's tentacles are so much longer than that. They reach all the way to K Street and Capitol Hill.

From Congress to K Street: The Enablers

Before Trump tapped Pompeo to head the CIA and then the State Department, he represented Wichita, Kansas, home to Koch Industries, in the House of Representatives. In fact, Pompeo rode his ample funding from the political action committee of the billionaire Koch brothers straight to the Hill. So linked was he to those fraternal right-wing energy tycoons and so protective of their interests that he was dubbed "the congressman from Koch." The relationship was mutually beneficial. Pompeo's selection as secretary of state solidified the previously strained relationship of the brothers with President Trump.

The '86 Mafia's current congressional heavyweight, however, is Mark Green. An early Trump supporter, he regularly tried to shield the president from impeachment as a minority member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The Tennessee congressman nearly became Trump's secretary of the Army, but ultimately withdrew his nomination because of controversies that included sponsoring gender-discriminatory bills and commenting that "transgender is a disease."

Legislators like Green, in turn, take their foreign-policy marching orders from the military's corporate suppliers. Among those, Esper, of course, represents the gold standard when it comes to " revolving-door " defense lobbying. Just before ascending the Pentagon summit, pressed by Senator Elizabeth Warren during his confirmation hearings, he patently refused to "recuse himself from all matters related to" Raytheon, his former employer and the nation's third-largest defense contractor. (And that was even before its recent merger with United Technologies Corporation, which once employed another Esper classmate as a senior vice president.) Incidentally, one of Raytheon's " biggest franchises " is the Patriot missile defense system, the very weapon being rushed to Iraq as I write, ostensibly as a check on Pompeo's favored villain, Iran.

Less well known is the handiwork of another '86 grad, longtime lobbyist and CNN paid contributor David Urban, who first met the president in 2012 and still recalls how "we clicked immediately." The consummate Washington insider, he backed Trump "when nobody else thought he stood a chance" and in 2016 was his senior campaign adviser in the pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania.

Esper and Urban have been close for more than 30 years. As cadets, they served in the same unit during the Persian Gulf War. It was Urban who introduced Esper to his wife. Both later graced the Hill 's list of Washington's top lobbyists. Since 2002, Urban has been a partner and is now president of a consulting giant, the American Continental Group. Among its clients : Raytheon and 7-Eleven.

It's hard to overstate Urban's role. He seems to have landed Pompeo and Esper their jobs in the Trump administration and was a key go-between in marrying class of '86 backbenchers and moneymen to that bridegroom of our moment, The Donald.

Greasing the Machine: The Moneymen

Another '86er also passed through that famed military-industrial revolving door. Retired Colonel Dan Sauter left his position as chief of staff of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command for one at giant weapons maker Lockheed Martin as business developer for the very systems his old unit employed. Since May 2019, he's directed Lockheed's $1.5 billion Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program in Saudi Arabia. Lockheed's THAAD systems have streamed into that country to protect the Kingdom, even as Pompeo continually threatens Iran.

If such corporate figures are doing the selling, it's the Pentagon, naturally, that's doing the buying. Luckily, there are '86 alumni in key positions on the purchasing end as well, including a retired brigadier general who now serves as the Pentagon's principal adviser to the under secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

Finally, there are other key consultants linked to the military-industrial complex who are also graduates of the class of '86. They include a senior vice president of Hillwood – a massive domestic and international real estate development company, chaired by Ross Perot, Jr. – formerly a consultant to the government of the United Arab Emirates. The Emiratis are US allies in the fight against Pompeo's Iranian nemesis and, in 2019, awarded Raytheon a $1.5 billion contract to supply key components for its air force missile launchers.

Another classmate is a managing partner for Patriot Strategies, which consults for corporations and the government but also separately lands hefty defense contracts itself. His previous " ventures " included "work in telecommunications in the Middle East and technical security upgrades at US embassies worldwide."

Yet another grad , Rick Minicozzi, is the founder and CEO of Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG), which prides itself on "building" corporate leaders. TLDG clients include: 7-Eleven, Cardinal Glass, EMCOR, and Mercedes-Benz. All either have or had '86ers at the helm. The company's CEO also owns the Thayer Hotel located right on West Point's grounds, which hosts many of the company's lectures and other events. Then there's the retired colonel who, like me, taught on the West Point history faculty. He's now the CEO of Battlefield Leadership , which helps corporate leaders "learn from the past" in order to "prepare for an ever-changing business landscape."

A Class-wide Conflict of Interest

Don't for a moment think these are all "bad" people. That's not faintly my point. One prominent '86 grad, for instance, is Lieutenant General Eric Wesley, the deputy of Army Futures Command. He was my brigade commander at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 2009 and I found him competent, exceptionally empathetic, and a decidedly decent man, which is probably true of plenty of '86ers.

So what exactly is my point here? I'm not for a second charging conspiracy or even criminal corruption. The lion's share of what all these figures do is perfectly legal. In reality, the way the class of '86 has permeated the power structure only reflects the nature of the carefully crafted , distinctly undemocratic systems through which the military-industrial complex and our political world operate by design. Most of what they do couldn't, in fact, be more legal in a world of never-ending American wars and national security budgets that eternally go through the roof . After all, if any of these figures had acted in anything but a perfectly legal fashion, they might have run into a classmate of theirs who recently led the FBI's corruption unit in New Jersey – before, that is, he retired and became CEO of a global security consulting firm . (Sound familiar?)

And that's my point, really. We have a system in Washington that couldn't be more lawful and yet, by any definition, the class of '86 represents one giant conflict of interest (and they don't stand alone). Alums from that year are now ensconced in every level of the national security state: from the White House to the Pentagon to Congress to K Street to corporate boardrooms. And they have both power and a deep stake, financial or otherwise, in maintaining or expanding the (forever) warfare state.

They benefit from America's permanent military mobilization, its never-ending economic war-footing , and all that comes with it. Ironically, this will inevitably include the blood of future West Point graduates, doomed to serve in their hopeless crusades. Think of it all as a macabre inversion of their class motto in which it's not their courage but that of younger graduates sent off to this country's hopeless wars that they will never allow to "quit."

Speaking of true courage, lately the only exemplar we've had of it in those wars is General "Pat" White. It seems that he, at least, refused to kiss the proverbial rings of those Mafia men of '86.

But of course, he's not part of their "family," is he?

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and contributing editor at Antiwar.com . His work has appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Popular Resistance, and Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War is now available for pre-order . Sjursen was recently selected as a 2019-20 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellow . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet . Visit his professional website for contact info, to schedule speeches or media appearances, and access to his past work.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook . Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer's new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands , Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story , and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War , as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II .

Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen

[Apr 24, 2020] The Still Exceptional Empires: Neo-Imperialism, Franco-American Style by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Apr 20, 2020 | original.antiwar.com
Everyone has heard, ad nauseam, about the " Special Relationship " between the United States and Britain. Accordingly, the few Americans who dare identify their country as an empire – past or present – tend to analogize with the British model. While the similarities between Washington and London-style imperialism are manifold – along with the distinct differences – in other important ways, the more appropriate parallel is with France. For the French, unlike the Brits (for the most part), and like modern Americans (in a more indirect way), imagined their colonial subjects as vital, moldable constituents (if rarely citizens) of a grand francophone project for good.

I know, I know, the French and Americans can't stand each other, right? Well, sure, theirs has been a contentious relationship for centuries – politically, culturally, you name it. True enough, but lest we forget that the U.S. formed in opposition to British Empire, and – though rarely mentioned in the dominant memories of American Revolutionary triumphalism – the colonists' military victory would've been far more difficult (if not impossible) without French intervention on their behalf.

No doubt, the relationship between the US and its first, and longest, ally has been filled with ups and downs: one thinks of the Quasi-War (1798), FDR-Charles De Gaulle world war drama , Paris' semi-" withdrawal " from NATO (1966), and, of course, the Iraq War dispute-" freedom fries " charade (2003), for starters. Still, in key ways, I'd submit that it is precisely because the French and American models of governance and global policy have so much in common that they – like rival siblings – so often squabble.

Peas in an Exceptional Pod of Delusion

While all historical analogizing must proceed cautiously – and with recognition of the limits of deduction – the broad similarities are staggering. It is the very grandiose idealism – and consequent universalism – in the wake of their inextricably connected revolutions, that has set the French and American hegemons (and empires) apart. While the American variety has tended more towards (at least an aspirational) multiculturalism than that of the French, both post-revolutionary nations have been certain of – and applied – the necessary and proper exportability of their universally "positive" cultural-political systems.

Indeed, in spite of their rather different ( theoretical ) approaches to internal immigrants, with some far-right wing exceptions , to be French or American – rather uniquely – has been as much idea as nationality. There have, of course, been both positive and negative applications inherent to this notion. One common output has been a common dedication to the nebulous canard of national "greatness." Indeed, Donald Trump – and Ronald Reagan before him – can be said to have channeled none other than Charles De Gaulle, who wrote in his war memoirs, way back in 1954, that "France cannot be France without greatness."

Consequently, by extension, there have been (necessarily) tragic consequences for the millions of victims of an imperialism that assumes not only metropole superiority, but that inside every Algerian (or Afghan) is a Frenchman (or American) waiting to be unzipped . Such is the logical conclusion of exceptionalism – that most treacherous of all imperial brands.

There are more specific Franco-American likenesses worth noting as well. Despite the cozy rhetoric of US multiculturalism and France's assimilation, both states ultimately adhere to a notion that national values – however vaguely framed – heat their respective citizen melting pots. And both fill their prisons with the detritus of that program's historical failures. By now, the reality, and broad contours of, America's world- record mass incarceration – particularly of black and brown bodies are widely reported. Less well known, but of a piece with the US model, is that by 2003, France's Muslims accounted for seven percent of the population but 70 to 80 percent of its prisoners.

Furthermore, both have lengthy records of post-colonial and neo-imperial adventurism across far-flung swathes of the the globe. In fact, American and French wars have been the West's bloodiest since 1945, and also often complimentary – whereby, for example, Washington quite literally took up Paris' mantle in Vietnam. Furthermore, even today, France – though it pales in comparison to America's veritable " empire of bases " – maintains perhaps the world's second largest network of overseas military footholds. That deployment and intervention bonanza has all "blown back" at the French and American homelands, as both have been targeted – recently at two of the highest Western rates – by transnational (or foreign-influenced) "terrorists" from the very regions where they most often militarily intervene.

Joint Exhibit Africa

Lastly, and most relevant to the current moment, both Paris and Washington have had a tragic tortured relationship with – and become the favorite targets of – the more violent flavors of political Islam. Of late, for the Americans, and more longstanding for the French, that has particularly been the case in Africa. The truth is there are only two countries which station – and unleash – significant numbers of troops in Africa today: France and the United States.

The post-colonial pervasiveness of the French presence in Africa was itself exceptional – at least until the United States truly got in the game in a more overt post-9/11 way. As late as 1990, France had troops stationed in a remarkable 22 African countries. Even the once great British Empire's postcolonial role paled in comparison. Furthermore, in a tactic the U.S. would later – and continue to – make its own, France signed military defense pacts with 27 African states during the period 1961-92, including with three former British, and a few Belgian, colonies. Paris also spearheaded three further tactics common to Washington throughout and beyond the decolonization and Cold War eras: fomenting coups, empowering dictators, and " dancing " with heinous (sometimes genocidal) monsters. In several repulsive cases, some combination of all three were waged as joint Franco-American exercises.

Paris and Washington "Behind the Scenes"

Since the end of the Second World War, when a defeated France sought to regain the physical space, and glory, of its empire – most of which was in Africa – it unleashed its external intelligence service, then known as the SDECE , first to stifle colonial nationalism, and then, begrudgingly, to sustain real power over the newly independent states. Whereas the equivalent US CIA spent the Cold War working behind the scenes to counter even the whiff of Soviet influence, the SDECE was more concerned with stifling any true hints of economic or political autonomy in its former domains. Nonetheless, not always, but more often than not, Paris' and Washington's goals were symbiotic.

In the period after the " Year of Africa " – when 14 French (and 17 total) colonies gained independence – the SDECE (after 1981 known as the DGSE) instigated several coups , and been implicated in more than a few presidential assassinations. In more farcical cases – take the Central African Republic (CAR) – the SDECE even planned coups against leaders it had previously "couped" into office in the first place. The losers were always the common people, mind you, and it should thus come as little surprise that France was drawn back into the CAR over this past decade in response to spiraling religious and ethnic conflict. Naturally, the CIA played the same game all over the continent – toppling a few governments of its own and planning to assassinate prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the Congo – but for the most part, Paris guarded its "special," depraved, role in Francophone West and Central Africa.

During the Cold War, and – albeit with some different motives – ever since, Franco-American intel and diplomatic services have gleefully backed any strongman willing to support Western goals or oppose the West's (perceived) external enemies. The outcomes have repeatedly been tragic. Both Washington and Paris helped install and then backed Zaire's (Congo's) brutal dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's vicious 35 year reign – the French to the bitter end, even after the US cut him lose after he'd outlived his Cold War usefulness. Paris even ran one final covert operation – which included three fighter aircraft and European mercenaries – in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the rebel tide in 1997. Previously, France installed and/or backed dictators who banned political parties, and tortured or murdered opponents in Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and the Central African Republic, among others.

In the particularly odious case of Chad, Paris and Washington alternately worked at cross or joint purposes to back one authoritarian thug after another. Both the SDECE and CIA funneled cash and weapons to a slew of leaders who exploited and widened ethnic and religious (Muslim north vs. Christian and animist south) conflicts and waged war on their own people. Much of this unfolded in the name of a lengthy proxy war with Libya's Ghadafi regime – which France would take a leading role in toppling along with the US in 2011 – that ultimately destabilized the entire North African region. The unintended perils of backing military strongmen was on stark display again recently when a U.S.-trained captain led a 2012 coup in Mali which drew both American and French troops back into a prolonged indecisive intervention.

The rarely recounted record of French support for African monsters – usually vicious rebel groups – is exceptionally hideous. For starters, Paris backed Biafran separatists in Nigeria's bloody civil war (1967-70) with 350 tons of weapons, and was the prime backer of the Rwandan Hutu regime – and its later rebel manifestations in the extended Congo civil wars (1996-2003) – that perpetrated the worst genocide (1994) since the Nazi Holocaust. If the US didn't always side with France in these cases, it scantly opposed the macabre missions.

The Franco-American (Exceptionalist) Forever War Curse

In Africa, both France's (since 1960) and America's (after 2001) foreign policy has been veritably defined by hyper-interventionism, and low-intensity forever wars. The French have militarily intervened no less than 50 times – in at least 13 countries – since official decolonization. It has waged its own lengthy or seemingly forever wars in Chad (1968-75, 77-80 83-84), Ivory Coast (2002-present), and Mali . (2013-present) In Chad, the US has recently taken the baton from France and continues to bolster a regime ranked by Transparency International in 2010 as the sixth most corrupt on earth.

Indeed, today the French and American militaries are engaged in a joint adventure chasing Islamist "terror" ghosts across Francophone West and Central Africa. According to AFRICOM's own internal documents , the US military now has "enduring" "footprints" in six, and "non-enduring" presence in four, former French colonies in the region. Taking that incestuous overlap a step further, Washington and Paris are together simultaneously engaged in active operations in four of those countries, and jointly station troops in at least two others . Britain, by contrast, has troops in only four African countries in any abiding sense, and is far less active in combat. While hardly any Americans – and to a lesser extent Frenchmen – can locate, or in certain cases pronounce, Djibouti, Gabon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Chad, Tunisia, Mali, or Cameroon, the stark fact is that both countries are meddling, and often at war, in each of those distant locales.

American and French soldiers, alike, continue to die in these, at best, tangential hot spots in the name of domestic populations that don't give a damn and hardly take any notice. In Africa, at least (though not the Middle East), French military losses have been even higher than American casualties. Since 2013, 30 French troops have died in Mali alone. For all that cost in French blood and treasure – more than $750 million annually – the Sahel is even today " slipping out of control ." The same could be said of the American investment – ample billions spent and thousands of troops extensively deployed in some 15 countries as of 2019 – in Africa since 9/11.

The result of all this has been a joint Franco-American counter-productivity crisis both for the region and homeland security. The blowback synergy is perhaps best illustrated in the linked Libyan-Mali debacle, especially since Paris and Washington (along with London) shamelessly masked an outright (Ghadafi) regime change in Tripoli under the guise of the UN's Responsibility to Protect (R2P) concept.

From 2007-08, US special forces inserted themselves and assisted the Malian government in its decidedly local ethnic fight with Tuareg separatists in the country's north. Simultaneously, US trained and backed forces in nearby Niger committed atrocities against fellow Tuareg civilians – which only added to their ethnic grievances. Then, that temporarily tamped-down insurgency exploded when it was bolstered in 2012 by fighters and weapons which flooded south from the chaos induced by NATO's 2011 regime change war in Libya. A year later, the French army was back in its former colony. They've yet to leave.

So, essentially, France – through its earlier colonial divide and rule policies – and the US, by militarily meddling and choosing sides in local matters (and catalyzing instability in Libya), created the Tuareg "problem" in Mali (and Niger) that both Western powers then intervened in, and are still trying, to solve.

Taking stock of this recent U.S.-backed Francophone African history repeated as farce , one is reminded of the rejoinder of a long dead French Algerian settler philosopher: "Each act of repression each act of police torture has deepened the despair and violence of those subjected [and] in this way given birth to terrorists who in turn have given birth to more police." Or, one might add in the contemporary African context: more French and American soldiers .

The Questions We (Both) Dare Not Ask

In another absurd commonality, the French and Americans have come to uncritically accept the inevitability of interminable warfare in Africa without asking why. Neither Paris nor Washington has much bothered to self-pose the salient question at hand: Why has violent Islamism exploded in Africa (or the Mideast, for that matter); and why now ? It certainly can't be as simple as the Bush-era trope : "They hate us for our freedoms."

If that were the case, one would expect the jihadi wave sooner, since, after all, French and American democracy – such as it is – is far older than the post-colonial, or post-9/11 eras. See, but there's the rub: exceptional entities don't trouble themselves with such questions; that sort of doubt or reflection wouldn't occur to a universalist policymaker in Paris or Washington.

Naturally, if French or American leaders had lowered themselves to such base (you know, human) levels, and even deigned to touch a toe in some self-awareness waters, a few inconvenient causation explanations might ripple outward. Like that, perhaps, the spread of Islamist "terror" has deep roots in the phenomena of colonization, decolonization, neo-colonialism and global-financial debt-imperialism . And that there is a proven counterproductive relationship between the level of foreign troop deployments and overall violence in Africa – I.e. more French Foreign Legionnaires, and more (disturbingly similar) American " Praetorians " of the special operations command, has only sent regional jihadism skyrocketing.

Finally, there's the minor matter that the " Washington consensus " response – through influence over IMF and World Bank policies – to the post-1973 oil shocks and free-fall of global commodity prices, didn't (and wasn't designed) to stop the number of Global Southerners living on less than a dollar a day rising from 70 to 290 million by 1998. In the face of such poverty, locals can be forgiven for their sneaking suspicion that both the Declarations of Independence, and of the Rights of Man , offer rather paltry answers. Now, whether the West, however constructed, bears all the blame for that might be debatable; but through African eyes, what's certain is the recent infusion of Franco-American troops and corporations is not seen as a net positive for the people. Jihadis may be monsters – and we must admit they often are – but at least they are African (or Arab) monsters.

To distant, exceptionalist ears in the comfort of the White House (or the Élysée Palace ), such sentiments seem resoundingly blasphemous. The cultural and political universalism of American or French "values" – even if neither society ever manages to internally agree about what those are – seem a given. To reject Washingtonian or Parisian liberty largesse is seen as almost proof-positive that intransigent Africans were communists – or now "terrorists" – after all. Furthermore, the unsophisticated locals must've been put up to it by "real" enemies: the Soviets (pre-1991), or today, obviously the Chinese. According to this prevailing logic, more's the reason to flood the region with ample troops and around and around we go.

Passing the Torch?

Today, and quite historically , both the French and Americans simplify a gray, complex world to their own – and global peoples' – detriment. Elizabeth Schmidt's two recent exhaustive studies of foreign interventions in Africa – during and since the Cold War – concluded that such actions "tended to exacerbate rather than alleviate African conflicts." Consider that a scholarly understatement. In the case of exponentially increased US military involvement since the founding of AFRICOM, credible recent analyses demonstrate how strikingly counterproductive such missions have been on the continent.

When it comes to the discrete – and often joint – French and American interventions in Africa these days, sequence and timing matter. Until 2007, the generally limited US military actions on the continent fell under the responsibility of United States European Command (EUCOM) – which in addition to countering the Russian Bear, had jurisdiction over 43 (what were seen as) backwater sub-Saharan African countries. When it came to actual troop "boots-on-the-ground," France was still the military meddler extraordinaire. All that changed, slowly after 9/11, and with immediacy when President Bush announced the creation of the Pentagon's new Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007.

This was the pivotal moment, a changing of the economic and military neo-imperial guard of sorts. It is unlikely coincidental that the permanent US military presence became official at almost precisely the tipping point moment (2008) when China eclipsed France as Africa's largest trading partner. Indeed, the ostensible "threat" of the Chinese Dragon – despite it still having just one base there – as much as "terrorism," has easily replaced the convenient canard of Soviet infusion as the justification for perpetual US military intervention in Africa. In the futile and inessential attempt to "defeat" Islamist jihadism and exclude China, France is now the junior – but essential, given its existing local "knowledge" and neocolonial relationships – partner on the continent.

With respect to Paris' incessant and indecisive warfare – and ineffective strategy – in Africa, Hannah Armstrong, of the International Crisis Group, lamented that "In the same way that French reality TV and pop music is 15 years behind the US, French counterterrorism mimics US counterterrorism of 15 years ago." That may be strictly accurate with respect to the recent failures in the Sahel that she analyzed – but widen the lens a bit, and it becomes clear Armstrong has it backwards. Historically, since 1960, the French have tried it all before; Uncle Sam was often behind (or backing) them, then (as in Vietnam) willingly took the torch, and now fails where Paris already has.

In Africa, given that most of the current fighting is in the Francophone sphere upon which Paris – uniquely among former European imperialists – has maintained an historic politico-military-economic post-colonial grip, it is worth asking just who is using who in the relationship.

In other words, qui ( really ) bono?

Author's Note: As some readers may have noticed, I have (accidentally) embarked on a sort of informal empire-analogy series, with a particularly African-inflection. In case you've missed them, check out the links below to the previous articles (in a variety of outlets) on contemporary American connections to past and present empires:

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and contributing editor at Antiwar.com His work has appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Popular Resistance, and Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War is now available for pre-order . Sjursen was recently selected as a 2019-20 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellow . Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet . Visit his professional website for contact info, to schedule speeches or media appearances, and access to his past work.

Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen

[Apr 19, 2020] Many Americans cannot accept as a nation that they could ever be wrong on anything.

Apr 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Dick , Apr 18 2020 22:47 utc | 84

America is the exceptional indispensable nation. Home of super heros in the movies and their military. Their TV is full of cop dramas with tough macho cops who always get their man. Many Americans cannot accept as a nation that they could ever be wrong on anything. After all, they saved Europe from the Nazis and then the evil ruskies. They see themselves as the greatest nation to ever exist upon the Earth that seeks only to do good for other countries (sigh).

Sadly, none of the above is true. The US needs to step down from their pedestal and rejoin the human race as equals. Belief in your own exceptionalism leads to hubris which leads to arrogance, leading to an overestimation of your own capabilities and a fatal underestimation of the capabilities of your adversary. Americans and especially their government are living in a fantasy with crumbling foundations.

[Apr 18, 2020] 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org
This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[Apr 17, 2020] The word socialism became just a neoliberal smear. We should talk about public sector vs private sector, not about socialism

Highly recommended!
Apr 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

migueljose , Apr 16 2020 14:13 utc | 150

The word socialism is meaningless. A government, by nature is socialistic. Again, following up on my sociopathy comment, it's on a spectrum. Some governments-- Sweden, Finland, Cuba-- do more, others-- Guatemala, Honduras, now Bolivia-- do less.

"Public sector" would be a more accurate term to describe what the particular government in question is using public funds. Tennessee, for example, will not put out your house fire if you have not paid your "fire tax". Most southeastern states have smaller public sectors than northern states.
Another issue: be honest. Military is public sector. Police, prisons... public sector. you a cop? your public sector. your money comes from the people. That's socialism. It makes no sense for right wingers to be against "socialism" and work for the public sector.

Bernie never defined "socialism" accurately which allowed DNC scum and republicans to tar him with that dirty word since we Americans are so addicted to Fox, CNN and MSNBC.

[Apr 11, 2020] 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World." ..."
"... In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. ..."
"... Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq). ..."
"... In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit. ..."
Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[Apr 08, 2020] What Virus? Military Asks Whopping $20B to 'Deter Chinese Aggression'

Notable quotes:
"... " ​T​ he operational dilemmas faced by Indo-Pacific Command demand urgent attention. In order to make American investments in advanced fighters, attack submarines, or breakthroughs in military technology meaningful (in other words, to deter or win a conflict), there must be urgent investment in runways, fuel and munitions storage, theater missile defenses, and command and control architecture to enable U.S. forces in a fight across the Pacific's vast exterior lines. ​"​ ..."
Apr 08, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Number one priority' is a $1.5 billion, 360-degree persistent and integrated air defense ring around Guam​.

... ... ...

​Arguing in favor of the PDI i n a recent op-ed , ​former Pacific policy official for the DoD ​ Randall Schriver ​ ​ and Eric Sayers, ​former​ special assistant to the commander of INDOPACOM, ​wrote:

" ​T​ he operational dilemmas faced by Indo-Pacific Command demand urgent attention. In order to make American investments in advanced fighters, attack submarines, or breakthroughs in military technology meaningful (in other words, to deter or win a conflict), there must be urgent investment in runways, fuel and munitions storage, theater missile defenses, and command and control architecture to enable U.S. forces in a fight across the Pacific's vast exterior lines. ​"​

john a day ago

Well the Pentagon sees that the checkbooks are open, Look if those pencil necked doctors can get 2trillion for a case of the sniffles, we ought to be able to get 2 billion to face down the Chicoms!

[Apr 05, 2020] Esper tone deafness: a sad illustration of wildly misplaced priorities of military industrial complex

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Modernizing our strategic nuclear forces is a top priority for the @DeptofDefense and the @POTUS to protect the American people and our allies. ..."
"... As a pandemic ravages the nation, a sad illustration of wildly misplaced priorities ..."
Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

b on April 5, 2020 at 14:28 UTC | Permalink

Tone deafness: @EsperDoD @EsperDoD - 16:09 UTC 4 Apr 2020

Modernizing our strategic nuclear forces is a top priority for the @DeptofDefense and the @POTUS to protect the American people and our allies.
Kingston Reif @KingstonAReif - 18:29 UTC - Apr 4 2020
As a pandemic ravages the nation, a sad illustration of wildly misplaced priorities.

Initial FY 2021 budget requests for:

[Apr 04, 2020] America, We Have To End The Wars Now by Scott Horton

Apr 03, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Scott Horton via The Libertarian Institute,

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents , off the hook for it, was "a long time ago." Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what's left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for . This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all , America under President Donald Trump is still "leading from behind" in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide .

It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people's enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP ).

These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack , tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana'a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda's side against them. So the war is genocide and treason .

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he's doing it for the money . That's right . And he's just recently sent the Marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to "get along with Russia," and buy natural gas from them, while Trump's government does everything in its power to prevent it .

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia's western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world's worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted , Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War.

Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically , even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude . Communism really doesn't work . And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it . But as Cato's Doug Bandow says , we don't even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn't make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it ? The "threat" of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there's no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei.

Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that's their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that's it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they've already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point , of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders' wars rage on .

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well . As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley , World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies . That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what's left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas "commitments" and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been . We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before.

We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results .

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

[Mar 27, 2020] Now's the Time to Become a Truly 'America First' Military by Doug Bandow

Mar 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
|

12:01 am

Congress is preparing to vote to spend trillions of dollars Washington doesn't have to keep afloat an economy staggering under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Even before Uncle Sam was hopelessly overdrawn, expecting to run an annual trillion dollar deficit well into the future.

Yet the bipartisan war lobby continues to promote confrontation and conflict with nations as diverse as Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and China. Even in good economic times it was increasingly difficult to underwrite Washington's attempt to run the world. Today the effort is pure folly.

Last year the Congressional Budget Office published The 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook . Among the conclusions of this profoundly depressing read:

Uncle Sam's fiscal collapse has been swift. Noted CBO, at the end of 2007 federal debt was but 35 percent of GDP (not counting intra-government borrowing tied to Social Security). However, "By the end of 2012, debt as a share of GDP had doubled, reaching 70 percent. The upward trajectory has generally continued since then, and debt is projected to be 78 percent of GDP by the end of this year -- a very high level by historical standards." The average over the last half century was just 42 percent.

Washington's spendthrift ways when economic growth was strong make more difficult responding to the latest economic crisis. The long-term prognosis is dismal. The better case, suggested CBO, was to "Increase the likelihood of less abrupt, but still significant, negative economic and financial effects, such as expectations of higher rates of inflation and more difficulty financing public and private activity to international markets."

Worse, however, federal improvidence could "Increase the risk of a fiscal crisis -- that is, a situation in which the interest rate on federal debt rises abruptly because investors have lost confidence in the U.S. government's fiscal position." That is increasingly likely. Already, figures economic Laurence Kotlikoff at Boston University, the federal government has unfunded liabilities, or a "fiscal gap," of $239 trillion -- promises made with no money to meet them.

There is no easy solution. Revenues already are projected to rise as a share of GDP and above the average over the last half century. Washington is spending ever faster than it is taxing.

To cut, presidents and Congresses typically focus on domestic discretionary spending, but that only makes up about 15 percent of federal outlays. Eliminate it -- stop paying federal employees, close the Washington monument, end all federal grants, and slash everything else -- the deficit remains. Five program areas make up the rest of the budget: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest, and the military.

America's growing elderly population is unlikely to sacrifice benefits seniors believe they have paid for. There is no cheap way to fund health care for the poor. Only repudiating the national debt can lower interest payments by fiat. Draconian cuts are unlikely in any let alone all of them.

Which leaves military outlays. Much of current spending has nothing to do with "defense." Today America is constantly at war, but usually to attack rather than defend. Even when "defense" is theoretically the objective, Washington is protecting other nations, mostly prosperous, populous allies, rather than the U.S.

The result is extraordinarily high expenditures, since it costs far more to project power to the far reaches of the globe than to prevent other nations from harming America. Indeed, the Pentagon budget should be seen as the price of Washington's highly interventionist foreign policy, which sees every other nations' problems as America's own.

Last year the president requested $718 billion for the military in 2020, a two percent real, inflation-adjusted increase. Although the administration projected no real rise through 2024, the real growth rate between 2017 and 2020 had been 3.5 percent. Moreover, observed CBO, "the cost of DOD's plans would increase by 13 percent from 2024 to 2034, after adjusting for inflation." Based on historical experience, the agency figured that actual spending likely "could be about two higher than DOD estimates and about four percent higher from 2020 to 2034."

That likely is the floor. The bipartisan war lobby is constantly pushing to do and spend more. In 2018 the congressionally mandated National Defense Strategy Commission urged real increases of between three and five percent annually. Reported CBO, the consequences of such a hike, "starting from the 2017 budget request, would result in a defense budget of between $822 billion and $958 billion (in 2020 dollars) by 2025, and between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion (in 2020 dollars) by 2034."

For what would this cash tsunami be used?

The Constitution sets the "common defense" as a core federal responsibility. That actually is rather easy today. The U.S. is geographically secure, with large oceans east and west and weak, peaceful neighbors south and north.

The only other state with an equal nuclear force capable of destroying America is Russia, which has no reason to do so and a good reason not to, since it would be destroyed in response. No hostile power might is going to dominate Eurasia. Moscow can't. Anyway, its security objectives appear to be much more mundane, ensuring that the West takes its interests into account. Europe can't and couldn't imagine doing so.

Which leaves the People's Republic of China. It might become America's military peer, but even then it won't be able to conquer or cow nuclear-armed Russia or more distant, economically advanced Europe. Beijing's Asian neighbors are well able to deter aggression, especially if, someday, they develop nuclear weapons. China's "threat" to the U.S., if it should be called that, is that the PRC might gain the sort of dominant influence in its neighborhood that America enjoys in the Western hemisphere. Discomfiting for Washington, yes. Existential threat to the U.S., no. And probably not worth fighting a largescale conventional and possibly nuclear war over.

The Middle East has lost its strategic significance as the oil market has diversified. Israel is able to deter attack, eliminating a heretofore major political issue in Washington. Africa holds economic promise and raises humanitarian concerns, but rests at the bottom of America's security list. Latin America will always gain U.S. attention but little that happens there will matter much to North America's global colossus.

Yet the supposedly isolationist-leaning Trump administration is anything but. The U.S. recently verged on war with Iran as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other administration hawks pushed to retaliate against Tehran for attacks by pro-Iran militias in Iraq, which Washington continues to occupy. The U.S. underwrites Saudi Arabia's brutal, aggressive war against Yemen and has sent troops to act as the royal family's bodyguards against Iran. The U.S. has steadily increased its force presence and fiscal outlays to confront Russia in Europe.

Despite his professed desire to leave Syria, the president ordered the illegal occupation of Syrian oil fields; his officials hope to use that presence to confront the Damascus government as well as Iran and Russia. This week Pompeo flew to Afghanistan to revive a "peace" agreement that, after nearly two decades of combat, can be effectively enforced only with a continued U.S. military presence.

Under congressional pressure, the administration has temporized over Pentagon proposals to withdraw forces from numerous conflicts across Africa. Venezuela remains in crisis but in opposition to America, with military intervention oft proposed as the remedy. Before talking with North Korea the president threatened "fire and fury." The administration is taking an increasingly hard line against China, raising military as well as economic and diplomatic tensions.

Required is a truly America First defense. The U.S. should focus on preventing hostile threats to this hemisphere, while being ready to sustain critical allies if they face threats from hegemonic powers potentially dangerous to America. Washington has other interests, but advancing them normally would be matters of choice, rarely, if ever, warranting military action.

Washington would reduce its force structure and military outlays accordingly. The biggest cuts would be made in the army, while placing greater emphasis on the Reserves. The U.S. would become something much closer to a "normal country."

Today America is following an imperial policy without an empire's resources. Alas, the federal government is essentially bankrupt, facing nothing but red ink in coming years and decades. Ultimately domestic outlays must be curbed. But military spending which does not advance the "common defense" also should be slashed. The U.S. no longer can afford to play-act as global gendarme.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He is a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .


Amicus Brevis 2 days ago • edited

Even before Uncle Sam was hopelessly overdrawn, expecting to run an annual trillion dollar deficit well into the future.

Donald Trump has been mimicking the Reagan economic policy of "borrow and spend"
Now we are faced with another crash and we have no choice - but we never paid off any of the debt or closed the budget deficit. I cannot imagine that anyone believes that "Borrow when things are good and borrow more when they are bad!", is sustainable.

Gutbomb Amicus Brevis a day ago • edited
Yes. That has been the economic elephant in the room for decades, especially in the last twenty years. With every crisis we are less prepared to spend our way out of it than the last time. We were in a smoking hot economy with a mature bull market and yet running higher deficits than ever (with continuously low interest rates), while essentially ignoring our core problems at home (infrastructure, health care) and spending shocking amounts of money in wars that do us no good. Now things are exponentially worse. It's inexcusable. Every bit of it.
Amicus Brevis Gutbomb a day ago
Yes, the wars and continual low level conflicts represent the absolute worst of our irresponsible spending. In my view, that is indisputable and therefore ripe for calling out as you do. And not even the hyper-partisans of either side can find a flaw in your argument. I would just like to add that the contribution of low level conflicts to the problem is greatly underrated. They amount to trillions over decades.
Feral Finster Gutbomb a day ago
Notice how the crises seem to be happening more and more frequently, even though the emergency measures from the last crisis never get fully phased out? What are we on now, QE 4.0 or is it 5.0?
Gutbomb Feral Finster a day ago
Two trillion here, three trillion there. The numbers stop meaning anything, especially since we're putting the debt on the national credit card and our children and grandchildren will be the ones to suffer under its weight, while we carry on unawares. This ruse can continue until the creditors turn off the spigot. By then, I suppose our elites will have wired out their cash, packed up their things, and schlepped off to foreign lands leaving the dehydrated shell of this nation behind.
Feral Finster Amicus Brevis a day ago
Keynesian "save during good times to spend during bad times" actually makes sense, if you have a treasury with the discipline to stick to it.

After all, we already have socialism in the United States right now. Just it's socialism for the rich.

Astral Traveller a day ago
1 trillion for "shovel ready" and now 2.5 trillion for the horrible COV19 infection at the Kennedy center and NPR. What's to worry about?
kalendjay Astral Traveller a day ago
These fat college endowments, which do nothing to reduce tuition or increase admissions, they can't pay for Kennedy Center?
Tom Sadlowski a day ago • edited
Taxes? No where in the article does it recommend the obvious: return to the prior rate of taxation that existed even two decades ago, let alone three or four. Perhaps having Amazon pay taxes would be a step in the right direction? Then, mandating that all employers have to pay for health insurance and benefits for their employees, rather than skirting the issue by limiting their hours (Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, McDonalds, CVS, etc), while raising the minimum hourly wage to a level where a family could live off of. Add in taxing the wealthy back to prior levels, and restoring the inheritance tax. Put a cap on executive pay and benefits. Restrict stock market selling, eliminating short selling and other modern inventions which creates a more volatile market, as well as companies grossly manipulated and over-valued. Then stop socializing risks, and privatizing profits; either choose true socialism or true capitalism, or perhaps inverse the concerns for once. Stop letting private companies mine American assets for their private profit. Support small businesses as the foundation of our economy, which will instill innovation. Eliminate incentives to private companies without any return (NY state gave Tesla over $1 Billion to build a largely automated factory, where is the incentive for the state?). -- The root of this issue requires transformative change, with a paradigm shift of how American culture conducts itself. What nation do we wish to be?
Feral Finster Tom Sadlowski a day ago
but but but making companies pay taxes is communism! /sarc/
Feral Finster a day ago
Look at government debt as a percentage of GDP and US trade deficits from 2008-2020.

That's the "amazing Obama recovery!" (for Team D cultists) and the "Astounding Trump economy!" (for Team R cultists) right there.

Rkramden66 Feral Finster a day ago
Why begin at 2008? let's look at 2000-2020. Afghan and Iraq wars plus the Great Big Cheney Tax Cuts and the Cheney TARP bailout were significant contributors. Got the ball rolling, as it were.

Obama was a big disappointment to me, especially with how quickly he folded to the MIC, but standing next to Bush/Cheney and Trump, he was a pillar of financial and personal rectitude, IMO. At least he occasionally addressed average Americans as though he thought some of us might be adults,

Now, standing expectantly in line, we see Joe Biden. It is enough to make me want to drink heavily, or worse...

Feral Finster Rkramden66 a day ago
No argument there regarding economics. For that matter, we could go back to 1980 if you like. Or even 1965, when LBJ started running bigger deficits to pay for the War on Vietnam and The Great Society simultaneously.

I chose 2008 because that was when the purported Great Recovery began, and because the recovery accelerated the trends we have been seeing since before I was born, throwing them into even sharper relief.

Feral Finster Rkramden66 a day ago
Found on internet:

"I remember when the dems had control of the house, senate, and presidency under Obama. I remember Obama choosing to fill his cabinet with people not tied in with wall street. I remember how hard dems fought to get single payer health care and to protect SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and workers' rights. I remember how they bailed out the people first and then gave a little help to wall street. I remember how Obama saved 10 million families from foreclosure and losing their homes and kept small businesses afloat with interest-free loans. I remember how Obama and Biden put on their comfortable shoes and walked the picket lines with the teachers in Wisconsin. I remember how obama's justice dept. prosecuted the wall street gang responsible for the great recession. I remember how Obama protected whistleblowers like Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning. I remember that when democrats ran into obstruction by the republicans, they stood firm on their principles and fought for the american people. {{{alarm clock}}} Wait, what? (wipes eyes) I had a dream ."

https://www.nakedcapitalism...

Rkramden66 Feral Finster 20 hours ago • edited
Well, I guess that counts as one person's opinion, doesn't it? But is it supposed to prove something?

I'm sure I could find plenty of unsympathetic interpretations of Obama, if I took a few hours to do it. Lord knows I've read many, and I even said he was a disappointment to me. I'm not even going to comb the internet to prove or disprove any, let alone all, of those loaded assertions from that website.

Sure, it was very telling that they didn't jail any of the Wall Street bandits.But I must say, "...walked the picket lines with the teachers in Wisconsin..." is really a howler. Jesus Christ, what president ever would have done anything like that?! Plus that was in 2011. i don't know who nakedcapitalism.com is, but that point would get laughed out of a junior high school debate. I have no doubt, though, that the writer really hates Obama.

If you're trying to intimate that both parties are the same as to sharing an overwhelming commitment to global capitalism and the primacy of the military-indiustrial complex as a vehicle for world hegemony, then I agree with you. If you're making the point that Obama was the same breed of cat as Bush/Cheney and Trump, I'm sorry, but I must demur.

Those guys are provable, life-long hustlers, scumbags and underachievers. Obama was a wide-eyed, idealistic (relatively) guy who found out that winning an election didn't really make him all that powerful.

If the Obama presidency changed my mind about anything, it was that. That is, at this point, changing the power structure is beyond the reach of any president. It's a big system, made up of gangs of very powerful people, many of whose names we don't even know. We're not going to get out of this until the whole system crashes, which could happen sooner, than anyone thinks.

This pandemic has shown that no one in the world cares what the U,S. does or thinks anymore. No one looks to us for "leadership." That's an enormous change from just a few short years ago, in my opinion...and that's all it is...my opinion.

Tecumseh1768 Rkramden66 9 hours ago
The difference between Obama and Bush is Barry didn't come up on the WASP country club circuit. Still, the closest he ever came to real work was his time spent slacking at Baskin Robbins.
Feral Finster Rkramden66 5 hours ago
1. It was Obama that claimed that he'd put on his comfortable shoes and walk that picket line. Foolish to take him seriously.

2. Nobody is arguing in favor of Bush/Cheney here. Nor is anyone suggesting that Trump is a paragon of leadership. He simply says the quiet parts out loud.

Although, considering the evils that US leadership has wrought since 1991 or so, Team R and Team D, the world could do with a little less such "leadership".

Feral Finster Rkramden66 5 hours ago
BTW, contrary to the "poor little Obama" narrative, he fought hard for the things he actually wanted.

Like the renewal and extension of the "Patriot Act". There was something of a rebellion in Congress until the administration snuffed that one out.

Kent a day ago
Sorry Mr. Bandow. Conservatives can't play the "deficits bad" card anymore. That ship sailed with Reagan.
Gutbomb Kent a day ago
So anybody that self-identifies (or is otherwise identified) as a conservative can't argue for financial and fiscal responsibility? Let's put our impulse to label things "conservative" or "liberal" in the dust bin.
Rkramden66 a day ago
Dream on. Military, intelligence and domestic police budgets will be the last to go.
Disqus10021 a day ago
When Bill Clinton left the White House, the Federal government was actually running a small annual surplus (at least by government accounting standards). For a very short time, economists wondered how the Fed would conduct monetary policy if all of the Treasury debt were retired in the coming decade. They need not have worried. Bush 43 reversed that fiscal improvement with his tax cuts and his very expensive Middle East wars. Even before the coronavirus pushed the presidential race off of the front page of newspapers and web sites, the country was wallowing in debt. The latest crisis will make matters that much worse.
We need to stop thinking of ourselves as exceptional and we certainly cannot afford to continue playing the role of policeman of the world. Westchester County, NY which is home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, now has more virus cases than all of Canada, with the former's population being only about 1/35th of our northern neighbor. The county's property taxes are among the highest in the country. I don't know how New York state will cope with this fiscal disaster without driving out even more businesses and high income residents.
kalendjay Disqus10021 a day ago
This state among others will face a fiscal crisis no later than 2022 and will reorganize at the point of a gun, because it does not have enough cred in DC to get a bailout, and its establishment is now viewed as a barrier to any reform.
kouroi a day ago
Change the name of DoD to the Department of War. There is nothing defensive in DoD and in US general Foreign policy. The National Security issue that drives US Foreign Policy is to be the No 1 and the Hegemon and extract obedience and profits from every other economy of the world. Just a protection racket that Russians, Chinese, Iranians, etc. do not want to pay.
Osse a day ago
I don't agree with Cato guys on economics, but on foreign policy they are usually dead right from what I have seen. Defending our country does not mean engaging in endless destructive and failing interventions overseas.

And I hope everyone realizes at this point that we can't even agree on how to run our own country, so why would anyone think we could successfully remake another very different society even if we had the right to do so?

Not that I think our intentions are actually all that noble. But even if they were, there is no reason to trust our competence.

Barry_D a day ago
Yup, people are expecting Trump to lose in November, and laying that groundwork for the 'Dems must cut the deficit above all else' phase of the cycle.
Feral Finster a day ago
End the stupid wars? America First®?

Don't make me laff. The virus is a great distraction while the administration ramps up the stupid wars.

john anderson a day ago
Sound advice but there is a powerful propaganda machine screaming over the top of you. Strange thing is that many voters will agree with the idea of reeling in military adventurism until they get a dose of spin about the next adventure in 'protecting our freedoms'. One problem is that both America First and the idea of being the worlds policeman have been anointed with the red white and blue. Also agree with Tom Sadlowski!
Doug Wallis a day ago
I do agree that the US no longer has the money for the vast network of military bases all over the world nor do we have the money for endless fruitless proxy wars for (so called) allies. The US must focus strategically on what areas of the world we have a real interest, we have real allies and where we have real threats. Trump has already started to draw that map with his trade deals but even Trump can be swayed by the neocons and the lobbyists and the military industrial complex...and where Trump cannot be swayed the Congress and Senate can!

However the US must also face the cold hard fact that even a prudent examination of our defense and homeland security spending will not make much of a dent in our deficits. THE US MUST TACKLE LYNDON BAYNES JOHNSON'S GREAT SOCIETY AND THAT INCLUDES THE 1965 IMMIGRATION ACT. I STRONGLY OPPOSE AN ACROSS THE BOARD CUT IS SOCIAL SECURITY OR DISABILITY OR MEDICARE BENEFITS BECAUSE IT IS NOT FAIR FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE PAID INTO THE SYSTEM THEIR ENTIRE LIVES TO BE RATIONED BENEFITS BECAUSE THE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN STUFFED TO THE GILLS WITH IMMIGRANTS. THESE PROGRAMS NEED TO BE PAIRED BACK TO COVER WHAT THEY WERE INTENDED TO COVER AND NOT EVERY IMMIGRANT WHO MANAGED TO GET CITIZENSHIP. FURTHER IMMIGRATION LOTTERY, E1B, H1B VISAS FOR EDUCATION AND WORK, REFUGEE, ASYLUM, BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP, ETC AND ALL THE GOVT PROGRAMS FROM WELFARE TO FOOD STAMPS TO MEDICAID NEED TO BE ELIMINATED. THE US WILL NEVER TACKLE ENTITLEMENT REFORM WITHOUT STANDING UP TO THE BUSINESS LOBBY THAT WANTS CHEAP IMMIGRANT FOREIGN LABOR. ONE WAY THE US COULD STAND UP TO THE BUSINESS LOBBY IS TO TAX EACH EMPLOYER OF A FOREIGN WORKER $100,000 FOR THE COST OF IMMIGRANT SOCIAL SERVICES.

THE SAME SHOULD BE SAID FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, GOVT GUARANTEED STUDENT LOANS AND GRANTS WHICH INDENTURE STUDENTS WITH WORTHLESS GARBAGE DEGREES WHILE ENRICHING COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. ITS THESE WORTHLESS GARBAGE DEGREES THAT ARE CREATING THE STUDENT FINANCIAL LOAN CRISIS AND JOBLESS RADICAL ANTI-AMERICAN ANARCHISTS.

kalendjay a day ago
Trade with China only feeds Maoist militarists, and fuels the arms race. And who supplies Xi with submarines, jet engines and space technology? Why Putin of course. Ending his oil stranglehold would be the most positive short term measure I could think of to reduce the MIC.
Rossbach 20 hours ago
Maybe we should change our national motto from "E pluribus unum" to "Après moi le déluge".
joeo 8 hours ago
What might help is lifting the cap on FICA contributions and limiting tax exempt status to truly religious activities. No more "religious" theme parks. This would mean Liberal and Conservatives would see the value of limiting government expenditures since all would be paying taxes.
Personan0ngrata 7 hours ago
Five program areas make up the rest of the budget: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, interest, and the military.

America's growing elderly population is unlikely to sacrifice benefits seniors believe they have paid for.

Side note:

Americans pay for these programs with a direct tax on their labor/earnings.

Social security taxes are 6.2% from employee earnings with a matching 6.2% from employer.

Medicare taxes are 1.45% from employee earnings with a matching 1.45% from employer.

https://www.thebalancesmb.c...

These programs are not gifts nor entitlements from the US government. They are the fruits of a persons lifetime of labor which are extracted via threats of implied coercion without the ability for a person to say no thank you and opt-out.

Disqus10021 Personan0ngrata 6 hours ago
A lot of people paid little or nothing in FICA taxes, especially stay at home spouses whether they had children or not. Single people are also subject to Medicare premium surcharges and the Obamacare tax on investment income at much lower income levels than married couple filing a joint return.
peter mcloughlin 7 hours ago
Russia insists the "West takes its interests into account". And a power ignores the core interests of an opponent at its own peril. Removing existential threat – or the conditions that might lead to it – is the ultimate aim of any state: but history warns that foreign policy can create the very dénouement the nation is aiming to avoid.
https://www.ghostsofhistory...

[Mar 21, 2020] When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply

Highly recommended!
Mar 22, 2020 | https://www.moonofalabama.org

Dick | Mar 22 2020 0:48 utc | 66

When reading any article concerning current events (ie. Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, or Coronavirus) consider how the The Seven Principles of Propaganda may apply. (repost):

  1. Avoid abstract ideas - appeal to the emotions. When we think emotionally, we are more prone to be irrational and less critical in our thinking. I can remember several instances where this has been employed by the US to prepare the public with a justification of their actions. Here are four examples:

    The Invasion of Grenada during the Reagan administration was said to be necessary to rescue American students being held hostage by Grenadian coup authorities after a coup that overthrew the government. I had a friend in the 82nd airborne division that participated in the rescue. He told me the students said they were hiding in the school to avoid the fighting by the US military, and had never been threatened by any Grenadian authority and were only hiding in the school to avoid all the fighting. Film of the actual rescue broadcast on the mainstream media was taken out of context; the students were never in danger.

    The invasion of Panama in the late 80's was supposedly to capture the dictator Manual Noriega for international crimes related to drugs and weapons. I remember a headline covered by all the media where a Navy lieutenant and his wife were detained by the police. His wife was sexually assaulted while in custody, according to the story. Unfortunately, it never happened. It was intended to get the public emotionally involved to support the action.

    The invasion of Iraq in the early 90's was preceded by a speech by a girl describing the Iraqi army throwing babies out of incubators so the equipment could be transferred to Iraq. It turns out the girl was the daughter of one of the Kuwait's ruling sheiks and the event never occurred. However, it served its purpose by getting the American public involved emotionally supporting the war.

    During the build up to the bombing campaign by NATO against Libya, a woman entered a hotel where reporters were staying claiming she was raped by several police officers of the Gaddafi security services. The report was carried by most media outlets as representative of the brutality of the Gaddafi regime. I was not able to verify if this story was true or not, but it fits the usual method employed to gain public support through propaganda for military interventions.

    The greatest emotion in us is fear and fear is used extensively to make us think irrationally. I remember growing up during the cold war having the fear of nuclear war or 'The Russians are coming!' After the cold war without an obvious enemy, it was Al Qaeda even before 911, so we had 'Al Qaeda is coming!' Now we have 'ISIS is coming!' with media blasting us with terrorist fears. Whenever I hear a government promoting an emotional issue or fear mongering, I ignore them knowing there is a hidden Truth behind the issue.

  2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases. This could be stated more plainly as 'Keep it simple, stupid!' The most notorious use of this technique recently was the Bush administration. Everyone can remember 'We must fight them over there rather than over here' or my favourite 'They hate us for our freedoms'. Neither of these phrases made any rational sense despite 911. The last thing Muslims in the Middle East care about is American's freedoms, maybe it was all the bombs the US was dropping on them.
  3. Give only one side of the argument and obscure history. Watching mainstream media in the US, you can see all the news is biased to the American view as an example. This is prevalent within Australian commercial media and newspapers giving only a western view, but fortunately, we have the SBS and the ABC that are very good, certainly not perfect, at providing both sides of a story. In addition, any historical perspective is ignored keeping the citizenry focused on the here and now. Can any of you remember any news organisation giving an in depth history of Ukraine or Palestine? I cannot.
  4. Demonize the enemy or pick out one special "enemy" for special vilification. This is obvious in politics where politicians continuously criticise their opponents. Of course, demonization is more productively applied to international figures or nations such as Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, the Taliban and just recently Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine, Crimea and Syria. It establishes a negative emotional view of either a nation (i.e. Iran) or a known figure (i.e. Putin) making us again think emotionally, rather than rationally, making it easier to promote evil acts upon a nation or a known figure. Certainly some of these groups or individuals were less than benign, but not necessarily demons as depicted in the west.
  5. Appear humanitarian in work and motivations. The US has used this technique often to validate foreign interventions or ongoing conflicts where the term 'Right to Protect' is used for justification. Everyone should remember the many stories about the abuse of women in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein's supposed brutality toward his people. The recent attack on Syria by the US, UK, and France was depicted as an Humanitarian intervention by the UK Government, which was far from the truth. One thing that always amazes me is when the US sends humanitarian aid to a country it is accompanied by the US military. In Haiti some years back, the US sent troops with no other country doing so. The recent Ebola outbreak in Africa saw US troops sent to the area. How are troops going to fight a medical outbreak? No doubt, they are there for other reasons.

  6. Obscure one's economic interests. Who believes the invasion of Iraq was for weapons of mass destruction? Or the constant threats against Iran are for their nuclear program? Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no one has presented firm evidence Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons. The West has been interfering in the Middle East since the British in the late 19th century. It is all about oil and the control over the resources. In fact, if one researches the cause of wars over the last hundred years, you will always find economics was a major component driving the rush to war for most of them.

  7. Monopolize the flow of information. This is the most important principle and mainly entails setting the narrative by which all subsequent events can be based upon or interpreted in such a way as to reinforce the narrative. The narrative does not need to be true; in fact, it can be anything that suits the monopoliser as long as it is based loosely on some event. It is critical to have at least majority control of media and the ability to control the message so the flow of information is consistent with the narrative. This has been played out on mainstream media concerning the Ukrainian conflict, Syrian conflict, and the Skirpal affair. Just over the last couple of years, we have all been subjected to propaganda in one form or another. Remember the US wanting to bomb Syria because of the sarin gas attack, it was later determined to be false (see Seymour Hersh 'Whose Sarin'). The shoot down of MH17 was immediately blamed on Russia by the west without any convincing proof (setting the narrative). It amazes me just how fast the story died after the initial saturation in the media. When I awoke that morning in July, I heard on the news PM Tony Abbot blaming Russia for the incident only hours afterward. How could he know Russia shot down the plane? The investigation into the incident had not even begun, so I suspect he was singing from the West's hymnbook in a standard setting the narrative scenario.

[Mar 21, 2020] The New Dark Age

Notable quotes:
"... Voltaire Network ..."
"... the Iranian population is the world's most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments. ..."
"... The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [ 2 ]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel. ..."
"... It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the "end of the world". However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear. ..."
"... Let us remember that never in history has the confinement of a healthy population been used to fight a disease. Above all, let us remember that this epidemic will have no significant consequences in terms of mortality. ..."
"... The two governments panic their populations by distributing unnecessary instructions disavowed by infectious diseases doctors: they encourage people to wear gloves and masks in all circumstances and to keep at least one metre away from any other human being. ..."
"... It is too early to say what real goal the Conte and Macron governments are pursuing. The only thing that is certain is that it is not a question of fighting Covid-19. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | williambowles.info

Covid-19: propaganda and manipulation by Thierry Meyssan March 21, 2020 21 March 2020 -- Voltaire Network

Returning to the Covid-19 epidemic and the way governments are reacting to it, Thierry Meyssan stresses that the authoritarian decisions of Italy and France have no medical justification. They contradict the observations of the best infectiologists and the instructions of the World Health Organization.

The Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, came to lead the operations in Wuhan and restore the "celestial mandate" on January 27, 2020.

On November 17, 2019, the first case of a person infected with Covid-19 was diagnosed in Hubei Province, China. Initially, doctors tried to communicate the seriousness of the disease, but clashed with regional authorities. It was only when the number of cases increased and the population saw the seriousness of the disease that the central government intervened.

This epidemic is not statistically significant. It kills very few people, although those it does kill experience terrible respiratory distress.

Since ancient times, in Chinese culture, Heaven has given a mandate to the Emperor to govern his subjects [ 1 ]. When he withdraws it, a disaster strikes the country: epidemic, earthquake, etc. Although we are in modern times, President XI felt threatened by the mismanagement of the Hubei regional government. The Council of State therefore took matters into its own hands. It forced the population of Hubei's capital, Wuhan, to remain confined to their homes. Within days, it built hospitals; sent teams to each house to take the temperature of each inhabitant; took all potentially infected people to hospitals for testing; treated those infected with chloroquine phosphate and sent others home; and treated the critically ill with recombinant interferon Alfa 2B (IFNrec) for resuscitation. This vast operation had no public health necessity, other than to prove that the Communist Party still has the heavenly mandate.

During a press conference on Covid-19, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Health, Iraj Harirchi, appeared contaminated.

Propagation in Iran

The epidemic spreads from China to Iran in mid-February 2020. These two countries have been closely linked since ancient times. They share many common cultural elements. However, the Iranian population is the world's most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments.

When air pollution in Tehran increased beyond what they could bear, schools and government offices were closed and half of the families moved to the countryside with their grandparents. This has been happening several times a year for thirty-five years and seems normal.

The government and parliament are almost exclusively composed of veterans of the Iraq-Iran war, that is, people who are extremely fragile in relation to Covid-19. So when these groups were infected, many personalities developed the disease.

In view of the US sanctions, no Western bank covers the transport of medicines. Iran found itself unable to treat the infected and care for the sick until the UAE broke the embargo and sent two planes of medical equipment.

People who would not suffer in the other country died from the first coughs due to the wounds in their lungs. As usual, the government closed schools. In addition, it deprogrammed several cultural and sporting events, but did not ban pilgrimages. Some areas have closed hotels to prevent the movement of sick people who can no longer find hospitals close to their homes.

Quarantine in Japan

On February 4, 2020, a passenger on the US cruise ship Diamond Princess was diagnosed ill from the Covid-19 and ten passengers were infected. The Japanese Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, then imposed a two-week quarantine on the ship in Yokohama in order to prevent the contagion from spreading to his country. In the end, out of the 3,711 people on board, the vast majority of whom are over 70 years old, there would be 7 deaths.

The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [ 2 ]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel.

We remember that in 1898, William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, in order to increase the sales of their daily newspapers, published false information in order to deliberately provoke a war between the United States and the Spanish colony of Cuba. This was the beginning of "yellow journalism" (publishing anything to make money). Today it is called "fake news".

It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the "end of the world". However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear.

For the WHO Director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, China and South Korea have set an example by generalising screening tests; a way of saying that the Italian and French methods are medical nonsense.

WHO intervention

The World Health Organization (WHO), which monitored the entire operation, noted the spread of the disease outside China. On February 11th and 12th, it organized a global forum on research and innovation on the epidemic in Geneva. At the forum, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called in very measured terms for global collaboration [ 3 ].

In all of its messages, the WHO stressed : the low demographic impact of the epidemic; the futility of border closures; the ineffectiveness of wearing gloves, masks (except for health care workers) and certain "barrier measures" (for example, the distance of one metre only makes sense with infected people, but not with healthy people); the need to raise the level of hygiene, including hand washing, water disinfection and increased ventilation of confined spaces. Finally, use disposable tissues or, failing that, sneeze into your elbow.

However, the WHO is not a medical organization, but a United Nations agency dealing with health issues. Its officials, even if they are doctors, are also and above all