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American Exceptionalism as the USA version of nationalism

News Who Rules America Recommended books Recommended Links Economic costs of American Exceptionalism American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony What's the Matter with Kansas
Andrew Bacevich on the American militarism Diplomacy by deception American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony Big Uncle is Watching You Industrial Espionage Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State Damage to the US tech companies
National Security State Corporatism Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization  Neoconservatism as a stage of development of Neoliberalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians (Rovism) The History of Media-Military-Industrial Complex Concept
Narcissism as Key American Value Anti-Americanism Nation under attack meme 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 Fighting Russophobia 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 survellance" 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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[Feb 16, 2018] Stephanie Savell The Hidden Costs of America's Wars by Tom Engelhardt

Feb 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

If anything, recent weeks have offered remarkable evidence of just how victorious this country's losingest commanders and their colleagues really are in our nation's capital. In the bipartisan style that these days usually applies only to the U.S. military, Congress has just settled on giving an extra $165 billion to the Pentagon over the next two years as part of a formula for keeping the government open. As it happens, the 2017 Pentagon budget was already as large as the defense spending of the next seven nations combined. And that was before all those extra tens of billions of dollars ensured that the two-year military budget (for 2018 and 2019) would crest at a total of more than $1.4 trillion .

That's the sort of money that only goes to winners, not losers. And if this still seems a little strange to you, given that military's dismal record in actual war-fighting since 9/11, all I can say is: don't bring it up. It's no longer considered polite or proper to complain about our wars and those who fight them or how we fund them, not in an age when every American soldier is a " hero ," which means that what they're doing from Afghanistan to Yemen , Syria to Somalia , must be heroic indeed.

In a draft-less country, those of us not in or connected to our military are expected to say " thank you " to the warriors and otherwise go about our lives as if their wars (and the mayhem they continue to generate abroad) were not a fact of global life. This is the definition of a demobilized public. If you happen to be that rarest of all creatures in our country these days -- someone in active opposition to those wars -- you have a problem. That means Stephanie Savell, who co-runs the Costs of War Project , which regularly provides well-researched and devastating information on the spread of those wars and the money continually being squandered on them, does indeed have a problem. It's one she understands all too well and describes vividly today.

[Feb 15, 2018] How The Deep State Stopped Better Relations With Russia by Robert W. Merry

Feb 14, 2018 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Note: this article is part of a symposium included in the March/April 2018 issue of the National Interest .

OF COURSE there's a Deep State. Why wouldn't there be? Even a cursory understanding of human nature tells us that power corrupts, as Lord Acton put it; that, when power is concentrated and entrenched, it will be abused; that, when it is concentrated and entrenched in secrecy, it will be abused in secret. That's the Deep State.

James Burnham saw it coming. The American philosopher and political theorist (1905–87), first a Trotskyist, then a leading conservative intellectual, wrote in 1941 that the great political development of the age was not the battle between communism and capitalism. Rather, it was the rise of a new "managerial" class gaining dominance in business, finance, organized labor and government. This gathering managerial revolution, as he called it, would be resisted, but it would be impervious to adversarial counteractions. As the managerial elites gained more and more power, exercised often in subtle and stealthy ways, they would exercise that power to embed themselves further into the folds of American society and to protect themselves from those who might want to bust them up.

Nowhere is this managerial elite more entrenched, more powerful and more shrouded in secrecy than in what Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, augmented by intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. That's where America's relentless drive for global hegemony meshes with defense manufacturers only too willing to provide the tools of dominance.

Now we have not only a standing army, with hundreds of thousands of troops at the ready, as in Cold War days. We have also permanent wars, nine of them in progress at the moment and not one with what could even remotely be called proper congressional approval. That's how power gets entrenched, how the managerial revolution gains ever greater force and how the Deep State endures.

Few in the general public know what really happened with regard to the allegations of Trump campaign "collusion" with Russia, or how the investigation into those troubling allegations emerged. But we know enough to know we have seen the Deep State in action.

We know that U.S. agencies released an "Intelligence Community Assessment" saying that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of embarrassing Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency. But we also know that it wasn't really a National Intelligence Assessment (a term of art denoting a particular process of expansive intelligence analysis) but rather the work of a controlled task force. As Scott Ritter, the former Marine intelligence officer and arms-control official, put it , "This deliberate misrepresentation of the organizational bona fides of the Russia NIA casts a shadow over the viability of the analysis used to underpin the assessments and judgments contained within." Besides, the document was long on assertion and short on evidence. Even the New York Times initially derided the report as lacking any "hard evidence" and amounting "essentially . . . to 'trust us.'"

[Feb 14, 2018] The Lies That Enable Perpetual War

Feb 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Damon Linker chides Americans for the lies we tell ourselves about our unending wars:

The honest and alarming truth that we seem all-too-eager to evade is that America is already at war around the world. Someone desperately needs to pay attention, demand accountability, and keep tabs on the steep monetary, human, and geopolitical costs.

Linker is right that Americans should pay attention to and demand accountability for the endless wars waged in their name, but he also acknowledges that most have no interest in doing so. Another alarming truth is that many Americans seem content to allow perpetual war to continue so long as the steep costs are borne mostly by people in other countries. Those costs tend to be ignored or mentioned only in passing when assessing the damage done, and even when they are acknowledged they are not given much weight in our policy debates. The hundreds of thousands that died because of the 2003 invasion of Iraq have practically been reduced to a footnote in subsequent debates over military intervention.

One reason for this indifference is that many of our leaders tell us other comforting lies about these wars: that they are necessary and waged in self-defense. The reality is that virtually none of the military interventions that the U.S. has carried out in the last thirty years was unavoidable or required for the defense of the United States and its allies. Our wars are usually wars of choice fought for reasons unrelated to defending ourselves or the nations we are obliged by treaty to protect, and they are typically fought in places where the U.S. has no vital interests at stake.

The U.S. is at war around the world because our government chooses to be at war around the world. For the most part, this was not forced on us, but rather it is something that our leaders and pundits have willingly embraced again and again. Perhaps the biggest lie of all is that the U.S. goes to war reluctantly and grudgingly. In fact, no other government resorts to the use of force in international affairs so often and so casually as ours has in the last twenty-five years. On the rare occasions when the public recoils from this, as they did in the 2006 midterms and again in 2013 at the prospect of attacking Syria, our leaders and pundits shake their heads and warn against the dangers of "retreat" from the world. Of course, the myth of retreat is another lie used to justify the next unnecessary war, and if that doesn't work then they tell us the lie that the rest of the world supposedly craves and demands U.S. "leadership" in its most destructive form.


Uncle Billy February 14, 2018 at 10:42 am

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but served as a bulwark against Iran and kept down Sunni fanatics as well. He was no threat to the US. Why did we go to war with Iraq and topple him? How have things gone in Iraq since the US invasion?

The whole concepts of premptive war and regime change is insanity. I want the United States to be a republic not an empire.

paradoctor , says: February 14, 2018 at 10:45 am
Nor do we ever win those forever wars; and this for one simple reason; those involved are not paid to win wars, just to forever wage them.
liberal , says: February 14, 2018 at 10:55 am
Adam Johnson has been good at pointing out all the times the US is being described as "accidentally" or "reluctantly" being pulled into a war somewhere.
Youknowho , says: February 14, 2018 at 11:11 am
We need to bring back the draft. Not until is it THEIR CHILDREN in the line of fire will the people of the US revolt. The draft was the reason why the war in Vietnam was so unpopular. After it was done with, war became a spectator sport, to be viewed from the comfort of ones couch.

The All-Volunteer arm (A.K.A. mercenaires) made perpetual war possible.

SDS , says: February 14, 2018 at 11:12 am
How many people voted for Trump because he was the only one of the bunch on either side saying anything other than "SYRIA/IRAN/ISRAEL/ RUSSIA/WIN"..??
Yes; we find(probably should have known) that he is a filthy low-life . but in desperation
I think a lot of us gave him a chance
Peter , says: February 14, 2018 at 12:09 pm
Justified to invade wretched Afghanistan, not nuclear Pakistan where he actually was.

And the war goes on and on forever

Someone in the crowd , says: February 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm
What is missing from this otherwise healthy and needed essay is a description of lies. Being cagey and silent is not the same as telling lies.

After all, the fact that we are engaged in persistent conflicts, these past few decades, is not being denied. I haven't heard the U.S. government say: 'We are at peace with all the world.' Saying so would indeed be a lie. But, to the contrary, the US government boldly announces that it is fighting -- in Syria, for example. Though ISIS is defeated, the Defense Dept. recently stated that U.S. army personnel are staying in Syria, with the goal of regime change, despite having no legal basis whatsoever to do so.

So here we have one example of a lie -- our government's earlier excuse for being in Syria ('to defeat ISIS'). What other lies of this sort has our government been telling us? THAT would be an article that warrants this essay's title.

b. , says: February 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm
The honest and alarming truth that we seem all-too-eager to evade is that America is violating its own Constitution, the UN Charter, and the ratified international order around the world. We all need to pay attention, demand the impeachment of Presidents, Senators and Representatives, and vote any incumbent that aided, abetted or authorized illegal acts of aggression out of office regardless of the cost.

Thank you for making a principled statement to refute a deeply misleading observation by Linker. If Linker's is the best published opinion can do, then we are still content to be cognitively captured by War Profiteers "R" US.

Given the exercise of collective punishment that the US engages in in Yemen and has engaged in elsewhere, this is on *us*, whether we accept it or not.

"Americans seem content to allow perpetual war to continue so long as the steep costs are borne mostly by people in other countries "

.. and states, and counties.

It is to the eternal shame of the Democratic Party that Trump apparently won additional votes in the districts across the nation where the military casualties and related "cost" of our wars for chosen profits are born the most.

The "National Securities" con is the textbook example of bipartisan comity and national unity that anybody could conceive. Why anybody would be asking for more "consensus" is beyond me.

b. , says: February 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm
Linker writes:

"Bacevich suggested a number of explanations for why the overwhelming majority of Americans, from elected officials on down to ordinary voters, display such indifference about our frenzied military actions abroad. They include: because casualty rates on our side are low; because, despite President Trump's rhetoric, no one really keeps track of and demands public accountability for just how much money is being spent, and wasted, around the world; because the wars are fought by an all-volunteer force in which a tiny percentage of the population serves, allowing most Americans to go about their lives without ever being touched by the human consequences; and because the threat of terrorism is hyped, and most people just want to feel safe. Voters want to be protected, and politicians want to avoid the blame either for a successful attack on the homeland or a humiliating defeat abroad. The result is that no war ever comes to a decisive end, the total number of wars increases over time, and we never speak of any of them."

Neither he nor Bacevich mention what I consider the most relevant aspects – many Americans benefit from these wars, and most are not taxed by the cost of debt-financed war and "defense" spending.

"Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of the its population . In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. This process cannot be a liberal or peaceful one."

George Kennan in a 1948 memorandum
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Memo_PPS23_by_George_Kennan

We are willingly sacrificing both living humans being and our unborn children for our own personal, immediate profit. How fitting for a nation born in tax evasion and collapsing by defunding itself in public-private partnerships for profit extraction.

War is never a conservative choice.

One Guy , says: February 14, 2018 at 1:11 pm
Think of all the jobs that are made necessary by endless wars. Somebody has to make the bullets, the tanks, they planes, helicopters, uniforms, etc. Americans don't care how many thousands of little brown people die, as long as Uncle Joe has a job at Boeing.
Someone in the crowd , says: February 14, 2018 at 3:05 pm
To clarify an earlier post (in case my first sentence is misinterpreted) -- of course the US government regularly lies, especially about its 'foreign policy', endless wars, etc. My point was simply that this article needed to focus on the nature of those lies and bogus justifications. It's an almost inexhaustible subject, enough to keep an army of journalists busy for many years.

The problem, of course, is not the need for such analysis: what could be more obvious? The problem is that digging too deep in that way is taboo. And taboos are enforced here. Ask Chuck Schumer.

[Feb 14, 2018] Trump's Massive Giveaway to the Pentagon by Daniel Larison

Feb 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Judah Grunstein dubs Trump "the generals' president" because of his total capitulation to whatever the current and former generals around him want:

Trump's generals have instead gone back to the future, restoring the model of a U.S. military that faces no fiscal or strategic constraints, while preparing for a conflict -- a conventional war with either or both of its nuclear-armed big power competitors -- that is not just unlikely, but unwinnable.

While it is true that Trump voiced some objections to foreign wars long after they were over or when it was no longer very risky to do so, it is important to remember that he was always in favor of throwing more money at the military from the beginning of his campaign. He seized on the nonsense talking point that the military had been "depleted" under Obama, and he has continued to use it until now, and he made undoing the imaginary "depletion" one of the main planks of his platform. Since Trump is a militarist, and since he now comes from the more hawkish of the two parties, it was more or less a given that he would waste huge sums on higher military spending while agreeing to the policies favored by Mattis, McMaster, et al. Add to this his fetish for "strength" and "greatness," and you have a recipe for massive wasteful spending on weapons and programs that the U.S. doesn't need. When there are already Pentagon agencies losing track of how they spend hundreds of millions of dollars , throwing more money at a huge department with inadequate oversight is pure folly.

The increase in military spending that Trump has endorsed reflects his impulse to give the military whatever they want. In addition to being completely unnecessary, higher military spending will indulge the Pentagon in all its worst habits:

The Pentagon budget request for 2019 puts the military on a course of spending unmatched since the Reagan-era buildup, boosting the number of troops, warplanes and bombs, according to documents and analysts.

But, defense analysts say, the $716 billion spending plan risks flooding too much money into a Defense Department that may not spend it wisely.

"The risk is that when the budget is flowing freely, policy makers are usually reluctant to make hard choices," said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank.

"While this is not a record increase, it comes on top of a budget that was already higher than the peak of the Reagan buildup when adjusted for inflation [bold mine-DL]," Harrison said.

The fantasy claim that the military budget suffered significant reductions in the last decade has been one of the standard hawkish criticisms of the previous administration, and Trump takes that falsehood as gospel. The truth is that an already bloated military budget has continued to grow, and Trump proposes to make it grow even faster. Everyone in Washington was so desperate to have the generals rein in Trump that most of them never thought through what it meant for Trump to be the military's unthinking yes-man.

[Feb 14, 2018] President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale by James Petras

Notable quotes:
"... anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build broader movements and especially oppose growing war-fever. ..."
"... Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance struggles for national sovereignty everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela and beyond. ..."
"... Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order. ..."
Feb 14, 2018 | www.unz.com

Originally from: The FBI and the President – Mutual Manipulation, by James Petras - The Unz Review

President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale. Trump's violation of international law includes collaboration and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation of Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people; severe sanctions and threatened nuclear first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of Venezuela; NATO missile and nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats against China.

... .. ...

In the face of the national-political debacle local and regional movements became the vehicle to support the struggles. Women organized at some workplaces and gained better protection of their rights; African-Americans vividly documented and published video evidence of the systematic brutal violation of their rights by the police state and effectively acted to restrain local police violence in a few localities; immigrant workers and especially their children gained broad public sympathy and allies within religious and political organizations; and anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build broader movements and especially oppose growing war-fever.

Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance struggles for national sovereignty everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela and beyond.

Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order.

[Feb 14, 2018] The FBI and the President – Mutual Manipulation by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The liberals and Democrats and their allies in the FBI, political police and other elements of the security state apparatus were deeply involved in an attempt to implicate Russian government officials in a plot to manipulate US public opinion on Trump's behalf and corrupt the outcome of the election. However, the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have produced no evidence of collusion linking the Russian government to a campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy in favor of Trump. This is despite thousands of interviews and threats of long prison sentences against former Trump campaign advisers. Instead, they focus their attack on Trump's early campaign promise to find common ground in improving economic and diplomatic ties between the US and Russia, especially in confronting jihadi terrorists. ..."
"... The liberal-progressive FBI cohort turned into rabid Russia-bashers demanding that Trump take a highly aggressive stance against Moscow, while systematically eliminating his military and security advisors who expressed anti-confrontation sentiments. In the spirit of a Joe McCarthy, the liberal-left launched hysterical attacks on any and every Trump campaign adviser who had spoken to, dined with or exchanged eyebrows with any and all Russians! ..."
"... The conversion of liberalism to the pursuit of political purges is unprecedented. Their collective amnesia about the long-term, large-scale involvement by the FBI in the worst criminal violations of democratic values is reprehensible. The FBI's anti-communist crusade led to the purge of thousands of trade unionists from the mid-1940's onward, decimating the AFL-CIO. They blacklisted actors, screen writers, artists, teachers, university academics, researchers, scientists, journalists and civil rights leaders as part of their sweeping purge of civil society. ..."
"... President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale. Trump's violation of international law includes collaboration and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation of Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people; severe sanctions and threatened nuclear first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of Venezuela; NATO missile and nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats against China ..."
"... Domestically, Trump's response to the FBI's blackmail has been to replace the original political leadership with his own version; to expand and increase the police state powers against immigrants; to increase the powers of the major tech companies to police and intensify work-place exploitation and the invasion of citizens' privacy; to expand the unleash the power of state agents to torture suspects and to saturate all public events, celebrations and activities with open displays of jingoism and militarism with the goal of creating pro-war public opinion. ..."
"... Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order ..."
Feb 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

Few government organizations have been engaged in violation of the US citizens' constitutional rights for as long a time and against as many individuals as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Seldom has there been greater collusion in the perpetration of crimes against civil liberties, electoral freedom and free and lawful expression as what has taken place between the FBI and the US Justice Department.

In the past, the FBI and Justice Department secured the enthusiastic support and public acclaim from the conservative members of the US Congress, members of the judiciary at all levels and the mass media. The leading liberal voices, public figures, educators, intellectuals and progressive dissenters opposing the FBI and their witch-hunting tactics were all from the left. Today, the right and the left have changed places: The most powerful voices endorsing the FBI and the Justice Department's fabrications, and abuse of constitutional rights are on the left, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and famous liberal media corporations and public opinion makers.

The recently published Congressional memo, authored by Congressman Devin Nunes, provides ample proof that the FBI spied on Trump campaign workers with the intent to undermine the Republican candidate and sabotage his bid for the presidency. Private sector investigators, hired by Trump's rival Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, worked with pro-Clinton operatives within the FBI and Justice Department to violate the national electoral process while flouting rules governing wiretaps on US citizens. This was done with the approval of the sitting Democratic President Barack Obama.

The liberals and Democrats and their allies in the FBI, political police and other elements of the security state apparatus were deeply involved in an attempt to implicate Russian government officials in a plot to manipulate US public opinion on Trump's behalf and corrupt the outcome of the election. However, the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have produced no evidence of collusion linking the Russian government to a campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton's candidacy in favor of Trump. This is despite thousands of interviews and threats of long prison sentences against former Trump campaign advisers. Instead, they focus their attack on Trump's early campaign promise to find common ground in improving economic and diplomatic ties between the US and Russia, especially in confronting jihadi terrorists.

The liberal-progressive FBI cohort turned into rabid Russia-bashers demanding that Trump take a highly aggressive stance against Moscow, while systematically eliminating his military and security advisors who expressed anti-confrontation sentiments. In the spirit of a Joe McCarthy, the liberal-left launched hysterical attacks on any and every Trump campaign adviser who had spoken to, dined with or exchanged eyebrows with any and all Russians!

The conversion of liberalism to the pursuit of political purges is unprecedented. Their collective amnesia about the long-term, large-scale involvement by the FBI in the worst criminal violations of democratic values is reprehensible. The FBI's anti-communist crusade led to the purge of thousands of trade unionists from the mid-1940's onward, decimating the AFL-CIO. They blacklisted actors, screen writers, artists, teachers, university academics, researchers, scientists, journalists and civil rights leaders as part of their sweeping purge of civil society.

The FBI investigated the private lives of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, even threatening their family members. They illegally spied on and infiltrated civil liberties organizations, and used provocateurs and spies in anti-war groups. Individuals lives were destroyed, some were driven to suicide; important popular American organizations were undermined to the detriment of millions. This has been its focus since its beginning and continues with the current fabrication of anti-Russian propaganda and investigations.

President Trump: Victim and Executor

President Trump has pursued an agenda mirroring the police state operations of the FBI – only on a global scale. Trump's violation of international law includes collaboration and support for Saudi Arabia's tyrannical invasion and destruction of the sovereign nation of Yemen; intensified aid and support for Israel's ethnic war against the Palestinian people; severe sanctions and threatened nuclear first-strike against North Korea (DPRK); increased deployment of US special forces in collaboration with the jihadi terrorist war to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria; coup-mongering, sabotage, sanctions and economic blockade of Venezuela; NATO missile and nuclear encirclement of Russia; and the growing naval threats against China .

Domestically, Trump's response to the FBI's blackmail has been to replace the original political leadership with his own version; to expand and increase the police state powers against immigrants; to increase the powers of the major tech companies to police and intensify work-place exploitation and the invasion of citizens' privacy; to expand the unleash the power of state agents to torture suspects and to saturate all public events, celebrations and activities with open displays of jingoism and militarism with the goal of creating pro-war public opinion.

In a word: From the right to the left there are no political options to choose from among the two ruling political parties. Popular political movements and mass demonstrations have risen up against Trump with clear justification, but have since dissolved and been absorbed. They came together from diverse sectors: Women against sexual abuse and workplace humiliation; African-Americans against police impunity and violence; and immigrants against mass expulsion and harassment. They staged mass demonstrations and then declined as their 'anti-Trump' animus was frustrated by the liberal-democrats hell-bent on pursuing the Russian connection.

In the face of the national-political debacle local and regional movements became the vehicle to support the struggles. Women organized at some workplaces and gained better protection of their rights; African-Americans vividly documented and published video evidence of the systematic brutal violation of their rights by the police state and effectively acted to restrain local police violence in a few localities; immigrant workers and especially their children gained broad public sympathy and allies within religious and political organizations; and anti-Trump movements combined with critics of the liberal/democrat apparatus to build broader movements and especially oppose growing war-fever.

Abroad, bi-partisan wars have failed to defeat independent state and mass popular resistance struggles for national sovereignty everywhere – from North Korea, Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela and beyond.

Even the fight within the two-headed reactionary party of the US oligarchy has had a positive effect. Each side is hell-bent on exposing the state-sponsored crimes of the other. In an unprecedented and historic sense, the US and world public is witness to the spies, lies and crimes of the leadership and elite on prime time and on the wide screen. We head in two directions. In one direction, there are the threats of nuclear war, economic collapse, environmental disasters and a full blown police state. In the other direction, there is the demise of empire, a revived and renewed civil society rooted in a participatory economy and a renewed moral order .

[Feb 12, 2018] Drug Wars, Missing Money, and a Phantom $500 Million by Nick Turse

Notable quotes:
"... Last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted that while West Africa "has long been a transit zone for cocaine and heroin trafficking, it has now turned into a production zone for illicit substances such as amphetamines and precursors" and that drug use "is also a growing issue at the local level." Meanwhile, heroin trafficking has been on the rise in East Africa , along with personal use of the drug. ..."
"... In the spring of 2001, American experts concluded that a ban on opium-poppy cultivation by Afghanistan's Taliban government had wiped out the world's largest heroin-producing crop. Later that year, the U.S. military invaded and, since 2002, America has pumped $8.7 billion in counternarcotics funding into that country. A report issued late last month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction detailed the results of anti-drug efforts during CENTCOM's 16-year-old war: "Afghanistan's total area under opium cultivation and opium production reached an all-time high in 2017," it reads in part. "Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer and exporter, producing an estimated 80% of the world's opium." ..."
"... While AFRICOM and, to a lesser extent, CENTCOM have made changes in how they track counternarcotics aid, both seemingly remain hooked on pouring money into efforts that have produced few successes. More effective use of spreadsheets won't solve the underlying problems of America's wars or cure an addiction to policies that continue to fail. ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

More troubling than the findings in the IG's report or CENTCOM's apparent refusal to heed its recommendations may be the actual trajectory of the drug trade in the two commands' areas of responsibility: Africa and the Greater Middle East. Last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted that while West Africa "has long been a transit zone for cocaine and heroin trafficking, it has now turned into a production zone for illicit substances such as amphetamines and precursors" and that drug use "is also a growing issue at the local level." Meanwhile, heroin trafficking has been on the rise in East Africa , along with personal use of the drug.

Even the Pentagon's Africa Center for Strategic Studies is sounding an alarm. "Drug trafficking is a major transnational threat in Africa that converges with other illicit activities ranging from money laundering to human trafficking and terrorism," it warned last November. "According to the 2017 U.N. World Drug Report, two-thirds of the cocaine smuggled between South America and Europe passes through West Africa, specifically Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo. Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania are among the countries that have seen the highest traffic in opiates passing from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Western destinations." As badly as this may reflect on AFRICOM's efforts to bolster the counter-drug-trafficking prowess of key allies like Kenya, Mali, and Nigeria, it reflects even more dismally on CENTCOM, which oversees Washington's long-running war in Afghanistan and its seemingly ceaseless counternarcotics mission there.

In the spring of 2001, American experts concluded that a ban on opium-poppy cultivation by Afghanistan's Taliban government had wiped out the world's largest heroin-producing crop. Later that year, the U.S. military invaded and, since 2002, America has pumped $8.7 billion in counternarcotics funding into that country. A report issued late last month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction detailed the results of anti-drug efforts during CENTCOM's 16-year-old war: "Afghanistan's total area under opium cultivation and opium production reached an all-time high in 2017," it reads in part. "Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer and exporter, producing an estimated 80% of the world's opium."

In many ways, these outcomes mirror those of the larger counterterror efforts of which these anti-drug campaigns are just a part. In 2001, for example, U.S. forces were fighting just two enemy forces in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Now, according to a recent Pentagon report , they're battling more than 10 times that number. In Africa, an official count of five prime terror groups in 2012 has expanded, depending on the Pentagon source, to more than 20 or even closer to 50 .

Correlation doesn't equal causation, but given the outcomes of significant counternarcotics assistance from Africa Command and Central Command -- including some $500 million over just three recent years -- there's little evidence to suggest that better record-keeping can solve the problems plaguing the military's anti-drug efforts in the greater Middle East or Africa. While AFRICOM and, to a lesser extent, CENTCOM have made changes in how they track counternarcotics aid, both seemingly remain hooked on pouring money into efforts that have produced few successes. More effective use of spreadsheets won't solve the underlying problems of America's wars or cure an addiction to policies that continue to fail.

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch , a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept . His 2017 Harper's magazine article, " Ghost Nation ," is a finalist for an American Society of Magazine Editors award . His website is NickTurse.com .

[Feb 12, 2018] Ike's Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Alive and Very Well by William J. Astore

Highly recommended!
160 billion plus 160 billion are pretty serious money. money that were stolen from ordinary Americans.
PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. (cited from The Age of Lunacy The Doomsday Machine naked capitalism )
Notable quotes:
"... The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to "rebuild." And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism. ..."
"... Perhaps you've heard of the expression, "Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave." Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those "sailors" an enormous boost in the loose change they're carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely? ..."
Feb 12, 2018 | www.antiwar.com

The new Congressional budget boosts military spending in a big way . Last night's PBS News report documented how military spending is projected to increase by $160 billion over two years, but that doesn't include "overseas contingency funding" for wars, which is another $160 billion over two years. Meanwhile, spending for the opioid crisis, which is killing roughly 60,000 Americans a year (more Americans than were killed in the Vietnam War), is set at a paltry $6 billion ($25 billion was requested).

One thing is certain: Ike was right about the undue influence of the military-industrial-Congressional complex.

The military talks about needing all these scores of billions to "rebuild." And, sure, there are ships that need to be refitted, planes in need of repairs, equipment that needs to be restocked, and veterans who need to be cared for. But a massive increase in military and war spending, perhaps as high as $320 billion over two years, is a recipe for excessive waste and even more disastrous military adventurism.

Even if you're a supporter of big military budgets, this massive boost in military spending is bad news. Why? It doesn't force the military to think . To set priorities. To define limits. To be creative.

Perhaps you've heard of the expression, "Spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave." Our military has been drunk with money since 9/11. Is it really wise to give those "sailors" an enormous boost in the loose change they're carrying, trusting them to spend it wisely?

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views . He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu . Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.

[Feb 12, 2018] The Age of Lunacy: The Doomsday Machine

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold War. We could've ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn't say anything publicly in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It's a visionary speech. It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there ..."
"... PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ..."
"... two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch, he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world. The exact wrong message. ..."
"... Did Eisenhower speak for it or did Dulles speak for it? Was Eisenhower the militarist or was Dulles the militarist? In many ways, the '50s was a very, very dangerous time. And there were so many harebrained schemes that were going on. ..."
"... The great independent journalist I.F. Stone mentioned that the word for lunar, for moon, in Latin is Luna. And he said, we should have a new department in the cabinet and call it the Department of Lunacy because of the crazy ideas that were being promulgated at the time. ..."
"... Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis is very important because now we're going through the Korean Missile Crisis, and if Trump has his way, we'll also go through the Iranian Missile Crisis. And the last time we were this close to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What happens there is that Khrushchev, in order to try to accomplish two things, or three things, really. ..."
"... And so, we were planning, we had the plans in place to overthrow the Cuban government, number one. Number two, Khrushchev wanted a credible deterrent. The Americans learned, Kennedy says, "Let's find out what the reality of the Missile Gap is." And he has McNamara do the study. We find out that there is a Missile Gap. By October of '61, we find out that there is a Missile Gap, and it's in our favor. The United States is ahead between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 over the Soviet Union in every important category. ..."
"... He said, "We would've definitely destroyed Cuba and probably wiped out the Soviet Union as well." So, that's how close we came at this time. Which is again, as Robert Gates, another hawk, warns, "The United States should not invade Syria," he said. "Or should not bomb Syria because haven't we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, that whenever these things happen, you never know what the consequences are going to be. It's always the unintended consequences that are going to get you." ..."
"... It takes two to tango. The idea that the US is solely to blame for the continuation of the Cold War, or that the US is solely to blame for a revival is Soviet/Russian propaganda. Great powers are aggressive, and rarely circumspect. ..."
"... And given Churchill's anathema toward Communism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular, and given that he was the architect of the Cold War from the West I find the idea of him being a peacenik to be bizarre. ..."
"... They do not appreciate that there are different manifestations of both economic models. (Neoliberalism is eating us alive.) They do not appreciate that communism was probably the salvation of both post-war Russia and China. They conflate socialism with communism, view high taxes as communistic, and ignore that the countries with the highest standard of living are quite socialist. ..."
"... Ike was so right about the Military-Industrial complex, and yet we have only enabled it to grow to the point that it dominates every political decision – every law – every regulation in ways that ensure weapons are expended so more can take their place; and more weapons need to be developed because the boogeyman out there (pick a regime) probably, maybe, could be building an even nastier weapon. Make no mistake, Sputnik was viewed as evidence that the Russians already had better weapons and that they would take over "outer space" and we would thus be at their mercy. Back in the 60s the US did worry that communism was working better than capitalism, and that fear enabled a lot of foreign policy (gunboat diplomacy). ..."
"... Capitalism has fatal flaws, but we should all thank Communism died the way it did. ..."
"... not like capitalism didn't murder a few proletarians if murder is the standard, both are condemned ..."
"... the vast bulk of provocations and exacerbations in that now-reprised Cold War were a pas de deluxe, not mostly driven by our own insane US leaders, like the ones discussed in small detail in the post. Conveniently ignoring the whole escalation process of the Exceptional Empire doing the "policies" of the Dulleses and their clan, the craziness of stuff like the John Birchers and the McCarthy thing, and the madness of MAD (which I believe was a notion coined by that nest of vipers called RAND, that "we have to be understood to be insane enough to commit suicide, to kill the whole planet, for the 'deterrent effect' of Massive Retaliation (forget that the US policy and military structure very seriously intended a first strike on the Evil Soviets for quite a long time, and are now building "small nukes" for 'battlespace use' as if there are no knock-on consequences.) ..."
"... Russia suffered 20 million dead in WW II, pretty much won that war against fascism, and the leaders there get dang little decrepit for being (so far) so much more the "grownups in the room" in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that our idiot rulers are playing. Go look up how many times, however, beyond that vast set of slapstick plays that led to the "Cuban Missile Crisis", the human part of the world skated up, by combinations of accident and error, to getting its death wish. And the main impetus for the nuclear "standoff" has been the US and the "policies" forwarded by "our" insane rulers and militarists. ..."
"... Guys, I generally treasure the NC comments section, and I am not singling anyone out, but some of the rhetoric here is starting to remind me of ZeroHedge doomp&rn. Let's please recover some perspective. ..."
"... Every year of human history since the expulsion from Eden will let us cherry pick overwhelming evidence that the lunatics were running the asylum. Or that every generation of our forebears gleefully built our civilization atop heaps of skulls of [insert oppressed groups here]. ..."
"... Such faith we have in ourselves, and such little evidence other than maybe a couple of world wars and long histories of the loonies playing stupid with whole populations, that we don't need to worry about the concentrated efforts of the sociopathic lunatics to rise to positions of great power and do stupid stuff. ..."
"... "It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there" Was he subsequently co-opted, or BSing? ..."
"... But that doesn't help the millions who would die on the peninsula. Further, whats known as a Nuclear Famine could still occur, which would be pretty damn devastating for civilization, even if mankind itself manages to survive. ..."
"... Science is about doubt and skepticism. That's what the scientific process is. Doubt a nuclear winter: Ok, I'll bite. We have examples – Large Volcanic eruptions, and we have the year without a summer sometime in the 1830s I believe – that is in recorded History. The we searched to archeological record for more evidence, and found large die-offs following a layer of volcanic dust. Again and again, I believe. Quoting scientists who "doubt nuclear winter" requires more examination: ..."
"... Humanity might survive as a species but not as an idea. Am about halfway through the Ellsberg book and, yes, it does make Dr. Strangelove look like a documentary. Current thinking does not seem much changed. ..."
"... Something missing from the sequence of events here is that the main reason that the Kremlin put nuclear missiles in Cuba was the fact that more than 100 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961 by the US, thus cutting down any reaction time by Moscow to minutes in case of a US attack. ..."
"... The main – unacknowledged – part of the climb down from the Cuba missile crisis was that as Russia pulled its nuclear missiles out of Cuba, the US would do the same in Europe. It cooled things down again until Reagan was electe ..."
"... I had forgotten that the 50s had just as many crazies as present times – the Dulles brothers, Curtis LeMay, Edward Teller, J. Edgar Hoover – really scary people and probably founding members of the deep state. ..."
"... The Jupiter missile agreement was a secret at the time. Kennedy wanted to minimize the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. The subsequent presence of Pershings and Tomahawks in Europe (but not Turkey) was a reaction to the mobile IRBMs deployed by the Soviet Union. Which they still have. France and Britain have their own independent deterrents. Which is just as well, since the Pershings and Tomahawks were traded away as part of START/SALT. ..."
"... The more recent escalation of NATO into E Europe, the Baltics and the Ukraine are a definite violation of the spirit of the Cuban Missile Crisis agreement, and are pure aggression against a Russia that was seen as too weak to do anything about it until they did do something about it in 2014. ..."
"... An aggressive NATO is something I view with horror. One does not poke the bear. But Kissinger (the German) and Berzhinski (the Pole) are fanatically anti-Russian. They made up for the passing of Churchill. ..."
"... LeMay had suggested that we should perhaps wipe out the Soviet Union before they had the chance to catch up to us in nukes. It was an era ruled by fear of nuclear war–a fear that was unleashed by the use of the bomb in Japan. Truman and Byrnes (the latter in a meeting in his hometown–my hometown) rejected calls by some of the Los Alamos scientists to share the nuclear secrets with the Russians and forestall this arms race or so they hoped. ..."
"... This isn't accurate. Stalin tried repeatedly and even towards the end, desperately, to sign a treaty with the Britain and France. They rebuffed him because [he was a] Commie. He signed up with Hitler only after those efforts had clearly failed. It was a self-preservation move. It probably did buy him less time than he thought. But let's not kid ourselves: Hitler's first move otherwise would have been to the East. What were later the Allies would have been delighted to see him take over the USSR. This was why British aristos were so keen on Hitler, that he was seen as an answer to Communism and therefore "our kind of man". ..."
"... General LeMay was responsible for the death of a fifth (some say a third) of the North Korean population by saturation bombing with napalm, was he not? A third? Isn't that one in three? ..."
"... Additional books that shed light on both leaving the new deal behind and the Cuban missile crisis are (1) "The Devil's Chessboard" by Talbot and (2) "JFK and The Unspeakable" by Douglass. The first is mostly about Allen Dulles but has interesting chapters on McCarthy, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc. It is reasonably well foot-noted. The second is about the assassination and has loads of detail about the missile crisis and its power players. It is meticulously foot-noted. ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on February 11, 2018 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

Jerri-Lynn here: Lest anyone be deluded into thinking that the current lunacy of Trump foreign policy is unprededented and ahistoric, part eight of an excellent Real News Network series on Undoing the New Deal reminds us this simply isn't so.

That series more generally discuses who helped unravel the New Deal and why. That was no accident, either. In this installment, historian Peter Kuznick says Eisenhower called for decreased militarization, then Dulles reversed the policy; the Soviets tried to end the cold war after the death of Stalin; crazy schemes involving nuclear weapons and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba put the world of the eve of destruction.

Three things I've seen recently made me think readers might appreciate this interview. First, I recently finished reading Stephen Kinzer's The Brothers , about the baleful consequences of the control over US foreign policy by Dulles brothers– John Foster and Alan. These continue to reverberate to today. Well worth your time.

Over the hols, I watched Dr. Strangelove again. And I wondered, and this not for the first time: why has the world managed to survive to this day? Seems to me just matter of time before something spirals out of control– and then, that's a wrap.

Queued up on my beside table is Daniel Ellsberg's The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner . Haven't cracked the spine of that yet, so I'll eschew further commentary, except to say that I understand Ellsberg's provides vivid detail about just how close we've already come to annihilation.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3ejpFDjks9M

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network, I'm Paul Jay. We're continuing our series of discussions on the Undoing of the New deal, and we're joined again by Professor Peter Kuznick, who joins us from Washington. Peter is a Professor of History, and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. Thanks for joining us again Peter.

PETER KUZNICK: My pleasure, Paul.

PAUL JAY: So, before we move on to Kennedy, and then we're going to get to Johnson, you wanted to make a comment about Eisenhower, who made a couple of great sounding speeches about reducing military expenditure but I'm not sure how much that actually ever got implemented. But talk about this speech in, I guess, it's 1953, is it?

PETER KUZNICK: Yes. The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold War. We could've ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn't say anything publicly in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It's a visionary speech. It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there

PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

PETER KUZNICK: This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.� What a great speech and the Soviets were thrilled. They republished this. They reprinted it. They broadcast it over and over, and then two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch, he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world. The exact wrong message.

And so, it's sort of like Trump, where Tillerson says something sane and then Trump will undermine it two days later when it comes to North Korea. The same thing happened in 1953 with Eisenhower and Dulles. We're really much more on the same page, but if you look at the third world response, you've got the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, and the third world leaders are all saying, "We have to be independent. We have to be neutral." They say, "It is insane to spend all these dollars and all these rubles on the military when we need money for development."

PAUL JAY: So, what went on with Eisenhower, making that kind of speech? He's not known for any big increase in social spending domestically. He helps build, as you said, the military industrial complex, especially the nuclear side of it. So, what was that speech about, and then how does he allow Dulles to contradict him two days later?

PETER KUZNICK: That's one of the mysteries. That's why writing books on the debate, what was going on in that administration. Did Eisenhower speak for it or did Dulles speak for it? Was Eisenhower the militarist or was Dulles the militarist? In many ways, the '50s was a very, very dangerous time. And there were so many harebrained schemes that were going on.

We talked a little bit about Sputnik but one of the proposals after that was to blast a hydrogen bomb on the surface of the moon to show the world that we really are the strongest. And they talked about putting missile bases on the moon, and then the idea was to have the Soviets respond by putting their own missile bases on the moon. We could put ours on distant planets, so that we could then hit the Soviet bases on the moon. The great independent journalist I.F. Stone mentioned that the word for lunar, for moon, in Latin is Luna. And he said, we should have a new department in the cabinet and call it the Department of Lunacy because of the crazy ideas that were being promulgated at the time.

This comes across, really, with the nuclear policies. So, when McGeorge Bundy asks Dan Ellsberg in 1961 to find out from the Joint Chiefs what would be, how many people would die as a result of America's nuclear launch in the event of a war with the Soviet Union, the Pentagon comes back with the idea that between 600 and 650 million people would die from America's weapons alone in our first PSYOP. And that doesn't even account for nuclear winter, which would have killed us all, or the numbers who would be killed by the Soviet weapons. That includes at least 100 million of our own allies in Western Europe.

We are talking about a period the lunacy and insanity was captured best by Stanley Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove in 1964. That policy was so close to what was actually occurring at the time. Did Eisenhower speak for this? When Eisenhower wanted to, one of his visions was for planetary excavation using hydrogen bombs. People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare.

PAUL JAY: They used to have tourism to go look at nuclear tests outside of Las Vegas and people would sit just a few miles away with sunglasses on.

PETER KUZNICK: And we sent American soldiers into the blast area, knowing that they were going to be irradiated. Yeah, the irrationality in these times. People are going to look back at the Trump administration and if we're here later, maybe they'll laugh at us. If we survive this period, they'll laugh. They'll look back and say, "Look at the craziness of this period." Well, if you look at the history of the '50s and early '60s, you see a lot of that same kind of craziness in terms of the policies that were actually implemented at the time, and the ones, for example, one of the ideas was to melt the polar ice caps using hydrogen bombs. We wanted to increase polar melting. We wanted to increase the temperature on the planet by exploding nuclear bombs.

PAUL JAY: And this was to do, to what end?

PETER KUZNICK: For what end? I'm not sure. I mean, one-

PAUL JAY: Well, they may get their way, the way things are heading right now. They may get that.

PETER KUZNICK: And one of the things from Trump's National Security speech was to not talk about, or to say that global warming is not a National Security concern as Obama and others had believed it was. But they wanted to actually redirect hurricanes by setting off hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere in the path of the hurricane, so they could redirect hurricanes. They wanted to build new harbors by setting off hydrogen bombs. They wanted to have a new canal across the, instead of the Panama canal, with hydrogen bombs and reroute rivers in the United States.

I mean, crazy, crazy ideas that was considered American policy. And actually, it was the Soviets who saved us because Eisenhower wanted to begin to do these programs, but the Soviets would not allow, would not give the United States the right to do that because there was a temporary test ban in the late 1950s. And Eisenhower would have had to abrogate that in order to begin these projects.

PAUL JAY: Okay. Let's catch up. So, we had just, the last part dealt with some of Kennedy. We get into the 1960s. Kennedy is as preoccupied with the Cold War, the beginning of the Vietnam War, Cuba, the Missile Crisis. And we had left off right at the moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Give us a really quick recap because I think on this issue of militarization and former policy, we kind of have to do a whole nother series that focuses more on that. We're trying to get more into this issue of the New Deal and what happened to domestic social reforms in the context of this massive military expenditure. But talk a bit about that moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

PETER KUZNICK: Well, the Cuban Missile Crisis is very important because now we're going through the Korean Missile Crisis, and if Trump has his way, we'll also go through the Iranian Missile Crisis. And the last time we were this close to nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What happens there is that Khrushchev, in order to try to accomplish two things, or three things, really.

One is to, he knows the United States is planning an invasion of Cuba. The United States had been carrying out war games, massive war games, 40,000 people participating in these war games. Like now, we're carrying out war games off the Korean coast. And the war game that was planned for October of '62 was called Operation Ortsac. Anybody who doesn't get it? Certainly the Soviets did. Ortsac is Castro spelled backwards.

And so, we were planning, we had the plans in place to overthrow the Cuban government, number one. Number two, Khrushchev wanted a credible deterrent. The Americans learned, Kennedy says, "Let's find out what the reality of the Missile Gap is." And he has McNamara do the study. We find out that there is a Missile Gap. By October of '61, we find out that there is a Missile Gap, and it's in our favor. The United States is ahead between 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 over the Soviet Union in every important category.

Still, the pressure was to increase America's missiles and so, the Strategic Air Command in the Air Force wanted to increase our missiles by 3,000. McNamara figures that the least number he can get away with is to increase our intercontinental ballistic missiles by 1,000 even though we're ahead 10 to 1 already at that point. The Kremlin interpreted that, and said, "Why is the US increasing its missiles when it's so far ahead of us?" They said, "Obviously, the United States is preparing for a first strike against the Soviet Union." That was the Kremlin interpretation. It needed a credible deterrent.

They knew that, initially they thought, "Well, the fact that we can take out Berlin will be a credible enough deterrent. The Americans will never attack." Then they realized that that wouldn't be a sufficient deterrent to some of the hawks in the American military, the Curtis LeMays, who had a lot of influence at the time. Or before that, the Lemnitzers. And so, they decide, "Well, we've got to put missiles in Cuba, which is a more credible deterrent."

And the third is that Khrushchev wanted to appease his hawks. Khrushchev's strategy was to build up Soviet consumer economy. He said, "The Soviet people want washing machines. They want cars. They want houses. That's what we need." And so, he wanted to decrease defense spending and one of the cheap ways to do that was to put the missiles in Cuba. So, they do that foolishly. It's a crazy policy because they don't announce it. It's very much like the movie Strangelove, where Khrushchev was planning to announce that the missiles were in Cuba on the anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. That was coming up in a couple-

PAUL JAY: You mean Dr. Strangelove, meaning what's the point of a doomsday machine if you don't tell people you've got it?

PETER KUZNICK: As Strangelove says, "Well what's the point of the doomsday machine if you don't announce that you have it?" And then, the Americans didn't, the Soviets didn't announce that they had the, if they had announced that the missiles were there, then the United States could not have invaded Cuba the way the military wanted. They could not have bombed Cuba. It would've been an effective deterrent, especially if they announced that also, that the missiles were there, that the warheads were there and that they also had put 100 battlefield nuclear weapons inside Cuba.

That would have meant that there was no possibility of the United States invading and that the deterrent would've actually worked. But they didn't announce it. And so, the United States plans for an invasion and we got very close to doing so. But again, the intelligence was abysmal. We knew where 33 of the 42 missiles were. We didn't find the other missiles. We didn't know that the battlefield nuclear weapons were there. We didn't know that the missiles were ready to be armed.

And so, the United States was operating blind. We thought that there were 10,000 armed Soviets in Cuba. Turns out, there were 42,000 armed Soviets. We thought that there were 100,000 armed Cubans. Turns out, there were 270,000 armed Cubans. Based on the initial intelligence, McNamara said, "If we had invaded, we figured we'd suffer 18,000 casualties, 4,500 dead." When he later finds out how many troops there actually were there, he says, "Well, that would've been 25,000 Americans dead." When he finds out that there were 100 battlefield nuclear weapons as well, he doesn't find that out until 30 years later, and then he turns white, and he says, "Well that would've meant we would've lost 100,000 American Troops." Twice as many, almost, as we lost in Vietnam.

He said, "We would've definitely destroyed Cuba and probably wiped out the Soviet Union as well." So, that's how close we came at this time. Which is again, as Robert Gates, another hawk, warns, "The United States should not invade Syria," he said. "Or should not bomb Syria because haven't we learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, that whenever these things happen, you never know what the consequences are going to be. It's always the unintended consequences that are going to get you."

Which we learned in Cuba. We learned in Iraq and Afghanistan or we should've learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, Trump hasn't learned it and we had better learn before we do something crazy now in Korea.

PAUL JAY: All right, thanks, Peter. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


Disturbed Voter , February 11, 2018 at 5:28 am

It takes two to tango. The idea that the US is solely to blame for the continuation of the Cold War, or that the US is solely to blame for a revival is Soviet/Russian propaganda. Great powers are aggressive, and rarely circumspect. The existence of nuclear weapons, was what prevented either the US or the Soviet Union/Russia from attacking each other. Otherwise the sport of kings would have continued as usual.

And given Churchill's anathema toward Communism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular, and given that he was the architect of the Cold War from the West I find the idea of him being a peacenik to be bizarre.

Chris , February 11, 2018 at 9:49 am

It's always that word, "communism", isn't it? As long as that word is used, everything is justifiable. If you look at it closely, it would seem that the Russians have discovered that communism is every bit as susceptible to corruption as capitalism. Communism has been, in fact, MORE discredited than capitalism (for now.) With Russia on the other side of the planet, what would be the harm in letting whatever failed ideologies they have fail like Kansas failed? As Jesus might say, "Ah Ye of little faith."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2017/06/07/the-great-kansas-tax-cut-experiment-crashes-and-burns/

Tomonthebeach , February 11, 2018 at 1:03 pm

The vast majority of Americans today have no idea what communism is. Most cannot even thing about communism in terms of it being just another economic system different from capitalism. (No, it is slavery!) They do not appreciate that there are different manifestations of both economic models. (Neoliberalism is eating us alive.) They do not appreciate that communism was probably the salvation of both post-war Russia and China. They conflate socialism with communism, view high taxes as communistic, and ignore that the countries with the highest standard of living are quite socialist.

In many cases, Americans vote against their own interests just because some pol labels a new social program as communist so he can give his new bill and edge.

Ike was so right about the Military-Industrial complex, and yet we have only enabled it to grow to the point that it dominates every political decision – every law – every regulation in ways that ensure weapons are expended so more can take their place; and more weapons need to be developed because the boogeyman out there (pick a regime) probably, maybe, could be building an even nastier weapon. Make no mistake, Sputnik was viewed as evidence that the Russians already had better weapons and that they would take over "outer space" and we would thus be at their mercy. Back in the 60s the US did worry that communism was working better than capitalism, and that fear enabled a lot of foreign policy (gunboat diplomacy).

Trump is anything if he is not politically and strategically a dim wit. Thus he probably buys into the communist boogeyman scenario common in our culture. He is likely attracted to the economic stimulus that more guns and less butter offer in the short run. Our problems seems to hinge on leaders who limit their action to the short run, and the long run (ensuring survival of the human species?), well, they never get around to that.

Moocao , February 11, 2018 at 8:09 pm

I would not be so loving over the "communistic ideals". My great grandparents were murdered for the fact that one was a postal office manager, another was a sock factory owner. Believe what you want, but communism is far from just an economic theory.

Communism, once you force the politics into the economic theory, is this: equality of all men, regardless of abilities, and damn if you started off well because everything will be taken from you. Your life is not your own, your family is not your own, your work is not your own: it belongs to the state.

Capitalism has fatal flaws, but we should all thank Communism died the way it did.

Duck1 , February 11, 2018 at 11:10 pm

not like capitalism didn't murder a few proletarians if murder is the standard, both are condemned

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

Yaas, it's just Putin friendly propaganda, that's all. Let us persuade ourselves that the vast bulk of provocations and exacerbations in that now-reprised Cold War were a pas de deluxe, not mostly driven by our own insane US leaders, like the ones discussed in small detail in the post. Conveniently ignoring the whole escalation process of the Exceptional Empire doing the "policies" of the Dulleses and their clan, the craziness of stuff like the John Birchers and the McCarthy thing, and the madness of MAD (which I believe was a notion coined by that nest of vipers called RAND, that "we have to be understood to be insane enough to commit suicide, to kill the whole planet, for the 'deterrent effect' of Massive Retaliation (forget that the US policy and military structure very seriously intended a first strike on the Evil Soviets for quite a long time, and are now building "small nukes" for 'battlespace use' as if there are no knock-on consequences.)

How does one break the cycle of ever-increasing vulnerability and eventual destruction, that includes the extraction and combustion and all the other decimations of a livable planet? how to do that when the Imperial Rulers are insane, by any sensible definition of insanity? And the Russians sure seem to be wiser and more restrained (barring some provocation that trips one of their own Doomsday Devices that they have instituted to try to counter the ridiculous insane provocations and adventures of the Empire?

Maybe revert to "Duck and cover?" Or that Civil Defense posture by one of the Reaganauts, one T.K. Jones, who wanted Congress to appropriate $252 million (1980 dollars) for Civil Defense, mostly for SHOVELS: in the firmly held belief that "we can fight and win a nuclear war with the Soviet Union:"

Three times Mr. Jones – or someone speaking in his name – agreed to testify. Three times he failed to appear. The Pentagon finally sent a pinch-hitter, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle. But the Senate wants Mr. Jones. It wants an authoritative explanation of his plan to spend $252 million on civil defense. Evidently, most of that money will go for shovels.

For this is how the alleged Mr. Jones describes the alleged civil defense strategy: "Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top. It's the dirt that does it."

Mr. Jones seems to believe that the United States could recover fully, in two to four years, from an all-out nuclear attack. As he was quoted in The Los Angeles Times: "Everybody's going to make it if there are enough shovels to go around."

Dig on, Senator Pressler. We're all curious.

Russia suffered 20 million dead in WW II, pretty much won that war against fascism, and the leaders there get dang little decrepit for being (so far) so much more the "grownups in the room" in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that our idiot rulers are playing. Go look up how many times, however, beyond that vast set of slapstick plays that led to the "Cuban Missile Crisis", the human part of the world skated up, by combinations of accident and error, to getting its death wish. And the main impetus for the nuclear "standoff" has been the US and the "policies" forwarded by "our" insane rulers and militarists.

"Tu Quoque" is an especially weak and inapposite and insupportable argument in this context.

Chris , February 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

SPOT ON! IF Robby Mook and the gang can stir up a Russian frenzy from hell based on nothing more than sour grapes, and IF what we know about the deep state is only the tip of the iceberg, and IF the media is largely under the control of the 'Gov, THEN a logical human must at least be open to the possibility that there is also such a thing as American propaganda, must (s)he not?

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2018/01/08/hillarys-campaign-manager-the-russia-investigation-is-not-a-winning-strategy-n2429189

Summer , February 11, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Indeed, WWII was never a war against fascism, just particular fascists that ventured off the establishment reservation.

rd , February 11, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Yes. Nobody invaded Argentina when Juan Peron et al took over. Hitler and Mussolini could have died as dictators decades later if they had simply kept their armies home.

ObjectiveFunction , February 11, 2018 at 11:20 am

Guys, I generally treasure the NC comments section, and I am not singling anyone out, but some of the rhetoric here is starting to remind me of ZeroHedge doomp&rn. Let's please recover some perspective.

Every year of human history since the expulsion from Eden will let us cherry pick overwhelming evidence that the lunatics were running the asylum. Or that every generation of our forebears gleefully built our civilization atop heaps of skulls of [insert oppressed groups here].

Yet during the Cold War, there were plenty of prominent people calling out the McCarthys and Lemays of the world as loons (and behind the Curtain, even Stalin was removed from key posts before his death). Guess what, sane generally wins out over the mad king. The arc of history indeed bends toward justice, though never without sacrifice and diligent truthseeking. The ones to worry about are the snake oil merchants, who pee on our shoes and tell us it's raining.
g.

Here endeth my catechism.

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Keep whistling past the graveyard: http://nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/accidents/20-mishaps-maybe-caused-nuclear-war.htm

Such faith we have in ourselves, and such little evidence other than maybe a couple of world wars and long histories of the loonies playing stupid with whole populations, that we don't need to worry about the concentrated efforts of the sociopathic lunatics to rise to positions of great power and do stupid stuff.

Summer , February 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Yes, this is what the world gets when technological advancement is combined with a socio-economic system that rewards sociopathic tendencies. A system advanced by propaganda (disguised as entertainment and education) backed up with the barrell of a gun and cameras everywhere.

bob , February 11, 2018 at 12:59 pm

"The arc of history indeed bends toward justice"

You're going to need some proof for that wild, completely baseless claim.

oaf , February 11, 2018 at 6:57 am

"It's the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there" Was he subsequently co-opted, or BSing?

Don Midwest , February 11, 2018 at 6:58 am

This article is not scary enough. Find out that in 1983 there was almost a nuclear war. Both sides have a first strike strategy and a Russian general thought that actions of Reagan were getting ready for the first strike and he was going to strike first. And during the Cuban missile crisis, Russian subs had nuclear weapons on them and we dropped low level depth charges on them and we didn't know that they were armed.

This is a very long interview of Daniel Ellsberg in Seattle on Jan 9, 2018.

Daniel Ellsberg with Daniel Bessner:
The Doomsday Machine

Now that everyone, except many in the USA, knows that when the USA changes a government that the country is ruined, this may have forced North and South Korea to get together.

Ellsberg says that any nukes used in the Korean Peninsula would result in at least 1 million dead and while 60 million in WWII were killed during the course of the war, with nukes that many cold be killed in a week. And then, nuclear winter would finish off the rest of us.

I am scared.

Massinissa , February 11, 2018 at 10:13 am

To be fair, there are now doubts among scientists that Nuclear Winter as classically described would even be a thing.

But that doesn't help the millions who would die on the peninsula. Further, whats known as a Nuclear Famine could still occur, which would be pretty damn devastating for civilization, even if mankind itself manages to survive.

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Some scientists doubt global warming too. Got support for your assertion? https://www.popsci.com/article/science/computer-models-show-what-exactly-would-happen-earth-after-nuclear-war

Synoia , February 11, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Science is about doubt and skepticism. That's what the scientific process is. Doubt a nuclear winter: Ok, I'll bite. We have examples – Large Volcanic eruptions, and we have the year without a summer sometime in the 1830s I believe – that is in recorded History. The we searched to archeological record for more evidence, and found large die-offs following a layer of volcanic dust. Again and again, I believe. Quoting scientists who "doubt nuclear winter" requires more examination:

List them, together with their credentials and "donor$."

Donald , February 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm

You can google nuclear winter early enough. And yes, there are scientists who are skeptical for various reasons. The only group that has written a paper on it in recent years is composed of some of the same scientists who originally proposed it and they think it is real.

Reasons for skepticism include doubt about the amount of smoke that would be produced. And the volcano and asteroid comparisons are imperfect because the details are different. People used to talk about volcanic dust, and now it is mostly sulfuric acid droplets. With asteroids the initial thought was the KT boundary layer represented trillions of tons of submicron size dust and then Melosh proposed ejects blasted around the world heated the upper atmosphere and ignited global fires and created soot and then his grad student Tamara Goldin wrote her dissertation saying the heat might not be quite enough to do that and then people suggested it was ( I won't go into why) and others suggested the bolide hit sulfur layers .

The point is that there is not a consensus about the detailed atmospheric effects of either large asteroid impacts or of super volcanoes like Toba and yet we do have some evidence because these things happened. We don't have an example to study in tge geologic record where hundreds of cities were hit simultaneously with nuclear weapons.

I could go on, but I don't want to give the impression I have a strong opinion either way, because I don't. But I think the case for global warming is overwhelming because vastly more people are working on it and it is happening in front of us. It is not just computer models.

Sy Krass , February 11, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Forget possible nuclear winter, the economic effects alone would be worth 10 Lehman brothers (2008 meltdowns). And then the knock on effects would cause other knock on effects like other wars. Even without a nuclear winter, civilization would probably collapse within 18 months anyway.

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 5:32 pm

All this, while true, only change the details not the results. The Chicxulub impact almost certainly exterminated the majority of then living species, and the Toba Supervolcano probably almost caused our extinction. That suggest throwing massive amounts of anything into the atmosphere is not good.

As a student I would like to know the details, but in practice, it's like arguing whether a snow storm or a blizzard killed someone. Humanity as a species would probably survive a nuclear war okay, but many(most?) individuals as well as our planetary civilization would be just as dead. The numbers dying would be slightly different is all.

rfdawn , February 11, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Humanity might survive as a species but not as an idea. Am about halfway through the Ellsberg book and, yes, it does make Dr. Strangelove look like a documentary. Current thinking does not seem much changed.

Jer Bear , February 11, 2018 at 7:07 am

Trump, like everyone before him, will do what Kissinger advises him to do.

The Rev Kev , February 11, 2018 at 8:11 am

Something missing from the sequence of events here is that the main reason that the Kremlin put nuclear missiles in Cuba was the fact that more than 100 Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961 by the US, thus cutting down any reaction time by Moscow to minutes in case of a US attack.

The main – unacknowledged – part of the climb down from the Cuba missile crisis was that as Russia pulled its nuclear missiles out of Cuba, the US would do the same in Europe. It cooled things down again until Reagan was elected.

I had forgotten that the 50s had just as many crazies as present times – the Dulles brothers, Curtis LeMay, Edward Teller, J. Edgar Hoover – really scary people and probably founding members of the deep state.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , February 11, 2018 at 8:26 am

Excellent point about the missiles deployed in Turkey and Italy– and one I might have mentioned if I had remembered it, absent your prod.

Disturbed Voter , February 11, 2018 at 9:02 am

The Jupiter missile agreement was a secret at the time. Kennedy wanted to minimize the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. The subsequent presence of Pershings and Tomahawks in Europe (but not Turkey) was a reaction to the mobile IRBMs deployed by the Soviet Union. Which they still have. France and Britain have their own independent deterrents. Which is just as well, since the Pershings and Tomahawks were traded away as part of START/SALT.

The more recent escalation of NATO into E Europe, the Baltics and the Ukraine are a definite violation of the spirit of the Cuban Missile Crisis agreement, and are pure aggression against a Russia that was seen as too weak to do anything about it until they did do something about it in 2014.

An aggressive NATO is something I view with horror. One does not poke the bear. But Kissinger (the German) and Berzhinski (the Pole) are fanatically anti-Russian. They made up for the passing of Churchill.

The Rev Kev , February 11, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Just recently Russia deployed more nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania. Maybe something to do with all those special forces NATO keeps stationing on the Russian border?

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 9:14 pm

And all the a -- -oles who Command and Rule, and most of the commentariat and punditry, all treat these affairs as if they are playing some Brobdingnagian Game of Risk ™, where as with Monopoly (which was originally intended to teach a very different lesson) the object of the game is all about TAKING OVER THE WHOLE WORLD, WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA an idiotic froth on top of an ever more dangerous brew of exponentially increasing,and largely ignored, mutual if often asymmetric, deadly vulnerability.

Stupid effing humans and their vast stupid monkey tricks

Carolinian , February 11, 2018 at 9:14 am

LeMay had suggested that we should perhaps wipe out the Soviet Union before they had the chance to catch up to us in nukes. It was an era ruled by fear of nuclear war–a fear that was unleashed by the use of the bomb in Japan. Truman and Byrnes (the latter in a meeting in his hometown–my hometown) rejected calls by some of the Los Alamos scientists to share the nuclear secrets with the Russians and forestall this arms race or so they hoped.

So no the crazy didn't start with Trump and Trump had even advocated we make nice with the Russians until the Dems, their remnants at State and Defense and the press forced him to change course (on threat of impeachment). The elites who have gained more or less permanent power over the direction of this country are a threat to us all.

Anyhow, thanks for the above post. Those who forget history ..

polecat , February 11, 2018 at 11:51 am

Let's not forget the little country that could with it's aggregated threat of 300+ undeclared
They're 'in-the-mix' too !

Disturbed Voter , February 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm

In so far as the US has moved away from the JFK view of nuclear deterrence to the LeMay view of nuclear first strike we are dead.

David , February 11, 2018 at 11:07 am

Different world. The first generation of nuclear weapons had yields (around 20-30Kt) that were comprehensible in terms of conventional bombing, which of course would have required many more aircraft but was also much more efficient per tonne of explosives. For the formative years after 1945, therefore, people thought of nuclear weapons as weapons in the classic sense and, at that time, nobody really knew that much about the effects of radiation and fallout. This all changed with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, but even then it took a long time for the likely catastrophic effects of the use of such weapons in large numbers to sink in. Nuclear technology, and both delivery and guidance systems, evolved far more quickly than rationales for their use could be found. Indeed, you can say that the Cold War was a period when nuclear powers found themselves acquiring weapons with technologies that couldn't actually be used, but couldn't be un-invented either. Enormous intellectual effort went into trying to provide post-hoc rationales for having these weapons, some of it very ingenious, most of it wasted.

Don't forget the role of paranoia either. NSC-68, the report that formalized US strategy during the Cold War, reads today like the ravings of a group of lunatics, seeing, almost literally, Reds under the beds. And if Stalin was dead, the Soviet leadership had just gone through a war which had cost them almost 30 million dead, and any, literally any, sacrifice was worth it to make sure that they prevented another war, or at least won it quickly.

rd , February 11, 2018 at 11:56 am

Dr. Strangelove has moved from the archive boxes of historical artifacts to being a "must see" movie again.

Baby Gerald , February 11, 2018 at 2:12 pm

It never left the 'must see' list. Its just moved higher up the rankings in recent months, what with all this 'collaboration' conspiracy drivel.

From wikipedia :

US military casualties in WW2: 407,300
US civilian casualties in WW2: 12,100

USSR military casualties in WW2: estimated by various sources [see the footnotes] between 8,668,000 to 11,400,000.
USSR civilian casualties in WW2: 10,000,000 [plus another 6-7 million deaths from famine, a line in the table that is completely blank for the US]

Simply put, for every American that died, somewhere between a thousand to two thousand of their Russian counterparts were killed. And somehow people in the US were convinced and worried that Russia wanted to start yet another war when they still hadn't finished burying the dead from the last one.

rd , February 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

1. Stalin made his pact with the devil that gave Hitler free rein to invade Poland and France. Hitler then invaded Russia from Poland as the jumping off point. Stalin miscalculated big-time.

2. Invaded countries always have many more civilian countries than un-invaded ones.

3. Germany started WW II only 20 years after the end of WW I that also slaughtered 2 million German soldiers. Past losses generally does not appear to impact the decision-making of dictators regarding new wars. So it would have been irrational for the West to think that the USSR had no intent to expand its borders. That was the blunder that France and Britain made in 1938-39. However, the paranoia did get extreme in the Cold War.

Yves Smith , February 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm

This isn't accurate. Stalin tried repeatedly and even towards the end, desperately, to sign a treaty with the Britain and France. They rebuffed him because [he was a] Commie. He signed up with Hitler only after those efforts had clearly failed. It was a self-preservation move. It probably did buy him less time than he thought. But let's not kid ourselves: Hitler's first move otherwise would have been to the East. What were later the Allies would have been delighted to see him take over the USSR. This was why British aristos were so keen on Hitler, that he was seen as an answer to Communism and therefore "our kind of man".

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 8:34 pm

The Poles have been the Germans and Russians chewtoy ever since it was completely partitioned. All the countries immediately around Russia have been horribly abused by Russia. Putin is doing his country no favors by reminding everyone of that. He can cow them into submission, but like the American government is finding, just because they are doesn't mean they cannot cause trouble. Heck, the current Great Game could be said to have started with the Soviet-Afghanistan War.

Going into the war every country was unprepared and unwilling to fight and had difficulty choices. The German military itself was not prepared. It was Hitler's choice to start when and where and by 1938 everyone knew it. Hitler was surprised that France and Great Britain honored their guarantee to Poland.

As evil as Stalin's regime was, and his invasion of Poland was just as bad as Hitler's at first, I don't think most people really understood just how evil the Nazis were and what they were planning on doing for Germany's living space. It was worse than anything that Stalin did and between the Ukrainian famine, the Great Purges, the takeover of the Baltic States, the invasion of Finland, etc he did serious evil.

Harold , February 11, 2018 at 3:17 pm

General LeMay was responsible for the death of a fifth (some say a third) of the North Korean population by saturation bombing with napalm, was he not? A third? Isn't that one in three?

xformbykr , February 11, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Additional books that shed light on both leaving the new deal behind and the Cuban missile crisis are (1) "The Devil's Chessboard" by Talbot and (2) "JFK and The Unspeakable" by Douglass. The first is mostly about Allen Dulles but has interesting chapters on McCarthy, Eisenhower, Nixon, etc. It is reasonably well foot-noted. The second is about the assassination and has loads of detail about the missile crisis and its power players. It is meticulously foot-noted.

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 1:09 pm

For those with a shred of remaining optimism who want to be rid of it, might I suggest a book titled "With Enough Shovels" by Robert Scheer. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/robert-scheer-4/with-enough-shovels-reagan-bush-and-nuclear-war/

I was going to post the text of the short review, but all I got at the moment is this blankety iPhone and its limits with cut and paste.

Not many read books anyway these days, and what sufficient moiety of them will form the groundswell that tips over the Juggernaut we are all pushing and pulling and riding toward the cliff?

I read this stuff mostly to sense which hand holds the knife and not to go down asking "What happened? What did it all mean?"

John k , February 11, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Trump has been bellicose re NK and Iran, but I see him as resisting the Syrian adventure, while cia plus military hawks pushing forward.
Dems today are real hawks, itching to confront Russia in both Syria and Ukraine the latter another place trump may be resisting hawks, the area has been quiet since the election, I.e. since dems were in charge.
It's an odd thought that in some theaters trump may be the sane one

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Yaas, nothing is happening in Ukraine, all is quiet on the Eastern Front of NATO: http://ukraine.csis.org/ Nuland has gone on to other conquests, and all that. The CIA and War Department have lost interest in that Conflict Zone. Nothing is happening. You are getting sleepy. Sleepy.

Yaas, nothing is happening. https://www.reuters.com/places/ukraine All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh.

marku52 , February 11, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Yeah, the title of this post would lead one to believe that their is something uniquely horrible about Trump's foreign policy. From anything I can detect, her bellicose statement about a no-fly zone in Syria and her abject destruction of Libya, HRC's FP would have been even worse.

If she had been elected, we might already be in a ground war with the Russians in Syria. The only hopeful sign is that while Trump spends his day watching TeeVee, State, DOD, and CIA are all working at cross purposes and getting in each other's way.

Foreign policy? We have a foreign policy? If anybody finds it, will they please explain it to me?

William Beyer , February 11, 2018 at 1:20 pm

I almost never comment, although I rely on NC for most of my news and blood pressure control. You are a treasure.

May I recommend another book – "All Honorable Men" – by James Stewart Martin. Published in 1950 and shortly thereafter all bookstore copies were hoovered-up and burned by the CIA. It might have been referenced in one of the RNN segments, but I haven't slogged through all of them yet.

You can get a hardback at Amazon for a mere $298. An i-book is cheaper.

After reading "The Brothers," and "The Devil's Chessboard," I considered starting a non-profit using GPS technology – Piss-on-their-Graves.org.

J.Fever , February 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Forbidden bookshelf series $11.49 Barnes & Noble

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 2:47 pm

The Forbidden Bookshelf series by Open Media is fantastic. Sadly for dinosaurs like me, it is mostly ebooks, but they do the occasional hard copy reprints, and since much in the series would be out of print without Open Media, even the ebooks are great to have.

And it is interesting to see how many bothersome books just go away even without any "censorship" even with the First Amendment being the one right courts have consistently, and strongly, enforced.

JTMcPhee , February 11, 2018 at 9:17 pm

Especially the right of corporate persons to one dollar, one vote speech..,

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 9:43 pm

I will take what I can get, even if as a college student, I don't have much "Free Speech."

:-)

shinola , February 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

This article reminded me of an interesting/disturbing thing I saw on tv last night – a local news show had a bit on what to do in case of nuclear attack!

Boomers & older probably remember the drill: go to the basement or innermost room of the house, have 72 hours of food & water stashed & don't go outside for at least 3 days, etc. (yeah, that's the ticket).
Thought I was having a flashback to the 60's

Of course the best advice I ever heard on the subject was "Squat down, put your head between your knees & kiss your sweet [rear end] goodbye."

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Well, as I recall they were trying to give us the illusion of control so that we would not go all nihilistic or into a drunken fatalistic stupor. I don't know if telling people, like little JBird, that the bombs might start dropping anytime in which case you're just f@@@@d would have done any good.

The Rev Kev , February 11, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Maybe they could digitally colourise and re-issue this old film again, you know, as a public service-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_1jkLxhh20

Of course, it took a long time till we learned that a nuclear attack would be more like this-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VG2aJyIFrA

Oregoncharles , February 11, 2018 at 4:41 pm

One interpretation of the Cold War, that I found revealing, was that the two "opposing" militaries colluded to magnify the threat so as to pump up their respective budgets. So both were essentially conning their own governments – and putting the whole world at risk in the process.

Of course, another big factor, equally obvious at the time, was (and is) that world "leaders," elected or not, can't resist the temptation to play chess with live pieces. They don't seem to care that people wind up dead, or that occasionally they put the whole world in danger.

Waking Up , February 11, 2018 at 5:05 pm

FYI: The first link to the Real News Network ends up at outlook.live.

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , February 11, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Fixed it. Thanks.

rkka , February 11, 2018 at 5:13 pm

It's SIOP, not PSYOP. SIOP stands for Single Integrated Operating Plan, which was what the first nuclear war plan was called. PSYOPS are Psychological Operations.

VietnamVet , February 11, 2018 at 7:17 pm

Having served in the first Cold War, it simply is beyond my comprehension that the Democrats restarted it all over again. Even weirder are the neo-con proponents of a First Strike. If the USA wins, at least one or two major cities (if not all) will be destroyed. New Zealand becomes the sequel to "On the Beach". We are in the same position as Germany in the 1930s except we know that the world war will destroy us. Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of Eastern Syria surrounded by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?

JBird , February 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Tell me, how in the hell, did a few thousand U.S. soldiers and contractors ended up in the middle of Eastern Syria surrounded by Russians, the Syrian Arab Army and Shiite militias at risk of attack by Turkey?

Why they are needed to fight the evil-doers of course! Anything to protect our Freedom and the American Way. Now, ifyou keep asking these inconvenient questions, then "they" might start asking if you support the terrorists.

It's like when my half blind aged mother, and her possibly weaponized cane, is scrutinized as a possible al-Qaeda terrorist with a super hidden weapon, and I ask why it's 9/11 and the very bad people might hurt us.

Max4241 , February 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Nuclear winter. How quaint. Soot and dust. Rapid cooling. Crop failures. Starvation. Billions -perhaps- dead.

But life, certainly, will find a way!

Not in my world. All-out thermonuclear war means 250 nuclear reactors melt down simultaneously and several hundred thousand tons of loosely stored nuclear waste becomes aerosoled.

The resulting radiation blast burns the atmosphere off and the earth becomes a dead planet.

We can never look the thing straight in the eye. Take North Korea. We have been told, repeatedly, endlessly, that they have 20,000 artillery pieces trained on Seoul!

Again, how quaint. How SCARY! What we should be reading about, are the priority targets, the game changers:

http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2012/03/23/20120323001281_0.jpg

Light those five softies up and you can say good-bye to South Korea forever.

Bobby Gladd , February 11, 2018 at 8:19 pm

"People should study the lunacy of Project Plowshare."
__

Yeah. In 1992 my wife was serving as the QA Mgr for the Nevada Test Site (NTS) nuke remediation project contractor. In 1993 a successful FOIA filing unearthed the Alaskan "Project Chariot." One of the brilliant Project Plowshare ideas was the potential utility of nuke detonations to carve out deep water harbors (they now deny it), so they took a bunch of irradiated soil from NTS and and spread it around on the tundra 130 miles N of the Arctic circle on the coast of the Chukchi Sea to "study potential environmental impacts."

The nuke "dredging" idea went nowhere, so they just plowed the irradiated crap under the surface, where it remained secret until the FOIA revelation decades later. DOE told my wife's company "go clean this shit up" (Eskimo tribes were freaking after finding out), so off goes my wife and her crew to spend the summer and fall living in tents guarded by armed polar bear guards (they had to first plow out a dirt & gravel runway, and flew everyone and all supplies in on STOL aircraft). They dug the test bed area all up (near Cape Thompson), assayed samples in an onsite radlab, put some 30 tons of "contaminated" Arctic soil in large sealed containers, barged it all down to Seattle, loaded it on trucks and drove it all back down to be buried at NTS.

Your tax dollars.

She looked so cute with her clipboard, and her orange vest, steel toed boots and hardhat.

JTMcPhee, February 11, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Did she get stuck dealing with any of the impossibly intractable problems at the Hanford Reservation? Anyone who doubts the massive stupidity of humans, read this: http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2008/06/a_tour_of_the_hanford_reveals.html

Disaster tourism. "Buffy, can we do Fukushima next?"

The Rev Kev, February 11, 2018 at 9:50 pm

As a teenager I read in a newspaper a proposal to use nuclear blasts to form a canal that would bring the sea to the middle of Australia and form an inland sea from which water could be drawn. We already had nuclear weapon being tested here ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_tests_in_Australia ) so there was no appetite for ideas like this.

[Feb 11, 2018] Pentagon's Nuclear Doctrine Retrograde and Reckless

Feb 11, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

It is a fear-laden document, relentlessly portraying the world as fraught with existential danger to US national security.

Russia and China, as with two other recent strategic policy papers out of Washington, are again painted as adversaries who must be confronted with ever-greater US military power.

The latest NPR asserts that since the last such review in 2010, "America confronts an international security situation that is more complex and demanding than any since the end of the Cold War."

It is clear from reading the 74-page document that Russia and China are the main source of security concern for the Pentagon – albeit the reasons for the concern are far from convincing. Indeed one might say downright alarmist.

Washington accuses Russia and China of pursuing nuclear weapons development which is threatening. It accuses Russia in particular of violating arms controls treaties and threatening American allies with its nuclear arsenal. There are several other such unsubstantiated claims made by the Pentagon in the document.

Russia and China responded by condemning the aggressive nature of the Pentagon's latest doctrine, as they have done with regard to two other recent strategic papers published by the Trump administration.

It is deplorable that Washington seems to go out of its way to portray the world in such bellicose terms. The corollary of this attitude is the repudiation of diplomacy and multilateralism.

Washington, it seems, is a hostage to its own imperative need to generate a world of hostile relations in order to justify its rampant militarism, which is, in turn, fundamental to its capitalist economy.

The lamentable, even criminal, danger of this strategy is that it foments unnecessary tensions and animosity in world relations. Russia and China have repeatedly called for normal, multilateral relations. Yet, remorselessly, Washington demonizes the two military powers in ways that are retrograde and reckless.

The Pentagon's latest nuclear doctrine goes even further in its provocations. Based on dubious accusations of Russia's threatening behavior ("annexation of Crimea", "aggression in Ukraine"), the Pentagon has declared it will rely more on nuclear force for "deterrence".

That can be taken as a warning that Washington is, in effect, lowering its threshold for deploying nuclear weapons. It overtly states that it will consider use of nuclear weapons to defend American interests and allies from "nuclear and conventional threats". The language is chilling. It talks about inflicting "incalculable" and "intolerable" costs on "adversaries". This is nothing short of Washington terrorizing the rest of the world into conforming to its geopolitical demands.

Another sinister development is that Washington has now declared that it will be acquiring "low-yield" nuclear weapons . These so-called "mini-nukes" will again lower the threshold for possible deployment of nuclear warheads in the misplaced belief that such deployment will not escalate to strategic weapons.

What's disturbing is that the US is evidently moving toward a policy of greater reliance on nuclear force to underpin its international power objectives. It is also broadening, in a provocative and reckless way, what it considers "aggression" by other adversaries, principally Russia. Taken together, Washington is increasingly setting itself on a more hostile course.

Some 57 years ago, in 1961, then US President Dwight Eisenhower gave a farewell address to the nation in which he issued a grave forewarning about the growing control of the "military-industrial complex" over American life. Back then, the American military-industrial complex could disguise its insatiable appetite with the pretext of the Cold War and the "Soviet enemy".

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

Today, the American federal government spends about $700 billion a year on military – over half its discretionary budget. The US spends more on military than at any time during the Cold War – in constant dollar terms.

The US military-industrial complex has become a voracious monster way beyond anything that Eisenhower may have feared. It is no longer a threat merely to American life. It is a threat to the life of the entire planet.

Objectively, the US has no foreign enemy endangering its existence; neither Russia nor China. Not even North Korea, despite its anti-American rhetoric, poses a direct threat to the US.

The Pentagon – on behalf of the military-industrial complex – is stretching credulity when it depicts the world as a more threatening place. Fingering Russia and China is absurd.

In order to try to shore up its scare-mongering with a semblance of credibility, the Pentagon is escalating the rhetoric about nuclear weapons and the need to deploy them. There is no objective justification for this nuclear posturing by the US, only as a way to dramatize alleged national security fears, in order to keep the military-industrial racket going.

The despicable danger from this retrograde Cold War strategy is that the US is recklessly pushing the world toward war and possibly nuclear catastrophe.

Fortunately, Russia and China have highly developed military defenses to keep American insanity in check. Nevertheless, American belligerence is pushing the world to combustible tensions.

The problem is that American rulers have become a rogue state. The American people need to somehow sack their rogue rulers and their military madness, and return the nation to a democratic function.

Until then, Russia and the rest of the world must be on guard.

[Feb 11, 2018] Trump s Illegal War in Syria Is Getting More Dangerous by Daniel Larison

From comments: We are the new Roman Empire but far less honest about it. This is why we our military is grossly underfunded. It isn't about defense. It is about domination.
Notable quotes:
"... Those who great assurance and aplomb stated that McMaster and Mattis et al would serve as "the adults in the room" are fools. But then we knew that already, didn't we? Because those who said things like that about Mattis and McMaster were in many cases the same people who pushed us into stupid wars in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. ..."
"... This is exactly how you find out if Trump is a dog and pony show ..."
"... Looks like Trump's foreign policy is the same as Hillary Clinton's would have been, endless war. ..."
"... I fear that we have developed a mentality where we fully expect to be able to exert military force in countries like Syria as if we are an auxiliary police force and expect the locals to behave. The day they actually shoot down a U.S. aircraft will be so shocking that the Hawks in this country will demand that we have to respond to an act of aggression and anyone who says otherwise will be dismissed as a traitor. We are the new Roman Empire but far less honest about it. This is why we our military is grossly underfunded. It isn't about defense. It is about domination. ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
February 8, 2018, 8:28 PM Secretary Mattis claims not to understand why pro-regime forces advanced on U.S.-backed rebels in eastern Syria:

In Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described the situation as "perplexing," and said he had "no idea why they would attack" the base. Both Russian and Syrian-aligned forces on the ground had long known the U.S. and allied forces were there, he said.

Perhaps Mattis is only feigning confusion here, but it isn't encouraging that the head of our Defense Department claims not to know why forces aligned with the Syrian government might want to attack a base where the enemies of that government are located. They attacked the base because they "had long known the U.S. and allied forces were there." They oppose the presence of "U.S. and allied forces" there. This should be clear by now. If our top leaders don't know something as basic as this about the situation they are putting our soldiers in, that is deeply troubling. Mattis also "denied that the attack and the U.S. response constituted American engagement in the Syrian civil war," but this is preposterous. By providing support to armed groups inside Syria and deploying our own forces alongside them, the U.S. is taking sides in the Syrian civil war whether our leaders want to acknowledge that involvement or not. By attacking pro-regime forces and killing dozens of their men, the U.S. has committed acts of war against another government on its own soil without Congressional or U.N. authorization.

As the threat of ISIS recedes, it becomes increasingly difficult use that threat to justify a U.S. military presence inside Syria. The pretense that an open-ended mission in Syria is solely aimed at opposing ISIS is not credible when U.S. officials explicitly state that an indefinite U.S. military presence is also intended to deny the Syrian government and its allies control over parts of Syria. The Syrian government and its allies did not try to stop U.S. intervention in Syria when it began in 2014, but they have never agreed to our military presence. As it happens, the Syrian government and its allies are correct when they describe our military presence there as illegal. Secretary Mattis isn't able to counter those claims because there is absolutely no legal justification for having our troops in Syria and there never has been.

The smart thing to do now is to remove U.S. forces from Syria as soon as possible to ensure that there are no further clashes like this. If the Trump administration doesn't do that, it will be inexorably pulled deeper into conflicts that serve no American interest.


non serviam February 8, 2018 at 9:45 pm

I mean, it's becoming really ludicrous isn't it? Mattis what is he even saying ? He sounds like a completely clueless buffoon.

Those who great assurance and aplomb stated that McMaster and Mattis et al would serve as "the adults in the room" are fools. But then we knew that already, didn't we? Because those who said things like that about Mattis and McMaster were in many cases the same people who pushed us into stupid wars in Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

john , says: February 8, 2018 at 10:35 pm
Ridiculous, a burglar sitting in your living room and watching your TV doesn't get to "shoot you in self defense" should you object to his presence.
Joseph Ammons , says: February 8, 2018 at 10:45 pm
This is exactly how you find out if Trump is a dog and pony show
Eric , says: February 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm
Looks like Trump's foreign policy is the same as Hillary Clinton's would have been, endless war.
a spencer , says: February 9, 2018 at 1:41 am
I should have taken a picture: there was a Ford plant outside Damascus in Assad's Syria as late as 2008.

One time, coming out of Zahle and heading back to Damascus, there was a range of drivers available to cross the border. Of course, I chose the guy with the musclebound 70s Chevy. He floored it on the Syrian plain for the better part of an hour, relishing his love for American machinery in front of me, knowing how to drive it like every farm boy in the rural US Midwest.

Probably all gone now.

Realist , says: February 9, 2018 at 3:30 am
The silly machinations and pettiness of a dying nation are sad.
cwk , says: February 9, 2018 at 5:31 am
quite a contrast to Afrin:

"U.S. counter-attack in Syria included Air Force AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships and Marine Corps artillery killing 100 Russian and Assad-backed fighters in 3-hour battle beginning around midnight last night."

SteveK9 , says: February 9, 2018 at 6:43 am
Of course it doesn't serve America's interests, it serves Israel's and that is enough.
Christian Chuba , says: February 9, 2018 at 8:02 am
I question the veracity of the Pentagon's account but in any case what happens when the Syrian army fights back against U.S. forces in one of these 'unexpected' encounters?

I fear that we have developed a mentality where we fully expect to be able to exert military force in countries like Syria as if we are an auxiliary police force and expect the locals to behave. The day they actually shoot down a U.S. aircraft will be so shocking that the Hawks in this country will demand that we have to respond to an act of aggression and anyone who says otherwise will be dismissed as a traitor. We are the new Roman Empire but far less honest about it. This is why we our military is grossly underfunded. It isn't about defense. It is about domination.

March Hare , says: February 9, 2018 at 10:04 am
And the recent compromise funding bill now on Trump's desk contains extra funding for this kind of stuff.

Your taxing dullards at work

[Feb 10, 2018] >The generals are not Borgists. They are something worse ...

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively. ..."
"... These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." ..."
"... If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains. ..."
"... In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them. ..."
"... Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers ..."
"... Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs. ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case. ..."
"... Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/ ..."
"... A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security? ..."
"... God help the poor people of Syria. ..."
"... thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass... ..."
"... Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups ..."
"... A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong. ..."
"... The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous. ..."
"... They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard. ..."
"... So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning ..."
"... Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well. ..."
"... I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc. ..."
"... This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well. ..."
"... Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks). ..."
"... In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix. ..."
"... That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group. ..."
"... "The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD ..."
"... "They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. ..."
"... Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards". ..."
"... Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII. ..."
"... We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes. ..."
"... I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far. ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

(Editorial Statement)

The Borgist foreign policy of the administration has little to do with the generals.

To comprehend the generals one must understand their collective mentality and the process that raised them on high as a collective of their own. The post WW2 promotion process in the armed forces has produced a group at the top with a mentality that typically thinks rigorously but not imaginatively or creatively.

These men got to their present ranks and positions by being conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board."

If asked at the top, where military command and political interaction intersect, what policy should be they always ask for more money and to be allowed to pursue outcomes that they can understand as victory and self fulfilling with regard to their collective self image as warrior chieftains.

In Obama's time they were asked what policy should be in Afghanistan and persuaded him to reinforce their dreams in Afghanistan no matter how unlikely it always was that a unified Western oriented nation could be made out of a collection of disparate mutually alien peoples.

In Trump's time his essential disinterest in foreign policy has led to a massive delegation of authority to Mattis and the leadership of the empire's forces. Their reaction to that is to look at their dimwitted guidance from on high (defeat IS, depose Assad and the SAG, triumph in Afghanistan) and to seek to impose their considerable available force to seek accomplishment as they see fit of this guidance in the absence of the kind of restrictions that Obama placed on them.

Like the brass, I, too, am a graduate of all those service schools that attend success from the Basic Course to the Army War College. I will tell you again that the people at the top are not good at "the vision thing." They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers. pl


Jack , 09 February 2018 at 05:42 PM

Sir

IMO, this conformism pervades all institutions. I saw when I worked in banking and finance many moons ago how moving up the ranks in any large organization meant you didn't rock the boat and you conformed to the prevailing groupthink. Even nutty ideas became respectable because they were expedient.

Academia reinforces the groupthink. The mavericks are shunned or ostracized. The only ones I have seen with some degree of going against the grain are technology entrepreneurs.

Fredw , 09 February 2018 at 06:26 PM
You remind me of an old rumination by Thomas Ricks:

Take the example of General George Casey. According to David Cloud and Greg Jaffe's book Four Stars, General Casey, upon learning of his assignment to command U.S. forces in Iraq, received a book from the Army Chief of Staff. The book Counterinsurgency Lessons Learned from Malaya and Vietnam was the first book he ever read about guerilla warfare." This is a damning indictment of the degree of mental preparation for combat by a general. The Army's reward for such lack of preparation: two more four star assignments.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/07/cmon-man-meathead-generals-and-some-other-things-that-are-driving-me-crazy-about-life-in-this-mans-post-911-army/

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 06:37 PM
"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I have found this to be the case with 80 to 90% of most professions. A good memory and able to perform meticulously what they have been taught, but little thinking outside that narrow box. Often annoying, but very dangerous in this case.
Anna , 09 February 2018 at 06:48 PM
Since Afghanistan and the brass were mentioned in the editorial statement, here is an immodest question -- Where the brass have been while the opium production has been risen dramatically in Afghanistan under the US occupation? "Heroin Addiction in America Spearheaded by the US-led War on Afghanistan" by Paul Craig Roberts: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/heroin-addiction-america-spearheaded-us-led-war-afghanistan/

" in 2000-2001 the Taliban government –with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) – implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meager 185 tons. It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for its successful opium eradication program. The Taliban government had contributed to literally destabilizing the multibillion dollar Worldwide trade in heroin.

In 2017, the production of opium in Afghanistan under US military occupation reached 9000 metric tons. The production of opium in Afghanistan registered a 49 fold increase since Washington's invasion. Afghanistan under US military occupation produces approximately 90% of the World's illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin. Who owns the airplanes and ships that transport heroin from Afghanistan to the US? Who gets the profits?"

---A simple Q: What has been the role of the CENTCOM re the racket? Who has arranged the protection for the opium production and for drug dealers? Roberts suggests that the production of opium in Afghanistan "finances the black operations of the CIA and Western intelligence agencies." -- All while Awan brothers, Alperovitch and such tinker with the US national security?

J , 09 February 2018 at 07:05 PM
Colonel,

There needs to be a 're-education' of the top, all of them need to be required to attend Green Beret think-school, in other words they need to be forced to think outside the box, and to to think on their feet. They need to understand fluid situations where things change at the drop of a hat, be able to dance the two-step and waltz at the same time. In other words they need to be able to walk and chew gum and not trip over their shoe-laces.

By no means are they stupid, but you hit the nail on the head when you said 'narrow thinkers'. Their collective hive mentality that has developed is not a good thing.

divadab , 09 February 2018 at 07:16 PM
God help the poor people of Syria.
james , 09 February 2018 at 07:30 PM
thanks pat... it seems like the usa has had a steady group of leaders that have no interest in the world outside of the usa, or only in so far as they can exploit it for their own interest... maybe that sums up the foreign policy of the usa at this point... you say trump is disinterested.. so all the blather from trump about 'why are we even in syria?', or 'why can't we be friends with the russia?' is just smoke up everyone's ass...

i like what you said here "conformist group thinkers who do not stray outside the "box" of their guidance from on high. They actually have scheduled conference calls among themselves to make sure everyone is "on board." - that strikes me as very true - conformist group thinkers... the world needs less of these types and more actual leaders who have a vision for something out of the box and not always on board... i thought for a while trump might fill this bill, but no such luck by the looks of it now..

David E. Solomon , 09 February 2018 at 07:50 PM
Colonel Lang,

Your description of these guys sounds like what we have heard about Soviet era planners. Am I correct in my understanding, or am I missing something?

Regards,

David

DianaLC , 09 February 2018 at 07:56 PM
As a young person in eighth grade, I learned about the "domino theory" in regard to attempts to slow the spread of communism. Then my generation was, in a sense, fractured around the raging battles for and against our involvement in Vietnam.

I won't express my own opinion on that. But I mention it because it seems to be a type of "vision thing."

So, now I ask, what would be your vision for the Syrian situation?

Bill Herschel , 09 February 2018 at 09:11 PM
This has been going on for a long time has it not? Westmoreland? MacArthur?

How did this happen?

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:40 PM
Bill Herschel

Westmoreland certainly, Macarthur certainly not. This all started with the "industrialization" of the armed forces in WW2. we never recovered the sense of profession as opposed to occupation after the massive expansion and retention of so many placeholders. a whole new race of Walmart manager arose and persists. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:48 PM
DianaC

The idea of the Domino Theory came from academia, not the generals of that time. They resisted the idea of a war in east Asia until simply ordered into it by LBJ. After that their instinct for acting according to guidance kicked in and they became committed to the task. Syria? Do you think I should write you an essay on that? SST has a large archive and a search machine. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 09:55 PM
David E. Solomon

I am talking about flag officers at present, not those beneath them from the mass of whom they emerge. There are exceptions. Martin Dempsey may have been one such. The system creates such people at the top. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:08 PM
elaine,

Your usual animosity for non-left wing authority is showing. A commander like the CENTCOM theater commander (look it up) operates within guidance from Washington, broad guidance. Normally this is the president's guidance as developed in the NSC process. Some presidents like Obama and LBJ intervene selectively and directly in the execution of that guidance. Obama had a "kill list" of jihadis suggested by the IC and condemned by him to die in the GWOT. He approved individual missions against them. LBJ picked individual air targets in NVN. Commanders in the field do not like that . They think that freedom of action within their guidance should be accorded them. This CinC has not been interested thus far in the details and have given the whole military chain of command wide discretion to carry out their guidance. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:12 PM
J

Thank you, but it is real GBs that you like, not the Delta and SEAL door kickers. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:24 PM
Gaikomainaku

"I am not sure that I understand what makes a Borgist different from a military conformist." The Borg and the military leaders are not of the same tribe. they are two different collectives who in the main dislike and distrust each other. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:27 PM
Anna. Their guidance does not include a high priority for eradicating the opium trade. Their guidance has to do with defeating the jihadis and building up the central government. pl
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:30 PM
Peter AU

Predictably there is always someone who says that this group is not different from all others. Unfortunately the military function demands more than the level of mediocrity found in most groups. pl

turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 10:44 PM
james

Trump would like to better relations with Russia but that is pretty much the limit of his attention to foreign affairs at any level more sophisticated than expecting deference. He is firmly focused on the economy and base solidifying issues like immigration. pl

Peter AU , 09 February 2018 at 11:01 PM
The medical profession comes to mind. GP's and specialists. Many of those working at the leading edge of research seem much wider thinking and are not locked into the small box of what they have been taught.
turcopolier , 09 February 2018 at 11:16 PM
Peter AU

The GPs do not rule over a hierarchy of doctors. pl

J -> turcopolier ... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
Combat Applications Group and SEALS don't even begin to compare, they're not in the same league as 'real deal' GBs. The GBs are thinkers as well as doers, whereas Combat Applications Group and SEALs all they know is breach and clear, breach and clear.

There is more to life than breach and clear. Having worked with all in one manner or another, I'll take GBs any day hands down. It makes a difference when the brain is engaged instead of just the heel.

kao_hsien_chih -> Jack... , 09 February 2018 at 11:22 PM
A lot of technology entrepreneurs--especially those active today--are stuck in their own groupthink, inflated by their sense that they are born for greatness and can do no wrong.

The kind of grand schemes that the top people at Google, Uber, and Facebook think up to remake the universe in their own idea of "good society" are frightening. That they are cleverer (but not necessarily wiser) than the academics, borgists, or generals, I think, makes them even more dangerous.

FB Ali , 09 February 2018 at 11:23 PM
Col Lang,

They are indeed "narrow thinkers", but I think the problem runs deeper. They seem to be stuck in the rut of a past era. When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now.

Of course, these policies ensure that they continue to be well-funded, even if the US is bankrupting itself in the process.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 01:03 AM
dogear

He is still the Saudi Mukhtar for the US and most of the generals are still narrow minded. pl

LondonBob , 10 February 2018 at 06:59 AM
They [the generals] seem to have deliberately completely ignored the issues and policy positions Trump ran on as President. It isn't a case of ignorance but of wilful disregard.
turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 07:55 AM
LondonBob

I think that is true but, they were able to talk him into that, thus far. pl

DianaLC said in reply to turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 09:23 AM
I've been reading this blog for some time. My question was facetious and written with the understanding of your statement about the generals not having a good grasp of "the vision thing" on their own.
Terry , 10 February 2018 at 09:25 AM
So true and as others commented this is a sad feature of the human race and all human organizations. Herd mentality ties into social learning. Chimps are on average more creative and have better short term memory than humans. We gave up some short term memory in order to be able to learn quickly by mimicking. If shown how to open a puzzle box but also shown unnecessary extra steps a chimp will ignore the empty steps and open the box with only the required steps. A human will copy what they saw exactly performing the extra steps as if they have some unknown value to the process. Our massive cultural heritages are learned by observing and taken in as a whole. This process works within organizations as well.

I suspect a small percentage of the human race functions differently than the majority and retains creative thinking and openness along with more emphasis on cognitive thinking than social learning but generally they always face a battle when working to change the group "consensus", i.e. Fulton's folly, scepticism on whether man would ever fly, etc.

One nice feature of the internet allows creative thinkers to connect and watch the idiocy of the world unfold around us.

"A natural desire to be part of the 'in crowd' could damage our ability to make the right decisions, a new study has shown."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141216212049.htm

TV , 10 February 2018 at 10:18 AM
The military by definition is a rigid hierarchical structure. It could not function as a collection of individuals. This society can only breed conforming narrow leaders as an "individual" would leave or be forced out.
Barbara Ann , 10 February 2018 at 10:22 AM
That part of our brain responsible for the desire to be part of the 'in crowd' may affect our decision-making process, but it is also the reason we keep chimps in zoos and not the other way around. Or, to put it another way; if chimps had invented Facebook, I might consider them more creative than us.
Babak Makkinejad -> Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 10:30 AM
Do you think chimps are, per the Christian Docrine, in a State of Fall or in a State of Grace?
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 10:32 AM
This is an interesting discussion. The top in organisations (civil and military) are increasingly technocrats and thinking like systems managers. They are unable to innovate because they lack the ability to think out of the box. Usually there is a leader who depends on specialists. Others (including laymen) are often excluding from the decision-making-proces. John Ralston Saul's Voltaires Bastards describes this very well.

Because of natural selection (conformist people tend to choose similar people who resemble their own values and ways-of-thinking) organizations have a tendency to become homogeneous (especially the higher management/ranks).

In combination with the "dumbing" of people (also of people who have a so-called good education (as described in Richard Sale's Sterile Chit-Chat ) this is a disastrous mix.

Homogeneity is the main culprit. A specialists tends to try to solve problems with the same knowledge-set that created these.

Not all (parts of) organizations and people suffer this fate. Innovations are usually done by laymen and not by specialists. The organizations are often heterogeneous and the people a-typical and/or eccentric.

(mainly the analytical parts of ) intelligence organizations and investment banks are like that if they are worth anything. Very heterogeneous with a lot of a-typical people. I think Green Berets are also like that. An open mind and genuine interest in others (cultures, way of thinking, religion etc) is essential to understand and to perform and also to prevent costly mistakes (in silver and/or blood).

It is possible to create firewalls against tunnel-vision. The Jester performed such a role. Also think of the Emperors New Clothes . The current trend of people with limited vision and creativity prevents this. Criticism is punished with a lack of promotion, job-loss or even jail (whistle-blowers)

IMO this is why up to a certain rank (colonel or middle management) a certain amount of creativity or alternative thinking is allowed, but conformity is essential to rise higher.

I was very interested in the Colonel's remark on the foreign background of the GB in Vietnam. If you would like to expand on this I would be much obliged? IMO GB are an example of a smart, learning, organization (in deed and not only in word as so many say of themselves, but who usually are at best mediocre)

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg -> gaikokumaniakku... , 10 February 2018 at 11:58 AM
Isn't the "Borg" really The Atlantic Council?
ISL , 10 February 2018 at 12:58 PM
Dear Colonel,

Would you then say that a rising military officer who does have the vision thing faces career impediments? If so, would you say that the vision thing is lost (if it ever was there) at the highest ranks? In any case, the existence of even a few at the top, like Matthis or Shinseki is a blessing.

ex-PFC Chuck said in reply to FB Ali ... , 10 February 2018 at 01:08 PM
FB Ali:
"When the US was indeed the paramount military power on the globe, and the US military reigned supreme. They can't seem to accept the reality of the world as it is now."
That's true not only of the US military but of US elites in general across all of the spectra. And because that reality is at odds with the group-think of those within the various elements that make up the spectra it doesn't a hearing. Anyone who tries to bring it up risks being ejected from the group.
Adrestia , 10 February 2018 at 02:03 PM
I forget an important part. I really miss an edit-button. Comment-boxes are like looking at something through a straw. Its easy to miss the overview.

Innovations and significant new developments are usually made by laymen. IMO mainly because they have a fresh perspective without being bothered by the (mainstream) knowledge that dominates an area of expertise.

By excluding the laymen errors will continue to be repeated. This can be avoided by using development/decision-making frameworks, but these tend to become dogma (and thus become part of the problem)

Much better is allowing laymen and allowing a-typical people. Then listen to them carefully. Less rigid flexible and very valuable.

kooshy , 10 February 2018 at 02:19 PM
Apparently, according to the last US ambassador to Syria Mr. Ford, from 2014-17 US has spent 12 Billion on Regime change in Syria. IMO, combinedly Iran and Russia so far, have spent far less in Syria than 12 billion by US alone, not considering the rest of her so called coalition. This is a war of attrition, and US operations in wars, are usually far more expensive and longer than anybody else's.

"The United States spent at least $12 billion in Syria-related military and civilian expenses in the four years from 2014 through 2017, according to the former U.S. ambassador to the country. This $12 billion is in addition to the billions more spent to pursue regime change in Syria in the previous three years, after war broke out in 2011." https://goo.gl/8pj5cD

J , 10 February 2018 at 02:49 PM
Colonel, TTG, PT,

FYI regarding Syria

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/sen-tim-kaine-demands-release-secret-trump-war-powers-memo-n846176

Richardstevenhack -> turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 02:56 PM
It may "demand" it - but does it get it? Soldiers are just as human as everyone else.

I'm reminded of the staff sergeant with the sagging beer belly who informed me, "Stand up straight and look like a soldier..." Or the First Sergeant who was so hung over one morning at inspection that he couldn't remember which direction he was going down the hall to the next room to be inspected. I'm sure you have your own stories of less than competence.

It's a question of intelligence and imagination. And frankly, I don't see the military in any country receiving the "best and brightest" of that country's population, by definition. The fact that someone is patriotic enough to enter the military over a civilian occupation doesn't make them more intelligent or imaginative than the people who decided on the civilian occupation.

Granted, if you fail at accounting, you don't usually die. Death tends to focus the mind, as they say. Nonetheless, we're not talking about the grunts at the level who actually die, still less the relatively limited number of Special Forces. We're talking about the officers and staff at the levels who don't usually die in war - except maybe at their defeat - i.e., most officers over the level of captain.

One can hardly look at this officer crowd in the Pentagon and CENTCOM and say that their personal death concentrates their mind. They are in virtually no danger of that. Only career death faces them - with a nice transition to the board of General Dynamics at ten times the salary.

All in all, I'd have to agree that the military isn't much better at being competent - at many levels above the obvious group of hyper-trained Special Forces - any more than any other profession.

dogear said in reply to Terry... , 10 February 2018 at 02:59 PM
That is well put.most important is the grading system that is designed to fix a person to a particular slot thereby limiting his ability to think "outside the box" and consider the many variables that exist in one particular instant.

Creative thinking allows you to see beyond the storm clouds ahead and realize that the connectedness of different realities both the visible and invisible. For instance the picture of the 2 pairs of korean skaters in the news tells an interesting story on many levels. Some will judge them on their grade of proffiency, while others will see a dance of strategy between 2 foes and a few will know the results in advance and plan accordingly

https://www.google.com.au/amp/www.nbcolympics.com/news/north-south-korean-figure-skating-teams-practice-side-side%3famp?espv=1

Mark Logan said in reply to Peter AU... , 10 February 2018 at 03:30 PM
Peter AU

"They are not stupid at all but they are a collective of narrow thinkers." I've often pondered that concept. Notice how many of radical extremist leaders were doctors, engineers and such? Narrow and deep. STEM is enormously useful to us but seems to be a risky when implanted in shallow earth.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:03 PM
Mark Logan

These narrow "but deep" thinkers were unable to grasp the nature of the Iraq War for the first couple of years. They thought of it as a rear area security problem, a combat in cities problem, anything but a popular rebellion based on xenophobia and anti-colonialism The IED problem? They spent several billion dollars on trying to find a technology fix and never succeeded. I know because they kept asking me to explain the war to them and then could not understand the answers which were outside their narrow thought. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:13 PM
ISL

War College selectees, the national board selected creme de la creme test out as 50% SJs (conformists lacking vision) in Myers-Briggs terms and about 15% NTs (intellectuals). To survive and move upward in a system dominated by SJs, the NTs must pretend to be what they are not. A few succeed. I do not think Mattis is an intellectual merely because he has read a lot. pl

outthere , 10 February 2018 at 05:19 PM
Long ago when I was a professor, I advised my students that "the law is like a pencil sharpener, it sharpens the mind by narrowing it." I tried to encourage them to "think backwards".

My favorite example was a Japanese fisherman who recovered valuable ancient Chinese pottery. Everyone knew where an ancient ship had sunk, but the water was too deep to dive down to the wreck. And everyone knew the cargo included these valuable vases. And the fisherman was the first to figure out how to recover them. He attached a line to an octopus, and lowered it in the area, waited awhile, and pulled it up. Low and behold, the octopus had hidden in an ancient Chinese vase. The fisherman was familiar with trapping octopuses, by lowering a ceramic pot (called "takosubo") into the ocean, waiting awhile, then raising the vase with octopus inside. His brilliance was to think backwards, and use an octopus to catch a vase.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:24 PM
TV

By your calculation people like Joe Stilwell and George Patton should not have existed. pl

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 05:31 PM
Adrestia

the original GBS were recruited in the 50s to serve in the OSS role with foreign guerrillas behind Soviet lines in th event of war in Europe. Aaron Bank, the founder, recruited several hundred experienced foreign soldiers from the likely countries who wanted to become American. By the time we were in VN these men were a small fraction of GBs but important for their expertise and professionalism. pl

ked , 10 February 2018 at 05:56 PM
Col, I think it might help people to think of "the Borg" - as you have defined & applied it - in a broader context. It struck me particularly as you ID'd the launching of our modern military group-think / careerism behavior coming from the watershed of industrialized scale & processes that came out of WWII.

We note parallel themes in all significant sectors of our civilization. The ever-expanding security state, the many men in Gray Flannel Suits that inhabit corporate culture, Finance & Banking & Big Health scaling ever larger - all processes aimed to slice the salami thinner & quicker, to the point where meat is moot ... and so it goes.

I note many Borgs... Borgism if you will. An organizational behavior that has emerged out of human nature having difficulty adapting to rapidly accelerating complexity that is just too hard to apprehend in a few generations. If (as many commenters on STT seem to...) one wishes to view this in an ideological or spiritual framework only, they may overlook an important truth - that what we are experiencing is a Battle Among Borgs for control over their own space & domination over the other Borgs. How else would we expect any competitive, powerful interest group to act?

In gov & industry these days, we observe some pretty wild outliers... attached to some wild outcomes. Thus the boring behavior of our political industries bringing forth Trump, our promethean technology sector yielding a Musk (& yes, a Zuckerberg).

I find it hard to take very seriously analysts that define their perspective based primarily upon their superior ideals & opposition to others. Isn't every person, every tribe, team or enterprise a borglet-in-becoming? Everybody Wants to Rule the World ... & Everybody Must Get Stoned... messages about how we are grappling with complexity in our times. I just finished reading Command & Control (about nuclear weapons policy, systems design & accidents). I am amazed we've made it this far.

Unfortunately, I would not be amazed if reckless, feckless leaders changed the status quo. I was particularly alarmed hearing Trump in his projection mode; "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity, without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do.

But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing." It strikes me that he could be exceptionally willing to risk a Major Event if he felt a form of unity, or self-preservation, was in the offing. I pray (& I do not pray often or easily) that the Generals you have described have enough heart & guts to honor their oath at its most profound level in the event of an Event.

turcopolier , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
babak

As a time traveler from another age, I can only say that for me it means devotion to a set of mores peculiar to a particular profession as opposed to an occupation. pl

Barbara Ann -> outthere... , 10 February 2018 at 06:00 PM
Great example outthere.

Another springs to mind: James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) was once part of the NASA team building the first probe to go to Mars to look for signs of life. Lovelock didn't make any friends when he told NASA they were wasting their time, there was none. When asked how he could be so sure, he explained that the composition of the Martian atmosphere made it impossible. "But Martian life may be able to survive under different conditions" was the retort. Lovelock then went on to explain his view that the evolution of microbial life determined the atmospheric composition on Earth, so should be expected to do the same if life had evolved on Mars. Brilliant backwards thinking which ought to have earned him the Nobel prize IMHO (for Gaia). Lovelock, a classic cross-disciplinary scientist, can't be rewarded with such a box-categorized honor, as his idea doesn't fit well into any one.

Another example of cross-disciplinary brilliance was Bitcoin, which has as much to do with its creator's deep knowledge of Anthropology (why people invented & use money) as his expertise in both Economics and Computer Science.

This is they key to creative thinking in my view - familiarity with different fields yields deeper insights.

[Feb 10, 2018] US military is the second largest US employer after Wallmart

Notable quotes:
"... Walmart employs 1.4 million Americans. The military employs 1.3 million active duty soldiers. That's a problem. Peace can't be allowed to break out. And the best way to insure that it doesn't is to kill the minimum number of people and export the maximum number of arms to keep people fighting with each other around the world. ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Bill Herschel -> turcopolier ... , 10 February 2018 at 10:13 AM

Walmart employs 1.4 million Americans. The military employs 1.3 million active duty soldiers. That's a problem. Peace can't be allowed to break out. And the best way to insure that it doesn't is to kill the minimum number of people and export the maximum number of arms to keep people fighting with each other around the world.

That is all about as far as conceivable away from any notion of a professional soldier.

How do you stop this? Who will employ those 1.3 million... 1.3 million who have been brainwashed about "terrorism", "communism", "democracy", "muslims", etc. etc. etc.? Particularly in the context of the tsunami of social change that is about to hit with the advent of real artificial intelligence. Doctors? Their jobs are on the line and I suspect they don't know it. Lawyers? Even worse.

The following article was the start of an epochal change in medicine:

Lasko TA, Denny JC, Levy MA (2013) Computational Phenotype Discovery Using Unsupervised Feature Learning over Noisy, Sparse, and Irregular Clinical Data. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066341

Bill Herschel , 10 February 2018 at 10:17 AM
I guess I should add, although it should be obvious, that the one thing that absolutely cannot under any circumstances be allowed to happen is real war. Then you have to figure out how to employ both the soldiers and the Walmart employees. Those that are still alive. And of course if you look at the behavior of the U.S. in Syria you see that we are about as interested in real war as we are in the arts.

[Feb 06, 2018] The War That Never Ends (for the U.S. Military High Command), by Danny Sjursen - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, ..."
"... In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States. ..."
"... A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war." ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ..."
"... Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times ..."
"... On Strategy ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 . ..."
"... Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters ..."
"... Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce. ..."
"... The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side." ..."
"... Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." ..."
"... Vietnam lost in the end. Its greedy corrupt elites are now puppets of US. They allow open prostitution in Ho Chi Minh city. They allow Vietnamese women to be a bunch of hookers again. ..."
"... "America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around" Rather like 20th century Germany, don't you think? ..."
"... The Vietnam war killed the draft. The draft is involuntary servitude, slavery in a sense. For ordinary Americans this was the only positive thing to come from the war. ..."
"... Ultimately, the victory of WW2 due to sheer weight of industrial productivity ramp and hence massive output of planes, tanks, submarines, etc. made defense a large part of the US economy. Since that time, too many entrenched interests just never want the military to downsize. Hence, the US has to keep invented new demand for a product that otherwise would not have such demand, but keeps some major entrenched interests powerful. ..."
"... The BIGGEST lesson to come out of the illegal and immoral War against Vietnam is that the draft was impeding the MIC's effort to sell Americans on the idea of supporting endless war. ..."
"... The same generals who let 911 happen and started the Iraq war still run the show. All of them should have faced a firing squad for that, but instead, the grossly incompetent General Kelly runs the White House and the grossly incompetent Mattis runs the military. ..."
"... The warhawk imperialists – some of them Clausewtizians and most COINdinistas – rule everything. No matter how many lives are lost, no matter how much money is wasted, they demand we remain on the same path of playing world hegemon. George Washington fought the British Empire for our freedom, so our subsequent leaders, starting most importantly with Lincoln, could remake the country into the British Empire 2.0. ..."
"... No; it's psychotic, psychopathic mayhem and mass-murder. Lemma: At any crime-scene, there are one or more perpetrators, possibly accessories, apologists and/or 'idle' bystanders. It is incumbent upon *all* witnesses to attempt to a) restrain malefactors and where possible b) rescue victims from harm. *All* present and not in active resistance to the crime attract proportional guilt. Addendum: Any person profiting from crime also makes him/herself an accessory, like all residents in the 'illegitimate entity' and/or the puppet executives, manufacturers of the means and their enablers = the whole MIC[*] plus all their dependents, say. ..."
"... The US rogue regime = US-M/I/C/4a†-plex, with dog-wagging-tail, its illegitimate sprog the Zionist/Israeli rogue regime + Js = I/J/Z-plex, all components rife with corruption. ..."
"... Save the BS for your fellow geezer drunks at the VFW lounge. Vietnam featured a complete collapse of the conscripted US military, rampant drug use, fragging, insubordination, faked injuries, disintegration of the chain of command, mass murder of civilians, and finally TOTAL DEFEAT after turning tail and running following the negotiation of a charitable "decent interval" allowing the yanks to save some face. Pathetic. ..."
"... Wars fought to make countries like Vietnam open to big corporations to move American jobs there. Corporate money backed by the fist of the Marines has worked all their lives, all their parents' lives, and all the modern history of America. "Why not now?", the sheep ask. ..."
"... According to Bobbie McNamara, American efforts resulted in the murder of over 4 million Vietnamese and the maiming of millions of others .MOSTLY CIVILIANS. ..."
"... If the war mongers had had an all-volunteer army like the one they have today, they could have and would have kept the Vietnam War going indefinitely. But, since they didn't, draftees and their parents wised-up to the Pentagon's money-making scam and put a stop to it by refusing to participate. ..."
"... Very rich families and corporatists started their own think tanks after World War II. This is when the looting began for RAND. These are the bastards Eisenhower was afraid of. Abe Lincoln feared the large corporations born of business profiteering during the U.S. Civil War -- the military industrial complex of the day -- easily constituted the greatest threat to the American republic. ..."
"... Remember that Eisenhower's definition of the complex included among the bastards, not only the military defense industry corporations, but also right alongside them the news media and the university and private research establishments. ..."
"... That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same. ..."
Feb 05, 2018 | www.unz.com

Vietnam: it's always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they're still losing it and blaming others for doing so.

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country's artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong.

More than two decades of involvement and, at the war's peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam's military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.

There's just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the "orthodox" school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The Big Re-Write

In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War. It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus's impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war. Though he did observe that Vietnam had "cost the military dearly" and that "the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services," his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called "low-intensity conflicts" and are now known as counterinsurgencies. His takeaway: what the country needed wasn't less Vietnams but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror. The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice. Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results.

Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict. After all these decades, such "thinking" generals and "soldier-scholars" continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America's second longest war.

Rival Schools

Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.

The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century. Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict's supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington. The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now.

The Go-Big Option

The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military. It's easy enough to understand why. Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.

Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic. Later , he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in "draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences." In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States.

Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that "you know you never beat us on the battlefield." "That may be so," replied his former enemy, "but it is also irrelevant."

Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!)

A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty . He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that "the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice." He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon's generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy.

McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war."

COIN: A Small (Forever) War

Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders. In The Army and Vietnam , published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy's chief center of gravity and that the American military's failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate. While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out , because they offer a "simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam."

Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece , "How to Win in Iraq," in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times 's resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating "discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president."

In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam . Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.

Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals' strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work. It didn't matter, however. By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley's book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. By then, according to the Washington Post 's David Ignatius, it could also "be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad."

Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl. (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart .) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that "if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it." In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker "so liked [Nagl's] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals," while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad.

David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times -reviewed ) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders. Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement .

Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps.

Reading All the Wrong Books

In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military's primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates. To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War . This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!

Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead. Indeed, there's much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers's On Strategy on his list. A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster's Dereliction of Duty . The trend continues today. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame). Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley. To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list , Krepinevich's The Army and Vietnam .

Just as important as which books made the lists is what's missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship , novels , or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power.

Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam

Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 .

In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia. That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it. They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict. Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it's never ended.

Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters .

From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War

All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam "lessons" inform the U.S. military's ongoing "surges" and "advise-and-assist" approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration's version of global strategy. President Trump's in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: "a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam." In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts' content.

Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.

The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side."

Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down. Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as "Vietnamization" -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support "would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force." Vietnam, too, had its "generational" side (until, of course, it didn't).

It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: "Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous." When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They've helped bring us generational war and, for today's young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.

Major Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular , is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast Fortress on a Hill .

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]


The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 9:35 am GMT

The book that needs to be written is the one that explores the question, "Does this war need to be fought by us?"

The guys running the show now were mid-grade officers when I served in the '80s. They know we already were waging a war on terror, but it was a quiet one, e.g "low-intensity conflict," the kind that doesn't pump up budgets or put lots of ribbons and badges on the chests of more than a few of them, much less punch the ticket for promotion.

The problem here is one of governance: Civilians who should be reigning in and questioning the military leadership (including the senior civilian leadership at DoD and apparently State) when it wants to take us on yet another foreign adventure seem instead to be be captive to them, because the spoils of war accrue to their benefit via procurement in their districts.

Vietnam and the GWOT are merely symptoms of a bigger problem.

The Alarmist , January 29, 2018 at 1:24 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

BTW, re Vietnam: Vietnam went through its Communist phase, but in a rather short time came back to pseudo-capitalism, much like China, so aside from nearly 60k US troops and a few million Viets killed and 20 years of lost time, what did we gain from fighting there?

America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.

Anon Disclaimer , January 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm GMT
Didn't US realize that it can win any war with bribes and trade?

Vietnam lost in the end. Its greedy corrupt elites are now puppets of US. They allow open prostitution in Ho Chi Minh city. They allow Vietnamese women to be a bunch of hookers again.

And Vietnam even has homo parades because it comes with more gibs and bribes.

US won. It just spread the money around.

Carlton Meyer , Website January 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm GMT
They established a myth that we almost won in Vietnam but the politicians wouldn't let us finish the job, claiming we never lost a battle in Vietnam. That is false, so I posted a list of 104 "Lost Battles of the Vietnam War" that squashed this myth.

http://www.g2mil.com/lost_vietnam.htm

Carlton Meyer , Website January 30, 2018 at 5:39 am GMT
The entire conflict can be understood in this two minute video clip:
Grandpa Charlie , January 30, 2018 at 6:39 am GMT
A great article by Sjursen, with major implications for what's happening now, and several excellent comments. Thank you.
dearieme , January 30, 2018 at 5:24 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

"America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around" Rather like 20th century Germany, don't you think?

Sandmich , January 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

Thanks for that link. I agree, whitewashing those tragedies is a grave disservice to our soldiers who had to fight in those conditions (how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we can't even come to terms with what we did wrong?).

Sean , January 30, 2018 at 9:54 pm GMT
No the JCS initially said SE Asia was strategically a backwater and not worth the concentrating of America's limited resources. But military high command were operating within longstanding army protocols of subordinating the military to civilian policymakers. It was the CIA's job to say whether the war could be won and they were always skeptical.

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/97unclass/vietnam.html

That skepticism was not what any politician wanted to hear so they listened to a civilian adviser.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/David-Milne-13964/americas-rasputin/

America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War makes clear who was responsible for pressing for escalation and bombing in Vietnam, who was the optimist, and who continued to insisted after it had finished that the war had stabilized a domino.

CK , January 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm GMT
If one's fundamental image of the world is as a place full of Quislings, McCains and assorted dual nationals; then it follows that one will be militarily a Coindinista. If only third world citizens were like American pols and stayed bought, but they aren't and they don't. If one's fundamental image is that it is a world full of nationalists, patriots and Churchills: then the bomb them back to non-existence; then it follows that one is a Summer's soldier.

Unfortunately, if one wishes to debate other nuanced alternatives to this dichotomy; the enemy gets to shoot first. A policeman walks a beat in his city because he is paid to do it, the "world's indispensable policeman" is unnecessary to the rest of the world but inevitable to himself.

George Taylor , January 31, 2018 at 12:49 am GMT
@The Alarmist

America tends to gain from commerce what it thinks it will get by warfare. Not so much the other way around.

Because we are here to help the Vietnamese because inside every go*k is an American trying to get out

anon Disclaimer , February 2, 2018 at 5:17 am GMT
The Vietnam war killed the draft. The draft is involuntary servitude, slavery in a sense. For ordinary Americans this was the only positive thing to come from the war.
WorkingClass , February 2, 2018 at 6:26 am GMT
Blah blah blah. That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same.
Singh , February 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm GMT
It's also weird that the idea of Vietnam War as a missionary conflict is never discussed. The colonial Vietnam & later South Vietnam government gave preference to christians in governmental positions, bureaucracy & had a monopoly on education. The prevailing narrative in the west, is that somehow christianity is better & that people flock to it due to this, just like their ancestors did. Mosmaiorum.org/persecution_list.html

For example, the anti Buddhist discriminatory laws in Korea are never discussed, neither is the flooding of Japan with bibles post ww2. In the present age you have missionaries following closely behind the USA army & organizations like the US council on religious freedom being headed by missionaries sic. soul vultures.

From that pov, if white nationalists cannot control the predatory instincts of 'their' people nor disavow them by becoming Pagan; then, they deserve their fate & should expect no support from outsiders. As others have remarked, tariffs & protectionism help accrue capital as do socially conservative views. The pushing of free trade & social liberalism on 2nd/3rd world countries is akin to kicking the ladder. It's probably in everyone's interest for the Protestant west to collapse under Afro-Islamic demographic pressure so the great clean up can begin. Tldr yes state power leads to liberalism & liberal views but, if you view that as the legacy of your people, fuck your people.

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 6:04 am GMT
Well Major,

we are deeply at odds. We did not lose the Vietnam conflict. I am confident that billions of dollars have been spent drilling that myth into the minds of well everyone. I remember being a young poli-sci student in KS. And as I listened to the lecture on Vietnam, did the reading my conclusion was so distant from his as to cause me no small amount of turmoil. The contention that we lost Vietnam is so counter to the data -- it makes the Twilight Zone look like Gilligan's Island, the twists on reality are directionless -- but conclude we lost, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I have another theory, the reason that Vietnam remains etched in the psyche is because the analysis was political as opposed to what actually occurred. This kind of hyperventilated self flagellating recriminations will distort truth. Perception over reality -- then becomes self fulling history.
_________________

But to the point. The US has lost two wars: The war of 1812 and in my view, the Iraq conflict -- no direct fault of those on the ground doing the fighting. And we may lose the Afghanistan gambit. It's a loss because it fell apart during our occupation. The guerrilla warfare (asymmetrics) was not the issues for that failure. The failure was in

1. unjustifiable cause
2. poor implementation
3. under resourced
4. an inability to maintain order among communities -- (1-3)
5. and just a lot of bad decisions

Trying compare Vietnam to Iraq is like trying compare a stone to water in similarity. You might be able to some generic references and very tiny specifics, but overall: the environment politically and strategically, just never mesh. We didn't invade Vietnam. They had a functioning government. There were clear lines of who was who based on borders (I am not ignoring the insurgency -- Vietcong, etc.

It was the cold war and unlike Iraq there were not six varying countries throwing a myriad of combatants into the fray with varying agendas and varying religious convictions. Even the physical environment demanded a different strategy, insurgents or no insurgents.

One has to plan for insurgent warfare as invading any country is bound to have those who get the best defense is one of stealth when your foe is as large a target as the US was in Iraq. But for all of the complaints about Counter-Insurgency the one that no one seems willing to state is the simplest. Don't invade countries for which there is no clean or clear motive to do so. It's that simple. There was never a need to invade Iraq, if anything we should have readjusted our dynamic and began a process of easing sanctions for their aide in countering terrorism.

There was no reason to invade Afghanistan -- even to distribute more bikinis and advance killing children in the womb. We wanted twenty guys and instead we stirred a hornet's nest . . . ok well, more than one.

Vietnam really was an act of selflessness, we wanted to shore up a small republic seeking a different course to communism. It bolstered our own ideas against the grand schema of the Soviet Union, rightly or wrongly. Now you are not the only one who has a gripe with counterinsurgency.

And I think it's a debate/discussion worth having, and while it may be useful to examine COIN as to Vietnam strategically -- I think it can be done minus the incorrect and yet incessant sack cloth and ashes built on mountains of liberal psychological faux trauma as if the trauma of war is somehow unique to Vietnam,. It is not. As you know war is a nasty filthy business, best left alone. But on occasion one gets pushed into a fight as did S. Vietnam and when that screw is turned -- well history is replete of the consequences, the waste, the blood, the brokenness . . . The tragedy of war does not mean one loses a war.

Kweli , February 5, 2018 at 6:17 am GMT
@Anon

How true! If only the US had recognized the power of man's baser instincts and did what the US does best -- continue selling its culture of consumerism and hedonism, Vietnam would have arrived at the point much sooner and with virtually no loss of life.

Thomm , February 5, 2018 at 7:32 am GMT
Ultimately, the victory of WW2 due to sheer weight of industrial productivity ramp and hence massive output of planes, tanks, submarines, etc. made defense a large part of the US economy. Since that time, too many entrenched interests just never want the military to downsize. Hence, the US has to keep invented new demand for a product that otherwise would not have such demand, but keeps some major entrenched interests powerful.

I mean, the Korean war started just 5 years after WW2 ended. They could barely wait for a new crop of boys to turn 18 and become cannon fodder. 50,000 in Korea right after the 300,000 in WW2.

When casualties became politically incorrect (after VietNam), the focus shifted towards lengthy 'nation building', that was not meant to succeed, but just to cost a lot for a long time. In theory, the Iraq War could have worked, IF the true objective was the installation of a moderate regime in Iraq, coupled with no extended US occupation. But that was not the true objective after all, so it did not work.

Greg Bacon , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm GMT
The BIGGEST lesson to come out of the illegal and immoral War against Vietnam is that the draft was impeding the MIC's effort to sell Americans on the idea of supporting endless war.

Get rid of the draft and there will be no protests hell raised back home by people of draft age–and their families and friends–who don't want to get drafted to fight wars so colonels can become generals; Wall Street can make a killing on the killing and so the Pentagon can try out its new 'gee-whiz' weapons in the field on actual people.

The next biggest lesson was that the media must be tamed and brought under control with embedding, so they'll push the Pentagon's and Wall Street message of duty, honor, Mom and apple pie onto gullible Americans, who now damn near get orgasmic when they see a multi-billion dollar killing machine–the B-2–fly over the upcoming gladiator battle in the newest billion dollar coliseum and go into the State-mandated 'Two Minutes Hate' whenever they see or hear the word Muslim or Islam.

For the record, I did my time in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne.

Wyatt Pendleton , Website February 5, 2018 at 12:49 pm GMT
So America worships Ares/Mars and doesn't expect the god of War to want to eat them too? There shall be wars and rumors of wars .I so look forward to watching this love of war spread itself from sea to shining sea.
n230099 , February 5, 2018 at 12:50 pm GMT
Until the young wise up and realize that the military operations in other countries have nothing to do with the freedoms we have here and that they're being used as fodder for the investments that the MIC has in the companies that make the tools of war, we will keep having this nonsense. The kids need to wise up. The government has at its disposal all it needs to 'win' if it wants to. But if you 'win' , the sales and manufacturing of the goodies is curtailed. They'd rather send the kids into the meat grinder all pumped up thinking they're 'preserving freedom' LOL!
augusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm GMT
@CK

Nice, thank U. I´d never before had figured out, never outlined such a precise conceptual sight of the two still remaining American mindsets on HOW to win.
Yes, cause for them Amerika must obviously must always win. So there are two viewpoints, that in plain clear English we citizens of the shitholin´ countries wherever -- express as follows:

augusto , Website February 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm GMT
@Singh

Yes, you say tariffs and proteccionism help accrue capital.

Have you got any objection against a large, populous but still poor country (like Nigeria, Indonesia, India or Brazil) sticking to higher (though not sky high) tariffs and protectionism to raise their production, their income and their living standards?

That was PRECISELY HOW the US, Uk, Germany and the Meiji era Japan, not to mention China from 1949 to Chu enLai) acted and because of it rose the heights of the present status and well being societies.

Yes, you naive repeater, let´s us first protect ourselves from the globalist wolves and THEN, we can sit down and talk but from a firm solid position, not the other way round. cut the frack! We southern people are fed up with that northern hemispheric sales talk – it ´s so convenient to you – but the web exists and times change.

another fred , February 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm GMT

It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

It's not just the generals. The whole idea of the state is to control the uncontrollable in order to continue "growing". That's why we conducted Vietnam as we did and why we conduct operations as we do all over the world. Rather than Total War that produces winners and losers we are trying to keep a lid on behavioral sinks and modify behavior so that economic "growth" can continue.

I am not advocating Total War, but I am predicting that horrible war is coming.

How many dead men will it take
To build a dike that will not break?

DESERT FOX , February 5, 2018 at 2:20 pm GMT
The Zionists have been the root cause of every war that America has been in since WWI and right on through the wars in the Mideast and the wars in the Mideast were perpetrated by the Israeli and Zionist controlled deep state attack on 911.

America is under Zionist control and if anyone doubts this, just remember Israel did the attack on 911 and got away with and every thinking American knows that Zionist Israel did the attack which killed 3000 Americans, that is control.

Don Bacon , Website February 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm GMT
. . .supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy

Actually the US created the "Republic of Vietnam" within Vietnam, which was rather unusual, and then fought Vietnam. The US grabbed a Christian out of a New Jersey seminary (Ngo Dinh Diem) to run the Buddhist "country," that didn't help. More recently the US has overthrown governments (Iraq and Afghanistan) and then fought the natives. Whatever, it doesn't work. The citizens (AKA dissidents, insurgents, terrorists, etc.) so effected don't want US troops in their countries, and who can blame them.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 2:41 pm GMT
Why do credulous Americans read anti-war books written by war criminals? Only brainwashed people support the troops. Most Americans hated soldiers after Vietnam. They had seen soldiers raping wives and daughters, burning houses and huts and crops and wiping out entire villages. They knew that men who agree to kill for a paycheck do other bad things like raping and looting and then writing books about it later.

The cons put a stop to all those "incorrect" ideas American slaves had developed by ramping up the propaganda in the 1980s. Movies kicked in and "learned" the zombies about the wonderfulness of war and killing and how American soldiers kill with love in their hearts and the tragedy of the boy baby killers left behind – probably by "communists in the US Government."

jacques sheete , February 5, 2018 at 3:01 pm GMT

The United States really had no business intervening

That's a, maybe "the," key concept. The US has always had enough internal problems of its own to deal with and it should always have tended to its own interest first. Damned know-it-all, brainless busybodies!

jacques sheete , February 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm GMT
@n230099

The kids need to wise up.

I suspect most of them would wise up if their elders did so first, and would teach 'em. One of the most annoying sights to me is to see some ancient fart wearing some sign that he's a vet. Even though I was once a sucker too, I always make it a point to remind them that we had no business in whatever war they happen to be glorifying and still wallowing in. How old does one have to be to get a clue?

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm GMT
Nothing quite says freedom like heavily armed soldiers on the streets demanding papers. Soon the US will have the same situation, with the "freedom loving" Americans willingly surrendering all their freedoms for "safety." Today the US government spies on everyone's communications, conducts over 80,000 SWAT raids a year, locks over 2 million people in actual slavery, and lets the cops execute people on the street. Nothing quite says Freedom when cops can execute poor people without any repercussions. Nothing quite says Freedom when opiate casualties in one year exceed the American total in Vietnam. Nothing quite says zombie when Americans can't see the war that is being waged on them right now.
Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon

Is that true? The Military simply harvested the poors out of the hills, the South and other rural areas the same way they would have drafted 'em. All the kids respond once the Government offers them a way out of potential starvation and hopeless poverty. That's just a better way to draft people, although they won't call it that.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:07 pm GMT
The same generals who let 911 happen and started the Iraq war still run the show. All of them should have faced a firing squad for that, but instead, the grossly incompetent General Kelly runs the White House and the grossly incompetent Mattis runs the military.
Jake , February 5, 2018 at 4:08 pm GMT
"The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century."

Apparently it is not close to clear. The warhawk imperialists – some of them Clausewtizians and most COINdinistas – rule everything. No matter how many lives are lost, no matter how much money is wasted, they demand we remain on the same path of playing world hegemon. George Washington fought the British Empire for our freedom, so our subsequent leaders, starting most importantly with Lincoln, could remake the country into the British Empire 2.0.

Jake , February 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm GMT
@George Taylor

"Because we are here to help the Vietnamese because inside every go*k is an American trying to get out." Replace 'Vietnamese' with 'Middle Easterners' and 'gook' with 'Arab' or 'Moslem,' and you have the Neocon position. Replace 'Vietnamese' with 'the world' and replace 'gook' with 'dark skinned non-Christian' and place the word "liberal' before 'American,' and you have the Liberal/Leftist position.

anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm GMT
As a youth during that time it seemed like a strange idea that they were pushing. How could Vietnamese be invading Vietnam? They already live there. The Americans had to travel thousands of miles to prevent this. Years later I realize my youthful intuition was right; Vietnamese can't invade Vietnam. This North-South dichotomy was just a made up propaganda tool. The South was an artificial concoction set up by the West to divide someone else's country. This question of how could we have won is absurd nonsense. What would 'winning' have looked like? The South would just have been a multi-billion millstone around our neck.
skrik , February 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm GMT

The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones, planes, and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.

No; it's psychotic, psychopathic mayhem and mass-murder. Lemma: At any crime-scene, there are one or more perpetrators, possibly accessories, apologists and/or 'idle' bystanders. It is incumbent upon *all* witnesses to attempt to a) restrain malefactors and where possible b) rescue victims from harm. *All* present and not in active resistance to the crime attract proportional guilt. Addendum: Any person profiting from crime also makes him/herself an accessory, like all residents in the 'illegitimate entity' and/or the puppet executives, manufacturers of the means and their enablers = the whole MIC[*] plus all their dependents, say.

[*] The US rogue regime = US-M/I/C/4a†-plex, with dog-wagging-tail, its illegitimate sprog the Zionist/Israeli rogue regime + Js = I/J/Z-plex, all components rife with corruption.

a = academic = econ, psy, leg et al.; 4 = MSM+PFBCs, † = churches

add a few significant stragglers like $ = banksters & ¿ = spies

=====

It's a lot, and here I point for emphasis to all the citizens of the two named entities; silence is acquiescence. Take a look at the result, not 'just' in Afghanistan but Libya, Syria etc., the WC7in5 [fortunately not yet Iran]; wherever the US/Zs deploy their 'hammers.'

In the fewest words: The US/Zs including their 'ordinary people' are all true monsters, with the only exception being the actively objecting few.

Not so BTW, from the above [but not only] I conclude that there can be no 'god' – for surely, any such would strike all the US/Z villains down.

Again a 'special case' for emphasis, the intellectuals and academics who really should know better but where again, silence is acquiescence.

*Guilty, your honour; may they all hang by the neck until dead!* rgds

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm GMT
American sheep can't see war even though they are in one. What better weapon than to have a group of writers spreading disinformation and colorful propaganda that revolves around discrediting the other propaganda with falsehoods and romanticization of the war that came before. Let's have yet another debate about the thing that happened half a century ago because driving the flock in circles gets them no where closer to resistance.

Meanwhile the real war. If the financial crisis wasn't a terrorist attack because the press never told you, what will you believe? If more men and women die in one year because of opiates than in the entire Vietnam effort, will the real owners tell you in their newspapers that they do it because they want to win?

Alden , February 5, 2018 at 5:08 pm GMT
@n230099

I think the kids are more pumped up with college tuition, VA health , a chance to learn a civilian applicable skill , citizenship and something to do other than competing with illegal Indios for low wages.

nsa , February 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

Save the BS for your fellow geezer drunks at the VFW lounge. Vietnam featured a complete collapse of the conscripted US military, rampant drug use, fragging, insubordination, faked injuries, disintegration of the chain of command, mass murder of civilians, and finally TOTAL DEFEAT after turning tail and running following the negotiation of a charitable "decent interval" allowing the yanks to save some face. Pathetic.

anarchyst , February 5, 2018 at 6:36 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

The Vietnam war was not a "civil-war" but was an INVASION by the North Vietnamese communists, who were not amenable to letting people decide for themselves what political system they chose to live under. They wanted "the whole pie". The South Vietnamese and American military fought courageously, with one hand tied behind their backs, as they were not permitted to attack the supply lines, logistics and staging areas of the North Vietnamese communists. The American news media played a large part in the sympathetic attitudes they had towards the communists, taking every chance to denigrate American and South Vietnamese troops, a prime example was communist sympathizer Walter Cronkite reporting that the 1968 "Tet offensive" was a "major loss" for Americans and south Vietnamese, despite it being a total slaughter of North Vietnamese communists and the Viet Cong. In fact, the Viet Cong operating in the South were almost all totally decimated.

Yes, the final result of the Vietnam war was communist control, BUT, it was not due to the efforts of South Vietnamese and American troops. The Vietnamese "boat people" who risked life and limb to escape that communist "paradise" have a totally different story to tell, but which had been rarely reported. Ken Burns is a communist sympathizer whose "documentary" on the Vietnam war was so one-sided, even the communists admitted that his whole premise on the Vietnam war was one-sided and false. Communist sympathizer Ken Burns inadvertently "let it slip" that "re-education" by the communists was not a "six month deal" (as he claimed) in which those in positions of power in South Vietnam would be "re-educated", but were actually prisons, in which "enemies of the (communist) state were to be interned for as long as 20 years. It is interesting to note that the communists could not exert the same harsh level of control as was the case in the North, to the people in the South.

Norcal , February 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

So much for The Domino Theory". This clip from "The Fog Of War". Thanks

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:19 pm GMT
@anarchyst

Apparently unfamiliar with my long and detailed discussions here and at TAC about the Vietnam War. I don't think you will find a single suggestion in mt two or more years of discussion on Vietnam , that it was a civil war -- it was not. In every way, the North Vietnamese were the aggressors. And if anyone looking at the political issues and objectives of what happened in Vietnam – those who protested got nearly every aspect about Vietnam wrong, nearly every contention they make was predicated on the incorrect information, except one.

war is a nasty filthy affair in which a lot hoes wrong – because that is part and parcel to the nature of war so many moving pieces on so many potential unpredictable planes. The entire enterprise is best avoided, but sometimes as in the case of S. Vietnam, you are left little choice but to defend yourself. Boys and girls afraid to fight screaming "Give peace a chance" at the defenders like pushing a drowning men under the waves and telling him all he need do is swim.

You are preaching to the choir and the preacher.

I am going to avoid rehashing the conflict, I think the data sets are on my side in tons. But I think the authors intentions are to really dismantle the cadre and their advocacy of COIN. Given that the current President has reneged on his campaign agenda to avoid needless wars violating the territory of others to regime change. The issue of counter insurgency is relevant. Because it looks like we are in for more than we bargained for. No doubt, SAS, the French Legionaries, CIA and a spec ops contingents are pre-prepping for insurgencies of our own.

A brief look suggests that the only effective response to counter insurgency is intelligence and brutal response. though intended to suggest finesse, in the end -- it's root them out and destroy them. I think this is one those the cure is worse than the illness, because without indigenous support for your political and strategic goals in country -- brutal reprisals eventually reignite acts of terror as a means of self defense.

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:31 pm GMT
For those who are not familiar with COIN here are some articles, those from TAC include lengthy discussions which you may find interesting. http://ready4itall.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Counterinsurgency-Warfare-Theory-and-Practice.pdf https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG595.pdf https://www.fs.blog/2017/06/counterinsurgency/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/coin-is-a-proven-failure/ https://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/counterinsurgency/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/revenge-of-the-coin-doctrine/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/2012/06/15/the-cnas-annual-confab-aloof-and-irrelevant-as-ever/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/savior-general-petraeus-gave-us-the-wrong-bible/ http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/petraeuss-coin-gets-flipped/
bluedog , February 5, 2018 at 8:51 pm GMT
@anarchyst

What are you a troll playing the same old broken record spewing forth the same old line, for there was a vote coming up by the Geneva Accord, to decide just what kind of government the two Vietnam's wanted, a vote that would'nt go the way we wanted thus the false flag to get us involved.

FDR had made a deal with Ho that if they would rise up and drive out the Japs that Vietnam could choose their own destiny, colonialism was dead he said, well until that little man in the to big a house got into office and then once again America's word wasn't worth a mouth full of warm spit and its never changed

EliteCommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm GMT
A thorough review and discussion about Mr. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film concerning our defense of South Vietnam. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-best-way-to-honor-a-vet-is-with-the-truth/
Auntie Analogue , February 5, 2018 at 9:04 pm GMT
Today's officer corps would spare us all a great deal of cost, blood and grief and we Americans would all do much better if the cadets', midshipmen's, officer candidates' and officer corps' reading list began with the Bernard Fall book Rue Sans Joie .
Anonymous Disclaimer , February 5, 2018 at 9:10 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc.

Rand? American Conservative? Tom's Dispatch? All fake news for the sheep, i.e COIN. If people want change, they have to refuse to cooperate. That means no voting. Voting means you agree with the basic trends and just want to tweak the system. All of us have gotten cheated by the Government all of our lives. Destruction of schools so people can't learn. Wars fought to make countries like Vietnam open to big corporations to move American jobs there. Corporate money backed by the fist of the Marines has worked all their lives, all their parents' lives, and all the modern history of America. "Why not now?", the sheep ask.

wayfarer , February 5, 2018 at 10:48 pm GMT

Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics

source: https://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics

nsa , February 5, 2018 at 11:22 pm GMT
The religious aspect of the Vietnamese CIVIL WAR is overlooked by the senile VFW geezers posting here. The patriots were mostly Buddhists the quislings were mostly Catholics (inherited from the French). In between perving little kids, American Cardinals and Bishops demanded even more war and Vietnamese blood. The bloodthirsty homo, Cardinal Spellman, would even visit the troops in person and exhort them to create more carnage and mayhem. According to Bobbie McNamara, American efforts resulted in the murder of over 4 million Vietnamese and the maiming of millions of others .MOSTLY CIVILIANS. The role of the vile bloodthirsty Homo Cult of the Seven Hills has been mostly overlooked.
ElitecommInc. , February 5, 2018 at 11:52 pm GMT
@Anonymous

Note, I list of sites is not definitive. There are articles critical and article supportive of COIN. Some articles are just descriptive of what COIN means. COIN has been a subject of a good deal of debate for a very long time. Most articles are from TAC because that is the site I most frequently read and comment. And as Dr. Unz will tell you, they invite a host of articles by a host of authors -- with varying view points.

About Rand, they are one of the most noteable contributors to government policy via research and while one may not appreciate their advocacy, it's not a bad idea to read what they are presenting on issues, in this case COIN. Even considering broad definitions of fake news -- it is unlikely that Rand would be included as such an outlet.

One of the advances launched in the late sixties -- forward was that Vietnam was a MIC windfall and in fact manufactured by the MIC.

I don't think there is much evidence of that. Pres Johnson and most of the leadership actually saw it as a case for democracy against the Chinese, the Soviets -- etc. You are not going to be able to escape the private sector profiting from war. Sure had democracy and capitalism actually won the day , I don't think there is any question money would have been made -- capitalism is a very healthy system -- if operated minus manipulation/unfair dealings. But that is not unique. One does business where business is. but cold war strategic aims made money for lots of people -- that doesn't deny that there was actually a system of proxy engagements for democracy and communism.

ElitecommInc. , February 6, 2018 at 12:29 am GMT
@nsa

I am not a member of the VFW. I don't drink and have never been drunk. There was drug use how prevalent it was is unclear. not enough to prevent mission readiness, it appears.

A lot has been made of fragging, but if you can find the numbers -- The evidence is very sparse that this practice was anywhere close to a staple. Here's an estimate 800 such incidents attempted. But given that there are only about 13 confirms that estimations is suspect. Some 3 million service members service in Vietnam that's a percentage of 0.026666666666% attempted. The actual number of men who died as the result of fragging 0.0005% and i used the highest number of fifteen actuals.

There were tragic incidents of mass killings, but those two were rare. The next series of complaints are hard to quantify -- but suffice it to say, whatever the complaints -- when push came to shove the US service member repeatedly got the job done. And contrary to your comments, the process of the US withdrawal is well documented. More than anything, they secured a line of defense, and the situation at home was the most pressing. There is no evidence that the US ran from the battle field.

OI think the evidence is clear that we should maintained support via air and sea power to ensure the victory was maintained on behalf of the S. Vietnamese who fought and died to defend their country. kudos to the Aussie's for their loyal support.

Carroll Price , February 6, 2018 at 1:12 am GMT
If the war mongers had had an all-volunteer army like the one they have today, they could have and would have kept the Vietnam War going indefinitely. But, since they didn't, draftees and their parents wised-up to the Pentagon's money-making scam and put a stop to it by refusing to participate.
Art , February 6, 2018 at 1:18 am GMT
Westmoreland and McNamara are awaiting Kissinger in hell. Think Peace -- Art
p.s. Every US general supports Israel – how sick is that?
Carroll Price , February 6, 2018 at 1:26 am GMT
@Thomm

Money's made fighting wars not winning them. 1945 was the last time the US made the mistake of winning a war, and may not have made that one had Russia not been on the verge of invading and occupying Japan, thus forcing the US into bringing the war to a close.

Anonymous Disclaimer , February 6, 2018 at 1:53 am GMT
@ElitecommInc.

Very rich families and corporatists started their own think tanks after World War II. This is when the looting began for RAND. These are the bastards Eisenhower was afraid of. Abe Lincoln feared the large corporations born of business profiteering during the U.S. Civil War -- the military industrial complex of the day -- easily constituted the greatest threat to the American republic.

Remember that Eisenhower's definition of the complex included among the bastards, not only the military defense industry corporations, but also right alongside them the news media and the university and private research establishments.

Tom Jefferson thought periodic revolution against wealth and authority was desirable to keep these bastards in check. Which implies that he figured they would inevitably get us by the throat down on the floor from time to time.

EliteCommInc. , February 6, 2018 at 2:11 am GMT
Sounds like a good reason to know what they are advocating. And Pres Eisenhower was talking about --

raytheon
GD/EB
Hughes
etc, ect

Here's a list of the MIC many were not around during the Eisenhower years -- but Rand was but a single player among many.

https://www.militaryindustrialcomplex.com/companies.asp

JVC , February 6, 2018 at 2:20 am GMT
@EliteCommInc.

I don't think that you understand at all the history of the USG involvement in VietNam–an act of selflessness??? What a crock.

The entire foreign policy of the united states has been controlled by the military/industrial/security/espionage etc etc complex since, at least, the end of WWII. that group doesn't really care about victory–on going conflict somewhere is the only goal. Personally, I doubt that the USG has ever committed a selfless act in it's entire history. VietNam was just one stop in a long line of USG aggression.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:01 am GMT
Danny Sjursen says:

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did.

LOL.. True enough. Yet an assortment of "Church of Rambo" true believers in civilian life, including several here on Unz, continue to insist that that the US never lost the war, hell, never even lost a battle -- claims all debunked by credible historians and military men who fought there.

the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The weakness of the piece is that you don't say exactly which Vietnam approach today's generals are following. Are they doing the "big battalions" approach of Westmoreland's "search and destroy"? Are they doing the "Expanding Inkblot" of Marine General Krulak, Sorley's "Better war", or John Paul Vann's "Hearts and Minds"?? You say these are all things from Vietnam but exactly which one is in place, and why is it losing?

jacques sheete , February 6, 2018 at 3:02 am GMT
@WorkingClass

Blah blah blah. That war was a cluster fuck and a crime against humanity. It's only purpose was to make a few rich men richer. The murder and destruction in the MENA is just more of the same.

Amen to that.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:09 am GMT
Danny Sjursen says:

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror.

Again questionable. Petraeus had the correct approach to counter the previous "lets just invade and beat Saddam" approach of Rumsfeld. Rummy's "lean force" package backed by almost unlimited air power was enough to win the conventional struggle but was woefully short of the numbers needed for occupation and pacification. Same thing happened to Hitler in the Balkans. Initial smooth success, grinding guerrilla attrition for years afterward.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.

"Winning" by 1972 did not contemplate victorious US troops marching into Hanoi, or total abandonment of the field by PAVN/VC but a better final political settlement enabling the southern regime to survive, and/or a "decent interval" for the US to save face.

n 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.

You are misrepresenting Sorley's full argument somewhat. Sorley did not envision or claim that there would have been any sweeping US victory with US troops marching into Hanoi, or that the VC/NVA would flee and abandon the struggle. A big part of his argument is for "a better war" – that is- the end game of which inevitably would be a BETTER NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT. Sorley knew quite well that the VC would not disappear (their political apparatus was still in place) and that the NVA would not simply pack up and return north. Sorley's book "A Better War" contemplates a BETTER FINAL POLITICAL SETTLEMENT as part of the bottom line, not US troops marching triumphantly into downtown Hanoi, as PAVN armies scurried away into the jungle.

EnriiqueCardovaa , February 6, 2018 at 3:15 am GMT
To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War. This should have surprised no one, since his argument – that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors – was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!

Keep in mind that Daddis wrote a book on the Vietnam War called 'No Sure Victory' in which he pins US failure on not being versed ENOUGH on hearts and minds counterinsurgency war, hence the reliance on massive and unworkable statistical and reporting systems of "progress."

"The army's unpreparedness for counterinsurgency in the early 1960s surely encouraged this confusion. Conventional officers had little experience in developing a counterinsurgency reporting system and applying it within a larger strategic context.. So it was for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Insufficiently versed in the mysteries of counterinsurgency, officers turned to statistics to assist them in measuring and reporting progress and effectiveness. Statistics, though, bred more statistics, and the MACV headquarters soon became awash in a flood of numbers, facts, and figures."
–Daddis, No Sure Victory

but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

You are barking up the wrong tree somewhat. Daddis laments reading list limitations as far as Iraq, but the reading list did not make any difference given 3 issues:

(a) the decision to go to war in Iraq, when it was not necessary

(b) the woefully inadequate number of troops provided the commanders for conquest and occupation and

(c) the cavalier, careless nature of planning for postwar Iraq.

What was or was not on the reading list is of limited impact given these 3 big realities the civilian leadership saddled commanders with.

[Jan 30, 2018] The Unseen Wars of America the Empire The American Conservative

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing." ..."
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Jan 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Unseen Wars of America the Empire By Patrick J. Buchanan January 30, 2018, 12:01 AM

Forward Operating Base Torkham, in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan (army.mil) If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week's end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his forces will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded.

Erdogan's foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the United States to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, America will face a choice: stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area, as Erdogan threatens, American credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan's forces could mean a crackup of NATO and a loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO's loss would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges facing U.S. foreign policy.

The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the menace of a North Korean ICBM out of the news, but no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China's territorial claims with our warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance jet in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a false friend.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump declared. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

As for America's longest war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon. A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing. If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States? Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea, and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago. This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, seized power in Yemen's southern port of Aden from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis. These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn. There are other wars -- Somalia, Libya, Ukraine -- where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing."

No, we don't, Senator. As in all empires, power is passing to the generals. And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city? Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia-gate.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Jan 30, 2018] Rewriting the History of the Vietnam War, to the Detriment of Everyone Save the Military-Industrial Complex naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Major Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, ..."
"... He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at ..."
"... and check out his new podcast ..."
"... . Originally published at TomDispatch ..."
"... On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ..."
"... Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... On Strategy ..."
"... Dereliction of Duty ..."
"... The Army and Vietnam ..."
"... War Comes to Long An ..."
"... I. Laying Plans ..."
"... 1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. ..."
"... 2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. ..."
"... 3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. ..."
"... 4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. ..."
"... 5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. ..."
"... 7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons. ..."
"... 8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death. ..."
"... 9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness. ..."
"... 10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. ..."
"... 11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail. ..."
"... 12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:– ..."
"... 13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment? ..."
"... 14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. ..."
"... 15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed! ..."
"... The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation. ..."
"... Chaque fois que les incidents de guerre obligent l'un de nos officiers à agir contre un village [ ], il ne doit pas perdre de vue que son premier soin, la soumission des habitants obtenue, sera de reconstruire le village, d'y créer un marché, d'y établir une école. C'est de l'action de la politique et de la force que doit résulter la pacification du pays et l'organisation à lui donner plus tard. ..."
"... Every time one of our officers is forced to act against a village because of war incidents, he must not lose sight of his first concern, which, after the submission of the inhabitants, is to rebuild the village, to create a market, to establish a school. It is the joint action of policy and force that must result in the pacification of the country and in its later organization. ..."
"... The Bridge on the River Kwai ..."
"... A Bright Shining Lie ..."
"... The Best and the Brightest ..."
"... The Ugly American is a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. The Ugly American depicts the failures of the U.S. diplomatic corps, whose insensitivity to local language, culture, customs and refusal to integrate was in marked contrast to the polished abilities of Eastern Bloc (primarily Soviet) diplomacy and led to Communist diplomatic success overseas [sic]. The book caused a sensation in diplomatic circles. John F. Kennedy was so impressed with the book that he sent a copy to each of his colleagues in the United States Senate. The book was one of the biggest bestsellers in the country, has been in print continuously since it appeared and is one of the most politically influential novels in all of American literature. ..."
"... The title of the novel is a play on Graham Greene's 1955 novel The Quiet American and was sometimes confused with it. ..."
"... The "Ugly American" of the book title refers to the book's hero, plain-looking engineer Homer Atkins, whose "calloused and grease-blackened hands always reminded him that he was an ugly man." Atkins, who lives with the local people, comes to understand their needs, and offers genuinely useful assistance with small-scale projects such as the development of a simple bicycle-powered water pump.[2] ..."
"... as it very properly attempted to conceal from the Japanese, ..."
Jan 30, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Major Danny Sjursen, a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge . He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast Fortress on a Hill . Originally published at TomDispatch

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

Vietnam: it's always there. Looming in the past, informing American futures.

A 50-year-old war, once labeled the longest in our history, is still alive and well and still being refought by one group of Americans: the military high command. And almost half a century later, they're still losing it and blaming others for doing so.

Of course, the U.S. military and Washington policymakers lost the war in Vietnam in the previous century and perhaps it's well that they did. The United States really had no business intervening in that anti-colonial civil war in the first place, supporting a South Vietnamese government of questionable legitimacy, and stifling promised nationwide elections on both sides of that country's artificial border. In doing so, Washington presented an easy villain for a North Vietnamese-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) insurgency, a group known to Americans in those years as the Vietcong.

More than two decades of involvement and, at the war's peak, half a million American troops never altered the basic weakness of the U.S.-backed regime in Saigon. Despite millions of Asian deaths and 58,000 American ones, South Vietnam's military could not, in the end, hold the line without American support and finally collapsed under the weight of a conventional North Vietnamese invasion in April 1975.

There's just one thing. Though a majority of historians (known in academia as the "orthodox" school) subscribe to the basic contours of the above narrative, the vast majority of senior American military officers do not. Instead, they're still refighting the Vietnam War to a far cheerier outcome through the books they read, the scholarship they publish, and (most disturbingly) the policies they continue to pursue in the Greater Middle East.

The Big Re-Write

In 1986, future general, Iraq-Afghan War commander, and CIA director David Petraeus penned an article for the military journal Parameters that summarized his Princeton doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War. It was a piece commensurate with then-Major Petraeus's impressive intellect, except for its disastrous conclusions on the lessons of that war. Though he did observe that Vietnam had "cost the military dearly" and that "the frustrations of Vietnam are deeply etched in the minds of those who lead the services," his real fear was that the war had left the military unprepared to wage what were then called "low-intensity conflicts" and are now known as counterinsurgencies. His takeaway: what the country needed wasn't less Vietnams but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.

Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq, he and a whole generation of COINdinistas (like-minded officers devoted to his favored counterinsurgency approach to modern warfare) embraced those very conclusions to win the war on terror. The names of some of them -- H.R. McMaster and James Mattis, for instance -- should ring a bell or two these days. In Iraq and later in Afghanistan, Petraeus and his acolytes would get their chance to translate theory into practice. Americans -- and much of the rest of the planet -- still live with the results.

Like Petraeus, an entire generation of senior military leaders, commissioned in the years after the Vietnam War and now atop the defense behemoth, remain fixated on that ancient conflict. After all these decades, such "thinking" generals and "soldier-scholars" continue to draw all the wrong lessons from what, thanks in part to them, has now become America's second longest war.

Rival Schools

Historian Gary Hess identifies two main schools of revisionist thinking. There are the "Clausewitzians" (named after the nineteenth century Prussian military theorist) who insist that Washington never sufficiently attacked the enemy's true center of gravity in North Vietnam. Beneath the academic language, they essentially agree on one key thing: the U.S. military should have bombed the North into a parking lot.

The second school, including Petraeus, Hess labeled the "hearts-and-minders." As COINdinistas, they felt the war effort never focused clearly enough on isolating the Vietcong, protecting local villages in the South, building schools, and handing out candy -- everything, in short, that might have won (in the phrase of that era) Vietnamese hearts and minds.

Both schools, however, agreed on something basic: that the U.S. military should have won in Vietnam.

The danger presented by either school is clear enough in the twenty-first century. Senior commanders, some now serving in key national security positions, fixated on Vietnam, have translated that conflict's supposed lessons into what now passes for military strategy in Washington. The result has been an ever-expanding war on terror campaign waged ceaselessly from South Asia to West Africa, which has essentially turned out to be perpetual war based on the can-do belief that counterinsurgency and advise-and-assist missions should have worked in Vietnam and can work now.

The Go-Big Option

The leading voice of the Clausewitzian school was U.S. Army Colonel and Korean War/Vietnam War vet Harry Summers, whose 1982 book, On Strategy : A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, became an instant classic within the military. It's easy enough to understand why. Summers argued that civilian policymakers -- not the military rank-and-file -- had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.

Summers had a deep emotional investment in his topic. Later , he would argue that the source of post-war pessimistic analyses of the conflict lay in "draft dodgers and war evaders still [struggling] with their consciences." In his own work, Summers marginalized all Vietnamese actors (as would so many later military historians), failed to adequately deal with the potential consequences, nuclear or otherwise, of the sorts of escalation he advocated, and didn't even bother to ask whether Vietnam was a core national security interest of the United States.

Perhaps he would have done well to reconsider a famous post-war encounter he had with a North Vietnamese officer, a Colonel Tu, whom he assured that "you know you never beat us on the battlefield."

"That may be so," replied his former enemy, "but it is also irrelevant."

Whatever its limitations, his work remains influential in military circles to this day. (I was assigned the book as a West Point cadet!)

A more sophisticated Clausewitzian analysis came from current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a highly acclaimed 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty . He argued that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in failing to give President Lyndon Johnson an honest appraisal of what it would take to win, which meant that "the nation went to war without the benefit of effective military advice." He concluded that the war was lost not in the field or by the media or even on antiwar college campuses, but in Washington, D.C., through a failure of nerve by the Pentagon's generals, which led civilian officials to opt for a deficient strategy.

McMaster is a genuine scholar and a gifted writer, but he still suggested that the Joint Chiefs should have advocated for a more aggressive offensive strategy -- a full ground invasion of the North or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country. In this sense, he was just another "go-big" Clausewitzian who, as historian Ronald Spector pointed out recently, ignored Vietnamese views and failed to acknowledge -- an observation of historian Edward Miller -- that "the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese war."

COIN: A Small (Forever) War

Another Vietnam veteran, retired Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Krepinevich, fired the opening salvo for the hearts-and-minders. In The Army and Vietnam , published in 1986, he argued that the NLF, not the North Vietnamese Army, was the enemy's chief center of gravity and that the American military's failure to emphasize counterinsurgency principles over conventional concepts of war sealed its fate. While such arguments were, in reality, no more impressive than those of the Clausewitzians, they have remained popular with military audiences, as historian Dale Andrade points out , because they offer a "simple explanation for the defeat in Vietnam."

Krepinevich would write an influential 2005 Foreign Affairs piece , "How to Win in Iraq," in which he applied his Vietnam conclusions to a new strategy of prolonged counterinsurgency in the Middle East, quickly winning over the New York Times 's resident conservative columnist, David Brooks, and generating "discussion in the Pentagon, CIA, American Embassy in Baghdad, and the office of the vice president."

In 1999, retired army officer and Vietnam veteran Lewis Sorley penned the definitive hearts-and-minds tract, A Better War : The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam . Sorley boldly asserted that, by the spring of 1970, "the fighting wasn't over, but the war was won." According to his comforting tale, the real explanation for failure lay with the "big-war" strategy of U.S. commander General William Westmoreland. The counterinsurgency strategy of his successor, General Creighton Abrams -- Sorley's knight in shining armor -- was (or at least should have been) a war winner.

Critics noted that Sorley overemphasized the marginal differences between the two generals' strategies and produced a remarkably counterfactual work. It didn't matter, however. By 2005, just as the situation in Iraq, a country then locked in a sectarian civil war amid an American occupation, went from bad to worse, Sorley's book found its way into the hands of the head of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, and State Department counselor Philip Zelikow. By then, according to the Washington Post 's David Ignatius, it could also "be found on the bookshelves of senior military officers in Baghdad."

Another influential hearts-and-minds devotee was Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl. (He even made it onto The Daily Show with Jon Stewart .) His Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife : Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam followed Krepinevich in claiming that "if [Creighton] Abrams had gotten the call to lead the American effort at the start of the war, America might very well have won it." In 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker "so liked [Nagl's] book that he made it required reading for all four-star generals," while the Iraq War commander of that moment, General George Casey, gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a copy during a visit to Baghdad.

David Petraeus and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, co-authors in 2006 of FM 3-24, the first ( New York Times -reviewed ) military field manual for counterinsurgency since Vietnam, must also be considered among the pantheon of hearts-and-minders. Nagl wrote a foreword for their manual, while Krepinevich provided a glowing back-cover endorsement .

Such revisionist interpretations would prove tragic in Iraq and Afghanistan, once they had filtered down to the entire officer corps.

Reading All the Wrong Books

In 2009, when former West Point history professor Colonel Gregory Daddis was deployed to Iraq as the command historian for the Multinational Corps -- the military's primary tactical headquarters -- he noted that corps commander Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby had assigned a professional reading list to his principal subordinates. To his disappointment, Daddis also discovered that the only Vietnam War book included was Sorley's A Better War . This should have surprised no one, since his argument -- that American soldiers in Vietnam were denied an impending victory by civilian policymakers, a liberal media, and antiwar protestors -- was still resonant among the officer corps in year six of the Iraq quagmire. It wasn't the military's fault!

Officers have long distributed professional reading lists for subordinates, intellectual guideposts to the complex challenges ahead. Indeed, there's much to be admired in the concept, but also potential dangers in such lists as they inevitably influence the thinking of an entire generation of future leaders. In the case of Vietnam, the perils are obvious. The generals have been assigning and reading problematic books for years, works that were essentially meant to reinforce professional pride in the midst of a series of unsuccessful and unending wars.

Just after 9/11, for instance, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers -- who spoke at my West Point graduation -- included Summers's On Strategy on his list. A few years later, then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker added McMaster's Dereliction of Duty . The trend continues today. Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller has kept McMaster and added Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger (he of the illegal bombing of both Laos and Cambodia and war criminal fame). Current Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley kept Kissinger and added good old Lewis Sorley. To top it all off, Secretary of Defense Mattis has included yet another Kissinger book and, in a different list , Krepinevich's The Army and Vietnam .

Just as important as which books made the lists is what's missing from them: none of these senior commanders include newer scholarship , novels , or journalistic accounts which might raise thorny, uncomfortable questions about whether the Vietnam War was winnable, necessary, or advisable, or incorporate local voices that might highlight the limits of American influence and power.

Serving in the Shadow of Vietnam

Most of the generals leading the war on terror just missed service in the Vietnam War. They graduated from various colleges or West Point in the years immediately following the withdrawal of most U.S. ground troops or thereafter: Petraeus in 1974 , future Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal in 1976 , and present National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in 1984 . Secretary of Defense Mattis finished ROTC and graduated from Central Washington University in 1971 , while Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly enlisted at the tail end of the Vietnam War, receiving his commission in 1976 .

In other words, the generation of officers now overseeing the still-spreading war on terror entered military service at the end of or after the tragic war in Southeast Asia. That meant they narrowly escaped combat duty in the bloodiest American conflict since World War II and so the professional credibility that went with it. They were mentored and taught by academy tactical officers, ROTC instructors, and commanders who had cut their teeth on that conflict. Vietnam literally dominated the discourse of their era -- and it's never ended.

Petraeus, Mattis, McMaster, and the others entered service when military prestige had reached a nadir or was just rebounding. And those reading lists taught the young officers where to lay the blame for that -- on civilians in Washington (or in the nation's streets) or on a military high command too weak to assert its authority effectively. They would serve in Vietnam's shadow, the shadow of defeat, and the conclusions they would draw from it would only lead to twenty-first-century disasters.

From Vietnam to the War on Terror to Generational War

All of this misremembering, all of those Vietnam "lessons" inform the U.S. military's ongoing "surges" and "advise-and-assist" approaches to its wars in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Representatives of both Vietnam revisionist schools now guide the development of the Trump administration's version of global strategy. President Trump's in-house Clausewitzians clamor for -- and receive -- ever more delegated authority to do their damnedest and what retired General (and Vietnam vet) Edward Meyer called for back in 1983: "a freer hand in waging war than they had in Vietnam." In other words, more bombs, more troops, and carte blanche to escalate such conflicts to their hearts' content.

Meanwhile, President Trump's hearts-and-minds faction consists of officers who have spent three administrations expanding COIN-influenced missions to approximately 70% of the world's nations. Furthermore, they've recently fought for and been granted a new "mini-surge" in Afghanistan intended to -- in disturbingly Vietnam-esque language -- "break the deadlock ," "reverse the decline," and "end the stalemate " there. Never mind that neither 100,000 U.S. troops (when I was there in 2011) nor 16 full years of combat could, in the term of the trade, "stabilize" Afghanistan. The can-do, revisionist believers atop the national security state have convinced Trump that -- despite his original instincts -- 4,000 or 5,000 (or 6,000 or 7,000) more troops (and yet more drones , planes , and other equipment) will do the trick. This represents tragedy bordering on farce.

The hearts and minders and Clausewitzians atop the military establishment since 9/11 are never likely to stop citing their versions of the Vietnam War as the key to victory today; that is, they will never stop focusing on a war that was always unwinnable and never worth fighting. None of today's acclaimed military personalities seems willing to consider that Washington couldn't have won in Vietnam because, as former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak (who flew 269 combat missions over that country) noted in the recent Ken Burns documentary series, "we were fighting on the wrong side."

Today's leaders don't even pretend that the post-9/11 wars will ever end. In an interview last June, Petraeus -- still considered a sagacious guru of the Defense establishment -- disturbingly described the Afghan conflict as " generational ." Eerily enough, to cite a Vietnam-era precedent, General Creighton Abrams predicted something similar. speaking to the White House as the war in Southeast Asia was winding down. Even as President Richard Nixon slowly withdrew U.S. forces, handing over their duties to the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) -- a process known then as "Vietnamization" -- the general warned that, despite ARVN improvements, continued U.S. support "would be required indefinitely to maintain an effective force." Vietnam, too, had its "generational" side (until, of course, it didn't).

That war and its ill-fated lessons will undoubtedly continue to influence U.S. commanders until a new set of myths, explaining away a new set of failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, take over, possibly thanks to books by veterans of these conflicts about how Washington could have won the war on terror.

It's not that our generals don't read. They do. They just doggedly continue to read the wrong books.

In 1986, General Petraeus ended his influential Parameters article with a quote from historian George Herring: "Each historical situation is unique and the use of analogy is at best misleading, at worst, dangerous." When it comes to Vietnam and a cohort of officers shaped in its shadow (and even now convinced it could have been won), "dangerous" hardly describes the results. They've helped bring us generational war and, for today's young soldiers, ceaseless tragedy.

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Medon , January 29, 2018 at 2:38 am

How come no one reads Giap

fajensen , January 29, 2018 at 7:00 am

That would be admitting that "we" didn't win the Vietnam War. The winners write history and all that.

sierra7 , January 29, 2018 at 6:28 pm

I know there is a book with the name; "The Arrogance of Power", but it is apt when applied to US attempt to obliterate the nation of Vietnam. We continue to spread this filthy type of "war" around the globe only because we have not really met our "match" but, we will .oh yes, we will. Every book that has been written about either the war itself or the tactics used to try to "win" has contributed to more understanding of that brutal war. The military must relearn the rule of war that war itself alone cannot win, it takes the political side also. It has been infernally "easy" since 9/11 for the politicians, the military industrial complex to construct a world of "terror" and most Americans believe in that world. It has been immensely profitable. No compulsory military service; a bunch of "little" wars around the globe being run by private enterprises; no excess war profits taxes; a Pentagon budget that includes the propagandizing of the American sports public .and on and on and on. What's not to like for the profit mongers and the ideologically bent?? Ho Chi Min and the people of Vietnam were outright betrayed by WW1 (just like the Arabs) treaties; by the US in it's treatment of Vietnam in the treaties of WW2 (Roosevelt died but he already had an understanding with the French (DeGaulle)) to not interfere with their retaking over of Vietnam after WW2 so as to get French cooperation with the birth of NATO.
May I add another book: "Ho Chi Min" "A Life" William J. Duiker. Pub. 2000.

The Rev Kev , January 29, 2018 at 3:22 am

Well if they are looking for good books on 'Nam, might I suggest some of the books from my own collection?
"Long Time Passing" – Myra MacPherson
"About Face" – David H. Hackworth
"Nam" – Mark Baker
"Dispatches" – Michael Herr
"One Soldier"- John H. Shook
"The Only War We Had" – Michael Lee Lanning
"To Heal a Nation" – Jan C. Scruggs

Yves Smith Post author , January 29, 2018 at 3:53 am

Thanks!

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 5:32 am

I'd add 'Kill anything that moves' by Nick Turse

Also, the novel (based on the authors experience as an NVA soldier), 'The Sorrows of War' by Bao Ninh. It shows many NVA soldiers were as cynical of their political masters as the average US grunt.

DakotabornKansan , January 29, 2018 at 6:06 am

Beginnings, America does not learn:

Graham Greene: The Quiet American

Bernard Fall: Street without Joy

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 6:15 am

Oh, I'd forgotten 'The Quiet American', incredible book – I kept having to check the inside page when I read it to confirm that it was in fact written before the Vietnam War – its prescience was amazing. It should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in foreign policy of any type.

paul , January 29, 2018 at 7:17 am

Conrad's "The Secret Agent" and Chesterton's "The man who was Thursday" fit in with this category too.
Not much new under the sun.

Objective Function , January 29, 2018 at 9:02 am

George Martin Windrow's "The Last Valley" (1996) displaces Bernard Fall as the definitive work on Dien Bien Phu, prelude to America's debacle. I work a lot in Vietnam, and his description of how their society organizes and moblilizes is spot on. He also has blood curdling descriptions of what artillery does to human bodies. And there is the entertaining interlude where the US briefly entertained atomic bombing to break the siege.

Fred1 , January 29, 2018 at 7:52 am

From Bernard Fall's Newport lecture at the Naval War College in about 1964:

"Let me state this definition: RW = G + P, or, "revolutionary warfare equals guerrilla warfare plus political action." This formula for revolutionary warfare is the result of the application of guerrilla methods to the furtherance of an ideology or a political system. This is the real difference between partisan warfare, guerrilla warfare, and everything else. "Guerrilla" simply means "small war," to which the correct Army answer is (and that applies to all Western armies) that everybody knows how to fight small wars; no second lieutenant of the infantry ever learns anything else but how to fight small wars. Political action, however, is the difference. The communists, or shall we say, any sound revolutionary warfare operator (the French underground, the Norwegian underground, or any other European anti-Nazi underground) most of the time used small-war tactics–not to destroy the German Army, of which they were thoroughly incapable, but to establish a competitive system of control over the population. Of course, in order to do this, here and there they had to kill some of the occupying forces and attack some of the military targets. But above all they had to kill their own people who collaborated with the enemy."

Adam Eran , January 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Also worth a look: War Comes to Long An by Jeffrey Race, which essentially discloses that the U.S. war effort, as understood by the Vietnamese themselves, was to keep the French colonial oligarchy in place.

Race learned Vietnamese on the boat over to Vietnam and interviewed the Vietnamese themselves to find out why they continued to fight. Basically, the oligarchy promised only continued oppression by the rentiers.

animalogic , January 29, 2018 at 11:23 pm

"The only war we got" (1970) a novel by Derek Maitland. Great satire: wish I knew where my old copy is.

Anon , January 29, 2018 at 11:32 pm

I didn't need to read books about Vietnam. I simply listened to the stories and night-time screams of my new roommates returning to school on the GI Bill in '68 and '69. The lives ruined, on both sides, stays with me today.

One of those room-mates was on Hamburger Hill in May of '69 and was attempting college in the Fall. PTSD was apparent and he soon enough dropped out (of life).

paul , January 29, 2018 at 3:44 am

"The Phoenix Program" by Douglas Valentine.

Another approach to controlling hearts and minds.

JBird , January 29, 2018 at 4:22 am

It's finally back in print. I am getting myself a copy soon.

JBird , January 29, 2018 at 4:21 am

The sad part is we Americans do everything we keep to keep snatching defeat from victory's teeth. The Vietnamese as a whole were happy with us before our government (read CIA) sabotaged the elections, and handed power over to the Catholic minority and its most corrupt part at that. (When you have to pay/bribe someone for artillery support during a battle ) Ho Chi Min and company did not ally themselves to their worst enemy, the Chinese, because they wanted too.

Same with Iraq. It was probably unwindable, but scrapping detailed State Department plans on what when, and if, Iraq was occupied because you don't want to spend the money, defend only the oil ministry's offices, let the entire country just collapse, and then fire not only anyone a member of the Ba'ath Party as well as the entire Iraqi Army. Of course, if wanted to be a teacher or have a job in the government, you had to be a Ba'athist, and to secure any of the weapons and ammunition of the army is something. I am not what that something is, but it's really something. And then the Bush Administration basically says it's going to invade Iran once everything settles, which gave the Iranians incentive to keep arming anyone in Iraq fighting the Americans and British.

I am raaaanting now and I can feel my blood rising so I am gonna stop now. It's just so hard seeing our government's foreign policy and its intelligence services being run by well educated morons.

vlade , January 29, 2018 at 5:49 am

Can't comment on Iraq, but Vietnam was a MAJOR F-up by USA. Ho Chi Min was actually very much pro-USA – until they handed them back to French after WW2.

With even a bit of US support Vietnam could have been fairly firmly pro-US (it always was anti-China, so the "it will go to Chinese like Koreans did" fears were fearmongering/PR at worst and lack of understanding at best), aiming to build a sort of social-democratic regime rather than full-on Communist one. Yes, it would have upset the French. What's not to like, given how deGaule was trying to screw everyone around to push their national interests? (much better than British at the time, one should say).

voteforno6 , January 29, 2018 at 6:05 am

The Cold War was spinning up in Europe, and the U.S. was trying to get France on its side. The price for that was allowing France to attempt to reassert itself in Indochina.

vlade , January 29, 2018 at 6:40 am

I know the usual excuse – but there was about zero chance that France would really go into bed with USSR.

deGaule definitely threatened it, but I very much doubt he would go the full hog – if nothing else, he didn't want to be anyone's, and that included USSR's, puppet. At the very very worst, they might end up Yugoslavia-like, although I'd say that once proto-EU was cooked up, France would jump there pretty quick, as otherwise it would have lost pretty much all influence in Europe.

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 8:24 am

Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were all, arguably, 'winnable' – the common thread in all three is the US failure to understand local political dynamics. With Vietnam, it was the failure to understand that what was happening was primarily a civil war with the 'Communists' not necessarily being anti-American – they saw (and still see) China as their long historical enemy. In Iraq the dismembering of the existing Ba'ath party structures without having anything (apart from the free market of course) to replace it proved fatal, along with an ignorance of Shia/Sunni dynamics. In Afghanistan the 'victory' was blown by an insistence on chasing phantom Al-Q enemies when the Taliban was more or less destroyed.

When you read the history of long lived empires, from Rome to the British Empire, a common characteristic they all have is an acute awareness of how to manipulate local dynamics in order to maintain control without expending too much manpower. The US military seems to completely lack this capacity. In fact, rather than being in charge, a common feature seems to be that US military power is all too easily manipulated by local powerbrokers for their own ends.

vlade , January 29, 2018 at 8:56 am

Yep, I'll sign under that. I do wonder how much it has to do with the American psyche, and how much with the fact that even British or Roman empires had sort of hard limitations (not just in terms of manpower, but more importantly in the ability to get the manpower to the sharp end pronto).

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 11:41 am

I think an element of it is quite simply the sheer wealth and power of America means it doesn't have to think through the consequences of interventions too much. Even in the heyday of the European empires, military adventures were very expensive operations – two or three failures in a row could fatally set an empire back.

I think another major issue is the lack of skin in the game for decision makers. I think the early days of WWII was the last time there was a major cull of military officers for incompetence in the US. And even in WWII, it was rare for officers to get killed. Even more so since then, and with the ending of the draft, it means no risks for their sons or daughters, and minimal ones for anyone they would be likely to know.

There is simply little or no price paid for failure. At least not by the people responsible.

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

"All, arguably, winnable." For what definition of "WIN?"

Our military rulers are supposed to "study war." The curriculum supposedly includes not only Clausewitz, Mr. "Center of Gravity," on "modern" war, but also that hoary old classic under the nom de plume "Sun Tzu," called "The Art of War." Said rulers, for some reason, skip over the first part of Sun Tzu's advice, the part about asking whether going to war is wise at all, at all:

I. Laying Plans

1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.

11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:–

13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?

14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed! http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html

There's a lot more in "The Art of War" about the idiocy of doofus war-fighting in absence of the Moral Law and true national interest at the end of immense logistics and supply chains, war that bankrupts the peasants, getting stuck in quagmires and such. The current rulers just jump (if they pay any attention at all to the work any more) straight to all the chestnuts ("All war is deception," duh, "Attack where he is weak, retreat where he is strong," duh) about how to conduct strategy and tactics.

When was the last time any of these fundamental "Think before shooting" considerations Sun Tzu distilled from millennia of earlier wars and his own experiences was given ANY attention by the rotter nihilists ("Mutual Assured Destruction, Massive Retaliation, "counterinsurgency always and everywhere, the F-35 model of logistics?) who commit "the nation" and the peasants to their programs and "operations"? And even the attempts to "get the peasants on side" via Bernays saucing, one of the necessary conditions per Sun Tzu, have been completely bollixed, or simply plowed over.

All this sh!t-storm activity is conducted from within the same kind of bubble that got inflated around the French High Command in the run up to the Great War, and seems to regularly envelop "high commands" which are maybe experiencing a "contact high" from breathing, inside that bubble, the heady fumes of their self-generated hallucinogenic "designer drugs."

Many of our cities and towns already look a lot like Fallujah and Raqqa after "liberation-by-destruction." Waiting for a massive collapse, maybe slow-mo or maybe tipping-point quick, with huge collateral damage, in three, two, one

a different chris , January 29, 2018 at 1:19 pm

The problem is, many will argue that the parts of Sun Tzu you so correctly pointed out aren't really the US military's job, they are the responsibility of the US Congress.

And, well, you know.

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 8:12 pm

But something other than "Congress" is what's loosing the dogs of war. There's how it's supposed to work, on paper, per that "quaint document," and how it actually works. Like so much of "the Republic." Which ain't.

animalogic , January 29, 2018 at 11:28 pm

"When you read the history of long lived empires, from Rome to the British Empire, a common characteristic they all have is an acute awareness of how to manipulate local dynamics in order to maintain control without expending too much manpower."
+ 100

Colonel Smithers , January 29, 2018 at 4:36 am

Thank you, Yves.

It won't surprise readers that Petraeus' "masterpiece" on counterinsurgency bears a strong similarity to a publication by the late Sir Frank Kitson. Sir Frank commanded British forces in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and UK Land Forces soon after. He also served in colonial insurgencies in the 1950s. Kitson gave a talk, based on his publication, on such matters to his alma mater, which I attended, in the mid-1980s. He was also the speaker at "speech day" around then.

paul , January 29, 2018 at 5:35 am

The shankhill butchers seemed a fairly obvious example phoenix/kitson's counter-gang enthusiasms to me.

On 27 April 2015 Kitson and the Ministry of Defence were served with papers for negligence and misfeasance in office by Mary Heenan, widow of Eugene "Paddy" Heenan who was killed in 1973 by members of the Ulster Defence Association, because of "the use of loyalist paramilitary gangs to contain the republican-nationalist threat through terror, manipulation of the rule of law, infiltration and subversion all core to the Kitson military of doctrine endorsed by the British army and the British government at the time."

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 5:39 am

When the Iraq and Afghanistan War started, the British military were full of confidence that their experience in counterinsurgency would allow them to show the US how it was done. They had to be rescued in somewhat ignominious manner from both Basra and Kandahar as they were shown to be completely out of their depth. It is part of British Army mythology that they defeated the IRA using sound and sensible COIN, but the reality is much more complicated.

Incidentally, it is said that Mao (and possibly Ho Chi Minh too) were avid readers of the biographies of early 20th Century IRA leaders, including Michael Collins and Tom Barry, both experts in counter-counter insurgency. Tom Barry was the leader of the most effective unit, the West Cork Brigade. Collins was a master in using intelligence against intelligence services, while Tom Barry was capable of using limited resources to keep an enormous number of soldiers tied up. Both knew the skills of provoking the State into over-reactions which pushed civilians over onto the rebels side.

paul , January 29, 2018 at 5:59 am

There's quite a good exposition of insensible COIN in the wikipedia entry on the Force Research Unit .

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 6:24 am

Yes – despite its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement the British Government is still sitting on files which would likely shed light on the dirty war in Northern Ireland. Its pretty clear that both the main loyalist groups were to a large extent run by the intelligence services to kill suspected IRA members, and were very likely involved in bombings that resulted in mass casualties in Dublin and Monaghan. While they did undoubtedly manage to neutralise some IRA Units in reality they stoked up as much violence as they stopped.

Colonel Smithers , January 29, 2018 at 6:47 am

Thank you, PK and Paul.

In advance of a Corbyn government, many papers, some going back to the smearing of Labour in the 1920s, have been "lost". The cache lost include the papers on the "sexed up dodgy dossier", written by the UK's current envoy to the UN (Matthew Ryecroft) and sexed up by the loathsome Alistair Campbell, and the death of the weapons inspector. The form of death officially recorded, as with George Michael's, is disputed by many pathologists, including former colleagues of my father.

icancho , January 29, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Indeed. Document "disappearance" is a serious problem, with a long history, addressed pretty well in Ian Cobain's recent title The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation.

visitor , January 29, 2018 at 9:04 am

Whatever approach Petraeus & Co proposed, "hearts and minds" counter-insurgency was basically a century old. Here:

Chaque fois que les incidents de guerre obligent l'un de nos officiers à agir contre un village [ ], il ne doit pas perdre de vue que son premier soin, la soumission des habitants obtenue, sera de reconstruire le village, d'y créer un marché, d'y établir une école. C'est de l'action de la politique et de la force que doit résulter la pacification du pays et l'organisation à lui donner plus tard.

I.e. Every time one of our officers is forced to act against a village because of war incidents, he must not lose sight of his first concern, which, after the submission of the inhabitants, is to rebuild the village, to create a market, to establish a school. It is the joint action of policy and force that must result in the pacification of the country and in its later organization.

From the "fundamental instructions" of General Gallieni from 22nd May 1898, in the midst of the "pacification" of Madagascar. Its estimated death toll was about 100000.

voteforno6 , January 29, 2018 at 6:07 am

These generals remind me of the character of Colonel Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness) in The Bridge on the River Kwai . They're so focused on the task in front of them, they can't seem to step back and think about the wider picture.

PlutoniumKun , January 29, 2018 at 8:26 am

In the Netflix film The Siege of Jadotville , the real life Commandant Pat Quinlan is quoted as saying 'Soldiers do tactics, politicians do strategy'. The US miliitary always seems to have a surfeit of tactics with no discernable strategy.

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 10:43 am

And of course Nicholson, at the end of the film, was going to stop the demolition of that so painfully built bridge by the "inglorious bastards" on his nominal own team. Only dumb luck and the timing of a bullet from a "Jap" led to his falling on the detonator as he died, and blowing up the span .

flora , January 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm

re: wider picture.
The wider picture is the political picture. The military in the US is supposed to be and remain non-political. The politicians send the military to wars. The military does not choose what war, where, why to fight. Those decisions are Congress and the prez's job.

flora , January 29, 2018 at 3:45 pm

adding: When then (2003) Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee the truth about what an Iraq invasion required he displeased the Bush admin and DoD, and was shortly edged out of his command by retirement. That in-essence "sacking" had a large effect on the thinking of the entire chain of command, imo.

https://www.cnn.com/2013/03/20/opinion/mills-truth-teller-iraq/index.html

Pokie , January 29, 2018 at 8:05 am

The most thing learned from Vietnam War
was how to manage public opinion
About the war on terror

RickM , January 29, 2018 at 8:27 am

A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan and, of course, The Best and the Brightest , by David Halberstam. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson.

shinola , January 29, 2018 at 8:36 am

Thank you Yves for posting this article. It is rather disheartening but explains a lot of what I have been wondering about for years – Didn't we learn anything from Vietnam?
Obviously the answer is no; but even worse is the attitude of "we could/should have won" displayed by the current military brass.

I remarked to wifey the other day that kids who were only a year old on 9/11 will be old enough to join the military this year

Steely Glint , January 29, 2018 at 8:42 am

I first heard of Ghost Riders of Baghdad by following various military Twitter accounts, like Angry Staff Officer, or the account of Robert Bateman ( who sometimes writes for Esquire). Angry Staff officer also has a blog with very informative posts. I thought of, Is The Amy's Professional Military Education Broken?, after reading the above post. A sample, " All military education must stem from the fundamental that war is a human endeavor, and as such cannot be prosecuted without understanding basic factors of humanity".
https://angrystaffofficer.com/2017/07/18/is-the-armys-professional-military-education-system-broken/

The Rev Kev , January 29, 2018 at 8:45 am

It is never mentioned here but how about the possibility that some wars simply cannot be won – ever. It is not for nothing that Afghanistan is know as the place that empires go to die nor that a geopolitical axiom is to never fight a land war in Asia. There was no possible time-line where the US won in Vietnam using either military means or COIN operations. The terrible truth is that most of those 58,00 Americans died long after it was know that they could never win.
The COINdinistas had their chance in Iraq but younger offices at the time were furious with senior officers in how out of touch they were with what was going on so it was a repeat of the Vietnam experience all over again, including the notorious body-counts. And this whole we-would-have-won-if-not-for-the-politicians-and-hippies is as much crap as the post WW1 German officers with their we-were-stabbed-in-the-back obsession. I see this even here in Australia. Years ago I saw an Army show that featured the history of the Army. When they got to the Vietnam war era they had Aussie soldiers naming the dead bodies in a mock-up of the Battle of Long Tan while of the other side of the arena they had hippies shouting peace slogans and the like. The message was clear – you betrayed us!
And that "you never beat us on the battlefield" was apparently not true either according to an article I read last year setting out a few hard truths. The truth is that the training of American officers is badly broken and that sycophants do very well in it. The whole system needs to be junked as America is not bringing out the best officers that it can – not by a long shot – and it was this system that produced leaders like Petraeus. They may have been presented as the Great White Hope once but I invite other commentators find out how his superior, Admiral William Fallon, regarded him. Nothing less than a root and branch overhaul of the American officer training regime will counter how we see wars being fought now. Otherwise we will continue to see more of the same.

Colonel Smithers , January 29, 2018 at 9:55 am

Thank you for bringing up Fallon's opinion of the "ass kissing chicken shit".

a different chris , January 29, 2018 at 1:26 pm

>And that "you never beat us on the battlefield" was apparently not true either

Colonel Tu was being a pretty gracious winner with his "that may be so" response, wasn't he?

animalogic , January 29, 2018 at 11:41 pm

Its worse than that: the US military is the cutting edge of a political Imperialist policy completely contradicted by the
21st C environment. This is failure at the DNA level.

Matthew G. Saroff , January 29, 2018 at 9:19 am

Two things that need to be understand about the Vietnam war that the US military does not get.
The first is that the US did not lose the Vietnam war, we were beaten by the Vietnamese.
If we just "lost" the war, then all the "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics" crap where the only to lose is through a failure of will, (protesters and namby-pamby members of Congress) becomes the dominant explanation.
We were beaten, and so we need to know why our military was beaten, and what the military/Pentagon did wrong.
The second thing is the idea that the Vietnamese won no battles in the war is patently false .
There are at least 70 battles that were lost.
The reason that the Pentagon insists on ignoring both of these is because the "stab in the back from protesters" means that there is no accountability for the failures of our military.
So, like the Bourbon kings, our military has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Ian Perkins , January 29, 2018 at 9:22 am

The article states "Two decades later, when the next Vietnam-like quagmire did indeed present itself in Iraq "
In fact, the next Vietnam-like quagmire was engineered much sooner than that, and is still running.
From an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, US National Security Adviser at the time:
" it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: 'We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.' "
http://dgibbs.faculty.arizona.edu/brzezinski_interview

This is him in Pakistan in 1979 egging on the Mujahaddin who would morph into the Taliban and al Qaeda:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYvO3qAlyTg

Objective Function , January 29, 2018 at 9:22 am

Popular insurgencies can be beaten. There are many examples, especially in Latin America. The common enabling condition appears to be exhaustion of the peasantry over a period of years, after which they choose 'peace and order' enforced by thugs with badges over the guerrillas who cannot restore economic life, even in 'liberated zones'.
Pastoral mountain tribesmen are probably the least susceptible to this exhaustion and subjugation can take generations: witness the Scots.

hemeantwell , January 29, 2018 at 10:10 am

I think you're getting at something that the win/lose focus misses: whether or not the US ultimately failed to maintain a client regime in Vietnam, it brutally demonstrated the costs of resistance.

In Yves' intro she writes

but decided to stay at war because they deemed the damage to US prestige of winding down the war to be too great.

US prestige = certainty of monumental costs to resistance. Prestige is honorspeak for legitimate terrorism.

Self Affine , January 29, 2018 at 10:24 am

I think you are missing the point of all of this and in fact trivializing the war.

Vietnam was not a popular insurgency (whatever that means). It was an all out war to rid that nation of colonial domination and unify the country. It was not the "Viet Namese war" for these people, but the war against America.

"Popular insurgency" is the Orwellian term used by those in power. A good example is the American war of independence. From the British Empire's point of view, it was a "popular insurgency".

It would be instructive if you could define "popular insurgency" more clearly and provide some context.

Altandmain , January 29, 2018 at 1:37 pm

The issue is that they can only be done by governments in their own nations or the nations that they are very close by.

Even then, the success record is mixed and it requires a willingness to be totally ruthless. Otherwise the subjugated people eventually will be able to win some form of independence, like the Irish.

The US is different. It is dealing with self inflicted and totally pointless wars in the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan.

Lord Koos , January 29, 2018 at 1:49 pm

The insurgencies in Latin America can hardly be compared to Vietnam, as they were for the most part beaten by CIA dirty work rather than crushed by a full-on military operation.

jfleni , January 29, 2018 at 9:36 am

The long, sad record is so awful, maybe we just turn over the whole military to the Civil Air patrol and the Coast Guard! They could not possibly do worse, and might be much better!

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 10:40 am

In no time flat, either of those organizations (already peopled by nascent Petraeuses and Mattises) would revert to the mean that we already know too well. Nice thought, though. The Coast Guard's multi-missions mission: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missions_of_the_United_States_Coast_Guard Unlike all the other "branches" of the MIC hydra, the CG suffers from cost cutting and neoliberalism. "More and more work, for fewer and fewer people, for less and less money, under tighter and tighter constraints, with every more detailed metrics " and their recent acquisitions of new cutters are kind of F-35/littoral-combat-ships-ish "Billions Later, Plan to Remake the Coast Guard Fleet Stumbles," http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/09/us/09ship.html

Colonel Smithers , January 29, 2018 at 9:51 am

One thing that is rarely, if ever, mentioned is the type of person who joins the officer corps. The school I attended has produced (British) generals and admirals (only, not the ranks). Many, if not most, of the pupils who joined, or were encouraged to join, and only as officers were considered dunces. Goodness knows what the soldiers and sailors, especially NCOs, thought of the "young ruperts".

One contemporary, now a well regarded and well known painter (deservedly so), stayed in the same class / year for three years. He was encouraged into the Welsh Guards and served a few years. His elder brother joined the same regiment and is a general. Ian Duncan Smith, formerly of the Scots Guards, is similar.

Steven Greenberg , January 29, 2018 at 10:17 am

Read The Pentagon Papers to see why we couldn't win hearts and minds. The Vietnamese hated the French and we ended up doing everything the French did to make the Vietnamese hate us too.

https://www.amazon.com/Pentagon-Papers-Defense-Departments-History-ebook/dp/B00361EXR6/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1516545546&sr=8-9&keywords=the+pentagon+papers+book

Norb , January 29, 2018 at 10:17 am

Two good books that give a historical perspective of American involvement in the Pacific and Asia are James Bradley's,The Imperial Cruise, and The China Mirage- The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia. Both books are written in a narrative style that is very approachable and entertaining. Bradley tells a great story. They describe some long standing American policy that go unreported and bring new understanding to todays events.

These titles led me to Barbara Tuchman's, Stilwell and the American Experience in China- 1911-45. I haven't read this one yet, but Stilwell seems an interesting American character. Someone on the ground, seeing reality for what it is, and ignored by the upper brass. Another typical American story- a tragedy.

One of the criticisms of American foreign policy made by the British has always been the lack of political foresight and strategic thinking. I came across these criticisms in the context of WWII policy, but at their core, I think they say much about the character of American leadership. American founding principles and the needs of Empire are contradictory to the citizenry. America has become an Empire by luck and default. Luck in the unmatched bounty the North American continent has bestowed on the Nation and Europeans wearing themselves out. This point is driven home by the fact that American standing in the world is falling like a rock in many metrics.

I believe this explains why Americans still are reluctant to view themselves as being an Empire. Too many tricky contradictions when dealing with their own citizens and reason for being. It is what lies behind the lie of spreading "Democracy" to the world. The British Empire faced no such dilemma. At least they brought law, order, and culture to those they conquered. American Empire spreads chaos. Resisting cultures are treated to the political ideology of annihilation. American policy is, "bombing them into the stone age."

Another great read is Halford Mackinder, The Geographical Pivot of History. In a way, his thesis ties up all the loose ends of the Great Game being played by our political and social betters. The Anglo-Saxon mode of rule has been to carve up the world. Asian cultures are much older and as humanity moves forward in time, people are truly tiring of war. A united Eurasian Continent would be a supreme power to set living standards and future goals. True power is moving East.

What has the West to offer, but more blood and bombs. The embrace of cultural diversity moves away from war and embodies political power in the melding of culture not its extermination. I think that was the policy of Alexander the Great.

The great fear of American political leaders is being labeled provincials. Failed world leadership lends credence to this charge. We are not ready to lead, and it shows by the mediocracy of our leaders. An Empire that kills itself has to be a first. Is it any wonder that the leadership now embrace the kill anything that moves mentality. It is all they have in the form of power projection and vision.

All this to get to the point that maybe a multipolar world is not such a bad thing. Trying something new when everything else seems to fail.

a different chris , January 29, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Eh I'm no fan of the West but I wouldn't paint the East in very pretty colors either, for sure. Humanity has a tendency to suck. Look close to home to make things better I would say.

You want a multipolar world, me too but what's with this "supreme" "United Eurasian Continent"??? I want to have to at least take my shoes off to count the world's power centers.

Enrico Malatesta , January 29, 2018 at 10:21 am

We have all forgotten the "Forgotten War". In another Asian byproduct of WWII, Curtis LeMay channeled Clausewitz to the max as we flattened North Korea. How did that work out? Does it have any ramifications for the USA in 2018?

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 10:25 am

Books to "explain" Vietnam and sequelae: Why no mention of a really seminal tome, "The Ugly American"? Dated 1958. I read it, avidly, several times over, as a young, testosterone-poisoned American Boy Scout Youth, and its mythos helped in getting me to enlist in the Imperial Army in 1966. From Wiki:

The Ugly American is a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. The Ugly American depicts the failures of the U.S. diplomatic corps, whose insensitivity to local language, culture, customs and refusal to integrate was in marked contrast to the polished abilities of Eastern Bloc (primarily Soviet) diplomacy and led to Communist diplomatic success overseas [sic]. The book caused a sensation in diplomatic circles. John F. Kennedy was so impressed with the book that he sent a copy to each of his colleagues in the United States Senate. The book was one of the biggest bestsellers in the country, has been in print continuously since it appeared and is one of the most politically influential novels in all of American literature.

The title of the novel is a play on Graham Greene's 1955 novel The Quiet American and was sometimes confused with it.

The "Ugly American" of the book title refers to the book's hero, plain-looking engineer Homer Atkins, whose "calloused and grease-blackened hands always reminded him that he was an ugly man." Atkins, who lives with the local people, comes to understand their needs, and offers genuinely useful assistance with small-scale projects such as the development of a simple bicycle-powered water pump.[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ugly_American

Another of the hero's engineering triumph was getting the women of "Dong Ba" (?) to unbend their backs by changing to a New, Improved, longer model of the bamboo brooms they used to sweep the dirt floors of their huts. A relatively innocuous form of Coca-Colonialism But the part that I got all hepped up about was the engineer's innovation, borrowing from the Soviet "multiple launch rocket systems" known as "Katyushas," https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F2lPpPVlDhg , of fitting a truck with a several dozen rocket-launching rails, which he used to fire a volley of "spin-stabilized folding-fin air-to-ground rockets (SSFFARs)" into a bamboo grove where Evil Insurgents were having a meeting of their cabal -- "in the glare, you could see body parts spinning up into the night sky " Heady Stuff for young mopes.

Apparently the myth of "The Ugly (But Big-Hearted, Local-Language-Speaking) American settled nicely into the mind and mindset of Saint Kennedy, too

a different chris , January 29, 2018 at 1:39 pm

And the story of the locals being too simple minded to invent longer broom handles. Yeesh.

JTMcPhee , January 29, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Tradition is durable. I recall Haitians, like some African forebears, preferred to cook with charcoal, which one gets by burning wood in a low oxygen furnace before burning it in your clay stove. Vastly wasteful. Now a good part of local effort goes into long walks to find bits of shrubbery to reduce to charcoal. And they denuded the whole country of trees and woody shrubs. Efforts made to change the custom met resistance -- "good enough for grandemere, good enough for.me." Like trying to get Americans to stop smoking, or worse, to drive smaller cars let alone kick the deadly automobile habit that has so many knock-on deleterious effects on people and planet.

Anon , January 29, 2018 at 11:57 pm

The degradation of the Haitian portion of Santo Dimingo was as much a result of the soil erosion caused by that mono-crop, sugar cane. The French merchants were making "boo koo" bucks deploying as many slaves as possible to harvest this cash crop. (Too many slaves on too little land.)

The other half of Santo Domingo Island is the Dominican Republic and it has little of the resource devastation apparent in Haiti.

John , January 29, 2018 at 11:22 am

I see VietNam as the perfect example of successful neo liberal economic policies. Military Keynesianism, the workings of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" and corporate profiteering are more pertinent than Clausewitz or Coin. As with the thoroughly neo liberal DNC, it's never been about winning or losing. It's just about the next consulting or munitions contract. Forever war means forever contract. The Mt. Pelerin society didn't start in 1947 for nothing. Keep them talking about winning and losing while the money flows in. Tough about the GI Joe collateral damage.

Scott1 , January 29, 2018 at 4:57 pm

I am more with your take John.

Today's War Poem I Wrote
Loving Generals

The destined warriors are misused. International Law has no problem with wars of defense. I have a right to defend myself. The State has a monopoly on the use of force.

Sports aren't enough for the action figures.

Couldn't beat the Vietnamese so beating the Beats
at home, in the homeland develops into for profit prisons
& the recreation of the Gulag. American Gulags
& how much of that labor for pennies is done for Koch Industries?
Meltoy?

I could found an entire nation on a love & war movie. South Koreans have made the theaters called 4D. Shakes you around and blows wind and smells on you.

Spies fail in concert with their employers, the diplomats.
Haley is at the UN taking names.

Economic Warfare is universal. I mean there has been all my life
War against me. I went to Canada, so I am the enemy & the Wall is to keep me here where I can be found & made to pay.

One term President Carter pardoned dodgers.
Wear sweaters.
On goes the petrodollar war. 100 Year Oil War.

Law of unintended consequences.
No care.
10,000 a year die from just small arms, in Mexico, not even artillery.

US Police kill 2,000 or is it 3? or is it 4? A year.

Now it is striking that Scandinavia, the Netherlands?
Nations other places & until France so few do big
murders of their countrymen or even within the EU.
They have lived where war means everything is
bombed or destroyed by cannons.

Germany won economically in capitalism matured
Because debts were to NAZIs enabling a great write off
of debt, not happening and inflated by Hedge Funds
for anybody else till Greece is enslaved & Puerto Rico
& whose next?

Doesn't matter, the US Military & its Bankers
& its police have been & will be at war with or
just at all Territories.
Unitary Power but as Gov. of Govs, can't be
That.
Why? Why Not?
War is not a war against spaceship aliens
So war is to destroy the Earth.
Kill anyone because you are destined
to kill.
Great Generals Have a Zest for Killing the Enemy.
Read "Our Jungle Road to Tokyo" by Robert L. Eichelberger who
is a great and perfect General of the 8th Army
in the Pacific.
Long as a General & an Army has one job only
At the behest of its Civilians.
All will be well.
Or at least rational, which is better.

Obviously Econ War is war.
Declaration of Econ War is Sanctions
Declared.
Because of illegal War.

I insist that the ICAO demand that
Kim Y. Un & DPRK give Notices to Airmen
When launching their Rockets.

My Rocket Program is called
The "Message Rocket Program".
Beat, I'm Beat.

"Army censorship concealed from
the American public, as it very properly
attempted to conceal from the Japanese,
How weak we were.

The ethical weakness of the US
has become so profound.
All it does is war piratical parasitical
& everywhere all the time
on the ground or in the mind.

Out flow of all territory is by right
The Unitary Power's.
No Territory is won or lost.

flora , January 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

Revisionist history is in full swing across the MSM spectrum. Take, for instance, the new movie – 'The Post' – that pretends to be an accurate drama about Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers, and the "heroic" roll played by the Washington Post. It's fake history, as this excellent review makes clear, but it fits a certain preferred narrative.
https://consortiumnews.com/2018/01/22/the-post-and-the-pentagon-papers/

flora , January 29, 2018 at 11:46 am

adding: one the the self-serving fictions the Dem party estab tells itself is that the working class voted for Nixon and other GOP candidates because the working class is racist. That neatly sidesteps the then growing belief that Vietnam – a Dem war, LBJ's war – was unwinnable, the Dem power establishment new it was unwinnable, and yet kept drafting working class boys to go fight and die because LBJ and others' egos were at stake. The Dems have never dealt with that betrayal of the working class.

Trey N , January 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm

The reading list is missing the books that describe the actual horrors of combat that our soldiers endured:

Hamburger Hill – the movie does not do full justice to the total clusterfuck that battle was. I guarantee that you will weep bitter tears as you read accounts of the stupidity of commanding officers from general to lieutenant, and of the tragic waste of life of young draftees.

We Were Soldiers Once – The first 3/4 of the movie closely follows the book -- and then goes all Hollywood at the end. It had to, because what actually happened was a stinging defeat of the American troops and a template for the rest of the war. A REMF staff officer needed to "get his ticket punched" for promotion with combat command experience, so was put in charge of a battalion that took part in the latter phases of the battle. While withdrawing from the battlefield afterward, he led the unit into an NVA ambush and lost 2/3 of his men (155 KIA, 124 WIA and 4 MIA out of about 450 troopers present).

For somewhat more sanitized versions of what the grunts endured, see the half-dozen books (extended after-action reports) by S. L. A. Marshall.

Nothing has changed from Nam to GWOT as far as the utter stupidity of America's military leaders, and their need for constant wars to advance their careers and feed their patrons in the MIC. One thing they *did* learn, after getting their sorry asses fragged by young draftees fed up with dying at the hands of incompetent dolts, was to ditch the draft and pay for mercenary -- called "volunteer" -- enlisted ranks. The wonder is, after 16 years of endless, futile deployemnts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria, that the mercs aren't murdering their idiot officers now as well ..

paul , January 29, 2018 at 6:23 pm

"Go tell the spartans" did without the hollywood ending, us military assistance and Burt Lancaster ponied up the 150k USD required to finish it.
Set in 1964, says it was clearly fucked then.
Worth a look.

paul , January 29, 2018 at 8:25 pm

The book it was based on was called "Incident ant muc wah" by Daniel Ford. (1968)
Though I haven't read it.

Trey N , January 29, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Yeah, Go Tell the Spartans is an excellent Nam flick.

Another is Platoon. Oliver Stone served in the 25th Infantry Division in Quang Tin Province in 1967. The last big battle of Platoon is based on an actual event in Quang Tin in 1971, when the VC overran Firebase Mary Ann and inflicted 33 KIA and 83 WIA on the 23rd Division.. Sappers in the Wire is a very good book about that fiasco.

The Rev Kev , January 29, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Books by S. L. A. Marshall may have to be read with caution, even though I have never read them. The reason that I say this is a book that I recommended in this series of posts called "About Face" by David H. Hackworth. Hackworth was detailed to escort Marshall around Vietnam and he "described his initial elation at an assignment with a man he idolized, and how that elation turned to disillusion after seeing Marshall's character and methods firsthand. Hackworth described Marshall as a "voyeur warrior," for whom "the truth never got in the way of a good story", and went so far as to say, "Veterans of many of the actions he 'documented' in his books have complained bitterly over the years of his inaccuracy or blatant bias". The guy was always chasing a buck.

Winslow P. Kelpfroth , January 29, 2018 at 12:47 pm

One significant action this piece left out was Congress' cutting off aid to South Vietnam after the US military withdrawal in '72 on. When the final tank-led NVA push came in Apr 75 most of the ARVN forces remained at their bases for lack of fuel and ammunition. Could the NVA Apr 75 campaign have met with similar lack of success as the '71 and '68 campaigns had Congress continued support for South Vietnam? Guess we'll never know.

a different chris , January 29, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Oh I think we know. We have Afghanistan and Iraq to prove how long a hyperpower can prolong stupid wars.

BTW, so I Orbitz'd LA->HoChiMin City. 1 transfer, 800 bucks. Tell me again WTF we were fighting about?

HopeLB , January 29, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Vietnam Vets, Tom and Chuch Hagel were on c-span last night discussing Vietnam.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?436970-1/hagel-brothers-reflect-vietnam-war-experiences&start=3303

Tom Hagel, at one point, calls the wars in Iraq and Afganistan stupid but I can't find it in the transcript. However, he also said this;

WE DISTRUST OUR INSTITUTIONS, WE DISTRUST THE GOVERNMENT, BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES. WE ARE ANGRY AND WE JUST WANT TO SMASH IT. IN A WAY, I THINK THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO WRIST BECAUSE OUR CURRENT POLITICIANS TOO OFTEN, I DON'T TRUST THEM, EITHER. I THINK THEY CONTINUALLY LIE TO US, BUT WE'VE ALLOWED OURSELVES TO BE LIED TO BECAUSE WE ELECT THEM ALL THE TIME. THEY FORGOT THAT THEY WORK FOR US. WE ARE CITIZENS, WE RUN THE SHOW. THEY WORK FOR US. FOR SOME REASON, AS A SOCIETY, WE HAVE LOST THAT. WE JUST LET IT GO ON. CONSEQUENTLY, A LOT OF THE DISTRUST IN THE POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS CAN BE TRACKED BACK TO THE VIETNAM WAR. BECAUSE IT WAS SO CLEAR UP OR A WHILE,. ESPECIALLY WITH ALL THE ARCHIVES AND THE MATERIALS THAT HAVE BEEN RELEASED IN THAT, THE SOCIETY AND THE TROOPS WERE LIED TO,

Synoia , January 29, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Didi he speak in all caps?

Synoia , January 29, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Hmm

Basics (I learned this at a military University, informally, not as coursework):

The objective of the military in war is to cause the enemy's economy to collapse.

This can be achieved by other means: eg Sanctions (an act of war) and Venezuela as an example.

It would have been easier to control Vietnam in the '60s, by becoming the largest customer for their major product, Rubber, and having American corporations, such as Coca-Cola, "colonize" the country.

My experience of the Vietnamese, in the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam, is they are Capitalists.

The various wars the US is fighting around the world have all the appearance of draining the US economy and forcing it to collapse. Which in the world of soccer is referred to as an "own goal."

That is, the US' largest enemy appears as itself.

1914 there were a number of Empires, British, French, German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian, et, and the US.
By the 1920s there were many less.
By the 1960s few.
Today, one, the US.

In California, where I live, manufactured goods used to come from the east, over the mountains. Today it appears few goods come over the mountains from the east.

One wonders if the union will last, for how long, and if it's ending will be bloody or peaceful.

UserFriendly , January 29, 2018 at 2:37 pm

My experience of the Vietnamese, in the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam, is they are Capitalists.

That was nominally what the whole war was about.

Synoia , January 29, 2018 at 8:14 pm

Even the Vietnamese in the North are capitalists.

What Ho Chi Minh wanted was Vietnamese rule for Vietnam.

Medon , January 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Giap?

flora , January 29, 2018 at 3:14 pm

NV General Nguyên Giáp .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B5_Nguy%C3%AAn_Gi%C3%A1p

Lee Robertson , January 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I came back from Vietnam feeling that I had just bathed in a septic lagoon. It was a war based on a false moral premiss, and the obvious was apparent to anyone properly informed. In a war that is at its foundation a moral outrage, even if you win you lose. Added to our present situation is the fact that no one will read the Koran READ THE KORAN ..(the Penguin Classic translation will do nicely) then come back and we'll talk about "hearts and minds". The halls of power are everywhere stacked with sociopaths, narcissists, and culpable morons.

VietnamVet , January 29, 2018 at 8:43 pm

David Halberstam from the Best and Brightest:
"The truth of the war never entered the upper-level American calculations; that this was a revolutionary war, and that the other side held title to the revolution because of the colonial war which had just ended. This most simple fact entered into the estimates of the American intelligence community and made them quite accurate. But it never entered into the calculations of the principals, for a variety of reasons; among other things to see the other side in terms of nationalism or as revolutionaries might mean a re-evaluation of whether the United States was even fighting on the right side. In contrast, the question of Communism and anti-Communism as opposed to revolution and anti-revolution was far more convenient for American policy."

The Vietnam War could never have been won by the USA. Invasion of the North at worst would have started a nuclear war (as Russia threaten) or at best a wider war with the Chinese Peoples Army which had ended in a tie a decade before in Korea.

Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are repeats except without the draft there is inadequate manpower. The USA's Great Game uses proxy forces that they supply and then fight; the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS. Kurds will soon be added to the list. These wars likewise cannot be won. Counter insurgency wars have been won against minorities who do not have outside support or safe havens; the American Indian Wars or Australia for example. This is fairly clear. Then why don't the experts, West Point graduates, see it? First, it is hard to admit that it all for nothing. Second, the ruling ideology in the West; neo-liberalism, advocates the free movement of people, goods and services. The way mankind ends wars is with strong borders, home based militias and peace treaties. This is antithesis to western plutocrats. The military is doing what their bosses want them to do.

Plenue , January 29, 2018 at 8:55 pm

I think the thing that always needs to put out in front of any discussion of the euphemistically named 'Vietnam War' is that there literally wouldn't have been a war if not for US interference. Debates about whether we could have 'won' or not, or if the US should have 'intervened' in the first place always seem to ignore the fact that this wasn't just some regional conflict that the US decided to interject itself into. If we had allowed the elections stipulated by the 1954 Geneva Accords to happen, rather than seeking to make the South into a permanent puppet regime, there wouldn't have been any war. Going even further back, if we hadn't given our support to the French to continue their colonial rule there probably wouldn't have even been a First Indochina War, or it would have at least been far shorter.

J C Bennett , January 29, 2018 at 11:27 pm

Memorable books that I was reading at the time and shortly thereafter:

"A Viet Cong Memoir," by Truong Nhu Tang, a massively detailed account of his own personal journey from a privileged family serving the French, to a leader of the Viet Cong war against the US invaders.

Frances Fitzgerald's "The Fire in the Lake" What the American invaders did not understand nor care to learn about Vietnamese society and customs, that did them in as much as anything else in that war.

"Betrayal" by Marine Colonel William Corson;

"Our Own Worst Enemy" by William J Lederer;

"The Viet-Nam Reader," edited by Marcus Raskin and Bernard Fall

Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam"

"Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia" by William Shawcross (This is an explosive, massively researched, highly detailed and horrifying account of Kissinger's deliberate destruction of the land and the people of what until then had been the "bread basket of SE Asia" and the most contented society on earth.)

Roland , January 29, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Why would anyone blame de Gaulle WRT to anything in Indochina? De Gaulle didn't take over France until several years after their Vietnam debacle, and de Gaulle was the man who got the French out of Algeria (he nearly got assassinated for this). De Gaulle was an authoritarian French nationalist, but he was neither an imperialist nor a sabre-rattler.

Chauncey Gardiner , January 30, 2018 at 12:47 am

As the author alludes, the war in Vietnam was essentially unwinnable because it failed to meet a basic precept for success in any war: It did not have a higher purpose. Ditto Afghanistan and Iraq.

Raises fundamental questions regarding military action as the geopolitical default option of choice, which as the title to the post suggests, is not desired by the MIC.

[Jan 30, 2018] John Bolton Remains Leading Candidate to Replace H. R. McMaster

Notable quotes:
"... Mustache Magazine ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... According to the official, "his worldview is utterly lacking in empathy." ..."
"... Few people understand the burr as well as he does. Much of his grating personality is intentional, but he's like a foreign policy version of Newt Gingrich. His chief concern is power," says another former State Department official under Bush 43. ..."
"... American Affairs, ..."
"... The Journal for American Greatness ..."
Jan 28, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Who would replace McMaster? A leading candidate is John Bolton, the Fox News staple, former UN ambassador, veteran defense intellectual and avatar for Mustache Magazine . His influence in the White House hit a nadir in August -- when he publicly complained that he couldn't get a meeting with 45. But since then he's mounted a vociferous internal comeback.

His plan to exit the Iran Deal, penned in National Review (which backed him for Secretary of State in 2016) late last year, was feted in the White House, though as of yet, not fully implemented (though the president has put the JCPOA on a deathclock ).

As I reported in 2017, that plan was written at the behest of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and hailed by hawkish hardliners like Frank Gaffney. Though Bannon's relationship with the president is, of course, now more fraught, his ally Bolton continues to receive positive press in many of the nationalist-populist staples. Today's headlines on him are: "WATCH -- Amb John Bolton Eviscerates Sky News's Kay Burley Live: 'You Are a Munchkin in the Media'" in Breitbart News and "John Bolton Says Trump Is Taking 'America First' into 'the Lion's Den' in Davos" in LifeZette , the Laura Ingraham project. Bolton is "a smart, highly-competent, nice guy," says a former State Department official from the George W. Bush administration.

According to the official, "his worldview is utterly lacking in empathy." "Whip smart.

Few people understand the burr as well as he does. Much of his grating personality is intentional, but he's like a foreign policy version of Newt Gingrich. His chief concern is power," says another former State Department official under Bush 43.

Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs, who once ran The Journal for American Greatness (JAG) together with Michael Anton, now a senior National Security Council spokesman, is a fan of Bolton. Whither McMaster? Still active duty, he'd move within the army, according to several sources in the Pentagon, likely the Asia Pacific, where he's cut his teeth -- as the administration's leading North Korea hawk.

But there is a holdup. "One of the problems," says a defense source. "Is that there is no four star slot open."

It's possible McMaster was considered for another position in the army before -- heading up the mission in Afghanistan -- but a source tells me that was nixed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

But this would make sense for this administration, who have fired people by promotion before. Think K.T. McFarland, the former deputy of National Security Advisor to Michael Flynn, who was to be shipped to Singapore as ambassador (but that's been stalled by the broader Russia probe).


Barristan TheOld , January 28, 2018 2:25 AM

Man is a chickenhawk coward. scum of the earth.

kid_you_not , January 26, 2018 7:55 PM

Bolton is an enemy to the American people. All he cares about is pushing for war for a foreign country's interests: Israel. He should be arrested for treason.

Mark H , January 27, 2018 5:36 AM

Yup because the Uber Hawk worked so well for GWB.......expect lots more brown people to be bombed and Israels balls fondled

PERICLES--- Mark H , January 27, 2018 8:42 PM

That's a bit obscene. And it's also ludicrous to propose that the US takes or doesn't take military action based on the skin color or shade of the people irritating it.

Jamie , January 29, 2018 11:53 AM

McMaster is a running dog imperialist. Bolton is a delusional war-monger.

Taras77 , January 28, 2018 2:38 AM

This news is indeed very depressing but I'm a little wary about this author's agenda. He had Tillerson out the door and was discussing replacements before Tillerson had made any announcement. (The article was evidently deemed premature and was quickly pulled.)

Sometimes eager anticipation is not a good tactic, particularly in a trump admin.

[Jan 30, 2018] 3 Little-Known Problems With the National Defense Strategy by Michael O'Hanlon

The article is a neocon garbage
Jan 30, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

[Jan 29, 2018] Remarks by James Mattis on the National Defense Strategy by James Mattis

Completely unrealistic assessment of the situation. Essentially "kicking the can down the road:" approach. Looks like Trump administration is now neocon administration. Kind of Obama II or Bush III.
Military Keysianism (in the style of national socialism) all over again. But the US empire requires now spending that can hardly be afforded by US economy. Add to this care of disabled veterans, number of which is growing each year (while casualties rate due to modern medicine is low, number of disabled soldiers is substantial).
Hopefully over $100 per barrel oil will sober some hot Pentagon heads. Neocons, who now dominate foreign policy of Trump administration, are hopeless in this respect, they will pursue the dream of global dominance and American empire ("America uber alles") till the last American (excluding of cause themselves -- 99% of them are chickenhawks -- and their families)
So 700 billion dollars will be spent not matter what suffering and deprivations for ordinary Americans (no jobs, no hope) it entails
The USA population lose much treasure and has a deteriorating standard of living to maintain an empire at the behest of neoliberal elite... This sentiment is merely confirming the US public discontent with interventionism and neocon foreign policy that had been revived by the 2003 Iraq invasion. The recent J. Wallin Opinion Research survey revealed that 71 percent of Americans believed Congress should pass legislation that restrained military action. Due to power of MIC an overblown defense budget does not get proper the scrutiny of any other form of public spending. the United States' annual military budget around $700 billion. Those guys need war to justify it.
Much of those costs have been borne by ordinary Americans -- from paying for war debts to being at greater risk of terrorist attacks -- while the war profits go to a select group of corporations. It is difficult to imagine any single decision in any other realm of policy that has cost so much, delivered little, and harmed America and the rest of the world so irreparably.
Notable quotes:
"... our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare, air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, and it is continuing to erode. ..."
"... to keep the peace for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day. To ensure our diplomats who are working to solve problems do so from a position of strength ..."
"... It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for. The defense strategy's three primary lines of effort will restore our comparative military advantage. ..."
"... We're going to build a more lethal force. We will strengthen our traditional alliances and building new partnerships with other nations. And at the same time we'll reform our department's business practices for performance and affordability. ..."
"... We will modernize key capabilities, recognizing we cannot expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons or equipment. Investments in space and cyberspace, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, and resilient and agile logistics will provide our high-quality troops what they need to win. ..."
"... And again, the 40-odd nations that stand shoulder-to-shoulder in NATO's mission in Afghanistan. ..."
"... Our third line of effort serves as the foundation for our competitive edge: reforming the business practices of the department to provide both solvency and security, thereby gaining the full benefit from every dollar spent, in which way we will gain and hold the trust of Congress and the American people. ..."
Jan 29, 2018 | www.voltairenet.org

We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people's dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward.

And despite the defeat of ISIS' physical caliphate, violent extremist organizations like ISIS or Lebanese Hezbollah or al Qaida continue to sow hatred, destroying peace and murdering innocents across the globe.

In this time of change, our military is still strong. Yet our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare, air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, and it is continuing to erode.

Rapid technological change, the negative impact on military readiness is resulting from the longest continuous stretch of combat in our nation's history and defense spending caps, because we have been operating also for nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions that have created an overstretched and under-resourced military.

Our military's role is to keep the peace; to keep the peace for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day. To ensure our diplomats who are working to solve problems do so from a position of strength and giving allies confidence in us. This confidence is underpinned by the assurance that our military will win should diplomacy fail.

When unveiling his national security strategy, President Trump said, "Weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unquestioned strength is the most certain means of defense."

Ladies and gentlemen, we have no room for complacency, and history makes clear that America has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield. Simply, we must be the best if the values that grew out of the Enlightenment are to survive.

It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for. The defense strategy's three primary lines of effort will restore our comparative military advantage.

We're going to build a more lethal force. We will strengthen our traditional alliances and building new partnerships with other nations. And at the same time we'll reform our department's business practices for performance and affordability.

In doing this, we will earn the trust of the American people and Congress, if their defense dollars are well spent.

But let me go through each of the lines of effort. And I want to start with lethality, because everything we do in the department must contribute to the lethality of our military.

The paradox of war is that an enemy will attack any perceived weakness. So we in America cannot adopt a single preclusive form of warfare. Rather we must be able to fight across the spectrum of conflict.

This means that the size and the composition of our force matters. The nation must field sufficient capable forces to deter conflict. And if deterrence fails, we must win.

We will modernize key capabilities, recognizing we cannot expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons or equipment. Investments in space and cyberspace, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, and resilient and agile logistics will provide our high-quality troops what they need to win.

Changing our forces' posture will prioritize readiness for warfighting for major combat, making us strategically predictable for our allies and operationally unpredictable for any adversary.

Increasing the lethality of our troops, supported by our defense civilians, requires us to reshape our approach that managing our outstanding talent, reinvigorating our military education and honing civilian workforce expertise.

The creativity and talent of the department is our deepest wellspring of strength, and one that warrants greater investment.

And to those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy, they must know: If you challenge us it will be your longest and your worst day. Work with our diplomats; you don't want to fight the Department of Defense.

The second line of effort I noted was to strengthen alliances as we build new partnerships, as well.

In my past, I fought many times and never did I fight in a solely American formation. It was always alongside foreign troops.

Now, as Winston Churchill once said, the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them. But we are going to be stronger together in recognizing that our military will be designed and trained and ready to fight alongside allies.

History proves that nations with allies thrive, an approach to security and prosperity that has served the United States well in keeping peace and winning war. Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.

We carried a disproportionate share of the defense burden for the democracies in the post-World War II era. The growing economic strength of today's democracies and partners dictates they must now step up and do more.

When together we pool our resources and share responsibility for the common defense, individual nations' security burdens become lighter. This has been demonstrated right now, today, for example, by over 70 nations and international organizations of the Defeat-ISIS campaign that is successfully conducting operations in the Middle East. And again, the 40-odd nations that stand shoulder-to-shoulder in NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

To strengthen and work jointly with more allies, our organizations, processes and procedures must be ally-friendly. The department will do more than just listen to other nations' ideas. We will be willing to be persuaded by them, recognizing that all not -- that not all good ideas come from the country with the most aircraft carriers.

This line of effort will bolster an extended network capable of decisively meeting the challenges of our time. So we're going to make the military more lethal, and we are going to build and strengthen traditional alliances, as well as go out and find some new partners -- maybe nontraditional partners -- as we do what the Greatest Generation did, coming home from World War II, when they built the alliances that have served us so well, right through today.

Our third line of effort serves as the foundation for our competitive edge: reforming the business practices of the department to provide both solvency and security, thereby gaining the full benefit from every dollar spent, in which way we will gain and hold the trust of Congress and the American people.

... ... ...

[Jan 29, 2018] America's National Defense Is Really Offense by Philip M. Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... Occasionally, it is actually delusional, as when it refers to consolidating "gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere." ..."
"... At times Mattis' supplementary "remarks" were more bombastic than reassuring, as when he warned " those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy: if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day." He did not exactly go into what the military response to hacking a politician's emails might be and one can only speculate, which is precisely the problem. ..."
"... Some of the remarks by Mattis relate to China and Russia. He said that "We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models - pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions." There is, however, no evidence that either country is exporting "authoritarian models," nor are they vetoing anything that they do not perceive as direct and immediate threats frequently orchestrated by Washington, which is intervening in local quarrels thousands of miles away from the U.S. borders. And when it comes to exporting models, who does it more persistently than Washington? ..."
"... The report goes on to state that Russia and China and rogue regimes like Iran have " increased efforts short of armed conflict by expanding coercion to new fronts, violating principle of sovereignty, exploiting ambiguity, and deliberately blurring the lines between civil and military goals." As confusing civil and military is what the United States itself has been doing in Libya, Iraq and, currently, Syria, the allegation might be considered ironic. ..."
"... What might that mean in practice? Back in 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney had requested "a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States... [including] a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons ... not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States." ..."
"... Pentagon planners clearly anticipate another year of playing at defense by keeping the offense on the field. An impetuous and poorly informed president is a danger to all of us, particularly as he is surrounded by general-advisers who see a military solution to every problem. Hopefully wiser counsel will prevail. ..."
"... how should China, Russia and Iran be responding to the strategic plans of Mattis, the US War Hawks and neocons who surround Trump? Who is it that is threatening the United States, that is not responding to threats first against them? ..."
"... This appears to me to be the same dangerous, belligerent talk justifying preemptive strike thinking that separates out the United States from its' perceived enemies. And probably the rest of the world! And brought us, according to the Concerned Scientists, again to "two minutes to midnight." It seems, to me, quite rational for Russia and China to respond accordingly, like good boy scouts, and also be prepared. ..."
"... The U.S. since it very first day of founding is offense. The Revolutionary War is offense against the British Empire. It built its first navy ships, not for defense but to fight a war in the Med Sea across the ocean. No one attacked the U.S ..."
"... The U.S. is 100% offense since day one to today. There is no department of defense. But its department of aggression and war was founded in 1776. ..."
"... The physics of nuclear war allow no winners because we all share this earth. ..."
"... Of course here in America we have no public shelters so threats by our plutocracy puppets must be absorbed by our fellow American Sheep. After the bombs come down are you one of those politicians holding a ticket to those vast hidden U.S. government shelters where sheep are not allowed? Doubtful ..."
"... Wake up folks aka sheep / slaves before it's too late! No one is going to protect you! You and me are being played! ..."
"... Putin, a Russian patriot if there ever was one, recognized that western capital could not be resisted by the Soviet system. In defense of Russia he liberated the economy, gradually but inexorably eliminating the evils of the Yeltsin years, and releasing the social forces needed for national strength and productivity. He reversed the isolation of Soviet times, establishing international relations based on mutual advantage and trust, not coercion. Despite western propaganda, he has established himself as a good neighbor, and as a reliable partner and ally. His stewardship has made Russia stronger and more impervious to US hegemonic ambitions. ..."
"... Putin is no lackey of US imperialism. He together with China and Iran form the chief bulwarks against it. ..."
"... It seems that Mattis is a fool; he's reading something in which he has no comprehension for its ramifications in the long run. ..."
"... Maybe the Lockheed Martin CEO written the document so that idiot would read it to the sheeple....Who knows. ..."
Jan 29, 2018 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

On Friday, the Pentagon released an unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy report . On the same day, Secretary of Defense James Mattis delivered prepared remarks relating to the document.

Reading the summary is illuminating, to say the least, and somewhat disturbing, as it focuses very little on actual defense of the realm and relates much more to offensive military action that might be employed to further certain debatable national interests. Occasionally, it is actually delusional, as when it refers to consolidating "gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere."

At times Mattis' supplementary "remarks" were more bombastic than reassuring, as when he warned " those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy: if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day." He did not exactly go into what the military response to hacking a politician's emails might be and one can only speculate, which is precisely the problem.

One of the most bizarre aspects of the report is its breathtaking assumption that "competitors" should be subjected to a potential military response if it is determined that they are in conflict with the strategic goals of the U.S. government. It is far removed from the old-fashioned Constitutional concept that one has armed forces to defend the country against an actual threat involving an attack by hostile forces and instead embraces preventive war, which is clearly an excuse for serial interventions overseas.

Some of the remarks by Mattis relate to China and Russia. He said that "We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models - pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions." There is, however, no evidence that either country is exporting "authoritarian models," nor are they vetoing anything that they do not perceive as direct and immediate threats frequently orchestrated by Washington, which is intervening in local quarrels thousands of miles away from the U.S. borders. And when it comes to exporting models, who does it more persistently than Washington?

The report goes on to state that Russia and China and rogue regimes like Iran have " increased efforts short of armed conflict by expanding coercion to new fronts, violating principle of sovereignty, exploiting ambiguity, and deliberately blurring the lines between civil and military goals." As confusing civil and military is what the United States itself has been doing in Libya, Iraq and, currently, Syria, the allegation might be considered ironic.

The scariest assertion in the summary is the following: "Nuclear forces - Modernization of the nuclear force includes developing options to counter competitors' coercive strategies, predicated on the threatened use of nuclear or strategic non-nuclear attacks." That means that the White House and Pentagon are reserving the option to use nuclear weapons even when there is no imminent or existential threat as long as there is a "strategic" reason for doing so. Strategic would be defined by the president and Mattis, while the War Powers Act allows Donald Trump to legally initiate a nuclear attack.

What might that mean in practice? Back in 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney had requested "a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States... [including] a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons ... not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States."

Possible employment of "weapons of mass destruction" responded to intelligence suggesting that conventional weapons would be unable to penetrate the underground hardened sites where Iran's presumed nuclear weapons facilities were reportedly located. But as it turned out, Iran had no nuclear weapons program and attacking it would have been totally gratuitous. Some other neocon inspired plans to attack Iran also included a nuclear option if Iran actually had the temerity to resist American force majeure.

Pentagon planners clearly anticipate another year of playing at defense by keeping the offense on the field. An impetuous and poorly informed president is a danger to all of us, particularly as he is surrounded by general-advisers who see a military solution to every problem. Hopefully wiser counsel will prevail.

Possible employment of "weapons of mass destruction" responded to intelligence suggesting that conventional weapons would be unable to penetrate the underground hardened sites where Iran's presumed nuclear weapons facilities were reportedly located. But as it turned out, Iran had no nuclear weapons program and attacking it would have been totally gratuitous. Some other neocon inspired plans to attack Iran also included a nuclear option if Iran actually had the temerity to resist American force majeure.

Pentagon planners clearly anticipate another year of playing at defense by keeping the offense on the field. An impetuous and poorly informed president is a danger to all of us, particularly as he is surrounded by general-advisers who see a military solution to every problem. Hopefully wiser counsel will prevail.

By Philip M. Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation


James Higginbotham · 20 hours ago

well. as a combat vet it's ALWAYS better to be PREPARED THAN SORRY. and you DON'T sit on your Butt waiting for your enemies to attack FIRST when you can PREVENT IT.
Len · 19 hours ago
Better PREPARED THAN SORRY!

In that case James; how should China, Russia and Iran be responding to the strategic plans of Mattis, the US War Hawks and neocons who surround Trump? Who is it that is threatening the United States, that is not responding to threats first against them?

This appears to me to be the same dangerous, belligerent talk justifying preemptive strike thinking that separates out the United States from its' perceived enemies. And probably the rest of the world! And brought us, according to the Concerned Scientists, again to "two minutes to midnight." It seems, to me, quite rational for Russia and China to respond accordingly, like good boy scouts, and also be prepared.

However; It is very dangerous, for if they detect there is an incoming missile or potentially nuclear armed plane what are they expected to do? They won't be sitting on their hands, that's for sure!

Just look at how the ordinary people of Hawaii responded to a "false alarm" recently. I put "false alarm" in brackets because who knows what the United States neocons get up to nowadays. This is all very wearying and repeated so often there is a danger of people giving up.

Isn't it interesting how we are surrounded by folktales and the warnings of the old Prophets and new which we ignore at our peril? Like crying wolf. God help us all if some deluded idiot with authority, including that self-styled "genius" and Supreme Commander, General Trump, miscalculate. I imagine what remains of the sidelined, but still rational thinking Generals and Admirals and military realists in the lower ranks are really sweating it out worrying what the morons in charge might do.

The U.S. since it very first day of founding is offense. The Revolutionary War is offense against the British Empire. It built its first navy ships, not for defense but to fight a war in the Med Sea across the ocean. No one attacked the U.S.

The U.S. is 100% offense since day one to today. There is no department of defense. But its department of aggression and war was founded in 1776.

1871 89p · 16 hours ago
There is not one human being on the planet that would have the inclination to want to invade USA Inc. We watch and read and only need a minuscule amount of imagination to know that USA Inc is the "sh*th*le " of the world populated by "ar*eh*les".

The only solution is for NK to invite China and Russia to send in missile batteries to defend NK and if they are attacked, all US military bases in Asia will be obliterated with Hawaii and Mainland in quick succession if USA Inc escalates.
Cities of Seoul and Tokyo need be left with no doubt that they will be tripled glazed,

Russia and China need to lift sanctions on NK immediately .
The rest of the world needs boycott USA Inc to the Olympics, just as the fascist West did to Russia when it went to the rescue of Afghanistan.

Persons inciting war need to be prosecuted, those who incite use of WMD must be put in a special category and immediately stopped from traveling outside their country and from speaking at the UN.

A resolution must be passed at the United General Assembly to put above suggestion into practice, and see if we can not get a resounding "vote" for it, as was the case for support of Palestine recently.

Sheeple · 12 hours ago
America's National Defense Is really to terrorize the sheep / slaves into submission. The physics of nuclear war allow no winners because we all share this earth.

Of course here in America we have no public shelters so threats by our plutocracy puppets must be absorbed by our fellow American Sheep. After the bombs come down are you one of those politicians holding a ticket to those vast hidden U.S. government shelters where sheep are not allowed? Doubtful! You can just turn around and try to kiss your hind quarter Ba Ba a a aaa.

Wake up folks aka sheep / slaves before it's too late! No one is going to protect you! You and me are being played!

Time to replace all politicians with AI Robots. Who needs rulers anyway? Let politicians be the first to be replaced with robots

Inthebyte · 9 hours ago
The Department Of Defense was previously called The Department Of War. I refer to it as the Department Of War. Tell it like it is folks.
oates792 · 5 hours ago
Dave above has one cockeyed view of Putin, and of those sources of opinion that support him. Soviet Russia imploded because it could not deliver the goods.An endless arms race, a population regimented, harnessed, and stifled in service to a centrally planned economy, run by a vast self-serving bureaucracy, It it was an experiment in state capitalism that, in hindsight, could not but fail. The west tried to strangle it in its crib but in the event it died of old age.

Putin, a Russian patriot if there ever was one, recognized that western capital could not be resisted by the Soviet system. In defense of Russia he liberated the economy, gradually but inexorably eliminating the evils of the Yeltsin years, and releasing the social forces needed for national strength and productivity. He reversed the isolation of Soviet times, establishing international relations based on mutual advantage and trust, not coercion. Despite western propaganda, he has established himself as a good neighbor, and as a reliable partner and ally. His stewardship has made Russia stronger and more impervious to US hegemonic ambitions.

Putin is no lackey of US imperialism. He together with China and Iran form the chief bulwarks against it. Dave's view is perverse.

Hexx · 4 hours ago
It seems that Mattis is a fool; he's reading something in which he has no comprehension for its ramifications in the long run.

Maybe the Lockheed Martin CEO written the document so that idiot would read it to the sheeple....Who knows.

[Jan 28, 2018] US MIC extract so many money out of the American taxpayers to maintain the US global empire that any former serviceman who was deployed in Europe for a couple years can see that many parts of US are overrated, crime ridden dumps even when compared to places in Eastern Europe

Notable quotes:
"... As a former service member, Uncle Sam paid me to live in Europe for a couple years and sure opened my eyes (though they got their money out of me from an Iraq and A-stan deployment). I realized that many parts of US are overrated, crime ridden dumps even when compared to most places even in Eastern Europe. ..."
"... Europeans can thank US promoted defense freeloading so they can focus on beating the US on all quality of life measure including crime rates, mortality, longevity, health care, and other measures of happiness other than GDP such as not worrying about your kids getting massacred at school from yet another mass shooting. ..."
"... I'm a proud American but these infinitely proved wrong neocons keep resurrecting themselves. ..."
Jan 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

jk January 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm

@deef, the ad hominem you begin with against the author shows where you are coming from. George the Lesser revisionists like you never learn.

Where is the ROI on global policing? Selective sampling of wars? Where have you been for the last 15 years as the US digs deeper within the biggest strategic blunder in the history of the US? We could have done more useful things with the $5,000,000,000,000+ that was spent on these dumb wars of choice such as manned mission to mars, universal insurance, pave the freeways in gold

The US causes more unintended consequences and greater conflicts and deaths than the good intentions they believe they are performing. See Syria, Iraq, Yemen, et al.

What's the casualty/death/missing numbers of Iraqis during the US's invasion vs. Saddam's time? Is the average Iraqi happy to be there? I guess all that matters is that the US is supposedly safer. Would any US citizen agree to that for the past 15 years?

And let's not kid ourselves, the State Dept. in any neocon administration is an extension of the Department of Defense.

As a former service member, Uncle Sam paid me to live in Europe for a couple years and sure opened my eyes (though they got their money out of me from an Iraq and A-stan deployment). I realized that many parts of US are overrated, crime ridden dumps even when compared to most places even in Eastern Europe.

Europeans can thank US promoted defense freeloading so they can focus on beating the US on all quality of life measure including crime rates, mortality, longevity, health care, and other measures of happiness other than GDP such as not worrying about your kids getting massacred at school from yet another mass shooting.

I'm a proud American but these infinitely proved wrong neocons keep resurrecting themselves.

jk , says: January 20, 2018 at 1:16 pm
I stand corrected, it is 17 years of continuous hole digging, tax dollar burning, and amortization of the decline of future prosperity continues un-abated.

Sons and daughters born in 2001 of vets of these stupid wars of choice are now eligible to fight the same end-stateless, no condition of victory wars with an expanded enemy set to include peer competitors of Russia, China, N. Korea.

The annual soldier that dies on Jan. 1 of year X hand wringing editorial can continue indefinitely.

your call , says: January 23, 2018 at 8:49 am
@jk "I'm a proud American but these infinitely proved wrong neocons keep resurrecting themselves."

Because we let them. We don't laugh them off television programs or kick them out of the auditoriums where they keep inviting each other to appear. We don't punish elected politicians (like Trump) who keep hiring them because they think we won't notice.

[Jan 28, 2018] Israel as a MIC lobbyist injecting some money they got via military help into the USA politics directly, or indirectly.

Jan 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

likbez January 17, 2018 at 1:46 am

@One guy

As far as I remember his posts Michael Kenny is "Israel-firster."

He does not care much about the US national security by definition, having different priorities.

BTW it's a news for me that AEI launched such neocon stalwarts as "Frederick Kagan, John Bolton, former vice president Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, David Frum, and Danielle Pletka."

It is a sad fact that Trump administration now is infiltrated with neocons, but in reality how it can be different.

POTUS no longer defines the US foreign policy; MIC does (neocons can probably be better understood as professional lobbyists of MIC). In a way, POTUS is now by-and-large ceremonial figure, although Trump at least during the election campaign (and shortly after, say, before April 2017 and Mueller commission) has had somewhat more isolationist views (his bellicosity toward Iran and NK notwithstanding.) But he was quickly brought into the fold. Now he acts like a regular Republican President, say, like Bush III.

The latter just demonstrates the power of MIC.

That's why there a surprising level of continuity of foreign policy between different administrations.

My impression is that Israel also is effectively acting as a MIC lobbyist injecting some money they got via military help into the USA politics directly, or indirectly.

[Jan 26, 2018] Ukraine, Syria, Russiagate, the Media, and the Risk of Nuclear War, by Robert Roth - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... The risk has been with us since the 1950s, but has become scarier beginning with the US-backed coup in Ukraine, and increased with US involvement in the war on Syria. It's been heightened by plans for "modernization" of US warheads and delivery systems -- plans initiated by President Obama and continuing or expanded by President Trump. ..."
"... The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. ..."
"... Return to Moscow ..."
"... The whole Bush II thing, the elections, Iraq, 9-11 were kind of "through the looking glass" events in which political corruption became mainstream acceptable in a surreal kind of way. I take events like the "Russian Hack" as a kind of ready-reckoner of political consciousness: if you accept or support such muck the only question remains – are you a gull or a knave? An idiot or a cynical bastard? ..."
"... "Sleepwalking into nuclear war" is a haunting and apt metaphor for what is happening to us as a society. Reading Robert Roth's provocative musings on the collective insanity currently enveloping us, I was reminded of William Shirer's accounts of the period he was stationed in Nazi Germany as a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune before the outbreak of WWII. ..."
"... Even with all the propaganda the Germans were subjected to, said Shirer, Germans realized that Hitler was taking them into an unwinnable war against the rest of the world that they really didn't want. They knew they were headed into the abyss, yet the political climate was so paranoid that resistance seemed unpatriotic, if not treasonous. They went along in the hope that the national nightmare would dissipate of its own accord, that things weren't as bad as they seemed. ..."
"... Mr. Roth's observations about the blights of willful public ignorance and mass media disinformation are important. Commenter "animalogic" (#7) aptly describes those party to the widespread deceit as either "a gull or a knave." The Establishment needs and therefore nurtures both. ..."
"... Roth has gone straight to the relevant point, nuclear war , for it is already clear that the prospective outcome of any permutation of a 'conventional' war will see the Empire hegemony, USA/Israel and vassal states, lose against Russia, who will be supported, by mutually recognized need, with China. No matter how it is considered, a Russia-China alliance will defeat the empire hegemony if nuclear weapons are not used. ..."
"... One positive thing in US policy is a stability and progress – dummy president replaced by stupid one, that replaced by insane; after him goes imbecile. I can't imagine who's going to be next :-). But there are many of old crazy women and men ready to help if current imbecile went down. ..."
"... There will be no nuclear war as Russia and the U.S. can wipe each other off the map, however the Zionists will continue to keep America at war for the Zionist NWO as that is the game plan and we goyim Americans will continue to be sent to the slaughter house for greater Israel. ..."
"... One honest, generally morally competent man holding the ever-more-powerful office of president of the U.S., could fix many things. Unfortunately, Donald John Trump is not that man. ..."
"... Let's consider one example: Many people believe that a real investigation into 9/11 would destroy the "deep state". Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey et al. have recently completed a study of the "collapse" of WTC7, whereby they've proven that "fire" was not the cause of the "collapse" of that building. This finding directly contradicts the NIST report. For the first time in 16 years there is now incontrovertible scientific evidence in the public domain that 9/11 was an "inside job". Why won't Donald John Trump take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and order an investigation? ..."
"... The world is not about to end, but the Western public space has become very stupid. Most politicians, media and academics have managed to redefine basic terms into idiotic caricatures. Concepts like meddling, trolls, collusion, etc don't mean what we are told they mean. They are all an eternal part of human society, exchange of ideas, disagreements. Expressing one's opinions is not 'propaganda', or 'meddling' in elections – it is freedom of speech. The idea that there is only one correct view – the Western liberal one – is medieval. ..."
"... Nobody will deliberately start nuclear war, but the probability that it might start as the result of series of mistakes has increased. ..."
"... The US and its vassals (including other NATO countries) moved NATO troops close to Russian borders, destabilized Ukraine, Syria, cooked up "Russiagate" (which is really an FBI-gate, but sore losers would not admit it) to justify further increases in Pentagon budget (a trough where very fat pigs feed). ..."
"... The main danger is that in its death throes the Empire will start a war, although we can only hope that even degenerate US elites understand that dead people cannot benefit by their wealth. Hope springs eternal. ..."
"... Agree with much of the sentiment and some of the proposals here regarding the need to ratchet down rhetoric, pledge no first strike, and generally try much harder to reduce the risk of even a "small" nuke exchange. ..."
"... Well, hope is always nice. But we might not understand the dynamic nature of the global-liberal overreach that we have been experiencing. People don't behave the way Western elites have been acting without some measure of disconnect from reality. And hubris. When a substantial part of elite climbs on an irrational high horse of invincibility they become paralysed by the framework they have created. They don't want to hear other views because it makes them uncomfortable. They have given up on both principles and institutions – it is anything goes world now. ..."
"... The Trotskyites who became in America first anti-Stalinist Democrat Hawks and then anti-Russian/Israel-first Republican Hawks have worked things so that they control foreign affairs for both political parties. And they have an insatiable bloodlust. Like the godfather of their movement, they are amoral with genocidal desires when it comes to peoples they despise. They are the type of self-righteous bullies who aspire to rule the globe to overreach and push and shove and threaten and sucker punch until the worst for the world happens. ..."
"... Good to see you posting. I hear they are muling Ophrah. Really good choice for next president. Woman, black, fat and wealthy. Not gay or transvestite though but that's coming next. ..."
"... Makes me wonder what after Putin. I do it like him that much but he still intelligent, cool and calculating man that is not doing stupid things but neither genius. ..."
"... Regarding Americans, unfortunately they never felt real pain. Like a kid who does not know that fire is dangerous. I think financial collapse gonna be trouble sooner or later with them. The best thing Russia and China can do is to undermine us dollar status and the whole financial system which was built by uncle Sam for uncle Sam benefit. ..."
Jan 26, 2018 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

My goal in writing about these things is to alert you to the problems and encourage you to share your concerns with people you know and with federal policy-makers. Right now, the entire gamut of political discussion all but excludes the topic nuclear war, so if some Senators, Members of Congress, and the President were to begin hearing from people that we're concerned about the threat, and how easily it could happen, and that we want that threat removed, it would be some progress.

Why the focus on nuclear war? Because of all the pending potential disasters we may have to face, it's the most sudden, inescapable, irrevocable. At some level, people know that, though they don't like to think about it. Author Carl Boggs describes the reaction of the people of Hawaii when they received a false alarm about an incoming ICBM attack:

People scattered frenetically, mostly without logic or purpose or hope. Where to go? If this turned out to be one of Kim Jong Un's powerful ICBMs, it could be over in 20 minutes. Repair to a shelter? None exist. Go to the basement? Sure suicide. Find a car or taxi and head for the hills? No time. [T]he response was utter psychological numbness, paralysis -- a dysfunctional yet comprehensible state of mind in the face of nuclear oblivion. [T]he end seemed inescapable.

And because, as Mr. Boggs says upon hearing a talk by former nuclear war planner Daniel Ellsberg, it's a lot less unlikely than most of us have been led to believe.

The American people have been lulled to sleep, distracted by endless media and political spectacles, while busy warmakers keep refining their insane nuclear blueprints . More than 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pentagon elites still theorize and fantasize about the unthinkable, their demented plans far removed from the realm of political debate or even public awareness. [1]

The risk has been with us since the 1950s, but has become scarier beginning with the US-backed coup in Ukraine, and increased with US involvement in the war on Syria. It's been heightened by plans for "modernization" of US warheads and delivery systems -- plans initiated by President Obama and continuing or expanded by President Trump. And it's heightened further by a Pentagon plan to develop a "low-yield" warhead for the submarine-based Trident missile, and a new nuclear-tipped sea-launched cruise missile. [2] I believe that expanding the range of options in this way would increase the likelihood that the weapons will actually be used.

In case you think I'm overstating the problem, you should know that almost everything in "Dr. Strangelove" -- the Stanley Kubrick film in which nuclear war is started by a rogue military officer -- was true. [3] . "Doomsday" is an "Actual War Plan," as Daniel Ellsberg says in a December 13, 2017 interview discussing his new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. [4].

Dan Ellsberg proposes a Six-Step Program for dismantling the Doomsday Machine:

  1. A U.S. no-first-use policy;
  2. Probing investigative hearings on our war plans in the light of nuclear winter;
  3. Eliminating our ICBMs;
  4. Foregoing the delusion of preemptive damage-limiting by our first-strike forces;
  5. Giving up the profits, jobs, and alliance hegemony based on maintaining that pretense;
  6. Otherwise dismantling the American Doomsday Machine.

Of course none of that will happen under present circumstances. It's Ellsberg's goal to contribute to developing an informed electorate that, recognizing the risk, will demand such actions.

... ... ...

Regarding the two nuclear-armed superpowers, who between them possess some 15,000 nuclear warheads, the Cold War that ended in 1991 has lately been replaced by a New Cold War. U.S. and NATO provocations to Russia have reached a largely unheard crescendo in Ukraine, where a U.S.-backed coup installed a regime, essentially in the Russian belly, that's riddled with neo-Nazis and hostile to Russia; in eastern Europe generally, where NATO war games have been held repeatedly just across the Russian border; and in Syria, where the U.S. continues to maintain an unlawful presence in proximity to Russian forces legitimately there at the invitation of the internationally recognized and constitutionally elected Syrian government. And in both Syria and Ukraine, there are signs the situation is becoming even more dangerous than it's been for some time. [7]

These situations raise the risk of unintended nuclear war, as confrontation may lead at any time to escalation spiraling out of control. Dr. William Polk, a member of the White House team that handled the Cuban Missile Crisis, describes how in a confrontational situation, the logic of events could force the Russians and us to the next step and that step also to the next and so on, to the ultimate disastrous result without anyone having initially intended it. [8] . Mr. Shatz concludes that what we once mistook for safety was more like sleepwalking. Former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin sums up the situation in similar terms:

"Under the false and demonizing imagery of 'Putin's Russia' which has now taken hold in the United States and NATO world, the West is truly 'sleepwalking', as Kissinger, Gorbachev, [University of Kent professor Richard] Sakwa, [Princeton emeritus professor Stephen F.] Cohen and others have urgently warned, into a potential nuclear war with Russia. It is the Cuban missile crisis all over again, but actually worse now [in part] because American policy under recent U.S. presidents has been so lacking in statesmanship, consistency or historical perspective where Russia is concerned." ( Return to Moscow , University of Western Australia, 2017, p. 255).


animalogic , January 26, 2018 at 8:25 am GMT

@Grandpa Charlie

Think you're pretty spot with all you say. The whole Bush II thing, the elections, Iraq, 9-11 were kind of "through the looking glass" events in which political corruption became mainstream acceptable in a surreal kind of way. I take events like the "Russian Hack" as a kind of ready-reckoner of political consciousness: if you accept or support such muck the only question remains – are you a gull or a knave? An idiot or a cynical bastard?

alley cat , January 26, 2018 at 10:01 am GMT
"Sleepwalking into nuclear war" is a haunting and apt metaphor for what is happening to us as a society. Reading Robert Roth's provocative musings on the collective insanity currently enveloping us, I was reminded of William Shirer's accounts of the period he was stationed in Nazi Germany as a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune before the outbreak of WWII.

His account of attending a Nazi rally where he appeared to be the only member of the audience not mesmerized by Hitler's delusional rants reminds me of my own reaction to the Russiagate hysteria being orchestrated by neocons and Clinton dead-enders. Who are these people and what is the matter with them? The current state of our Union is a testament to the power of propaganda, which Hitler and Goebbels understood so well.

Even with all the propaganda the Germans were subjected to, said Shirer, Germans realized that Hitler was taking them into an unwinnable war against the rest of the world that they really didn't want. They knew they were headed into the abyss, yet the political climate was so paranoid that resistance seemed unpatriotic, if not treasonous. They went along in the hope that the national nightmare would dissipate of its own accord, that things weren't as bad as they seemed.

But as it turned out, things were even worse than they seemed. The nightmare was real and there was no waking from it.

troll_of_the_month , Website January 26, 2018 at 10:14 am GMT
The USA/Russia/China/Israel/France/UK/India/Pakistan have collectively been playing Russian Roulette for 65 years. Probability dictates sooner or later, one of the chambers will contain a live round.
Renoman , January 26, 2018 at 11:54 am GMT
If nuclear war was even slightly or even remotely feasible, the Americans would be doing it. Talk about shitting in your own well.
anonymous Disclaimer , January 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm GMT
What an excellent essay. It appears to have been submitted initially to The Unz Review, which should enhance the reputation of both the author and publisher.

Mr. Roth's observations about the blights of willful public ignorance and mass media disinformation are important. Commenter "animalogic" (#7) aptly describes those party to the widespread deceit as either "a gull or a knave." The Establishment needs and therefore nurtures both.

trixie , January 26, 2018 at 1:22 pm GMT
Great article and great comments so far (11 of them).

We have a scenario much like those scenarios prior to the Great War (WWI) and the second world war, and the same shadowy 'hidden hand' orchestrating the entire pending disaster so they can yet further augment their control and expand their illegal land theft.

The consolidation of the mass media agencies, now almost pure propaganda/perception management agencies controlled by the competing factions of the 0.1%, and the advent of the internet and 'big data' have enabled this psychopathic cabal to attain previously undreamt of control over the common 99%, including control over their perception.

Roth has gone straight to the relevant point, nuclear war , for it is already clear that the prospective outcome of any permutation of a 'conventional' war will see the Empire hegemony, USA/Israel and vassal states, lose against Russia, who will be supported, by mutually recognized need, with China. No matter how it is considered, a Russia-China alliance will defeat the empire hegemony if nuclear weapons are not used.

It is because of this point that the entirety of humanity must rally and do 'what ever it takes' to stop the terrorist empire from sustaining the current tyranny. The psychopaths of the empire, not exposed to public scrutiny, hidden in the shadows, can and will nudge the world into unwinnable (for anyone) nuclear war; their egos are the definition of human depravity.

Exposing the grand charade to a critical mass of the general population is the first objective, then exposing the 'hidden hands' in the shadows is the next.

The parasite must be stopped, and we, the people who have seen glimpses of the enemy, are incumbent to spread the word.

Good luck.

yurivku , January 26, 2018 at 1:48 pm GMT
I left this comment on a different article ( http://thesaker.is/listening-to-mattis/ ), but seems it could be in place here also. Cause we're talking approximately same and nothing gonna change
-- -- -

Well, it's getting boring a little. I mean the descriptions of the insanity of US's rulers.

One positive thing in US policy is a stability and progress – dummy president replaced by stupid one, that replaced by insane; after him goes imbecile. I can't imagine who's going to be next :-). But there are many of old crazy women and men ready to help if current imbecile went down.

Thanks God, we, Russians, not that happy. After imbecile alcoholic Yeltsin we've got not bad alternative (your media and stupid people in power call him a killer). Who (with his sanity) the only chance for this world to survive.

But, actually we're very tired from all this stuff and the possibility of US generals to test our conventional and even nuke arms constantly increasing. They can also test if our soldiers who've seen Napoleon, Hitler and many others got worse or still the same. I'm asking US citizens – Is it really interesting to you to get know it for sure?

DESERT FOX , January 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm GMT
There will be no nuclear war as Russia and the U.S. can wipe each other off the map, however the Zionists will continue to keep America at war for the Zionist NWO as that is the game plan and we goyim Americans will continue to be sent to the slaughter house for greater Israel.
Harold Smith , January 26, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
"But as Mr. Shatz observes, the problems run much deeper than President Trump."

This statement is misleading. One honest, generally morally competent man holding the ever-more-powerful office of president of the U.S., could fix many things. Unfortunately, Donald John Trump is not that man.

Let's consider one example: Many people believe that a real investigation into 9/11 would destroy the "deep state". Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey et al. have recently completed a study of the "collapse" of WTC7, whereby they've proven that "fire" was not the cause of the "collapse" of that building. This finding directly contradicts the NIST report. For the first time in 16 years there is now incontrovertible scientific evidence in the public domain that 9/11 was an "inside job". Why won't Donald John Trump take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and order an investigation?

There is only one plausible explanation: I believe that Donald John Trump was the "deep state" candidate of choice in the 2016 election. I believe that's why they ran wild-eyed madwoman Hillary Clinton against him rather than the more electable Sanders. I believe that's why, in the early fall of 2016, as the election was coming into the home stretch, Obama started ramping up tensions with Russia; i.e., so as to nudge the disgruntled anti-war Democrats (Sanders supporters) into Trump's camp, swinging the election to him.

I believe that Donald John Trump is a "deep cover" or "sleeper" agent that's been groomed and waiting in the wings for his masters' call. I believe that Donald John Trump was called to power in a desperate now or never moment to save the "deep state" (Zionist) agenda.

Donald John Trump is a liar. Donald John Trump is a fraud. Donald John Trump is a con man. Donald John Trump is a mass-murderer.

Wyatt Pendleton , Website January 26, 2018 at 3:24 pm GMT
I don't think anyone in the West is sleepwalking into anything, esp the USA. I think the American people see the writing on the wall and that if the American Empire loses status the economy of the USA will revert to being a labor intensive existence of working the ground just to have enough food to eat and water to drink. So entitled and lazy Americans are and horrified to be relegated back to a 1920/30′s quality of life (loss of Bread & Circuses), that if the Military Industril Complex has to threaten the entire planet with nuclear annihilation if they don't tithe 10% of their GDP (Roman Empire) so fat ass Yankees can continue to be fat asses – then just burn the place to the ground.

If the BRIC countries attempt to dethrone the petro dollar lazy entitled Americans will BEG Washington to do whatever it takes to bring back $3.00 t-shirts at Wal-Mart.

Beckow , January 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm GMT
The world is not about to end, but the Western public space has become very stupid. Most politicians, media and academics have managed to redefine basic terms into idiotic caricatures. Concepts like meddling, trolls, collusion, etc don't mean what we are told they mean. They are all an eternal part of human society, exchange of ideas, disagreements. Expressing one's opinions is not 'propaganda', or 'meddling' in elections – it is freedom of speech. The idea that there is only one correct view – the Western liberal one – is medieval.

We are at a point when views other than BBC, CNN, NY Times , are routinely dismissed as 'meddling', 'trolling, or sometimes 'hatred'. The objective is to suppress and dismiss them. That is very dangerous for any civilisation, but for a system that was built on celebrating free speech, it is fatal.

I often hear that it is a 'natural' pendulum swing, that most people in the West don't agree with it, that it is an angry reaction to an unexpected loss ('Clinton dead-enders'), that it will self-correct over time. In my view that is missing the point and overlooks the permanent damage this hysteria has caused. If the more rational members of the elite are unable to defend rationality and freedom today – when it is still easy – they are co-responsible for the madness.

Anon Disclaimer , January 26, 2018 at 4:48 pm GMT
BDS loses spy vs spy.

https://legalinsurrection.com/2018/01/new-orleans-city-council-rescinds-bds-backed-resolution-we-were-duped/?utm

annamaria , January 26, 2018 at 5:02 pm GMT
@troll_of_the_month

The ziocon triumph in the Kaganat of Nuland (known as "liberated" Ukraine): http://www.fort-russ.com/2018/01/tribunal-awaits-latest-un-data-on.html
Comment section:

"After the Maidan the leaders of two right wing neo-Nazi organisations were rewarded with control of four ministries

-- Where are the Lobby, the Anti-Defamation League, the Friends of Israel in UK, and the whole Holocaust business? Where are the fighters with BDS?

Anon Disclaimer , January 26, 2018 at 5:25 pm GMT
Anon from TN:

Nobody will deliberately start nuclear war, but the probability that it might start as the result of series of mistakes has increased.

The US and its vassals (including other NATO countries) moved NATO troops close to Russian borders, destabilized Ukraine, Syria, cooked up "Russiagate" (which is really an FBI-gate, but sore losers would not admit it) to justify further increases in Pentagon budget (a trough where very fat pigs feed).

The Empire is afraid of losing its position, but shortsighted elites do everything to accelerate its demise. The main danger is that in its death throes the Empire will start a war, although we can only hope that even degenerate US elites understand that dead people cannot benefit by their wealth. Hope springs eternal.

RadicalCenter , January 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm GMT
Agree with much of the sentiment and some of the proposals here regarding the need to ratchet down rhetoric, pledge no first strike, and generally try much harder to reduce the risk of even a "small" nuke exchange.

But giving up our inter-continental ballistic missiles would be foolhardy, even more so if it's done unilaterally. With rivals / potential enemies like China and eventually India, who in time will be able to muster conventional forces and troop contingents far larger than ours, we cannot give up the nuke deterrent.

And the reference "the TWO nuclear-armed superpowers" is out of date. That would be at least THREE nuke-armed superpowers: China, the USA, and Russia.

bike-anarchist , January 26, 2018 at 6:48 pm GMT
@RadicalCenter

"But giving up our inter-continental ballistic missiles would be foolhardy, even more so if it's done unilaterally. With rivals / potential enemies like China and eventually India, who in time will be able to muster conventional forces and troop contingents far larger than ours, we cannot give up the nuke deterrent."

because it will keep the victims of ZIO/U$A imperial policy at bay for the victims request for REPARATIONS, when that time comes

Beckow , January 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm GMT
@Anon

understand that dead people cannot benefit by their wealth. Hope springs eternal

Well, hope is always nice. But we might not understand the dynamic nature of the global-liberal overreach that we have been experiencing. People don't behave the way Western elites have been acting without some measure of disconnect from reality. And hubris. When a substantial part of elite climbs on an irrational high horse of invincibility they become paralysed by the framework they have created. They don't want to hear other views because it makes them uncomfortable. They have given up on both principles and institutions – it is anything goes world now.

So where is the assurance that rationality would prevail in a crisis? It didn't in 1914. Who would step in and tell the morons that they have been living a lie of their own creation? That constraints are still there, that their verbal acuity has not changed how the world is, that 'soft power' is called soft for a reason – it doesn't add up to a hill of beans when it matters. The risk for any dissenter of consequence is very high (see Trump for a related, imperfect example).

Let's hope. Most bad scenarios don't actually end life on the planet, they just make life more miserable. That's what happened in the past. We might see a 'nuclear' version of that. One thing I know for sure: none of the liberal fire-eaters in Washington, Brussels or London will ever own up to this. They are born 'victims', so they will go on whining

jilles dykstra , January 26, 2018 at 7:04 pm GMT
The Dutch government tries to get a law accepted now that greatly increases the legal possibilities of our secret service to spy on anyone.
March 21 there is a referendum on the law, I expect that we will reject it, but the politicians already stated that they will reject a negative referendum.
By accident, of course, today our secret service made public that they spied on Russian interference in the USA elections, without being specific of course, 'classified', as a lot in the USA.
Jake , January 26, 2018 at 7:38 pm GMT
The Trotskyites who became in America first anti-Stalinist Democrat Hawks and then anti-Russian/Israel-first Republican Hawks have worked things so that they control foreign affairs for both political parties. And they have an insatiable bloodlust. Like the godfather of their movement, they are amoral with genocidal desires when it comes to peoples they despise. They are the type of self-righteous bullies who aspire to rule the globe to overreach and push and shove and threaten and sucker punch until the worst for the world happens.

Most regular readers of Unz Review can agree with the above. What they also need to accept is that those problems did not enter the US, or more generally the Anglosphere, with the flight of mostly Jewish Trotskyites from the USSR and Europe. The same attitudes of insufferable hubris that was basically amoral in regard to national and ethnic groups it most despised marked the British Empire.

The British WASP Elite form certainly was more refined and pleasant-seeming than the Jewish Neocon form, and other groups of people within that world usually proved able to bring the most crazed WASP Elite monsters back from the edge of the cliff. But they existed, and they caused needless trouble around the globe.

It is the mix of the two that makes the American hawkish anti-Russian, Israel-first foreign policy insane enough to try to start a nuclear exchange.

Anon Disclaimer , January 26, 2018 at 7:41 pm GMT
@Beckow

Anon from TN
You may be right, but we can't do anything about it now: much hyped democracy is a pure ruse (look at presumably two party system in the US: Republicrats always win). I just hope that the sense of self-preservation in those degenerate elites is stronger than their lies that they apparently believe themselves (even mice are smart enough for that). If not, then those morons along with innocent bystanders (99.9% of world population) would be dead. Look on the bright side: rodents and insects would be happy to inherit the Earth.

Lars Porsena , January 26, 2018 at 7:41 pm GMT
Unpopular jerk-boy opinion incoming. I honestly think the Hawaii response is pretty typical but shameful. I like the response of the guy who just tweets, 'OK, if I die goodbye, I'm golfing anyway' and turns his stupid phone off.

... ... ...

Sergey Krieger , January 26, 2018 at 7:50 pm GMT
@yurivku

Good to see you posting. I hear they are muling Ophrah. Really good choice for next president. Woman, black, fat and wealthy. Not gay or transvestite though but that's coming next. What makes me wonder how this sort of imbeciles gets elected without collapsing the state. I think it is moving slowly in this direction but there was enough to have just 2 morons in top positions and look -- no more USSR. Talk about "Checks and balances."

Makes me wonder what after Putin. I do it like him that much but he still intelligent, cool and calculating man that is not doing stupid things but neither genius.

Regarding Americans, unfortunately they never felt real pain. Like a kid who does not know that fire is dangerous. I think financial collapse gonna be trouble sooner or later with them. The best thing Russia and China can do is to undermine us dollar status and the whole financial system which was built by uncle Sam for uncle Sam benefit.

Anon Disclaimer , January 26, 2018 at 7:52 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

Anon from TN
You are right: Dutch government has already thrown away negative results of the referendum on EU association with Ukraine. What's more, it betrayed its own citizens by still pretending to investigate the crash of MH-17, even though everyone with a brain knows that Ukrainian puppet government is to blame (international airlines made this conclusion long time ago: they fly over Russia, but avoid Ukraine, flying around it, just like they fly around North Korea).

I am tempted to say that you guys elected this scum, but then you'd say that I elected Trump, which I didn't (anyway, what choice did we have: corrupt to the core mad witch would have been even worse).

Beckow , January 26, 2018 at 7:55 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

today our secret service made public that they spied on Russian interference in the USA elections

Spying is like a recursive algorithm. Next Russia will announce that they ' spied on the Dutch spies who were spying on them '. Maybe we can skip the ' motivations ': they are all spying on each other, all the time, it is their job description.

I am still waiting for someone to explain to us how is ' interference ' or ' meddling ' different from having an opinion about an election. And we all know that Americans (or Dutch) have never, ever, expressed any opinions about other countries' elections. Right. My democracy promotion is your meddling.

It is bad when you kill my cow. It is very good when I kill your cow. Monkey reasoning level?

[Jan 22, 2018] Pentagon Unveils Strategy for Military Confrontation With Russia and China by Bill Van Auken

Highly recommended!
See also: Full Speech President Trump Outlines National Security Strategy - Video - NYTimes.com
Everyone in the world can see that the United States has become a bitterly divided country, but still has a really amazing level of continuity in foreign policy between various administrations.
Notable quotes:
"... The long-awaited National Defense Strategy is a vision of US imperialism besieged on all sides and in mortal danger of losing global dominance. ..."
"... "Great power competition -- not terrorism -- is now the primary focus of US national security," Mattis said in his speech, which accompanied the release of an 11-page declassified document outlining the National Defense Strategy in broad terms. A lengthier classified version was submitted to the US Congress, which includes the Pentagon's detailed proposals for a massive increase in military spending. ..."
"... Russia, it charges, is attempting to achieve "veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor." ..."
"... "China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea," it states. "Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors." ..."
"... Both Moscow and Beijing issued statements condemning the US defense strategy. A Chinese spokesman denounced the document as a return to a "Cold War mentality." Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, told a United Nations press conference: "It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialog, instead of using the basis of international law, the US is indeed striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts." A government spokesman in Moscow characterized the document as "imperialistic." ..."
Jan 22, 2018 | russia-insider.com

The long-awaited National Defense Strategy is a vision of US imperialism besieged on all sides and in mortal danger of losing global dominance.

The Trump administration's defense secretary, former Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, rolled out a new National Defense Strategy Friday that signals open preparations by US imperialism for direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Mattis made clear that the strategy, the first such document to be issued by the Pentagon in roughly a decade, represented an historic shift from the ostensible justification for US global militarism for nearly two decades: the so-called war on terrorism.

"Great power competition -- not terrorism -- is now the primary focus of US national security," Mattis said in his speech, which accompanied the release of an 11-page declassified document outlining the National Defense Strategy in broad terms. A lengthier classified version was submitted to the US Congress, which includes the Pentagon's detailed proposals for a massive increase in military spending.

Much of the document's language echoed terms used in the National Security Strategy document unveiled last month in a fascistic speech delivered by President Donald Trump. Mattis insisted that the US was facing "growing threat from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models."

Russia, it charges, is attempting to achieve "veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor."

"China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea," it states. "Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors."

In what appeared to be a threat directed against both Russia and China, Mattis warned, "If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day."

Both Moscow and Beijing issued statements condemning the US defense strategy. A Chinese spokesman denounced the document as a return to a "Cold War mentality." Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, told a United Nations press conference: "It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialog, instead of using the basis of international law, the US is indeed striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts." A government spokesman in Moscow characterized the document as "imperialistic."

[Jan 17, 2018] Neoconning the Trump White House by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Take Nadia Schadlow, for instance. Never heard of her? Unless you've been navigating the rice paddies of Washington's post-9/11 national security enterprise for the last several years, there's no reason you would have. But she has been at the National Security Council since last winter, and is set to replace Dina Powell as deputy national security advisor , at the right hand of NSC chief H.R. McMaster. She was also the lead on the White House National Security Strategy , released last month. ..."
"... This was Schadlow's first position in government. Her résumé includes doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) under the tutelage of vocal Never Trumper and Iraq war promoter Eliot Cohen, who runs the largely neoconservative Strategic Studies program there, and whose last book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power, argued that the U.S., backed by a more robust military, must be the "guardian of a stable world order." ..."
"... What is significant about Schadlow's role in the White House -- she's reportedly a "trusted confidant" of General McMaster, who was lionized in the New Yorker for his T.E. Lawrence approach to counterinsurgency in Tal Afar in 2006 -- is not her bibliography, but her vast connections to Washington's foreign policy and national security clique, especially its neoconservative elite. If one were using the metaphor of chain migration, she would have plenty of friends on either side of the Potomac to tap for high-level placement, consulting, and advice. ..."
"... The foundation has a rich history cleaved to neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol, father of Bill, who in his own memoirs credits the philanthropic institution and its then-director Randall Richardson (heir to the Vicks fortune) with helping him jumpstart the Public Interest, known as the premier neoconservative organ, a label Irving fully embraced . The foundation also served as a key backer of Commentary magazine after Norman Podhoretz took the helm in 1960. ..."
"... Meanwhile, since 1998, the foundation has given over $10 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI was built, literally, on Smith Richardson money), which fielded many of the Iraq war architects and promoters, including Frederick Kagan, John Bolton, former vice president Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, David Frum, and Danielle Pletka. ..."
"... No surprise, then, that the worldview of people like Nadia Schadlow is no different from the wider Washington policy orbit that has enjoyed a pipeline of patronage from her former employer. She is not only affiliated with the Foreign Policy Institute, but is a full member of the Council on Foreign Relations. When she was named to the NSC staff in March 2017, along with "Kremlinologist" and former Eurasian Foundation strategist Fiona Hill, national security establishment courtier Thomas Ricks called them both "well-educated, skeptical, and informed. In other words, the opposite of the president they serve." ..."
"... That is why there seemed to be such relief upon the recent release of the Trump administration's National Security Strategy, with Washington scribblers lauding it as " well within the bipartisan mainstream of American foreign policy " and "a well crafted document that should reassure allies and partners." ..."
"... What it actually does is to reinforce Trump's turn towards a harder line against Iran, as evidenced in McMaster's recent speeches . Nikki Haley, ambassador to the UN, is threatening fellow members on the Security Council , and the Trump administration is seen as taking sides with Israel in the fragile Middle East peace process (or what's left if it). Meanwhile, the White House has just given a green light to arming Ukraine against Russia. ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is executive editor of ..."
"... Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC. ..."
"... It turns to new parties, this endless Democrat/Republican cycle is a joke. Surely there are no more people out there that can rationally argue for the two party state as being a good setup for America. ..."
"... There is a term soldiers sometimes use to characterize those who have never fought, will never fight, but are nevertheless positive that fighting is the answer to their dissatisfactions. Chickenhawks. ..."
"... The Neocons are a cancer upon the American Body Politik. When Trump was elected I and many others were hopeful that this cancer could be effectively treated, but it could not for the cancer has spread to all vital organs and is terminal and our nation will die because of it. ..."
"... "Neocons?" Actually what they are is Neocoms or Neocommunists. World domination is the name of their game. ..."
"... The folks who thought President Trump would have a less belligerent foreign policy than Sec. Clinton would have deserve as much intellectual sympathy as those who thought that he would lower premiums and increase coverage of ACA. ..."
Jan 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Over the last year critics have warned of the returning neoconservative influence on the executive branch's national security apparatus, each day a little less confident that President Donald Trump will keep to the seeming anti-interventionist impulses he demonstrated during the 2016 campaign.

News flash: We're already there.

Of course the most garish of the pro-war set -- Sebastian Gorka, K.T. McFarland, John Bolton -- are easy to identify in or on the periphery of Trump's orbit (in Gorka's case, he was cast out of the White House, only to flak away in any media outlet that will pay attention). Meanwhile, elite neoconservative voices like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have become darlings of the "Never Trump" cadre, finding new life as conservative tokens on "Resistance" media like MSNBC.

What has been less obvious, but has become much clearer in these last few months, is that other neoconservatives are quietly filling the vacuum left by Obama's cadre of liberal interventionists. Many of them had taken a pass on "Never Trumping" publicly, and are now popping up at the elbows of top cabinet officials.

Take Nadia Schadlow, for instance. Never heard of her? Unless you've been navigating the rice paddies of Washington's post-9/11 national security enterprise for the last several years, there's no reason you would have. But she has been at the National Security Council since last winter, and is set to replace Dina Powell as deputy national security advisor , at the right hand of NSC chief H.R. McMaster. She was also the lead on the White House National Security Strategy , released last month.

This was Schadlow's first position in government. Her résumé includes doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) under the tutelage of vocal Never Trumper and Iraq war promoter Eliot Cohen, who runs the largely neoconservative Strategic Studies program there, and whose last book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power, argued that the U.S., backed by a more robust military, must be the "guardian of a stable world order." In that vein, Schadlow published a book last year, War and the Art of Governance , that extols the virtues of long-term military intervention for "achieving sustainable political outcomes," requiring "the consolidation of combat gains through the establishment of stable environments." Schadlow has repeated this for years as a mantra for reordering military strategy in the wake of the disastrous wars she and her contemporaries helped sustain, in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. Call it nation-building by another name.

In a 2012 Weekly Standard commentary , she criticized the Obama administration for saying "the tide of war is receding," and exclaimed "the line of thinking that now pervades the Pentagon avoids recognizing that combat and the restoration of political order go hand and hand." While she gives a nod to "civil-military operational planning and execution," she never utters the words "State Department." No surprise there, either, since her neocon friends were responsible for the long slide of Foggy Bottom's resources and influence in favor of military leadership, beginning with the "political reconciliation" and reconstruction of Iraq, and then Afghanistan.

What is significant about Schadlow's role in the White House -- she's reportedly a "trusted confidant" of General McMaster, who was lionized in the New Yorker for his T.E. Lawrence approach to counterinsurgency in Tal Afar in 2006 -- is not her bibliography, but her vast connections to Washington's foreign policy and national security clique, especially its neoconservative elite. If one were using the metaphor of chain migration, she would have plenty of friends on either side of the Potomac to tap for high-level placement, consulting, and advice.

Why? As recent senior program director for the expansive, multi-million dollar International Security and Foreign Policy Program under the Smith Richardson Foundation , she has helped to fund and facilitate countless authors, conferences, think tanks, and university programs since 9/11, most of which hew to the doctrine of sustained military intervention towards the goal of U.S. global power and influence. That includes preemptive war strategy, counterinsurgency, democracy promotion, and the continued push for bigger military budgets and solutions to regional conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. If there was a prominent player in the U.S. security community over the last 20 years, you can bet Schadlow and Smith Richardson were more often than not connected to him.

But it goes back so much further than that. The foundation has a rich history cleaved to neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol, father of Bill, who in his own memoirs credits the philanthropic institution and its then-director Randall Richardson (heir to the Vicks fortune) with helping him jumpstart the Public Interest, known as the premier neoconservative organ, a label Irving fully embraced . The foundation also served as a key backer of Commentary magazine after Norman Podhoretz took the helm in 1960.

It is in international affairs that Smith Richardson has made some of its biggest impacts, during the anti-communist Reagan era and into the Middle East conflicts under Presidents Clinton, Bushes, Obama, and Trump. To say the foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement. Example: Former Smith Richardson research director Devon Gaffney Cross became a director of the Project for a New American Century, the intellectual vehicle that drove the removal of Saddam Hussein and shaped George W. Bush's foreign policy. In 2000, Cross was listed as one of the participants in PNAC's seminal treatise, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." The rest of the contributors are a who's who of Washington's war theocracy, most of whom have benefitted from Smith Richardson support.

Meanwhile, since 1998, the foundation has given over $10 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI was built, literally, on Smith Richardson money), which fielded many of the Iraq war architects and promoters, including Frederick Kagan, John Bolton, former vice president Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, David Frum, and Danielle Pletka.

Just as telling is Smith Richardson's continued backing of the Institute for the Study of War , headed by Kimberly Kagan, wife of Frederick, with whom she was a "de facto advisor" to General Petraeus for a year as he set about his then-vaunted COIN strategy in Afghanistan. ISW, chaired by retired General Jack Keane, known as the " godfather of the surge ," was founded in part by the generosity of Smith Richardson in 2007. It not only promoted more troops, but an extended occupation in Afghanistan, regime change in Syria , and ongoing hostilities with Iran. No surprise, then, that ISW has numerous intertwining relationships with the military and the defense industry. It received $895,000 for program work from Smith Richardson between 2014 and 2016 alone.

According to Philip Rojc of Inside Philanthropy , other recipients of Smith Richardson grants since 1998 include the the Hudson Institute ($6,032,230), the Jamestown Institute ($5,779,475), the Hoover Institution ($3,645,314), and the Center for a New American Security ($1,595,000). Totals have been adjusted to include 2016 numbers.

The last one -- CNAS -- is more indicative of Smith Richardson's broader strategy, in that it doesn't only give to hardline neoconservative outfits like, say, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (which has received no less than $500,000 since 2014 and says it helped write Trump's new Iran policy ). On the contrary, Smith Richardson has been a major patron of the conventional establishment, too, even largely Democratic think tanks like CNAS, Brookings Institute, and the Carnegie Endowment -- all of which invariably host scholars and programs that promote America's military-driven global influence, counterinsurgency doctrine (CNAS was a virtual hothouse for COIN early in Obama's presidency), and democracy promotion in places like Russia and Ukraine, a major yet failed project of humanitarian interventionists in the Obama administration.

No surprise, then, that the worldview of people like Nadia Schadlow is no different from the wider Washington policy orbit that has enjoyed a pipeline of patronage from her former employer. She is not only affiliated with the Foreign Policy Institute, but is a full member of the Council on Foreign Relations. When she was named to the NSC staff in March 2017, along with "Kremlinologist" and former Eurasian Foundation strategist Fiona Hill, national security establishment courtier Thomas Ricks called them both "well-educated, skeptical, and informed. In other words, the opposite of the president they serve."

You know the "right" kind of operator has arrived in the White House when establishment commentariat like Ricks and Josh Rogin get all gushy about their calming, "soft power" influence over Trump, which sounds like a lot of bunk when you consider their well-documented points of view.

Simply put, after years of cross-pollination brought on by a slush fund of wealthy private donors like Smith Richardson and an even more eager defense industry, neoconservative views are no longer distinguishable from the sanctioned goals of the Washington policy establishment. They are all working, really, as proper stewards of the military-industrial complex, which is essential for advancing their (sometimes competing) visions of world power politics and American exceptionalism. There is little room for realism and restraint, as voiced by this magazine and other critics.

That is why there seemed to be such relief upon the recent release of the Trump administration's National Security Strategy, with Washington scribblers lauding it as " well within the bipartisan mainstream of American foreign policy " and "a well crafted document that should reassure allies and partners."

What it actually does is to reinforce Trump's turn towards a harder line against Iran, as evidenced in McMaster's recent speeches . Nikki Haley, ambassador to the UN, is threatening fellow members on the Security Council , and the Trump administration is seen as taking sides with Israel in the fragile Middle East peace process (or what's left if it). Meanwhile, the White House has just given a green light to arming Ukraine against Russia.

Call it the new "adults in the room," if you want, or peg it as the neoconservative influence that it is. Strikingly, Dan Drezner writes that the NSS is "Straussian" in that its "subtext matters at least as much as the text." The preeminent scholar Leo Strauss is considered one of the key founders of the neoconservative movement, a fact the Washington Post columnist should be well aware of. Like most of the elites here in Washington, however, Drezner is trying to have it both ways -- calling it neocon without have the guts to say it outright.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is executive editor of The American Conservative. Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC.

Iron Felix January 15, 2018 at 9:48 pm

It is a sad state of affairs when the American people are literally dependent on sane people in Beijing, Moscow, Ankara, Tehran, and other capitals to keep a completely out of control neo-con foreign and defense policy establishment from plunging our people on the world into yet more pointless warfare.
MEOW , says: January 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm
Mainstream media seems "All Neocon." A star studded group of rationalizers. We are being gently taught to hate what the neocons hate. South Pacific had the recipe. Not for the reasons intended. Au contraire.
Beltway Roach Motels? , says: January 16, 2018 at 4:22 am
So. Well-heeled foreign interests and interventionists are buying nosebagger politicians and shaping our foreign policy under Trump, just like they did under Obama, Bush II, and Clinton.

Why do we bother having elections if neocon crap is the only item on the menu?

It's incredible. No matter how often they lie and fail, no matter how many colossally expensive disasters they cause, someone keeps letting the filth back in. They're as hardy and resilient as cockroaches, and we need to start dealing with them as such.

george Archers , says: January 16, 2018 at 9:26 am
Neocons?
Hal Donahue , says: January 16, 2018 at 9:41 am
Trump 'needs a war' to be re-elected. He knows this and who else to better start one than the neo-cons?

What is terrifying is that these same people and their ancestors actually attempted to convince Reagan that the US could win a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Reagan wisely chose 'Trust but Verify' over their strongest objections. Trump is a far cry from a Reagan.

The generations long war to destroy the State Department appears to have completely obscured the greatest US victory of last century. The defeat of the Soviet Union with little more than skirmishes.

The gloved fist approach, while frustrating to the military, was a massive success. Military solutions fail badly. One look at the history of military governments confirms their abysmal record. Yet, we have an administration preparing for war. Not at all certain, the people will follow.

mike flynn , says: January 16, 2018 at 9:59 am
Now that Trump has been effectively body snatched in foreign policy (neo-cons) and domestic (wall st) where does main st turn?
peter murray , says: January 16, 2018 at 10:35 am
As a matter of interest, and in the light of kite-flying about arming the Ukrainian nationalists, where is Ms 'Toria Nuland hanging out these days?
Peter B. Gemma , says: January 16, 2018 at 11:06 am
Good article. Trump is easily distracted from his (often right) gut feelings on policy (China, NATO, etc.) by titles: military rank, highbrow think tanks, Wall St. moguls, and power elites from the Council on Foreign Relations. With no moral compass or basic understanding of the Constitution or the ways Washington works, he is hapless and his agenda is hamstrung.
Michael Kenny , says: January 16, 2018 at 11:53 am
I wondered how far down I'd have to go down in the article before Ukraine and Putin popped up! It's the usual "let Putin win in Ukraine" propaganda. What astonishes me as a European is why people who call themselves "conservatives", whom you would naturally expect to be patriotic, often indeed excessively so, are frantically trying to persuade their fellow citizens to submit to a foreign power inflicting a humiliating defeat on their country, possibly the most humiliating that it has ever suffered in its history. I couldn't imagine Europeans behaving like that.
Stephen J. , says: January 16, 2018 at 11:57 am
Interesting article with good info. I believe "the Trump White House" is just continuing the policies of the past occupants of "The House of Blood."
[More info at link below]

August 9, 2016
The House of Blood

Its color is white but it is red with blood
The residents' name should really be mud
Instead they get fancy honors and titles
Wars for them is a musical recital

The hum of their drones flying through the air
Are killing children without due care
This is hellishly called "collateral damage"
These are the words of the resident savage

Immaculately dressed in a business suit
An eloquent speaker is this callous brute
Surrounded by sycophants and flunkeys too
Evil is what these people plan and do

War and more war is their hellish aim
Are they all devils and bloody insane?
Countries are reduced to smoking rubble
These well-dressed maniacs are big trouble

People are fleeing and dying too
From the hell produced by this satanic crew
Refugees are drowning in deadly waters
Trying to escape the endless slaughters

These helpless victims once had homes
Now they have nothing, and just roam
Helpless, homeless people on the move
With nothing really left to improve

The perpetrators call their crimes "bringing democracy"
Surely creating hell on earth is really hypocrisy
But when criminals rule there is no justice
And law and order is totally corrupted

The war criminals slogan is "responsibility to protect"
They tell that to the people whose countries they wrecked
Those still alive can hear the bombs explode and thud
A hellish "courtesy" from the House of Blood

http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/08/the-house-of-blood.html

Bobber , says: January 16, 2018 at 12:27 pm
Why would a big drug company have so much interest in foreign policy?
spite , says: January 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm
"where does main st turn?"

It turns to new parties, this endless Democrat/Republican cycle is a joke. Surely there are no more people out there that can rationally argue for the two party state as being a good setup for America.

bacon , says: January 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm
There is a term soldiers sometimes use to characterize those who have never fought, will never fight, but are nevertheless positive that fighting is the answer to their dissatisfactions. Chickenhawks.
JEinCA , says: January 16, 2018 at 1:26 pm
The Neocons are a cancer upon the American Body Politik. When Trump was elected I and many others were hopeful that this cancer could be effectively treated, but it could not for the cancer has spread to all vital organs and is terminal and our nation will die because of it.
Minnesota Mary , says: January 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm
@ george archers

"Neocons?" Actually what they are is Neocoms or Neocommunists. World domination is the name of their game.

Steve in Ohio , says: January 16, 2018 at 2:34 pm
" where does Main St turn?"

Trump won with a coalition of conservative and populist support. The two partners agree on judges, but not too much else. For those of the latter persuasion, you at least have a seat at the table in the current administration (thank you, Lord, for Stephen Miller!) Populists need to run candidates at all levels and start to groom future leaders. Somebody with Rand Paul's FP views and Tom Cotton's immigration views would be perfect.

One Guy , says: January 16, 2018 at 2:49 pm
@Michael Kenny,
Why should America care what Putin wins in Ukraine? Why doesn't the EU fight its own battles? Go on, oppose Putin. You have more to lose than America does.
Thaomas , says: January 16, 2018 at 4:37 pm
The folks who thought President Trump would have a less belligerent foreign policy than Sec. Clinton would have deserve as much intellectual sympathy as those who thought that he would lower premiums and increase coverage of ACA.

[Jan 16, 2018] How One Employee Pushed The Wrong Button And Unleashed Doomsday Panic Across Hawaii Zero Hedge

Jan 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:04 235 SHARES

Shortly before panicked Hawaiians stuffed children into storm drains and said their goodbyes on the morning of January 13, an unnamed employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (H-EMA) accidentally selected the wrong dropdown menu choice , resulting in a live broadcast to the cell phones of Hawaii residents and tourists which read " BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL ," according to officials.

Here is what happened, according to the Washington Post :

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: "Test missile alert" and "Missile alert." He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert.

At 8:07, the alert went out, with a more detailed message scrolling across television screens, reading:

"Civil authority has issued A CIVIL DANGER WARNING for the following counties or areas: Hawaii: At 8:07 AM on Jan 13, 2018... Message from IPAWSCAP. The U.S. Pacific Command has detected a missile threat to Hawaii. A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. If you are indoors, stay indoors. If you are outdoors, seek immediate shelter in a building. Remain indoors well away from windows. If you are driving, pull safely to the side of the road and seek shelter in a building or lay on the floor."

Of note, US PACOM was not involved whatsoever.

me title=

38 minutes later, a wireless alert went out letting people know "There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm."

By then it was too late: the fake warning had ignited mass panic among residents - many of whom thought they had minutes to live. One resident had a little girl get into a manhole during the threat.

me title=

me title=

Authorities were apologetic, with Governor David Ige (D) apologizing for the "pain and confusion" caused by accidentally telling millions of people death was imminent, saying in a press conference " a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button."

me title=

The following day, there were far more questions than answers. Brand new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the alert was "absolutely unacceptable," and that a full investigation was underway. Pai seemed to initially lay blame at state officials for the mistake.

"Based on the information we have collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert," said Pai, adding "Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what's necessary to fix them. We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out."

Technical Difficulties

A major factor in the 38 minute gap between the erroneous warning and the subsequent "false alarm" alert was the fact that while the state has permission from FEMA to issue the emergency broadcast, there is no system in place to send out a subsequent "false alarm" alert.

"We had to double back and work with FEMA [to craft and approve the false alarm alert] and that's what took time," said HEMA spokesman Richard Rapoza.

Rapoza says that has now been remedied with a cancellation option that can be selected within seconds of a mistake. "In the past there was no cancellation button. There was no false alarm button at all," Rapoza said. "Now there is a command to issue a message immediately that goes over on the same system saying 'It's a false alarm. Please disregard.' as soon as the mistake is identified."

The Emergency Management Agency also said it suspended all drills until the completion of their investigation, as well as a "two-person activation/verification rule" to initiate tests and missile launch notifications.

According to the Washington Post, "The agency said it would issue a preliminary report of findings and corrective actions next week. The employee in question has been temporarily reassigned, Rapoza said, but there are no plans to fire him .

"Part of the problem was it was too easy -- for anyone -- to make such a big mistake," Rapoza said. "We have to make sure that we're not looking for retribution, but we should be fixing the problems in the system. . . . I know that it's a very, very difficult situation for him."

Poor guy. Doesn't he know he accidentally wiped a perfectly good Uranium One related indictment off the headlines? Oops! Tags Disaster Accident

Comments Vote up! 1 Vote down! 8

PitBullsRule Jan 15, 2018 10:06 AM Permalink

That's very disrespectful.

Gap Admirer -> PitBullsRule Jan 15, 2018 10:08 AM Permalink

And the tards blame Trump for the Hawaii state implementation of the system.

DinduNuffin -> Gap Admirer Jan 15, 2018 10:11 AM Permalink

how long before they corrected the mistake? ... why so long?

Gap Admirer -> DinduNuffin Jan 15, 2018 10:15 AM Permalink

They called the Hot Chick Chat Line and went through all of the menus (press 1 for a Spanish chick) instead of the correct number.

MagicHandPuppet -> Gap Admirer Jan 15, 2018 10:17 AM Permalink

"a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift and an employee pushed the wrong button."

Ummm, WTF? Seriously? So someone got the "Sign Out" and "The World Is Over" buttons mixed up? Sure, Mmmmkay ;)

Sum tin fishy in Hawaii!

BaBaBouy -> MagicHandPuppet Jan 15, 2018 10:19 AM Permalink

Waz Said "Employee" Eating Donuts at the Time ???

ParkAveFlasher -> BaBaBouy Jan 15, 2018 10:23 AM Permalink

I believe the employee's proper response is "DOH!"

toady -> ParkAveFlasher Jan 15, 2018 10:53 AM Permalink

The question is, does this finally rise to the level where a public sector employee gets fired?

The union says no.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> toady Jan 15, 2018 11:11 AM Permalink

Of course no one is going to get fired. Most government "jobs" are nothing more than welfare. Turd counters collecting checks. This guy probably saw the word "test" and said, ain't no way I am takin' a test today.

Joe Davola -> Beam Me Up Scotty Jan 15, 2018 11:16 AM Permalink

Cheese-and-rice, the Test button shouldn't right next to the Real button!

stizazz -> Joe Davola Jan 15, 2018 11:25 AM Permalink

In Occupied Palestine these alerts are ALWAYS real, never a test. http://bit.ly/2EJ15F4

CheapBastard -> stizazz Jan 15, 2018 11:35 AM Permalink

Don't be so harsh on the guy. He was probably petting his therapy puppy and reading "How to Properly Punch a Nzai," and by axident hit the wrong button.

Lets face it, all those words on the screen are confusing!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-01-14/19-insane-tidbits-james-damor

BokkeDavola -> CheapBastard Jan 15, 2018 11:51 AM Permalink

I'm making over $14k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.Jobzon3.com%3Ab8eR_DQLwGRPVGtFv

RAT005 -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 11:58 AM Permalink

The new version of playing the racist card is Blame Whitey.

Fish Gone Bad -> RAT005 Jan 15, 2018 12:11 PM Permalink

It was a rioting test, plain and simple. See what people do when they think they are going to be dead real soon. Please notice this did not happen stateside where the panic could not have been contained to a few islands.

HowdyDoody -> Fish Gone Bad Jan 15, 2018 12:42 PM Permalink

Whoever it was, they have a great future as a flash-crash operative.

Socratic Dog -> HowdyDoody Jan 15, 2018 1:40 PM Permalink

More to this than that. This is from Moon of Alabama. Action precedes the official timeline.

Many of us did not receive a missile attack
message at all. This was not due to lack of
cell phone reception. Their phones worked,
but they were not alerted. They also use
the same provider.
Then, alert messages were different. Some
said that the ballistic missile threat
would expire at 6pm. Right.

Here are my own experiences. You be the
judge:

Driving towards Pahoa and reaching the
High School intersection, I saw cops
coming from the Kalapana direction with
lights and sirens on. They stopped at
every pulled over vehicle to talk to
the driver.
Then they turned into Pahoa road and
I also pulled to the side of the road,
thinking whom they are after this time.

I had just turned down the radio, where
HPR had started the news. That was at
8:01 AM.

The cop told me (both of his windows were
rolled down):
"The guy in North Korea has fired three
missiles at us. You should go home and
stay with your family."
He drove off to Paul's gas station to
talk to other drivers. His co-cop did
the same at the propane place.

My first thought was "That's bullshit."
Cops driving around talking to folks
individually while the ICBM's are
homing in. It would take those things
20 minutes to hit their target.

Fuck that shit, I am going to have
breakfast as intended. Should that
be true, I had at least a last break fast.

At the store the news had already created
panic among those who are easily manipulated.
The hysteria was quite impressive and my
reassuring them that things are okay went
in the one ear and out the other.

Mind you that I know these people for years
and I am well known for being level headed.

I get my breakfast and sit outside. A few
other guys are rolling in. Then, at 8:07 AM,
the emergency alert appears on our phones.
Those who knew, were all filled in by the
cops BEFORE the alert.

The alert caused the store to close. I did
my best to calm people down. Explaining to
them that they should listen to their body,
instead to anything the government says.
George Carlin's made that clear a long time
ago.

But people are now so disconnected from the
'Here and Now' have been so propagandized
and brainwashed, that they are incapable
to keep cool and THINK.

IF that would have been the real McCoy,
we would have had twenty minutes left
from the time the cops 'informed' people.

Then, when it became apparent that it was
bullshit, the cops drove around and appeared
to be taking license plates of those who did
not panic, but have breakfast instead.

Around 8:30 AM, Tulsi Gabbard's tweets had
made it around enough for people to calm
down somewhat.

The alert cancellation came at 8:45 AM.

Citxmech -> Socratic Dog Jan 15, 2018 1:50 PM Permalink

I'm actually kind of amazed that they actually have a missile warning system at all. I always assumed that we'd find out that kind of thing when the flash came.

Socratic Dog -> Socratic Dog Jan 15, 2018 1:52 PM Permalink

If legit, the post is enough evidence to know the whole thing was absolutely intentional. Some sort of exercise. As we know, "exercises" seem to be accompanied by the real thing with uncommon frequency. It's a marker for false flags. If you're not wondering whether some serious shit wasn't actually happening over there, you belong on HuffPo, not the Hedge.

exartizo -> Socratic Dog Jan 15, 2018 1:55 PM Permalink

that's really funny....

"listen to your body".

shovelhead -> exartizo Jan 15, 2018 2:34 PM Permalink

Some peoples bodies say "Breakfast...an fuck the nukes."

phaedrus 1952 -> Socratic Dog Jan 15, 2018 1:57 PM Permalink

There is WAY more to this story than what is being presented.

Using the Washington Compost for info could be a good analytical starting point as they are known liars and propaganda mouthpieces.

Whatever the fuck is behind this event is very significant and will, hopefully, a be exposed sooner rather than later.

shovelhead -> phaedrus 1952 Jan 15, 2018 2:36 PM Permalink

Yup.

A democrat run state. What else do you need?

Mr. Universe -> RAT005 Jan 15, 2018 12:15 PM Permalink

All I could think of was Monsters vs. Aliens and the big red buttons.

Well then which button gets me a Latte?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1CxlyMoFRs

zedwood -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 12:00 PM Permalink

Should have been more like MS Windows> "Are you sure you want to proceed?" > 'Are you really, really sure?" > "Press ESC-CTRL-HELLYES to continue" > "Are you sure?"

corsair -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 12:14 PM Permalink

Plus these two buttons should not even be on the same page, let alone next to each other.

bloostar -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 12:25 PM Permalink

Yes, like a huge, red, flashing and audible warning stating 'warning, submitting this drop down option will open all manhole covers and cause certain residents to believe cowering under a car will shield them from an inbound thermonuclear warhead'.. that would work. I'm all for it.

inosent -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 12:26 PM Permalink

That assumes you are familiar with the software and protocols. It is highly unlikely that this sort of thing would be a one screen event, given that just to purchase a $1 item online has a confirmation screen, even two.

It is also highly probable the state protocols require not only a second screen, but a second person. "bad software" ... you just earned a troll point on ZH. Congratulations!

Joe Davola -> inosent Jan 15, 2018 12:51 PM Permalink

There is a patent for something called 1-click ordering

RovingGrokster -> BokkeDavola Jan 15, 2018 12:48 PM Permalink

More to the point, having the test and real alerts in the same drop-down menu, is asking for a mis-click. Also, having a stereotype "Are you sure?" popup is asking for the average moron to click right through and realize his mistake afterwards.

Come on now - how many of us have shut down or rebooted something important by mistake because we thought the "Are you sure?" was a response to something different, like "Save configuration" or "Send coffee and donuts."

That's just plain bad software design by people who didn't think about the consequences of making the "Nuke Alert" button exactly like any other. Try this:

Missile Alert button pops up a panel with a Big Red "Live alert NOW" button, an Amber "this is a drill" button, and a green "Send the All Clear" button. If you hit the "Live alert NOW" button, you get a very lurid confirmation panel with something like "LIVE MISSILE ALERT WILL BE SENT - ARE YOU SURE??" this confirmation panel should be ENTIRELY different from the "just a drill" confirmation, and not at all like any standard confirmation panel. The confirmation popup should occupy most of the screen, and the big red "YES" and the Green "CANCEL" buttons should be large enough and well separated enough to avoid any possible wrong selection.

Yes, folks, when it comes to emergency alert buttons, it is time to "lift and separate 'em" so there is no mistake what you are touching!!

auricle -> stizazz Jan 15, 2018 2:15 PM Permalink

Why is this function not under the control of the military. Any alert would come from the military anyway. Civilians don't have the knowhow to maintain such a system. Hawaii put that on clear display.

Justin Case -> Joe Davola Jan 15, 2018 12:13 PM Permalink

Procedures are probably antiquated and should be reviewed by improved process standards. This is how things get better in all industries. When an incident occurs, root cause is reviewed and a process to prevent a re-occurrence. For equipment, methods of increasing reliability, and remedies for failures, you train it out, engineer it out or replace it.

Human error is due to lack of training or inadequate program. Management is responsible as it is in any industry and should review the current training program and testing. Management, a CEO was forced to resign for an altercation on a plane where a passenger was seriously injured by security. He sued and won compensation. It's no different in any industry.

Kickaha -> Justin Case Jan 15, 2018 12:51 PM Permalink

Fair enough. But if you read the main article, the suggested fix was to ad another layer of bureaucracy to the process. That is always the proffered solution to any governmental process failure. It fixes nothing, but eventually so many people and committees are involved in the process that nobody can be found to take the blame, and job security is maximized.

Note, also, that it took 38 minutes to issue the correction because the workers were too scared of maybe violating some unknown rules and regulations by taking charge and doing the obvious retraction immediately. I can see them sweating bullets while pouring over their regulatory manuals looking for a mandated procedure which would tell them exactly how to do a retraction of an erroneous doomsday proclamation.

I can readily see the implementation of a "fix" that will require the participation of many other government employees before the warning gets issued, and create a policy which, when followed step-by-careful step, results in the warning being issued about 30 minutes after the missile has arrived.

Not that it matters. The lucky ones will already be incinerated by then.

Justin Case -> Kickaha Jan 15, 2018 1:12 PM Permalink

ad another layer of bureaucracy

That's what Gov't is all about and why they are inefficient and expensive. There are many patronage jobs in Gov't. They don't always hire the brightest people, but ones that might be connected or related in someway with a higher ups in management.

So it's not a failure attributed to the employee, but the structure and it's inability to remove all probabilities of failure. Nothing was fixed by firing the individual, but it satisfies upper management that a remedy was implemented? The Guy's manager is responsible for the failure.

As a manager it was my responsibility to ensure my people's training records were up to date. If there were any gaps, it was my fault. Any failures were investigated to determine root cause of failure and training records of the individual were part of the investigation.

Freddie -> Beam Me Up Scotty Jan 15, 2018 11:35 AM Permalink

Hawaii is a real libtard and amazingly corrupt shithole. Endless years if using HI to import illegals, scammy C*I*A shit through Bank of Hawaii, Bishop Land Trust scam and military scam shit.

Govt worker presses the wrong button and keeps their job? LOL! What a joke.

The retards on the islands including wealthy libs and actors all go into a panic actually believing NK would launch a nuke at HI or even have the technology to do it. SUCKERS.

Mr. Class and -> Freddie Jan 15, 2018 11:42 AM Permalink

An affirmative action hire, most likely.

Justin Case -> Freddie Jan 15, 2018 12:34 PM Permalink

There was an incident at a bakery here where an individual was inside a dough kneading machine working on the agitator. An operator came and started the machine killing the mechanic inside. The operator was not fired nor charged with murder. The result of the investigation was that it was the mechanics fault for not following lock out, tag out procedures. They will review the procedures to see if they are adequate for both persons involved, operators and mechanics. They might add, if it isn't in there, that the operator do a pre-start inspection of the equipment for his safety as well.

No need to fire people for making a mistake without reviewing current procedures. Pilots make mistakes as well and when they miscalculate, people die. The transportation ministry does an extensive review on the cause of failure. They don't just fire the pilot on the spot. In a non union environment the company can just fire you even if it was a deficiency of the company's part. They'll fix their deficiency but won't call you back and apologize to you and offer you yoar job back. Firing someone will not prevent a repeat of the incident if it's the process or training that is inadequate.

Unions ensure fair treatment in the work place. They don't protect bad employees and their membership are people like you. They don't support anyone that doesn't perform his duties either. They'll report it to their union Stewart and they will issue a warning and or termination if it is on going. Terminations have to have an adequate reason not because there is a personality conflict between you and someone above you, that has moar say or is connected to upper management. I've seen people baited, so that they can fire them.

Root cause of failure investigations are very valuable in preventing re-occurrences of negative events.

Blankenstein -> Justin Case Jan 15, 2018 1:28 PM Permalink

Don't you live in Canada? Because I'm pretty sure I've seen you state that before.

Justin Case -> Blankenstein Jan 15, 2018 1:46 PM Permalink

I am Canadian, but I honestly don't recall ever posting the incident. I've been in the maintenance and reliability field over 40 years. So I follow industrial accidents and see how they are handled. It's still of interest to me.

Goldennutz -> Justin Case Jan 15, 2018 2:07 PM Permalink

Fire the pilot after he is dead?

therover -> Beam Me Up Scotty Jan 15, 2018 11:45 AM Permalink

Any company that gets subsidized by the US Government has employees as welfare recipients.

So all you Lockheed Martin, Grumman, Goldman parasites, put yourself in that category.

Justin Case -> therover Jan 15, 2018 2:00 PM Permalink

That's a misconception flaunted by MSM. The corporatocracy hates it when the slaves have something to say or the corporatocracy can't kick people around, hire and fire without just cause. Fire you and hire a nephew or brother in law. A union request fair treatment and by labor standards set forth by the Gov't. If you were in a union and there was a Guy that was sitting in the washroom reading the paper all day,