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Dec 22, 2009 | naked capitalism
Conventional wisdom is that the Internet is responsible for destroying the profits of traditional print media like newspapers.
But Michael Moore and Sean Paul Kelley are blaming the demise of newspapers on simple greed.
Michael Moore said in September:
It’s not the Internet that has killed newspapers …
Instead, he said, it’s corporate greed. “These newspapers have slit their own throats,” he said. “Good riddance.”
Moore said that newspapers, bought up by corporations in the last generation, have pursued profits at the expense of news gathering. By basing their businesses on advertising over circulation, newspaper owners have neglected their true economic base and core constituency, he said…
And Moore cited newspapers like those in Baltimore or Detroit, his home town, with firing reporters that cover subjects that affect the community.
Ultimately, he said, this was self-defeating. It would be like GM deciding to discourage people from learning how to drive, he said.
“It’s their own greed, their own stupidity,” he said…
Similarly, Sean Paul Kelley writes:
I don’t buy all the hype that the internet is even the primary culprit of the demise of journalism. The primary culprit is the same as it is all over the country, in every industry and in government: equity extraction.
Let me explain, in short: when executives expect unrealistic profits of 20% and higher per annum on businesses something has got to give. It’s an unnatural and unsustainable growth rate. For the first ten or so years of a small to medium size company’s life? Sure. But when you are 3M, or GE? Unrealistic and ultimately impossible.
So, when such rates cannot be achieved by organic growth in the business, executives start shaving off perceived fat and before they know it they’re cutting off the muscle and then shaving off bone chips. And when they’ve gotten to the bone chips they borrow other people’s money to buy new companies, load up those companies with debt and extract equity form them and then because it looks like the parent is still growing award themselves huge bonuses. It’s a shell game.
That is what has happened to the news industry in America. The excessive obsession with unnaturally high profits has led to a vicious circle of cutting budgets, providing less services, which is then followed by even more drastic cuts. The local San Antonio paper is a great example of this. Twenty years ago there were two large dailies in my hometown. Both competed with each other for real scoops. Both had book reviews by local writers, providing local jobs. Both covered the local arts and sports scene. Both covered local politics in depth and local and state news in depth. Both had vigorous investigative teams. Both had bureaus in Mexico and both had offices and reporters on the ground in DC.
And then corner offices of Gannet and Harte-Hanks were populated with Kinsey-esque managers and the rout was on … So, today, San Antonio has one daily that is as flimsy and tiny as the local alternative … And 80% of this happened before … the internet. All in the name of higher industry profits–not some overwhelming fear of the world wide inter-tubes. So, who’s profiting? Certainly not the intellectual vigor of the locals? And certainly not the writers who are all now ‘journalism entreprenuers.’ The only people who profited are the executives who obsessed over profits, to lard up their own bonus pool …
You can provide a public service with small profits for a long, long time, but if you demand large ones you will destroy it. Just ask the big banks.
Moral Hazard for Newspapers
There has been talk of bailing out newspapers for months.
But the newspapers have largely driven themselves into the ground with their never-ending drive for higher profits, which led to a reduction in news bureaus, investigation and real reporting, and an increase in reliance on government and corporate press releases.
The newspapers made a speculative gamble that reducing real reporting and replacing it with puff pieces would increase its profits, just as the giant banks made speculative gambles on subprime mortgages, derivatives, and other junk, and largely abandoned the boring, traditional business of depository banking.
Bailing out these newspapers would be a form of moral hazard equivalent to bailing out the giant banks. Instead, we should let the bad gamblers lose, and make room for companies that will actually serve a public need.
The banking industry has become more and more consolidated, which has decreased financial stability.
Likewise, Dan Rather points out that “roughly 80 percent” of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations. As I wrote in July:
This fact has been documented for years, as shown by the following must-see charts prepared by:
This image gives a sense of the decline in diversity in media ownership over the last couple of decades:
If traditional newspaper companies are bailed out, they will be encouraged to continue their business-as-usual, and new, fresh media voices will face a handicap to competition (just as the small banks are now unable to compete fairly against the too big to fails).
We need more real reporting in this country, not less. Bailing out the traditional media will create more consolidation, just as it has in the banking industry.
The last thing we need is moral hazard in media.
What Do Readers Want?
As I wrote in September:
President Obama said yesterday:
I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.
But as Dan Rather pointed out in July, the quality of journalism in the mainstream media has eroded considerably, and news has been corporatized, politicized, and trivialized…
No wonder trust in the news media is crumbling.
Indeed, people want change – that’s why we voted for Obama – but as Newseek’s Evan Thomas admitted :
By definition, establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring….
“If you are of the establishment persuasion (and I am). . . .”
So traditional newspapers are also losing readers to the extent they are writing puff pieces instead of writing the kinds of things people want to read: hard-hitting stories about what is going on in the country and the world.
Finally, as I wrote in March, the whole Internet-versus-traditional-media discussion misses the deeper truth:
The whole debate about blogs versus mainstream media is nonsense.
In fact, many of the world’s top PhD economics professors and financial advisors have their own blogs…
The same is true in every other field: politics, science, history, international relations, etc.
So what is “news”? What the largest newspapers choose to cover? Or what various leading experts are saying – and oftentimes heatedly debating one against the other?
The popularity of some reliable internet news sources are growing by leaps and bounds. For example, web news sources which run hard-hitting investigative news stories on the economy – and do not simply defer to Bernanke, Geithner, Summers and other people “of the establishment persuasion” – are gaining more and more readers.
It is not because it is some new, flashy media. It’s because people want to know what is going on … and some of the best reporting can now be found on the web.
The "official" 9/11 narrative doesn't make senseOn September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers, wielding nothing more lethal than box-cutters, commandeered four airliners, and turned them into lethal missiles, three of which managed to hit their targets – the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – while a fourth crashed in a field before it could strike its intended target — the White House. One of the hijackers had been in the United States since the mid-1990s, and the others, according to subsequent investigations, entered, exited, and re-entered the United States regularly starting in 2000.
In the years and months prior to 9/11, the terrorists remained undetected: there was not a hint, and certainly no warning, that we were about to experience the worst terrorist attack in our history. In spite of all the billions spent on "anti-terrorism" programs during the Clinton years, and the combined efforts of our intelligence community and those of our allies’, Mohammed Atta and his cohorts managed to evade detection until the day they emblazoned their vengeance across the sky and pulled off the biggest terrorist attack in US history.
That, at least, is the official story. As to what the real story is – well, we’re not allowed to ask.
President Obama’s "green czar," one Van Jones, was recently pressured into resigning. His crime? He had once signed a letter originating with one of the "9/11 Truth" organizations calling for a new investigation of the terrorist attacks. No, he hadn’t declared that 9/11 was an "inside job," as some of the more flamboyant "truthers" assert: indeed, he hadn’t challenged any one specific aspect of the official story. All he had asked for was a new investigation – and once this got out (thanks to Fox News nut-job Glenn Beck), he was shown the door.
This is the way our society deals with uncomfortable questions about "official" explanations for the inexplicable – by purging all dissenters, and even anybody who asks a question without necessarily having a ready-made answer. To the stake with them! Burn the heretics! Move along, nothing to see here – and don’t ask questions unless you want to completely marginalize yourself, lose your job, and be subjected to an intensive hate campaign.
We are asked to believe that 19 men, armed with the most basic weapons, somehow managed to elude the biggest, most expensively-accoutered intelligence apparatus in the world — and the intelligence agencies of our allies, to boot. Utilizing nothing but box-cutters and the knowledge gleaned from a few weeks at flight school, these supermen somehow managed to steer those planes into two of the most visible potential terrorist targets in the US, one of which had been successfully targeted by terrorists before. They did this with no help from any foreign intelligence agency, no nation-state in on the plot, and they did it for less than $100,000.
The more distance in time from the actual event, the odder such an assertion seems. Eight years to the day, the official account of 9/11 seems more anemic –and inadequate – than ever. Yet anyone who questions the official story – the narrative of 19 Arab dudes going on what would seem to be a rather quixotic jihad, haphazardly making their way through a strange foreign country on their own, all the while readying themselves for The Day That Changed History – is denounced as a "conspiracy theorist," a crackpot, and worse.
Of course, some of the people who challenge the official story are, indeed, crackpots: they think some kind of "controlled demolition" took place inside the World Trade Center, and that no plane hit the Pentagon.
This is very convenient for enforcers of the Official Truth: it’s easy to write these people off as nutso, and even easier to tar everyone who questions crucial aspects of the approved narrative with the same broad brush.
More critical minds, however, will not be deterred, and will certainly home in on the many discrepancies and holes in the official version of events, as well as the central implausibility of the whole affair, which is this: those nineteen hijackers simply could not have pulled it off without outside assistance of some sort, by which I mean to say help from a foreign power acting covertly in this country. The sheer complexity of the operation would no doubt have been enough to deter anyone, even al-Qaeda, from launching it in the first place: the sheer odds against it succeeding were simply too great. There had to have been some form of outside assistance – outside al-Qaeda, that is – for the plot to have gone as far as it did right up until zero hour: and I believe there was, because there is plenty of evidence that strongly suggests it.
A few weeks after 9/11, I was the first – and, as far as I know, only – writer to draw attention to the fact that, along with the thousand or so Muslims rounded up in the wake of the attacks, as many as 200 Israelis were also taken into custody by then Attorney General John Ashcroft and the feds. The subhead in the Washington Post story was quite explicit that these guys weren’t picked up for ordinary visa violations: "Government calls Several Cases ‘of Special Interest,’ Meaning Related to Post-Attacks Investigation."
What, I wondered, was the Israeli connection to 9/11? In any case, from that point on it was a legitimate question to ask, and, indeed, unknown to me, the news department over at Fox News was asking it — and, a few weeks after my column appeared, they answered it.
In an astonishing four-part series on Israeli spying in the US, top Fox News reporter Carl Cameron detailed how Israeli agents on American soil had tracked the hijackers, as they moved amongst us, and, in addition, had launched what appeared to be a wide-ranging and quite aggressive intelligence-collection operation directed at US government offices across the country. The allegations contained in his report were denied – and the story (which soon disappeared from the Fox News web site) was never followed up, but Cameron’s reportage haunts us today, and mocks us from the archives where it has been gathering dust for eight years. "Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations," reported Cameron:
"A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’"
Over the next three nights, Cameron detailed the existence of an underground Israeli army in the US armed with a dazzling array of hi-tech spying devices and techniques that enabled them to penetrate our vital communications, including those utilized by law enforcement. His reports also described the consequences for any law enforcement officials who dared raise questions about this: their careers, Cameron told us, would be effectively over.
Cameron’s reporting was viewed by millions. Of course, the Israelis and our own government denied everything. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli government, scoffed: Israel, spying on the United States? Why, who ever heard of such a thing?! The US government, for its part, disdained all such reports as "an urban myth." The Israel lobby moved quickly to make sure the Cameron reports were thrown down the Memory Hole, and Cameron was accused of – you guessed it! – "anti-Semitism," on account of having spent time in the Middle East in his youth.
Yet the story persisted. Die Zeit, the respected German weekly, ran a piece entitled "Next Door to Mohammed Atta," in which further evidence the Israelis had been tracking the hijackers quite closely was cited as coming from French intelligence sources. This was followed up by a story in Salon – hardly a bastion of anti-Semitic agitation – which gave a long and detailed account of the Israeli spying operation, as outlined by Cameron, and concluded that it was in large part meant as a diversionary tactic. The same author did a comprehensive follow-up in Counterpunch, after The Nation spiked it. Reputable newspapers like the Scottish Sunday Herald reported the known facts.
Yet the 9/11 Commission did not so much as mention this aspect of the 9/11 story. Nor has Fox News ever followed up on Cameron’s reporting: they haven’t disavowed it, either. They, along with the rest of the "news" media in this country, simply pretend it never happened. When Arianna Huffington purged me from blogging on the Huffington Post, she cited my own reporting on this story as the reason: "Oh, come on, Dhaaa-link! You know dat’s anti-Semitic!"
Really? Is Fox News anti-Semitic, too? Is Die Zeit? Salon? Le Monde? How about The Forward?
Of course, Arianna is an airhead, but her instinct for self-preservation at all costs – yes, even at the cost of the truth – is indicative of what’s involved here. I was told, before I undertook to challenge the "official" 9/11 story, that I would pay for it by being cast out of the "mainstream" whilst being mercilessly smeared. In any event, since I was never all that interested in being considered "mainstream" – in part because I knew the whole concept of "mainstream" was very over – and because the prospect of being viciously attacked didn’t faze me in the least, I was undeterred. And I remain so to this day.
What I want to know is this: does Fox News stand by Carl Cameron’s reporting on the question of Israeli foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Yes – or no? If so, then what is their loudest mouth – I refer, of course, to Glenn Beck – doing smearing someone as a "Truther" who is asking the same sort of questions asked by Fox News reporter Cameron? If Van Jones must go, because he’s supposedly a "Truther," then Cameron must go, too.
No, I don’t expect an answer to my question any time soon – or, indeed, any time at all. I just want my readers to contemplate the implications of that, and what it says about the veracity of the "official" 9/11 narrative.
THE ROVING EYE
Fifty questions on 9/11
By Pepe Escobar
It's September 11 all over again - eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The "global war on terror" is still on, renamed "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. Obama's "new strategy" - a war escalation - is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. "Al-Qaeda" remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 - the neo-cons' "new Pearl Harbor" - remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.
It's useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites' political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 "war on terror" is a "mythical historical narrative".
The following questions, some multi-part - and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission - are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of 911truth.org; whatreallyhappened.com; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers' e-mails.
None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.
1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government - as acknowledged by the FBI itself - has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?
2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours - without even a crime scene investigation?
3) How come none of the 19's names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?
4) How come eight names on the "original" FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?
5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?
6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?
7) How could Mohammed Atta's passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)'s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?
8) Who is in the possession of the "disappeared" eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?
9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US - including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's infamous August 6, 2001, memo - how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half - not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon's defense systems in the process?
10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.
11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite "My Pet Goat" in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?
12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live - as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge - or is he psychic?
13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?
14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation's seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?
15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?
16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?
17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?
18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we're at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?
19) A number of very experienced airline pilots - including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot - revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?
20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?
21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?
22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC's construction manager, "We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners." The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was "perforated" by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast - and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower - designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.
23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?
24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down - under vice president Dick Cheney's orders?
25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).
26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?
27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.
28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O'Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda's financial operations - with O'Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?
29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?
30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?
31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s' anti-Soviet jihad?
32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?
33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?
34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?
35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video - in which he "confesses" to being the perpetrator of 9/11 - released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?
36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly "retired" on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?
37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its "cooperation" with the "war on terror") and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.
38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 - under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden's information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?
39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry's Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?
40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?
41) Did Washington know in advance that an "al-Qaeda" connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka "The Lion of the Panjshir", only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda - helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.
42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?
43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?
44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?
45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft?"
46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an "airplane stuffed with explosives?"
47) When did Israel's Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by "200 terrorists?"
48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 - "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?"
49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology - which allows to remotely control unmanned planes - in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?
50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11?
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader Jason Pl pointed out this post from Jon Taplin, which starts with the less than cheery chart on US durable goods production courtesy Floyd Norris. As you can see, the only growth biz is military:
Military contracting procedures means that work will stay with domestic players. So one could take the cynical view that the US has been willing to cede every kind of manufacturing we could, and defense contracting is by nature off that list.
But does this split have to do with bona fide security concerns? Yes and no. Why have we let chip manufacture go overseas? We are outsourcing more of our chip manufacturing to China (Taiwan is the biggest single foreign fabricator, which may explain China's keen interest in reasserting control). Trade in advanced technology products is heavily weighed in favor of China.
Taplin gives a dystopian view:We have so hollowed out our industrial plant that the only thing we are now producing is weapons of war. The great British Historian Arnold Toynbee’s theory about the decline of the Roman Empire has lessons for our current age.Yves here. I have to interject. "Cannot continue?" I see tremendous inertia as far as the path we are on is concerned. We not only have bread and circuses, have version 2.0, with offerings targeted by income level and age group. Back to Taplin:The economy of the Empire was basically a Raubwirtschaft or plunder economy based on looting existing resources rather than producing anything new. The Empire relied on booty from conquered territories (this source of revenue ending, of course, with the end of Roman territorial expansion) or on a pattern of tax collection that drove small-scale farmers into destitution (and onto a dole that required even more exactions upon those who could not escape taxation), or into dependency upon a landed élite exempt from taxation. With the cessation of tribute from conquered territories, the full cost of their military machine had to be borne by the citizenry.This I know. We cannot continue on this course of decline.
While many of the elite escape taxation with their brilliant “tax shelter” accountants, the middle class (Rome’s “small scale farmers”) are being asked to shoulder the economic burden of empire.My simplistic view is quite different. Our economic power is past its sell-by date. US leadership is deeply committed to maintaining whatever hold on global authority that we can. Nukes and a big navy, which makes us the only country that can land a large army, are very helpful in that regard. How do you think our little chats with China over what we owe them would go if were weren't the world's sole superpower?
Shortly after the election President Obama made it clear that the chokehold of the Military Industrial Complex over our economy was not going to change on his watch –...After all, with 4% of the world’s people why shouldn’t we spend 45% of the world’s military spending?
While Obama makes symbolic cuts in the Military budget, the House threw in 550 new earmarks into a $636 Billion Military Budget. Lyndon Johnson thought we could have both Guns and Butter, but he was wrong. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were afraid to take on the Military Industrial Complex that the Republicans have always favored. Eisenhower was right that continuing on this disastrous course is a form of generational theft. According to Catherine Lutz the U.S. Military has “909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories.” This is truly insane. We need to bring the personnel on these bases home and start selling off the precious foreign real estate to help liquidate our massive debt.
I have only one question–Where is the national politician with the courage to say we no longer have to act as the unpaid policeman of the world?
If we don't manage our way out of our debt mess, we may wind up in the long run having to sell our "precious foreign real estate." Maybe it's time for someone to tell the DoD that failure to rein in Wall Street will create a security risk.>Ina Pickle :Yves, that is a revolutionary idea. . . perhaps literally. Why not pit the two biggest lobbying machines against each other? Hmmm . . . . .
I've been thinking that I need to reread Gibbons. Seems timely.
"I have only one question–Where is the national politician with the courage to say we no longer have to act as the unpaid policeman of the world?"cindy:
He's in the Senate. Goes by the name of Ron Paul. You know, the one that was derided as crazy, in favor of the Serious and Respectable Candidates (read: owned) in the last election.
China would be keen to regain Taiwan even if it were just a pile of rocks a la Tibet.
As for national security, one has to ask whether maintaining "all spectrum" hegemony really is in the best interest of the American people. Soviet Union went down this way, and we all know how that ended.
"The power of a nation ultimately derives from its economic production" , Chapter 1, The Art of War
July 29, 2009 | Greg Palast
It's been a good week. Robert McNamara's dead and my book, Armed Madhouse, was released in translation in Vietnam.
I don't blame McNamara for losing the war in Vietnam. After all, the good guys won. I do, however, blame him for losing World War II.
In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.
He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a
Times man. Never read the Examiner.
He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam.
Vietnamese gun boats had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Times said so. President Johnson said so. His Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said so.
But on the Oval Office tapes, Johnson said, "Hell, those damn stupid [US] sailors were just shooting at flying fish." McNamara corrected him later. They were shooting at their own "sonar shadow." But that, of course, wouldn't be mentioned in the Times.
My dad didn't need LBJ's tape to know: they lied.
As a kid, I was fascinated by my dad’s medals. One, embossed with an eagle and soldiers under a palm tree, said “Asiatic Pacific Campaign.” It had three bronze stars and an arrowhead.
My father always found flag-wavers a bit suspect. But he was a patriot, nurturing this deep and intelligent patriotism. To him, America stood for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms.
My father’s army had liberated Hitler’s concentration camps and later protected Martin Luther King’s marchers on the road to Birmingham. His America put its strong arm around the world’s shoulder as protector. On the back of the medal, it read “Freedom from Want and Fear.”
His victory over Japan was a victory of principles over imperial power, of freedom over tyranny, of right over Japan’s raw military might. A song he taught me from the early days of the war, when Japan had the guns and we had only ideals, went,We have no bombers to attack with . . . But Eagles, American Eagles, fight for the rights we adore!
“That’s it,” he said that day in 1965, and folded the newspaper.
The politicians had ordered his army, with its fierce postwar industrial killing machines, to set upon Asia’s poor. Too well read in history and too experienced in battle, he knew what was coming. He could see right then what it would take other Americans ten years of that war in Vietnam to see: American bombers dropping napalm on straw huts, burning the same villages Hirohito’s invaders had burned twenty years earlier.
Johnson and McNamara had taken away his victory over Japan.
They stole his victory over tyranny. When we returned home, he dropped his medals into my twelve-year-old hands to play with and to lose among my toys.
A few years ago, my wife Linda and I went to Vietnam to help out rural credit unions lending a few dollars to farmers so they could buy pigs and chickens.
On March 8, 1995, while in Danang, I walked up a long stone stairway from the beach to a shrine where Vietnamese honor their parents and ancestors.
Halfway up, a man about my age had stopped to rest, exhausted from his difficult, hot climb on one leg and crutches. I sat next to him, but he turned his head away, ashamed of his ragged clothes, parts of an old, dirty uniform.
The two of us watched the fishermen at work on the boats below. I put one of my father’s medals down next to him. I don’t know what he thought I was doing. I don’t know myself.
In ’45, on the battleship Missouri, Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender of Imperial Japan. I never thought much of General MacArthur, but he said something that stuck with me. “It is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone benefits the sacred purposes we are about to serve.”
Excerpted from "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" (Penguin 2003).
May 24, 2009 | Moon of Alabama
One issue I have with the U.S. media is its complete inability to reflect on what the U.S. is actually doing when they report on foreign reactions.
Today the Washington Post's Craig Whitlock is outraged that Spanish prosecutors and judges care about international crimes against humanity. He does not spend a second on thinking about how much of that may be really justified when one takes into account the openly admitted misdeeds of the U.S.
Spain's Judges Cross Borders In Rights Cases - High-Ranking U.S. Officials Among Targets of Inquiries
MADRID -- Spanish judges are boldly declaring their authority to prosecute high-ranking government officials in the United States, China and Israel, among other places, delighting human rights activists but enraging officials in the countries they target and triggering a political backlash in a nation uncomfortable acting as the world's conscience.
WASHINGTON D.C. -- American and Israeli officials are boldly declaring their authority to kill high-ranking government officials in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, among other places, delighting Zionists activists but enraging officials in the countries they target and triggering a political backlash in nations comfortable acting as the world's conscience.
Judges at Spain's National Court, acting on complaints filed by human rights groups, are pursuing 16 international investigations into suspected cases of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity, according to prosecutors. Among them are two probes of Bush administration officials for allegedly approving the use of torture on terrorism suspects, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
My version reads:
Officials at the U.S. National Security Council, acting on complaints filed by Zionist groups, are pursuing international crimes by pursuing torture, genocide and crimes against humanity, according to U.S. officials. Among them are Bush administration officials who approved the use of torture on terrorism suspects, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
And so on.
The U.S. is pressing Spain to change its laws so that international U.S. crimes, even when effecting Spanish citizens, can no longer be prosecuted. At the same time the U.S. claims it has the right to snatch or kill anyone, anywhere, anytime for whatever reason.
Not one bit of that comparison makes it into the piece. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality ..."
What you might not realize (or perhaps you do) that the journalist that cover the US Empire are themselves part of it.
The real players got their jobs BECAUSE of their ability to remain blind to this bullshit. Everyone who has an ounce of power or say in how media does its job is working achieve the same crap.
None of the mainstream media outlets are worth a shit! They keep the people dumb and sedated and bickering amongst themselves rather than focused on the limited number of wealthy, powerful assholes that keep on screwing us, generation after generation.
I think the irony of this is that Americans are so used to being screwed that if all the MSM were to focus the people's attention upon this screwing, the MSM would be treated as the cause, rather than just the messenger.
Personally I think Americans like being lied to. We still like o' dickin' the inter Clinton... the men want women with fake breast wearing make-up... who knows what women want :)
But it seems Americans prefer to sleep with ugly falsehoods dressed-up purty... just like in the movies.
Posted by: DavidS | May 24, 2009
This is the face of corruption.
"Corruption" is an extremely vague word, and purposefully. It does not connote an intent; in truth, it is exactly the opposite: corruption is an affliction of the essence, the soul, the core, or the genes. Corruption is from birth, and unquestionably so -- but ever undetectable from the inside.
This generation of the U.S. is corrupt -- from head to tail, from crown to foot. All systems are corrupt to some extent or another, but historically we see that some eras are characterized by it, marked so definitively that generations after know it first, and foremost, as a time of only misdeeds, perjury, and cynicism.
The U.S. is corrupt, and its chief enabler is the U.S. media; if a nation is a body, then the media is its voice. The U.S. media has become a shrieking middle-aged woman, demanding allowances for the evils of her thuggish boys, hulking monstrosities every one. As they stone dogs, kick children, and put fertile grounds to the torch, she stands in her doorway with her midwife, both clamoring and yammering before the moronic sheriffs and their deputies, all too stupid to see the toothless hag for what she is, even as her cunt squeezes out one after another of wire-haired, blunt-eyed imbeciles, each one determined to inherit the globe
-- or die trying.
Posted by: china_hand2 | May 25, 2009
Creators.com"In 1877, Lord Salisbury, commenting on Great Britain's policy on the Eastern Question, noted that 'the commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.'
"Salisbury was bemoaning the fact that many influential members of the British ruling class could not recognize that history had moved on; they continued to cling to policies and institutions that were relics of another era."
"Relics of another era" — thus did Stephen Meyer, in Parameters in 2003, begin his essay "Carcass of Dead Policies: The Irrelevance of NATO."
NATO has been irrelevant for two decades, since its raison d'etre — to keep the Red Army from driving to the Rhine — disappeared. Yet Obama is headed to Brussels to celebrate France's return and the 60th birthday of the alliance. But why is NATO still soldiering on?
In 1989, the Wall fell. Germany was reunited. The Captive Nations cast off communism. The Red Army went home. The USSR broke apart into 15 nations. But, having triumphed in the Cold War, it seems the United States could not bear giving up its role as Defender of the West, could not accept that the curtain had fallen and the play was closing after a 40-year run.
So, what did we do? In a spirit of "triumphalism," NATO "nearly doubled its size and rolled itself right up to Russia's door," writes Richard Betts in The National Interest.
Breaking our word to Mikhail Gorbachev, we invited into NATO six former member states of the Warsaw Pact and three former republics of the Soviet Union. George W. Bush was disconsolate he could not bring in Georgia and Ukraine.
Why did we expand NATO to within a few miles of St. Petersburg when NATO is not a social club but a military alliance? At its heart is Article V, a declaration that an armed attack on any one member is an attack on all.
America is now honor-bound to go to war against a nuclear-armed Russia for Estonia, which was part of the Russian Empire under the czars.
After the Russia-Georgia clash last August, Bush declared, "It's important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment — we mean it."
But "mean" what? That a Russian move on Vilnius will be met by U.S. strikes on Mother Russia? Are we insane?
Let us thank Divine Providence Russia has not tested the pledge.
For can anyone believe that, to keep Moscow from re-establishing its hegemony over a tiny Baltic republic, we would sink Russian ships, blockade Russian ports, bomb Russian airfields, attack Russian troop concentrations? That would risk having some Russian general respond with atomic weapons on U.S. air, sea and ground forces.
Great powers do not go to war against other great powers unless vital interests are imperiled. Throughout the Cold War, that was true of both America and Russia.
Though he had an atomic monopoly, Harry Truman did not use force to break the Berlin blockade. Nor did Ike intervene to save the Hungarians, whose 1956 revolution Moscow drowned in blood.
John F. Kennedy did not use force to stop the building of the Berlin Wall. Lyndon Johnson fired not a shot to halt the crushing of Prague Spring by Soviet tanks. When Solidarity was snuffed out on Moscow's orders in 1981, Ronald Reagan would not even put the Polish regime in default.
In August 1991, George Bush I, in Kiev, poured ice water on Ukraine's dream of independence: "Americans will not support those who seek independence in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred."
Many Americans were outraged. But outrage does not translate into an endorsement of Bush's 43's plan to bring Ukraine into NATO and risk war with Russia over the Crimea.
Bush 43 bellowed at Moscow last summer to keep hands off the Baltic states. But his father barely protested when Gorbachev sent special forces into all three in 1991.
Bush I's secretary of state, Jim Baker, said it was U.S. policy not to see Yugoslavia break up. Bush 43 was handing out NATO war guarantees to the breakaway republics.
"Washington ... succumbed to victory disease and kept kicking Russia while it was down," writes Betts. "Two decades of humiliation were a potent incentive for Russia to push back. Indeed this is why many realists opposed NATO expansion in the first place."
Few Americans under 30 recall the Cold War. Yet can anyone name a single tripwire for war put down in the time of Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles that we have pulled up?
Dwight Eisenhower, writes Richard Reeves, in his first meeting with the new president-elect, told JFK, "'America is carrying far more than her share of the free world defense.' It was time for the other nations of NATO to take on more of the cost of their own defense."
Half a century later, we are still stuck "to the carcass of dead policies."
Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
A Panaramic Analysis of American Militarism.,
November 1, 2008
This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
By Scripture Studier (WI,USA) - See all my reviews
"The New American Militarism-How Americans Are Seduced by War" is an analysis of the subject from multiple viewpoints. Andrew Bacevich examines American militarism from the point of: politicians, the military, evangelical Christians, and society in general.
In the Preface the author is quite candid and humble about himself, his idealogy, and some of the experiences that helped form his positions.
"Some will misread this as cynicism. It is instead the absence of illusion."
He doesn't attempt to lay blame.
The chapter on the neoconservative idealogy (Left,Right,Left)was very good. Some of the leaders were "devout Wilsonians, devoted to the proposition that American values are by definition universal values." That's an accurate assessment of exporting democracy.
"The conception of politics to which neoconservatives paid allegiance owed more to the ethos of the Left than the orthodoxes of the Right.On the Right they hoped to find the oppurtunity to create the alternative perception of reality necessary for fulfilling their radical aspirations." One of those aspirations was the global empire that we have now.
In analyzing the view of evangelical Christians on militarism he made this truthful observation on page 124-
"The relationship between Christianity and war has been a tangled one. Despite Christ's admonition to love one's neighbor and to turn the other cheek, Christians historically have slaughtered their fellow men, to include their fellow Christians, in breathtakingly large numbers."
Some Christian advocate war more than others.
Some more subject matter that I found revelatory were:
*The author compares current and past presidents foreign policy to that of Woodrow Wilson.
*The analysis of the Weinberger and Powell Doctrines regarding pre-conditions for engagement.
*Where the idea for prosecuting two wars concurrently originated.
*The quote from a Pentagon General assessing Rumsfeld as someone who has "done more damage to the country than we will recover from in 50 years" was sobering.
*The "priesthood of strategists". Who they are and how deeply they have affected military strategy .
*A comparison of former presidents and how they viewed and sometimes utilized the military.
Mr. Bacevich offers some sensible solutions to the current problems of American militarism, one being to utilize the National Guard more at home for Homeland Security activities. Border Patrol would make sense.
"American policymakers should employ force only with reluctance and after the most careful deliberation....and it should do so with one eye cocked on the home front, wary of claims of military necessity being used to compromise our civil liberties."
My interest in Andrew Bacevich's books was kindled by watching an appearance he made on Bill Moyer's program to promote "The Limits of Power." This book is one of the best I have read in some time.I'd rate it highly and in the league of Chalmers Johnson's books.
The New American Militarism- insightful and balanced,
December 20, 2007
By J. Barneson "AlAndalus" (Chico, California) - See all my reviews
Andrew J. Bacevich's New American Militarism is an informative, insightful, methodical analysis of key influences that have created American militarism, of how it came to be as it is. It is careful delineation of the parts influencing how G. W. Bush and the current administration arrived at their current policy, and why they regard the use of force and the deployment of American military forces throughout the world as paramount components of our foreign policy, despite warnings to the contrary from the nation's Founders. From his description of Woodrow Wilson's original interventionist intent (a moral vision shared with both Carter and Reagan, manifesting itself in vastly different ways in their respective presidencies, and one that GW Bush would adopt after 9/11), to the impact on the public's psyche of the mass media and Hollywood, the long term investment in particular world views of the evangelical right, neo-cons and the officers' corps under decades of Cold War influence--he meticulously traces how the parts fit together, and who played what role. This writer found his narration of the on-going influence of Albert Wohlstetter, the RAND Corporation and Robert McNamara, and their subsequent impact on Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Bush (II) to be particularly interesting. Simultaneously informative and frustrating was his description of evangelicals; it brought home the point that a thorough reading of Mark Twain's War Prayer would probably leave little impression on many of them.Interesting critique of American militarism,
His tying together of such seemingly disparate leaders as Carter and Hoover, Reagan and Roosevelt, Wilson and Bush, show recurring trends in how the government approaches the leviathan that is our armed forces. Bacevich describes a juggernaut used for global power projection, where all the principal policy players (presidents and presidential candidates, Congress, etc.) know that bigger is essential--as Carter discovered to his electoral dismay after delivering his Crisis of Conscience speech. (pgs. 100-102) Without falling into diatribe or invective against any of those he describes, it is quite clear who stands out as Bacevich's exemplars and who comes up short. We see the myriad influences that have lead to President Bush's Orwellian injunction that this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense, and simultaneously understand that is not a new concept with GW, as we see from C. Wright Mills' 1956 commentary on the subject, that "the only accepted `plan' for peace is the loaded pistol."
The author's description of the convictions of second generation neo-cons (heirs to the ideological likes of Podhoretz and Kagan), is instructive in that it is a mirror reflection of the current administration's SOP (American global dominion is benign and other nations necessarily see it as such, failure on the part of the US to sustain its imperium would inevitable result in global disorder, nothing works like force, commitment to sustaining and enhancing American military supremacy is essential and, a political realism is viewed with hostility, whether manifesting itself as a deficit of ideals or an excess of caution).
Bacevich sees that culpability for the current situation is cumulative, and while one or another of the players may share more responsibility for our current predicament, laying blame accomplishes nothing and does not address the issues and challenges our militarism confronts us with. The author makes it clear that (as Madison puts it) "...No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." With these points in mind, Bacevich offers in his final chapter, Common Defense, a plan of action--ten fundamental principles to abate present militaristic tendencies (heed the intentions of the Founders, revitalize the concept of separation of powers, view force as a last resort, enhance US strategic self-sufficiency, organize US forces explicitly for national defense, devise an appropriate gauge for determining the level of US defense spending, enhance alternative instruments of statecraft, revive the moribund concept of the citizen-soldier, re-examine the role of the National Guard and reserve components, and reconcile the American military profession to American society). (pgs. 208-221) I would include a final essential point in Bacevich's ten principles to avert expanding militarism--unceasing engagement, for it is only through consistent contact that we can hope to engage both our allies and foes. The indelible conclusion one draws from New American Militarism is that there are a multitude of issues that must be simultaneously addressed in order to curtain our reliance on overt militarism as a tool of foreign policy, but Bacevich also makes it clear that such a process of redress is possible. An excellent read for anyone in the armed forces, who has a family member in the military, or who has an interest in the symbiotic relationship between American society and its military.
March 3, 2007it's worse than you think,
By Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
Andrew Bacevich, a military veteran and self-described conservative, has written a hard-hitting, though-provoking work. His very first paragraph lays out what is at stake in this book (p. ix): "This is a book about the new American militarism--the misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions that have come to pervade the American consciousness and that have perverted present-day U. S. national security policy." He goes on, in the introductory comments, to note that contemporary leaders often overreach, being caught in their own hubris. He notes (p. xii): "What is most striking about the most powerful man in the world [the President of the United States] is not the power that he wields. It is how constrained he and his lieutenants are by forces that lie beyond their grasp and perhaps their understanding."
He argues that Vietnam's legacy has included the empowering of neoconservatives, the religious right, and others in coming to believe that the United States ought to project military might to advance its interests. He observes how Ronald Regan's presidency exemplified this bent. This has led to a naïve view as to what military power can do. In his view, this faith has led the United States to move in a direction contrary to some of the most important figures in American history, such as George Washington.
He concludes by quoting President Washington, as he left public life. Washington is quoted as saying that Americans ought to be leery of (p. 224): ". . .those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." Nothing need be added to Washington's words to highlight what Bacevich believes is "at stake."
His suggestions as to how the United States might address this may not be convincing to readers, but he does engage those readers in an important dialogue. For that alone, this book is to be accorded much appreciation.
January 17, 2007Relevant and Objective,
By Daniel B. Clendenin (www.journeywithjesus.net) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.
Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.
How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.
After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us. Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world. Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare." Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations. Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates. Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.
Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hotile to republican liberty."
January 3, 2007
By K. Johnson (US/Asia) - See all my reviews
Author Andrew Bacevich has superb credentials on military, diplomatic, and historical issues. A Vietnam Veteran, 25+ year career in the Army and now professor of International Relations, Bacevich is one of the few that has the experience *and* knowledge to dissect what has been occurring in American socio-political culture and society for the last several decades. Bacevich notes the current focus on the military to solve the world's problems and to promote America's interests is not the sole work of a President and Congress, but the combination of culture, mentality, political, and now primarily economic, interests. This book has tons of footnoting, which allows you to delve further into these issues on your own.
The author astutely reinforces the fact that the Militarist Mentality won't change, regardless of which political party is in control of the Executive and Houses of Congress in the United States. Here only some examples out of many:
Entry of the U.S. military into the Middle East:
THE CARTER DOCTRINE:
The Carter Doctrine was prescribed at the State of the Union Address in 1980. Another civilian prescription utilizing the military as medicine to alleviate and even cure, political symptoms. This Doctrine began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, specifically using the American military to enforce its economic interests and lifestyle dependence on oil. The Carter Doctrine was a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. It specifically stated that use of the military can and will be used to enforce U.S. economic interests.
At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:
"Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be declared as an assault on the vital interest of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (p. 181).
Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a adversary to check U.S interests. Today, that rival is gone.
Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American foreign policy interests in using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.
WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:
War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport. Live reports, video display, and laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to the civilian public at press conferences.
One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when reporting about American soldiers in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis 'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to similar to a football game. Slogans such as "Shock and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members. "Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this propaganda.
Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:
Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action figure doll was created and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval Aviator" (p. 31).
Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week in War." More simulation of the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the "Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo of a soldier, his name, age, and hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home. Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and at times tearful family in their living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always wanted to help people."
The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, ay, he ificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public. To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion is often injected into the deceased soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military cemeteries around the world.
GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:
Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture, and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing. As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly reinforced to the public of all ages and socio-economic levels.
It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.
Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center 4) California Dreaming 5) Onward 6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense
"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty thinking is perpetuated by the electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners. The government intentionally steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and outcome of most *political* conflicts.
Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time show did not honor the "troops." He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the "troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered interests, like everyone else.
The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate foreign policy. The military just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's not the military nor the men and women serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in the governmental and corporate world who must be held accountable.
General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military after Vietnam. Civilians and politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political. History will be the judge.
This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current situation the United States is in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions made by upper-class civilians from the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.
Highly recommended and relevant to our contemporary times and our future.
Andrew Bacevich did excellent research and writing in this book. I'll think we'll be hearing a lot more of him. Hopefully He'll get more access to the public. If - the mainstream media allows it.
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today, December 23, 2006By Robert S. Frey "Editor/Publisher, BRIDGES: A... (Oakton, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)
Andrew J. Bacevich's "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," should be read and considered carefully by every member of the national political leadership in the United States as well as by adult Americans in general. Bacevich brings impeccable credentials to his work in this book--professor of history and international relations at Boston University, West Point graduate, and veteran of the Vietnam conflict. His writing is engaging, insightful, and historically well anchored. Importantly, this work is highly accessible and eminently readable. The level of documentation is very valuable as well. Finally, the book is not about fault-finding and finger-pointing toward any one national figure or group.
What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical "meta-narratives" that are much more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional wisdom."
A case in point is the periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American Militarism" carefully and credibly brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions, and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today.
Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand and appreciate that the global projection of American military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors of the second half of the twentieth century.
Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
Editor/Publisher, BRIDGES: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theology, Philosophy, History, and Science
Should Democrats "ratchet down their hostility to newspapers and begin crusading on behalf of these imperiled organizations"?:
MSM, RIP, The Editors, The New Republic: ...Thirty-six percent of Americans now say that the press "hurts" democracy. Many others wouldn't express their feelings in ... such ... terms but share the basic disrespectful sentiment. Put another way, the crisis in journalism is even deeper than the crisis in its business model. It is suffering a crisis of legitimacy.
We all know the long list of scandals that has bloodied the profession--from Jayson Blair to Judith Miller to Dan Rather. But to focus only on these wrecks both misses the point and blames the victim. Just as the press has been slammed by the tides of technology, it has been hit hard by the political culture. The master narratives of both the right and the left have come to include the same villain: the hypocritical, biased elite media. And their combined grouching has helped foment the anti-media backlash.
On the right, the history of press-bashing is venerable... But during the Bush years, and thanks to Fox News, the critique of the liberal media was canonized...
A mirror version of this ... emerged on the left. In this telling, it was the timid, lazy press corps that failed to rigorously challenge the president's core (mendacious) claims about his tax cuts and rationale for heading to war. Very valid criticisms. But these specific objections morphed into populist broadsides against what the left came to describe as "the mainstream media"--avatars of establishmentarian groupthink who bend to the latest conventional wisdom emerging from D.C. cocktail parties and neurotically fret that they might be just as biased as their conservative critics allege. On The Huffington Post and its ilk, you would find rants about how "Beltway media really makes no effort to do anything other than parrot totally out-of-touch conventional wisdom--no matter how inane, stupid and ridiculous it is."
This rhetoric creates a poisonous atmosphere. By assaulting the credibility of the press, it destroys its authority in the culture, giving cover to politicians who would rather avoid dealing with reporters in the first place. ... When the administration needed to make its case, it took to the local press or Fox News, where it had no fear of probing questions.
At times, Obama has hinted that he will borrow from the Bush playbook and deal with the press only as he pleases, using new technology to vault over the old arbiters. Fortunately, that hasn't been his methodology in recent weeks... This is fortunate, because Obama is presiding over a turning-point moment in media history.
Obama can help set a tone for liberals, convincing them to ratchet down their hostility to newspapers and begin crusading on behalf of these imperiled organizations. The media deserves liberal critics, who hold it accountable. But it also deserves liberal defenders because a press working toward the ideal of objectivity is often the only means of blunting government or business run amok... Even the press's fiercest critics have been forced to acknowledge and fear its findings--an authority that will never exist in a world consisting entirely of partisan outlets. ...
Many venerable newspapers and magazines will close in the coming weeks and months; the ones that remain will be attenuated. But the old ideals embodied in these institutions must not be permitted to join the carnage.
When the press does its job well, it deserves defenders, and when it does a lousy job, it deserves being taken to task. The complaint seems to be that the criticism is without foundation, and there's some of that, but the fundamental problem is not, in my view, the people doing the criticizing, it's the media companies themselves. The argument also seems to treat "media" as something other than Fox News. I agree that the term journalism conjures up another image, as it should, but presently Fox News isn't clearly separate from other media outlets, far from it, and the commingling of all of these sources of information in the minds of the public is part of the problem. If journalists in the mainstream media want respect, they need to differentiate themselves from the "partisan outlets," including calling foul loudly and in no uncertain terms when Fox or whomever crosses the line, and they also need to do a better job themselves of establishing and maintaining their credibility through solid reporting.
While recovering from an extracted wisdom tooth this morning, I cheered up when I saw that Talking Points Memo and other blogs have picked up my grousing about George Will’s error-laden global warming column in the Washington Post. When I first became aware of Will’s column on Monday, it seemed to me the perfect example of the general problem with treating op-ed pages as “opinion.” That is, if by opinion, you mean that someone doesn’t have to adhere to the facts. I could state that the Earth is 6000 years old, and no one would dare correct me, because it’s just my opinion. (I guess that’s the rationale that led Forbes and US News to run pieces by young-Earth creationists as “commentary” a couple weeks ago in “honor” of Darwin’s birthday. [Okay. No more air quotes. Promise.])
Now we learn via Andrew Alexander, the Washington Post’s ombudsman, that the editorial page has a whole team of fact-checkers. Or at least there are personal assistants to George Will, a couple syndication editors, and Post copy editors who have been identified as fact-checkers. Somehow, this army all decided that Will’s piece was just dandy. Even weirder was the post-modern refusal to run a correction from Alan Shearer, the Washington Post Writers Group editorial director: “We have plenty of references that support what George wrote, and we have others that dispute that. So we didn’t have enough to send in a correction.”
It seems as if the Washington Post just doesn’t think this is important. Via Jay Rosen I learned that Alexander’s inaugural ombudsman column today has nary a mention of the affair–even though Alexander himself made inquiries. Maybe Alexander just wanted to say “Hello, World,” in his first piece, without diving straight into any particular complaints. That’s fine. Let’s see what he writes about once the niceties are out of the way. (He invites email: email@example.com )
My own opinion is that this was a serious screw-up, but not an easy one to solve in any systemic way. In an ideal world, editorial pages would employ full-time fact-checkers who felt no fear in pointing out small and large errors of fact. Only after their objections had been satisfied would a column see the light of day. That’s what happens to articles at some magazines today.
In the real world, though, a lot of magazines don’t have fact-checkers on staff, and they expect writers to do the fact-checking themselves. It’s particularly tough for newspapers, which churn out so many stories a day. To fact-check those stories well, they’d have to hire back a fair amount of the people they’ve laid off in recent years. I assume the same probably goes for editorial pages, although I can’t say for sure, never having dealt with them myself.
Still, it remains seriously weird for a national newspaper to run a piece that they claim has been thoroughly fact-checked, which has since been showed to be plainly flawed. It’s also weird for it to then refuse to run a correction based on a bogus sense of balance about the evidence of how much ice there is in the world and what that means for climate change.
A lot of people have left comments here complaining about George Will. And others have then accused them (and me) of being part of a left-wing conspiracy, attacking Will while letting the inaccuracies of others slide by. For me this is not really about Will. It’s about how newspapers and magazines succeed or fail to convey science as accurately as possible. And this case is a textbook example of failure. I hope something is learned from it.
[Update, 2/22: I’ve added a new post addressing some confusion over some late-breaking news about the satellites that measure ice. And along the way, we are reminded of just how weak the multi-layered fact-checking at the Washington Post editorial page is.]
February 21st, 2009 3:50 PM by Carl Zimmer in Global Warming, Meta
5 Responses to “You Call That Fact-Checking?”
- Paul Riddell Says:
February 21, 2009
Having a bit of a journalism background, it’s easy to apply Riddell’s Law (”Any sufficiently developed incompetence is indistinguishable from conspiracy”) to understand why the factcheckers didn’t call Will on his gibberish. Even before the big newspaper layoffs, most factcheckers were and are interns or part-time wage slaves hopeful that they’d be hired if they just shut up, take the abuse, and continue to kiss editorial butt. The last thing you want to do, in that situation, is point out that one of the paper’s star columnists is full of garbage, especially if you can point out line and verse.
Speaking as someone who faced a literal temper tantrum when an assistant editor discovered that I was getting more and better reviews of my articles than he was for his, I can tell you that nothing combines an ego big enough to produce tides and a skin too thin to be used for condoms than a newspaper columnist. This is especially true when the critic is a part-time employee within the columnist’s own organization, the columnist has an overarching sense of his own importance, and when the paper’s editors are too cowardly, lazy, or arrogant to tell their drinking buddy to rewrite or kill the column. That’s why nobody was willing to face Will’s wrath.
Tom Curley, head of Associated Press, says that US military officials threatened to "ruin" the AP if it covered the war in Iraq in unflattering ways. [ Harper's ]
The US State Department will spend about $4.7-billion on "public relations" inside the US this year. The biggest chunk of that, not surprisingly, is spent on advertising and recruiting aimed at adolescents and young adults to get them into the war machine. I'm a little surprised that AP is willing to use the word "propaganda" to describe what the Pentagon is doing, but of course that's the correct word, and it's either illegal or ought to be.
[ Associated Press ]
"If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us."
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