“As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot
stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility
while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about
the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining
an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot
pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city
swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those
of the rest of the world combined.”
New American militarism is connected with the desire to establish global neoliberal empire ruled
by the USA (the dream of total world dominance). It became official policy since the collapse
of the USSR and involves "heliocentric" view on foreign policy, when the USA is the center of
the world order and other states just rotate around it on various orbits. The US population is by-and-large-completely
brainwashed into this vision.
Opposition to the US militarism is almost non-existent due contemporary US popular culture infused
with the language of militarism and American exceptionalism. As Bacevich noted:
In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with
heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have
managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America’s uniformed
military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical
Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honor, extraordinary technological aptitude and
sheer decency of the nation’s defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of ‘virtuous
men and perfect weapons’, as one reviewer noted. ‘All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance
and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired.
Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.’ Indeed, in the contract that he signed
for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad
The "New American militarism" or as it called "Neocon mentality"
is not that different from the early Soviets militarism (of Trotskyite variety), eager to spread
the blessings of Scientific Socialism toward other countries on the tips of bayonets. Here the
role of scientific socialism is played by neoliberal ideology. With the slogan "Transnational
elite unite" and Davos style Congresses of the new "Neoliberal International" of comprador
elites. While converting other countries into neoliberal model using color revolution of direct military
invasion or combination of both) are disguised as spread of "democracy".
In this new Crusade for world hegemony the key ideas of Trotsky Permanent Revolution remains intact
-- a crusade for establishing new social system on all counties on the Earth. This is just Great Neoliberal
Crusade, instead of Communist Crusade. This new justification for Crusades has the same problems
as two previous. But it does not matter as the key role of democracy here is the same as in quote "the
goal justifies the means"
Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. he avoids the term neoliberalism
and did not try to explain new American militarism in terms of the quest for neoliberal empire expansion.
But he is a very good observer and the books contain many insights into US elite thinking and blunders.
Among them we can note two:
While all three books are excellent and raise important issues, they overlap. Probably the
most original and the most important on them is Washington Rules, were Bacevich attempts to explain
"Permanent War for Permanent Peace" that the USA practice since the end of WWII. All three books have
the same weaknesses: Bacevich does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion
and "New American Militarism" and regime of permanent wars that the USA pursue since WWII.
He provide sharp critique of neocons, but never ask the question: which political forces brought
those pathetic second or third rate thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy
and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle.
He also mistakenly believe that American people (who were completely estranged from any influence
on nation's policies) bear some guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred
of the largest US corporations. In other words he does not understand that the USA is yet another occupied
[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace
The foreign policy of the USA since 1945, but especially, after the dissolution of the USSR was and
is "open militarism". Recently John Quiggin tried to define militarism is came to the following
100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the
catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged
down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical
detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the
War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative.
Wikipedia offers a definition
of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory
and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population
in nearly every country in the world.
Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain
a strong military capability and be prepared to use it
aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national
This new epidemic of the US militarism started after the dissolution of the USSR was called by Professor
Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army) it New
global interventionism is used to achieve those ends.
Professor Bacevich had shown that the main driver of the US militarism is neocons domination of the
US foreign policy, and, especially, neocons domination in State Department regardless of whether Republicans
or Democrats are in power. They profess that the US that is uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide
foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II,
Vietnam, and Iraq. And that establishing and maintaining the neoliberal empire is worth the price we
pay as it will take the USA into the period of unprecedented peace.
Bacevich scored a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this
scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States
into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive "perpetual war for perpetual peace".
Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this
scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States
into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions
take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility
to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants --
and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence,
to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on
a policy of global interventionism.
Lessons that President Obama is clearly never able to learn. In this sense his book
Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections
that some may find very troubling as it suggest that the USA elite is suicidal and is ready to sacrifice
the county for achieving its delusional goal of world domination.
UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII:
September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan
Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).
The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American
foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration
of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration
to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.
Introduction: Slow Learner
The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in
the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany
(4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War
he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).
"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition"
(10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history
shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century")
and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United
States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection,
and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism")
together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).
In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the
main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks
and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks
and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on
Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).
This book aspires to
(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;
(2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;
(3) explain how itis perpetuated;
(4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;
and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).
The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the
reining national security paradigm" (16-18).
Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.
As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen
above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz.
that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles,
and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).
It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain
a worldwide network of bases (22-23).
Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture
in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called
this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).
American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came
about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential
administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).
Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34).
More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).
Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA
playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into
a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes
to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and
LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American
anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay
of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).
Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control
Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle
led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional
forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).
This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited
aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).
McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced
the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what
they wanted" (66-72).
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible"
Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but
Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).
U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this
(albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).
Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy
turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest
in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).
He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain
the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).
Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.
William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15).
A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued
in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic
and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment,
mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious
damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).
Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored"
(127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent
verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The
War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus
that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).
By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election
"sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). And the end of the Cold War posed
no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).
Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity
The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "notretrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The new mission
was not American defense but facilitation of a new world order (148-50). After 9/11 this pretense
was dropped and "[a]ctivism became the watchword" (150, emphasis in original;150-52). Resorting to
war became "notably more frequent and less controversial" in 1980-2000, finding "its ultimate expression
in the Bush Doctrine of preventive war" (152-53). Americans "passively assented" (154).
Behind the scenes, the shape this took was struggled over by the officer corps and civilian semi-warriors
pushing RMA(Revolution in Military Affairs) (154-64).Initially, U.S. élites held that victory in
Iraq demonstrated that speed could be substituted for mass in military campaigns (165-75). But the
experience of the occupation revealed this to be a fantasy (175-81).
Ch. 5: Counterfeit COIN.
Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, replacing "shock and awe" as "the Long War" replaced the "global
war on terror," is the latest doctrinal effort to preserve the Washington rules (182-86). The so-called
"surge" implicitly marked a quest for conditions allowing the U.S. to leave Iraq without admitting
defeat (186-91).Gen. David Petraeus emerged as an advocate (and as salesman, through FM3-24, the
manual he revised and which Bacevich insists is in its emphasis on narrative replete with postmodernism)
of counterinsurgency doctrine as "a substitute [for warfare] suited to the exercise of great power
politics in the twilight of modernity" (197; 191-97). Implicitly, the manual argues that "war as
such . . . no longer worked" (198; 198-202). Petraeus took credit for progress in Iraq that he did
not achieve (202-04).
The general with a Princeton Ph.D. was lionized with a view to normalizing war and lowering expectations,
a view now embraced by the Obama administration(205-11). Proponents of global counterinsurgency (GCOIN)
emerged, like John Nagl and Gen. Benet Sacolick (211-13). Obama embraced the GCOIN version of the
Long War with Gen.Stanley McChrystal to carry it out in Afghanistan, forfeiting the opportunity to
reassess American policy (213-21).
Ch. 6: Cultivating Our Own Garden.
Time-honored no-nonsense American pragmatism has turned into an absurdity-swallowing herd mentality
(222-23). The problem set the U.S. faces has radically changed from the time of the early Cold War,
but the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) that proposes to address them remains essentially the same (224-25).Eisenhower
would have been appalled(225-26). The size of the Pentagon budget, the size of the U.S. nuclear
arsenal, and the extent of overseas military presence cannot be justified(226-27).
These persist because of the interests they serve, not the mission the fulfill, and are likely
to do so for sometime (228-30). Bacevich invokes George Kennan, William Fulbright, and Martin Luther
King Jr. in urging that the U.S. needs a new approach, to model freedom rather than impose it (231-37).
First and foremost, America should save not the world but itself (237).
Bacevich proposes a new trinity:
the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests;
soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil;
force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War
The American public must shoulder its complicity in what has happened, fostered by an all-volunteer
force and debt-financed budgets (241-47). It is tragic that Barack Obama, elected to institute
change, has lacked the courage to alter the Washington rules, instead "choosing to conform"
(247-49). "If change is to come, it must come from the people"(249). The need for education "has
become especially acute" (249; 249-50).
Except from Macmillan
Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young
man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes
to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination.
All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.
My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with
precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not
long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time
in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most
famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end
of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the
communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter
den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened.
The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted.
Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the
Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary
Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on.
The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans
who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date—
1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity,
tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle
of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those
parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted,
then heroically overthrown.
A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War
II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the
"long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third
parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating
events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.
.... ... ...
Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire,
East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.
... ... ...
Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything
with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted
pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray
... ... ...
Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction:
that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed
and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies,
and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength
from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant
for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict
America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places
testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States
had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned
to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life
and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such
an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve as to believe that the
American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had
been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast
Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had
simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American
power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom,
not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.
The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and
habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which
I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and
catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman
had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.
Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although
the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable
anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water
and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.
The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered
a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our
Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for
example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil
answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.
Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected
the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner.
Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed
me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and
My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was,
after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those
days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required
curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the
history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy,
which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste
of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted
myself to ensuring that they remained inert.
Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War,
my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity.
In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard.
After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself
on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental
life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform,
that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson
that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike
journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly
accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab
one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.
Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.
History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead,
it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly
misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently
attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions,
while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars
with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I
had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half
of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What
I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially
George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition.
Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes
of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving
nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and
hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global
war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won,
and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords.
During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled
strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the
worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely.
What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional
wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking
the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at
even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past,
to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed
to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I
had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia.
Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept
certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education
accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had
to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply
wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics
is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to
engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright
foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring
form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of
statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global
dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply
embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.
The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and
charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo.
In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save,
liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what
he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global
leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow
citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence
for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured what remains
even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American
global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place
in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied
for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So,
too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.
Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal
their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence
to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your
prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty
Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose
the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well.
Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard
to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion
(often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of
global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities
staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and
large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake
of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American
identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic
Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions
veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in
Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration
of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing
armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them
to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about
falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall
primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper
of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate
to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France,
it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great
Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a
network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong.
Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying
on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.
The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order
altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered
to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the
armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals.
Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important
elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials
of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence,
to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats
by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose,
the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and
police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility
to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and
Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy
regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House.
From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines
the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used
here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by
people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state.
Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial
branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security
state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various
agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to
select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired
military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches
beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and
major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic
entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this
world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of
the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression;
second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses
and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain
views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves
have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious
and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or
"radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status
quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked
two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and
power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the
stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less
respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving
the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century.
Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security
strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy
of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled
the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of
the past decade have demonstrated.
To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly
evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise,
the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong
its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American
Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially
if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense,
the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been
the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to
America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War,
thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for
the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary
to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.
In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which
the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided
an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and
the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether
for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore
problems demanding attention here at home.
Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting
to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications
of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness
to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then
real education just might begin.
In their article ‘The American Century’ Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now?"
Conn Hallinan and
Leon Wofsy outlined important
reasons of the inevitability of the dominance of chicken hawks and jingoistic foreign policy in
the USA political establishment:
U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global
challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?
There’s something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.
Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative
nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we’re locked into seemingly
irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed
powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating
cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?
The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world,
but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous
military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms
of “world order.”
While this illusion goes back to the end of World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse
of the Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed “American Century.” The idea
that the United States had “won” the Cold War and now — as the world’s lone superpower — had the
right or responsibility to order the world’s affairs led to a series of military adventures. It started
with President Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on with George W.
Bush’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration’s
own misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.
In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound
consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions
that drive this impulsive interventionism.
It’s this disconnect that defines the current crisis.
Acknowledging New Realities
So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to
First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our
tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling
crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be dealt
with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also holds for
the resurgent danger of nuclear war.
Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict,
terror, and human suffering. There’s no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated
problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.
Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international
cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the
major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent, including through
alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into “friend” and “foe” according to our perceived
interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests
in the 21st century.
Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence
is shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated
global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and Berlin,
alternative centers of economic
power are taking hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations
and alliances are springing up: organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South
Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people); the Union of South
American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.
Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous
domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out
over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and
our infrastructure crumbles.
Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional.
Short Memories and Persistent Delusions
But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us
pause, our government continues to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate
to the rest of the world.
The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light
of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are
tapping neoconservatives like
and Paul Wolfowitz
— who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders
seem to forget that following this lot’s advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first
place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.
While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited,
our government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops
back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State
(ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant to find common
ground in the fight against ISIS with designated “foes” like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to
allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine
barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government,
despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.
A “war first” policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives
like former Vice President
and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman
Though it’s attempted to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions
with planned military realignments like the “Asia
pivot” aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It’s also taken a
more aggressive position than even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.
We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an “American Century.” International
order cannot be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don’t learn to take
our common interests more seriously than those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of
war, there may well be no tomorrows.
There’s a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy
must confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the
name of “American exceptionalism,” it’s the deeply held belief that American politics (and medicine,
technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief
is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.
Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact
they’ve dropped from 1st place to 14th place in the number of college graduates.
We’ve made students of higher education the most indebted section of our population, while falling
to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic
Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those
in the rest of the world.
Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization’s ranking of health
care systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more recent
Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations
The old anti-war slogan, “It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the
Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier” is as appropriate today as it was in the
1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets
over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.
But challenging the “exceptionalism” myth courts the danger of being labeled “unpatriotic” and
“un-American,” two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning
The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology “superior” is hardly unique. But no
other country in the world has the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview
The United States did not simply support Kosovo’s independence, for example. It bombed Serbia
into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar
Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force
in regions thousands of miles from its borders.
The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world’s military spending.
It has hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo
and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny
bases called “lily
pads” of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson
estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at
its height in 1895.
The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans
have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were
major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some
were quick “smash and grabs” like Panama and Grenada. Others are “shadow wars” waged by Special Forces,
armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term “war” as the application of organized
violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945.
The Home Front
The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.
According Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan
and Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around
$6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related
items. The “official” defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn’t include such items as
nuclear weapons, veterans’ benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions
a year in interest we’ll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already
paid out $316 billion
The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.
We spend more on our “official” military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human
Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11,
spent $70 million an hour on “security” compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.
As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic
inequality. The poor and working millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic
problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply
racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth —
continues to plague our homeland.
The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security
state to levels that many dictators would envy. The
Senate torture report, most
of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus
the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.
Bombs and Business
President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that “the business of America is business.”
Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in American foreign policy.
Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions
lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that
its products don’t always emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the
most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn’t work. It’s over
budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful
corporations who have shoved this lemon down our throats.
Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals.
Both combine to try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil
and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.
Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the
U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 “Carter
Doctrine” — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin
America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:
“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded
as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled
by any means necessary, including military force.”
It’s no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition
with China. But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests
of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.
Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international
tensions. It’s critically important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward
alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.
As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations
will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international
relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the impulse to respond by military
means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some
governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.
Finding the Common Interest
These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.
There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise
or transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential
for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social movements here and abroad respond
to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in “American
Century” exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.
There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty,
to rising messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only
the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear exchange
between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.
Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of
humanity, historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and
survival. The need to change course is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an
ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity.
Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around
After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience
shows that elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant
change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances
have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public opinion in
a way the political establishment could not defy.
The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican
administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition
could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about even as the basic character of society
is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and other
colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated
in the United States. President Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs
has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small band of activists whose initial
efforts were labeled “quixotic.”
There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger
of the course we’re on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of
the public — are beginning to say “enough” to war and military intervention all over the globe, and
the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into “friend or foe.”
This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded
into supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans
that “over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism.” Only 37
percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State
numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force,
46 percent opposed it.
It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public
into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS,
disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it
has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war,
a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.
Making Space for the Unexpected
Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?
Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses
negotiation, diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.
However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the
candidates to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even
most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches further
into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.
Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither
— who sense the futility of the course we’re on. These voices have to be represented or the election
process will be even more of a sham than we’ve recently experienced.
One can’t predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement
suggests that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward,
although a limited bilateral pact
substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in
the U.S.-Russian joint action that
chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite
from U.S. hawks and the Israeli government. More recently, there is Obama’s bold move — long overdue
— to restore diplomatic
relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there
is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.
We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations.
We are certain that there is much we’ve missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S.
foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests
of the majority of the world’s people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.
If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy,
and encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great
that finding common ground trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won’t all agree with
each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition
around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern
of political action.
So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do
we consider the problem of power?
The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists
to the potential influence of the general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as
well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure itself.
Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations came together to form Syriza, the political party
that was successfully elected to power
on a platform of ending austerity. Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the number-two party
in the country — came out of massive demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots
up. We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences in both countries demonstrate
that there are multiple paths to generating change.
Certainly progressives and leftists grapple with the problems of power. But progress on issues,
particularly in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn’t be conceived of as dependent
on first achieving general solutions to the problems of society, however desirable.
... ... ...
Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear
online at Dispatches From
the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology professor and long-time political activist. His comments
on current affairs appear online at Leon’s
"...These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly
everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended. "
"...One is reminded of
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon a Hill,
the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the American
mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged the idea
of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the globe. Along
the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration and warning:
Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged a shining beacon,
worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down the throats of the
"...Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation
in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation
is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question hovered
for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored assumptions
and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady course toward disaster.
"...Barack Obama once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules
by escalating an unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped,
have been illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed. "
"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist
wrote in his autobiography. "Especially we ever-successful Americans -- conscious, intelligent, illuminating
failures." What Steffens meant was that a people confident in righteousness need occasionally to
be reminded of their fallibility. The past 50 years have produced failures aplenty -- the Bay of
Pigs, Vietnam and Iraq among them. Unfortunately, as Andrew Bacevich and John Dower demonstrate,
the light of failure has not penetrated the darkness of delusion. As a result, wars provide a repeating
rhythm of folly.
Rules" and "Cultures
of War" are two excellent books made better by the coincidence of their publication. In complementary
fashion, they provide a convincing critique of America's conduct of war since 1941. Steffens would
have liked these books, specifically for the way they use past failures to explain the provenance
of our current predicament.
Read "Cultures of War" first. It's not an easy book, but it is consistently perceptive. Dower
examines Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Sept. 11 and the second Iraq War, drawing disconcerting linkages.
Pearl Harbor and Iraq, he feels, demonstrate how otherwise intelligent leaders are drawn toward
strategic imbecility. Both attacks were brilliantly executed in the short term, but neither
paid sufficient attention to the long-term problem of winning a war. More controversially, Dower
pairs Hiroshima with Sept. 11, both acts of terror born of moral certitude. Osama bin Laden and Harry
Truman justified wanton killing with essentially the same Manichean rhetoric. Motives, context and
scale might have been different; methods were not. For both leaders, the ability to separate good
from evil made killing easy.
In 1941, Americans drew comfort from the stereotype of the irrational Oriental. They assumed that
the Japanese would be easily defeated because they were illogical -- as their attack upon Pearl Harbor
proved. That attack was indeed illogical (given the impossibility of defeating the United States
in a protracted war), but it was not peculiarly Japanese. As Dower reveals, the wishful thinking,
delusion and herd behavior within the court of Emperor Hirohito was a symptom of war, not ethnicity.
The same deficiencies, in 2003, convinced those in the Oval Office that invading Iraq was a good
Since the culture of war encourages patterned behavior, folly proliferates. This is the essence
of the Washington rules that Bacevich elucidates. The rules dictate that protection of the American
way of life necessitates a global military presence and a willingness to intervene anywhere. Power
and violence are cleansed by virtue: Because America is "good," her actions are always benign.
These rules have pushed the United States to a state of perpetual war. With enemies supposedly
everywhere, the pursuit of security has become open-ended.
The alternative, according to Bacevich, is not isolationism or appeasement, two politically loaded
words frequently used to pummel those who object to Washington's behavior. He advocates, instead,
a more level-headed assessment of danger, advice all the more cogent since it comes from a former
soldier. Iraq and Afghanistan did not threaten America; in fact, those countries and the world have
become more dangerous because of heavy-handed American intervention. Nor does North Korea pose a
threat. Nor did Vietnam.
One is reminded of
who, in 1630, told the future residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "We shall be as a City upon
a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." Over subsequent decades, Winthrop's sermon became the
American mission, fired by self-righteousness and fueled by self-confidence. From that mission emerged
the idea of Manifest Destiny -- American ideals should spread across the continent and around the
globe. Along the way, Americans lost sight of what Winthrop actually meant. His words were both inspiration
and warning: Aspire to greatness, but remain honorable. Power lies in virtue. Winthrop envisaged
a shining beacon, worthy of emulation. He saw no need to come down from the hill and ram ideals down
the throats of the recalcitrant.
The power of virtue is Bacevich's most profound message. Instead of trying to fix Afghanistan's
Helmand Province, he
insists, Americans should fix Detroit and Cleveland. Instead of attempting to export notions of freedom
and democracy to nations that lack experience of either, America should demonstrate, by her actions,
that she is still a free, democratic and humane nation. Her real strength lies in her liberal tradition,
not in her ability to kill.
Back in 1963, the Kennedy administration was faced with a steadily disintegrating situation
in Vietnam. At a turbulent cabinet meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked: If the situation
is so dire, why not withdraw? Arthur Schlesinger, present at the meeting, noted how "the question
hovered for a moment, then died away." It was "a hopelessly alien thought in a field of unexplored
assumptions and entrenched convictions." The Washington rules kept the United States on a steady
course toward disaster.
Those unexplored assumptions and entrenched convictions have now pushed the United States
into a new quagmire. Despite that predicament, both Dower and Bacevich try to end positively. "If
change is to come, it must come from the people," argues Bacevich. Dower agrees. But these feeble
attempts at optimism are the least convincing parts of two otherwise brilliant books. Barack Obama
once promised that change was coming, but then quickly adhered to the old rules by escalating an
unwinnable and certainly unaffordable war in Afghanistan. Failures, as Steffens hoped, have been
illuminating, but after each flash of light, darkness has prevailed.
Gerard De Groot is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
and author of "The Bomb: A Life."
For his first 40 years, Andrew Bacevich lived the conventional
life of an army officer. In the military world where success depended on conformity, he followed
the rules and “took comfort in orthodoxy…[finding] assurance in conventional wisdom.” Comfort, that
is, until he had a chance to peer behind the Iron Curtain, and was shocked to find East Germany more
third-world shambles than first-rate threat.
That experience, combined with the introspection that followed his subsequent retirement from
the army, led Bacevich to reevaluate the relationship between truth and power. After having taken
his superiors at their word for decades, he slowly came to understand “that authentic truth is never
simple and that any version of truth handed down from on high…is inherently suspect. The exercise
of power necessarily involves manipulation and is antithetical to candor.”
America’s Path to Permanent War is Bacevich’s fourth book on the subject of American exercise
of power. This time, he takes up the question of the political calculations that have produced the
basic tenets of American foreign policy since the beginning of the Cold War, examining how and why
they came to exist and to survive all challenges to their supremacy.
Bacevich describes two components that define U.S. foreign policy.
The first is what he dubs the “American credo,” which calls on “the United States — and the
United States alone — to lead save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world.”
Second is what he calls the “sacred trinity,” which requires that the United States “maintain
a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projections,
and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.”
These rules, Bacevich argues, are no longer vital to the existence of the United States, and have
led to actions that threaten to break the army and bankrupt the treasury. Rather, they are kept in
place by individuals who derive personal benefit from their continuance. Bacevich does not hesitate
to blame a Washington class that “clings to its credo and trinity not out of necessity, but out of
parochial self-interest laced with inertia.”
This is a theme that runs throughout the book: that those who make the rules also benefit from
them, and thus their demands should always be regarded skeptically.
While abstaining from questioning the patriotism of past leaders, Bacevich is not reluctant to
point out how many policies that were later widely embraced were originally trumpeted by ambitious
men who had as much to gain personally by their acceptance as did the country:
General Curtis LeMay, who built a massive nuclear arsenal as head of Strategic Air
Allen Dulles, who backed coups across the globe as CIA director;
General Maxwell Taylor, who rode the idea of “flexible response” from retirement to
the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The story of foreign policy, then, is not so much different than any government bureaucracy
through which vast sums of money flow, and is driven as much by officials jockeying for status than
by genuine concern for policy outcomes. Whether in disputes between the Army and the Air Force
or the Pentagon and the White House, and whether over money or over purpose, different sectors of
the national security establishment propose and promote new doctrines that necessitate increasing
their budgets and enhancing their importance.
But Bacevich is not content to only blame leaders. In contrast to George Washington’s ideal of
the citizen who would consider it his duty to actively serve his country, Bacevich finds today’s
Americans “greedy and gullible,” pursuing personal gain in the stead of collective benefit. Any solution,
he argues, must come from an awakened people who demand change from the people they put in office.
As for what that change should look like, Bacevich proposes a new credo and trinity. As a new
mission statement, he offers: “America’s purpose is to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations
expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as reinterpreted with the passage
of time and in light of hard-earned experience.”
As a new trinity, he suggests that “the purpose of the U.S, military is not to combat evil or
remake the world but to defend the United States and its most vital interests…the primary duty station
of the American soldier is in America…consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should
employ force only as a last resort and only in self defense.”
Bacevich writes in the short, clipped style with which he also speaks, presumably a legacy of
his West Point education and decades in the military. His style allows for easy comprehension and
neat packaging of his ideas, and readers will not get bogged down in flowery language.
Parts of Bacevich’s thinking require further scrutiny and remind readers of his self-identification
as a conservative (lowercase “c”). Economically, he is no fan of stimulus spending, and socially
he places blame on individual failings and personal flaws, choosing not to mention an unequal economic
system that leaves tens of millions of Americans with barely the resources to take care of their
families, much less have time to be informed and active citizens.
In fact, the emphasis throughout the book is on the fact that expansionism, at this particular
moment, is not wrong but impossible. Bacevich is, after all, a realist when it comes to international
relations theory, and though he happens to agree with liberal anti-imperials on many issues, it is
often for different reasons.
However, debates over theory can wait for when the republic is in less immediate peril. This is
the second work Bacevich has published under the auspices of the American Empire Project, a book
series documenting America’s imperial adventures and their disastrous consequences. The contribution
of conservative authors to this task is vital. They remind us that opposition to imperialism is hardly
just a liberal cause, and in fact for much of American history was actually a rallying point for
conservatives across the country.
Washington Rules is valuable for putting in print what those inside the military establishment
don’t dare admit: that, even aside from moral concerns, U.S. international strategy is neither successful
nor sustainable and maintained more by lies than by actual results. Bacevich can truly be said to
be a realist in that he understand that leaders, when faced with the choice of admitting failure
or lying, will almost always choose the latter.
Andrew Feldman is an intern with Foreign Policy In Focus.
This is the bluntest, toughest, most scathing critique of American imperialism as it has become
totally unmoored after the demise of the Soviet Communist empire and taken to a new level by the
Bush administration. Even the brevity of this book - 182 pages - gives it a particular wallop since
every page "concentrates the mind".
In the event a reader knows of the prophetic work of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr,
you will further appreciate this book. Bacevich is a Niebuhr scholar and this book essentially channels
Niebuhr's prophetic warnings from his 1952 book, "The Irony of American History". The latter has
just been reissued by University of Chicago Press thanks to Andrew Bacevich who also contributed
In essence, American idealism as particularly reflected in Bush's illusory goal to "rid the world
of evil" and to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East or wherever people are being tyrannized,
is doomed to failure by the tides of history. Niebuhr warned against this and Bacevich updates the
history from the Cold War to the present. Now our problems have reached crisis proportions and Bacevich
focuses on the three essential elements of the crisis: American profligacy; the political debasing
of government; and the crisis in the military.
What renders Bacevich's critique particularly stinging, aside from the historical context he gives
it (Bush has simply taken an enduring American exceptionalism to a new level), is that he lays these
problems on the doorstep of American citizens. It is we who have elected the governments that have
driven us toward near collapse. It is we who have participated willingly in the consumption frenzy
in which both individual citizens and the government live beyond their means. Credit card debt is
undermining both government and citizenry.
This pathway is unsustainable and this book serves up a direct and meaningful warning to this
effect. Niebuhrian "realism" sees through the illusions that fuel our own individual behavior and
that of our government. There are limits to American power and limits to our own individual living
standards and, of course, there are limits to what the globe can sustain as is becoming evident from
American exceptionalism is coming to an end and it will be painful for both individual citizens
and our democracy and government to get beyond it. But we have no choice. Things will get worse before
they get better. Bacevich suggests some of the basic ways that we need to go to reverse the path
to folly. He holds out no illusions that one political party or the other, one presidential candidate
or the other, has the will or the leadership qualities to change directions. It is up to American
citizens to demand different policies as well as to govern our own appetites.
While this is a sobering book, it is not warning of doomsday. Our worst problems are essentially
of our own making and we can begin to unmake them. But we first have to come to terms with our own
exceptionalism. We cannot manage history and there are no real global problems that can be solved
by military means, or certainly not by military means alone.
By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
This is one of those books you might find yourself sitting down to read chapter and verse over
and over again, only because the writing is so intelligent and so profound. "The Limits of Power:
The End of American Exceptionalism," by Andrew Bacevich, is one of those works that will enthrall
the reader with its insight and analysis.
According to the author, the US has reached its limit to project its power in the world. His rationale
for this conclusion are three central crises we now face: economic and cultural, political, and military,
all of which are our own making.
The first crisis is one of profligacy. Americans want more, whether it is wealth, credit, markets,
or oil, without consideration for cost or how these things are acquired. There is complete apathy
in what policies are being produced as long as they provide plenty.
The political crisis was born of our mobilization in World War II to meet the threat of tyranny,
and from the Cold War to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union. Both gave rise to unprecedented
presidential power, an ineffectual Congress, and a disastrous foreign policy. Bacevich contends
that our legislature no longer serves their constituents or the common good "but themselves through
gerrymandering, doling out prodigious amounts of political pork, seeing to the protection of certain
vested interests" with the paramount concern of being re-elected. Our presidents have been willing
accomplices in keeping the American dream or greed alive by using our military as part of a coercive
diplomatic tool to feed and fuel the first crisis.
Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology
of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project
power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might.
At the same time, the largest intelligence agencies in the world are created to afford us more security,
but after seventy years are unable to defend our cities and buildings in the US while it worries
about intrigues worldwide. Competition and rivalry lead to a lack of cooperation, intelligence, and
security when it was needed most.
The third crisis is our military which has been employed to satisfy the neuroses of the first
and second crises. The author puts much of the blame squarely at the feet of inept military leadership,
which he believes has confused strategy with operations. Content with the resilience of the American
fighting man or woman, he is scathing in his critique of their leadership finding them "guilty of
flagrant professional malpractice, if not outright fraud." He illustrates how improvised explosive
devices that cost no more than a pizza have checked a military that is designed for speed and maneuver--that
was considered invincible.
Andrew Bacevich contends that nothing will change as long as Americans are told to go to Disney
World instead of making sacrifices, as long as the same one half percent of our population continue
to populate the military that the president sees as his personal army, as long as an apathetic public
and an ineffectual Congress continue to make periodic, grand gestures of curbing presidential power,
the United States will have reached the limits of its power and exceptionalism.
This book profoundly moved me, and I was impressed by the insight that Professor Bacevich could
bring in such few pages. Passages of this book should be plastered in the halls and offices of Congress,
as well as the West Wing.
This book really stands out as a jewel in a sea of mediocre publications by radio and TV personalities
who think they know what they are talking about when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The difference
is that Andrew Bacevich does
Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side, The Inside Story How The War on Terror Turned into a War on America's
Schlesinger, Arthur, "War and the American Presidency."
Mann, Thomas & Ornstein, Norman, "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How
to Get It Back on Track."
Zinni, Tony (Gen. Ret.), "The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and
Niebuhr, Reinhold, "The Irony of American History."
For your convenience some of them which I judge to be the most insightful are reproduced below:
Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War,
Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517338-4, is the most coherent analysis of how
America has come to its present situation in the world that I have ever read. Bacevich, Professor
of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University,
is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton.
And he is retired military officer. This background makes him almost uniquely qualified to comment
on the subject.
Bacevich admits to an outlook of moderate conservatism. But in ascribing fault for our plight
to virtually every administration since W.W. II, he is even handed and clear eyed. Since he served
in the military, he understands the natural bureaucratic instincts of the best of the officer corps
and is not blinded by the almost messianic status that they have achieved in the recent past.
His broad brush includes the classic period, the American Revolution - especially the impact of
George Washington, but he moves quickly to the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his direct descendants
of our time, the Neoconservatives. The narrative accelerates and becomes relevant for us in the depths
of the despair of Vietnam. At that juncture, neocon intellectuals awakened to the horror that without
a new day for our military and foreign policy, the future of America would be at stake. At almost
the same time, Evangelical Christians abandoned their traditional role in society and came to views
not dissimilar to the neocons. America had to get back on track to both power and goodness. The results
of Vietnam on American culture, society, and - especially - values were abhorrent to both these groups.
The perfect man to idealize and mythologize America's road back was Ronald Reagan. Again, Bacevich
does not shrink from seeing through the surreal qualities brought to the Oval Office by Reagan to
the realities beneath them. The Great Communicator transformed the Vietnam experience into an abandonment
of American ideals and reacquainted America with those who fought that horrible war. Pop culture
of the period, including motion pictures such as Top Gun and best selling novels by many, including
Tom Clancy completely rehabilitated the image of the military.
The author describes how Evangelical leaders came to find common cause with the neocons and provided
the political muscle for Reagan and his successors of both parties to discover that the projection
of military might become a reason for being for America as the last century closed.
One of his major points is that the all volunteer force that resulted from the Vietnam experience
has been divorced from American life and that sending this force of ghosts into battle has little
impact on our collective psyche. This, too, fit in with the intellectual throw weight of the neocons
and the political power of the Evangelicals.
Separate from but related to the neocons, Bacevich describes the loss of strategic input by the
military in favor of a new priesthood of intellectual elites from institutions such as the RAND Corporation,
The University of Chicago and many others. It was these high priests who saw the potential that technology
provided for changing the nature of war itself and how American power might be projected with `smart
weapons' that could be the equivalent of the nuclear force that could never be used.
So it was that when the war we are now embroiled in across the globe - which has its antecedents
back more than twenty years - all of these forces weighed heavily on the military leaders to start
using the force we'd bought them. The famed question by Secretary of State Madeline Albright to General
Colin Powell: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if
we can't use it?" had to have an answer and the skirmishes and wars since tended to provide it.
Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need
for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for
our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic
expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national
energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.
It is in his prescriptions that the book tends to drift. The Congress must do its constitutionally
mandated jobs or be thrown out by the people. Some of his ideas on military education are creative
and might well close the gap between the officer corps and civilians that he points to as a great
But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for
those who wonder how we got to Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in
grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to this juncture. Where we go from here
is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.
READ THIS BOOK
===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
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."
Relevant and Objective, January 3, 2007
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 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
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, and in some
enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" 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
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
Robert S. Frey
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today,
December 23, 2006
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
Dr. Lee D. Carlson
Interesting, insightful, and motivating, October 21, 2006
Why is it that some people, including this reviewer, are reluctant to criticize the writings
or verbalizations of those Americans that have been or are currently in the military? This is
particularly true for those officers and soldiers who have served in combat. To be critical of
someone is who has faced such horror would be a sacrilege. Their opinions on subjects, especially
those related to war and the military, are given much higher weight than those that have never
been in the military. What is the origin of this extreme bias and does it not thwart attempts
to get at the truth in matters of war and politics? If a war is illegal or immoral, are not the
soldiers who participate in it themselves war criminals, deserving the severest condemnation?
The author of this book sheds light on these questions and gives many more interesting opinions
on what he has called the 'new American militarism.' If one examines carefully American history,
it is fair to say that Americans have been reluctant to go to war, preferring instead to settle
conflicts via negotiation and trade agreements. Americans have been led to the horrors of war
kicking and screaming, and breath a sigh of relief when they are over. Historically, Americans
have applied extreme skepticism to those politicians, like Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to participate
in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy." So if Americans are "seduced by war", as
the author contends they have been in recent decades, an explanation must be found. It is
tempting to say that they have been merely "brainwashed", and contemporary neuroscience lends
some credence to this claim, but one must still be open to alternative explanations, and let the
evidence determine the proper interpretation. Once the causes have been identified, it
becomes necessary to find methodologies and strategies to counter these causes, lest we find ourselves
in another unnecessary and brutal conflict, initiated by some who do not directly participate
in it, and have no intention ever to do so.
This book is not a scientific study, but instead is a collection of opinions, mostly supported
by anecdotal evidence, to support the author's thesis. On the surface his opinions do seem plausible,
but one must still apply to his writings the same level of skepticism applied to other studies
of the same kind. It does seem reasonable to believe for example that current attitudes about
war are governed by the American failure in Vietnam, Carter's supposed ineptitude in dealing with
the resulting loss in "self-esteem" of the American populace, and Reagan's exploitation or correction
of this loss. But more evidence is needed to set such a conclusion in stone.
The author though is intellectually honest enough to admit that he has not obtained the "definitive
version of the truth" on the new American militarism within the pages of his book. His words are
more "suggestive than conclusive" he writes, and he welcomes criticism and alternative interpretations.
Vietnam, oil and energy considerations, 9-11, and the media all have a role to play in the current
American attitudes about war he argues. Further analysis though is needed, and cognizance must
be made that all readers, including this reviewer, are embedded in the same culture as the author,
and subjected to the same ideological, historical, and media pressures. We must be extremely cautious
in our acceptance of what we find in print and indeed in all information outlets. And we must
learn that soldiers, active duty or otherwise, are not infallible and must be subjected to the
same criticism as any other citizen. This is again, very difficult to do, and this difficulty
is perhaps the best evidence for the author's thesis.
Exceptional Polemic; 4.5 Stars, October 19, 2006
This concise and well written book is the best kind of polemic; clear, well argued, and
designed to provoke debate. Bacevich is definitely interested in persuading readers of
the truth of his views but his calm and invective free prose, insistence on careful documentation,
and logical presentation indicate that his primary concern is promote a high level of discussion
of this important issue. Bacevich argues well that a form of militarism based on an exaggerated
sense of both American mission and American power, specifically military power, has infected public
life. He views this militarism as both leading to unecessary and dangerous adventures abroad,
epitomized by the Iraq fiasco, and corrupting the quality of domestic debate and policy making.
Beyond documenting the existence of this phenomenon, Bacevich is concerned with explicating how
this form of militarism, which he views as contrary to American traditions, came to be so popular.
Bacevich argues well that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of actions
by a number of different actors including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals
and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense
intellectuals. For a variety of reasons, these sometimes overlapping groups converged
on ideas of the primacy of American military power and the need to use it aggressively abroad.
Bacevich devotes a series of chapters to examining each of these actors, discussing their motivations
and actions, often exposing shabby and inconsistent thinking. Some of these, like the role of
neoconservative intellectuals and the Religous Right, are fairly well known.
Others, like the behavior of professional military over the last generation, will be novel
to many readers. Bacevich's chapters have underlying themes. One is the persisent occurrence of
ironic events as the actions of many of these groups produced events counter to their goals.
The post-Vietnam professional military attempted to produce a large, vigorous military poised
to fight conventional, WWII-like, combats. This force was intended to be difficult for politicians
to use. But as these often highly competent professionals succeeded to restoring the quality
of the American military, the temptation to use it became stronger and stronger, and control
escaped the professionals back into the hands of politicians as varied as Bush II and Clinton.
Another theme is that politicians seized on use military force as an alternative to more difficult
and politically unpalatable alternatives. Jimmy Carter is described correctly as initiating the
American preoccupation with control of the Persian Gulf oil supplies, which has generated a great
deal of conflict over the past generation. Bacevich presents Carter as having to act this
way because his efforts to persuade Americans to pursue sacrifice and a rational energy policy
were political losers. Ronald Reagan is presented as the epitome of this unfortunate trend.
Bacevich is generally convincing though, perhaps because this is a short book, there are some
issues which are presented onesidely. For example, its true that Carter began the military preoccupation
with the Persian Gulf. But, its true as well that his administration established the Dept. of
Energy, began a significant program of energy related research, moved towards fuel standards for
vehicles and began the regulatory policies that would successfully improve energy efficiency for
many household items. No subsequent administration had done more to lessen dependence on foreign
Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored
the new militarism tended to converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by
a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate and relatively unstable coalition.
The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain
Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal
integrity of the Republican party and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.
An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army
officer, and self-described cultural conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward
by Leftist critics.
Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational
but bound to be controversial and probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to
change the nature of the discussion about these issues.
How Permanent Military Deployment Became Congruent With World Peace, June 29, 2006
In The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich contends that American culture and policy
since the end of the Cold War has merged a militaristic ethos with a utopian global imaginary.
He notes that American militarism is a "bipartisan project" with "deep roots" that even garner
support on the political margins, with some leftist activists seeing a humanitarian mission for
U.S. global military hegemony. He traces these roots to the worldview of Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned
a globe "remade in America's image and therefore permanently at peace." Yet Wilson's view was
moderated by a public and policy perception of war as an ugly, costly, brutal, traumatic and unpredictable
last resort. This is corroborated by the massive military demobilizations that followed U.S. involvement
in both world wars. Bacevich also points to works of popular culture, from Erich Maria Remarque's
All Quiet On The Western Front to Oliver Stone's Platoon, that reflect on the inhumanity of war
from World War I through Vietnam.
Bacevich sees a massive deviation from these historical trends after the end of the Cold War.
While conceding that a permanent military mobilization was expected during the Cold War (from
roughly NSC-68 to the fall of the Berlin Wall)--no significant demobilization followed. Forces
slated for deactivation were quickly mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. No successful popular
culture critiques of that war's brutality would emerge. The author sees the end of the cold war
and Desert Storm as framing a period of "new American militarism" that breaks from historical
precedent in several regards. He claims that since the 1988 presidential campaign, the character
of the presidency has emphasized military more than civilian leadership. This contradicts previous
presidents of military stature (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower) who obsessively positioned themselves
as civilians. Post-Cold War military budgets have been dramatically larger despite no global adversary.
The public has uncritically accepted a permanent military stance. The perception of war as ghastly
and treacherous has been replaced with war as a clinical and technologically managed spectacle.
The link between the covenant of citizenship and military service has been replaced by a specialized
force of volunteers. The numbers of veterans serving in congress has steadily decreased since
World War II. Bacevich correlates this with the shunning of military service by elites as the
military has increasingly drawn from areas of the population that are poor and brown. Because
of this, force is "outsourced" and in turn the stature of soldiers has dramatically increased
through an infrastructure of praise by the majority who are not involved in military operations.
Senior military officers have tremendous clout in politics, policy, and spending.
To understand this new militarism, Bacevich notes that it is point-for-point an inversion of
Vietnam's military milieu. There, politicians up through the president framed themselves as civilians,
officers felt out of touch with bureaucratic decisions, and war was perceived as carnal and bumbling.
The book traces cultural responses to Vietnam that reformed the American relationship to militarism.
As military leaders like Creighton Abrams sought to mandate broad political investment for military
action by creating interdependence with reserves and to limit the criteria for deployment with
the Weinberger doctrine, politicians like Ronald Reagan rehabilitated an American demoralization
that peaked with Carter's failed Operation Eagle Claw by invoking popular culture mythologies
Bacevich is unabashedly religious. He ultimately couches America's outsourced and technocratic
militarism as a departure from natural Gods in the pursuit of a scientistic idol that more perfectly
regulates human affairs. He openly sees in this scientism the same flaw and outcome as Communism
or Fascism. He suggests that affirmation of military service across economic privilege would raise
the stakes of military engagements and help to contradict the cultural illusions that form the
basis of American militarism. (That war is technical, distant, clinical, predictable, outsourced,
humane, and everything contrary to what writers like Remarque tell us.) He meticulously synthesizes
a new paradigm that relates the difficult subjects of military policy and popular sanction. In
this regard, The New American Militarism is an exciting contribution to historical scholarship.
The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs, February
Andrew J. Bacevichs', The New American Militarism, gives the reader an important glimpse of
his background when he wrote that, as a Vietnam veteran, the experience baffled him and he wrote
this book in an effort to "sift through the wreckage left by the war." After the Vietnam War,
the author stayed in the military because he believed being an American soldier was a "true and
honorable" calling. Bacevich states he is a devoted Catholic and a conservative who became disillusioned
with mainstream conservatism. He also states that he believes the current political system is
corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with genuine democracy.
Bacevich states that he tried to write this book using facts in an unbiased way. However, he cautions
the reader that his experiences have shaped his views and that his views are part of this book.
This is a way to tell the reader that although he tried to remain unbiased, his background and
biases find voice in this book. I believe the authors warning are valid; he draws heavily upon
his background and biases to support his thesis.
The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous
conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions" that have become part of the American
conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy. According to Bacevich, American militarism
has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military effectiveness
that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing
issues that have contributed to this state of affairs.
Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson
administration. Wilson's vision was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed
the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the US as a `divine agent' to make
the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces
in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if
Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due,
in part, to the officer corps of the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession
of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do this by reversing the roles of
the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish
the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The
Weinberger and Powell doctrines were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions
for the use of the US military in combat.
Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument
for good and the time was right to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea
of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.
Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a
Christian nation singled out by God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed
the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also a cultural and moral crisis threatening
our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US from internal
collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military
would become the role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.
Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals
whose main contribution was to bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich,
they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative war' and reinforced American militarism.
Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of
American militarism by wrapping militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using
labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using a political sleight-of-hand
trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with
a list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.
Bacevich seems to create a mosaic of conspiracy perpetrated by sinister actors aimed at deceiving
an unsuspecting public as to the true nature of American militarism. Until the last chapter where
Bacevich tells the reader that there is no conspiracy, it is very easy to believe there might
be one lurking in the shadows. I was shocked when I reached Bacevich's recommendations. The contrast
between his recommendations and the rest of the book is astounding. I was expecting highly provocative
recommendations that would match the tone of the rest of the book. However, his recommendations
were solid and well thought out...delivered in the calm manner one would expect from a political
scientist. Nevertheless, in the end, Bacevich's message leading up to his recommendations were
hard to swallow. I believe he wrote this book not to enlighten but to be provocative in order
to sell books and build his status in academic circles. If Bacevich's aim was to build a convincing
argument on a serious subject, he needed to be less provocative and more clinical.
What is militarism? What is it, particularly as applied to today's America? West Point educated
Andrew Bacevich opens his book with a concise statement: "Today as never before in their history
Amercans are enthralled with military power. The global military supremacy that the United States
presently enjoys . . . has become central to our national identity." This is the basic premise
of The New American Militarism. Anyone who does not accept the accuracy of this statement, or
is unconcerned about its implications should probably not read this book--it will only annoy them.
For those, however, who are concerned about how militarism is increasingly seeping into our core
values and sense of national destiny, or who are disturbed by the current glaring disconnect between
what our soldiers endure "over there", and the lack of any sacrifice or inconvenience for the
rest of us "over here", this book is a must-read.
Refreshingly, Bacevich approaches the new American militarism as neither a Democrat nor Republican,
from neither the left nor the right. No doubt, those with a stake in defending the policy of the
present Administration no matter how foolish, or in castigating it as the main source of our current
militarism, will see "bias" in this book. The truth though is that Bacevich makes a genuine effort
to approach his subject in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. He has earned the right
to say, near the end of his book, that "this account has not sought to assign or impute blame."
As a result, he is not stymied by the possibility of embarrassing one political side or the other
by his arguments or conclusions. This leads to a nuanced and highly independent and original treatment
of the subject.
In chronicling the rise of American militarism, Bacevich rightly starts with Wilson's vision
of American exceptionalism: an America leading the world beyond the slaughterhouse of European
battlefields to an international order of peaceful democratic states. But where President Wilson
wanted to create such a world for the express purpose of rendering war obsolete, Bacevich notes
that today's "Wilsonians" want to export American democracy through the use of force. He follows
this overview with an insider's thumbnail history of American military thinking from Vietnam to
the first Gulf war. He explains how the military in effect re-invented itself after Vietnam so
as to make it far more difficult "to send the Army off to fight while leaving the country behind."
Today's highly professionalized and elite force is largely the result of this thinking. In turn
this professional military presented to the country and its civilian leaders a re-invented model
of war: war waged with surgical precision and offering "the prospect of decision rather than pointing
ineluctably toward stalemate and quagmire." Gulf War I was the triumphant culmination of this
model. The unintended and ironic consequence, of course, was that war and the aggressive projection
of American military power throughout the world came to be viewed by some in our nation's leadership
as an increasingly attractive policy option.
The body of the book analyzes how the legitimate attempt to recover from the national trauma
of Vietnam led ultimately to a militarism increasingly reflected in crucial aspects of American
life. In religion he traces how a "crusade" theory of warfare has supplanted the more mainstream
"just war" theory. In popular culture he discusses the rise of a genre of pop fiction and movies
reflecting a glamorized and uncritical idealization of war (he examines "An Officer and A Gentleman",
"Rambo: First Blood Part II", and "Top Gun" as examples). In politics he identifies the neo-conservative
movement as bringing into the mainstream ideas that "a decade earlier might have seemed reckless
or preposterous"; for example the idea that the United States is "the most revolutionary force
on earth" with an "inescapable mission" to spread democracy -- by the sword if necessary. Bacevich
calls these ideas "inverted Trotskyism", and notes that the neo-conservative movement shares with
Mao the assumption that revolution springs "from the barrel of a gun".
Bacevich concludes his book with a pithy ten-point critique offered as a starting point for
"a change in consciousness, seeing war and America's relationship to war in a fundamentally different
way." Among his points are greater fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the Constituional
provisions regarding war and the military, and increased strategic self-sufficiency for America.
Perhaps the most important points of his critique are those about ending or at least reducing
the current disconnect between er how we might reduce
Careful observers will note the abolute claims that lie under the surface of these criticisms.
If you criticize anything about the United States, you're automatically anti-Bush. If you question
the wisdom of viewing the military as a first-option in handling international problems, you're
even worse: a liberal anti-Bush peacenick. History supposedly demonstrates that diplomacy never
works with any "tyrant" (whatever that is), while war allegedly always work. It's just one stark
claim after another, with never any gray area in the middle.
If you read the book, this "you're either with us or with the terrorists, either dream war
or hate President Bush" mentality should remind you of something. It very closely resembles the
description Bacevich gives of neoconservatism, which he says engenders a worldview that is constantly
in crisis mode. Things are always so dire for neocons, Bacevich explains, that only two feasible
options present themselves at any given time: doing what the neocons want (usually deploying military
force in pursuit of some lofty but unrealistic goal), or suffering irreversible and potentially
fatal setbacks to our national cause.
Is it really surprising that the reviews of this book from a neocon mindset are also the reviews
giving one star to a book that sytematically critiques and upends neoconservatism?
In actuality, as many have pointed out already, Bacevich is "anti-Bush" only insomuch as he
is anti-neoconservative. Bacevich openly states that he throws his full weight behind traditionally
conservative issues, like small government and lower taxes. Indeed, he is a devoutly religious
social conservative who himself severed twenty years in the Army officer corps. This is why his
exposee on America's new militarism has so much credibility.
Since he was in the military, he knows that sometimes the military is necessary to handle situations
that develop in the world. However he also understands that the military is often grossly unfit
to handle certain situations. This is the main theme of his book. At its core, the story is about
how, in response to Vietnam, military leaders worked frightfully hard to rebuild the military
and to limit the freedom of starry-eyed civilians to use the armed forces inappropriately.
Their most important objective was to ensure that no more Wilsonian misadventures (like Vietnam)
would happen. The officer corps did this by carving out a space of authority for the top brass,
from which they could have unprecedented input in policy decisions, and be able to guide strategy
and tactics once the military deployed into action. After ascending to a position of greater prominence,
they implemented the "Weinberger Doctrine," followed by the "Powell Doctrine," both specifically
tailored to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires. The Gulf War, claims Bacevich, saw the fruition of
fifteen years of hard work to accomplish these reforms. And they worked beautifully.
However, the end of the last decade saw the Neo-conservatives challenge the status quo. And
with the election of W. Bush, they were finally in a position where their ideas could again have
a disproportionate influence on foreign policy. What we now have in Iraq is another military quagmire,
where the solution must be political, but where military occupation renders political solutions
This story is about how the military profession emerged from the post-Vietnam wilderness, dazzled
the world during the first Gulf War, then once again lost its independent ability to craft related
policies with the arrival of Rummie and the neocons.
It's a fascinating story, and Bacevich relates it skillfully.
Andrew S. Rogers:
Baedecker on the road to perdition, December 5, 2005
I was sorry to see Andrew J. Bacevich dismiss Chalmers Johnson's 2004
of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact), because I think these two
books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed
-- look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism"
as heartily as I did "The Sorrows of Empire."
Bacevich's capsule summary of Johnson's work notwithstanding, both these books take the long
view of America's international military presence and are quick to grasp one key point. As Bacevich
notes on page 205, "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global
empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11. Further, it is
counterproductive to think in these terms -- to assign culpability to a particular president or
administration and to imagine that throwing the bums out will put things right."
In several insightful chapters, Bacevich traces the rise of militarism over the course of several
administrations and many decades. A former Army officer himself, the author is particularly insightful
in charting the efforts of the military's officer corps to recover from the stigma of Vietnam
and reshape the *ethos* of the armed services as an elite intentionally separate from, and morally
superior to, the society it exists to defend. But the officers are only one of the strands Bacevich
weaves together. He also looks at the influence of the "defense intellectuals;" the importance
of evangelical Christians and how their view of Biblical prophecy shapes their understanding of
politics; the rise of (yes) the neo-conservatives; and even the role of Hollywood in changing
America's understandings of the "lessons of Vietnam" and the re-glamorization of the military
in films like "Top Gun."
The author is a sharp-eyed analyst, but also an engaging writer, and he gives the reader a
lot to think about. I was intrigued, for example, by his discussion of how "supporting the troops"
has become the *sine qua non* of modern politics and how doing so has replaced actual military
service as an indicator of one's love of country. More fundamentally, his identification and analysis
of "World War III" (already over) and "World War IV" (currently underway, and declared [surprisingly]
by Jimmy Carter) struck me as a remarkably useful lens for interpreting current events.
In tying his threads together, Bacevich is not afraid to make arguments and draw conclusions
that may make the reader uncomfortable. As the passage I quoted above makes clear, for example,
someone looking for a straightforward declaration that "It's all Bush's fault!" will have to go
someplace else. As a further implication of the above passage, Bacevich argues that the "defense
intellectuals," the evangelicals, and even the neocons were and are doing what they believe are
most likely to promote peace, freedom, and the security of the American people. "To the extent
that we may find fault with the results of their efforts, that fault is more appropriately attributable
to human fallibility than to malicious intent" (p. 207). Additionally, Bacevich is unashamed of
his military service, holds up several military leaders as heroes, has some choice words for the
self-delusions of leftist "peace activists," and even argues that federal education loans should
be made conditional on military service.
This doesn't mean the president and his fellow conservatives get off much easier, though. Bacevich
is roundly critical of Bush and his administration, including Colin Powell; dismisses the Iraq
invasion ("this preposterous enterprise" [p. 202]); and in a move that will probably get him crossed
off the Thayer Award nominations list, suggests officer candidates be required to graduate from
civilian universities instead of West Point (his alma mater) or Annapolis -- intellectually-isolated
institutions that reinforce the officer caste's separation from civil society.
So this book isn't one that will blindly reinforce anyone's prejudices. In part for that reason
-- but mostly for its trenchant analysis, readable prose, and broad historical view -- I'm happy
to list "The New American Militarism" as one of the best and most important books I've read in
some time. Perhaps even since "The Sorrows of Empire."
Militarism and Public Opinion, August 12, 2005
According to many of the custodians of public opinion, Andrew Bacevich has earned his right
to a fair hearing. Not only is he a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative
Catholic, he is a professor of international relations and a contributor to "The Weekly Standard"
and "The National Review." Obviously, if he were a left-leaning anti-war Democrat and a contributor
to, say, "The Nation," he wouldn't be taken seriously as a critic of American militarism - he
would be merely another "blame-America-first" defeatist.
Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America
has always gauged the size of its military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the
Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats receded. Not so after the
fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater
- by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling
the globe and the American public seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing
The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea,
land, air, space or cyberspace." In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has
given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign policy tool. From 1989 (Operation
Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations and
a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military
strength (the proverbial unipolar moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the
idea of using military force to solve international problems. In earlier times, war was always
an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.
War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also
Vietnam and Korea the battlefield was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the
advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as moments of national unity to carry
out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.
The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled
professional who is undertaking socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military
personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards than the nation they serve.
In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military,
but now even Democrats have thrown off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running
for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was actually arguing that Bush
had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal
Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of
the oppressed and that we should be assisting them in establishing more representative government.
But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their
self-interest. That's probably why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will.
This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion in the America on the use of military
force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from this
conservative ex-soldier. \
The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European
peers, the American public never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now.
This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that tells a forty-year tale of creeping
over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich
refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator.
Actually the trend has been in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival
of military glory, contrived though it was.
Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru
Norman Podhoretz and other elites got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical
passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of enthusiastic neo-cons charted
a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All
in all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing
up the Will of the People, except for maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears
none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious means and noble end, nor
do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets,
eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's
a practical problem here the crew is very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions
of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep John Q. Public supportive, especially
with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on the beat
and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition
of minding-one's-own-business and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for
themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.
Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real
Department of Defense, a revived Department of State, and a much more modest role in international
affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few genuine conservatives around, (a
breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book, especially
the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up
and conquest. But then that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number
of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily. At day's end, however, someone needs to
inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature. With all
its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the
past indicate that, despite the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected
and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing
Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional
military officer. Professor Bacevich argues that the US new militarism which emerged after the
dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions by a number of different groups including
our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent
Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see
New American Militarism).
Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz,
in the current
Harper's. You have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be
to any publication whose work you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in
the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they included:
Dick Cheney, who was becoming a comic-book churl by this stage of his public life;
Colin Powell, the loyal soldier, staffer, and diplomat whose "Powell Doctrine" and
entire life's work stood in opposition to the kind of war that he, with misguided loyalty, was
to play so central a role in selling;
Tony Blair, the crucial ally who added rhetorical polish and international resolve
to the case for war;
Donald Rumsfeld, with his breezy contempt for those who said the effort would be difficult
Paul Bremer, whose sudden, thoughtless dismantling of the Iraqi army proved so disastrous;
Condoleezza Rice, miscast in her role as White House national-security advisor;
George Tenet, the long-time staffer who cooperated with the "slam-dunk!" intelligence
assessment despite serious disagreement within the CIA;
and of course George W. Bush himself, whose combination of limited knowledge and strong
desire to be "decisive" made him so vulnerable to the argument that the "real" response to the
9/11 attacks should be invading a country that had nothing to do with them.
But Paul Wolfowitz was in a category of his own because he was the one who provided the
highest-concept rationale for the war. As James Galbraith of the University of Texas has put it,
"Wolfowitz is the real-life version of Halberstam's caricature of McNamara" [in The Best and the
Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty
that Wolfowitz thought the U.S. would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did
a much more limited version of this assessment
as an Atlantic article. As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from
his one-time mentor, Albert
Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United States could maximize stability for itself and
As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified
version of his world-view. You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief
sample (within fair-use limits):
With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others
saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to
seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....
Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military
action against Iraq. Critics have chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The
criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.
In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's
Precepts, and Iraq offered a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate
the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading Iraq stemmed from the need to validate
that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.
Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge
that he says Wolfowitz should now meet:
One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint
yield results that differed so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen
the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly the strongest military in history
produce a cataclysm?
Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination
of honesty, courage, and wit to answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample
the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...
What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is
that he wouldn't flinch from taking on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict
his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure, whatever you might choose to
say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted
that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so
that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there.
Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But
you don't have to know that to respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at
some point rise to it.
For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see
John Judis's piece in The New Republic.
"... "The currency of our country is targeted directly by the US president," ..."
"... "This attack, initiated by the biggest player in the global financial system, reveals a similar situation in all developing countries." ..."
"... "All of our action plan and measures are ready," ..."
"... "Together with our banks, we prepared our action plan regarding the situation with our real sector companies, including Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is the sector that is affected by the fluctuation the most," ..."
"... "Together with our banks and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA), we will take the necessary measures quickly." ..."
"... "It is making an operation against Turkey Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down," ..."
"... "We have seen your play and we challenge you." ..."
Turkey has accused Donald Trump of leading an attack on its national currency. The lira lost
about 40 percent of its value against the US dollar this year and, to reduce its volatility,
Ankara has prepared an urgent action plan. "The currency of our country is targeted
directly by the US president," Finance Minister Berat Albayrak told the Hurriyet.
"This attack, initiated by the biggest player in the global financial system, reveals a
similar situation in all developing countries."
The Turkish lira took a massive hit against the dollar on Friday following Trump's decision
to double tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey to 20 percent and 50 percent.
Overall, the national currency lost roughly about 40 percent of its value this year.
To calm down the markets, the government instructed its institutions to implement a series
of actions on Monday. "All of our action plan and measures are ready," Albayrak said,
"Together with our banks, we prepared our action plan regarding the situation with our
real sector companies, including Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is the sector
that is affected by the fluctuation the most," the minister
said . "Together with our banks and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency
(BRSA), we will take the necessary measures quickly."
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile slammed the US decision to impose new tariffs on
steel and aluminum imports.
"It is making an operation against Turkey Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in
every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down,"
in Trabzon on Sunday. "We have seen your play and we challenge you."
"... Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. ..."
There was another Saudi coalition airstrike on a
crowded market in northern Yemen today. Dozens of civilians have been killed and dozens more
injured. Many of the dead and injured were children whose school bus was hit in the attack:
Coalition attacks on Yemeni
markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike
civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never
call them out for what they do. The U.S. continues to arm and refuel coalition planes
despite ample evidence that the coalition has been deliberately attacking civilian targets. At
the very least, the coalition hits civilian targets with such regularity that they are
procedures they are supposed to be following to prevent that. The weapons that the U.S.,
Britain, and other arms suppliers provide them are being used to slaughter wedding-goers,
hospital patients, and schoolchildren, and U.S. refueling of coalition planes allows them to
carry out more of these attacks than they otherwise could. Today's attack ranks as one of the
Saada has come under some of the most intense attacks from the coalition bombing campaign.
The coalition illegally
declared the entire area a military target three years ago, and ever since they have been
water treatment systems, and
hospitals without any regard for the innocent civilians that are killed and injured.
The official U.S. line on support for the war is that even more civilians would be killed if
the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition. Our government has never provided any evidence to
support this, and the record shows that civilian casualties from Saudi coalition airstrikes
increased over the last year. The Saudis and their allies either don't listen to any of the
advice they're receiving, or they know they won't pay any price for ignoring it. As long as the
U.S. arms and refuels coalition planes while they slaughter Yemeni civilians in attacks like
this one, our government is implicated in the war crimes enabled by our unstinting military
assistance. Congress can and must halt that assistance immediately.
Update: CNN reports on the
aftermath of the airstrike:
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a hospital it supports in
Saada had received 29 dead bodies of "mainly children" under 15 years of age, and 40 injured,
including 30 children.
"(The hospital) is very busy. They've been receiving wounded and dead since the morning
and it is non-stop ," ICRC head of communications and spokesperson Mirella Hodeib told
Second Update: The Associated Press
reports that the death toll stands at 43 with another 63 injured.
Third Update: The death toll has reportedly risen to 50 . 77 were
The repetitive frequency and intensity of these attacks on hospitals, schools, markets and
other civilian gatherings, coupled with the indifference of the guilty national governments
and their international enablers, signals that the world and human species is passing through
a mass psychosis. This psychosis is playing itself out at all levels. Fascism, which is very
current as a national psychology, is generally speaking, a coping strategy for dealing with
nasty chaos. This coping strategy is designed around generating even more chaos, since that
is a familiar and therefore more comfortable pattern of behavior; and that does provide a
delusion of stability. A good example would be the sanctions just declared by the Trump
Administration on Iranian commerce. In an intrinsically connected global market, these
sanctions are so thorough that they qualify as a blockade, within a contingency plan for
greater global conflict. But those who destroy hospitals, schools, school buses and public
celebrations are not, otherwise, forward looking nice people. We are descending into a nasty
fascist war psychosis. Just shake it. Live. Long and well.
"even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition"
If we did not hand them satellite images, did not service, repair and refuel their planes,
and did not sell them the bombs, then they would . kill more civilians how? They could not
even reach their targets, let alone drop explosives they do not have.
What Would Mohammad Do? Buy bombs from the Russians? Who have better quality control and
fewer duds, hence more victims?
What Would Mohammad Do? Get the UAE to hire Blackwater to poison the wells across
How exactly do the profiteers in our country, that get counted out blood money for every
single Yemeni killed, propose that the Saudis and Emiratis would make this worse?
But, good to know that our "smart" and "precise" munitions can still hit a school bus.
Made In America!
The coverage in the media has been predictably cowardly and contemptible in the aftermath of
this story. I read articles from CNN and MSNBC and they were variations on "school bus
bombed", in the passive tense – with no mention of who did it or who is supporting them
in the headline, ad if the bombings were natural disasters.
Fox, predictably, was even worse and led with "Biblical relics endangered by war", which
speaks volumes about the presumed priorities of their viewership.
This, and not anything to do with red meat domestic politics, is the worst media
malpractice of our time. "Stop directly helping the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks drop
bombs on school children" should be the absolute easiest possible moral issue for our media
to take a stand on and yet they treat it like it's radioactive.
Speaking as someone who considers themselves a liberal I am infuriated by the Democrats
response. How can the party leadership not see that if they keep flogging the horse of
Russian trolls and shrugging their shoulders over American given (not sold – *given*)
bombs being dropped on schools and hospitals, no one is ever going to take the supposed
Democratic anti-war platform seriously again. The Republicans can afford to be tarde by
association with these atrocities. The Democrats can't.
I wonder how many Democrats are in the same boat as me right now: I may not like Trump or
the Christian conservatives but fights over the Supreme Court or coal plants or a healthcare
law look terribly petty compared to the apparent decision by Saudi Arabia to kill literally
millions. For the first time in my life I'm seriously wishing there was a third-party
candidate I could support and the congressional elections just so I could send a message on
"Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern
Saada, (an ICRC-supported) hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded," the
organisation said on Twitter without giving more details.
In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the coalition called the strike
a "legitimate military action"
The Comment section:
"The US provides the in-flight refueling that makes these bombing sorties possible. The
"Five Eyes" provides the surveillance that picks the targets, and the navigation to hit
KSA is doing precisely what the AZ Empire requires of it. Just as the British Royals and
their banker sponsors dictated over a century ago, so does the Empire direct these heinous
If the Saud Royals ever did go "rogue," they'd be taken out just as the AZ [American
Zionist] Empire has done time and time again."
"There is also the documented presence of American forces and officers in the operations room
of the Saudi coalition." https://twitter.com/abcdaee198/status/1027649243568386055
"Why is it that the Zionist media were up in arms every time White Helmets were digging
Syrian children out of rubble or dousing them with hoses? Dozens of children were slaughtered
in Yemen, and many more maimed and injured and hundreds of thousands are being subjected to
famine but there's only deafening silence on the Zionist-run media."
"Imagine the reaction if the Russians or Syrians had blown up a busload of kids."
-- On the same topic: Israel demanded -- and BBC changed its headline. In a headline, BBC
claimed that "Israeli air strikes 'kill pregnant woman and baby.'" After some time, BBC
changed its title to "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child' after rockets hit Israel:
Obama spoke about mothers sending their children to school in his acceptance speech for
Nobel Peace Prize.
He contrasted reality vs hope
and we learned which one he would deliver.
Obama in Oslo, December 10, 2009,:
"Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty
still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what
few coins she has to send that child to school
-- because she believes that
a cruel world still
has a place for that child's dreams.
Let us live by their example.
We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us,
and still strive for justice .
We can admit the intractability of deprivation,
and still strive for dignity.
we can understand that there will be war,
and still strive for peace.
We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the
of all the world; and at this moment of challenge,
that must be our work here on Earth.
Thank you very much.
One week later Obama shredded dozens of women and children in Yemen
and covered it up.
The pic provides an example of how the Outlaw US Empire implements its global population
control policy--all bombs, no kids. Twitterverse is madder than a wet hen. One went to
Trump's twitter to ask where's his outrage over these kid's real deaths, not the staged ones
he launched missiles at Syria over. It deserves to be retweeted millions of times.
Unfortunately, sadists are incapable of being shamed; they just grin at such pics while
congratulating themselves. Betcha the Trump dossier got it backwards--It was Trump who pissed
all over the Russian women.
Almasdarnews. Com. Are reporting a massive Israile army convoy heading for Gaza bigger than
enything seen since 2014 ! This looks serious ! The whole dam world picture is looking way
beyond serious !!!
kudos the exceptional nation in support of those other exceptional nations - ksa and
everyone else on the planet want to know when this horror will end...
Ahh, thats why. The Saudis are incompetent and vile, but trust the us to be
even more incompetent and even more vile and putrid.
This is horrible! I see it and can not really do much. It is a never ending story of innocent
people being killed off. But it does nurture a solid and hot hate to those people who are
architects of this. They feel safe and secured, but they are sitting on a volcano, and when it
goes, they will go too. Maybe a Gadaffi end.
Posted by: Den Lille Abe , Aug 9, 2018 4:42:25 PM |
Ahh, thats why. The Saudis are incompetent and vile, but trust the us to be even more
incompetent and even more vile and putrid.
This is horrible! I see it and can not really do much. It is a never ending story of innocent
people being killed off. But it does nurture a solid and hot hate to those people who are
architects of this. They feel safe and secured, but they are sitting on a volcano, and when
it goes, they will go too. Maybe a Gadaffi end.
Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Aug 9, 2018 4:42:25 PM |
Hate is a hefty spice; it can make you blind to reason, it can make you oblivious to truth,
and make you inoculated against love. But hate controlled, is also a drug that is powerful
and useful, hate nurtured and fed can move mountains and empires. Hate is good in manageable
doses and wrecking in large ones. But take it at own risk.
They are claiming these are legitimate military targets, they targeted 'militants', the
Houthis use 'child soldiers', and use human shields. I bet Nikki Haley still thinks they are
the most wonderful people ever, on the front lines, fighting against the real monsters,
@15 Nah, Christian, you are clearly wrong. Nikki would consider KSA to have the 2nd most
wonderful people ever, with the USA holding the Bronze Medal position. There is no doubt who
she holds as The Chosen People.
Don't let this stuff get normalised ! That's why they do it in plain site. It desensitises
the dumb public
i e trump supporters in u s, torys in uk. We should be feeling outrage and hatered towards
the people that
do this . Including our own governments.
No one is excusing Trump. The point that needs to be emphasized is that the War Party has
two wings: repubs and dems. Every last president since WWII has put the interests of imperial
conquest over the interests of the American people. Bill Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump
(as well as all of their wannabes Gore, Kerry, McCain HRC) were and are war mongers. They are
united in their lust for killing children (don't forget Madeline Albright with her "it was
worth it" over the 500,000 babies Clinton killed through sanctions).
Mark2 opines It desensitises the dumb public i e trump supporters
Are you serious? You should listen to my college educated colleagues (more than half with
professional degrees) most of whom are democrats and not one who voted for Trump. When it
comes to war against Syria, Libya, threats against Russia they are true blooded war mongers.
Actually worse than Trump supporters because they in general oppose those wars or war
Toivos @ 23
Dumb is as dumb does! They come in all shapes sizes and political party's . Trumps a greedy
pig puts children in cages and is a kkk racist don't make excuses he's a monster full
Don't give me eny of that o but, o but blah blah.!!!
It already is normalized. Go look at many of the comments on MSM (left and right) and so
called progressive sites. Hopefully those are all astroturfers but I suspect many are real
folks. Its luny tunes. They live in the Matrix and are blissfully unaware. Like something out
of 1984 during the 2 minute hate but its 24/7 , or maybe walking dead if the WD could type or
O Canada! Recently, I praised them as "New Trumpland". But why did they forget that silence
can be golden? Apparently, it dawned on PM that his party is called "liberal" and thus it
must make "liberal calls"*. But what cause should be selected? Massacres and starvation of
cute emaciated children? Conservative predecessor of current PM got ca. 7 G USD contract for
"vehicles" (motorized infantly?) for KSA, and Trudeau will not endanger precious Canadian
jobs. After leaving the task to the Foreign Minister (Freedland, Feminazi**), the plight of
women right activists in KSA with family members in Canada.
Canada cannot yield to Saudi Arabia's deranged overreaction
The regime's reaction to a couple of tweets is more about snuffing out its own country's
voices of dissent
Iyad El-Baghdadi, Amarnath Amarasingam · for CBC News · Posted: Aug 09, 2018
4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: August 9
If Canada folds, some fear that a line would be drawn in the sand, and behind that line,
petty Arab dictators could do what they want with their activist communities, without as much
as a complaint from the world. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)
Of course Canada cannot yield. For starters, it is unclear what would appease the irate
Crown Prince. Perhaps Trudeau and Friedland coming together to KSA to submit to a public
flogging. But judging from the titles I have seen, Canadians cherish "delicate balance", and
they though that an occasional complaint that is not 100% aligned with USA and principal
customers of Canadian products should be safe.
Agreed. When it comes to knowing the Truth of the Outlaw US Empire's overseas deeds, most
people are illiterate/ignorant. They hang the flag aside their front porch and feel
righteous. The only reason we don't have multitudes of people saluting whoever's POTUS and
chanting Sieg Heil is because in the back of their tiny minds they somehow know that's
incorrect behavior but don't know why. Some provided feedback on Michael Hudson's going
autobiographical saying his upbringing seemed unreal--faked--thus showing how little they
know of WW2 Home Front US history when people were much more informed and politically
It seems safe to say that Animal Farm & 1984 have both put down
extensive roots within the Outlaw US Empire to the point where digging up and destroying
those weeds will cause major social damage. Can't make an omelet without breaking eggs is how
the saying goes. But a positive outcome isn't the only possibility.
The deliberate targeting of civilians is Outlaw US Empire policy since WW2 despite it
being a War Crime. Guernica was an outrage, but Powell had it covered up since spoke directly
to US actions since the paint dried in 1937. The School Bus was yet another of all too many
Guernicas that have occurred since. Someone mentioned desensitized. Yes, on an International
Scale. It was an act of Terror, but how many are describing it as such? BigLie Media? Not a
chance if they show/mention it at all.
I'm not sure we should generalize about Canadians. Trudeau is trying to satisfy his base
and presumably staying true to his own liberal convictions. But I've met Canadians who
dislike him intensely. They do not think gender politics, welcoming refugees, settling native
land claims, lecturing Saudi Arabia etc. is the best way to maintain a high standard of
Israel demanded - and BBC changed its headline. In a headline, BBC claimed that "Israeli air
strikes 'kill pregnant woman and baby.'" After some time, BBC changed its title to "Gaza air
strikes 'kill woman and child' after rockets hit Israel https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/250275
A good comment from HistoryHacker (Guardian web page), I thought I share it:
"Let's see: in 1913 the British grabbed Iranian oil and made it their property. Six
years later, Britain imposed another agreement and took over Iran's treasury and the army.
During the Second World War, Britain's requisitioning of food led to famine and widespread
disease. Shortly after that war, Iran's own efforts to establish its nascent democracy and
nationalize the oil industry were thwarted. And by whom? Eisenhower joined the systematic
British looting, and, sadly, by 1953, the blossoming Iranian democracy was completely
destroyed by the covert operation of the American CIA and British MI6, known as Operation
Ajax. In place of the democracy was installed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a US-British puppet, a
despot deeply hated by his own people.
America picked up the baton, and here's Trump going bat crazy!
What could Iranians possibly think?! What do you think?"
@36 I knew that PB. Excuse my inadequate attempt to emulate your tone.
But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of
things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. and most prefer not to get involved in
Saudi Arabian politics.
I hope that Canada will finally lead heavy public condemnation of the Saudi-UAE coalition
murderous actions in Yemen. Canada has nothing to loose anymore, it is high time it take a
serious stand on the 3 years human rights abuse of the Yemenis.
It should indirectly send a dissaproval message to the USA on its complicity in these war
Maybe it is time for Canada, to reinstate diplomatic relation with Iran to snub the Saudis
and the USA, but I am dreaming...
"But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of
things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. "
Not quite. It's because of water, oil, minerals, wheat lumber, etc., AND they don't breed
India has plenty of resources - adjusting for the cold climate in Canada, probably about
as much as Canada, effectively. It's just that these resources don't go that far split up 1.4
billion ways and counting.
And Yemen? With very little water, and one of the highest fertility rates in the world,
what do you expect?
But what most makes me feel sick is not that American commenters out there, well payed or
volunteer, insist after two years already on this cantinele, what takes me out of my nerves
is that the Russians insist...in throwing balls out with certain issues....
were a ruse as usual . Supposedly, a cease fire was in place but was broken as reported
at the link. Ongoing protests against the "Nationality Law" continue and go unreported as
usual. The continuing murder of Gazans serves as cover.
@37, "But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of
things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. and most prefer not to get involved in
Saudi Arabian politics."
As a lifelong Canuckistani, my view is that Canada is the world's largest mine - and it is
the USA will perhaps suffer blowback, both at home and in many places 'strategic' to its
Empire, for generation or two to come, for all the horrible and savage war crimes perpetuated
by it and its allies on the poor people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia,
Palestine, and especially now Yemen, the poorest of the poor - the sorrows of Empire
CarlD, the purpose of sanctions is to hurt the citizens of a country enough that they will
rise up and revolt against their ruling class.
The AZ Empire has been striving for complete global dominance for a long time, and that
means either destroying Russia and China or at least installing "friendly" governments.
Hence, sanctions, "trade wars," and infiltration to foment "color revolutions."
Pence's new Space Command is a blatant telltale that the twice-hacked and never-audited
Pentagon has a massive hemorrhage of funds and Trump will be demanding ANOTHER $40B budget
increase for Pentagon to paper over a huge Deep Purple Hole in the Bucket.
So Saudis sanction Canada but will still let the oil flow to them (2billion a year) and the
US sanctions Russia but will still buy space rockets from them , and they will still sell
them to us. Trade war with China but they still buy US Treasuries to finance US debt. British
owned BBC rents out their studios to RT to help Russia with their propaganda
Woodrow Wilson : "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me
privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and
manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized,
so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak
above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."
Today some call them ruling or power elites, global elites for the most part. Elites is an
interesting word whose origins come from the french word for chosen and latin word for
1. Wealth from natural resources. This is a bit of mixed blessing, because with some
exceptions, mining is very capital intensive, so the profit margins are so-so, and job
creation is also so-so. Canada is blessed with nice mix of extracting industries,
agriculture, "normal" manufacturing, financial centers etc. They also have somewhat
reasonable spending in terms value for money in health and military sectors, saving ca. 10%
of GDP between the two compared with the less rational southern neighbor Perhaps this is
still short of 10%, but USA also wastes money and human resources on prison complex and other
2. Liberal Canada. Domestically, I do not know enough, but "harmonizing with USA" could
please some conservatives while being too expensive to implement. On foreign policy they
stick to the worst of liberalism, not standing much for anything, even for their beloved
Vilna Ukrayina, although converting Ukraine to land of milk and honey with capable military
and a reasonable level of corruption is beyond capacity of any foreign power. But they
implemented what used to be totally unjustifiable insult, "feminazi". That said,
conservatives learned from Trump to raise mind boggling issue and gain in polls, lately, how
to stop hordes of "deplorables" crossing the border. I guess a cheapish solution would be to
create a network of recreational trails with very confusing mapping (even GPS) and totally
confusing signage, and plant some smilax = green briar or other thorny plants to impede
hiking according to compass directions. A note on GPS maps based on satellite pictures:
software has very hard time telling dead ends from actually passable trail connections.
3. Populist-progressive Canada of my dreams. Declare the conflicts with KSA and Trump to
be matters of national dignity, punish KSA by stopping delivery of military vehicles per
Harper's contract and purchases of oil, replace the latter with Iranian. Would Trump dare to
impose secondary sanctions, fine American companies in Canada.
A little correction to Circe, Aug 9 11:18:38 PM. SELECTED Syrian children were newsworthy, a
recent massacre by ISIS in Sweida was newsworthy only as an example of a failure by "the
regime". An earlier example, when majority of people of Greater Aleppo lived in the western
part controlled by Damascus, "Aleppo" meant only the eastern part, controlled by the
"moderate" rebels, and victims of moderate massacres and shelling were totally un-newsworthy.
Natural resources drive 20 per cent of the economy -- and about 10 per cent of all the
jobs in Canada. These natural resources also help Canada attract manufacturing and value
added business that utilize domestically produced metals, fuel and timber (as opposed to more
expensive imports) Profit motive is overstated, large companies are focused more on income
growth and market share. The jobs that are produced are good paying jobs as well
I'd rather have more good paying capital intensive industries than low pay labour
intensive service and manufacturing industries that may generate more profits but which end
up mostly in CEO and top managements bank accounts
Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last
tried in 1812. :>)
Mark2 @ 31 said:"We need to remember this' the about left or right ! That's just devide and
rule. This about the 1% killing off the 99% "
Yep, bottom line statement. From austerity to all neoliberal policies, and the world-wide
wars now going on, are basically nothing more than class warfare directed at the 99% to
enrich the already rich.
Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last tried
in 1812. :>)
Posted by: Pft | Aug 10, 2018 12:06:44 AM | 61
Absorbing Canada could undermine political balance in USA leading to such calamities like
socialized medicine, legal marijuana etc. Keeping them on Puerto Rico status is not tenable
given the ethnic composition -- too many English speaking whites. If we could just annex
Bang on cue, TG @ 39 uses a comment about Canada's standard of living (brought about in part
by its governments' spending on transport infrastructure - in particular, transcontinental
railways - that stimulated job growth and enabled the agricultural and manufactured wealth of
the provinces to be spread across the nation and to be exported overseas) to push a racist
opinion about how poor countries are at fault for being poor because their people don't have
access to birth control measures made in rich countries.
..for all the horrible and savage war crimes perpetuated by it and its allies on the poor
people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, and especially now Yemen, the
poorest of the poor - the sorrows of Empire.
Posted by: michaelj72 | Aug 9, 2018 9:12:39 PM | 47
White man's burden...
A phrase used to justify European imperialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries; it is the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The phrase implies that imperialism
was motivated by a high-minded desire of whites to uplift people of color.
Part of the targeting assurance happens by looking at unexpected "gaps" in electronic
communication signals. When there is a lot of cellphone communication noise" where is is
suddenly absent, despite presence of humans, indicated an interesting anomaly for target
To confuse the enemy, these "silent spots" should be mirrored in different locations. They
counter The selectief bias.
During WWII, RAF lost planes to German AAA. They wondered where armor them up?
Counterintuitively, the mathematician Abraham Wald explained that, if a plane makes it back
safely despite a bunch of bullet holes in its wings, it means that bullet holes in the wings
aren't very dangerous.
Where you really need the armor, are the areas that, on average, don't have any bullet
Why? Because planes with bullet holes in those places never made it back. That's why you
don't see any bullet holes there on the ones that do return.
Posted by: CarlD @ 51 "And who is behind all of this?"
Wouldn't you agree that the PTSB are, as Paul Simon wrote, A Loose Affiliation of
The way I see it, the pinnacle of the pyramid are members of the dynasties that have
controlled the finance system for centuries. Rothschilds, Warburgs, the Vatican, the European
Royal Families and such. They profit off of everything, since all revenues generated by all
industries pass through their sticky fingers, in addition to their Central Banking cabal that
almost every country on earth is fully beholden to.
They are not a monolith, in that they compete with one another, but they all share
interest in keeping this system in place.
Then, at the next level down there are the members of the Nouveau Riche, like the
Rockefellers and Carneigies whose wealth was only generated a couple generations ago, and the
even newer rich who do not have dynastic power (yet), but do wield enough wealth to influence
the actions of the Empire, like the MIC "Daddy Warbucks" and tech industry newcomers.
And of course, there are the upper-level managers of Empire like Kissinger, Brzezenski,
Posted by: Pft | Aug 10, 2018 12:06:44 AM | 61:
"Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last
tried in 1812. :>)"
Canada and the US are both members of the Five Eyes. Clearly, their roles in the great
chessboard are different. But the way I see it, the nation-states are fictions that serve the
charade of representative democratic self-rule.
"... Although he was a brilliant orator, Hitler's failures are too innumerable to list. [Link] He was certainly a failure as a painter and his General staff considered him an incompetent military strategist (fortunately for the Allies.) However, Hitler was merely the right man at the right time and place to achieve power. As Ross explains, Hitler was , "the result of a large protest movement colliding with complex patterns of elite self-interest, in a culture increasingly prone to aggressive mythmaking and irrationality." That sounds all too close to home, doesn't it? ..."
"... Enter Donald Trump; the right man at the right time and place. He's a brute, a bully, and a demagogue, but he understands the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times and he adjusts his message to appeal to his base. ..."
"... I have known many bullies; on the playground and in the boardroom. A bully may achieve short-term gain, but for long-term pain. It is very easy to destroy corporate culture, but extremely difficult, if not impossible, to mend a toxic workplace after the bully was dismissed. Now, extrapolate this to the world under Donald Trump. ..."
"... After his first meeting with Trump, he wrote that Trump "saw every unknown person as a threat and that his first instinct was to annihilate that threat. 'He's like a velociraptor. He has to be boss, and if you don't show him deference he kills you.'" ..."
"... If everything is so awesome, why are Americans drinking themselves to death in record numbers?" [Link] ..."
We're told that great leaders make history. Like so much of what we are taught, that's a
load of bunk. Yes, great leaders make it into the history books, but they do not make history.
You make history. I make history. All we dirt people together make history. Government-run
schools don't teach us this because it makes us easier to control.
The "Great Man Theory" [Link] tells us that history can be
largely explained by the impact of great leaders. This theory was popularized in the 1800's by
the historian and social commentator Thomas Carlyle [Link] The Great Man Theory downplays the
importance of economic and practical explanations. It is an appealing theory because its
simplicity offers the path of least resistance. That should ring an alarm.
Herbert Spencer [Link] forcefully disagreed with the "Great
Man Theory." He believed that great leaders were merely products of their social environment.
"Before he can remake his society, his society must make him." Tolstoy went so far as to call
great leaders "history's slaves." However, this middle ground still misses the mark.
At the other extreme is "history from below" [Link] aka 'the people's history.'
"History from below" takes the perspective of common people rather than leaders. It emphasizes
the daily life of ordinary people that develop opinions and trends " as opposed to great people
introducing ideas or initiating events." Unfortunately, this too is only half the equation, and
it is no surprise that it appeals to Leftist and Marxist agendas.
Having studied politics and history ever since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963,
I determined that although history is partly the environments and individuals shaping each
other reciprocally, it is more than that. It is you and I who make history with every decision
we make, every dollar we spend, everything we learn, every vote we cast and every opinion we
voice. It's even what we don't do. It is mostly organic and cannot easily be explained in a
simple, linear fashion the way the aforementioned political philosophers tried.
Great leaders are merely the right person at the right time and place. However, they do not
lead so much as follow from the front. They stick their finger in the air to see which way the
wind blows. They may be brutes, bullies or demagogues, but they are sensitive enough to
understand the zeitgeist , the spirit of the times and so, they adjust their message
That is one reason Jimmy Carter was a failed President. He was a nice guy, but he did not
get an accurate reading of the times. Instead, he acted on the wishful thinking that is
characteristic of liberals.
One of the significant shortcomings of many political philosophers is their ignorance of
human nature. That is why Collectivism in all its forms appeals to the downtrodden. "Share and
share alike" is a beautiful ideal so long as you get other people's stuff, but the flip side of
the coin is not quite so appealing.
I heard a radio interview with a self-avowed Communist:
"So do you believe in 'share and share alike?"
"Yes, I do."
"And, if you had more than one house, you'd give them away and keep just one for
"Yes. I would."
"And, if you had more than one vehicle, you'd give them away and keep just one for
"Yes, I would."
"And, if you had more than one shirt "
"Whoa, wait a minute! I have more than one shirt."
I can't remember the rest of the interview as I was laughing too hard.
The Great Man Theory is one extreme, its critics are somewhere in the middle and 'the
history of the people' is at the other end of the spectrum. Despite this, we are still
fascinated by great leaders. That is human nature. Whether we are slaves at heart, or lack
self-confidence or some other explanation is endlessly debatable. However, the fact remains
that we are fascinated by great leaders and our inability to understand them further disproves
the accepted theories.
Adolph Hitler is the ultimate example of our fascination with a great man. According to Alex
Ross's "The Hitler Vortex," [Link]
tens of thousands of books have been written about Hitler. "Books have been written about
Hitler's youth, his years in Vienna and Munich, his service in the First World War, his
assumption of power, his library, his taste in art, his love of film, his relations with women,
and his predilections in interior design ('Hitler at Home')."
Tens of thousands of books failed to explain Hitler. Ross, too, does no better when he
writes, "What set Hitler apart from most authoritarian figures in history was his conception of
himself as an artist-genius who used politics as his métier. It is a mistake to call him
a failed artist; for him, politics and war were a continuation of art by other means." WTF? Are
we to believe Hitler was simply an artist who used the world as his canvas? Equally pointless
is the notion that, "Hitler debased the Romantic cult of genius to incarnate himself as a
transcendent leader hovering above the fray."
Although he was a brilliant orator, Hitler's failures are too innumerable to list.
was certainly a failure as a painter and his General staff considered him an incompetent
military strategist (fortunately for the Allies.) However, Hitler was merely the right man at
the right time and place to achieve power. As Ross explains, Hitler was , "the result of a
large protest movement colliding with complex patterns of elite self-interest, in a culture
increasingly prone to aggressive mythmaking and irrationality." That sounds all too close to
home, doesn't it?
Enter Donald Trump; the right man at the right time and place. He's a brute, a bully, and a
demagogue, but he understands the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times and he adjusts his message
to appeal to his base.
I have known many bullies; on the playground and in the boardroom. A bully may achieve
short-term gain, but for long-term pain. It is very easy to destroy corporate culture, but
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to mend a toxic workplace after the bully was
dismissed. Now, extrapolate this to the world under Donald Trump.
John Feeley is the former U.S. Ambassador to Panama portrayed in The New Yorker magazine
article "The Diplomat Who Quit the Trump Administration." [Link]After his first meeting with Trump, he wrote that Trump "saw every unknown person as a threat
and that his first instinct was to annihilate that threat. 'He's like a velociraptor. He has to
be boss, and if you don't show him deference he kills you.'"
Feeley fears that "the country was embracing an attitude that was profoundly inimical to
diplomacy 'If we do that we will become weaker and less prosperous.'" He is correct in that
regard. China is building a large, new embassy at the mouth of the Panama Canal visible to
every ship "as they enter a waterway that once symbolized the global influence of the United
Feeley is also correct in warning that the Trump administration's gutting the diplomatic
corps will have negative repercussions. Throughout Latin America, leftist leaders are in
retreat, and popular movements reject corrupt governance. Yet, America is losing "the greatest
opportunity to recoup the moral high ground that we have had in decades." Instead, the U.S. is
abandoning the region to China. Feeley calls it "a self-inflicted Pearl Harbor."
China is replacing U.S. influence in Latin America and Chinese banks "provided more than a
hundred and fifty billion dollars in loan commitments to the region In less than two decades,
trade between China and Latin America has increased twenty-seven-fold." Although that began
long before Trump, "We're not just walking off the field. We're taking the ball and throwing a
finger at the rest of the world."
Feeley says that he felt betrayed by what he regarded as "the traditional core values of the
United States." Sorry, Feeley, but America lost its core values long before Trump was elected.
Trump is not the cause; he is the symptom, the result of the declining American Empire.
Hunters know that one of the most dangerous animals is a wounded one. The same is correct
about failing empires because they are a danger not only to others but to their own citizens as
well. The elites are running out the clock in order to loot as much as they can before it hits
We dirt people will continue to suffer from stagnant wage growth while the so-called
increase in national wealth goes to a tiny minority.
Moreover, nobody wins a trade war that raises consumer prices even if Trump eventually
The economy staggers under the weight of phony wars, fake finances, fake GDP, fake CPI, fake
employment, fake pensions and fake everything.
[Link] The national debt increases $1 trillion every year, consumer debt is at an all-time
[Link] while the tax cuts benefit only the ultra-wealthy. Also, the fake news tells us
everything is wonderful. Don't believe it. "If everything is so awesome, why are Americans
drinking themselves to death in record numbers?"
It is said that every few generations, money returns to its rightful owners. That is what's
America emerged relatively unscathed from the Second World War whereas many other countries
were bombed back into the Stone Age. The Marshal Plan helped rebuild countries that were to
become both America's future customers and its competitors. America's busy factories
transformed from war production to consumer goods, the demand for which was created by "the
Father of Spin" Edward Bernays' marketing propaganda. [Link]
As well, the U.S. stole the gold that the Nazis had stolen from others, [Link]
and that wealth in addition to robust, productive capacity temporarily propelled the U.S. far
ahead of other nations. However, it would not last. Eventually, the undeserved prosperity of
the 1950's and '60's began to run out of steam as other nations rebuilt and competed with the
U.S. President Nixon defaulting on the dollar in 1971 by "closing the gold window" signaled the
end of America's good times . The subsequent debt creation now unconstricted by a gold basis
helped to cushion the blow for several decades, but wealth was now flowing to Asia along with
For 5,000 years, China was a world superpower with only a short, two-century hiatus that is
now ending as China again emerges as an economic superpower. Such a massive shift in wealth
cannot be attributed to either leadership or the people below. It is a painful reversion to the
mean. All the finger-pointing and wailing and gnashing of teeth not even bombastic Trump and
his tariffs can stem the tide and make America great again as money continues to flow back to
its rightful owners.
The USA is a declining, bankrupt, warmongering police state and most of its indoctrinated
citizens think they live in a free, peaceful country.
China is a corrupt police state, but most of its citizens know it.
We have met the enemy, and he is us. The future awaits.
A new excerpt
from a book by
C.J. Chivers, a former U.S. infantry captain and New York Times war correspondent,
tells the story of a young man from New York City who joined the U.S. army and was send to the
Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. While the man, one Robert Soto, makes it out alive, several of
his comrades and many Afghans die during his time in Afghanistan to no avail.
The piece includes remarkably strong words about the strategic (in)abilities of U.S.
politicians, high ranking officers and pundits:
On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent these men and women abroad,
with their emphasis on military action and their visions of reordering nations and cultures,
have not succeeded. It is beyond honest dispute that the wars did not achieve what their
organizers promised, no matter the party in power or the generals in command. Astonishingly
expensive, strategically incoherent, sold by a shifting slate of senior officers and
politicians and editorial-page hawks, the wars have continued in varied forms and under
different rationales each and every year since passenger jets struck the World Trade Center
in 2001. They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost
as if distant war is a presumed government action.
That description is right but it does not touche the underlying causes. The story of the
attempted U.S. occupation of the Korengal valley, which Civers again describes, has been the
theme of several books and movies. It demonstrates the futility of fighting a population that
does not welcome occupiers. But most of the authors, including Chivers, get one fact wrong. The
war with the people of the Korengal valley was started out of shear stupidity and
The main military outpost in the valley was build on a former sawmill. Chivers writes:
On a social level, it could not have been much worse. It was an unforced error of occupation,
a set of foreign military bunkers built on the grounds of a sawmill and lumber yard formerly
operated by Haji Mateen, a local timber baron. The American foothold put some of the valley's
toughest men out of work, the same Afghans who knew the mountain trails. Haji Mateen now
commanded many of the valley's fighters, under the banner of the Taliban.
Unfortunately Chivers does not explain why the saw mill was closed. Ten years ago a piece by
Elizabeth Rubin touched on this:
As the Afghans tell the story, from the moment the Americans arrived in 2001, the Pech Valley
timber lords and warlords had their ear. Early on, they led the Americans to drop bombs on
the mansion of their biggest rival -- Haji Matin. The air strikes killed several members of
his family, according to local residents, and the Americans arrested others and sent them to
the prison at Bagram Air Base. The Pech Valley fighters working alongside the Americans then
pillaged the mansion. And that was that. Haji Matin, already deeply religious, became
ideological and joined with Abu Ikhlas, a local Arab linked to the foreign jihadis.
Years before October 2004, before regular U.S. soldiers came into the Korengal valley, U.S.
special forces combed through the region looking for 'al-Qaeda'. They made friends with a
timber baron in Pech valley, a Pashtun of the Safi tribe, who claimed that his main competitor
in the (illegal) timber trade who lived in the nearby Korengal river valley was a Taliban and
'al-Qaeda'. That was not true. Haji Matin was a member of a Nuristani tribe that spoke
Pashai . These were a
distinct people with their own language who
were and are traditional hostile to any centralized government (pdf), even to the Taliban's
The U.S. special forces lacked any knowledge of the local society. But even worse was that
they lacked the curiosity to research and investigate the social terrain. They simply trusted
their new 'friend', the smooth talking Pashtun timber baron, and called in jets to destroy his
competitor's sawmill and home. This started a local war of attrition which defeated the U.S.
military. In 2010 the U.S. military, having achieved nothing, retreated from Korengal. (The
sawmill episode was described in detail in a 2005(?) blog post by a former special force
soldier who took part in it. It since seems to have been removed from the web.)
Back to Chivers' otherwise well written piece. He looks at the results two recent (and
ongoing) U.S. wars:
The governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, each of which the United States spent hundreds of
billions of dollars to build and support, are fragile, brutal and uncertain. The nations they
struggle to rule harbor large contingents of irregular fighters and terrorists who have been
hardened and made savvy, trained by the experience of fighting the American military
Billions of dollars spent creating security partners also deputized pedophiles, torturers and
thieves. National police or army units that the Pentagon proclaimed essential to their
countries' futures have disbanded. The Islamic State has sponsored or encouraged terrorist
attacks across much of the world -- exactly the species of crime the global "war on terror"
was supposed to prevent.
The wars fail because they no reasonable strategic aim or achievable purpose. They are
planned by incompetent people. The most recent Pentagon ideas for the U.S. war on Afghanistan
depend on less restricted bombing rules. Yesterday one predictable and self defeating
was again visible:
An American airstrike killed at least a dozen Afghan security forces during intense fighting
with the Taliban near the Afghan capital, officials said Tuesday.
Shamshad Larawi, a spokesman for the governor, said that American airstrikes had been called
in for support, but that because of a misunderstanding, the planes mistakenly targeted an
Afghan police outpost.
Haji Abdul Satar, a tribal elder from Azra, said he counted 19 dead, among them 17 Afghan
police officers and pro-government militia members and two civilians.
In the first six months of this year, United States forces dropped nearly 3,000 bombs across
Afghanistan, nearly double the number for the same period last year and more than five times
the number for the first half of 2016. ... Civilian casualties from aerial bombardments have
increased considerably as a result, the United Nations says.
One argument made by the Pentagon generals when they pushed Trump to allow more airstrikes
was that these would cripple the Taliban's alleged opium trade and its financial resources.
But, as the Wall Street Journalreports
, that plan, like all others before it, did not work at all:
Nine months of targeted airstrikes on opium production sites across Afghanistan have failed
to put a significant dent in the illegal drug trade that provides the Taliban with hundreds
of millions of dollars, according to figures provided by the U.S. military.
So far, the air campaign has wiped out about $46 million in Taliban revenue, less than a
quarter of the money the U.S. estimates the insurgents get from the illegal drug trade. U.S.
military officials estimate the drug trade provides the Taliban with 60% of its revenue.
Poppy production hit record highs in Afghanistan last year , where they are the country's
largest cash crop, valued at between $1.5 billion and $3 billion.
More than 200 airstrikes on "drug-related targets" have hardly made a dent in the Taliban's
war chest. The military war planners again failed.
At the end of the Chivers piece its protagonist, Robert Soto, rightfully vents about the
unaccountability of such military 'leaders':
Still he wondered: Was there no accountability for the senior officer class? The war was
turning 17, and the services and the Pentagon seemed to have been given passes on all the
failures and the drift. Even if the Taliban were to sign a peace deal tomorrow, there would
be no rousing sense of victory, no parade. In Iraq, the Islamic State metastasized in the
wreckage of the war to spread terror around the world. The human costs were past counting,
and the whitewash was both institutional and personal, extended to one general after another,
including many of the same officers whose plans and orders had either fizzled or failed to
create lasting success, and yet who kept rising . Soto watched some of them as they were
revered and celebrated in Washington and by members of the press, even after past plans were
discredited and enemies retrenched.
Since World War II, during which the Soviets, not the U.S., defeated the Nazis, the U.S. won
no war. The only exception is the turkey shooting of the first Gulf war. But even that war
failed in its larger political aim of dethroning Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. population and its 'leaders' simply know too little about the world to prevail in
an international military campaign. They lack curiosity. The origin of the Korengal failure is
a good example for that.
are rackets , run on the back of lowly soldiers and foreign civil populations. They enriche
few at the cost of everyone else.
Wars should not be 'a presumed government action', but the last resort to defend ones
country. We should do our utmost to end all of them.
you know, it is just as easy to influence a foreign society by making movies (Bollywood in
this case) with a certain bent, the one you want people to follow. After a few years of
seeing the Taliban as villains, there would be no fresh recruits and mass desertion. But, the
weapons manufacturers wouldn't be making their enormous profits. This same effect can be seen
in American society, where the movies coming out of Hollywood started becoming very
aggressive in tone around the time that Ronald Reagan became president. Movies went from The
Deer Hunter to Rambo and Wall Street. Is it any wonder that even the progressive Left in the
USA thinks it is ok to attack their political adversaries and that violence is justified?
This is the power of movies and the media.
bjd @1 highlights an important truth similar to that exposed by Joseph Heller in
Cache-22 and by Hudson's Balance-of-Payments revelation he revealed yet again
this link I posted yesterday . Most know the aggressive war against Afghanistan was
already planned and on the schedule prior to 911 and would have occurred regardless since
after Serbia the Outlaw US Empire felt it could do and get away with anything. 911 simply
provided BushCo with Carte-Blache, but it wasn't enough of a window to fulfill their desired
destruction of 7 nations in 5 years for their Zionist Patron.
IMO, as part of its plan to control the Heartland, those running the Outlaw US Empire
never had any plan to leave Afghanistan; rather once there, they'd stay and occupy it just as
the Empire's done everywhere since WW2. The Empire's very much like a leech; its occupations
are parasitic as Hudson demonstrated, and work at the behest of corporate interests as Smedly
Butler so eloquently illustrated.
As with Vietnam, the only way to get NATO forces to leave is for Afghanis to force them
out with their rifles. Hopefully, they will be assisted by SCO nations and Afghanistan will
cease being a broken nation by 2030.
The Wall Street Journal article on the Taliban's ties to the local drug trade also the
reveals deliberate omission practiced by the MSM, which keeps its readers actively
misinformed. Estimating illegal drug revenues contribute as much as $200 million to the
Taliban, the article fails to put that in proper context: that figure represents merely
7%-13% of total production receipts (estimated at 1.5 to 3 billion dollars). Most informed
persons know exactly who reaps the rewards of more than 80% of the Afghan drug products, and
why this much larger effort is not the focus of "targeted airstrikes."
1. "The wars fail because they no reasonable strategic aim or achievable purpose........
Since World War II, during which the Soviets, not the U.S., defeated the Nazis, the U.S. won
no war. The only exception is the turkey shooting of the first Gulf war."
2 "U.S. wars are rackets, run on the back of lowly soldiers and foreign civil populations.
They enriche few at the cost of everyone else"
Your points in 1 ignore the reality expressed by 2. The real strategic aims and purposes
are not those provided for public consumption. Winning wars is not the objective, the length
and cost of wars is far more important than results. Enriching and empowering the few over
the many is the entire point of it all
And lets put an end to "US " responsibility for all evils. Its a shared responsibility.
None of this is possible without the cooperation of Uk and its commonwealth nations, EU,
Japan and the various international organizations that allow the dollar to be weaponized such
as IMF/World Bank and BIS not to mention the various tax havens which support covert
operations and looting of assets obtained in these wars (military or economic).
Until the rest of the world is prepared to do something about it they are willing
accomplices in all of this.
The global elites are globalists, they dont think in national terms. Its a global elitist
cabal at work that is hiding behind the cover of US hegemony.
Very interesting stories - especially re: the timber mill warlord competition.
Defoliants are still used in warfare - especially "by accident". Carpet bombing is still
legal. If NATO wanted to wipe out the poppies, it surely could do so.
Pft at 6, reminded me of this zinger:
The nation state as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the
principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and
planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state. -
The nation state as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal
creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in
terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state. - The Brzez
Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 8, 2018 6:18:02 PM | 9
This gem hides a deep truth. One has to replace "creative" and "far in advance", instead,
we have power relationships. And those power relationships resemble central planning of the
Communist states, concept that is attractive in abstraction, but centralization cannot cope
with complexities of societies and economies, in part because the central institutions are
inevitably beset by negative selection: people rise due to their adroit infighting skills
rather than superior understanding of what those institutions are supposed to control.
Ultimately, this proces leads to decay and fall. "Nation states" themselves are not immune to
such cycles and are at different stages of the cycle creative-decadent-falling. However,
international finance lacks observable "refreshing" mechanisms of nation states.
For some reason, when the US wars are admitted to be civil wars, no one questions whose side
did the US take until it is too late and so very few tune in. Incompetence is the excuse. It
reminds me of that adage to not blame on malice that which can be explained by stupidity but
stupidity has been used to excuse a lot of malice. It's one reason why "military
intelligence" resides at the top of oxymorons along with "congressional ethics" and
It is amazing to think that the US has been in Afghanistan for 17 years and supposedly
knows where the opium and its processors are and yet could not take it out. (The pix of
soldiers patrolling poppy fields is rich.) The initial excuse years ago was that the US
needed to support the warlords who grew/sold it. What is the excuse now? Incompetence,
The US likes the idea of opium products going into Iran and Russia ... who have protested
to no avail. A bit of indirect subversion.
The US likes opium products going into the US. It makes for broken citizens who lack zeal for
knowledge, and therefore, comprehension; and the will to organize against the PTB.
Importantly, being illegal, opiate use feeds the pigs who own the prison-industrial complex.
Given the current, longstanding dynamics within the Outlaw US Empire, I don't see any
possibility of the required reforms ever having an opportunity to get enacted. The
situation's very similar to Nazi Germany's internal dynamic--the coercive forces of the State
and its allies will not allow any diminution of their power. Within the Empire, thousands of
Hydra heads would need to be rapidly severed for any revolt to succeed, and that requires a
large, easily infiltrated organization to accomplish. Invasion by an allied group of nations
invites a nuclear holocaust I can't condone. I think the best the world can do is force the
Empire to retreat from its 800+ bases and sequester it behind the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
until it self-destructs or drastically reforms itself--Containment. But for that to work,
almost every comprador government would need to be changed and their personages imprisoned,
exiled or executed--another close to impossible task. Ideally, the ballot box would
work--ideally--but that requires deeply informed voters and highly idealistic, strongly
principled, creative, and fearless candidates, along with an honest media.
Yeah, writing can be good therapy. But I'm no more cheery than when I began. Must be time
The world does not need to force the Evil Empire to retreat from its 1,000 (and counting)
military bases around the planet.
All the world needs to do is trade with Iran, Venezuela or some other outsider nation. The
Evil Empire will be so busy trying to punish everyone who trades with these countries by
extending sanctions against the outsiders to their trading partners that the Empire
effectively ends up having sanctioned everyone away and it becomes the victim of its
The 1,000+ military bases around the globe are then effectively on their own and the
soldiers and administrators inside can either stay there and starve, throw in their lot with
the host nation's citizenry or beg to be allowed to return home.
thanks b... as long as the americans support the troops, lol - all will be well apparently...
jesus.. meanwhile - the support for the 1% bomb makers and etc continues... maybe it is the
mutual fund money that folks are concerned about maintaining..
"In the first six months of this year, United States forces dropped nearly 3,000 bombs
across Afghanistan." what is that? about 17 or 18 bombs a day or something? what about the
drones? they have to be put to use too... best to get someone who is involved in their own
turf war in afgan to give out the targets.. brilliant... usa war planning is mostly destroy
and destroy and honour the troops and wave their stupid american flag and that is about it...
sorry, but that is what it looks like to me..
its not so much they want to end the war on terror or the war on drugs.........they just want
to say one thing to cover their asses and do another thing completely..
no matter what there should of been one general who got it right.....but we see it was
never about peace .... it was always about war and its profits. anyone who didn't take orders
or even had a hint of the right strategy would be Hung like dirty boots to dry.
what is the right strategy? leave. just as other empires did. before you call on your
to be even more frank....its not even about the money as that is not as important than
having a nation of 300m regurgitate the news that they are there for 17 years to be the
police of the world. because USA are the good ones... that they need to buy the biggest
trucks which can't even fit in normal parking spaces because they have land mines(I mean
ieds...) to avoid and need to haul 5tons of cargo to their construction job all while
watching out for terrorists and trump Hillary divisions. is disorienting and it is
deliberate. just as having a war last without a reason is deliberate while they entertain the
masses with games..
@23dh... same deal here in canuckle head ville... people remain ignorant of what there money
is ''''invested'''' in... could be saudi arabia for all the canucks think... btw - thanks for
the laugh on the other thread... you made a couple of good jokes somewhere the past few days!
i don't have much free time to comment at the moment..
McCoy, in "The Politics of Heroin" gives a more complete picture:
In 1996, following four years of civil war among rival resistance factions, the Taliban's
victory caused further expansion of opium cultivation. After capturing Kabul in September,
the Taliban drove the Uzbek and Tajik warlords into the country's northeast, where they
formed the Northern Alliance and clung to some 10 percent of Afghanistan's territory. Over
the next three years, a seesaw battle for the Shamali plain north of Kabul raged until the
Taliban finally won control in 1999 by destroying the orchards and irrigation in a prime
food-producing region, generating over 100,000 refugees and increasing the country's
dependence on opium.
Once in power, the Taliban made opium its largest source of taxation. To raise revenues
estimated at $20-$25 million in 1997, the Taliban collected a 5 to 10 percent tax in kind on
all opium harvested, a share that they then sold to heroin laboratories; a flat tax of $70
per kilogram on heroin refiners; and a transport tax of $250 on every kilogram exported. The
head of the regime's anti-drug operations in Kandahar, Abdul Rashid, enforced a rigid ban on
hashish "because it is consumed by Afghans, Muslims." But, he explained, "Opium is
permissible because it is consumed by kafirs [unbelievers] in the West and not by Muslims or
Afghans." A Taliban governor, Mohammed Hassan, added: "Drugs are evil and we would like to
substitute poppies with another cash crop, but it's not possible at the moment because we do
not have international recognition."
More broadly, the Taliban's policies provided stimulus, both direct and indirect, for a
nationwide expansion of opium cultivation. . . Significantly, the regime's ban on the
employment and education of women created a vast pool of low-cost labor to sustain an
accelerated expansion of opium production. . . . In northern and eastern Afghanistan, women
of all ages played " a fundamental role in the cultivation of the opium poppy"---planting,
weeding, harvesting, cooking for laborers, and processing by-products such as oil. The
Taliban not only taxed and encouraged opium cultivation, they protected and promoted exports
to international markets.
In retrospect, however, the Taliban's most important contribution to the illicit traffic
was its support for large-scale heroin refining.
. . .
Instead of eradication, the UN's annual opium surveys showed that Taliban rule had doubled
Afghanistan's opium production from 2,250 tons in 1996 to 4,600 tons in 1999--equivalent to
75 percent of world illicit production. (508-509)
. . .
War on the Taliban
All this [heroin] traffic across Central Asia depended on high-volume heroin production in
politically volatile Afghanistan. In July 2000, as a devastating drought entered its second
year and mass starvation spread across Afghanistan, the Taliban's leader Mullah Omar ordered
a sudden ban on opium cultivation in a bid for international recognition. (p.517)
B's article assumes that the operative purpose of the US military is to win wars. This isn't
the case. The US military largely a business enterprise whose objective is to make money for
the plutocracy that largely controls them. That being the case, the Afghanistan war has been
a great success. If the US 'won' it, it would cease; if the Taliban conquered, it would
cease. In this form of military stagnation it continues, and the money roles in making the
ammunition, equipment, etc.
The military budget is largely an institution for transferring the tax money of the
population from the people to the plutocracy. Military stagnation serves this purpose better
than winning or losing.
If there is one standout factor which makes makes all this profitable mayhem possible then
it's the successful campaign by the Elites to persuade the Public that Secrecy is a
legitimate variation of Privacy.
It is not.
Impregnable Government Secrecy is ALWAYS a cover for erroneous interpretations of an
inconvenient Law - or straight-out cover for criminal activity.
It's preposterous to believe that a government elected by The People has a legitimate right
to create schemes which must be kept Secret from The People.
This is especially true in the case of Military/Defense. There wouldn't be a CIC on earth who
doesn't have up-to-date and regularly updated info on the hardware and capabilities of every
ally and every potential foe. The People have a legitimate right to know what the CIC, and
the rest of the world, already knows.
And that's just the most glaring example of the childish deception being perpetrated in
the name of Secrecy. If governments were to be stripped of the power to conduct Our affairs
in Secret then the scrutiny would oblige them to behave more competently. And we could weed
out the drones and nitwits before they did too much damage.
i forget who said it and the exact phrasing, but the best explanation i've seen is
"why is the US there? it answers itself: to be there".
vast opium money for the deep state vermin.
profits for the bomb makers (you know, the respectable corporate ones as opposed to the
lithium deposits that probably rival those in bolivia as well as other untapped
profitable resources (probably, anyway; i could see oil and gas coming out of those ancient
it's also an occupation as opposed to a "win and get out" war. these military welfare
queens think they can win a staring contest with the descendants of people who bitchslapped
every would-be conqueror since alexander the great. ask the russians how well that went for
the west supports israel's 70+ years of colonizing palestine (plus the 3 or 4 decades of
dumbness before it with balfour and such) and still has troops in south goddamn korea. as
long as the tap flows they'll keep drinking that sweet tasty tax welfare.
"... A good hypothesis is, that Olof Palme was assassinated by a US stay-behind group, consisting of Nazi military and police. ..."
"... I think VG is quite correct in this: it was a test. And the test was of the neocon/humanitarian intervention marriage. Yes, the USA has doe a lot of this sort of thing in its history, but there has always been some opposition inside the USA. This time, they figured it out and "humanitarian bombing" was born. We have seen a lot more humanitarian bombing since. ..."
"... It was Gore, in consultation with Hillary Clinton, who decided to launch the criminal bombing of Serbia, informing PM Primakov after taking a phone call meant for the president. ..."
"... By launching an illegal attack on Russia's ally, the VP and the future Sec. of State, were offering a foreshadowing of the hawkish and belligerent anti-Russian policy that was to follow for the next 17 years. ..."
"... Western populations for the most part are so thoroughly brainwashed they still cling to the belief they live in civilized countries and their militaries keep them safe from barbarians. ..."
"... Gary I agree whole heartedly with every word you wrote. I would add to how intriguing it would be to learn of the high deception played during the passage of the Federal Reserve back in 1913. Then I'd push out of the way those who blocked Claude Pepper from endorsing Henry Wallace into the 1944 Democratic Convention. This alone may have changed the course of the establishment of the CIA, and avoided the disaster that is happening in Palestine to this day. ..."
"... I do believe the assassination era was the biggest turning point, as it sent a strong message to the would be seekers of sane government policies who would incur such tragedy if explored. Joe ..."
"... I believe there are many questions that need answering about NATO. For instance: July 14, 2018 The Diabolical "Work" of NATO and Its Allies: Why Are These War Criminals Still Free? ..."
By Vladimir Golstein in Belgrade Special to Consortium News
Right across the street from my hotel,
tucked behind tall office buildings, is the rather large Church of St. Mark. Hidden in St.
Mark's shadows is a tiny Russian Orthodox church. The Church of the Holy Trinity, known simply
as the Russian Church, is famous for holding the remains of Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel ,
the Russian Civil War leader of the Whites. It is hard to find, but luckily, a friend took me
As we were looking around the church, not particularly interested in Wrangel, a couple of
Russians asked me to take their picture in front of his tomb. Trying to find a proper angle for
the picture, I noticed a small plaque on a wall nearby. It listed the names of Russians who
died fighting for Yugoslav Serbs during the conflict with separatist Albanians in Kosovo and
the subsequent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in
As we left the church, we took a small path toward the top of the park. There we observed
another brutal sign of that war: a destroyed building next to the TV center. It too had a
plaque. It screamed, " Zashto " (For What? Why?). Below it were the names of all the TV
people NATO killed during that attack. In all, as many as 2,500 civilians may have been killed
by NATO, according to the then Yugoslav government, though the real number may never
On the one hand, the question Zashto is both idle and provocative. It implies a
laceration of wounds, a refusal to forget and to start anew. On the other, there is an obvious
need to find an answer to this question simply to prevent future destruction and senseless
We won't find answers to this question in the official narratives, which tell us that the
noble Clinton administration decided to stop flagrant violations of human rights in the
extremely complex situation in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo by bombing
the Serbs into respecting minorities both on its own and on neighboring territories. (In fact
the large exodus of Kosovo Albanians to Albania proper only began after NATO bombs started to
Testing the Limits
Russians who died fighting for Yugoslavia. (Photo by Vladimir Golstein)
Behind these official stories, a much sadder picture emerges. Why did these people die? Why
did this NATO operation go ahead without UN Security Council authorization
nor proof of self-defense, requirements of the UN Charter? Was it to satisfy the lust for power
of U.S. and NATO leaders, of liberal interventionists like Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton,
and Susan Rice? To assuage the Clinton administration's guilt over its failure to respond to the 1994 genocide
in Rwanda? Was it to set up America's largest military base in Europe since the
Vietnam War, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo? For American access to Kosovo's vast mineral wealth and
other business opportunities, including for
Ms. Albright ? Or was it to finally kill off a rather successful Yugoslav experiment in the
"third way" between the West and the Soviet Union?
It seems these people had to die for all those reasons and to put into practice the
doctrines of responsibility to protect ( R2P ) and
full spectrum dominance , doctrines cooked up by liberal interventionists and neocons in
Washington. Those who died were essentially guinea pigs of a New World Order experiment to see
how far the world could be pushed to implement R2P, a policy that could be used to mask
And it worked. Yugoslavia was unable to stand up to the power of NATO operating outside the
mandate of its obsolete charter: namely to defend Western Europe against an alleged Soviet
threat. Indeed one could argue that with the Cold War over, another motive for the attack on
Yugoslavia was to provide NATO with a justification to exist. (It would later go even further
afield outside its legal theater of operation, into Afghanistan and then Libya.)
Russia could do little to help the Serbs. Then the Chinese Embassy was hit
as well, as a test it seems, though The New York Timessaid
it was a mistake. The Chinese did nothing.
Thus was R2P implemented -- with no protection for Yugoslav Serbs. They had to die in the
experiment to explore the limits of U.S. power and the limits of its resistance.
If my memory serves me correctly, President Bill Clinton had set up a summit meeting with
Russian President Yevgeny Primakov here in the USA. Primakov was in flight on his way here
for that summit meeting when President of Vice, Al Gore, without Clinton's permission or
knowledge, called Primakov, in flight, to tell him NATO had decided to bomb Kosovo. Primakov immediately ordered his plane to
turn around and return to Russia, thus cancelling the summit meeting...
Aurora , August 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm
In Russia that is known as "The Primakov Loop."
rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm
Thanks Vladimir. The Serbs are demonized by so many, especially the Germans-many believe
it was because they fought so valiantly against the Nazis in WW2. Diana Johnstone has written
"Fools' Crusade- Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions", and Michel Collon "Media Lies and
the Conquest of Kosovo", but books with this point of view are not readily publicised. Nor is
the fact that after his death (no trial had yet taken place) Slobodan Milosovic was finally
found nOT to have been responsible for all the murderous acts he was accused/assumed to be
We can note now of course the Russian reaction to the "annexation of Crimea" after a
referendum, no bloodshed and the referendum also of Russians all over the Federation, while
Kosovo was ripped from Serbia by trickery and not consent, and we see how it is now. Russia
is sanctioned, the people who overthrew the Ukrainian government are not mentioned, Crimea is
not allowed to return to Russia. Slight difference from the "nation" of Kososvo!
Thomas Binder , August 6, 2018 at 6:35 am
The war against #Serbia under #R2P was the #MilitaryIndustrialFinancialMedialComplex'es
ruling the #USA/#NATO/#ISR/#SAU empire (#PNAC's) test for eternal war against #AlQaeda
outside international law & interference of #USLegislators for getting full-spectrum
Jackson , August 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm
NATO should have been disbanded after the fall of the Soviets. When you arm people and
train them to kill, they will look for an enemy to fight. War becomes inevitable.
jose , August 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm
It is hard to disagree with your post. Nato, disgracefully, has become a terrorist
organization that has dedicated itself to be the paw of the western elite. Shamefully, other
countries have joined Yugoslavia as victims of Nato criminality. Well done Jackson.
Björn Lindgren , August 5, 2018 at 7:25 am
FOR REASON OF STATE, FOR REASON OF INTEREST
There might be still more reasons for the destruction of Yugoslavia.
Germany had put its mind into destabilizing Yugoslavia to get a "Hinterland". Added to
this, a revenge motive: Nazi Germany occupation of Yugoslavia failed, and this has never been
forgotten. And lastly, Yugoslavia was a member of the non-alignment movement, not obeying
And, of course, after the collapse of the Warsaw pact, NATO had no enemy, no purpose.
But, it invented one: full US spectrum global dominance.
Sweden has also been punished to obey the US.
During the years of PM Olof Palme, Sweden was also a member of the non-alignment movement.
Palme was educated in and friendly to the US, but critized the US war in Vietnam. (Nixon
hated Palme, and withdraw the US diplomats from Sweden).
1992 foreign submarines penetrated Swedish waters repeatedly.
The submarine incident at Hårsfjärden, a marine base, was not made by Russia,
but was made by US and British submarines. Afterwards, both Caspar Weinberger and Sir Keith
Speed confirmed this. Weinberger even thanked Sweden for not blowing up the US mini-sub
(which we could have done. (Read, "Hårsfjärden. Det hemliga ubåtskriget mot
Sverige," by Ola Tunander).
Purpose: pushing Sweden westward.
Already in the mid 50s, William Colby, later head of the CIA, was in Sweden organizing
stay-behind groups, recruting Swedish voluntary ex-soldiers from the Finnish wars against
Soviet Union. In the 50-s these people were organized in "Sveaborg", a Nazi group.
A good hypothesis is, that Olof Palme was assassinated by a US stay-behind group,
consisting of Nazi military and police.
Which, of course, had to be stonewalled "for reason of state". Today, Sweden is "cooperating" shamelessly with NATO, invite, and have excersices with
NATO. This week, the Swedish government annonced that it will purchase US "Patriot"
anti-missiles with "ballistic capability" (Hey, hey!).
Supporting the insane belligerent US and UK nuclear armament (for a nuclear first-strike?)
against neoliberal, oligarchic Russia, which is planning to keep up in the race towards the
abyss. That is, Sweden is now d e f a c t o a member of NATO, without the Swedish people or
parliament have had a say. NATO which eventually is falling apart, and with a lunatic US
president and his military government in the White House, in a US empire collapsing. The peace aspirations of Sweden are long forgotten. And so, is the Helsinki Conference and
agreement (1975-1983) for common security, disarmamanet , and a nuclear-free zone in
The question is if Germany, France, UK (with Corbyn in 10 Downing) and Russia will
organize a new Helsinki Conference and Agreement?
Maybe, "for reasons of interest".
rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:01 pm
Thanks so much for this comprehensive addition to the discussion. Sweden indeed has been
placed in an invidious position.
Pretending that NATO has any purpose even vaguely related to peace is laughable.
David G , August 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm
Great comment, Björn Lindgren. Many thanks.
The withering away of Swedish neutrality into an empty formality has become so obvious,
but never remarked upon in the U.S. I'm sure most cable TV talking heads just assume Sweden
is in NATO – indeed, I've heard the error made, albeit corrected after the next
I appreciate reading your committed, highly informed perspective. Maybe you could submit
an article on this under-reported subject to Consortium News?
Excellent article in the eve of 20th anniversary of NATO aggression on Yugoslavia which
will be marked by Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, March 23, 24rth, 2019.
NATO 1999 aggression was meant to be precedent and turning point in global conduct toward
globalization of military interventionism (Avganistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.). Willy Wimmer wrote
to Schoerder on May 2nd, 2000, USA position: "The war against Yugoslavia was conducted in
order to correct the mistake of General Eisenhower from the 2ndWW. Subsequently, for
strategic reasons, USA troops had to be stationed there ". And: "It is clear that it is the
precedent to be recalled any time" The Bondstil base in Kosovo was only the first in the
ensuing chain of new USA bases in Bulgaria (4), Rumania (4), Albania (2), Baltic states
I think VG is quite correct in this: it was a test. And the test was of the
neocon/humanitarian intervention marriage. Yes, the USA has doe a lot of this sort of thing
in its history, but there has always been some opposition inside the USA. This time, they
figured it out and "humanitarian bombing" was born. We have seen a lot more humanitarian
Branko Mikasinovich , August 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm
A great and truthful article about Western Policy, NATO and US. A courageous and
informative analysis of Mr. Golstein. Thank you.
ToivoS , August 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm
Goldstein writes Russia could do little to help the Serbs. Then the Chinese Embassy was
hit as well, as a test it seems, though The New York Times said it was a mistake. The Chinese
Actually the Chinese did do something. They changed their attitude towards the US. I have
yet to meet a Chinese national who believes that the embassy hit was a "mistake". They and
their government view it as a deliberate attack on their sovereignty. But they realized they
were not in a position respond so they then began military planning for possible conflict
between China and the US Navy in the Western Pacific. In 2000 they started a 10 plan to
achieve the ability to sink any US aircraft carrier within a 1000 km of their shores. We
won't know if they have achieved that ability until a real test is conducted. But that is the
something they have done.
FB , August 8, 2018 at 9:24 am
Good point Toivos The Chinese have never forgotten the Belgrade embassy bombing and they
never will. Ask any Chinese today, even those living in the West the Chinese are an ancient people
with a long and proud memory the embassy bombing was a step too far. All of these hubristic missteps will come back to haunt the empire
Theo , August 4, 2018 at 10:51 am
I remember well the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia under the pretext to stop the genocide
that was allegedly committed by the Serbs. The saddest thing for me was that Germany was
participating in the bombing campaign. My father who was in Yugoslavia as a Wehrmacht soldier
was outraged as were many others. After almost sixty years German bombers were over Serbia
again. My dad used to say German soldiers on foreign soil had never been good neither for the
foreign country nor for Germany. That's why until today the Germans have an aversion to all
military and the deployment of German soldiers in foreign countries is not very popular.
David G , August 4, 2018 at 11:16 am
The 1999 air attacks were the coup de grace, but I think Germany had the (dis)honor of
leading the vivisection of Yugoslavia from the start.
As Vladimir Golstein rhetorically asks: "Or was it to finally kill off a rather successful
Yugoslav experiment in the 'third way' between the West and the Soviet Union?"
Indeed it was, and that surely appealed to all the Western powers. But Germany was
particularly interested in removing a possible continental rival, and took the lead in making
sure it happened – not at all to absolve the U.S., under whose aegis it was ultimately
Antiwar7 , August 4, 2018 at 11:42 am
The German people and the German government are different. The German government has had
an anti-Serb animus for over 150 years: that's clear. But the German people, as Theo's dad
shows, can be very nice. My father was a POW in Germany for 4 years during WWII, and most of
the German people he encountered were quite nice to him.
Theo , August 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm
You are right. The vivisection of Yugoslavia began when Germany recognized the independence
of Slovenia before any other country did. The German government with Genscher as foreign
minister didn't consult with any of the European allies. Especially France was not amused at
rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:04 pm
It was Germany, 9 days after reunification, which led the removal of Croatia from
Yugoslavia and beginning the breakup of a successful multicultural country.
Juan P. Zenter , August 4, 2018 at 7:29 am
Yugoslavia was a federation of states and was, thus, an obstacle to consolidating EU and
NATO power in Southeastern Europe. Once the federation was destroyed, the individual states
that comprised it could be absorbed by EU/NATO. That was the ultimate outcome of NATO bombing
there, despite all denials about that being the intent.
Thanks for the article, the photo of the beautiful church, and the reflection on this
horrible chapter from the book of atrocities disguised as "humanitarian" to fool the masses.
This also helped Bill and Hillary Clinton distract the American public from the Monica
j. D. D. , August 4, 2018 at 7:59 pm
I don't see it that way. Rather, as President Clinton was hit with the Lewinsky scandal
and put on the defensive immediately following his speech to NY's Council on Foreign Relations
in which he called for "a new world financial archithitecture," VP Al Gore, who later shunned
the president, saw the opportunity to determine policy. It was Gore, in consultation with
Hillary Clinton, who decided to launch the criminal bombing of Serbia, informing PM Primakov
after taking a phone call meant for the president. Whereupon the PM turned around his flight
in mid-air over the Atlantic and returned to Russia. By launching an illegal attack on
Russia's ally, the VP and the future Sec. of State, were offering a foreshadowing of the
hawkish and belligerent anti-Russian policy that was to follow for the next 17 years.
FB , August 8, 2018 at 9:31 am
Disagree these are minor details that are meaningless. Yugoslavia had already been systematically dismembered starting the very instant after
German unification and the fall of the Soviet Union. Coincidence ? Maybe a child could believe it by 1999, the final chapter of the dismemberment, Kosovo,
was ready, after several years of laying careful groundwork of subversion, propaganda and
The Nato war of aggression in 1999 would have proceeded no matter what to think that the
Lewisnky nonsense had anything to do with anything is ridiculous
nonsense factory , August 3, 2018 at 11:50 pm
One major factor in the NATO bombing and the overall agenda in the region was control of
territory for a proposed gas/oil pipeline export route from Central Asia to Europe. The
creation of Camp Bondsteel was directly related to that goal, and the chief contractor
(KBR-Halliburton) played the same role there that they did in the construction of numerous
military bases in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
That's been a dominant theme in U.S. foreign policy and military strategy circles ever
since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Numerous routes have been proposed –
trans-Afghanistan pipeline, the Nabucco pipeline, etc., all with the same goal –
getting Central Asia fossil fuels (leased to US and British majors like Exxon, Chevron, BP,
etc.) to global markets while bypassing Iran and Russia.
Monbiot in the Guardian, 2001 (when it was still a fairly decent paper, rather than a
gung-ho enforcer of the Blairite neoliberal agenda), said this:
"For the past few weeks, a freelance researcher called Keith Fisher has been doggedly
documenting a project which has, as far as I can discover, has been little-reported in any
British, European or American newspaper. It is called the Trans-Balkan pipeline, and it's due
for approval at the end of next month. Its purpose is to secure a passage for oil from the
Caspian sea. . ."
"In November 1998, Bill Richardson, then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the
extraction and transport of Caspian oil. "This is about America's energy security," he
explained. "It's also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values.
We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west. We would like to see
them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way.
We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us
that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right. . ."
Paul Stuart, in the WSWS, 2002, noted:
"According to leaked comments to the press, European politicians now believe that the US
used the bombing of Yugoslavia specifically in order to establish Camp Bondsteel. Before the
start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post insisted, "With the
Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will need bases and fly over rights in the Balkans to
protect Caspian Sea oil."" https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2002/04/oil-a29.html
Forward project of American imperial power in the name of control of energy resources and
the cash flows arising from them, in a nutshell. Or, "business as usual since the 1950s".
Since JFK, it's all been done under the cover of "humanitarian intervention" and "protecting
democracy" which is why so many American citizens have no idea what the true aims of these
wars have really been
MH , August 7, 2018 at 2:13 pm
Sadly, Monbiot's column aside, the Guardian's coverage of what most of us here think of as
a war against Yugoslav independence was unabashedly pro-NATO and anti-Serb. The outlet did
it's best to confuse otherwise war skeptical liberals -- by demonizing the Serbs as
bloodthirsty savages purveying late 1930s genocide -- about the true character of "the
west's" aggression against the Serbs. Unlike Iraq, where the Graundiad reversed their pro-war
stance, the paper only doubled down on its anti-Serb biases, culminating in trumpets and
coronets for Hague's prosecutors ludicrously inept (at best) handling of Milosevic's
Bob Van Noy , August 3, 2018 at 8:11 pm
Thank you Vladimir Golstein for this article. I'm sure you know the answers to the
questions you ask in the paragraph titled "Testing the Limlts". The answer to each of them is
given to us and to the world in F. William Engdahl's devastating book entitled "Manifest
Destiny" : Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance. I say devastating because Mr. Engdahl
thoroughly describes a series of American administrations responsible for all of these crimes
It will be up to us (American Citizens) to educate ourselves as to the real history of our
government acting secretly, without broad consensus, and illegally. This article is a good
beginning but the discussion needs to be broadened and further documented. Then we can begin
to find a resolution.
How one can wonder how the German population stood aside while the Nazis committed their
atrocities while at the same time not speaking out at our own apparent daily military
excesses is beyond me.
irina , August 4, 2018 at 12:01 am
Not to mention meekly paying for these daily military excesses, with no protest.
christina garcia , August 4, 2018 at 1:02 am
here is an historical answer, My Grandfather and Grandmother were born in Koenigsberg
Prussia what is now known as Kaliningrad. The City of Emanuel Kant and not quite in the
1930's fans of National Socialism. My Grandfather owned a brick factory and a saw mill . They
were capitalists, not National Socialists. And you JIMBOBLA , fyi, My Opa was caught by the
Russian Army 1943, my family was totally disunited. It took the Red Cross 3 years to find my
family members and repatriate them .The Nazi organization disliked capitalism . I can prove
every single sentence I wrote. Please be careful when you write Nazism
Sam F , August 4, 2018 at 8:48 am
If you disagree, you should really address the issue of "how the German population stood
aside while the Nazis committed their atrocities." Are you arguing that Nazi atrocities were
justified by the USSR dispersing a family in 1943 Kaliningrad, during a war in which Nazis
killed over 20 million Russians? It would be interesting to hear an argument with substance
christina garcia , August 4, 2018 at 1:04 am
it is beyond you because you never experienced these atrocities
Milojkovic , August 5, 2018 at 8:11 pm
Dear Christina, I am very sorry about what happened to your family. They probably didn't
have a choice, otherwise the Nazis would have hurt them. Maybe you'd have never been born if
they dared to resist actively. Probably good people, unfairly caught in the whirlwind of
history and human brutality. They were then retaliated against by other Nazi victims without
deserving so, just because of their ethnicity. I am a Serb, living in U.S. Trust me, I can
relate. I was here in U.S. during those terrible days of 1999, living through them as if in a
daze. Life is now "kinda back to normal", but I try my best not to think just how big a part
of me had died in that bombing. My grandfather, who was just a peasant but a very devoted
Christian, died in a horrible pain from the terminal stomach cancer because there was no pain
medication for him; plus the pharmaceutical factories were bombed after having been accused
of being able to produce chemical weapons in a coordinated NATO propaganda just days before.
In agony, he was trying to undress himself, and was screaming and running around the garden.
Several of our family members were killed by Wehrmacht in WW II. I think that Germany had no
business participating in this bombing. Look up Varvarin bridge. It was shameful. And yes,
unfortunately, it was a German hand holding the match that lit up the powder keg that was
Yugoslavia in early 90's.
Consortium's Fan , August 7, 2018 at 10:28 am
Did YOU, Christina Garcia, experience atrocities? Judging by you comment, I am confidently
saying you DIDN'T. You know NOTHING about atrocities. Read and watch films about Nazi doings.
And compare them to "dispersing a family" in a wartime. A recent film worth seeing is
SOBIBOR, entirely based on archives, – a Nazi concentration camp in Poland's Sobibor
– hence the name. Educate yourself.
Lois Gagnon , August 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Western populations for the most part are so thoroughly brainwashed they still cling to
the belief they live in civilized countries and their militaries keep them safe from
barbarians. Unf*cking believable.
rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm
The likelihood of damage being caused by the USA NOT intervening anywhere must be
Realist , August 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm
To U.S. authorities, foreign lives simply do not matter. No need to conduct any
"intelligence assessment" to determine their culpability. They shamelessly commit mass murder
right out in the open with impunity.
Joe – Exactly. I sometimes find myself thinking the "what if" to the U.S. mayhem of
just my own lifetime. "What if" the CIA hadn't coordinated the assassinations of JFK and
Lumumba, as well as of course the murder or overthrow of dozens of elected leaders in former
colonies who simply aspired to helping their own people, rather than acting as proxies to the
continuing pillage by U.S. & Western capitalism. What if instead those leaders were
allowed to lead their nations into a non-aligned world and not forced to be beholden to
either the U.S. or Soviet systems by threats of U.S. military and economic violence? What if
Malcolm and MLK and RFK had not been murdered by forces connected to the U.S. ruling
institutions, and had instead by now had become elder statesmen in a more humane and
democratic U.S. system that would stand in stark contrast to the insane neoliberal capitalist
freak show which has been forced upon the world, and who's mystical – "invisible hand"
– can be found tightly wrapped around the throats of the poor everywhere?
Yes Joe I agree, I think we could have lived in a very different world had not the greed
and pathology of U.S. and Western oligarchy quite intentionally and violently destroyed any
possibility of a more humane and egalitarian world by routinely murdering those more humane
leaders who could have helped us reach it. That possibility of a more humane world was
replaced instead with the odious Maggie Thatcher's "there is no alternative" global nightmare
of continued neocolonial pillage euphemistically called neoliberal capitalism. Only the
fine-tuning of the rational for mass murder has changed. Now we have "duty to protect"
– which translated from 'newspeak' means = "we now must bomb and kill you because we
care about you so very, very much." Sort of a Western postmodern version of earlier
justifications for slaughtering the indigenous in order to – "save their souls" I
suppose. We in the West have created this current version of global "reality" through
absolutely amoral unrelenting mass violence over 500+ years now, and sadly there does not
seem to be any real evidence of a change of heart or direction in our global mayhem.
Joe Tedesky , August 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm
Gary I agree whole heartedly with every word you wrote. I would add to how intriguing it
would be to learn of the high deception played during the passage of the Federal Reserve back
in 1913. Then I'd push out of the way those who blocked Claude Pepper from endorsing Henry
Wallace into the 1944 Democratic Convention. This alone may have changed the course of the
establishment of the CIA, and avoided the disaster that is happening in Palestine to this
Thatcher & Reagan surly introduced us into this new economy which is often said to be
doing so great, and there we are ruined by an overly eager Fed lender along with an out of
sight Defense budget. Your job isn't there, and with that you are told to blame the union.
Ah, the Union wasn't that what Margaret & Ronny sabotaged eventually . nice work.
I do believe the assassination era was the biggest turning point, as it sent a strong
message to the would be seekers of sane government policies who would incur such tragedy if
Joe – I quite agree. The assassination era was the huge turning point, but as you
point out the corruption and manipulation of democracy by the oligarchy goes way back. Yes,
imagine if Wallace had been the VP for FDR? Had Wallace's nomination not been sabotaged,
perhaps the Dulles brothers would have spent their remaining time on earth learning
woodworking skills in prison workshop after being convicted for the treason of their Nazi
dealings – instead of leading the CIA and State Dept. into the corrupt secrecy of
multiple regime changes, assassinations, and endless insane cold war posturing. The Dulles
CIA era, including it's loving embrace of the Nazi war criminals, seems to have a been in
retrospect a very dark prelude leading up to the assassination era to follow. Ike certainly
had some foreboding of the evil to come given his parting comments.
REDPILLED , August 4, 2018 at 5:04 pm
A brief recommended reading list:
The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
by David Talbot
The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the attack on U.S. Democracy by Peter
The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government by Mike
Bob Van Noy , August 4, 2018 at 8:35 am
Joe and Gary, very nice and well informed thread, thank you. Clearly we all share the
history that both of you mentioned and we also see through the now crumbling obfuscation. It
will become our new duty to use that past experience and a new hope to help make an official
case for correcting the official record and reclaiming Democracy. Actually it's a worthy
endeavor and we're uniquely positioned to help
Consortium's Fan , August 7, 2018 at 10:42 am
"Sort of a Western postmodern version of earlier justifications for slaughtering the
indigenous in order to – "save their souls" I suppose."
Or even earlier justifications (by the Holy Inquisition in the Middle Ages) to burn people
alive to "save their souls".
Realist , August 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Excellent point, Joe. I wonder how different the history books will look if this country
somehow manages to shed the warmongering hegemonists who have been in control for at least
the last 70 years (or, one might argue, from its inception).
I'd also like to see an English translation of the current world history books, used in
the schools of China, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Cuba, Vietnam or dozens of other
countries not part of the American World Empire. I'll bet American actions and motives are
not portrayed to be as noble and pure as the driven snow. I'll bet even Mexico has a quite
different take. Canada? You stopped our invasion in 1812, aided the slaves sent to you via
the Underground Railway and refused to cooperate in the Vietnam fiasco. What happened since
then? Now you extradite AWOL GI's who don't want to go back to the numerous "sand boxes" we
play in. I'll bet those books, if ever published in English, would not be allowed on public
library shelves in the U.S.
I believe there are many questions that need answering about NATO. For instance:
July 14, 2018
The Diabolical "Work" of NATO and Its Allies: Why Are These War Criminals Still Free?
NATO's recent meeting or summit in Brussels July 11 – 12, 2018, could be described
as a gathering of heinous hypocrites.  There are millions of people dead, millions are
refugees, their countries have been destroyed and our ruling hypocrites spout the words "rule
of law." Has there ever been a gang of human reptiles (are they even human?) so evil, dressed
in expensive suits [and dresses] and operating out of houses of power called "parliaments"
and other houses of ill repute? These criminals, or gangsters, or bandits, or reprobates (Add
your own epithet) are up to their filthy necks in the blood of the victims of their planned
"... At some point the Western Powers decided the that old Communist Apparachik Milosevic would be the Bad Guy and the Croatian freedom-loving "our bastards" the good guys to be internationally recognized and thus enflamed the passion of secession. The thing just flew apart. And afterwards we had to bomb the country in order to save it. ..."
I vividly recall the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. I was nine-years-old and we were not
wired for cable then. There also was no remote control for the 27″ Zenith color
console. I was forced to watch some of the coverage for those reasons. Sarajevo was held up
as a utopian city where Serbs, Croats and Muslims all lived in a beautiful city peacefully.
It was so beautiful said the announcers. And in less than a decade that Olympic stadium
was turned into a cemetery as those peaceful Croats, Serbs and Muslims slaughtered each
other. Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Yugoslavia and the nation disintegrated back into
its ethnic lines, the killings started.
Imagine what is coming in the United States where the simmering hatreds are invited and
exploited by not three distinct groups, but hundreds. Image what is to come when
"historically aggrieved" peoples who have been weaponized for generations to despise their
The erasure of common nationhood and the instilling of grievance as a caste system will
see the US descend into chaotic slaughter the likes of which have never been seen before.
When Pakistan separated from India after the British pulled out, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus
slaughtered each other, stopping trains filled with refugees being repatriated into their new
nations and slaughtering every one of them. Americans have been so denuded of historical
understanding that these histories are unknown.
The malevolence of humanity seething just under the surface until the opportunity arises
for it to burst forth is forgotten by placated propagandized people. What people in world
history have been more propagandized and placated than Americans who have been viewing
carefully crafted scripts since their eyes were first able to focus on a tv screen and whose
desperately poor are morbidly obese?
Stocking a warehouse to the rafters with volatile materials, packing them in so tightly
until they near critical mass, now add in some agitation -- and light a match. The most
devastating weapon ever devised in not the hydrogen bomb, it is a population bomb. A 100
megaton nuclear weapon destroys cleanly -- one flash and a wind storm -- it's all over aside
from lingering sunshine units. In a thousand years the land will forget what had
A population bomb where the very people have been weaponized will prove far more
devastating and remain scarring the land for eons and that common memory lives on in the
survivors igniting anew every few decades.
Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Yugoslavia and the nation disintegrated back into its
ethnic lines, the killings started.
That never happened though because the Soviet Army was never in Yugoslavia in the first
place. It was Tito who maintained order with an iron fist.
At some point the Western Powers decided the that old Communist Apparachik Milosevic
would be the Bad Guy and the Croatian freedom-loving "our bastards" the good guys to be
internationally recognized and thus enflamed the passion of secession. The thing just flew
apart. And afterwards we had to bomb the country in order to save it.
"It did not take National Socialism long to rally workers, most of whom were either
unemployed or still very young, into the SA [Sturmangriff, Stormtroopers, "brown shirts"]. To a
large extent, however, these workers were revolutionary in a dull sort of way and still
maintained an authoritarian attitude. For this reason National Socialist propaganda was
contradictory; it's content was determined by the class for which it was intended. Only in its
manipulation of the mystical feelings of the masses was it clear and consistent.
In talks with followers of the National Socialist party and especially with members of the
SA, it was clearly brought out that the revolutionary phraseology of National Socialism was the
decisive factor in the winning over of these masses. One heard National Socialists deny that
represented capital. One heard SA men warn Hitler that he must not betray the cause of the
"revolution." One heard SA men say that Hitler was the German Lenin . Those who went over to
National Socialism from Social Democracy and the liberal central parties were, without
exception, revolutionary minded masses who were either nonpolitical or politically undecided
prior to this. Those who went over from the Communist party were often revolutionary elements
who simply could not make any sense of many of the German Communist party's contradictory
political slogans. In part they were men upon whom the external features of Hitler's party,
it's military character, its assertiveness, etc., made a big impression.
essential, however, is the identification of the individuals in the masses with the
"führer." The more helpless the "mass-individual" has become, owing to his upbringing, the
more pronounced is his identification with the führer, and the more the childish need for
protection is disguised in the form of a feeling at one with the führer. This inclination
to identify is the psychological basis of national narcissism, i.e., of the self-confidence
that individual man derives from the "greatness of the nation."
The reactionary lower
middle-class man perceives himself in the führer, in the authoritarian state. On
the basis of this identification he feels himself to be a defender of the "national heritage,"
of the "nation," which does not prevent him, likewise on the basis of this identification, from
simultaneously despising "the masses" and confronting them as an individual. The wretchedness
of his material and sexual situation is so overshadowed by the exalting idea of belonging to a
master race and having a brilliant führer that, as time goes on, he ceases to realize how
completely he has sunk to a position of insignificant, blind allegiance.
The worker who is conscious of his skills -- he, in short, who has rid himself of his
submissive structure, who identifies with his work and not with the führer, with the
international working masses and not with the national homeland -- represents the opposite of
this. He feels himself to be a leader , not on the basis of his identification with the
führer, but on the basis of his consciousness of performing work that is vitally necessary
for society's existence."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"It was one
of the greatest errors in evaluating dictatorship to say that the dictator forces himself on
society against its own will. In reality, every dictator in history was nothing but the
accentuation of already existing state ideas which he had only to exaggerate in order to gain
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
theorists, who are as old as imperialism itself, want to achieve racial purity in peoples whose
interbreeding, as a result of the expansion of world economy, is so far advanced that racial
purity can have meaning only to a numbskull."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"Power, no matter what kind of power it is, without a foundation in truth, is a
dictatorship, more or less and in one way or another, for it is always based on man's fear of
the social responsibility and personal burden that "freedom" entails."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"The word fascism is not a word of abuse any more than the word capitalism is. It is a
concept denoting a very definite kind of mass leadership and mass influence: authoritarian,
one-party system, hence totalitarian, a system in which power takes priority over objective
interests, and facts are distorted for political purposes. Hence, there are "fascist Jews,"
just as there are "fascist Democrats."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"Finally, we arrive at the question of the so-called nonpolitical man. Hitler not only established his
power from the very beginning with masses of people who were until then essentially
nonpolitical; he also accomplished his last step to victory in March of 1933 in a "legal"
manner, by mobilizing no less than five million nonvoters, that is to say, nonpolitical people.
The Left parties had made every effort to win over the indifferent masses, without posing the
question as to what it means "to be indifferent or nonpolitical."
If an industrialist and large estate owner champions a rightist party, this is easily
understood in terms of his immediate economic interests. In his case a leftist orientation
would be at variance with his social situation and would, for that reason, point to irrational
motives. If an industrial worker has a leftist orientation, this too is by all mean rationally
consistent -- it derives from his economic and social position in industry. If, however, a
worker, an employee, or an official has a rightist orientation, this must be ascribed to a lack
of political clarity, i.e., he is ignorant of his social position. The more a man who belongs
to the broad working masses is nonpolitical, the more susceptible he is to the ideology of
political reaction. To be nonpolitical is not, as one might suppose, evidence of a passive
psychic condition, but of a highly active attitude, a defense against the awareness of
social responsibility. The analysis of this defense against consciousness of one's social
responsibility yields clear insights into a number of dark questions concerning the behavior of
the broad nonpolitical strata. In the case of the average intellectual "who wants nothing to do
with politics," it can easily be shown that immediate economic interests and fears related to
his social position, which is dependent upon public opinion, lie at the basis of his
noninvolvement. These fears cause him to make the most grotesque sacrifices with respect to his
knowledge and convictions. Those people who are engaged in the production process in one way or
another and are nonetheless socially irresponsible can be divided into two major groups. In the
case of the one group the concept of politics is unconsciously associated with the idea of
violence and physical danger, i.e., with an intense fear, which prevents them from facing life
realistically. In the case of the other group, which undoubtedly constitutes the majority,
social irresponsibility is based on personal conflicts and anxieties, of which the sexual
anxiety is the predominant one. [ ] Until now the revolutionary movement has misunderstood this
situation. It attempted to awaken the "nonpolitical" man by making him conscious solely of his
unfulfilled economic interests. Experience teaches that the majority of these "nonpolitical"
people can hardly be made to listen to anything about their socio-economic situation, whereas
they are very accessible to the mystical claptrap of a National Socialist, despite the fact
that the latter makes very little mention of economic interests. [This] is explained by the
fact that severe sexual conflicts (in the broadest sense of the word), whether conscious or
unconscious, inhibit rational thinking and the development of social responsibility. They make
a person afraid and force him into a shell. If, now, such a self-encapsulated person meets a
propagandist who works with faith and mysticism, meets, in other words, a fascist who works
with sexual, libidinous methods, he turns his complete attention to him. This is not because
the fascist program makes a greater impression on him than the liberal program, but because in
his devotion to the führer and the führer's ideology, he experiences a momentary
release from his unrelenting inner tension. Unconsciously, he is able to give his conflicts a
different form and in this way to "solve" them."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"When, then, the Social Democrat worker found himself in the economic crisis which degraded
him to the status of a coolie, the development of his revolutionary sentiments was severely
retarded by the conservative structuralization that had been taking shape in him for decades.
Either he remained in the camp of the Social Democrats, notwithstanding his criticism and
rejection of their policies, or he went over to the NSDAP [Nazi party] in search of a better
replacement. Irresolute and indecisive, owing to the deep contradiction between revolutionary
and conservative sentiments, disappointed by his own leadership, he followed the line of least
resistance. Whether he would give up his conservative tendencies and arrive at a complete
consciousness of his actual responsibility in the production process, i.e., at a revolutionary
consciousness, depended solely on the correct or incorrect leadership of the revolutionary
party. Thus the communist assertion that it was the Social Democrat policies that put fascism
in the saddle was correct from a psychological viewpoint. Disappointment in Social
Democracy, accompanied by the contradiction between wretchedness and conservative thinking,
must lead to fascism if there are no revolutionary organizations. For example, following
the fiasco of the Labor party's policies in England, in 1930–31, fascism began to
infiltrate the workers who, then, in the election of 1931, cut away to the Right, instead of
going over to communism."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"Hence, what he wants -- and it is openly admitted -- is to implement nationalistic
imperialism with methods he has borrowed from Marxism , including its technique of
mass organization. But the success of this mass organization is to be ascribed to the masses
and not to Hitler . It was man's
authoritarian freedom-fearing structure that enabled his propaganda to take root. Hence, what
is important about Hitler sociologically does not issue from his personality but from the
importance attached to him by the masses. And what makes the problem all the more
complex is the fact that Hitler held the masses, with whose help he wanted to carry out his
imperialism, in complete contempt."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"As bitter as it may be, the fact remains: It is the irresponsibleness of masses
of people that lies at the basis of fascism of all countries, nations, and races, etc. Fascism
is the result of man's distortion over thousands of years. It could have developed in any
country or nation. It is not a character trait that is confined specifically to the Germans or
Italians. It is manifest in every single individual of the world. The Austrian saying "Da
kann man halt nix machen" expresses this fact just as the American saying "Let George do
it." That this situation was brought about by a social development which goes back thousands of
years does not alter the fact itself. It is man himself who is responsible and not "historical
developments." It was the shifting of the responsibility from living man to "historical
developments" that caused the downfall of the socialist freedom movements. However, the
events of the past twenty years demand the responsibility of the working masses of people.
If we take "freedom" to mean first and foremost the responsibility of each
individual to shape personal, occupational, and social existence in a rational way, then it
can be said that there is no greater fear than the fear of the creation of general
freedom. Unless this basic problem is given complete priority and solved, there will never
be a freedom capable of lasting more than one or two generations."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"It did not
take National Socialism long to rally workers, most of whom were either unemployed or still
very young, into the SA [Sturmangriff, Stormtroopers, "brown shirts"]. To a large extent,
however, these workers were revolutionary in a dull sort of way and still maintained an
authoritarian attitude. For this reason National Socialist propaganda was contradictory; it's
content was determined by the class for which it was intended. Only in its manipulation of the
mystical feelings of the masses was it clear and consistent.
In talks with followers of the National Socialist party and especially with members of the
SA, it was clearly brought out that the revolutionary phraseology of National Socialism was the
decisive factor in the winning over of these masses. One heard National Socialists deny that
represented capital. One heard SA men warn Hitler that he must not betray the cause of the
"revolution." One heard SA men say that Hitler was the German Lenin . Those who went over to
National Socialism from Social Democracy and the liberal central parties were, without
exception, revolutionary minded masses who were either nonpolitical or politically undecided
prior to this. Those who went over from the Communist party were often revolutionary elements
who simply could not make any sense of many of the German Communist party's contradictory
political slogans. In part they were men upon whom the external features of Hitler's party,
it's military character, its assertiveness, etc., made a big impression.
"National Socialism made use of various means in dealing with various classes, and made
various promises depending upon the social class it needed at a particular time. In the spring
of 1933, for example, it was the revolutionary character of the Nazi movement that was
given particular emphasis in Nazi propaganda in an effort to win over the industrial workers,
and the first of May was "celebrated," but only after the aristocracy had been appeased in
Potsdam. To ascribe the success solely to political swindle, however, would be to become
entangled in a contradiction with the basic idea of freedom, and would practically exclude the
possibility of a social revolution. What must be answered is: Why do the masses allow
themselves to be politically swindled? The masses had every possibility of evaluating the
propaganda of the various parties. Why didn't they see that, while promising the workers that
the owners of the means of production would be disappropriated, Hitler promised the capitalists that
their rights would be protected?"
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
"Yet, it was precisely our failure to differentiate between work and politics, between
reality and illusion; it was precisely our mistake of conceiving of politics as a rational
human activity comparable to the sowing of seeds or the construction of buildings that was
responsible for the fact that a painter who
failed to make the grade was able to plunge the whole world into misery. And I have
stressed again and again that the main purpose of this book -- which, after all, was not
written merely for the fun of it -- was to demonstrate these catastrophic errors in human
thinking and to eliminate irrationalism from politics. It is an essential part of our social
tragedy that the farmer, the industrial worker, the physician, etc., do not influence social
existence solely through their social activities, but also and even predominantly through their
political ideologies. For political activity hinders objective and professional activity; it
splits every profession into inimical ideologic groups; creates a dichotomy in the body of
industrial workers; limits the activity of the medical profession and harms the patients. In
short, it is precisely political activity that prevents the realization of that which it
pretends to fight for: peace, work, security, international cooperation, free objective speech,
freedom of religion, etc."
― Wilhelm Reich , The Mass Psychology of
Here are ten bombshell revelations and fascinating new details to lately come out of both Sy
Hersh's new book, Reporter , as well as
interviews he's given since publication...
1) On a leaked Bush-era intelligence memo outlining the neocon plan to remake the Middle
(Note: though previously alluded to only anecdotally by General Wesley Clark in his memoir and in a 2007
speech , the below passage from Seymour Hersh is to our knowledge the first time this
highly classified memo has been quoted . Hersh's account appears to corroborate now retired
Gen. Clark's assertion that days after 9/11 a classified memo outlining plans to foster regime
change in "7 countries in
5 years" was being circulated among intelligence officials.)
From Reporter: A Memoir
pg. 306 -- A few months after the invasion of Iraq, during an interview overseas with a general
who was director of a foreign intelligence service, I was provided with a copy of a Republican
neocon plan for American dominance in the Middle East. The general was an American ally, but
one who was very rattled by the Bush/Cheney aggression. I was told that the document leaked to
me initially had been obtained by someone in the local CIA station. There was reason to be
rattled: The document declared that the war to reshape the Middle East had to begin "with the
assault on Iraq. The fundamental reason for this... is that the war will start making the U.S.
the hegemon of the Middle East. The correlative reason is to make the region feel in its bones,
as it were, the seriousness of American intent and determination." Victory in Iraq would lead
to an ultimatum to Damascus, the "defanging" of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Arafat's Palestine
Liberation Organization, and other anti-Israeli groups. America's enemies must understand that
"they are fighting for their life: Pax Americana is on its way, which implies their
annihilation." I and the foreign general agreed that America's neocons were a menace to
From Reporter: A Memoir
pages 306-307 -- Donald Rumsfeld was also infected with neocon fantasy. Turkey had refused to
permit America's Fourth Division to join the attack of Iraq from its territory, and the
division, with its twenty-five thousand men and women, did not arrive in force inside Iraq
until mid-April, when the initial fighting was essentially over. I learned then that Rumsfeld
had asked the American military command in Stuttgart, Germany, which had responsibility for
monitoring Europe, including Syria and Lebanon, to begin drawing up an operational plan for an
invasion of Syria. A young general assigned to the task refused to do so, thereby winning
applause from my friends on the inside and risking his career. The plan was seen by those I
knew as especially bizarre because Bashar Assad, the ruler of secular Syria, had responded to
9/11 by sharing with the CIA hundreds of his country's most sensitive intelligence files on the
Muslim Brotherhood in Hamburg, where much of the planning for 9/11 was carried out... Rumsfeld
eventually came to his senses and back down, I was told...
3) On the Neocon deep state which seized power after 9/11
From Reporter: A Memoir
pages 305-306 -- I began to comprehend that eight or nine neoconservatives who were political
outsiders in the Clinton years had essentially overthrown the government of the United States
-- with ease . It was stunning to realize how fragile our Constitution was. The intellectual
leaders of that group -- Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle -- had not hidden their
ideology and their belief in the power of the executive but depicted themselves in public with
a great calmness and a self-assurance that masked their radicalism . I had spent many hours
after 9/11 in conversations with Perle that, luckily for me, helped me understand what was
coming. (Perle and I had been chatting about policy since the early 1980s, but he broke off
relations in 1993 over an article I did for The New Yorker linking him, a fervent supporter of
Israel, to a series of meetings with Saudi businessmen in an attempt to land a
multibillion-dollar contract from Saudi Arabia . Perle responded by publicly threatening to sue
me and characterizing me as a newspaper terrorist. He did not sue.
Meanwhile, Cheney had emerged as a leader of the neocon pack. From 9/11 on he did all he
could to undermine congressional oversight. I learned a great deal from the inside about his
primacy in the White House , but once again I was limited in what I would write for fear of
betraying my sources...
I came to understand that Cheney's goal was to run his most important military and
intelligence operations with as little congressional knowledge, and interference, as possible.
I was fascinating and important to learn what I did about Cheney's constant accumulation of
power and authority as vice president , but it was impossible to even begin to verify the
information without running the risk that Cheney would learn of my questioning and have a good
idea from whom I was getting the information.
4) On Russian meddling in the US election
From the recent
Independent interview based on his autobiography -- Hersh has vociferously strong opinions
on the subject and smells a rat. He states that there is "a great deal of animosity towards
Russia. All of that stuff about Russia hacking the election appears to be preposterous." He has
been researching the subject but is not ready to go public yet.
Hersh quips that the last time he heard the US defense establishment have high confidence,
it was regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He points out that the NSA only has moderate confidence in Russian
hacking. It is a point that has been made before; there has been no national intelligence
estimate in which all 17 US intelligence agencies would have to sign off. "When the intel
community wants to say something they say it High confidence effectively means that they don't
5) On the Novichok poisoning
From the recent
Independent interview -- Hersh is also on the record as stating that the official version
Skripal poisoning does not stand up to scrutiny. He tells me: "The story of novichok
poisoning has not held up very well. He [Skripal] was most likely talking to British
intelligence services about Russian organised crime." The unfortunate turn of events with the
contamination of other victims is suggestive, according to Hersh, of organised crime elements
rather than state-sponsored actions –though this files in the face of the UK government's
Hersh modestly points out that these are just his opinions. Opinions or not, he is scathing
on Obama –
"a trimmer articulate [but] far from a radical a middleman". During his Goldsmiths talk, he
remarks that liberal critics underestimate Trump at their peril.
He ends the Goldsmiths talk with an anecdote about having lunch with his sources in the
wake of 9/11 . He vents his anger at the agencies for not sharing information. One of his
CIA sources fires back: "Sy you still don't get it after all these years – the FBI
catches bank robbers, the CIA robs banks." It is a delicious, if cryptic aphorism.
* * *
6) On the Bush-era 'Redirection' policy of arming Sunni radicals to counter Shia Iran, which
in a 2007 New Yorker article
Hersh accurately predicted
would set off war in Syria
Independent interview : [Hersh] tells me it is "amazing how many times that story has been
reprinted" . I ask about his argument that US policy was designed to neutralize the Shia sphere
extending from Iran to Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon and hence redraw the Sykes-Picot
boundaries for the 21st century.
He goes on to say that Bush and Cheney "had it in for Iran", although he denies the idea
that Iran was heavily involved in Iraq: "They were providing intel, collecting intel The US did
many cross-border hunts to kill ops [with] much more aggression than Iran"...
He believes that the Trump administration has no memory of this approach. I'm sure though
that the military-industrial complex has a longer memory...
I press him on the RAND and Stratfor reports including one authored by Cheney and Paul
Wolfowitz in which they envisage deliberate ethno-sectarian partitioning of Iraq . Hersh
ruefully states that: "The day after 9/11 we should have gone to Russia. We did the one thing
that George Kennan warned us never to do – to expand NATO too far."
* * *
7) On the official 9/11 narrative
Independent interview : We end up ruminating about 9/11, perhaps because it is another
narrative ripe for deconstruction by sceptics. Polling shows that a significant proportion of
the American public believes there is more to the truth. These doubts have been reinforced by
the declassification of the suppressed 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report last year
undermining the version that a group of terrorists acting independently managed to pull off the
attacks. The implication is that they may well have been state-sponsored with the Saudis
Hersh tells me: "I don't necessarily buy the story that Bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.
We really don't have an ending to the story. I've known people in the [intelligence] community.
We don't know anything empirical about who did what" . He continues: "The guy was living in a
cave. He really didn't know much English. He was pretty bright and he had a lot of hatred for
the US. We respond by attacking the Taliban. Eighteen years later How's it going guys?"
8) On the media and the morality of the powerful
From a recent
The Intercept interview and book review -- If
Hersh were a superhero, this would be his origin story. Two hundred and seventy-four pages
after the Chicago anecdote, he describes his coverage of a massive
slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians by the U.S. in 1991 after a ceasefire had ended the
Persian Gulf War. America's indifference to this massacre was, Hersh writes, "a reminder of the
Vietnam War's MGR, for Mere Gook Rule: If it's a murdered or raped gook, there is no crime." It
was also, he adds, a reminder of something else: "I had learned a domestic version of that rule
decades earlier" in Chicago. "Reporter" demonstrates that Hersh has derived three simple lessons from that rule:
The powerful prey mercilessly upon the powerless, up to and including mass murder.
The powerful lie constantly about their predations.
The natural instinct of the media is to let the powerful get away with it.
Around 35 years ago, I was sitting in my college dorm-room closely reading the New York
Times as I did each and every morning when I noticed an astonishing article about the
controversial new Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.
Back in those long-gone days, the Gray Lady was strictly a black-and-white print
publication, lacking the large color photographs of rap stars and long stories about dieting
techniques that fill so much of today's news coverage, and it also seemed to have a far harder
edge in its Middle East reporting. A year or so earlier, Shamir's predecessor Menacham Begin
had allowed his Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to talk him into invading Lebanon and besieging
Beirut, and the subsequent massacre of Palestinian women and children in the Sabra and Shatila
refugee camps had outraged the world and angered America's government. This eventually led to
Begin's resignation, with Shamir, his Foreign Minister, taking his place.
Prior to his surprising 1977 election victory, Begin had spent decades in the political
wilderness as an unacceptable right-winger, and Shamir had an even more extreme background,
with the American mainstream media freely reporting his long involvement in all sorts of
high-profile assassinations and terrorist attacks during the 1940s, painting him as a very bad
Given Shamir's notorious activities, few revelations would have shocked me, but this one
did. Apparently, during the late 1930s, Shamir and his small Zionist faction had become great
admirers of the Italian Fascists and German Nazis, and after World War II broke out, they had
made repeated attempts to contact Mussolini and the German leadership in 1940 and 1941, hoping
to enlist in the Axis Powers as their Palestine affiliate, and undertake a campaign of attacks
and espionage against the local British forces, then share in the political booty after
Hitler's inevitable triumph.
Now the Times clearly viewed Shamir in a very negative light, but it seemed
extremely unlikely to me that they would have published such a remarkable story without being
absolutely sure of their facts. Among other things, there were long excerpts from the official
letters sent to Mussolini ferociously denouncing the "decadent" democratic systems of Britain
and France that he was opposing, and assuring Il Duce that such ridiculous political
notions would have no future place in the totalitarian Jewish client state they hoped to
establish under his auspices in Palestine.
As it happens, both Germany and Italy were preoccupied with larger geopolitical issues at
the time, and given the small size of Shamir's Zionist faction, not much seems to have ever
come of those efforts. But the idea of the sitting Prime Minister of the Jewish State having
spent his early wartime years as an unrequited Nazi ally was certainly something that sticks in
one's mind, not quite conforming to the traditional narrative of that era which I had always
Most remarkably, the revelation of Shamir's pro-Axis past seems to have had only a
relatively minor impact upon his political standing within Israeli society. I would think that
any American political figure found to have supported a military alliance with Nazi Germany
during the Second World War would have had a very difficult time surviving the resulting
political scandal, and the same would surely be true for politicians in Britain, France, or
most other western nations. But although there was certainly some embarrassment in the Israeli
press, especially after the shocking story reached the international headlines, apparently most
Israelis took the whole matter in stride, and Shamir stayed in office for another year, then
later served a second, much longer term as Prime Minister during 1986-1992. The Jews of Israel
apparently regarded Nazi Germany quite differently than did most Americans, let alone most
... ... ...
Over the years I've occasionally made half-hearted attempts to locate the Times
article about Shamir that had long stuck in my memory, but have had no success, either because
it was removed from the Times archives or more likely because my mediocre search
skills proved inadequate. But I'm almost certain that the piece had been prompted by the 1983
publication of Zionism in the
Age of the Dictators by Lenni Brenner, an anti-Zionist of the Trotskyite persuasion
and Jewish origins. I only very recently discovered that book, which really tells an extremely
Brenner, born in 1937, has spent his entire life as an unreconstructed hard-core leftist,
with his enthusiasms ranging from Marxist revolution to the Black Panthers, and he is obviously
a captive of his views and his ideology. At times, this background impairs the flow of his
text, and the periodic allusions to "proletarian," "bourgeoisie," and "capitalist classes"
sometimes grow a little wearisome, as does his unthinking acceptance of all the shared beliefs
common to his political circle. But surely only someone with that sort of fervent ideological
commitment would have been willing to devote so much time and effort to investigating that
controversial subject and ignoring the endless denunciations that resulted, which even included
physical assaults by Zionist partisans.
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In any event, his documentation seems completely airtight, and some years after the original
appearance of his book, he published a companion volume entitled 51 Documents: Zionist
Collaboration with the Nazis , which simply provides English translations of all the raw
evidence behind his analytical framework, allowing interested parties to read the material and
draw their own conclusions.
Among other things, Brenner provides considerable evidence that the larger and somewhat more
mainstream right-wing Zionist faction later led by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was
almost invariably regarded as a Fascist movement during the 1930s, even apart from its warm
admiration for Mussolini's Italian regime. This was hardly such a dark secret in that period
given that its main Palestine newspaper carried a regular column by a top ideological leader
entitled "Diary of a Fascist." During one of the major international Zionist conferences,
factional leader Vladimir Zabotinsky entered the hall with his brown-shirted followers in full
military formation, leading the chair to ban the wearing of uniforms in order to avoid a riot,
and his faction was soon defeated politically and eventually expelled from the Zionist umbrella
organization. This major setback was largely due to the widespread hostility the group had
aroused after two of its members were arrested by British police for the recent assassination
of Chaim Arlosoroff, one of the highest-ranking Zionist officials based in Palestine.
The cover of the 2014 paperback edition of Brenner's book displays the commemorative medal
struck by Nazi Germany to mark its Zionist alliance, with a Star-of-David on the front face and
a Swastika on the obverse. But oddly enough, this symbolic medallion actually had absolutely no
connection with the unsuccessful attempts by Shamir's small faction to arrange a Nazi military
alliance during World War II.
Although the Germans paid little attention to the entreaties of that minor organization, the
far larger and more influential mainstream Zionist movement of Chaim Weizmann and David
Ben-Gurion was something else entirely. And during most of the 1930s, these other Zionists had
formed an important economic partnership with Nazi Germany, based upon an obvious commonality
of interests. After all, Hitler regarded Germany's one percent Jewish population as a
disruptive and potentially dangerous element which he wanted gone, and the Middle East seemed
as good a destination for them as any other. Meanwhile, the Zionists had very similar
objectives, and the creation of their new national homeland in Palestine obviously required
both Jewish immigrants and Jewish financial investment.
... ... ...
The importance of the Nazi-Zionist pact for Israel's establishment is difficult to
overstate. According to a 1974 analysis in Jewish Frontier cited by Brenner, between
1933 and 1939 over 60% of all the investment in Jewish Palestine came from Nazi Germany. The
worldwide impoverishment of the Great Depression had drastically reduced ongoing Jewish
financial support from all other sources, and Brenner reasonably suggests that without Hitler's
financial backing, the nascent Jewish colony, so tiny and fragile, might easily have shriveled
up and died during that difficult period.
Such a conclusion leads to fascinating hypotheticals. When I first stumbled across
references to the Ha'avara Agreement on websites here and there, one of the commenters
mentioning the issue half-jokingly suggested that if Hitler had won the war, statues would
surely have been built to him throughout Israel and he would today be recognized by Jews
everywhere as the heroic Gentile leader who had played the central role in reestablishing a
national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine after almost 2000 years of bitter
This sort of astonishing counter-factual possibility is not nearly as totally absurd as it
might sound to our present-day ears. We must recognize that our historical understanding of
reality is shaped by the media, and media organs are controlled by the winners of major wars
and their allies, with inconvenient details often excluded to avoid confusing the public. It is
undeniably true that in his 1924 book Mein Kampf , Hitler had written all sorts of
hostile and nasty things about Jews, especially those who were recent immigrants from Eastern
Europe, but when I read the book back in high school, I was a little surprised to discover that
these anti-Jewish sentiments hardly seemed central to his text. Furthermore, just a couple of
years earlier, a vastly more prominent public figure such as British Minister Winston Churchill
sentiments nearly as hostile and nasty , focusing on the monstrous crimes being committed
by Bolshevik Jews. In Albert Lindemann's Esau's Tears , I was surprised to discover
that the author of the famous Balfour Declaration, the foundation of the Zionist project, was
apparently also quite hostile to Jews, with an element of his motivation probably being his
desire to exclude them from Britain.
Once Hitler consolidated power in Germany, he quickly outlawed all other political
organizations for the German people, with only the Nazi Party and Nazi political symbols being
legally permitted. But a special exception was made for German Jews, and Germany's local
Zionist Party was accorded complete legal status, with Zionist marches, Zionist uniforms, and
Zionist flags all fully permitted. Under Hitler, there was strict censorship of all German
publications, but the weekly Zionist newspaper was freely sold at all newsstands and street
corners. The clear notion seemed to be that a German National Socialist Party was the proper
political home for the country's 99% German majority, while Zionist National Socialism would
fill the same role for the tiny Jewish minority.
In 1934, Zionist leaders invited an important SS official to spend six months visiting the
Jewish settlement in Palestine, and upon his return, his very favorable impressions of the
growing Zionist enterprise were published as a massive 12-part-series in Joseph Goebbel's
Der Angriff , the flagship media organ of the Nazi Party, bearing the descriptive
title "A Nazi Goes to Palestine." In his very angry 1920 critique of Jewish Bolshevik activity,
Churchill had argued that Zionism was locked in a fierce battle with Bolshevism for the soul of
European Jewry, and only its victory might ensure amicable future relations between Jew and
Gentile. Based on available evidence, Hitler and many of the other Nazi leaders seemed to have
reached a somewhat similar conclusion by the mid-1930s.
During that era extremely harsh sentiments regarding Diaspora Jewry were sometimes found in
rather surprising quarters. After the controversy surrounding Shamir's Nazi ties erupted into
the headlines, Brenner's material became the grist for an important article by Edward Mortimer,
the longtime Middle East expert at the august Times of London , and the 2014 edition
of the book includes some choice extracts from Mortimer's February 11, 1984 Times
Who told a Berlin audience in March 1912 that "each country can absorb only a limited
number of Jews, if she doesn't want disorders in her stomach. Germany already has too many
No, not Adolf Hitler but Chaim Weizmann, later president of the World Zionist Organization
and later still the first president of the state of Israel.
And where might you find the following assertion, originally composed in 1917 but
republished as late as 1936: "The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both
physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness
of social obligation, knows no order nor discipline"?
Not in Der Sturmer but in the organ of the Zionist youth organization, Hashomer
As the above quoted statement reveals, Zionism itself encouraged and exploited self-hatred
in the Diaspora. It started from the assumption that anti-Semitism was inevitable and even in
a sense justified so long as Jews were outside the land of Israel.
It is true that only an extreme lunatic fringe of Zionism went so far as to offer to join
the war on Germany's side in 1941, in the hope of establishing "the historical Jewish state
on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich."
Unfortunately this was the group which the present Prime Minister of Israel chose to
The very uncomfortable truth is that the harsh characterizations of Diaspora Jewry found in
the pages of Mein Kampf were not all that different from what was voiced by Zionism's
founding fathers and its subsequent leaders, so the cooperation of those two ideological
movements was not really so totally surprising.
However, uncomfortable truths do remain uncomfortable. Mortimer had spent nineteen years at
the Times , the last dozen of them as the foreign specialist and leader-writer on
Middle Eastern affairs. But the year after he wrote that article including those controversial
career at that newspaper ended , leading to an unusual gap in his employment history, and
that development may or may not be purely coincidental.
Also quite ironic was the role of Adolf Eichmann, whose name today probably ranks as one of
the most famous half-dozen Nazis in history, due to his postwar 1960 kidnapping by Israeli
agents, followed by his public show-trial and execution as a war-criminal. As it happens,
Eichmann had been a central Nazi figure in the Zionist alliance, even studying Hebrew and
apparently becoming something of a philo-Semite during the years of his close collaboration
with top Zionist leaders.
Brenner is a captive of his ideology and his beliefs, accepting without question the
historical narrative with which he was raised. He seems to find nothing so strange about
Eichmann being a philo-Semitic partner of the Jewish Zionists during the late 1930s and then
suddenly being transformed into a mass-murderer of the European Jews in the early 1940s,
willingly committing the monstrous crimes for which the Israelis later justly put him to
This is certainly possible, but I really wonder. A more cynical observer might find it a
very odd coincidence that the first prominent Nazi the Israelis made such an effort to track
down and kill had been their closest former political ally and collaborator. After Germany's
defeat, Eichmann had fled to Argentina and lived there quietly for a number of years until his
name resurfaced in a celebrated mid-1950s controversy surrounding one of his leading Zionist
partners, then living in Israel as a respected government official, who was denounced as a Nazi
collaborator, eventually ruled innocent after a celebrated trial, but later assassinated by
former members of Shamir's faction.
Following that controversy in Israel, Eichmann supposedly gave a long personal interview to
a Dutch Nazi journalist, and although it wasn't published at the time, perhaps word of its
existence may have gotten into circulation. The new state of Israel was just a few years old at
that time, and very politically and economically fragile, desperately dependent upon the
goodwill and support of America and Jewish donors worldwide. Their remarkable former Nazi
alliance was a deeply-suppressed secret, whose public release might have had absolutely
According to the version of the interview later published as a two-part story in Life
Magazine , Eichmann's statements seemingly did not touch on the deadly topic of the 1930s
Nazi-Zionist partnership. But surely Israeli leaders must have been terrified that they might
not be so lucky the next time, so we may speculate that Eichmann's elimination suddenly became
a top national priority, and he was tracked down and captured in 1960. Presumably, harsh means
were employed to persuade him not to reveal any of these dangerous pre-war secrets at his
Jerusalem trial, and one might wonder if the reason he was famously kept in an enclosed glass
booth was to ensure that the sound could quickly be cut off if he started to stray from the
agreed upon script. All of this analysis is totally speculative, but Eichmann's role as a
central figure in the 1930s Nazi-Zionist partnership is undeniable historical fact.
Just as we might imagine, America's overwhelmingly pro-Israel publishing industry was hardly
eager to serve as a public conduit for Brenner's shocking revelations of a close Nazi-Zionist
economic partnership, and he mentions that his book agent uniformly received rejections from
each firm he approached, based on a wide variety of different excuses. However, he finally
managed to locate an extremely obscure publisher in Britain willing to take on the project, and
his book was released in 1983, initially receiving no reviews other than a couple of harsh and
perfunctory denunciations, though Soviet Izvestia took some interest in his findings
until they discovered that he was a hated Trotskyite.
His big break came when Shamir suddenly became Israel's Prime Minister, and he brought his
evidence of former Nazi ties to the English-language Palestinian press, which put it into
general circulation. Various British Marxists, including the notorious "Red Ken" Livingstone of
London, organized a speaking tour for him, and when a group of right-wing Zionist militants
attacked one of the events and inflicted injuries, the story of the brawl caught the attention
of the mainstream newspapers. Soon afterward the discussion of Brenner's astonishing
discoveries appeared in the Times of London and entered the international media.
Presumably, the New York Times article that had originally caught my eye ran sometime
during this period.
Public relations professionals are quite skilled at minimizing the impact of damaging
revelations, and pro-Israel organizations have no shortage of such individuals. Just before the
1983 release of his remarkable book, Brenner suddenly discovered that a young pro-Zionist
author named Edwin Black was furiously working on a similar project, apparently backed by
sufficient financial resources that he was employing an army of fifty researchers to allow him
to complete his project in record time.
Since the entire embarrassing subject of a Nazi-Zionist partnership had been kept away from
the public eye for almost five decades, this timing surely seems more than merely coincidental.
Presumably word of Brenner's numerous unsuccessful efforts at securing a mainstream publisher
during 1982 had gotten around, as had as his eventual success in locating a tiny one in
Britain. Having failed to prevent publication of such explosive material, pro-Israel groups
quietly decided that their next best option was trying to seize control of the topic
themselves, allowing disclosure of those parts of the story that could not be concealed but
excluding items of greatest danger, while portraying the sordid history in the best possible
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Black's book, The Transfer Agreement , may have arrived a year later than Brenner's
but was clearly backed by vastly greater publicity and resources. It was released by Macmillan,
a leading publisher, ran nearly twice the length of Brenner's short book, and carried powerful
endorsements by leading figures from the firmament of Jewish activism, including the Simon
Weisenthal Center, the Israel Holocaust Memorial, and the American Jewish Archives. As a
consequence, it received long if not necessarily favorable reviews in influential publications
such as The New Republic and Commentary .
In all fairness, I should mention that in the Foreword to his book, Black claims that his
research efforts had been totally discouraged by nearly everyone he approached, and as a
consequence, he had been working on the project with solitary intensity for many years. This
implies the near-simultaneous release of the two books was purely due to chance. But such a
picture is hardly consistent with his glowing testimonials from so many prominent Jewish
leaders, and personally I find Brenner's claim that Black was assisted by fifty researchers far
Since both Black and Brenner were describing the same basic reality and relying upon many of
the same documents, in most respects the stories they tell are generally similar. But Black
carefully excludes any mention of offers of Zionist military cooperation with the Nazis, let
alone the repeated attempts by Shamir's Zionist faction to officially join the Axis Powers
after the war had broken out, as well as numerous other details of a particularly embarrassing
Assuming Black's book was published for the reasons I suggested, I think that the strategy
of the pro-Israel groups largely succeeded, with his version of the history seeming to have
quickly supplanted Brenner's except perhaps in strongly leftist or anti-Zionist circles.
Googling each combination of the title and author, Black's book gets eight times as many hits,
and his Amazon sales ranks and numbers of reviews are also larger by roughly that same factor.
Most notably, neither the Wikipedia articles on "The Transfer Agreement" and
Ha'avara Agreement" contain any mention of Brenner's research whatsoever, even
though his book was published earlier, was far broader, and only he provided the underlying
documentary evidence. As a personal example of the current situation, I was quite unaware of
the entire Ha'avara history until just a few years ago when I encountered some website
comments mentioning Black's book, leading me to purchase and read it. But even then, Brenner's
far more wide-ranging and explosive volume remained totally unknown to me until very
Once World War II began, this Nazi-Zionist partnership quickly lapsed for obvious reasons.
Germany was now at war with the British Empire, and financial transfers to British-run
Palestine were no longer possible. Furthermore, the Arab Palestinians had grown quite hostile
to the Jewish immigrants whom they rightfully feared might eventually displace them, and once
the Germans were forced to choose between maintaining their relationship with a relatively
small Zionist movement or winning the political sympathy of a vast sea of Middle Eastern Arabs
and Muslims, their decision was a natural one. The Zionists faced a similar choice, and
especially once wartime propaganda began so heavily blackening the German and Italian
governments, their long previous partnership was not something they wanted widely known.
However, at exactly this same moment a somewhat different and equally long-forgotten
connection between Jews and Nazi Germany suddenly moved to the fore.
Like most people everywhere, the average German, whether Jewish or Gentile, was probably not
all that political, and although Zionism had for years been accorded a privileged place in
German society, it is not entirely clear how many ordinary German Jews paid much attention to
it. The tens of thousands who emigrated to Palestine during that period were probably motivated
as much by economic pressures as by ideological commitment. But wartime changed matters in
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This was even more true for the German government. The outbreak of a world war against a
powerful coalition of the British and French empires, later augmented by both Soviet Russia and
the United States, imposed the sorts of enormous pressures that could often overcome
ideological scruples. A few years ago, I discovered a fascinating 2002 book by Bryan Mark Rigg,
Hitler's Jewish Soldiers , a scholarly treatment of exactly what the title implies.
The quality of this controversial historical analysis is indicated by the glowing jacket-blurbs
from numerous academic experts and an extremely favorable treatment by an eminent scholar in
The American Historical Review .
Obviously, Nazi ideology was overwhelmingly centered upon race and considered racial purity
a crucial factor in national cohesion. Individuals possessing substantial non-German ancestry
were regarded with considerable suspicion, and this concern was greatly amplified if that
admixture was Jewish. But in a military struggle against an opposing coalition possessing many
times Germany's population and industrial resources, such ideological factors might be overcome
by practical considerations, and Rigg persuasively argues that some 150,000 half-Jews or
quarter-Jews served in the armed forces of the Third Reich, a percentage probably not much
different than their share of the general military-age population.
Germany's long-integrated and assimilated Jewish population had always been
disproportionately urban, affluent, and well-educated. As a consequence it is not entirely
surprising that a large proportion of these part-Jewish soldiers who served Hitler were
actually combat officers rather than merely rank-and-file conscripts, and they included at
least 15 half-Jewish generals and admirals, and another dozen quarter-Jews holding those same
high ranks. The most notable example was Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Hermann Goering's powerful
second-in-command, who played such an important operational role in creating the Luftwaffe.
Milch certainly had a Jewish father, and according to some much less substantiated claims,
perhaps even a Jewish mother as well, while his sister was married to an SS general.
Admittedly, the racially-elite SS itself generally had far stricter ancestry standards, with
even a trace of non-Aryan parentage normally seen as disqualifying an individual from
membership. But even here, the situation was sometimes complicated, since there were widespread
rumors that Reinhard Heydrich, the second-ranking figure in that very powerful organization,
actually had considerable Jewish ancestry. Rigg investigates that claim without coming to any
clear conclusions, though he does seem to think that the circumstantial evidence involved may
have been used by other high-ranking Nazi figures as a point of leverage or blackmail against
Heydrich, who stood as one of the most important figures in the Third Reich.
As a further irony, most of these individuals traced their Jewish ancestry through their
father rather than their mother, so although they were not Jewish according to rabbinical law,
their family names often reflected their partly Semitic origins, though in many cases Nazi
authorities attempted to studiously overlook this glaringly obvious situation. As an extreme
example noted by an academic reviewer of the book, a half-Jew bearing the distinctly non-Aryan
name of Werner Goldberg actually had his photograph prominently featured in a 1939 Nazi
propaganda newspaper, with the caption describing him as the "The Ideal German Soldier."
The author conducted more than 400 personal interviews of the surviving part-Jews and their
relatives, and these painted a very mixed picture of the difficulties they had encountered
under the Nazi regime, which varied enormously depending upon particular circumstances and the
personalities of those in authority over them. One important source of complaint was that
because of their status, part-Jews were often denied the military honors or promotions they had
rightfully earned. However, under especially favorable conditions, they might also be legally
reclassified as being of "German Blood," which officially eliminated any taint on their
Even official policy seems to have been quite contradictory and vacillating. For example,
when the civilian humiliations sometimes inflicted upon the fully Jewish parents of serving
half-Jews were brought to Hitler's attention, he regarded that situation as intolerable,
declaring that either such parents must be fully protected against such indignities or all the
half-Jews must be discharged, and eventually in April 1940 he issued a decree requiring the
latter. However, this order was largely ignored by many commanders, or implemented through a
honor-system that almost amounted to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," so a considerable fraction of
half-Jews remained in the military if they so wished. And then in July 1941, Hitler somewhat
reversed himself, issuing a new decree that allowed "worthy" half-Jews who had been discharged
to return to the military as officers, while also announcing that after the war, all
quarter-Jews would be reclassified as fully "German Blood" Aryan citizens.
It has been said that after questions were raised about the Jewish ancestry of some of his
subordinates, Goring once angrily responded "I will decide who is a Jew!" and that attitude
seems to reasonably capture some of the complexity and subjective nature of the social
Interestingly enough, many of part-Jews interviewed by Rigg recalled that prior to Hitler's
rise to power, the intermarriage of their parents had often provoked much greater hostility
from the Jewish rather than the Gentile side of their families, suggesting that even in
heavily-assimilated Germany, the traditional Jewish tendency toward ethnic exclusivity had
still remained a powerful factor in that community.
Although the part-Jews in German military service were certainly subject to various forms of
mistreatment and discrimination, perhaps we should compare this against the analogous situation
in our own military in those same years with regard to America's Japanese or black minorities.
During that era, racial intermarriage was legally prohibited across a large portion of the US,
so the mixed-race population of those groups was either almost non-existent or very different
in origin. But when Japanese-Americans were allowed to leave their wartime concentration camps
and enlist in the military, they were entirely restricted to segregated all-Japanese units, but
with the officers generally being white. Meanwhile, blacks were almost entirely barred from
combat service, though they sometimes served in strictly-segregated support roles. The notion
that an American with any appreciable trace of African, Japanese, or for that matter Chinese
ancestry might serve as a general or even an officer in the U.S. military and thereby exercise
command authority over white American troops would have been almost unthinkable. The contrast
with the practice in Hitler's own military is quite different than what Americans might naively
This paradox is not nearly as surprising as one might assume. The non-economic divisions in
European societies had almost always been along lines of religion, language, and culture rather
than racial ancestry, and the social tradition of more than a millennium could not easily be
swept away by merely a half-dozen years of National Socialist ideology. During all those
earlier centuries, a sincerely-baptized Jew, whether in Germany or elsewhere, was usually
considered just as good a Christian as any other. For example, Tomas de Torquemada, the most
fearsome figure of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition, actually came from a family of Jewish