“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.
20190116 : Corporatism is the control of government by big business. This is what we have in the USA today. The main difference between corporatism and fascism is the level of repressions against opposition. Corporatism now tales forma of inverted totalitarism and use ostracism instead of phycal repressions ( Jan 16, 2019 , profile.theguardian.com )
This month marks the 20th anniversary of Operation Allied Force, NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia. It was a war waged
as much against Serbian civilians – hundreds of whom perished – as it was against Slobodan Milošević's forces, and it was a campaign
of breathtaking hypocrisy and selective outrage. More than anything, it was a war that by President Bill Clinton's own admission
was fought for the sake of NATO's credibility.
One Man's Terrorist
Our story begins not in the war-torn Balkans of the 1990s but rather in the howling wilderness of Afghanistan at the end of the
1980s as defeated Soviet invaders withdrew from a decade of guerrilla warfare into the twilight of a once-mighty empire. The United
States, which had provided arms, funding and training for the mujahideen fighters who had so bravely resisted the Soviet occupation,
stopped supporting the jihadis as soon as the last Red Army units rolled across the Hairatan Bridge and back into the USSR. Afghanistan
descended deeper into civil war.
The popular narrative posits that Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, Washington's former mujahideen allies, turned on the
West after the US stationed hundreds of thousands of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia – home to two out of three of Sunni Islam's holiest
sites – during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Since then, the story goes, the relationship between the jihadists and their former
benefactors has been one of enmity, characterized by sporadic terror attacks and fierce US retribution. The real story, however,
is something altogether different.
From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon flew
thousands of al-Qaeda mujahideen, often accompanied by US Special Forces, from Central Asia to Europe to reinforce Bosnian Muslims
as they fought Serbs to gain their independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration
armed and trained these fighters in
flagrant violation of United Nations accords; weapons purchased by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran were secretly shipped to the jihadists
via Croatia, which netted a hefty profit from each transaction. The official Dutch inquiry into the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in
which thousands of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb and Serbian paramilitary forces, concluded
that the United States was "very closely involved" in these arms transfers.
When the Bosnian war ended in 1995 the United States was faced with the problem of thousands of Islamist warriors on European
soil. Many of them joined the burgeoning Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which mainly consisted of ethnic Albanian Kosovars from what
was still southwestern Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the success of the Slovenes, Croats, Macedonians and Bosnians who had won their
independence from Belgrade as Yugoslavia literally balkanized, KLA fighters began to violently expel as many non-Albanians from Kosovo
as they could. Roma, Jews, Turks and, above all, Serbs were all victims of Albanian ethnic cleansing.
The United States was initially very honest in its assessment of the KLA. Robert Gelbard, the US special envoy to Bosnia,
called it "without any question a terrorist
group." KLA backers allegedly included Osama bin Laden
and other Islamic radicals; the group largely bankrolled its activities by trafficking heroin and sex slaves. The State Department
accordingly added the KLA to its list of terrorist organizations in 1998.
However, despite all its nastiness the KLA endeared itself to Washington by fighting the defiant Yugoslavian President Slobodan
Milošević. By this time Yugoslavia, once composed of eight nominally autonomous republics, had been reduced by years of bloody civil
war to a rump of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To Serbs, the dominant ethnic group in what remained of the country, Kosovo is regarded
as the very birthplace of their nation. Belgrade wasn't about to let it go without a fight and everyone knew it, especially the Clinton
administration. Clinton's hypocrisy was immediately evident; when Chechnya fought for its independence from Moscow and Russian forces
committed horrific atrocities in response, the American president
called the war an internal Russian affair
and barely criticized Russian President Boris Yeltsin. But when Milošević resorted to brute force in an attempt to prevent Yugoslavia
from further fracturing, he soon found himself a marked man.
the KLA "the main initiator of the violence" in Kosovo and blasted "what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation" against
the Serbs, the Clinton administration was nevertheless determined to attack the Milošević regime. US intelligence confirmed that
the KLA was indeed provoking harsh retaliatory strikes by Serb forces in a bid to draw the United States and NATO into the conflict.
President Clinton, however, apparently wasn't listening. The NATO powers, led by the United States, issued Milošević an ultimatum
they knew he could never accept: allow NATO to occupy all of Kosovo and have free reign in Serbia as well. Assistant US Secretary
of State James Rubin later
admitted that "publicly we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing
were quite small."
Wagging the Dog?
In 1997 the film Wag the Dog debuted to rave reviews. The dark comedy concerns a Washington, DC spin doctor and a Hollywood
producer who fabricate a fictional war in Albania to distract American voters from a presidential sex scandal. Many observers couldn't
help but draw parallels between the film and the real-life events of 1998-99, which included the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's
impeachment and a very real war brewing in the Balkans. As in Wag the Dog , there were exaggerated or completely fabricated
tales of atrocities, and as in the film the US and NATO powers tried to sell their war as a humanitarian intervention. An attack
on Yugoslavia, we were told, was needed to avert Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians.
There were two main problems with this. First, there was no Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars until after NATO
began mercilessly bombing Yugoslavia. The German government
issued several reports confirming this. One, from October 1998, reads, in part:
The violent actions of the Yugoslav military and police since February 1998 were aimed at separatist activities and are no
proof of a persecution of the whole Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo or a part of it. What was involved in the Yugoslav violent actions
and excesses since February 1998 was a selective forcible action against the military underground movement (especially the KLA) A
state program or persecution aimed at the whole ethnic group of Albanians exists neither now nor earlier.
Subsequent German government reports issued through the winter of 1999 tell a similar story. "Events since February and March
1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity," stated one report released exactly one month before the
NATO bombing started. "The measures taken by the armed Serbian forces are in the first instance directed toward combating the KLA
and its supposed adherents and supporters."
While Serbs certainly did commit atrocities (especially after the ferocious NATO air campaign began), these were often greatly
exaggerated by the Clinton administration and the US corporate mainstream media. Clinton claimed – and the media dutifully parroted
– that 600,000 Albanians were "trapped within Kosovo lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves."
This was completely false . US diplomat David
Scheffer claimed that "225,000 ethnic Albanian men are missing, presumed dead." Again, a
total fabrication . The FBI, International War Crimes
Tribunal and global forensics experts flocked to Kosovo in droves after the NATO bombs stopped falling; the total number of victims
they found was around 1 percent of the figure claimed by the United States.
However, once NATO attacked, the Serb response was predictably furious. Shockingly, NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark declared
that the ensuing Serbian atrocities against the Albanian Kosovar population had been
"fully anticipated" and were apparently of little concern to Washington.
Not only did NATO and the KLA provoke a war with Yugoslavia, they did so knowing that many innocent civilians would be killed, maimed
or displaced by the certain and severe reprisals carried out by enraged Serb forces. Michael McGwire, a former top NATO planner,
acknowledged that "to describe the bombing as a humanitarian intervention is really grotesque."
The other big problem with the US claiming it was attacking Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds was that the Clinton administration
had recently allowed – and was at the time allowing – far worse humanitarian catastrophes to rage without American intervention.
More than 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered while Clinton and other world leaders stood idly by during the 1994 Rwandan
genocide. The US also courted the medievally brutal
Taliban regime in hopes of achieving stability in Afghanistan and with an eye toward building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through
Afghanistan to Pakistan. Clinton also did nothing to stop Russian forces from viciously crushing nationalist uprisings in the Caucuses,
where Chechen rebels were fighting for their independence much the same as Albanian Kosovars were fighting the Serbs.
Colombia, the Western Hemisphere's leading recipient of US military and economic aid, was waging a fierce, decades-long campaign
of terror against leftist insurgents and long-suffering indigenous peoples. Despite
horrific brutality and pervasive human rights violations, US aid to Bogotá increased year after year. In Turkey, not only did
Clinton do nothing to prevent government forces from committing widespread atrocities against Kurdish separatists, the administration
positively encouraged its NATO ally with billions of dollars in loans and arms sales. Saudi Arabia, home to the most repressive fundamentalist
regime this side of Afghanistan, was – and remains – a favored US ally despite having one of the
world's worst human rights
records. The list goes on and on.
Much closer to the conflict at hand, the United States tacitly approved the largest ethnic cleansing campaign in Europe since
the Holocaust when as many as 200,000 Serbs were
forcibly expelled from the Krajina region of Croatia by that country's US-trained military during Operation Storm in August 1995.
Krajina Serbs had purged the region of its Croat minority four years earlier in their own ethnic cleansing campaign; now it was the
Serbs' turn to be on the receiving end of the horror. Croatian forces stormed through Krajina, shelling towns and slaughtering innocent
civilians. The sick and the elderly who couldn't escape were executed or burned alive in their homes as Croatian soldiers machine-gunned
convoys of fleeing refugees.
"Painful for the Serbs"
Washington's selective indignation at Serb crimes both real and imagined is utterly inexcusable when held up to the horrific and
seemingly indiscriminate atrocities committed during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. The prominent Australian journalist
John Pilger noted that "in the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets, the rest hit hospitals, schools,
factories, churches and broadcast studios." There is little doubt that US and allied warplanes and missiles were targeting the Serbian
people as much as, or even more than, Serb forces. The bombing knocked out electricity in 70 percent of the country as well as much
of its water supply.
NATO warplanes also deliberately bombed a building containing the headquarters of Serbian state television and radio in the middle
of densely populated central Belgrade. The April 23, 1999 attack occurred without warning while 200 employees were at work in the
building. Among the 16 people killed were a makeup artist, a cameraman, a program director, an editor and three security guards.
There is no doubt that the attack was meant to demoralize the Serbian people. There is also no doubt that those who ordered the bombing
knew exactly what outcome to expect: a NATO planning document viewed by Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President
Jacques Chirac forecast as
many as 350 deaths in the event of such an attack, with as many as 250 of the victims expected to be innocent civilians living in
Allied commanders wanted to fight a "zero casualty war" in Yugoslavia. As in zero casualties for NATO forces, not the people they
were bombing. "This will be painful for the Serbs," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon sadistically predicted. It sure was. NATO warplanes
flew sorties at 15,000 feet (4,500 meters), a safe height for the pilots. But this decreased accuracy and increased civilian casualties
on the ground. One attack on central Belgrade mistakenly
hit Dragiša Mišović hospital with a laser-guided "precision" bomb, obliterating an intensive care unit and destroying a children's
ward while wounding several pregnant women who had the misfortune of being in labor at the time of the attack. Dragana Krstić, age
23, was recovering from cancer surgery – she just had a 10-pound (4.5 kg) tumor removed from her stomach – when the bombs blew jagged
shards of glass into her neck and shoulders. "I don't know which hurts more," she lamented, "my stomach, my shoulder or my heart."
Dragiša Mišović wasn't the only hospital bombed by NATO. Cluster bombs dropped by fighter jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force
struck a hospital and a market in the city of Niš on May 7,
killing 15 people and wounding 60 more. An emergency clinic
and medical dispensary were also bombed in the
mining town of Aleksinac on April 6, killing at least five people and wounding dozens more.
Bridges were favorite targets of NATO bombing. An international passenger train traveling from Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Greece
blown apart by two missiles as it crossed over Grdelica gorge on April 12. Children and a pregnant woman were among the 15 people
killed in the attack; 16 other passengers were wounded. Allied commander Gen. Wesley Clark claimed the train, which had been damaged
by the first missile, had been traveling too rapidly for the pilot to abort the second strike on the bridge. He then offered up a
doctored video that was sped up more than three times so that the pilot's behavior would appear acceptable.
On May 1, at least 24 civilians, many of them children, were killed when NATO warplanes
bombed a bridge in Lužane just as a bus was crossing.
An ambulance rushing to the scene of the carnage was struck by a second bomb. On the sunny spring afternoon of May 30, a bridge over
the Velika Morava River in the small town of Vavarin was
bombed by low-flying German Air Force F-16 fighters while hundreds of local residents gathered nearby to celebrate an Orthodox
Christian holiday. Eleven people died, most of them when the warplanes returned and bombed the people who rushed to the bridge to
help those wounded in the first strike.
No One Is Safe
The horrors suffered by the villagers of Surdulica shows that no one in Serbia was safe from NATO's fury. They endured some 175
bombardments during one three-week period alone, with 50 houses destroyed and 600 others damaged in a town with only around 10,000
residents. On April 27, 20 civilians, including 12 children,
died when bombs meant to
destroy an army barracks slammed into a residential neighborhood. As many as 100 others were wounded in the incident. Tragedy
befell the tiny town again on May 31 when NATO
warplanes returned to bomb an ammunition depot but instead hit an old people's home; 23 civilians, most of them helpless elderly
men and women, were blown to pieces. Dozens more were wounded. The US military initially said "there were no errant weapons" in the
attack. However, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre later testified before Congress that it "was a case of the pilot getting confused."
The CIA was also apparently confused when it relied on what it claimed was an outdated map to approve a Stealth Bomber strike
on what turned out to be the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other people were wounded.
Some people aren't so sure the attack was an accident – Britain's Observer later
reported that the US deliberately bombed the
embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.
There were plenty of other accidents, some of them horrifically tragic and others just downright bizarre. Two separate attacks
on the very Albanians NATO was claiming to help killed 160 people, many of them women and children. On April 14, NATO warplanes bombed
refugees along a 12-mile (19-km) stretch of road between the towns of Gjakova and Deçan in western Kosovo, killing 73 people including
16 children and wounding 36 more. Journalists reported
a grisly scene of "bodies charred or blown to pieces, tractors reduced to twisted wreckage and houses in ruins." Exactly one month
later, another column of refugees was
bombed near Koriša, killing
87 – mostly women, children and the elderly – and wounding 60 others. In the downright bizarre category, a wildly errant NATO missile
struck a residential neighborhood in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, some 40 miles (64 km) outside of Serbia. The American AGM-88 HARM
missile blew the roof off
of a man's house while he was shaving in his bathroom.
NATO's "Murderous Thugs"
As the people of Yugoslavia were being terrorized by NATO's air war, the terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army stepped up their
atrocities against Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. NATO troops deployed there to keep the peace often failed to protect these people from
the KLA's brutal campaign. More than 164,000 Serbs fled or
were forcibly driven from the Albanian-dominated province and by the summer of 2001 KLA ethnic cleansing had rendered Kosovo almost
entirely Albanian, with just a few die-hard Serb holdouts living in fear and surrounded by barbed wire.
The KLA soon expanded its war into neighboring Macedonia. Although NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson called the terror group
"murderous thugs," the United States – now with George W. Bush as president – continued to offer its invaluable support. National
Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice personally
intervened in an attempt to persuade Ukraine to halt arms sales to the Macedonian army and when a group of 400 KLA fighters were
surrounded at Aracinovo in June 2001, NATO ordered Macedonian forces to hold off their attack while a convoy of US Army vehicles
rescued the besieged militants. It later
emerged that 17 American military advisers were embedded with the KLA at Aracinovo.
The bombing of Yugoslavia was really about preserving the credibility of the United States and NATO. The alliance's saber rattling
toward Belgrade had painted it into a corner from which the only way out was with guns blazing. Failure to follow threats with deadly
action, said President Clinton, "would discredit NATO." Clinton
that "our mission is clear, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose." The president seemed willfully ignorant of NATO's
real purpose, which is to defend member states from outside attack. British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Clinton,
declaring on the eve of the war that
"to walk away now would destroy NATO's credibility." Gary Dempsey, a foreign policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute,
wrote that the Clinton administration
"transformed a conflict that posed no threat to the territorial integrity, national sovereignty or general welfare of the United
States into a major test of American resolve."
Waging or prolonging war for credibility's sake is always dangerous and seems always to yield disastrous results. Tens of thousands
of US troops and many times as many Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian soldiers and civilians died while Richard Nixon sought an "honorable"
way out of Vietnam. Ronald Reagan's dogged defense of US credibility cost the lives of 299 American and French troops killed in Hezbollah's
1983 Beirut barracks bombing. This time, ensuring American credibility meant backing the vicious KLA – some of whose fighters had
trained at Osama bin Laden's terror camps in Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that al-Qaeda had already been responsible for deadly
attacks against the United States, including the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
It is highly questionable whether bombing Yugoslavia affirmed NATO's credibility in the short term. In the long term, it certainly
did not. The war marked the first and only time NATO had ever attacked a sovereign state. It did so unilaterally, absent any threat
to any member nation, and without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. "If NATO can go for military action without
international blessing, it calls into question the reliability of NATO as a security partner," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,
then Moscow's ambassador to NATO, told me at a San Francisco reception.
Twenty years later, Operation Allied force has been all but forgotten in the United States. In a country that has been waging
nonstop war on terrorism for almost the entire 21st century, the 1999 NATO air war is but a footnote in modern American history.
Serbs, however, still seethe at the injustice and hypocrisy of it all. The bombed-out ruins of the old Yugoslav Ministry of Defense,
Radio Television of Serbia headquarters and other buildings serve as constant, painful reminders of the horrors endured by the Serbian
people in service of NATO's credibility.
Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based author and activist. His work, which focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights,
is archived atwww.brettwilkins.com
As usual, Trump made
the announcement of recognizing Israel's claim to the Golan Heights without any consultation
with any of the relevant administration officials:
President Donald Trump's tweet on Thursday recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli
territory surprised members of his own Middle East peace team, the State Department, and
U.S. diplomats and White House aides had believed the Golan Heights issue would be front
and center at next week's meetings between Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu at the White House. But they were unprepared for any presidential announcement this
No formal U.S. process or executive committees were initiated to review the policy before
Trump's decision, and the diplomats responsible for implementing the policy were left in the
Even the Israelis, who have advocated for this move for years, were stunned at the timing
of Trump's message.
After more than two years of watching Trump's impulsive and reckless "governing" style,
it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that he makes these decisions without advance warning.
There is no evidence that Trump ever thinks anything through, and so he probably sees no reason
to tell anyone in advance what he is going to do.
Trump almost never bothers consulting with the people who will be responsible for
carrying out his policies and dealing with the international fallout, and that is probably
why so many of his policy decisions end up being exceptionally poor ones. The substance of most
of Trump's foreign policy decisions was never likely to be good, but the lack of an organized
policy process on major decisions makes those decisions even more haphazard and chaotic than
they would otherwise be.
There is absolutely no upside for the United States in endorsing illegal Israeli claims
to the Golan Heights. It is a cynical political stunt intended to boost Netanyahu and Likud's
fortunes in the upcoming election, and it is also a cynical stunt aimed at shoring up Trump's
support from Republican "pro-Israel" voters and donors.
Whatever short-term benefit Israel gains from it, the U.S. gains nothing and stands to lose
quite a bit in terms of our international standing.
There has been no consideration of the costs and problems this will create for the U.S. in
its relations with other regional states and beyond because Trump couldn't care less about the
long-term effects that his decisions have on the country.
Once again, Trump has put narrow political ambitions and the interests of a foreign
government ahead of the interests of the United States. That seems to be the inevitable result
of electing a narcissist who conducts foreign policy based on which leaders flatter and praise
Trump's bad decision can be traced back to Bolton's visit to Israel earlier this year:
Administration officials said that National Security Advisor John Bolton was instrumental
to the decision, after visiting Israel in January to assure officials there that the United
States would not abandon them in Syria despite Trump's sudden withdrawal of troops from the
Nervous Israeli officials saw an opportunity. "It was an ask," one Israeli source said,
"because of the timing -- it suddenly became a relevant issue about Iran."
Bolton is usually the culprit responsible any destructive and foolish policy decision
over the last year, and his baleful influence continues to grow. We can also see the harmful
effects of the administration's Iran obsession at work. In the end, the Syria "withdrawal"
hasn't happened and apparently isn't going to, but Trump nonetheless gives Israel whatever it
wants in exchange for nothing so that they will be "reassured" of our unthinking
Well, of course Trump puts America last. There is one and only one person he is interested in
-- himself. As you say this is his narcissistic personality at work.
My never ending question is always, "Why does any Republican with a conscience remain
silent? Are they really all this shallow and self absorbed? Is there nothing Trump does that
will finally force them to put country before party and their own ambition?"
It's a really sad state of events that has put this country on the road to ruin.
Trump is making one hell of a mess for the next president to clean up. Straightening out
all this stupidity will take years. Here's hoping that Trump gets to watch his foreign policy
decisions tossed out and reversed from federal prison.
The decision to leave the INF treaty was taken in a similar way and with a total disregard for
the consequences. The leaders of the European NATO countries have shown utter spinelessness in
going along with it.
The administration says that a Russian missile violates the treaty but it will not tell us
what the range of the missile is. Nor will it allow its weapons inspectors to go and look at
The reason is clear: Fear that the weapons inspectors' findings would contradict the
I voted Republican ever since I started voting. I voted for Bush I, Dole, Dubya, and McCain. I
couldn't vote for either Obama or Romney, but I voted for Trump because of Hillary Clinton.
I am shocked and horrified by what I've seen under Trump. I am deeply disappointed that
so few Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) have stood up to him on foreign policy, and
I will never vote Republican again. This GOP/Israel connection stinks to high heaven. Anyone
who studied or remembers our problem with Communist spies back in the '50s has got to be
hearing alarm bells ringing in their ears. Worries about Soviet spying and Russian meddling
pale in comparison to what's now going on in plain sight with Israel.
To be fair, it ain't just Team R that has the sloppy crush on Israel. Team D is just as bad,
even if they don't gush quite so publicly. In fact, episodes such as this one are useful in a
way, as they make it hard to pretend that this is just a one-off, a misguided decision that we
have to go along with to appease a powerful friend.
Europoliticians tell that last one a lot. "We really don't want to but the Americans twisted
our arms ZOMG Special Relationship so sorry ZOMG!" Only with a lot more Eurobureaucratese.
I agree with the article's premise, but not because of this move regarding Israel.
Personally, I believe this move will have little impact on the outcome of the crisis in the
Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies are too focused on containing Iran and
Turkey to give a crap about what Israel does. The only Arab states that I can see objecting to
this move are Syria (obviously) and the others who were already allied with Iran and/or Turkey
to begin with.
Right now, the REAL center of attention in the region should be Northern Syria. THAT's where
the next major war likely will begin. In that area, Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Turkey
and the United Arab Emirates are the ones doing the major escalations, while Israel has
virtually no role at all aside from sideline cheer-leading. And of course, Trump is doing
nothing to stop what could become the next July Crisis. What's "America First" about that?
Nevertheless, Israel should be very concerned about Northern Syria. If war breaks out and
the US is forced to go to war with its own NATO ally as a result, Israel should prepare to kiss
its alliance with the US goodbye.
There is no way our international reputation will come out of this war unscathed, and odds
are we'll be in a far worse position diplomatically than we were at any point in our history,
even during the Iraq war. When that happens, the American people will be out to assign blame.
Many (rightfully or not) will blame Israel due to its connections to neoconservatism and
Saudi jingoism, and consequently we may end up seeing BOTH parties becoming unfriendly to
Israel over the subsequent generation.
All of this could be prevented if President Trump would just tell Saudi Arabia to STOP
the nonsense. But no. He's too focused on MIC profits. He's not America First. And quite
frankly, I'm starting to think Benjamin Netanyahu is not Israel-first either, because if he
were he'd be warning Trump about the mess he's going to end up getting America, Israel, and
much of Europe and the Middle East into.
The Trump administration has
ignored yet another mandated deadline for reporting to Congress on Yemen:
A senior Pentagon official had pledged to deliver the strategy report at the beginning of
March after failing to meet a Feb. 1 deadline mandated by law.
In recent months, the Trump administration has disregarded several certification
requirements from Congress. In February, the State Department refused to say whether the
Saudi-led force had reduced civilian casualties in the Yemeni conflict. And the White House
failed to respond to lawmakers' query about whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
was responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Last year, the administration met the first certification deadline by brazenly lying to
Congress that the Saudi coalition was successfully reducing harm to civilians in Yemen.
Congress completely failed to hold Secretary Pompeo accountable for those lies, and the
administration has obviously concluded that it can get away with disregarding these
requirements. For the last several months, both the Secretary of State and the Pentagon have
simply refused to comply with the law. In this case, the Pentagon probably can't "detail
specific US diplomatic and national security objectives" because the only discernible objective
of reflexive support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen is to indulge them in whatever they
want to do. An administration that has illegally involved the U.S. in the war on Yemen for more
than two years obviously won't have any respect for legal requirements set by Congress when
they can't even be bothered to respect the Constitution.
The administration's contempt for the law and their disrespect for Congress are additional
reasons why the House should vote on and pass the antiwar Yemen resolution that the Senate
passed earlier this month. Beyond that, Congress needs to increase pressure on the Saudi and
Emirati governments with additional measures to cut off arms sales and hearings to scrutinize
the numerous human rights abuses and war crimes committed by their forces and their
When war supporters object that Congress risks undermining the U.S.-Saudi relationship, it
is important for members of Congress to know that it is Mohammed bin Salman who has jeopardized
the relationship through his reckless and destructive behavior. The Saudi government has been
desperately lying about its conduct in Yemen and elsewhere to the U.S. and the entire world,
and the crown prince has proven himself to be completely unreliable and strikingly incompetent
at everything except grabbing more power for himself:
"We know who this guy is, we know what he's capable of, and treating him like he's an ally
or a reliable partner is totally untenable," said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former US Agency for
International Development director during the Obama administration.
The Saudi government has made itself a liability to the U.S. Since the administration puts
Saudi Arabia first and won't do anything to defend American interests, it falls to Congress to
do what the president won't.
The three-day visit to Washington by the president of Brazil brought together two of the
most right-wing figures in the world: Jair Bolsonaro, a former military officer and fervent
admirer of the blood-soaked military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, and
Donald Trump, who has become the pole of attraction for authoritarians and fascists the world
over, including the gunman who slaughtered 50 Muslims at two New Zealand mosques last week.
During their joint press conference at the White House Tuesday afternoon, Trump repeated his
declaration, delivered to an audience of right-wing Cuban and Venezuelan exiles in Florida,
that "The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere." He emphasized, as he did
in his State of the Union speech, that this also involved putting an end to the threat of
socialism within the United States itself.
Both Trump and Bolsonaro have made the extirpation of socialism -- the political core of
fascist movements -- the central goal of their governments. At their joint press conference,
they railed against socialism only days after the massacre in New Zealand, carried out by
Brenton Tarrant. Tarrant posted a manifesto hailing Trump as a "symbol of renewed white
identity" and declaring his desire to put his boot on the neck of every "Marxist."
The mutual embrace of Trump and Bolsonaro at the White House is symbolic of the elevation of
far-right parties and cultivation of fascistic forces by capitalist governments and established
bourgeois parties all over the world. It underscores the fact that the growth of fascism in
Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US is the result not of a groundswell of mass support from
below, but rather the sponsorship and encouragement of so-called "democratic" governments that
are, in fact, controlled top to bottom by corporate oligarchs.
The global promotion of extreme right politics was embodied by the presence of right-wing
ideologue Steve Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs vice president and Navy officer, as a guest of
honor at a dinner with Jair Bolsonaro Monday night. Bannon has close ties with Bolsonaro's son,
Eduardo, who is a member of the Brazilian Parliament and a Latin American representative of the
political consortium set up by Bannon, known as the Movement, whose aim is to promote extreme
right-wing political parties throughout the world. "Some of the Bolsonaro team on the right see
themselves as disciples of the Bannon movement and representatives of Bannon for Brazil and
Latin America," one former Trump administration official told McClatchy.
At the press conference, both Jair Bolsonaro and Trump pledged their support to a fascistic
litany of "god, family and nation," as Trump put it. Bolsonaro declared, "Brazil and the United
States stand side-by-side in their efforts to share liberties and respect to traditional and
family lifestyles, respect to God, our creator, against the gender ideology of the politically
correct attitudes, and fake news."
Both presidents threatened the use of military force against Venezuela, demonizing President
Nicolas Maduro as a socialist dictator. (He heads a capitalist regime, but one whose foreign
policy tilts toward China and Russia rather than US imperialism).
Trump reiterated the mantra that "all options are on the table" against Venezuela. Bolsonaro
was asked if he would permit US soldiers to use Brazilian soil as a base for military
operations against Venezuela. Rather than dismissing that prospect as a violation of both
Brazilian and Venezuelan sovereignty, he declined to answer, citing the need for maintaining
operational secrecy and the element of surprise.
One of the bilateral agreements that Trump and Bolsonaro signed would allow the United
States to use Brazil's Alcantara Aerospace Launch Base for its satellites. Brazil also
announced an end to visa requirements for US visitors...
Before visiting the White House, Bolsonaro made an unannounced visit to the headquarters
of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, an extraordinary move for the
president of a country that was subjected to 21 years of unrestrained torture and murder by a
military dictatorship installed in a CIA-backed coup.
The dire implications for the working class of the global rise of the far right are
indicated by Bolsonaro's glorification of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Trump hailed the
"shared values" between his government and that of a former military officer who praises a
regime that jailed, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of workers and students. Twenty
years ago, Bolsonaro told an interviewer that the Brazilian Congress should be shut down and
that the country could be changed only by a civil war that completed "the job that the military
regime didn't do, killing 30,000 people."
The capitalist ruling classes are turning once again to dictatorship and fascism in response
to the intensification of the world economic crisis, the disintegration of the postwar
international order and growth of trade war and geostrategic conflicts, and, above all, the
resurgence of the class struggle on a world scale...
David Kramer, a long-time advisor to late Senator John McCain, revealed that he met with two Obama administration officials
to inquire about whether the anti-Trump dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele was being taken seriously.
In one case, Kramer said that he personally provided a copy of the dossier to Obama National Security Council official Celeste
In a deposition on Dec. 13, 2017 that was recently posted online, Kramer said that McCain specifically asked him in early December
2016 to meet about the dossier with Wallander and Victoria Nuland, a senior official in John Kerry's State Department. Senator McCain
asked me to meet with both of them to see if this was being taken seriously in the government," Kramer said.
"And Senator McCain asked you to meet with them?" Kramer was asked to clarify.
"Yes, just to see if this was being taken seriously. I think he wanted to do -- this was his kind of due diligence before he went
to Director Comey."
Kramer testified that in his conversations with Nuland and Wallander he was told by both of them that each were aware of the dossier
and that Nuland "thought Steele was a serious person."
Kramer revealed that he gave a copy of the dossier to Wallander, who was familiar with the contents but did not have a copy.
"I had a subsequent conversation with Ms. Wallander in which I gave her a copy of the document. That was probably around New Year's,"
"She had not seen it herself until I had shown it to her," Kramer added. "She had heard about it. And she didn't know the status
In the same testimony, the McCain associate revealed that he held a meeting about the dossier with a reporter from BuzzFeed News
who he says snapped photos of the controversial document without Kramer's permission when he left the room to go to the bathroom.
That meeting was held at the McCain Institute office in Washington, Kramer stated.
published Steele's full dossier on January 10, 2017 setting off a firestorm of news media coverage about the document.
Prior to his death, McCain admitted to personally handing the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey but he refused repeated
requests for comment about whether he had a role in providing the dossier to BuzzFeed, including numerous inquiries sent to his office
by this reporter.
book published last year, McCain maintained he had an "obligation" to pass the dossier charges against Trump to Comey and he
would even do it again. "Anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell," McCain exclaimed.
Kramer, meanwhile, also said that he briefed others reporters on the dossier contents, including CNN's Carl Bernstein, in an effort
to have the anti-Trump charges verified.
The same day BuzzFeed released the full dossier, CNN first
the leaked information that the controversial contents of the dossier were presented during classified briefings inside classified
documents presented one week earlier to then-President Obama and President-elect Trump.
Kramer said that he believed McCain was sought out in order to provide credibility to the dossier claims.
"I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat,
I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack," Kramer stated.
The controversial Fusion GPS firm hired Steele to do the anti-Trump work that resulted in the compilation of the dossier. Fusion
GPS was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the Perkins Coie
Kramer's testimony sheds a new light on the role of the Obama administration in disseminating the largely-discredited dossier
that was reportedly involved in the FBI's initial investigation into the Trump campaign and unsubstantiated claims of Russian collusion.
cited the dossier as evidence in a successful FISA application to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a
former adviser to President Trump's 2016 campaign. The testimony also revealed how McCain was utilized to give the wild dossier charges
a credibility boost.
Nuland and dossier
Nuland's specific role in the dossier episode has been the subject of some controversy for her.
book , "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump," authors and reporters
by Michael Isikoff and David Corn write that Nuland gave the green light for the FBI to first meet with Steele regarding his dossier's
claims. It was at that meeting that Steele initially reported his dossier charges to the FBI, the book relates.
Steele sought out Rome-based FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, with whom he had worked on a previous case. Before Gaeta met with
Steele on July 5, 2016, the book relates that the FBI first secured the support of Nuland, who at the time was assistant Secretary
of State for European and Eurasian Affairs specializing in Russia.
Regarding the arrangements for Steele's initial meeting with the FBI about the dossier claims, Isikoff and Corn report:
There were a few hoops Gaeta had to jump through. He was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Rome. The FBI checked with Victoria
Nuland's office at the State Department : Do you support this meeting ? Nuland, having found Steele's reports on Ukraine to have
been generally credible, gave the green light.
Within a few days, on July 5, Gaeta arrived and headed to Steele's office near Victoria station . Steele handed him a copy
of the report. Gaeta, a seasoned FBI agent, started to read . He turned white. For a while, Gaeta said nothing . Then he remarked,
"I have to report this to headquarters."
The book documents that Nuland previously received Steele's reports on the Ukrainian crisis and had been familiar with Steele's
Nuland faced confirmation
prior to her appointment as assistant secretary of state over her reported role in revising controversial Obama administration
talking points about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. Her
reported changes sought to protect
Clinton's State Department from accusations that it failed to adequately secure the woefully unprotected U.S. Special Mission in
Nuland's name surfaced in a flurry of news media reports last year about the dossier and Kerry's State Department.
An extensive New Yorker profile
of Steele named another former official from Kerry's State Department for alleged involvement in circulating the dossier. The
magazine reported that Kerry's chief of staff at the State Department, John Finer, obtained the contents of a two-page summary of
the dossier and eventually decided to share the questionable document with Kerry.
Finer received the dossier summary from Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing
and exchanging information with Steele, according to the report. Winer previously conceded that he shared the dossier summary with
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier, Winer authored a Washington
oped in which he conceded that while he was working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with Steele.
Winer further acknowledged that while at the State Department, he shared anti-Trump material with Steele passed to him by longtime
Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, whom Winer described as an "old friend." Winer wrote that the material from Blumenthal – which
Winer in turn gave to Steele – originated with Cody Shearer, who is a controversial figure long tied to various Clinton scandals.
Nuland, Winer Give Conflicting Accounts
There are seeming discrepancies between Winer and Nuland about actions taken involving the dossier.
Nuland described in a Politico podcast
what she claimed was her reaction when she was presented with Steele's dossier information at the State Department.
She said that she offered advice to "those who were interfacing with" Steele, immediately telling the intermediary or intermediaries
that Steele "should get this information to the FBI." She further explained that a career employee at the State Department could
not get involved with the dossier charges since such actions could violate the Hatch Act, which prevents employees in the executive
branch of the federal government from engaging in certain kinds of political activities.
In a second interview, this one with CBS's Face The Nation, Nuland also stated that her "immediate" reaction was to refer Steele
to the FBI.
Here is a transcript of the
section of her February 5 interview with Susan B. Glasser, who described Nuland as "my friend" and referred to her by her nickname
Glasser: When did you first hear about his dossier?
Nuland: I first heard -- and I didn't know who his client was until much later, until 2017, I think, when it came out. I first
heard that he had done work for a client asserting these linkages -- I think it was late July, something like that.
Glasser: That's very interesting. And you would have taken him seriously just because you knew that he knew what he was talking
about on Russia?
Nuland: What I did was say that this is about U.S. politics, and not the work of -- not the business of the State Department,
and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act, which requires that you stay out of politics.
So, my advice to those who were interfacing with him was that he should get this information to the FBI, and that they could evaluate
whether they thought it was credible.
Glasser: Did you ever talk about it with anyone else higher up at the department? With Secretary Kerry or anybody else?
Nuland: Secretary Kerry was also aware. I think he's on the record and he had the same advice.
Nuland stated that Kerry "was also aware" of the dossier, but she did not describe how he was made aware. She made clear that
she told "those who were interfacing" with Steele to go to the FBI since any State Department involvement could violate the Hatch
Her Politico podcast interview was not the only time she claimed that her reaction was to refer Steele to the FBI.
On Face The Nation on February 4, Nuland engaged in the following
exchange in which she stated her "immediate" reaction was to refer Steele to the FBI (emphasis added):
MARGARET BRENNAN: The dossier.
VICTORIA NULAND: The dossier, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction
to that was, "This is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI, if there is any concern here that one candidate or the
election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation. That's something for the FBI to investigate."
And that was our reaction when we saw this. It's not our -- we can't evaluate this. And frankly, if every member of the campaign
who the Russians tried to approach and tried to influence had gone to the FBI as well in real time, we might not be in the mess
we're in today.
Nuland gave the two interviews after her name started surfacing in news media reports involving Kerry's State Department and the
dossier. Her name also came up in relation to a criminal referral of Steele to the Justice Department in the form of a letter authored
last year by Sen. Chuck Grassley, who at the time chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The Grassley-Graham criminal referral
contains redacted information that Steele received information from someone in the State Department, who in turn had been in
contact with a "foreign sub-source" who was in touch with a redacted name described as a "friend of the Clintons."
Numerous media reports have since stated that the source of information provided to the State Department that was in turn passed
on to Steele was Cody Shearer, a controversial figure tied to the Clintons who is also an associate of longtime Clinton friend Sidney
Blumenthal. According to sources who
to CNN, Shearer's information was passed from Blumenthal to Winer, who at the time was a special State Department envoy for Libya
working under Kerry. Winer
says that Kerry personally recruited him to work at the State Department.
It is Winer's version of events that seems to conflict with Nuland's.
oped published in the Washington Post, Winer identified Nuland as the State Department official with whom he shared Steele's
information. Winer writes that Nuland's reaction was that "she felt that the secretary of state needed to be made aware of this material."
He does not relate any further reaction from Nuland.
Winer wrote in the Washington Post (emphasis added):
In the summer of 2016, Steele told me that he had learned of disturbing information regarding possible ties between Donald
Trump, his campaign and senior Russian officials. He did not provide details but made clear the information involved "active measures,"
a Soviet intelligence term for propaganda and related activities to influence events in other countries.
In September 2016, Steele and I met in Washington and discussed the information now known as the "dossier." Steele's sources
suggested that the Kremlin not only had been behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign
but also had compromised Trump and developed ties with his associates and campaign.
I was allowed to review, but not to keep, a copy of these reports to enable me to alert the State Department. I prepared a
two-page summary and shared it with Nuland, who indicated that, like me, she felt that the secretary of state needed to be made
aware of this material.
That was the extent of Winer's description of Nuland's reaction upon being presented with Steele's dossier claims. Nuland's public
claim that her "immediate" response was to refer Steele to the FBI since State involvement could violate the Hatch Act seems to conflict
with the only reaction that Winer relates from Nuland – that she felt Kerry should be made aware of the dossier information.
In Winer's Washington Post oped, he writes that Steele had a larger relationship with the State Department, passing over
100 reports relating to Russia to the U.S. government agency through Winer. Winer wrote that Nuland found Steele's reports to be
"useful" and asked Winer to "continue to send them."
In 2013, I returned to the State Department at the request of Secretary of State John F. Kerry, whom I had previously served
as Senate counsel. Over the years, Steele and I had discussed many matters relating to Russia. He asked me whether the State Department
would like copies of new information as he developed it. I contacted Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who was then assistant
secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and shared with her several of Steele's reports. She told me they were useful
and asked me to continue to send them. Over the next two years, I shared more than 100 of Steele's reports with the Russia experts
at the State Department, who continued to find them useful. None of the reports related to U.S. politics or domestic U.S. matters,
and the reports constituted a very small portion of the data set reviewed by State Department experts trying to make sense of
events in Russia.
Kramer and the dossier
In his book, "The Restless Wave," McCain provided an inside account of how he says he came across the dossier.
He wrote that he was told about the claims in the document at a security conference in Canada in November 2016, where he was approached
by Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and friend of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.
McCain wrote that Wood told him Steele "had been commissioned to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russian
agents as well as potentially compromising information about the President-elect that Putin allegedly possessed."
McCain, however, did not address the obvious question of whether he was told exactly who "commissioned" Steele to "investigate"
the alleged Russian ties. The dossier was paid for by Clinton's campaign and the DNC.
McCain goes on to describe Wood as telling him Steele's work "was mostly raw, unverified intelligence, but that the author strongly
believed merited a thorough examination by counterintelligence experts."
The politician says the dossier claims described to him were "too strange a scenario to believe, something out of a le Carré novel,
not the kind of thing anyone has ever actually had to worry about with a new President, no matter what other concerns."
Still, McCain says he reasoned that "even a remote risk that the President of the United States might be vulnerable to Russian
extortion had to be investigated."
McCain concedes Wood told him he had not actually read the dossier himself, and writes that he wasn't sure if he ever met Wood
before and couldn't recall previously having a conversation with Wood. Still, McCain took Wood's word for it when Wood vouched for
Steele's credibility. "Steele was a respected professional, Wood assured us, who had good Russian contacts and long experience collecting
and analyzing intelligence on the Kremlin," McCain wrote.
Present at the meeting with Wood and McCain was Kramer, who McCain writes agreed to "go to London to meet Steele, confirm his
credibility and report back to me."
McCain doesn't detail Kramer's visit to London beyond simply writing, "When David returned, and shared his impression that the
former spy was, as Sir Andrew had vouched, a respected professional, and not to outward appearances given to hyperbole or hysteria,
I agreed to receive a copy of what is now referred to as 'the dossier.'''
McCain leaves out exactly where Kramer obtained his dossier copy.
The Washington Post
reported last February that Kramer received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in it. Those
details marked the clearest indication that McCain may have known that the dossier originated with Fusion GPS, meaning that he may
have knowingly passed on political material to the FBI.
Also, in a New York Times oped in January,
GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritch wrote that they helped McCain share their anti-Trump dossier with the Obama-era intelligence
community via an unnamed "emissary."
In his own testimony, Kramer relates conversations with Simpson about the dossier.
This article was written 4 years ago, but the problem with Putin successor remains. Putin is a unique politician and his replacement
might be much weaker, causing troubles for Russia. This is not new problem for Russia, but this time it will be especially
acute. BTW this comment thread looks like "who is who" list for NATObots.
"... We could all use a real leader like Putin who takes no b.s. from anybody and is quick to adapt to any situation in a calm assertive way. He earns our admiration every day, the way he steers across an ever changing minefield and not because of his mucho image. We do not need leaders who deceit people by spewing relentless propaganda and no clarity. They fail as individuals and as a group because they are spineless. If multiple people repeat the same lie it does not make it true. It must be a club membership requirement to play the politics game and keep quiet about wrong things you see. ..."
"... Action man outwitting the Neocons in the international chess game. More surprises to come ..."
"... Karl Rove said "Empire creates its own reality". No wonder the mantra "Assad must go" is now enshrined in international politics by the Neocon alliance. They didnt figure on Putin obviously. ..."
"... It happens regardless, take the example in Volgograd (Vauxhall) two years ago. I am afraid that KSA and the Gulf States will be funding the usual mix of 'moderately terroristic shenanigans" in reprisal, but they did this before anyways. ..."
"... He making the US looked like whiny bitches. Good job; you alienate Russia and manage to strengthen the China-Russo relationrelationship. Sanctions that don't work, secret economic wars and multiple failed coup d'etat in Georgia and Ukraine [also do not work] ..."
"... Like US - Hospital - Afganistain. anyway ISIS are paid money by the CIA and don't care who they work for it's money that they are motivated by not ideology, that ideology stuff is made-up. Google it and dig, get yourself informed. ..."
"... Not quite sure why Mr Putin playing ice-hockey on his birthday is worthy of a story to open up for comments unless the Guardian is ' trawling ' to encourage some new anti-Putin Cold War rhetoric in the comments section. ..."
"... PS / Don't forget that nice Israeli Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu's birthday and how he celebrates it. Ensure you open it up for comment as I'm sure also that many will wish to voice an opinion. Will this now be a standard ' Birthday Feature ' for all world leaders in the Guardian, or has this newspaper just granted an exception for Mr Putin's birthday ? ..."
I wonder if everyone on the Guardian staff has the same "man crush" on Putin? Could explain all these obsessive articles. I
also wonder if he spent any time in the penalty box?
laticsfanfromeurope -> Extracrispy 7 Oct 2015 17:06
You prefer ISIS and Al-Nusra then the legitimate Syrian gov. and the legitimate help of Russia...not a surprise from stupid
pfox33 7 Oct 2015 17:05
There isn't one of our western politicians that wouldn't sell his fucking mother to be getting the attention that Putin's getting.
I thought he was supposed to be isolated.
So to keep the hockey thing going, Putin's stolen the puck in the neutral zone, split the Nato defensemen who were too far
forward and is on a breakaway.
I feel sorry for Obama because I think he's a good leader but when it comes to trying to maneuver in a geopolitical situation
like Syria he's fucked before he leaves the house. Putin can just act without trying to herd cats like Obama has to do with his
Nato minions. He doesn't have a bunch of recalcitrant GOP senators calling him everything but a white man and running their mouths
about what they would do.
... ... ...
filin led -> Braminski 7 Oct 2015 16:55
It's you who are a troll, sir. By what you say, anything can be dismissed as paid propaganda. That means, you are as likely
to be a paid agent yourself. So, if you can't come up with a constructive argument, stop commenting please.
Mordantdude -> Poppy757 7 Oct 2015 16:40
As Russians say: "Envy silently".
giacinto101 7 Oct 2015 15:59
We could all use a real leader like Putin who takes no b.s. from anybody and is quick to adapt to any situation in a calm
assertive way. He earns our admiration every day, the way he steers across an ever changing minefield and not because of his mucho
image. We do not need leaders who deceit people by spewing relentless propaganda and no clarity. They fail as individuals and
as a group because they are spineless. If multiple people repeat the same lie it does not make it true. It must be a club membership
requirement to play the politics game and keep quiet about wrong things you see.
SilkverBlogger 7 Oct 2015 15:54
Action man outwitting the Neocons in the international chess game. More surprises to come
CIAbot007 -> Poppy757 7 Oct 2015 15:39
Most of Aussies have a bit of common sense which says that you can't blame anyone before it is prooved. With Western MSM propaganda
machine blaming Russia and Putin even before anything happens you bet there's no such thing as balanced and unskewed reporting
and even will for any kind of such thing. Don't get fooled, use your brain or your brain will be used by someone else.
SilkverBlogger 7 Oct 2015 14:48
Karl Rove said "Empire creates its own reality". No wonder the mantra "Assad must go" is now enshrined in international
politics by the Neocon alliance. They didnt figure on Putin obviously.
PekkaRoivanen MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:30
In the West, we don't have a sycophantic press kissing the leader's backside:
Guardian: Barack Obama scores just 2 out of 22 basketball hoops - video
You wrote that Obama plays basketball and you prove it with this video where Obama wears dress shirt (tie removed :-D) and
Are you sure Obama plays basketball? Or is it just press kissing his backside?
Kev Kev Hektor Uranga 7 Oct 2015 14:28
the USA persecutes and kills people who speak out against it. Only difference is the USA does it in ways that nobody sees..
In other words the USA is the same as Russia only they do their work in the dark. When nobody is looking.
Abiesalba MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:26
That's the guy who is wishing Putin a happy birthday.
The US/UK duo have caused with their insane illegal wars more than a million deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and
I recommend you look up a little the complex history and present situation in Chechnya and the North Caucasus region.
ISIS (which the insanely aggressive US/UK duo have in effect created) is already spreading its influence INSIDE the Russian
Federation. So Putin has direct interests to defeat ISIS and stabilise Syria (and Iraq). In addition, the south of the Russian
Federation is on the map of territories which ISIS plans to conquer.
See for example:
8 ISIS supporters killed in N. Caucasus special op
(2 August 2015)
Russian security forces have foiled a terrorist group that recently pledged allegiance to ISIS in Ingushetia, in the Northern
Caucasus, according to the National Anti-Terror Committee (NAC). Security forces seized explosives, weapons and over 2,000 rounds
How Russian Militants Declared A New ISIS 'State' In Russia's North Caucasus
(26 June 2015)
The Islamic State group announced the creation of its northernmost province this week, after accepting a formal pledge of allegiance
from former al Qaeda militants in the North Caucasus region of Russia.
It is true that at present, the Chechens are begging Putin to let them strike in Syria (and this is also closely linked to the
complicated history of North Caucasus), but Putin has not unleashed them. See for example here:
Kadyrov asks Putin to allow Chechen infantry to fight in Syria (RT, 2 October 2015)
The head of the Chechen Republic has asked the Russian president to send Chechen units to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)
in Syria, adding that his fighters have sworn to fight terrorists till the end.
"Being a Muslim, a Chechen and a Russian patriot I want to say that in 1999 when our republic was overrun with these devils
we swore on the Koran that we would fight them wherever they are," the Chechen leader said. "But we need the Commander-in-Chief's
decision to do this," he emphasized. According to the Russian Constitution, the president [Putin] is also the commander-in-chief
of the military forces.
BMWAlbert clanview46 7 Oct 2015 14:26
It happens regardless, take the example in Volgograd (Vauxhall) two years ago. I am afraid that KSA and the Gulf States
will be funding the usual mix of 'moderately terroristic shenanigans" in reprisal, but they did this before anyways.
Julian1972 MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:21
That was last year...also it was authored by a combination of the CIA and their right-wing 'Operation Stay Behind' cohorts...though,
if you don't know that by now you doubtless never will.
Abiesalba MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:16
Murderers, thieves and embezzlers stroking each other's egos.
Putin has a long way to go to match the US/UK.
Here is a recent report about 'collateral damage' compiled by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival
and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War:
Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the 'War on Terror' (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan)
This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000
in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million.
NOT included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen.
The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated
by the media and major NGOs.
And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess
of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.
For more about civilian casualties due to the US-led coalition strikes in Syria and Iraq, see the Airwars website:
584 – 1,720 civilians killed:
To date, the international coalition has only conceded two "likely" deaths, from an event in early November 2014. It is also
presently investigating seven further incidents of concern; is carrying out credibility assessments on a further 13; and has concluded
three more investigations – having found no 'preponderance of evidence' to support civilian casualty claims.
More Power -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:13
He making the US looked like whiny bitches. Good job; you alienate Russia and manage to strengthen the China-Russo relationrelationship.
Sanctions that don't work, secret economic wars and multiple failed coup d'etat in Georgia and Ukraine [also do not work].
Just look at the World Bank, BRICS is on the door step. Happy birth day Putin. A badass mofo
blueskis -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 14:06
The vats majority of the 5500 killed have been civilians in East Ukraine killed by airstrikes ordered by kiev/washington, fully
justifying Russian intervention.
ooTToo -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:40
Like US - Hospital - Afganistain. anyway ISIS are paid money by the CIA and don't care who they work for it's money that
they are motivated by not ideology, that ideology stuff is made-up. Google it and dig, get yourself informed.
geedeesee -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:19
Russia is attacking what they said they'd attack, Tavernier. ISIS, al-Nusrah, and other terrorist organisations.
inconvenienttruth13 -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:18
No he isn't. Anybody with a functioning brain knows he had nothing to do with that. Unlike the US genocide in the Middle East
- over 2 million dead and counting - not to mention the deliberate and sustained attack on a hospital. Maybe you don' get to see
the news in your ward?
inconvenienttruth13 -> MTavernier 7 Oct 2015 13:13
The US created, funds, trains and arms ISIS - they are only supporting terrorists in their campaign to effect regime change.
Russia is responding to a request fro the Syrian government, so its actions are entirely legal. The faces that the USA and the
KSA are the biggest sponsors of terrorism in the world.
monteverdi1610 7 Oct 2015 12:22
Not quite sure why Mr Putin playing ice-hockey on his birthday is worthy of a story to open up for comments unless the
Guardian is ' trawling ' to encourage some new anti-Putin Cold War rhetoric in the comments section.
PS / Don't forget that nice Israeli Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu's birthday and how he celebrates it. Ensure you open it
up for comment as I'm sure also that many will wish to voice an opinion. Will this now be a standard ' Birthday Feature ' for
all world leaders in the Guardian, or has this newspaper just granted an exception for Mr Putin's birthday ?
Foreign policy is no longer controlled by the President of the USA. It is controlled by the Deep state.
This article is from 2015 but can easily be written about Trump administration
"... Indeed, as Putin himself had proposed in his visionary October 2011 article, the Eurasian Union could have become one of the pillars of a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and based on the EU's single-market rules (acquis communautaire). ..."
"... First and foremost, because the self-proclaimed "exceptional" power (actually, a mere "outlying island" in the Atlantic, according to the founder of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder) and its dysfunctional "deep-state" officialdom did not want it to be. How could they have permitted such a thing? How could they have allowed other countries to get on with improving the lives of their citizens without being obliged to seek Washington's approval every step of the way? ..."
"... In order to make sure that they were not side-lined, the US elites had to intervene. The Western propaganda machine started churning out all sorts of nonsense that Putin is a new Hitler who is bent on restoring the Soviet empire and who is bullying Europe, while continuing to bang on about his "increasingly autocratic rule". ..."
"... Deadly attacks by chauvinistic proxies were launched on the Russophone people in South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 and more recently in Ukraine. ..."
"... Stuck in an Orwellian nightmare, Europe has to demonstrate its unfailing loyalty to Big Brother and go along with the view that Russia, an intrinsic and valuable part of the European mainstream both historically and culturally, represents universal evil and that the Earth will not be safe until the Federation has been dismembered and Putinism wiped out once and for all. ..."
"... Having self-destructed in two world wars, it has become an easy and even willing prey to an arrogant, ignorant and power-drunk predator that has never experienced the hardships and horrors that Europe has. ..."
"... Even more terrifying, intellectually third-rate Washington viceroys such as Victoria Nuland and the freelancing armchair warrior Senator McCain are allowed to play God with our continent. ..."
"... Indeed, the damage extends beyond the economy. By aligning with the forces of chaos – such as chauvinistic extremists in Ukraine – Washington and its Euro-vassals are corrupting the moral (and intellectual) core of the West. ..."
"... 'My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: "Money, we give them money." "Foreign aid?" I asked. "No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale. We bought them. They report to us." Perhaps this explains Tony Blair's $50 million fortune one year out of office'. ..."
"... "We, the [CENSORED] people, control America and the Americans know it." -- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED] ..."
Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy... European
democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
The avalanche of commentary since the Ukrainian crisis erupted a year ago has overshadowed any reflections on the immense forgone
benefits (technically speaking, the "opportunity cost") of what might have been if Washington had been working for peace and stability
instead of war and chaos.
Imagine the following: After the unraveling of the Communist bloc, Europe, in partnership with the US, had forged a new security
system in which Russia was treated as a valued and equal partner – one whose interests were respected. Russia, decimated by a century
of wars and Communist imperialism, would doubtless have eagerly reciprocated in kind. Most countries of the former Soviet Union would
have then proceeded to build a new Eurasian structure of which Russia would have served as the natural umbrella, given its long-standing
interaction with the region's diverse nations and cultures.
Indeed, as Putin himself had proposed in his visionary October 2011 article, the Eurasian Union could have become one of the
pillars of a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and based on the EU's single-market rules (acquis
The rising Far Eastern economic powerhouse, with the world's most populous country, China, at its centre, would have linked up
with the world's largest economy (the EU). An enormous Eurasian production and financial bloc would have been created – one that
drew primarily on secure supplies of Russian energy and other natural resources. Untold investment opportunities would have opened
up in Siberia and Russia's Far East as well as in Central Asia. Hundreds of millions of people in Eurasia and elsewhere would have
been lifted out of poverty. And, not least, the EU would have been refashioned as an integral part of the dynamic trans-Eurasian
economy (rather than as a German-centred empire, as appears to be the case today), thereby making a major contribution to overcoming
the ongoing global economic depression.
All of this was not to be, however. Why not? First and foremost, because the self-proclaimed "exceptional" power (actually, a
mere "outlying island" in the Atlantic, according to the founder of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder) and its dysfunctional "deep-state"
officialdom did not want it to be. How could they have permitted such a thing? How could they have allowed other countries to
get on with improving the lives of their citizens without being obliged to seek Washington's approval every step of the way?
European democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
In order to make sure that they were not side-lined, the US elites had to intervene. The Western propaganda machine started
churning out all sorts of nonsense that Putin is a new Hitler who is bent on restoring the Soviet empire and who is bullying Europe,
while continuing to bang on about his "increasingly autocratic rule".
Deadly attacks by chauvinistic proxies were launched on the Russophone people in South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 and more recently
And in what is eerily reminiscent of Stalinist "bloc discipline", the EU/NATO nomenclature was ordered to implement the absurd
strategy of severing the Russian economy from the EU. For their part, the cowering Eurocrats willingly obliged by imposing sanctions
on Russia that, perversely, have had a negative impact on their own economies (but, let it be stressed, not that of the US). No questions
raised and no public debate on the wisdom of such a strategy permitted.
Stuck in an Orwellian nightmare, Europe has to demonstrate its unfailing loyalty to Big Brother and go along with the view
that Russia, an intrinsic and valuable part of the European mainstream both historically and culturally, represents universal evil
and that the Earth will not be safe until the Federation has been dismembered and Putinism wiped out once and for all.
This abuse and humiliation of Europe is unparalleled. The continent that gave the world the wonders of the Antiquity, modern democracy,
the industrial revolution and what is arguably the greatest tradition of philosophy, fine arts and classical music is being bullied
by its oversized offspring. Having self-destructed in two world wars, it has become an easy and even willing prey to an arrogant,
ignorant and power-drunk predator that has never experienced the hardships and horrors that Europe has. War and extermination
camps are etched into the European DNA. America "knows" about them only from afar – and, not least, from the Hollywood entertainment
Even more terrifying, intellectually third-rate Washington viceroys such as Victoria Nuland and the freelancing armchair warrior
Senator McCain are allowed to play God with our continent. The so-called European "leaders" are colluding with them in plunging
Europe into the abyss and thereby risking nuclear confrontation.
America, too, is a loser
But this is not just a tragedy for Europe and Eurasia. We are also witnessing the wilful misrule of America and, by default, of
the entire West. Indeed, Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy. The
"democracy-promoters" running Washington's foreign-policy apparatus apparently do not understand that America has nothing to lose
and a lot to gain from the Eurasian economic project: the rising tide of global economic welfare would lift everyone's boats, including
its own. Why should it matter to Washington if the rising tide comes from other quarters beyond its control?
Indeed, the damage extends beyond the economy. By aligning with the forces of chaos – such as chauvinistic extremists in Ukraine
– Washington and its Euro-vassals are corrupting the moral (and intellectual) core of the West. If it continues to support such
forces against Russia, united Europe will lose not only its backbone but its very soul. The moral consequences of this loss will
be enormous and could lead to the precipitous erosion of Western democracy.
The 'autocrats' want to work with the West, not against it
US and EU leaders believe that the Russian and Chinese "autocrats" are out to destroy the West because the latter hate freedom
(as George W. Bush might have put it). And hence, they argue, the autocrats must be stopped in their tracks. The simple truth is
that Western leaders are too blinkered to understand that far from desiring to destroy the West, Russia and China want it to prosper
so that they can work with it to everyone's benefit. Having enjoyed a privileged position over several centuries and having attained
unprecedented prosperity in recent decades, the West simply cannot understand that the rest of humanity has no interest in fomenting
the "clash of civilizations" but rather craves peace and stability so that it can finally improve its economic lot.
Perhaps, however, all is not yet lost. It is still possible that reason – and economic forces – will prevail and force the West
to correct the errors of its ways. What we need, perhaps, more than ever is the ability to step out of the box, question our fundamental
assumptions (not least about Russia and China) and find the courage to change policies that have proved disastrous. After all, critical
thought, dispassionate analysis and the ability to be open to new ideas is what made the West so successful in the past. If we are
to thrive once again in the future, we must resurrect these most valuable and unsurpassed assets.
What I cannot understand is the naive belief that elected politicians would act in the interests of those whom they represent.
Under what other circumstances do we see human beings act with disinterested altruism? So why would a bunch of people who have
been ruthlessly selected for selfishness, arrogance, and callousness - a bunch of carefully chosen psychopaths, if you will -
behave in that way?
'My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to
my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: "Money, we give them money." "Foreign
aid?" I asked. "No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale. We bought them. They report to
us." Perhaps this explains Tony Blair's $50 million fortune one year out of office'.
- Paul Craig Roberts
"Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy".
Not only it's foreign policy but it's domestic policy as well. Let's call it for what it really is. The Wall Street/Corporate
policy which is the driving force behind behind everything the US does
"We, the [CENSORED] people, control America and the Americans know it." -- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
"When we're done with the U.S. it will shrivel up and blow away." -- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
The welfare or future of the American people are not part of the equation.
"... A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles are based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews are in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda is attributed exclusively to the opposite side... ..."
"In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the
systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts:"
Many thanks, and much respect to you Sir for bringing this important piece to my attention.
It is one of the most important aspects of our media system -- and yet hardly known to the public: most of the international
news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.
The key role played by these agencies means that Western media often report on the same topics, even using the same wording.
In addition, governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages
around the world.
A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles
are based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews
are in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda is attributed exclusively to the opposite side...
Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services?
"... Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? ..."
"... "Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5." ..."
"... Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. ..."
"... The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants. ..."
"... As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career". ..."
"... Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance. ..."
And so to Nottingham University (on Sunday 26 February) for a well-attended conference...
I focus in my talk on the links between journalists and the intelligence services: While it might be difficult to identify precisely
the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as "intelligence", "security", "Whitehall" or "Home Office" sources)
on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.
As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented:
"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."
Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished
journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.
And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct
Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.
In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret
state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed
forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants.
As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of
the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood
at the end of their career".
Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent
is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.
A brief history
Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer - probably as a
cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest
Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them.
Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf
of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance.
The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the
Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body - which even Orwell aided
by sending them a list of "crypto-communists". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it "ran" dozens of Fleet Street journalists
and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.
According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism
served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour
of the British intelligence agencies was hidden.
And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret
service then controlled large parts of the press – just as they may do today.
In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate's Church Committee and the House of Representatives'
Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists.
And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll.
David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media
and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: "We have somebody
in every office in Fleet Street"
And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing
companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming "embarrassing publications".
Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, "was a longstanding agent of ours" who "made it clear
he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction".
Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet
Street journalists. Wright comments: "No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot". King was also closely
involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten.
Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according
to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper.
David Walker, the Mirror's foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security
scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear
Maxwell and Mossad
According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the
1970s MI5's F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents – with great success.
In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative
journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6
were equally as strong.
Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that
he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight – and many of the leaks
For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: "Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse
during the Cold War."
The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster
Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked
to lunch by the head of MI6. "It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted
to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms
of first-hand knowledge."
And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph
and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to
handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain.
Lawson strongly denied the allegations.
Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan
McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from "dodgy security
services". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland
Human Rights Commission: "We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not
being used." (www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)
Growing power of secret state
Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US.
But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation – such as the Official
Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on – and as intelligence moves into
the heart of Blair's ruling clique so these links are even more significant.
Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats.
According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by
the Rockingham cell within the MoD.
A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant
attempts to scare people – and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.
Similarly the disinformation about Iraq's WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists.
Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: "Saddam Hussein
has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of
the United Nations inspectors." The source of these "revelations" was said to be "intelligence picked up from within Iraq". Early
in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies
about Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group,
the Iraqi National Congress.
Sexed up – and missed out
During the controversy that erupted following the end of the "war" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the
ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government
(in collusion with the intelligence services) had "sexed up" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq.
The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that
drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition?
But those facts will be forever secret.
Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists' links with the intelligence services was
ignored by the inquiry.
Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of
WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US
President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress
and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.
Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a "calculated set-up" devised to foster the
propaganda case for war. "In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published
stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam's regime." And he concluded: "The information fog is thicker
than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures,
especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor."
Let's not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence
services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Richard Keeble's publications include Secret State, Silent Press: New Militarism, the Gulf and the Modern Image of Warfare (John
Libbey 1997) and The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge, fourth edition, 2005). He is also the editor of Ethical Space: The International
Journal of Communication Ethics. Richard is also a member of the War and Media Network.
amazing, simply amazing. You need to watch this Town Hall in full to appreciate the skills she demonstrated in defense of
her principles. What a fearless young lady.
And this CNN warmonger, a prostitute of MIC was/is pretty devious. Question were selected with malice to hurt Tulsi and people who
ask them were definitely pre-selected with an obvious intent to smear Tulsi. In no way those were spontaneous question. This was a session
of Neocon//Neolib inquisition. Tulsi behaves like a modern Joan of Arc
From comments: "People need to donate to Tulsi Gabbard for president so she is allowed on the DNC sponsored debate stages. 65000
unique donors required to be in the debates. Donation can be as small as $1 if you can't afford $25"(mrfuzztone)
"... Braver then 99.9% of all men in power. They just enjoy watching the blood sports they create for profit. Looks like people are starting to get fed up with the show. About time ..."
"... WE CURRENTLY HAVE A CRONY CAPITALIST PYRAMID SCHEME AND CNN PLAYS IT'S PART TO KEEP THAT SYSTEM IN PLACE ..."
"... I'm 66, a Progressive formerly from Boston where we eat and breathe politics and I'll tell you... never in my life have I seen a Democratic candidate like this fearless young woman who will simultaneously attract veterans AND anti-war folks AND moderate Republicans AND youth. NO OTHER CANDIDATE CAN DO THIS. My absolute belief is that if Tulsi's not on the ticket... Trump wins. Sorry Bernie, this time I'm going with Tulsi. ..."
I'm 66, a Progressive formerly from Boston where we eat and breathe politics and I'll tell you... never in my life have
I seen a Democratic candidate like this fearless young woman who will simultaneously attract veterans AND anti-war folks AND moderate
Republicans AND youth. NO OTHER CANDIDATE CAN DO THIS. My absolute belief is that if Tulsi's not on the ticket... Trump wins.
Sorry Bernie, this time I'm going with Tulsi.
Tulsi handled these hacks like a pro LOOL Are you a capitalist? LOL What s stupid question.....CCN usually stacks there town
halls with corporate cronies. I bet Bernie picks her for a high position in his government.
People need to donate to Tulsi Gabbard for president so she is allowed on the DNC sponsored debate stages. 65000 unique donors
required to be in the debates. Donation can be as small as $1 if you can't afford $25.
In the latest blow to both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the WSJ reported
overnight that Federal prosecutors and Department of Transportation officials are scrutinizing
the development of Boeing 737 MAX jetliners and in particular its anti-stall (MCAS) system,
inquiries described as "unusual" and which come amid probes of regulators' safety approvals of
the new plane.
The Seattle Times separately reported that Boeing's safety analysis of a new flight control
system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.
the WSJ , a "grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 - a day
after the Ethiopian Airlines crash a week ago - to at least one person involved in the 737
MAX's development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other
messages." The subpoena, with a prosecutor from the Justice Department's criminal division
listed as a contact, sought documents to be handed over later this month.
It wasn't immediately clear if the Justice Department's probe is related to scrutiny of the
FAA by the DOT inspector general's office, reported earlier Sunday by The Wall Street Journal
and that focuses on a safety system that has been implicated in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash that
killed 189 people, according to a government official briefed on its status. Aviation
authorities are looking into whether the anti-stall system may have played a role in last
week's Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed all 157 people on board . The WSJ sources add
that the inspector general's inquiry focuses on ensuring relevant documents and computer files
The Justice Department probe involves a prosecutor in the fraud section of the department's
criminal division, a unit that has brought cases against well-known manufacturers over safety
issues, including Takata Corp.
The news comes at a sensitive time for both the FAA, which was among the last regulators to
ground the 737 Max following a broad global response (led by China) and for Boeing, whose stock
has tumbled in the aftermath of the latest crash, and as the WSJ notes, "it is highly unusual
for federal prosecutors to investigate details of regulatory approval of commercial aircraft
designs, or to use a criminal probe to delve into dealings between the FAA and the largest
aircraft manufacturer the agency oversees."
Probes of airliner programs or alleged lapses in federal safety oversight typically are
handled as civil cases, often by the DOT inspector general. The inspector general, however,
does have authority to make criminal referrals to federal prosecutors and has its own special
Ironically, over the years, U.S. aviation companies and airline officials have been sharply
critical of foreign governments, including France, South Korea and others, for conducting
criminal probes of some plane makers, their executives and in some cases, even individual
pilots, after high-profile or fatal crashes. The FAA's current enforcement policy stresses
enhanced cooperation with domestic airlines and manufacturers -- featuring voluntary sharing of
important safety data -- instead of seeking fines or imposing other punishment.
News of the U.S. government scrutiny comes shortly after Ethiopia's transport minister,
Dagmawit Moges, said there were "clear similarities" between the two crashes. U.S. officials
cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions because data from the black boxes of the
Ethiopian Airlines plane still need to be analyzed. The two crashes - which may be linked to
the same structural defect on the airliner - have sparked the biggest crisis Boeing has faced
in about two decades, threatening sales of a plane model that has been the aircraft giant's
most stable revenue source and potentially making it more time consuming and difficult to get
future aircraft designs certified as safe to fly.
The FAA said Sunday that the 737 MAX, which entered service in 2017, was approved to carry
passengers as part of the agency's "standard certification process," including design
analyses; ground and flight tests; maintenance requirements; and cooperation with other civil
aviation authorities. Agency officials in the past have declined to comment on various
decisions regarding specific systems. Sunday's statement said the agency's "certification
processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft."
Earlier, a Boeing spokesman said: "The 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the
identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new
airplanes and derivatives. The FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters
of MCAS during MAX certification, and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement Sunday the company continues to
support the Ethiopian investigation, "and is working with the authorities to evaluate new
information as it becomes available." Muilenburg added: "As part of our standard practice
following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate,
institute product updates to further improve safety."
Governments world-wide have grounded the MAX, an updated version of the decades-old 737,
while investigators and engineers seek clues.
And so, as 737 Max scrutiny grows and as Boeing and the FAA now seek to deflect increased
government attention to one another - Boeing stock is once again tumbling, and is down 3% in
The Saudis aren't in danger of an Iranian invasion, but don't underestimate the signal
that abandoning our ally would send across the Middle East. It will be seen by Iran and
Russia as an invitation to more trouble-making, and another signal to allies that the U.S.
can't be trusted. More war is the likeliest result.
There is no foreign war so despicable and unjust that The Wall Street Journal won't
defend it to the end. It is telling that the WSJ editors don't talk about the war on
Yemen until Congress moves to try to withdraw the U.S. from it. The massive humanitarian crisis
that threatens the lives of as many as 15 million Yemenis doesn't concern them (and it never
comes up in this editorial), because if they mentioned it that would remind everyone that the
Saudi coalition bears the greatest responsibility for causing mass starvation and creating the
conditions for the world's worst modern cholera outbreak. The U.S. has not only been enabling
Saudi war crimes in its bombing campaign, but our government has also been helping to create
the world's worst humanitarian crisis through our unstinting support for the war. The editorial
omits all of this because including it would show how breathtakingly cynical and horrible the
pro-war argument is. War supporters never acknowledge the consequences of the destructive
policies they defend because they know it would discredit them, and so they try to change the
subject to anything else. In this case, war supporters have been desperate to make the Yemen
debate about Iran because they cannot honestly talk about the costs of the conflict or the U.S.
role in it.
Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the United States, and our government isn't obliged to
support them in a military intervention they chose to begin along with the United Arab Emirates
without consulting Washington. The U.S. certainly isn't obliged to indulge them in their failed
war of choice almost four years later. The war has become a drain on Saudi and Emirati
resources, and it has exposed them as weak, cruel, and incompetent as they have devastated
Yemen's infrastructure, starved its people, and failed achieved any of their stated goals. No
one should care about doing these despotic governments any favors, but forcing them to end
their war would be doing them a favor all the same. If the U.S. were perceived as abandoning
the Saudis by halting support for their war, that would be guaranteed to improve our country's
reputation around the world rather than harm it. The U.S.-Saudi relationship is a liability and
an embarrassment for our country, and the sooner we are rid of it in its current form the
better it will be for us and the region.
Supporters of the war on Yemen have no rational argument for continued U.S. involvement, and
so they are reduced to changing the subject from the war criminal states that the U.S. aids and
abets to the Iranian government that has almost nothing to do with the conflict. Ending U.S.
support for the war would be a "gift" to Iran, the WSJ editors tell us, as if four years
of keeping the Saudis and Emiratis bogged down in a war they cannot win has done anything to
harm Iran or curtail its influence in the region. The lie at the heart of the war on Yemen is
that it has something to do with opposing so-called Iranian "expansionism," but it is the war
itself that has done more for Iranian influence in Yemen than anything else. The longer that
the U.S. enables the Saudi coalition to continue its senseless and indefensible campaign, the
better it is for the Saudis' and Emiratis' rivals. Iran hawks are always wrong about what
benefits Iran's government and what harms it, and this is no exception.
The editorial's comparison between last week's vote and Congressional opposition to
continued involvement in the Vietnam War is unintentionally revealing and damning for their
side. Just like supporters of the Vietnam War, supporters of the war on Yemen are defending a
war that can't be won in a place where the U.S. should never have been involved. In this case,
war supporters are squarely on the side of the aggressors, and in their continued backing for
this disgraceful policy they show their utter contempt for the lives of the people of
This MIC prostitute Karan, like his wife Nuland are un-reformable. They just earn their living ing by warmongering. And they
will screem like pigs if they are deprived from those money, and do not care one bit how many people will be
killed as the result of their policies.
There is no war that those neocon chickenhawks do not like. It's their family racket.
"... Kagan's preferred foreign policy requires that there is some global "ideological confrontation" for the U.S. to be engaged in. If there isn't one, it has to be invented. ..."
"... Kagan isn't all that interested in details or accuracy. Those are "beside the point." ..."
"... Kagan doesn't make it explicit in this essay, but his larger goal in all of this is to advocate for a more confrontational foreign policy mobilized against the authoritarian enemies that he has described. He hints at this when he disparages contemporary "realists" ..."
"... realists, non-interventionists, and progressives that see no compelling reason for the U.S. to engage in destructive rivalries with major authoritarian powers in their own backyards. Except for a lame, overused comparison to the 1930s, Kagan doesn't even try to explain why we are wrong to think this. Kagan assumes that such destructive rivalries are both necessary and desirable, and this essay is the latest part of his effort to lay the groundwork for the ideological justification for those rivalries. ..."
"... A recent WSJ article (03/11/19) titled "Russian Gas Plan Divides U.S., Allies" with the subtitle "Washington fears undersea project would make Germany too reliant on Moscow" tells the tale of what the real reasons for America to demonize Russia and Putin. The U.S. leaders fear that the German-Russian pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, will make Europe reliant on Russian energy instead of Europe purchasing it energy from the United States. What gives the U.S. the right to stop one nation from doing commerce with other nations? The answer is "Greed." ..."
"... Kagan is and will until the bitter end defend American hegemony and the ideological mantle will be used as a cover ..."
"... People also forget that US is not a democracy, but a managed Republic, and according to all indicators, it is not even that liberal ..."
"... The fallout from the actions of these "interventionists" is millions are dead in a number of countries. Millions are refugees and thousands of soldiers are dead or maimed. More facts on these war criminals at link below. https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-facts-on-crimes-of-war-criminals.html ..."
"... This Kagan family, with Robert now the lead figure, has done a great deal towards furthering conflicts and violence in the world. It is long past time that they be put in their place, whatever that is, but it will not happen because their Zionist mindset is very well funded. ..."
"... "The U.S. has spent the last twenty years fighting wars that Kagan and other like-minded interventionists advocated for and endorsed. We shouldn't make the same mistake again when the stakes are even higher." We ought to do more than that. He should be muzzled and sent to live in a cave somewhere to repent the consequences of the terrible damage he and other incompetents have done to America. That people like this still have access to the media is almost beyond belief. ..."
Brookings Senior Fellow and author Robert Kagan in March 2018. (Brookings Institution/Paul Morigi) Robert Kagan
warns us about global authoritarianism:
Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days, the one for which we are least
prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism. We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a
distinct worldview that offers a real alternative to liberalism.
We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview because it isn't one. All authoritarian states share certain
things in common, and they may see some of the same things as threats, but there isn't a single worldview that all authoritarian
governments subscribe to. There is no one ideology that binds them together. Most of them are nationalistic to one degree or another,
but because of that they usually have competing and opposing goals. Treating all authoritarian regimes as part of the same global
threat lumps illiberal and majoritarian democracies together with kleptocracies, communist dictatorships, and absolute monarchies.
That exaggerates the danger that these regimes pose, and it tries to invent a Cold War-like division between rival camps that doesn't
really exist. If the U.S. treats these states as if they are all in league with one another, it will tend to drive together states
that would otherwise remain at odds and keep each other at arm's length.
Kagan's preferred foreign policy requires that there is some global "ideological confrontation" for the U.S. to be engaged in.
If there isn't one, it has to be invented. His account of the history of the 20th century shows how determined he is to see international
politics in terms of grand ideological battles even when there wasn't one. He takes seriously the idea that WWI is one of these struggles:
"But for those who fought it, on both sides, it was very much a war between liberalism and authoritarianism." Kagan makes the mistake
of treating wartime propaganda descriptions of the war as the real motivation for the war, and he relies on stereotypes of the nations
on the other side of the war as well. The world's largest colonial empires were not fighting for "the liberties of Europe" and they
certainly weren't fighting for the rights of small nations, as wartime British propaganda would have it, and that became abundantly
clear in the post-war settlement. It was primarily a war among empires for supremacy in Europe, and the surviving Allied empires
consolidated their hold on their own colonial possessions and gained more. To the extent that Americans genuinely believed that joining
the war had something to do with vindicating the cause of democracy, they were quickly disabused of that notion when they saw the
fruits of the vindictive settlement that their allies imposed on the losing side.
Kagan admits that there are many differences of regime type that he is trying to collapse into one group:
We have become lost in endless categorizations, viewing each type of non-liberal government as unique and unrelated to the
others -- the illiberal democracy, the "liberal" or "liberalizing" autocracy, the "competitive" and "hybrid" authoritarianism.
These different categories certainly describe the myriad ways non-liberal societies may be governed. But in the most fundamental
way, all of this is beside the point.
In other words, Kagan isn't all that interested in details or accuracy. Those are "beside the point." What matters is dividing
up the world into two opposing camps: "Nations are either liberal, meaning that there are permanent institutions and unchanging norms
that protect the "unalienable" rights of individuals against all who would infringe on those rights, whether the state or the majority;
or they are not liberal." The criteria for qualifying as a liberal nation are extremely demanding. What institutions can honestly
be called "permanent" and what norms are ever truly "unchanging"? Judged against this extreme and unreasonable standard, there won't
ever be many nations that qualify as liberal, including quite a few that we would normally consider liberal democracies in good standing.
That makes it a lot easier for Kagan to exaggerate the power of "resurgent authoritarianism."
Kagan doesn't make it explicit in this essay, but his larger goal in all of this is to advocate for a more confrontational foreign
policy mobilized against the authoritarian enemies that he has described. He hints at this when he disparages contemporary "realists"
whom he doesn't name or cite:
Just as during the 1930s, when realists such as Robert Taft assured Americans that their lives would be undisturbed by the
collapse of democracy in Europe and the triumph of authoritarianism in Asia, so we have realists today insisting that we pull
back from confronting the great authoritarian powers rising in Eurasia.