Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells

Andrew Bacevich on The New American Militarism

News Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite Recommended Links The History of Media-Military-Industrial Complex Concept American Exceptionalism War is Racket
The Deep State Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Neocons Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA The Deep State Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich
Non-Interventionism Right to protect Bacevich Videos American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Mayberry Machiavellians Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism
American Exceptionalism Brexit revisited: Ethno-linguistic and "Cultural" Nationalism as antidote to Neoliberalism Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Predator state War is Racket
Propaganda as creation of artificial reality Civil war in Ukraine Syria civil war Looting pays dividends to empire Co-opting of the Human Rights industry by the US to attack and embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism The Grand Chessboard
 National Security State Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization  Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Big Uncle is Watching You Humor Etc
  “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.”

Ron Paul


Introduction

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 light.

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 country.

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War; War as a natural state of the USA since 1945

[Neocons] advocate permanent war for permanent peace

Professor Basevich

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 definition (crookedtimber.org):

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 interests

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 American Militarism.

Bacevich's book  Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War  describe the "sacred trinity" of global US-led neoliberal empire:

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.

Here is the summary from Bacevich - Washington Rules (2010) - Synopsis by Mark K. Jensen

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).

Thesis

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:

  1. the purpose of the military is to defend the U.S. and its vital interests;
  2. soldiers' primary duty stations are on American soil;
  3. force should be used only as a last resort and in self-defense, in accord with the Just War tradition (238-41).

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 history. 

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 Berlin

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 acute.

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 five-sided building.

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 exertions.

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 people.

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:

June 22, 2015 | fpif.org

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 mind.

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 John Bolton 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 Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. 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.

Unexceptionalism

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 studied.

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 voices.

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 on others.

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 in interest.

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, we’ve 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 that runs 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 us.

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 agreed 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 began, those 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 cannot substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian joint action that removed chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite fierce opposition 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 OpEd.

Another useful review is from  Gerard De Groot -- Andrew Bacevich's Washington Rules and John Dower's Cultures of War  Here are some highlights:

"...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 John Winthrop, 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. "
"...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. "
September 12, 2010 | washingtonpost.com

WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path to Permanent War

This Story

By Andrew J. Bacevich

Metropolitan. 286 pp. $25

CULTURES OF WAR

Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq

By John W. Dower

Norton. 596 pp. $29.95

"We need some great failures," the muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens 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.

"Washington 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 idea.

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 John Winthrop, 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."

 Andrew Feldman review (Review Washington Rules - FPIF)

Army-officer-turned professor Andrew Bacevich makes the realist case against American expansionism.

By Andrew Feldman, August 26, 2010.

Print

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.”

Washington Rules: 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.

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:

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.

 

The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism

Here is one Amazon reader review of he first book (Amazon.com David R. Cook Dave Cook's review of The Limits of Power The End of American E...)

Cliche or not, this is a "Must Read" book

By David R. Cook on August 15, 2008

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

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 an introduction.

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 climate changes.

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.

Without Exception
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

--without exception.

Also Recommended:

The New American Militarism

There are several very insightful reviews of Bacevich latest book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (2005) on Amazon. I strongly recommend to read them.

Bacevich argues that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of several social forces (and as such has significant social base):

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 problem.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
  4. 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.
  5. Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
  6. 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."

K. Johnson:

 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 propaganda.

Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:

Bacevich carefully details the planned and choreographed footage of George W. Bush dressed as a fighter pilot on the USS Abraham Lincoln. This was intentionally and specifically lifted from the movie "Top Gun." Immediately after this planned footage, an action figure doll was created and sold for $39.99. It was called the "Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush: U.S. President and Naval Aviator" (p. 31).

Well-dressed, handsome, and beautiful anchors report about the war in such series as "The Week in War." More simulation of the spectator sport of war in our pop culture. One segment in the "Week in War program" is called "The Fallen," where the photo of a soldier, his name, age, and hometown are presented, and the date of his death. Then the cameramen go to his family's home. Often a family picture of the "fallen soldier" is shown. Then, an interview with the somber, and at times tearful family in their living room, sitting on their couch: "He was a good kid. He always wanted to help people."

The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, 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 world.

GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:

Bacevich notes moves and their role. "Top Gun" had a tremendous impact in many ways. Pop culture, and Navy recruiting sky-rocketing. As for the flurry of "Vietnam war movies," again the noble concepts of "courage, honor, fear, triumph" are latently and explicitly reinforced to the public of all ages and socio-economic levels.

It took me a chapter or two to get used to Bacevich's writing style, but I grew to like it.

Chapters: 1) Wilsonians Under Arms 2) The Military Professions at Bay 3) Left, Right, Center 4) California Dreaming 5) Onward 6) War Club 7) Blood for Oil 8) Common Defense

"Support" for the military is often incorrectly linked with one's "patriotism." This faulty thinking is perpetuated by the electronic and print media in often subtle forms but extremely effective forms, and at times very explicit and in aggressive manners. The government intentionally steers the publics' focus to the 'Military aspects of war' to avoid attention to the more realistic and vital 'political aspects.' The latter being at the real heart of the motivation, manner, and outcome of most *political* conflicts.

Bacevich notes journalists: journalist Thomas Friedman complained that a Super Bowl half-time show did not honor the "troops." He then drove to the Command Center to visit and speak with the "troops." Soon after, he carried on with his own self-centered interests, like everyone else.

The military in and of itself is not dangerous nor pernicious. The military doesn't formulate foreign policy. The military just implements it, carrying out the orders and instructions of elitist civilians who have never served in the armed forces. It's not the military nor the men and women serving in it, we must be wary of. It's the civilians masters with vested interests in the governmental and corporate world who must be held accountable.

General Creighton Abrams wanted to diminish the influence of civilian control over the military after Vietnam. Civilians and politicians were making military decisions. It seems the situation is similar in 2007. Chairman of the JCS Peter Pace sounds political. History will be the judge.

This is a very insightful book for those interested in recent history as well as the current situation the United States is in. The troops should be supported for what they do. Because unfortunately they are the ones that pay the price for elitist decisions made by upper-class civilians from the Ivy League cliques that run the U.S. politically and economically.

Highly recommended and relevant to our contemporary times and our future.

Andrew Bacevich did excellent research and writing in this book. I'll think we'll be hearing a lot more of him. Hopefully He'll get more access to the public. If - the mainstream media allows it.

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
Brenau University

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.

R. Albin:

 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 oil.

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.

Adam Bahner
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 like Rambo.

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.

M. Ward:

The New American Militarism - A Bipolar Look at Todays State of Affairs, February 4, 2006

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 necessary.
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.

David Friedman:
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

Patrick Connor

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 impossible.

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 The Sorrows 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."

Izaak VanGaalen:
 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 uneasy.

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. \

Douglas Doepke:

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 your part.

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 subscribing 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:

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 Brightest].

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 others.

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.


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[May 23, 2019] Connections to CIA from major tech companies

May 23, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sean McBride says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 2:54 pm GMT 100 Words @ababush Who wields more power in the contemporary world: big tech billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Larry Page, or spy agency heads like John Brennan, James Clapper and Robert Ashley?

Billionaires in general can easily purchase the services of armies of current and former spooks.

Did you notice the deferential attitude adopted by the US Congress towards Mark Zuckerberg?

How much power does John Brennan now command compared to Jeff Bezos? Read More Replies: @ababush Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc.

Sean McBride , says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:10 pm GMT

Where is real power most intensely concentrated in the contemporary world?

Take a close look at the leading AI experts at

-Alibaba
-Amazon
-Apple
-Baidu
-CIA
-DARPA
-DIA
-Facebook
-GCHQ
-Google
-Microsoft
-MIT
-MSS
-NSA
-Stanford
-Tencent
-Unit 8200

They are developing the tools to radically upend and control *everything* .

You might also want to the analyze the distribution of ethnic backgrounds among that set of minds.

Where do their loyalties lie? What are their long-term objectives?

Do our traditional models for framing the world adequately capture what is going on?

ababush , says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm GMT
@Sean McBride Senators (and presidents) are not the real power. The big tech companies potential power is the datas they collect, as well as some propaganda means. Those companies were established worldwide with the help and under the supervision of the deep state (CIA, NSA etc). It is clear for me that the deep state has access to the datas collected by those companies, and also has personal files on their managers that could be used should they suddenly feel powerful and independant.

[May 22, 2019] The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning

Notable quotes:
"... As the Pentagon's strategic paper posits, China's overriding foreign policy goal is to squeeze America out of East Asia and force it back to the Hawaiian islands as its forward position in the Pacific. Thus would Hawaii cease to be America's strategic platform for projecting power into Asia and become merely a defensive position. If this strategic retreat were to happen, it would be one of the most significant developments in international relations since the end of World War II. ..."
"... None of your suggestions is likely to happen, absent defeat. America's trump card is the fiat dollar as world currency, defended by the full faith and power of an imperial global military, with its own economic inertia to the domestic economy as well. ..."
"... The most obvious step is to forge a genuine alliance with India. America can't take on China alone (although China's ineluctable demographic decline may make the US' relative decline in fortunes short-lived), and the world's largest democracy, and soon to be most populous nation, is an obvious counterweight to China, despite its still inefficient economy. ..."
"... The US has been trying to reverse this, but our patronizing attitude towards a proud country seeking great-power status has led to modest progress at best, and their defense relationship with Russia is stronger than with us. ..."
"... There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.) ..."
"... Overlooked might be Germany's copycat foreign policy posturing too often hidden behind 'humanitarian' language. https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/projects/new-power-new-responsibility/the-paper/ ..."
"... Guess the parallel with the US 'New American Century' is not misplaced. Do you realize that Germany aims to leverage the EU for establishing its position as a 'World Player'. Do realize too that it tends to categorize other countries along the same zero sum power line of reasoning as the US "either with us or against us". ..."
"... This German foreign policy gave birth to the European Neighborhood Policy which exploited the US instigated coup to indenture Ukraine into a dependent NON-member state associated exclusively with the EU excluding normal economic relations with Russia. ..."
"... One of the most malign effects of Israeli and Saudi control of American politicians is the grotesque overemphasis on the Middle East in US foreign policy. Trump's trade fights to one side, it often seems as if we dismiss or ignore much of the rest of the world. This disproportion has been obvious and growing since the end of the last century, but at this point it's pathological. ..."
"... Well, it all depends on goals doesn't it. US foreign policy goals are to increase chaos and create international tension. Why? Because US foreign policy exists to feed military and intel contractors on the one hand and asserting power for the sake of asserting power with no overall strategy other the Great Game. ..."
May 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning If America wants to maintain any influence in Asia, it needs to wake up. By Robert W. Merry May 22, 2019

President Donald J. Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Thursday, November 9, 2017, in Beijing, People's Republic of China. ( Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) From across the pond come two geopolitical analyses in two top-quality British publications that lay out in stark terms the looming struggle between the United States and China. It isn't just a trade war, says The Economist in a major cover package. "Trade is not the half of it," declares the magazine. "The United States and China are contesting every domain, from semiconductors to submarines and from blockbuster films to lunar exploration." The days when the two superpowers sought a win-win world are gone.

For its own cover, The Financial Times ' Philip Stephens produced a piece entitled, "Trade is just an opening shot in a wider US-China conflict." The subhead: "The current standoff is part of a struggle for global pre-eminence." Writes Stephens: "The trade narrative is now being subsumed into a much more alarming one. Economics has merged with geopolitics. China, you can hear on almost every corner in sight of the White House and Congress, is not just a dangerous economic competitor but a looming existential threat."

Stephens quotes from the so-called National Defense Strategy, entitled "Sharpening the American Military's Competitive Edge," released last year by President Donald Trump's Pentagon. In the South China Sea, for example, says the strategic paper, "China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region and provide China a freer hand there." The broader Chinese goal, warns the Pentagon, is "Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future."

The Economist and Stephens are correct. The trade dispute is merely a small part of a much larger and even more intense geopolitical rivalry that could ignite what Stephens describes as "an altogether hotter war."

As the Pentagon's strategic paper posits, China's overriding foreign policy goal is to squeeze America out of East Asia and force it back to the Hawaiian islands as its forward position in the Pacific. Thus would Hawaii cease to be America's strategic platform for projecting power into Asia and become merely a defensive position. If this strategic retreat were to happen, it would be one of the most significant developments in international relations since the end of World War II.

America has been projecting significant power into Asia since the 1890s, when President William McKinley acquired Hawaii through annexation, then seized Guam and the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. For good measure, he cleared the way for the construction of the Panama Canal and continued his predecessors' robust buildup of the U.S. Navy. President Theodore Roosevelt then pushed the Canal project to actual construction, accelerated the naval buildup, and sent his Great White Fleet around the world as a signal that America had arrived on the global scene -- as if anyone could have missed that obvious reality.

With the total victory over Japan in World War II, America emerged as the hegemon of Asia, with colonies, naval bases, carrier groups, and strategic alliances that made it foolhardy for any nation to even think of challenging our regional dominance. Not even the Vietnam defeat, as psychologically debilitating as that was, could undercut America's Asian preeminence.

Now China is seeking to position itself to push America back into its own hemisphere. And judging from the language of the National Defense Strategy, America doesn't intend to be pushed back. This is a clash of wills, with all the makings of an actual military conflict.

But if China represents the greatest potential threat to America's global position, making an eventual war likely (though not inevitable), why is Washington not acting like it knows this? Why is it engaging in so many silly military capers that undermine its ability to focus attention and resources on the China challenge? While the National Defense Strategy paper suggests that U.S. officials understand the threat, America's actions reveal an incapacity to grapple with this reality in any concentrated fashion.

Here's a general idea of what a U.S. foreign policy under Trump might look like if it was based on a clear recognition of the China threat:

Iran: Since the end of the Cold War, the sheer folly of Trump's Iran policy has been exceeded only by George W. Bush's Iraq invasion. Barack Obama bequeathed to his successor a rare gift in the Iran nuclear deal, which provided an opportunity to direct attention away from Tehran and toward America's position in East Asia. In no way did it serve America's national interest to stir up tensions with Iran while the far more ominous China threat loomed. A policy based on realism would have seized that opportunity and used the channels of communication forged through the nuclear deal to establish some kind of accommodation, however wary or tenuous. Instead, America under Trump has created a crisis where none need exist.

Personnel: While the Iran policy might be difficult to reverse, a reversal is imperative. And that means Trump must fire National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While their bully boy actions on the global stage seem to mesh with Trump's own temperament, the president also appears increasingly uncomfortable with the results, particularly with regard to their maximum pressure on Iran, which has brought America closer than ever to actual hostilities. Whether Trump has the subtlety of mind to understand just how destructive these men have been to his broad foreign policy goals is an open question. And Trump certainly deserves plenty of blame for pushing America into a zone of open hostility with Iran. But he can't extricate himself from his own folly so long as he has Bolton and Pompeo pushing him toward ever more bellicosity in ever more areas of the world. He needs men around him who appreciate just how wrongheaded American foreign policy has been in the post-Cold War era -- men such as retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor and former Virginia senator Jim Webb. Bolton and Pompeo -- out!

Russia: Of all the developments percolating in the world today, none is more ominous than the growing prospect of an anti-American alliance involving Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran. Yet such an alliance is in the works, largely as a result of America's inability to forge a foreign policy that recognizes the legitimate geopolitical interests of other nations. If the United States is to maintain its position in Asia, this trend must be reversed.

The key is Russia, largely by dint of its geopolitical position in the Eurasian heartland. If China's global rise is to be thwarted, it must be prevented from gaining dominance over Eurasia. Only Russia can do that. But Russia has no incentive to act because it feels threatened by the West. NATO has pushed eastward right up to its borders and threatened to incorporate regions that have been part of Russia's sphere of influence -- and its defense perimeter -- for centuries.

Given the trends that are plainly discernible in the Far East, the West must normalize relations with Russia. That means providing assurances that NATO expansion is over for good. It means the West recognizing that Georgia, Belarus, and, yes, Ukraine are within Russia's natural zone of influence. They will never be invited into NATO, and any solution to the Ukraine conundrum will have to accommodate Russian interests. Further, the West must get over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It is a fait accompli -- and one that any other nation, including America, would have executed in similar circumstances.

Would Russian President Vladimir Putin spurn these overtures and maintain a posture of bellicosity toward the West? We can't be sure, but that certainly wouldn't be in his interest. And how will we ever know when it's never been tried? We now understand that allegations of Trump's campaign colluding with Russia were meritless, so it's time to determine the true nature and extent of Putin's strategic aims. That's impossible so long as America maintains its sanctions and general bellicosity.

NATO: Trump was right during the 2016 presidential campaign when he said that NATO was obsolete. He later dialed back on that, but any neutral observer can see that the circumstances that spawned NATO as an imperative of Western survival no longer exist. The Soviet Union is gone, and the 1.3 million Russian and client state troops it placed on Western Europe's doorstep are gone as well.

So what kind of threat could Russia pose to Europe and the West? The European Union's GDP is more than 12 times that of Russia's, while Russia's per capita GDP is only a fourth of Europe's. The Russian population is 144.5 million to Europe's 512 million. Does anyone seriously think that Russia poses a serious threat to Europe or that Europe needs the American big brother for survival, as in the immediate postwar years? Of course not. This is just a ruse for the maintenance of the status quo -- Europe as subservient to America, the Russian bear as menacing grizzly, America as protective slayer in the event of an attack.

This is all ridiculous. NATO shouldn't be abolished. It should be reconfigured for the realities of today. It should be European-led, not American-led. It should pay for its own defense entirely, whatever that might be (and Europe's calculation of that will inform us as to its true assessment of the Russian threat). America should be its primary ally, but not committed to intervene whenever a tiny European nation feels threatened. NATO's Article 5, committing all alliance nations to the defense of any other when attacked, should be scrapped in favor of language that calls for U.S. intervention only in the event of a true threat to Western Civilization itself.

And while a European-led NATO would find it difficult to pull back from its forward eastern positions after adding so many nations in the post-Cold War era, it should extend assurances to Russia that it has no intention of acting provocatively -- absent, of course, any Russian provocations.

The Middle East: The United States should reduce its footprint in the region on a major scale. It should get out of Afghanistan, with assurances to the Taliban that it will allow that country to go its own way, irrespective of the outcome, so long as it doesn't pose a threat to the United States or its vital interests. U.S. troops should be removed from Syria, and America should stop supporting Saudi Arabia's nasty war in Yemen. We should make clear to Israel and the world that the Jewish state is a major U.S. ally and will be protected whenever it is truly threatened. But we should also emphasize that we won't seek through military means to alter the regional balance of power based on mere perceptions of potential future threats to countries in the region, even allies. The United States won't get drawn into regional wars unrelated to its own vital interests.

Far East: Once the other regional decks are cleared, America must turn its attention to Asia. The first question: do we wish to maintain our current position there, or can we accept China's rise even if it means a U.S. retreat or partial retreat from the region? If a retreat is deemed acceptable, then America should secure the best terms possible over a long period of tough and guileful negotiations. But if we decide to maintain regional dominance, then China will have to be isolated and deterred. That will mean a long period of economic tension and even economic warfare, confrontations over China's extravagant claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea and elsewhere, strong U.S. alliances with other Asian nations nurtured through deft and measured diplomacy, soaring technological superiority, and a continual upper hand in any arms race.

In this scenario, can war be averted? History suggests that may not be likely. But either way, America won't remain an Asian power if it allows itself to be pinned down in multiple nonstrategic spats and adventures around the world. Asia is today's Great Game and China is winning. That won't be reversed unless America starts playing.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Hide 27 comments 27 Responses to The Great Power Game is On and China is Winning

Fran Macadam, says: May 21, 2019 at 10:36 pm

None of your suggestions is likely to happen, absent defeat. America's trump card is the fiat dollar as world currency, defended by the full faith and power of an imperial global military, with its own economic inertia to the domestic economy as well. That allows U.S. legal decisions to have extra territorial scope as the real international power, not now irrelevant toothless international institutions like the UN.
Whine Merchant , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:02 am
Nice summary, Mr Merry. Even the most die-hard Trumpet can find something to disagree upon with their Dear Leader while supporting everything else he does, but this clear and succinct outline leaves no where for the Deplorables to hide. Coupled with the China trade war fiasco, thias is pretty grim.

Of course, come 2020, all will be forgiven by the GOP, and even one criticism with be blasted with a twitter assault.

Fazal Majid , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:22 am
The most obvious step is to forge a genuine alliance with India. America can't take on China alone (although China's ineluctable demographic decline may make the US' relative decline in fortunes short-lived), and the world's largest democracy, and soon to be most populous nation, is an obvious counterweight to China, despite its still inefficient economy.

Unfortunately our support for the treacherous Pakistanis has poisoned our relationship with India. In 1971, Nixon actually sent a carrier group in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate the Indians into stopping support for the Bangladeshis fighting a war of independence against the genocidal (West) Pakistan, and the Indians had to call on the Soviets to send nuclear submarines to deter that threat. Like all ancient nations, Indians have long memories. Ironically, that reckless action was in cahoots with China.

The US has been trying to reverse this, but our patronizing attitude towards a proud country seeking great-power status has led to modest progress at best, and their defense relationship with Russia is stronger than with us.

likbez , says: May 22, 2019 at 12:29 am
Great article. Thank you very much!

Pragmatic isolationism is a better deal then the current neocon foreign policy. Which Trump is pursuing with the zeal similar to Obama (who continued all Bush II wars and started two new in Libya and Syria.) Probably this partially can be explained by his dependence of Adelson and pro-Israeli lobby. But the problem is deeper then Trump: it is the power of MIC and American exceptionalism ( which can be viewed as a form of far right nationalism ) about which Andrew Bacevich have written a lot:

From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we -- not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians -- were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history's verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright's justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever).

"If we have to use force," Secretary of State Albright announced on morning television in February 1998, "it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

Back then, it was Albright's claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright's insistence that "we see further into the future."

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright's "we" napping. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the several unsuccessful wars of choice that followed offer prime examples. But so too did Washington's belated and inadequate recognition of the developments that actually endanger the wellbeing of 21st-century Americans, namely climate change, cyber threats, and the ongoing reallocation of global power prompted by the rise of China.

Rather than seeing far into the future, American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. More often than not, they get even that wrong.

Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment's formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing.

Yet in 2016, Trump's critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump's half-baked formula for Making America Great Again -- building "the wall," provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat -- is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant.

His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don't help.

There is no countervailing force within the USA that is able to tame MIC appetites, which are constantly growing. In a sense the nation is taken hostage with no root for escape via internal political mechanisms (for all practical purposes I would consider neocons that dominate the USA foreign policy to be highly paid lobbyists of MIC.)

In this limited sense the alliance of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey might serve as an external countervailing force which allows some level of return to sanity, like was the case when the USSR used to exist.

I agree with Bacevich that the dissolution of the USSR corrupted the US elite to the extent that it became reckless and somewhat suicidal in seeking "Full Spectrum Dominance" (which is an illusive goal in any case taking into account existing arsenals in China and Russia and the growing distance between EU and the USA.)

Piero , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:06 am
Your current foreign policy simply seems to reflect the astonishing degree of violence that permeates your society, when observing you Americans from a place like Hong Kong or China it's really frightening, I would be more scared to visit the US than Liberia or Sierra Leone, with those innumerable ( armed ) nutcases roaming your streets, you are by now used to it, and it saddens me, thinking of how grateful we should be for all you have done in the distant past for so many countries in the world
Fayez Abedaziz , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:30 am
The blockheads advising know nothing Trump about history and geo-politics don't care a whit about the American people or what is ten years down the road. These people, Bolton, Pompeo and the joke-Kushner- are ego/power lovers and are doing the opposite of a sane policy to every part of the globe.
How the hell do you goad and threaten Russia, for example, for no good reason and how do you threaten Russia, which, like the U.S., with the push of several buttons can turn any city in the world to ashes, in minutes.

The American people are not only dumb as a wall, they don't care about foreign policy and they don't wanna know. The're looking at celebrities and looking at their smart phones for fun and weirdness. The phones are smarter than them and they pay the price when clown Trump does things like trade wars and so on.

Yeah, the average American, what prizes they are, as in they look and say,

Is that the actress there on the 'news' oh, what's she wearing is that the 'genius' athlete, what does that smelly guy say today hey, let's order food delivered so we can watch and tomorrow to the sports bar and

Kent , says: May 22, 2019 at 6:32 am
This article forgets to mention why it would be in the American people's interest to be the hegemon of East Asia. I can't think of any reason myself. Anyone?
JR , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:11 am
Thanks for this article.

Overlooked might be Germany's copycat foreign policy posturing too often hidden behind 'humanitarian' language. https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/projects/new-power-new-responsibility/the-paper/

Guess the parallel with the US 'New American Century' is not misplaced. Do you realize that Germany aims to leverage the EU for establishing its position as a 'World Player'. Do realize too that it tends to categorize other countries along the same zero sum power line of reasoning as the US "either with us or against us".

This German foreign policy gave birth to the European Neighborhood Policy which exploited the US instigated coup to indenture Ukraine into a dependent NON-member state associated exclusively with the EU excluding normal economic relations with Russia.

The result is a thoroughly corrupt indebted Ukraine disenfranchising more than 60% of its population through imposing forced 'Ukrainization'.

Cavin , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:51 am
I agree with the article, but not the title. The article acknowledges two important points, but leaves out another.

First, it correctly acknowledges that our obsession with Iran is vastly disproportionate to the threat it poses. In fact, we would do well to scale back our adventurism in the Middle East. If China is winning in the Far East, it is largely because we have chosen to devote resources elsewhere.

Second, it correctly acknowledges that continued antagonizing of Russia by the West is needless. It is time to normalize relations with Russia, recognize its legitimate interest in having some buffer against the West, and repatriate Russian nationals who have recently immigrated to the West.

Third, the article fails to acknowledge that China, like Russia, is also entitled to some sphere of influence. And there is historic precedence for certain such claims. Those claims are tenuous when it comes to Japan and the Korean peninsula. But there is little reason why American Navy ships should be sailing right up to the borders of China, just as there is little reason why Chinese Navy ships should be sailing off the coast of Oregon. We also need to understand that provoking a trade war that slows the Chinese economy merely enhances the power of President Xi. Trump has given President Xi a massive political gift, and for no good reason. The trade imbalance is evidence of the strength of our economy, not a sign that we're losing out to China.

Grits Again , says: May 22, 2019 at 8:02 am
One of the most malign effects of Israeli and Saudi control of American politicians is the grotesque overemphasis on the Middle East in US foreign policy. Trump's trade fights to one side, it often seems as if we dismiss or ignore much of the rest of the world. This disproportion has been obvious and growing since the end of the last century, but at this point it's pathological.

If we are to compete effectively with China and other global players, if we are to have a balanced and effective foreign policy in general, we need to remove the Middle East blinders, get Israel and Saudi Arabia off our back, and start seeing the world as it is, rather than as Israel and Saudi Arabia pay our politicians to see it.

Collin , says: May 22, 2019 at 8:25 am
Simple questions: Why should we care? And how does all this soft power benefit the average citizens? And for all the China fears, they appear to react very rationally and avoid military conflicts.

Ok, it is true Chinese oil buying is probably keeping Iran in a better economic situation but again this seems more of a problem of Iran hawks not the average citizen. Honestly, I wish the US had more of treasury focused foreign policy and stop worrying about US power.

Mommsen the Younger , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:26 am
Excellent. Merry has it exactly. (Note: Have reread paragraph 9 several times and believe the copy editor fell asleep here)
Chris Cosmos , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:30 am
Well, it all depends on goals doesn't it. US foreign policy goals are to increase chaos and create international tension. Why? Because US foreign policy exists to feed military and intel contractors on the one hand and asserting power for the sake of asserting power with no overall strategy other the Great Game.

Any rational analysis of the past couple of decades forces us to come to that conclusion. The reason why this whole scheme is unlikely to fail in the short and medium term is US military involvement in 150 countries has brought much of the world under Washington's control–or at least their ruling elites. The best China can do is provide an alternative to the Empire and live in some sort of harmony with it because China has not shown any intention of competing militarily with the US. Iran is a key part of the Silk Road project and that is the strategic reason for the attempt to crush or destroy Iran that is central to the strategy. The US wants to keep China and Russia out of Europe–that, if you look at policy, seems to be the main contest.

HenionJD , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:30 am
The conflict with Iran has assumed heightened importance because,at 70 years old, John Bolton has to face the possibility that he might die without having started a war somewhere.
Thaomas , says: May 22, 2019 at 9:32 am
The author misses two other two other components of of a proper China "containment" policy: Immigration and trade policy. The US should be actively trying to attract immigration of skilled young workers and entrepreneurs (including from China) and encouraging university graduates from abroad to remain. The US ought to join the TPP in order to increase our leverage in negotiating reductions in Chinese restrictions on trade and investment.
Sid Finster , says: May 22, 2019 at 10:47 am
Why would Russia want to make a deal with the United States, which cannot be trusted to keep its word, or even to act rationally in pursuit of its own interests?
TheSnark , says: May 22, 2019 at 11:20 am
Generally a good article, but it misses an important point. While China and Russia do have natural spheres of influence, the countries within those natural spheres hate being there.

Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam are naturally within China's influence, but they don't trust the Chinese at all, and surely don't want China to dominate their countries. And given they way the Chinese empire treats Tibetan and Uigurs, they have good reason for that.

Similarly in Eastern Europe, where Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic States might be in Russian sphere, but they sure don't want to be. The fact is that NATO did not aggressively seek them out for membership, those small countries begged to join NATO out of their historical fear of Russia.

While recognizing such spheres of influence, do we want to abandon friendly, democratic countries to a hostile, autocratic power? The Cold War model of Finland give some hope for a compromise, but it won't be easy to implement outside of Finland.

david , says: May 22, 2019 at 1:41 pm
This article is another vivid illustration of how disoriented and narrow-minded when a typical intelligent and well-meaning American is talking about China. For examples:

1. The author has no problem acknowledging specific geopolitical interests to accommodate Russia or even Iran, but when he comes to China, he fails completely to mention any of the legitimate interests China has in East Asia.

2. The author repeats the nonsensical China haters' allegation about China's threat to America, and China's intention to push American out of East Asia.

3. The author resorts back to a typical zero-sum or even cold-war style mentality when talking about overall China strategy, without even considering the possibilities that China and America can co-exist in a friendly manner, where all the peaceful competition between the two countries ultimately translating into net positive results that benefit the people of both countries and the world.

Unfortunately, our so-called "experts" in China are consistently failing Americans badly, because they lack the knowledge and perspective to think from the other side of the coin.

Steve , says: May 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm
I scrolled for quite a bit before finding Thaomas' comment about TPP. Leaving it will prove to be one of the Trump's admin's greatest blunders (which is saying something) and any column about China strategy that omits it is incomplete.
hooly , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm
So why exactly should Russia be accommodated and be allowed its sphere of influence and a 'defense perimeter' and not China? I don't get it. And why should the USA be allowed the fruits of its aggression in the form of an annexed and brutally conquered Hawaii? why can't Uncle Sam be satisfied with San Diego as a naval base?

The USA has the Monroe Doctrine giving it dominion over the Western Hemisphere, and China holds the Mandate of Heaven granting it hegemony over everything else. Can't the Dragon and the Eagle get along on that basis??

Ken Zaretzke , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:06 pm
In terms of geography, China vitally needs Russia in order to close off a corridor through which Muslims will flow to China. Without that cooperation from Russia, China will be seriously hobbled by unassimilable and hostile migrants in its south. At least symbolically, this will cripple its superpower claims.

The U.S. would be stupid not to seek an alliance with Russia, given Russia's geographical strengths, which also includes its proximity to the Arctic and therefore a legal claim to the oil and gas buried there.

Geography is Russia's long-term strength, and not incidentally is a reason why trying militarily to force Putin to surrender Crimea could easily lead to nuclear war, which might begin with tactical (battlefield) Russian nukes aimed at NATO garrisons in eastern Europe.

China isn't fated to win its contest with the U.S. if it must depend on Russia in order to become an unquestioned superpower. We need Russia for strategic security as much as Russia needs us for economic growth.

fabian , says: May 22, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Nice summary. In my view the US (not Trump) make a big mistake to throw Russia in the arms of China. It's not only its geopolitical situation that is the problem but the fact the it gives China unlimited access to natural resources. In a generation, if things goes the way they do now, the only saving grace for the US will be a failure of this partnership. Because if it works, by the sheer force of gravity it will swallow Europe. But betting on the adversary's failure is not a good strategy.
workingdad , says: May 22, 2019 at 3:08 pm
eh, keeping pressure on Iran keeps Saudi Arabia happy which means they stay in our sphere; as opposed to China's.

Until Venezuala wants to become part of the Oil-for-dollars system or we all drive electric cars and only oil for remote work and emergency military expeditions then we need the Saudis on our side.

Un Citoyen , says: May 22, 2019 at 3:58 pm
This kind of mentality is the reason why I think the demise of America is necessary to achieve world peace.

Why on God's green earth should America dominate East Asia? Last time I checked, America is NOT part of Asia. We are not even in the same hemisphere for crying out loud. Why can't we just leave Asia to the Asians?

When was the last time China invaded a country? Never. These are the same people who discovered Africa and America long before the Europeans, but only wanted to "do business" and trade. They already have 1.3 Billion mouths to feed, the last thing the Chinese government needs is more mouths to feed.

Meanwhile, when Washington thinks of invasion, all they think of is guns, tanks, battleships. The Chinese are already quietly invading and conquering the west -- through immigration. All along the East and West coasts, Chinese dominant cities and schools are popping up everywhere. America really is the stupidest country on earth sometimes. All brawn and no brain. We want to start wars with everybody in the name of protecting "American interests", while the rest of the world are already conquering us from within through immigration. Wake up America.

Ricardo Toledano , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Though Mr. Merry sees things clearly, I can't really see why people like playing these games in the age of nukes.

It's one thing trying to play Kaiser Wilhelm II and dream of containment and conquest when you actually had to send armies to defeat your enemies, It's another to do so when people can kill a few millions by pressing a button.

It's a reckless game for me.

Ricardo Toledano , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:06 pm
Though Mr. Merry sees things clearly, I can't really see why people like playing these games in the age of nukes.

It's one thing trying to play Kaiser Wilhelm II and dream of containment and conquest when you actually had to send armies to defeat your enemies, It's another to do so when people can kill a few millions by pressing a button.

It's a reckless game to me.

Tom Diebold , says: May 22, 2019 at 7:32 pm
I would assume that the US is "in" East Asia, to a significant extent, because Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have sought US security and defense guarantees. The US has not forced itself into the region. Korea has reasons to be concerned about China, due to its experiences during the Korean War, and Taiwan, which wishes to remain independent of Chinese control, is directly threatened by China.

As for other allies in the region, Philippine president Duterte's overtures, upon taking office, to China, and his especially disparaging remarks about the US while making an official visit to China, seem quite puzzling, given China's illegitimate seizing of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea. US relations with the Philippines needs to be reexamined in light of this development. While Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are first-level allies in the region, the Philippines is not.

[May 21, 2019] 2020 Elections: It's Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid! by Ajamu Baraka

May 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

U.S. ships are involved in provocative "freedom of navigation" exercises in the South China Sea and other ships gather ominously in the Mediterranean Sea while National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo along with convicted war criminal Elliot Abrams conspire to save the people of Venezuela with another illegal "regime change" intervention. But people are drawn to the latest adventures of Love and Hip-Hop, the Mueller report, and Game of Thrones. In fact, while millions can recall with impressive detail the proposals and strategies of the various players in HBO's latest saga, they can't recall two details about the pending military budget that will likely pass in Congress with little debate, even though Trump's budget proposal represents another obscene increase of public money to the tune of $750 billion.

This bipartisan rip-off could not occur without the willing collusion of the corporate media, which slants coverage to support the interests of the ruling elite or decides to just ignore an issue like the ever-expanding military budget.

The effectiveness of this collusion is reflected in the fact that not only has this massive theft of public money not gotten much coverage in the mainstream corporate media, but also it only received sporadic coverage in the alternative media. The liberal-left media is distracted enough by the theatrics of the Trump show to do the ideological dirty work of the elites.

Spending on war will consume almost 70% of the budget and be accompanied by cuts in public spending for education, housing, the environment, public transportation, jobs trainings, food support programs like food stamps and Meals on Wheels, as well as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Most of the neoliberal candidates running in the Democratic Party's electoral process, however, haven't spoken a word in opposition to Trump's budget.

The public knows that the Democratic Party's candidates are opposed to Trump's wall on the southern border, and they expect to hear them raise questions about the $8.6 billion of funding the wall. But while some of the Democrats may oppose the wall, very few have challenged the details of the budget that the U.S. Peace Council indicates . For example:

"$576 billion baseline budget for the Department of Defense; an additional $174 billion for the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), i.e., the war budget; $93.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs; $51.7 billion for Homeland Security; $42.8 billion for State Department; an additional $26.1 billion for State Department's Overseas Contingency Operations (regime change slush fund); $16.5 billion for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (nuclear weapons budget); $21 billion for NASA (militarizing outer space?); plus $267.4 billion for all other government agencies, including funding for FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice."

The Peace Council also highlights the following two issues: First, the total US military and war budget has jumped from $736.4 billion to $989.0 billion since 2015. That is a $252.6 billion (about 35%) increase in five years. Second, thesimultaneous cuts in the government's non-military spending are reflected in the proposed budget.

Here are some of biggest proposed budget cuts:

+ $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years, implementing work requirements as well as eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The budget instead adds $1.2 trillion for a "Market Based Health Care Grant" -- that is, a block grant to states, instead of paying by need. It's not clear whether that would be part of Medicaid.

+ An $845 billion cut to Medicare over 10 years. That is about a 10 percent cut .

+ $25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance.

+ A $220 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) over 10 years , which is commonly referred to as food stamps, and includes mandatory work requirements. The program currently serves around 45 million people.

+ A $21 billion cut to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , an already severely underfunded cash-assistance program for the nation's poorest.

+ $207 billion in cuts to the student loan program, eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and cutting subsidized student loans.

+ Overall, there is a 9 percent cut to non-defense programs , which would hit Section 8 housing vouchers, public housing programs, Head Start, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program , among others.

The working classes and oppressed peoples of the U.S. and around the world can no longer afford the unchallenged ideological positions of the Pentagon budget and the associated expenditures for so-called defense that are considered sacrosanct in the U.S. They cannot afford that much of the U.S. public is not concerned with issues of so-called foreign policy that the military budget is seen as part.

The racist appeals of U.S. national chauvinism in the form of "Make America Great" and the Democrats' version of "U.S. Exceptionalism" must be confronted and exposed as the cross-class, white identity politics that they are. The fact that supposedly progressive or even "radical" politics does not address the issue of U.S. expenditures on war and imperialism is reflective of a politics that is morally and political bankrupt. But it also does something else. It places those practitioners firmly in the camp of the enemies of humanity.

The objective fact that large numbers of the public accept that the U.S. can determine the leadership of another sovereign nation while simultaneously being outraged by the idea of a foreign power interfering in U.S. elections demonstrates the mindboggling subjective contradictions that exist in the U.S. For example – that an Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez can assert that she will defer to the leadership of her caucus on the issue of Venezuela or that Barbara Lee can vote to bring Trump's budget proposal out of committee or that Biden can proudly support Trump's immoral backing of a neo-fascist opposition in Venezuela and they will all get away with those positions – reveals the incredible challenge that we face in building an alternative radical movement for peace, social justice and people(s)-centered human rights.

So, we must join with U.S. Peace Council and the other members of the Anti-war, pro-peace, and anti-imperialist communities in the U.S. to "resist and oppose this military attack on our communities, our livelihoods and our lives." This is an urgent and militant first step in reversing the cultural support for violence and the normalization of war that currently exists in the U.S. Now is the moment to demand that Congress reject and reverse the Trump Administration's military budget and the U.S. Government's militaristic foreign policy. But now is also the moment to commit to building a powerful countermovement to take back the power over life and death from the denizens of violence represented by the rapacious 1%. Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Ajamu Baraka

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine.

[May 21, 2019] Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment by David Swanson

May 17, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
A new book called Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Kris Newby adds significantly to our understanding of Lyme disease, while oddly seeming to avoid mention of what we already knew.

Newby claims (in 2019) that if a scientist named Willy Burgdorfer had not made a confession in 2013, the secret that Lyme disease came from a biological weapons program would have died with him. Yet, in 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory . He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on NBC's Today Show, where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection. Lab 257 hit the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

Newby's book reaches the same conclusion as Carroll's, namely that the most likely source of diseased ticks is Plum Island. Newby reaches this conclusion on page 224 after mentioning Plum Island only once in passing in a list of facilities on page 47 and otherwise avoiding it throughout the book. This is bizarre, because Newby's book otherwise goes into great depth, and even chronicles extensive research efforts that lead largely to dead ends, and because there is information available about Plum Island, and because Carroll's best-selling book seems to demand comment, supportive or dismissive or otherwise.

In fact, I think that, despite the avoidance of any discussion of Plum Island, Newby's research complements Carroll's quite well, strengthens the same general conclusion, and then adds significant new understanding. So, let's look at what Carroll told us, and then at what Newby adds.

Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes or at least made biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer swim to Plum Island. Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. "Ticks," Carroll writes, "find baby chicks irresistible."

In July of 1975 a new or very rare disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors . After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s (when we know that the United States was using such weaponized life forms in North Korea ). Even Plum Island's indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease -- and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

If Newby agrees or disagrees with any of the above, she does not inform us. But here's what she adds to it.

The outbreak of unusual tick-borne disease around Long Island Sound actually started in 1968, and it involved three diseases: Lyme arthritis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and babesiosis. A U.S. bioweapons scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, credited in 1982 with discovering the cause of Lyme disease, may have put the diseases into ticks 30 years earlier. And his report on the cause of Lyme disease may have involved a significant omission that has made it harder to diagnose or cure. The public focus on only one of the three diseases has allowed a disaster that could have been contained to become widespread.

Newby documents in detail Burgdorfer's work for the U.S. government giving diseases to ticks in large quantities to be used as weapons, as they have been in Cuba in 1962, for example. "He was growing microbes inside ticks, having the ticks feed on animals, and then harvesting the microbes from the animals that exhibited the level of illness the military had requested."

Burgdorfer published a paper in 1952 about the intentional infecting of ticks. In 2013, filmmaker Tim Grey asked him, on camera, whether the pathogen he had identified in 1982 as the cause of Lyme disease was the same one or similar or a generational mutation of the one he'd written about in 1952. Burgdorfer replied in the affirmative.

Interviewed by Newby, Burgdorfer described his efforts to create an illness that would be difficult to test for -- knowledge of which he might have shared earlier with beneficial results for those suffering.

Newby, who has herself suffered from Lyme disease, blames the profit interests of companies and the corruption of government for the poor handling of Lyme disease. But her writing suggests to me a possibility she doesn't raise, namely that those who know where Lyme disease came from have avoided properly addressing it because of where it came from.

Newby assumes throughout the book that there has to have been a particular major incident near Long Island Sound, either an accident or an experiment on the public or an attack by a foreign nation. Burgdorfer reportedly claimed to another researcher that Russia stole U.S. bioweapons. Based on that and nothing else, Newby speculates that perhaps Russia attacked the United States with diseased ticks, coincidentally right in the location where the U.S. government experimented with diseased ticks.

"What this book brings to light," Newby writes, "is that the U.S. military has conducted thousands of experiments exploring the use of ticks and tick-borne diseases as biological weapons, and in some cases, these agents escaped into the environment. The government needs to declassify the details of these open-air bioweapons tests so that we can begin to repair the damage these pathogens are inflicting on human and animals in the ecosystem."

Another product of U.S. bio-weapons tax dollars at work, of course, was the anthrax mailed to politicians in 2001. While Newby speculates that perhaps someone was trying to demonstrate the danger for our own good, I don't think we should forget that one purpose served -- whether or not intended -- by the "anthrax attacks" was a significant augmentation of the Iraq war lies. The attacks were falsely blamed on Iraq, and even if people have forgotten that, they fell for it long enough for it to matter. The one bit of truth in current public understanding of Lyme disease is that it has not been falsely blamed on some country the United States is eager to bomb. Let's keep it that way! Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: David Swanson

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition .

[May 20, 2019] EP.744 Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel -- Joe Biden's Conventional Wisdom is AMERICAN IMPERIALISM!

May 11, 2019 | www.youtube.com

On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Gravel who discusses why he is joining the race to pull the debate to the left, the nature of his contenders such as Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders, US regime change attempts in Venezuela and escalating tension with Iran, Julian Assange's imprisonment in the UK and the US' extradition request. Next we speak to Chris Williamson MP, in his first international interview since being suspended by the Labour Party.

He discusses NHS privatisation by stealth with the new GP contracts due to be signed next week, Israeli oppression of Palestinians, Trump's escalation against Iran and Julian Assange's on-going imprisonment in Belmarsh Prison.


Gary Salisbury , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo Finally Tells the Truth: 'We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal'" !! He makes me want to Puke !! His duplicity has no bounds !! A swamp dweller of NOTE !!

B. Greene , 1 week ago (edited)

Senator Gravel needs 100k unique contributions to qualify for the DNC debates. Help him shake things up with a $1 donation at: www.mikegravel.com

TrickyVickey , 1 week ago (edited)

Pompeo is a murderous "dictator pusher" for the military industrial complex.

harriet , 6 days ago (edited)

Love Mike gravel, honest, good, genuine person with pure heart and soul! Donate dollar to get him on the debates! Love Chris Williamson also a great men we need more people like these! This channel should have way more subs and views, great show!

Muzza Man , 1 week ago (edited)

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels . They are going to be INVADED by the real world terrorists, the USA,BRITAIN, and their puppet allies !!!! Need I say more?

invisble man , 1 week ago

Joe Biden could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and sniff everybody and he would not lose any voters.

[May 20, 2019] Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States

May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , May 19, 2019 10:55:01 PM | 6

Below is my final Xinhuanet link about China/US relations

Chinese FM urges US to avoid further damage of ties in phone call with Pompeo

The take away quote
"
Wang also reiterated the principled stand against the "long-arm jurisdiction" imposed by the United States.
"
Empire is having its hand slapped back in Venezuela, Iran, Syria, ???

Where are they going to get their war on?

I see empire as a war junkie and they are starting to twitch in withdrawals which is dangerous but a necessary stage. Trumps latest tweets show that level of energy.

The spinning plates of empire are not wowing the crowds like before.....what is plan Z?

[May 20, 2019] "Us" Versus "Them"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth. ..."
"... There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase. ..."
"... Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus. ..."
"... When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed. ..."
"... I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. ..."
"... If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. ..."
"... These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president. ..."
"... The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!"" – Bill Hicks

Anyone who frequents Twitter, Facebook, political blogs, economic blogs, or fake-news mainstream media channels knows our world is driven by the "Us versus Them" narrative. It's almost as if "they" are forcing us to choose sides and believe the other side is evil. Bill Hicks died in 1994, but his above quote is truer today then it was then. As the American Empire continues its long-term decline, the proles are manipulated through Bernaysian propaganda techniques, honed over the course of decades by the ruling oligarchs, to root for their assigned puppets.

Most people can't discern they are being manipulated and duped by the Deep State controllers. The most terrifying outcome for these Deep State controllers would be for the masses to realize it is us versus them. But they don't believe there is a chance in hell of this happening. Their arrogance is palatable.

Their hubris has reached astronomical levels as they blew up the world economy in 2008 and successfully managed to have the innocent victims bail them out to the tune of $700 billion, pillaged the wealth of the nation through their capture of the Federal Reserve (QE, ZIRP), rigged the financial markets in their favor through collusion, used the hundreds of billions in corporate tax cuts to buy back their stock and further pump the stock market, all while their corporate media mouthpieces mislead and misinform the proles.

There are differences between the parties, but they are mainly centered around social issues and disputes with little or no consequence to the long-term path of the country. The real ruling oligarchs essentially allow controlled opposition within each party to make it appear you have a legitimate choice at the ballot box. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There has been an unwritten agreement between the parties for decades where the Democrats pretend to be against war and the Republicans pretend to be against welfare. Meanwhile, spending on war and welfare relentlessly grows into the trillions, with no effort whatsoever from either party to even slow the rate of growth, let alone cut spending. The proliferation of the military industrial complex like a poisonous weed has been inexorable, as the corporate arms dealers place their facilities of death in the congressional districts of Democrats and Republicans. In addition, these corporate manufacturers of murder dole out "legal" payoffs to corrupt politicians of both parties in the form of political contributions. The Deep State knows bribes and well-paying jobs ensure no spineless congressman will ever vote against a defense spending increase.

Of course, the warfare/welfare state couldn't grow to its immense size without financing from the Wall Street cabal and their feckless academic puppets at the Federal Reserve. The Too Big to Trust Wall Street banks, whose willful control fraud nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, were rewarded by their Deep State patrons by getting bigger and more powerful as people on Main Street and senior citizen savers were thrown under the bus.

When these criminal bankers have their reckless bets blow up in their faces they are bailed out by the American taxpayers, but when the Fed rigs the system so they are guaranteed billions in risk free profits, they reward themselves with massive bonuses and lobby for a huge tax cut used to buy back their stock. With bank branches in every congressional district in every state, and bankers spreading protection money to greedy politicians across the land, no legislation damaging to the banking cartel is ever passed.

I've never been big on joining a group. I tend to believe Groucho Marx and his cynical line, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member". The "Us vs. Them" narrative doesn't connect with my view of the world. As a realistic libertarian I know libertarian ideals will never proliferate in a society of government dependency, willful ignorance of the masses, thousands of laws, and a weak-kneed populace afraid of freedom and liberty. The only true libertarian politician, Ron Paul, was only able to connect with about 5% of the voting public. There is no chance a candidate with a libertarian platform will ever win a national election. This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Bill Hicks somewhat foreshadowed the last election by referencing another famous cynic.

"I ascribe to Mark Twain's theory that the last person who should be President is the one who wants it the most. The one who should be picked is the one who should be dragged kicking and screaming into the White House." ― Bill Hicks

Hillary Clinton wanted to be president so badly, she colluded with Barack Obama, Jim Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch and numerous other Deep State sycophants to ensure her victory, by attempting to entrap Donald Trump in a concocted Russian collusion plot and subsequent post-election coup to cover for their traitorous plot. I wouldn't say Donald Trump was dragged kicking and screaming into the White House, but when he ascended on the escalator at Trump Tower in June of 2015, I'm not convinced he believed he could win the presidency.

As the greatest self-promoter of our time, I think he believed a presidential run would be good for his brand, more revenue for his properties and more interest in his reality TV ventures. He was despised by the establishment within the Republican and Democrat parties. The vested interests controlling the media and levers of power in society scorned and ridiculed this brash uncouth outsider. In an upset for the ages, Trump tapped into a vein of rage and disgruntlement in flyover country and pockets within swing states, to win the presidency over Crooked Hillary and her Deep State backers.

I voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary. I hadn't voted for a Republican since 2000, casting protest votes for Libertarian and Constitutional Party candidates along the way. I despise the establishment, so their hatred of Trump made me vote for him. His campaign stances against foreign wars and Federal Reserve reckless bubble blowing appealed to me. I don't worship at the altar of the cult of personality. I judge men by their actions and not their words.

Trump's first two years have been endlessly entertaining as he waged war against fake news CNN, establishment Republicans, the Deep State coup attempt, and Obama loving globalists. The Twitter in Chief has bypassed the fake news media and tweets relentlessly to his followers. He provokes outrage in his enemies and enthralls his worshipers. With millions in each camp it is difficult to find an unbiased assessment of narrative versus real accomplishments.

I'm happy he has been able to stop the relentless leftward progression of our Federal judiciary. Cutting regulations and rolling back environmental mandates has been a positive. Exiting the Paris Climate Agreement and TPP, forcing NATO members to pay their fair share, and renegotiating NAFTA were all needed. Ending the war on coal and approving pipelines will keep energy costs lower. His attempts to vet Muslims entering the country have been the right thing to do. Building a wall on our southern border is the right thing to do, but he should have gotten it done when he controlled both houses.

The use of tariffs to force China to renegotiate one sided trade deals as a negotiating tactic is a high-risk, high reward gamble. If his game of chicken is successful and he gets better terms from the Chicoms, while reversing the tariffs, it would be a huge win. If the Chinese refuse to yield for fear of losing face, and the tariff war accelerates, a global recession is a certainty. Who has the upper hand? Xi is essentially a dictator for life and doesn't have to worry about elections or popularity polls. Dissent is crushed. A global recession and stock market crash would make Trump's re-election in 2020 problematic.

I'm a big supporter of lower taxes. The Trump tax cuts were sold as beneficial to the middle class. That is a false narrative. The vast majority of the tax cut benefits went to mega-corporations and rich people. Middle class home owning families with children received little or no tax relief, as exemptions were eliminated and tax deductions capped. In many cases, taxes rose for working class Americans.

With corporate profits at all time highs, massive tax cuts put billions more into their coffers. They didn't repatriate their overseas profits to a great extent. They didn't go on a massive hiring spree. They didn't invest in new facilities. They did buy back their own stock to help drive the stock market to stratospheric heights. So corporate executives gave themselves billions in bonuses, which were taxed at a much lower rate. This is considered winning in present day America.

The "Us vs. Them" issue rears its ugly head whenever Trump is held accountable for promises unkept, blatant failures, and his own version of fake news. Holding Trump to the same standards as Obama is considered traitorous by those who only root for their home team. Their standard response is that you are a Hillary sycophant or a turncoat to the home team. If you agree with a particular viewpoint or position of a liberal then you are a bad person and accused of being a lefty by Trump fanboys. Facts don't matter to cheerleaders. Competing narratives rule the day. Truthfulness not required.

The refusal to distinguish between positive actions and negative actions when assessing the performance of what passes for our political leadership by the masses is why cynicism has become my standard response to everything I see, hear or he read. The incessant level of lies permeating our society and its acceptance as the norm has led to moral decay and rampant criminality from the White House, to the halls of Congress, to corporate boardrooms, to corporate newsrooms, to government run classrooms, to the Vatican, and to households across the land. It's interesting that one of our founding fathers reflected upon this detestable human trait over two hundred years ago.

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." – Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine's description of how moral mischief can ruin a society was written when less than 3 million people inhabited America. Consider his accurate assessment of humanity when over 300 million occupy these lands. The staggering number of corrupt prostituted sociopaths occupying positions of power within the government, corporations, media, military, churches, and academia has created a morally bankrupt empire of debt.

These sociopaths are not liberal or conservative. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are not beholden to a country or community. They care not for their fellow man. They don't care about future generations. They care about their own power, wealth and control over others. They have no conscience. They have no empathy. Right and wrong are meaningless in their unquenchable thirst for more. They will lie, steal and kill to achieve their goal of controlling everything and everyone in this world. This precisely describes virtually every politician in Washington DC, Wall Street banker, mega-corporation CEO, government agency head, MSM talking head, church leader, billionaire activist, and blood sucking advisor to the president.

The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them. The answer to that question will strongly impact the direction and intensity of the climactic years of this Fourth Turning. What I've noticed is the shunning of those who don't take an all or nothing position regarding Trump. If you disagree with a decision, policy, or hiring decision by the man, you are accused by the pro-Trump team of being one of them (aka liberals, lefties, Hillary lovers).

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers. I don't want to be Us or Them. I just want to be me. I will judge everyone by their actions and their results. I can agree with Trump on many issues, while also agreeing with Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul, Glenn Greenwald or Matt Taibbi on other issues. I don't prescribe to the cult of personality school of thought. I didn't believe the false narratives during the Bush or Obama years, and I won't worship at the altar of the Trump narrative now.

In Part II of this article I'll assess Trump's progress thus far and try to determine whether he can defeat the Deep State.


TerryThomas , 32 minutes ago link

"The scientific and industrial revolution of modern times represents the next giant step in the mastery over nature; and here, too, an enormous increase in man's power over nature is followed by an apocalyptic drive to subjugate man and reduce human nature to the status of nature. Even where enslavement is employed in a mighty effort to tame nature, one has the feeling that the effort is but a tactic to legitimize total subjugation. Thus, despite its spectacular achievements in science and technology, the twentieth century will probably be seen in retrospect as a century mainly preoccupied with the mastery and manipulation of men. Nationalism, socialism, communism, fascism, and militarism, cartelization and unionization, propaganda and advertising are all aspects of a general relentless drive to manipulate men and neutralize the unpredictability of human nature. Here, too, the atmosphere is heavy-laden with coercion and magic." --Eric Hoffer

666D Chess , 11 minutes ago link

Divide and conquer, not a very novel idea... but very effective.

Kafir Goyim , 32 minutes ago link

If you don't agree with everything Trump does or says, you are dead to the Trumpeteers

That's not true. When Trump kisses Israeli ***, most "Trumpeteers" are outraged. That does not mean they're going to vote for Joe "I'm a Zionist" Biden, or Honest Hillary because of it, but they're still pissed.

Rich Monk , 33 minutes ago link

These predators (((them))) need to fear the Victims, us! That is what the 2ND Amendment is for. It's coming, slowly for now, but eventually it speeds up.

yellowsub , 42 minutes ago link

Ya'll a dumb fool if you think gov't as your best interests first.

legalize , 46 minutes ago link

Citation needed.

Any piece like this better be littered with footnotes and cited sources before I'm swallowing it.

I'll say it again: this is the internet, people. There's no "shortage of column space" to include links back to primary sources for your assertions. Otherwise, how am I supposed to distinguish you from another "psy op" or "paid opposition hit piece"?

bshirley1968 , 51 minutes ago link

"The question pondered every day on blogs, social media, news channels, and in households around the country is whether Trump is one of Us or one of Them."

If you still ponder this question, then you are pretty frickin' thick. It is obvious at this point, that he betrayed everything he campaigned on. You don't do that and call yourself one of "us".......damn sure aren't one of "me".

If I couldn't keep my word and wouldn't do what it takes to do what is right.....then I would resign. But I would not go on playing politics in a world that needs some real leadership and not another political hack.

The real battle is between Truth and Lie. No matter the name of your "team" or the "side" you support. Truth is truth and lies are lies. We don't stand for political parties, we stand for truth. We don't stand for national pride, we take pride in a nation that is truthful and trustworthy. The minute a "side" or "team" starts lying.....and justifying it.....that is the minute they become them and not one of us.

Any thinking person in this country today knows we are being lied to by the entire complex. Until someone starts telling the truth.....we are on our own. But I be damned before I am going to support any of these lying sons of bitches......and that includes Trump.

Fish Gone Bad , 37 minutes ago link

Dark comedy. All the elections have been **** choices until the last one. Take a look at Arkancide.com and start counting the bodies.

Anyone remember the news telling us how North Korea promised to turn the US into a sea of fire?? Trump absolutely went to bat for every single American to de-escalate that situation.

bshirley1968 , 31 minutes ago link

Don't tell me about Arkancide or the Clintons. I grew up in Arkansas with that sack of **** as my governor for 12 years.

NK was never a real threat to anyone. Trump didn't do ****. NK is back to building and shooting off missiles and will be teaming up with the Russians and Chinese. You are a duped bafoon.

Kafir Goyim , 28 minutes ago link

I don't think anybody thought NK was an existential threat to the US. It has still been nice making progress on bringing them back into the world and making them less of a threat to Japan and S. Korea. Trump did that.

Giant Meteor , 9 minutes ago link

Dennis Rodman did that, or that is to say, Trump an extension thereof ..

Great theater..

Look, i thought it was great that Trump went Kim Unning. I mean after all, i had talked with a few elderly folks that get their news directly from the mainstream of mainstream, vanilla news reportage. Propaganda central casting. I remember them being extremely concerned, outright petrified about that evil menace, kim gonna launch nukes any minute now. If the news would have been announced a major troop mobilization, bombing campaigns, to begin immediately they would have been completely onboard, waving the flag.

Frankly, it is only a matter of time, and folks can speculate on the country of interest, but it is coming soon to a theater near you. So many being in the crosshairs. Iran i suspect .. that's the big prize, that makes these sociopaths cream in their panties.

Probably. In the second term .. and so far, if ones honestly evaluates the "brain trust" / current crop of dimwit opposition, and in light of their past 2 plus years of moronic posturing with their hair on fire, trump will get his second term ..

666D Chess , 15 minutes ago link

Until the last one? You are retarded, the last election was a masterpiece of Rothschilds Productions. The Illuminati was watching you at their private cinema when you were voting for Trump and they were laughing their asses off.

HoodRatKing , 55 minutes ago link

The author does not realize that everyone in America, except Native American Indians, were immigrants drawn towards the false promise of hope that is the American Dream, turned nightmare..

Owning your own home, car, & raising a family in this country is so damn expensive & risky, that you'd have be on drugs or an idiot to even fall for the lies.

I don't see an us vs them, I see the #FakeMoney printers monetized every facet of life, own everything, & it truly is RENT-A-LIFE USSA, complete with bills galore, taxes galore, laws galore, jails & prisons galore, & the worst fkn country anyone would want to live in poverty & homelessness in.

At least in many 3rd world nations there is land to live off of & joblessness does not = a financial death sentence.

bshirley1968 , 39 minutes ago link

Sure. Lets all go back to living in huts.....off the land....no cars.....no electricity.....no running water......no roads....

There is a price to pay for things and it is not always in the form of money. We have given up some of our freedom for the ease and conveniences we want.

The problem is we have gone too far. The "American Dream" has become a grotesque nightmare because people by the millions sit around and dream about being a Kardashian. Makes me want to puke.

There is a balance. Don't take the other extreme or we never find balance.

911bodysnatchers322 , 56 minutes ago link

This article is moronic. One can easily prove that Trump is not like all the others in the poster. Has this author been living under a rock for the last 2.5 yrs? The past 5 presidents represent a group that has been literally trying to assassinate Trump, ruin his family, his reputation, his buisness and his future, for the audacity to be an ousider to the power network and steal (win) the presidency from under their noses. He's kept us OUT of war. He's dissolved the treachery that was keeping us in the middle east through gaslighitng and a proxy fake war that is ISIS, the globalists' / nato / fiveys / uk's fake mercenary army

Giant Meteor , 25 minutes ago link

And yet, I'll never forget all the smiling faces at the gala wedding affair.

Happier times ..

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/politics/ex-ally-donald-trump-now-heaps-scorn-on-bill-clinton.html

And yes, thanks in advance for noting the link is from New York slime, but i believe the picture in this case anyway, was not photo shopped.

She is, (hillary) after all, good people, a real fighter ..

**** .. mission accomplished ..

ExPat2018 , 1 hour ago link

The greatest threat to the USA is its own dumbed down drugged up citizens who cannot compete with anyone. America is a big military powerhouse but that doens't make successful countries

You must have intelligent people

America doesn't have that anymore.

JuliaS , 1 hour ago link

Notice how modern narrative is getting manipulated. What is being reported and referenced is completely different from how things are. And knowing that we can assume that the entire history is a fabricated lie, written by the ruling class to support its status in the minds of obedient citizens.

911bodysnatchers322 , 54 minutes ago link

This article is garbage propaganda that proves that they think we aren't keeping score or paying attention. The gaslighting won't work when it relies on so much counterthink, willful ignorance, counterfacts and weaponized omissions

istt , 1 hour ago link

The reality is the de-escalation of wars, the stability of our currency and our economy, and the moral re-grounding of our culture does not occur until we do what over 100 countries have done over the centuries, beginning in Carthage in 250AD.

fersur , 1 hour ago link

There's an old saying; "Congress does 2 things well Nothing and Protest" said by Pence Live-Streamed 4 hours ago at USMCA America First speech !

Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good is President Trump works extreme daily hours trying his best !

The Bad is Haters miss every bit of whatever their President Trump does that is good !

The Ugly is Hater Reporters ignoring World events, scared of possibly shining President Trump fairly !

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

You really are making it a bit too obvious, bro.

911bodysnatchers322 , 52 minutes ago link

The congress are statusquotarians. If they solved the problems they say they would,they'd be out of a job. and that job is sitting there acting like a naddler or toxic post turtle leprechaun with a charisma and skill level of zero. Their staff do all the work, half of them barely read, though they probably can

SHsparx , 1 hour ago link

I still think 1st and 2nd ammedment is predicated on which party rules the house. If a Dem gets into the WH, we're fucked. Kiss those Iast two dying amendments goodbye for good.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

If we rely on any party to preserve the 1st or 2nd Amendments, we are already fucked. What should preserve the 1st and 2nd Amendments is the absolute fear of anyone in government even mentioning suppressing or removing them. When the very thought of doing anything to lessen the rights advocated in these two amendments, causes a politician to piss in their pants, liberty will be preserved. As it is now citizens fear the government, and as a result tyranny continues to grow and fester as a cancer.

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

In other words, those amendments are already lost... we're just waiting for the final dictate to come down.

Zeusky Babarusky , 1 hour ago link

You may very well be right. I still hold out hope, but upon seeing what our society is quickly morphing into, that hope seems to fade more each and every day.

SHsparx , 49 minutes ago link

@ Zeusky Babarusky

I couldn't agree with you more.

Unfortunately, it is what it is, which is why I used the word "dying."

Those two amendments are on their deathbed, and if a Dem gets in the house, that'll be the nail in the coffin.

bshirley1968 , 1 hour ago link

If you think the 1st and 2nd amendments are reliant on who is in office, then you are already done. Why don't you try growing a pair and being an American for once in your life.

I will always have a 1st and 2nd "amendment" for as long as I live. Life is meaningless without them.....as far as I am concerned. Good thing the founders didn't wait for king George to give them what they "felt" was theirs.....by the laws of Nature and Nature's God.

I hope the democrats get the power......and I hope they come for the guns......maybe then pussies like you will finally have to **** or get off the pot......for once in your life. There are worse things than dying.

Nephilim , 1 hour ago link

THEHAZELFLOCKOFCRANES

BRINDLED FOOT,

AUSTRALIAN.

caveofgoldcaveofold

Zoomorph , 1 hour ago link

"Why do we have wars?"

"Because life is war: fighting for survival, resources, and what is best in the world."

"Why do people say war is bad?"

"Because they are useful idiots who have been tricked by religion and/or weak degenerates who are too weary to participate."

delta0ne , 1 hour ago link

This country cannot be fixed through the ballot box. Unless we get rid of *** influencing from abroad and domestically. Getting rid of English King few hundred years ago was a joke! this would be a challenge because dual-citizens masquerading as locals.

blind_understanding , 1 hour ago link

Last revolution (1776) we targeted the WRONG ENEMY.

We targeted King George III instead of the private bankers who owned of the Bank of England and the issued of the British-pound currency.

George III was himself up to his ears in debt to them by 1776, when the bankers installed George Washington to replace George III as their middleman in the American colonies, by way of the phony revolution.

Phony because ownership of the central bank and currency (Federal-Reserve Banks, Federal-Reserve notes) we use, remains in the same banking families' hands to this day. The same parasite remains within our government.

djrichard , 1 hour ago link

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/05/16/the-gervais-principle-vi-children-of-an-absent-god/

It is this strangely incomplete calculus that creates the shifting Loser world of rifts and alliances. By operating with a more complete calculus, Sociopaths are able to manipulate this world through the divide-and-conquer mechanisms. The result is that the Losers end up blaming each other for their losses, seek collective emotional resolution, and fail to adequately address the balance sheet of material rewards and losses.

To succeed, this strategy requires that Losers not look too closely at the non-emotional books. This is why, as we saw last time, divide-and-conquer is the most effective means for dealing with them, since it naturally creates emotional drama that keeps them busy while they are being manipulated.

[May 20, 2019] The dirty art of politicians entrapment: Blackmail, smear campaigns, various traps via honey or corruption, hookers, gay sex, pedophilia, or what-have-you, all or in combination

Highly recommended!
That remind me how old Kushner tried to smear his relative...
Notable quotes:
"... They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts. ..."
"... The "Russian" female is notably very attractive with a slender build. There is a honey-trap angle here as well. This would likely inspire the boasting (in order to impress her) on the part of the wingnut politician. ..."
"... The far-right is the Troy Horse of transnational corporations and capital and already discredited neoliberal stablishment which comes now disguised under the softening label of "populists". Beware, there seems to be a coordinated effort at several blogs in the ten previous days of the European elections to whitewash the far-right. ..."
"... So this very much hints something more. Right now there is a debate of cocain being visible on the table but this accusation points more towards schnickle with a babe imho. The babe to his right is not that ugly, admittely. ..."
"... As expected the hysteria of "russian" meddling have now publicized to weaken FPÖ in the EU election. Winners? NATO/US parties. ..."
"... Seems indeed to be a honeypot aspect to the entrapment, and it's quite possible Strache stepped down at once to avoid that part to come to light, so that the public revelations would be limited to the economic shenanigans and influence-peddling level. ..."
"... Also, this goes to show that the bulk of our Western politicians, across all the political spectrum, are a bunch of mediocre and quite corrupt fools. For him not to smell that this was a setup from the very first minute, it must be that such proposals are common place all across the board - which will only reinforce my suspicion that our societies, peoples and mankind as a whole would only benefit if we fully wiped out our economic, financial and political establishment and started from scratches. ..."
"... Blackmail, smear campaigns, various traps via honey or corruption, hookers and blow, gay sex, paedofilia, or what-have-you, - all or in combination. Politicians are "all" compromised in these ways. Buck the system or threaten the status quo - whereby it gets somebody's serious attention and the shite hits the fan. ..."
"... The savages in this neoliberal order use the secret services to subvert democracy. Deception and manipulation are the means used to corrupt the public domain. They would push the most pliable and ruthless leaders into office. Catastrophe and violence and disinformation are their most powerful weapons. But I still think that political processes and elections do matter; and what counts is a struggle to improve and reform the system of government. Doing our best to protect and maintain the integrity of electoral processes is something that requires both protests and political campaigns. ..."
"... The very strong implication certainly seems to be that there may be further video of Strache sleeping with the honey pot. He obviously knows what happened that night. If there were video cameras hidden everywhere, that was obviously one of the intentions behind the sting from the outset. ..."
"... B, please do an article on the Nazi penetration of the German security services, Interior Ministry, Army, CDU etc, and links to the NSU affair, shredding of millions of documents by the Interior Ministry when demanded by the courts as evidence, links with the Board members and advisory board members of German big business especially Siemens and Deutche Bank and Bayer, etc. ..."
"... It is a wonder Strache's remark "Journalists are the biggest whores on the planet" and how he says he can subvert an entire media outlet to his political agenda by even firing the few remaining fringe elements. ..."
"... I don't think Strache is as harmless as you portray him, B. You fall for his defence strategy if you attribute all his statements to the influence of alcohol. At that time, the man was very confident that he would soon be at the levers of power, which then materialized. It remains to be proven whether he did not put into practice anything of what he talked about at that house in Ibiza. After all, he was talking about the by far most influential newspaper in Austria. ..."
"... Of course it is true that it is the neoliberal globalisers who have brought us to where we stand today. But that doesn' make people like Strache and Salvini any less dangerous. If they rise to total power, the result will be a naked dictatorship. Strache was beaten with his own weapons, you don't have to be under any illusions. ..."
"... Who could have ordered such an elaborate sting operation? ..."
"... The sophisticated operation using actors and a villa prepared with hidden cameras and microphones shows that this is hardly a normal case of dirty campaigning by political opponents. Most likely, either it was an action by a secret service or someone with deep pockets hired former secret agents. ..."
"... If it was an action by secret services, the most plausible explanation seems to be that Western secret services targeted Strache because FPÖ is one of the parties who is in favor of restoring normal relations with Russia ..."
"... François Fillon comes to mind, a French conservative candidate who also had a quite a friendly attitude towards Russia - shortly before the elections, it was revealed (at least claimed) that Fillon had given his wife ficticious employment, and Fillon lost popularity, which helped Macron enormously. ..."
"... Probably, some of the things Strache said during this sting operation were inacceptable, and Fillon may also not be innocent, but if there is a systematic selective targeting of European politicians who want to normalize relations with Russia by secret services, that would be a huge problem for democracy. ..."
"... In 2016, Joseph Mifsud invited George Papadopoulos to Rome and introduced him to "Putin's niece" with the intent of smearing Trump as "Russian puppet" and destroying his election chances. In 2017, someone (who?) invited Heinz-Christian Strache to Ibiza and introduced him to "Russian billionaire's niece" with the intent of smearing Strache as "Russian puppet" and destroying his party's election chances. Notice a pattern? ..."
"... This is a clear case of Germany interfering in Austrian elections. Austria should deport 60 German diplomats, shut down German embassy in Vienna, and impose sanctions on Germany. Also put a German girl interested in Austrian politics in jail for 18 months. ..."
"... Thinking about it, after revealing e-mail of HRC, Podesta etc. were published, their core supporters were enraged about the dirty trick and did not pay attention to the disclosed content, while for the core opponents of HRC she was already sufficiently vilified so the net change in voting intentions that can be attributed to that incident was modest. ..."
"... Anyone who does not directly have his or her family's nose in the EU trough at this point knows that the policies espoused by transatlantic puppets like Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron push our countries and our continent towards self-destruction. Life in Europe, post-1968 and pre-2013, has been pretty damn good. There's absolutely no good reason for us to rip up our traditions or turn into a continent of immigrants and mobile job seekers. ..."
"... As Strache explains in the video, Austrian dirty tricks are done "via another country". ..."
"... To those who fill that politics of Strache are obnoxious and that justifies entrapment, remembers that methods of that type are not improvised, and that means that there is an apparatus that does it. We noted similarities with provocations against George Papadopoulos. In the latter case the target was cautious, after all, we had to be well aware of such methods. But anyone who is despised by NATO establishment are similar group can be on the receiving end, think about Assange. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

During the last days a right wing politician in Austria was taken down by using an elaborate sting. Until Friday Heinz-Christian Strache was leader of the far right (but not fascist) Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) and the Vice Chancellor of the country. On Friday morning two German papers, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel published (German) reports (English) about an old video that was made to take Strache down.

The FPOe has good connections with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin, and to other right-wing parties in east Europe. It's pro-Russian position has led to verbal attacks on and defamation of the party from NATO supporting and neoliberal circles.

In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts.

Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones.


A scene from the video. Source: Der Falter (vid, German)

During the six hour long party several schemes get proposed by the "Russian" and are discussed. Strache rejects most of them. He insists several times that everything they plan or do must be legal and conform to the law. He says that a large donation could probably be funneled through an endowment that would then support his party. It is a gray area under Austrian party financing laws. They also discuss if the "Russian" could buy the Kronen Zeitung , Austria's powerful tabloid, and use it to prop up his party.

The evening goes on with several bottles of vodka on the table. Starche gets a bit drunk and boosts in front of the "oligarch daughter" about all his connections to rich and powerful people. He does not actually have these.

Strache says that, in exchange for help for his party, the "Russian" could get public contracts for highway building and repair. Currently most of such contracts in Austria go to the large Austrian company, STRABAG, that is owned by a neoliberal billionaire who opposes the FPOe. At that time Strache was not yet in the government and had no way to decide about such contracts.

At one point Strache seems to understand that the whole thing is a setup. But his right hand man calms him down and vouches for the "Russian". The sting ends with Strache and his companion leaving the place. The never again see the "Russian" and her co-plotter. Nothing they talked about will ever come to fruition.

Three month later Strache and his party win more than 20% in the Austrian election and form a coalition government with the conservative party OeVP led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Even while the FPOe controls several ministries, it does not achieve much politically. It lacks a real program and the government's policies are mostly run by the conservatives.

Nearly two years after the evening on Ibiza, ten days before the European parliament election in which Strache's party is predicted to achieve good results, a video of the evening on Ibiza is handed to two German papers which are known to be have strong transatlanticist leanings and have previously been used for other shady 'leaks'. The papers do not hesitate to take part in the plot and publish extensive reports about the video.

After the reports appeared Strache immediately stepped down and the conservatives ended the coalition with his party. Austria will now have new elections.

On Bloomberg Leonid Bershidsky opines on the case:

Strache's discussion with the Russian oligarch's fake niece shows a propensity for dirty dealing that has nothing to do with idealistic nationalism. Nationalist populists often agitate against entrenched, corrupt elites and pledge to drain various swamps. In the videos, however, Strache and Gudenus behave like true swamp creatures, savoring rumors of drug and sex scandals in Austrian politics and discussing how to create an authoritarian media machine like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's.

I do not believe that the people who voted for the FPOe (and similar parties in other countries) will subscribe to that view. The politics of the main stream parties in Austria have for decades been notoriously corrupt. Compared to them Strache and his party are astonishingly clean. In the video he insists several times that everything must stay within the legal realm. Whenever the "Russian" puts forward a likely illegal scheme, Starche emphatically rejects it.

Bershidsky continues:

Strache, as one of the few nationalist populists in government in the European Union's wealthier member states, was an important member of the movement Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been trying to cobble together ahead of the European Parliament election that will take place next week. On Saturday, he was supposed to attend a Salvini-led rally in Milan with other like-minded politicians from across Europe. Instead, he was in Vienna apologizing to his wife and to Kurz and protesting pitifully that he'd been the victim of a "political assassination" -- a poisonous rain on the Italian right-winger's parade.
...
This leaves the European far right in disarray and plays into the hands of centrist and leftist forces ahead of next week's election. Salvini's unifying effort has been thoroughly undermined, ...

This is also a misreading of the case. The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy.

Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now.

But that Strache stepped down after the sudden media assault only makes him more convincing. The right-wing all over Europe will see him as a martyr who was politically assassinated because he worked for their cause. The issue will increase the right-wingers hate against the 'liberal' establishment. It will further motivate them: "They attack us because we are right and winning." The new far-right block Natteo Salvini will setup in the European Parliament will likely receive a record share of votes.

Establishment writers notoriously misinterpret the new right wing parties and their followers. This stand-offish sentence in the Spiegel story about Strache's party demonstrates the problem:

In the last election, the party drew significant support from the working class, in part because of his ability to simplify even the most complicated of issues and play the common man, even in his role as vice chancellor.

The implicit thesis, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues", is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false. The working class understands very well what the establishment parties have done to it and continue to do. The increasing vote share of the far-right is a direct consequence of the behavior of the neoliberal center and of the lack of real left alternatives.

Last week, before the Strache video appeared, Craig Murray put his finger on the wound:

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engag