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Threat inflation as neocons primary propaganda tool

America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge

News Obama administration participation in the intelligence services putsch against Trump Recommended Links  Brennan's  "Trump Task Force" and its elections machinations Threat inflation as neocons primary tool FBI and CIA contractor Crowdstrike and very suspicious DNC leak saga Alexander Vindman role in Ukrainegate Alexandra Chalupa role in fueling Russiagate Fiona Hill as Soros mole in Trump administration
Strzokgate Blob attacks Trump: Viper nest of neocons in state department fuels Ukrainegate UA officials role in fueling Russiagate and Ukrainegate House Democrats attempt to backstab Barr and derail his investigation into the origin of Russiagate Nancy Pelosi impeachment gambit War is Racket Civil war in Ukraine Nulandgate Creepy neocon Joe Biden and fleecing of Ukraine
Rick Perry induced Trump blunder Post-Russiagate remorse -- the second Iraq WDM fiasco  Poroshenko presidency Color revolutions Ukrainian Security Services role in Spygate (aka Russiagate)  Coordinated set of leaks as a color revolution tool MSM as attack dogs of color revolution Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Anti Trump Hysteria
Ukraine debt enslavement Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Steele dossier Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Rosenstein and appointment of the special prosecutor Infiltration of Trump campaign The problem of control of intelligence services in democratic societies History of American False Flag Operations
US and British media are servants of security apparatus MSM as fake news industry Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neoconservatism New American Militarism "Seventeen agencies" memo about Russian influence on elections Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Special Prosecutor Mueller and his fishing expedition Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite
Control of the MSM during color revolution is like air superiority in the war The Deep State The Iron Law of Oligarchy Principal-agent problem Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Militarism and reckless jingoism of the US neoliberal elite Skeptic Quotations Politically Incorrect Humor Hypocrisy and Pseudo-democracy

Derived from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfowitz_Doctrine See also


Introduction

The massive momentum of the U.S. military
may presently be on the side of the inflaters,
but the facts are on the side of the skeptics.

Donnie Kristian

Threat inflation which Ukrainegate is a typical example relies on misrepresenting the facts, or presenting them in the most alarming way possible. If another state is behaving in a way that our government doesn’t like, sometimes the mere fact that it is displeasing is treated as proof of a dire threat. It doesn’t matter if the threat is a relatively minor, manageable one --  it has to be cast as a threat to regional stability and “world order.” It doesn’t even matter if the U.S. and its allies are actually threatened by the behavior in question, since the assumption that the US is a guarantor of “world order” dangerously makes any and every threat to anyone our problem. The USA neoliberal elite in pursuing  its dominance over the globe  regularly invents bogeymen that the USA need to fight, and then wastes decades and trillions of dollars in futile and avoidable conflicts. Which at  the end leave ordinary Americans poorer, with less jobs, and less secure than before.

As MIC lobbyists neocon   aren’t interested in accurately assessing another state’s intentions. They always look for ways to take relatively normal, self-interested behavior and make it seem especially sinister and extraordinarily dangerous. Any attempt of the other state to defend its legitimate interests tendentiously is interpreted  as proof of worst intentions that “require” a massive military build-up, sanctions and containment strategy. This is the logic of Full Spectrum Dominance to which this MIC prostitutes subscribe. Demonization of foreign leaders is a standard proactive. Neocons never consider the role that US and its allies in triggering undesirable behavior. In there is not threat, the inflate invented them. As somebody puts it numerous mistresses for the personnel at USA foreign bases need to be fed.

Any actions of the other  state are blow out of proportion and CIA sponsored false flag operation are interpreted as the most credible evidence of the nefarious intentions (MH17, Skripals poisoning, Russiagate, Ukrainegate) are the most recent examples here.  John Glaser and Christopher Preble have written an interesting paper of the history and causes of threat inflation. They concluded that:

If war is the health of the state, so is its close cousin, fear. America's foreign policy in the 21st century serves as compelling evidence of that. Arguably the most important task, for those who oppose America's apparently constant state of war, is to correct the threat inflation that pervades national security discourse. When Americans and their policymakers understand that the United States is fundamentally secure, U.S. military activism can be reined in, and U.S. foreign policy can be reset accordingly.

Threat inflation allows to manipulate public opinion and stifle dissent against foreign wars and military expansion. And the rules of the game are such that no matter how ridiculous were the clams, neocons never pay the price (none  of originator of Iraq war lies went to jail.)

As MIC and financial oligarchy ("bankers are originators of all wars") controls the government there is no political price for sounding false alarms, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top their warnings may be. This necessarily warps every policy debate, permitting neocons to indulge in the most baseless speculation and fear-mongering, and in order to be taken "seriously" the skeptics often feel compelled to pay lip service to the "threat" that has been wildly blown out of proportion. In many cases, the threat is not just inflated but invented out of nothing. For example, neither Iraq in he past, not Iran in the present pose a threat to the United States, but are  routinely cited as  the most significant threats that the USA faces. They are targets of the USA imperial expansion  not  a threats, in the same was of the USA Department of Defense in reality more properly should be called the Department  of Offence.

Since the dissolution of the USSR, neocons created their own ecosystem of think tanks and magazines. They employ "professional warmongers" for promoting their fictions.    That has nothing to do with an objective assessment of Iranian capabilities or intentions, and it is driven pretty much entirely by a propaganda script that most politicians and policymakers recite on a regular basis. Take Iran's missile program, for example. As John Allen Gay explains in a recent article , Iran's missile program is primarily defensive in nature:

The reality is they're not very useful for going on offense. Quite the opposite: they're a primarily defensive tool -- and an important one that Iran fears giving up. As the new Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report entitled "Iran Military Power" points out, "Iran's ballistic missiles constitute a primary component of its strategic deterrent. Lacking a modern air force, Iran has embraced ballistic missiles as a long-range strike capability to dissuade its adversaries in the region -- particularly the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia -- from attacking Iran."

Iran's missile force is in fact a product of Iranian weakness, not Iranian strength.

Iran hawks need to portray Iran's missile program inaccurately as part of their larger campaign to exaggerate Iranian power and justify their own aggressive policies. If Iran hawks acknowledged that Iran's missiles are their deterrent against attacks from other states, including our government, it would undercut the rest of their fear-mongering.

Glaser and Preble identify five main sources of threat inflation by the USA neoliberal elite:

  1. Expansive overseas of the USA commitments require an exaggerated justification to make those commitments seem necessary for our security;
  2. Decades of pursuing expansive foreign policy goals have created a class dedicated to providing those justifications and creating the myths that sustain support for the current strategy;
  3. There are vested interests that benefit from expansive foreign policy and seek to perpetuate it;
  4. A built-in bias in neoliberal political system in favor of hawks gives another advantage to fear-mongers;
  5. Media sensationalism and the level of control by the intelligence agencies of the USA MSM exaggerates dangers from foreign threats and stokes public fear.

Threat inflation also thrives on the public's ignorance. Most Americans know little or nothing about another countries. So it is much easier to convince them that a foreign government is aggressive and irrational. Or this or that "authoritarian regime" is a grave threat to our democracy (which is on life support in view of the role of intelligence agencies in 2016 elections ;-), or our standard of living (which are undermined not by foreign players but  multinationals and  hired by them neoliberal stooges in government and Congress. It goes without saying that the Congress is owned by banksters As Senator Durbin put it in 2009: “And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place,” he said on WJJG 1530 ‘s “Mornings with Ray Hanania.” Progress Illinois picked up the quote. Dick Durbin Banks Frankly Own The Place HuffPost) .

Threat inflation also is the direct consequence of the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine adopted by the USA neoliberal elite after the dissolution of the USSR (Wolfowitz Doctrine.) The two feed off of each other. When far-flung crises and conflicts are treated as if they are of vital importance to USA security, every minor threat to some other country is transformed into an intolerable menace to America.

In reality the USA is very secure from any foreign threats. So fake threat are invented: neocon propaganda  machine and necon factions in Goverment and Congress  try to make other countries' internal problems seem essential to our national security. Ukraine is at most a peripheral interest of the U.S., but to justify the policy of arming Ukraine we are told by the more unhinged supporters that this is necessary to make sure that we don't have to fight Russia "over here." Because the U.S. has so few real interests in most of the world's conflicts, interventionists have to exaggerate what the U.S. has at stake in order to sell otherwise very questionable and reckless policies. That is usually when we get appeals to showing "leadership" and preserving "credibility," because even the interventionists struggle to identify why the U.S. needs to be involved in some of these conflicts. The continued pursuit of global "leadership" is itself an invitation to endless threat inflation, because almost anything anywhere in the world can be construed as a threat to that "leadership" if one is so inclined. To understand just how secure the U.S. really is, we need to give up on the costly ambition of "leading" the world.

Threat inflation is one of the biggest threats to U.S. security, as it increases changes if nuclear confrontation with Russia and China. It also drives fledging alliance between Russia and China which are worrying about  extremely aggressive turn of the USA foreign policy and its military interventions. The latter makes "Full Spectrum Dominance" doctrine  not only absolute, but suicidal and their promoters like Ciaramella, Fiona Hill and Vindman the real threat to the USA national security.  Because it repeatedly drives the US to take costly and dangerous actions and to spend exorbitant amounts on unnecessary wars and weapons.

Historical perspective

Threat inflation is a pervasive feature of international politics and an important cause of international conflict. States have a chronic tendency to exaggerate the aggressiveness and offensive capabilities of other states. As a result states often believe they are less secure than in fact they are. They then take unneeded or counterproductive steps to gain security that they already enjoy. A self-fulfilling prophecy develops: by their belligerent efforts to address imaginary threats, states provoke others to pose real threats to their safety. For example, Britain was provoked to war against France in 1756 by false reports that French forces had invaded east of the Alleghenies and were preparing a general invasion of British North America. The resulting Seven Years’ War (1756-63) was a vast conflict that saw lighting from North America and the Caribbean to West Africa and South Asia. Its origins lay largely in inflated British fears  an imperial hybrus.

As Russia was geopolitical threat to Britain, Russophobia became the official policy and that sparked the Сrimean War (1854-56). In the Crimean conflict Britain spent 45.000 British lives to protect  the Ottoman empire form the complete decimation, which Russia would not undertake anyway.

Intelligence agencies pay important role in threat inflation. During 1955-61 CIA vastly exaggerated Soviet military capabilities, first during the "bomber gap" period (1955-57), and then during the "missile gap"  (1957-61). This deliberate misleading of the American public and civil government  reached remarkable proportions. For example, in late 1959 U.S. intelligence agencies forecasted that by 1961-62 the Soviet Union would have 1000-15000 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), compared to less than 100 ICBMs for the USA. In fact by September 1961 the Soviets had deployed only four ICBMs less than one half of one percent of the missiles in the CIA assessment. Yes, there was a missile gap, but hugely in favor of the USA (American Foreign Policy and The Politics of Fear Threat Inflation since 9-11 (Routledge Global Security Studies)

These overestimates of soviet bomber and missile building led Cold War tensions by fueling American military' over-building and American fear that Soviet intentions were aggressive. Americans wondered why the Soviets would seek military superiority, if not to bully the west into concessions or to launch aggressive war? Such fears stoked outsized U.S. military programs. This U.S. military' over building in turn provoked the USSR to desperate measures to strengthen its nuclear capability by covertly moving intermediate range missiles to Cuba in 1962. This reckless move triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis, our closest brush with World War III.

The U.S. again exaggerated Soviet military capabilities in the late 1970s and early 1980s. U.S. press commentators widely warned of Soviet nuclear and conventional superiority. But Soviet military superiority was an illusion. Both the Soviets and the U.S. maintained vast secure nuclear deterrents during this period neither came anywhere near superiority over the other - and NATO conventional

Neocons promoted threat inflation to the level of the official US policy:

The Bush administration’s launching of a global war on terrorism in the wake of 9/11, coupled with its aggressive campaign to build public support for war against Iraq, have brought the term "threat inflation” into popular use. President Bush’s ability to stoke public fear about Iraq’s connections to Al Qaeda and about its weapons of mass destruction despite the lack of any hard evidence has fueled both public outcry as well as a vigorous debate among academics about why the administration argued with such certainty about Iraq and how its arguments came to dominate debate.

The implications of the debate are profound. To the extent that the president can dominate debate about foreign threats, it becomes difficult for the United States to rely on the marketplace of ideas (i.e., the news media and public vetting of foreign policy) to assess accurately the pros and cons of competing arguments about foreign policy and the use of force. In extreme cases, as several scholars have labeled the invasion of Iraq, a president may convince the public to support a war that it would otherwise strenuously oppose.

Neoliberal elite like any imperial elite is intrinsically interested in promoting threat inflation

The threat inflation is connected to the elite threat perception and, especially,  the level of hegemonic ambitions. Which were in overdrive since the dissolution of the USSR. In can be said that due to the dissolution of the USSR the neoliberal elite became too arrogant and overconfident. As "Full Spectrum Dominance" doctrine presume that any event affects the  USA it started the death spiral of threat inflations and rampant militarism and wars to increase the global, led by the USA empire.    

This is a same story that destroyed the USSR where the Bolshevik elite also fall on the sword of the treat inflation and destroyed the economy to feed the military-industrial complex.

Many part of the elite especially intelligence agencies and Pentagon/MIC  brass (as well as financial oligarchy, which is interconnected intermarried with MIC) have institutional, electoral, bureaucratic, personal or material incentives to promote   threat inflation

Threat inflation can also be viewed as a simplistic and perverted way to coping with uncertainty, the result of insufficient intelligence of the ruling elite. As well as the opacity of other states’ intentions coupled the institutional and even material interests of factions of the elites.

This is a classe of manipulative strategies to gain political advantage, increase institutional budgets, or to advance other goals kept hidden from the public and political opposition. For example, many scholars have argued that overselling threats may in fact be a necessary evil.

MSM sensationalist bias, short attention span, and superficiality help to promote  necon  threat exaggeration ,  providing little balance or sense of perspective and stoking public fears essentially to sell papers or gain viewers and ratings.

The superficiality and sensationalism of the USA MSM and level of media control by intelligence agencies in reality are far greater than it has been historically in the USA. Increared media consolidation and corporate ownership are also important factors.

Full Spectrum dominance and Wolfowitz Doctrine as the cornerstone of threat inflation

America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge

Wolfowitz Doctrine is an unofficial name of the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years (dated February 18, 1992) authored by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy Scooter Libby. Not intended for public release, it was leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992, and sparked a public controversy about US foreign and defense policy. The document was openly imperialist and outlined a policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive military actions (wars) in forign policy. Please note that personally Wolfowitz was a chicenhawk.

It connected with the US elite desire to create a rule the global neoliberal empire and was symptomatic for the period of "Triumphal march of neoliberalism form 1980 till 2000, especially the decade after the collapse of the USSR (1991-2001)

They key idea is to prolog dominant position the USA acquired due to collapse of the USSR (which interpreted by neocons as the victory in the Cold War, while in reality was the result of adoption of neoliberalism by the Bolsheviks elite, a coup d'état from above), attempt to weaken and possible balkanize Russia,  loot xUUSR republics (see Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia), and suppress any threat to the current "superpower". If necessary by force. As such it is viewed by many researchers as a concise summary of the ideology of Neoconservatism and the most recently it was applied in Ukraine

Due to the outcry that the document was hastily re-written under supervision of US Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell before being officially released on April 16, 1992. Many of its postulates re-emerged in the [2] which was described by Senator Edward M. Kennedy as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept."[3]

Although Wolfowitz was ultimately responsible for the Defense Planning Guidance, as it was released through his office and was reflective of his overall outlook of Bush I administration. While associated with  Wolfowitz, the document was prepared by Libby, who delegated the process of writing the new strategy to Zalmay Khalizad, a member of Libby's staff and longtime aide to Wolfowitz. Khalizad solicited the opinions of a wide cross-section of Pentagon insiders and outsiders, including Andrew Marshall, Richard Perle, and Wolfowitz's University of Chicago mentor, the nuclear strategist [5]

Completing the draft in March of 1992, Khalizad requested permission from Libby to circulate it to other officials within the Pentagon. Libby assented and within three days Khalizad's draft was released to the New York Times by "an official who believed this post-cold war strategy debate should be carried out in the public domain."

The main postulated of the Wolfowitz doctnine

Superpower status

The doctrine announces the US’s status as the world’s only remaining superpower following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War and proclaims its main objective to be retaining that status:

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.

Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source... The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the renationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the US and our allies.

US primacy

The doctrine establishes the US’s leadership role within the new world order.

The US must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

This was substantially re-written in the April 16 release.

One of the primary tasks we face today in shaping the future is carrying long standing alliances into the new era, and turning old enmities into new cooperative relationships. If we and other leading democracies continue to build a democratic security community, a much safer world is likely to emerge. If we act separately, many other problems could result.

Unilateralism

The doctrine downplays the value of international coalitions.

Like the coalition that opposed Iraqi aggression, we should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted, and in many cases carrying only general agreement over the objectives to be accomplished. Nevertheless, the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the US will be an important stabilizing factor.

This was re-written with a change in emphasis in the April 16 release.

Certain situations like the crisis leading to the Gulf War are likely to engender ad hoc coalitions. We should plan to maximize the value of such coalitions. This may include specialized roles for our forces as well as developing cooperative practices with others.

Pre-emptive intervention

The doctrine stated the US’s right to intervene when and where it believed necessary.

While the US cannot become the world's policeman, by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations.

This was softened slightly in the April 16 release.

While the United States cannot become the world's policeman and assume responsibility for solving every international security problem, neither can we allow our critical interests to depend solely on international mechanisms that can be blocked by countries whose interests may be very different than our own. Where our allies interests are directly affected, we must expect them to take an appropriate share of the responsibility, and in some cases play the leading role; but we maintain the capabilities for addressing selectively those security problems that threaten our own interests.

Russian threat

The doctrine highlighted the possible threat posed by a resurgent Russia.

We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others....We must, however, be mindful that democratic change in Russia is not irreversible, and that despite its current travails, Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.

This was removed from the April 16 release in favour of a more diplomatic approach.

The US has a significant stake in promoting democratic consolidation and peaceful relations between Russia, Ukraine and the other republics of the former Soviet Union.

Middle East and Southwest Asia

The doctrine clarified the overall objectives in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve US and Western access to the region's oil. We also seek to deter further aggression in the region, foster regional stability, protect US nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways. As demonstrated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it remains fundamentally important to prevent a hegemon or alignment of powers from dominating the region. This pertains especially to the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, we must continue to play a role through enhanced deterrence and improved cooperative security.

...

The April 16 release was more circumspect and it reaffirmed US commitments to Israel as well as its Arab allies.

In the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect US nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region's oil. The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel's security. Israel's confidence in its security and US-Israel strategic cooperation contribute to the stability of the entire region, as demonstrated once again during the Persian Gulf War. At the same time, our assistance to our Arab friends to defend themselves against aggression also strengthens security throughout the region, including for Israel.


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Old News ;-)

[Jan 27, 2020] The Dangers of Conflating and Inflating Interests

Notable quotes:
"... Taylor exaggerates what the conflict is about by saying that Ukraine is defending "the West." That's not true. Ukraine is defending itself. The U.S. does not have a vital interest in this conflict, but Taylor talks about it as if we do. He says that the relationship with Ukraine is "key" to our national security, but that is simply false. To say that it is key to our national security means that we are supposed to believe that it is crucially important to our national security. That suggests that U.S. national security would seriously compromised if that relationship weakened, but that doesn't make any sense. We usually don't even talk about our major treaty allies this way, so what justification is there for describing a relationship with a weak partner government like this? ..."
"... The op-ed reads like a textbook case of clientitis, in which a former U.S. envoy ends up making the Ukrainian government's argument for them ..."
"... To support Ukraine is to support a rules-based international order that enabled major powers in Europe to avoid war for seven decades. It is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do. ..."
"... These make for catchy slogans, but they are lousy policy arguments. This rhetoric veers awfully close to saying that you aren't on the side of freedom if you don't support a particular policy option. In my experience, advocates for more aggressive measures use rhetoric like this because the rest of their argument isn't very strong. It is possible to reject illegal military interventions of all governments without wanting to throw weapons at the problem. ..."
"... Taylor has set up the policy argument in such a way that there seems to be no choice, but the U.S. doesn't have to support Ukraine's war effort. He oversells Ukraine's importance to the U.S. to justify U.S. support, because an accurate assessment would make the current policy of arming their government much harder to defend. Ukraine isn't really that important to U.S. security and our security doesn't require us to provide military assistance to them. Of course, our government has chosen to do it anyway, but this is just one more optional entanglement that the U.S. could have avoided without jeopardizing American or allied security. ..."
Jan 27, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

ormer ambassador William Taylor wrote an op-ed on Ukraine in an attempt to answer Pompeo's question about whether Americans care about Ukraine. It is not very persuasive. For one thing, he starts off by exaggerating the importance of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to make it seem as if the U.S. has a major stake in the outcome:

Here's why the answer should be yes: Ukraine is defending itself and the West against Russian attack. If Ukraine succeeds, we succeed. The relationship between the United States and Ukraine is key to our national security, and Americans should care about Ukraine.

Taylor exaggerates what the conflict is about by saying that Ukraine is defending "the West." That's not true. Ukraine is defending itself. The U.S. does not have a vital interest in this conflict, but Taylor talks about it as if we do. He says that the relationship with Ukraine is "key" to our national security, but that is simply false. To say that it is key to our national security means that we are supposed to believe that it is crucially important to our national security. That suggests that U.S. national security would seriously compromised if that relationship weakened, but that doesn't make any sense. We usually don't even talk about our major treaty allies this way, so what justification is there for describing a relationship with a weak partner government like this?

The op-ed reads like a textbook case of clientitis, in which a former U.S. envoy ends up making the Ukrainian government's argument for them. The danger of exaggerating U.S. interests and conflating them with Ukraine's is that we fool ourselves into thinking that we are acting out of necessity and in our own defense when we are really choosing to take sides in a conflict that does not affect our security. This is the kind of thinking that encourages people to spout nonsense about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here." If we view Ukraine as "the front line" of a larger struggle, that will also make it more difficult to resolve the conflict. When a local conflict is turned into a proxy fight between great powers, the local people will be the ones made to suffer to serve the ambitions of the patrons. Once the U.S. insists that its own security is bound up with the outcome of this conflict, there is an incentive to be considered the "winner," but the reality is that Ukraine will always matter less to the U.S. than it does to Russia.

If this relationship were so important to U.S. security, how is it that the U.S. managed to get along just fine for decades after the end of the Cold War when that relationship was not particularly strong? As recently as the Obama administration, our government did not consider Ukraine to be important enough to supply with weapons. Ukraine was viewed correctly as being of peripheral interest to the U.S., and nothing has changed in the years since then to make it more important.

Taylor keeps repeating that "Ukraine is the front line" in a larger conflict between Russia and the West, but that becomes true only if Western governments choose to treat it as one. He concludes his op-ed with a series of ideological assertions:

To support Ukraine is to support a rules-based international order that enabled major powers in Europe to avoid war for seven decades. It is to support democracy over autocracy. It is to support freedom over unfreedom. Most Americans do.

These make for catchy slogans, but they are lousy policy arguments. This rhetoric veers awfully close to saying that you aren't on the side of freedom if you don't support a particular policy option. In my experience, advocates for more aggressive measures use rhetoric like this because the rest of their argument isn't very strong. It is possible to reject illegal military interventions of all governments without wanting to throw weapons at the problem.

Taylor has set up the policy argument in such a way that there seems to be no choice, but the U.S. doesn't have to support Ukraine's war effort. He oversells Ukraine's importance to the U.S. to justify U.S. support, because an accurate assessment would make the current policy of arming their government much harder to defend. Ukraine isn't really that important to U.S. security and our security doesn't require us to provide military assistance to them. Of course, our government has chosen to do it anyway, but this is just one more optional entanglement that the U.S. could have avoided without jeopardizing American or allied security.

[Jan 25, 2020] The Distorting Effects of Threat Inflation

Jan 25, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com


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Chris Chuba a day ago

Our Intel community and Think Tanks are totally incompetent when it comes to analyzing other countries but they are geniuses when it comes to manipulating the U.S. public. Claiming that we are the victims of information warfare must be an inside joke to them. How do they keep a straight face when they say, 'we are seeing increased Iranian activity in cyberspace'.
FL_Cottonmouth 15 hours ago
Obviously Iran isn't the greatest threat to "U.S. security," but the truth is that no foreign state (not even a hypothetical Sino-Slavic alliance) poses a real threat to U.S. security, properly defined. In short, the terms of "threat" and "security" are flawed."U.S. security" just means "U.S. ability to project military power in other parts of the world." A "threat" to U.S. security is just some other country which threatens that projection of military power. Americans who watch the news hear "Iran is a threat to U.S. security" from the Trump Administration and assume that it means that Iran is about to attack the homeland, when what the Trump Administration means is that Iran is defending its own national security against U.S. threats. This language is how Democrats (and Republicans) can pretend that U.S. military aid to Ukraine is critical to "U.S. security" against the "threat" of Russia, even though before Pres. Trump there was no such aid.

[Dec 23, 2019] Making the World Less Safe

Notable quotes:
"... Currently the United States is assisting Ukraine against Russia by providing some non-lethal military equipment as well as limited training for Kiev's army. It has balked at getting more involved in the conflict, rightly so. ..."
"... The Ukrainians were not buying any of that. Their point of view is that Russia is seeking to revive the Soviet Union and will inevitably turn on the Baltic States and Poland, so it is necessary to stop evil dictator Vladimir Putin now. They inevitably produced the Hitler analogy, citing the example of 1938 and Munich as well as the subsequent partition of Poland in 1939 to make their case. When I asked what the United States would gain by intervening they responded that in return for military assistance, Washington will have a good and democratic friend in Ukraine which will serve as a bulwark against further Russian expansion. ..."
"... But Obama chose to stay home as punishment for Putin, which I think was a bad choice suggesting that he is being strongly influenced by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the other neocons who seem to have retained considerable power in his administration. ..."
"... Obama told a crowd gathered outside the Nike footwear company in Oregon that the deal is necessary because "if we don't write the rules, China will " ..."
"... Obama takes as a given that he will be able to "write the rules." This is American hubris writ large and I am certain that many who are thereby designated to follow Washington's lead are as offended by it as I am. Bad move Barack. ..."
"... Asharq al-Awsat ..."
May 21, 2015 | The Unz Review
Currently the United States is assisting Ukraine against Russia by providing some non-lethal military equipment as well as limited training for Kiev's army. It has balked at getting more involved in the conflict, rightly so. With that in mind, I had a meeting with a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians and government officials a couple of weeks ago. I tried to explain to them why many Americans are wary of helping them by providing lethal, potentially game changing military assistance in what Kiev sees as a struggle to regain control of Crimea and other parts of their country from militias that are clearly linked to Moscow. I argued that while Washington should be sympathetic to Ukraine's aspirations it has no actual horse in the race, that the imperative for bilateral relations with Russia, which is the only nation on earth that can attack and destroy the United States, is that they be stable and that all channels for communication remain open.

I also observed that the negative perception of Washington-driven democracy promotion around the world has been in part shaped by the actual record on interventions since 2001, which has not been positive. Each exercise of the military option has wound up creating new problems, like the mistaken policies in Libya, Iraq and Syria, all of which have produced instability and a surge in terrorism. I noted that the U.S. does not need to bring about a new Cold War by trying to impose democratic norms in Eastern Europe but should instead be doing all in its power to encourage a reasonable rapprochement between Moscow and Kiev. Providing weapons or other military support to Ukraine would only cause the situation to escalate, leading to a new war by proxies in Eastern Europe that could rapidly spread to other regions.

The Ukrainians were not buying any of that. Their point of view is that Russia is seeking to revive the Soviet Union and will inevitably turn on the Baltic States and Poland, so it is necessary to stop evil dictator Vladimir Putin now. They inevitably produced the Hitler analogy, citing the example of 1938 and Munich as well as the subsequent partition of Poland in 1939 to make their case. When I asked what the United States would gain by intervening they responded that in return for military assistance, Washington will have a good and democratic friend in Ukraine which will serve as a bulwark against further Russian expansion.

I explained that Russia does not have the economic or military resources to dominate Eastern Europe and its ambitions appear to be limited to establishing a sphere of influence that includes "protection" for some adjacent areas that are traditionally Russian and inhabited by ethnic Russians. Crimea is, unfortunately, one such region that was actually directly governed by Moscow between 1783 and 1954 and it is also militarily vitally important to Moscow as it is the home of the Black Sea Fleet. I did not point that out to excuse Russian behavior but only to suggest that Moscow does have an argument to make, particularly as the United States has been meddling in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine where it has "invested" $5 billion, since the Clinton Administration.

I argued that if resurgent Russian nationalism actually endangered the United States there would be a case to be made for constricting Moscow by creating an alliance of neighbors that would be able to help contain any expansion, but even the hawks in the U.S. Congress are neither prepared nor able to demonstrate a genuine threat. Fear of the expansionistic Soviet Union after 1945 was indeed the original motivation for creating NATO. But the reality is that Russia is only dangerous if the U.S. succeeds in backing it into a corner where it will begin to consider the kind of disruption that was the norm during the Cold War or even some kind of nuclear response or demonstration. If one is focused on U.S. interests globally Russia has actually been a responsible player, helping in the Middle East and also against international terrorism.

So there was little to agree on apart from the fact that the Ukrainians have a right to have a government they choose for themselves and also to defend themselves. And we Americans have in the Ukrainians yet another potential client state that wants our help. In return we would have yet another dependency whose concerns have to be regarded when formulating our foreign policy. One can sympathize with the plight of the Ukrainians but it is not up to Washington to fix the world or to go around promoting democracy as a potential solution to pervasive regional political instability.

Obviously a discussion based on what are essentially conflicting interests will ultimately go nowhere and so it did in this case, but it did raise the issue of why Washington's relationship with Moscow is so troubled, particularly as it need not be so. Regarding Ukraine and associated issues, Washington's approach has been stick-and-carrot with the emphasis on the stick through the imposition of painful sanctions and meaningless though demeaning travel bans. I would think that reversing that formulation to emphasize rewards would actually work better as today's Russia is actually a relatively new nation in terms of its institutions and suffers from insecurity about its place in the world and the respect that it believes it is entitled to receive.

Russia recently celebrated the 70 th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. The celebration was boycotted by the United States and by many Western European nations in protest over Russian interference in Ukraine. I don't know to what extent Obama has any knowledge of recent history, but the Russians were the ones who were most instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany, losing 27 million citizens in the process. It would have been respectful for President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to Moscow for the commemoration and it would likely have produced a positive result both for Ukraine and also to mitigate the concern that a new Cold War might be developing. But Obama chose to stay home as punishment for Putin, which I think was a bad choice suggesting that he is being strongly influenced by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the other neocons who seem to have retained considerable power in his administration.

And I also would note a couple of other bad choices made during the past several weeks. The Trans-Pacific multilateral trade agreement that is currently working its way through Congress and is being aggressively promoted by the White House might be great for business though it may or may not be good for the American worker, which, based on previous agreements, is a reasonable concern. But what really disturbs me is the Obama explanation of why the pact is important. Obama told a crowd gathered outside the Nike footwear company in Oregon that the deal is necessary because "if we don't write the rules, China will "

Fear of the Yellow Peril might indeed be legitimate but it would be difficult to make the case that an internally troubled China is seeking to dominate the Pacific. If it attempts to do so, it would face strong resistance from the Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Koreans among others. But what is bothersome to me and probably also to many in the Asian audience is that Obama takes as a given that he will be able to "write the rules." This is American hubris writ large and I am certain that many who are thereby designated to follow Washington's lead are as offended by it as I am. Bad move Barack.

And finally there is Iran as an alleged state sponsor of terrorism. President Obama claims that he is working hard to achieve a peaceful settlement of the alleged threat posed by Iran's nuclear program. But if that is so why does he throw obstacles irrelevant to an agreement out to make the Iranian government more uncomfortable and therefore unwilling or unable to compromise? In an interview with Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat Obama called Tehran a terrorism supporter, stating that "it [Iran] props up the Assad regime in Syria. It supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It aids the Houthi rebels in Yemen so countries in the region are rights to be deeply concerned " I understand that the interview was designed to reassure America's friends in the Gulf that the United States shares their concerns and will continue to support them but the timing would appear to be particularly unfortunate.

The handling of Russia, China and Iran all exemplify the essential dysfunction in American foreign policy. The United States should have a mutually respectful relationship with Russia, ought to accept that China is an adversary but not necessarily an enemy unless we make it so and it should also finally realize that an agreement with Iran is within its grasp as long as Washington does not overreach. It is not clear that any of that is well understood and one has to wonder precisely what kind of advice Obama is receiving when fails to understand the importance of Russia, insists on "writing the rules" for Asia, and persists in throwing around the terrorist label. If the past fifteen years have taught us anything it is that the "Washington as the international arbiter model" is not working. Obama should wake up to that reality before Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush arrives on the scene to make everything worse.

Tom Welsh, May 19, 2015 at 7:02 am GMT • 100 Words

All of this misses the point, IMHO. There is really no need to explain that Russia has no plans to conquer Europe, China has no plans to take over the Pacific, etc. Anyone with a little historical knowledge and some common sense can see that plainly. What is happening is that the USA has overweening aspirations to control (and then suck dry) the entire world – and Europe, Russia and China are next on its hit list.

So it naturally accuses those nations of aspiring to what it plans to do. Standard operating procedure.

The Priss Factor, May 19, 2015 at 7:19 am GMT • 100 Words

"The Ukrainians were not buying any of that. Their point of view is that Russia is seeking to revive the Soviet Union and will inevitably turn on the Baltic States and Poland, so it is necessary to stop evil dictator Vladimir Putin now."

I can understand Ukrainian animus against Russia due to history and ethnic tensions.

But that is ridiculous. They can't possibly believe it. I think they're repeating Neocon talking points to persuade American that the fate of the world is at stake.
It's really just a local affair.

And Crimea would still belong to Ukraine if the crazies in Ukraine hadn't conspired with Neocons like Nuland to subvert and overthrow the regime.

[Dec 21, 2019] Government Warmongering Criminals Where Are They Now

Notable quotes:
"... The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington? ..."
"... A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. ..."
"... If the marketplace is anything to go by Feith and Tenet are running neck-and-neck on secondary book exchanges as George also can be had for $.01. ..."
"... The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story." ..."
"... "Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." ..."
"... senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds ..."
"... One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry. ..."
Jul 08, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

The United States already has by far the per capita largest prison population of any developed country but I am probably one of the few Americans who on this Independence Day would like to see a lot more people in prison, mostly drawn from politicians and senior bureaucrats who have long believed that their status makes them untouchable, giving them license to steal and even to kill. The sad fact is that while whistleblowers have been imprisoned for revealing government criminality, no one in the federal bureaucracy has ever actually been punished for the crimes of torture, kidnapping and assassination committed during the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies.

Why is accountability important? After the Second World War, the victorious allies believed it was important to establish responsibility for the crimes that had been committed by officials of the Axis powers. The judges at the Nuremberg Trials called the initiation of a war of aggression the ultimate war crime because it inevitably unleashed so many other evils. Ten leading Nazis were executed at Nuremberg and ninety-three Japanese officials at similar trials staged in Asia, including several guilty of waterboarding. Those who were not executed for being complicit in the actual launching of war were tried for torture of both military personnel and civilians and crimes against humanity, including the mass killing of civilians as well as of soldiers who had surrendered or been captured.

No matter how one tries to avoid making comparisons between 1939 and 2015, the American invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, precisely the type of conflict that the framework of accountability provided by Nuremberg was supposed to prevent in the years after 1946. High level US government officials knew that Iraq represented no threat to the United States but they nevertheless described an imminent danger posed by Saddam Hussein in the most graphic terms, replete with weapons of mass destruction, armed drones flying across the Atlantic, terrorists being unleashed against the homeland, and mushroom clouds on the horizon. The precedent of Iraq, even though it was an abject failure, has led to further military action against Libya and Syria to bring about "regime change" as well as a continuing conflict in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the US has been waging a largely secret "long war" against terrorists employing torture and secret prisons. The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington?

Many Americans would now consider the leading figures in the Bush Administration aided and abetted by many enablers in congress from both political parties to be unindicted war criminals. Together they ignited a global conflict that is still running strong fourteen years later with a tally of more than 7,000 dead Americans and a minimum of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Somalis and Syrians.

War breeds more war, due largely to the fact that guilty parties in Washington who piggyback on the prevailing narrative move onward and upward, rewarded in this life even if not necessarily so in the hereafter. A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. Though not 100% accurate as I know at least a couple of honorable former senior officials who wound up teaching, it would seem to be a generalization that has considerable validity. The implication is that many senior government officials ascend to their positions based on being accommodating and "political" rather than being honest and they continue to do the same when they switch over to corporate America or the equally corrupted world of academia.

I thought of my friend's comment when I turned on the television a week ago to be confronted by the serious, somewhat intense gaze of Michael Morell, warning about the danger that ISIS will strike the US over the Fourth of July weekend. Morell, a former senior CIA official, is in the terror business. He had no evidence whatsoever that terrorists were planning an attack and should have realized that maneuvering the United States into constantly going on alert based on empty threats is precisely what militant groups tend to do.

When not fronting as a handsomely paid national security consultant for the CBS television network Morell is employed by Beacon Global Strategies as a Senior Counselor, presumably warning well-heeled clients to watch out for terrorists. His lifestyle and substantial emoluments depend on people being afraid of terrorism so they will turn to an expert like him and ask serious questions that he will answer in a serious way suggesting that Islamic militants could potentially bring about some kind of global apocalypse.

Morell, a torture apologist, also has a book out that he wants to sell, positing somewhat ridiculously that he and his former employer had been fighting The Great War of Our Time against Islamic terrorists, something comparable to the World Wars of the past century, hence the title. Morell needs to take some valium and relax. He would also benefit from a little introspection regarding the bad guys versus good guys narrative that he is peddling. His credentials as a warrior are somewhat suspect in any event as he never did any military service and his combat in the world of intelligence consisted largely of sitting behind a desk in Washington and providing briefings to George W. Bush and Barack Obama in which he presumably told them what they wanted to hear.

Morell is one of a host of pundits who are successful in selling the military-industrial-lobbyist-congressional-intelligence community line of BS on the war on terror. Throw in the neocons as the in-your-face agents provocateurs who provide instant intellectual and media credibility for developments and you have large groups of engaged individuals with good access who are on the receiving end of the seemingly unending cash pipeline that began with 9/11. Frances Townsend, who was the Bush Homeland Security adviser and who is now a consultant with CNN, is another such creature as is Michael Chertoff, formerly Director of the Department of Homeland Security, who has successfully marketed his defective airport scanners to his former employer.

But the guys and gals who are out feathering their own nests are at least comprehensible given our predatory capitalist system of government. More to the point, the gang that ordered or carried out torture and assassination are the ones who should be doing some hard time in the slammer but instead they too are riding the gravy train and cashing in. To name only a few of those who knew about the torture and ordered it carried out I would cite George Tenet, James Pavitt, Cofer Black and Jose Rodriguez from the intelligence community. The assassination program meanwhile is accredited to John Brennan, currently CIA Director, during his tenure as Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor. And then there are Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon together with John Yoo at Justice and Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, and Condi Rice at the White House, all of whom outright lied, dissimulated and conspired their way to bring about a war of aggression against Iraq.

There are plenty of nameless others who were "only carrying out orders" and who should be included in any reckoning of America's crimes over the past fifteen years, particularly if one also considers the illegal NSA spying program headed by Michael Hayden, who defended the practice and has also referred to those who oppose enhanced interrogation torture as "interrogation deniers." And then there are Presidents Bush and Obama who certainly knew what was going on in the name of the American people as well as John Brennan, who was involved in both the torture and renditions programs as well as the more recent assassinations by drone.

So where are they now? Living in obscurity ashamed of what they did? Hardly. Not only have they not been vilified or marginalized, they have, in most cases, been rewarded. George W. Bush lives in Dallas near his Presidential Library and eponymous Think (sic) Tank. Cheney lives in semi-retirement in McLean Virginia with a multi-million dollar waterfront weekend retreat in St. Michaels Maryland, not too far from Donald Rumsfeld's similar digs.

George Tenet, the CIA Director notorious for his "slam-dunk" comment, a man who cooked the intelligence to make the Iraq war possible to curry favor with the White House, has generously remunerated positions on the boards of Allen & Company merchant bank, QinetiQ, and L-1 Identity Solutions. He sold his memoir At the Center of the Storm, which has been described as a "self-justifying apologia," in 2007 for a reported advance of $4 million. His book, ironically, admits that the US invaded Iraq for no good reason.

James Pavitt, who was the point man responsible for the "enhanced interrogation" program as Tenet's Deputy Director for Operations, is currently a principal with The Scowcroft Group and also serves on several boards. Cofer Black, who headed the Counter-Terrorism Center, which actually carried out renditions and "enhanced interrogations," was vice chairman of Blackwater Worldwide (now called Xe) and chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions, a Blackwater spin-off. He is now vice president of Blackbird Technologies, a defense and intelligence contractor. Rodriguez, who succeeded Black and in 2005 illegally destroyed video tapes made of Agency interrogations to avoid possible repercussions, is a senior vice president with Edge Consulting, a defense contractor currently owned by IBM that is located in Virginia.

John Yoo is a Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley while Condoleezza Rice, who spoke of mushroom clouds and is widely regarded as the worst National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in history, has returned to Stanford University. She is a professor at the Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy as well as a fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is occasionally spoken of as either a possible GOP presidential candidate or as a future Commissioner of the National Football League. Her interaction with students is limited, but when challenged on her record she has responded that it was a difficult situation post 9/11, something that everyone understands, though few would have come to her conclusion that attacking Iraq might be a good way to destroy al-Qaeda.

Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush Deputy Secretary of Defense, is seen by many as the "intellectual" driving force behind the invasion of Iraq. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and advises Jeb Bush on foreign policy. A bid to reward Wolfie for his zeal by giving him a huge golden parachute as President of the World Bank at a salary of $391,000 tax free failed when, after 23 months in the position, he was ousted over promoting a subordinate with whom he was having an affair. His chief deputy at the Pentagon Doug Feith left the Defense Department to take up a visiting professorship at the school of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, which was subsequently not renewed. He is reported to be again practicing law and thinking deep thoughts about his hero Edmund Burke, who no doubt would have been appalled to make Feith's acquaintance. Feith is a senior fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute and the Director of the Center for National Security Strategies. His memoir War and Decision did not make the best seller list and is now available used on Amazon for $.01 plus shipping. If the marketplace is anything to go by Feith and Tenet are running neck-and-neck on secondary book exchanges as George also can be had for $.01.

The over-rewarding of former officials who have in reality done great harm to the United States and its interests might well seem inexplicable, but it is all part of a style of bureaucracy that cannot admit failure and truly believes that all its actions are ipso facto legitimate because the executive and its minions can do no wrong. It is also a symptom of the classic American character flaw that all things are of necessity measured by money. Does anyone remember the ancient Roman symbol of republican virtue Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his farm after being named Dictator in order to defeat Rome's enemies? He then handed power back to the Senate before returning to his plowing after the job was done. The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story." George Washington was America's Cincinnatus and it is not a coincidence that officers of the continental army founded the Cincinnati Society, the nation's oldest patriotic organization, in 1783. It is also reported that Edward Snowden used the alias "Cincinnatus."

Lord Acton once observed that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." More recently essayist Edward Abbey put it in an American context, noting "Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." That senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds is a fault that is perhaps not unique to the United States but it is nevertheless unacceptable. Handing out a couple of exemplary prison sentences for the caste that believes itself untouchable would be a good place to start. An opportunity was missed with David Petraeus, who was fined and avoided jail time, and it will be interesting to see how the Dennis Hastert case develops. Hastert will no doubt be slapped on the wrist for the crime of moving around his own money while the corruption that was the source of that money, both as a legislator and lobbyist, will be ignored. As will his molestation of at least one and possibly several young boys. One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

[Dec 17, 2019] Neocons like car salespeople have a stereotypical reputation for lacking credibility because ther profession is to lie in order to sell weapons to the publin, much like used car saleme lie to sell cars

Highly recommended!
Dec 17, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Dec 16 2019 20:51 utc | 22

Neocons lie should properly be called "threat inflation"

The underlying critical point-at-issue is credibility as I noted in my comment on b's 2017 article. I've since linked to tweets and other items by that trio; the one major change seems to have been the epiphany by them that they needed to go to where the action is and report it from there to regain their credibility.

The fact remains that used car salespeople have a stereotypical reputation for lacking credibility sans a confession as to why they feel the need to lie to sell cars.

Their actions belie the guilt they feel for their choices, but a confession works much better at assuaging the soul while helping convince the audience that the change in heart's genuine. And that's the point as b notes--genuineness, whose first predicate is credibility.

[Dec 14, 2019] The Full Spectrum Dominance inevitably lead to threat inflation it is logically drives the USA into the major war

Notable quotes:
"... I think the current period can be called the “collapse of neoliberalism” period. In any case the neoliberal elite who was in power (Blairists, Clintonists) lost the trust of people. This is true both for the US and labour in the UK. In this sense the anti-Semitic smear against Corbin is equivalent to neo-McCarthyism hysteria in the USA. Both reflect the same level of desperation and clinging to power of “soft neoliberals.” ..."
Dec 14, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

James R McKinney 12.13.19 at 6:54 pm ( 1 )

Well, so much for all that. It's time to stop pretending we're still in the postwar period (the question is, are we in a pre-war one).

From now on, only the rich will have the luxury of any sense of historical continuity.

likbez 12.14.19 at 1:13 am 2

It’s time to stop pretending we’re still in the postwar period (the question is, are we in a pre-war one).

True. As “Full Spectrum Dominance” inevitably lead to “threat inflation” it is logically drives the USA into the major war.

I think the current period can be called the “collapse of neoliberalism” period. In any case the neoliberal elite who was in power (Blairists, Clintonists) lost the trust of people. This is true both for the US and labour in the UK. In this sense the anti-Semitic smear against Corbin is equivalent to neo-McCarthyism hysteria in the USA. Both reflect the same level of desperation and clinging to power of “soft neoliberals.”

Unfortunately Corbin proved to be too weak to withstand the pressure and suppress Blairists. But Blairists in labour might still be up to a great disappointment. The history train left the station and they are still standing on the neoliberal platform, so to speak.

That’s why Brexit, as a form of protest against neoliberal globalization, has legs. It is a misguided, but still a protest movement.

From now on, only the rich will have the luxury of any sense of historical continuity.

The rich are not uniform. Financial oligarchy wants to stay, while manufacturers probably would prefer Brexit.

At the same time the grip on neocons in both countries are such that there is no hope that they will be deposed in foreseeable future. See comments to The Afghanistan war is more than a $1 trillion mistake. It’s a travesty

yemrajesh 10 Dec 2019 16:54

Why did so many people – from government contractors and high-ranking military officers, to state department and National Security Council officials – feel the need to lie about how the war in Afghanistan was going?

This is because it’s easy cash cow for the old boys club by sending working class kids to be killed in a far off land. The pentagon with the full cooperation of MSM will sell it as we are defending our ways of life by fighting a country 10,000 kms away.

This show the poor literacy, poor analytical thinking of US population constantly brain washed by MSM, holy men, clergy, other neo con organisations like National rifle club etc.

and

manoftheworld -> Redswordfish 10 Dec 2019 15:47

Perhaps the only thing Trump has got right .. and ever will get right.. is his dislike for war. He is right about Afghanistan. The terrible US press and political reaction to his peace talks with the Taliban showed that the deep state still doesn’t get it…

Mattis, Graham et al are insane liars… and so is Hilary Clinton and Petraeus… none of them has ever had the guts to tell the truth…

the average American is way more indoctrinated than the average pupil at a madrasa. …we should boot these lying American generals out of NATO.. they’re a threat to world peace…

In any case Brexit is a litmus test of what is the next stage for neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization.

[Dec 13, 2019] William Lind warns about the cost of threat inflation - Fabius Maximus website

Dec 13, 2019 | fabiusmaximus.com

William Lind warns about the cost of threat inflation By Larry Kummer, Editor / 7 Comments / 9 June 2019 25 June 2019 Summary: Trump promised to put America first and scale back our military adventures abroad. But the Deep State needs to be fed, and that requires a fearful America. To keep the money flowing to the military and its allied corporations, threats must be exaggerated. It is the kind of inflation the right-wing loves.

Bold words from our leaders risk new mad wars.

Man on horseback riding into battle - Dreamstime_108256905 <img data-attachment-id="127149" data-permalink="https://fabiusmaximus.com/2019/05/10/trump-keeps-america-on-the-path-to-decline/man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905/" data-orig-file="https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?fit=549%2C320&amp;ssl=1" data-orig-size="549,320" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;Canon EOS 5D Mark IV&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;S&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1515120637&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;50&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;250&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.016666666666667&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="Man on horseback riding into battle &#8211; Dreamstime_108256905" data-image-description="&lt;p&gt;Man on horseback riding into battle &#8211; Dreamstime_108256905&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?fit=300%2C175&amp;ssl=1" data-large-file="https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?fit=549%2C320&amp;ssl=1" src="https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?resize=549%2C320&#038;ssl=1" alt="Man on horseback riding into battle - Dreamstime_108256905" width="549" height="320" srcset="https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?w=549&amp;ssl=1 549w, https://i1.wp.com/fabiusmaximus.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Man-on-horseback-riding-into-battle-dreamstime_108256905.jpg?resize=300%2C175&amp;ssl=1 300w" sizes="(max-width: 549px) 100vw, 549px" data-recalc-dims="1" />
ID 108256905 © Ilkin Guliyev | Dreamstime.
The Costs of Threat Inflation By William S. Lind at Traditional Right, 6 June 2019.
Posted with his generous permission.

In the 1980s I used to give the slide-show briefing of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus to each class at the Air Force's Squadron Officers' School. After one of the briefs, an Air Force captain, an intelligence officer, came up to me and asked, "Does military reform mean I can stop inflating the threat?"

Threat inflation has been one of Washington's most successful growth industries for a long time. The purpose of inflating the threat is to inflate the military budget. The obvious cost is wasting the taxpayers' money on capabilities we do not need. But that is not the only cost. As the current tensions with Iran illustrate, threat inflation can lead to counter-productive military planning and, sometimes, to war.

For weeks, the Defense Department has been warning that Iran is planning to use allied Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria to attack U.S. forces in those countries . It has cited intelligence intercepts of communications between Iran's Revolutionary Guard and the militias as evidence. I'm sure the intercepts are real. But the interpretation suggests classic threat inflation.

If the U.S. attacks Iran, the obvious Iranian response will be to seize as many U.S. troops in the region as it can to serve as hostages. The Iranians have stated this response openly, saying, "Last time (in 1979), we had hundreds of American hostages. This time, we'll have thousands." It is a promising response for the obvious reason that we have no ready countermove. In 1979, we were largely left helpless, especially after we botched a rescue attempt. One would hope President Trump would ask the Pentagon, "Okay, if they do that, what's our next move?" I doubt he will get a reassuring answer.

So what are the communications we have intercepted about? Preparing that response. We have interpreted them as preparing an attack instead. Why? Because DOD always inflates the threat.

We have also accused Iran of launching small attacks against four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, attacks that damaged the ships but did not sink them. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a carefully weasel-worded statement said, "It seems like it's quite possible that Iran was behind them." That is true. It's also quite possible other countries in the region that want a war between the U.S. and Iran, including Israel, were behind them. Pointing only to Iran inflates the threat.

Threat inflation in a crisis can easily transmute itself into an escalatory ladder. That may be happening here. Iran signaled de-escalation by removing some "missiles" (probably just rockets) from some small fast boats used by the Revolutionary Guard. The Pentagon did not reciprocate by dialing back our actions. On the contrary, it asked President Trump to send 20,000 more U.S. troops to the region. Wisely, the president chopped that number back to 900.

Editor's note: this is a standard trick of DoD. Ask for a massive increase in troops, get less. Repeat as needed.

Here we see how threat inflation can lead to actions that are militarily just plain dumb. Iran threatens to take U.S. troops in the region hostage. How do we counter that? By sending more U.S. troops to the region, giving Iran more chances to take hostages. Who in the Pentagon is coming up with this, General Braxton Bragg or General Ben Butler?

Most of the Washington threat inflation industry is focused on inflating the Russian and Chinese "threats"–puffing the dragon is especially fashionable these days–which in turn feeds the bad strategy of turning two countries that should be allies into opponents. That is a failure on the grand strategic level, which is a high price indeed for threat inflation. But threat inflation is so deeply built into our whole system that it warps everything we do. Does military reform mean we can stop inflating the threat? Yes. But until the money runs out, the chance of reform is small.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- – Editor's note

Trump's behavior in this, as in most things, is standard GOP far-right. He has dashed the hopes of Change aroused by his campaign. Pointless foreign wars, involvement in other nation's civil disorders, and withdrawal from arms control treaties that have served us well – the mad policies that put America on the path to decline. But many of those that voted for him, hoping for change, remain supporters. Expect Trump to repeat his con in 2020.

About the author

William S. Lind is director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation . He has a Master's Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 to 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 to 1986. See his bio at Wikipedia .

[Dec 13, 2019] The View From Olympus The Costs of Threat Inflation traditionalRIGHT

Dec 13, 2019 | www.traditionalright.com

The View From Olympus: The Costs of Threat Inflation In the 1980s I used to give the slide-show briefing of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus to each class at the Air Force's Squadron Officers' School. After one of the briefs, an Air Force captain, an intelligence officer, came up to me and asked, "Does military reform mean I can stop inflating the threat?"

Threat inflation has been one of Washington's most successful growth industries for a long time. The purpose of inflating the threat is to inflate the military budget. The obvious cost is wasting the taxpayers' money on capabilities we do not need. But that is not the only cost. As the current tensions with Iran illustrate, threat inflation can lead to counter-productive military planning and, sometimes, to war.

For weeks, the Defense Department has been warning that Iran is planning to use allied Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria to attack U.S. forces in those countries. It has cited intelligence intercepts of communications between Iran's Revolutionary Guard and the militias as evidence. I'm sure the intercepts are real. But the interpretation suggests classic threat inflation.

If the U.S. attacks Iran, the obvious Iranian response will be to seize as many U.S. troops in the region as it can to serve as hostages. The Iranians have stated this response openly, saying, "Last time (in 1979), we had hundreds of American hostages. This time, we'll have thousands." It is a promising response for the obvious reason that we have no ready countermove. In 1979, we were largely left helpless, especially after we botched a rescue attempt. One would hope President Trump would ask the Pentagon, "Okay, if they do that, what's our next move?" I doubt he will get a reassuring answer.

So what are the communications we have intercepted about? Preparing that response. We have interpreted them as preparing an attack instead. Why? Because DOD always inflates the threat.

We have also accused Iran of launching small attacks against four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, attacks that damaged the ships but did not sink them. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a carefully weasel-worded statement said, "It seems like it's quite possible that Iran was behind them." That is true. It's also quite possible other countries in the region that want a war between the U.S. and Iran, including Israel, were behind them. Pointing only to Iran inflates the threat.

Threat inflation in a crisis can easily transmute itself into an escalatory ladder. That may be happening here. Iran signaled de-escalation by removing some "missiles" (probably just rockets) from some small fast boats used by the Revolutionary Guard. The Pentagon did not reciprocate by dialing back our actions. On the contrary, it asked President Trump to send 20,000 more U.S. troops to the region. Wisely, the president chopped that number back to 900.

Here we see how threat inflation can lead to actions that are militarily just plain dumb. Iran threatens to take U.S. troops in the region hostage. How do we counter that? By sending more U.S. troops to the region, giving Iran more chances to take hostages. Who in the Pentagon is coming up with this, General Braxton Bragg or General Ben Butler?

Most of the Washington threat inflation industry is focused on inflating the Russian and Chinese "threats"–puffing the dragon is especially fashionable these days–which in turn feeds the bad strategy of turning two countries that should be allies into opponents. That is a failure on the grand strategic level, which is a high price indeed for threat inflation. But threat inflation is so deeply built into our whole system that it warps everything we do. Does military reform mean we can stop inflating the threat? Yes. But until the money runs out, the chance of reform is small.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes' new future history, Victoria .

[Dec 12, 2019] Threat Inflation Poisons Our Foreign Policy by Daniel Larison

Highly recommended!
Dec 11, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
John Glaser and Christopher Preble have written a valuable study of the history and causes of threat inflation. Here is their conclusion:

If war is the health of the state, so is its close cousin, fear. America's foreign policy in the 21st century serves as compelling evidence of that. Arguably the most important task, for those who oppose America's apparently constant state of war, is to correct the threat inflation that pervades national security discourse. When Americans and their policymakers understand that the United States is fundamentally secure, U.S. military activism can be reined in, and U.S. foreign policy can be reset accordingly.

Threat inflation is how American politicians and policymakers manipulate public opinion and stifle foreign policy dissent. When hawks engage in threat inflation, they never pay a political price for sounding false alarms, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top their warnings may be. They have created their own ecosystem of think tanks and magazines over the decades to ensure that there are ready-made platforms and audiences for promoting their fictions. This necessarily warps every policy debate as one side is permitted to indulge in the most baseless speculation and fear-mongering, and in order to be taken "seriously" the skeptics often feel compelled to pay lip service to the "threat" that has been wildly blown out of proportion. In many cases, the threat is not just inflated but invented out of nothing. For example, Iran does not pose a threat to the United States, but it is routinely cited as one of the most significant threats that the U.S. faces. That has nothing to do with an objective assessment of Iranian capabilities or intentions, and it is driven pretty much entirely by a propaganda script that most politicians and policymakers recite on a regular basis. Take Iran's missile program, for example. As John Allen Gay explains in a recent article , Iran's missile program is primarily defensive in nature:

The reality is they're not very useful for going on offense. Quite the opposite: they're a primarily defensive tool -- and an important one that Iran fears giving up. As the new Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report entitled "Iran Military Power" points out, "Iran's ballistic missiles constitute a primary component of its strategic deterrent. Lacking a modern air force, Iran has embraced ballistic missiles as a long-range strike capability to dissuade its adversaries in the region -- particularly the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia -- from attacking Iran."

Iran's missile force is in fact a product of Iranian weakness, not Iranian strength.

Iran hawks need to portray Iran's missile program inaccurately as part of their larger campaign to exaggerate Iranian power and justify their own aggressive policies. If Iran hawks acknowledged that Iran's missiles are their deterrent against attacks from other states, including our government, it would undercut the rest of their fear-mongering.

Glaser and Preble identify five main sources of threat inflation in the U.S.: 1) expansive overseas U.S. commitments require an exaggerated justification to make those commitments seem necessary for our security; 2) decades of pursuing expansive foreign policy goals have created a class dedicated to providing those justifications and creating the myths that sustain support for the current strategy; 3) there are vested interests that benefit from expansive foreign policy and seek to perpetuate it; 4) a bias in our political system in favor of hawks gives another advantage to fear-mongers; 5) media sensationalism exaggerates dangers from foreign threats and stokes public fear. To those I would add at least one more: threat inflation thrives on the public's ignorance of other countries. When Americans know little or nothing about another country beyond what they hear from the fear-mongers, it is much easier to convince them that a foreign government is irrational and undeterrable or that weak authoritarian regimes on the far side of the world are an intolerable danger.

Threat inflation advances with the inflation of U.S. interests. The two feed off of each other. When far-flung crises and conflicts are treated as if they are of vital importance to U.S. security, every minor threat to some other country is transformed into an intolerable menace to America. The U.S. is extremely secure from foreign threats, but we are told that the U.S. faces myriad threats because our leaders try to make other countries' internal problems seem essential to our national security. Ukraine is at most a peripheral interest of the U.S., but to justify the policy of arming Ukraine we are told by the more unhinged supporters that this is necessary to make sure that we don't have to fight Russia "over here." Because the U.S. has so few real interests in most of the world's conflicts, interventionists have to exaggerate what the U.S. has at stake in order to sell otherwise very questionable and reckless policies. That is usually when we get appeals to showing "leadership" and preserving "credibility," because even the interventionists struggle to identify why the U.S. needs to be involved in some of these conflicts. The continued pursuit of global "leadership" is itself an invitation to endless threat inflation, because almost anything anywhere in the world can be construed as a threat to that "leadership" if one is so inclined. To understand just how secure the U.S. really is, we need to give up on the costly ambition of "leading" the world.

Threat inflation is one of the biggest and most enduring threats to U.S. security, because it repeatedly drives the U.S. to take costly and dangerous actions and to spend exorbitant amounts on unnecessary wars and weapons. We imagine bogeymen that we need to fight, and we waste decades and trillions of dollars in futile and avoidable conflicts, and in the end we are left poorer, weaker, and less secure than we were before.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review , Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter .

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