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Paleoconservatism

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Introduction

Paleoconservatism is a neologism created by those following within that movement to distinguish their so-called "traditional" values from the neoconservatives. While the “paleo” in paleoconservatism leaves the impression that it arose earlier than other conservatisms, the suggestion is misleading. It is mainly a reaction to Neoconservatism. And as such is pretty new movement and political philosophy.  Although Neoconservatism was born in 1965, in the pages of Irving Kristol’s journal the Public Interest, it was not until editor Norman Podhoretz used Commentary in June 1970 to state his opposition to the New Left that the movement began to attract attention (Commentary in American Life by Murray Friedman , Temple University Press, 2005 )

Most neoconservatives are Jewish and are often closely related by blood or long friendships. Indeed, as its adherents are the best-known Jewish conservatives, neoconservatism might fairly be described as the conservatism of the Jews—those few Jews who become prominent on the Right almost invariably identify with it. Recalling their early struggles against fascist and communist totalitarianism, the neoconservatives continue to view external opponents of the United States as threats not simply to American interests but to civilization itself. They also remain intellectuals, not politicians, and are most comfortable as thinkers and writers who, unlike candidates for office, can express their views without reservation. Those who have served in government—with the exception of Moynihan—have done so as appointees and have developed impressive bureaucratic skills that they have used effectively in high-level positions. In one important way, however, neoconservatism has changed. The left-wing experiences that marked the youths of many older neoconservatives do not characterize the current generation—some came from the relatively conservative Jackson wing of the 1970s Democratic Party, but most of the new generation have been conservatives their entire adult lives.

However, paleoconservatism should not be seen as a simple resurrection of these earlier themes. It fuses notions associated with the anti-war, anti-empire, isolationist traditions with other strains and concepts drawn from both the social sciences and different conservative traditions. They are reconfigured so as to form a theoretically developed and structured world view informed by a particular representation of American ethnicity, elite theory, and notions of republicanism derived from southern conservatism. In other words this is an ideology, much like Neoconservatism is.  And as such a competing ideology.  

Many prominent paleoconservatives publish their views in The American Conservative, the leading publication exposing paleoconservative ideology. Buchanan, leading spokesman of paleoconservatism has adopted the slogan "America First” as part of a conscious attempt to evoke pre-war sentiments about keeping the United States out of “foreign wars.”

"Today we call for a new patriotism, where Americans begin to put the needs of Americans first, for a new nationalism where in every negotiation, be it arms control or trade, the American side seeks advantage or victory for the United States." With these words, columnist, television personality, and former presidential speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan announced his candidacy for president in a New Hampshire hotel conference room. He had prefigured his slogan in an article the previous year for the National Interest: "America First--and Second, and Third." ...

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America First was Buchanan's gambit, his bid to mobilize conservatives now that the old call to slash the federal government no longer resounded successfully. With it he hoped to attract America's nationalist hard core, people who felt aggrieved and abused not so much by foreigners as by alien elements within their own country--to unite conservatism and populism together in an ideology that could impose itself on the country more effectively than Reagan's business-oriented conservatism had ever succeeded in doing. It was not Buchanan's gambit alone, of course. Over the five years since he had quit his White House staff job in 1987, an intellectual coterie had assembled around Buchanan, made up of writers and activists who had broken off from the main mass of conservatism over the course of the 1980s, disgusted with President Reagan's weak-willed acceptance of a Martin Luther King holiday and sanctions against South Africa, with President Bush's knuckling under to the 1991 civil rights laws and his upping legal immigration levels by 200,000 a year. They complained that their conservative movement--the conservative movement of Robert Alfonso Taft and Barry Goldwater--had been hijacked. "Before true conservatives can ever take back their country," Buchanan had written in May 1991, "they are first going to have to take back their movement." From whom? From "the neoconservatives . . . the ex-liberals, socialists and Trotskyists who signed on in the name of anti-communism and now control our foundations and set the limits of permissible dissent." As one of the conservatives who would later back the Buchanan campaign lamented, "We have simply been crowded out by overwhelming numbers. The offensives of radicalism have driven vast herds of liberals across the borders into our territories. These refugees speak in our name, but the language they speak is the same one they always spoke." 1

Paleoconservatism also has  a marked hostility to the “east coast establishment", echoing Huey Long’s attacks on the wealthy and Father Charles Coughlin's pleas on behalf of the local community against what he saw as the arrogance and self-interested indifference of metropolitan financial interests. They are suspicious about big finance, especially TBTF banks.

Paleoconservatism also shares the sense of exclusion from the government apparatus by neoconservatives, who now dominate the Washington political scene, and especially the Department of State. Along with Neoconservatism, they reject neoliberal globalization and multiculturalism (three horseman of Neoliberal Apocalypse):

Although Scotchie does not put it quite this way, contemporary paleoconservatism developed as a reaction against three trends in the American Right during the Reagan administration. First, it reacted against the bid for dominance by the neoconservatives, former liberals who insisted not only that their version of conservative ideology and rhetoric prevail over those of older conservatives, but also that their team should get the rewards of office and patronage and that the other team of the older Right receive virtually nothing.

The politics of this conflict, as those involved in it will recall, was often vicious and personal, the most notorious case being the backstabbing treatment of the late M.E. Bradford by his neoconservative rivals over the appointment to the chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1981. The bitterness of the NEH controversy was due not to the neocons pushing their own nominee, the totally unknown and laughably under-qualified William Bennett but to their complete lack of hesitation in smearing, lying about, and undermining Bradford at every opportunity.

Scotchie deals briefly with the Bradford controversy, but I have to say, as one closely involved in supporting Bradford at the time, that he does not dwell sufficiently on the sheer evil and meanness of neoconservative conduct in it. But he also notes the firing, calculated vilification, or effective ostracism of several paleos or paleo fellow travelers by the neocon cabal in the following years as well as the deliberate campaign to strip the Rockford Institute of funding by neoconservative-controlled foundations.

Most paleoconservatives are against immigration, neoclassical economics (which is pseudoscience anyway, so any rational person is against it ;-) and any military intervention by the US anywhere. They have little regard for any benefits of an egalitarian society. Their economic views are more likely to tend toward New Deal than modern neoliberalism, although there is a contingent of  Austrian scholars within paleoconservative movement. 

The most notable living paleoconservative is Patrick Buchanan, who recently (welcomed Donald Trump foreign policy views):

With Democrats howling that Vladimir Putin hacked into and leaked those 19,000 DNC emails to help Trump, the Donald had a brainstorm: Maybe the Russians can retrieve Hillary Clinton's lost emails. Not funny, and close to "treasonous," came the shocked cry. Trump then told the New York Times that a Russian incursion into Estonia need not trigger a U.S. military response.

Even more shocking. By suggesting the U.S. might not honor its NATO commitment, under Article 5, to fight Russia for Estonia, our foreign policy elites declaimed, Trump has undermined the security architecture that has kept the peace for 65 years. More interesting, however, was the reaction of Middle America. Or, to be more exact, the nonreaction. Americans seem neither shocked nor horrified. What does this suggest?

Behind the war guarantees America has issued to scores of nations in Europe, the Mideast and Asia since 1949, the bedrock of public support that existed during the Cold War has crumbled. We got a hint of this in 2013. Barack Obama, claiming his "red line" against any use of poison gas in Syria had been crossed, found he had no public backing for air and missile strikes on the Assad regime. The country rose up as one and told him to forget it. He did. We have been at war since 2001. And as one looks on the ruins of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and adds up the thousands dead and wounded and trillions sunk and lost, can anyone say our War Party has served us well?

On bringing Estonia into NATO, no Cold War president would have dreamed of issuing so insane a war guarantee. Eisenhower refused to intervene to save the Hungarian rebels. JFK refused to halt the building of the Berlin Wall. LBJ did nothing to impede the Warsaw Pact's crushing of the Prague Spring. Reagan never considered moving militarily to halt the smashing of Solidarity.

Were all these presidents cringing isolationists? Rather, they were realists who recognized that, though we prayed the captive nations would one day be free, we were not going to risk a world war, or a nuclear war, to achieve it. Period. In 1991, President Bush told Ukrainians that any declaration of independence from Moscow would be an act of "suicidal nationalism."

Today, Beltway hawks want to bring Ukraine into NATO. This would mean that America would go to war with Russia, if necessary, to preserve an independence Bush I regarded as "suicidal."

Have we lost our minds?

The first NATO supreme commander, General Eisenhower, said that if U.S. troops were still in Europe in 10 years, NATO would be a failure. In 1961, he urged JFK to start pulling U.S. troops out, lest Europeans become military dependencies of the United States. Was Ike not right? Even Barack Obama today riffs about the "free riders" on America's defense. Is it really so outrageous for Trump to ask how long the U.S. is to be responsible for defending rich Europeans who refuse to conscript the soldiers or pay the cost of their own defense, when Eisenhower was asking that same question 55 years ago?

In 1997, geostrategist George Kennan warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe "would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era." He predicted a fierce nationalistic Russian response. Was Kennan not right? NATO and Russia are today building up forces in the eastern Baltic where no vital U.S. interests exist, and where we have never fought before - for that very reason. There is no evidence Russia intends to march into Estonia, and no reason for her to do so. But if she did, how would NATO expel Russian troops without air and missile strikes that would devastate that tiny country? And if we killed Russians inside Russia, are we confident Moscow would not resort to tactical atomic weapons to prevail? After all, Russia cannot back up any further. We are right in her face.

On this issue Trump seems to be speaking for the silent majority and certainly raising issues that need to be debated.

Needed now is diplomacy. The trade-off: Russia ensures the independence of the Baltic republics that she let go. And NATO gets out of Russia's face. Should Russia dishonor its commitment, economic sanctions are the answer, not another European war.

Daniel Larison  is probably the second important paleoconservative thinker. Antiwar.com founder and editor Justin Raimondo is probably the third. Also important is Phyllis Schlafly.

Paleoconservatism claims its roots in the "Old Right", a loose grouping of people, many of them former liberals, who emerged during the Great Depression and World War II as opponents of Franklin D. Roosevelt's domestic and foreign policy. As the Cold War got underway after WWII, these people remained isolationist and opposed the Cold War, grouping post-war foreign and domestic policy together as two sides of the same coin, the "welfare-warfare state."

Early examples include journalists John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Albert Jay Nock, revisionist historians Harry Elmer Barnes (one of the first major Holocaust deniers) and George Morgenstern (who claimed that FDR had dragged America into WWII by deliberately goading the Japanese to attack), libertarian Murray Rothbard, and U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft.

With militant anti-communism in vogue on the American right, they found themselves marginalized within the conservative movement and shut out from outlets like William F. Buckley's National Review, their continued isolationism getting them accused of being "useful idiots" for Moscow.

However, they continued as an outside tendency through such groups as Leonard Read's Foundation for Economic Education and an emerging Austrian school of economics led by Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt, who later became libertarian icons. It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall that isolationism re-emerged on the right (outside of the libertarians, who had become a distinct movement from conservatism), led by people like Pat Buchanan who had been interventionist during the Cold War. 

Promotions of local manufacturing and tariffs

From The Paleo Persuasion The American Conservative

Politically, the leadership of the Right evolved from Robert Taft in the 1940s and ’50s, who, as Scotchie writes, “cared more … about the survival of the shoe-making industry in America than whether American consumers could someday buy $125 sneakers made by twenty-five cents an hour labor in Indonesia,” to Newt Gingrich, who babbled about a laptop computer for every school child and doted credulously on the most bizarre New Age banalities. Culturally and intellectually, the Right moved from the radical conservative cultural criticism of men like Donald Davidson, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and Bernard I. Bell to the post-Reagan triumphalism that chortled over the “end of history” and the arrival of the world democratic imperium.

Rejection of neoliberal interventionism and wars

Anti war position make Paleoconservatism is similar to libertarianism. They reject neoconservatism with its Trotskyite "Permanent war" mentality. Paloconservatism anti-war postion like is the case with libertarians as well is based on Non-Interventionism:

Libertarianism and war are not compatible. One reason why should be obvious: In war, governments commit legalized mass murder. In modern warfare especially, war is not just waged among voluntary combatants, but kills, maims, and otherwise harms innocent people. Then, of course, wars must be funded through taxes, which are extracted from U.S. citizens by force—a form of legalized theft, as far as libertarians are concerned. And, historically, the United States has used conscription—legalized slavery—to force people to fight and die. In addition, an interventionist foreign policy makes civilians targets for retaliation, so governments indirectly cause more violence against their own people when they become involved in other countries’ affairs. In addition, war is always accompanied by many other new restrictions on liberty, many of which are sold as supposedly temporary wartime measures but then never go away.

In the article The Paleo Persuasion Samuel Francis wrote ( The American Conservative, December 16, 2002): 

While some (Scotchie mentions Pat Buchanan and me) were anti-communist interventionists during the Cold War, all have come to reject the reckless military interventionism and globalism of its aftermath. A critical point of development was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the U.S. and conservative response to it. Paleos and those who soon identified with them almost spontaneously rejected U.S. military intervention against Iraq. It was a moment, falling only a year after the neoconservative onslaught on the Rockford Institute, that solidified the paleoconservative identity.

“The US, as paleos have claimed for decades, was only meant to be a constitutional republic, not an empire—as Buchanan’s 1999 foreign policy tome A Republic, Not an Empire nostalgically states,” Scotchie explains. “Republics mind their own business. Their governments have very limited powers, and their people are too busy practicing self-government to worry about problems in other countries. Empires not only bully smaller, defenseless nations, they also can’t leave their own, hapless subjects alone…. Empires and the tenth amendment aren’t friends…. Empires and small government aren’t compatible, either.

If anti-interventionism and a commitment to the Old Republic defined by strict-construction constitutionalism and highly localized and independent social and political institutions defined one major dimension of paleoconservatism, its antipathy to the mass immigration that began to flood the country in the 1980s defined another. Indeed, it was ostensibly and mainly Chronicles’ declaration of opposition to immigration that incited the neoconservative attack on Rockford and its subsequent defunding. Scotchie devotes a special but short chapter to paleoconservative thought on immigration and makes clear that to paleos, America was an extension of Western civilization. It was intended by the Founding Fathers to be an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic nation also influenced by Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. Large-scale immigration from non-Western nations would, as Fleming (and most other paleos) maintained, forever spoil a distinct American civilization.

The implication of this passage is that paleoconservatives, unlike libertarians, most neoconservatives, and many contemporary mainstream conservatives, do not consider America to be an “idea,” a “proposition,” or a “creed.” It is instead a concrete and particular culture, rooted in a particular historical experience, a set of particular institutions as well as particular beliefs and values, and a particular ethnic-racial identity, and, cut off from those roots, it cannot survive. Indeed, it is not surviving now, for all the glint and glitter of empire.

While Scotchie is quite clear and well-informed about the paleos’ thought on immigration and its meaning, he fails to discuss at all their views on race. This is unfortunate, as not a few of them have been accused of simple-minded “racism,” “white supremacy,” and other ill-defined bugaboos. I, for one, like to think that what they believe about race, while definitely not in the liberal-neocon mainstream, is rather more nuanced and considerably more sophisticated than their enemies (and not a few of their friends) want to think.

If Scotchie’s book has any great flaw, it is that it is simply too short. Paleoconservatism is worth a much longer and deeper look than his volume can give, though Scotchie himself is both so thoroughly familiar with his subject and so sympathetic to it that he could have produced a much more extended treatment. He might also have revealed more of the personalities of the leading paleoconservative writers, interviewed them, and discussed several writers he omits, for example, Claes Ryn of Catholic University or E. Christian Kopff of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he might have explored why the Chronicles school has not been more successful at defining the American Right.

Have the paleos indeed failed, and if they have, is the neocon stab-in-the-back theory the only reason? Are there perhaps either large historical trends or even mere personality differences among the paleos that made their own crack-up eventually inevitable, and can such trends or conflicts be overcome? Or are the paleos really only dinosaurs, whining nostalgically for a world they have lost and unable or cantankerously unwilling to adapt to the Shining Imperial City on the Hill the neoconservatives claim to be constructing? Scotchie might have explored these questions and problems more extensively than he did, and one hopes he will do so in a bigger book in the future, but what he has given us in the meantime is an essential and valuable contribution to American intellectual history in the last decade of the last century
 

Paleoconservatives are strongly critical of neoliberalism

In a 1988 lecture, Russell Kirk quoted a letter that showed, he said, how hot the bitterness burned: "I believe," wrote his correspondent, "that the chief enemy of American conservatism has not been the Marxists, nor even the socialist liberals in the Democratic Party, but the Neo-conservatives, who have sabotaged the movement from within and exploited it for their own selfish purposes." 2

Paleoconservatism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They are also strongly critical of neoconservatives and their sympathizers in print media, talk radio and cable TV news.[26] Paleocons often say they are not conservatives in the sense that they necessarily wish to preserve existing institutions or seek merely to slow the growth of modern big-government conservatism.[27] They do not wish to be closely identified with the U.S. Republican Party.[26] Rather, they seek the renewal of "small 'r'" republican society in the context of the Western heritage, customs and civilization.[28] Joseph Scotchie wrote:

Republics mind their own business. Their governments have very limited powers, and their people are too busy practicing self-government to worry about problems in other countries. Empires not only bully smaller, defenseless nations, they also can’t leave their own, hapless subjects alone.... Empires and small government aren’t compatible, either.[29]

By contrast, paleocons see neoconservatives as empire-builders and themselves as defenders of the republic, pointing to Rome as an example of how an ongoing campaign of military expansionism can destroy a republic.[30]

As paleoconservatism germinated as a reaction to neoconservatism, most of its development as a distinct political tendency under that name has been in the United States, although there are parallels in the traditional Old Right of other Western nations. French conservatives such as Jean Raspail,[135] and British conservatives such as Enoch Powell,[136] Peter Hitchens,[137] Antony Flew (whom the Rockford Institute awarded the Ingersoll Prize),[138] John Betjeman,[139] and Roger Scruton[140] as well as Scruton's Salisbury Review and Derek Turner's Quarterly Review,[141] as well as Australia's Sydney Traditionalist Forum[142] all emphasize skepticism, stability, and the Burkean inheritance, and may be considered broadly sympathetic to paleo values. For example, Hitchens wrote, in opposition to the Iraq War,

There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organized lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark. It damages family life and wounds the Church. It is, in short, the ally of everything summed up by the ugly word ‘progress.’[143]

Note the One Nation movement in 1990s Australia,[144] Germany's Junge Freiheit,[145] and Italy's Lega Nord.[146]  Also paleoconservatism has some analogies with the Russian dissidents such as Andrei Navrozov[147] and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.[148]

Anti-immigration sentiments: save our jobs

Paleoconservative attitudes toward the issue of illegal immigration to the United States and the problem of multiculturalism and assimilation on American soil are mostly negative.  They view these phenomena as a significant threat to the American way of life. Their words are filled with anxiety for the future of American society, which is instilled with the positive meaning of the idea of open borders, and which is becoming permeated with alien cultures and losing its own cultural identity. Starting with an explanation of the essence of the American nation’s homogeneity, this article presents the threats which come with the ‘mixing’ of cultures and liberal immigration as well as phenomena directly linked to such immigration, namely the problem of terrorism and Islam.

Most Americans at least professed to be unalarmed about this gradual transformation of the country. They claimed that America was a nation founded upon a "proposition"; anyone who assented to the American proposition could become an American (Dead Right, by David Frum):

To Buchanan and his friends, this universalism was just sentimental flim-flam. American civilization was the product of a particular people. To preserve that civilization, it was necessary to preserve the people that had created it. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had not created America; the Declaration and the Constitution were created by Americans. Bolivar wrote constitutions every bit as noble as that composed in Philadelphia; it was the Anglo-American character that made the Philadelphia constitution a success and the Caracas constitution a failure. History had demonstrated that non- British Isles immigrants from Europe had made good enough citizens, but why run the awful risk of cultural suicide...

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His conservatism was a nationalist conservatism above all--a conservatism that attached far more importance to cultural and security issues than to maximizing growth and efficiency. Buchanan was slow to absorb all the implications of his nationalism. In his 1988 memoir, he still thought that "among the great American achievements of the twentieth century is free Asia, democratic and capitalist." "To squander that in an absurd 'trade war' because we cannot compete with Korean cars or Japanese computer chips would be an act of almost terminal stupidity for the West." 9 He also confessed that he had inwardly believed, at the time they took place, that the civil rights movement's civil disobedience campaigns were justified by natural law, even though he would later write editorials for the Globe-Democrat attacking them. But his thinking was jogged along by a new set of friends: the writers who published in Chronicles magazine.

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Sympathy for the economic plight of blue-collar workers in New Hampshire was not just bleeding-heart sentimentalism: it propelled Buchanan toward accepting an active federal responsibility for promoting industry--and protecting it from foreign competition. Buchanan's standard stump speech told an anecdote about a visit to a lumber mill on the Canadian border. Shaking hands with the workers, the candidate found himself face to face with a burly giant of a man. The man stood silent for a moment, staring at the floor, and then looked up to say only, "Save our jobs." As a story, it is as kitschy as Steinbeck at his most gooey, but it led to a serious point:

I see Mr. Bush, and excuse me, some of my conservative friends, by their willingness to allow the ruthless destruction of so many of the industries vital to our defenses, as engaged in the unilateral disarmament of our country. I can't understand it. On the grounds of national interest, I favor policies that won't let certain defense-related industries go under.

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Do we want to keep the textile manufacturing base in the United States? Do we want to keep GM and Chrysler and Ford? Do we want to keep Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas? . . . We have got to address the fact that the Asian countries and European countries are practising a form of protectionism and adversarial trade. They are capturing markets by undercutting and dumping and by targeted trade, and they have been doing this to make their countries No. 1. 12

 The Economist stringer who followed Buchanan to Mississippi reported that

Mr. Buchanan has greater ideas still for the nationalist state than merely dishing out credits to any industry (oil and gas, aerospace, textiles, ship-building) that suffers from foreign competition. For instance, he privately admits he is tempted by the idea of paying for those credits--and much more--by. throwing up a wall of tariffs around the American economy.

Buchanan understood that many conservatives saw trade not as an economic issue, but as an issue of sovereignty and group loyalty. Protectionism is a way for conservatives to show solidarity with their fellow-Americans, especially blue-collar fellow-Americans, without explicitly endorsing the redistribution of wealth. Which is why so many would-be populists of the Right have been drawn to the protectionist cause. Barry Goldwater had been one of just eight senators to vote against the 1962 law that gave President Kennedy the authority to engage in the Kennedy round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations. Pat Robertson campaigned as a protectionist in 1988. So did George Wallace, in both 1968 and 1972. Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail whiz who in his heyday had his stethoscope pressed as close to the chest of the American conservative as anyone, argued as long ago as 1983 that "the official trade policy of the United States should be 'fair trade'--that is, no imports produced with slave labor, no imports from foreign plants built by the U.S. taxpayer and no imports from countries which don't allow our products into their country." 15

And in November 1991, just before the beginning of campaigning in New Hampshire, a group of conservative activists called a press conference in Washington to announce their repudiation of free trade. Among them was Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, the stablest of the new right-wing organizations that had come to life in the late 1970s, and one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation. "We are here," Weyrich said, "to warn the Republican Party that they had better take this issue seriously."

Weyrich was not just blowing hot air. While the congressional Republican Party overwhelmingly endorsed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the endorsement was not quite unanimous. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms voted against NAFTA as did his protégé Senator Lauch Faircloth. And many of the Republicans who voted in favor of the treaty were swung not by the ambiguous pact's free-trade aspects but by its protectionist subthemes. Suggestively, the manager of the Republican pro-NAFTA forces in the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, is by no means a believer in free trade. In conversation, he praises Henry Cabot Lodge and the protectionist Republicans of the 1920s, and warns that in the absence of trade controls, world industrial wages will be determined by the pay scale of South China. 17

Rejection of Israel first crowd

WELL DONE MR. TRUMP!!! Israel-First, Neocons to join Hillary, all America’s enemies in one party Non-Intervention.com

The disloyal Israel-First/Neoconservative (IF/NC) crowd seems to be having a collective and hopefully fatal seizure over Mr. Trump’s pledge to be strictly even-handed and neutral in the ongoing war between Israel and the Arabs — a war both sides clearly intend to fight to the death.

Now, many past presidential candidates have said much the same thing, but they have always added that silly, ahistorical mantra that the United States will defend Israel’s “right to exist”. But Trump did not add that mantra of the brain-dead, and so has markedly distressed the Israel-Firsters and Neocons. Indeed, they always have opposed Trump because, it seems, they sense that he will always put America first and let those individuals, nations, and groups irrelevant to the republic’s security and economic prosperity swing in the wind. I think — or at least hope — they are right.

What makes the current Israel First/Neocon seizure so hearteningly severe are not only Trump’s words and apparent America-First foreign policy inclinations, but the fact that he is getting so very many votes. “Could it possibly be,” ponder the likes of Bill Kristol, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Michael Bloomberg, Peter King, Elliott Abrams, Eric Edelman, Michael Chertoff, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Bolton, “that Americans are not genuinely happy, proud, and eager to have their fellow citizens and soldier-children dying uselessly in wars motivated in large part by the U.S. interventionism we advocate and by America’s subservience to a country that does nothing but degrade the republic’s security and drain its treasury?” “Could it be,” the IF/NC’ers are wondering, “that Trump and the increasing number of voters supporting him know that we Israel-Firsters and Neocons have played them for fools, corrupted their political system and media, and done our best to keep their kids dying in wars meant to serve a foreign nation’s interests at the cost of their own?” Well, it is too soon to tell, but the words of the Israel Firsters and Neocons and their fierce hatred of Trump surely suggest that they fear their war-causing disloyalty has been identified and — at long last — their jig is about up.

Facing the next-to-last last ditch, the disloyal are nearly frantic in their support for Senator Marco Rubio. And why not? Rubio is a thorough-going IF/NC, and — as he has little money of his own — is on the payroll, according to the media, of two pro-Israel, Jewish-American billionaires. Rubio also has denounced the Founders’ approach to foreign policy, expressing his belief that the IF/NC approach to U.S. foreign policy — that is, America at war everywhere, all the time, to protect Israel — is superior to John Quincy Adams’ republic-preserving advice that the United States must never go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.”

But Rubio, after his Super Tuesday shellacking, is circling the drain until the Florida primary sends him barreling toward the sewer, and the Neocons and Israel Firsters, as Jacob Heilbrunn has written in the National Interest, have only one place to go, and that is to Hillary Clinton, who already has few of both detestable species on her team, but, the media says, only one pro-Israel, Jewish-American billionaire.

Mr. Heilbrunn’s excellent article notes that the IF/NC was originally based in the Democratic Party and so in a sense would be going home if they side with Clinton. That they were once aligned with the Democrats is clearly true, but being aligned with is much different than being part of, and I would argue that the IF/NC have never been anything but a one-issue party of their own.

Their party — best identified as the Disloyal Party or perhaps just as Copperheads — has never had any goal other than protecting the interests of Israel and keeping the United States steadily involved in the Israel-Arab war by promoting and purchasing a U.S. foreign policy that results in wars to install “democracy” abroad, but which are, in reality, only wars that are intended to annihilate Israel’s enemies, while unnecessarily making Israel’s enemies America’s. Can any clear thinking person really believe, for example, that “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” is anything but an IF/NC tool for fomenting war against Muslims in order to protect what they describe as “the only democracy” in the Middle East?

The use of the democracy angle by the IF/NC crowd is amply demonstrated in a recent article by one of its leading lights, Max Boot, titled “The GOP’s Apologists for Tyrants”. In this piece, Mr. Boot denounces Republican presidential candidates Trump, Cruz, and Kasich for “their support for dictators” and their clear lack of enthusiasm for unnecessary overseas democracy mongering and interventionist wars. Mr. Boot lauds the usual Copperhead line and insists that overthrowing Saddam, Gaddafi, and others was the correct thing to do. The only problem, he says, is that the U.S. government did not go far enough in waging those useless and massively counterproductive wars. Only the Israel First-owned Marco Rubio, Boot declares, refuses to “embrace genocidal tyrants”, which means the Copperheads were betting that they could count on Rubio for more war.

Well, Mr. Boot, no, Trump, Cruz, and Kasich are not seeking to “embrace genocidal tyrants”, but rather are looking out for America first. They know that neither Saddam nor Gaddafi was ever a serious national-security threat to the United States; indeed, both were key and extraordinarily lethal allies — and ones we did not have to pay — in the war against the Islamists.

Saddam kept Iraq’s door locked tight and so prevented the Islamists located east of Iraq from moving westward in large numbers, and he made the Iranians little more than marginal players in the Levant. How are things looking in that area now, Mr. Boot? Gaddafi kept the Islamists at bay in much of North Africa and murdered or incarcerated every Islamist that Libya’s military and security services could get their hands on, but IF/NC wanted a pro-democracy war in Libya and got it. How are affairs in the Maghreb going these days, Mr. Boot?

And do not forget, Mr. Boot, that you and your IF/NC sidekicks insisted that the U.S. government go democracy mongering in the Middle East in the name of the Arab Spring, and then you supported the military coup in Egypt that destroyed a democratically elected regime. Now, Mr. Boot, how is all of that working out? Finally, what about that clever IF/NC plan to build a new, pro-Western democracy in Afghanistan, how is that doing? Could you check on the progress of democracy there and get back to me?

What I think Mr. Trump is saying, Mr. Boot, is that it is too bad/so sad that there are murderous dictators loose in the world, but as long as they pose no life-and-death threat to the United States there is no reason for America to militarily intervene and give them — as the saying goes — the boot. After all, if the dictators are not killing Americans and/or threatening genuine U.S. national interests, who cares? Humans are hard-wired for war, so let them fight. The U.S. government exists only to defend the republic, its commerce, and its citizens and their liberties; it is under precisely zero obligation — legal, moral, or one dreamed up by disloyal U.S. citizens — to defend any set of foreigners against the murderous machinations of the dictators who rule them or the enemies who threaten them.

The wars that disloyal IF/NC Copperheads like you champion, Mr. Boot, have invariably been greatly counterproductive for U.S. national security, the national debt, and, especially, for those you and your colleagues care the least about; namely, the parents, wives, husbands, and children who suffered the loss or maiming of their loved ones in the military while they were fighting in the unnecessary wars you and your kind demand that America fight for only one reason, to make the world safe for Israel.

So, Mr. Boot, if you and the rest of your wretched and disloyal IF/NC associates want to go to the Democratic Party and side with IF/NC’er Hillary Clinton, please go immediately and trumpet your departure from the roof tops. After all, what could be more appropriate than today’s Copperheads — a kind of snake that sneaks and strikes without warning — joining the Democratic Party, the original incubator and home of the Civil War’s Copperheads? In the decade before that war, Massachusetts’s Senator Charles Sumner was speaking when he saw one of his pro-slavery foes enter the Senate Chamber and walk toward his seat. Sumner stopped and asked, I paraphrase here, the other senators to witness that a slug was slithering across the chamber’s floor looking for a chair to adhere to. For the Republican Party, the movement of the entire IF/NC crowd to the Democratic Party would be a Godsend, a veritable slithering slug migration that would find no shortage of fellow slugs waiting for them in Hillary’s camp, and there probably would be enough chairs for all of them to adhere to.

There is, then, nothing that could strengthen the Republican Party more and attract more voters to its side than to be shed of you, Mr. Boot, and your disloyal fellow Copperheads. Be gone, good riddance, and praise God for cutting out the festering IF/NC malignancy from the Republican Party so that it can once again stand for something more than endless war and Israel First.

 

Anti-Federalism, the stress of decentralization and local governance

The paleoconservative emphasis upon localism is reflected in their search for international co-think- ers. They have constructed ties with those who think in terms of small-scale, decentralized and localist structures structured around shared com- mon ethnic roots, rather than those who seek to construct a centralized state apparatus. Italy has been of particular interest. Chronicles rejects the commercial conservatism of Forza Italia and the quasi-fascism of Alleanza Nazionale. It looks instead towards the Lega Nord, its leader, Umberto Bossi, and its demands for a confederate state. It has similarly associ- ated itself with the Bosnian Serbs' efforts to create an autonomous republic, and opposed the attempts to es- tablish Bosnia as a viable multiethnic state. The hostility of the European right to American mass culture may however prevent closer collaboration.

Anti-Federalism is another key aspect of paleoconservatism, which adherents see as an antitype to the managerial state. The paleocon flavor urges honoring the principle of subsidiarity, that is, decentralized government, local rule, private property and minimal bureaucracy.[54] In an international context, this view would be known as federalism and paleocons often look to John C. Calhoun for inspiration.[55]

As to the role of statecraft in society, Thomas Fleming says it should not be confused with soulcraft. He gives his summary of the paleocon position:

Our basic position on the state has always been twofold: 1) a recognition that man is a social and political animal who cannot be treated as an "individual" without doing damage to human nature. In this sense libertarian theory is as wrong and as potentially harmful as communism. The commonwealth is therefore a natural and necessary expression of human nature that provides for the fulfillment of human needs, and 2) the modern state is a cancerous form of polity that has metastasized and poisoned the natural institutions from which the state derives all legitimacy — family, church, corporation (in the broadest sense), and neighborhood. Thus, it is almost always a mistake to try to use the modern state to accomplish moral or social ends.[56]

Russell Kirk, for example, argued that most government tasks should be performed at the local or state level. This is intended to ward off centralization and protect community sentiment by putting the decision-making power closer to the populace. He rooted this in the Christian notion of original sin; since humanity is flawed, society should not put too much power in a few hands. Gerald J. Russello concluded that this involved "a different way of thinking about government, one based on an understanding of political society as beginning in place and sentiment, which in turn supports written laws."[57]

This anti-federalism extends to culture too. In general, this means that different regional groups should be able to maintain their own distinct identity. For example, Thomas Fleming and Michael Hill argue that the American South and every other region have the right to "preserve their authentic cultural traditions and demand the same respect from others." In their Southern context they call on citizens to "take control of their own governments, their own institutions, their own culture, their own communities and their own lives" and "wean themselves from dependence on federal largesse." They say that:

A concern for states' rights, local self-government and regional identity used to be taken for granted everywhere in America. But the United States is no longer, as it once was, a federal union of diverse states and regions. National uniformity is being imposed by the political class that runs Washington, the economic class that owns Wall Street and the cultural class in charge of Hollywood and the Ivy League.[58]

In a similar fashion, Pat Buchanan argued during the 1996 campaign that the social welfare should be left to the control of individual states. He also called for abolishing the U.S. Department of Education and handing decision-making over to parents, teachers and districts. Controversies such as evolution, busing and curriculum standards would be settled on a local basis.[59] In addition, he opposed a 1998 Puerto Rican statehood plan on the grounds that the island would be ripped from its cultural and linguistic roots: "Let Puerto Rico remain Puerto Rico, and let the United States remain the United States and not try to absorb, assimilate and Americanize a people whose hearts will forever belong to that island."[60]

Focus of family and moral values

Like most conservatives, paleoconservatives  believe that hard work, self-discipline, and adherence to religious faith were the means by which a virtuous life was earned and a moral order was established and maintained (The Paleo Persuasion The American Conservative):

Third, paleoconservatism emerged also as a reaction against what was taking place in American culture itself in the 1980s and ’90s, trends that the mainstream Right warmly embraced. Not only the increasing secularism, hedonism, and carnal and material self-indulgence of the dominant culture but also its shallowness and artificiality, its proclivity to being manipulated by media and political elites, its passivity in the face of more and more usurpation of social and civic functions by big government, big business, and big media, and the happy chatter from the contemporary political Right that celebrated this transformation and identified public morality almost exclusively with flag-waving, prayer in schools, invoking saccharine and platitude about “family values,” and constant ranting about any and all movies that contained sex.

The paleoconservative vews on the subject are well expressed in By Samuel Goldman  review of  the book It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt, Harper (\The American Conservative June 10, 2016 ):

On April 27, 1979, Jerry Falwell addressed thousands of conservative Christians from the steps of the Capitol. Asserting that the “vast majority” of Americans were opposed to pornography, abortion, and homosexuality, he announced the establishment of a new organization to promote “pro-family, pro-life, and pro-morality” policies. In a statement before the rally, Falwell explained the motive behind what he called the Moral Majority: “We’ve had enough and we want America cleaned up.”

Times have changed. Formerly confident in their numbers and clout, conservative Christians are now on the defensive. Falwell dreamed of cleaning up America. Nearly two generations later, his heirs are reduced to pleading for exemptions from sweeping anti-discrimination policies. Although popular with voters in some states, these pleas have not survived national scrutiny—even where Republicans hold power. In Indiana, a law that might have allowed bakers and photographers to decline service to gay weddings endured just a few months before it was “fixed” by the legislature. In Georgia, a similar bill was vetoed by the governor under intense pressure from big business.

The cultural transformation has been even more dramatic than the political one. Especially among highly educated people, beliefs that gender has a physiological basis or that procreation is a central purpose of marriage are proceeding from outré to unacceptable. In an ironic reversal, conservative Christians have adopted an idiom of concealment from a minority they once demonized: until recently, it was gays who spoke of being “in the closet.” Now they are joined by followers of traditional orthodoxy.

Mary Eberstadt is horrified by this development. In It’s Dangerous to Believe, she describes religious traditionalists as targets of a distinctly modern brand of intolerance that mirrors the history of religious fanaticism.

To support this interpretation, Eberstadt offers a parade of horribles drawn from around the English-speaking world. The incidents she cites range from the ouster of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla to penalties imposed on teachers who defended Catholic doctrines on sexuality to the withdrawal of recognition from religious clubs at several universities. Eberstadt acknowledges that her examples are “disparate.” But she insists that they add up to a “widespread and growing effort to shame, punish, and ostracize people because of what they believe.”

There is nothing inherently novel about such campaigns, which have occurred with some frequency since the emergence of Biblical religion. What’s different is the issue at stake. This is not a dispute about the nature of God, proper form of worship, or correct rendering of revelation. Instead, “every act committed in the name of this new intolerance has a single, common denominator, which is the protection of the perceived prerogatives of the sexual revolution at all costs. The new intolerance is a wholly owned subsidiary of that revolution. No revolution, no new intolerance.”

Eberstadt offers a compelling analysis of the ideology that developed to justify the sexual revolution. Rather than a libertarian demand to leave people alone, it functions as an ersatz theology with its own its dogmas, theory of history, and canon of saints and martyrs. This parallel structure may be rooted in a process of secularization, as religious concepts were drained of their religious meaning. More likely, it reflects a basic human inclination to form systems, to make sense of the world.

Whatever its source, the internal coherence of moral progressivism explains the bitterness with which it responds to challenges. Critics of the new dispensation aren’t harmless dissenters. They are heretics whose denial of the truth threatens the possibility of a virtuous community.

In this respect, Eberstadt argues, the guardians of the sexual revolution can be understood as successors to the Puritans. Contrary to their reputation in some quarters as defenders of religious liberty, the Puritans were mostly interested in the freedom to do things their way. Error, concluded the divines of New England, had no rights. That is why they were so bitterly opposed to allowing members of other denominations to dwell among them.

When it came to Baptists and Catholics, this suspicion was not altogether irrational. But the Puritans’ fear of subversion did not stop with actual rivals. The logic of their theology turned them against adversaries that did not even exist. The witch trials were no aberration but a consequence of systematic intolerance.

Eberstadt contends that a similar logic is being turned against religious traditionalists today. The Moral Majority posed a plausible challenge to the sexual revolution. Today’s dissenters from the sexual revolution, by contrast, are symbolic sacrifices at the altar of progress. According to Eberstadt, “the notion that the religious counterculture” can enforce its vision of righteousness on a majority is “downright absurd.” In her judgment, it is because they have so little real influence that recalcitrant bakers or photographers have to be publicly shamed by progressives.

Eberstadt’s description of the bewildered faithful, caught up in rapid social change, is deeply affecting. She is an acute critic of the way some Christian institutions have distanced themselves from their own teachings at the expense of low-level employees, who didn’t get the memo about what’s now politically acceptable in time. Eberstadt also discusses shocking incidents in which the mere expression of religious beliefs has led to denial of educational and job opportunities. This is prejudice pure and simple. One hopes liberals and progressives will accept her call to reject it—particularly in institutions of higher learning whose leaders speak ceaselessly of their commitment to diversity.    

Yet many of the cases Eberstadt discusses are more complicated than the Manichean struggle she depicts. More than attacks on unpopular ideas, they are disputes about the discharge of political office or participation in government programs.

Take the hapless Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Ky. What provoked Davis’s more thoughtful critics was not the refusal in itself. Instead, it was her expectation that she could reject the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges while keeping her job. This was not the conventional understanding of conscientious objection that allows believers to avoid otherwise compulsory duties—most prominently, military service. Instead, it looked like an attempt by a sworn public servant to have it both ways by choosing which responsibilities of her office she was willing to discharge.

After several months of wrangling, the state of Kentucky reached a compromise that removes county clerks’ names from the marriage licenses they issue. This seems a reasonable policy that protects the rights and dignity of all involved. It was necessary, however, because the connection between traditional religious belief and civil authority is not as dead as Eberstadt suggests.

The challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate recently argued before the Supreme Court also defy Eberstadt’s depiction of a war on traditional belief. Rather than targets of an “ideological power play,” for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and religious institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor were collateral damage of a massive expansion of the administrative state. The underlying problem here is not the pseudo-theology of the sexual revolution but the cooptation of private enterprises and associations to supply a public benefit.  

Eberstadt is too quick to attribute controversies about the political role of religion to irrational animus on the part of progressives. She also tends to reduce religion to Christianity and Christianity to its more traditionalist currents. This reduction makes it easier to treat religious belief as such as the target of hostility from a monolithic secular consensus.

But the American religious scene is more varied than Eberstadt acknowledges. In addition to the conservative Christians on whom she focuses, many believers have made their peace with the sexual revolution and the world it has made—or at least figured out how to live alongside it. That includes American Jews, including many who hold politically incorrect views on sexuality.

Why do Jews escape the opprobrium to which traditionalist Catholics or Baptists are subjected? Partly because they have never been more than a tiny minority, but also because they make few claims on political and cultural authority. Apart from a few neighborhoods in and around New York City, no one fears that religious Jews will attempt to dictate how they live their own lives. As a result, they are able to avoid most forms of interference with their communities.

There is a lesson here for the Christian traditionalists for whom Eberstadt speaks. They are more likely to win space to live according to their consciences to the extent that they are able to convince a majority that includes more liberal Christians and non-Christian believers, as well as outright secularists, that they are not simply biding their time until they are able to storm the public square. In addition, they will have to develop institutions of community life that are relatively low-visibility and that can survive without many forms of official support. The price of inclusion in an increasingly pluralistic society may be some degree of voluntary exclusion from the dominant culture.    

There is no doubt that this will be a hard bargain for adherents of traditions that enjoyed such immense authority until recently. As Eberstadt points out, however, it will also be difficult for progressives who resemble Falwell in their moral majoritarianism. The basis for coexistence must be a shared understanding that the Christian America for which some long and that others fear isn’t coming back—not only because it was Christian but also because it involved a level of consensus that is no longer available to us. There are opportunities for believers and nonbelievers alike in this absence.

Samuel Goldman is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at George Washington University.

 


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Old News ;-)

[Jun 19, 2018] Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of "democratization," which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats. ..."
"... Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior. ..."
"... Trump's basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. ..."
"... And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of "uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right." Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post's Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI's website predictably calls for "fresh thinking" and envisions "the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond." It argues that "Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left." ..."
"... There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a "de-escalation zone" in the country's southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the U.S., which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country's legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists. ..."
"... In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington's stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work. ..."
"... The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. ..."
"... And then there are the petty insults that do not behoove a great power. A friend recently attended the Russian National Day celebration at the embassy in Washington. He reported that the U.S. government completely boycotted the event, together with its allies in Western Europe and the anglosphere, resulting in sparse attendance. It is the kind of slight that causes attitudes to shift when the time comes for serious negotiating. It is unnecessary and it is precisely the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is referring to when he asks that his country be treated with "respect." The White House could have sent a delegation to attend the national day. Trump could have arranged it with a phone call, but he didn't. ..."
"... Winston Churchill once reportedly said that to "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war." As one of the twentieth century's leading warmongers, he may not have actually meant it, but in principle he was right. So let us hope for the best coming out of Singapore and also for the G-7 or what replaces it in the future. But don't be confused or diverted by presidential grandstanding. Watch what else is going on outside the limelight and, at least for the present, it is not pretty. ..."
"... Phil nails it as usual. Like him, I'm not very optimistic. Whether overall one approves or disapproves of Trump (and count me as a disapprover), it is obvious that most of the government is operating outside his control and this includes many of his own appointees. The continuities of US policy are far deeper than the apparent discontinuities. ..."
Jun 19, 2018 | www.unz.com

I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that will succeed the institutionally exhausted post-World War 2 financial and political arrangements that more-or-less established U.S. hegemony over the "free world." The Bretton Woods agreement and the founding of the United Nations institutionalized the spread of liberal democracy and free trade, creating a new, post war international order under the firm control of the United States with the American dollar as the benchmark currency. Trump is now rejecting what has become an increasingly dominant global world order in favor of returning to a nineteenth century style nationalism that has become popular as countries struggle to retain their cultural and political identifies. Trump's vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of "democratization," which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats.

Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior.

Inevitably, I have other friends who follow foreign policy closely that have various interpretations of the Trump phenomenon. One sees the respectful meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea as a bit of brilliant statesmanship, potentially breaking a sixty-five year logjam and possibly opening the door to further discussions that might well avert a nuclear war. And the week also brought a Trump welcome suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the G-7 group of major industrialized democracies, which also has to be seen as a positive step. There has also been talk of a Russia-U.S. summit similar to that with North Korea to iron out differences, an initiative that was first suggested by Trump and then agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will inevitably be powerful resistance to such an arrangement coming primarily from the U.S. media and from Congress, but Donald Trump seems to fancy the prospect and it just might take place.

One good friend even puts a positive spin on Trump's insulting behavior towards America's traditional allies at the recent G-7 meeting in Canada. She observes that Trump's basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. And the military costs exacerbate some genuine serious trade imbalances that damage the U.S. economy. If Trumpism prevails, G-7 will become a forum for discussions of trade and economic relations and will become less a club of nations aligned military against Russia and, eventually, China. As she put it, changing its constituency would be a triumph of "mercantilism" over "imperialism." The now pointless NATO alliance might well find itself without much support if the members actually have to fully fund it proportionate to their GDPs and could easily fade away, which would be a blessing for everyone.

My objection to nearly all the arguments being made in favor or opposed to what occurred in Singapore last week is that the summit is being seen out of context, as is the outreach to Russia at G-7. Those who are in some cases violently opposed to the outcome of the talks with North Korea are, to be sure, sufferers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, where they hate anything he does and spin their responses to cast him in the most negative terms possible. Some others who choose to see daylight in spite of the essential emptiness of the "agreement" are perhaps being overly optimistic while likewise ignoring what else is going on.

And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of "uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right." Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post's Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI's website predictably calls for "fresh thinking" and envisions "the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond." It argues that "Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left."

There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a "de-escalation zone" in the country's southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the U.S., which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country's legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists.

And then there is also Donald Trump's recent renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eliminating a successful program that was preventing nuclear proliferation on the part of Iran and replacing it with nothing whatsoever apart from war as a possible way of dealing with the potential problem. Indeed, Trump has been prepared to use military force on impulse, even when there is no clear casus belli. In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington's stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work.

The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. In Latin America, Washington has backed off from détente with Cuba and has been periodically threatening some kind of intervention in Venezuela. In Europe, it is engaged in aggressive war games on the Russian borders, most recently in Norway and Poland. The Administration has ordered increased involvement in Somalia and has special ops units operating – and dying – worldwide. Overall, it is hardly a return to the Garden of Eden.

And then there are the petty insults that do not behoove a great power. A friend recently attended the Russian National Day celebration at the embassy in Washington. He reported that the U.S. government completely boycotted the event, together with its allies in Western Europe and the anglosphere, resulting in sparse attendance. It is the kind of slight that causes attitudes to shift when the time comes for serious negotiating. It is unnecessary and it is precisely the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is referring to when he asks that his country be treated with "respect." The White House could have sent a delegation to attend the national day. Trump could have arranged it with a phone call, but he didn't.

Winston Churchill once reportedly said that to "Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war." As one of the twentieth century's leading warmongers, he may not have actually meant it, but in principle he was right. So let us hope for the best coming out of Singapore and also for the G-7 or what replaces it in the future. But don't be confused or diverted by presidential grandstanding. Watch what else is going on outside the limelight and, at least for the present, it is not pretty.


Mishra , June 19, 2018 at 4:11 am GMT

The Establishment (which includes both major political parties) is furious that Trump may be defusing the (very real) nuclear threat from Kim for the price of a few plane tickets and dinners, while the Establishment was gung-ho for throwing away a few trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and our nation's once-good reputation in the process of neutralizing Saddam Hussein, who didn't even have any nukes to begin with. Yep, they're sore all right.
Kirt , June 19, 2018 at 4:20 am GMT
Phil nails it as usual. Like him, I'm not very optimistic. Whether overall one approves or disapproves of Trump (and count me as a disapprover), it is obvious that most of the government is operating outside his control and this includes many of his own appointees. The continuities of US policy are far deeper than the apparent discontinuities.

[Jun 18, 2018] The most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election

Notable quotes:
"... "The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW ..."
"... The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy. ..."
"... I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election. ..."
"... I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization. ..."
"... Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination". ..."
"... there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau. ..."
"... What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened! ..."
"... The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC. ..."
"... Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates). ..."
"... jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way. ..."
"... The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking. ..."
"... Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation. ..."
Jun 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

cka2nd

June 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm
"a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau"

Which is what the FBI looked like at the time and over the last two years, the anti-Clinton faction seeming to be centered in New York, and the anti-Trump faction in, what, D.C.?

Erik , says: June 15, 2018 at 3:12 am
This report merely provides more talking points for politicians. And, talk they will. IG Michael Horowitz had a specific mandate. It was to investigate "violations of criminal and civil law." It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations.

This report makes no allegations of criminal activity. As such, it can only be read as exonerating those under investigation, of same. The ultimate remedy for "breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations" is termination of employment. And, Comey has already been fired. The rest is irrelevant and/or superfluous.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 15, 2018 at 7:51 am
Agreed. the report sheds light on some truly incompetent (and unprofessional, inappropriate behavior). Disagree – the 'deep state' is behind this. perhaps the most depressing aspect of this circus is the realization there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Obama administration. there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Clinton campaign.

There was incompetence and malfeasance in the DoJ, there was incompetence and malfeasance in the Trump campaign, and there is a whole lot of incompetence and malfeasance in the current administration. see where this is going? "malfeasance" recognized and leveraged by "foreign actors" (some other 'deep state' as it were) demonstrates competence in terms of their job(s).

I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which "Puddy" and "Elaine" meet with a priest to discuss their relationship and its impact on their eternal lives – with Puddy being Christian and Elaine not. the priest says, "oh that's easy, you're both going to hell "

midtown , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
The overt bias exhibited by FBI agents was shocking.
SDS , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:39 am
"It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America's internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election."

SO we are expected to believe the FBI, et. al; never played a role before? Spare me

"The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared" -Well, obviously; or Hillary would be President NOW

connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:53 am
Way funny, this! And all the time we've been looking for enemies abroad-in this case the Rooshians-the real enemy was right in our own backyard. The Deep State may not have been very competent ( Gee,whudda surprise!)) but– it's still in place. And that fact alone should make all of us uneasy.
Will Harrington , says: June 15, 2018 at 9:29 am
If you are going to have a deep state, and in a large nation, it does seem necessary, then it should be a meritocracy. Clearly the system of recruiting high level officials from certain Ivy League schools does not result in a meritocracy.
MM , says: June 15, 2018 at 10:24 am

Erik: "It was not to investigate breaches of protocol and bureaucratic regulations." Well, he did, and thank goodness. I'm satisfied that we have the final word on Clinton's guilt and the special treatment she and her staff were given by criminal investigators who believed she was going to win the election.

If that's not political bias, then we need another word for it. Political consideration in the outcome of a criminal probe.

Think about that if it had been a GOP candidate, what would the progressives be saying about the same behavior?

Centralist , says: June 15, 2018 at 11:06 am
I think a good book to explain what we are seeing is The Fiefdom Syndrome by Robert Herbold. That highlights how various managers set up their own sub organizations in a groups. It focuses on the corporate model yet it can equally apply to any other human organization.
Scott , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:05 pm
What I find amusing is the emphasis on texts between Strzok and Page. They sure were sloppy in using govt cell phones for their texting. However, at the end of the day, their texts were the equivalent of pillow talk. What's the remedy? Everybody wear a wire to bed to trap people in the act of gossiping? Does anybody think that these casual conversations go on all the time. There is no group of people more cynical that law enforcement people.

At the end of the day, people did their jobs and prevented their opinions from the proper execution of their jobs.

Johann , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
Comey took Lynch completely off the hook. She had not recused herself from the case. Prosecution or not was her decision, not Comey's. And even if she had recused herself, the decision would have gone to Yates. Lynch had no good options. If she had said there were no grounds for prosecution, she would have been crucified for partisanship. If she had decided that Clinton should be prosecuted, all hell would have broken loose. Well, there is no way she would have ever made the decision to prosecute, but point is, Comey took her completely off the hook. No wonder Lynch made no big deal about his "insubordination".
connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm
H. Clinton squirreled away over 30 thousand emails into a private server. I am reliably informed that if any other federal employee pulled a move like that they would have been fired, with loss of pension and possible jail time in as much as this is grand jury fodder. Not ol' Hillary though.

People do tend to notice these things.

Fred , says: June 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. "

More fake news – there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau.

eheter , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm
Michael Kenny
June 15, 2018 at 11:29 am
The important point is that Trump has no need to worry about any of this if he really is as innocent as he claims. In fact, infiltrated informers, wiretaps etc. are a godsend to Trump if he's innocent because they prove that innocence. Thus, Trump's making such a fuss about these things is a tacit admission of guilt.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –

Yes, of course. Because if someone spied on you looking for a crime of which you were innocent, you'd be totally ok with it and would keep quiet. Only someone who's guilty of a crime would speak up being spied upon.

smh

Gandydancer , says: June 16, 2018 at 12:34 am
"There is only to argue whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau."

What anti-Clinton faction? Every one of the five agents identified as sending politically biased communications was anti-Trump. As best I can determine every decision by biased decision makers that Horowitz is baffled by, or reports himself "unpersuaded" by the explanations advanced, was anti-Trump. Even when Strzok writes a text message that Horowitz admits is a smoking gun (~"We'll stop Trump") Horowitz says it's no biggie because other decision-makers were involved, "unbiased" ones like, explicitly, Bill Priestap, he of the procedures-violating spy launch against Trump BEFORE any investigation was opened!

To believe Horowitz' conclusions about lack of bias in decision making you have to be as willfully reluctant to connect the dots as he is. And I'm not, nor should you be.

Gerald Arcuri , says: June 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm
The real take away is that the Deep State is a reality, far more entrenched than anyone of us knows. Whether it is particularly competent or not ( compared to what? Government in general? ) is irrelevant. No one of any stature in any part of the government bureaucracy will be held accountable ever. They never are. As soon as the media circus moves on, it will be back to business as usual in DC.
Patricus , says: June 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Those Russians are so clever. They trained agents for a lifetime to master accents of rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin then duped the bible thumping gun lovers into rejecting her highness Hillary. The immense Russian powers are extraordinary when one considers the Russian economy is smaller than Texas.

But seriously, we had eight years of a Democratic president and people had enough and chose a Republican even though he was outspent. That is the consistent pattern. After Trump another Democrat will move into the White House.

mike , says: June 17, 2018 at 8:45 am
Speaking of idiocracy, some personal emails between FBI agents were made public this week with the release of the IG report. They give a glimpse into the infantilisation of our ruling "class". It is clear that fatherlessness and the replacement of education with indoctrination have produced a generation of child-men and child-women who view the State as parent, provider, deity (even as lover – supplier of ideologically acceptable bed-mates).

A cosmic ignorance radiates from these email exchanges. These agents appear to have been dropped here from another planet. They not only seem to have been disconnected from or to have forgotten the Civilisation that gave birth to the society in which they live, but they seem never to have had any knowledge or awareness of it in the first place.

(Reading between the lines, deducing their "principles" from their mentality, one could confidently conclude that these adolescents truly believe that State is God and Marx is His prophet.)

Winston , says: June 17, 2018 at 11:04 am
"seems less competent than we originally feared"

They're going to get away with it with no adequately serious repercussions meaning they're competent enough, aren't they? That also means they won't be properly deterred and will simply do it better next time.

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm
jp: "Hard to see how the FBI's mistakes didn't benefit one candidate over the other." That's the standard line from the Clinton campaign. They believe everything begins and ends with Comey causing her to lose. Of course, they never mention why the FBI was investigating her, personally, and key members of her State Dept. staff, not her campaign by the way.

The FBI may have hurt her campaign, but only because they were doing their job, albiet badly. She hurt her campaign infinitely by breaking the law and compromising national security, which required a criminal probe into her lawbreaking.

If you're going to fault the FBI, you can't then not fault Secretary Clinton. The two go hand-in-hand, and she comes first in the chain of event.

Case closed. Though she didn't get her just desserts in court, at least she received political justice. 🙂

MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Dave: "Peter and Lisa were 2 cops talking about a criminal." Well, that's one more reason not to trust federal law enforcement. I can cite the criminal statutes Hillary Clinton was being personally investigated for. Can anyone cite any criminal statute that Donald Trump was being personally investigated for at the same time? Was he even being personally investigated? A counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation.

Anybody?

[Jun 13, 2018] The Nationalism Versus Globalism Battles Yet to Come

Notable quotes:
"... By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise! ..."
"... Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are. ..."
"... Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made. ..."
"... The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Credit: Andrew Cline/Shutterstock

At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as "the piggy bank that everybody is robbing."

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that's what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One."

In Singapore, Trump tweeted more about that piggy bank: "Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades [while] the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade?"

To understand what drives Trump, and explains his exasperation and anger, these remarks are a good place to begin.

Our elites see America as an "indispensable nation," the premiere world power whose ordained duty it is to defend democracy, stand up to dictators and aggressors, and uphold a liberal world order.

They see U.S. wealth and power as splendid tools that fate has given them to shape the future of the planet.

Trump sees America as a nation being milked by allies who free-ride on our defense efforts as they engage in trade practices that enrich their own peoples at America's expense.

Where our elites live to play masters of the universe, Trump sees a world laughing behind America's back, while allies exploit our magnanimity and idealism for their own national ends.

The numbers are impossible to refute and hard to explain.

Last year, the EU had a $151 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China ran a $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S., the largest in history. The world sold us $796 billion more in goods than we sold to the world.

A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down.

We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.

Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable. His strength is that the people are still with him on putting America first.

Yet he faces some serious obstacles.

What is his strategy for turning a $796 billion trade deficit into a surplus? Is he prepared to impose the tariffs and import restrictions that would be required to turn America from the greatest trade-deficit nation in history to a trade-surplus nation, as we were up until the mid-1970s?

Americans are indeed carrying the lion's share of the load of the defense of the West, and of fighting the terrorists and radical Islamists of the Middle East, and of protecting South Korea and Japan.

But if our NATO and Asian allies refuse to make the increases in defense he demands, is Trump really willing to cancel our treaty commitments, walk away from our war guarantees, and let these nations face Russia and China on their own? Could he cut that umbilical cord?

Ike's secretary of state John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an "agonizing reappraisal" of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies if they did not contribute more money and troops.

Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on even more allies since the Soviet Empire fell.

If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense that Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland, and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?

This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.

Trump promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.

That's what America voted for.

Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.

Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free-trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies make abroad and then ships back to the United States.

The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump's critical tests have yet to come.

And our exasperated president senses this.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


Bradley June 12, 2018 at 6:10 am

America spends 3 times as much on defense as its allies because it is addicted to military spending. The solution is not to pressure other countries to acquire the same addiction. The solution is for America cut its own military spending.

This is just another example of America trying to "export" its domestic issues. Quit blaming foreigners and deal with your issues.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 12, 2018 at 6:58 am
"A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world's goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down. We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century." never imagined I'd say this, but you are absolutely correct. of course you neglect to acknowledge, Trump himself is an "elite" and a "globalist". the fact his "game" is real estate, as opposed to governance is more of a semantic distinction than ideological. debt-fueled consumerism drives real estate just as it drives globalism. this is nothing new. add to this the pathological narcissism and the ability to leverage moral bankruptcy as he has the tax codes and bankruptcy laws, and voila, just another globalist in populist clothing. as I have maintained all along, he is not so much anti-establishment as he is an establishment of one – he simply thrives in a different type of swamp and favors a smaller oligarchy/plutocracy. and of course, there is the big news out of Singapore/Korea, but again, much of the 'spin' or upside cited in a denuclearized Korean peninsula involves the opportunity for North Korea to join the globalists at the globalists' table. one can only wonder if there will be Ivanka's handbags will be made in Panmunjom, and if Kim Jong Un will stay at the Trump hotel in DC? either way, you are correct he is the candidate the American people, and the globalists "elected".
JonF , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:35 am
One problem with Trump's rant: the US enjoys a small trade surplus with Canada.

Would someone please get this president some hard facts and drill him on them for however long it takes top get them fixed in his mind before he goes off half-cocked with any more nonsense?

Michael Kenny , says: June 12, 2018 at 10:36 am
As always, Mr Buchanan sets out his personal agenda and then claims that Trump promised to implement it if elected. The more Trump backs away from globalised free trade (if that's what he's really doing), the more that suits the EU. The "core value" of the EU is a large internal market protected by a high tariff wall. Globalization was rammed down an unwilling EU's throat by the US in the Reagan years and only the British elite ever really believed in it. As for NATO, nobody now believes that the US will honor its commitments, no matter how much Europe pays, so logically, the European members are concentrating their additional expenditure on an independent European defense system, which, needless to say, the US is trying to obstruct.

By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise!

Kent , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:17 am
Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary's are.

Foreign countries aren't taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It's because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made.

Secondly, there is absolutely no threat to NATO from Russia or Putin. Europe could slash its already meager defense budget with only beneficial consequences. The same with Japan and S. Korea. None of these countries need US military help. There are no real military threats to these countries. US military spending has never been about defending other countries. It is about enriching the shareholders of American military contractors.

So here is the real world: The United States has established a "liberal rules-based global order" that allows wealthy American and European commercial interests to benefit mightily from trade, and property and resource control in foreign countries. And this order is maintained by US military power. That is why the US is "the one indispensable nation". We are the nation that is allowed to break the order, to be the bully, in order for the rules-based order to even exist. That's why we are beating up on countries that try to live outside of this order like Iran, NK, Venezuela, Russia and everyone else who don't fall in line.

So Donald Trump is fighting against the power elite of the United States, he just doesn't understand that. He is fighting against the most powerful people in the world, people who are well represented by both political parties. He can win this fight if he lets the average American on to this reality. And then leads them properly to a better, more balanced world. But I suspect that he would be assassinated if he tried.

bacon , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:26 am
In re NATO and other oversea DOD spending, the old saying "who pays, says" has a corollary. Who wants to say has to pay. The US, since WWII, has wanted, insisted, on being in charge of everything we touch. This costs a lot, not to mention it often doesn't work the way we want. It would be easy enough to stop spending all this money. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex would have a conniption and those whose defense bills we've been paying would complain to high heaven, but Trump seems intent on trashing all those alliances anyway and also on spending more money on defense than even the Pentagon thinks they need.
GregR , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:31 am
Trade deficits don't work the way you think they work. In todays economy the traditional measures of deficits don't actually tell us much about what is going on.

Do you know what China does with that $350b trade surplus? A huge percentage of it is rolled back immediately into US Treasury bonds because we are the only issuer of credit in sufficient amounts and of suitable stability for them to buy. All of that deficit spending Trump and the Republicans in congress passed last year is being financed by the very trade imbalance that Trump is trying to eliminate.

But trade imbalances really don't tell us much about the flow of money. Most of the imbalance is created by US companies that have built factories in China to sell goods back to the US, then repatriate money back to the US in the form of dividends or stock buy backs (which are not counted in the trade balance at all).

At best trade balances tell us very little meaningful about what is really going on, but can be wildly deceptive. At worst they are an easy tool, for demogogs who have zero understanding of what is going on, to inflame other uninformed people to justify trade wars.

One Guy , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Interesting the things that Buchanan ignores (on purpose?). The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that. There's nothing wrong with the USA spending less money to defend other countries. Trump doesn't have to insult our allies to do that.
Jim Houghton , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:49 pm
"Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable."

You give him more credit than he deserves. What he does understand is that while we're being the world's piggy bank, the American taxpayer is being the Military-Industrial Complex's piggy-bank and that's just fine with him. As it is with most members of Congress.

John S , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm
" our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe "

Mr. Buchanan, like Trump, does not understand how NATO is funded. All NATO members have been paying their dues. In fact, many pay a greater proportion relative to GDP per capita than the U.S. does. Defense budgets are a different matter entirely.

Sam Bufalini , says: June 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm
Remind me again, who just raised the U.S. deficit by more than a $1 trillion over the next 10 years?
S , says: June 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm
This entire article seems to reduce complex issues into simple arithmetic. Economics and job creation is about much more than balance of payments both the author and the US president don't seem to realise this. Very shallow article.
Sean , says: June 12, 2018 at 5:35 pm
America has a trade surplus with Canada, but seems determined to rub it in.

Some background. As the glaciers retreated south at the end of the ice age, they scraped away Canada's topsoil and deposited it in America. Rural Canada has little arable areas; it's beef and dairy by necessity. Costs are high and there are ten Americans to every Canadian hence the subsidy. America subsidizes it's agriculture $55 billion annually.

Mia , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:24 pm
Great, if we're upset about having to protect our allies in the Pacific, let's change the Japanese constitution to allow them to have a real military again to defend themselves and give the South Koreans nukes to balance out the power situation between them and the Norks/ Chinese. (Why is it so little is ever said about China being a nuclear power?) This whole fantasy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is so naive it's laughable. If nukes exist, there will never be any permanent guarantee of anything, and other countries will just keep getting the bomb without our permission, like Pakistan and China. The genie is out of the bottle, so time to be brutally realistic about what we face and what can be done. We can whine all we want to about how it's not our responsibility, but then we expect other countries to be hobbled and still somehow face enemy powers.
LouisM , says: June 12, 2018 at 9:24 pm
Lets take a look at the growing list of nations shifting to the right (nationalism and populism) -The Czech, Slovak and Slovenia Republics Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, the US.

Nations shifting this year to the right (nationalism and populism) -Austria, Bavaria and Italy

Nations leaning to the right and leaning toward joining the VISEGRAD -Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Greece

AS YOU CAN SEE THE PILLARS OF MARXIST / SOCIALIST / COMMUNIST OPEN BORDERS EUROPE/EU ARE BEING TAKEN DOWN. THE FIGHT WILL BE WITH FRANCE, GERMANY, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS, BRITAIN, SWEDEN AND THE UNELECTED EU SUPERSTATE. RIGHT NOW THE FIGHT IS WITH THE POOR SOUTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPEAN INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS BUT EVENTUALLY IT WILL REACH A TIPPING POINT WHERE IT BECOMES AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT BUT ITS ONLY AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT FOR THE LEFT AS THE EU REACHES THE TIPPING POINT AND THE POWER SHIFTS TO THE RIGHT.

[Jun 11, 2018] I think it wise to examine what Trump's outbursts at and beyond the G6+1 are based upon--his understanding of Economic Nationalism

Jun 11, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 | Jun 11, 2018 12:06:47 PM | 111

As we await info on Kim-Trump, I think it wise to examine what Trump's outbursts at and beyond the G6+1 are based upon--his understanding of Economic Nationalism. Fortunately, we have an excellent, recent, Valdai Club paper addressing the topic that's not too technical or lengthy. The author references two important papers by Lavrov and Putin that ought to be read afterwards. Lavrov's is the elder and ought to be first. Putin's Belt & Road International Forum Address, 2017 provides an excellent example of the methods outlined in the first paper.

I could certainly add more, but IMO these provide an excellent basis for comprehending Trump's motivations as he's clearly reacting to the Russian and Chinese initiatives. Furthermore, one can discover why Russia now holds the EU at arms length while Putin's "I told you so" reminder had to sting just a bit.

Then to recap it all, I highly suggest reading Pepe Escobar's excellent article I linked to yesterday higher up in the thread.

[Jun 10, 2018] Bernard Lewis The Bush Administration's Court Intellectual by Gilbert T. Sewall

Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... American Scholar ..."
Jun 08, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan.

I encountered the late Bernard Lewis (1916-2018) during the 1990s culture wars, when historians and educators met full-frontal multiculturalism, a thematic force beginning to reshape U.S. and world history curricula in schools and colleges.

The two of us shared early, firsthand experience with Islamist disinformation campaigns on and off campus. Using sympathetic academics, curriculum officers, and educational publishers as tools, Muslim activists were seeking to rewrite Islamic history in textbooks and state and national standards.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, created in 1994, was complaining of anti-Muslim "bigotry," "racial profiling," "institutional racism," and "fear-mongering," while trying to popularize the word "Islamophobia," and stoking the spirit of ethnic injustice and prejudice in Washington politics.

Lewis and I were of different generations, he a charming academic magnifico long associated with Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study. He had just retired from teaching and was widely regarded as the nation's most influential scholar of Islam. "Islam has Allah," he said sardonically at the time. "We've got multiculturalism."

Washington's Pax Americana Cartel Christopher Columbus: At the Center of the Culture War

Long before I met him, Lewis had alerted those who were listening to rising friction between the Islamic world and the West. This was, in his mind, the outcome of Islam's centuries-long decline and failure to embrace modernity. In thinking this way, Lewis had earned the fury of the professor and Palestinian activist Edward Said at Columbia University, who wrote Orientalism in 1978.

Said's influential book cast previous Western studies of the Near and Middle East as Eurocentric, romantic, prejudiced, and racist. For Said, orientalism was an intellectual means to justify Western conquest and empire. Bernard Lewis's outlook epitomized this approach and interpretation. Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president.

For some years, Lewis had warned of the ancient feuds between the West and Islam: in 1990 he'd forecast a coming "clash of civilizations" in Atlantic magazine, a phrase subsequently popularized by Harvard professor Samuel E. Huntington.

Throughout his long career, Lewis warned that Western guilt over its conquests and past was not collateral. "In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions," Lewis once observed. "They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other."

Other examples of Lewis's controversial, persuasive observations include:

During the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Lewis suddenly gained immense political influence, love-bombed by White House neocons Richard Cheney, Richard Perle, and other policymakers to a degree that preyed on the old man's vanity and love of the spotlight.

Anti-war feeling in official Washington then was unpopular. Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth. Insisted the neocons and White House: the aim of the war was to bring democratic government and regional order to the Mideast. Rescued from despotism, Iraqis would cheer invasion, Lewis and his allies claimed, as Afghanis welcomed relief from Taliban fundamentalists.

In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon.

"Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis's diagnosis of the Muslim world's malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast, have helped define the boldest shift in U.S. foreign policy in 50 years. The occupation of Iraq is putting the doctrine to the test," the Journal proclaimed.

And so it has gone. After 15 years of many hard-to-follow shifts in policy and force, with vast human and materiel costs, some analysts look upon U.S. policy in Iraq and the Mideast as a geopolitical disaster, still in shambles and not soon to improve.

In other eyes Lewis stands guilty of devising a sophistic rationale to advance Israel's security at the expense of U.S. national interests. In 2006, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer accused Lewis of consciously providing intellectual varnish to an Israel-centered policy group inside the George W. Bush administration that was taking charge of Mideast policies. The same year, Lewis's reckless alarmism on Iranian nukes on behalf of Israeli interests drew wide ridicule and contempt.

A committed Zionist, Lewis conceived of Israel as an essential part of Western civilization and an island of freedom in the Mideast. Though, acutely aware of Islam's nature and history, he must have had doubts about the capacity to impose democracy through force. Later, he stated unconvincingly that he had opposed the invasion of Iraq, but the facts of the matter point in another direction.

Lewis thus leaves a mixed legacy. It is a shame that he shelved his learned critiques and compromised his scholarly stature late in life to pursue situational geopolitics. With his role as a government advisor before the Iraq war, academic Arabists widely took to calling Lewis "the Great Satan," whereas Edward Said's favored position in academic circles is almost uncontested.

Yet few dispute that Lewis was profoundly knowledgeable of his subject. His view that Islamic fundamentalism fails all liberal tests of toleration, cross-cultural cooperation, gender equality, gay rights, and freedom of conscience still holds. Most Islamic authorities consider separation of church and state either absurd or evil. They seek to punish free inquiry, blasphemy, and apostasy. Moreover, it is their obligation to do so under holy law. Wearing multicultural blinders, contemporary European and American progressives pretend none of this is so. As has been demonstrated since 2015, Europe provides opportunities for territorial expansion, as do open-borders politics in the U.S. and Canada.

In 1990, long before his Washington adventures, Lewis wrote in the American Scholar , "We live in a time when great efforts are being made to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they would wish it to have been."

On and off campus, Islamists today use Western progressive politics and ecumenical dreams to further their holy struggle.

Lewis would point out that this force is completely understandable; in fact, it is a sacred duty. What would disturb him more is that in the name of diversity, Western intellectuals and journalists, government and corporate officials, and even military generals have eagerly cooperated.

Gilbert T. Sewall is co-author of After Hiroshima: The United States Since 1945 and editor of The Eighties: A Reader .


Ray Steinberg June 8, 2018 at 12:56 am

Why the long spiel when this article could have conveyed its thesis in the single line:

"Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth "

Fayez Abedaziz , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:10 am
This article is exactly what this so-called intellectual Lewis is:
opinion.
All that's said by this Lewis guy is his opinion and his goal was hatred of Islam, therefore, he wanted it to then have people follow along with hatred for arabs and Palestinians.
This was, of course, because then, people would keep supporting Israel!
How 'bout that?
Who are we kidding?
When talking about the history of this nation or that religion, Lewis offers mostly his opinion and takes whatever event out of context to try to prove all this anti-Islam
rubbish. There are nations that have a majority of people of the Moslem religion, that have different systems of government and so, we have free voting, and had for decades, in Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and so on.
Pakistan and Turkey had female Prime Ministers decade ago how 'bout that! And so did Indonesia, the nation most populated by Moslems, in the word, and so did Senegal, in Africa.
These nations are thousands of miles apart, with different languages and cultures.
What is not pointed out, but I will, since I know, is that whenever there was turmoil in an election in a mostly Moslem populated nation, why it was the meddling by the U.S. covertly and with bribes and trouble making.
Like when the CIA did that in Iran in 1953 after a fellow, Mosaddegh was freely elected and he was stopped and the dictator Shah was put in.
The U.S. constantly either installed or supported anti-democratic leaders in the Middle East and Asia.
By the way, that's how you put the subject of Edward Said- that he was a professor and a Palestinian activist? That's it?
How come you didn't tell us readers that he is a Christian?
Lewis knows no more about the makings, origins or history of religions that do many dozens of thousands of professors in the U.S. alone.
But, he has been is given a lot of media, and still is, because he is liked by the neo-cons. Also, I know more than Lewis did.
dig what I'm saying
undertakings , says: June 8, 2018 at 6:12 am
"In 2004 the Wall Street Journal devised what it called a Lewis Doctrine, which it defined as "seeding democracy in failed Mideast states to defang terrorism." The Journal clarified that the Lewis Doctrine "in effect, had become U.S. policy" in 2001. The article also revealed that Lewis had long been politically involved with Israel and a confidant of successive Israeli prime ministers, including Ariel Sharon."

In laymen's terms, Lewis was an Israeli operative working the academic beat. His American citizenship meant about as much to him as his earlier British citizenship had, a matter of convenience, nothing more. Stripped of the spurious Ivy League gloss, his "scholarship" was tendentious; it served to advance a political agenda and was consistently tainted by his entanglements with politicians and political institutions. Circa 2018 it reads as badly dated, often wrong, and generally wrong-headed.

I see he died a few weeks ago. Good riddance. "Intellectual father of the Iraq War" isn't the epitaph of a decent human being.

Saint Kyrillos , says: June 8, 2018 at 8:00 am
The consensus I'm aware of is that Obama's foreign policy was just a continuation of the foreign policy pursued by Bush during his second term. How does Obama continuing the foreign policy positions of Bush, who was influenced by Lewis, indicate that Obama's views on the middle east were influenced by Said? It should similarly be noted that while academics are practically universal in siding with Said over Lewis, they did not universally support him against other orientalists. While I'm likely butchering his claims, I seem to recall that Robert Irwin criticized Said's Orientalism for focusing too much on Bernard Lewis, ignoring the work of German orientalists who would complicate Said's claims about the West's portrayal of the middle east.
George Hoffman , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:23 am
I admire his spirited defense of the Western canon in literature and culture based upon Judeo-Christian values. But he lost me when he joined forces with the campaign to blacklist Professors John Meanshimer and Steven Walt with their book The Israel Lobby. The book originally was an article that was expanded into their book. But because of the blacklist against them, they coildn't ge their critique published in America and had to go to The London Review of Books. And of course the article was smeared as anti-Semitic because it was critical of the Israeli lobby (namely AIPAC) and its influence over our foreign policy.
mrscracker , says: June 8, 2018 at 9:53 am
"He was brilliant, but his vanity turned him into a reckless alarmist and a pro-Israeli partisan."
*****************
I'm missing how vanity & supporting Israel are connected?
polistra , says: June 8, 2018 at 10:51 am
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it. Our purpose was not to defang Islam but to superfang it, so we could have a new enemy to justify ever-increasing budgets and power for Deepstate.

Now that we've switched back to Russia as the official enemy, our focus on Islam is fading.

Frank Healy , says: June 8, 2018 at 11:46 am
Saying that Lewis fell prey to vanity is easier than saying he, like the rest of the neocons, was a hypocritical ethnic chauvinist.

In other words:

"Ethnic chauvinism is a sin and a great evil, or evidence of dangerous mental illness, except for the Zionists who you need to support uncritically and unconditionally."

Myron Hudson , says: June 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm
One thing to remember about zionists is that many of the christian ones are expecting to trigger the second coming once certain things come to pass and this includes geography in that region. I grew up with that. Anyway, to them it's not reckless, it's speeding the prophecy along to its rightful end.
ed , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Lewis' so-called analysis and historiography was politicized and deeply flawed, so much so that he showed himself to be a bigot against Arabs and Armenians – he was a scholar of Turkish history, who had been, wined, dined, bought and sold, and corrupted by the Turkish and Israeli governments to serves as their genocide denialist- and of Islam, and anything else Middle Eastern, that did not serve Israel's interests. He offered himself to the neocons as a willing academic and did much damage by 'legitimizing' their bogus 'war on terror'.
He should not be allowed to rest in peace or escape accountability in the judgment of history.
EliteCommInc. , says: June 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm
i guess is the question . . . to decipher the depth and scope that islam poses to the US.

There are just not that many non-Muslims shooting people over cartoons, and insults in the name of god. I have some very fine relational dynamics with muslims, but on occasion, i can't help but wonder which one is going take me out because i don't use the term honorable when I say mohammed's name.

The Nt doesn't even advocate throwing stones at people who steal my coat, I am supposed to offer up the other.

Janwaar Bibi , says: June 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm
Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it.

Islamic fundamentalism blighted and extinguished the lives of millions of Armenians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others in the first half of the 20th century, long before dumb Westerners funded it or armed it. The fact that people in the West are clueless about this history does not mean it did not happen.

BillWAF , says: June 9, 2018 at 2:21 am
Obama had an English class with Said as an undergrad at Columbia. So did Leon Wieseltier years earlier, as did many other Columbia students. Interestingly enough, Wiesaltier remained an aggressive zionist. The claim that Said had any effect upon Obama's foreign policy ideas; policies; or actions is profoundly silly.

To support your claim that "Said's line of thought profoundly influenced his undergraduate student Barack Obama, and would have an immense impact on Obama's Mideast strategies and geopolitics as president," you need a great deal more evidence. Currently, you have none.

Donald , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm
Cheer up Janwaar -- most of us are clueless about fascist Hindus and Buddhists as well.
Philly guy , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm
Islamic fundamentalism was created and funded by Israel and the US to compete with the then Marxist PLO and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.You thought Marxist terrorism was problematic,look at Islamic terrorism.

[Jun 05, 2018] Is Democracy to Blame for Our Present Crisis by Alexander William Salter

Notable quotes:
"... Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering. ..."
"... John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." ..."
"... James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." ..."
"... Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred ..."
"... What we've got now is the tyranny of the ..."
"... minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy. ..."
"... If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp. ..."
"... One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Just because a country is democratic doesn't mean it is self-governing, as America is quickly discovering.

Something has gone wrong with America's political institutions. While the United States is, on the whole, competently governed, there are massive problems lurking just beneath the surface. This became obvious during the 2016 presidential election. Each party's nominee was odious to a large segment of the public; the only difference seemed to be whether it was an odious insurgent or an odious careerist. Almost two years on, things show little signs of improving.

What's to blame? One promising, though unpopular, answer is: democracy itself. When individuals act collectively in large groups and are not held responsible for the consequences of their behavior, decisions are unlikely to be reasonable or prudent. This design flaw in popular government was recognized by several Founding Fathers. John Adams warned that democracy "soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

James Madison was equally concerned with the pernicious consequences of large-scale democracy, arguing that democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

Even George Washington had his doubts about whether democracy was consistent with wise government. Democracies are slow to correct their errors, and those who try to guide the public down a wise course frequently become the object of popular hatred : "It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evil of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure," Washington wrote. "It is to be lamented, nevertheless, that the remedies are so slow, and that those, who may wish to apply them seasonably are not attended to before they suffer in person, in interest and in reputation."

Is Democracy in a Death Spiral? Is Democracy to Blame for the Loneliness Epidemic?

Given these opinions, it is unsurprising that the U.S. Constitution contains so many other mechanisms for ensuring responsible government. Separation of powers and checks and balances are necessary to protect the people from themselves. To the extent our political institutions are deteriorating, the Founders' first instinct would be to look for constitutional changes, whether formal or informal, that have expanded the scope of democracy and entrusted to the electorate greater power than they can safely wield, and reverse them.

This theory is simple, elegant, and appealing. But it's missing a crucial detail.

American government is largely insulated from the tyranny of the majority. But at least since the New Deal, we've gone too far in the opposite direction. What we've got now is the tyranny of the minority . It is not "the people" who govern the nation. Instead, the state is run by permanent civil servants, largely unaccountable to any popular control, and professional politicians who are usually hand-picked by party insiders (Hillary over Bernie, anyone?). This has made it such that the actual 2016 election was more akin to ratifying a foregone conclusion than a substantive choice over the direction of future policy.

But now we confront a puzzle: the rise of the permanent government did coincide with increased democratization. The administrative-managerial state, and its enablers in Congress, followed from creative reinterpretations of the Constitution that allowed voters to make decisions that the Ninth and Tenth amendments -- far and away the most ignored portion of the Bill of Rights -- should have forestalled. As it turns out, not only are both of these observations correct, they are causally related . Increasing the scope of popular government results in the loss of popular control.

If you're a student of politics, you've probably heard of the iron law of oligarchy . The phrase was coined by Robert Michels, an early 20th-century social scientist, in his landmark study of political parties. The iron law of oligarchy is simple: minorities rule majorities, because the former are organized and the latter are not. This is true even within democratic institutions. As power was concentrated in the federal government, the complexity of the tasks confronting civil servants and legislators greatly increased. This required a durable, hierarchical set of institutions for coordinating the behavior of political insiders. Durability enabled political insiders to coordinate their plans across time, which was particularly useful in avoiding the pesky constraints posed by regular elections. Hierarchy enabled political insiders to coordinate plans across space, making a permanently larger government both more feasible and more attractive for elites. The result, in retrospect, was predictable: a massive executive branch bureaucracy that's now largely autonomous, and a permissive Congress that's more than happy to serve as an institutionalized rubber stamp.

The larger the electorate, and the more questions the electorate is asked to decide, the more important it is for the people who actually govern to take advantage of economies of scale in government. If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians.

One of the cruel ironies of the political status quo is that democracy is unquestioningly associated with self-governance, yet in practice, the more democratic a polity grows, the less self-governing it remains. This is why an upsurge of populism won't cure what ails the body politic. It will either provoke the permanent and unaccountable government into tightening its grip, or those who actually hold the power will fan the flames of popular discontent, channeling that energy towards their continued growth and entrenchment. We have enough knowledge to make the diagnosis, but not to prescribe the treatment. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing what political health looks like. G.K. Chesterton said it best in his insight about the relationship between democracy and self-governance:

The democratic contention is that government is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum, discovering the North Pole (that insidious habit), looping the loop, being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly . In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves

The first step towards renewed self-governance must be to reject the false dichotomy between populism and oligarchy. A sober assessment shows that they are one in the same.

Alexander William Salter is an assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He is also the Comparative Economics Research Fellow at TTU's Free Market Institute. See more at his website: www.awsalter.com .



Steve Miller June 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

This was going fine until the author decided to blame civil servants for our nation's problems. How about an electoral system that denies majority rule? A Congress that routinely votes against things the vast majority want? A system that vastly overpriveleges corporations and hands them billions while inequality grows to the point where the UN warns that our country resembles a third world kleptocracy? Nope, sez this guy. It's just because there are too many bureaucrats.
tz , , June 5, 2018 at 12:37 am
He avoids the 17th amendment which was one of the barriers to the mob, and the 19th that removed the power of individual states to set the terms of suffrage.
Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Katy Stanton could simply have moved to Wyoming.
It might be useful to only have property taxpayers vote.
And the problem is the left. When voters rejected Gay Marriage (57% in California!) or benefits for illegals, unelected and unaccountable judges reversed the popular will.
S , , June 5, 2018 at 3:38 am
I find your use of the word populism interesting. Inasmuch the word is generally used when the decisions of the populace is different from that which the technocrats or oligarchs would have made for them. The author being part of the technocratic elite thinks that he and his ilk know best. This entire article is just a lot of arguments in support of this false and self serving idea.
Realist , , June 5, 2018 at 5:11 am
When a populous isn't controlled by the electorate democracy is dead.
Rotunda , , June 5, 2018 at 5:47 am
The libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan made small waves with his book "Against Democracy", published last year.
Voltaire's Ghost , , June 5, 2018 at 6:03 am
Making the federal government "small" will not solve the problems the author describes or really alludes to. The power vacum left by a receding federal government will just be occupied by an unaccountable corporate sector. The recent dismantling of Toys R Us by a spawn of Bain Capital is the most recent manifestation of the twisted and pathological thought process that calls itself "free market capitalism." A small federal government did not end child labor, fight the Depression, win WW II or pioneer space exploration. Conservatives love the mythology of a government "beast" that must be decapitated so that "Liberty" may reign. There are far more dangerous forces at work in American society that inhibit liberty and tax our personal treasuries than the federal government.
TJ Martin , , June 5, 2018 at 9:23 am
1) The US is not and never has been a ' democracy ' It is a Democratic Republic ' which is not the same as a ' democracy ' ( one person -- one vote period ) of which there is only one in the entire world . Switzerland

2) A large part of what has brought us to this point is the worn out well past its sell by Electoral College which not only no longer serves its intended purpose .

3) But the major reason why we're here to put it bluntly is the ' Collective Stupidity of America ' we've volitionally become : addled by celebrity , addicted to entertainment and consumed by conspiracy theory rather than researching the facts

cj , , June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
The US has a democracy? Were'nt two of the last 3 presidents placed into office via a minority of the vote?

We have instead what Sheldon Wolin called a 'managed democracy'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_democracy

It's time to end the pretension that we live in a democracy. It maybe useful to claim so when the US is trying to open markets or control resources in 3rd world countries. It's at that time that we're 'spreading democracy'. Instead it's like spreading manure.

Jon , , June 5, 2018 at 9:43 am
The managerial state arose to quell the threat of class warfare. Ironically those who sought to organize the proletariat under a vision of class-based empowerment clamored for the same. The response over time was fighting fire with fire as the cliche goes becoming what the opposition has sought but only in a modified form.

If we were able to devise a way for distributive justice apart from building a bloated bureaucracy then perhaps this emergence of oligarchy could have been averted. What alternative(s) exist for an equitable distribution of wealth and income to ameliorate poverty? Openly competitive (so-called) markets? And the charity of faith-based communities? I think not.

Youknowho , , June 5, 2018 at 10:39 am
Democracy, like all systems requires maintenace. Bernard Shaw said that the flaw of pragmatism is that any system that is not completely idiotic will work PROVIDED THAT SOMEONE PUT EFFORT IN MAKING IT WORK.

We have come to think that Democracy is in automatic pilot, and does not require effort of our part See how many do not bother to vote or to inform themselves.

Democracy is a fine, shiny package with two caveats in it "Batteries not included" And "Some assembly required" FAilure to heed those leads to disaster.

TG , , June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm
I see where you are coming from, but I must disagree. We don't have a democracy in any real way, so how can it have failed?

Despite massive propaganda of commission and omission, the majority of the American people don't want to waste trillions of dollars on endless pointless oversees wars. The public be damned: Trump was quickly beaten into submission and we are back to the status quo. The public doesn't want to give trillions of dollars to Wall Street while starving Main Street of capital. The public doesn't want an abusively high rate of immigration whose sole purpose is to flood the market for labor, driving wages down and profits up. And so on.

Oswald Spengler was right. " in actuality the freedom of public opinion involves the preparation of public opinion, which costs money; and the freedom of the press brings with it the question of possession of the press, which again is a matter of money; and with the franchise comes electioneering, in which he who pays the piper calls the tune."

JJ , , June 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm
"If the federal government were kept small and simple, there would be little need for a behemoth public sector. Developing durable and hierarchical procedures for organizing political projects would be unfeasible for citizen-statesmen. But those same procedures become essential for technocratic experts and career politicians."

True, but this implies retarding government power as is will lead to an ultimate solution. It will not. The sober truth is that a massive centralized national government has been inevitable since the onset of the second world war or even beforehand with American intervention in the colonoal Phillippines and the Great War. Becoming an empire requires extensive power grabbing and becoming and maintaining a position as a world power requires constant flexing of that power. Maintaining such a large population, military, and foreign corps requires the massive public-works projects you speak of in order to keep the population content and foreign powers in check. Failure to do so leads to chaos and tragic disaster that would lead to such a nation a collapse in all existing institutions due to overcumbersome responsibilities. These cannot be left to the provinces/states due to the massive amounts of resources required to maintain such imperial ambitions along with the cold reality of state infighting and possible seperatist leanings.

If one wishes to end the power of the federal government as is, the goal is not to merely seek reform. The goal is to dismantle the empire; destroy the military might, isolate certain diplomatic relations, reduce rates of overseas trade and reduce the economy as a whole, and then finally disband and/or drastically reduce public security institutions such as the FBI, CIA, and their affiliates. As you well know, elites and the greater public alike consider these anathema.

However, if you wish to rush to this goal, keep in mind that dismantling the American empire will not necessarily lead to the end of oppression and world peace even in the short term. A power vacuum will open that the other world powers such as the Russian Federation and the PRC will rush to fill up. As long as the world remains so interconnected and imperialist ambitions are maintained by old and new world powers, even the smallest and most directly democratic states will not be able to become self-governing for long.

Chris in Appalachia , , June 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm
Well, when, statistically speaking, half of the population has an IQ of less than 100 (probably more than half now that USA has been invaded by the Third World) then a great number of people are uninformed and easily manipulated voters. That is one of the great fallacies of democracy.
Robert Charron , , June 5, 2018 at 2:38 pm
In an era when the word "democracy" is regarded as one of our deities to worship, this article is a breath of fresh air. Notice how we accuse the Russians of trying to undermine our hallowed "democracy." We really don't know what we mean when we use the term democracy, but it is a shibboleth that has a good, comforting sound. And this idea that we could extend our "democracy" by increasing the number of voters shows that we don't understand much at all. Brilliant insights.
Stephen J. , , June 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I believe we are prisoners of so-called "democracy"
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
July 13, 2017
The Prisoners of "Democracy"

Screwing the masses was the forte of the political establishment. It did not really matter which political party was in power, or what name it went under, they all had one ruling instinct, tax, tax, and more taxes. These rapacious politicians had an endless appetite for taxes, and also an appetite for giving themselves huge raises, pension plans, expenses, and all kinds of entitlements. In fact one of them famously said, "He was entitled to his entitlements." Public office was a path to more, and more largesse all paid for by the compulsory taxes of the masses that were the prisoners of "democracy."
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

[Jun 05, 2018] Mourning in America The Day RFK Was Shot in Los Angeles The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee . ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

America had dramatically changed since John F. Kennedy seduced voters with the promises of the New Frontier. A young family, the campaign jingles, the embrace of television, and the prospect of America's first Catholic president injected a sense of patriotic adrenaline into the 1960 campaign. There were "high hopes" for Jack and a sense of cultural validation for Catholics who remembered Al Smith's failed presidential bid in 1928. In 1960, the Everly Brothers and Bobby Darin crooned through the radio, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird proved a national sensation, and Americans flocked to movies like Spartacus in magnificent downtown theaters.

But the frivolity and innocence, however illusory, were shattered on November 22, 1963. Kennedy's assassination violently shifted America's cultural fault lines. One afternoon accelerated the nation's sociological maladies, intensified its political divisions, and evaporated its black-and-white contentment. Americans proceeded on a Technicolor path of disruption, one that had transformed the nation by the time of Bobby's announcement on March 16, 1968. It was that year when The Doors and Cream blasted from transistor radios, John Updike's Couples landed on the cover of Time , and 2001: A Space Odyssey played in new suburban cinemas. The country had experienced a dervish frenzy, and Bobby was fully aware of his nation's turbulent course.

The country was rocked by young students protesting a worsening war in Vietnam. Racial tension exploded and riots destroyed urban neighborhoods. America's political evolution forever altered its electoral geography. Bobby was embarking on a remarkable campaign that challenged the incumbent president, a man he despised for many years. But the source of this strife stemmed from the White House years of Bobby's brother. "While he defined his vision more concretely and compellingly than Jack had -- from ending a disastrous war and addressing the crisis in the cities to removing a sadly out-of-touch president -- he failed to point out that the war, the festering ghettos, and Lyndon Johnson were all part of Jack Kennedy's legacy," wrote Larry Tye in his biography of Bobby.

For the 1968 primary, Kennedy metamorphosed into a liberal figure with an economic populist message. Kennedy's belated entry turned into an audacious crusade, with the candidate addressing racial injustice, income inequality, and the failure of Vietnam. He balanced this message with themes touching upon free enterprise and law and order. Kennedy hoped to appeal to minorities and working-class whites. He quickly became a messianic figure, and the press embellished his New Democrat image. By late March, Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection during a televised address. Through his departure, Johnson worked to maintain control of the party machine by supporting Hubert Humphrey, his devoted Vice President. But in the following weeks, Kennedy built momentum as he challenged McCarthy in states like Indiana and Nebraska. His performance in both states, where anti-Catholic sentiments lingered, testified to Kennedy's favorable electoral position.

In April 4, Kennedy learned that the Rev. King had been assassinated. He relayed the civil rights leader's death in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis. His words helped spare Indianapolis from the riots that erupted in cities across the country, ultimately leading to nearly 40 people killed and over 2,000 injured. MLK's assassination served as an unsettling reminder to Kennedy's family, friends, campaign aides, and traveling press. During Kennedy's first campaign stop in Kansas, the press corps stopped at a restaurant where the legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin asked, "Do you think this guy has the stuff to go all the way?"

"Yes, of course he has the stuff to go all the way," replied Newsweek's John J. Lindsay. "But he's not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it. Just as sure as we're sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He's out there now waiting for him. And, please God, I don't think we'll have a country after it."

Despite what happened in 1963, the Secret Service had yet to provide protection of presidential and vice presidential candidates and nominees during the 1964 election or the 1968 primary. But all the signs were there that Kennedy needed protection. The frenzied crowds increased in size, taking a physical toll on the candidate. In one instance, "he was pulled so hard that he tumbled into the car door, splitting his lip and breaking a front tooth that required capping," writes Nye. "He ended up on a regimen of vitamins and antibiotics to fight fatigue and infection For most politicians, the challenge was to attract crowds; for Bobby, it was to survive them." In California, just 82 days after his announcement, Kennedy met the fate that so many feared.

♦♦♦

Bobby Kennedy was a complicated figure from a family that continues to engage America's imagination. In his autobiography, the novelist Philip Roth, who recently passed away, reflected on Kennedy's assassination:

He was by no means a political figure constructed on anything other than the human scale, and so, the night of his assassination and for days afterward, one felt witness to the violent cutting down not of a monumental force for justice and social change like King or the powerful embodiment of a people's massive misfortunes or a titan of religious potency but rather of a rival -- of a vital, imperfect, high-strung, egotistical, rivalrous, talented brother, who could be just as nasty as he was decent. The murder of a boyish politician of forty-two, a man so nakedly ambitious and virile, was a crime against ordinary human hope as well as against the claims of robust, independent appetite and, coming after the murders of President Kennedy at forty-six and Martin Luther King at thirty-nine, evoked the simplest, most familiar forms of despair.

For those schoolchildren and their parents in June 1968, Kennedy's campaign offered a sense of nostalgia. They remembered the exuberance of his brother's campaign, the optimism of his administration, and the possibilities of the 1960s. For the nation's large ethnic Catholic voting bloc, another Kennedy reminded them of that feeling of validation in the 1960 election. Of course, it had been a tumultuous decade for these voters. They lived in cities that had precipitously declined since JFK's campaign visits in 1960. Railroad stations ended passenger service, theaters closed, factories shuttered, and new highways offered an exodus to suburbia. As Catholics, they prayed for the conversion of Russia, adapted to Vatican II reforms, and adjusted to new parishes in the developing outskirts. Young draftees were shipped off to a catastrophic war, which only intensified their feelings of disillusionment. Their disenchantment raised questions about their sustained support for Democrats. Kennedy may have proved formidable for Nixon in the general election, but the Catholic vote was increasingly up for grabs.

Pat Buchanan understood this electoral opportunity for Republicans. In a 1971 memo, Buchanan argued that Catholics were the largest bloc of available Democratic voters for the GOP: "The fellows who join the K.of C. (Knights of Columbus), who make mass and communion every morning, who go on retreats, who join the Holy Name society, who fight against abortion in their legislatures, who send their kids to Catholic schools, who work on assembly lines and live in Polish, Irish, Italian and Catholic communities or who have headed to the suburbs -- these are the majority of Catholics; they are where our voters are."

In subsequent presidential elections, Catholic voters flocked to Democrats and Republicans. Their electoral preferences were driven by the issues of the moment and often by location. The geographical divide of our politics has only intensified. The 2016 presidential election encapsulated this trend. Voters in Appalachia and the Rust Belt overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump that year. Many of these voters previously supported Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In 1968, these voters likely appreciated Kennedy's campaign message. But the tragedy of the nation is now a loss of optimism -- the belief that tomorrow will be a better day. Americans are overwhelmed by ideological tension and socio-economic angst. The prosperity enjoyed by large metropolitan regions has not spilled over into the heartland. There is no nostalgia for 1968 because countless Americans understand that the nation has failed to address income inequality, job displacement, urban decline, and mass poverty. It was so long ago, but America did lose its innocence on November 22, 1963. Bobby Kennedy's death in 1968 served as a reminder that it would never return.

Charles F, McElwee III is a writer based in northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @CFMcElwee .

[Jun 05, 2018] The Political Assassin Who Brought Down RFK

Notable quotes:
"... Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development. ..."
"... If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade. ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

More troublingly, Robert Kennedy's death occurred within five years of his elder brother's, and under similar circumstances. It is important to recall how unprecedented their deaths were to the generation who witnessed them. If time has removed the shock of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, it should not obscure just how anomalous they are. Bad luck may be part of the mythos of the Kennedy family, but lightning does not strike the same place twice, and political assassinations are exceedingly rare in American history. Both Kennedy brothers hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time -- Israeli nationalism and anti-communism -- and both appeared to have paid a heavy price.


Miguel June 4, 2018 at 12:01 am

In the first place, I don't think that failure of Robert Kennedy had anything to do with a substantial limitation of the liberal world view, but with another concept, or argument:

The end cannot justify the means because it is the mean, which is a process, which conditionates the end, in itself only an outcome.

Robert Kennedy supported violence made by the Zionist movement, turned into a State, and if you ask me, it was that violence which -no pun intended- backfired against him.

Now, about the out balance between loyalty and allegiance homeland/nation, I think it should be looked at from Sirhan perspective. Yes, he had escaped from what, in his perspective, was zionist persecution, just to end in a country where that persecution was supported actively by some high profile politicians. I am not going to say that murder is right, but some how it had to feel for him as if that anti palestinian israely persecution had reappeared very near to his home.

From that point of view, he wasn't a refuge anymore; the country where he was living had become an acomplice of that persecution.

Maybe, if Robert Kennedy had considered a less bellicist way to support Israel, like sending military support without delivering neither the means nor the command decissions to the government of Israel, but keeping it in the hand of the U.S., who knows.

Pear Conference , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:25 am
This article doesn't quite try to justify Oswald's or Sirhan's actions. But it places them firmly in a political context rather than a criminal one.

It also suggests that JFK and RFK both went too far – that they "hurled themselves into the most tumultuous and divisive issues of their time" and thus bear a degree of responsibility for their own fates.

If we want to debate the merits of arming Israel, or undermining Cuba, then let's have that debate. But this is altogether the wrong way to frame it. I, for one, don't ever want the Overton window on such issues to be shifted by the acts, or even the potential acts, of an assassin.

TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:05 am
Israel twice begged Jordan not to join the war that it was already fighting with Egypt and Syria – a war of aggression and genocide, where Nasser boasted of the impending total destruction of Israel, Egyptian state media spoke of a road from Tel Aviv to Cairo paved in Jewish skulls, and Israel's rabbinate consecrated national parks in case they had to be used for Jewish mass graves.

Sirhan Sirhan's entire identity was wrapped up in the frustrated need for Jewish servitude and inferiority, the bitterness that a second Holocaust had failed. He was exactly like the Klan cops in Philadelphia, Mississippi, murdering Freedom Riders who tried to deprive them of their most cherished resource: assured superiority over their traditional designated victim group.

JLF , says: June 4, 2018 at 10:16 am
Hinted at but ignored is another aspect by which 1968 presaged 2018. In 1968 Bobby Kennedy waited until after Gene McCarthy had challenged LBJ and LBJ had withdrawn from the race before entering. For many (most?) McCarthy backers, Kennedy was an opportunistic, privileged spoiler. In the same way, many of Bernie Sanders' supporters looked upon Hillary Clinton as the privileged spoiler of a Democratic Party establishment that had tried and failed to move the party to the right. The McGovern was followed by Carter, who was followed by Mondale, who was followed by Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Hillary. For Democrats, then, it's been fifty years of struggling to find a center, a struggle Republicans pretty much found in Ronald Reagan.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:23 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims. For examples, see TTT and Northern Observer.
mrscracker , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm
John Wilkes Booth was wrapped up in bitterness, defeat & a warped loyalty to his homeland, too. It's interesting I guess to examine assassins' motives, but to what point?
Sean , says: June 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm
Northern Observer, someday Israel will go the way of Rhodesia if it's lucky. Many believe Israel orchestrated JFK's death; he insisted on inspecting Dimona for nuclear weapon development.
Going My Way , says: June 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm
Let the many who criticize TAC for not printing pro Israeli essays read this one. Also, read the numerous blogs supporting this thrust. The "small nation" phrase was a tip-off to the author's loyalties. I think this article is more worthy of the New York Times. Let us not forget June 8, 1967, is another anniversary, when the sophisticated and unmarked aircraft and PT boats using napalm of the author's "small nation" attacked the USS Liberty in international water, with complete disregard to the ship's American markings and large US flag. http://www.gtr5.com/ This event received scant coverage on P19 of the aforementioned NYT. "Small nation"; indeed!
TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm
The only way one can defend Israel's apartheid policies is by demonizing all of their victims.

Sirhan Sirhan is Jordanian – a nation that was invented specifically to be an apartheid state with no Jews at all, forever closed to Jewish inhabitation or immigration. That is his view of normalcy. I'm sorry it's also yours.

Steve Naidamast , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm
This is pure bunk. The idea that Sirhan Sirhan was the assassin of RFK has been categorically disproven by the analysis of the fatal bullets, which none of came from Sirhan's gun. And RFKs friends and close advisors all knew that he had no love for Israel. Whatever he said in support of Israel was for the media purposes only.
General Manager , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:27 pm
Having worked in Jordan and watched Israelis do business and as tourists (Jewish shrines) there, I saw and heard no antisemitism. From my perspective, there seemed to be a positive relationship. Elat and Aqaba are like sister cities. In fact, there seemed to be high-level cooperation. Keep looking you will find bigotry to justify your positions.
Someone in the crowd , says: June 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm
I completely agree with Steve Naidamast. This article is indeed "pure bunk" because Sirhan Sirhan is a side story. That's why this article, with such an angle, should simply never have been published.
Banger , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:29 pm
If you look at actual evidence in the case you would understand that Sirhan did not and could not have killed Sen. Kennedy. Just look at autopsy report and it says he was killed by bullets fired and virtual point blank range from below and the back of the head. In addition, sound analysis proves that there were 13 shots fired but the alleged murder weapon only held 8 shots. So let's stop this charade.
John Jeffery , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm
A laughably naive article which toes the CIA and Zionist line.
Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm
TTT -- yo weren't just talking about Sirhan. I wasn't talking about him at all. I have no sympathy for people who practice terrorism, whether it is done by Palestinians, Jordanians, or the IDF.

[May 29, 2018] On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond 'Thank You For Your Service' The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. ..."
"... Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. ..."
"... A strategy is needed that's rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means . Like " The Weary Titan ," America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. ..."
"... What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy -- who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there's the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic . ..."
"... The reason US acts like an empire is because she *IS* an empire. ..."
"... It recently dawned on me that the US' empire status solidified during and after WWII is the biggest reason why it's so easy for America to wage prolonged, deep-involvement wars. NATO, overseas bases, freedom of navigation, etc. ..."
"... But let's be honest: when we "killed" the draft we killed, in part, what is called social cohesion in this country. ..."
"... "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them." ..."
"... U.S. policy of perpetual war has been well established since 9/11. Everyone who joins the military is well aware of the job description (kill and destroy) and has free will. ..."
"... The U.S. military is currently providing refueling, logistics and intelligence support to the odious Saudis as they pulverize Yemen to smithereens and starve the population. And those American service people are "defending our freedoms" by doing so? ..."
"... The reason these episodes of introspection are called for is because of the massive propaganda machine (Pentagon, Corporate, MSM) of Military Exceptionalism that is the architect of the pathological incongruence. ..."
"... The 'military-civilian' divide, as the author stated it, is as much a product of a media that no longer holds policymakers accountable for seemingly endless military engagements and, the true effect that our endless military engagements are having on the very fabric of our society and on those engaged in them. ..."
"... With a volunteer military that effectively is at the disposal of whoever happens to be in office, no grass-roots opposition movement to hold politicians accountable, and 95 percent of the population untouched by war, the most veterans will receive is a "thank you for your service" as we go on with our daily lives. ..."
"... In my opinion, Demanding answers and justifications for sending people into harms way is the best expression of respect for our military personnel. ..."
"... " instead of asking 'what' we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask 'why' there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there." ..."
"... Be aware that when you ask why, many people (including, sadly, many veterans) will consider this questioning of government foreign policy as a species of treason. Once, while on active duty with the US Army (1970), I suggested to a fellow officer that sending US troops to fight in Vietnam might not be in nation interest. I was immediately and vigorously condemned as a communist, a fascist, and a traitor. ..."
"... According to this reasoning, once the first soldier dies in battle, any criticism of the war denigrates the sacrifice of the deceased. So, we must continue to pile up the dead to justify those who have already died. This is part of the mechanism of war, and is an important reason why it is always easier to start a war than to stop one. ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words . Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when " mil-splaining " military-related holidays was all the rage. From memes outlining the differences between Veterans, Armed Forces, and Memorial Day, to Fourth of July "safe space" declarations seemingly applied to all vets, the trend was everywhere. Thankfully, it seems now to have passed.

Memorial Day is, of course, for remembering the fallen, those who died in service to the nation. Veterans and their families remember their loved ones in ways they deem appropriate, and the state remembers, too, in a somber, serious manner.

This remembrance should in no way preclude the typical family barbecue and other customs associated with the traditional beginning of summer. National holidays are for remembering and celebrating, not guilt. Shaming those who fail to celebrate a holiday according to one's expectations is a bit like non-Christians feeling shame for skipping church: it shouldn't matter because the day means different things to different people. Having a day on the calendar demonstrates the national consensus about honoring sacrifice; anything more than that is a slow walk towards superficiality. President Bush stopped golfing during the Iraq war, but it didn't stop him from continuing it.

Instead, Memorial Day should engender conversation about our military and the gulf between those who serve and those who don't. The conversation shouldn't just be the military talking at civilians; it must be reciprocal. Increasingly civilians see " soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country" -- but many also see OxyContin that way. This situation is lamentable because the aforementioned "mil-splaining" could only occur in a country so profoundly divided from its military as to misunderstand basic concepts such as the purpose of holidays. It's also striking how the most outspoken so-called "patriots" often have little connection to that which they so outlandishly support. Our "thank you for your service" culture is anathema to well-functioning civil-military relations.

After Multiple Deployments, Coming Home to a Changed Country The Best Way to Honor a Vet is With the Truth

The public owes its military more consideration, particularly in how the armed forces are deployed across the globe. Part of this is empathy: stop treating military members as an abstraction , as something that exists only to serve a national or increasingly political purpose. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are deserving of praise and support -- especially considering the burden they've carried -- but what they need more is an engaged public, one that's even willing to scrutinize the military . Because scrutiny necessitates engagement and hopefully understanding and reform.

But the civil-military divide goes both ways. Military members and veterans owe the public a better relationship as well. This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them. Open a dialogue: you might build a real connection . Better yet, volunteer to speak at a school or church: partly to explain your service, sure, but more so to show that military personnel are people, too, not just distant abstractions . Veterans are spread across the county and better able to interact with civilians than our largely cloistered active duty force. They shouldn't go to schools, churches, and civic organizations for the inevitable praise. They should go to educate, nurture relationships, and chip away at the civil-military divide.

Perhaps by questioning the fundamentals -- the "why" instead of the so often discussed "what" in military operations -- the public would be in a better position to demand action from a Congress that, heretofore, has largely abdicated serious oversight of foreign policy. Perhaps the public, instead of asking "what" we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan , could ask "why" there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there.

A strategy is needed that's rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means . Like " The Weary Titan ," America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. Consumed by domestic strife and the emergence of nationalism , American foreign policy has wandered fecklessly since the end of the Cold War. While we can strike anywhere, this capability is wasted in search of a lasting peace.

What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy -- who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there's the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic .

For America to dig its way out of its domestic and foreign troubles it must start with sobering analysis. For the civil-military dialogue, Memorial Day is as good a place to begin as any day. So this weekend, civilians should move beyond "Thank you for your service" and ask a vet about his or her service and lost comrades. Veterans, don't expect praise and don't lecture; speak with honesty and empathy, talk about what you've done and the conditions you've seen. You might be surprised what we can learn from each other.

John Q. Bolton is an Army officer who recently returned from Afghanistan. An Army aviator (AH-64D/E), he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a 2005 graduate of West Point. The views presented here are his alone and not representative of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

12 Responses to On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond 'Thank You For Your Service'

W May 28, 2018 at 4:03 am

(This reply was intended for an older article "http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-deep-unfairness-of-americas-all-volunteer-force" from 2017 but since the topics are kind of related, so )

The reason US acts like an empire is because she *IS* an empire.

It recently dawned on me that the US' empire status solidified during and after WWII is the biggest reason why it's so easy for America to wage prolonged, deep-involvement wars. NATO, overseas bases, freedom of navigation, etc. Scrapping/re-constituting these frameworks would put the US on par with most other countries on earth sporting home-bound defense forces. Congressional authority/oversight would be reinvigorated, and acting under the auspices of the UN becomes a procedural impairment (sovereignty concerns and selfishness notwithstanding). A practical start would be lobbying for more base closures abroad, for those who feel strongly about this.

But there is a danger: nature abhors a vacuum.

The other thing, I am definitely for professionalism in militaries. Better to have one dedicated soldier than three squirmish kids dragged into the mud.

Aviel , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:07 am
Seems to me a universal draft would be the best way to say thank you. Under that scenario most wars would be avoided or resolved quickly as the cost would be political defeat. An all volunteer/mercenary force is blatantly unfair as virtually no kids of the wealthy fight, prohibitively expensive, as recruiting and retaining soldiers in these times is an uphill challenge, and dangerous as it encourages needless risk since only a tiny percentage of the voting population pay the price
Mark M. Pando , says: May 28, 2018 at 5:31 am
Sir: Thank you for your timely comments. I am a USN veteran and fully support the idea that communication has to be a two-way street between civilians and our military women and men. But let's be honest: when we "killed" the draft we killed, in part, what is called social cohesion in this country. Not having common experiences makes us all more foreign to one another which leads to isolation and platitudes such as "Thank you for your service." I have heard that comment many times, too, and after a while it comes across as: "better you than me." I know I am being cynical but I am also only human .
SteveM , says: May 28, 2018 at 7:54 am
Re: "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them."

U.S. policy of perpetual war has been well established since 9/11. Everyone who joins the military is well aware of the job description (kill and destroy) and has free will.

Thanking someone for signing up for the War Machine to wreck havoc on natives thousands of miles from American shores makes little sense.

The U.S. military is currently providing refueling, logistics and intelligence support to the odious Saudis as they pulverize Yemen to smithereens and starve the population. And those American service people are "defending our freedoms" by doing so?

The U.S. military slaughters the Syrian army operating in their own country and we are supposed to thank them for "their service"? Military drone drivers who slaughter Yemeni wedding parties from comfortable installations in Florida and the operators on U.S. Navy ships who launch missiles into Syria based on bogus False Flag scenarios are "Warrior Heroes"?

The veterans we should be thanking are the ones who realized early on that they were being played for chumps by the war-mongers and got out. If John Q. Bolton has that understanding, why hasn't he gotten out?

The real "heroes" in America are the young people who get real jobs in the real economy providing real value to their fellow citizens.

The reason these episodes of introspection are called for is because of the massive propaganda machine (Pentagon, Corporate, MSM) of Military Exceptionalism that is the architect of the pathological incongruence.

E.J. Smith , says: May 28, 2018 at 9:26 am
This is an excellent article. Memorial Day should call upon all Americans to ask some essential questions.

As an aside, The Washington Post ran an article today about the funeral of Spec. Conde who recently was killed in Afghanistan. The article spoke of Spec. Conde's motivations for serving, the events that led to his death, the funeral service, and the effect that his death at age 21 had and will have on his family and those who knew and loved him.

What struck me most about the article was how remote the funeral service and the family's grief seem from the rest of what is taking place in America. For example, there was an oblique reference to a funeral detail for a veteran who committed suicide that apparently no one attended.

The 'military-civilian' divide, as the author stated it, is as much a product of a media that no longer holds policymakers accountable for seemingly endless military engagements and, the true effect that our endless military engagements are having on the very fabric of our society and on those engaged in them.

The vast majority of the American public go about their daily lives, seemingly insulated from the effects of our endless engagements. For example, Spec. Conde's death in Afghanistan did not even make the front page of our major media when it first happened. The death of four soldiers in Niger has faded from view.

With a volunteer military that effectively is at the disposal of whoever happens to be in office, no grass-roots opposition movement to hold politicians accountable, and 95 percent of the population untouched by war, the most veterans will receive is a "thank you for your service" as we go on with our daily lives.

Stuart MacNee , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm
Thank you, Sir, for articulating my position. In 7 Second Soundbite format, "I Support the Troops, not the Policy that put them in harms way."
The military should never be deployed for political purposes. As a nation, we have willfully refused to learn anything from the lessons of Korea and Viet Nam.

Military service preserves the Ultimate Expression of America, "Question Authority!" (I recognize the Irony of suppressing it within it's ranks.) In my opinion, Demanding answers and justifications for sending people into harms way is the best expression of respect for our military personnel.

Accept Officer Bolton's challenge. When you see me kneeling at the National Anthem, ask me why. [The Answer: I do it to show respect for those that have fallen at the hands of those who oppose the Values embodied in the American Flag.]

Rossbach , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:43 pm
" instead of asking 'what' we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask 'why' there is a stalemate at all -- and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there."

Be aware that when you ask why, many people (including, sadly, many veterans) will consider this questioning of government foreign policy as a species of treason. Once, while on active duty with the US Army (1970), I suggested to a fellow officer that sending US troops to fight in Vietnam might not be in nation interest. I was immediately and vigorously condemned as a communist, a fascist, and a traitor.

According to this reasoning, once the first soldier dies in battle, any criticism of the war denigrates the sacrifice of the deceased. So, we must continue to pile up the dead to justify those who have already died. This is part of the mechanism of war, and is an important reason why it is always easier to start a war than to stop one.

Stephen J. , says: May 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm
Perhaps we need "our leaders" to do some war "Service."
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
March 9, 2009

"Should We Have War Games for the World's Leaders"?

Yesterday's enemies are today's friends and today's friends are tomorrow's enemies, such is the way of the world, and wars of the world. All these wars cause enormous bloodshed, destruction and suffering to those affected. Therefore, would it not be much simpler to have war games for all of the world's leaders and elites every few years? We have Olympic Games every four years where the world's athletes from different countries compete. And many of these countries are hostile to each other, yet they participate in the Olympics. So if enemies can participate for sport, why not for war games? How could this be arranged? All the leaders and elites of the world would have to lead by example, instead of leading from their political platforms, palaces and offshore tax havens, while the ordinary people have to do the dirty work in wars. The world's leaders and elites would all be in the front lines first. A venue could be arranged in a deserted area and the people of the world could watch via satellite TV their courageous leaders and other elites leading the charge in the war games .
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2009/03/should-we-have-war-games-for-worlds.html

Keith Danish , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Good to know that not all John Boltons are insane.

[May 29, 2018] Amazon's Relentless Pursuit of Largesse The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi . ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Powerful is the man who, with a short series of tweets, can single-handedly send the bluest of the blue-chip stocks into a headlong tumble. For better or for worse, the current occupant of the Oval Office is one such man, tapping into his power with the following missive that crossed the Twitter transom on the morning of March 29:

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

Over the next few trading days, with four subsequent tweets peppered in, Amazon's stock dropped by more than $75 a share, losing a market value of nearly $40 billion. Card carrying-members of the Resistance and Never Trump brigade quickly portrayed the president's scorn as the latest evidence of his "soft totalitarianism" and general disdain for the First Amendment and the free press. They noted that Amazon's CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post -- a leading "perpetrator" of what Trump has called the "opposition party" and "fake news."

Concerns of politically motivated impropriety are not without merit. Trump has repeatedly proven himself unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. As presidential candidate and commander in chief, he has demonstrated an eagerness to use his Twitter account as a bully pulpit in his petty brawls with lawmakers, media personalities, and anyone else who might draw his ire.

And yet, ulterior motives though there may be, knee-jerk dismissals of the president's attack are short-sighted. The president's bluster in this instance is rooted in reality.

Indeed, contra the libertarian ethos that Amazon and its leader purport to embody, the company has not emerged as one of history's preeminent corporate juggernauts through thrift and elbow grease alone. Although the company's harshest critics must concede that Amazon is the world's most consistently competent corporation -- replete with innovation and ingenuity -- the company's unprecedented growth would not be possible without two key ingredients: corporate welfare and tax avoidance.

Amazon has long benefitted from the procurement of taxpayer-funded subsidies, emerging in recent years as the leading recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has, since 2000, received more than $1.39 billion in state and local tax breaks and subsidies for construction of its vast network of warehouses and data centers.

These private-public "partnership" deals are perhaps best illustrated by the sweepstakes for Amazon's second headquarters. Touted as the economic development opportunity of the century, the chosen destination will reap the benefits of 50,000 "high-paying" jobs and $5 billion in construction spending. The possibility of securing an economic development package of this magnitude elicited proposals from 238 North American cities and regions, fomenting what some have called a "bidding war" between mayors, governors, and county executives desperate for economic invigoration.

After a first round deadline of October 19, the pool of applicants was, in mid-January, whittled down to a list of 20. As expected, each finalist offered incentive packages worth more than a billion dollars, with Montgomery County, Maryland, ($8.5 billion) and Newark, New Jersey, ($7 billion) offering the most eye-popping bundles. Proposals utilized a wide array of state and local economic development programs: property tax discounts, infrastructure subsidies, and, in the case of Chicago's proposal, an incentive known as a "personal income-tax diversion." Worth up to $1.32 billion, Amazon employees would still pay their income taxes in full -- but instead of Illinois receiving the money, the tax payments would be funneled directly into the pockets of Amazon itself.

While critics condemn the ostentatious bids of Maryland and New Jersey and decry the "creative" gimmicks of cities such as Chicago, they are equally worried about the details -- or lack thereof -- of the proposals from the other finalists. Despite demands for transparency from local community leaders and journalists, only a handful of cities have released the details of their bids in full, while six finalists -- Indianapolis, Dallas, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh, North Carolina -- have refused to release any of the details from their first-round bids. Viewing themselves as players in a zero-sum game of high-stakes poker, they claim that there is little to gain, but a lot to lose, in making their proposals public.

Such secrecy has, in the second round of bidding, become the rule more than the exception. Although he owns a newspaper with the slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness," Bezos has required state and local officials involved in negotiations to sign non-disclosure agreements. With the opportunity to revisit and revise their bids (i.e., increase their dollar value), the transition from public spectacle to backroom dealing introduces yet another cause for concern. If the finalists don't apprise citizens of their bids' details, the citizens can't weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether inviting the company into their midst will be a net positive or net negative.

Amazon's pursuit of public tithes and offerings is matched by its relentless obsession with avoiding taxes. Employing a legion of accountants and lawyers, the company has become a master at navigating the tax code and exploiting every loophole. Illegality is not the issue here but rather a tax system that allows mammoth corporations to operate with huge tax advantages not available to mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.

Of course Amazon isn't unique in its desire to avoid the taxman. It is, however, unrivaled in its ability to do so. Last fall's debate concerning the merits of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent was, for Amazon, a moot point. In the five years from 2012 to 2016, Amazon paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 11.4 percent.

The company fared even better in 2017. Despite posting a $5.6 billion profit, Amazon didn't pay a single cent in federal taxes, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. What's more, Amazon projects it will receive an additional $789 million in kickbacks from last year's tax reform bill.

Even by the standards of mammoth corporations, this is impressive. By way of comparison, Walmart -- no stranger to corporate welfare and tax avoidance -- has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax since 2008. Amazon? Just $1.4 billion.

Amazon's tax-avoidance success can be attributed to two things: avoiding the collection of sales taxes and stashing profits in overseas tax havens. The IRS estimates that Amazon has dodged more than $1.5 billion in taxes by funneling the patents of its intellectual property behind the walls of its European headquarters city, Luxembourg -- a widely used corporate tax haven. Again, nothing illegal here, but there's something wrong with a tax system that allows it.

From day one, Amazon's business model involved legally avoiding any obligation to collect sales taxes, and then using the subsequent pricing advantage to gain market share. It did this by first locating its warehouses in very few states, most of which did not have a sales tax. It then shipped its goods to customers that resided in other states that did have sales tax. This game plan allowed Amazon to avoid what is known as "nexus" in sales-tax states, meaning that those states could not compel it to collect the tax -- a two to 10 percent competitive advantage over its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Amazon exploited this tax advantage for years until state legislatures -- realizing how much revenue they were losing -- gradually began passing legislation requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for items purchased by their citizens. In 2012, having already benefited from this competitive advantage for more than a decade and a half, Bezos -- under the pretense of a "level playing field" -- began advocating for federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. No such legislation has been passed.

And despite Bezos's carefully calculated public relations posturing, Amazon's advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers persists: not only does Amazon not collect city and county sales taxes (where applicable) but it also doesn't, with few exceptions, collect sales tax on items sold by third-party distributors on Amazon Marketplace -- sales that account for more than half of Amazon's sales.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental tax breaks and tax avoidance have been in Amazon's unprecedented growth. As Bezos made clear in his first letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon's business plan is predicated on amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits. As a result, the company operates on razor-thin margins in some retail categories, while actually taking losses in others.

Amazon has not squandered these competitive advantages. Half of online retail purchases are made through Amazon, and more than half of American households are enrolled in the Amazon Prime program -- a subscription service that engenders platform loyalty and leads to increases in consumer spending.

In fact, Amazon's ascent and tactics have led an increasing number of public policy experts to call for a renewed enforcement of America's antitrust laws. The concern is that Amazon has used its market power to crush smaller competitors with a swath of anti-competitive practices, including predatory pricing and market power advantages stemming from Amazon Marketplace -- Amazon's vast sales platform for third-party retailers.

Such practices may be a boon for consumers and Amazon stockholders, the reasoning goes, but they are only possible because Amazon uses economic power to squeeze its retail partners on pricing at various points in the production line, which harms the health of many other businesses. In fact, some suggest this bullying tendency calls to mind the actions of John D. Rockefeller in his dealings with railroad companies at the turn of the last century.

These monopolistic practices have squeezed local, state, and federal revenue streams in two ways. Not only do these governments forego the collection of needed tax revenue but Amazon's rise has also knocked out many brick-and-mortar competitors that previously had provided streams of tax revenue. By wooing Amazon with taxpayer-funded subsidies and other giveaways, government leaders are, in a very real sense, funding the destruction of their own tax base. There is little evidence that such taxpayer-funded inducements have resulted in a net positive to the states and localities doling out the subsidies.

By forsaking the tenets of free market orthodoxy, forgoing the collection of much-needed tax revenue, and giving big businesses major competitive advantages, state and local governments have generated increasing controversy and political enmity from both ends of the political spectrum. And yet, though bipartisan accusations of crony capitalism and corporate welfare abound, such opposition does little to dissuade state and local governments from loosening the public purse strings in their efforts to woo big corporations such as Amazon.

Daniel Kishi is associate editor of The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi .

[May 29, 2018] The Urban-Rural Divide More Pronounced Than Ever

Notable quotes:
"... Why Liberalism Failed ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

These findings reminded me of the suggestion in Patrick Deneen's recently released Why Liberalism Failed that the political ideology of liberalism drives us apart, making us more lonely and polarized than ever. As Christine Emba writes in her Washington Post review of Deneen's book:

As liberalism has progressed, it has done so by ever more efficiently liberating each individual from "particular places, relationships, memberships, and even identities-unless they have been chosen, are worn lightly, and can be revised or abandoned at will." In the process, it has scoured anything that could hold stable meaning and connection from our modern landscape-culture has been disintegrated, family bonds devalued, connections to the past cut off, an understanding of the common good all but disappeared.

likbez

Our political differences are strengthening, with an increasing number of urban Americans moving further left and more than half of rural voters (54 percent)

There is actually no way to move to the left in the two party system installed in the USA. The Democratic Party is just another neoliberal party. Bill Clinton sold it to Wall Street long ago.

Neoliberalism uses identity wedge to split the voters into various groups which in turn are corralled into two camps representing on the federal level two almost identical militaristic, oligarchical parties to eliminate any threat to the status quo.

And they do very skillfully and successfully. Trump is just a minor deviation from the rule (or like Obama is the confirmation of the rule "change we can believe in" so to speak). And he did capitulate to neocons just two months after inauguration. While he was from the very beginning a "bastard neoliberal" -- neoliberal that denies the value of implicit coercion of neoliberal globalization in favor of open bullying of trade partners. Kind of "neoliberalism for a single exceptional country."

The current catfight between different oligarchic groups for power (Russiagate vs. Spygate ) might well be just a smoke screen for the coming crisis of neoliberalism in the USA, which is unable to lift the standard of living of the lower 80% of population, and neoliberal propaganda after 40 or so years lost its power, much like communist propaganda in the same time frame.

The tenacity with which Clinton-Obama wing of Democratic Party wants Trump to be removed is just a testament of the political power of neoliberals and neocons in the USA as they are merged with the "deep state." No deviations from the party line are allowed.

[May 28, 2018] Why You Should Read These Military Classics by Andrew J. Bacevich

May 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

There are, in my judgment, three great novels that explore American military life in the twentieth century. They are, in order of publication, Guard of Honor (1948) by James Gould Cozzens, From Here To Eternity (1951) by James Jones, and The Sand Pebbles (1962) by Richard McKenna.

The first is a book about airmen, set at a stateside air base during World War II. The second is a soldier's story, its setting Schofield Barracks in the territory of Hawaii on the eve of Pearl Harbor. In The Sand Pebbles, the focus is on sailors. It takes place in China during the 1920s when U.S. Navy gunboats patrolled the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

As far as I can tell, none of the three enjoys much of a following today. Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Guard of Honor has all but vanished. To the extent that the other two retain any cultural salience, they do so as movies, superb in the case of From Here to Eternity , colorful but mediocre in the case of The Sand Pebbles.

Yet for any American seeking an intimate account of military service, all three novels remain worth reading. Times change, as do uniforms, weapons, and tactics, but certain fundamentals of military life endure. Leaders and led see matters differently, nurse different expectations, and respond to different motivations. The perspective back at higher headquarters (or up on the bridge) differs from the way things look to those dealing with the challenges of a typical duty day. The biggest difference of all is between inside and outside -- between those in uniform and the civilians who necessarily inhabit another world. Each in his own way, Cozzens, Jones, and McKenna unpack those differences with sensitivity and insight.

Of the three, McKenna's novel in particular deserves revival, not only because of its impressive literary qualities, but because the story it tells has renewed relevance to the present day. It's a story about the role that foreign powers, including the United States, played in the emergence of modern China.

Prompted in part by the ostensible North Korean threat, but more broadly by the ongoing rise of China and uncertainty about China's ultimate ambitions, the American military establishment will almost inevitably be directing more of its attention toward East Asia in the coming years. To be sure, the conflict formerly known as the Global War on Terrorism continues and appears unlikely to conclude anytime soon. Yet the character of that conflict is changing. Having come up short in its efforts to pacify the Islamic world, the United States is increasingly inclined to rely on proxies, generously supported by air power, to carry on the jihadist fight in preference to committing large numbers of U.S. troops. Almost imperceptibly, East Asia is encroaching upon and will eventually eclipse the Greater Middle East in the Pentagon's hierarchy of strategic priorities.

It's this reshuffling of Pentagon priorities that endows The Sand Pebbles with renewed significance. If past is prologue, McKenna's fictionalized account of actual events that occurred 90 years ago involving U.S. forces in China should provide context for anyone intent on employing American military power to check China today.

Of course, the armed forces of the United States have a long history of involvement in East Asia. Ever since 1898, when it liberated, occupied, and subsequently annexed the Philippines, the United States has maintained an enduring military presence in that part of the world.

To the extent that Americans are even dimly aware of what that presence has entailed, they probably think in terms of three 20th-century Asian wars: the first in the 1940s against Japan; the second during the 1950s in Korea; the third from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s in Vietnam. In each, whether as ally or adversary, China figured prominently.

Yet even before the attack on Pearl Harbor initiated the first of those wars, U.S. air, land, and naval forces had been active in and around China. Dreams of gaining access to a lucrative "China Market" numbered among the factors that persuaded the United States to annex the Philippines in the first place. In 1900, U.S. troops participated in the China Relief Expedition, a multilateral intervention mounted to suppress the so-called Boxer Rebellion, which sought to expel foreigners and end outside interference in Chinese affairs. The mission succeeded and the U.S. military stayed on. Army and Marine Corps units established garrisons in "treaty ports" such as Shanghai and Tientsin.

Decades earlier, the U.S. Navy had begun making periodic forays into China's inland waterways. In the early 20th century, employing small shallow-draft vessels captured from Spain in 1898, this presence became increasingly formalized. As American commercial and missionary interests in China grew, the Navy inaugurated what it called the Yangtze Patrol, with Congress appropriating funds to construct a flotilla of purpose-built gunboats for patrolling the river and its tributaries. Under the direction of COMYANGPAT back in Shanghai, small warships flying the Stars-and-Stripes sailed up and down the Yangtze's immense length to "protect American lives and property."

This is the story that McKenna, himself a YANGPAT veteran, recounts, focusing on a single fictional ship the U.S.S. San Pablo. Known as "Sand Pebbles," the few dozen sailors comprising the San Pablo's crew are all lifers. A rough bunch, their interests rarely extend beyond drinking and whoring. In 1920s China, an American sailor's modest paycheck provides ample funds for both pursuits.

Even afloat, life for the Sand Pebbles is more than agreeable. Onboard the San Pablo, an unofficial second crew consisting of local Chinese -- "contractors," we would call them today -- does the dirty work and the heavy lifting. The Americans stay topside, performing routines and rituals meant to convey an image of power and dominance.

San Pablo is a puny and lightly armed ship. Yet it exists to convey a big impression, thereby sustaining the privileged position that the United States and the other imperial powers enjoyed in China.

The revolutionary turmoil engulfing China in the 1920s necessarily challenged this proposition. Nationalist fervor gripped large parts of the population. Imperial privilege stoked popular resentment, which made San Pablo 's position increasingly untenable, even if the Sand Pebbles themselves were blind to what was coming. That their own eminently comfortable circumstances might be at risk was literally unimaginable.

McKenna's narrative describes how the world of the Sand Pebbles fell apart. His nominal protagonist is Jake Holman, a machinist mate with a mystical relationship to machinery. Jake loathes the spit-and-polish routine topside and wants nothing more than to remain below decks in the engine compartment, performing duties that on San Pablo white American sailors have long since ceased to do. In the eyes of his shipmates, therefore, Jake represents a threat to the division of labor that underwrites their comforts.

The ship's captain, one of only two commissioned officers assigned to San Pablo, likewise sees Jake as a threat to the status quo. To my mind, Lieutenant Collins is McKenna's most intriguing creation and the novel's true focal point. Although the Sand Pebbles are oblivious to how they may figure in some larger picture, for Collins the larger picture is a continuing preoccupation. He sees his little ship, the entire U.S. Navy, America's providential purpose, and the fate of Western civilization as all of a piece. Serious, sober, and dutiful, he is also something of a fanatic.

Collins dimly perceives that powerful forces within China pose a direct threat not only to the existing U.S. position there, but to his own worldview. Yet he considers the prospect of accommodating those forces as not only intolerable, but inconceivable. So in the book's culminating episode he leads Jake and several other Sand Pebbles on a symbolic but utterly futile gesture of resistance. Fancying that he is thereby salvaging his ship's honor (and his own as well), he succeeds merely in killing his own men.

I interpret McKenna as suggesting that there is no honor in denying reality. Only waste and needless sacrifice result. Today a national security establishment as blind to reality as Lieutenant Collins presides over futile gestures far more costly than those inflicted upon the Sand Pebbles. It's not fiction and it's happening right before our eyes.

So skip the movie. But read McKenna's book. And then reflect on its relevance to the present day.

Andrew J. Bacevich is TAC's writer-at-large.

[May 23, 2018] Elon Musk is the Cosmo Kramer of Crony Capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Despite receiving all this government money, Musk's company has not shown demonstrable results. Yesterday, Bloomberg released a story under the headline "Tesla Doesn't Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash," detailing how the company spends $6,500 a minute and may run out of money by the end of the year. Just weeks ago, Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating due to its seeming inability to meet deadlines. Mr. Musk's estimate of producing 20,000 vehicles in December, for instance, turned into just over 2,400 in the entire fourth quarter. ..."
"... Norm Singleton is the chairman of Campaign for Liberty. ..."
May 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Anyone familiar with the hit sitcom Seinfeld knows that Cosmo Kramer, the rambunctious, eccentric neighbor of Jerry Seinfeld, had a lot of big ideas. From make-your-own-pizza parlors to tie dispensers to the infamous " mansierre ," Kramer was -- in his own mind -- a world-changing revolutionary.

Of course, aside from one notable exception ( the Regis Philbin-approved pop-out coffee table book ), none of his ideas ever panned out. But lack of achievement is exactly what viewers expected every week. The whole fun of Kramer was his dream-big mentality and the impracticality that came with it.

No one on the show was senseless enough to support Kramer in his work. In fact, in one episode, Leland fired him even though he did not hold any standing position. Kramer couldn't even keep a job at a bagel store for longer than a few days. It was his friends' open refrigerators that provided him with the life support he needed to continue dreaming and inventing.

This comedy sitcom case study is ironically much more sensible than what occurs in real life. There are plenty of Cosmo Kramers out in the world today with ideas that are even more ambitious than anything Kramerica Industries could have formulated. The only difference is that these individuals have armies of lobbyists that can convince our spendthrift government to finance their ideas, even though they have yet to pass any free-market smell tests.

Perhaps the most recent example of such a politically astute, Kramer-like figure is Elon Musk. This larger-than-life media personality plans to do everything from sending men to the moon and Mars, to creating a 700-miles-per-hour tunnel transportation system, to turbocharging human brains by implanting computers.

All of these are excellent ideas, to be sure, but ones that bear significant amounts of risk. Unfortunately, Mr. Musk does not seem willing to bear all the risk himself. His business model revolves around hiring experts to navigate the waters of the Washington swamp to discover ways to make the American people pick up the tab.

Take Tesla, for example. The car company was created to bring electric vehicles to the general public en masse -- a mission that oddly requires over $1 million in lobbying expenditures annually. As a result, the cars are financed by over $280 million in federal tax incentives, including a $7,500 federal tax break, and tens of millions more in state rebates and development fees.

Despite receiving all this government money, Musk's company has not shown demonstrable results. Yesterday, Bloomberg released a story under the headline "Tesla Doesn't Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash," detailing how the company spends $6,500 a minute and may run out of money by the end of the year. Just weeks ago, Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating due to its seeming inability to meet deadlines. Mr. Musk's estimate of producing 20,000 vehicles in December, for instance, turned into just over 2,400 in the entire fourth quarter.

It is no wonder that when these government subsidies die, electric vehicle sales plummet. Three years ago, sales sunk by more than 80 percent in the state of Georgia when the $5,000 state tax credit phased out. Last year, sales declined by 60 percent when its EV tax breaks sharply fell. These empirical case studies do not paint a positive picture of Tesla's future, especially given that its federal tax break is expected to phase out sometime this year. Perhaps funding Kramer's big ball of oil in the name of alleviating the world's spillage problems would have been just as, if not more, fruitful.

SpaceX is no better. Roughly 85 percent of its contracts come directly from the federal government. The aerospace manufacturer hit a then-personal record of $2 million in annual lobbying spending not long ago as it continued its quest to conquer the stars. New York magazine once asked "Are Elon Musk's Aggressive Lobbyists Bad for Silicon Valley? " but without them the government-dependent company might not even exist.

SpaceX has already received roughly $15 billion in subsidy guarantees from Texas, and despite meeting just one sixth of the hiring goals it promised, it is requesting $5 million more . Similarly, even though SpaceX has already received over $70 million from the federal government to develop its BFR, the company would like more on that front as well.

Meanwhile, just last week, NASA's Office of Inspector General found that SpaceX has raised the cost of some launches by over 50 percent due to having "a better understanding of the costs involved after several years of experience with cargo resupply missions." This new development means that the government's deal -- already diluted by costly rocket failures -- continues to get worse and worse.

And don't even get me started on SolarCity, Mr. Musk's solar panel company, which has still not turned an annual profit despite receiving over $490 million in grants from the Treasury Department over the years and the government covering 30 percent of its installation costs.

As a free market capitalist, I am rooting for Mr. Musk to pull it together and succeed. But I don't want the federal government to waste any more of Americans' hard-earned cash to make it happen.

We will never know what the well-intentioned Cosmo Kramer could have accomplished had Jerry and the rest of the gang cut him off from their refrigerators, homes, and other welfare as a means of forcing him to follow through with his goals. However, we can still explore how taking away such measures of comfort will affect Elon Musk's motivation and decision-making. Ironically, it just may be the recipe for success that the ambitious CEO needs.

Norm Singleton is the chairman of Campaign for Liberty.

DJ May 23, 2018 at 1:31 pm

There are legitimate questions to ask regarding tesla, but SpaceX is a whole other issue. Pretty much every rocket manufacturer gets massive government subsidies. SpaceX is not the first and probably not the last. but their increase in price is still cost competitive compared to other manufacturers.
KXB , says: May 23, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Musk should have gone into defense contracting – ever increasing budgets with no scrutiny.

[May 20, 2018] Ford Says Farewell The American Conservative

May 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ford Says Farewell America's most iconic automaker plans to drive almost all of their passenger sedans into the sunset by 2020. By Telly Davidson May 16, 2018

1959 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon Advertisement Life Magazine November 10 1958 By SenseiAlan /Flickr/CreativeCommons Ford Motor Company recently dropped a bombshell -- one that would have been largely unthinkable before the Great Recession. FoMoCo announced that it would be phasing out virtually all passenger cars built for the U.S./Canadian market (they will continue in Europe) by 2020, except for the upcoming Focus Active and always-popular Mustang -- a move all the more grim in that it was founding father Henry Ford that pioneered the mass-market sedan for both America and the world.

The Focus will be first to go this month, followed by the Taurus next March and the Fiesta in May 2019.

Ford Motor Company was always the Eve to General Motors' Adam in Detroit, not only making cars (and profits) by the trunkload, but leading the league in midcentury style. The "Jackie Kennedy" Lincoln Continental Town Car . The Thunderbird . But during the "Big Government" era of unapologetically high property taxes and ballooning environmental regulations, Ford suffered its first postwar crash. Amid the 1975 fuel shortages, Congress passed -- and Detroit's own liberal Republican stalwart Gerald Ford (despite some quibbles and misgivings) signed -- the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Act (CAFÉ), which started off by requiring an 18 mpg standard by the 1978 model year (1975 models were around 13 mpg by average.) The standard would rise to 19 mpg in 1979, 20 in 1980, and then not one but two mileage points per year through 1984 -- with massive, multi-million-dollar IRS and court-imposed fines if a manufacturer was found to be non-compliant.

Like a small-town mayor futilely trying to resist a federal court order, Ford mocked GM's newly streamlined "large" cars when they debuted for 1977 (GM had been planning to go on a diet even before CAFÉ, and had vastly more R&D money than Ford or Chrysler). Ads noted that Ford's family-priced LTD sedan was now the same length as a "downsized" (but still gargantuan by today's standards) new '77 Cadillac. Cynically, both Ford and Chrysler made no secret of the fact that their 1978 model full-size cars would be the last of their kind (Cadillac also let everyone know that their big 1978 Eldorado was heading for the exit door), encouraging not only the "buy it while you still can!" panic buying of the hyperinflationary late '70s -- but also as good as telling customers that next year's forcibly-downsized models would be decidedly inferior. Lincoln gave its Town Car and Mark V one last victory lap before they went, and Ford also renewed the Mark V's shorter-wheelbase platform-mates the Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar for 1979. Still fuming at the imminent loss of their league-leaders, Ford so grossly overproduced for 1979 that Lincoln had a backlog of 210 days' worth of cars by July of 1979, effectively giving them a 1980 model year.

Not surprisingly, the downsized 1979 Ford (and Chrysler) "full size" sedans initially bombed -- sales declined drastically for the '79 LTD and Mercury Grand Marquis, and went off a cliff in 1980. And while the Mark VI "only" fell by half of its 1979 numbers, the Town Car went off Thelma and Louise's cliff -- barely managing one-third of its '79 numbers.

And all this was just a sampling of what became arguably the biggest one-year euthanasia in Ford history, as the 1980 Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch (and their upscale twin, the luxury Lincoln Versailles), and the iconic Pinto/Bobcat were all put to sleep at year's end. All but the Granada were canceled outright, in nameplate as well as body style, with the Granada barely hanging on as a thinly-disguised Fairmont (Ford's first big downsizing-era success, which kept the lights on at Dearborn during the 12-15 percent interest rate era from 1978 to 1983.)

Now the plot thickens. The first downsizing era was complete, but the second one, to bring things into compliance for 1984-85 (and what Detroit assumed would be even more draconian) standards, was now underway. Ford suffered catastrophic losses in 1980-82, and Chrysler had to beg a stern President Carter for a too-big-to-fail bailout in 1979-80 to avoid bankruptcy, as they frantically redesigned their slow-selling car lines yet again.

But out of this "Big Government" intrusion came the impetus to design what became Ford's biggest successes in the mid-to-late 80s and early 90s -- the 1983-88 and 1989-97 Thunderbird, the 1984-94 Ford Tempo, and the 1986-95 Ford Taurus. (Already their 1981-90 Escort flirted with #1 bestseller status in recessionary 1982.) Meanwhile, arch-competitor GM euthanized all but the station wagons and the Chevy Caprice sedan (which lasted until 1990) of their full-size 1977 lines in spring 1984. The cars GM replaced them with were engineering marvels (except when it came to reliability, perhaps) of front-wheel-drive, V6-powered efficiency -- but as folksinger Malvina Reynolds might have said, they all looked ticky-tacky and they all looked the same. GM suffered its largest decade-loss in its then-history during the '80s, according to auto historian Paul Niedemeyer.

But just as it had in 1978, Ford held out -- and this time, the move paid off. As Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. began relaxing CAFE laws (or at least refusing to raise the standards dramatically), the "downsized" big cars of the first wave of downsizing that still remained in production began selling like hotcakes -- especially to Greatest and Silent Generation traditionalists who wanted cars that reminded them of the unapologetic luxury they drove in the 70s, when they were at the height of their earning power and still healthy. The 1991 LTD/Marquis looked much the same as they did in 1979, and the Town Car of 1989 (and its closest competitor, the '89 Chrysler Fifth Avenue) were virtual reruns of 1980. And the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (the only other GM survivor of 1984-85's "second downsizing") was still wearing its chrome-finned, formal-roofed, stately 1977 body all the way into 1992, with only a couple of reshaped-sheetmetal facelifts in between.

But Boomers had already been converted during the energy-conscious '70s to efficient Japanese (and soon, Korean) cars. (Their Gen-X and Millennial children also would have no qualms at all about buying "foreign.") By the late 80s and 90s, the Japanese were second to none in reliability, and rising suns like Hyundai and Kia began offering league-leading, bumper-to-bumper warranties. As the Roger & Me era of globalization took hold, even the saltiest WWII and Korea veterans who were left began seriously considering Japanese and Korean autos -- given that the Asian automakers were consciously building plants in the U.S. and Canada to erase the stigma of buying foreign (and head off potential tariffs), while the allegedly "all American" Big 3 were sending jobs by the thousand to Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, and eventually China.

The one big exception, however, was American trucks and vans -- including that ultimate "soccer moms" symbol, the "minivan" (introduced by Chrysler in 1984 and Ford in 1985) and the luxury SUV. Because even the biggest global-warming advocates and environmentalists had to concede that a civilized society needed ambulances, hearses, construction, repair, and delivery trucks, and so forth, trucks were held to a significantly lower MPG standard.

Conscious of his fellow Yuppies (and not wanting to be a gloomy Debbie Down-size-er like Jimmy Carter), Bill Clinton said "No way!" to raising CAFE standards, much less cracking down hard on American-made trucks, vans, Jeeps, and SUVs that were all the rage (and already paying the Big Three's bills) in the late '90s. And naturally, Texas oilman George W. Bush (with his bestie, "Kenny-Boy" Lay of Enron) and Dick "Halliburton" Cheney barely even touched fuel standards. The CAFÉ standard never rose above 27.5 mpg for passenger cars from 1985 all the way through 2010 -- a full 25 years.

By 2010, the US auto industry was in the worst shape since the Great Depression, if not the Carter years. GM was pulling itself out of bankruptcy, and cancelled their Saturn and Pontiac brands on Halloween 2010 (Oldsmobile had been the first to the cemetery in the relatively prosperous June of 2004). Chrysler had long ago put Plymouth and what was left of AMC/Eagle to sleep, and was even more bankrupt than GM. The only real survivor was, ironically, Ford, thanks to its European partnerships and its red-hot truck/SUV presence, and the ever-popular Mustang. (The Focus, Taurus, and Fusion were still doing well, although largely behind the Japanese and Korean majors.) The Town Car (whose body dated to 1998) and Crown Victoria (which went back to 1991-92) finally died in early 2012, after shutting down production at the end of August 2011. And though the iconic Lincoln Continental was revived for 2017, it has largely failed to meet expectations.

So this was your life, Ford Motor Company. You invented the modern working-class hero's sedan with the Model T, you survived and thrived as arguably midcentury middle-class America's most iconic automaker, you stumbled badly and nearly OD'ed on gasoline and outdated styling through the last days of disco, but woke up with Morning in America. "Big Gov'mint" forced you -- kicking and screaming -- to innovate in ways you didn't want to, but that kept you alive during that time. And then, when deregulation happened, and the focus became trucks/minivans/SUVs that didn't need year-to-year changes to stay popular, you had to play it as it laid.

Fare thee well, Ford sedans and wagons. It wouldn't have been the same without ya.

Telly Davidson is the author of a new book, Culture War : How the 90's Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not) . He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player, and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series "Pioneers of Television."

John_M May 15, 2018 at 10:47 pm

If oil prices his $100 a barrel as Citi is predicting next year (side effect of Trump's Iran move), this could turn out badly for Ford.

I hope I have purchased my last gas car – a Prius Prime – a year ago. I am in my later 60's and I like long range trips. At 50 mpg+ on gas, I will be able to afford to drive it when I am retired. And for my about town commuting and short trips, I am averaging over 130 mpg – relying mostly upon the battery. With luck, it will last until I am not up for long haul trips.

I hope to buy a fully self driving electric car in 4 years when I have finished paying off the Prius. My wife is directionally challenged and we are likely to be somewhat rural, making Uber-like services less able. In the mean time, she drives her 10 year old Toyota corolla, which gets quite good mileage.

I have driven gas guzzlers in my time, but given the amount I drive, I have decided to optimize my cars for reliability and mileage. The Prius replaces a Suburu Forester that got ~ 23 mpg. It had over 230,000 miles on it before it sustained enough damage from road debris that it wasn't worth repairing.

I don't need another suv or pickup, the kids are finally moving out.

[May 19, 2018] Trump Doesn't Have North Korea 'Cornered' by Daniel Larison

May 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

The larger problem with Thiessen's "analysis" is that it fails to grasp that North Korea's government won't accept the "offer" Trump is making because accepting it means giving up the one thing that does more to guarantee the regime's security than any promise that the U.S. could ever make. Trump talked about giving Kim "very strong protections" if he agreed to get rid of the nuclear weapons, but there are no protections that the U.S. could offer that would be any stronger than the ones he currently possesses. Kim is coming to the summit as the leader of a nuclear-weapons state conducting talks at the highest level with the global superpower, and he isn't going to agree to give up that status in exchange for obviously worthless promises from Donald Trump. The more that the Trump administration and its boosters delude themselves into thinking that they have North Korea on the defensive, the worse the summit will go for the U.S. and its allies.


SF Bay May 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm

" The more that the Trump administration and its boosters delude themselves into thinking that they have North Korea on the defensive, the worse the summit will go for the U.S. and its allies."

This summit can really only go one way. Trump, ever the fool, will swagger in, offer nothing, bluster, and in the end be handed his hat. I don't think there's anyway to spin this as anything other than the poop storm that it is. No Nobel is Trump's future. Sad.

b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:50 am
"giving up the one thing that does more to guarantee the regime's security than any promise that the U.S. could ever make"

It could be argued at this point that nuclear proliferation in a world of unipolar aggression might well be stabilizing not only whichever regimes the US decides to destabilize on a given day, but also the international order and even peace. Certainly, China's modest arsenal of minimum means of reprisal and Russia's outsized arsenal matching US folly warhead for warhead and warhead for interceptor demonstrate that US impunitivism is not even deterred by that. But Iraq was attacked precisely because Bush and his cronies were certain Saddam had no effective WMD deterrent – no nukes, everything else a desirable post-hoc justification.

Trump has the EU "cornered", and only fools will believe that this is to the benefit of the world, or even the US – unless the EU finally recognizes the magnitude of its "ally" problem, and their captive populations elect politicians that, for good or ill, will break with the US.

Trump has zero leverage over Iran and North Korea, not only because he is already committed to acts of aggression including all-out economical warfare and soon naval blockade, but also because both nations – and their backers in China and Russia – have long realized that any possible "appeasement" on their part will have as much impact on US conduct as EU "consultations" or South Korean "coordination" – now with a US theater commander as "ambassador". The Moon government has relegated itself to the bleachers as the welfare of South Korea is at stake because, just like the EU3, it does not dare question the unilateral "alliance" it has acquiesced to over decades.

We live in the age of a nation unhinged. But Guatemala, Paraguay and Romania are following from ahead, demonstrating that the US might be acting unilaterally, but not alone, and this "coalition of the unseemly eager" is, in terms of outcomes, no different from posturing collaborators in Germany, France and the UK, or the hapless hostages in South Korea.

Surely, Thiessen and Trump have the world outnumbered and surrounded. What could possibly go wrong, with leaders of such sparkling brilliance in charge?

b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:54 am
The most pathetic display here is the establishment biparty published opinion applauding Trump for pursuing the purest expression of Godfather Diplomacy, turned into farce. America's sickening fascination with and glorification of organized crime and racketeering aside – prosperity gospel wins – it is quite obvious that we cannot make "offers they cannot refuse" by putting a horse's ass on a pillow.
A. G. Phillbin , says: May 19, 2018 at 2:32 pm
@b.

America's sickening fascination with and glorification of organized crime and racketeering aside – prosperity gospel wins – it is quite obvious that we cannot make "offers they cannot refuse" by putting a horse's ass on a pillow.

Actually b., that was a horse's head on a pillow in "The Godfather." Were you thinking of Trump or Bolton when you wrote that?

Blimbax , says: May 19, 2018 at 6:24 pm
Speaking of horses, John Bolton is the south end of a north-bound horse.

[May 16, 2018] Reasons Trump Breaks Nuclear-Sanction Agreement with Iran, Declares Trade War with China, and Meets with North Korea by James Petras

Questionable but interesting. "Trump's "policy" is simply a reflection of his character as a narcissistic, arrogant bully. To "make America great again" means for him "make America the Global Bully" again." Trump really believe like a typical bully. In case of tough resistance he folds and appologize. Otherwise he tries to press opooneent into complete submission.
Notable quotes:
"... The underlying assumption of Trump's strategic thinking is that 'power works': the more intransigent his posture, the greater his belief in a unipolar world based on US power. As a corollary, Trump interprets any ally, adversary, competitor who seeks negotiations, reciprocity or concessions is 'weak' and should be pressured or forced to concede greater concessions and further retreats and sacrifices, up to the ultimate goal of surrender and submission. ..."
"... Trump views President Rohani as a rug seller not a military strategist. Trump believes that an economic squeeze will lead President Rohani to sacrifice his allies in Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (Houthi), Palestine (Hamas) and Iraq (Shia)and to dismantle its ICBM defense strategy. ..."
"... Trump pursues the strategic goal of weakening Iran and preparing a regime change, reverting Iran into a client state – as it was prior to the 1979 revolution under the Shah. ..."
"... Trump recognizes and submits to Zionist-Israeli dictates because they have unprecedented power in the media, real estate, finance and insurance (FIRE). Trump recognizes the ZPC's power to buy Congressional votes, control both political parties and secure appointments in the executive branch. ..."
"... Trump is the typical authoritarian: at the throat of the weak, citizens, allies and adversaries and on his knees before the powerful ZPC, the military and Wall Street. ..."
"... Trump's unilateral declaration of a trade war against China accompanied his belief that military threats led to North Korea's "capitulation" – its promise to end its nuclear program. ..."
"... Is Trump playing the Nixon-Kissinger 'madman' tactic, in which the Secretary of State tells adversaries to accept his 'reasonable' demands or face the worst from the President? I don't think so. ..."
"... China got Trumps to waiver ZTE ruling, with Huawei declared no longer a threat to US security. ..."
"... "Speaking to soon-to-be graduates of the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday, Tillerson dropped this truth bomb: "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom." Woof. ..."
May 14, 2018 | www.unz.com

Introduction

For some time, critics of President Trump's policies have attributed them to a mental disorder; uncontrolled manic-depression, narcissus bullying and other pathologies. The question of Trump's mental health raises a deeper question: why do his pathologies take a specific political direction? Moreover, Trump's decisions have a political history and background, and follow from a logic and belief in the reason and logic of imperial power.

We will examine the reason why Trump has embraced three strategic decisions which have world-historic consequences, namely: Trump's reneging the nuclear accord with Iran ;Trump's declaration of a trade war with China; and Trump's meeting with North Korea.

In brief we will explore the political reasons for his decisions; what he expects to gain; and what is his game plan if he fails to secure his expected outcome and his adversaries take reprisals.

Trump's Strategic Framework

The underlying assumption of Trump's strategic thinking is that 'power works': the more intransigent his posture, the greater his belief in a unipolar world based on US power. As a corollary, Trump interprets any ally, adversary, competitor who seeks negotiations, reciprocity or concessions is 'weak' and should be pressured or forced to concede greater concessions and further retreats and sacrifices, up to the ultimate goal of surrender and submission. In other words, Trump's politics of force only recognizes counter-force: limitations in Trump's policies will only result when tangible economic and military losses and costs in US lives would undermine US imperial rule.

Reasons Why Trump Broke the Peace Accord with Iran

Trump broke the accord with Iran because the original agreement was based on retaining US sanctions against Iran; the total dismantling of its nuclear program and calling into question Iran's limited role on behalf of possible allies in the Middle East.

Iran's one-sided concessions; trading military defense for market opportunities encouraged Trump to believe that he could intimidate Iran militarily by closing all its markets.

Trump views President Rohani as a rug seller not a military strategist. Trump believes that an economic squeeze will lead President Rohani to sacrifice his allies in Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (Houthi), Palestine (Hamas) and Iraq (Shia)and to dismantle its ICBM defense strategy.

Trump pursues the strategic goal of weakening Iran and preparing a regime change, reverting Iran into a client state – as it was prior to the 1979 revolution under the Shah.

The second reason for Trump's policy is to strengthen Israel's military power in the Middle East. The Trump regime is deeply influenced by the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the US, dubbed 'the Lobby'.

Trump recognizes and submits to Zionist-Israeli dictates because they have unprecedented power in the media, real estate, finance and insurance (FIRE). Trump recognizes the ZPC's power to buy Congressional votes, control both political parties and secure appointments in the executive branch.

Trump is the typical authoritarian: at the throat of the weak, citizens, allies and adversaries and on his knees before the powerful ZPC, the military and Wall Street. Trump's submission to Zionist power reinforces and even dictates his decision to break the peace accord with Iran and his willingness to pressure. France, Germany, the UK and Russia to sacrifice billion-dollar trade agreements with Iran and to pursue a policy of pressuring Teheran to accept part of Trump's agenda of unilateral disarmament and isolation. Trump believes he can force the EU multi-nationals to disobey their governments and abide by sanctions.

Reasons for Trump's Trade War with China

Prior to Trump's presidency, especially under President Obama, the US launched a trade war and 'military pivot' to China. Obama proposed the Trans-Pacific Pact to exclude China and directed an air and naval armada to the South China Sea. Obama established a high-powered surveillance system in South Korea and supported war exercises on North Korea's border. Trump's policy deepened and radicalized Obama's policies.

Trump extended Obama's bellicose policy toward North Korea, demanding the de-nuclearization of its defense program. President Kim of North Korea and President Moon of South Korea reached an agreement to open negotiations toward a peace accord ending nearly 60 years of hostility.

However, President Trump joined the conversation on the presumption that North Korea's peace overtures were due to his threats of war and intimidation. He insisted that any peace settlement and end of economic sanctions would only be achieved by unilateral nuclear disarmament, the maintenance of US forces on the peninsula and supervision by US approved inspectors.

Trump's unilateral declaration of a trade war against China accompanied his belief that military threats led to North Korea's "capitulation" – its promise to end its nuclear program.

Trump slapped a trade tariff on over $100 billion dollars of Chinese exports in order to reduce its trade imbalance by $200 billion over two years. He demanded China unilaterally end industrial 'espionage', technological 'theft' (all phony accusations) and China's compliance monitored quarterly by the US. Trump demanded that China not retaliate with tariffs or restrictions or face bigger sanctions. Trump threatened to respond to any reciprocal tariff by Beijing, with greater tariffs, and restrictions on Chinese goods and services.

Trump's goals seek to convert North Korea into a military satellite encroaching on China's northern border; and a trade war that drives China into an economic crisis. Trump believes that as China declines as a world economic power, the US will grow and dominate the Asian and world economy.

Trump believes a successful trade war will lead to a successful military war. Trump believes that a submissive China, based on its isolation from the 'dynamic' US market, will enhance Washington's quest for uncontested world domination.

Trump's Ten Erroneous Thesis

Trump's political agenda is deeply flawed! Breaking the nuclear agreement and imposing harsh sanctions has isolated Trump from his European and Asian allies. His military intervention will inflame a regional war that would destroy the Saudi oil fields. He will force Iran to pursue a nuclear shield against US-Israeli aggression and lead to a prolonged, costly and ultimately losing war.

Trump's policies will unify all Iranians, liberals and nationalist, and undermine US collaborators. The entire Muslim world will unify forces and carry the conflict throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Tel Aviv's bombing [of Iran] will lead to counter-attacks in Israel.

Oil prices will skyrocket, financial markets will collapse, industries will go bankrupt.

Trump's sanctions and military aggression against Iran will lead to mutual economic destruction.

Trump's trade war with China will lead to the disruption of the supply chain which sustains the US economy and especially the 500 US multi-nationals who depend on the Chinese economy for exports to the US. China will increase domestic consumption, diversify its markets and trading partners and reinforce its military alliance with Russia. China has greater resilience and capacity to overcome short-term disruption and regain its dominant role as a global economic power house.

Wall Street will suffer a catastrophic financial collapse and send the US into a world depression.

Trump's negotiations with North Korea will go nowhere as long as he demands unilateral nuclear disarmament, US military control over the peninsula and political isolation from China.

Kim will insist on the end of sanctions, and a mutual defense treaty with China. Kim will offer to end nuclear testing but not nuclear weapons. After Trump's reneged on the Iran deal, Kim will recognize that agreements with the US are not trustworthy.

Conclusion

Trump's loud, threatening gestures are a real danger to world peace and justice. But his assumptions about the consequences of his policy are deeply flawed. There is no basis to think his sanctions will topple the Iranian regime; that Israel will survive unscathed from a war with Iran: that an oil war will not undermine the US economy; that Europe will allow its companies to be frozen out of the Iran market.

Trump's trade war with China is dead in the water. He cannot find alternative production sites for US multi-nationals. He cannot freeze China out of the world market, since they have links with five continents. Trump cannot dominate North Korea and force it to sacrifice its sovereignty on the basis of empty economic promises to lift sanctions. Trump is heading for defeats on all counts. But he may take the American people into the nuclear abyss in the process.

Epilogue

Are Trump's threats of war part of a strategy of bluff and bombast designed to intimidate, in order to secure political advantages? Is Trump playing the Nixon-Kissinger 'madman' tactic, in which the Secretary of State tells adversaries to accept his 'reasonable' demands or face the worst from the President? I don't think so.

Nixon unlike Trump was not led by the nose by Israel. Nixon unlike Trump was not led by pro-nuclear war advisers. Nixon in contrast to Trump opened the US to trade with China and signed nuclear reduction agreements with Russia. Nixon successfully promoted peaceful co-existence.

Trump is a master of defeats.


Realist , May 15, 2018 at 9:00 am GMT

Reasons Trump Breaks Nuclear-Sanction Agreement with Iran, Declares Trade War with China, and Meets with North Korea

The Deep State told him to.

Gordo , May 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm GMT

industrial 'espionage', technological 'theft' (all phony accusations)

Of course they do this, they would be stupid if they didn't.

Realist , May 15, 2018 at 7:52 pm GMT

Trump's political agenda is deeply flawed!

Trump has no agenda of his own.

Per/Norway , May 15, 2018 at 10:42 pm GMT
"Trump's sanctions and military aggression against Iran will lead to mutual economic destruction."

indeed they will, and sadly it well deserved after the last 20yrs off US terrorism.
the US hubris will soon meet karma, and we all know karma is a bitch..

Biff , May 16, 2018 at 5:18 am GMT

Tel Aviv's bombing will lead to counter-attacks in Israel.

?Who is going to do this bombing, and counter attacking?

Mark James , May 16, 2018 at 5:58 am GMT

Trump cannot dominate North Korea

You didn't have to be genius to see this coming. In fact, NK played Trump as expected. Anything else would have been gross negligence by their diplomatic negotiators. Getting Trump to speculate about a prospective Nobel (for himself) for bringing nuclear peace to the Pacific was baiting the hook nicely.

The US is now dealing from a position of weakness. Let's see what NK can extract in terms of keeping their weapons and gaining economic assistance in return for getting the meetings back on track.

jilles dykstra , May 16, 2018 at 7:02 am GMT
This theory is the opposite of what I suppose is the right explanation, the explanation also given by prof Laslo Maracs, UVA Amsterdam, that Trump and his rich friends understand that the USA can to longer control the world, conquering the rest of the world totally out of the question.

The end of the British empire began before 1914, when the twe fleet standard had to lowered to one fleet.

Obama had to do something similar, the USA capability of fighting two wars at the time was lowered to one and half. What half a war accomplishes we see in Syria.

In the thirties the British, some of them, knew quite well they could no longer defend their empire, at the time this meant controlling the Meditarranean and the Far East. Lawrence R. Pratt, 'East of Malta, West of Suez', London, 1975

The British guarantees to Poland and countries bordering on the Med lighted the fuse to the powder keg that had been standing for a long time. Churchill won, the British thought, and some of them think it still, WWII. But shortly after WWII some British understood 'we won the war, but lost the peace'.

I still have the idea that Trump has no intention of losing the peace, but time will tell.

jilles dykstra , May 16, 2018 at 7:06 am GMT
@Per/Norway

I suppose Trump just is buying time against Deep State and Netanyahu. The fool Netanyahu is happy with having got Jerusalem, he does not see the cost in increased hatred among Muslims, and Israel having won the Eurovision Song Festival.

jacques sheete , May 16, 2018 at 7:52 am GMT

Trump's loud, threatening gestures are a real danger to world peace and justice.

Just as Wilson and FDR's, and their successor's regime change efforts were. At least they're consistent! Damn them all.

Franklin Ryckaert , May 16, 2018 at 9:59 am GMT
Trump's "policy" is simply a reflection of his character as a narcissistic, arrogant bully. To "make America great again" means for him "make America the Global Bully" again. However, behind the facade of all his bravado hides a puppet of the Jewish Power Structure, which is even more dangerous than Trump himself. "Make Zion Great Again" would be a more apposite slogan.
The Alarmist , May 16, 2018 at 10:16 am GMT
Wall Street collapsing will not cause a world depression, but will reflect the very real depression that will arise from huge disruptions to the US supply chain and energy costs and the knock-on effect that will have on the global economy.

A strike on Iran won't by itself be enough to cripple the US economy, but the loss of a single aircraft carrier might be enough of a pull on a thread that unravels the magical mantle of military force that currently holds the empire together and keeps the vassal-states in line to cause things to go pear-shaped quickly.

Proud_Srbin , May 16, 2018 at 10:30 am GMT
Nobody can accuse Donald of not being obedient executioner of tasks given by his Masters.
You don't have to be dark skinned to reside in Masters quarters, orange haired and white is ok too..
Kirt , May 16, 2018 at 10:59 am GMT
Overall a good analysis, but as far as his support of Israel is concerned, his family connections with the most ultra-Zionist factions should not be overlooked.
Escher , May 16, 2018 at 11:30 am GMT

Trump believes that as China declines as a world economic power, the US will grow and dominate the Asian and world economy.

On what basis does the author say that? Trump is smart enough to know that China is growing as an economic and military power, not declining. A fairly poorly (and likely hastily) written article.

Mike P , May 16, 2018 at 11:53 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

Buying time to do what? How do you think that time will work in his favour?

DESERT FOX , May 16, 2018 at 12:30 pm GMT
Trump is under the control of Zionists just as is the U.S. gov with Zionist dual citizens in control of every facet and has been since 1913 when the Zionists created the FED and the IRS.

Trump is like the Roman emperor Caligula and is a Trojan Horse for the Zionist agenda of a NWO and is continuing the tradition of the U.S. gov breaking its word about everything, just ask the native American Indians.

JoaoAlfaiate , May 16, 2018 at 1:05 pm GMT
You haven't convinced me he isn't a psychopath.
Quartermaster , May 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm GMT
The nuke agreement with Iran was a sham. Iran lied about what they were doing. The agreement had never been submitted to the Senate and so was never ratified. Our "allies" in Europe and Asia knew that and their reaction has not been nearly as negative as the author of this column has claimed.
Joe Hide , May 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm GMT
I continue to admire President Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Xi of China. WHY? .because RESULTS matter more than opinions on internet websites, T.V., or in printed publications.

N. Korea has stopped performing ICBM or nuke tests, a less extremist regime change "coup" took place in Saudi Arabia, financing/ weapons flows / intelligence to Syrian terrorists has dried up with resulting collapse of ISIS, Iran is threatening to release the names of European & American politicians who previously made millions / billions off the Iran nuke deal if it is dropped, Harvey Weinstein, Allison Mack, and "Weiner" were untouchable before Trump, the list just goes on and continues to get bigger.

A major reason for admiration of Putin is that the Mainstream Media (MSM) can't stop demonizing him. So of course I'm logically led to believe that he is mostly a good guy since the MSM has proven itself repeatedly to distort the Truth. Putin also largely ended the oligarchs power, doubled Russian citizens income, used an tiny Russian military in Syria to gradually reverse ISIS expansion there, improved Russia's internal manufacturing, agricultural, mining, and technological research/ development, intellectually crushed international debate opponents repeated using only logic and facts (You should watch the videos!), built / rebuilt over 10 thousand churches, has patriotic Muslims (Crimea) fighting for Russia in Syria, etc. etc.

Xi of China has pretty impressive creditials but this post is overly long anyway. RESULTS COUNT MORE THAN WORDS!

TT , May 16, 2018 at 2:58 pm GMT
@Gordo

Of course they do this, they would be stupid if they didn't.

• Agree: CalDre

I like your frankness. Every countries is into this at different degree, with ZUS the apex. But been leading in most tech area currently & lazy to produce any useful things, ZUS is very unhappy that their esponage net result is negative, hence the continuous whining.

When tide reverse with China leading in most tech, ZUS will complaint about complex patent system as been flawed in exploitating & suppressing of weaker country innovation, juz as it did for WTO & Globalization now.

Of course any moronic comments about only China is espionaging US IPR & rise purely due to US FDI & Tech transfer will resonate CalDre into high chime.

padre , May 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm GMT
Well, he is not meeting with North Korea either, since Kim didn't chicken out, and is not that stupid as to offer his head on the plate! Bolton made sure of that.
TT , May 16, 2018 at 4:10 pm GMT
Hastily written article cobbled by bits of public info here & there without deep analysis.

1. Today NK declared they have indefinitely terminate all high level exchange with SK. If Trumps insisted on another Libya & Iraq defank & ending model advocate by Bolton, meeting with Trumps will be cancelled. Trumps needs the Korea peace credit to get his Nobel Prize, so as to booster his coming Nov election win. Kim has baited Trumps to put him in tight corner now, hence WH still insisting to go ahead prepare for the meeting.

If venue does changed to Beijing from Trumps' choice of Spore (Kim's cargo plane can't fly his limousine so far, also a risk of him as Spore is US vassal), we will see Kim has K.O. Trumps in another round. Kim will get to keep its nuke weapon until USM remove its Korea present, clear all sanctions, with UNSC guaranteed its safety. If Trumps has the meeting cancelled, then China can roll out its own play book as unchallenged leader in solving Korea crisis. Either way, Trumps will lost influence to China.

2. Trade war with China has exposed ZUS deep weakness in its brinkmanship when china retaliated with no compromise. Four most senior trade & treasury secs scrambled 10,000 miles to Beijing to seek detente, but return empty handed in 2 days with their ridiculous demands in hubris. Still China got Trumps to waiver ZTE ruling, with Huawei declared no longer a threat to US security.

Btw, this author has wrongly written about the $100B trade tariff, its only $50B so far. Another additional $100B is only a empty threat ZUS dare not release to avoid China retaliation.

3. JCPOA cancelling is godsend move. First, EU with Germany & France having huge investments in Iran is crying loud that they have to be free from been ZUS vassal. If they caved in to ZUS sanction threat, then EU bosses – Macron & Merkel will face revolt from Europe business sector. China & Russia will be happy to pick up whatever investments in fire sales.

If EU decided to rebel & chart its own destiny with a little spine, then ZUS has lost its tight clutch over EU. EU has juz announced to trade Iran oil in Euro, hasten de-dollarization. The geopolitical game is changing tide. In either way of EU decision, China & Russia win.

Now Iran will continue to enjoy free trades with everyone except ZUS that it dislike most, & win moral high ground in international standing by keeping to JCPOA.

ZUS has juz ordered Trumps to shoot its own foot. It pay the high price of losing every credibility in international agreement, forced EU into seeking independency, have EU trade in Euro, with Iran, China & Russia all smiling.

jacques sheete , May 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm GMT
@Anonymous

Yes, but there is much more to your observation..

Of course, but I just wanted to make a point not write a book or even a PhD thesis. thanks for the supplementary material though. Your comments about oil are spot on as you know. The wars were about smashing some real competition.

Herald , May 16, 2018 at 5:18 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Please try and be serious, that sort of nonsense just won't do.

Vidi , May 16, 2018 at 8:06 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Somebody has to shovel the BS occasionally, to keep the smell down here. I guess it's my turn today, sigh.

The nuke agreement with Iran was a sham. Iran lied about what they were doing.

Then the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and many of the major European countries must also be lying when they say that Iran is fully complying with the JCPOA.

The agreement had never been submitted to the Senate and so was never ratified.

The United Nations Security Council endorsed the JCPOA; see UNSC resolution 2231. According to the UN treaty, UNSC resolutions are automatically the law of the land, even in the USA -- no Senate ratification needed.

jacques sheete , May 16, 2018 at 8:08 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Iran lied about what they were doing.

Citation, please.

Have you ever made a comment that was other than your mere and clearly biased opinion? Try it sometime; it would be interesting to see what evidence you provide to support such transparently erroneous ideas.

dkshaw , May 16, 2018 at 9:31 pm GMT
@The Alarmist

Anyone who destroys a carrier is sure to face a nuclear attack, and nuclear war will ensue.

niteranger , May 16, 2018 at 9:33 pm GMT
Trump's only strategy is to do what Israel orders him to do. The Neocon Jews and their friends including the Jew In Chief of the White House Jared Kushner are running the show. You can easily see this in ... Niki Haley's presentation before the UN including walking out before the Palestinian Rep had a chance to speak.

Trump is up to his arms in shady deals with Jewish financiers of his properties and they will get what they want from him politically. It's Israel against the world and the US is nothing more than their war whore. More people will die for this strategy that comes from formerly Tel Aviv and now from the Magic Jewish Capital called Jerusalem.

renfro , May 16, 2018 at 11:25 pm GMT
Stars -- They're Just Like Us: Celebs outraged over Gaza are speaking out
US Politics Mondoweiss Editors on May 16, 2018

http://mondoweiss.net/

Some other examples:

New York City's Hip Hop station Hot 97's morning show, "Ebro in the Morning," dedicated an entire segment to yesterday's demonstration in Gaza where the two blasted Israel and President Donald Trump http://pic.twitter.com/43XIqhKFWZ

-- Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) May 15, 2018
Hadid posted screen shots of Al Jazeera's coverage alongside an image of the Nakba with text written by a relative, "Almost One Million Palestinians were violently forced out of their country and never allowed back to Palestine. The Hadid family was amongst them and they fled in fear to Syria where they became refugees."

Why are these important? Because they have millions of followers on social media .because their audience and followers are the coming voter and leadership force .for better or worse ..and for Israel its the 'worse'. Gigi Hadid for instance has 9 million followers on twitter.

renfro , May 17, 2018 at 12:52 am GMT

Giuliani: Mueller's team told Trump's lawyers they can't indict a president

This true. BUT ..'if' any criminal wrong doing by Trump before he was president is revealed in the course of the Russia investigation he can be indicted for that after he is out of office. IN ADDITION ..'if' any criminal wrong doing is revealed in Trump's businesses then any persons involved in it within his businesses including his sons or daughter can be indicted. And now, as they have no presidential protection.

imo .this is what Trump is most afraid of ..some criminal business like money laundering being exposed. not that Mueller will find Russian election collusion.

renfro , May 17, 2018 at 12:57 am GMT
Rex Tillerson just majorly trolled Donald Trump

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/16/politics/tillerson-trump-truth/

"Speaking to soon-to-be graduates of the Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday, Tillerson dropped this truth bomb: "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom." Woof.
..

Why is this important? Because the graduating class of VMI selects its speakers so that tells you where the minds of the elite military schools are on Trumpism.

[May 13, 2018] And interesting admission of the stress the neoliberlaism is under from Michael Hayden

Notable quotes:
"... Ex-NSA chief says Americans have been conned by Russia and Trump and should look to intel community for salvation. ..."
"... The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, Michael Hayden, Penguin Press, 304 pages ..."
"... He warns that "the structures we rely on to prevent civil war and societal collapse are under stress." ..."
"... Simply put, Hayden's book is blowing 10 dog whistles at once. Arise ye patriots [of neoliberalism] of Langley and Fort Meade! ..."
"... The IC lost all trust after the Iraqi WMD lie. They'll never get it back. That doesn't mean Trump isn't a liar too. But it's not either/or. ..."
May 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Originally from: Can Michael Hayden Be This Blinded By Hate By Peter Van Buren

Ex-NSA chief says Americans have been conned by Russia and Trump and should look to intel community for salvation.

Former Director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden. Gage Skidmore/Shutterstock The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, Michael Hayden, Penguin Press, 304 pages

Former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden's new book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies wants to be the manifesto behind an intelligence community coup. It ends up reading like outtakes from Dr. Strangelove .

Trump cannot discern truth from falsehood, Hayden says, and is the product of too much fact-free thinking, especially on social media ("computational propaganda" where people can "publish without credentials") where lies are deployed by the Russians to destroy the United States. Instead Hayden calls for artificial intelligence and a media truth-rating system to "purify our discourse" and help "defend it against inauthentic stimulation."

Hayden believes in the "fragility of civilization" as clearly as he believes there is a "FOX/Trump/RT" alliance in place to exploit it. Under Trump, "post-truth is pre-fascism, and to abandon facts is to abandon freedom." Hayden claims Trump has a "glandular aversion" to even thinking about how "Russia has been actively seeking to damage the fabric of American democracy."

Salvation, it would seem, depends on the intelligence community. Hayden makes clear, ominously quoting conversations with anonymous IC officers, that no one else is protecting America from these online threats to our precious bodily fluids . He warns that "the structures we rely on to prevent civil war and societal collapse are under stress." The IC on the other hand "pursues Enlightenment values [and] is essential not just to American safety but to American liberty."

Hayden recalls how he reminded a lad fresh to the IC to "protect yourself. And above all protect the institution. American still needs it." He has a bit of advice about the CIA: "We are accustomed to relying on their truth to protect us from foreign enemies. Now we may need their truth to save us from ourselves." The relationship between Trump and the IC, Hayden threatens, is "contentious, divisive, and unpredictable" in these "uncharted waters for the Republic."

Simply put, Hayden's book is blowing 10 dog whistles at once. Arise ye patriots [of neoliberalism] of Langley and Fort Meade!

Yet for all his emphasis on truth, Hayden is curiously lax in presenting actual evidence of the apocalypse. You are left to believe because Hayden says you must: paternalism at its best. Plus, to disbelieve is to side with Putin. The best we get are executive summary-like statements along the lines of "There is clear evidence of what I would call convergence, the convergence of a mutually reinforcing swirl of Presidential tweets and statements, Russian influenced social media, alt right websites and talk radio, Russian 'white' press like RT and even mainstream U.S. media like Fox News."

With that established, Hayden informs us that when the IC tried to warn Trump of the Russian plot, he "rejected a fact-based intel assessment because it was inconsistent with a preexisting world view or because it was politically inconvenient, the stuff of ideological authoritarianism not pragmatic democracy." Comrade, er, Candidate Trump, says Hayden matter-of-factly, "did sound a lot like Vladimir Putin." The two men, he declaims, are "Russian soulmates."

Hayden figures that if you've read this far into his polemic, he might as well just splurge the rest of his notes on you. Trump is "uninformed, lazy, dishonest, off the charts, rejects the premise objective reality even existed." He's fueled by Russian money (no evidence of this is presented in the book, Hayden says, because it's hidden in the tax returns, as if Line 42 on Trump's 1040 would read "Putin Black Funds $5 mil," and the IRS, which does have the returns, overlooked that).

Trump is an "unwitting agent" of Putin, which Hayden tells us in Russian is polezni durak , so you can see he knows his Cold War lingo. We hear how Wikileaks worked with the Russkies, how Trump Jr. worked with the Russkies, how the Russkies wormed their way into Tower so they could see the Big Board, how the whole brouhaha over #TakeAKnee was Russian meddling, and how Jill Stein existed to "bleed off votes from Clinton" -- every Mueller fan-fiction trope tumbling from the pages like crumbs left over from an earlier reader.

That's why The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies reads like as a polemic. But it also fails as a book.

There are pages of filler, jumbled blog post-like chapters about substate actors and global tectonics. Hayden writes in a recognizable style that might be called Bad Military, where everything must eventually be tied to some Big Idea, preferably with classical references Googled-up to add gravitas.

So it is not enough for Hayden to state Trump is a liar. He has to blame Trump for usurping the entire body of Western thought: "We are in a post-truth world, a world in which decisions are far more based upon emotion and preference. And that's an overturning of the Western way of thought since the Enlightenment." Bad things are Hobbesian; good things Jeffersonian, Madisonian, or Hamiltonian. People Hayden agrees with get adjectival modifiers before their names: the perceptive scholar ____, the iconic journalist ____, the legendary case officer ____. It makes for tiresome reading, like it's Sunday night edging 4 a.m. and you still have nine undergrad papers on the causes of the Civil War to grade.

Hayden is openly contemptuous of the American people, seeing them as brutes who need to be led around, either by the Russians, as he sees it now, or by the IC, as he wishes it to be. Proof of how dumb we are? Hayden cites a poll showing 83 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats don't believe the IC analysis that Russia meddled in the 2016 election when they damn well should. Further proof? Russian bots at work on Twitter influencing conservative minds by using the hashtags #God and #Benghazi.

In our odd times, Hayden is a Hero of the Resistance. Seemingly forgotten is that, as head of the NSA, he implemented blanket surveillance of American citizens in a rape of the Fourth Amendment, itself a product of the Enlightenment, justifying his unconstitutional actions with a mishmash of post-truth platitudes and still-secret legal findings. Hayden also supported torture during the War on Terror, but whatever.

This book-length swipe right for the IC leaves out the slam dunk work those agencies did on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Any concern about political motives inside the IC is swept away as "baseless." Gina Haspel , who oversaw the torture program, is an "inspired choice" to head CIA. Hayden writes for the rubes, proclaiming that the IC produces facts when in reality even good intel can only be assessments and ambiguous conclusions.

That people so readily overlook Hayden's sins simply because he rolls off snark against Trump speaks to our naiveté. That men like Hayden retain their security clearances while serving as authors and paid commentators to outlets like CNN speaks to how deep the roots of the Deep State reach. That some troubled Jack D. Ripper squirreled inside the IC might take this pablum seriously is frightening.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. Follow him on Twitter @WeMeantWell .


Jack May 9, 2018 at 11:09 pm

The "assault on intelligence" indeed.
Kent , says: May 10, 2018 at 6:39 am
The IC lost all trust after the Iraqi WMD lie. They'll never get it back. That doesn't mean Trump isn't a liar too. But it's not either/or.
Robert Hume , says: May 10, 2018 at 8:57 am
He's not blinded by hate. If you actually read the book, he describes his issues with Obama, Clinton and everyone else. The fact remains he outlined the truth: Trump is a bumbling fool who cannot distinguish truth fro fiction and is the most corrupt president ever to inhabit the oval office, and has no idea what he's doing.
Stephen J, , says: May 10, 2018 at 9:06 am
This interesting article states: Gina Haspel, who oversaw the torture program, is an 'inspired choice' to head CIA. Really, torture is used by gangsters and other underworld villains. Therefore, I ask based on the evidence against governments. "Are We Seeing Government by Gangsters"? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html
C. L. H. Daniels , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:00 am
The guy sounds like a certain Senator from Wisconsin:

"The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer – the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give."

balconesfault , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:40 am
I've never been a fan of Hayden, and his current salvos against Trump aren't going to change that.

But "Trump cannot discern truth from falsehood, Hayden says, and is the product of too much fact-free thinking, especially on social media "

There's a serious rebuttal to this?

Kurt Gayle , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:43 am
Peter Van Buren reminds us all: "Seemingly forgotten is that, as head of the NSA, he implemented blanket surveillance of American citizens in a rape of the Fourth Amendment "

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

[May 04, 2018] Marx Was Right A Warning The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Communist Manifesto ..."
"... The Benedict Option ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Communist Manifesto, ..."
May 04, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Barker points out that Marx was correct that "capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself." I would add that Marx's view that capitalism was heretofore the most revolutionary force in human history is also true. From the Communist Manifesto :

The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man's activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

You see what he means here. Capitalism -- for Marx, the merchant class (the "bourgeoisie") were the carriers of capitalism -- turns everything into a market. Capitalism is a revolutionary force that disrupts and desacralizes all things. All that talk in The Benedict Option about "liquid modernity"? That's based in Marx, actually. Zygmunt Bauman, the late sociologist from whom I took the idea, was a Marxist.

Look, most of us conservatives in the West are to some degree supporters of the free market. What we missed for a very long time was that it is hard to support a fully free market while at the same time expecting our social institutions -- the family, the church, and so forth -- to remain stable. This is an insight of Marx's that we conservatives -- and even conservative Christians -- ought to absorb. I write about this a lot, though not in specific Marxist terms.

The thing is, Christian Democratic parties throughout Western Europe have largely absorbed this truth. Catholic social teaching is based in these insights as well. They aren't necessarily against the free market, but rather say that the market must be tempered for the common good.

That wasn't Marx's view, obviously. Marx thought the free market was itself wicked, and ought to be totally controlled by the state. We know where that all ended up: with a hundred million dead, and entire economies and societies destroyed.

But we can agree that Marx was right to diagnose the revolutionary nature of capitalism, if catastrophically wrong about the cure for capitalism's excesses. If that was as far as Jason Barker went, that would be fine. But he doesn't -- and this is the warning. Barker continues:

The key factor in Marx's intellectual legacy in our present-day society is not "philosophy" but "critique," or what he described in 1843 as "the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be." "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it," he wrote in 1845.

Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the "eternal truths" of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress.

We have become used to the go-getting mantra that to effect social change we first have to change ourselves. But enlightened or rational thinking is not enough, since the norms of thinking are already skewed by the structures of male privilege and social hierarchy, even down to the language we use. Changing those norms entails changing the very foundations of society.

Read the whole thing.

There it is, reader. There is the "cultural Marxism" that you hear so much about, and that so many on the left deny. It is in the Marxist principle that there is no such thing as truth; there is only power.

Lenin understood this well. This is the meaning of his famous dictum, "Who, whom?" In Lenin's view, co-existence with capitalism was not possible. The only question was whether or not the communists will smash the capitalists first, or the other way around. One way of interpreting this is to say that the moral value of an action depends on who is doing it to whom .

This is why it is pointless for us conservatives and old-school liberals to stand around identifying contradictions and hypocrisies in how the progressives behave. They don't care! They aren't trying to apply universal standards of justice. They believe that "universal standards of justice" is a cant phrase to disguise white heterosexist patriarchal supremacy. They believe that justice is achieving power for their group, and therefore disempowering other groups. This is why it's not racist, in their view, to favor non-whites over whites in the distribution of power. This is why they don't consider it unfair to discriminate against men, heterosexuals, and other out-groups.

They will use things like "dialogue" as a tactic to serve the long-term strategy of acquiring total power. Resisting them on liberal grounds is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. The neoreactionaries have seen this clearly, while conservatives like me, who can't quite let go of old-fashioned liberalism, have resisted it.

I have resisted it because I really would like to live in a world where we can negotiate our differences while allowing individuals and groups maximum autonomy in the private sphere. I want to be left alone, and want to leave others alone. This, I fear, is a pipe dream. Absent a shared cultural ethos, I can't see how this is possible. I hate to say it -- seriously, I do -- but I think that today's conservatives (including me) are going to end up as neoreactionaries, just as today's old-school liberals are going to end up as progressives, because the forces pulling us to these extremes are stronger than any centrism.

For example, check this out:

I'm running into irreligious people who think that a religious person violating their deeply held principles is just a matter of choice, that they don't truly have any genuine beliefs.
We can't even converse any more b/c we're not speaking the same language.

-- PoliticalMath (@politicalmath) May 1, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This is our country -- and this is the danger we religious people are facing, and are going to face much more intensely. Many non-religious people simply cannot understand why we see the world the way we do, and assume that it can only be out of irrationality and bigotry.

I invite you to read this blog post from three years ago, based on my interview with "Prof. Kingsfield", a closeted Christian teaching at an elite law school. This excerpt:

"Alasdair Macintyre is right," he said. "It's like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion." What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

But only one side has the power. When I asked Kingsfield what most people outside elite legal and academic circles don't understand about the way elites think, he said "there's this radical incomprehension of religion."

"They think religion is all about being happy-clappy and nice, or should be, so they don't see any legitimate grounds for the clash," he said. "They make so many errors, but they don't want to listen."

To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, "at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They don't really understand that there's a link between Sister Helen Prejean's faith and the work she does on the death penalty. There's a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.

"The sad thing," he said, "is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don't hold. It's all about power. They've got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They've got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good."

This is a small part of a larger struggle.

Many on the left deny that cultural Marxism exists, but you have in The New York Times a column by a Marxist professor saying that yes it does, and it's a good thing, too. His final line:

On that basis, we are destined to keep citing him and testing his ideas until the kind of society that he struggled to bring about, and that increasing numbers of us now desire, is finally realized.

Marx didn't come from nowhere. The world of 1848 (when the Communist Manifesto appeared) is a lot like our own world; re-read the section above from that document and see how familiar it sounds. He was more or less right in his diagnosis of the revolutionary nature of capitalism, but his materialism and its relationship to human nature was catastrophically wrong. His thought may have resulted in mass murder, but it is clearly not dead; it is simply turned against culture, not the means of production.

Therefore, I'll end here with this excerpt from Carlo Lancellotti's recent Commonweal essay about Marx, culture, and Catholicism. Excerpt:

Contra the "Catholic Left," which tended to regard Marx's atheism as accidental, and tried to rescue his socio-political analysis from his religious views, Del Noce concluded that what Marx proposed was not just a new theory of history or a new program of political economy, but a new anthropology , one completely different from the Christian tradition. (Louis Dupré had made a similar argument in the pages of Commonweal ; see "Marx and Religion: An Impossible Marriage," April 26, 1968.) Marx viewed humans as "social beings" entirely determined by historical and material circumstances rather than by their relationship with God. He viewed human reason as purely instrumental -- a tool of production and social organization rather than the capacity to contemplate the truth and participate in the divine wisdom. Finally, Marx viewed liberation as the fruit of political action, not as a personal process of conversion aided by grace. Marxist politics was not guided by fixed and absolute ethical principles, because ethics, along with philosophy, was absorbed into politics. Del Noce concluded that there was no way to rescue Marx's politics from his atheism, which had as much to do with his view of man as with his view of God.

Nonetheless, after World War II Marxism experienced a resurgence in Western Europe, not only among intellectuals and politicians but also in mainstream culture. But Del Noce noticed that at the same time society was moving in a very different direction from what Marx had predicted: capitalism kept expanding, people were eagerly embracing consumerism, and the prospect of a Communist revolution seemed more and more remote. To Del Noce, this simultaneous success and defeat of Marxism pointed to a deep contradiction. On the one hand, Marx had taught historical materialism, the doctrine that metaphysical and ethical ideas are just ideological covers for economic and political interests. On the other hand, he had prophesied that the expansion of capitalism would inevitably lead to revolution, followed by the "new man," the "classless society," the "reign of freedom." But what if the revolution did not arrive, if the "new man" never materialized?

In that case, Del Noce realized, Marxist historical materialism would degenerate into a form of radical relativism -- into the idea that philosophical and moral concepts are just reflections of historical and economic circumstances and have no permanent validity. This would have to include the concept of injustice, without which a critique of capitalism would be hard, if not impossible, to uphold. A post-Marxist culture -- one that kept Marx's radical materialism and denial of religious transcendence, while dispensing with his confident predictions about the self-destruction of capitalism -- would naturally tend to be radically bourgeois. By that, Del Noce meant a society that views "everything as an object of trade" and "as an instrument" to be used in the pursuit of individualized "well-being." Such bourgeois society would be highly individualistic, because it could not recognize any cultural or religious "common good." In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels described the power of the bourgeois worldview to dissolve all cultural and religious allegiances into a universal market. Now, ironically, Marxist ideas (which Del Noce viewed as a much larger and more influential phenomenon than political Marxism in a strict sense) had helped bring that process to completion. At a conference in Rome in 1968, Del Noce looked back at recent history and concluded that the post-Marxist culture would be "a society that accepts all of Marxism's negations against contemplative thought, religion, and metaphysics; that accepts, therefore, the Marxist reduction of ideas to instruments of production. But which, on the other hand, rejects the revolutionary-messianic aspects of Marxism, and thus all the religious elements that remain within the revolutionary idea. In this regard, it truly represents the bourgeois spirit in its pure state, the bourgeois spirit triumphant over its two traditional adversaries, transcendent religion and revolutionary thought."

If Del Noce is correct, we may not have to worry about the cultural Marxists of our time taking total power, as consumer capitalism and its comforts will compromise their revolutionary spirit. When and if university presidents start kicking these bumptious brats out of college, the revolution will sputter like Occupy Wall Street did. But before it's all over, they may end up destroying the institutions and ways of life that make life stable and meaningful. Then again, unrestrained capitalism has done the same thing. The problem with Marxism is that it burns the boats so that nobody can return, and calls the resulting fire enlightenment.

The warning is twofold: First, that cultural Marxism is a real thing willing and capable of doing real damage, and that you cannot negotiate with these people; and second, that unless capitalists figure out how to ameliorate the excesses of market and technological change on society, they are tempting fate, just as their 19th and early 20th century forebears did.

UPDATE: Reader Dave:

The bigger problem with the NYT piece that you either missed or didn't feel added to your thesis is the irony that Marx's critiques are seen as a good and carrying that forward cultural Marxist critiques are good, unless you are critiquing those critiques. You aren't allowed to critique arguments from BLM or La Raza or LGBTQXYZ groups or etc because taking a critical eye to those groups is just hateful bigoted nonsense. Never mind that those groups' manifestos generally don't hold up to scrutiny, just accept it as a means to an end (even if that end isn't really where we should like to be). In a world where there is no objective truth and all individuals' "truths" are valid there is no basis culture or society. But you can't bring that up, lest you be labeled an insensitive bigot who should be burned at the stake. My guess is if Marx were revived today he would be ashamed more of the intellectual rot his philosophy has spawned than he would over the millions of innocents dead.

Posted in Christianity , Conservatism , Consumerism , Culture war , Decline and Fall , Economics , Politics , Liberalism , Liberty & The State , Weimar America . Tagged Alasdair MacIntyre , Marxism , capitalism , Marx , cultural Marxism , Augusto Del Noce , neoreaction , Jason Barker .

Siarlys Jenkins May 2, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Significantly left of center, "hard left", may only describe 20-25% of the U.S. population, but in certain geographic areas, they control virtually all of the political levers of government. Seattle for instance.

Seattle. Right. The domain of corporate liberalism on steroids. Hard left. Uh-huh. I won't ask what you've been smoking, because I think its congenital.

should read "Goldman bankers aren't interested in funding class consciousness"

Much better and more accurate than removing "not" from the original. Thank you.

Emil Bogdan , says: May 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm
Marx was a smart guy, but too smart. It was really really weird the older I got and the more I found out about recurring class struggles and sometimes riots and even revolutions, again and again, in ancient Greece and Rome. There's so much documentation, over centuries, that it seems pretty obvious to me that there's nothing significantly new about Marxism at all, it's just a slightly more complex manifestation of a permanent phenomenon: inequality. Can anything be done about it? Nothing, you just have to idealize "equality" and KNOW inequality.

[Apr 28, 2018] Our Useless Clients and Trump's Misguided Plan for Syria by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. military presence in Syria is illegal, and the same would be true of any occupying force provided by U.S. clients. Instead of looking for a substitute occupation force or maintaining one of our own, the U.S. should accept that controlling any part of Syria is not worth the costs and risks that go along with it. ..."
www.antiwar.com
Trump's misguided plan to replace U.S. forces in Syria with Egyptians, Saudis, and others has run into the entirely predictable problem that none of our clients wants to do it:

The Trump administration is struggling to assemble a coalition of Arab military forces to replace U.S. troops battling Islamic State militants in eastern Syria, a roadblock that could indefinitely delay President Trump's goal of pulling American forces out of the country, U.S. officials said.

Allies in the region are deeply skeptical about sending their troops -- and many are even reluctant to contribute funds -- to help stabilize cities and towns liberated from Islamic State, according to senior U.S. officials, if the United States intends to pull out, as Trump has threatened.

It comes as no surprise that these governments have no interest in taking Trump up on this offer. Each of them has other more pressing concerns than policing parts of Syria, some have no interest in opposing the Syrian government, all of them are ill-equipped for the task at hand, and it would be a terrible mistake to invite these governments to occupy Syrian territory in any case. That doesn't mean that the U.S. has to keep its forces in Syria, but it should remind us how useless our clients are to the U.S.

The U.S. military presence in Syria is illegal, and the same would be true of any occupying force provided by U.S. clients. Instead of looking for a substitute occupation force or maintaining one of our own, the U.S. should accept that controlling any part of Syria is not worth the costs and risks that go along with it. The U.S. has no business fighting in Syria, and it has no authority to keep its forces there, so a complete withdrawal from Syria is the only appropriate and legal course of action open to the U.S.

[Apr 28, 2018] The Biggest Loser From a Successful Trump-Kim Summit China

Notable quotes:
"... However the declining U.S. with massive debt, a hollowed out manufacturing capability, an unsustainable health care model and a Ponzi scheme financial engineering Levithan that generates nothing of actual tangible value is still a very dangerous animal. ..."
"... Because it still has only superior capability, it's War Machine. And the big danger to the planet is the parasitic and deluded Power Elite franchise in Washington that militarizes EVERY element of foreign policy activity. The U.S. response to concerted and coordinated economic activity by China and its Eurasian partners can only be war-mongering. Because other than that, the U.S. will have no other leverage. ..."
Apr 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

SteveM April 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Remove the North Korea crisis from Asia and the Trump administration has the needed bandwidth to contain Beijing's aspirations.

Fat chance. China will continue with its BRI and AIIB initiatives. It will continue to lash-up with Russia and its EAEU to create a pan-Eurasian economic architecture in which the U.S. is largely economically irrelevant. Especially when hard asset pricing is decoupled from the dollar.

And China now has a huge supply of highly trained (many in the U.S.) scientists and engineers. Russia and Europe also have highly skilled technologists making Eurasia self-sufficient in both natural resources and technology development.

The U.S. will be eventually shut out. Because dealing with the Global Cop Gorilla in any context is more trouble than it's worth.

However the declining U.S. with massive debt, a hollowed out manufacturing capability, an unsustainable health care model and a Ponzi scheme financial engineering Levithan that generates nothing of actual tangible value is still a very dangerous animal.

Because it still has only superior capability, it's War Machine. And the big danger to the planet is the parasitic and deluded Power Elite franchise in Washington that militarizes EVERY element of foreign policy activity. The U.S. response to concerted and coordinated economic activity by China and its Eurasian partners can only be war-mongering. Because other than that, the U.S. will have no other leverage.

The U.S. driven into the ditch by the Power Elite Parasites and Neocon War-mongers will get its clocked cleaned in the next 10 years no matter what. North Korea is merely background noise.

Cornel Lencar , says: April 27, 2018 at 1:51 am
And how many treaties the U.S. has walked away from? Right now the treaty with Iran is being scuppered.
sglover , says: April 27, 2018 at 2:34 pm
If you ever wanted a condensed example of the kind of blithe solipsism and wish-thinking that passes for thinking among our "international relations" "scholars", I don't think you could do much worse than this silly paragraph:

In many respects, nothing should scare China more, as America, and specifically the Trump administration, has never been fully capable of taking on the challenges presented by Beijing thanks to Pyongyang and its growing nuclear arsenal. China has taken full advantage of Washington's wandering eye, putting itself in position to dominate the South China Sea, further subjugate Taiwan, and try to develop a stronger position in the East China Sea.

All you saps who think that China's greater prominence might be a consequence of its culture, its history, its recent extraordinary economic growth -- wrong! Turns out it all hangs on North Korea and its mighty Brooklyn-size GDP! And that means .

Remove the North Korea crisis from Asia and the Trump administration has the needed bandwidth to contain Beijing's aspirations.

All this, and daffodils will cover the meadows again, once Pyonyang comes around, gets its mind right. Simple!

It should surprise absolutely nobody that the guy who wrote this inanity is behind "The National Interest", which daily publishes all kinds of sophistry generally aimed at getting Americans to wade into the "crisis" du jour . Sooner or later Trump will be a bad memory, but Kazianis and his ilk will still be there, as firmly embedded in the Beltway veins as any tick.

[Apr 28, 2018] Macron The Last Multilateralist

Notable quotes:
"... "Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU." ..."
Apr 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

"Together," President Macron instructed President Trump, "we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world."

In an address before Congress on Wednesday, France's Macron denounced "extreme nationalism," invoked the UN, NATO, WTO, and Paris climate accord, and implored Trump's America to come home to the New World Order.

"The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism," Macron went on, "you are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it."

His visit was hailed and his views cheered, but on reflection, the ideas of Emmanuel Macron seem to be less about tomorrow than yesterday.

For the world he celebrates is receding into history.

The America of 2018 is coming to see NATO as having evolved into an endless U.S. commitment to go to war with Russia on behalf of a rich Europe that resolutely refuses to provide for its own defense.

Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU.

Under the Paris climate accord, environmental restrictions are put upon the United States from which China is exempt.

As for the UN, is that sinkhole of anti-Americanism, the General Assembly, really worth the scores of billions we have plunged into it?

"Aggressive nationalism" is a term that might well fit Napoleon Bonaparte, whose Arc de Triomphe sits on the Champs-Elysees. But does it really fit the Hungarians, Poles, Brits, Scots, Catalans, and other indigenous peoples of Europe who are now using democratic methods and means to preserve their national homes?

And the United States would seem an odd place to go about venting on "aggressive nationalisms that deny our history."

Did Macron not learn at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris or the Ecole Nationale d'Administration how the Americans acquired all that land?

General Washington, at whose Mount Vernon home Macron dined, was a nationalist who fought for six years to sever America's ties to the nation under which he was born.

How does Macron think Andrew Jackson acquired Florida from Spain, Sam Houston acquired Texas from Mexico, and Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor acquired the Southwest? By bartering?

Aggressive nationalism is a good synonym for the Manifest Destiny of a republic that went about relieving Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

How does Macron think the "New World" was conquered and colonized if not by aggressive British, French, and Spanish nationalists determined to impose their rule upon weaker indigenous tribes?

Was it not nationalism that broke up the USSR into 15 nations?

Was not the Zionist movement that resurrected Israel in 1948, and in 1967 captured the West Bank and then annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a manifestation of aggressive nationalism?

Macron is an echo of George H.W. Bush who in Kiev in 1991 warned Ukrainians against the "suicidal nationalism" of declaring independence from the Russian Federation.

"Aggressive nationalisms divide the world," warns Macron.

Well, yes, they do, which is why we have now 194 members of the U.N., rather than the original 50. Is this a problem?

"Together," said Macron, "we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds."

Macron belongs to a political class that sees open borders and free trade thickening and tightening the ties of dependency, and eventually creating a One Europe whose destiny his crowd will forever control.

But if his idea of pluralism is multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural nations, with a multilateral EU overlord, he is describing a future that tens of millions of Europeans believe means the deaths of the nations that give meaning to their lives.

And they will not go gently into that good night.

In America, too, millions have come to recognize that there is a method to the seeming madness of open borders. Name of the game: dispossessing the deplorables of the country they love.

With open borders and mass migration of over a million people a year into the USA, almost all of them from third-world countries that vote 70 to 90 percent Democratic, the left is foreclosing the future. They're converting the greatest country of the West into what Teddy Roosevelt called a "polyglot boarding house for the world." And in that boarding house the left will have a lock on the presidency.

With the collaboration of co-conspirators in the media, progressives throw a cloak of altruism over the cynical seizure of permanent power.

For, as the millions of immigrants here legally and illegally register, and the vote is extended to prison inmates, ex-cons, and 16-year-olds, the political complexion of America will come to resemble San Francisco.

End goal: ensure that what happened in 2016, when the nation rose up and threw out a despised establishment, never happens again.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

12 Responses to Macron: The Last Multilateralist

georgina davenport April 27, 2018 at 12:29 am

Let's remember, it was nationalism that led German, Japan and Italy into the two world wars. Like everything, nationalism is not absolutely good or absolutely bad.

European nationalism that led them to colonize other weaker countries was not a good thing. Nationalism that led the colonized countries to fight for independence was a good thing.

The current rising of nationalism is not a good thing because it is often bound up with white nationalism, a belief that the non-whites are inferior people undeserving of care and happiness.

While I understand the anxiety of White people for losing their power of dominance, multiculturalism is a future that can't be rolled back no matter how much they long for the past white homogeneity. Because technology that made our world smaller and flatter can't be uninvented.

I agree the West can't absorb all the immigrants who want to find new life in the West. The solution is not to shun the immigrants and pretend they don't exist. The solution is to acknowledge their suffering and their need for a stable home and help them build that at their home countries.

Biologically, it is known that our genes get stronger with more diversity, that community gets weaker with too much in breeding. So is our strength as a people, culturally, philosophically, spiritually and creatively.

Petrus , says: April 27, 2018 at 3:55 am
Another nice notion on the mis/abuse of the world nationalism from Mr. Buchanan. From a Central European perspective, however Macron's alleged multilateralism as presented in Washington is just a pretence peddled for the media – teaming up with Angela Merkel (more specifically, with Germany's economic strength), Macron pretty much insists on reining in the rebellious Visegrad 4 politically, without the slightest interest in reaching a mutually beneficial compromise with them.
Dan Green , says: April 27, 2018 at 8:43 am
If only the deplorable's had come to their senses, and elected Hillary, to carry on Hope and Change, we wouldn't be having all this polarity.
Kurt Gayle , says: April 27, 2018 at 8:49 am
Pat points to Macron's globalist trade babble to Congress answers:

"Since the WTO was created in the mid-90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits, and among the organization's biggest beneficiaries -- the EU."

President Trump's economic nationalist/fair trade agenda can fix this problem.

KD , says: April 27, 2018 at 9:21 am
It strikes me that both France and Germany have large enough populations, economies and technical know-how to produce effective modern fighting forces. Second, given the size of EU, it is clear that the EU, if it could get its act together, would be capable of projecting force in the world on an equal playing field with the United States.

The European Leaders appeals to Trump to pursue European interests in American foreign policy are simply pathetic. If Europe has foreign interests, they will only be able to protect and insure them if they retake their sovereignty and independence on the world stage.

Europe can, and I suspect Europe will, because their problem is not just Trump and whether he is impeached or re-elected, it is that European interests are being held hostage to the American Electorate, which can and will return a Cowboy to the Presidency long after Trump is gone.

I don't see how, given the developments with the Iran Deal, as well as other frictions, that the NATO alliance can remain standing. None of the above reflections are particularly ideological, and it seems impossible that Merkel and Macron couldn't entertain such thoughts.

Europe can, and inevitably will, declare independence from the Americans, and I see NATO unraveling and a new dawn of European "multilateralism" taking its place.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:11 am
Nationalism and Multiculturalism cannot coexist separately, they're in tendsion as we all try to balance the scales.

Without the benefit of nationalism, the Koreas would not have done what they just did. My own "ethnic people" are the minority of 1.2 million Hungarians who live in Romania, who have lived there for centuries and will not leave their homeland except many of them do, like my parents did, and many of my other relatives and friends–the number was 1.5 million not too long ago, and I was estimating 1.8, but man, we are dwindling. Only 1.2 million! That shocks me. Nationalism keeps us alive. But if that's all we had, then the Romanians would be totally nationalistic too, and they will forcefully seek to curtail minority rights, language, culture, and slowly choke us out. That's the nationalist philosophy on minorities.

That's your philosophy, and you're saying what will happen here is liberals will slowly turn the country into San Francisco. You make the same error as my friend in another thread. You cannot compare a city and its politics to a province or a country, or to any territory that contains vast farmlands.

Pat, you are saying that it's possible for the entire Byzantine Empire to take on the precise political complexion of the walled city of Constantinople. That city cannot feed itself, it's not a self-contained social or political entity.

The roiling cities of San Francisco/Bay Area and glorious Constantinople are and were completely and totally dependent on the countryside, and thus, on the politics the rurals tend to practice. The rurals need to feel the effects of city politics too.

No city anywhere is self-contained, and most cities are more liberal than their hinterlands, so should we do away with cities?

You can see it as symbiotic or some kind of yin and yang tension, however you prefer. But one is good and the other is evil? I don't buy that.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:26 am
I'm pretty sure I should say ALL cities are more liberal then the surrounding countrysides which feed them. After all, the city is really just the most commonly known major local market, which the villages eventually form organically. One village in particular stands out, and the neighbors start flocking more and more to its market, some decide to move there and contribute even more to the good energy, and voila, the first city is soon born.

Then it takes on pride, and starts thinking it's superior to the "rubes." It isn't. I was lucky enough to get my foundations in a village, I know its incredible efficiency and _conservative_ values and lifestyle, but trust me, there's plenty of drunkenness and scandal, even among the sainted rubes who raised me.

Keep slapping down the cities, Pat, but don't exaggerate the threat, no self-supporting society on Earth could live the way those freaks live in San Francisco, or Constantinople, that's a fact.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm
My apologies, I know I go on a little long sometimes:

I am an American now, and America is my "us," I don't have mixed political allegiances, just cultural ones. I don't live in my original homeland anymore. The choice to leave wasn't mine, though.

If I had a choice to leave my country of origin, the land I was raised in and find familiar–and I have been in America since age twelve, so I do see it as home and very familiar–I would be daunted. Speaking as an average American adult, I know that moving to another English-speaking and equally advanced country is complicated enough for the average American. Imagine uprooting and going to a foreign land whose language you don't know yet, where everything is a lot more expensive. Try getting a job there. Let's say you have no college degree. Try it. I wouldn't want to.

Immigrants are tough as nails, I'm sorry to say. You have no chance against them, actually. You cannot even conceive of the willpower and trials by fire. Most people quite understandably can't fathom it, unless they actually try it or see it with their own eyes.

[Apr 25, 2018] The Lies Behind America's Interventions by Jon Basil Utley

Notable quotes:
"... But even before that there was the first Iraq war in 1991, justified in part by the story of Iraqi soldiers reportedly dumping babies out of incubators to die in a Kuwaiti hospital. The 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador cleverly lied to a set-up congressional committee. The Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... Los Angeles ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... American Conservative ..."
"... New York Times ..."
Apr 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Official Washington and those associated with it have misrepresented the facts numerous times in the service of military actions that might not otherwise have taken place. In the Middle East, these interventions have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab civilians, brought chaos to Iraq and Libya, and led to the expulsion of a million Christians from communities where they have lived since biblical times.

The most famous of these episodes, of course, was the U.S. government's assurance to the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which formed the basis for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The government also insisted Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda, bolstering the call to war. Of course neither was true.

But even before that there was the first Iraq war in 1991, justified in part by the story of Iraqi soldiers reportedly dumping babies out of incubators to die in a Kuwaiti hospital. The 15-year-old daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador cleverly lied to a set-up congressional committee. The Christian Science Monitor detailed this bizarre episode in 2002.

There were also the lies about the Iraqi army being poised to invade Saudi Arabia. That was the ostensible reason for the U.S. sending troops to Kuwait -- to defend Saudi Arabia. Writing in the the Los Angeles Times in 2003, Independent Institute fellow Victor Marshall pointed out that neither the CIA nor the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency viewed an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia as probable, and said the administration's Iraqi troop estimates were "grossly exaggerated." In fact, the administration's claim that it had aerial photographs proving its assertions was never verified because, as we later learned, the photos never existed. The Christian Science Monitor also reported on this in 2002 ahead of the second Iraq war.

America attacked Iraq in 1991, bombing and destroying that nation's irrigation, sanitation, and electricity plants. (See here regarding Washington's knowledge of and planning for the horrific mass contamination of Iraqi drinking water.) Then we blockaded reconstruction supplies for nine years while some half-million children died of disease and starvation. We blamed it all on Saddam, although we controlled Iraq's money flows through the UN food-for-oil program. Fortunately, we have a rare admission by Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes about what was done.

Before that, there was the Kosovo war when America attacked Serbia on the basis of lies that 100,000 Kosovans had been massacred by Serbs in suppressing their civil war. This led to massive American bombing, brutally destroying much of that nation's civilian infrastructure and factories, including most of the bridges in the country, and all but one of those over the Danube River. The Americans imposed peace, then expelled most Serbs out of their former province. Subsequently there was the mass destruction of hundreds of ancient Christian churches and the creation of a European enclave now filled with Saudi money that sponsors Wahhabi education, with its rote memorization of the Koran and its 13th-century hatred of Christians.

More recently there was the British, French, and American attack on Libya in response to lies that Moammar Gaddafi was planning to massacre civilians in Benghazi. The U.S. destroyed his armed forces and helped to overthrow him. Widespread looting of his weaponry subsequently filled black markets in Asia and Africa and contributed to the ability of Boko Haram terrorists to sow chaos in Nigeria and parts of Northern Africa. Masses of African refugees have been flooding Western Europe ever since, traveling through Libya. Some of those weapons also made their way into the hands of the Islamic State, which overran parts of Iraq and Syria.

Most recently we had cable news inundating us with stories of a new poison gas attack in Syria. The "news" came from rebel sources. The American Conservative has published a detailed analysis by former arms inspector Scott Ritter questioning the evidence, or lack of it, that the Assad regime initiated the attack. The former British ambassador to Syria also cast doubts on the poison gas attack and its sources from rebel organizations.

It doesn't make sense that Assad would use poison gas just as Trump was saying that he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. It does make sense for the rebels to have staged a set up to get America to stay and attack Assad. This happened before in the summer of 2014 when President Obama nearly went to war over similar accusations. Only after asking Congress to vote on the matter did he decide against the attack because Congress wasn't interested. Some congressmen's mail was running 100-to-one against bombing. It was a welcome reminder of why Washington doesn't want actual votes on starting wars: because most Americans don't want more Washington wars.

Investigative journalists Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry expertly poked holes in the veracity of that 2013 attack. Other reports suggested that Syrian bombs unleashed poison gas the rebels had been storing in civilian areas. The New York Times finally published in December 2013 a detailed report that expressed doubts about its earlier conclusion that the 2013 "red line" gassing was carried out definitively by the Syrian military. False flag operations to goad America into war, it seems, can be successful.

After all the hundreds of thousands of innocents abroad killed by America and the human misery caused because of clever U.S. and foreign manipulations, one would think we might pause before attacking Syria and running the risk of killing Russians who are advising the Syrians. That could ignite an entirely new kind of war with a nuclear-armed Russia -- all without congressional approval.

Obama, whose policies were predicated on the view that Assad must go, seemed to think Syrians would live happily after in some magically sprouting democracy. To believe this one would have to ignore the prior examples of Iraq and Libya. Nor do these war party advocates seem in the least concerned about the 10 percent of Syria's population who are Christians, many of whom would surely by massacred after any overthrow of Assad.

Further, the so-called Free Syrian Army is a hodgepodge of rebel groups that include many Islamist radicals. With funding from fundamentalist Saudis and Turkey, they took over from more liberal forces early on. It's worth noting also that Turkey provided the black market for ISIS to sell Syria's captured oil.

Going back a hundred years there were the clever British lies that helped coax America into joining the Allies in World War I. England controlled the trans-Atlantic cables and most of our "news" about the war. That intervention resulted in the Treaty of Versailles instead of a compromise peace between Germany and England/France that would have prevented the wreckage of Europe out of which came the rise of communism and Nazism.

For an analysis of the risks of accidental nuclear war, see my 2017 January Publisher's Report , in which I once wrote about how Osama bin Laden's ultimate aim was to get Russia and America to destroy each other. It still could happen, triggered by false atrocity stories, cable TV's 24-hour hyping of any and every threat, and Washington's propensity to believe lies -- and sometimes perpetrate them -- to promote wars.

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative .


Janwaar Bibi April 25, 2018 at 12:15 am

No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?

Saudi and Israeli money. Next question.

Realist , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:49 am
"No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?"

It is not we it is politicians.

Money is the reason

Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause.

Emil Bogdan , says: April 25, 2018 at 5:30 am
Lies can be fun, especially the ones I tell myself, and they're also a lot of fun to discover, just like your lies. The worst bummer, however, is that the lies we tell each other very quickly do get tiresome and repetitive, if not downright frustrating:

"Oh My God, It's Still The Same Lies. That Makes It Worse."

Apparently–and this is tragic–it looks like we're just too selfish to come up with new ones: Say what, you want me to lie the country into war in some fascinating novel way, just for your entertainment? I don't think so. It's easier to stick to the routine, and I'm lazy, so I'll just do as you do, I'll keep telling you the same old lies, which explains why you are bored as well–meanwhile, I spend my quality time investigating all the ways I hide things from myself.

(yeah, right)

Fran Macadam , says: April 25, 2018 at 8:30 am
Wars are little more than armed robberies on an industrial scale.

Wars are begun, to take what belongs to someone else.

The sheer magnitude of a crime transforms it into heroic achievement – at least, in historical perspective, for the winners, as long as they retain power. In the long run, the consequences are malignantly pernicious.

Youknowho , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:07 am
Why get into wars?

They are just upping the ante.

For years the American public has accepted and shrugged the overthrow of governments at the hands of the CIA with the excuse of stopping Communism.

Iran, Congo, Guatemala, Chile

There is a trail of blood created by the US in the world, while the American public is told that we are the good guys, so we are justified.

Now the CIA is not enough. There are troops.

These things have to be killed while still young.

BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:16 am
The United States isn't being manipulated into war.
The only manipulation is of American public opinion- fortunately for the War Party,i.e. the US government, there's enough blind nationalism & tribal loyalty on both sides of the political divide for their propaganda to (usually) succeed.
Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:39 am
"Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause."

Excellent. And throw in Citizens United and you have an effective coup d'etat of the United States by corporate interests.

40 KFt View , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:54 am
Look at any public figure. Their salary is less than $190K. BUT, They are worth $10 Million or more. That is why we go to war. Foreign influence (Saudi and Israel) as well as the Military Industrial Complex. (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, )Our Leaders are paid off!
b. , says: April 25, 2018 at 11:52 am
Now that the war profiteering classes and their retainee camp followers are running into the problem that more and more citizens are prepared to doubt, if not outright dismiss – if just on principle – their claims and anonymous trickyleaks regarding "secret evidence" and elusive "proof", the Democratic Party has become an eager handmaiden to the neolibcon con of projecting all that justified and overdue doubt and dissent – distrust to unaccountable power – and the citizens' frustration with their corrupt representative and dysfunctional institutions – on, you know it Russia!

So now that we stop accepting government claims by default – something no reasonable citizen should ever do, on principle – we are denounced as "gullible" – projection at its best – and as "useful idiots" of some Kremlin mirage that happens to be a mirror image of our own government's betrayals at its worst. Once dissent has been "discredited" by claiming it could not possible have any other cause except uninformed and misled voters – see the published responses to Sanders and Trump supporters – and could, of course, not have any merit, the next step is to make sure that our "democracy" is safeguarded even more against "populists" – those that speak truth to power, not those that lie blatantly to claim power for themselves – and the unruly mob in the streets that questions the establishment, the wholly owned elites, and the oligarchic owners of our very own autocratic franchise.

That is the progression – from being lied into war, whether we believe the BS or not, to being denounced as useful idiots or traitors if we dare to doubt the BS we are being fed, to being disenfranchised under the pretext of protecting the franchise.

The biggest obstacle to establishing a precedents under international law to obtain UN General Assembly consensus for intervention in the inner affairs of a nation- in response crimes committed by the government of that nation – is the US, because the US has acted as a rogue nation for decades, and has eroded the international order to the point where the "allied" governments of Germany and other EU states think nothing of "supporting" those acts of aggression, and post-colonial wannabe powers like the UK and France have joined the US "coalition of the willing". That "international order" will fall unless the US finally leads by example and commits itself to uphold the UN Charter – and its own Constitution – in letter and spirit. Until then, there is nothing we can do to help those that suffer under the yoke of what are, under our current international order, legitimate governments of sovereign nation.

The US cannot assert and pursue primacy and unipolar super-sovereignty over every other nation on this planet and at the same time claim to uphold the principles of sovereign states, and nobody will be able to redefine or constrain the rule of sovereign states within the existing international order as long as what little order we have claim to is being set aside and ignored wholesale by any nation that can get away with it, with the US and the so-called "West" in the lead.

We cannot lie our way to life, liberty and justice, not for ourselves, and certainly not on behalf of others, especially if we do not hesitate at all to make those we claim to help and "protect" pay the ultimate price for our acts of aggression. These are indeed the most dishonest and offensive words in the English language: "We are from the US government, and we are here to help." The "responsibility to protect" is nothing but another attempt to address the necessity to pretend.

Professor Nerd , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:13 pm
"because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."
I wish this was true. But I doubt it. The citizens must be held partially responsible for our era of permanent war.
One Guy , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:56 pm
" most Americans don't want more Washington wars."

Actually, most Americans don't care, really. Oh, you ask one if he likes war, and he will say, "No". But ask him if Uncle Joe should lose his job at Boeing, and what will he say?

Wars are, of course, a jobs program on a massive scale. And if some dark-skinned civilians die, Americans aren't concerned.

balconesfault , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:13 pm
What Professor Nerd said.

My own theory of hawkishness is that voters are much more comfortable with putting national defense in the hands of someone far more hawkish then themselves, than in the hands of someone slightly less hawkish.

See, for example, how people who theoretically wan lower taxes, smaller government, and a balanced budget, keep electing GOP leadership that always attacks their Democratic opponents on gutting defense spending (even when defense spending has been going up), and always equates larger DOD budgets with more "security" for Americans.

Until voters are willing to accept a US President saying "bad stuff happens in other parts of the world – we can't control everything" we'll keep getting more and more wars.

Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm
"because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."
I wish this was true. But I doubt it. The citizens must be held partially responsible for our era of permanent war."

I've found my elderly mother is very enthusiastic about our overseas wars. I believe it is because she somehow projects America's ability to bully the rest of the world onto herself. She is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way.

BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm
" my elderly mother is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way."
What a great country! Where else do you have elderly drivers with poor eyesight and slow reflexes trying to navigate 5000 pound trucks while harassing other drivers at 50mph?
Tiktaalik , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:59 pm
>> She is a small woman and she recently purchased a pickup. She raves about how she can tailgate people and they will get out of her way.

Wow, I've thought that it could only happen in Russia. I mean, pickup/SUV tailgating.

Silly me)

EliteCommInc. , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:14 pm
"Where else do you have elderly drivers with poor eyesight and slow reflexes trying to navigate 5000 pound trucks while harassing other drivers at 50mph?"

I can say from experience and the related stories of others, one very recent and sad --

cyclists don't stand a chance.
-- -- -- -- -- -

"Until voters are willing to accept a US President saying "bad stuff happens in other parts of the world – we can't control everything" we'll keep getting more and more wars."

World gone wrong when we agree -- things must be really be SNAFU.

NorEastern , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm
I am a Democrat only because the Republican party has gone insane over the last 17 years. When will the TAC style Conservatives take back their party?
sglover , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:39 pm
Echoing Professor Nerd & balconesfault & Kent. It's certainly true that Lockheed Martin, the Israel lobby, our Saudi "friends", et al have a ton of influence, and use it for ends that I'd call malign. But for at least the last 20 years we've been living in a world in which it's effortless to find information contrary to the latest war marketing PR campaign. When Bush the Lesser was getting ready for his war, did any of his hysterical claims last even a week before it was discredited? But off to war we went.

It'd be nice if we could blame all of our lousy decisions on those wily Zionists and Arabs and Russians, but the causes seem to lie a little closer to home .

[Apr 24, 2018] The Varieties of Russian Conservatism by Paul Grenier

Notable quotes:
"... Times Literary Supplement ..."
"... sine qua non ..."
"... The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today? ..."
"... Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ..."
"... Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity. ..."
"... The City of Man ..."
"... Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States. ..."
"... The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft. ..."
"... Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. ..."
Jun 19, 2015 | www.theamericanconservative.com
A staunchly traditional society grapples with modernity's disruptions, seeking conservatisms far beyond Putinism.

It's a truism that America is a liberal place. Americans emphasize the importance of the individual and tend to reject notions of hierarchy and authority. Russia by contrast is known to be a more conservative society, one where the interests of the group come ahead of those of the individual; and where, for centuries, respect for hierarchy and authority has usually been the norm.

All the same, the "news" of Russia's return to conservatism has hit many observers in the West like the proverbial ton of bricks. The typical response has been to blame the Russian president for steering Russia away from the liberal path, the path of becoming a " normal country" with "Western values."

Others have sought to understand Russian political culture on its own terms. A recent analysis ("The New Eurasians," Times Literary Supplement , May 13, 2015) stands out from the crowd by making a serious effort to read present-day Russian conservatism in its historical context. Lesley Chamberlain dismisses the glib reduction of Russia to its present-day leader. Russia, she writes, is not ruled by Vladimir Putin: to the contrary, "the power that rules Russia is tradition." Far from it being the case that a benighted Russian public is being led to conservatism artificially by its government, the reverse is the case: the vast majority of Russians, perhaps eighty percent "are intensely conservative."

Like most in the commentariat, Chamberlain finds cause for alarm in Russia's return to type. She worries about a Russia seeking to create "an alternative version of the contemporary Christian, or post-Christian, world, contiguous with but distinct from the West."

Chamberlain reduces today's incarnation of Russian conservatism to the more or less vague bundle of geographic and neo-imperial notions that goes by the name Eurasianism, often linked with the name of Alexander Dugin.

To be sure, anti-Western Eurasianism is part of contemporary Russian conservatism. But it is only one part. Excessive focus on this angle has created the impression that Dugin-esque Eurasianism is the only game in town when it comes to Russian conservatism. It isn't. It's not even the only version of what might be called the 'Russian national greatness' school of conservatism.

If we wish to understand Russia in something like its true complexity, we have to take the trouble to listen to it, to let it speak in its own voice instead of constantly projecting onto it all our own worst fears. Precisely because Eurasianism has already hogged all the attention, I won't deal with it here.

... ... ...

Liberal Conservatism

Some participants straddled several categories of conservatism at once. In other cases, for example that of the above-mentioned Makarenko, their thought fit neatly within a single category -- in his case, that of liberal conservatism.

For Makarenko, modern Russian political practice has far too utilitarian an attitude toward rule of law and democracy. If it can be demonstrated that the latter support state sovereignty, then all is well and good; but whenever either are perceived as a threat to the state -- then democracy and rule of law are always the ones that have to suffer. From his perspective, Russia would do better to learn from Burke, who looked not so much to the sovereignty of the state as to the sovereignty of the parliament .

Matveichev, no doubt the most eclectic thinker in the group, on certain subjects occupied the liberal end of the spectrum. For example, in an essay on corruption and the state, he approvingly cites the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto to make the point that rule of law -- as it is practiced, nota bene , in the United States -- is the sine qua non of economic prosperity. What I found fascinating about Matveichev's position is that he then takes his argument in a Hegelian and Platonic direction.

It is the state -- not the market on its own -- that provides these all important forms , and bad as the corruption of state institutions may be, a bad form is nonetheless better than no form at all -- including for business. The common good "cannot be reduced to the goods of individual private parties, and cannot be deduced from them. Just as the sum of the parts does not make up the whole, in the same way the sum of private interests may sometimes work even against itself it is the state that represents the common good." Isn't this something we can learn from in the West today?

Left Conservatism

The "left conservatives" at the conference -- represented most prominently by Dr. Alexander Schipkov, an expert on Church-state relations -- are critical of liberal capitalism and indeed are also critical of the current Russian state to the extent that its "conservatism" is reducible merely to "family values" without including the all-important component of economic fairness. His views are close to that of Catholic Distributists as well as to those of "radical orthodox" theologians like William Cavanaugh and John Milbank.

According to Schipkov, Russians of various backgrounds (left and right, secular and religious, red and white) need to forge a common ethic. But in truth, Russia already has such an ethic, one that unifies all the disparate phases in its often tragic and contradictory history. Consciously playing off of Weber, Schipkov refers to Russia's "[Christian] Orthodox spirit and the ethic of solidarity ." In a fascinating essay on this same subject, Schipkov makes clear that his concept of solidarity owes much to the writings of the early 20th century German philosopher Max Scheler, who likewise had such a big impact on the thought of Pope John Paul II.

Though the Russian Church continues to play a defining role in the ethical formation of the nation -- no other pre-1917 institution, after all, still exists -- over time it will be replaced by other institutions, according to Schipkov. Like the Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox Church has recently forged its own Social Concept of the ROC, which fleshes out this call for fairness as an aspect of human dignity.

Creative Conservatism

Because it tends to evoke the disastrous social and economic effects of "liberalisation" during the 1990s, the term "liberal" has become something of a swear word in today's Russia. But what, exactly, does this much reviled "liberalism" consist in? In my own presentation (English translation forthcoming at SolidarityHall.org ) I suggested that Russians need to define liberalism -- and conservatism -- more carefully, while distinguishing both from their ideological perversions.

To his credit, Oleg Matveichev has taken the trouble to craft a precise definition of the liberal doctrine of human nature in terms worthy of a Pierre Manent ( The City of Man ). According to Matveichev, liberalism reconceives the very essence of man as freedom, self-sufficiency, and self-definition. Seen through this liberal prism, the goal of our existence becomes self-emancipation from the chains of the past and the dead weight of tradition.

Having redefined the meaning of history, Matveichev continues, the "liberals" then set about condemning those who would thwart its "progress," dismissing them as "conservatives" and "reactionaries." Is it not time, Matveichev asks, to throw off the chains of this label invented for us by our adversaries? Why define ourselves as mere "conservatives"? Why not creatively reimagine an alternative 'meaning of history" ourselves?

Can conservatism be "creative?" And if so, how? Mikhail Remizov, president of the National Strategy Institute, answered, in effect, "how can it be anything else?" Critics on the left sometimes attack conservatism by saying, that conservatives do not preserve tradition, they invent it. Remizov dismisses the implied insult, because it demonstrates a misunderstanding of how traditions work: (re)invention " is the normal, creative approach to tradition." Remizov agrees with Hans-Georg Gadamer that sharply contrasting tradition and modernity is a silly and flat-footed way of looking at tradition, because the latter is always in any case a complex creative task of making adjustments and dialectical zig-zags. Such an understanding of culture and tradition as creativity fits, of course, quite nicely with the philosophy of Nicholas Berdyaev. It is hard to think of another thinker for whom creativity plays a more central role.

Alexei Kozyrev, associate dean of the philosophy department at Moscow State University, illustrated the same creative conservative principle when he spoke of the Russian Orthodox Church's Social Concept. The task of modern man, according to that document, is to find creative ways to retrieve the thought of the Church Fathers, for example that of Gregory of Nyssa, who counseled demonstrating our human dignity "not by domination of the natural world but by caring for and preserving it." The Social Concept likewise calls for defending the dignity of the unborn embryo and of the mentally ill. Here, in an unexpected twist, the Western environmental movement meets the pro-Life movement, challenging perhaps our own ideological boundaries.

... ...

Dialogue with Russia?

Lesley Chamberlain claimed that Russia is not a puzzle. In fact that is precisely what it is. As should be clear even from the above very partial survey, Russian conservatism, like Russia itself, embraces a contradictory collection of flaws and virtues. Both the flaws and the virtues are large.

Among Russia's virtues, it must be emphasized, is a far greater freedom of speech than it is typically given credit for. Russian participants in the Kaliningrad conference demonstrated a boldness of imagination, a variety and depth of thought on alternate futures for their country that is by no means always evident in political speech even in the United States.

For Western liberals, it is tempting to present Russian conservatism as always intrinsically dangerous. But I believe the loss is ours. Russian conservatism -- or at any rate important elements of it -- contains something potentially valuable to the West as it seeks to forge a strategy for dealing with the growing disorder in the world. What justifies engagement with Russia is before all else its ability to contribute to solving the problem that all of us face: how to devise a softer version of western modernity, one which allows for the preservation of tradition while simultaneously retaining what is most valuable in the liberal tradition.

The author would like to thank Dr. Adrian Walker, Matthew Cooper and especially Dr. Matthew Dal Santo for their valuable suggestions and comments on an earlier draft.

Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues.


Andrew W June 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

@JonF

The presumption amongst Russian conservatives is not that Russia is perfect as it is but that Russia's foundational values are good. This is something they have in common with American conservatives, British Conservatives like Peter Hitchens, and probably most conservatives in most societies. They would also lament their social ills.

I am not going to accuse you of not having read the article, but that comment of yours could easily have been made by someone who simply read the title and jumped to the comments section.

Joseph Kellner , says: June 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm
The author's point on free speech is an important one – there is a lot of very deep and open discussion in Russia at the moment about the country's direction (including even television debates with ten times the intellectual content of what we find in the States). Putinism is not a clear ideological system, and for the most part there is no official orthodoxy being pressed on scholars or the public, many currents exist. Most of the major viable currents, as this article suggests, are variants of conservatism; Western-style liberal democracy has (at the moment) lost nearly all it's appeal to the intelligentsia and the average person alike.

Re: Jon F's comment – unfortunately, in my view he is right. We shouldn't believe that Russia is a place of thriving family values simply because they say it more often and louder. Statistics are not the best way to see this – I personally believe (from experience in the capital and the provinces) that if Russians divorce less, they cheat more. If they have fewer abortions, they have more children born into undesirable childhoods. Russian conservatism does have its virtues and the country must to admire, but respect for women and children are far from a given.

Cornel Lencar , says: June 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm
The tendency to see Russia in black/white only, with a pre-imposed bias is no different than the tendency to see the US (and sometimes the west) and its values in similar manichean perspectives. Adding depth and colour to the other takes work, and especially the willingness to empathise, even for a little while, in order to gain more understanding, before employing a critical eye. And from this perspective I think the article does a good job.
Paul Grenier , says: June 22, 2015 at 7:21 pm
W. Burns: I don't recall that specific issue raised at the conference, but the Revolution and subsequent experience is much debated, including in other writings by the participants, e.g. by Shchipkov (his preferred spelling btw, not my Schipkov), whose take is much like that of Berdyaev: the communist experience is in partial continuity with aspects of Russia's tradition, e.g. of economic 'fairness' (equalizing plots on the peasant commune, etc.) and privileging the group over the individual. I started with the analysis by L. Chamberlain in part because her wide lens-perspective helps make sense of that experience.
David Naas and Cornel Lencar: I wish there were more who shared your perspective. Thanks.
Regarding Russian values vs. practice, aspirations vs. real-world problems. Who among us is without sin? Is U.S. practice so pristine that we should disdain talking to the Russian side? That is the material point.
Since the conference I have continued reading the work of these (and other conference) attendees meant for a Russian audience. They are very, very far from smug about their internal problems; quite the contrary.
Dave P.: As far as I know, the conference Proceedings so far are only in Russian, but there are pretty detailed English-language abstracts. Try contacting ISEPR (their site, ISEPR.ru, also has an English-language version).

[Apr 24, 2018] Rand Paul Caves on Pompeo

Apr 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Paul has made reclaiming Congress' role in matters of war one of his signature issues. Pompeo testified before the Foreign Relations Committee that he doesn't think the president needs Congressional authorization to order attacks on other states. Trump's nominee thinks that the president can start wars on his own authority, so Paul should be voting against his nomination for that reason alone. Voting to confirm Pompeo is an effective endorsement of the very illegal and unauthorized warfare that Paul normally condemns.


Mr. Hopeful April 23, 2018 at 8:08 pm

"Instead, Paul will get nothing except widespread derision for caving to pressure. "

Depressing. I thought he'd have more guts. Perhaps he's keeping his ammunition dry for some important purpose, and maybe the White House IOU he now holds has value. We'll see.

beejeez , says: April 23, 2018 at 8:58 pm
Hey, c'mon, Trump gave him assurances.
b. , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:33 pm
We owe Trump for another wonderfully clarifying moment.

No to incumbents. If we ran a lottery for Senators and Representatives we would not do much worse than what we have.

Mike , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm
Sad. However, the vote that matters is the one to confirm or reject him with the full Senate. We'll see how he votes then.
liberal , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
Agree with BobS . I wouldn't have been shocked if Rand had voted against, but it's hardly surprising he caved.
Youknowho , says: April 23, 2018 at 11:52 pm
I have disliked Sen. Paul ever since the British Petroleum disaster, when he bemoaned that making BP pay for damages was "anti-business" as if seafood fisheries, motels, and restaurants were not businesses too.

Nothing he does or says now surprises me.

[Apr 22, 2018] Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics by Tim Rogers

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal.
His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.
Notable quotes:
"... Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering) ..."
"... You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude. ..."
Apr 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it.

"Aphorisms," wrote James Geary, "are like particle accelerators for the mind." When particles collide inside an accelerator, new ones are formed as the energy of the crash is converted into matter. Inside an aphorism, it is minds that collide, and what spins out is that most slippery of things, wisdom.

... ... ...

These reviewers have done a disservice to their readers. In large measure, they have failed to engage with a work that is complex, challenging, and novel. Peterson is sketching out a draft for how we can survive, look in the mirror, and deal with psychological pain.

To understand his message, the first task is not to be distracted by the title or genre, and look for the metaphorical glue that binds it all together. 12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters. It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text.

The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time. The concept of Deep Time is very recent: just a few generations ago science thought that the earth was a few thousand years old. The realization that the planet has been around for billions of years and that life itself not much younger has brought about a shift in the story of ourselves and our place in the world. We are the products of processes that are old, old, old. We stretch back across unfathomable reaches, incomprehensible spans, but we carry that history within us.

... ... ..

Unlike almost every modern book in the self-help genre, happiness is a not a major theme here, and to Peterson it is not necessarily even a primary goal. Like Freud, Peterson sees life as suffering. Pain is its one incontrovertible fact (he remarks at one point that it is a miracle that anything in the world gets done at all: such is the ubiquity of human suffering). 12 Rules is not about the pursuit of pleasure, and indeed parts of his message are pure Stoicism. Resistance to life's depredations is futile. You will suffer. Accept that, and shift your focus to the one thing that is within your control: your attitude.

... His much-derided directive to "tidy your room" makes sense at every level. Indeed, if your room is too big, start with "tidy your desk," and then move forward. Find meaning in the tiniest acts of kindness, and push on from there. Concede the transience of pleasure and the inevitability of death. This isn't happiness, but it is a step closer to the Good Life, and contra the reviewers, readers are responding. Active, purposeful "Being in the World" is the dominant theme, and much of the book is taken up with exploring the whys and wherefores of this. Courage and strength and kindness, yes, to be sure, but importantly, courage "in spite of" and kindness "in spite of."

Following Carl Rogers, meaning is to be found in active engagement in a wondrous and hazardous world, and here there is no shirking the "hazardous." It seems to me that Peterson is calling for a return to ataraxia , that imperturbability and equanimity that has been out of fashion amongst the intelligentsia (at least in the West) for a century or more.

The underlying political philosophy is conservative, without question. As Christian Gonzalez identified in The American Conservative , Peterson's closest contemporary equivalent is Roger Scruton. "We have learned to live together and organize our complex societies slowly and incrementally, over vast stretches of time," he writes, "and we do not understand with sufficient exactitude why what we are doing works."

Peterson on the American culture wars sounds like Scruton on the English Common Law: we are "from the soil," we need time, it is senseless to break what we barely understand. Each person's private trouble cannot be solved by a social revolution, because revolutions are destabilizing and dangerous. Those left-leaning critics who see "just another reactionary" have failed to understand the complexity. What permeates this project is an implicit biopsychosocial model of the human condition (Peterson spares the reader that dread term but it is the only description I know for his integrative model).

... ... ...

Tim Rogers is a consultant psychiatrist in Edinburgh. He's written for Encounter magazine, and has published in both Quillette and Areo .

[Apr 17, 2018] John Bolton In Search of Carthage by By Michael Shindler

Looks like Iran is Carnage for Bolton and neocon fellow travelers in Trump administration such as Haley and Pompeo.
Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... In that vein, it is Bolton who merits historical comparison: to Cato the Elder, a conservative-yet-eccentric Roman statesman who, according to Plutarch, would often and invariably call for the destruction of Carthage, even though the Carthaginian threat was neither imminent nor apparent. Eventually, Cato's words wended their way into the ears of power and hundreds of thousands of Carthaginians were pointlessly slaughtered. According to the Greek historian Polybius, Scipio Aemilianus, the young Roman General who led the attack, at seeing the carnage of a great people, "shed tears and wept openly." ..."
"... Michael Shindler is an Advocate with Young Voices and a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @MichaelShindler . ..."
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Last week, John Bolton ascended to the office of National Security Advisor, following in the hurried footsteps of Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. Two peculiar characteristics set Bolton apart from most folks in D.C.: an unabashedly luxurious mustache and an unmatched penchant for unjustified preemptive violence.

At the University of Chicago in 2009, Bolton warned , "Unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran's program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future." Thankfully, Israel didn't take Bolton's advice and, as most predicted, Iran never lived up to his expectations. Similarly, in a 2015 op-ed in the New York Times , Bolton opined , "The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure . Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed." Three short months later, a non-proliferation deal wherein Iran agreed to a 98 percent reduction in its enriched uranium stockpile and a 15-year pause in the development of key weapons infrastructure was negotiated.

More recently in February, Bolton advised in the Wall Street Journal that "Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute . It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current 'necessity' posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons by striking first."

By this point Bolton's record of calling for war in every possible situation had lost the ability to shock. Still, the Founding Fathers would probably be appalled.

A comparatively irenic vision pervades the philosophy of the founders. James Wilson, in his Lectures on Law, wrote that when a nation "is under an obligation to preserve itself and its members; it has a right to do everything" that it can "without injuring others." In Federalist 4, John Jay advised that the American people ought to support steps that would "put and keep them in such a situation as, instead of inviting war, will tend to repress and discourage it." And in his Farewell Address, George Washington asserted that the United States should be "always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."

A preemptive nuclear strike justified on the flimsy basis of "gaps in U.S. intelligence" hardly seems concordant with such military restraint and "exalted justice." And lest it be thought these ideals were mere lofty notions, consider how, as American history proceeded, they became enshrined in American diplomacy.

In 1837, Canadian rebels sailing aboard the Caroline fled to an island in the Niagara River with the help of a few American citizens. British forces boarded their ship, killed an American member of the crew, and then set the Caroline ablaze before forcing it over Niagara Falls. Enraged, American and Canadian raiders destroyed a British ship. Several attacks followed until the crisis was at last ended in 1842 by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. In the aftermath, the Caroline test was established, which stipulates that an attack made in self-defense is justifiable only when, in the words of Daniel Webster, the necessity is "instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This principle remains the international standard, though some like Bolton think it's outdated.

With the Caroline test in mind, Bolton wrote while arguing in favor of a preemptive strike against North Korea, "The case against preemption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times." In other words, Bolton believes that we can no longer afford to wait for the situation to be "instant" and "overwhelming," and makes an offense out of abstaining from immediate preemptive action, regardless of the potential costs involved.

Relatedly, one of Bolton's most colorful jabs at President Obama involved likening him to Æthelred the Unready, a medieval Anglo-Saxon king remembered for his tragic indecisiveness. Yet given the costs of groundless preemption, indecisiveness is often a midwife to careful contemplation and peace. Had Prime Minister Netanyahu or Obama been persuaded by Bolton's retrospectively warrantless calls for preemption in Iran, tragedy would have followed.

In that vein, it is Bolton who merits historical comparison: to Cato the Elder, a conservative-yet-eccentric Roman statesman who, according to Plutarch, would often and invariably call for the destruction of Carthage, even though the Carthaginian threat was neither imminent nor apparent. Eventually, Cato's words wended their way into the ears of power and hundreds of thousands of Carthaginians were pointlessly slaughtered. According to the Greek historian Polybius, Scipio Aemilianus, the young Roman General who led the attack, at seeing the carnage of a great people, "shed tears and wept openly."

In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood, Bolton should reconsider whether the flimsy merits of rash preemption truly outweigh the durable wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the lessons of history.

Michael Shindler is an Advocate with Young Voices and a writer living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @MichaelShindler .


Janwaar Bibi April 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm

From the Wikipedia article for Bolton:

During the 1969 Vietnam War draft lottery, Bolton drew number 185. (Draft numbers corresponded to birth dates.) As a result of the Johnson and Nixon administrations' decisions to rely largely on the draft rather than on the reserve forces, joining a Guard or Reserve unit became a way to avoid service in the Vietnam War. Before graduating from Yale in 1970, Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard rather than wait to find out if his draft number would be called. (The highest number called to military service was 195.) He saw active duty for 18 weeks of training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, from July to November 1970.

After serving in the National Guard for four years, he served in the United States Army Reserve until the end of his enlistment two years later.[1]

He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost." In an interview, Bolton discussed his comment in the reunion book, explaining that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because "by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from."

Why is it that the US leads the world in production of chicken-hawks? Even these mangy ex-colonial countries like the UK and France do not have as many chicken-hawks as we do.

connecticut farmer , says: April 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm
Cato the Elder: "Carthago dalenda est!" ("Carthage Must Be Destroyed!")

John Bolton: "Syria dalenda est!" "Iran dalenda est!" Russia dalenda est!" And etc etc.

Connecticut Farmer: "Bolton dalenda est!"

Kent , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm
"In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood,"

That ship sailed awhile back.

JonF , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:08 pm
Comparing Obama to Athelred is absurd. Athelred's problem was not that he was indecisive, but rather that he refused to listen to advice from anyone (the moniker "Unready" actually meant "Uncounseled" in Old English) and that he was extremely impulsive and deeply bigoted. Hence he ordered a general massacre of the Danes in England. Luckily it was only carried out in a limited region, unluckily the victims included the King of Denmark's sister and her children, leading to an open blood feud war, and also cost Aethelred any support he might have had from his wife's kinsman, the Duke of Normandy. If anyone is a good match for old Aethelred, it's Donald Trump.

[Apr 17, 2018] Trump Prisoner of the War Party by Patrick J. Buchanan

Trump became a despicable warmonger. That true. And undisputable after the recent attack on Syria ("operation Stormy Daniels"). But was it War Party that coerced him or were other processes involved?
The main weakness of Buchanan hypothecs is that it is unclear wether Trump was coerced by War Party, or he was "Republican Obama" from the very beginning performing classic "bait and switch" operation on gullible electorate (as in "change we can believe in") . The second hypothesis is now strong then the fist and supported by more fact. just look at the "troika" of Haley-Bolton-Pompeo -- all three were voluntarily selected by the President and all three are rabid neocons. So it looks liek no or little coercion from the War Party was necessary.
Notable quotes:
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Defense Secretary James Mattis called the U.S.-British-French attack a "one-shot" deal. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to agree: "The rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will." ..."
"... Clearly, with the U.S. fighting in six countries, Commander in Chief Trump does not want any new wars, or to widen any existing wars in the Middle East. But he is being pushed into becoming a war president to advance the agenda of foreign policy elites who, almost to a man, opposed his election. ..."
"... We have a reluctant president being pushed into a war he does not want to fight. This is a formula for a strategic disaster not unlike Vietnam or George W. Bush's war to strip Iraq of nonexistent WMDs. ..."
"... The assumption of the War Party seems to be that if we launch larger and more lethal strikes in Syria, inflicting casualties on Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and the Syrian army, they will yield to our demands. ..."
"... As for Trump's statement Friday, "No amount of American blood and treasure can produce lasting peace in the Middle East," the Washington Post ..."
Apr 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
April 16, 2018, 9:55 PM "Ten days ago, President Trump was saying 'the United States should withdraw from Syria.' We convinced him it was necessary to stay."

Thus boasted French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, adding, "We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term."

Is the U.S. indeed in the Syrian Civil War "for the long term"?

If so, who made that fateful decision for this republic?

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed Sunday there would be no drawdown of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, until three objectives were reached. We must fully defeat ISIS, ensure chemical weapons will not again be used by Bashar al-Assad and maintain the ability to watch Iran.

Translation: whatever Trump says, America is not coming out of Syria. We are going deeper in. Trump's commitment to extricate us from these bankrupting and blood-soaked Middle East wars and to seek a new rapprochement with Russia is "inoperative."

The War Party that Trump routed in the primaries is capturing and crafting his foreign policy. Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial page fairly blossomed with war plans:

The better U.S. strategy is to turn Syria into the Ayatollah's Vietnam. Only when Russia and Iran began to pay a larger price in Syria will they have any incentive to negotiate an end to the war or even contemplate a peace based on dividing the country into ethnic-based enclaves.

Apparently, we are to bleed Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran until they cannot stand the pain and submit to subdividing Syria the way we want.

But suppose that, as in our Civil War of 1861-1865, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949, Assad and his Russian, Iranian, and Shiite militia allies go all out to win and reunite the nation.

Suppose they choose to fight to consolidate the victory they have won after seven years of war. Where do we find the troops to take back the territory our rebels lost? Or do we just bomb mercilessly?

The British and French say they will back us in future attacks if chemical weapons are used, but they are not plunging into Syria.

Defense Secretary James Mattis called the U.S.-British-French attack a "one-shot" deal. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to agree: "The rest of the Syrian war must proceed as it will."

The Journal 's op-ed page Monday was turned over to former U.S. ambassador to Syria Ryan Crocker and Brookings Institute senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon: "Next time the U.S. could up the ante, going after military command and control, political leadership, and perhaps even Assad himself. The U.S. could also pledge to take out much of his air force. Targets within Iran should not be off limits."

And when did Congress authorize U.S. acts of war against Syria, its air force, or political leadership? When did Congress authorize the killing of the president of Syria whose country has not attacked us?

Can the U.S. also attack Iran and kill the ayatollah without consulting Congress?

Clearly, with the U.S. fighting in six countries, Commander in Chief Trump does not want any new wars, or to widen any existing wars in the Middle East. But he is being pushed into becoming a war president to advance the agenda of foreign policy elites who, almost to a man, opposed his election.

We have a reluctant president being pushed into a war he does not want to fight. This is a formula for a strategic disaster not unlike Vietnam or George W. Bush's war to strip Iraq of nonexistent WMDs.

The assumption of the War Party seems to be that if we launch larger and more lethal strikes in Syria, inflicting casualties on Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and the Syrian army, they will yield to our demands.

But where is the evidence for this?

What reason is there to believe these forces will surrender what they have paid in blood to win? And if they choose to fight and widen the war to the larger Middle East, are we prepared for that?

As for Trump's statement Friday, "No amount of American blood and treasure can produce lasting peace in the Middle East," the Washington Post on Sunday dismissed this as "fatalistic" and "misguided." We have a vital interest, says the Post , in preventing Iran from establishing a "land corridor" across Syria.

Yet consider how Iran acquired this "land corridor." The Shiites in 1979 overthrew a shah our CIA installed in 1953. The Shiites control Iraq because President Bush invaded and overthrew Saddam and his Sunni Baath Party, disbanded his Sunni-led army, and let the Shiite majority take control of the country. The Shiites are dominant in Lebanon because they rose up and ran out the Israelis, who invaded in 1982 to run out the PLO.

How many American dead will it take to reverse this history?

How long will we have to stay in the Middle East to assure the permanent hegemony of Sunni over Shiite?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Apr 16, 2018] America's Fling With the Kurds Could Cause Turkey and NATO to Split by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... "This is clientism," the senior military officer with whom I spoke explains. "All of these guys have served together and trust each other. And, you know, this is the way it works. The U.S. Central Command has the Middle East as a client and the European Command has the Europeans and Turkey as clients. But if you take a look at Mattis and the people around him, well, you know, it's all Centcom. ..."
"... Erdogan emphasized three growing concerns he has that America's temporary and "transactional" support for the YPG is becoming permanent. This same official went on to note that, in his opinion, it's not a coincidence that Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria ("I want to get out," he said. "I want to bring our troops home") -- a suggestion that did not go over well with Centcom partisans at the Pentagon. ..."
Apr 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

In fact, just how "ugly" the relationship has become is fast becoming a matter of public debate. During his March visit, Scaparrotti appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to give testimony on the challenges facing his command. While most members focused on Russia and cyberwar issues, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine explored the U.S.-Turkey dust-up, hinting that it might be time for the U.S. to dampen its YPG ties. Scaparrotti didn't disagree, while soft-pedaling the disagreements over the issue that he's had with Votel and Centcom. "Where do we want to be in a year, two years and five years?" he asked. "With a close NATO ally like Turkey, we know that we want to maintain and strengthen our relationship. So that's the long-term objective and if we look at the long-term objective, it can begin to inform what we're doing today with respect to NATO." The senior military officer with whom I spoke proved a willing translator: "What Scaparrotti is saying is that the real marriage here is between the U.S. and Turkey. The YPG is just a fling."

But convincing James Mattis of that is proving difficult, in part because Scaparrotti is outgunned. Every defense secretary surrounds himself with people he can count on and who he listens to. But for Mattis almost all of them have had experience in the Middle East -- and at Centcom. There's Mattis himself (a former Centcom commander), JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford (who served with Mattis in Iraq), Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. (a Marine who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq), retired Rear Admiral Kevin M. Sweeney (the former Centcom executive officer), Rear Admiral Craig S. Faller (a Mattis advisor, and a Navy commander during both the Afghan and Iraq wars), and current Centcom commander General Joseph Votel -- the former commander of the U.S. Special Operation Command ("a trigger puller," as he was described to me by a currently serving officer). Votel is the most outspoken YPG supporter of any of them, and because he's the combatant commander, his support carries weight.

"This is clientism," the senior military officer with whom I spoke explains. "All of these guys have served together and trust each other. And, you know, this is the way it works. The U.S. Central Command has the Middle East as a client and the European Command has the Europeans and Turkey as clients. But if you take a look at Mattis and the people around him, well, you know, it's all Centcom. So Scaparrotti is worried, and he ought to be. We don't want to be sitting around 30 years from now reading historical pieces with titles like 'Who Lost Turkey?'"

Even someone as careful in his public utterances as Admiral James Stavridis, who once held Scaparrotti's command and is now the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, is raising concerns. While he waves off the "who lost Turkey" formulation as "a trope that is moving around the Internet," he told me in an email exchange that "it would be a mistake of epic proportions to allow Turkey to drift out of the transatlantic orbit" -- a repeat of the warning issued by Scaparrotti to Mattis in March. But like Scaparrotti, Staviridis is slow-rolling his disagreement. "This is a distinction without a difference," the senior officer and NATO partisan with whom we spoke says. "By drifting out of NATO, Stavridis means leaving. He's as worried as anyone else."

Concerns over Turkey are probably a surprise in the White House, given its almost daily crisis over the looming Russia-gate investigation, but they shouldn't be. The president has had extended telephone exchanges with Turkish President Tayyip Erodogan twice in the last three weeks. While the White House has refused to give details of these conversations, the Turkish official with whom we spoke told TAC that in both conversations (on March 23 and again on April 11), Erdogan emphasized three growing concerns he has that America's temporary and "transactional" support for the YPG is becoming permanent. This same official went on to note that, in his opinion, it's not a coincidence that Trump floated the idea of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria ("I want to get out," he said. "I want to bring our troops home") -- a suggestion that did not go over well with Centcom partisans at the Pentagon.

On April 3, the same day Trump issued his let's-get-out statement, Joseph Votel and Brett McGurk appeared at the U.S. Institute of Peace, arguing that the U.S. needed to stay in. "The hard part, I think, is in front of us," Votel said, "and that is stabilizing these areas, consolidating our gains, getting back to their homes. There is a military role in this," he went on to say. "Certainly in the stabilization phase."

The Votel appearance was exasperating for those worried about NATO's future, and for those concerned that the endless conflicts in the region are draining the defense budget of badly needed funds to rebuild U.S. military readiness. For them, a group that now includes a growing number of very senior and influential military officers, "stabilization" is not only a codeword for "nation building," it signals support for a mission that is endangering the future of NATO, the institution that has guaranteed peace in Europe for three generations.

"It's not worth it," the senior military commander who spoke with TAC concludes. "On top of everything else, it puts us on the wrong side of the political equation. This whole thing about how the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a bunch of bullshit. The enemy of my enemy is now making an enemy of our friend. I don't know who we think we're fooling, but it sure as hell isn't Turkey. And it isn't the American people either."

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative, and the author of The Pentagon's Wars (2017).

[Apr 14, 2018] Airstrikes Against Syria Would Set Off a Powder Keg by Daniel Larison

"Monica styles"... Trump is fighting fore survival with Tomahawks trying to solve his problem with junfoism.
Notable quotes:
"... "[I]f this president can decide unilaterally to bomb Syria, I worry that he can make the same decision about North Korea or Iran or other nations. And these decisions are not supposed to be made without consultation and voting by Congress." Unfortunately, Congressional leaders have shown no signs of wanting to hold a debate or have a vote before the attack takes place. ..."
"... The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year's strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. ..."
"... Daniel Larison is a senior editor at ..."
"... where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the ..."
"... Front Porch Republic, and ..."
"... . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter . ..."
Apr 14, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It begins: Trump announces a series of joint air strikes on Syrian targets Friday. An explosion after an apparent US-led coalition airstrike on Kobane, Syria, as seen from the Turkish side of the border, near Suruc district, 24 October 2014, Sanliurfa, Turkey Shutterstock/orlok UPDATE 9 p.m.ET : President Trump announces joint air strikes with the UK and France against Syrian targets in retaliation for suspected chemical attack a week ago in Douma.

One year since the U.S. illegally launched 59 cruise missiles at Syrian government forces in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack, the Trump administration is preparing to take similar military action despite an increased risk of escalation that could lead to the start of a wider war.

The U.S., France, and Britain have been preparing to strike the Syrian government over the last several days, and Syria's Russian patron has threatened the "gravest consequences" in response to an attack. Russia didn't respond to last year's one-off airstrikes, but Moscow isn't likely to tolerate a larger U.S. attack carried out with other governments. Syria's government and its allies seem more willing to fight back than they were a year ago, and that should give the Trump administration and our European allies pause. There is a greater risk of great power conflict erupting in Syria than there has been at any time since the end of the Cold War, and if Russian military personnel are killed by U.S. or allied strikes there is no telling how quickly things could deteriorate there and in other parts of the world.

President Trump's public statements have strongly suggested that an attack will be happening soon, going so far as to taunt Russia on Twitter that they should "get ready" for the "new" and "smart" missiles that the U.S. would be using. Some members of Congress have insisted that the president lacks the legal authority to launch an attack on Syria without their authorization. As Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) put it , "[I]f this president can decide unilaterally to bomb Syria, I worry that he can make the same decision about North Korea or Iran or other nations. And these decisions are not supposed to be made without consultation and voting by Congress." Unfortunately, Congressional leaders have shown no signs of wanting to hold a debate or have a vote before the attack takes place.

The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year's strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. There is no provision in international law that allows a U.S. attack on another government without explicit Security Council authorization, and we know that this authorization that will never be forthcoming in this case because of Russia's veto. While the attack is being sold as the enforcement of a norm against chemical weapons use, it isn't possible to uphold an international norm while violating the most fundamental rule of international law.

To date, the U.S. and its allies have presented no definitive evidence to support their claims against the Syrian government. It is entirely plausible that the Syrian government is guilty of using chlorine or sarin against its enemies and the civilian population, but there has been no real effort on the part of the U.S. and its allies to prove their accusation before deciding to act as executioners. Regardless, the U.S. and its allies have no authority to punish the Syrian government, and in doing so they may do significant harm to international peace and security.

A U.S.-led attack on the Syrian government could lead to war with Russia or Iran or both at once, and there is also a danger that it could help set off a war between Israel and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel would not "allow" an Iranian military presence to be established in Syria. The prime minister's threat came on the heels of Israeli strikes inside Syria that reportedly killed seven Iranians serving alongside the Syrian regime's forces. Iran has threatened retaliation for the attack, and it has the ability through Hizbullah to make good on that threat if Israel carries out additional strikes. Israel might use a U.S.-led attack on Iran's allies in Syria as an excuse to strike more Iranian targets, and Iran might then respond in kind with missile attacks on Israel. Lebanese, Syrian, and Israeli civilians would all suffer if that happened, and it would make an already chaotic international situation even worse.

It is a measure of how divorced from U.S. and allied security our Syria policy has become that our government is seriously preparing to launch another illegal attack on a government that hasn't attacked us and doesn't threaten us or our allies. Attacking the Syrian government won't make the U.S. or any other country more secure, and it will likely weaken the government just enough to prolong Syria's civil war and add to the suffering of the civilian population. It is a perfect example of a military intervention that is being done for its own sake with no connection to any discernible interests or strategy. No one stands to gain from such an attack except for the ideologues that have incessantly demanded deeper U.S. involvement in Syria for the last six years.

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, Front Porch Republic, and The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter .

[Apr 13, 2018] No, the FBI's Michael Cohen Raid Did Not Violate Attorney-Client Privilege by Bruce Fein

Notable quotes:
"... Cohen acknowledged that he paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" $130,000 two weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her staying silent about her 2006 affair with Trump. No one pays for silence unless there is something to hide. The payment was made 10 years after the alleged dalliance. ..."
"... The obvious purpose was to influence the outcome of the election by concealing damaging information about Mr. Trump's character. That made Mr. Cohen's payment an undisclosed campaign "contribution" to Mr. Trump vastly exceeding the individual statutory limit of $2,700. ..."
"... Maybe you should have picked an example where the defendant wasn't acquitted. It's easy to see how an expansive definition of the term "campaign contribution" could be dangerous. ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

So what of these charges against Cohen and could they really hurt the president?

Federal election laws define a campaign contribution as "anything of value given to influence a Federal election." It is common knowledge that Mr. Cohen acknowledged that he paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" $130,000 two weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her staying silent about her 2006 affair with Trump. No one pays for silence unless there is something to hide. The payment was made 10 years after the alleged dalliance.

The obvious purpose was to influence the outcome of the election by concealing damaging information about Mr. Trump's character. That made Mr. Cohen's payment an undisclosed campaign "contribution" to Mr. Trump vastly exceeding the individual statutory limit of $2,700.

Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted (later acquitted) for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug. The public record also establishes probable cause to believe Cohen was behind the payment of $150,000 to Playboy Bunny Karen McDougall to kill her story about a protracted extramarital relationship with Mr. Trump that could have torpedoed his presidential ambitions. The question remains, of course, how much this will implicate and hurt Trump, who has denied the affair with Daniels and any other "wrongdoing." Cohen said he paid Daniels out of his own pocket and was not reimbursed by Trump or the campaign.

JK April 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm

John Edwards was acquited on one charge and a mistrial on five others w/o retrial. So there was no conviction there, these actions are not business as usual, and the DOJ lesson from that case should have been to cease such abusive prosecutorial misconduct, not to repeat it. These examples show why campaign finance restrictions are an unconstitutional burden on freedom of association. Trump is a rich man, so could afford to pay the hush money if he believed it necessary without it being a crime. As it appears, Cohen believed it important to pay w/o asking Trump, thinking he's helping a friend. Now what of Edwards? Maybe Edwards couldn't afford to pay hush money, so he needed and solicited help from friends. By making it a crime for friends to help him, the law favors rich candidates like Trump that can afford to do things others can't without breaking the law.

There is zero chance of a jury conviction here, so DOJ shouldn't have pursued it given the incendiary effect of conducting raids on someone's attorney. Furthermore, there's zero chance of Muller getting jury convictions on the pile of horse manure prosecutions he's pursuing. The only convictions Muller is getting is from people buckling under the fiduciary extortion inherent in his tactics and copping a plea even though a jury would never convict them.

curri , says: April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm
So who do we believe, Dershowitz or Fein?

Similarly, Democrat John Edwards was prosecuted for soliciting and spending nearly $1 million in his 2008 presidential campaign to conceal his affair with Rielle Hunter, so this is not a crime normally brushed under the rug.

Maybe you should have picked an example where the defendant wasn't acquitted. It's easy to see how an expansive definition of the term "campaign contribution" could be dangerous.

[Apr 11, 2018] Trump's Rush to Judgment on Syria Chemical Attack by Scott Ritter

Apr 11, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Defense Secretary Mattis. (DoD) On Sunday, President Trump announced his intention to make those responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, including the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies, pay a "big price" for their continued disregard for international law. The next day U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared that "The United States is determined to see the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account."

President Trump reinforced his call for action on Monday, noting that the United States would not sit back in the face of the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria. "It will be met, and it will be met forcefully," the president said, adding that those responsible for the attack will be held accountable, whether it was Syria, Russia, Iran or "all of them together." Trump noted that a decision to use military force would be made "over the next 24 to 48 hours."

The pronouncements of imminent military action by the United States are not made in a vacuum. Russia, which has considerable military forces deployed inside Syria, including advanced military aircraft and anti-aircraft missile batteries, has rejected the allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria as a "fabrication," and promised that any attack on Syria would result in "serious repercussions." Russian forces inside Syria have reportedly been placed on "full alert" as American naval vessels capable of launching cruise missiles have arrived off the Syrian coast.

The United States and Russia appear to be heading toward a direct military confrontation that, depending on the level of force used and the number, if any, casualties incurred by either side, carries with it the risk of a broader conflict. While Russian (and Syrian) claims of innocence regarding the alleged chemical weapons attack cannot be accepted at face value, the fact that the United States has not backed up its own claims with anything other than a recitation of accusations made by rebel groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad is problematic insofar as it shows a rush to judgement on matters of war. Given the potentially devastating consequences of any U.S.-Russian military clash over Syria, it would be better for all parties involved to wait for a full and thorough investigation of the alleged attack before any final decision on the use of force in response is made.

There are two versions of what happened in Douma, a suburb of Damascus home to between 80,000 and 150,000 people. The one relied upon by the United States is provided by rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), a non-profit organization comprised of various Syrian opposition groups funded by the Asfari Foundation and George Soros' Open Societies Foundation , at approximately 12 p.m. the Syrian Air Force attacked the vicinity of the Saada Bakery using munitions believed to contain "poisonous gas." The VDC cited eyewitness accounts from members of the Syrian Civil Defense, or "White Helmets," who described the smell of chlorine and the presence of numerous bodies assessed to have succumbed from gas sourced to a Syrian "rocket." Later, at 7 p.m., a second air strike struck an area near Martyr's Square, again using munitions assessed by eyewitnesses to contain "poisonous gas." Doctors from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) described symptoms that indicated that a nerve agent had been used. Images of victims in the locations allegedly attacked were released by a rebel-affiliated social media entity known as the "Douma Revolution" and the "White Helmets."

Douma is part of a larger district known as Eastern Ghouta which has, since 2012, been under the control of various militant organizations opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In early February 2018, the Syrian Army, supported by the Russian Air Force, began operations to recapture the Eastern Ghouta district. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive was as brutal as it was effective -- by March, Eastern Ghouta had been split into three pockets of resistance at a cost of more than 1,600 civilian dead. Two of the pockets capitulated under terms which had the opposition fighters and their families evacuated to rebel-held territory in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Only Douma held out, where Salafist fighters from the "Army of Islam" (Jaish al-Islam) refused to surrender. On April 5, the situation had deteriorated inside Douma to the point that the rebel defenders had agreed to negotiations that would lead to their evacuation of Douma; the very next day, however, these discussions had broken down, and the Syrian military resumed its offensive. The air attacks described by the VDC occurred on the second day of the resumption of hostilities.

There is a competing narrative , however, provided by the Russian government and those sympathetic to its position. After the breakdown of negotiations between the Douma rebels and the Russian government on April 6, the story goes, the Syrian government offensive to liberate Douma resumed. The Douma rebels, faced with imminent defeat, fabricated the allegations of a chemical attack. Russia had warned of such a provocation back in March 2018, claiming the rebels were working in coordination with the United States to create the conditions for a massive American air attack against Syrian government infrastructure.

Shortly after the Syrian government resumed its offensive against Douma (and after the opposition forces publicized their allegations of Syrian government chemical weapons attacks), the rebel resistance inside Douma collapsed, with the fighters agreeing to be evacuated to Idlib. The Russian military was able to dispatch units to the sites of the alleged chemical weapons attacks and conduct a survey. According to the state-run Russian news, no evidence of a chemical weapons attack was discovered. Representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent who claim to have worked in Douma stated that they have seen no evidence of any chemical weapons use there, either.

Beyond providing a competing narrative, however, Russia has offered to open up Douma to inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons , or OPCW, for a full investigation. This offer was echoed by the Syrian government , which extended an official invitation for the OPCW to come to Douma. On April 10, the OPCW announced that it would be dispatching an inspection team "shortly" to carry out this work. The forensic technical investigatory capabilities of an OPCW inspection team are such that it would be able to detect the presence of any chemical agent used in Douma. While the investigation itself would take days to conduct and weeks to process, its conclusions would, under these circumstances, be conclusive as to the presence of any prohibited substance.

One major drawback to any OPCW investigation is its inability to assess responsibility for the presence of any banned substances detected. In prior investigations inside Syria, the OPCW was able to operate as part of the United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) , an entity specifically empowered by Security Council resolution to make such determinations. The mandate of the JIM was not extended , however, after Russia expressed its displeasure over what it deemed to be the inaccurate and politicized findings regarding previous allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The United States has submitted a resolution to the Security Council demanding that a new investigatory body be formed that would be able to provide attribution for any chemical weapons attack inside Syria; whether Russia would veto such a resolution or allow it to be passed has yet to be seen.

The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons (thereby contradicting the Russian claims that no such evidence was detected by its troops), and if the Security Council passes a resolution allowing for a properly mandated investigation team, actual attribution could be assigned.

Moreover, President Trump's rush to judgment on Syrian guilt is being done in a highly politicized environment, coming as it does on the heels of an FBI raid on the offices of the president's personal attorney . In times such as this, a president is often attracted by the prospect of "looking presidential" in order to offset personal problems (one only need to look at President Clinton's decision in August 1998 , at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, to launch cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan.)

If America is to place its military in harm's way, it needs to be in support of a cause worthy of the sacrifice being asked of those who serve. Giving the OPCW time to carry out its investigation in Syria would allow a fact-based case to be made whether military force was justified or not, as well as support a determination of whether or not the risks associated with the use of force were warranted. Pulling the trigger void of such information, especially when Trump is distracted by personal political issues, is not something the American people, nor their representatives in Congress, should tolerate.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of Deal of the Century: How Iran Blocked the West's Road to War .

[Apr 09, 2018] ISIS is Finished So We Should Leave Syria Now by Gil Barndollar

Apr 06, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Instead Donald Trump's team is inflating the threat, worried he'll rush away from war.

President Trump's unexpected pledge last week to pull U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon" has occasioned predictable wailing in predictable places .

The president also faced unsurprising pushback from his national security team, forcing him to clarify this week that the 2,000 troops there now will stay only until the mission to defeat ISIS, which is "coming to a rapid end," is finished. Of course his military advisors and many of his aides disagree.

A Pentagon spokesman has warned that ISIS is looking for " any opportunity to regain momentum ." Anonymous military officers speak of fumbling the ball " on the two yard line ." Officials tell reporters that while the group is "almost completely defeated," a string of renewed ISIS attacks could signal a resurgence.

Regardless of the outcome in Washington, Trump's instincts on Syria deserve discussion.

Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, the operation in Syria has cost us very little blood and treasure, at least so far. Special operations forces (SOF) and "other government agencies" ably partnered with our largely Kurdish proxies to break the back of ISIS's nascent state. The group's conventional military power has been destroyed. Howev er menacing officials make it sound, it's been estimated that the Islamic State has fewer than 1,000 fighters left on the battlefield. Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands. Areas of ISIS control are tough to even find on a map of the Syrian conflict.

For all these successes, however, we have been walking a knife's edge in Syria ever since openly intervening there in 2014. Deconfliction with Russia has not been flawless: Turkey shot down a Russian plane in 2015 and U.S. firepower reportedly killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries earlier this year. That knife's edge has only gotten sharper over the past two months, as Turkish troops invaded the Afrin region of northern Syria. Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" exposed the elephant in the room: America's only successful proxy, the Syrian Kurds, are linked to Turkey's PKK, which Turkey, the European Union, and the U.S. have declared a terrorist group. Our NATO ally is now openly at war with our Kurdish partner, as American advisors do their best to stay off the frontline. In 2008, Vice President-Elect Joe Biden bluntly told Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai: "Pakistan is 50 times more important for the United States than Afghanistan." The same obvious wisdom applies in spades to Turkey and Syria respectively.

What of the Kurds? If recent reports are to be believed, American Special Forces are incensed they are being told to abandon a valiant, reliable battlefield ally. Squeezed between a revanchist Turkey and a stabilized Syrian state, Syria's Kurds are not likely to keep their independent project of Rojava. The United States declined to intervene to protect Iraq's Kurds last year, when Iraqi forces quickly seized the Kurdish "Jerusalem," oil-rich Kirkuk, after an abortive independence referendum. To pretend we have a greater will or ability to protect Syria's Kurds is folly.

The Kurds should ask Vietnam's Montagnards how they fared as an American proxy, or question the Palestinians about what they've gained from an American mediator . Loathe though we may be to admit it, America has been a fickle friend for the majority of small nations and peoples that have looked to her as a protector. Even many of our Afghan interpreters who served in American uniforms and cashed American paychecks have been abandoned to their enemies . Like a serial philanderer we can pretend that this time will be different, but the reality is that America seldom has the patience or stomach for sustained non-existential military intervention outside our hemisphere, particularly when casualties mount. The victims of pretending otherwise are seldom Americans; they are Vietnamese, Somalis, Iraqi Marsh Arabs, and many others. The current state of political polarization in Washington and the primacy of the 24-hour news cycle have only hardened this long-standing reality.

Left to their own devices, Syria's Kurds can probably work out a modus vivendi with Assad's government, which has other battles to fight and foreign backers of its own who would like to draw down their commitments. Battles between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and Assad's Syrian Arab Army have been few. Turkey has tolerated a Kurdish autonomous region on its border with Iraq -- but it will not do so with Kurds who remain affiliated with the PKK.

Regardless of Rojava's fate, ISIS may well regenerate. It already has the local ties and financial network to thrive as an insurgency in western Iraq. That, however, is a governance and security problem for Iraqis and Syrians, not Americans. The United States maintains an unparalleled ability to project military power and destroy targets around the world, both with standoff firepower and by putting troops into battle via air and sea. Should ISIS or another Salafist successor build any real base of power again in the Levant we can rapidly deploy combat power to destroy it. But staying there any longer remains a fool's errand.

Gil Barndollar served as a Marine infantry officer from 2009 to 2016. His writing has appeared in the Marine Corps Gazette , the Journal of Military Operations , and the Michigan War Studies Review .

Wheeling philosophe April 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm

"I don't like "abandoning an ally" like this, but that alliance was never going to be long lasting, and the Kurds have to have known that."

Yes. As a parting gesture, we could round up some of the louder-mouthed neocons and ship them over to "independent Kurdistan" to spend a few quiet hours with their erstwhile heroes. Let the Kurds vent their entirely understandable anger out on those who lied to and manipulated them with the same glib ease that they once lied to America about Iraq's WMDs.

SteveK9 , says: April 8, 2018 at 9:02 am
'Mosul, its largest city, was retaken by Iraqi security forces, while its de facto capital Raqqa was conquered by the Kurds. Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor are back in government hands.'

I'd like to correct a couple of things, ISIS was destroyed in Syria, by the Syrian Arab Army, and by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Mosuls and Raqqa were not 'retaken' or 'conquered'. They were utterly destroyed by aerial bombardment, which is about the only thing we are good at doing.

[Apr 09, 2018] Trump's Saber-Rattling on Syria by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's statement is a particularly stupid piece of revisionism on his part. Trump was opposed to Obama's threatened attack in 2013 , and then as president Trump ordered an illegal military attack on the Syrian government one year ago to punish it for an alleged chemical weapons attack. ..."
"... The danger in having an ongoing illegal military presence in Syria is that it exposes U.S. forces to unacceptable and unnecessary risks and creates the possibility of escalation with the Syrian government and its allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack on the Syrian government or the forces of any of its supporters, it could easily trigger a larger conflict. Russia has given an explicit warning against a U.S. attack this time, saying that it could trigger "the gravest consequences." Even if it doesn't lead to a larger conflict with a nuclear-armed major power, it isn't worth taking the risk for the sake of policing the conduct of a foreign civil war. ..."
"... If Trump were really interested in extricating the U.S. from war in Syria, he would not be engaged in mindless saber-rattling against the Syrian government and its allies. Unfortunately, Trump's bellicosity always seems to take over in these situations. That is what we get from Trump's anti-restraint foreign policy. ..."
"... But the odd thing is, the most stable and invested country in the region is Iran. Crazy as it might sound to an Iran-hater-dead-ender, the country we should be chatting with about Syria is Iran. If we genuinely cared about anything humanitarian. The two countries with the most likely influence over Bashar with the aim of mitigating his violence would likely be Iran and Russia. If we wanted to actually accomplish something we could quietly and diplomatically arrange that chat and encourage some beneficial influence there. ..."
"... If Assad is really the brute that the West portrays him to be he would have been toppled by now. That the Syrian population by and large has stood by him in 6 years of war should tell you something. I make a point to get most of the news about Syria from Christian organisations who live there – and they are all unequivocal. They are now beyond livid of what the US and its allies has allowed and even facilitated to happen there. Tthankfully for them they still have the Syrian Arab Army and Russia to protect them unlike their brethren in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in existence which has been practically wiped out thanks to America's intervention. ..."
"... Clinton ignored the Russian objections to the West's unilateral recognition of Balkan breakaways. Bush, Saakashvili and the usual entourage of the neocon meddler travelling circus that nowadays haunts the Ukraine dismissed both the Russian warnings and the Russian military response. The result was utter failure. ..."
"... Putin might never see an opportunity for a similarly deadly and promising "play" in the circle jerk of Syria free-for-all invasions – Gulf states, Turkey, US, Israel – but if he should ever see an opening, I would expect him to seek another object lesson. His hand might not be strong, but he appears to play it well. ..."
"... Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG and Syrian government troops ally against NATO partner Turkey, and the US military has repeatedly attacked Syrian regular military and boasts – by leak – about massacring Russian "private military contractors". ..."
"... Iran demonstrated in Iraq that US ineptitude combined with impunitivism provides many openings to stabilize, in a sense, the region. ..."
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The president tweeted this out this morning in response to reports of a new chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government:

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018

Trump's statement is a particularly stupid piece of revisionism on his part. Trump was opposed to Obama's threatened attack in 2013 , and then as president Trump ordered an illegal military attack on the Syrian government one year ago to punish it for an alleged chemical weapons attack. He had no authority to do this, the attack was a flagrant breach of the U.N. Charter, and it apparently failed to discourage the Syrian government from carrying out similar attacks later on. The president ordered the "unbelievably small attack" that Obama administration threatened to launch in 2013, and it made no meaningful difference to the course of the war or the regime's behavior.

Trump tweeted out earlier in the day that "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay." He didn't say what that "big price" was or how it will be "paid," but the fact that he thinks it is a good idea to make threats against the Syrian government's patrons bodes ill for the future of U.S. policy in Syria. The foreign policy establishment was beside itself last week when they thought that Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria, but they should be much more worried that he will launch an illegal attack and plunge the U.S. in even deeper.

The danger in having an ongoing illegal military presence in Syria is that it exposes U.S. forces to unacceptable and unnecessary risks and creates the possibility of escalation with the Syrian government and its allies. If Trump orders another illegal attack on the Syrian government or the forces of any of its supporters, it could easily trigger a larger conflict. Russia has given an explicit warning against a U.S. attack this time, saying that it could trigger "the gravest consequences." Even if it doesn't lead to a larger conflict with a nuclear-armed major power, it isn't worth taking the risk for the sake of policing the conduct of a foreign civil war.

If Trump were really interested in extricating the U.S. from war in Syria, he would not be engaged in mindless saber-rattling against the Syrian government and its allies. Unfortunately, Trump's bellicosity always seems to take over in these situations. That is what we get from Trump's anti-restraint foreign policy.


rayray April 8, 2018 at 2:32 pm

It's true that I'm no genius, but after reading as much as I can and thinking it over I still don't know who is the right horse to back, or what is the right side to be on in Syria. Assad is a brute, Isis are brutes, the other parties of opposition are useless, and etc., and none of it has anything to do with us anyway. To Daniel's point, we're keeping an army hanging around in a volatile and illegal situation for no discernible point.

Except to hate Iran.

The longterm on Syria doesn't look good for anyone. I'm guessing, because of his long history of ignorance and incoherence, Trump has no plan.

But the odd thing is, the most stable and invested country in the region is Iran. Crazy as it might sound to an Iran-hater-dead-ender, the country we should be chatting with about Syria is Iran. If we genuinely cared about anything humanitarian. The two countries with the most likely influence over Bashar with the aim of mitigating his violence would likely be Iran and Russia. If we wanted to actually accomplish something we could quietly and diplomatically arrange that chat and encourage some beneficial influence there.

romegas , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm
@rayray

If Assad is really the brute that the West portrays him to be he would have been toppled by now. That the Syrian population by and large has stood by him in 6 years of war should tell you something. I make a point to get most of the news about Syria from Christian organisations who live there – and they are all unequivocal. They are now beyond livid of what the US and its allies has allowed and even facilitated to happen there. Tthankfully for them they still have the Syrian Arab Army and Russia to protect them unlike their brethren in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in existence which has been practically wiped out thanks to America's intervention.

b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm
"If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line "

Interesting view. Obama imagined he drew a "red line" that Assad was not to cross, and allegedly did. Trump's tongue apparently wore a Freudian slip when he rubi-conned this phrase into twitter.

To make this a turn worthy of Croesumpus, let us just say that if Trump crosses that red line of his own, a great war criminal will be destroyed.

b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

"In early March 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia submitted formal requests for their recognition to Russia's parliament shortly after the West's recognition of Kosovo to which Russia was opposed. [The] Russian ambassador to NATO, warned that Georgia's NATO membership aspirations would cause Russia to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

Clinton ignored the Russian objections to the West's unilateral recognition of Balkan breakaways. Bush, Saakashvili and the usual entourage of the neocon meddler travelling circus that nowadays haunts the Ukraine dismissed both the Russian warnings and the Russian military response. The result was utter failure.

Putin might never see an opportunity for a similarly deadly and promising "play" in the circle jerk of Syria free-for-all invasions – Gulf states, Turkey, US, Israel – but if he should ever see an opening, I would expect him to seek another object lesson. His hand might not be strong, but he appears to play it well.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG and Syrian government troops ally against NATO partner Turkey, and the US military has repeatedly attacked Syrian regular military and boasts – by leak – about massacring Russian "private military contractors".

Iran demonstrated in Iraq that US ineptitude combined with impunitivism provides many openings to stabilize, in a sense, the region.

[Apr 07, 2018] Syria Showdown Trump Versus the Generals

Apr 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

GOP is done April 6, 2018 at 12:20 am

Why are you giving trump so much credit ? Trump is Pro-Israel and will do their evil bidding
polistra , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:15 am
Trump doesn't have any instincts. He's just playing the old DC game. Pretend that you want to do something, then act shocked after you didn't do it. Each party plays the game against the other party, each house of Congress plays the game against the other house, Presidents play it against Congress and the "courts".

===

This game wouldn't work in real life.

Example:

I shout to everyone in the house, "I'm going to the store to get groceries."

One hour later, after sitting in the living room watching TV, making no move toward the car, I shout again:

"See what happens? I tried, but these evil other-party spirits wouldn't let me. You need to vote these evil other-party spirits out of the house so we can have food!"

balconesfault , says: April 6, 2018 at 6:14 am
Huh you elect someone who says his military strategy will always be "listen to the Generals", and are then surprised when the Generals want to keep fighting?

Of course Trump will accede. He has no coherent and consistent policy just Fox News buzzwords spinning in his head. Now add John Bolton as his guiding light.

Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 7:25 am
Mr. Buchanan is correct the U.S. is: "in a country where we have no right to be "
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
The U.S. is in Syria illegally, and what is even worse it is reportedly supporting terrorists.
This is surely a crime, yet no charges have been laid. Why?

"Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i] Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, December 8, 2016,Press Release.
https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
Much more evidence on this and other matters at link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-evidence-of-planning-of-wars.html

Michael Kenny , says: April 6, 2018 at 8:41 am
The important point in Syria is that Putin is irreversibly bogged down there. He sinks or swims with Assad, which means, sooner or later, sinks. He's a sitting duck who can do nothing but sit there and wait until the US chooses to attack him. So there's no harm in leaving him to stew. John Bolton's bête noire has always been Iran, which is supposed to be Putin's ally. Going after Iran will put Putin on the spot. He has to decide whether to back his "ally" or leave Iran in the lurch. Thus, putting Syria on the back burner and concentrating on Iran forces Putin either to discredit himself by abandoning his "ally" or to bog himself down in yet another conflict. Heads, Ukraine wins, tails, Putin loses!
Dan Green , says: April 6, 2018 at 9:59 am
Our military complex is very key to our security. With that said they plan and like war.
b. , says: April 6, 2018 at 10:00 am
On such hollow reed the imperial presidency, uneasily, rests.

The triad's synthesis: ISIS will never be "defeated".

Hubris, catharsis over is.

Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 11:25 am
More info on the treachery and criminality being enacted in Syria
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –

"Our ally Kuwait has become the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria."
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2308.aspx
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -

"Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn't a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world." Justin Raimondo, November 25, 2015
http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/11/24/turkeys-stab-in-the-back/
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

And much more info at the link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-war-gangs-and-war-criminals-of-nato.html

Anthony Ferrara , says: April 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm
The military industrial complex is nearly impossible to go up against in this country.
One Guy , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm
The USA has hundreds of military bases overseas. We should close most of them. Trump is saying the right thing, unfortunately, we all know he doesn't follow through (that NRA thing, that DACA thing, that wall thing, that coal thing, that lock-her-up thing, etc. etc).

Nothing will change.

Cynthia McLean , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm
The War Party is intent on building a permanent military base in Syria to fulfill US aspirations of full-spectrum dominance.
Fred Bowman , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm
Rest assure Pat that when "push comes to shove" that Trump will let the Generals have their way. To believe otherwise is foolishness.
Patrick , says: April 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm
It seems that the failure in Syria is related to the classical policy verse strategy conflict. The military is once again put in a difficult position when the civilian leadership tries to use a military solution to solve a diplomatic problem. The military was given the task to destroy ISIS but that goal will be impossible without Turkey's cooperation and the leader of that country has chosen a path toward appeasement by the United States or confrontation.

There seems to be credible evidence of Turkey's support for ISIS in the flow of combatants and military logistics into Syria as well as profiting from the sale and transport of ISIS controlled Syrian oil through Turkey. Now we are seeing Turkey invading Syria and ethnically cleansing our Kurdish allies from Syria's Northern Boarder. We still don't know what the Obama/Clinton CIA and State Department was up to in Benghazi, but it did seem to involve the flow of arms from Libya, and I have read reports that members of the Turkish government were meeting with the killed ambassador before the attack.

In Syria is appears that the Assad, Iranian and Russian alliance was more focused upon the rebels attempting to overthrow the government; rather than destroying ISIS. Once the United States leaves there may be greater tolerance for ISIS as long as the government is not threatened and ISIS may even be allowed to join that alliance to get some revenge against the Kurds who were allied with the U.S.

We saw the recent Russian test of US resolve using mercenaries with disastrous consequences. As long as the US remains in Syria there will be similar tests and what if is Turkey decides to test the resolve of US forces?

Our NATO partner Turkey seems to have become more of an enemy than a friend, and also more of a liability than an asset. Removing U.S. military assets from Turkey may be prudent, followed by its expulsion from NATO. Expelling Turkish citizens from other NATO countries and economic sanctions may be another strategy to make Turkey reconsider its continued belligerence.

JK , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm
I don't recall anyone forcing Trump to appoint to top positions people who flat out refuse his orders and block him from carrying out policy he campaigned on. There is a limit on how much sincerity you can attribute to a man who says one thing, does the exact opposite, and defend him as fighting some Don Quixotic struggle tilting at windmills.

[Apr 05, 2018] Steve Coll's Directorate S is Disturbing Account of U.S. Mistakes After 9/11 by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages ..."
Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Ghost Wars' author on the secret war behind the war in Afghanistan

U.S-trained Afghan Army troops. Credit: USMC Cpl. John Scott Rafoss/public domain Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll, Penguin Press, 784 pages

Twelve days after 9/11, on the night of September 23, 2001, the CIA's Islamabad station chief, Robert Grenier, received a telephone call from his boss, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. "Listen, Bob," Tenet said, "we're meeting tomorrow at Camp David to discuss our war strategy in Afghanistan. How should we begin? What targets do we hit? How do we sequence our actions?"

Grenier later wrote in his book, 88 Days to Kandahar , that while he was surprised by the call he'd been thinking about these same questions -- "mulling them over and over and over," as he later told me -- so he was ready. President George Bush's address to the U.S. Congress just a few days before, Grenier told Tenet, was a good start: demand that Afghanistan's Taliban ruler, Mullah Omar, turn bin Laden over to the United States. If he refused, the U.S. should launch a campaign to oust him. Grenier had thought through the plan, but before going into its details with Tenet he abruptly stopped the conversation. "Mr. Director," he said, "this isn't going to work. I need to write this all down clearly." Tenet agreed.

Grenier set to work, and over the next three hours he laid out the battle for Afghanistan. Included in the paper was a detailed program of how the CIA could deploy undercover teams to recruit bin Laden's enemies among Afghanistan's northern Tajik and Uzbek tribes (an uneasy coalition of ethnic militias operating as the Northern Alliance), supply them with cash and weapons, and use them in a rolling offensive that would oust the Taliban in Kabul. With U.S. help, which included deploying American Special Forces teams (under CIA leadership) coupled with American airpower, the Northern Alliance (more properly, the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) would start from its Panjshir Valley enclave in Afghanistan's far northeast and, recruiting support from anti-Taliban forces along the way, roll all the way into Kabul.

Grenier gave the eight-page draft paper to his staff to review, then sent it to Tenet in Washington, who passed it through the deputies committee (the second-in-command of each of the major national security agencies), then presented it to Bush. "I regard that cable," Grenier wrote, "as the best three hours of work I ever did in my twenty-seven-year career."

Three days after the Tenet-Grenier telephone conversation, on September 26, the CIA landed a covert-operations team in Afghanistan to recruit local allies in the hunt for bin Laden. The quick action was impressive, but then events slowed to a crawl. It wasn't until October 20 that the first U.S. Special Forces team linked up with anti-Taliban rebels, and it took another week for U.S. units to land in strength. But by early November al Qaeda was on the run and the Taliban's grip on the country was slipping away. On November 13, militias of the Northern Alliance seized Kabul. The Taliban was defeated, its badly mauled units fleeing south and east (its last bastion, in the south, fell on December 6), and into nearby Pakistan, while what remained of al Qaeda holed up in a series of cave complexes in the Spin Ghar mountain range of eastern Afghanistan.

By almost any measure, the CIA-led anti-al Qaeda and anti-Taliban offensive (dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom by George Bush) marked a decisive victory in the war on terror. The U.S. had set out a plan, marshaled the forces to carry it out, and then seen it to completion.

But this triumph came with problems. The first was that the offensive was hampered by Washington infighting that pitted the CIA against a puzzlingly recalcitrant U.S. military and a carping Donald Rumsfeld, who questioned George Tenet's leadership of the effort. This bureaucratic squabbling, focused on just who was responsible for what (and who exactly was running the Afghanistan war), would remain a hallmark of American efforts well into the Obama administration. The second problem was that Afghanistan's southern Pashtun tribes were only marginally included in the effort, and they remained suspicious of their northern non-Pashtun counterparts. The mistrust, CIA officers believed, would almost certainly plant the seeds of an endless inter-tribal Afghan conflict, embroiling the United States in an effort to prop up an unpopular Kabul government. The third problem was Pakistan -- or, more precisely, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, and the ISI's "Directorate S," responsible for covertly supplying, training, and arming Pakistan's Islamist allies, including the Pashtun-dominated Taliban.

♦♦♦

The intractability of these variables, and America's 17-year effort (sometimes focused but often feckless) to resolve them, form the basis of Steve Coll's Directorate S , a thick but eminently readable account of America's Afghanistan misadventure. While Directorate S stands alone as a comprehensive exposition of the Afghanistan conflict dating from 9/11, it's actually a follow-on of Ghost Wars , Coll's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2004 narrative of America's efforts to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan following their invasion in December 1979. Given the breadth of Coll's dual treatments and the depth of his research, it's likely that these books will remain the standard exposition of the period for years to come.

While the focus of Directorate S is on Pakistan and its shady intelligence services, each of the obstacles that confronted the United States in Afghanistan from the moment the Taliban abandoned Kabul is embraced in detail. These obstacles included America's post-9/11 attention deficit disorder (the pivot away from al Qaeda to Iraq was being considered in Washington even as the Northern Alliance cleared the Afghan capital) and the deeply embedded antipathy toward the new Kabul government among Pakistani-supported southern tribesman. Thus, after the United States ousted al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters, it embarked on a program to strengthen the new Kabul government, anointing Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's president and pledging billions in reconstruction aid. And so, or so it seemed, everything had gone as planned. The Taliban was routed; al Qaeda was on the run; a new anti-terrorism government was in place in Kabul; and the United States had signed Pakistan on as a willing accomplice. On May 1, 2003, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat operations in Afghanistan. The war was over. Won.

But of course it wasn't.

Coll's account provides a disturbing catalogue of the U.S. mistakes in the wake of the Taliban defeat. Almost all of them are well known: Hamid Karzai, the consensus choice of a grand assembly (a loya jirga) as Afghanistan's interim president, proved to be a weak leader. The monies appropriated for Afghanistan's postwar reconstruction were woefully inadequate for the task -- "laughable," as one U.S. official put it. American soldiers responsible for countering the Taliban's return (and hunting al Qaeda terrorist cells) were thinly and poorly deployed (and, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, of secondary importance in the Pentagon). Tentative Taliban efforts to engage the United States in political talks were summarily and unwisely spurned. Allegations of prisoner abuse at U.S. detention facilities consistently undermined U.S. legitimacy. American funds were funneled into Afghan ministries laced with corrupt officials. Afghani poppy production increased, despite faint-hearted U.S. eradication efforts. And U.S. counter-terrorism actions proved ham-handed and caused preventable civilian casualties, pushing Afghanis into a resurgent anti-Kabul resistance.

More crucially, Pakistan's unstinting support for America's Afghanistan efforts proved to be anything but unstinting. The reason for this was not only entirely predictable but was actually the unintended result of the American victory. When the Northern Alliance and U.S. airpower pushed what remained of the Taliban (along with the remnants of al Qaeda) out of Afghanistan, they pushed them into Pakistan, creating conditions that, as Coll tells us, "deepened resentment among Pakistan's generals, who would come to see their country's rising violence as a price of American folly . . ." Put simply, for the United States to seal the Operation Enduring Freedom victory, it had to ensure that its effects did not spill over into the one nation that could ensure that its victory would, in fact, be enduring. That didn't happen. The result was that the Taliban was able to rebuild and rearm its networks not only in Pakistan, and under the eyes of the ISI, but also in Afghanistan.

It might have been otherwise. During a series of discussions I had about America's intervention in Afghanistan in the months immediately following 9/11, a number of currently serving and former senior U.S. officials told me they believed that, given enough time, the Taliban might well have handed bin Laden over to the Americans, obviating the need for a full-on invasion. One of these officials was Milton Bearden, a famed CIA officer (his close friends refer to him as "Uncle Milty") who, during his time as a station chief in Pakistan, had helped to head up the CIA's war against the Soviets in the mid 1980s.

♦♦♦

After 9/11, Bearden recharged his Pakistan and Afghanistan networks in an effort to convince the Taliban that turning bin Laden over to the Americans was a better option than the one they were facing. All the while, Bearden kept senior U.S. officials apprised of what he was doing, even as he was attempting to head off their rush to war. Bearden told me that, while his efforts had not reached fruition by the time the Bush White House had decided on a course of action, he believes the United States had not fully explored all of its options -- or thought through the long-term impact of its intervention. "I don't know what would have happened, I don't know," he says wistfully, "but I think we have a handhold in history. We should have seen what was coming." He notes that Alexander the Great "took one look at Afghanistan's mountains and decided against it. He thought his whole army could get swallowed up in there, and he wasn't going to take that chance. So, well, you tell me if I'm wrong, but Alexander was no slouch, right?"

Not everyone agrees with this, of course. The dissenters include Robert Grenier, the first drafter of what became the American war plan. Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he told me, was committed to his pledge to protect Osama bin Laden; he viewed it as a blood oath that could not be broken. Moreover, argues Grenier, "Omar viewed himself as a kind of world historical figure, a person on whom the axis of history would turn." One result was that he believed his fight against the Americans would be epochal.

That said, Grenier believes America's foray into Afghanistan, and the mistakes that followed, might at least have been dampened by a more diligent focus on the inherent divisions of Afghan society. "We [at the CIA]," he told me several months ago, "were very aware that the march of the Northern Alliance into Kabul would likely create real difficulties in the south. And we tried to slow it, precisely for this reason. But events overtook us, and it just wasn't possible. So, yes, things might have been otherwise, but in truth we just don't know."

The value in Coll's Directorate S comes not from the elegant telling of a story not fully known, but from the dawning realization that Afghanistan is the kind of lock for which there is no key. There is no reason to believe that a different outcome would have ensued if other events had intruded -- for example, more personnel, money, focused diplomacy, or robust and disciplined enemy-defeating and nation building; or that our war there and the occupation that followed would have yielded the same results that we realized in, say, Japan after 1945. The real hubris here is not that we tried and failed but that we thought we could actually succeed. Afghanistan is simply not that kind of place.

There is a term of art for this in the military, which found its first usage in Iraq in 2009, when U.S. commanders adopted it as an appreciation of what could and could not be accomplished. Instead of focusing on defeating corruption, inefficiency, disunity, and poor leadership, the focus shifted almost exclusively to dampening violence, to keeping the doors to Iraq open even as its factions battled for its control. More importantly, the adoption of the phrase marked the abandonment of high expectations and an embrace of realism. The United States would have to yield the business of replicating a Western-style democracy on the banks of the Euphrates. That goal, if it was going to be accomplished at all, would have to be realized by the Iraqis.

Analyst Anthony Cordesman, one of America's premier military thinkers, adopted the phrase and applied to Afghanistan in 2012 in an essay he entitled, "Time to Focus on 'Afghan Good Enough.'" His plan was simply stated but had all the elegance of actually working: keep the Taliban out of Kabul and the major cities, preserve the central and provincial government even in the face of endemic corruption, and work to provide security to large numbers of Afghanis. Cordesman conceded that this was not the kind of victory that Americans had hoped for on September 12. And it was difficult to describe the outcome as even vaguely passable -- or "good." But it was far better than adopting goals that could not be realized or embracing an illusion that disappeared even as it was grasped. For the time being at least, it would have to be "good enough."

Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst, a contributing editor to The American Conservative and the author of The Pentagon's Wars .

[Apr 05, 2018] Why the US Fails to Understand Its Adversaries

Apr 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Robert Jervis and Mira Rapp-Hooper warn about the dangers that come from misperception on both sides of the standoff with North Korea:

If any U.S. strategy toward North Korea is to have a chance of succeeding (or even of just averting catastrophe), it must be guided by an accurate sense of how Kim's regime thinks, what it values, and how it judges its options. Washington must understand not just North Korean objectives but also how North Korean officials understand U.S. objectives and whether they consider U.S. statements credible.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is remarkably bad at understanding these things accurately. This is not just a Trump administration failing. Most American politicians and policymakers routinely misjudge the intentions and goals of our adversaries, and they often invent a fantasy version of the regime in question that leads them astray again and again. One reason for this is that it is simply easier to project our assumptions about what a regime must want than it is to make the effort to see things as they do. Another reason is that many of our politicians and policymakers mistakenly think that if they try to understand an adversary's views that must somehow mean that they sympathize with the adversary or condone its behavior. Instead of trying to know their enemy, our leaders would prefer not to for fear of being "tainted" by the experience. This lack of knowledge is compounded in some cases by the absence of normal diplomatic relations with the adversary. Our leaders are encouraged to take this self-defeating approach to international problems by a political culture that rewards the people that strike tough-sounding-but-ignorant poses about a problem and marginalizes those that seek to understand it as fully as possible.

The first step in correcting these failings is to accept that some of these regimes regard the U.S. as an "existential threat" and therefore view all U.S. actions with at least much suspicion and fear as our government views theirs. The next step would be to recognize that the main goal of any regime is its own preservation. We should be very wary of any explanation of their actions that claims that an adversary is irrationally suicidal. Another step would be to acknowledge that regime behavior that we regard as purely aggressive is very often the result of the adversary's belief that it needs to deter our aggression against them. Our politicians often talk about North Korea threatening the entire world with its nuclear weapons, but this misses that in their relative isolation and paranoia the North Korean regime sees the rest of the world, and especially the U.S., as a threat that needs to be defended against. Recognizing these things doesn't make their acquisition of nuclear weapons desirable and it doesn't mean that we approve of it, but it does make it understandable.

Our government's frequent inability to understand how an adversary thinks and what an adversary wants is usually bound up with our government's overestimation of its own power and a denial of the other state's agency. If many of our policymakers invent a fantasy version of the regime to serve as a foil, they come up with unrealistic demands that they think the U.S. can force the adversary to accept. Because we fail to understand what the adversary is trying to do, we make demands that we ought to know will never be accepted. Because our government fails to take the other side's agency into account, our policies are often crafted solely to punish and compel and rarely to give them an incentive to cooperate or compromise. We then claim to be surprised when this approach yields only intransigence and more of the behavior that we want the other state to stop.


Fran Macadam April 5, 2018 at 11:40 am

As long as official policy is Full Spectrum Dominance, nothing can change.
Kent , says: April 5, 2018 at 11:47 am
I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant.
Will Harrington , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:07 pm
Kent

Why do you think it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant? Did our Presidents, who never have to prove merit, only popularity, ever appoint people based on reliably tested knowledge of their field? No. They tend to appoint their cabinet based on political calculation. Sometimes political calculation will raise up knowledgeable people, more often not.

grumpy realist , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm
Welp, this is certainly a different kettle of fish from WWII, where the US government hired ethnologists like Ruth Benedict to analyze Japanese culture and thought patterns (resulting in her book "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.")

We HAVE turned into a country of lazy bastards.

Tyro , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm
I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant

Our highest officials are by design more ignorant than the rank and file. During the Iraq war aftermath, Arabic speakers were actively rejected from jobs within the Coalition Provisional Authority, because it was assumed their knowledge of the region would prejudice them against the W adninistration's vision for the Middle East, and they didn't want nay sayers telling them what they didn't want to hear.

This mindset is persistent, especially in republican administrations, and mirrors the Soviet Union -- people are selected on the basis of their willingness to toe the ideological line rather than their expertise.

Dee , says: April 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm
They are not ignorant, the politicians support these policies because their donors benefit.. They have sold out to greed over country.. I assume that some do it for the easy wealth that can be had, some of the wealthy ones for fame and never losing elections, but they have their reasons, our country is not high on that list.
KXB , says: April 5, 2018 at 3:39 pm
The one exception to this would be Obama's approach to Iran. He had no illusions about the mullahs and IRGC, but he knew that it was simply impossible to perpetually diplomatically isolate and militarily surround a nation of 80 million in its own region. The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world. Of course, this is the last thing that Israel or Saudi Arabia want.
Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm
"The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."

It must have been a bad deal, since the benefits to the other side never actually happened.

It was de facto over from the moment it was signed.

Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:11 pm
"The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."

Which nukes were those? Unlike North Korea, they didn't actually have any.

They didn't give anything up, and we didn't remove the sanctions. Sounds about equitable, nothing for nothing.

Cynthia McLean , says: April 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm
Knowledge of History and Language would help enormously, but the US is so arrogant it expects other countries to merely accept US assertions and to speak in English, on the basis of its supposed Exceptionalism.

[Apr 02, 2018] The Third Bush Presidency

Notable quotes:
"... whatever crony wants, crony gets. ..."
"... Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War motion-pictures ..."
Apr 02, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Never Trump cabal can now claim total victory. Unsuccessful at preventing Trump from winning the nomination or the general election, they have instead co-opted his presidency for their own policies and programs.

With the nomination of John Bolton, Never Trump interventionists have installed one of the unrepentant architects of the catastrophic Iraq War to head the National Security Council.

In recent months, ignoring and rejecting his own party's convention platform, Trump has agreed to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Besides accelerating the deaths of Ukrainians and ethnic Russians while laying waste to the civilian population of the Donbas, what advantage to the people of the United States does this military escalation provide?

Last summer, in one of the strangest speeches in American history, President Trump announced he would surge troop levels in Afghanistan -- and then in the same breath admitted it was a mistake and something he didn't really want to do. That should show the conflict here: Trump's instincts versus the establishment sorts around him.

Never Trumpers are not so secretly celebrating. They got the president they thought they didn't want. And now, pretending they still don't want him, they can hardly believe their good fortune.

Achieving their foreign policy goals is just the icing on the cake. They also got the president to implement the entire Wall Street agenda: lowering taxes on the super rich; advancing huge subsidies to the medical insurance industry; keeping the Export-Import Bank funded; re-authorizing the ivory trade; shrinking the size of national monuments so that multi-national corporations can turn our wilderness areas into strip mines and clear-cut wastelands.

Then, just this week, in a reckless act of generational theft, Trump endorsed the second biggest budget in U.S. history, caving in to every demand and desire of the UniParty and the K Street lobbyists whom they serve.

In the 18th century, the cry went "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute!" Trump's cry is "Billions for defense, but not one penny for a wall!"

Trump justifies his signature on the omnibus bill by claiming it was necessary for national security. But that claim rings hollow when comparatively little is allocated for the protection of America's own borders and the defense of its homeland. Americans intuitively know that the real danger to their safety is not along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; it's along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Trump's own laudable instincts have been neutered by the globalist, interventionist generals and policy wonks who now populate powerful positions at the White House and the departments of State and Defense.

Many reading this might now protest: what's wrong with passing the omnibus? Isn't it providing the funds necessary for making America great again? But Donald Trump did not run for office on a platform of bloating spending; he ran on opposition to massive debt increases and specifically to many of the programs they pay for. The budget can be summed up in a paraphrase of a Broadway musical hit tune: whatever crony wants, crony gets.

Has there been a fiercer critic of the Iraq war than Donald Trump? Yet he promotes to the head of the NSC perhaps that conflict's most vociferous apologist. Trump promised he would end the wars of choice, that he would refrain from taking sides in other nation's internal conflicts. He called for a reasonable rapprochement with Russia with the goal of making America and Americans safer. He specifically said he would wind down the military commitment in Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible.

His only bellicose pledge concerned ISIS, which he promised to destroy. As we have seen, that was one of the few promises he kept. In most other policy areas he has reversed his campaign pledges. His foreign policy is no longer America First; it's evolved into the same, old, dangerous, meddling, interventionist program of the last quarter century. Trump has deepened U.S. involvement in Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan without clearly defining the missions, the goals, and the risks. If voters had wanted this, they would have elected Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

Yet of all the betrayals, the war on nature is the most grievous and shocking. As someone who supported Trump from day one in June 2015, who has seen virtually every one of his speeches, interviews, and tweets, I cannot recall a single word about the national parks or monuments.

Had Trump forecast during the campaign how he would govern on environmental issues, would he have been elected? Could those narrow margins of victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa have gone the other way? With his appointment of Ryan Zinke to the Department of the Interior, Trump needlessly and recklessly alienated tens of thousands of voters who might otherwise have supported him and who may indeed have voted for him in 2016. Although its hard to discern exactly why the president's poll numbers are as low as they are, it would be a mistake to discount the animus engendered by the unexpected assault on wilderness, open space, endangered species, and America's magnificent national monuments.

The only national monument that Trump has failed to shrink is the Beltway swamp. In fact, judging from the continuing spread of McMansions in Potomac, Maryland and Falls Church, Virginia, he has effectively widened its borders. It's as if the chants from all those packed stadiums during that long ago presidential campaign were "Fill that swamp! Fill that swamp!"

It is now abundantly clear why the Never Trumpers are tittering over their cocktails. Trump has staffed most departments of his government with establishment cronies and neoconservative zealots. He now presides over the implementation of their agenda. In effect, we're getting a variation on what could be called the third Bush presidency -- minus the decorum.

Trump's is also the all-talk presidency: talk tough on illegal immigration, but fail to build the wall; talk tough on sanctuary cities, but fail to cut federal subsidies; talk tough on illegal immigration, then push for the biggest amnesty since 1986; talk tough against the Export-Import Bank, then fund it; talk tough on Obamacare, then fund big insurance to keep the subsidies flowing; talk tough on reducing taxes, then screw millions of homeowners across America by actually raising their taxes; talk tough on trade, then tiptoe around Mexico and Canada on everything that really matters; talk tough on the deficit, then sign the second biggest boondoggle spending bill in U.S. history.

Still, it cannot be denied: President Trump has accomplished much -- for the establishment and their K Street lobbyists. They write the bills, Paul Ryan guides them through the House amendment-free, and Trump signs them in to law.

For those who packed those campaign rallies, who wore those red "Make America Great Again" caps, and for the rest of us mere plebs, Donald Trump's presidency is best summed up by The Bard: "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the Civil War motion-pictures Gettysburg , Gods & Generals , and Copperhead .

[Mar 30, 2018] Bolton Is the Opposite of an 'Honest Broker' The American Conservative

Mar 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Sebastian Rotella reports on how many of the people that worked with Bolton remember his tendency to distort intelligence and ignore facts that contradicted his assumptions:

"Anyone who is so cavalier not just with intelligence, but with facts, and so ideologically driven, is unfit to be national security adviser," said Robert Hutchings, who dealt extensively with Bolton as head of the National Intelligence Council, a high-level agency that synthesizes analysis from across the intelligence community to produce strategic assessments for policymakers. "He's impervious to information that goes against his preconceived ideological views." [bold mine-DL]

That assessment lines up with what I understood about Bolton, and it points to one of the biggest problems with his appointment. I wrote this shortly before Trump announced that he was choosing Bolton:

The real danger is that he is such an ideologue that he would keep information from the president that contradicts his views and prevent Trump from getting the best available advice. Trump is poorly informed to begin with, and having Bolton as his main adviser on matters of national security and foreign policy would make sure that he stays that way.

Trump is especially susceptible to being manipulated by his advisers into endorsing the policies they want because he knows so little and responds so favorably to flattery, and he has shown that he is already more than willing to select a more aggressive option when he is told that it is the "presidential" thing to do. We should expect that Bolton will feed Trump bad or incomplete information, present aggressive options in the most favorable light while dismissing alternatives, and praise Trump's leadership to get him to go along with the hard-line policies Bolton wants. Bolton will run a very distorted policy process and he will be the opposite of an honest broker. That won't serve Trump well, and it will be terrible for our foreign policy.

[Mar 29, 2018] The Anti-Liberty Boomerang of US Militarism

Notable quotes:
"... Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, Stanford University Press 2018, 280 pages ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Chad Zuber/Shutterstock Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism, Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, Stanford University Press 2018, 280 pages

Millennials and members of Generation Z have spent much of if not their entire lives at war. As I've noted in these pages and elsewhere , the Afghan conflict is now in its 17th year, with more than 6,000 days having gone by, making it the longest war in American history. I was 12 years old when that war began in 2001; I'm now a month out from my 29th birthday. Beginning next year, the newly enlisted 18-year-olds who are deployed to Afghanistan will be younger than the war they are fighting.

The Iraq war began in 2003, saw a major troop withdrawal in 2011, and then was re-escalated by former President Obama in 2014. American forces remain there today to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, despite an agreement with the Iraqis that was supposed to begin a troop drawdown. An American-led regime change intervention turned Libya into a failed state. And we have blanketed countries such as Pakistan and Yemen with drone warfare, so much so that drones now haunt their citizens' dreams . U.S. Special Forces were on the ground conducting activities in 149 countries as of 2017.

This kind of foreign policy adventurism is hardly unique to the present day. America has been aggressively deploying its military on foreign soil since the late 19th century. As Stephen Kinzer shows in his book Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq , we got our foot in the door of the regime change business all the way back in 1893 with our acquisition of Hawaii.

Living in a post-9/11 world has shattered any inclination to view domestic life as separate from and unaffected by foreign policy, particularly since the 2013 publication of classified NSA documents leaked to the press by Edward Snowden. Snowden's revelations threw back the curtain on an omnipresent surveillance apparatus under which very few aspects of our digital lives were left unmonitored -- all in the name of national security and the global war on terror.

The Snowden leaks demonstrate how an adventurous foreign policy can have negative consequences for liberty at home. Now, political economists Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall have documented this phenomenon in their important new book, Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism . In their words, "coercive foreign intervention creates opportunities to develop and refine methods and technologies of social control."

Coyne and Hall, economists at George Mason University and the University of Tampa respectively, introduce a concept for understanding this phenomenon called the "boomerang effect." It works like this: the constraints on the activities of the U.S. government in the realm of foreign policy are generally weak, which enables those involved in foreign interventions to engage in practices abroad that would meet some institutional resistance on the home front. Eventually, though, interventions end, the interveners come home, and the practices employed on foreign soil are imported for use against the domestic population.

This importation happens along three separate channels. First, there is the development of human capital -- the skills, knowledge, and other characteristics that contribute to one's productive capacity. All companies, organizations, and agencies have goals they seek to accomplish, so they hire people with the right kind of human capital to execute said goals. Foreign intervention is no different.

Among the characteristics necessary for interveners include extreme confidence in their ability to solve complex problems in other countries, a sense of superiority and righteousness, comfort with pushing the ethical envelope, limited compassion and sympathy for the targeted population, and the association of state order with control. Interventionists, as Coyne and Hall put it, treat "society as a grand science project that can be rationalized and improved on by enlightened and well-intentioned engineers."

The second phase occurs when the interventionists come home. Some may retire, but many go to work in various public- and private-sector jobs. The skills and mentalities that served them well abroad don't disappear, so they begin employing their unique human capital domestically. Those who land in the public sector are able to influence domestic policy, where they see threats to liberty becoming manifest. Because of the relative lack of constraints when operating in a foreign theater, tactics that would otherwise cross the line domestically are seen as standard operating procedure.

Finally, physical capital plays a significant role in bringing methods of foreign intervention back home. Technological innovation "allows governments to use lower-cost methods of social control with a greater reach." The federal government spends billions annually on research and development, which buys a variety of different capabilities. These technologies, many originally intended for foreign populations, can be used domestically. One example the authors point to are the surveillance methods originally used in the Iraq war that found their way to the Baltimore Police Department for routine use.

The implication of the boomerang effect for policing doesn't end with surveillance. It can also help explain police militarization, the origins of which lie in the foreign interventions of the Progressive Era, specifically in the Philippines.

In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded its colonial territories to the United States. This led to the Philippine-American War, a bloody conflict that directly and indirectly caused the deaths of 200,000 Filipino civilians, and which ended in 1902.

As veterans returned home from the Philippines, many sought careers in law enforcement where they were able to implement practices inspired by their days in the military. The effect of this was to "establish precedents whereby military personnel and tactics not only would be considered legitimate but welcomed" by police administrations. Police militarization wouldn't kick into high gear until the latter half of the 20th century, with the introduction of SWAT teams and the federalization of law enforcement during the LBJ and Nixon years. The men behind the development of SWAT were veterans of the Vietnam War.

What ultimately creates the conditions for this boomerang effect to take place? One factor, Coyne and Hall argue, is fear. Fear and crisis, both perceived and real, creates "space for government to expand the scope of its powers and adopt the techniques of state-produced social control that it has developed and honed abroad." Fear can lead people to seek assurances from authorities, which goads them into tolerating and even demanding expansions of state powers -- powers that in less fearful times they would not accept.

Once accumulated, that power becomes a normal part of life, and isn't easily given up, as the great economic historian Robert Higgs shows in his classic work Crisis and Leviathan . Anyone who has gone through airport security over the last 17 years understands this, as the fear of terror attacks after 9/11 has led to ratcheted up airline security measures by the TSA. This has resulted in some fairly egregious violations of person and privacy, despite very little evidence that they work.

Coyne's and Hall's book is a great, conceptually holistic investigation into how the state can threaten our liberty. Economists regularly recognize the unintended consequences of domestic policy; Coyne and Hall have explained the unintended consequences of foreign policy, and their costs. It's particularly timely, as President Trump's tenure has seen decision-making authority at the Pentagon pushed down the chain of command, leaving the United States' war-making capabilities even less accountable and transparent. This book is an incisive elucidation of what writer Randolph Bourne recognized a century ago and of which we could use a perpetual reminder: war truly is the health of the state.

Jerrod A. Laber is a writer and Free Society Fellow with Young Voices. He is a contributor to the Washington Examiner , and his work has appeared in Real Clear Defense , Quillette , and the Columbus Dispatch , among others.

[Mar 29, 2018] Giving Up the Ghost of Objective Journalism by Telly Davidson

Highly recommended!
Journalists are always "soldiers of the party". You just need to understand what party.
Notable quotes:
"... 'Fair and balanced' was a mid-20th century marketing tool and really, a confabulation of the times. ..."
"... The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the "yellow journalism" sins of his own papers -- and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph "Citizen Kane" Hearst -- when he launched the prize that bears his name. ..."
"... To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand's professor-mother in Almost Famous might have said, "Objective Journalism" was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. ..."
"... the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles -- made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition. ..."
"... And even then, "objectivity" only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. ..."
"... National Review ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Whether it's MSNBC on the left or Fox News on the right, the editorial decisions of how to spin a piece, where and how often to broadcast it, what kind of panelists you invite to "debate" a story, which anchors should be promoted and which ones will forever remain mere worker bees -- all these decisions are anything but "objective" or "unbiased." ..."
Mar 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

'Fair and balanced' was a mid-20th century marketing tool and really, a confabulation of the times.

"The Yellow Press", by L. M. Glackens, portrays newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as a jester distributing sensational stories in 1910. (Library of Congress/Public Domain) What the Greatest, Silent, and Boomer generations always regarded as the ideal of "objective journalism" was actually the exception, not the rule. That was true from the time of Gutenberg until that of Franklin Roosevelt.

The great Joseph Pulitzer largely founded his namesake prize for the same motives as Alfred Nobel, when the latter tried to make up for the incalculable injuries and deaths caused by the explosives he invented by endowing a Peace Prize. Pulitzer was attempting to atone for the "yellow journalism" sins of his own papers -- and even more, those of his arch rival, William Randolph "Citizen Kane" Hearst -- when he launched the prize that bears his name.

And if Pulitzer repented of his past, Hearst never did -- he went full speed ahead well into the 1920s and beyond, normalizing Nazi science, openly endorsing eugenics and white superiority, and promoting "Birth of a Nation"-like racism against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. His dehumanizing attacks against so-called sneaking and treacherous "Japs" and "Chinks" -- well before Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, and communist China -- were even uglier.

To put it bluntly, as Frances McDormand's professor-mother in Almost Famous might have said, "Objective Journalism" was as much a marketing tool as anything else. It took off not because news neutrality was always enshrined in American journalistic ethics, but because of how rare it actually was. High-minded notions of "fairness" and "objective journalism" came to the print media largely because the visionary first families of the papers that finally succeeded the Hearsts and Pulitzers in clout and cache -- the Ochs-Sulzbergers of New York, the Meyer-Grahams of Washington, and the Chandlers of Los Angeles -- made a conscious decision to brand their newspapers as being truly fair and balanced to differentiate them from the competition.

Meanwhile, the broadcast media (which didn't exist until the rise of radio and "talking pictures" in the late 1920s, followed by TV after World War II) labored under the New Deal's famed Fairness Doctrine.

And even then, "objectivity" only went as far as the eyes and ears of the beholder. The fairness flag was fraying when Spiro Agnew and Pat Buchanan took "liberal media elites" to task a generation ago during the Vietnam and civil rights era, while Tom Wolfe made good, unclean fun out of the "radical chic" conceits of Manhattan and Hollywood limousine liberals.

What today's controversies illustrate is that a so-called "Fairness Doctrine" and "objective" newspaper reporting could only have existed in a conformist Mad Men world where societal norms of what was (and wasn't) acceptable in the postwar Great Society operated by consensus. That is to say, an America where moderate, respectable, white male centrist Republicans like Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford "debated" moderate, respectable, white male centrist Democrats like Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Jimmy Carter.

Now contrast that with today. On November 25, the New York Times made a now-notorious attempt to understand the Nazi next door, running a profile of young suburban white supremacist, Tony Hovater. Transgender social media superstar Charlotte Clymer spoke for her fellow liberals when she savagely satirized the Times with a tweet-storm that included things like:

Bob is a vegan. He believes we should protect the environment. He likes "Big Bang Theory". He pays taxes. He served in the military.

He's a serial killer who has tortured and murdered 14 people. He dissolved their bodies in acid at a remote site. He made them beg for their lives as he tortured them.

He attends PTA meetings. He DVR's episodes of his wife's fave shows when she's late at work.

The moral of the fable being (as Miss Clymer put it): "Bob is a mass-murdering f***head. STOP GIVING BOB NUANCE!"

When the Times followed their neo-Nazi profile by turning an entire op-ed column over to Donald Trump supporters in mid-January, the Resistance went to red alert. And after Ross Douthat penned a column in defense of (Jewish) anti-immigration hardliner Stephen Miller on Holocaust Memorial Day in January, they went full DEFCON.

"F*** you @nytimes for publishing this article on #HolocaustMemorialDay from me & from those in my family whose voices were silenced during the Holocaust. Shame on you!" said Nadine Vander Velde on Twitter. London left-wing journalist Sarah Kendzior agreed that "The NYT is now a white supremacist paper. The multiple Nazi puff pieces, constant pro-Trump PR, and praise for Miller on today of all days is not exceptional – it's [now] the guiding ideology of the paper."

And the current furor over The Atlantic 's hiring of National Review firebrand Kevin D. Williamson only underscores that it isn't just campus leftists or Tea Partiers who are hitting the censor button.

But revealingly, it wasn't just the usual left-wing snowflakes who have needed a trigger warning of late. Just six weeks into the new year, the Washington Post and CNN ran a series of tabloidy, Inside Edition -style stories glamorizing Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The Washington Post even went so far as to call Ms. Yo-jong North Korea's answer to Ivanka Trump (just ignore the fact she is the DPRK's assistant head of the Ministry of Propaganda and Agitation). That led Bethany Mandel of the New York Post to wonder what was up with all the "perverse fawning over brutal Kim Jong-un's sister at the Olympics?"

Additionally, some of the most provocative critiques of "journalistic objectivity" have come from liberal polemicists like Matt Taibbi and Sam Adler-Bell, who argue that before we go on blathering about untrammeled First Amendment freedom and "objectivity," the first question that must be asked is who has the balance of power and whose hands are on deck in the editing room. (And they're not wrong to ask that question -- it was the same one that Pat Buchanan asked 50 years ago and Ann Coulter asked 20 years ago from the opposite side of the newsroom.)

Whether it's MSNBC on the left or Fox News on the right, the editorial decisions of how to spin a piece, where and how often to broadcast it, what kind of panelists you invite to "debate" a story, which anchors should be promoted and which ones will forever remain mere worker bees -- all these decisions are anything but "objective" or "unbiased."

Let's face it: the supposedly more civilized, serious ecosystem of the pre-social media past would come across to identity-conscious Millennials today as nothing more than stale white bread dominated by stale white men. Even among the campus leftists who protest and violently riot to shut down and silence "hate speech," most of them would probably rather live in a world where Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer anchored the nightly news on one channel -- so long as there was a hijab-wearing Muslim or a transgendered man on another, equally highly-rated one.

What would be totally unacceptable to today's young consumer is any kind of return to the mid-century world where "the news" was whatever Ben Bradlee, Johnny Apple, Robert Novak, and The Chancellor/Brinkley Nightly News said it was -- in essence, the world where Punch Sulzberger, Otis Chandler, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw white-mansplained "facts" through their own elite establishment filters, de facto ignoring everyone else.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on. From the left, conservative Sinclair Media is accused of "forcing" its local anchors to read "pro-Trump propaganda." The Nation stalwart Eric Alterman says that "When one side is fascist, there's no need to show Both Sides." As for the right -- just ask your Fox-watching or Limbaugh-listening friends and families what they think of the "mainstream media," the "Communist News Network," or the "opinion cartel."

The great Joan Didion once said "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Maybe "objective journalism" was always just a little social white lie we in the media told ourselves to make ourselves feel better -- fairer, kinder, gentler, more "professional." But if there's one lesson that Barack Obama, the Tea Party, Bernie Sanders, Antifa, Donald Trump, and the Great Recession have taught us over the past decade, it isn't just that the mythical "center" will no longer hold. It's that there may no longer be a center for any of us to hold on to.

Telly Davidson is the author of a new book on the politics and pop culture of the '90s, Culture War : How the 90's Made Us Who We Are Today (Like it Or Not) . He has written on culture for ATTN, FrumForum, All About Jazz, FilmStew, and Guitar Player , and worked on the Emmy-nominated PBS series "Pioneers of Television."

[Mar 28, 2018] The Consequences of Blowing Up the Nuclear Deal

Mar 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spells out what the nuclear deal with Iran does and what withdrawing from it would mean:

Conversely, if Trump withdraws the United States from the agreement, with Iran complying and with our allies clearly committed to its continuation, he will have compromised the most stringent nuclear verification standard ever achieved, with no credible prospect for restoring or improving it [bold mine-DL]. Such a move would hand Iran a political "wedge" dividing the international community, and undercut vital arguments for verification of any agreement reached with North Korea.

Opponents of the deal often claim to be against it because it isn't "tough" enough, but as Moniz explains the deal contains the "most robust verification measures the world has ever known." Withdrawing from the deal means throwing that away for no good reason. If Trump follows through on his threat to withdraw, he will confirm that his complaints about the agreement were made in bad faith. Reneging on the deal just because some of its restrictions expire after a decade or more gives the game away. It gives Iran the excuse to ignore some or all of the deal's restrictions immediately instead of having some of them lifted in the 2020s or 2030s. We're supposed to believe that the gradual expiration of some restrictions is so intolerable that we should throw away all of the restrictions right away. It's a completely irrational position, and so it's obviously just a bad excuse for killing an agreement that Iran hawks never wanted.

If Iran is supposed to ratify the Additional Protocol that it is currently implementing voluntarily. Ratification will make these verification measures permanent, and that will make ensuring that Iran abides by its NPT obligations much easier. Blowing up the deal now would give Iran an excuse to stop voluntarily complying with the Additional Protocol years before they have to ratify it. Sina Azodi suggests that this is how Iran might respond to a U.S. withdrawal:

One possible response to a US withdrawal would be for Iran to declare that it will no longer implement the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This supplementary protocol significantly enhances the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.

Under the agreement, Iran is required to implement the protocol and to ratify it within eight years of the January 2016 implementation of the JCPOA. If the deal collapses, Iran will no longer feel obliged to allow the intrusive inspections required by the protocol or to ratify it. This would significantly reduce the IAEA's ability to monitor Iran's nuclear activities. However, this seems to be a relatively safe option for Iran, since implementation of the protocol is on a voluntary basis.

As Azodi explains, this is the least provocative response available to Iran, and it allows Iran to further divide the U.S. and our European allies, who remain committed to honoring the agreement. It's also quite possible that Iran will follow the U.S. out of the deal to protest the resumption of U.S. sanctions. Either way, the verification measures that make the JCPOA such a strong nonproliferation agreement will be lost.

The verification measures in the deal were so stringent because of the fear that Iran wouldn't keep its side of the bargain, but if the deal dies it won't be because of Iranian cheating. Opponents of the deal have shown that the one truly fatal flaw of the deal was that it contained no provision to make sure that the U.S. fulfills its obligations. Posted in foreign policy , politics . Tagged Iran , IAEA , Donald Trump , JCPOA , Sina Azodi , Ernest Moniz .

[Mar 25, 2018] Trump impulsive, ignorant incompetence can be just as dangerous as sinister purpose -- but it represents a different set of threats

Notable quotes:
"... The Right Man ..."
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

For the time being, Trump's lack of impulse control and self-discipline may frustrate his strongman tendencies at home, but that's cold comfort, given the damage he can do with U.S. military might. In "the most powerful office in the world," impulsive, ignorant incompetence can be just as dangerous as sinister purpose -- but it represents a different set of threats than the ones that most concern Frum.

"Trumpocracy has left Americans less safe against foreign dangers," Frum charges, by which he seems to mean mainly Russian cybermeddling. He spends an order of magnitude more time on that subject than on the foreign dangers Trump has gratuitously stoked with brinksmanship on North Korea.

In the near term, what's to be most feared is the president lumbering into a major conflict with either (or both?) of the two remaining "Axis of Evil" members. Uncertain plans for a North Korean summit aside, that risk may be increasing. As the New York Times 's Maggie Haberman recently explained , Trump "was terrified of the job the first six months, and now feels like he has a command of it" -- a terrifying thought in itself. Newly emboldened, the president wants unrepentant uber-hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo for national security advisor and secretary of state, respectively. "Let Trump be Trump" looks a lot like letting Trump be Bush-era Frum .

In fairness, Frum does seem queasy about all this, but he's awkwardly positioned to sound the alarm. The author who declared that it's "victory or holocaust" in the war on terror and lauded George W. Bush as The Right Man may not be the right man to guide us through the particular dangers of this moment in history.

We may yet avoid a disaster on the scale of the Iraq war, aided by what Frum terms "the surge in civic spirit that has moved Americans since the ominous night of November 8, 2016" -- or God's special affection for fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Perhaps, in hindsight, the Trump years will look more like a Great Beclowning than a Long National Nightmare. If so, we may look back on this period and say, as "43" apparently did of Trump's First Inaugural: "that was some weird shit " -- and give thanks that Trump wasn't as competent as Bush.

Gene Healy is a vice president of the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency .

[Mar 25, 2018] Hawks Always Fail Upwards by Daniel Larison

This is about American Imperialism and MIC. Neocons are just well-laid MIC lobbyists. Some like Bolton are pretty talented guys. Some like Max Boot are simply stupid.
Notable quotes:
"... What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment's regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again? [bold mine-DL] ..."
"... So by all means worry. But the real problem isn't Bolton -- it's a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again. ..."
"... National Review ..."
Mar 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The conclusion of Stephen Walt's column on John Bolton is exactly right:

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to "normalize" this appointment or suggest that it shouldn't concern you. Rather, I'm suggesting that if you are worried about Bolton, you should ask yourself the following question: What sort of political system allows someone with his views to serve in high office, where he helps talk the country into a disastrous war, never expresses a moment's regret for his errors, continues to advocate for more of the same for the next decade, and then gets a second chance to make the same mistakes again? [bold mine-DL]

So by all means worry. But the real problem isn't Bolton -- it's a system that permits people like him to screw up and move up again and again.

There is a strong bias in our foreign policy debates in favor of "action," no matter how stupid or destructive that action proves to be. That is one reason why reflexive supporters of an activist foreign policy will never have to face the consequences of the policies they support. Bolton has thrived as an advocate of hard-line policies precisely because he fills the assigned role of the fanatical warmonger, and there is always a demand for someone to fill that role. His fanaticism doesn't discredit him, because it is eminently useful to his somewhat less fanatical colleagues. That is how he can hang around long enough until there is a president ignorant enough to think that he is qualified to be a top adviser.

Bolton will also have reliable supporters in the conservative movement that will make excuses for the inexcusable. National Review recently published an article by David French in defense of Bolton whose conclusion was that we should "give a hawk a chance." Besides being evasive and dishonest about just how fanatical Bolton is, the article was an effort to pretend that Iraq war supporters should be given another chance to wreck U.S. foreign policy again. It may be true that Bolton's views are "in the mainstream of conservative foreign-policy thought," but that is an indictment of the so-called "mainstream" that is being represented. Bolton has been wrong about every major foreign policy issue of the last twenty years. If that doesn't disqualify you from holding a high-ranking government position, what does?

Hawks have been given a chance to run our foreign policy every day for decades on end, and they have failed numerous times at exorbitant cost. Generic hawks don't deserve a second chance after the last sixteen-plus years of failure and disaster, and fanatical hard-liners like Bolton never deserved a first chance.

French asserts that Bolton is "not extreme," but that raises the obvious question: compared to what?Bolton has publicly, repeatedly urged the U.S. government to launch illegal preventive wars against Iran and North Korea, and that just scratches the surface of his fanaticism. That strikes me as rather extreme, and that is why so many people are disturbed by the Bolton appointment. If he isn't "extreme" even by contemporary movement conservative standards, who is? How psychopathic would one need to be to be considered extreme in French's eyes? If movement conservatives can't see why Bolton is an unacceptable and outrageous choice for National Security Advisor, they are so far gone that there is nothing to be done for them and no point in listening to anything they have to say.

[Mar 23, 2018] Was Destructive 'Slingshot' Malware Deployed by the Pentagon

The rule No.1: do not buy cheap routers. Do not use routers which are supplied for free by your ISP. Buy only from proven companies with good security record. To use your own firewall (a small linux server is OK) is a must in the current circumstances
There is no special value in Kaspersky anti-virus software. all such products can be used as a backdoor in your computer (for example via update mechanism). Using complex and opaque software actually makes Windows less secure not more secure. Periodic (say, daily) reinstallation from trusted image is probably a better way, especially if Windows is really minimized and does not contain third party software that has it's own update mechanisms or such mechanism are blocked.
But attacks on routers is a new fashion and should be taken very seriously as most people pay no attention to this crucial part of their business or home network. In any case a separate firmware is needed after Internet router which now is not that expensive (a decent box can be bought for around $300. For those who know Unix/Linux see for example Firewall Micro Appliance or QOTOM (both can be used of pfSense or your custom Linux solution) For those who don't see, for example, Zyxel [USG40] ZyWALL (USG) UTM Firewall
Notable quotes:
"... Further findings suggest that Slingshot had common code with only two other known pieces of software, both malwares, which were attributed to the NSA and CIA, respectively, by analysts. Though various U.S. agencies are all denying comment, things are clearly pointing uncomfortably in their direction. ..."
"... Malware is not a precision munition, it hits wide targets and spreads out to bystanders. This is particularly disturbing to note if, as some reports are indicating, this malware was Pentagon in origin. ..."
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Slingshot . The malware targeted Latvian-made Internet routers popular in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Kaspersky's reports reveal that the malware had been active since at least 2012, and speculates that it was government-made, owing to its sophistication and its use of novel techniques rarely seen elsewhere.

Those investigating the matter further have drawn the conclusion that Slingshot was developed by the U.S. government, with some reports quoting former officials as connecting it to the Pentagon's JSOC special forces. For those following the cyber security and malware sphere, this is a huge revelation, putting the U.S. government in the hot seat for deploying cyber attacks that harm a much greater range of innocent users beyond their intended targets.

Kaspersky's own findings note that the code was written in English, using a driver flaw to allow the implanting of various types of spyware. Among those mentioned by Moscow-based Kaspersky was an implant named "GOLLUM," which notably was mentioned in one of the leaked Edward Snowden documents .

Further findings suggest that Slingshot had common code with only two other known pieces of software, both malwares, which were attributed to the NSA and CIA, respectively, by analysts. Though various U.S. agencies are all denying comment, things are clearly pointing uncomfortably in their direction.

Cyberscoop , one of the first news outlets to break the story, reported a mixed reaction among officials. Some noted that Kaspersky Labs was simply doing what a security company is supposed to do. Others, however, were less agreeable, suggesting it was an intentional attempt by Kaspersky to undermine U.S. security.

The argument, as far as it goes, is that given the ostensible target areas -- the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan -- Kaspersky should have concluded it was related to the War on Terror and sat on their findings. The Trump administration already views Kaspersky as a sort of hostile actor -- banning the use of Kaspersky products by any government or civilian federal contractor in December, citing Kremlin influence (a charge that has been vehemently denied by the company). This just gives them more justification for seeing Kaspersky as an adversary in the space.

Unfortunately for the Russian company, some American retailers have even followed suit, pulling the software from the shelves on the grounds that it's Russian, and that therefore suspect.

There has been no clear evidence that Kaspersky's software was serving as a backdoor for Russian intelligence, though it was reported last fall that sensitive documents were stolen from a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor's laptop via its Kaspersky-made antivirus software . In a statement at the time, the company said, "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts." Turns out that Israeli spies, spying on the Russian spies, disclosed the intrusion to U.S. officials.

Kaspersky has consistently ranked near the top of antivirus ratings from virtually all third-party reviewers. The company has sold its products to nearly 400 million users worldwide, with 60 percent in the U.S. and Western Europe. Until now, Kaspersky was being used by several major agencies in the federal government, including the State Department and Department of Defense.

Ironically, this new Slingshot issue itself appears just to be a testament to how well the company's security works at digging up extremely dangerous malware. It also underscores the uneasy reality that the U.S. has been engaging in its own brand of cyber warfare all along.

Any claims that a specific piece of U.S. malware -- in this case, Slingshot -- was targeting only al-Qaeda or ISIS bad guys is disingenuous as well. The exploit on routers is hitting an entire region, infecting an untold number of innocent people . Internet cafés are said to have been hit in this, meaning everyone going into the cafes is at risk.

Malware is not a precision munition, it hits wide targets and spreads out to bystanders. This is particularly disturbing to note if, as some reports are indicating, this malware was Pentagon in origin.

U.S. civilian government surveillance is already doing great harm to general Internet security, and does so by remaining in denial about the balance of good to harm that is being done. The U.S. military, by contrast, has shown its willingness to inflict major harm on innocents in pursuit of any war goal. As they start hitting regions with malware, all bets are off on how far it will spread.

Security companies like Kaspersky Labs only afford the private user limited protection from all of this malware, because they're constantly playing catch-up, finding new variants and new exploits that the various pieces of software are using. Slingshot, for instance, went undetected for six solid years .

The discovery means fixes can finally be implemented for the routers and the computers. Novel exploits like this are rarely a one-time fix, however, as a slew of similar exploits from other sources tend to crop up after one gets taken out. It's a never-ending battle.

In August, President Trump made U.S. Cyber Command a formal military command , reflecting the growing view of the Internet as a military objective. Much as America's other battlefields result in collateral damage on the ground, the cyberwar is going to have a deleterious impact on day-to-day life in cyberspace. The big questions are how bad things will get, and how quickly.

Jason Ditz is news editor at Antiwar.com , a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of non-interventionism. In addition to TAC, his work has appeared in Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Daily Caller, Washington Times and Detroit Free Press.

[Mar 23, 2018] Will the Deep State Break Trump The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Mar 23, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

... ... ...

Consider. To cut through the Russophobia rampant here, Trump decided to make a direct phone call to Vladimir Putin. And in that call, Trump, like Angela Merkel, congratulated Putin on his re-election victory.

Instantly, the briefing paper for the president's call was leaked to the Post . In bold letters it read "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."

Whereupon the Beltway went ballistic.

How could Trump congratulate Putin, whose election was a sham? Why did he not charge Putin with the Salisbury poisoning? Why did he not denounce Putin for interfering with "our democracy"?

Amazing. A disloyal White House staffer betrays his trust and leaks a confidential paper to sabotage the foreign policy of a duly elected president, and he is celebrated in this capital city.

If you wish to see the deep state at work, this is it: anti-Trump journalists using First Amendment immunities to collude with and cover up the identities of bureaucratic snakes out to damage or destroy a president they despise. No wonder democracy is a declining stock worldwide.

And, yes, they give out Pulitzers for criminal collusion like this.

The New York Times got a Pulitzer and the Post got a Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep for publishing stolen secret papers from the Pentagon of JFK and LBJ -- to sabotage the Vietnam War policy of Richard Nixon.

Why? Because the hated Nixon was succeeding in extricating us with honor from a war that the presidents for whom the Times and Post hauled water could not win or end.

Not only have journalists given up any pretense of neutrality in this campaign to bring down the president, ex-national security officers of the highest rank are starting to sound like resisters.

Ex-CIA director John Brennan openly speculated Tuesday that the president may have been compromised by Moscow and become an asset of the Kremlin.

"I think he's afraid of the president of Russia," Brennan said of Trump and Putin. "The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things they could expose."

If Brennan has evidence Trump is compromised, he should relay it to Robert Mueller. If he does not, this is speculation of an especially ugly variety for someone once entrusted with America's highest secrets.

What's going on in this city is an American version of the "color revolutions" we have employed to knock over governments in places like Georgia and Ukraine.

The goal is to break Trump's presidency, remove him, discredit his election as contaminated by Kremlin collusion, upend the democratic verdict of 2016, and ash-can Trump's agenda of populist conservatism. Then America can return to the open borders, free trade, democracy-crusading Bushite globalism beloved by our Beltway elites.

Trump, in a way, is the indispensable man of the populist right.

In the 2016 primaries, no other Republican candidate shared his determination to secure the border, bring back manufacturing, or end the endless wars in the Middle East that have so bled and bankrupted our nation.

Whether the Assads rule in Damascus, the Chinese fortify Scarborough Shoal, or the Taliban return to Kabul, none are existential threats to the United States.

But if the borders of our country are not secured, as Reagan warned, in a generation, America will not even be a country.

Trump seems now to recognize that the special counsel's office of Robert Mueller, which this city sees as the instrument of its deliverance, is a mortal threat to his presidency.

Mueller's team wishes to do to Trump what Archibald Cox's team sought to do to Nixon: drive him out of office or set him up for the kill by a Democratic Congress in 2019.

Trump appears to recognize that the struggle with Mueller is now a political struggle -- to the death.

Hence Trump's hiring of Joe diGenova and the departure of John Dowd from his legal team. In the elegant phrase of Michael Corleone, diGenova is a wartime consigliere.

He believes Trump is the target of a conspiracy, under which Jim Comey's FBI put in the fix to prevent Hillary's prosecution and then fabricated a crime of collusion with Russia to take down the new president the American people had elected.

The Trump White House is behaving as if it were the prospective target of a coup d'etat. And it is not wrong for them to think so.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Mar 22, 2018] The Untold Story of John Bolton's Campaign for War With Iran by Gareth Porter

Another chickenhawk in Trump administration. Sad...
Notable quotes:
"... Bolton's high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence. ..."
"... Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration's main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney's backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department's Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs. ..."
"... During multiple trips to Israel, Bolton had unannounced meetings, including with the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, without the usual reporting cable to the secretary of state and other relevant offices. Judging from that report on an early Bolton visit, those meetings clearly dealt with a joint strategy on how to bring about political conditions for an eventual U.S. strike against Iran. ..."
"... Unfortunately, John Bolton is not just your typical neocon pathological liar and warmonger. Even by their abysmal standards he's pretty unhinged. He is one of the most dangerous people around these days. ..."
"... Bolton, Gen. Jack Keane, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and the whole warmongering crowd that frequent the air waves at FOX will not rest until they have us at war with Iran and Russia. ..."
"... So Trump is thinking of hiring a loudmouthed incompetent who is a known conduit for botched Israeli spy service forgeries used to gin up war with Iran. What a sick farce. ..."
"... Bolton is a cancer for the US. As a warmonger, he thrives in hostile environnements so no wonder Bolton wants to create them with no regards for consequences. ..."
"... I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that Bolton was duped by Israeli forgers (very droll story, by the way). You'd think that no serious person would consider giving him a National Security Council post, particularly given the current level of concern about "foreign meddling". ..."
"... I do not agree that Iran could prevent a conventional bombing/invasion of their country. But they could make it sooo expensive, the dollar ceases to be the world reserve currency, and if they do that, they will have done mankind a favor. ..."
"... But after the conquest, imagine the guerrilla war! The US basically had to fight an insurgency from amongst 5 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Iran is much more ethnically homogeneous. So even if you get some minorities to turncoat and work for the occupiers, you are still left with about 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites. That is a 12 times larger insurgency than what you had in Iraq. ..."
"... Bolton and Cheney must have been livid about Stuxnet, for all the wrong reasons ..."
"... Hiring a ghoul like Bolton will mark a new low even for the Trump administration. And that's saying something. These chickenhawk bastards should all be required to fight on the front lines of the wars they push. That was true, I'll guarantee you Bolton would shut up in a hurry. ..."
"... Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to ..."
"... . He is also the author of ..."
"... Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter . ..."
Mar 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Everyone knows Bolton is a hawk. Less understood is how he labored in secret to drive Washington and Tehran apart. By Gareth Porter March 22, 2018

John Bolton (Gage Skidmore/Flikr) In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each time -- in 2007 , in 2008, and again in 2011 -- those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.

But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.

His is not merely a rhetorical stance: Bolton actively conspired during his tenure as the Bush administration's policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 to establish the political conditions necessary for the administration to carry out military action.

More than anyone else inside or outside the Trump administration, Bolton has already influenced Trump to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton parlayed his connection with the primary financier behind both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump himself -- the militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelson -- to get Trump's ear last October, just as the president was preparing to announce his policy on the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He spoke with Trump by phone from Las Vegas after meeting with Adelson .

It was Bolton who persuaded Trump to commit to specific language pledging to pull out of the JCPOA if Congress and America's European allies did not go along with demands for major changes that were clearly calculated to ensure the deal would fall apart.

Although Bolton was passed over for the job of secretary of state, he now appears to have had the inside track for national security advisor. Trump met with Bolton on March 6 and told him, "We need you here, John," according to a Bolton associate. Bolton said he would only take secretary of state or national security advisor, whereupon Trump promised, "I'll call you really soon." Trump then replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with former CIA director Mike Pompeo, after which White House sources leaked to the media Trump's intention to replace H.R. McMaster within a matter of weeks.

The only other possible candidate for the position mentioned in media accounts is Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general who was acting national security advisor after General Michael Flynn was ousted in February 2017.

Bolton's high-profile advocacy of war with Iran is well known. What is not at all well known is that, when he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security, he executed a complex and devious strategy aimed at creating the justification for a U.S. attack on Iran. Bolton sought to convict the Islamic Republic in the court of international public opinion of having a covert nuclear weapons program using a combination of diplomatic pressure, crude propaganda, and fabricated evidence.

Despite the fact that Bolton was technically under the supervision of Secretary of State Colin Powell, his actual boss in devising and carrying out that strategy was Vice President Dick Cheney. Bolton was also the administration's main point of contact with the Israeli government, and with Cheney's backing, he was able to flout normal State Department rules by taking a series of trips to Israel in 2003 and 2004 without having the required clearance from the State Department's Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs.

Thus, at the very moment that Powell was saying administration policy was not to attack Iran, Bolton was working with the Israelis to lay the groundwork for just such a war. During a February 2003 visit, Bolton assured Israeli officials in private meetings that he had no doubt the United States would attack Iraq, and that after taking down Saddam, it would deal with Iran, too, as well as Syria.

During multiple trips to Israel, Bolton had unannounced meetings, including with the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, without the usual reporting cable to the secretary of state and other relevant offices. Judging from that report on an early Bolton visit, those meetings clearly dealt with a joint strategy on how to bring about political conditions for an eventual U.S. strike against Iran.

Mossad played a very aggressive role in influencing world opinion on the Iranian nuclear program. In the summer of 2003, according to journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins in their book The Nuclear Jihadist , Meir Dagan created a new Mossad office tasked with briefing the world's press on alleged Iranian efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. The new unit's responsibilities included circulating documents from inside Iran as well from outside, according to Frantz and Collins.

Bolton's role in a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy, as he outlines in his own 2007 memoir , was to ensure that the Iran nuclear issue would be moved out of the International Atomic Energy Agency and into the United Nations Security Council. He was determined to prevent IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei from reaching an agreement with Iran that would make it more difficult for the Bush administration to demonize Tehran as posing a nuclear weapons threat. Bolton began accusing Iran of having a covert nuclear weapons program in mid-2003, but encountered resistance not only from ElBaradei and non-aligned states, but from Britain, France, and Germany as well.

Bolton's strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.

Bolton was apparently hoping the Iranian military would not agree to any IAEA inspections based on such bogus claims, thus playing into his propaganda theme of Iran's "intransigence" in refusing to answer questions about its nuclear program. But in 2005 Iran allowed the inspectors into those sites and even let them choose several more sites to inspect. The inspectors found no evidence of any nuclear-related activities.

The U.S.-Israeli strategy would later hit the jackpot, however, when a large cache of documents supposedly from a covert source within Iran's nuclear weapons program surfaced in autumn 2004. The documents, allegedly found on the laptop computer of one of the participants, included technical drawings of a series of efforts to redesign Iran's Shahab-3 missile to carry what appeared to be a nuclear weapon.

But the whole story of the so-called "laptop documents" was a fabrication. In 2013, a former senior German official revealed the true story to this writer: the documents had been given to German intelligence by the Mujahedin E Khalq, the anti-Iran armed group that was well known to have been used by Mossad to "launder" information the Israelis did not want attributed to themselves. Furthermore, the drawings showing the redesign that were cited as proof of a nuclear weapons program were clearly done by someone who didn't know that Iran had already abandoned the Shahab-3's nose cone for an entirely different design.

Mossad had clearly been working on those documents in 2003 and 2004 when Bolton was meeting with Meir Dagan. Whether Bolton knew the Israelis were preparing fake documents or not, it was the Israeli contribution towards establishing the political basis for an American attack on Iran for which he was the point man. Bolton reveals in his memoirs that this Cheney-directed strategy took its cues from the Israelis, who told Bolton that the Iranians were getting close to "the point of no return." That was point, Bolton wrote, at which "we could not stop their progress without using force."

Cheney and Bolton based their war strategy on the premise that the U.S. military would be able to consolidate control over Iraq quickly. Instead the U.S. occupation bogged down and never fully recovered. Cheney proposed taking advantage of a high-casualty event in Iraq that could be blamed on Iran to attack an IRGC base in Iran in the summer of 2007. But the risk that pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq would retaliate against U.S. troops was a key argument against the proposal.

The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were also well aware that Iran had the capability to retaliate directly against U.S. forces in the region, including against warships in the Strait of Hormuz. They had no patience for Cheney's wild ideas about more war.

That Pentagon caution remains unchanged. But two minds in the White House unhinged from reality could challenge that wariness -- and push the United States closer towards a dangerous war with Iran.



Stephen J. March 21, 2018 at 10:37 pm

I believe "War With Iran" is on the agenda. I wrote the article below some time ago. "Will There Be War With Iran"? Is it now Iran's turn to be subjected to the planned and hellish wars that have already engulfed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan and other countries? Will, the gates of hell be further opened to include an attack on Iran?

[read more at link below]

http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-there-be-war-with-iran.html

See also: Will the War Agenda of the War Criminals Result in Nuclear War? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-war-agenda-of-war-criminals-result.html

Clyde Schechter , , says: March 21, 2018 at 11:37 pm
Unfortunately, John Bolton is not just your typical neocon pathological liar and warmonger. Even by their abysmal standards he's pretty unhinged. He is one of the most dangerous people around these days.
Procivic , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:35 am
The re-emergence of Bolton is the result of Trump's electoral victory, a phenomenon that resembles the upheavals that followed when an unhinged hereditary ruler would take the reins of power in bygone empires.
Duglarri , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:16 am
There's a big difference between the wars with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and a war with Iran. The difference is, this is a war the United States could lose. And lose very, very badly. As Pompeo remarked, it would take "only" 2000 airstrikes to eliminate the Iranian nuclear facilities. But what will it take to land 20,000 marines on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf to secure the straits, and there fend off 1.7 million Iranian regulars and militia on the ground? How will the navy cope with hundreds and hundreds of supersonic cruise missiles fired in volleys? What about the S-300 missiles that are by now fully operational in Iran?

A look at the map shows that this is a war that the US simply cannot win.

Unless it uses nuclear weapons and simply sets out to kill every last man, woman, and child in Iran, all 80 million of them.

Which I suppose is not out of the question. As all options are sure to be on the table.

Minnesota Mary , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:54 am
"Everyone worshipped the dragon because he had given his authority to the beast. They worshipped the beast also, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?'" Revelation 13:4

Who can fight against the U.S/NATO? Bolton, Gen. Jack Keane, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and the whole warmongering crowd that frequent the air waves at FOX will not rest until they have us at war with Iran and Russia.

wrap , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:43 am
So Trump is thinking of hiring a loudmouthed incompetent who is a known conduit for botched Israeli spy service forgeries used to gin up war with Iran. What a sick farce.
Hanson , , says: March 22, 2018 at 4:58 am
The Boltons, Frums, and Boots of the world never have to fight the wars they start.
Julien , , says: March 22, 2018 at 5:54 am
Bolton is a cancer for the US. As a warmonger, he thrives in hostile environnements so no wonder Bolton wants to create them with no regards for consequences.
EliteCommInc. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 9:03 am
Well, we need the John Bolton's of this world for times in which a uncompromising use of force is required. But I don't need background to know that advocating for wars that serve little in the way of US interests because we simply are not in any "clear and present danger".

Odd that so many "old schoolers" have abandoned some general cliche's that serve as sound guide.

the freakshow (cont'd) , , says: March 22, 2018 at 9:41 am
Just when you think you've heard the last of the various catastrophes, blunders, and odd capering about involving Bolton, you hear that voice from the old late night gadget commercials barking "wait, there's more !!"

I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that Bolton was duped by Israeli forgers (very droll story, by the way). You'd think that no serious person would consider giving him a National Security Council post, particularly given the current level of concern about "foreign meddling".

rta , , says: March 22, 2018 at 10:25 am
I wonder if people will finally realize that Trump was only draining the swamp so he could replace it with a cesspool.
Chris Mallory , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:16 am
"The Boltons, Frums, and Boots of the world never have to fight the wars they start."

Hey now, Bolton's service in the Maryland National Guard made sure the North Vietnamese never landed in Baltimore. Can you imagine the horror if the Russians had captured our supply of soft shell crab?

Esther Haman , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:27 am
John Bolton a 75 year old loser, a has Never-been, which is the mouth piece of the Zionists who keep him on the pay roll. He likes to hear his own voice and to feel important because he wants war with Iran or all the Middle East. He's actions and speeches are all emotional and lack logic and reasoning. So, what is he good for?!
Egypt Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:29 am
Re: "Well, we need the John Bolton's of this world for times in which a uncompromising use of force is required."

Not sure about that. We definitely need Roosevelts and Lincolns, Grants and Shermans and Eisenhowers and Pattons. I'm not clear on what function the likes of Bolton serve.

Kent , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm
This article fails to address the why. Why does Bolton want war with Iran?
Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm
I do not agree that Iran could prevent a conventional bombing/invasion of their country. But they could make it sooo expensive, the dollar ceases to be the world reserve currency, and if they do that, they will have done mankind a favor.

But after the conquest, imagine the guerrilla war! The US basically had to fight an insurgency from amongst 5 million Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Iran is much more ethnically homogeneous. So even if you get some minorities to turncoat and work for the occupiers, you are still left with about 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites. That is a 12 times larger insurgency than what you had in Iraq.

And if the Iranians had any sense RIGHT NOW, they would make sure every family had a stock of 10 powerful anti-vehicle mines, REALLY powerful mines. Make sure all are safely buried with locations memorized. And make sure everyone had the training to use them, even older children (who will be the front-line guerrillas in 5 years).

So if that devil Bolton gets his way, his own country will pay a price too, and deservedly too. I want my country to be peaceful and friendly to the world like the Germans are now. But it may take the same type of "WWII treatment" to get my hateful war-loving countrymen to walk away from their sin.

Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:47 pm
The guerrilla war in Iraq was fought against only 5 million Sunni Arabs, the US occupiers having successfully pealed away the Kurds and Shia to be collaborators, or at least stay uninvolved with the insurgency.

But Iran is not just bigger than Iraq, but much more ethnically and religiously homogeneous. Imagine what kind of insurgency you might get from 60 million ethnically Persian Shiites?

My advice to the Iranians RIGHT NOW is to mass-produce the most lethal anti-vehicle mines possible and distribute them to the entire civilian population. Train everyone how to use them, then once trained, bury maybe 20 mines per family, all in known but hidden locations.

THAT will stop the Bolton/Zionist plan dead in its tracks.

b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm
"Why does Bolton want war with Iran?"

Maybe it was a career-enhancing move. It is a legitimate question, along with "follow the money"? Regardless of why sociopaths like Keith Payne or John Bolton become obsessed with "winning nuclear war" or "bombing Iran" . How do they make a living? Who would bankroll somebody – over many decades – to not just consider or plan, but actively provoke illegal acts of aggressive war, against declared policy of the government and the demands of the Constitution they have sworn an oath to uphold?

It is also educational to see that the fabrications and other "war-program related activities" in regards to Iran resemble the same stovepipelines that provide the Iraq 2003 pretexts – with Powell reprising his role as useful idiot – which clashes badly with the "blunder" narrative that anybody in the US government actually believed Iraq had WMD – was beyond "the point of no return".

This also bodes ill for a Bolton-formulated policy on Korea, and any "National Security Advice" he would see fit to fabricate and feed to the Bomber In Chief.

Furthermore, we learn just how unhinged Cheney et.al. really were – expecting Iraq to be a mere stepping stone along their adventures on the "Axis of Evil" trail. If these are our gamblers, nobody would suspect them of counting cards.

b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Bolton and Cheney must have been livid about Stuxnet, for all the wrong reasons
PAX , , says: March 22, 2018 at 2:49 pm
We must look into our very national soul and ask why are we entertaining a war with Iran? The answer is clear. It is to further the goals of a fanatical, right-wing, group of Zionists. When a truthful history is written about this era of endless wars, the errant and disgraceful behavior of this group will be clearly identified and they will not have anywhere to hide. You may fool some of the folks, some of the time, but not all the folks, all of the time.
Buzz Man , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:21 pm
Hiring a ghoul like Bolton will mark a new low even for the Trump administration. And that's saying something. These chickenhawk bastards should all be required to fight on the front lines of the wars they push. That was true, I'll guarantee you Bolton would shut up in a hurry.
marvin , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm
John "FIVE DEFERMENTS" Bolton is a filthy yellow bellied coward. Drag her/him to Afghanistan amd make IT serve in the Front Lines for the duration.
Tulsa Ron , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:43 pm
Israel and the Zionists are exactly the "foreign entanglements" that George Washington warned us about. Bolton is a neocon-Zionist who wants the United States blood and taxes to ensure Israel's dominance of the Middle East.
Jeeves , , says: March 22, 2018 at 5:14 pm
So Gareth Porter cites his own Truthout article as authority for the assertion that the "laptop documents" are fabrications. Most of the cited article seems to be devoted to "Curveball", the impeached source of Iraqi intelligence, in order to prop up the bona fides of the German who claims the Iranian intelligence is a forgery. Any other sourcing for this allegation available?

Judging from a quick look at what else Truthout has on offer, I'm not sure about the credibility of Mr. Porter.

pirouz moghaddam , , says: March 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm
Thank you Mr. Porter for your insightful and intelligent articles, being that I am from Iran Originally brings tears to my eyes to even imagine such tragedy, I pray this will never happen. Having lived in America more than half of my life and having children that are Americans makes these thoughts even more horrifying . I am however thankful to read all the comments from so many intelligent , decent and true Americans and that gives me hope that such disaster will not take place. The people of Iran are decent and kind and cultured , I am hopeful that they will find their way and bring about a true democracy soon and again become a positive force to the humanity.
Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to TAC . He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare . Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter .

[Mar 21, 2018] It's strange that British police did not find balalaika on the scene. Replay of Iraq WDM hoax on a new level

First of all British did have the poison they detected. Otherwise they would be unable to detect "Novichok" (if there was such substance and this is not just a myth).
Notable quotes:
"... Pat asks, Cui bono? I would say rogue players in the deep state right here in the US along with their brethren in the military/industrial/intelligence complex. ..."
"... Of course, that makes me a conspiracy theorist. But I actually saw war as a young man based upon lies. By the way, in the lead-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, I told people at work that this war would eventually rival the military blunder in Vietnam. The propaganda reminded me so much of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. They all laughed at me and essentially said I was an old Vietnam veteran living in the past. They aren't laughing now. ..."
Mar 21, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

g e hoeflinger March 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm

"We went to war in Iraq in 2003 to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction we later discovered Saddam Hussein did not really have."

Which was known at the time, but was trumped up to give GWB and excuse foir a fast war at election time.

George Hoffman , , March 21, 2018 at 8:27 am
I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam and ever since then I have been a card-carrying skeptic of my own country. But I saw the human face of a war based upon lies and propaganda that became the worst foreign policy debacle in our nation's history. If we would get into a shooting war over this affair, we would have to bring back the draft to prosecute this war against Russia. Then the proverbial "merde" would definitely hit the fan.

And when Kim Sung Un assassinated his half-brother in Malaysia, the VX nerve agent was used. The UK invented this agent in the 1950s at its government laboratory. But not one nation blamed Great Britain as the culprit.

Pat asks, Cui bono? I would say rogue players in the deep state right here in the US along with their brethren in the military/industrial/intelligence complex.

Of course, that makes me a conspiracy theorist. But I actually saw war as a young man based upon lies. By the way, in the lead-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, I told people at work that this war would eventually rival the military blunder in Vietnam. The propaganda reminded me so much of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. They all laughed at me and essentially said I was an old Vietnam veteran living in the past. They aren't laughing now.

[Mar 20, 2018] American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism.

Notable quotes:
"... It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
Mar 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Banger , March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am

American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

[Mar 19, 2018] Gina Haspel As If Nuremberg Never Happened

Notable quotes:
"... I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. ..."
"... Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power. ..."
"... American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy." ..."
"... Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious. ..."
"... There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government. ..."
"... If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!" ..."
"... I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them. ..."
"... She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect. ..."
"... furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition? ..."
"... Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words. ..."
Mar 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations -- one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants -- than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA.

Haspel oversaw the torture of human beings in Thailand as the chief of a CIA black site in 2002. Since then, she's worked her way up to deputy director at the CIA. With current director Mike Pompeo slated to move to Foggy Bottom, President Donald Trump has proposed Haspel as the Agency's new head.

Haspel's victims waiting for death in Guantanamo cannot speak to us, though they no doubt remember their own screams as they were waterboarded. And we can still hear former CIA officer John Kiriakou say : "We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information."

It was Kiriakou who exposed the obsessive debate over the effectiveness of torture as false. The real purpose of torture conducted by those like Gina Haspel was to seek vengeance, humiliation, and power. We're just slapping you now, she would have said in that Thai prison, but we control you, and who knows what will happen next, what we're capable of? The torture victim is left to imagine what form the hurt will take and just how severe it will be, creating his own terror.

Haspel won't be asked at her confirmation hearing to explain how torture works, but those who were waterboarded under her stewardship certainly could.

I met my first torture victim in Korea, where I was adjudicating visas for the State Department. Persons with serious criminal records are ineligible to travel to the United States, with an exception for dissidents who have committed political crimes. The man I spoke with said that under the U.S.-supported military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee he was tortured for writing anti-government verse. He was taken to a small underground cell. Two men arrived and beat him repeatedly on his testicles and sodomized him with one of the tools they had used for the beating. They asked no questions. They barely spoke to him at all.

Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, he said the subsequent humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what really affected his life. It destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again. The men who destroyed him, he told me, did their work, and then departed, as if they had others to visit and needed to get on with things. He was released a few days later and driven back to his apartment by the police. A forward-looking gesture.

The second torture victim I met was while I was stationed in Iraq. The prison that had held him was under the control of shadowy U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Inside, masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said they neither asked him questions nor demanded information. They did whip his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys. They slapped him. They broke the bones in his right foot with a steel rod, a piece of rebar ordinarily used to reinforce concrete.

It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What destroyed him was the feeling of utter helplessness, the inability to control things around him as he once had. He showed me the caved-in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves.

Gina Haspel is the same as those who were in the room with the Korean. She is no different than those who tormented the Iraqi.

As head of a black site, Haspel had sole authority to halt the questioning of suspects, but she allowed torture to continue. New information and a redaction of earlier reporting that said Haspel was present for the waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah (she was actually the station chief at the black site after those sessions) makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners there, but pay it little mind. The confusion arises from the government's refusal to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. So many records have yet to be released and those that have been are heavily redacted. Then there are the tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding, which Haspel later pushed to have destroyed.

Arguing over just how much blood she has in her hands is a distraction from the fact that she indeed has blood on her hands.

Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remained classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes.

Obama ignored the truth that sees former Nazis continue to be hunted some 70 years after the Holocaust: that those who do evil on behalf of a government are individually responsible. "I was only following orders" is not a defense of inhuman acts. The purpose of tracking down the guilty is to punish them, to discourage the next person from doing evil, and to morally immunize a nation-state.

To punish Gina Haspel "more than 15 years later for doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders, would be a travesty and a disgrace," claims one of her supporters. "Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well," said Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA during the height of the Iraq war from 2006-2009.

Influential people in Congress agree. Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will soon review Haspel's nomination, said , "I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies."

"She'll have to answer for that period of time, but I think she's a highly qualified person," offered Senator Lindsey Graham. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson defended Haspel's actions, saying they were "the accepted practice of the day" and shouldn't disqualify her.

His fellow Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, signaled her likely acceptance, saying , "Since my concerns were raised over the torture situation, I have met with her extensively, talked with her She has been, I believe, a good deputy director." Senator Susan Collins added that Haspel "certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee of the agency." John McCain, a victim of torture during the Vietnam War, mumbled only that Haspel would have to explain her role.

Nearly alone at present, Republican Senator Rand Paul says he will oppose Haspel's nomination. Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, have told Trump she is unsuitable and will likely also vote no.

Following World War II, the United States could have easily executed those Nazis responsible for the Holocaust, or thrown them into some forever jail on an island military base. It would have been hard to find anyone who wouldn't have supported brutally torturing them at a black site. Instead, they were put on public trial at Nuremberg and made to defend their actions as the evidence against them was laid bare. The point was to demonstrate that We were better than Them.

Today we refuse to understand what Haspel's victims, and the Korean writer, and the Iraqi insurgent, already know on our behalf: unless Congress awakens to confront this nightmare and deny Gina Haspel's nomination as director of the CIA, torture will have transformed us and so it will consume us. Gina Haspel is a torturer. We are torturers. It is as if Nuremberg never happened.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan. He tweets @WeMeantWell.


Douglas K. March 19, 2018 at 3:19 am

Covering up torture is quite possibly the worst thing Obama did. (I'd put it neck-and-neck with targeted killing.) This nation desperately needs a president who will expose all of these horrors, and appoint an attorney general who will prosecute these acts as war crimes.
I Don't Matter , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
Trump likes waterboarding. He said so himself. One assumes he meant, being a whimpering coward himself, when someone else does it to someone else. But who knows? Enjoy judge Gorsuch.
Mark Thomason , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:49 am
"doing what her country asked her to do, and in response to what she was told were lawful orders"

To complete the parallel, we would need to prosecute and punish those who asked her to do it, and those who told her those orders were lawful. Instead, some are doing paintings of their toes, some are promoted to be Federal judges, and some are influential professors at "liberal" law schools. Why punish *only* her?

Peter Hopkins , says: March 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.
Ian , says: March 19, 2018 at 7:10 am
As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them.
Bagby , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:00 am
I was not in the least surprised at reports that a known torturer was slated to head the CIA, and I expected quick confirmation. Such is my opinion of our ruling classes. I am in full support of Mr. Van Buren's thesis. However, Pro Publica, which seems to have been the source of much reporting of Haspel's torture record, has retracted the claim that Haspel had tortured in Thailand. Mr. Van Buren quotes another source from his blog that supports the thesis that Haspel is a torturer. How does one know what to believe? Whatever Haspel may be, we can be sure the CIA will continue to torture, detain people without charge, assassinate and terrorize with its own drone force, and cause mayhem around the world and at home. No one can be trusted with the Ring of Power.
Centralist , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:19 am
Its because we lost our sense of what makes us who we are. We are an empire that dances for private interests. In Rome they were called families and led by patricians, they had money private guards, gladiators, and even street people supporting them. In the Modern USA they are called Interest Groups and/or Corporations. They are lead by CEOs and instead of gladiators they have Lawyers. Our being better matters less then their own squabbles which is why a torturer could reach the highest seat in intel. The majority of Americans have lost their sense of being Americans instead they are Republicans, Democrats, etc, etc. Things that once use to be part of an American have come to define us.
Banger , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:09 am
American Exceptionalism is perhaps the most toxic ideology since Nazism and Stalinism. It says that the United States is always virtuous even when it tortures, when it bombs towns, villages, cities in the name of "freedom or installs dictators, military governments, trains torturers, and, yes, rapes and loots in the name of "democracy."

At least this appointment along with the election of Trump shows the true face of the United States in international affairs. When we face the fact we are (a) an oligarchy and (b) a brutal Empire we might have a chance to return to something more human. Few readers, even of TAC, will want to look at our recent history of stunning brutality and lack of interest in even being in the neighborhood of following international law.

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am
CIA has purposefully refused to disclose Haspel's role for a decade+ They have selectively released information last week to discredit those criticizing her. I don't think we should play their game, letting them set the agenda. Instead, I declaim torture itself and any role she played in it, whether she poured the water or kept the books.
Kurt Gayle , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:34 am
Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of the CIA's Haspel put him at risk?

In the 2003 film "Love Actually" the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) jokes with a Downing Street employee Natalie (Martine McCutcheon):

"PM: You live with your husband? Boyfriend, three illegitimate but charming children? –
"NATALIE: No, I've just split up with my boyfriend, so I'm back with my mum and dad for a while.
"PM: Oh. I'm sorry.
"NATALIE: No, it's fine. I'm well shot of him. He said I was getting fat.
"PM: I beg your pardon?
"NATALIE: He said no one's going to fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks. Not a nice guy, actually, in the end.
"PM: Right You know, being Prime Minister, I could just have him murdered.
"NATALIE: Thank you, sir. I'll think about it.
"PM: Do – the SAS are absolutely charming – ruthless, trained killers are just a phone call away."

It's just a film. It's just a joke. But the joke works because the public knows that – in reality – the security services have the skills-sets and the abilities, to do damage anyone they want to do damage to -- and to probably get away with it.

Fast forward to January, 2017 and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer telling MSNBC's Rachael Maddow that President-elect Donald Trump is "being really dumb" by criticizing the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia's cyber activities: Shumer: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you, So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he's being really dumb to do this." No, Shumer wasn't joking. He was serious.

Fast forward again to yesterday, March 17, 2018: Former CIA Director John Brennan wasn't joking when he reacted to the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe -- and President Donald Trump's tweeted celebration of it -- by tweeting this attack against Trump:

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America America will triumph over you."

Obama UN Representative Samantha Power followed up on the Brennan tweet with this:

"Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan."

When public officials and former public officials -- like Shumer, Brennan and Power -- make such public statements it must necessarily have a chilling effect on public criticism of the security services.

After all, none of the three are joking. They're serious. And the American people know that they're serious.

Does Peter Van Buren's criticism of CIA operative Haspel put him at risk?

Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
New information makes it less clear whether Haspel oversaw the torture of all of the prisoners at her black site, but pay it little mind. The confusion is because the government refuses to tell us what Haspel actually did as a torturer. Arguing over just how much blood she has on her hands is a distraction when she indeed has blood on her hands.

The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency. If the Agency wishes to clarify her role, as was done via trial for the various Nazis at Nuremberg, we can deal with her actions more granularly.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
Since we have not had any more successful attacks on the scale of 9-11, it is very easy to be scrupulous regarding rough treatment of terrorists.

But if we had suffered a dozen or more such attacks, of increasing magnitude and maybe involving nuclear weapons, how many of you would still be condemning Mrs Haspel et al.? Or would you then be complaining they had not used water-boarding enough?

The 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, was caught weeks before 9-11. Investigators figured out he was up to no good, tried to get permission to search his computer, but were denied. The U.S. Government carefully protected his privacy rights. So are you pleased with the outcome, Mr van Buren?

furbo , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
I'm sorry – this whole piece is a massive non sequitur. Ms. Haspel has no 'blood' on her hands as US extreme interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, uncomfortable positions, waterboarding) didn't draw any. They are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones. US techniques might have been bad policy – won't argue – but lets not fall for a false equivalency.

Ms. Haspel was an agent of her government, acting on it's orders under it's policies and guidelines. Which leads to

Nuremberg. The Nuremberg tribunals (they were military tribunals – not trials) were conducted by a victorious military force against a defeated military force. They were widely criticized as vengeance even by such august people as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Stone and associate Justice Douglas. There won't be a 'Nuremberg' tribunal because Al Qaida didn't defeat the United States, and you'd have to convict not just Ms. Haspel, but a sizeable portion of the U.S. Government.

And lastly there's this from a comment of the authors: "The idea is her participation on any level at the black site is sufficient to disqualify her from heading the Agency." Utter nonsense. That was the mission of the Agency at that time. It's like saying a 33yr old Drone Pilot who takes out an ISIS/Al Qaida operative as well as 15 civilians is disqualified to be the Sec Def 2 decades later.

Just stop.

Sid Finster , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am

If nothing else, the appointment of Bloody Gina as CIA head finally drives a wooden stake through the heart of the myth that "we're The Good Guys(tm)!" or its cousin "all we gotta do is elect Team D and we can be The Good Guys(R) again!"

We demonize Russia at every opportunity, but I don't see Russia rewarding torturers by appointing them to high office.

Sally Stewart , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
Douglas K. What are you talking about? Covered up? You mean Bush http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/175/end-the-use-of-torture/
Stephen J. , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:12 am
A lot of info below on the War criminals at large.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
May 26, 2015 Do We Need Present Day Nuremberg Trials? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/do-we-need-present-day-nuremberg-trials.html

And

March 9, 2018 Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html

connecticut farmer , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am
I didn't know too much about this woman's background until I read that Rand Paul opposes her nomination. I tend to take notice whenever Rand Paul holds forth on any subject. All I can say is that if her actual record even approximates what has been alleged, then this woman is unfit for the post–Nuremberg or no Nuremberg.
Winston , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:54 am
"As we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them." Oh, -PLEASE-, spare us the hyperbole! WE burn alive captives held in cages? WE saw off their heads?

Thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs.

Lex Talionis , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm
All of the torturers should be brought to justice. So should all of the officials who ordered or authorized torture.

There is no statute of limitations on capital Federal crimes. For a U.S. citizen to kill via torture is a capital Federal crime, no matter where the torture took place. If statutes of limitations make it too late to prosecute some acts of torture, it is not too late to bring about some measure of justice by making torturers pariahs. As many sexual harassers have recently learned, there is no statute of limitations in the court of public opinion.

bob sykes , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
The story linking her to torture has been formally retracted. She had nothing to do with torture anywhere. How about a retraction of this story and an apology.
Youknowho , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm
I do not know whether to admire Mr. van Buren's idealism or be astonished at his naivete. Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence? People in Latin America know better than to believe the U.S. protestations of virtue. They know about torturers, and the U.S. support for them.

Personally, I prefer that the cruelty should be, as Lincoln once put it, "unalloyed by the base metal of hypocrisy"

Tyrone Slothrop , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
bob sykes: you should read Pro Publica's retraction ( https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture ) of the claim that Haspel was in charge of the Thai black site when Abu Zubaydeh was tortured. She was put in charge there not long after and oversaw the waterboarding of at least one prisoner, and later followed orders to destroy the tapes of waterboarding at that site. Your claim that " She had nothing to do with torture anywhere" is incorrect.

Winston: why do you suppose "thousands of US Navy and Air Force pilots have been waterboarded as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) training programs"? Is it not to prepare them for the possibility of what we call torture when used by our adversaries?

furbo: your contention that " US extreme interrogation techniques are not equivalent to forcible sodomy, beating the genitals, pounding the kidneys, or breaking bones" is wrong. The UN Convention against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, states " For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person " Ask anyone who has been waterboarded whether that fits the official definition?

Near Rockaway , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm
"Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence?"

Evil stuff. And we're still paying for it. Keeping Haspel out of the Director's chair is a basic step toward avoiding more such needless, stupid evil.

Chris Mallory , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Wilfred, the problem was not that the Feds protected Zacarias Moussaoui's right to privacy. The problem is that it let any of the 20 Arab Muslims into the US in the first place. Closing our borders and mass deportations would have been the best thing to do in the aftermath of 9/11, not torture and invasions.
b. , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Very well put. Lest we forget: Bush also delivered the stern warning that "war crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished, and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'."

Ceterum censeo: given that the Iraq invasion and occupation was an act of aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter and thus illegal under US law, it is not just torturers but also war criminals in government and general staff that have to be considered in the contexts of these words.

Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Chris Mallory (Mar 19 @1:47 p.m.), I agree with you. We shouldn't be letting them in.

But if someone had sneaked-a-peek at Moussaoui's laptop during the 3 weeks they had him before 9-11, we might have been able to thwart the attack altogether. (And the Press has been strangely incurious about investigating whoever it was who issued the injunction protecting Moussie's precious computer). This type of hand-wringing cost us 3,000 lives. Even more, considering the Afghan & 2nd Iraq wars would never have been launched, were it not for 9-11.

[Mar 18, 2018] Pompeo's All-or-Nothing View of Diplomacy by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Iran yielded a great deal, but they were never going to give up their entire nuclear program. That is not just because Iran is permitted to have such a program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also because Iran had already invested so many resources at significant cost that retaining some part of it was a matter of national pride. ..."
Mar 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Uri Friedman reviews Mike Pompeo's hard-line foreign policy views. Here he quotes Pompeo's criticism of the negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal with Iran:

The Obama administration failed to take "advantage of crushing economic sanctions to end Iran's nuclear program," he declared when the deal was struck. "That's not foreign policy; it's surrender."

Pompeo's statement is ridiculous, but it does provide us with a useful window into how he understands foreign policy issues. Like many other Iran hawks, he opposes the nuclear deal because it "failed" to bring an end to Iran's nuclear program. He dubs Iran's major concessions on the nuclear issue as "surrender" by the U.S. because they were not forced to give up absolutely everything. That reflects the absurd all-or-nothing view of diplomacy that prevails among hard-line critics of the JCPOA.

Iran yielded a great deal, but they were never going to give up their entire nuclear program. That is not just because Iran is permitted to have such a program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also because Iran had already invested so many resources at significant cost that retaining some part of it was a matter of national pride. If the Obama administration had insisted on the elimination of Iran's nuclear program, the negotiations would have failed and the restrictions on that problem that are now in place would not exist. There would have been no nuclear deal if the U.S. had insisted on maximalist demands. What Pompeo calls surrender is what sane people call compromise. Putting someone so inflexible and allergic to compromise in charge of the State Department is the act of a president who has nothing but disdain for diplomacy, and Pompeo's all-or-nothing view of the nuclear deal bodes ill for talks with North Korea.

Procivic March 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Zero sum games are for the infantile and the Trump administration is infested with them.

[Mar 18, 2018] Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... "Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen" ..."
Mar 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Secretary of Defense has written to Congressional leaders to express his opposition to S.J.Res. 54, the resolution that would end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen:

In a letter sent to congressional leaders Wednesday and obtained by The Washington Post, Mattis wrote that restricting military support the United States is providing to the Saudi-led coalition "could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis -- all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis."

He urged Congress not to impose restrictions on the "noncombat," "limited U.S. military support" being provided to Saudi Arabia, which is "engaging in operations in its legitimate exercise of self-defense."

The Pentagon has been putting forward very weak legal arguments against S.J.Res. 54, and Mattis' statement of the policy arguments against the resolution are not any better. The Saudi-led coalition would have great difficulty continuing their war without U.S. military assistance. U.S. refueling allows coalition planes to carry out more attacks than they otherwise could, so it is extremely unlikely that ending it could possibly result in more civilian casualties than the bombing campaign causes now. Mattis is taking for granted that U.S. military assistance somehow makes coalition bombing more accurate and less likely to result in civilian casualties, but that is hard to credit when coalition forces routinely target civilian structures on purpose and when the military admits that it doesn't keep track of what happens after it refuels coalition planes.

Secretary Mattis says that cutting off support could jeopardize cooperation on counter-terrorism, but the flip side of this is that continuing to enable the Saudi-led war creates the conditions for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the local ISIS affiliate to flourish. The coalition's war has made AQAP stronger than it was before, and AQAP members have sometimes even fought alongside coalition forces on the ground. Instead of worrying about whether the U.S. is jeopardizing cooperation with these states, we should be asking whether that cooperation is worth very much in Yemen.

He claims that the Saudis and their allies are engaged in "a legitimate exercise of self-defense," and this is simply not true. The Saudis and their allies were not attacked and were not threatened with attack prior to their intervention. Saudi territory now comes under attack because the coalition has been bombing Yemen for years, but that doesn't make continuing the war self-defense. If an aggressor launches an attack against a neighboring country, it is the neighbor that is engaged in self-defense against the state(s) attacking them.

Mattis also warns that ending support for the Saudi-led coalition would have other undesirable consequences:

As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, "withdrawing U.S. support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict."

These claims also don't hold water. Iranian support for the Houthis remains limited, but it has increased as a direct result of the war. The longer that the war goes on, the greater the incentive the Houthis and Iran will have to cooperate. The absurdity of this intervention is that it was dishonestly sold as a war against Iranian "expansionism" and yet it has done more to aid Iran than anything Iran's government could have done on its own. Missile strikes on Saudi Arabia wouldn't be happening if the Saudis and their allies weren't regularly bombing Yemeni cities. If the coalition halted its bombing, the missile strikes would almost certainly cease as well. Continuing the war is a guarantee that those attacks will continue, and U.S. military assistance ensures that the war will continue. Every reason Mattis gives here for continuing U.S. support for the war is actually a reason to end it.

Shipping lanes weren't threatened before the intervention and won't be threatened after it ends. Yemenis have every incentive to leave shipping lanes alone, since these are their country's lifeline. Meanwhile, the cruel coalition blockade is slowly starving millions of Yemenis to death by keeping out essential commercial goods from the main ports that serve the vast majority of the population. Mattis is warning about potential threats to shipping from Yemen while completely ignoring that the main cause of the humanitarian disaster is the interruption of commercial shipping into Yemen by the Saudi-led blockade. The regional conflict that Mattis warns about is already here. It is called the Saudi-led war on Yemen. If one wants to prevent the region from being destabilized further, one would want to put an end to that war as quickly as possible.

Mattis mentions that the U.S. role in the war is a "noncombat" and "limited" one, but for the purposes of the debate on Sanders-Lee resolution that is irrelevant. It doesn't matter that the military assistance the U.S. is providing doesn't put Americans in combat. That is not the only way that U.S. forces can be introduced into hostilities. According to the War Powers Resolution , the U.S. has introduced its armed forces into hostilities under these circumstances:

For purposes of this joint resolution, the term "introduction of United States Armed Forces" includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany [bold mine-DL] the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.

Any fair reading of this definition has to apply to the regular U.S. refueling of coalition planes that are engaged in an ongoing bombing campaign. The U.S. is obviously participating in the "movement" of coalition forces when it provides their planes with fuel. Indeed, our forces are making the movement of their forces possible through refueling. U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen clearly counts as introducing U.S. forces into hostilities under the WPR, and neither administration has sought or received authorization to do this. No president is permitted to do this unless there is "(1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." There has obviously been no action from Congress that authorizes this, and there is certainly no emergency or attack that justifies it. U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen is illegal, and the Senate should pass S.J.Res. 54 to end it.


so it's blackmail March 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

"Mattis wrote that restricting military support the United States is providing to the Saudi-led coalition "could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis -- all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis.""

Wow. So MBS is blackmailing us. He's threatening to kill more civilians, to stop anti-terror cooperation, and to shut us out of other Saudi regional security decisions if we don't help him starve and wreck Yemen.

Maybe the situation is a little clearer, but how can anyone take Trump seriously after this embarrassing confession by Mattis?

We may assume that Trump has no self-respect, but doesn't he have any respect for his office? Is he really going to let this disgusting little torture freak jerk him around like this? When it implicates all Americans in Saudi war crimes?

SteveM , says: March 15, 2018 at 2:14 pm
Re: "Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen"

Unfortunately, in this day of warped Military Exceptionalism as the civic religion, a 4-Star pedigree fronting weak arguments makes them essentially unassailable. No matter how immoral, idiotic or costly to the taxpayers.

Mad Dog Mattis got a free ride with his logically incoherent, hyper-belligerent pronouncements related to the National Security Strategy. Expect no different response to his perverse rationalizations of the Yemen catastrophe.

Generals and Admirals now pop off stupid and dangerous opinions right and left and are never challenged by an MSM that is bedazzled by anyone wearing stars on their shoulders.

Mattis' case for Yemen is not only weak, it's pathetic. Too bad the co-opted and seduced MSM will never suggest that to the public at large deluded by the omnipresent propaganda of the National Security State.

Nothing will change until the undeserved fawning adoration of the War Machine Elite is substantially attenuated.

Alex Ingrum , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:12 pm
The neocons will stop at nothing to bring down anyone they suspect of threatening Israel or U.S. military hegemony in the Middle East.

First, they lied about WMDs in Iraq and started a completely illegal war, killing millions and devastating that country for generations. That led directly to the creation of ISIS and the havoc it has wrought on both Iraq and Syria (and increasingly in other countries).

Then under Obama and Sec. Clinton, they allowed the military takeover of Egypt by the murderous and oppressive El-Sisi and launched an aggressive war of regime change in Libya, throwing both North African countries into turmoil.

Then they supported the brutal and savage ongoing Saudi war against Yemen to curb non-existent Iranian influence, followed by politically isolating Qatar for its supposed chumminess with Iran.

The neocons will do absolutely anything to bring down the Iranian regime, no matter how many foreign and American lives and destroyed to achieve that end.

b. , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm
The details of Mattis' letter of indulgence do not matter as much as the fact that he is willing to defend the indefensible. Even if his professed concerns were not only genuine, but actually reflected reality, he also has to know better than anybody else within the administration about the consequences of the US-backed Saudi/UAE invasion of Yemen.

Mattis has joined Graham and Albright in the "worth it" campaign to sustain and extend perfectly predictable atrocities.

If he wants to make the case that we cannot accept uncertainty with respect to an alleged Iranian aggression towards Saudi Arabia – and with even more unlikely acquiescence by the Houthi to let Iran use them the way the US uses the Kurds – or even assuming that Mattis wants to misrepresent possible Houthi blowback against Saudi Arabia as "Iranian" just for convenience – then it should be clear that he is claimng we can easily accept uncertainty with respect to Yemeni blowback against the US – blowback that he also uses to justify the US campaign inside Yemen, and that fueled Obama's pathological obsession with ideological cleansing in Yemen and other prospective "safe harbors".

Mattis is proving the validity of the actual Powell Doctrine – if you join it, you own it – both with respect to US co-belligerence in Yemen, and with respect to Mattis personally. He is also proving the observation that anybody who is willing to join an administration as criminal as that of Bush, Obama or Trump is unlikely to do any good – by their voluntary association they have irredeemably tainted themselves.

Uncle Billy , says: March 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm
We do not want to get in the middle of this Sunni vs. Shiite war. The Saudis want to destroy the Shiites in Yemen and we are fools at best and criminals at worst to help them. The people of Yemen are no threat to the US and for theAmerican Government to cooperate with the Saudis in the murderof Yemeni women and children is revolting.
Sisera , says: March 16, 2018 at 6:06 pm
Americans have heard for years that supporting "democracy" and popular uprisings throughout the Middle East are in our national interests, the basis being that oppressed people are more likely to resort to terrorism.

Yet in the cases of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and now Yemen popular revolutions of Shias demanding equal rights are actually deemed a threat to our national security.

The neocons have gotten so deep in the Gulf/Israel v. Iran conflict that they're not even keeping to the ostensible reasons for interventionism.

[Mar 02, 2018] Fatal Delusions of Western Man by Pat Buchanan

Highly recommended!
At the core of Trumpism is the rejection of neoliberalism
Pat Buchanan does not understand neoliberalism well and mixes apples with oranges, but the key idea expressed here stands: " Consider this crazed ideology of free trade globalism with its roots in the scribblings of 19th-century idiot savants, not one of whom ever built a great nation. Adhering religiously to free trade dogma, we have run up $12 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I. Our cities have been gutted by the loss of plants and factories. Workers' wages have stagnated. The economic independence Hamilton sought and Republican presidents from Lincoln to McKinley achieved is history."
Notable quotes:
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever." ..."
Mar 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

At Yalta, Churchill rose to toast the butcher:

"I walk through this world with greater courage and hope when I find myself in a relation of friendship and intimacy with this great man, whose fame has gone out not only over all Russia, but the world. We regard Marshal Stalin's life as most precious to the hopes and hearts of all of us."

Returning home, Churchill assured a skeptical Parliament, "I know of no Government which stands to its obligations, even in its own despite, more solidly than the Russian Soviet Government."

George W. Bush, with the U.S. establishment united behind him, invaded Iraq with the goal of creating a Vermont in the Middle East that would be a beacon of democracy to the Arab and Islamic world.

Ex-Director of the NSA Gen. William Odom correctly called the U.S. invasion the greatest strategic blunder in American history. But Bush, un-chastened, went on to preach a crusade for democracy with the goal of "ending tyranny in our world."

... ... ...

After our victory in the Cold War, we not only plunged into the Middle East to remake it in our image, we issued war guarantees to every ex-member state of the Warsaw Pact, and threatened Russia with war if she ever intervened again in the Baltic Republics.

No Cold War president would have dreamed of issuing such an in-your-face challenge to a great nuclear power like Russia. If Putin's Russia does not become the pacifist nation it has never been, these guarantees will one day be called. And America will either back down -- or face a nuclear confrontation. Why would we risk something like this?

Consider this crazed ideology of free trade globalism with its roots in the scribblings of 19th-century idiot savants, not one of whom ever built a great nation. Adhering religiously to free trade dogma, we have run up $12 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I. Our cities have been gutted by the loss of plants and factories. Workers' wages have stagnated. The economic independence Hamilton sought and Republican presidents from Lincoln to McKinley achieved is history.

But the greatest risk we are taking, based on utopianism, is the annual importation of well over a million legal and illegal immigrants, many from the failed states of the Third World, in the belief we can create a united, peaceful and harmonious land of 400 million, composed of every race, religion, ethnicity, tribe, creed, culture and language on earth.

Where is the historic evidence for the success of this experiment, the failure of which could mean the end of America as one nation and one people?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever."

likbez , March 2, 2018 at 6:47 am GMT

Pat Buchanan does not understand neoliberalism well and mixes apples with oranges, but the key idea expressed here stands:

" Consider this crazed ideology of free trade globalism with its roots in the scribblings of 19th-century idiot savants, not one of whom ever built a great nation. Adhering religiously to free trade dogma, we have run up $12 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I. Our cities have been gutted by the loss of plants and factories. Workers' wages have stagnated. The economic independence Hamilton sought and Republican presidents from Lincoln to McKinley achieved is history."

The truth is that now Trump does not represent "Trumpism" -- the movement that he created which includes the following:

– rejection of neoliberal globalization;
– rejection of unrestricted immigration;
– fight against suppression of wages by multinationals via cheap imported labor;
– fight against the elimination of meaningful, well-paying jobs via outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing;
– rejection of wars for enlargement and sustaining of neoliberal empire, especially NATO role as global policemen and wars for Washington client Israel in the Middle East;
– détente with Russia;
– more pragmatic relations with Israel and suppression of Israeli agents of influence;
– revision of relations with China and addressing the problem of trade deficit.
– rejection of total surveillance on all citizens;
– the cut of military expenses to one third or less of the current level and concentrating on revival on national infrastructure, education, and science.
– abandonment of maintenance of the "sole superpower" status and global neoliberal empire for more practical and less costly "semi-isolationist" foreign policy; closing of unnecessary foreign military bases and cutting aid to the current clients.

Of course, the notion of "Trumpism" is fuzzy and different people might include some additional issues and disagree with some listed here, but the core probably remains.

Of course, Trump is under relentless attack (coup d'état or, more precisely, a color revolution) of neoliberal fifth column, which includes Clinton gang, fifth column elements within his administration (Rosenstein, etc) as well from remnants of Obama administration (Brennan, Comey, Clapper) and associated elements within corresponding intelligence agencies. He probably was forced into some compromises just to survive. He also has members of the neoliberal fifth column within his family (Ivanka and Kushner).

So the movement now is in deep need of a new leader.

Miro23, March 3, 2018 at 7:55 am GMT
@likbez

That's a good summary of what the public voted for and didn't get.

And whether Trump has sold out, or was blackmailed or was a cynical manipulative liar for the beginning is really irrelevant. The fact is that he is not doing it – so he is just blocking the way.

At some point the US public are going to have to forget about their "representatives" (Trump and Congress and the rest of them) and get out onto the street to make themselves heard. The population of the US is 323 million people and if just 1/2 of 1% (1,6 million) of them decided to visit Congress directly the US administration might get the message.

pyrrhus, March 3, 2018 at 2:15 am GMT

@anon

Finally, Pat understands that the American [Neoliberal] Empire and habit of intervention all over the world is a disaster.

[Mar 02, 2018] Si>nce 1980th, very little has been done by US Federal Government for the benefit of the common citizen. A great deal has been done to facilitate the degradation of the standard of living of common citizen by the global one percent and by the costs of maintaining global neoliberal empire

Notable quotes:
"... Based on historical evidence, to believe that Trump (with his party - Republican control of House and Senate) will change our course is naive. By contrast, Obama D had both houses also - we got WAR, cash for clunkers, foreclosures, bank bailouts and health care by AHIP with runaway costs. ..."
Aug 20, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

fast freddy | Aug 20, 2017 3:12:28 PM | 133

In fifty years, very little has been done by US Federal Government which benefits the common citizen. A great deal has been done to facilitate the degradation of the common citizen by the global one percent. We have a new world order as called for by GHW Bush.

Based on historical evidence, to believe that Trump (with his party - Republican control of House and Senate) will change our course is naive. By contrast, Obama D had both houses also - we got WAR, cash for clunkers, foreclosures, bank bailouts and health care by AHIP with runaway costs.

Rodger | Aug 20, 2017 3:37:22 PM | 137
ANON

Trump is and has been carrying out his own policies to enrich those that already have everything and to repeal any regulations that were put into place to protect the people. Have you not noticed that he lined his cabinet with Goldman Sachs (which he blasted HRC for associating her self with.

Like I said he and his gang are doing what they want to help enrich themselves on the backs of the rest of us. Wake up and quit upholding these lying pieces of excrement they are no different than the ones before them.

Trump is a dirty businessman the things that he is doing are to benefit him and his family and to screw the rest of us and tell us how great it is for us. You my man have drank from the Trump cup and think that anything that speaks against him is "fake news" when in reality Trump and the likes of Breitbart are the "fake news" a little truth but a bunch of spin

[Mar 02, 2018] Trump_vs_deep_state as bastard neoliberalism vs classic neoliberalism

In this state the current war between factions of the US elite reminds Stalin fight against "globalists" like Trotsky, who were hell-bent of the idea of world revolution.
Notable quotes:
"... I would define Trump_vs_deep_state as "bastard neoliberalism" which tries to combine domestic "100% pure" neoliberalism with the rejection of neoliberal globalization as well as partial rejection of expensive effort for expansion of US led neoliberal empire via color revolutions and military invasions, especially in the Middle East. ..."
"... That makes screams of "soft neoliberals" from Democratic Party at "hard neoliberals" at Republican Party really funny indeed. Both are essentially "latter-day Trotskyites", yet they scream at each other, especially Obama/Clinton supporters ;-) ..."
"... But in reality Democratic sheeple are just a different type of wolfs -- wolfs in sheep clothing. And Hillary was an old, worn "classic neoliberal" shoe, which nobody really wants to wear. ..."
"... Trump does not intend to change the neoliberal consensus of what government should do domestically, and what should be the relationship between US government and business community. ..."
Dec 27, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> likbez... December 26, 2016 at 08:08 PM

I would define Trump_vs_deep_state as "bastard neoliberalism" which tries to combine domestic "100% pure" neoliberalism with the rejection of neoliberal globalization as well as partial rejection of expensive effort for expansion of US led neoliberal empire via color revolutions and military invasions, especially in the Middle East.

That's what seems to be the key difference of Trump_vs_deep_state from "classic neoliberalism" or as Sklar called it "corporate liberalism".

From Reagan to Obama all US governments pray to the altar of classic neoliberalism. Now we have a slight deviation.

That makes screams of "soft neoliberals" from Democratic Party at "hard neoliberals" at Republican Party really funny indeed. Both are essentially "latter-day Trotskyites", yet they scream at each other, especially Obama/Clinton supporters ;-)

In this sense Krugman recent writings are really pathetic and signify his complete detachment from reality, or more correctly attempt to create an "artificial reality" in which bad wolf Trump is going to eat Democratic sheeple. And in which media, FBI, and Putin are responsible entirely for Hillary's loss.

But in reality Democratic sheeple are just a different type of wolfs -- wolfs in sheep clothing. And Hillary was an old, worn "classic neoliberal" shoe, which nobody really wants to wear.

Trump does not intend to change the neoliberal consensus of what government should do domestically, and what should be the relationship between US government and business community.

But the far right movement that he created and led has different ideas.

So it might be an interesting period to watch.

[Mar 02, 2018] The main reason much of the highest echelons of American power are united against Trump might be that they're terrified that -- unlike Obama -- he's a really bad salesman for the US led neoliberal empire. This threatens the continuance of their well oiled and exceedingly corrupt gravy train

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... he Dems disgust me with their neo-McCarthyism and the Repubs disgust me because of the way they are playing out their hand right now as well. Games within corrupt games, and yet normal behavior especially in waning empires (or other types of polities, including powerful int'l corporations). ..."
"... Chapter 14 of Guns, Germs and Steel is titled "From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy" and it used to be available online but my old link is dead and I couldn't find a new one. But a basic definition should suffice: "Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service." I have no idea how one turns this around and I doubt it's even possible. ..."
"... The Real Reason Establishment Frauds Hate Trump and Obsess About Russia https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2018/02/20/the-real-reason-establishment-frauds-hate-trump-and-obsess-about-russia/ ..."
"... Blaming Russia for all the nation's problems serves several key purposes for various defenders of the status quo. For discredited neocons and neoliberals who never met a failed war based on lies they didn't support, it provides an opportunity to rehabilitate their torched reputations by masquerading as fierce patriots against the latest existential enemy. Similarly, for those who lived in denial about who Obama really was for eight years, latching on to the Russia narrative allows them to reassure themselves that everything really was fine before Trump and Russia came along and ruined the party. ..."
"... he doesn't provide the same feel good quality to empire that Obama did. He's simply not the warm and fuzzy salesman for oligarchy and empire Obama was, thus his inability to sugarcoat state-sanctioned murder forces a lot of people to confront the uncomfortable hypocrisies in our society that many would prefer not to admit. ..."
"... I can't stand Kushner's smirky face and got a good chuckle from this prince's fall as I am not a fan of his passion for Israel. But I don't think he's a stupid idiot either. He's probably very smart in business, but he seems to have no feel for politics. Trump is much better at it than Kushner. Of course they are going after Kushner as a way to attack and disadvantage Trump. Politics is a form of warfare after all. ..."
"... My take is that Trump survives but mostly contained by the Borg ..."
Mar 02, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Originally from discussion at Sic Semper Tyrannis Another SIGINT compromise ...

Valissa -> jsn... 01 March 2018 at 07:44 PM

jsn @16 & 40, in complete agreement with you. Great comments! T he Dems disgust me with their neo-McCarthyism and the Repubs disgust me because of the way they are playing out their hand right now as well. Games within corrupt games, and yet normal behavior especially in waning empires (or other types of polities, including powerful int'l corporations).

Chapter 14 of Guns, Germs and Steel is titled "From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy" and it used to be available online but my old link is dead and I couldn't find a new one. But a basic definition should suffice: "Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service." I have no idea how one turns this around and I doubt it's even possible.

Back when I used to subscribe to STRATFOR, founder George Friedman always made a point of evaluating the elites of whatever country he was analyzing and how they operated amongst themselves and relative to the people and how effective they were or were not in governing a country. But he never did that for the US. I would have paid extra for that report! But of course he could not stay in business if he did such a thing as those people are his clients.

I think Mike Krieger over at Liberty Blitzkrieg nails it from another perspective with this post:

The Real Reason Establishment Frauds Hate Trump and Obsess About Russia https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2018/02/20/the-real-reason-establishment-frauds-hate-trump-and-obsess-about-russia/

Blaming Russia for all the nation's problems serves several key purposes for various defenders of the status quo. For discredited neocons and neoliberals who never met a failed war based on lies they didn't support, it provides an opportunity to rehabilitate their torched reputations by masquerading as fierce patriots against the latest existential enemy. Similarly, for those who lived in denial about who Obama really was for eight years, latching on to the Russia narrative allows them to reassure themselves that everything really was fine before Trump and Russia came along and ruined the party.

By throwing every problem in Putin's lap, the entrenched bipartisan status quo can tell themselves (and everybody else) that it wasn't really them and their policies that voters rejected in 2016, rather, the American public was tricked by cunning, nefarious Russians. Ridiculous for sure, but never underestimate the instinctive human desire to deny accountability for one's own failures. It's always easier to blame than to accept responsibility.

That said, there's a much bigger game afoot beyond the motivations of individuals looking to save face. The main reason much of the highest echelons of American power are united against Trump has nothing to do with his actual policies. Instead, they're terrified that -- unlike Obama -- he's a really bad salesman for empire. This sort of Presidential instability threatens the continuance of their well oiled and exceedingly corrupt gravy train. Hillary Clinton was a sure thing, Donald Trump remains an unpredictable wildcard.

... Obama said all the right things while methodically doing the bidding of oligarchy. He captured the imagination of millions, if not billions, around the world with his soaring rhetoric, yet rarely skipped a beat when it came to the advancement of imperial policies. He made bailing out Wall Street, droning civilians and cracking down on journalists seem progressive. He said one thing, did another, and people ate it up. This is an extraordinarily valuable quality when it comes to a vicious and unelected deep state that wants to keep a corrupt empire together.

Trump has the exact opposite effect. Sure, he also frequently says one thing and then does another, but he doesn't provide the same feel good quality to empire that Obama did. He's simply not the warm and fuzzy salesman for oligarchy and empire Obama was, thus his inability to sugarcoat state-sanctioned murder forces a lot of people to confront the uncomfortable hypocrisies in our society that many would prefer not to admit.
------------

I can't stand Kushner's smirky face and got a good chuckle from this prince's fall as I am not a fan of his passion for Israel. But I don't think he's a stupid idiot either. He's probably very smart in business, but he seems to have no feel for politics. Trump is much better at it than Kushner. Of course they are going after Kushner as a way to attack and disadvantage Trump. Politics is a form of warfare after all.

My take is that Trump survives but mostly contained by the Borg

[Mar 02, 2018] Trump betrayal of Trumpism

But Trump himself was quickly neutered (in just three month) and now does not represents "Trumpism" (rejection of neoliberal globalization, unrestricted immigration for suppression of wages, rejection of elimination of jobs via outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing, rejection of wars for enlargement and sustaining of neoliberal empire, especially NATO role as global policemen and wars for Washington client Israel in Middle east, detente with Russia etc) in any meaningful way. He is just an aging Narcissist in power.
Looks like Trump became a variant of Hillary minus sex change operation.
Notable quotes:
"... He supports same sex relations and marriage of the same. ..."
"... He is by nature a situational leader -- not typically a conservatives methodology of leadership ..."
"... . He mistakes support and loyalty for agreement. ..."
"... He seems too weak to stand his ground on key issues. Syria, (missile attack) ..."
"... His willingness to ignore -- Israel-US problematic relationship. ..."
"... I am leary of anyone who says tough things about immigration, but quietly backpedals or openly does the same -- DACA. ..."
Mar 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

EliteCommInc. , March 1, 2018 at 3:38 pm GMT

it's easy to come away from CPAC energy and enthusiasm thinking your headline is an accurate description of what is happening in the GOP. I am more conservative thankfully in my views than most members at CPAC. And while I may not be the typical voter. I can say categorically, that :trumoing" is not in my blood. Let's look what a consevative had to consider when evaluating Pres Trump:

3. He supports same sex relations and marriage of the same.

... ... ...

5. He is by nature a situational leader -- not typically a conservatives methodology of leadership

... ... ...

8 . He mistakes support and loyalty for agreement.

9. He seems too weak to stand his ground on key issues. Syria, (missile attack)

10. His willingness to ignore -- Israel-US problematic relationship.

11. He thinks that Keynesian policy is a substitute for economic growth. monetary policy.

12. I am leary of anyone who says tough things about immigration, but quietly backpedals or openly does the same -- DACA.

[Mar 02, 2018] The deplorables, having found one another, need to hang together until we find real leadership. Trump, whatever he is, is not a leader.

"Note about Miss Mona Charin: the two agree on so many points on foreign policy, especially Israel, it's hard to see her disdain. I think she rejects his troublesome demeanor and attitude. Presidential decorum is a big deal to many."
Notable quotes:
"... The sixty plus millions of people who voted Trump are politically diverse. They have one thing in common. They were not persuaded by the loud, continuous and shameless lying of the corporate media. Rather they were motivated by it. ..."
Mar 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

WorkingClass , March 2, 2018 at 2:14 am GMT

@EliteCommInc.

Now his other supporters might say, considered against all the other candidates -- he's better. Hmmmm, well, that's why I voted for him.

Thank you. My bullet points would differ from yours but in the end I also voted for Trump. The sixty plus millions of people who voted Trump are politically diverse. They have one thing in common. They were not persuaded by the loud, continuous and shameless lying of the corporate media. Rather they were motivated by it.

The deplorables, having found one another, need to hang together until we find real leadership. Trump, whatever he is, is not a leader.

[Feb 11, 2018] Whodunit Who "Meddled" With "Our Democracy" by Ilana Mercer

Feb 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

Republicans have revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on. I'd expect nothing less from a Court created and perpetuated by George W. Bush and his Republicans.

But, what do you know? Following Barack Obama's lead, President Donald Trump and his Republicans have renewed FISA Section 702, which, in fact, has facilitated the usurpations the same representatives are currently denouncing.

Also in contravention of a quaint constitutional relic called the Fourth Amendment is Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has taken possession of "many tens of thousands of emails from President Donald Trump's transition team." There is no limit, seemingly, to the power of the special counsel.

Look, we're living in a post-Constitutional America. Complaints about the damage done to our "democracy" by outsiders are worse than silly. Such damage pales compared to what we Americans have done to a compact rooted in the consent of the governed and the drastically limited and delimited powers of those who govern.

In other words, a republic. Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

The destruction is on display daily.

Pray tell where-oh-where in the US Constitution does it say that anyone crossing over into the US may demand and get an abortion? But apparently, this is settled law -- a universally upheld right, irrespective of whose property and territory it impinges.

The only aspect our clodhopper media -- left and right -- deign to debate in such abortion-tourism cases is the interloper's global reproductive rights. So, if abortion is a service Americans must render to the world, why not the right to a colonoscopy or a facelift?

Cannabis: The reason it's notin the Constitution is because letting states and individuals decide is in the Constitution. That thing of beauty is called the Tenth Amendment:

" The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

That's right. In American federalism, the rights of the individual were meant to be secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. Yet on cannabis, the meager constitutional devolution of power away from the Federales and to states and individuals Republicans have reversed. Some are even prattling about a constitutional cannabis amendment, as if there's a need for further "constitutional" centralization of authority.

After 230 years of just such "constitutional" consolidation, it's safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter; that the natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute that would fill an entire building floor. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders' original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America's Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

The welfare clause stipulates that "Congress will have the power to provide for the general welfare." And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme , have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People's pockets for any perceivable purpose and project. Witness a judiciary of scurrilous statists that had even found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine, an act of force President Trump has mercifully repealed.

anonymous Disclaimer , February 9, 2018 at 10:30 am GMT

A few more observations, with which Ms. Mercer should agree:

The invertebrate Congress has been a weak link in the Constitutional system, deferring in the last 50 years to the judiciary in matters of domestic policy and to the executive in matters of foreign policy, most obviously war.

Turning the Constitution into a mystical, living document speaking through robed priests has served to trash it.

The loss of the States' authority was gradual, but amending the Constitution to have voters directly elect senators looks in retrospect like a key step in the national government's arrogation of authority.

The world's gaudiest whorehouse is also wide open for business with foreign interests. And why not? If Uncle Sam is trying to run the world, then shouldn't everyone in the Empire be allowed to participate in the democracy?

The Alarmist , February 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm GMT

" treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on."

To be correct, the US government considers its subjects to be chattels property. For my part, the US is my crazy ex-girlfriend, who always wants to know where I'm going, who I'm seeing, what I'm doing, and who annually wants a full accounting of every Dollar, Pound, Euro and ounce I earn, spend or hold.

[Jan 22, 2018] Ivanka Trump Told by Steve Bannon: 'You're Just Another Staffer Who Doesn't Know What You're Doing,' New Book Claims by Melina Delkic

Jan 22, 2018 | www.yahoo.com

January 22, 2018

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon once told Ivanka Trump: "You're just another staffer who doesn't know what you're doing," according to a new book.

Related: Ivanka Trump's "special place in hell" for child predators comment trolls Roy Moore rally

Bannon, who has long critiqued and clashed with Ivanka's and her husband Jared Kushner's roles in the White House, tried to put the president's daughter in her place in one instance detailed in the book.

"My daughter loves me as a dad...You love your dad. I get that. But you're just another staffer who doesn't know what you're doing," Bannon said, The Washington Post reported when it published excerpts on Monday.


The revelation is part of the latest book about life inside the White House. Howard Kurtz, host of the Fox News show Media Buzz, wrote the book Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth, set to be released on January 29.

The new book, though perhaps not as sensational as the explosive tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, contains several new alleged revelations about the administration. Along with reports of the turbulent relationship between Ivanka Trump and Bannon, are claims that the president himself leaked information to journalists, that his aides referred to his behavior as "defiance disorder" and that his staff was "blindsided" when he accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones.

[Jan 20, 2018] Will Steve Bannon s Testimony Bring Down Jared by Abigail Tracy

A more interesting question is how those testimonies might affect Bannon -- he is in a very hot water now. If he thought that the meeting was so incriminating why he did not contact FBI and just decided to feed juicy gossip to Wolff?
Also he was not present at the meeting and was not a member of Trump team until two months later. From who he got all this information ? Was is just a slander by disgruntled employee?
Notable quotes:
"... To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr. ..."
"... Bannon has denied that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the election ..."
"... Wolff also quotes the former White House strategist as saying, "This is all about money laundering. [Robert] Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner . . . It's as plain as a hair on your face." ..."
"... Bannon then zeroed in on Kushner specifically, adding that "[i]t goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me." ..."
Jan 16, 2018 | www.vanityfair.com

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers," Bannon is quoted as saying in Fire and Fury. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the F.B.I. immediately." Bannon reportedly speculated that the chance the eldest Trump son did not involve his father in the meeting "is zero."

When Bannon's comments became public, Trump excoriated his former strategist, whom he accused of having "lost his mind." But while Bannon has since apologized for the remarks and sought to walk back a number of the quotes, he's stopped short of denying that he viewed the Trump Tower meeting as treasonous. Instead, he's merely shifted the blame away from Trump Jr. and onto Manafort. "My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning, and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr. ," Bannon said in a statement to Axios. ( Bannon has denied that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the election .)

... ... ...

Though the Trump Tower meeting took place before Bannon joined the Trump campaign, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House panel, told CNN last week that he plans to question Bannon about "why this meeting at Trump Tower represented his treason and certainly unpatriotic at a minimum."

Jared Kushner's "greasy shit"

Wolff also quotes the former White House strategist as saying, "This is all about money laundering. [Robert] Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner . . . It's as plain as a hair on your face." (Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort have all denied wrongdoing.) Bannon then zeroed in on Kushner specifically, adding that "[i]t goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me."

He and Trump's son-in-law have never seen eye to eye; their White House feuds were a poorly kept secret, and following his ouster, Bannon has given numerous interviews knocking Kushner, including one to my colleague Gabriel Sherman in which he questioned Kushner's maturity level. If Bannon has dirt on Kushner, he will likely get his chance to reveal it; Schiff also declared his intent to question Bannon on "the basis of his concern over money laundering."

[Jan 14, 2018] Trump Stumped As Bannon-Backed Roy Moore Wins Alabama Republican Primary By Landslide

Bannon backed candidate later lost. So much for this Bannon "success".
This idea of Trump playing 6 dimensional chess is a joke. It's the same explanation that was pushed for Obama disastrous neocon foreign policy. Here is one very apt quote: "What Trump has done are disasters, and equates to treason. Selling billions of dollars of weapons the our enemies the terrorists/Saudis, killing innocent people in Syria, and Yemen, sending more troops to Afghanistan..." What 6-dimetional chess?
According to Occam razor principle the simplest explanation of Trump behaviour is probably the most correct. He does not control foright policy, outsourcing it to "generals" and be does not pursue domestic policy of creating jobs as he promised his electorate. In other words, both in foreign policy and domestic policy, he became a turncoat, betraying his electorate, much like Obama. kind of Republican Obama.
And as time goes by, Trump looks more and more like Hillary II or Republican Obama. So he might have problems with the candidates he supports in midterm elections. His isolationism, if it ever existed, is gone. Promise of jobs is gone. Detente with Russia is gone. What's left?
Note the level disappointment of what used to be Trump base in this site comment section...
Notable quotes:
"... In a serious rebuke for President Trump (and perhaps moreso for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), ousted judge and alt-right favorite Roy Moore has won the Alabama Republican Primary by a landslide ..."
"... The Steve Bannon-backed candidate, who defied court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and refused to recognize gay marriage after the Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is leading by 9.6 points with 92% of the votes counted... ..."
"... These attacks on Bannon were one of the most prominent news stories in the first week following Trump's election victory. It didn't take long, however, for a counter-attack to emerge - from the right-wing elements of the Jewish community. ..."
"... Bannon is a true fucking patriot trying to pull this once great country from the sinkhole. ..."
"... I think the reality is that this was a message to McConnell much more than Trump. That message is simple: I'm coming to kill your career. Bannon went out of his way to say he fully supports Tr