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America's alternative to war and empire is not "isolationism."
By Daniel Larison, June 11, 2014
Americans have grown understandably weary of foreign entanglements over the last 12 years of open-ended warfare, and they are now more receptive to a noninterventionist message than they have been in decades. According to a recent Pew survey, 52 percent of Americans now prefer that the U.S. “mind its own business in international affairs,” which represents the most support for a restrained and modest foreign policy in the last 50 years. That presents a challenge and an opportunity for noninterventionists to articulate a coherent and positive case for what a foreign policy of peace and prudence would mean in practice. As useful and necessary as critiquing dangerous ideas may be, noninterventionism will remain a marginal, dissenting position in policymaking unless its advocates explain in detail how their alternative foreign policy would be conducted.
A noninterventionist foreign policy would first of all require a moratorium on new foreign entanglements and commitments for the foreseeable future. A careful reevaluation of where the U.S. has vital interests at stake would follow. There are relatively few places where the U.S. has truly vital concerns that directly affect our security and prosperity, and the ambition and scale of our foreign policy should reflect that. A noninterventionist U.S. would conduct itself like a normal country without pretensions to global “leadership” or the temptation of a proselytizing mission. This is a foreign policy more in line with what the American people will accept and less likely to provoke violent resentment from overseas, and it is therefore more sustainable and affordable over the long term.
When a conflict or dispute erupts somewhere, unless it directly threatens the security of America or our treaty allies, the assumption should be that it is not the business of the U.S. government to take a leading role in resolving it. If a government requests aid in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis (e.g., famine, disease), as Haiti did following its devastating earthquake in 2010, the U.S. can and should lend assistance—but as a general rule the U.S. should not seek to interfere in other nations’ domestic circumstances.
If parties to a dispute request outside arbitration, the U.S. should be in a position to act as a neutral mediator—which presupposes that the U.S. is not actively backing one side against another. We have seen the futility and absurdity of trying to act as an “honest broker” while providing lopsided support to one side in a conflict, and this should have no place in a noninterventionist foreign policy. There could be a potentially large and active role for U.S. diplomats abroad, but not one in which the U.S. was attempting to dictate terms or to promote a particular cause. International engagement could not and would not cease in a noninterventionist foreign policy, but it would be of a very different kind.
One of the priorities of a noninterventionist agenda would be the scaling back of America’s numerous commitments overseas. This would be accomplished mainly by shifting burdens gradually to current allies and regional powers: ceding regional influence in Central Asia to India and Russia, for example, and encouraging a more independent foreign policy for allies such as Japan and Germany. In general, the states that have the most at stake in maintaining regional stability should be given the responsibility for securing it. U.S. commitments have been building up over decades, so it is neither realistic nor desirable to end them suddenly. Nonetheless, there are also far more commitments than the U.S. can afford, and many of them are relics of the struggle with the Soviet Union or the remains of a “War on Terror” that has expanded beyond anything that most Americans imagined when it began a decade ago. Cutting back security entanglements is a long-delayed and necessary adjustment that the U.S. should have been making for the last 20 years. But it will not be sufficient simply to return to status quo ante at the start of the 21st century. The U.S. was already overcommitted around the world before the Bush era and will still be so after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ideally, the U.S. would reduce its overseas military presence in the Near East to at most what it was in the years before Desert Storm in 1991, and continue to reduce its presence in Europe as European governments bear more of the costs of their own defense. To date, wealthy allies have been able to skimp on their military spending, on the safe assumption that the U.S. would be ready and willing to make up the difference, but this arrangement is neither sustainable nor in our best interests. It not only creates an unhealthy dependence that ends up dragging unwilling Europeans into U.S. wars of choice, but as we saw in Libya, it perversely pulls the U.S. into European wars of choice because Europe’s governments cannot fight them on their own.
NATO is outdated and unnecessary, but provided that it functions purely as a defensive alliance it wouldn’t necessarily have to be dissolved. If the alliance continued to exist, the U.S. should not use it or permit it to be used as cover for members’ wars of choice and “out of area” missions. It should go without saying that there would be no further NATO expansion, which does nothing except antagonize Russia to the detriment of regional stability. If the alliance’s security guarantees to current members are to mean anything, they shouldn’t be extended to countries that the U.S. and other member nations are not actually willing to defend. To that end, U.S. and NATO officials should stop giving false encouragement to would-be member states that will never be admitted.
A noninterventionist U.S. would keep the major treaty allies it has for the time being but would also review its relationships with the many client states that neither act like nor deserve the name of ally. Clients that expose the U.S. to unnecessary conflicts or create dangerous tensions with other major powers are liabilities, and the U.S. should alter relations with them accordingly. That doesn’t require the U.S. to have poor relations with those states, but it does mean that they would stop receiving support and indulgence when their interests and ours clearly diverge. Many client state relationships would need to be downgraded as a result, and U.S. aid to them would be correspondingly reduced or eliminated.
In keeping with President Washington’s exhortation in his Farewell Address, the U.S. would seek to “observe good faith and justice toward all nations” and to “cultivate peace and harmony with all.” That means that a noninterventionist U.S. would work to maintain normal and full diplomatic relations with as many states as possible, and it would restrict or cut off trade with other states only in the most extreme cases. A noninterventionist foreign policy would very rarely rely on sanctions as a tool, and then only when they are targeted specifically against regime officials rather than the civilian population. In general, an America following Washington’s advice would promote both trade and diplomatic engagement rather than employing the tactics of embargo and isolation.
The U.S. would also refuse to take sides in the internal quarrels of other countries. The sovereignty of other states would be respected much more consistently than in past decades. The U.S. would refrain from destabilizing foreign governments or aiding in their overthrow, and it would not make a habit of siding with whichever protest movement happened to be in the streets of a foreign capital. Likewise, it would refrain from propping up and subsidizing abusive and dictatorial regimes and would condition U.S. aid on how a government treats its people. While there may be a need to cooperate with authoritarian states on certain issues, governments that torture or violently suppress peaceful protests, including the current Egyptian government, shouldn’t be supported in any way by American taxpayers.
War might be necessary at some point, but if so it would be waged only in self-defense or the defense of a treaty ally. A noninterventionist U.S. would never wage a preventive war— which is contrary both to international law and morality—and would generally be wary of using force even when it could be justified. The U.S. should always avoid giving allies and clients the impression that they have a blank check from Washington, since that will tend to make them more combative and unreasonable in disputes with their neighbors. Allies and clients that wanted to pursue reckless and provocative courses of action would be actively discouraged, and it would be the responsibility of the U.S. to pull these states back from avoidable conflicts. A noninterventionist U.S. would manage relations with other major powers by seeking to cooperate on matters of common interest and by avoiding unnecessary disagreements on those issues where the U.S. has relatively little at stake. The U.S. and other major powers are bound to have conflicting interests from time to time, but these unavoidable disagreements shouldn’t be compounded by picking fights over every issue where we differ. As long as the U.S. has allies on the borders of other major powers, there will always be a certain degree of mistrust and tension in our relations. However, the U.S. shouldn’t make this worse by seeking to enlarge our alliances or increase our influence in countries that have historically been in the orbit of another major power. The goal here should be to keep tensions with other major powers at a tolerable minimum and to reduce the possibility of renewed great power conflict in the new century.
As George Washington also said: “In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.” For that reason, a noninterventionist U.S. would be one that doesn’t seek to demagogue or exaggerate foreign threats, nor would it cultivate either hostility towards or adoration of any other country. Above all, it won’t seek to make the U.S. the champion of any other country’s interests at our expense.
Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.
Senior editor Daniel Larison blogs at TheAmericanConservative.com/Larison.
Libertarians (along will less numerous and less influential paleoconservatives) are the only more or less influential faction of the US society that oppose what Basevich called New American Militarism. The foreign policy of the USA since the dissolution of the USSR was and is "open militarism". Recently John Quiggin tried to define militarism is came to the following definition (crookedtimber.org):
100 years after the Battle of the Somme, it's hard to see that much has been learned from the catastrophe of the Great War and the decades of slaughter that followed it. Rather than get bogged down (yet again) in specifics that invariably decline into arguments about who know more of the historical detail, I'm going to try a different approach, looking at the militarist ideology that gave us the War, and trying to articulate an anti-militarist alternative. Wikipedia offers a definition of militarism which, with the deletion of a single weasel word, seems to be entirely satisfactory and also seems to describe the dominant view of the political class, and much of the population in nearly every country in the world.Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it
aggressively[^1] to defend or promote national interests
This new epidemic of the US militarism which started after Cold War ended was well analyzed by Professor Bacevich (who is former colonel of the US army) who called it New American Militarism. Bacevich's book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War describe the "sacred trinity" of global military presence, global power projection, global interventionism is used to achieve those ends.
Professor Bacevich had shown that the main driver of the US militarism is neocons domination of the US foreign policy, and, especially, neocons domination in State Department regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in power. They profess that the US that we are uniquely qualified to take on the worldwide foes of peace and democracy, forgetting, revising, or ignoring the painful lessons of World War II, Vietnam, and beyond that might have taken the USA into periods of unprecedented peace, instead of numerous conflicts:
Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.
In other words they advocate permanent war for permanent peace. Lessons that the author shows President Obama is clearly in the midst of learning, using a modified sacred trinity. Written in engaging prose, his book Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War is an excellent peace of research with sections that some may find very troubling. Here is the summary:
UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXVII: September 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, August 2010).
The Washington consensus on national security policy that constitutes convention wisdom in American foreign policy began with the Cold War and survived, remarkably, the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, no longer serves American interests, but the failure of the Obama administration to alter it shows that change can only come from the American people.
Introduction: Slow Learner
The author's faith in orthodoxy began to crumble when visiting the BrandenburgGate in Berlin in the winter of 1990-1991(1-4). In October 1990 a visit to Jenarevealed the backwardness of EastGermany (4-6). During his years in the Army, Bacevich had kept down doubts; after the end of the Cold War he retired, and his loss of status freed him to educate himself (6-10).
"George W.Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition" (10). "This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom" (11). The past 60 years of American history shows continuity: a symbiotic "credo" (formulated by Henry Luce in 1941 as the "American Century") and a "sacred trinity" ("the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism") together define "the rules to which Washington adheres" (11-15).
In this book, "Washington" refers to the upper echelons of the three branches of government, the main agencies of the national security state, select think tanks and interest groups, "big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government" (15).
This book aspires to
(1) trace the history of the Washington rules;
(2) show who wins, who loses, and who pays under them;
(3) explain how itis perpetuated;
(4) show that the rules have lost what utility they might once have had;
and (5) re-legitimate "disreputable (or 'radical') views to our national security debates" (16).
The American Century is ending, and it "has become essential" to devise an "alternative to the reining national security paradigm" (16-18).
Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.
As president, Barack Obama's efforts to change the U.S.'s exercise of power "have seldom risen above the cosmetic"(20). He made clear he subscribes to the "catechism of American statecraft," viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).
It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23).
Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).
American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the "standard story line" presents as the result of the decisions of a "succession of presidential administrations," though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).
Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address on the "military-industrial complex" was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).
Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles's CIA) yang(LeMay's SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).
Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control
Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was "simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response " (60; 59-63).
This agenda purported to aim at "resisting aggression" but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).
McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack "triad" and LeMay et al. "got most of what they wanted" (66-72).
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally "indefensible" Operation Mongoose," in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism" against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).
U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and "suspended the tradition" in defusing the crisis (82-87).
Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy's assassination itself (87-92).
He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as "fought to sustain the Washington consensus" (107; 92-107).
Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.
William Fulbright's The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued in "The New American Militarism" (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become "a militaristic and aggressive nation" (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay "an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated," which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).
Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the "sacred trinity" (cf. 11-15) was "fully restored" (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse "the war's apparent verdict" (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).
By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan's election "sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism" (136; 136-38). Andthe end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright's pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).
Ch. 4: Reconstituting the Trinity
The period from 1980 to 2000 saw "not retrenchment but reconfiguration" (147). The
Except from Macmillan
Introduction: Slow Learner Worldly ambition inhibits true learning. Ask me. I know. A young man in a hurry is nearly uneducable: He knows what he wants and where he's headed; when it comes to looking back or entertaining heretical thoughts, he has neither the time nor the inclination. All that counts is that he is going somewhere. Only as ambition wanes does education become a possibility.
My own education did not commence until I had reached middle age. I can fix its start date with precision: For me, education began in Berlin, on a winter's evening, at the Brandenburg Gate, not long after the Berlin Wall had fallen. As an officer in the U.S. Army I had spent considerable time in Germany. Until that moment, however, my family and I had never had occasion to visit this most famous of German cities, still littered with artifacts of a deeply repellent history. At the end of a long day of exploration, we found ourselves in what had, until just months before, been the communist East. It was late and we were hungry, but I insisted on walking the length of the Unter den Linden, from the River Spree to the gate itself. A cold rain was falling and the pavement glistened. The buildings lining the avenue, dating from the era of Prussian kings, were dark, dirty, and pitted. Few people were about. It was hardly a night for sightseeing. For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history.
Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on. The Cold War had abruptly ended. A divided city and a divided nation had re united. For Americans who had known Berlin only from a distance, the city existed primarily as a metaphor. Pick a date— 1933, 1942, 1945, 1948, 1961, 1989—and Berlin becomes an instructive symbol of power, depravity, tragedy, defiance, endurance, or vindication. For those inclined to view the past as a chronicle of parables, the modern history of Berlin offered an abundance of material. The greatest of those parables emerged from the events of 1933 to 1945, an epic tale of evil ascendant, belatedly confronted, then heroically overthrown.
A second narrative, woven from events during the intense period immediately following World War II, saw hopes for peace dashed, yielding bitter antagonism but also great resolve. The ensuing stand-off—the "long twilight struggle," in John Kennedy's memorable phrase— formed the centerpiece of the third parable, its central theme stubborn courage in the face of looming peril. Finally came the exhilarating events of 1989, with freedom ultimately prevailing, not only in Berlin, but throughout Eastern Europe.
.... ... ...
Although commonly depicted as the most advanced and successful component of the Soviet Empire, East Germany more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world.
... ... ...
Briquettes of soft coal used for home heating made the air all but unbreathable and coated everything with soot. In the German cities we knew, pastels predominated—houses and apartment blocks painted pale green, muted salmon, and soft yellow. Here everything was brown and gray
... ... ...
Bit by bit, my worldview started to crumble. That worldview had derived from this conviction: that American power manifested a commitment to global leadership, and that both together expressed and affirmed the nation's enduring devotion to its founding ideals. That American power, policies, and purpose were bound together in a neat, internally consistent package, each element drawing strength from and reinforcing the others, was something I took as a given. That, during my adult life, a penchant for interventionism had become a signature of U.S. policy did not—to me, at least—in any way contradict America's aspirations for peace. Instead, a willingness to expend lives and treasure in distant places testified to the seriousness of those aspirations. That, during this same period, the United States had amassed an arsenal of over thirty-one thousand nuclear weapons, some small number of them assigned to units in which I had served, was not at odds with our belief in the inalienable right to life and liberty; rather, threats to life and liberty had compelled the United States to acquire such an arsenal and maintain it in readiness for instant use.2 I was not so naíve as to believe that the American record had been without flaws. Yet I assured myself that any errors or misjudgments had been committed in good faith. Furthermore, circumstances permitted little real choice. In Southeast Asia as in Western Europe, in the Persian Gulf as in the Western Hemisphere, the United States had simply done what needed doing. Viable alternatives did not exist. To consent to any dilution of American power would be to forfeit global leadership, thereby putting at risk safety, prosperity, and freedom, not only our own but also that of our friends and allies.
The choices seemed clear enough. On one side was the status quo: the commitments, customs, and habits that defined American globalism, implemented by the national security apparatus within which I functioned as a small cog. On the other side was the prospect of appeasement, isolationism, and catastrophe. The only responsible course was the one to which every president since Harry Truman had adhered. For me, the Cold War had played a crucial role in sustaining that worldview.
Given my age, upbringing, and professional background, it could hardly have been otherwise. Although the great rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union had contained moments of considerable anxiety — I remember my father, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, stocking our basement with water and canned goods — it served primarily to clarify, not to frighten.
The Cold War provided a framework that organized and made sense of contemporary history. It offered a lineup and a scorecard. That there existed bad Germans and good Germans, their Germans and our Germans, totalitarian Germans and Germans who, like Americans, passionately loved freedom was, for example, a proposition I accepted as dogma. Seeing the Cold War as a struggle between good and evil answered many questions, consigned others to the periphery, and rendered still others irrelevant.
Back in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, more than a few members of my generation had rejected the conception of the Cold War as a Manichean struggle. Here too, I was admittedly a slow learner. Yet having kept the faith long after others had lost theirs, the doubts that eventually assailed me were all the more disorienting. Granted, occasional suspicions had appeared long before Jena and Berlin
My own Vietnam experience had generated its share, which I had done my best to suppress. I was, after all, a serving soldier. Except in the narrowest of terms, the military profession, in those days at least, did not look kindly on nonconformity. Climbing the ladder of career success required curbing maverick tendencies. To get ahead, you needed to be a team player. Later, when studying the history of U.S. foreign relations in graduate school, I was pelted with challenges to orthodoxy, which I vigorously deflected. When it came to education, graduate school proved a complete waste of time — a period of intense study devoted to the further accumulation of facts, while I exerted myself to ensuring that they remained inert.
Now, however, my personal circumstances were changing. Shortly after the passing of the Cold War, my military career ended. Education thereby became not only a possibility, but also a necessity. In measured doses, mortification cleanses the soul. It's the perfect antidote for excessive self-regard. After twenty-three years spent inside the U.S. Army seemingly going somewhere, I now found myself on the outside going nowhere in particular. In the self-contained and cloistered universe of regimental life, I had briefly risen to the status of minor spear carrier. The instant I took off my uniform, that status vanished. I soon came to a proper appreciation of my own insignificance, a salutary lesson that I ought to have absorbed many years earlier. As I set out on what eventually became a crablike journey toward a new calling as a teacher and writer—a pilgrimage of sorts—ambition in the commonly accepted meaning of the term ebbed. This did not happen all at once. Yet gradually, trying to grab one of life's shiny brass rings ceased being a major preoccupation.
Wealth, power, and celebrity became not aspirations but subjects for critical analysis.
History—especially the familiar narrative of the Cold War—no longer offered answers; instead, it posed perplexing riddles. Easily the most nagging was this one: How could I have so profoundly misjudged the reality of what lay on the far side of the Iron Curtain? Had I been insufficiently attentive? Or was it possible that I had been snookered all along? Contemplating such questions, while simultaneously witnessing the unfolding of the "long 1990s"— the period bookended by two wars with Iraq when American vainglory reached impressive new heights—prompted the realization that I had grossly misinterpreted the threat posed by America's adversaries. Yet that was the lesser half of the problem. Far worse than misperceiving "them" was the fact that I had misperceived "us." What I thought I knew best I actually understood least. Here, the need for education appeared especially acute.
George W. Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary—above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power— now appeared preposterous. The contradictions that found an ostensibly peace-loving nation committing itself to a doctrine of preventive war became too great to ignore. The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended "global war on terror" without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords. During the era of containment, the United States had at least maintained the pretense of a principled strategy; now, the last vestiges of principle gave way to fantasy and opportunism. With that, the worldview to which I had adhered as a young adult and carried into middle age dissolved completely. *
What should stand in the place of such discarded convictions? Simply inverting the conventional wisdom, substituting a new Manichean paradigm for the old discredited version—the United States taking the place of the Soviet Union as the source of the world's evil—would not suffice. Yet arriving at even an approximation of truth would entail subjecting conventional wisdom, both present and past, to sustained and searching scrutiny. Cautiously at first but with growing confidence, this I vowed to do. Doing so meant shedding habits of conformity acquired over decades. All of my adult life I had been a company man, only dimly aware of the extent to which institutional loyalties induce myopia. Asserting independence required first recognizing the extent to which I had been socialized to accept certain things as unimpeachable. Here then were the preliminary steps essential to making education accessible. Over a period of years, a considerable store of debris had piled up. Now, it all had to go. Belatedly, I learned that more often than not what passes for conventional wisdom is simply wrong. Adopting fashionable attitudes to demonstrate one's trustworthiness—the world of politics is flush with such people hoping thereby to qualify for inclusion in some inner circle—is akin to engaging in prostitution in exchange for promissory notes. It's not only demeaning but downright foolhardy. This book aims to take stock of conventional wisdom in its most influential and enduring form, namely the package of assumptions, habits, and precepts that have defined the tradition of statecraft to which the United States has adhered since the end of World War II— the era of global dominance now drawing to a close. This postwar tradition combines two components, each one so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.
The first component specifies norms according to which the international order ought to work and charges the United States with responsibility for enforcing those norms. Call this the American credo. In the simplest terms, the credo summons the United States—and the United States alone—to lead, save, liberate, and ultimately transform the world. In a celebrated manifesto issued at the dawn of what he termed "The American Century," Henry R. Luce made the case for this spacious conception of global leadership. Writing in Life magazine in early 1941, the influential publisher exhorted his fellow citizens to "accept wholeheartedly our duty to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." Luce thereby captured what remains even today the credo's essence.3 Luce's concept of an American Century, an age of unquestioned American global primacy, resonated, especially in Washington. His evocative phrase found a permanent place in the lexicon of national politics. (Recall that the neoconservatives who, in the 1990s, lobbied for more militant U.S. policies named their enterprise the Project for a New American Century.) So, too, did Luce's expansive claim of prerogatives to be exercised by the United States.
Even today, whenever public figures allude to America's responsibility to lead, they signal their fidelity to this creed. Along with respectful allusions to God and "the troops," adherence to Luce's credo has become a de facto prerequisite for high office. Question its claims and your prospects of being heard in the hubbub of national politics become nil. Note, however, that the duty Luce ascribed to Americans has two components. It is not only up to Americans, he wrote, to choose the purposes for which they would bring their influence to bear, but to choose the means as well. Here we confront the second component of the postwar tradition of American statecraft. With regard to means, that tradition has emphasized activism over example, hard power over soft, and coercion (often styled "negotiating from a position of strength") over suasion. Above all, the exercise of global leadership as prescribed by the credo obliges the United States to maintain military capabilities staggeringly in excess of those required for self-defense. Prior to World War II, Americans by and large viewed military power and institutions with skepticism, if not outright hostility. In the wake of World War II, that changed. An affinity for military might emerged as central to the American identity. By the midpoint of the twentieth century, "the Pentagon" had ceased to be merely a gigantic five-sided building.
Like "Wall Street" at the end of the nineteenth century, it had become Leviathan, its actions veiled in secrecy, its reach extending around the world. Yet while the concentration of power in Wall Street had once evoked deep fear and suspicion, Americans by and large saw the concentration of power in the Pentagon as benign. Most found it reassuring. A people who had long seen standing armies as a threat to liberty now came to believe that the preservation of liberty required them to lavish resources on the armed forces. During the Cold War, Americans worried ceaselessly about falling behind the Russians, even though the Pentagon consistently maintained a position of overall primacy. Once the Soviet threat disappeared, mere primacy no longer sufficed. With barely a whisper of national debate, unambiguous and perpetual global military supremacy emerged as an essential predicate to global leadership. Every great military power has its distinctive signature. For Napoleonic France, it was the levée en masse— the people in arms animated by the ideals of the Revolution. For Great Britain in the heyday of empire, it was command of the seas, sustained by a dominant fleet and a network of far-flung outposts from Gibraltar and the Cape of Good Hope to Singapore and Hong Kong. Germany from the 1860s to the 1940s (and Israel from 1948 to 1973) took another approach, relying on a potent blend of tactical flexibility and operational audacity to achieve battlefield superiority.
The abiding signature of American military power since World War II has been of a different order altogether. The United States has not specialized in any particular type of war. It has not adhered to a fixed tactical style. No single service or weapon has enjoyed consistent favor. At times, the armed forces have relied on citizen-soldiers to fill their ranks; at other times, long-service professionals. Yet an examination of the past sixty years of U.S. military policy and practice does reveal important elements of continuity. Call them the sacred trinity: an abiding conviction that the minimum essentials of international peace and order require the United States to maintain a global military presence, to configure its forces for global power projection, and to counter existing or anticipated threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism. Together, credo and trinity—the one defining purpose, the other practice—constitute the essence of the way that Washington has attempted to govern and police the American Century. The relationship between the two is symbiotic. The trinity lends plausibility to the credo's vast claims. For its part, the credo justifies the trinity's vast requirements and exertions.
Together they provide the basis for an enduring consensus that imparts a consistency to U.S. policy regardless of which political party may hold the upper hand or who may be occupying the White House. From the era of Harry Truman to the age of Barack Obama, that consensus has remained intact. It defines the rules to which Washington adheres; it determines the precepts by which Washington rules. As used here, Washington is less a geographic expression than a set of interlocking institutions headed by people who, whether acting officially or unofficially, are able to put a thumb on the helm of state. Washington, in this sense, includes the upper echelons of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. It encompasses the principal components of the national security state— the departments of Defense, State, and, more recently, Homeland Security, along with various agencies comprising the intelligence and federal law enforcement communities. Its ranks extend to select think tanks and interest groups. Lawyers, lobbyists, fixers, former officials, and retired military officers who still enjoy access are members in good standing. Yet Washington also reaches beyond the Beltway to include big banks and other financial institutions, defense contractors and major corporations, television networks and elite publications like the New York Times, even quasi-academic entities like the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
With rare exceptions, acceptance of the Washington rules forms a prerequisite for entry into this world. My purpose in writing this book is fivefold: first, to trace the origins and evolution of the Washington rules—both the credo that inspires consensus and the trinity in which it finds expression; second, to subject the resulting consensus to critical inspection, showing who wins and who loses and also who foots the bill; third, to explain how the Washington rules are perpetuated, with certain views privileged while others are declared disreputable; fourth, to demonstrate that the rules themselves have lost whatever utility they may once have possessed, with their implications increasingly pernicious and their costs increasingly unaffordable; and finally, to argue for readmitting disreputable (or "radical") views to our national security debate, in effect legitimating alternatives to the status quo. In effect, my aim is to invite readers to share in the process of education on which I embarked two decades ago in Berlin. The Washington rules were forged at a moment when American influence and power were approaching their acme. That moment has now passed. The United States has drawn down the stores of authority and goodwill it had acquired by 1945. Words uttered in Washington command less respect than once was the case. Americans can ill afford to indulge any longer in dreams of saving the world, much less remaking it in our own image. The curtain is now falling on the American Century. Similarly, the United States no longer possesses sufficient wherewithal to sustain a national security strategy that relies on global military presence and global power projection to underwrite a policy of global interventionism. Touted as essential to peace, adherence to that strategy has propelled the United States into a condition approximating perpetual war, as the military misadventures of the past decade have demonstrated.
To anyone with eyes to see, the shortcomings inherent in the Washington rules have become plainly evident. Although those most deeply invested in perpetuating its conventions will insist otherwise, the tradition to which Washington remains devoted has begun to unravel. Attempting to prolong its existence might serve Washington's interests, but it will not serve the interests of the American people.
Devising an alternative to the reigning national security paradigm will pose a daunting challenge—especially if Americans look to "Washington" for fresh thinking. Yet doing so has become essential. In one sense, the national security policies to which Washington so insistently adheres express what has long been the preferred American approach to engaging the world beyond our borders. That approach plays to America's presumed strong suit—since World War II, and especially since the end of the Cold War, thought to be military power. In another sense, this reliance on military might creates excuses for the United States to avoid serious engagement: Confidence in American arms has made it unnecessary to attend to what others might think or to consider how their aspirations might differ from our own.
In this way, the Washington rules reinforce American provincialism—a national trait for which the United States continues to pay dearly. The persistence of these rules has also provided an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement. From this perspective, confidence that the credo and the trinity will oblige others to accommodate themselves to America's needs or desires — whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods—has allowed Washington to postpone or ignore problems demanding attention here at home.
Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland and Detroit. Purporting to support the troops in their crusade to free the world obviates any obligation to assess the implications of how Americans themselves choose to exercise freedom. When Americans demonstrate a willingness to engage seriously with others, combined with the courage to engage seriously with themselves, then real education just might begin.
Jul 19, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
America Doesn't Need Another Weakling NATO Ally Macedonia is the latest nation invited into the alliance, but how does that enhance America's (or Europe's) security? By Doug Bandow • July 19, 2018
When George Washington warned Americans against forming a "passionate attachment" to other countries, he might have been thinking of the Balkans. Indeed, a couple decades later, John Quincy Adams criticized proposals to aid Greece against the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled that region. America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy," he intoned.
On into the 20th century, the Balkans were in turmoil. Germany's "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck, warned that "the great European War would come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." That's exactly what happened in 1914.
It took decades and two world wars for the Balkans to stabilize. But after the Cold War ended, Yugoslavia, which had emerged from Europe's previous convulsions, broke apart. One of the smaller pieces was Macedonia.
The battles among the Serbians, Croatians, and Bosnians were bloody and brutal. In contrast, Macedonia provided comic relief. The small, mountainous, landlocked nation of two million people won its independence without a fight in 1991, though Athens launched a verbal and economic war against Skopje over the latter's use of the name "Macedonia."
Perhaps modern Greeks feared that a resurrected Alexander the Great would lead the newly freed Macedonian hordes south and conquer Greece. Skopje entered the United Nations under the provisional name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. In June, after only 27 years, the two governments agreed that Macedonia/FYROM would be called the Republic of North Macedonia -- though the decision must still be ratified by the Macedonian people in a referendum.
More serious was the insurgency launched by ethnic Albanians who made up about a quarter of the nation's population. The battle two decades ago over Kosovo inflamed ethnic relations in Macedonia, eventually resulting in a short-lived insurgency. Although the fighters disarmed, Skopje's politics remained nationalist and difficult. Last year, a more liberal administration took over, but the country's democratic institutions remain fragile.
Indeed, Freedom House only rates the nation "partly free." The group cites voter intimidation, political patronage networks, violent protests, and problems with judicial impartiality and due process. Particularly serious were the threats against press freedom, which led to a rating of "not free" in that area. While NATO's newer members tend to score lower than "Old Europe," as Donald Rumsfeld once referred to the original allies, Macedonia is a step further down. Only Turkey, an incipient dictatorship, is worse: it almost certainly would not be considered for membership today.
None of this mattered last week, however. After suffering Trump's many slings and arrows, alliance members approved an invitation for Skopje to join NATO. Macedonian lawmaker Artan Grubi called it "our dream coming true. We have been in the waiting hall for too long."
That's because Macedonia had hoped for an invite back in 2008 at the Bucharest summit, but was blocked by Athens over the name dispute, and has wanted to join ever since. Macedonia's Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said, "With NATO membership, Macedonia becomes part of the most powerful alliance. That enhances both our security and economic prosperity." Money and status are expected to follow.
But how would this benefit the United States and other NATO members? James Ker-Lindsay at the London School of Economics made the astonishing claim that "opening the way for the country to join NATO would be a big win for the organization at a crucial time when concerns over Russian influence in the Western Balkans are growing in many capitals." As Skopje goes, so goes Europe? Not likely. If Washington and Moscow are engaged in a new "great game," it is not a battle for Macedonia.
In fact, Macedonia is a security irrelevancy, destined to require American aid to create the pretense that its military is fit for the transatlantic alliance. Skopje spent just $112 million on its armed forces last year, ahead of only one NATO member, Montenegro. That was barely 1 percent of its GDP, putting Macedonia near the back of the NATO pack.
With an 8,000-man military, one is tempted to ask, why bother? But then one could similarly pose that query to several other NATO members. Skopje's military is roughly the same size as Albania's, slightly bigger than Slovenia's, and about four times the size of Montenegro's. None will be of much use in a conflict with the only conceivable threat, Russia.
So why bring Macedonia into NATO?
Some American policymakers see alliance membership as a means to socialize nations like Macedonia, helping them move towards democracy. However, the European Union, which sets standards governing a range of domestic policies, has always been better suited to this task, and EU membership imposes no security obligations on Washington. With the name controversy tentatively resolved, Skopje could begin the EU accession process -- if the Europeans are willing. That is properly their -- not Washington's -- responsibility.
In contrast, the transatlantic alliance should advance American and European security. Absorbing former members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, thereby pushing the alliance up to the Russian Federation's border, proved to be a foolish move because it violated assurances made to Russian leaders. Despite being former KGB, Vladimir Putin never appeared to be ideologically antagonistic toward America. However, when he perceived Washington's behavior as threatening -- including dismembering Serbia, backing revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and promising to include both nations in NATO -- it encouraged him to respond violently.
The Balkans are peripheral even to Europe and matter little to America's defense. The states and peoples there tend to be more disruptive and less democratic than their neighbors, reflecting the region's unstable history. (North) Macedonia's 8,000 troops aren't likely to be reborn as the Spartan 300 and hold off invading Russians. So why should America threaten war on Skopje's behalf?
Admitting new members is never costless. Aid will be necessary to improve their militaries. Moreover, newer members sometimes become the most demanding, like the Baltics and Poland, which insist that they are entitled to American bases and garrisons.
Expansion also complicates alliance decision-making. No doubt, Washington wishes its European allies would do what they're told: spend more, shut up, and deploy where America wants them. That doesn't work out very well in practice, alas, as Trump has discovered in Europe (though nations with smaller militaries are more likely to acquiesce than nations with bigger ones). An organization of 30 members, which NATO will become if Macedonia is added, is a more complex and less agile creature than one of 16, the number that existed before NATO raced east.
Continuing expansion also reinforces the message that NATO is hostile toward Russia. That's the only country allies are joining to oppose, after all. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons Moscow should distrust the United States, but reinforcing negative perceptions for no benefit at all is bad policy.
Finally, expanding the alliance is nonsensical in light of the president's criticisms of the Europeans. Hiking U.S. military spending, increasing manpower and materiel deployments in Europe, and adding new members all contradict his demand that the allies do more and signal that the president is not serious in his demands. That leaves the Europeans with little incentive to act, especially since most of their peoples perceive few if any security threats.
Yet again President Trump has been exposed as a thoughtless blowhard. His rabid supporters have likely enjoyed his confrontational rhetoric, but he has done nothing to turn it into policy. The Europeans need only wait for his attacks to ebb and then they can proceed much the same as before. The status quo will continue to reign, impervious to change.
Montenegro always resembled the Duchy of Grand Fenwick from the delightful novel The Mouse that Roared . Macedonia is the Duchy of North Grand Fenwick, a slightly larger neighboring state with similar features but additional problems. Neither is remotely relevant to American security. America doesn't need yet another security black hole as an alliance partner.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .
Jul 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
It was a remarkable moment in a remarkable press conference. President Donald Trump had just finished a controversial summit meeting in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and the two were talking to the media . Jeff Mason, a political affairs reporter with Reuters, stood up and asked Putin a question pulled straight out of the day's headlines: "Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?"
The "12 Russian officials" Mason spoke of were military intelligence officers accused of carrying out a series of cyberattacks against various American-based computer networks (including those belonging to the Democratic National Committee), the theft of emails and other data, and the release of a significant portion of this information to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The names and organizational affiliations of these 12 officers were contained in a detailed 29-page indictment prepared by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and subsequently made public by Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein on July 13 -- a mere three days prior to the Helsinki summit.
Vladimir Putin responded, "We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty, that dates back to 1999, the mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently."
Putin then discussed the relationship between this agreement -- the 1999 Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty -- and the Mueller indictment. "This treaty has specific legal procedures," Putin noted, that "we can offer the appropriate commission headed by special attorney Mueller. He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal and official request to us so that we would interrogate, we would hold the questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes and our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States."Trump Calls Off Cold War II Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria
In the uproar that followed the Trump-Putin press conference , the exchange between Mason and Putin was largely forgotten amidst invective over Trump's seeming public capitulation on the issue of election interference. "Today's press conference in Helsinki," Senator John McCain observed afterwards in a typical comment, "was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."
It took an interview with Putin after the summit concluded , conducted by Fox News's Chris Wallace, to bring the specific issue of the 12 indicted Russians back to the forefront and give it context. From Putin's perspective, this indictment and the way it was handled by the United States was a political act. "It's the internal political games of the United States. Don't make the relationship between Russia and the United States -- don't hold it hostage of this internal political struggle. And it's quite clear to me that this is used in the internal political struggle, and it's nothing to be proud of for American democracy, to use such dirty methods in the political rivalry."
Regarding the indicted 12, Putin reiterated the points he had made earlier to Jeff Mason. "We -- with the United States -- we have a treaty for assistance in criminal cases, an existing treaty that exists from 1999. It's still in force, and it works sufficiently. Why wouldn't Special Counsel Mueller send us an official request within the framework of this agreement? Our investigators will be acting in accordance with this treaty. They will question each individual that the American partners are suspecting of something. Why not a single request was filed? Nobody sent us a single formal letter, a formal request."
There is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia, which makes all the calls for Trump to demand the extradition of the 12 Russians little more than a continuation of the "internal political games" Putin alluded to in his interview. There is, however, the treaty that Putin referenced at both the press conference and during the Wallace interview.
Signed in Moscow on June 17, 1999, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty calls for the "prevention, suppression and investigation of crimes" by both parties "in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty where the conduct that is the subject of the request constitutes a crime under the laws of both Parties."
It should be noted that the indicted 12 have not violated any Russian laws. But the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty doesn't close the door on cooperation in this matter. Rather, the treaty notes that "The Requested Party may, in its discretion, also provide legal assistance where the conduct that is the subject of the request would not constitute a crime under the laws of the Requested Party."
It specifically precludes the process of cooperating from inferring a right "on the part of any other persons to obtain evidence, to have evidence excluded, or to impede the execution of a request." In short, if the United States were to avail itself of the treaty's terms, Russia would not be able to use its cooperation as a vehicle to disrupt any legal proceedings underway in the U.S.
The legal assistance that the treaty facilitates is not inconsequential. Through it, the requesting party can, among other things, obtain testimony and statements from designated persons; receive documents, records, and other items; and arrange the transfer of persons in custody for testimony on the territory of the requesting party.
If the indictment of the 12 Russians wasn't the "dirty method" used in a domestic American "political rivalry" that Putin described, one would imagine that Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein would have availed himself of the opportunity to gather additional evidence regarding the alleged crimes. He would also have, at the very least, made a request to have these officers appear in court in the United States to face the charges put forward in the indictment. The treaty specifically identifies the attorney general of the United States "or persons designated by the Attorney General" as the "Central Authority" for treaty implementation. Given the fact that Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters pertaining to the investigation by the Department of Justice into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the person empowered to act is Rosenstein.
There are several grounds under the treaty for denying requested legal assistance, including anything that might prejudice "the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party." However, it also requires that the reasons for the any denial of requested assistance be put in writing. Moreover, prior to denying a request, the Requested Party "shall consult with the Central Authority of the Requesting Party to consider whether legal assistance can be given subject to such conditions as it deems necessary. If the Requesting Party accepts legal assistance subject to these conditions, it shall comply with the conditions."
By twice raising the treaty in the context of the 12 Russians, Putin has clearly signaled that Russia would be prepared to proceed along these lines.
If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.
Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
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 .
Rob July 17, 2018 at 11:03 pmVery cogent analysis. Putin, who's incredibly well briefed, knew exactly what he was offering, and thought that by doing so, would force the DoJ/Mueller to either take him up on his offer or otherwise display the overt politicism of the indictments. But the American anti-Trump mindhive is so completely addled, they of course miss the point entirely. The absence of reason among the anti-Trump/anti-Russia collective is truly something to behold – it's scary.Janek , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:29 pmThe request V. Putin proposed and Scot Ritter writes about, if send to Russia, would be equivalent to 'go and whistle' and would be treated the same way the Russians treat the requests from Poland to return the remains of the Polish plane that crashed in controversial and strange circumstances near Smolensk on April 10, 2010. They, the Russians, did not return the remains of the plane up until today and the place where the plane crashed they bulldozed the ground and paved with very thick layer of concrete.b. , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:50 pm
Such request would only give the Russians propaganda tools to delay and dilute any responsibility from the Russian side and at the end they would blame the USA for the whole mess with no end to their investigation, because they would investigate until the US investigators would drop dead. Anybody who seriously thinks about V.
Putin offer to investigate anything with Russia should first have his head examined by a very good, objective, and politically neutral head specialist."If the indictment issued by the Department of Justice is to be taken seriously, then it is incumbent upon Rosenstein to call Putin's bluff, and submit a detailed request for legal assistance per the mandate and procedures specified in the treaty -- in short, compel Russia to either put up or shut up.EliteCommInc. , says: July 18, 2018 at 2:57 am
Any failure to do so would only confirm Putin's assertion that the indictment was a political game to undermine the presidency of Donald J. Trump."
That was one long-winded way of recognizing that Putin just told the US biparty establishment behind the manufactured "Russia!" hysteria to put up or shut up.I don't think that Pres Putin has anything to lose here.Realist , says: July 18, 2018 at 3:16 am
"ARTICLE 4 DENIAL OF LEGAL ASSISTANCE
The Central Authority of the Requested Party may deny legal assistance if:
(1) the request relates to a crime under military law that is not a crime under general criminal law;
(2) the execution of the request would prejudice the security or other essential interests of the Requested Party; or "whether accurate or not the treaty permits a denial of request, if said requests threaten Russian security."
Almost by definition, an investigation interrogation by the US of the personnel in question because said questioning might very well stray into other areas , unrelated to the hacking charge. Now Pres. Putin has played two cards: a treaty is in place that deals with criminal matters between the two states and surely must have known that and should have already made the formal requests in conjunction with the treaty or he didn't know either way, the rush to embarrass the president may very well backfire. As almost everything about this investigation has."The DOJ should call his bluff."
Right! That's not going to happen .the DOJ has no proof .their indictment was a ploy to queer any deal with Russia. Anybody that believes anything the 'intelligence' agencies say, without proof, is an idiot.
Jul 17, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Ron and Rand Paul Call Out Foreign Policy Hysteria And like his father, the senator found himself on the wrong end of the media mob this week.
When Mitt Romney called Russia America's " number one geopolitical foe " during the 2012 election campaign, Barack Obama mocked him: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back." Vice President Joe Biden dismissed Romney as a "Cold War holdover." Hillary Clinton said Romney was "looking backward." John Kerry said "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV ."
Romney's Russia warning came at a time when Republicans were eager to exploit President Obama's hot mic comments to Russian president Dmitri Medvedev where he promised " more flexibility " on missile defense issues after the election. Romney, to the delight of Republican hawks and neoconservatives , was eager to portray Obama as capitulating , weak , and dangerous . For his part, Obama, who once vowed to " reset " U.S.-Russia relations, painted Romney as outdated for disparaging diplomacy.
But that was then. This week the Cold War seemed to be back in full force for many former Obama supporters, as President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of 12 Russian agents being indicted for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election.
Democrats have joined forces with Republican hawks and neoconservatives to declare Trump " weak " for engaging Russia. One MSNBC pundit said Trump's NATO criticisms were the president " doing Vladimir Putin's bidding ." New York Magazine 's Jonathan Chait went full Alex Jones when he suggested that Trump may have been a Putin agent since 1987 -- a Manchurian Candidate -esque spin reminiscent of the original Red Scare . #TraitorTrump even trended on Twitter.
Rand Paul: Congress Moves to Give the President Unlimited War Powers The Coming American-Russian Alliance Against China
In the midst of this hysteria, Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling.
"They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian election," Paul replied . "So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try." Paul insisted that U.S. and Russian meddling are not "morally equivalent," but said we must still take into account that both nations do this.
That's when "Rand Paul" began trending on Twitter.
"Rand Paul is on TV delivering line after line of Kremlin narrative, and it is absolutely stunning to watch," read one tweet with nearly 5,000 likes. Another tweet, just as popular, said , "Between McConnell hiding election interference and Rand Paul defending it, looks like Russia's already annexed Kentucky." A Raw Story headline on Paul's CNN interview read, " Stunned Jake Tapper explains why NATO exists to a Russia-defending Rand Paul ."
But was Paul really "defending" Russia? Was he even defending Russian meddling in U.S. elections? Or was he merely trying to pierce through the hysteria and portray American-Russian relations in a more accurate and comprehensive context -- something partisans left and right won't do and the mainstream media is too lazy to attempt?
Cutting through the crap on foreign policy is something of a Paul family tradition.
When Ron Paul suggested on a Republican presidential primary debate stage in 2008 that U.S. foreign policy created " blowback " that led to 9/11, fellow GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani accused Paul of blaming America and defending the attackers. Paul didn't relent: "Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years."
No one in the GOP wanted to hear what Ron Paul had to say because it challenged and largely rebutted Republicans' entire political identity at the time. Paul was roundly denounced. FrontPageMag's David Horowitz called him a " disgrace ." RedState banned all Paul supporters. The American Conservative 's Jim Antle would recall in 2012: "The optics were poor: a little-known congressman was standing against the GOP frontrunner on an issue where 90 percent of the party likely disagreed with him . Support for the war was not only nearly unanimous within the GOP, but bipartisan."
Rand Paul now poses a similar challenge to Russia-obsessed Democrats. Contra Jake Tapper sagely explaining "why NATO exists" to a supposedly ignoramus Paul, as the liberal Raw Story headline framed it, here's what the senator actually said:
There are neocons in both parties who still want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO. That's very, very provocative. It has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this in 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction. He said, "If you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin," basically.
Do you think Jake Tapper Googled "George Kennan"? That's about as likely as Giuliani Googling "blowback."
"It's a big mistake for us, not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything Russia does is justified," Paul told Tapper. "But if we don't understand that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in our world."
As for Russian spying -- was Paul just blindly defending that, too? Or did he make an important point in noting both sides do it?
"Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system," the New York Times reported in February. "But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view."
The Times continued: "'If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,' said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States 'absolutely' has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, 'and I hope we keep doing it.'"
The U.S. will no doubt keep meddling in foreign elections. Russia will do the same, just as it did during the Obama administration and years prior . The cries against diplomacy and for war will ebb, flow, flip, and flop, depending on who sits in the White House and how it makes the screaming partisans feel. Many Democrats who view Trump's diplomacy with Russia as dangerous would have embraced it (and did) under Obama. Many Republicans who hail Trump's diplomatic efforts wouldn't have done so were he a Democrat. President Hillary Clinton could be having the same meeting with Putin and most Democrats would be fine with it, Russian meddling or no meddling.
So many headlines attempted to portray Paul as the partisan hack on Sunday when the opposite is actually true. It's the left, including much of the media, that's now turned hawkish towards Russia for largely partisan reasons, while Paul was making the same realist foreign policy arguments regarding NATO and U.S.-Russia relations long before the Trump presidency.
Responding to Romney's anti-Russia, anti-Obama comments in 2012, Thomas de Waal, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the New York Times , "There's a whole school of thought that Russia is one you need to work with to solve other problems in the world, rather than being the problem." Rand Paul said Sunday, "People need to think through these things before they get so eager to rattle their sabers about wanting to have a confrontation with Russia."
But think they won't and sabers they'll rattle, as yesterday's villains become today's heroes and vice versa.
Just ask Mitt Romney .
Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.
Come On July 17, 2018 at 1:51 amThere's the elephant in the room, of course. Nobody seems to want to touch it yet, but everybody knows that Israeli meddling in US elections puts Russian meddling in the shade. Still, it's fascinating watching the reporting and waiting to see who will break the silence.cynthia , says: July 17, 2018 at 7:50 am
In the meantime, wake me up when there's something called "the Russia-American Political Action Committee" in DC. Wake me up when US politicians vie to win its favor, as they vie to win the favor of AIPAC, and win the huge financial contributions that result from getting its support. Wake me up when Russian oligarchs contribute even a fraction of what Israel donors like Sheldon Adelson already contribute to US political campaigns – and wake me up when they get results like an American president moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or an America president sending American troops to stand between Israel and its enemies Russia may have moved a few thousand votes here or there, but Israel gets American politicians to send America's children to die in Middle East wars. At the moment, Russia can only dream of meddling with that degree of success.
Yep – American elections have been corrupted by foreign countries for a long time. Russia's only problem is that it hasn't learned who to pay off, and how much. Next time Mr. Netanyahu visits Mr. Putin (and he visits him fairly often), he can give him a few pointers. And then Mr. Putin will be invited to give speeches to joint sessions of Congress. Just like Mr. Netanyahu. And freshmen US congressmen will be frog-marched to Russia for instructions, just like they're already frog-marched to Israel.President Trump took a slice out of the Military Industrial Complex yesterday. John McCain and war mongers went crazy. The SWAMP IS ANGRY!connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:26 amRussia has been engaging in international espionage dating back at least to Peter the Great. As such, they play the game as well as, or possibly better, than anyone. They, like we, will do what is necessary-even to the point of injecting themselves in the internal affairs of another country–if they deem it in their interest to do so or, as the cliche has it, "in the interest of state". Not very nice but–that's the way the game is played.Youknowho , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:49 am
Thank you, Rand Paul and Mr. Hunter, for injecting some much needed sanity into this debate.I said it before, and I will repeat it here:Andy Johnson , says: July 17, 2018 at 8:56 am
There is no need to demonize the Russians. Their country has national interests and goals. If they are patriots, the Russians will seek to advance those interests and goals.
We also have interests and goals, and if we are patriots, we seek to advance them (though we disagree on what our real interests are and what our goals should be).
When our interests concide with that of Russia we collaborate. When they clash, we seek to undermine each other.
The Russians seem to have been doing it, as their interests now clash with ours. Nothing to be worked out about. That's how the game is played.
Which does not mean that we should defend ourselves strenuously from such undermining. And the President is precisely tasked with defending this country and advance its interests. This he seems to be unable to do.
Do not hate the Russians. Do not demonize them. But be aware of what they are doing, because we are NOT in a Kumbayah moment with them.Well done, Mr. Hunter. It's a shame that the Pauls' position on foreign policy is not shared by ostensibly "libertarian" commentators who value DC cocktail parties above all principles.Johann , says: July 17, 2018 at 10:27 amThe left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement.David Smith , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:08 amThe real problem with Russia is that it exists, and it is too big for us to control. The real problem with Putin is that he is the first strong leader Russia has had since the fall of the Soviet Union, and he is messing up our plans for world hegemony.connecticut farmer , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:19 am
As one who grew up during the Cold War (the real one) and lived through the whole thing (the Iron Curtain, the Warsaw Pact, the crushing of Hungary, communists behind every door and under every bed), I find it very hard to take all the current hysteria about Russia very seriously.@YouknowwhoGeneral Manager , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:26 am
Sane, reasonable comments. Totally agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately, since we live in a 3-ring media circus, so few people will listen or pay heed. In a world possibly even more dangerous than any time since the Cold War, the act of demonizing one of the two greatest nuclear powers on earth is surely madness.CNN etc. headlines are not even thinly veiled editorials against Trump. Not related to just publishing the news. But telling readers how to think. Mainstream media has an M&M type coating. Remove the outer shell and you find the good old boys and girls as ever-lurking and ever vigilant Neocon Nation pushing their one and only agenda on the American people. They are insatiable as long as they do not do the fighting and dying. Stay tough Trump and realize short of complete capitulation you cannot satisfy these people.Ryszard Ewiak , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:37 amDonald Trump took a step towards peace. Of course, not everyone likes this. As can be seen, Donald Trump has many enemies, even among Republicans. They want war. These are people dangerous to America and the world.Angolo , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:38 am
What is better: peace with Russia, or a global nuclear war?
The Book of Revelation warns: "And another horse, fiery red, came out, and the one who rode it was granted permission to take peace from the earth, so that people would butcher one another, and he was given a huge sword." (6:4) "The great sword" – what does it mean?
Jesus gave many important details: "Terrors [φοβητρα] both [τε] and [και] unusual phenomena [σημεια – unusual occurrences, transcending the common course of nature] from [απ] sky [ουρανου] powerful [μεγαλα] will be [εσται]." (Luke 21:11)
Some ancient manuscripts contain the words "and frosts" [και χειμωνες] (we call this today "nuclear winter"), and in Mark 13:8 "and disorders" [και ταραχαι] (in the sense of confusion and chaos). There will be also significant tremors, food shortages and epidemics along the length and breadth of the regions as a result of using this weapon.
This weapon will also cause climate change, catastrophic drought and global famine. (cf. Revelation 6:5, 6)
So here we have a complete picture of the consequences of the global nuclear war. Is there any sense in speeding up this war?Trump's "treason"? What a laugh.Countme-a-Demon , says: July 17, 2018 at 11:44 am
He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit.
I'm glad to see adults in the room, at long last. The Sixties are over, baby. Good riddance."Of course the Paul's are right as they always are."Clifford , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:08 pm
"A number of the newsletters criticized civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him a pedophile and "lying socialist satyr". These articles told readers that Paul had voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a federal public holiday, saying "Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day." During the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns, Paul and his supporters said that the passages denouncing King were not a reflection of Paul's own views because he considers King a "hero".[20″
That last sentence is a hoot. Talk about "hysteria", but, go ahead, repeat Paul's lies that he knew nothing about his own newsletter.
"The left's hatred of Russia goes even deeper than US partisan politics. They hate them because they gave up their world-wide communism ideology. And they hate them because they are not fully on board with the LGBQTXYZ movement."
Do fake news much?
Like the NRA, The American Conservative needs to open "The Russian Conservative" chapters in Putin's conservative Russia to protect Putin's murderous government.
It could be that the "Left", whatever that is in addlepated minds, merely desires a little real politik in our relations with relations with Putin's Russia.
It's hard to tell the difference between ex-KGB Putin and ex-republicans like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.
The latter two make "full of crap" seem mild praise.You lost me at "Ron Paul." Sorry.Reader , says: July 17, 2018 at 12:17 pmOff the top of my head, a few egregious examples in which the US government has "meddled" in other countries during the last 100 years:Good Reason , says: July 17, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Mexico (Woodrow Wilson had thousands of US troops occupying Mexico until calling them back to "meddle" in Europe's War to End All Wars, setting the stage for an even worse war 20 years later.)
Russia (Woodrow Wilson used the US military to "meddle" in the Russian revolution after the War to End All Wars.)
Korea (undeclared war)
Vietnam (undeclared war)
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, and much of the rest of Central and South America.
Iran (helped overthrow its government in the 1950s and install the Shah of Iran, setting the stage for the Iranian revolution.)
Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt.
Yemen (huge humanitarian disaster as I write this. US government fully supporting head-chopping Saudi Arabians in their campaign to starve, sicken and blow to bits hundreds of thousands of people. Support includes US planes in-flight fueling of Saudi fighter/bomber jets.)
And let us not forget the enormous "meddling" in numerous US government elections and policy debates by . . . Israel.I vote with Angolo's comment:anonymous , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm
"He called out the perfidy and incompetence of American intelligence and foreign policy officials during the Obama era, as he should have. He wants a productive relationship with a declining nuclear and regional power, as he should have. Is Putin a nice man? No. But neither is he a pusillanimous Leftist eurotwit."
It's important to understand what the US intelligence community is calling "interference in our election." There has been no accusation that the Russians hacked into our electronic voting and changed results. Rather, they did what we have done in other countries–the Russians ran an influence campaign. They bought ads and created bots to spread the word. This is so utterly tame . . . there is nothing out of the ordinary US playbook here.
Hacking the DNC server and revealing underhanded DNC doings? Hey, that's on the DNC for being both venal and incompetent.Anybody in 1962 shouting wild paranoid conspiracy theories aboutb. , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm
THERE ARE RUSSIAN SPIES EVERYWHERE, THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OVER AMERICA
These people in 1962 would be (correctly) dismissed as Right Wing conspiracy kooks, now it's just standard Lib Dems, RINOs, Neo Conservatives and fake news lying press.
We commissioned this Farstar comics with this theme – I mean like who in 2018 is really scared that Russians like Anna Kournikova are going to take over America –
Who's in bed with the Russians?
I wish that was me!
https://goo.gl/images/3HbsbSUnfortunately, Rand Paul is acting, but not on principle or in good faith. If he really wanted to stand against manufactured hysteria, he would not accept the US "intelligence" agency claims and refer to their record – e.g. on Iraq and before regarding stability of the Soviet Union – he would question the staggering difficulties of attribution and forensics for networked, digital attacks (the main reason why any claims about who hacked whom have to be read with skepticism), he would point to the corruption of our foreign politics by Saudi and Israeli interests and money within the Trump-Kushner clan, and both parties, and he would compare the alleged – and allegedly ineffectual – attempts to influence an already ridiculous election to the very real, pervasive and corrupting impact of GOP voter disenfranchisement and bipartisan gerrymandering in service of incumbents and their networks.Kurt Gayle , says: July 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm
Rand Paul is the man who was going to stand against the Haspel appointment. He is a phoney, but he serves as a weather vane for niche politicians on how the winds are turning.
You can find the same token opposition here:
Nothing about New START, no word about how George Bush made a promise that might have been in bad faith, how Gorbachev was foolish enough to accept it, and how Bill Clinton broke it across the board, and piled on by targeting Serbia in the Balkan conflict. Kennan did not refer to the Ukraine on his missive.
If Rand Paul is our last best hope, we are in deep trouble.Jack Hunter " Senator Rand Paul was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday whether he thought Trump should demand that Putin acknowledge Russia's meddling."Coupon Cutter , says: July 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm
(0:01) TAPPER: 48 hours ago the US government, the Trump administration, said the top Russian military intelligence officers orchestrated a massive hack to affect the US election. How much do you want President Trump to try to hold Putin accountable for that?
PAUL: I think really we mistake our response if we think it's about accountability from the Russians. They're another country. They're going to spy on us. They do spy on us. They're going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same. Dov Levin at Carnegie Mellon studied this over about a 50-year period in the last century and found 81 times that the US interfered in other countries' elections. So we all do it. What we need to do is to make sure that our electoral process is protected. And I think because this has gotten partisan and it's all about partisan politics we have forgotten that really the most important thing is the integrity of our election. And there are things we can do and things that I've advocated: Making sure it's decentralized all the way down to the precinct level; making sure we don't store all the data in one place, even for a state, and that there's a back-up way so that someone in a precinct can say, 'Two thousand people signed in, this was the vote tally I sent to headquarters.' There's a lot of ways that we can back-up our election. Advertising, things like that, it's tricky. Can we restrict the Russians? We might be able to in some ways, but I think at the bottom line we wanted the Russians to admit it. They're not going to admit it in the same way we're not going to admit that we were involved in the Ukrainian elections or the Russian elections. So all countries that can spy do. All countries that want to interfere in elections and have the ability to, they try."
TAPPER: It sounds as though you are saying that the United States has done the equivalent of what the Russians did in the 2016 election, and it might sound to some viewers that you're offering that statement as an excuse for what the Russians did.
PAUL: No, what I would say is it's not morally equivalent, but I think in their mind it is. And I think it's important to know in your adversary's mind the way that they perceive things. I do think that they react to our interference in both their elections. One of the reasons they really didn't like Hillary Clinton is they found her responsible for some of the activity by the US in their elections under the Obama administration. So I'm not saying it's justified
TAPPER: But surely, Senator Paul, the United States has never done what the Russians did.
PAUL: I'm not saying they're equivalent, or morally equivalent, but I am saying that this is the way that the Russians respond. So if you want to know how we have better diplomacy, or better reactions, we have to know their response. But it's not just interference in elections that I think has caused this nationalism in Russia. Also, I think part of the reason is is we promised them when James Baker, at the end when Germany reunified, we promised them that we wouldn't go one inch eastward of Germany with NATO, and we've crept up on the borders, and we still have neocons in both parties who want Ukraine and Georgia to be in NATO.
That's very, very provocative and it has stimulated and encouraged nationalism in Russia. George Kennan predicted this. In 1998 when we still had Yeltsin and Russia was coming in our direction, he said, if you push NATO up against Russia's borders, nationalism will arise and their militarist tendencies will increase, and you may get someone like a Putin, basically.
George Kennan predicted the rise of Putin in 1998. And so we have to understand that for every action we have, there is a reaction. And it's a big mistake for us -- not to say that we're morally equivalent or that anything that Russia does is justified – but if we don't realize that everything we do has a reaction, we're not going to be very good at understanding and trying to have peace in the world (3:38)It's pretty weird to read articles about "meddling" in US elections and not see the word "Israel" anywhere.
How much pro-Russia money was spent on "meddling" in 2016? How much pro-Israel money was spent "meddling" in 2016?
Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
...Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?
Jul 05, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington. President Donald Trump's upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin is one.
Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified, having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the latter's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.
Russia's critics present a long bill of requirements to be met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American vassal.
Topping everyone's list is Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called Russian meddling "a casus belli , a true act of war."Washington Melts Down Over Prospect of Trump-Putin Meeting America the Hyperpowerful
Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations' elections. Carnegie Mellon's Dov H. Levin figured that between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81 foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S. intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely sought to influence other nations' elections.
Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if only they better understood their own interests -- as we naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don't see Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed, Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well, Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral commitment to stay out of other nations' elections.
Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is because "Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a violent conflict in eastern Ukraine." Moscow annexed Crimea after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph Stalin's death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.
Rather like America's dismemberment of Serbia, detaching Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right on its side -- it always does! -- which obviously negated any obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian Kosovars
Still, this makes Washington's complaints about Russia seem just a bit hypocritical: do as we say, not as we do. In August 2008 John McCain expressed outrage over Russia's war with Georgia, exclaiming: "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Apparently he forgot that five years before the U.S. invaded Iraq, with McCain's passionate support. Here, too, the two presidents could agree to mutual forbearance.
Worse is the conflict in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, between the Ukrainian army and separatists backed by Russia. Casualty estimates vary widely, but are in the thousands. Moscow successfully weakened Kiev and prevented its accession to NATO. However, that offers neither legal nor moral justification for underwriting armed revolt.
Alas, the U.S. again comes to Russia with unclean hands. Washington is supporting the brutal war by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates against Yemen. Area specialists agree that the conflict started as just another violent episode in a country which has suffered civil strife and war for decades. The Houthis, a tribal/ethnic/religious militia, joined with their long-time enemy, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to oust his successor, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi attacked to reinstall a pliable regime and win economic control. The U.S. joined the aggressors . At least Russia could claim national security was at stake, since it feared Ukraine might join NATO.
The "coalition" attack turned the Yemeni conflict into a sectarian fight, forced the Houthis to seek Iranian aid, and allowed Tehran to bleed its Gulf rivals at little cost. Human rights groups agree that the vast majority of civilian deaths and bulk of destruction have been caused by Saudi and Emirati bombing, with Washington's direct assistance. The humanitarian crisis includes a massive cholera epidemic. The security consequences include empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the U.S. and Russian governments could commit to jointly forgo supporting war for frivolous causes.
Human carnage and physical destruction are widespread in Syria. It will take years to rebuild homes and communities; the hundreds of thousands of dead can never be replaced. Yet Moscow has gone all out to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. The Heritage Foundation's Luke Coffey and Alexis Mrachek demand that Moscow end its support for Assad "and demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with the international community to bring a political end to the Syrian civil war." The American Enterprise Institute's Leon Aron urged "a true Russian withdrawal from Syria, specifically ceding control of the Hmeymim airbase and dismantling recent expansions to the Tartus naval facility."
But the U.S. is in no position to complain. Washington's intervention has been disastrous, first discouraging a negotiated settlement, then promoting largely non-existent moderate insurgents, backing radicals, including the al-Qaeda affiliate (remember 9/11!?) against Assad, simultaneously allying with Kurds and Turks, and taking over the fight against the Islamic State even though virtually everyone in the Mideast had reason to oppose the group.
At least Russia, invited by the recognized government, had a reason to be there. Moscow's alliance with Syria dates back to the Cold War and poses no threat to America, which is allied with Israel, the Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Washington also possesses military facilities in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. For most Middle Eastern countries Moscow is primarily a bargaining chip to extort more benefits from America. Trump could propose that both countries withdraw from Syria.
Coffey and Mracek also express outrage that Moscow "has weaponized its natural gas exports to Europe, turning off the tap when countries dare go against its wishes." Russia's customers should not fear coercion via cut-off. Of course, the U.S. never uses its economic power for political ends. Other than to routinely impose economic sanctions on a variety of nations on its naughty list. And to penalize not only American firms, but businesses from every other nation .
Indeed, the Trump administration is insisting that every company in every country stop doing business with Iran. The U.S. government will bar violators from the U.S. market or impose ruinous fines on them. The Trump administration plans to sanction even its European allies, those most vulnerable to Russian energy politics. Which suggests a modus vivendi that America's friends likely would applaud: both Washington and Moscow could promise not to take advantage of other nations' economic vulnerabilities for political ends.
Cyberwar is a variant of economic conflict. Heritage's Mracek cited "the calamitous cyberattack, NotPetya," as "part of Russia's effort to destabilize Ukraine even further than in the past." Yes, a criminal act. Of course, much the same could be said of Stuxnet, which was thought to be a joint American-Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear program. And there are reports of U.S. attempts to similarly hamper North Korean missile development. Some consider such direct attacks on other governments to be akin to acts of war. Would Washington join Moscow in a pledge to become a good cyber citizen?
Virtually everyone challenges Russia on human rights. Moscow falls far short, with Putin's control of the media, manipulation of the electoral process, and violence against those perceived as regime enemies. In this regard, at least, America is far better.
But many U.S. allies similarly fail this test. For instance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created an authoritarian state retaining merely the forms of democracy. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has constructed a tyranny more brutal than that of Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia's monarchy allows neither religious nor political freedom, and has grown more repressive under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It is not just Trump who remains largely silent about such assaults on people's basic liberties. So do many of the president's critics, who express horror that he would deal with such a man as Putin.
Moscow will not be an easy partner for the U.S. Explaining that "nobody wanted to listen to us" before he took over, in March Putin declared: "You hear us now!" Compromise is inevitable, but requires respect for both nations' interests. A starting point could be returning the two nations' embassies to full strength and addressing arms control, such as the faltering Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and soon-expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. A larger understanding based on NATO ending alliance expansion in return for Russia withdrawing from the conflict in the Donbas would be worth pursuing.
Neither the U.S. nor the Russian Federation can afford to allow their relations to deteriorate into another Cold War. Russia is too important on too many issues, including acting as a counterweight to China, the most serious geopolitical challenge to the U.S. Hopefully the upcoming summit will begin the difficult process of rebuilding a working relationship between Washington and Moscow.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .
Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
DARAA, Syria – At first glance, all appears calm in this southern Syrian city where protests first broke out seven years ago. Residents mill around shops in preparation for the evening Iftar meal when they break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
But the tension is nonetheless palpable in this now government-controlled city. A few weeks ago, Russian-brokered reconciliation talks in southern Syria fell apart when Western-backed militants rejected a negotiated peace.
Whether there will now be a full-on battle for the south or not, visits last week to Syria's three southern governorates, Daraa, Quneitra, and Suweida, reveal a startling possibility: al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise -- the Nusra Front -- appears to be deeply entrenched alongside these U.S.-backed militants in key, strategic towns and villages scattered throughout the south.
U.S. media and think tanks obfuscate this fact by referring to all opposition fighters as "rebels" or "moderates." Take a look at their maps and you only see three colors: red for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, green for opposition forces, black for ISIS.No More Utopian Dreams on Syria War Without a Rationale
So then, where is the Nusra Front, long considered by Western pundits to be one of the most potent fighting forces against the SAA? Have they simply -- and conveniently -- been erased from the Syrian battle map?
Discussions with Syrian military experts, analysts, and opposition fighters during my trip revealed that Nusra is alive and kicking in the southern battlefields. The map below specifically identifies areas in the south controlled by Nusra, but there are many more locations that do not appear where Nusra is present and shares power with other militants.
Despite its U.S. and UN designation as a terrorist organization, Nusra has been openly fighting alongside the "Southern Front," a group of 54 opposition militias funded and commanded by a U.S.-led war room based in Amman, Jordan called the Military Operations Center (MOC).
Specifics about the MOC aren't easy to come by, but sources inside Syria -- both opposition fighters and Syrian military brass (past and present) -- suggest the command center consists of the U.S., UK, France, Jordan, Israel, and some Persian Gulf states.
They say the MOC supplies funds, weapons, salaries, intel, and training to the 54 militias, many of which consist of a mere 200 or so fighters that are further broken down into smaller groups, some only a few dozen strong.
SAA General Ahmad al-Issa, a commander for the frontline in Daraa, says the MOC is a U.S.-led operation that controls the movements of Southern Front "terrorists" and is highly influenced by Israel's strategic goals in the south of Syria -- one of which is to seize control of its bordering areas to create a "buffer" inside Syrian territories.
How does he know this? Issa says his information comes from a cross-section of sources, including reconciled/captured militants and intel from the MOC itself. The general cites MOC's own rulebook for militants as an example of its Israel-centricity: "One, never threaten or approach any Israeli border in any way. Two, protect the borders with (Israeli-occupied) Golan so no one can enter Israel."
To illustrate the MOC's control over southern militants, Issa cites further regulations: "three, never take any military action before clearing with MOC first. Four, if the MOC asks groups to attack or stop, they must do so."
What happens if these rules are not upheld? "They will get their salaries cut," says Issa.
The armed opposition groups supported by the MOC are mostly affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself an ill-defined, highly fungible group of militants who have changed names and affiliations with frequency during the Syrian conflict.
Over the course of the war, the FSA has fought alongside the Nusra Front and ISIS -- some have even joined them. Today, despite efforts to whitewash the FSA and Southern Front as "non-sectarian" and non-extremist , factions like the Yarmouk Army, Mu'tazz Billah Brigade, Salah al-Din Division, Fajr al-Islam Brigade, Fallujah al-Houran Brigade, the Bunyan al-Marsous grouping, Saifollah al-Masloul Brigade, and others are currently occupying keys areas in Daraa in cooperation with the Nusra Front.
None of this is news to American policymakers. Even before the MOC was established in February 2014, Nusra militants were fronting vital military maneuvers for the FSA. As one Daraa opposition activist explains: "The FSA and al-Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don't want to frighten Jordan or the West . Operations that were really carried out by al-Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own."
Efforts to conceal the depth of cooperation between Nusra and the FSA go right to the top. Says one FSA commander in Daraa: "In many battles, al-Nusra takes part, but we don't tell the (MOC) operations room about it."
It's highly doubtful that the U.S. military remains unaware of this. The Americans operate on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis with regard to FSA-Nusra cooperation. In a 2015 interview with this reporter , CENTCOM spokesman Lieutenant Commander Kyle Raines was quizzed about why Pentagon-vetted fighters' weapons were showing up in Nusra hands. Raines responded: " We don't 'command and control' these forces -- we only 'train and enable' them. Who they say they're allying with, that's their business."
In practice, the U.S. doesn't appear to mind the Nusra affiliation -- regardless of the fact that the group is a terror organization -- as long as the job gets done.
U.S. arms have been seen in Nusra's possession for many years now, including highly valued TOW missiles , which were game-changing weapons in the Syrian military theater. When American weapons end up in al-Qaeda hands during the first or second year of a conflict, one assumes simple errors in judgment. When the problem persists after seven years, however, it starts to look like there's a policy in place to look the other way.
It's also not difficult to grasp why U.S. maps patently ignore evidence of Nusra embedded among U.S.-supported militias. The group, after all, is exempt from ceasefires, viewed as a fair target for military strikes at all times.
In December 2015, UN Security Council Resolution 2254 called for "Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council" (emphasis added). Furthermore, the resolution makes clear that ceasefires "will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities."
This essentially means that the Syrian army and its allies can tear apart any areas in the south of Syria where Nusra fighters -- and "entities associated" with it -- are based. In effect, international law provides a free hand for a Syrian military assault against U.S.-backed militias co-located with Nusra, and undermines the ability of their foreign sponsors to take retaliatory measures.
That's why the Nusra Front doesn't show up on U.S. maps.
In an interview last week, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad blamed the sudden breakdown of southern reconciliation efforts on "Israeli and American interference," which he says "put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution."
Today, the Israeli border area with Syria is dotted with Nusra and ISIS encampments, which Israel clearly prefers over the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies. The Wall Street Journal even reported last year that Israel was secretly providing funding for salaries, food, fuel, and munitions to militants across its border.
In early June, two former Islamist FSA members (one of them also a former Nusra fighter) in Beit Jinn -- a strategic area bordering Syria, Lebanon, and Israel -- told me that Israel had been paying their militia's salaries for a year before a reconciliation deal was struck with the Syrian government. "Every month Israel would send us $200,000 to keep fighting," one revealed. "Our leaders were following the outside countries. We were supported by MOC, they kept supporting us till the last minute," he said.
Earlier that day, in the village of Hadar in the Syrian Golan, members of the Druze community described a bloody Nusra attack last November that killed 17: "All the people here saw how Israel helped Nusra terrorists that day. They covered them with live fire from the hilltops to help Nusra take over Hadar. And at the end of the fights, Israel takes in the injured Nusra fighters and provides them with medical services," says Marwan Tawil, a local English teacher.
"The ceasefire line (Syrian-Israeli border) is 65 kilometers between here to Jordan, and only this area is under the control of the SAA," explains Hadar's mayor. "Sixty kilometers is with Nusra and Israel and only the other five are under the SAA."
Israel is so heavily vested in keeping Syria and its allies away from its borders, it has actively bolstered al-Qaeda and other extremists in Syria's southern theater. As Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon famously explained in 2016, "In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State." To justify their interventions in the battle ahead, the U.S. and Israel claim that Iranian and Hezbollah forces are present in the south, yet on the ground in Daraa and Quneitra, there is no visible sight of either.
Multiple sources confirm this in Daraa, and insist that that there are only a handful of Hezbollah advisors -- not fighters -- in the entire governorate.
So why the spin? "This is a public diplomacy effort to make the West look like they've forced Iran and Hezbollah out of the south," explains General Issa.
The U.S., Israel, and their allies cannot win this southern fight. They can only prolong the insecurity for a while before the SAA decides to launch a military campaign against the 54-plus-militias-Nusra occupying the south of Syria. The end result is likely to be a negotiated settlement peppered with a few "soft battles" to eject the more hardline militants.
As one SAA soldier on the scene in Daraa tells me: "Fifty-four factions in a small area shows weakness more than it shows strength." And their cooperation with the Nusra Front just makes the targets on their backs even larger.Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics based in Beirut.
Jun 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comTrump is hardly our first emperor. The warfare state has been trampling the Constitution for a long time.
These extra-constitutional developments reflect the transformation of the United States from a republic, whose glory was liberty and whose rule of law was king, to an empire, whose glory is global dominion and whose president is law. The Constitution's architects would be shocked to learn that contemporary presidents play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to any person on the planet deemed a threat to national security on the basis of secret, untested evidence known only to the White House.
An empire demands a Caesar and blind obedience from its citizens. World leadership through the global projection of military force cannot be exercised with checks and balances and a separation of powers that arrests speed and invites debate. Napoleon lectured: "Nothing in war is more important than unity of command . Better one bad general than two good ones." And Lord Tennyson, saluting the British Empire, versified in The Charge of the Light Brigade :
"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
As justice requires the appearance of justice, a Caesar requires the appearance of a Caesar. Thus is the president protected by platoons of Secret Service agents. The White House, by closing previously open avenues through the heart of the capital and shielding the president from citizen detractors, has become a castle. The White House staff has expanded and aggrandized power at the expense of Cabinet officials confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Debate, encouraged by the separation of powers, is superfluous where support for empire is underwritten by the multi-trillion-dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex, as it is in the United States. The Republican and Democratic parties are unified behind at least seven ongoing unconstitutional presidential wars and climbing trillion-dollar national security budgets.
Our warfare state has given birth to subsidiary surveillance, crony capitalism, and a welfare state. Congress and the judicial branch have become largely sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Constitution's separation of powers is atrophying.
The life of the law is not justice but genuflections to power. It manufactures doctrines that honor the power principle that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. When the configuration of power changes, the law adapts accordingly. The adaptations may not be instantaneous, but they are inexorable. This is not surprising. Judges are not born like Athena from the head of Zeus. They are selected through a political process that vets them for compatibility with the views of their political benefactors. Benjamin Cardozo observed in The Nature of the Judicial Process : "The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by."
The United States has become the largest and most actively garrisoned empire in history, built up by World War II and the 1991 disintegration of the Soviet Union. Our empire has, among other things, approximately 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, over 240,000 active duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories , de facto or de jure commitments to defend 70 countries, and presidential wars as belligerents or co-belligerents in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The president has by necessity become a Caesar irrespective of whether the occupant of the White House possesses recessive or dominant genes. The law has adapted accordingly, destroying the Constitution like a wrecking ball.
At present, the president with impunity initiates war in violation of the Declare War Clause; kills American citizens in violation of the Due Process Clause; engages in indiscriminate surveillance his own citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment; substitutes executive agreements for treaties to circumvent the requirements of Senate ratifications by two-thirds majorities in violation of the Treaty Clause; substitutes executive orders for legislation in violation of Article I, section 1; issues presidential signing statements indistinguishable from line-item vetoes in violation of the Presentment Clause; wields vast standard-less delegations of legislative authority in violation of the Constitution's separation of powers; brandishes a state secrets privilege to block judicial redress for unconstitutional executive action in violation of due process; refuses submission to congressional oversight in violation of the congressional power of inquiry; and declines to defend defensible duly enacted laws in violation of the Take Care Clause.
The Constitution will be reborn only if the American people reject their Empire in favor of a republic where individual liberty is the summum bonum. The odds of that happening are not good.
Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general and general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and counsel to the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. He is a partner in the law firm of Fein & DelValle PLLC.
Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Anthropologist David Vine spent several years visiting and investigating U.S military bases abroad. To put it mildly, he disapproves of what he found. In his sweeping critique, Base Nation , Vine concludes that Washington's extensive network of foreign bases -- he claims there are about 800 of them -- causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country. Far from providing an important strategic deterrent, the bases actually undermine our security. To remedy this immense travesty, Vine calls for Washington to bring the troops back home.
If nothing else, Base Nation is a timely book. The issue of our expensive foreign commitments has taken center stage in this presidential election. Vine probably finds it ironic that most of the criticism is coming from Donald Trump.
Our extensive foreign-base network is probably an issue that we can't ignore for long. Today, there seems more urgency to look at these long-term base commitments and examine what we are really getting out of them. So, for raising the issue, I say, "Thank you for your service, Mr. Vine."
But it is a shame that Base Nation , which could have made a strong contribution to this debate, ends up making a heavy-handed and somewhat unreliable case against and the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy in general. His sweeping indictments detract from the importance of his initial focus, our overextended base network.
There are some positives. Vine stands on firm ground when he details how inefficient the base system often is. In fact, this is an issue that the federal government has been addressing, albeit slowly and haltingly. Budget realities are solving the problem; many bases are being shuttered and their functions consolidated into others. Vine thinks that overseas bases cost us at least $71 billion a year; maybe closer to $100-200 billion. In one of the more persuasive sections of the book, he explains how he made these calculations, which follow to some extent an important 2013 study from the RAND Corporation. That it is difficult coming up with any precise figures on overseas base spending suggests that we probably need to take a harder look at how taxpayer money is being used.
Likewise, Vine raises valid criticisms about how many bases were constructed by either displacing native populations, as the British did for our benefit at the Indian Ocean atoll Diego Garcia, or by marginalizing the locals, as we allegedly have done at Okinawa in Japan. He highlights the environmental damage done by U.S. military ordnance, although I think it unfair that he ignores the more scrupulous attendance to the environment that we find in today's armed forces. And Vine is right that having many young and bored men based far from home probably doesn't elevate the morals of the local, host population.
But Vine simply fails to persuade in other parts of his critique. His fundamental distrust of the military leads him to accept unquestioningly every dubious charge against it. He also tends to be less than discriminating in some of his sourcing and characterization of events. These problems undermine the overall credibility of his reporting.
Part of the problem with Base Nation is definitional. Vine's definition of a base -- "any place, facility or installation used regularly for military purposes, of any kind" -- is far too broad. Even temporary assignments with host governments get defined as "bases." This leads him to estimate that there are at minimum 686 bases, with 800 being "a good estimate." Why the need to inflate the numbers?
Vine's foreign-base maps, though compelling to look at, appear a bit suspect in light of his expanded definition. What's that big star in Greenland? That's Thule Air Station, a Danish base, where we have about 100 personnel. And the other one in Ascension Island? That's a small satellite-monitoring station, run by the British. What's that dot in Cairo? Oh, it's a medical-research facility. These are hardly the footprints of overweening imperialism.
Likewise, he identifies many bases in Africa. To debunk the official position that we have one permanent base there -- in Djibouti, rented from the French -- plus a few drone sites, Vine relies on dodgy research from Nick Turse, a noted anti-military critic who thinks that the Pentagon runs a hidden African empire.
Along similar lines, Vine believes the U.S. maintains an extensive, secret base system in Latin America. We have one permanent base in the region, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). Once all the al-Qaeda prisoners are gone, GTMO's main function will return to fleet training and disaster response for the Caribbean. In addition, we have one arrangement in Soto Cano Air Field in Honduras, which hosts a squadron of helicopters engaged in counternarcotic operations. How does this base destabilize Central America, as Vine suggests? You got me.
Soto Cano is featured in one of the more tendentious chapters, which reveals Vine's method. In discussing the base, he strongly suggests the U.S. military there conspired with the Honduran Army during the "coup" against President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. He quotes a local activist insisting the U.S. was behind the coup, and then leaves it at that. In fact, the U.S. government firmly opposed removing the anti-American Zelaya, slapped sanctions on Honduras, and negotiated for months to have Zelaya brought back into Honduras. Suggesting the U.S. military backed the coup is, well, baseless.
Many of Vine's scattershot charges are of a similar nature. He accuses the U.S. Navy of being in bed with the mob in Naples because, allegedly, it rents housing from landlords who may have mob connections. He blames the military for the red-light districts around foreign bases, like in South Korea, as if it directly created them. In another context, he claims, based on one professor's opinion, that the U.S. Naval Academy fosters a rampant rape culture, and so on.
Toward the end of the book, Vine challenges those who believe the bases are providing valuable deterrence to "prove it." I'm not sure I can prove it to his satisfaction, but regarding Korean-peninsula security, some experts point to our strong presence there as deterring both sides from overreacting. And regarding Iraq, it seems evident that leaving without any U.S. military presence destabilized the country. Many of our operations with foreign militaries in Africa, Latin America, and southeast Asia have a strong humanitarian focus. It is disconcerting that he dedicates no space to these important, stabilizing missions that are often enabled by our forward base deployment.
But Vine never demonstrates his main point: that the bases themselves are destabilizing. The countries with our largest base presence -- Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan -- are all prosperous, peaceful democracies. As for the local protests at our foreign military bases that occasionally happen, these seem no more problematic than what occurs, certainly more often, at our many embassies abroad. Should we withdraw our diplomatic missions too?
As for bases destabilizing the developing world, Vine overplays the U.S.-imperialism angle and fails to appreciate how much control even a weaker government has over its own sovereignty. Little Honduras could kick us out of Soto Cano tomorrow; we have an agreement that could end at any time. Ecuador refused to renew our lease at Manta Air Base in 2008; we left without much fuss. The Philippines in 1992 changed its constitution to prohibit foreign bases, forcing us to leave Subic Bay. Now Manila, feeling threatened by China over the South China Sea island disputes, is inviting us back. The Filipinos mustn't feel our presence too destabilizing.
Given Vine's criticism of our large base footprint, you would think he'd approve of the Pentagon's recent plans on lowering its profile with its "lily pad" strategy -- bilaterally negotiated, pre-staged locations that might enable a future deployment. Surely this approach would alleviate the problems of the large, permanent bases Vine so painstakingly sights? But, somewhat illogically, he objects to this "light footprint" approach as a new sign of encroaching imperialism, not of gradual U.S. realignment and withdrawal.
Even if he doesn't make a strong case in Base Nation , in the long run, Vine probably will get his wish. It is hard to imagine that an extensive military base network in Europe and East Asia, the outcome of our victory in World War II and justified by Cold War strategy, will still make sense a few decades down the road. Changes are already in the wind. A new strategy for U.S. foreign policy and military power projection will doubtless be shaped largely by budget exigencies and shifts in our allies' regional security priorities.
Michael J. Ard, a former naval officer and U.S. government analyst, works in the security field and lectures on international security at Rice University.
Fran Macadam July 15, 2016 at 9:20 amOur critic seems to have some serious cognitive dissonance going on in his avoidance of recognizing the imperial project that undergirds circling the world with U.S. military power projection.Rossbach , says: July 15, 2016 at 9:57 amFran Macadam is right. The bases and the problems they create are incidental to the policy that engendered. Our nation went from a policy of intermittent imperialism after 1898 to one of permanent imperialism after 1941.An Agrarian , says: July 15, 2016 at 10:29 am
Unless we ditch the empire and return to our correct status as an independent republic, we will suffer the fate of all previous empires.If we grant that our global commitments are burdensome, why not take the argument in a reasonable direction. As we remember from the days of BRAC, closing bases is like pulling eye teeth, so let's focus on narrowing this argument down to what may be feasible: End NATO, remove our unwelcome forces from the Middle East, and shutter the bases where we're not wanted (e.g. AFRICOM, Okinawa) and where leases are due to expire. We need to walk our projection back from the borders of China & Russia. Even a minimal plan of this sort would require a decade to accomplish. Ultimately we need a master, strategic foreign policy vision that walks back our global projection this debate goes nowhere without that. Unfortunately neither GOP or Democrat parties offer this vision. No need to wring our hands over a "Close All the Bases" debate until we're back to Constitutional governance and foreign policy, and are rid of the military-industrial complex. And the odds of that are ?LouisM , says: July 15, 2016 at 12:45 pmOur Founding Fathers never wanted or would have allowed foreign military bases. Thomas Jefferson was adamantly opposed to building a navy but John Adams built a navy and Jefferson used it to stop muslim barbarians from enslaving the crews of US merchant ships.JWJ , says: July 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm
I cannot fathom why the US needs basis throughout the world. Id much rather have a strong Philipines, Japan and Taiwan for us to partner with than vassal states that spend nothing for their own defense and put the entire burden the their alliance on the US. How many shades is that from colonialism or parasitism? Not that far in my book.
Europe is a fine example of parasitism. Today Europe expects its protector to be the US, it has shifted all its resources to social programs and as a result it cannot even defend its borders from unarmed migrants much less from a hostile aggressor.
So what is the strategy to contain Russia and China by being in Central Asia, to contain Europe by constraining it with NATO, to constrain Asia via China, Japan, Philipines, Vietnam, etc.
Im not a fan. The US is spending so much money maintaining these military alliances and using US money and jobs to bribe compliance that our nation is going bankrupt and our infrastructure is 3rd world. If these truly are competitor nations the wiser approach would be to have a strong 1st world infrastructure, a strong economy, strong education and employment and expansion into Mexico, Central America and South America. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire continent from aggressor competing nations. Nowhere else in the world is a nation capable of dominating an entire portion of the globe. Instead of growing North, Central and South America we are constraining the rest of the globe. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible but one can only shake a bottle of champagne for so long and expect the bottle to constrain the carbonation. Eventually the cork will pop and the declining debtor power will be brought down to size with years of animous for holding others back." causes friction with erstwhile American allies, costs way too much money, underwrites dictatorships, pollutes the environment, and morally compromises the country."Commenter Man , says: July 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm
Nowhere in this article is there mention of what I would hope to be the primary purpose of a forward base.
Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David VineThis is a jobs and profits program all around. So there will be plenty of opposition to reducing the bases.Fran Macadam , says: July 16, 2016 at 8:14 amOur elites run roughshod over other peoples, and the American people can't constrain them either. At least we know who the "real" Americans are. L'etat, it is them.bacon , says: July 16, 2016 at 9:03 pmIt shouldn't be a surprise that others piggyback on our defense spending. Why would they not? From our point of view, who pays, says, and since we insist on saying wherever we can, we've got to pay.Guest , says: July 18, 2016 at 12:39 am
I have frequently wondered how costs of this sort of thing are calculated. Do the taxes military families pay get deducted from the cost? Given at least some of them would be unemployed in today's economy, do benefits they would have get deducted? Does the money they spend in local economies in the US when not deployed get factored in some way? What about the taxes the corporations which provide goods and services to the military pay, and that their employees pay? It would seem almost impossible to arrive at an accurate cost figure."Does it truly help the US military defend the US (and I would include projections of power that deter bad actors)?
If yes, then sod off to the wanker David Vine"
Using that logic, you wouldn't mind Russia or China setting up a military base in Mexico or Cuba to deter the US (a proven 'bad actor') right??
Jun 22, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Like a Dos Equis ad, Mexico is "keeping it interesante ." On July 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the veteran left-wing politician known as AMLO, will likely win Mexico's presidential election , to the horror of policy analysts, U.S. government officials, and the Mexican business community. As head of the upstart National Regeneration Movement (MORENA, the Spanish acronym, also means "dark skin"), AMLO pledges to make Mexico self-sufficient on food, halt foreign investment in the oil industry, and grant amnesty to drug traffickers. AMLO hates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- although he's promised to stay in it for now -- and "the Wall" even more.
Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over.
This election is likely to radically transform Mexican politics. MORENA is surging in the polls and may give AMLO a strong legislative bloc. Nationalist-minded legislators from other parties could also defect to his agenda. That would cause a major Mexican political realignment, under which for the next six years it could be governed by a self-described "revolutionary nationalist" ruling coalition. It makes sense: Mexico's neoliberal era had to end sooner or later. AMLO's longtime critique of an unfair economy and a complacent and unresponsive political system has finally resonated.
What accounts for this sudden turnaround? Several factors have aligned in AMLO's favor. Start with AMLO's opponents, who, in a time of change, represent continuity, splitting the neoliberal vote in Mexico's "winner-take-all" system. The conservative National Action Party (PAN), his strongest competitor, diluted its solid brand by running in coalition with two leftist parties. The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) selected a well-qualified former finance minister who is out of his depth as a campaigner. That's left the once-powerful PRI mailing this campaign in, and AMLO siphoning up its traditional voters.A Destitute Mexico: Is That What We Want? Why We Want Immigrants Who Add Value
Insecurity and corruption, according to polls , are the top issues for Mexican voters, and on these AMLO scores well. Especially on managing corruption and crime, Mexico's political elite have appeared notoriously inept. The former head of the state oil company PEMEX, a close ally of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been credibly accused of taking up to $10 million in bribes to approve contracts from the corrupt Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Several governors have been indicted for racketeering and graft; one even went on the lam and was arrested in Guatemala. Recently, Mexico's 12-year campaign to corral drug trafficking organizations fell apart, and violence skyrocketed. Twenty-eight thousand Mexicans were murdered last year, and political candidates are being physically attacked. Meanwhile, drug trafficking gangs ("cartels") are placing parts of the country off limits.
Then there's President Trump, who has treated Mexico as a problem and not as a partner by insisting that it fund his humiliating border wall. When asked in 2015 by Wall Street Journal editors if he thought the U.S. should promote stability and economic growth in Mexico, he replied, "I don't care about Mexico honestly. I really don't care about Mexico." Trump has bolstered AMLO's long-held view that Mexico has relied on the United States for too long. On the campaign trail, AMLO has vowed to put Trump "in his place."
Still, these more immediate causes don't entirely explain AMLO's impending success. At a deeper level, AMLO seems to be Mexico's answer to Samuel Huntington's key "who are we?" question on national identity. AMLO's MORENA explicitly seeks to revive the abandoned ideals of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920): anti-imperialism, defense of national resources, equality, and the protection of peasant rights. Tellingly, AMLO cites as his heroes two successful presidents who propelled Mexico forward: Benito Juarez, the black-clad Zapotec Indian who defeated the French-backed 19th-century "empire," and Lazaro Cardenas, the former revolutionary general who nationalized the oil industry and built the modern Mexican state.
Despite his populism, AMLO hasn't always been an outsider. He started his political career during the 1980s, when the PRI was still was Mexico's governing party. But he soon saw the changes happening in his rural native state of Tabasco, when the oil boom pushed out the farming and fishing industry. AMLO dissented from the PRI's decision to liberalize the economy and joined the opposition in 1988.
Led by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who was president from 1988 to 1994, the country embarked on a strict neoliberal development path and internationalist agenda, reversing its program of statist economics and authoritarian governance. Its ruling politicians sold state industries, embraced market reforms, let the peso float, and joined the North American Free Trade Agreement. Over the last several years, Mexico City has even permitted greater American involvement in its war against drug traffickers. Under Peña Nieto, Mexico finally allowed its oil industry to permit foreign investment.
In truth, these reforms worked well enough: Mexico democratized and developed into a solidly middle-income country with steady economic growth. Net immigration into the United States has come to a halt. Security issues were messy, but unlikely to destabilize the country.
These reforms represented a big win for Washington. If American intervention was needed for the occasional peso crisis or drug trafficker menace, we were happy to oblige. Mexico made a difficult partner at times, but on the policy side, it was where Washington wanted it to be.
But the cost of these changes may have been Mexico's identity, its sense of self. Returning to Huntington, his "The Clash of Civilizations?" article described Mexico as a state "torn" between its economic future and political and cultural past. After a top advisor to President Salinas described the sweeping changes the government was making, Huntington remarked, "It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." Salinas looked at him with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly."
AMLO and his followers have brooded about these radical changes for years. To this day, he refers to the arch-neoliberal Salinas simply as El Innombrable -- he that cannot be named. Neoliberalism launched AMLO not just on a political career but on a personal crusade to bring the country back to its former ideals.
When AMLO won the Mexico City mayorship in 2000, he built up a national political base and became a burr in the saddle of President Vicente Fox, who had embraced the liberal reforms of the formerly ruling PRI. AMLO criticized Fox relentlessly, and in retaliation, Fox attempted to have him legally prohibited from running for president in 2006.
This clumsy effort failed, giving AMLO a boost. But he narrowly lost the contest to the PAN's Felipe Calderon, whose campaign linked AMLO with Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez. Embittered in defeat, AMLO immediately claimed the voting was rigged against him. AMLO and his raucous followers held protests for months and even formed a parallel government. He may have lost in 2006, but he solidified his position as the leader of Mexico's alternative left.
AMLO's anti-system stance has given weight to the claim that he'd be another Chavez. The comparison seems invidious, as the late comandante of Venezuela, an avowed Marxist and coup plotter, crushed democratic institutions, set up a socialist economy, and in general drove what had been a prosperous South American country into the ground. AMLO, an authentic democrat, appears less megalomaniacal and more rules-focused, more the romantic reactionary than the revolutionary radical.
Still, many of the same forces that propelled Chavez are driving AMLO now. Like Chavez, AMLO is coming to power after a period of neoliberal reform and perceived intractable corruption. Like Chavez, AMLO enjoys an almost mystical bond with his nation's poorer classes. And very much like Chavez, AMLO is instinctively, but probably not irreversibly, anti-American in outlook.
How these characteristics will play out with AMLO in power is hard to predict. The two main parties won't be behind him, but many of their followers might. All of those alienated by neoliberalism, the perceived kowtowing to Washington, the surrender of economic resources to foreign companies and the free market, will flock to his banner. It is remarkable how some former members of the right-of-center National Action Party and the PRI have backed his campaign.
Some of AMLO's policy proposals seem less the stuff of hard leftism than nostalgic nationalism. He focuses heavily on national development for industry and agriculture aimed at self-reliance and reducing imports. He proposes holding referendums on the enacted legislation, a move to broaden democracy, which would require constitutional reform. He seeks to raise the minimum wage, but refreshingly pledges "no new taxes."
AMLO loves to wax nostalgic about Mexico's strong state traditions and will almost certainly attempt to restore the waning power of the Mexican presidency as an anti-corruption pulpit. In the tradition of newly inaugurated Mexican presidents, he'll probably look to prosecute a node of corruption in Mexican society: a prominent businessman or politician, rather than a labor union like his predecessors.
Much of the progress the United States has made with Mexico on security cooperation will probably be jeopardized. It's hard to believe that AMLO will endorse the close relations that the DEA, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community have forged with their Mexican counterparts in the war on drugs. The extradition of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin el Chapo Guzman to the U.S. in 2017 will probably be the high watermark in the relationship. It is doubtful that AMLO will permit more high-profile extraditions. President Trump's disdain for a close relationship that has taken us decades to build may come back to haunt us.
But a poor relationship between Washington and Mexico City doesn't have to be inevitable. Despite the rhetoric, the flamboyant American billionaire has much in common with the austere Mexican populist. Both countries have too many common interests to go down separate paths. The question is: does AMLO have to build the bomb to get Trump to care about Mexico?
Michael J. Ard is a former deputy national intelligence officer for the Western Hemisphere and the author of "An Eternal Struggle: The Role of the National Action Party in Mexico's Democratic Transition ." He teaches international relations at Rice University's Master of Global Affairs program.
Youknowho June 21, 2018 at 7:30 amAnother diplomatic triumph of TrumpCarlos , says: June 21, 2018 at 10:52 am
And just because they are similar do not expect that they might agree. Expect them to antagonize each other to play to their bases.That's just the thing, AMLO isn't "an authentic democrat." He founded MORENA so he could keep his presidential aspirations going; he's indistinguishable from the party. After losing in 2006, he notoriously said "to hell with institutions." His followers won't admit this, but his platform is as diluted as the rest: he's taken in suspects of corruption and has allied himself with both a very "conservative" party (the small, evangelical PES) and Mexico's hard leftists.Hibernian , says: June 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm"Washington's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Mexico may be over."
What about Mexico's days of having a predictable and compliant partner in Washington?
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 2:44:25 PM | 2Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 30 - 40 , I here'd. Compared to Russia 5-8 ? Russia is in Syria by invitation to deal with rebels/terrorist's .America is now threatening both. Despite being there to attempt a regime change. Just who do they think they are ? The sooner they are stopped the better and the easier.karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 3:13:44 PM | 3Mark2 @2--ben , Jun 21, 2018 5:31:23 PM | 14
Russia intervened nowhere; the USSR intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Yeltsin's cabal intervened in Russia to preserve Bush's and Clinton's New World Order. USSR was invited into Afghanistan; Outlaw US Empire wasn't. An incomplete list from William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II . A graphic map based on Blum's book.Mark2@ 2: Here ya' go Mark:)karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 15
https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-listYesterday, Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Unfortunately, the Kremlin's recap of the meeting's currently incomplete, but what is recorded is instructive:Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 5:54:25 PM | 18
"Of course, we look at the Russian Federation as a founder of the United Nations and as a permanent member of the Security Council, but I would say that at the present moment we look at the Russian Federation as an indispensable element of the creation of a new multipolar world.
"To be entirely frank, these are not easy times for multilateralism and not easy times for the UN. And I think that after the Cold War and after a short period of unipolar world we are still struggling to find a way to have a structured, multipolar world with multilateral governmental institutions that can work. And this is something that worries me a lot and is something in which, I believe, the Russian Federation has a unique role to play."
Considering many think Guterres just an agent for the Outlaw US Empire, maybe his cited words will cause a reassessment. I'd like to know what followed. Apparently there was some discussion about Korea and the economic initiatives being openly discussed since RoK President Moon will arrive in Russia tomorrow.
Lavrov met with Guterres today, and his opening remarks shine a bit more light on what was discussed:
"As emphasised by President Putin, we have invariably supported, support, and will continue to support the UN, this unique universal organisation. We think highly of your intention, Mr Secretary-General, to raise the profile of the United Nations in world affairs, particularly in settling regional conflicts. As you noted yourself at the meeting in the Kremlin yesterday, this is largely dependent on the general state of the international system as a whole and the UN member states' readiness to act collectively, jointly, rather than unilaterally, and to pursue the goals enshrined in the UN Charter rather than self-centred,[sic] immediate aims.
"We note that you have consistently advocated the pooling of efforts by major players to deal with world problems. This is the logic of the UN Charter, specifically its clauses on the creation and powers of the UN Security Council. I hope that based on the values we share we will be able to successfully continue cooperation in the interests of solving international problems."
Lots of emphasis on the absolute necessity of making the UN Charter whole again and not allowing any one nation to make a mockery of it by pursuing its "self-centered, immediate aims."Ben @ 14pantaraxia , Jun 21, 2018 6:06:38 PM | 20
Thanks Ben. Yep that's what l thought reality would look like, that's my sanity safe for a while longer. Remember we are not alone!
Zanon @ 12
That is a perfect example of 'fake news' we can spot it here ! Or are we here now msm!@2 Mark2 'Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 'karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 6:19:58 PM | 21
Perhaps as relevant a question is how many countries are presently enjoying the beneficence of U.S. military operations?
According to Seymour Hersh in a recent interview on Democracy Now: " The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now."
Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRvLZ6y4PxM
This confirms a recent statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders: "meanwhile we are "fighting terrorism" in some 76 countries...'
The Jimmy Dore Show - Bernie's Amazing Foreign Policy Smackdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmcMzCIEV8YI'd Like this made into a poster ! From Southfront's reporting about a RICO lawsuit filed against Clinton and Co. Quite the charge sheet, although it lacks several crimes.Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 6:36:55 PM | 22Pantaraxia @ 20S , Jun 21, 2018 9:49:05 PM | 32
Wow that doubles what I was already shocked about ! And then of course there's the comercal operations destablising country's using greed as a weapon. Plus the banks, I'm sure South Africa would have been a real success if they'd kept the banking curuption out. Time for immoral capitalism to fall.
Also don't you just hate victim blaming.There that's me done. Grrr@b: I know you're just one man and can't do everything, but it would be wonderful if you could cover the history of hacking accusations against Russia. No one lays out a sequence of events better than you.
Just yesterday, another accusation has been leveled against Russia by the head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen: German intelligence sees Russia behind hack of energy firms - media report (Reuters). It's a serious accusation, and one would expect a serious proof. However, no proof has been given except that "it fits the Russian modus operandi". Also, the fact that the alleged attack has been named "Berserk Bear" by some unknown Western analyst. Apparently, that's enough proof by today's standards.
There is a critical lack of independent thinking and skepticism in the international computer security circles nowadays. The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation.
Jun 18, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
cka2ndJune 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm"a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau"Erik , says: June 15, 2018 at 3:12 am
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.?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.Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 15, 2018 at 7:51 am
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.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.midtown , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:37 am
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 "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."connecticut farmer , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:53 am
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 NOWWay 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 amIf 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 amCentralist , says: June 15, 2018 at 11:06 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?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 pmWhat 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.Johann , says: June 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
At the end of the day, people did their jobs and prevented their opinions from the proper execution of their jobs.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 pmH. 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.Fred , says: June 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm
People do tend to notice these things."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. "eheter , says: June 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm
More fake news – there were NO pro-Trump factions inside the Bureau.Michael KennyGandydancer , says: June 16, 2018 at 12:34 am
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.
smhGerald Arcuri , says: June 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm"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.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 pmThose 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.mike , says: June 17, 2018 at 8:45 am
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.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).Winston , says: June 17, 2018 at 11:04 am
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.)"seems less competent than we originally feared"MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm
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.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.MM , says: June 17, 2018 at 3:48 pm
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. 🙂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 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 amAmerica 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.Joe the Plutocrat , says: June 12, 2018 at 6:58 am
This is just another example of America trying to "export" its domestic issues. Quit blaming foreigners and deal with your issues."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 amOne problem with Trump's rant: the US enjoys a small trade surplus with Canada.Michael Kenny , says: June 12, 2018 at 10:36 am
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?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.Kent , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:17 am
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.bacon , says: June 12, 2018 at 11:26 am
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.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 amTrade 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.One Guy , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm
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.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 pmJohn S , says: June 12, 2018 at 1:56 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.Sam Bufalini , says: June 12, 2018 at 2:14 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.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 pmThis 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 pmAmerica has a trade surplus with Canada, but seems determined to rub it in.Mia , says: June 12, 2018 at 8:24 pm
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.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 pmLets 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 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 amWhy the long spiel when this article could have conveyed its thesis in the single line:Fayez Abedaziz , says: June 8, 2018 at 2:10 am
"Among Republicans and Democrats alike, to assert that Israel and oil were parts of the equation appeared uncouth "This article is exactly what this so-called intellectual Lewis is:undertakings , says: June 8, 2018 at 6:12 am
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"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."Saint Kyrillos , says: June 8, 2018 at 8:00 am
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.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 amI 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."polistra , says: June 8, 2018 at 10:51 am
I'm missing how vanity & supporting Israel are connected?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.Frank Healy , says: June 8, 2018 at 11:46 am
Now that we've switched back to Russia as the official enemy, our focus on Islam is fading.Saying that Lewis fell prey to vanity is easier than saying he, like the rest of the neocons, was a hypocritical ethnic chauvinist.Myron Hudson , says: June 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm
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."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 pmLewis' 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'.EliteCommInc. , says: June 8, 2018 at 5:54 pm
He should not be allowed to rest in peace or escape accountability in the judgment of history.i guess is the question . . . to decipher the depth and scope that islam poses to the US.Janwaar Bibi , says: June 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm
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.Islamic "fundamentalism" was rare and insignificant until we funded it, armed it, and trained it.BillWAF , says: June 9, 2018 at 2:21 am
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.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.Donald , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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.Cheer up Janwaar -- most of us are clueless about fascist Hindus and Buddhists as well.Philly guy , says: June 9, 2018 at 3:04 pmIslamic 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.
tz , , June 5, 2018 at 12:37 am
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 pmThis 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.
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.S , , June 5, 2018 at 3:38 am
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.
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 . Switzerlandcj , , June 5, 2018 at 9:41 am
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
The US has a democracy? Were'nt two of the last 3 presidents placed into office via a minority of the vote?Jon , , June 5, 2018 at 9:43 am
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.
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.Youknowho , , June 5, 2018 at 10:39 am
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.
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.TG , , June 5, 2018 at 12:21 pm
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.
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?JJ , , June 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm
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."
"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."Chris in Appalachia , , June 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm
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.
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]
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 | 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 amIn 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:Pear Conference , says: June 4, 2018 at 8:25 am
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.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.TTT , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:05 am
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.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.JLF , says: June 4, 2018 at 10:16 am
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.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 pmThe 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 pmJohn 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 pmNorthern 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 pmLet 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 pmSteve Naidamast , says: June 4, 2018 at 4:19 pmThe 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.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 pmHaving 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 pmI 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 pmIf 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 pmA laughably naive article which toes the CIA and Zionist line.Donald , says: June 4, 2018 at 9:52 pmTTT -- 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 | 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 )Aviel , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:07 am
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.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 priceMark M. Pando , says: May 28, 2018 at 5:31 amSir: 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 amRe: "This Memorial Day, don't cringe when someone says "Thank you for your service" and proceed to correct them."E.J. Smith , says: May 28, 2018 at 9:26 am
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.This is an excellent article. Memorial Day should call upon all Americans to ask some essential questions.Stuart MacNee , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm
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.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."Rossbach , says: May 28, 2018 at 1:43 pm
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.]" 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."Stephen J. , says: May 28, 2018 at 2:03 pm
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.Perhaps we need "our leaders" to do some war "Service."Keith Danish , says: May 28, 2018 at 4:11 pm
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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.htmlGood to know that not all John Boltons are insane.
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 | 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.
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 | 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 | 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 pmThere 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 pmMusk should have gone into defense contracting – ever increasing budgets with no scrutiny.
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
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 pmIf 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 | www.theamericanconservative.com
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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."b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:50 am
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."giving up the one thing that does more to guarantee the regime's security than any promise that the U.S. could ever make"b. , says: May 19, 2018 at 10:54 am
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?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.Blimbax , says: May 19, 2018 at 6:24 pm
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?Speaking of horses, John Bolton is the south end of a north-bound horse.
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 pmThe "assault on intelligence" indeed.Kent , says: May 10, 2018 at 6:39 amThe 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 amHe'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 amThis 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.htmlC. L. H. Daniels , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:00 amThe guy sounds like a certain Senator from Wisconsin:balconesfault , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:40 am
"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."I've never been a fan of Hayden, and his current salvos against Trump aren't going to change that.Kurt Gayle , says: May 10, 2018 at 10:43 am
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?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 | 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
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: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 .
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.
Siarlys Jenkins May 2, 2018 at 8:41 pmSignificantly 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.Emil Bogdan , says: May 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm
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.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.
www.antiwar.comTrump'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 | www.theamericanconservative.com
SteveM April 26, 2018 at 4:37 pmCornel Lencar , says: April 27, 2018 at 1:51 am
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.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 pmIf 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 | 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 amLet'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.Petrus , says: April 27, 2018 at 3:55 am
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.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 amIf 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 amPat points to Macron's globalist trade babble to Congress answers:KD , says: April 27, 2018 at 9:21 am
"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.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.Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:11 am
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.Nationalism and Multiculturalism cannot coexist separately, they're in tendsion as we all try to balance the scales.Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 11:26 am
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.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.Emil Bogdan , says: April 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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.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 | 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 amNo one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?Realist , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:49 am
Saudi and Israeli money. Next question."No one wants to be manipulated into war. So why do we keep letting it happen?"Emil Bogdan , says: April 25, 2018 at 5:30 am
It is not we it is politicians.
Money is the reason
Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause.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:Fran Macadam , says: April 25, 2018 at 8:30 am
"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)Wars are little more than armed robberies on an industrial scale.Youknowho , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:07 am
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.Why get into wars?BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:16 am
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.The United States isn't being manipulated into war.Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:39 am
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."Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 is the cause."40 KFt View , says: April 25, 2018 at 10:54 am
Excellent. And throw in Citizens United and you have an effective coup d'etat of the United States by corporate interests.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 amNow 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!Professor Nerd , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:13 pm
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."because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."One Guy , says: April 25, 2018 at 12:56 pm
I wish this was true. But I doubt it. The citizens must be held partially responsible for our era of permanent war." most Americans don't want more Washington wars."balconesfault , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:13 pm
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.What Professor Nerd said.Kent , says: April 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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."because most Americans don't want more Washington wars."BobS , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm
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." 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."Tiktaalik , says: April 25, 2018 at 3:59 pm
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?>> 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.EliteCommInc. , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:14 pm
Wow, I've thought that it could only happen in Russia. I mean, pickup/SUV tailgating.
Silly me)"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?"NorEastern , says: April 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm
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.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 pmEchoing 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 .
Jun 19, 2015 | www.theamericanconservative.comA 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.
... ... ...
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?
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.
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@JonFJoseph Kellner , says: June 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm
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.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.Cornel Lencar , says: June 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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.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 pmW. 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 | 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. "beejeez , says: April 23, 2018 at 8:58 pm
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.Hey, c'mon, Trump gave him assurances.b. , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:33 pmWe owe Trump for another wonderfully clarifying moment.Mike , says: April 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm
No to incumbents. If we ran a lottery for Senators and Representatives we would not do much worse than what we have.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 pmAgree 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 pmI 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 | 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 | 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 pmFrom the Wikipedia article for Bolton:connecticut farmer , says: April 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm
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.
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.Cato the Elder: "Carthago dalenda est!" ("Carthage Must Be Destroyed!")Kent , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm
John Bolton: "Syria dalenda est!" "Iran dalenda est!" Russia dalenda est!" And etc etc.
Connecticut Farmer: "Bolton dalenda est!""In order that we never find ourselves standing alongside Scipio knee-deep in unjustly spilt blood,"JonF , says: April 17, 2018 at 5:08 pm
That ship sailed awhile back.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 | www.theamericanconservative.comApril 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 | 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 | www.theamericanconservative.comIt 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 | 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 pmJohn 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.curri , says: April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm
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.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 | www.theamericanconservative.comPresident 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 06, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.comInstead 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."SteveK9 , says: April 8, 2018 at 9:02 am
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.'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 | 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 pmIt'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.romegas , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm
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.@rayrayb. , says: April 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm
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."If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line "b. , says: April 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm
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.
"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 | www.theamericanconservative.com
GOP is done April 6, 2018 at 12:20 amWhy are you giving trump so much credit ? Trump is Pro-Israel and will do their evil biddingpolistra , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:15 amTrump 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".balconesfault , says: April 6, 2018 at 6:14 am
This game wouldn't work in real life.
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!"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?Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 7:25 am
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.Mr. Buchanan is correct the U.S. is: "in a country where we have no right to be "Michael Kenny , says: April 6, 2018 at 8:41 am
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
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.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
Much more evidence on this and other matters at link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-evidence-of-planning-of-wars.htmlThe 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 amOur military complex is very key to our security. With that said they plan and like war.b. , says: April 6, 2018 at 10:00 amOn such hollow reed the imperial presidency, uneasily, rests.Stephen J. , says: April 6, 2018 at 11:25 am
The triad's synthesis: ISIS will never be "defeated".
Hubris, catharsis over is.More info on the treachery and criminality being enacted in SyriaAnthony Ferrara , says: April 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm
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"Our ally Kuwait has become the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria."
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"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
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And much more info at the link below.
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-war-gangs-and-war-criminals-of-nato.htmlThe military industrial complex is nearly impossible to go up against in this country.One Guy , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:03 pmThe 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).Cynthia McLean , says: April 6, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Nothing will change.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 pmRest 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 pmIt 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.JK , says: April 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm
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.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 | 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 | 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 amAs long as official policy is Full Spectrum Dominance, nothing can change.Kent , says: April 5, 2018 at 11:47 amI really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorant.Will Harrington , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:07 pmKentgrumpy realist , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm
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.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.")Tyro , says: April 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm
We HAVE turned into a country of lazy bastards.I really believe it would be absurd to think our highest government officials are that ignorantDee , says: April 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm
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.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 pmThe 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."Fran Macadam , says: April 5, 2018 at 4:11 pm
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."The nuke deal was a tradeoff – Iran gives up its nukes in exchange for being reintegrated with the world."Cynthia McLean , says: April 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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.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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | www.theamericanconservative.comSlingshot . 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 | 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.
Clyde Schechter , , says: March 21, 2018 at 11:37 pm
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
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 pmI 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]
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
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?Minnesota Mary , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:54 am
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.
"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 13:4wrap , , says: March 22, 2018 at 3:43 am
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.
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".the freakshow (cont'd) , , says: March 22, 2018 at 9:41 am
Odd that so many "old schoolers" have abandoned some general cliche's that serve as sound guide.
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 !!"rta , , says: March 22, 2018 at 10:25 am
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 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."Esther Haman , , says: March 22, 2018 at 11:27 am
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?
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."Kent , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm
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.
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.Steve , , says: March 22, 2018 at 12:47 pm
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.
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.b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm
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.
"Why does Bolton want war with Iran?"b. , , says: March 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm
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.
Bolton and Cheney must have been livid about Stuxnet, for all the wrong reasonsPAX , , 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?pirouz moghaddam , , says: March 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm
Judging from a quick look at what else Truthout has on offer, I'm not sure about the credibility of Mr. Porter.
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 .
George Hoffman , , March 21, 2018 at 8:27 am
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.
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 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Banger , March 19, 2018 at 9:09 amAmerican 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 | 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 amCovering 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 amTrump 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"Peter Hopkins , says: March 19, 2018 at 6:52 am
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?Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.Ian , says: March 19, 2018 at 7:10 amAs we've proved, we're not better than them. Any of them.Bagby , says: March 19, 2018 at 8:00 amI 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 amIts 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 amAmerican 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."Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:31 am
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.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 amDoes Peter Van Buren's criticism of the CIA's Haspel put him at risk?Peter Van Buren , says: March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
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?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.Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 am
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.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.furbo , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
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?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.Sid Finster , says: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 am
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.Sally Stewart , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:11 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.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 amA lot of info below on the War criminals at large.connecticut farmer , says: March 19, 2018 at 11:49 am
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- –
May 26, 2015 Do We Need Present Day Nuremberg Trials? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/do-we-need-present-day-nuremberg-trials.html
March 9, 2018 Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters? http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.htmlI 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?Lex Talionis , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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.All of the torturers should be brought to justice. So should all of the officials who ordered or authorized torture.bob sykes , says: March 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
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.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 pmI 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.Tyrone Slothrop , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
Personally, I prefer that the cruelty should be, as Lincoln once put it, "unalloyed by the base metal of hypocrisy"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.Near Rockaway , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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?"Has he never heard of the School of the Americas, of sinister reputation, or the Condor Plan, aided and abetted by U.S. intelligence?"Chris Mallory , says: March 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm
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.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 pmVery 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'."Wilfred , says: March 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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.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 | 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 pmZero sum games are for the infantile and the Trump administration is infested with them.
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.""SteveM , says: March 15, 2018 at 2:14 pm
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?Re: "Mattis' Weak Case for Supporting the War on Yemen"Alex Ingrum , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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.The neocons will stop at nothing to bring down anyone they suspect of threatening Israel or U.S. military hegemony in the Middle East.b. , says: March 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm
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.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.Uncle Billy , says: March 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm
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.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 pmAmericans 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.
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 GMTA few more observations, with which Ms. Mercer should agree:The Alarmist , February 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm GMT
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?
" 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.
Feb 15, 2017 | www.unz.com... ... ..
Bannon is almost universally loathed by the Washington press corps, and not just for his politics. When he was the CEO of the pro-Trump Breitbart website, he competed with traditional media outlets, and he has often mercilessly attacked and ridiculed them.
The animosity towards Bannon reached new heights last month, when he incautiously told the New York Times that "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while." He also said the media was "the opposition party" to the Trump administration. To the Washington media, those are truly fighting words.
Joel Simon, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told CNN that "this kind of speech not [only] undermines the work of the media in this country, it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world." Jacob Weisberg, the head of the Slate Group, tweeted that Bannon's comment was terrifying and "tyrannical."
Bannon's comments were outrageous, but they are hardly new. In 2009, President Obama's White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News' access to the White House. She even said, "We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent." The media's outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least.
Ever since Bannon's outburst, you can hear the media gears meshing in the effort to undermine him. In TV green rooms and at Washington parties, I've heard journalists say outright that it's time to get him. Time magazine put a sinister-looking Bannon on its cover, describing him as "The Great Manipulator." Walter Isaacson, a former managing editor of Time , boasted to MSNBC that the image was in keeping with a tradition of controversial covers that put leaders in their place. "Likewise, putting [former White House aide] Mike Deaver on the cover, the brains behind Ronald Reagan, that ended up bringing down Reagan," he told the hosts of Morning Joe . "So you've got to have these checks and balances, whether it's the judiciary or the press."
Reporters and pundits are also stepping up the effort to portray Bannon as the puppet master in the White House. Last week, MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski said, "Legitimate media are getting word that Steve Bannon is the last guy in the room, in the evening especially, and he's pulling the strings." Her co-host, Joe Scarborough, agreed that Bannon's role should be "investigated."
I'm all for figuring out who the powers behind the curtain are in the White House, but we saw precious little interest in that during the Obama administration.
It wasn't until four years after the passage of Obamacare that a journalist reported on just how powerful White House counselor Valerie Jarrett had been in its flawed implementation. Liberal writer Steven Brill wrote a 2015 book, America's Bitter Pill , in which he slammed "incompetence in the White House" for the catastrophic launch of Obamacare. "Never [has there] been a group of people who more incompetently launched something," he told NPR's Terry Gross, who interviewed him about the book. He laid much of the blame at Jarrett's doorstep. "The people in the administration who knew it was going wrong went to the president directly with memos, in person, to his chief of staff," he said. "The president was protected, mostly by Valerie Jarrett, from doing anything. . . . He didn't know what was going on in the single most important initiative of his administration." How important was Jarrett inside the Obama White House? Brill interviewed the president about the struggles of Obamacare and reported Obama's conclusion: "At this point, I am not so interested in Monday-morning quarterbacking the past."
Brill then bluntly told the president that five of the highest-ranking Obama officials had told him that "as a practical matter . . . Jarrett was the real chief of staff on any issues that she wanted to weigh in on, and she jealously protected that position by making sure the president never gave anyone else too much power." When Brill asked the president about these aides' assessment of Jarrett, Obama "declined comment," Brill wrote in his book. That, in and of itself, was an answer. Would that Jarrett had received as much media scrutiny of her role in eight years under Obama as Bannon has in less than four weeks.
I've had my disagreements with Bannon, whose apocalyptic views on some issues I don't share. Ronald Reagan once said that if someone in Washington agrees with you 80 percent of the time, he is an ally, not an enemy. I'd guess Bannon wouldn't agree with that sentiment.
But the media's effort to turn Bannon into an enemy of the people is veering into hysterical character assassination. The Sunday print edition of the New York Times ran an astonishing 1,500-word story headlined: "Fascists Too Lax for a Philosopher Cited by Bannon." (The online headline now reads, "Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists.") The Times based this headline on what it admits was "a passing reference" in a speech by Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014 . In that speech, Bannon made a single mention of Julius Evola, an obscure Italian philosopher who opposed modernity and cozied up to Mussolini's Italian Fascists.
- John Fund is NRO's national-affairs correspondent . https://twitter.com/@JohnFund