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Understanding Mayberry Machiavellis War is a Racket - Incredible Essay by General Smedley Butler Ron Paul War and Peace Quotes Corporatism quotes Humor Etc

Introduction

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Their goals may or may not coincide with the best interests of the American people. Think of the divergence of interests, for example, between the grunts who are actually fighting this war, who have been eating sand and spilling their blood in the desert, and the power brokers who fought like crazy to make the war happen and are profiteering from it every step of the way."

- Bob Herbert, "Spoils of War," The New York Times, April 10, 2003

"Militarism means a domination of the military man over the civilian, an undue emphasis on military needs, policies, spirit, values and ideals. . . a readiness to defend one's country's interests by force of arms, the acceptance of the military profession as honourable and necessary.

Peter Phillips. The Tragedy of Nazi Germany

If the ability to anticipate future dangers for the nation is the mark of a truly great president then Dwight D. Eisenhower is the greatest president of the XX century.  He was the last Republican president to deliver broad-based prosperity. During his presidency, the gains from growth were widely shared and the incomes of the poorest fifth actually grew faster than the incomes of the top fifth. As a result, America became more equal than ever before or since. Under Ike, the marginal tax rate on the richest Americans reached 91%. Eisenhower also presided over the creation of the interstate highway system – the largest infrastructure project in American history — as well as the nation’s biggest expansion of public schools. It’s no coincidence that when Eisenhower was president, over a third of all private sector workers were unionized. Ike can’t be credited for this but at least he didn’t try to stop it or legitimize firing striking workers, as did Ronald Reagan.

But paradoxically Dwight Eisenhower's presidency is probably better remembered less for what he did than for what he said while heading for the exit. In a nationally televised address on January 17, 1961, only four days before John F. Kennedy's inaugural and three years from the event which might well be considered to be coup d'etat which brought military-industrial complex in full control of all branches of the government (JFK assassination).

Eisenhower warned of the dangers of "undue influence" exerted by the "military-industrial complex." In other word appearance on the scene a new and formidable political force represented by arm manufactures, intelligence agencies, Army brass and selected supplies industries (oil industry comes to mind) and financial oligarchy.

But the term is more then undue influences, it's actually about a gradual, but inevitable transition of power to MIC either by stealth coup or open coup d'etat. And as soon as MIC came on political scene, it inevitably transforms the state into some variant of totalitarian state, such an "inverted totalitarism" or National Security State. It's not exactly "WAR IS PEACE. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength", but close enough.

This warning represents the historical importance of Eisenhower's farewell address. Here is the video of the address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWiIYW_fBfY

Eisenhower cautioned that maintaining a large, permanent military establishment was "new in the American experience," and suggested that an "engaged citizenry" offered the only effective defense against the "misplaced power" of the military-industrial lobby. But there are two problems with his warning:

We can state, that the key result of the second World War was the establishment of the rule of military industrial complex in all major countries, but first of all in the USA. Here is a relevant quote from his famous speech:

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

IV.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

V.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

VI.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

What we have today is nothing but a full spectrum dominance of military-intelligence-industrial-academic-banking complex (and please note that Wall Street is closely interconnected with CIA and State Department;

Via revolving door mechanisms the US foreign policy is dictated not by US national interests but by interests of top 100 or so largest US corporations). In 2013 the private equity firm KKR named the retired general and CIA director David Petraueus as the chairman of its global institute. Earlier the same year, Sir John Sawers, The former head of Britain MI6 became Chairman of Macro Advisory Partners, a firm that advices business and government on geopolitics (Christina Freeland, Atlantic, May 2015, p 82) Those two examples are just tip of the iceberg, of a much larger trend of intermarriage of intelligence community and Wall Street.

From The Sorrows of Empire:

The 725 U.S. military bases acknowledged by the Department of Defense do not include the many used for communications espionage, control of the world's oil supply, or those that are simply too embarrassing for the government to speak about openly (such as the fourteen permanent bases being built in Iraq). - The United States maintains about 347,000 soldiers, airmen, and marines at military bases in 140 of 189 member states of the United Nations. - The American military budget is so large that the next-highest military budget in the world- Russia's-is only fourteen percent of our own. - Ninety-three percent of the American budget dedicated to international affairs is allocated to the military and only seven percent to the State Department. - The Congressional Budget Office projects federal deficits over the next five years of more than $1 trillion, on top of an already existing government debt in February 2003 of $6.4 trillion. Military operations in Iraq so far have cost $143 billion; reconstruction will run from between $50 and $100 billion.

We can view MIC as consisting of three parts: federal institutions,  academia (military or intelligence oriented research labs and individual researchers in universities), and private contractors. The latter is the fastest growing segment   (The Military-Industrial Complex is Real, And It’s Bigger Than Ever - The Daily Beast):

As the iconic Washington Post investigation detailed, there are 1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Throughout the D.C. area, 33 buildings containing 17 million square feet of office space have been built since 9/11—the equivalent of 22 Capitol buildings. But despite the growth of government national-security workers, some 500,000 private contractors also have top security clearances.

This might be defensible if private contractors actually saved taxpayer dollars, but they don’t. According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, contractors made up 29 percent of intelligence agency workforce but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of personnel budgets. Consider the fact that Snowden made $122,000 a year in his brief Hawaii-based gig for Booz Allen Hamilton, offering evident tech savvy but only a GED. The average annual salary for a person with a GED is only $37,200. This isn’t an industry interested in belt-tightening.0

The proliferation of military-industrial complex contractors has helped propel the D.C. metro area to include seven of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the United States. Contra Snowden’s formal education, five of the top six counties for college-educated workers are in the D.C. metro area. The overlap between the two is not surprising: Loudoun, Arlington, and Fairfax counties in Virginia are particularly plush places to be in 2013.

If you want to find out what’s really happening in politics and government, follow the money. When it comes to national security, civic concerns compete with financial self-interest—and guess which often wins the tug of war?

The problem, of course, is not just a matter of money. It is the amount of overlap and inevitable turf battles that occur when multiple organizations—both private and public—all strive to prove their relevance to protect their self-interest. To use another example from the Post’s “Top Secret America” series, there are 51 federal organizations and military commands tracking the flow of money in terrorist networks. This just can’t be the most effective way to accomplish the mission.

But the military-industrial complex has a trump card to play with members of Congress and the public: nobody wants to argue with national security, especially when the very real threat of terrorism exists. This ain’t no phantom menace: more than 45 jihadist terror plots had been stopped before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But the combination of real threat and opaque multibillion-dollar budgets leads inevitably to a lack of transparency and accountability. That’s where the risk of not just information-dragnet overreach but also the risk of leakers like Ed Snowden comes in. With this level of complexity in the system, security is ironically almost impossible to maintain.

Abstracting from the ideological bent, totalitarian regimes like USSR (or China) can also be viewed as examples of MIC dominance in the form of merger arms manufacturers, military contractors and the state institutions including top brass of Communist Party, the merger that creates a variant of National Security State depicted in his novel "1984".  Moreover the dissolution of the USSR as the result of the bankruptcy of its overcentralized economic model ("state socialism" -- not that different from state capitalism) is directly related to the destruction of the USSR economy imposed by Soviet  militarily industrial complex (see Are We Going Down Like the Soviets World). Although arm race with USA played significant role, Soviet military establishment willingly overplayed its hand and killed the host. Collapse of communist ideology and emergence of Neoliberalism was just a final strew that broke the camel back as KGB brass realized that they will be better off under capitalism and changed sides (with gentle encouragements via multimillion bribes from CIA). Still, China, which uses the same bankrupt ideological doctrine with political life dominated by the same Communist Party, managed to survive and even economically prosper using strange mix of communist ideology in governing the state with Neoliberalism in economics in selected economic zones of the country. Extremes meet and while Marxism was highly collectivist, while Neoliberalism is highly individualists "Homo homini lupus est" style ideology it  reuses one of core components of Trotskyism -- the idea of Permanent Revolution, which was creatively transformed into Permanent Export of Democracy.   The latter is just a  smoke screen for forced export of neoliberalism into other countries, via color revolution (Serbia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), or armed invasions (Iraq, Libya) )

In other words MIC dominance means inevitable transformation of modern states into National Security State fighting typical for such a state "Perpetual war for perpetual peace."

There are  other important factors/tendencies that contributed to the dominance media-military-industrial complex in the USA

  1. Relentless war mongering propaganda of corporate-controlled media. Like in Third Reich MIC dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. There is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

    Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

  2. American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism should probably be more correctly called US-specific version of far right nationalism, a milder variant of  one that existed in 30th of the last century in national-socialist countries of Europe, such as Italy, Germany and Spain.  The way in which American elite as a whole relates with the rest of the world demonstrates a strong nationalistic (as in "cultural nationalism"), imperial point of view. That means that mass media presents events only from the particular  point of view, with the brainwashed lemmings believing that their nation, or culture, is superior to all others. This often produces prejudice, xenophobia and inter-group and in-group violence, with the latter directed at suppression of dissent. Indeed, the United States’ inflated sense of eminence create additional, non-economic stimulus for the country elite to act in  fundamentally ethnocentric neo-fascist ways, and to strive for unilateral rule of the world.
  3. Two party system invented by elite of Great Britain which in case of "winner takes all" more of assigning elected officials inevitably leads to the dominance of a single party -- party of large capital.  Clinton sell-out of Democratic party and Blair sell out of labor party are not exception in this case, they are the rule. "Winner takes all" system proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes, including the US neoliberalism as it naturally lead to two party system in which both party represent capital.  
  4. Conversion of system of governance to "Deep state" which essentially make elections optional, but they still continue to exist in an emasculated "two parties system" form with disenfranchised, brainwashed voters, a highly malleable mass that can be pushed for any real rulers bidding.  Mainly as a facade, Potemkin village to provide the legitimacy for ruling elite.
Those factors are covered in more detail in special pages:

Military Industrial Complex as another, more politically correct name for Corporatism


Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might.

The term MIC ("Military-Industrial Complex") is also closely related to the phenomena that is defined by the term corporatism and the term National Security State. In a way,  it is just a more politically correct way to describe corporatism as a social system. The term corporatism is taunted by the link to Mussolini Italy and quite often is associated with the term "Italian fascism". As such this association instantly makes the discussion more emotional and defensive.

Like the term corporatism, the term "Military-Industrial Complex" is used to denote a mutation of state in which the dominant power belong to the large corporations and banks allied with the government (with officials  moving freely between private industry and government via revolving doors) including, but not limited to, a political block between the military and the industrial producers of military equipment and their lobbyists in Congress. In a sense, the key result of WWII was that Nazi Germany and its allies lost, but corporatism as a political movement they represented, actually won. Alliance of government (both Congress and executive branch) and corporate interests is the defining feature of this new form of political regime.

In a sense, the key result of WWII was that Nazi Germany and its allies lost, but corporatism as a political movement they represented, actually won.  Alliance of government (both Congress and executive branch) and corporate interests is the defining feature of this new form of political regime.

 Eisenhower initially wrote "military-industrial-congressional complex" (the term, which is of course is more precise as corporatism is a marriage of state and large corporations, but also more divisive), but changed it moved by strong advice to omit "congressional." We can see his political abilities and instincts of this great president in action in his final speech. It became a hit and people sited it, without understanding the depth and the real meaning of the warning, as well as the nature of the danger: mutation of the state into corporatist national security state which completely excludes public from the political process.

The term is easily extended to any group of corporations for which a significant part of revenue comes from the government contracts or in other way is guaranteed by government, or which depend from the expansion of market by government force (especially foreign expansion). In this sense we can talk about financial complex as another candidate for close and dangerous alliance with government .

No matter what set of industries are the key members of the alliance with the government, the press is controlled by the same players. The net result is a super-aggressive (we are the dominant player and you suckers should not stand on our way), jingoistic foreign policy oriented on acquiring new and protecting old markets. In this sense one of the defining features of such a regime is seeking/protecting/opening foreign markets using direct military power (aka invasions) or threat of thereof. That's why, the USA foreign policy seems unchanged the last 60 years, regardless of who controls the executive, and or, the legislative branches of government.

On the other hand it can be viewed as an implementation of Military Keynesianism: a government economic policy in which the government devotes large amounts of spending to the military in an effort to increase economic growth and the speed of technological advancement (via dual use technologies). Many fundamental technologies such as computers, large scale integral circuits, Internet, GPS, etc are the net results of adoption and enhancement of former military-oriented technologies by the civilian sector.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's seven characteristics of a National Security State

  "Four sorrows are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787.
  1. First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut.
  2. Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co- equal `executive branch' of government into a military junta.
  3. Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.
  4. Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens."

Chalmers A. Johnson

National security state is the most common form of corporatism that exist in XX and XXI century. In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer identified seven characteristics of a National Security State [4]:

All those features were also typical for Bolsheviks regime in the USSR, so the term "neo-bolshevism" is also applicable. Here is a pretty telling  Amazon review of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)

 'War is a Racket' - General Smedley Butler USMC, April 1, 2004

Am I the only one who thinks the the rest of his countryman are nuts? For the past 60 years and three generations, Americans have been led to believe that that spending billions for the Defense of the country is not only necessary but patriotic.

Forget conspiracy theories and ideological agendas, just contemplate one fact: The USA spends more on military and intelligence funding in 2004 than it has spent at any one time in history. Fourteen carrier groups to defeat the two remaining countries of the axis of evil, N. Korea and Iran? 750 and counting military bases outside the USA? However, the government tells us it is powerless to defend the country against an attack from a terrorist group with WMD???

So, the next time you watch television and the commentator tells you why we need another aircraft carrier, more tanks, more F-16's, etc., ask yourself: Who are we defending ourselves against? And, as Chalmers Johnson points out, follow the money!

This book is an excellent primer on how our beloved country is being led down the road to ruin by a group of people who are lining the pockets of themselves and their friends and supporters. All of this is being done in the name of Democracy, Freedom and Globalization. But, why do we want to liberate people who sit on oil while those countries being ruthlessly exploited and practically enslaved are ignored since they can contribute little or nothing to the "world economy" (pick any poor third world country)?

This review is written by a conservative American, cold war supporter and US Navy veteran (like Chalmers Johnson) who believes in the old Republic (when is the last time you heard that word mentioned in the era of the imperial presidency). Forget whether you are democrat or republican, take the blinders off and seek the truth, excellently told by Chalmers Johnson.

Origins and history

 "The CIA is Wall Street. Wall Street is the CIA"

 Michael Ruppert

As US phenomenon  military industrial complex was the result of confluence of several powerful forces which has no countervailing forces to check them::

And those process were not limited to the USA. The concept of "deep state" actually originated in Turkey. And MIC suckling resources out of the economy has been one of the factors of collapse of the USSR with elements of the same that can be observed in such different  countries as Israel, Pakistan, China, Brazil and France.

The most important fact is the presence of intelligence agencies in this combination of forces and close alignment of intelligence agencies with Wall Street (the first head of CIA came directly from a leading Wall Street Law firm).  This hypertrophied role of intelligence agencies in military part of media-military-industrial complex essentially guarantied that it will soon escape civilian control and turn into "state within a state". Or as they call it now the Deep State.

Essentially Dwight Eisenhower correctly predicted inevitable collapse of American democracy, which actually happened in 1963 and gradual but inevitable transformation of the state into National Security State, the conversion which actually started with signing by Truman National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA) and was in full force during Eisenhower administration. Despite his understanding of the danger and some attempt to reverse the process Dwight Eisenhower was unable even to slow down this process during his administration, although it did cut military. 

We can distinguish several phases of conversion of the USA into National Security State:

JFK assassination as a coup detat of MIC against the "old state"

50th anniversary of JFK assassination and the key cue bono question about assassination:

Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church, to investigate the illegal intelligence gathering by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after the Watergate incident. It also investigated the CIA and FBI conduct relating to the JFK assassination.

Numerous books about the assassination suggest that in case actions of government represent a threat to their interests, elements of military industrial complex can overthrow the United States government by force of arms and that's can well be one interpretation of events which happened on November 22, 1963. HSCA had found that there were at least 2 shooters. The circumstances of JFK assassination are so troubling and confusing that they create an impression of CIA coup d'etat. This impression is strengthened by the fact that the US intelligence communities actively deceived the public and stonewalled the JFK murder investigation. This possibility is explored in several books such as Coup d'Etat in America The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Alan J. Weberman, Michael Canfield and German book JFK: Staatsstreich in Amerika. The reading of the former book suggests that some of the same forces the did Kennedy in also brought about the downfall of Nixon. Here is one Amazon review of the book:

The authors believe that two of the tramps arrested in Dealey Plaza that day were Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis, and that JFK was killed by the CIA and Cuban exiles angry over the Bay of Pigs. The assassination was then made to look like the work of Castro. "Members of a specially trained assassination squad called Operation Forty were briefed on their roles in the conspiracy. A CIA agent named Lee Harvey Oswald, who had a high 'expendability rating,' was chosen to play the role of 'patsy' in the killing...Oswald was led to believe he was part of a plot to assassinate Castro when in reality he was being set up as a pro-Castro scapegoat...But the officials of the Cuban consulate in Mexico City refused to issue Oswald a visa. If they had acted differently, and the visa had been found on Oswald's person after the assassination, most Americans would have been convinced that [he] was an agent of Fidel Castro...His CIA case officer ordered him to bring a rifle to the depository on the same day Kennedy was visiting Dallas and told him that there would be a message waiting for him somewhere in the building around 12:30 that day."

There were two men behind the grassy knoll and two phony SS men behind the TSBD. "Meanwhile, the killers, disguised as tramps, hid in some nearby boxcars..." Tippit was supposed to silence Oswald but Oswald shot him first; he then went to the Texas Theater so he would be arrested in front of lots of people to guarantee that he would be taken alive. Ruby was ordered by the mob to kill him.

Bertrand Russell's famous question about the Warren Commission's conclusions, "If, as we are told, Oswald was the lone assassin, where is the issue of national security?" was never answered.

That creates a distinct impression that intelligence services ("Big Intelligence") play a very important role in what is called MIC and are the core component of the modern National Security State. To the extent that instead of the term "media military industrial complex" we probably should use "media military intelligence industrial complex". As John Chuckman noted in his Nov 6, 2013 essay HOW AMERICA LEARNED TO PLAY GOD

The record of arrogance and abuse by security organizations, such as CIA or the FBI, is long and costly, filled with errors in judgment, abuse of power, incompetence, and immense dishonesty. Owing to the black magic of classified secrecy, much of the record involves projects about which we will never know, but even what we do know about is distressing enough. And I’m not sure that it can be any other way so long as you have Big Intelligence. Apart from Big Intelligence’s own propensity towards criminal or psychopathic behavior, one of the great ironies of Big Intelligence is that it will always agree to bend, to provide whatever suppressions and fabrications are requested by political leaders working towards the aims of the other great anti-democratic institutions, the military and the corporations. This became blindingly clear in the invasion of Iraq and, even before that, in the first Gulf War.

Among other things by access to "dirt" on politicians they provide powerful political filtering system so that none undesirable slips into important office:

America’s political system, honed and shaped over many decades, fits comfortably with these institutions. National elections are dominated by a two-party duopoly (being kept that way through countless institutional barriers deliberately created to maintain the status quo) , both these parties are dominated by huge flows of campaign contributions (contributions which form what economists call an effective barrier to entry against any third party seriously being able to compete), both parties embrace much the same policies except for some social issues of little interest to the establishment, and election campaigns are reduced to nothing more than gigantic advertising and marketing operations no different in nature to campaigns for two national brands of fast food or pop. It takes an extremely long time for a candidate to rise and be tested before being trusted with the huge amounts of money invested in an important campaign, and by that time he or she is a well-read book with no surprising chapters.

If for any reason this political filtering system fails, and someone slips through to an important office without having spent enough time to make them perfectly predictable, there still remains little chance of serious change on any important matter. The military-industrial-intelligence complex provides a molded space into which any newcomer absolutely must fit. Just imagine the immense pressures exerted by the mere presence of senior Pentagon brass gathered around a long polished oak table or a table surrounded by top corporate figures representing hundreds of billions in sales or representatives or a major lobbying group (and multi-million dollar financing source for the party). We see the recent example of popular hopes being crushed after the election of Obama, a man everyone on the planet hoped to see mend some of the ravages of George Bush and Dick Cheney. But the man who once sometimes wore sandals and bravely avoided a superfluous and rather silly flag pin on his lapel quickly was made to feel the crushing weight of institutional power, and he bent to every demand made on him, becoming indistinguishable from Bush. Of course, the last president who genuinely did challenge at least some of the great institutional powers, even to a modest extent, died in an ambush in Dallas.

Snowden revelations of NSA activities in the USA

New round of debates about the dominance of military industrial complex and the level of control it exert over civil society was caused by recent revelations about NSA activities in the USA (see Big Uncle is Watching You).

Technology changes can really change the society. And not always in a beneficial for the society way. There is such thing as "blowback" in technologies. We can view recent NSA activities revealed by Snowden as a classic example of such blowback connected with the spread of Internet.  And it is a mistake to assume that such activities started with September 11 events and that Bush II was totally responsible for converting the USA into national-security state.  The technology was ready long before September 11 and what is available is always used by clandestine agencies.  They tend to adopt technology as soon as it is available, being in a pervert way "early adopters" of any communication technology. And this happens not only in the USA although the USA as technological leader was the most profoundly affected.

It might well be the Rubicon was crossed around JFK assassination time. On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA (Church Committee - Wikipedia ):

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[11]

The creation and use of databases of personal information and the systematic records (archives) of communications of citizens started simultaneously with NSA creation. The first targets were mail and telegraph. Some of this experience came from specialists of Third Reich. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich. The agency hired one former SS officer as a spy in the 1950s, for instance, even after concluding he was probably guilty of “minor war crimes.” And in 1994, a lawyer with the C.I.A. pressured prosecutors to drop an investigation into an ex-spy outside Boston implicated in the Nazis’ massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania, according to a government official (In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis - NYTimes.com).

Recording of all email envelopes (which was also done for snail mail) started long before email was invented and became established practice since the WWII. It just a new name now -- collection of metadata. Recording metadata of phone calls and often the calls themselves first started before WWII and technology was polished on international calls, which for obvious reasons are of great interest to all governments.

We don't know then it was extended on domestic calls, this this was trivial extension of already existing capacity and probably abuse was stated gradually as soon as power of computers allow that. That means around 1958. Even in early 1960 three letter agencies were already semi-autonomous entities, a state within the state. And as assassination on President Kennedy had shown they were audacious enough to bypass Congress.

I think that the first attempt to create a comprehensive nation-wide intelligence network that monitors sentiments of the citizens and hunt enemies of the state goes as far bask as Napoleon and his famous minister of police Joseph Fouché. Or may be it even goes as far back as to Byzantine Empire with its first in history systematic network of spies. As for recording of mail envelopes, we can even claim that this function for international mail (in a form of "black chambers") is as old as states are. In the USA it started in full force in August 1919 when J. Edgar Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation's new General Intelligence Division—also known as the Radical Division because its explicit goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals.

Hoover and his chosen assistant, George Ruch monitored a variety of U.S. radicals with the intent to punish, arrest, or deport them. Targets during this period included Marcus Garvey; Rose Pastor Stokes and Cyril Briggs; Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman; and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter, whom Hoover nicknamed as "the most dangerous man in the United States".

After 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the USA government got all the pre-conditions necessary for installing a regime of aggressive total surveillance. Which actually was a hidden intent and 9/11 was just a convenient pretext much like Tonkin incident in Vietnam war. And in this respect Ed Snowden whatever is his motivation (which might be not as simple as most people assume) did the right thin thing, when he with risk to his life informed the US public and the world about those activities. You may approve those revelations you may disapprove them (and they did damage the USA as a state), but keeping them secret from the US public is a crime.

NSA technically is a data collection agency. While it has legitimate function to monitor information that is crossing the national border, we need to understand that the abuse of this function and extension of it into domestic communications started nor after 9/11, but in 1950th. But the capacities to do this type of work had grown dramatically over last four decades. In a way NSA became a victim of growing power of computers and as well inherent tendency of bureaucracies, especially government bureaucracies to expand and self-justify their expansion. The classic case was the USSR where KGB was a real state within the state and sometimes it was not completely clear whether the Party controls KGB or KGB controls the Party.

In other words expansionism is an immanent quality, the second nature of large bureaucracies, and unless there is countervailing force it can be deadly for the society at large, as we observe in case with three letter agencies, which tend to escape from civil control and form a state within a state. In a way any state with powerful thre-letter agencies stand with one leg in a tyranny, even if it class itself a democracy. and that fact was already known to everybody in 1975. Actually just after president Kennedy assassination, which, no matter which version of events you adopt, in all cases indirectly pointed out that three letter agencies jumped out of control of civil government. As one Guardian reader commented "The pernicious thing is that it is in the nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them."

The nature of bureaucracies in general and spy agencies in particular to expand beyond reason unless there is effective oversight. In the case of intelligence agencies it has proven impossible to control them.

But that also means that most of those efforts are highly politicized, inefficient waist of resources as typical for large bureaucracies which are not so far technological but political bodies (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition).

We can admire the immortal foresight of Secretary of State Henry Stimson's  who closed the Cipher Bureau in 1929.  But this highly ethical, moral and courageous act deprived the U.S. of the capacity to read foreign diplomatic cables as world-wide threats grew.  So it was quickly reversed. In a way technology dictates the level of government surveillance in the society and in Internet society it looks like this level is permanently set on "high". That does not mean that we can't fight it. Yes, we can ;-)

MIC and dynamics of malignant growth of bureaucratic organizations

The idea that US foreign policy is affected by pressures imposed on US president  and his administration by the "national security oligarchy" interested mainly in self-preservation and expansion of their power in not new.

While major factors were conversion of the USA into empire and attempt to secure the world dominance, there was some internal dynamic connected with perverting of goals for which organization was created by any large bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is an organizational model rationally designed to perform complex tasks efficiently. Military and intelligence communities are classic examples of large bureaucratic organizations, and they are characterized by formalized rules and regulations, systematic record-keeping and archiving of past decisions, formalized planning for the future, hierarchies of status, defined career paths (within the organization and across organizations), a concern for organizational identity, and other features. Establish culture is "sticky" and is a very hard thing for any large bureaucratic organization to change. Reforms that run against a long-standing ethos -- especially chose that emphasize restraint and cut the power of the organization -- are very difficult to achieve

But most large bureaucracies, especially government, military and security  organizations (CIA, NSA FBI) quickly pervert the gols for which organization was created and start to pursue agenda of their own substituting official goal with the  goals of organization growth, and growth of power of top brass. In short that are subject to the same The Iron Law of Oligarchy as political parties.

So they have immanent propensity to become states with a state. For example the goal of army brass became to increase state engagement in any military conflict (aka "surge"). So despite the fact that bureaucracies are governed by rules make them something like staffed with human robots, where rules serve as a program governing the robot behavior. But as in sci-fi such robots very soon start to demonstrate behavior that was not designed by the original programmers ;-).

Once the bureaucracy commits itself to a course of action, it rarely adjusts its path. Bureaucracies prize continuity over innovation and cling to the prevailing orthodoxy even if that means moving strait till everybody start to fall from the cliff.  With the notable exception of the top layer of hierarchy ;-)

While each bureaucracy is created with particular mandate, like Frankenstein it very soon it escape the control of its creators and start living the life of its own, pursuing goals that might nothing to do, or worse completely opposite to those to achieve which it was created. At some point a new phenomenon called organizational culture emerge. the latter comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. The elements fit together as a self-reinforcing system and are resistant to any attempt to change it. Hierarchy, with its attendant multiple layers of goals, roles, accountabilities, values and communication channels became entrenched.

Principal agent problem and growth of national security oligarchy

Any bureaucracy is a political coalition that is designed to protect and enrich its members and first of all top brass (see Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition). And that goal explicitly conflict with the goal of efficient and dispassionate service that they theoretically should provide. That means that there is inherent contradiction within any large bureaucratic organization. that also means that one of the most central problem of bureaucracies is Principal-agent problem  which is essentially another side of  The Iron Law of Oligarchy. This problem recently (in 2008) get some attention in respect to financial sector:

In political science and economics, the principal-agent problem or agency dilemma treats the difficulties that arise under conditions of incomplete and asymmetric information when a principal hires an agent, such as the problem that the two may not have the same interests, while the principal is, presumably, hiring the agent to pursue the interests of the former. The “agency problem” is an inherent dysfunction in all principal/agent relationships, a dysfunction so powerful that such relationships can never fully achieve their stated objectives.

. Here is how Wikipedia defines this relationship

The principal–agent problem or agency dilemma occurs when one person or entity (the "agent") is able to make decisions that impact, or on behalf of, another person or entity: the "principal". The dilemma exists because sometimes the agent is motivated to act in his own best interests rather than those of the principal. The agent-principal relationships is a useful analytic tool in political science and economics, but may also apply to other areas.

Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), or politicians (agent) and voters (principal).[1] For another example, consider a dental patient (the principal) wondering whether his dentist (the agent) is recommending expensive treatment because it is truly necessary for the patient's dental health, or because it will generate income for the dentist. In fact the problem potentially arises in almost any context where one party is being paid by another to do something, whether in formal employment or a negotiated deal such as paying for household jobs or car repairs.

The problem arises where the two parties have different interests and asymmetric information (the agent having more information), such that the principal cannot directly ensure that the agent is always acting in its (the principal's) best interests,[2] particularly when activities that are useful to the principal are costly to the agent, and where elements of what the agent does are costly for the principal to observe. Moral hazard and conflict of interest may arise. Indeed, the principal may be sufficiently concerned at the possibility of being exploited by the agent that he chooses not to enter into a transaction at all, when that deal would have actually been in both parties' best interests: a suboptimal outcome that lowers welfare overall. The deviation from the principal's interest by the agent is called "agency costs".[2]

But this problem is no less acute in intelligence organizations. By their statute it is very difficult to control them and check action of their brass. Which means intelligence brass became a new type of players within the elite with its own agenda, which they fiercely defend.   Scaremongering is one typical demonstration of "Principal-agent problem" with intelligence organization and military. That's why any attempt to downsize those organization usually are doomed to be a failure.  Inflating security threats is the way of preservation and growth for those organization.

“Looting” is a reasonably violent word that conveys with some degree of accuracy the essence of principal-agent problem. Perverse incentives is more politically correct work meaning essentially the same.  Attempts to constrain  looting by large government organizations such as CIA, NSA and FBI using laws and regulation, or at the individual level by replacing top brass, proved inefficient.

Criminal prosecution is difficult to launch against top officers of such organization and RICO status is inapplicable despite the fact that in many way they demonstrate behavior typical of organized crime. At the same time Stalinism-style purges, while definitely effective contradict norms of the modern societies.  Changing situation via regulation is difficult as "national security oligarchy" controls lawmakers and, as Obama elections had shown, also might well controls the nomination of presidential candidates from both parties. 

There are three laws that govern this process of corruption:

Even in cases of indoctrination with ideology which inhibits those impulses, corruption of the organizational elite of security services is a serious problem as collapse of the USSR demonstrated to the surprised world. Only an idiot (or PR prostitute ;-) would say that it was angry Russians who overthrow the Communist regime; in reality it was Communist elite, and first of all KGB elite which changed flags and privatized the state resources.

This is the key to understanding complex dynamics in large organization, where bureaucracies that often engage in actions that look close to absurd (or are absurd) to the uninitiated, but are always directed on preservation and enhancement of power of top bureaucrats.  One of the most important features of bureaucracies is that along with "functional side" it also necessarily becomes a political coalition which relentless, consistently and skillfully fights for self-preservation and growth of its influence, often sacrificing "functional" part like pawns in the chess game.  As soon as self-preservation become the paramount concern, the original purpose of the bureaucracy to provide efficient and dispassionate service ("functional part") is subverted and buried beneath the higher priority activities of  providing benefits, increasing staffing, and, the most importantly, increasing budgets ("political part").

As soon as self-preservation become the paramount concern, the original purpose of the bureaucracy to provide efficient and dispassionate service ("functional part") is subverted and buried beneath the higher priority activities of  providing benefits, increasing staffing, and, the most importantly, increasing budgets ("political part").

Tendency of mature bureaucracies to pervert their organizational, functional goals necessitates periodic purges and reorganizations. One of the first political party which understood this complex dynamic were Bolsheviks, who under Stalin instituted periodic purges of  State-employed bureaucrats ("apparatchiks"), so that the fear for their well-being (and often life) served as a powerful countervailing force to the natural tendency of bureaucracy to pervert its goals. Which of course have had only temporary effect. 

In the USA similar mechanisms of appointing as head of government agencies by political appointees (who are often, unfortunately, are completely incompetent in the area of activity they were made responsible for) is much less effective, but also has its positive sides.  The US Congress looks more stagnant then the USSR Politburo with the average serving term of senators probably exceeding twice of more the term of a typical Politburo member.

Limitation of term of the President along with natural change of  political objectives  serves as a periodic, but very mild reorganizing force. This effect is watered down by the short term assigned to the presidency as in such short  period it is impossible to institute substantial changes in top departments such as Department of State and Department of Defense (which actually has budget larger then GDP of the USSR and is probably less efficient in spending those money that the socialist economy of the USSR). 

Intelligence community is another part that tend quickly escape the control and pervert the goal for which particular organization was created. Here natural tendency of any large bureaucracy to try to enlarge their sphere of influence and minimize the control from  above looks really menacing to the very existence of democratic government in the country as Church Committee discovered long ago. To members of the commission CIA looked more like a tail which wags the dog, then as a regular part of the government, and as Assassination of President Kennedy had shown this is really the case. And it was the chief of FBI J. Edgar Hoover   who convincingly proved that that idea of rotation of high level executives in the US government has well defined exceptions. None of presidents dared to touch him until he died in the office occupying it for almost 40 years (1935-1972).

In large corporation the role similar to Stalin purges can play periodic changing of location of headquarters, as election of president of the corporation and its board are typically formal and are run by the same clique that runs the organization.

Security and intelligence bureaucracies as perfect environment for authoritarians and sociopaths

Another negative side of bureaucracies is that they serve as perfect environment for Authoritarians (especially Double High Authoritarians)  as well as sociopaths. See The psychopath in the corner office and Analogy between corporate and psychopathic behavior

So it is interesting that the term psychopathic is applicable to bureaucracies too, not only to individuals. Bureaucracies can demonstrate several of typical psychopathic traits. Like psychopathic managers, bureaucracies often prevent subordinates doing their jobs and prevent employees fulfilling their duties. The term Psychopathic corporation is often used to highlight the connection between corporate psychopaths and modern government organizations and mega-corporations. Here is a short but very useful list from Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice

1.Illogical Thinking: The lack of independent, critical thinking.

2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds: Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.

3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.

4. Hypocrisy: The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.

5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.

6. A Profound Ethnocentrism: Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.

7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense: By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..

The key feature of such companies is  that do not treat employees as humans, they treat them as animals to be culled when appropriate. 

Andrew Bacevich analysis of "New American Militarism" and its connection with American Exceptionalism, neocons and evangelicals

Professor Andrew Bacevich wrote several short books on the subject. Among them we can note two:

While both books are excellent the weakness of Bacevich approach is that he does not see connection between Neoliberalism demand for economic expansion and "New American Militarism". He provide sharp critique of neocons but never ask the question: which political forces brought those pathetic second or third rate thinkers to the forefront of formulation of the US foreign policy and maintain them for more then a decade after Iraq debacle. He also mistakenly believe that American people who were completely estranged from any influence on nation's policies bear some guilt for the policy which was formulated to benefit the first hundred of the largest US corporations,

The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism

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

David R. Cook, August 15, 2008

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

This is the bluntest, toughest, most scathing critique of American imperialism as it has become totally unmoored after the demise of the Soviet Communist empire and taken to a new level by the Bush administration. Even the brevity of this book - 182 pages - gives it a particular wallop since every page "concentrates the mind".

In the event a reader knows of the prophetic work of the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, you will further appreciate this book. Bacevich is a Niebuhr scholar and this book essentially channels Niebuhr's prophetic warnings from his 1952 book, "The Irony of American History". The latter has just been reissued by University of Chicago Press thanks to Andrew Bacevich who also contributed an introduction.

In essence, American idealism as particularly reflected in Bush's illusory goal to "rid the world of evil" and to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East or wherever people are being tyrannized, is doomed to failure by the tides of history. Niebuhr warned against this and Bacevich updates the history from the Cold War to the present. Now our problems have reached crisis proportions and Bacevich focuses on the three essential elements of the crisis: American profligacy; the political debasing of government; and the crisis in the military.

What renders Bacevich's critique particularly stinging, aside from the historical context he gives it (Bush has simply taken an enduring American exceptionalism to a new level), is that he lays these problems on the doorstep of American citizens. It is we who have elected the governments that have driven us toward near collapse. It is we who have participated willingly in the consumption frenzy in which both individual citizens and the government live beyond their means. Credit card debt is undermining both government and citizenry.

This pathway is unsustainable and this book serves up a direct and meaningful warning to this effect. Niebuhrian "realism" sees through the illusions that fuel our own individual behavior and that of our government. There are limits to American power and limits to our own individual living standards and, of course, there are limits to what the globe can sustain as is becoming evident from climate changes.

... ... ...

Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008

... ... ...

According to the author, the US has reached its limit to project its power in the world. His rationale for this conclusion are three central crises we now face: economic and cultural, political, and military, all of which are our own making.

The first crisis is one of profligacy. Americans want more, whether it is wealth, credit, markets, or oil, without consideration for cost or how these things are acquired. There is complete apathy in what policies are being produced as long as they provide plenty.

The political crisis was born of our mobilization in World War II to meet the threat of tyranny, and from the Cold War to meet the challenge of the Soviet Union. Both gave rise to unprecedented presidential power, an ineffectual Congress, and a disastrous foreign policy. Bacevich contends that our legislature no longer serves their constituents or the common good "but themselves through gerrymandering, doling out prodigious amounts of political pork, seeing to the protection of certain vested interests" with the paramount concern of being re-elected. Our presidents have been willing accomplices in keeping the American dream or greed alive by using our military as part of a coercive diplomatic tool to feed and fuel the first crisis.

Bacevich traces the end of the republic to the start of both wars, which gave rise to the "ideology of national security." The mission of the new Department of Defense is not defense, but to project power globally where we will view any nation as a threat that tries to match us in military might. At the same time, the largest intelligence agencies in the world are created to afford us more security, but after seventy years are unable to defend our cities and buildings in the US while it worries about intrigues worldwide. Competition and rivalry lead to a lack of cooperation, intelligence, and security when it was needed most.

The third crisis is our military which has been employed to satisfy the neuroses of the first and second crises. The author puts much of the blame squarely at the feet of inept military leadership, which he believes has confused strategy with operations. Content with the resilience of the American fighting man or woman, he is scathing in his critique of their leadership finding them "guilty of flagrant professional malpractice, if not outright fraud." He illustrates how improvised explosive devices that cost no more than a pizza have checked a military that is designed for speed and maneuver--that was considered invincible.

Andrew Bacevich contends that nothing will change as long as Americans are told to go to Disney World instead of making sacrifices, as long as the same one half percent of our population continue to populate the military that the president sees as his personal army, as long as an apathetic public and an ineffectual Congress continue to make periodic, grand gestures of curbing presidential power, the United States will have reached the limits of its power and exceptionalism.

This book profoundly moved me, and I was impressed by the insight that Professor Bacevich could bring in such few pages. Passages of this book should be plastered in the halls and offices of Congress, as well as the West Wing.

This book really stands out as a jewel in a sea of mediocre publications by radio and TV personalities who think they know what they are talking about when it comes to economics or geopolitics. The difference is that Andrew Bacevich does

--without exception.

Also Recommended:

The New American Militarism

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

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

For your convenience some of  them which I judge to be the most insightful are reproduced below:

Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517338-4, is the most coherent analysis of how America has come to its present situation in the world that I have ever read. Bacevich, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton. And he is retired military officer. This background makes him almost uniquely qualified to comment on the subject.

Bacevich admits to an outlook of moderate conservatism. But in ascribing fault for our plight to virtually every administration since W.W. II, he is even handed and clear eyed. Since he served in the military, he understands the natural bureaucratic instincts of the best of the officer corps and is not blinded by the almost messianic status that they have achieved in the recent past.

His broad brush includes the classic period, the American Revolution - especially the impact of George Washington, but he moves quickly to the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his direct descendants of our time, the Neoconservatives. The narrative accelerates and becomes relevant for us in the depths of the despair of Vietnam. At that juncture, neocon intellectuals awakened to the horror that without a new day for our military and foreign policy, the future of America would be at stake. At almost the same time, Evangelical Christians abandoned their traditional role in society and came to views not dissimilar to the neocons. America had to get back on track to both power and goodness. The results of Vietnam on American culture, society, and - especially - values were abhorrent to both these groups.

The perfect man to idealize and mythologize America's road back was Ronald Reagan. Again, Bacevich does not shrink from seeing through the surreal qualities brought to the Oval Office by Reagan to the realities beneath them. The Great Communicator transformed the Vietnam experience into an abandonment of American ideals and reacquainted America with those who fought that horrible war. Pop culture of the period, including motion pictures such as Top Gun and best selling novels by many, including Tom Clancy completely rehabilitated the image of the military.

The author describes how Evangelical leaders came to find common cause with the neocons and provided the political muscle for Reagan and his successors of both parties to discover that the projection of military might become a reason for being for America as the last century closed.

One of his major points is that the all volunteer force that resulted from the Vietnam experience has been divorced from American life and that sending this force of ghosts into battle has little impact on our collective psyche. This, too, fit in with the intellectual throw weight of the neocons and the political power of the Evangelicals.

Separate from but related to the neocons, Bacevich describes the loss of strategic input by the military in favor of a new priesthood of intellectual elites from institutions such as the RAND Corporation, The University of Chicago and many others. It was these high priests who saw the potential that technology provided for changing the nature of war itself and how American power might be projected with `smart weapons' that could be the equivalent of the nuclear force that could never be used.

So it was that when the war we are now embroiled in across the globe - which has its antecedents back more than twenty years - all of these forces weighed heavily on the military leaders to start using the force we'd bought them. The famed question by Secretary of State Madeline Albright to General Colin Powell: "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" had to have an answer and the skirmishes and wars since tended to provide it.

Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.

It is in his prescriptions that the book tends to drift. The Congress must do its constitutionally mandated jobs or be thrown out by the people. Some of his ideas on military education are creative and might well close the gap between the officer corps and civilians that he points to as a great problem.

But it is the clearly written analysis that makes this book shine. It should be a must read for those who wonder how we got to Iraq and where we might be heading as a society. The nation is in grave danger, and this is a book that that shows how we got to this juncture. Where we go from here is up to us. If we continue as we are, our options may narrow and be provided by others.

READ THIS BOOK

===This review is from: The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Hardcover)

In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.

Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies." We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form. It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.

How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.

  1. After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
  2. Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
  3. Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
  4. Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
  5. Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
  6. Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.

Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hotile to republican liberty."

K. Johnson:

 Relevant and Objective, January 3, 2007

... ... ...

The author astutely reinforces the fact that the Militarist Mentality won't change, regardless of which political party is in control of the Executive and Houses of Congress in the United States. Here only some examples out of many:

Entry of the U.S. military into the Middle East:

THE CARTER DOCTRINE:

The Carter Doctrine was prescribed at the State of the Union Address in 1980. Another civilian prescription utilizing the military as medicine to alleviate and even cure, political symptoms. This Doctrine began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, specifically using the American military to enforce its economic interests and lifestyle dependence on oil. The Carter Doctrine was a major shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. It specifically stated that use of the military can and will be used to enforce U.S. economic interests.

At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:

"Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be declared as an assault on the vital interest of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force" (p. 181).

Worth noting is that the Carter Doctrine was declared during the Cold War, when there was a adversary to check U.S interests. Today, that rival is gone.

Some argue the so-called 'War on Terror' is merely a historical continuation of American foreign policy interests in using its military to promote its geo-political and economic interests.

WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:

War has been, and now is presented as a spectacle. No different than a spectator sport. Live reports, video display, and laymen presentations of new technology, usually via video, to the civilian public at press conferences.

One example of many are current U.S. newspaper reports: they don't use the term "wounded" when reporting about American soldiers in Iraq. They use the euphemistic term, "injured." "17 Iraqis 'wounded' and 3 American soldiers 'injured.'" Similar to a football game. Slogans such as "Shock and Awe, Support the Troops," and deck of cards identifying the most wanted Baath party members. "Freedom is not Free." Many American military personel (and civilians) have internalized this propaganda.

Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:

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

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

The "Fallen" is related to a concept that the Germans began about 300 years ago. This concept is called the "Cult of the Fallen Soldier." When a soldier is killed in war he is elevated to a higher status because of his death. He is placed on a pedestal, because somehow, and in some enigmatic way, he "sacrificed" for a noble cause that is often abstract or confusing to the public. To further simplify the confusion and sullenness resulting from the soldier's death, religion is often injected into the deceased soldiers elevation on a pedestal. You can see this Cult of the Fallen Soldier in Arlington, Virgina today, and in many military cemeteries around the world.

GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Robert S. Frey
An Informed, Insightful, and Highly Readable Account of American Foreign Policy Today, December 23, 2006

... What I found most beneficial was that the book presented well-argued alternative historical "meta-narratives" that are much more closely aligned with post-World War II historical events and processes than the ones currently accepted as "conventional wisdom." A case in point is the periodization of World War IV beginning with President Carter's pronouncements regarding the Persian Gulf area in 1980 rather than with the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11. "The New American Militarism" carefully and credibly brings together the many seemingly disparate actions, decisions, and events of the past 60+ years (e.g., the atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, oil shortages of the 1970s and 80s, the end of the Cold War, the First Gulf War, etc.) and illustrates important patterns and trends that help to explain why United States' foreign policy is what it is today. Dr. Bacevich's book helps us understand and appreciate that the global projection of American military power today has deep roots in the national decisions and behaviors of the second half of the twentieth century.

Robert S. Frey, M.A., MBA, MSM
Adjunct Professor, History
Brenau University

Dr. Lee D. Carlson

Interesting, insightful, and motivating, October 21, 2006

...If one examines carefully American history, it is fair to say that Americans have been reluctant to go to war, preferring instead to settle conflicts via negotiation and trade agreements. Americans have been led to the horrors of war kicking and screaming, and breath a sigh of relief when they are over. Historically, Americans have applied extreme skepticism to those politicians, like Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to participate in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy." So if Americans are "seduced by war", as the author contends they have been in recent decades, an explanation must be found. It is tempting to say that they have been merely "brainwashed", and contemporary neuroscience lends some credence to this claim, but one must still be open to alternative explanations, and let the evidence determine the proper interpretation. Once the causes have been identified, it becomes necessary to find methodologies and strategies to counter these causes, lest we find ourselves in another unnecessary and brutal conflict, initiated by some who do not directly participate in it, and have no intention ever to do so.

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R. Albin:

 Exceptional Polemic; 4.5 Stars, October 19, 2006

This concise and well written book is the best kind of polemic; clear, well argued, and designed to provoke debate. Bacevich is definitely interested in persuading readers of the truth of his views but his calm and invective free prose, insistence on careful documentation, and logical presentation indicate that his primary concern is promote a high level of discussion of this important issue. Bacevich argues well that a form of militarism based on an exaggerated sense of both American mission and American power, specifically military power, has infected public life. He views this militarism as both leading to unnecessary and dangerous adventures abroad, epitomized by the Iraq fiasco, and corrupting the quality of domestic debate and policy making. Beyond documenting the existence of this phenomenon, Bacevich is concerned with explicating how this form of militarism, which he views as contrary to American traditions, came to be so popular.

Bacevich argues well that the new militarism came about because of a convergence of actions by a number of different actors including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals. For a variety of reasons, these sometimes overlapping groups converged on ideas of the primacy of American military power and the need to use it aggressively abroad. Bacevich devotes a series of chapters to examining each of these actors, discussing their motivations and actions, often exposing shabby and inconsistent thinking. Some of these, like the role of neoconservative intellectuals and the Religous Right, are fairly well known.

Others, like the behavior of professional military over the last generation, will be novel to many readers. Bacevich's chapters have underlying themes. One is the persisent occurrence of ironic events as the actions of many of these groups produced events counter to their goals. The post-Vietnam professional military attempted to produce a large, vigorous military poised to fight conventional, WWII-like, combats. This force was intended to be difficult for politicians to use. But as these often highly competent professionals succeeded to restoring the quality of the American military, the temptation to use it became stronger and stronger, and control escaped the professionals back into the hands of politicians as varied as Bush II and Clinton. Another theme is that politicians seized on use military force as an alternative to more difficult and politically unpalatable alternatives. Jimmy Carter is described correctly as initiating the American preoccupation with control of the Persian Gulf oil supplies, which has generated a great deal of conflict over the past generation. Bacevich presents Carter as having to act this way because his efforts to persuade Americans to pursue sacrifice and a rational energy policy were political losers. Ronald Reagan is presented as the epitome of this unfortunate trend.

Bacevich is generally convincing though, perhaps because this is a short book, there are some issues which are presented one-sidedly. For example, its true that Carter began the military preoccupation with the Persian Gulf. But, its true as well that his administration established the Dept. of Energy, began a significant program of energy related research, moved towards fuel standards for vehicles and began the regulatory policies that would successfully improve energy efficiency for many household items. No subsequent administration had done more to lessen dependence on foreign oil.

Bacevich also omits an important point. As he points out, the different actors that sponsored the new militarism tended to converge in the Republican Party. But, as has been pointed out by a number of analysts, the Republican Party is a highly disparate and relatively unstable coalition. The existence of some form of powerful enemy, perceived or real, is necessary to maintain Republican solidarity. The new militarism is an important component of maintaining the internal integrity of the Republican party and at unconciously appreciated as such by many important Republicans.

An interesting aspect of this book is that Bacevich, a West point grad, former career Army officer, and self-described cultural conservative, has reproduced many of the criticisms put forward by Leftist critics.

Bacevich concludes with a series of interesting recommendations that are generally rational but bound to be controversial and probably politically impossible. Again, this is an effort to change the nature of the discussion about these issues.

Adam Bahner
How Permanent Military Deployment Became Congruent With World Peace, June 29, 2006

In The New American Militarism, Andrew J. Bacevich contends that American culture and policy since the end of the Cold War has merged a militaristic ethos with a utopian global imaginary. He notes that American militarism is a "bipartisan project" with "deep roots" that even garner support on the political margins, with some leftist activists seeing a humanitarian mission for U.S. global military hegemony. He traces these roots to the worldview of Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned a globe "remade in America's image and therefore permanently at peace." Yet Wilson's view was moderated by a public and policy perception of war as an ugly, costly, brutal, traumatic and unpredictable last resort. This is corroborated by the massive military demobilizations that followed U.S. involvement in both world wars. Bacevich also points to works of popular culture, from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front to Oliver Stone's Platoon, that reflect on the inhumanity of war from World War I through Vietnam.

Bacevich sees a massive deviation from these historical trends after the end of the Cold War. While conceding that a permanent military mobilization was expected during the Cold War (from roughly NSC-68 to the fall of the Berlin Wall)--no significant demobilization followed. Forces slated for deactivation were quickly mobilized for Operation Desert Storm. No successful popular culture critiques of that war's brutality would emerge. The author sees the end of the cold war and Desert Storm as framing a period of "new American militarism" that breaks from historical precedent in several regards. He claims that since the 1988 presidential campaign, the character of the presidency has emphasized military more than civilian leadership. This contradicts previous presidents of military stature (e.g. Grant, Eisenhower) who obsessively positioned themselves as civilians. Post-Cold War military budgets have been dramatically larger despite no global adversary. The public has uncritically accepted a permanent military stance. The perception of war as ghastly and treacherous has been replaced with war as a clinical and technologically managed spectacle. The link between the covenant of citizenship and military service has been replaced by a specialized force of volunteers. The numbers of veterans serving in congress has steadily decreased since World War II. Bacevich correlates this with the shunning of military service by elites as the military has increasingly drawn from areas of the population that are poor and brown. Because of this, force is "outsourced" and in turn the stature of soldiers has dramatically increased through an infrastructure of praise by the majority who are not involved in military operations. Senior military officers have tremendous clout in politics, policy, and spending.

To understand this new militarism, Bacevich notes that it is point-for-point an inversion of Vietnam's military milieu. There, politicians up through the president framed themselves as civilians, officers felt out of touch with bureaucratic decisions, and war was perceived as carnal and bumbling. The book traces cultural responses to Vietnam that reformed the American relationship to militarism. As military leaders like Creighton Abrams sought to mandate broad political investment for military action by creating interdependence with reserves and to limit the criteria for deployment with the Weinberger doctrine, politicians like Ronald Reagan rehabilitated an American demoralization that peaked with Carter's failed Operation Eagle Claw by invoking popular culture mythologies like Rambo.

Bacevich is unabashedly religious. He ultimately couches America's outsourced and technocratic militarism as a departure from natural Gods in the pursuit of a scientistic idol that more perfectly regulates human affairs. He openly sees in this scientism the same flaw and outcome as Communism or Fascism. He suggests that affirmation of military service across economic privilege would raise the stakes of military engagements and help to contradict the cultural illusions that form the basis of American militarism. (That war is technical, distant, clinical, predictable, outsourced, humane, and everything contrary to what writers like Remarque tell us.) He meticulously synthesizes a new paradigm that relates the difficult subjects of military policy and popular sanction. In this regard, The New American Militarism is an exciting contribution to historical scholarship.

M. Ward:

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

...The book is about American militarism, which Bacevich describes as the "misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions" that have become part of the American conscience and have `perverted' US national security policy. According to Bacevich, American militarism has subordinated the search for the common good to the permanent value of military effectiveness that will bankrupt the US economically and morally. Bacevich supports this thesis by discussing issues that have contributed to this state of affairs.

Bacevich believes the current state of American militarism has roots dating back to the Wilson administration. Wilson's vision was to remake the world in America's image. God Himself willed the universal embrace of liberal democracies and Wilson saw the US as a `divine agent' to make the world a safe and democratic place. Today, with no serious threat to keep our military forces in check, we are now, more than ever, free to spread liberal democracy using military force, if necessary.

Considering the military, Bacevich makes the point that the militarism of America is also due, in part, to the officer corps of the US military trying to rehabilitate the image and profession of the soldier after the Vietnam War. Officers attempted to do this by reversing the roles of the soldiers and the politicians that was problematic during the Vietnam War. They tried to establish the primacy of the military over the civilians in decisions as to how to use the military. The Weinberger and Powell doctrines were the manifestation of this idea by spelling out conditions for the use of the US military in combat.

Neo-conservatives further enhanced the trend of militarism. They see US power as an instrument for good and the time was right to use the military to achieve the final triumph of Wilson's idea of spreading American liberal democracy around the globe.

Religion also played a role. According to Bacevich, evangelical Protestants see the US as a Christian nation singled out by God and Americans are His chosen people. These evangelicals believed the Vietnam War was not only a military crisis, but also a cultural and moral crisis threatening our status. Evangelicals looked to the military to play a pivotal role in saving the US from internal collapse due to the higher expression of morals and values found in the military. The military would become the role model to reverse the trend of godlessness and social decay.

Another set of actors that contributed to American militarism were the defense intellectuals whose main contribution was to bring the military back under civilian control. According to Bacevich, they laid the groundwork of our current policy of `preventative war' and reinforced American militarism.

Finally, Bacevich accuses politicians of deceiving the American public as to the true nature of American militarism by wrapping militarism in the comfortable trappings of nationalism. By using labels such as the Global War on Terrorism, politicians are using a political sleight-of-hand trick to hide our true militaristic nature in patriotic terms. Bacevich concludes his book with a list of recommendations to mitigate the current trend of American militarism.

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David Friedman:

...Refreshingly, Bacevich approaches the new American militarism as neither a Democrat nor Republican, from neither the left nor the right. No doubt, those with a stake in defending the policy of the present Administration no matter how foolish, or in castigating it as the main source of our current militarism, will see "bias" in this book. The truth though is that Bacevich makes a genuine effort to approach his subject in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. He has earned the right to say, near the end of his book, that "this account has not sought to assign or impute blame." As a result, he is not stymied by the possibility of embarrassing one political side or the other by his arguments or conclusions. This leads to a nuanced and highly independent and original treatment of the subject.

In chronicling the rise of American militarism, Bacevich rightly starts with Wilson's vision of American exceptionalism: an America leading the world beyond the slaughterhouse of European battlefields to an international order of peaceful democratic states. But where President Wilson wanted to create such a world for the express purpose of rendering war obsolete, Bacevich notes that today's "Wilsonians" want to export American democracy through the use of force. He follows this overview with an insider's thumbnail history of American military thinking from Vietnam to the first Gulf war. He explains how the military in effect re-invented itself after Vietnam so as to make it far more difficult "to send the Army off to fight while leaving the country behind." Today's highly professionalized and elite force is largely the result of this thinking. In turn this professional military presented to the country and its civilian leaders a re-invented model of war: war waged with surgical precision and offering "the prospect of decision rather than pointing ineluctably toward stalemate and quagmire." Gulf War I was the triumphant culmination of this model. The unintended and ironic consequence, of course, was that war and the aggressive projection of American military power throughout the world came to be viewed by some in our nation's leadership as an increasingly attractive policy option.

The body of the book analyzes how the legitimate attempt to recover from the national trauma of Vietnam led ultimately to a militarism increasingly reflected in crucial aspects of American life. In religion he traces how a "crusade" theory of warfare has supplanted the more mainstream "just war" theory. In popular culture he discusses the rise of a genre of pop fiction and movies reflecting a glamorized and uncritical idealization of war (he examines "An Officer and A Gentleman", "Rambo: First Blood Part II", and "Top Gun" as examples). In politics he identifies the neo-conservative movement as bringing into the mainstream ideas that "a decade earlier might have seemed reckless or preposterous"; for example the idea that the United States is "the most revolutionary force on earth" with an "inescapable mission" to spread democracy -- by the sword if necessary. Bacevich calls these ideas "inverted Trotskyism", and notes that the neo-conservative movement shares with Mao the assumption that revolution springs "from the barrel of a gun".

Bacevich concludes his book with a pithy ten-point critique offered as a starting point for "a change in consciousness, seeing war and America's relationship to war in a fundamentally different way." Among his points are greater fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the Constituional provisions regarding war and the military, and increased strategic self-sufficiency for America. Perhaps the most important points of his critique are those about ending or at least reducing the current disconnect between er how we might reduce

Patrick Connor

... If you criticize anything about the United States, you're automatically anti-Bush. If you question the wisdom of viewing the military as a first-option in handling international problems, you're even worse: a liberal anti-Bush peacenick. History supposedly demonstrates that diplomacy never works with any "tyrant" (whatever that is), while war allegedly always work. It's just one stark claim after another, with never any gray area in the middle.

If you read the book, this "you're either with us or with the terrorists, either dream war or hate President Bush" mentality should remind you of something. It very closely resembles the description Bacevich gives of neoconservatism, which he says engenders a worldview that is constantly in crisis mode. Things are always so dire for neocons, Bacevich explains, that only two feasible options present themselves at any given time: doing what the neocons want (usually deploying military force in pursuit of some lofty but unrealistic goal), or suffering irreversible and potentially fatal setbacks to our national cause.

... ... ...

Their most important objective was to ensure that no more Wilsonian misadventures (like Vietnam) would happen. The officer corps did this by carving out a space of authority for the top brass, from which they could have unprecedented input in policy decisions, and be able to guide strategy and tactics once the military deployed into action. After ascending to a position of greater prominence, they implemented the "Weinberger Doctrine," followed by the "Powell Doctrine," both specifically tailored to avoid Vietnam-style quagmires. The Gulf War, claims Bacevich, saw the fruition of fifteen years of hard work to accomplish these reforms. And they worked beautifully.

However, the end of the last decade saw the Neo-conservatives challenge the status quo. And with the election of W. Bush, they were finally in a position where their ideas could again have a disproportionate influence on foreign policy. What we now have in Iraq is another military quagmire, where the solution must be political, but where military occupation renders political solutions impossible...

Andrew S. Rogers:

 Baedecker on the road to perdition, December 5, 2005

I was sorry to see Andrew J. Bacevich dismiss Chalmers Johnson's 2004 The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project) quite as quickly as he did (on page 3 of the introduction, in fact), because I think these two books, taken together, provide probably the best -- and certainly the most historically-informed -- look at the rise and consequences of American empire. I endorse "The New American Militarism" as heartily as I did "The Sorrows of Empire."

Bacevich's capsule summary of Johnson's work notwithstanding, both these books take the long view of America's international military presence and are quick to grasp one key point. As Bacevich notes on page 205, "American militarism is not the invention of a cabal nursing fantasies of global empire and manipulating an unsuspecting people frightened by the events of 9/11. Further, it is counterproductive to think in these terms -- to assign culpability to a particular president or administration and to imagine that throwing the bums out will put things right."

In several insightful chapters, Bacevich traces the rise of militarism over the course of several administrations and many decades. A former Army officer himself, the author is particularly insightful in charting the efforts of the military's officer corps to recover from the stigma of Vietnam and reshape the *ethos* of the armed services as an elite intentionally separate from, and morally superior to, the society it exists to defend. But the officers are only one of the strands Bacevich weaves together. He also looks at the influence of the "defense intellectuals;" the importance of evangelical Christians and how their view of Biblical prophecy shapes their understanding of politics; the rise of (yes) the neo-conservatives; and even the role of Hollywood in changing America's understandings of the "lessons of Vietnam" and the re-glamorization of the military in films like "Top Gun."

The author is a sharp-eyed analyst, but also an engaging writer, and he gives the reader a lot to think about. I was intrigued, for example, by his discussion of how "supporting the troops" has become the *sine qua non* of modern politics and how doing so has replaced actual military service as an indicator of one's love of country. More fundamentally, his identification and analysis of "World War III" (already over) and "World War IV" (currently underway, and declared [surprisingly] by Jimmy Carter) struck me as a remarkably useful lens for interpreting current events.

In tying his threads together, Bacevich is not afraid to make arguments and draw conclusions that may make the reader uncomfortable. As the passage I quoted above makes clear, for example, someone looking for a straightforward declaration that "It's all Bush's fault!" will have to go someplace else. As a further implication of the above passage, Bacevich argues that the "defense intellectuals," the evangelicals, and even the neocons were and are doing what they believe are most likely to promote peace, freedom, and the security of the American people. "To the extent that we may find fault with the results of their efforts, that fault is more appropriately attributable to human fallibility than to malicious intent" (p. 207). Additionally, Bacevich is unashamed of his military service, holds up several military leaders as heroes, has some choice words for the self-delusions of leftist "peace activists," and even argues that federal education loans should be made conditional on military service.

This doesn't mean the president and his fellow conservatives get off much easier, though. Bacevich is roundly critical of Bush and his administration, including Colin Powell; dismisses the Iraq invasion ("this preposterous enterprise" [p. 202]); and in a move that will probably get him crossed off the Thayer Award nominations list, suggests officer candidates be required to graduate from civilian universities instead of West Point (his alma mater) or Annapolis -- intellectually-isolated institutions that reinforce the officer caste's separation from civil society.

So this book isn't one that will blindly reinforce anyone's prejudices. In part for that reason -- but mostly for its trenchant analysis, readable prose, and broad historical view -- I'm happy to list "The New American Militarism" as one of the best and most important books I've read in some time. Perhaps even since "The Sorrows of Empire."

Izaak VanGaalen:
 Militarism and Public Opinion, August 12, 2005

According to many of the custodians of public opinion, Andrew Bacevich has earned his right to a fair hearing. Not only is he a graduate of West Point, a Vietnam veteran, and a conservative Catholic, he is a professor of international relations and a contributor to "The Weekly Standard" and "The National Review." Obviously, if he were a left-leaning anti-war Democrat and a contributor to, say, "The Nation," he wouldn't be taken seriously as a critic of American militarism - he would be merely another "blame-America-first" defeatist.

Bacevich sees militarism manifesting itself in some disquieting ways. Traditionally America has always gauged the size of its military with the magnitude of impending threats. After the Civil War, World War I and II, the military was downsized as threats receded. Not so after the fall of the Soviet Union. The military budget has continued to grow and the expenditures are greater - by some measures - than all other countries combined. American military forces are now scaling the globe and the American public seems quiet comfortable with it. And everyone else is growing uneasy.

The mindset of the current officer corps is dominant control in all areas "whether sea, undersea, land, air, space or cyberspace." In other words, supremacy in all theaters. Self-restraint has given way to the normalization of using military force as a foreign policy tool. From 1989 (Operation Just Cause) to 2002 (Operation Iraqi Freedom) there have been nine major military operations and a number of smaller ones. The end of the Cold War has given the US a preponderance of military strength (the proverbial unipolar moment) that has enamoured successive administrations with the idea of using military force to solve international problems. In earlier times, war was always an option of the last resort, now it is a preventative measure.

War, according to Bacevich, has taken on a new aesthetic. During World War I and II, and also Vietnam and Korea the battlefield was a slaughterhouse of barbarism and brutality. Now, with the advent of the new Wilsonianism in Washington, wars are seen as moments of national unity to carry out a positive agenda, almost as if it were international social work.

The modern soldier is no longer looked upon as a deadbeat or a grunt, but rather as a skilled professional who is undertaking socially beneficial work. In fact, in a poll taken in 2003, military personnel consider themselves as being of higher moral standards than the nation they serve.

In the political classes, the Republicans have traditionallly been staunchly pro-military, but now even Democrats have thrown off their ant-military inclinations. When Kerry was running for president he did not question Bush's security policies, he was actually arguing that Bush had not gone far enough. Kerry wanted to invest more in military hardware and training. Even liberal Michael Ignatieff argues that US military intervention should be used to lessen the plight of the oppressed and that we should be assisting them in establishing more representative government.

But superpowers are not altruistic; they are only altruistic to the extent that it serves their self-interest. That's probably why Ignatieff will not get much of a hearing and Bacevich will. This book should give us pause as to why the range of opinion in the America on the use of military force is so narrow. If there is one voice that stands a chance of being heeded, it is from this conservative ex-soldier. \

Douglas Doepke:

The US may have been an expansionist and aggressive power as history shows. But unlike European peers, the American public never really took to the seductions of militarism. That is, until now. This is an important and occasionally brilliant book that tells a forty-year tale of creeping over-reliance on the military. And a heck-of an important story it is. I like the way Bacevich refuses to blame the Bush administration, even though they're the ones who've hit the accelerator. Actually the trend has been in motion for some time, especially since 1980 and Reagan's revival of military glory, contrived though it was.

Each chapter deals with an aspect of this growing militariism movement. How intellectual guru Norman Podhoretz and other elites got the big engine together, how twenty million evangelical passengers abandoned tradition and got on board, and how a crew of enthusiastic neo-cons charted a destination -- nothing less than world democracy guaranteed by American military might. All in all, the ride passes for a brilliant post-cold war move. Who's going to argue with freeing up the Will of the People, except for maybe a few hundred million Sharia fanatics. Yet, it appears none of the distinguished crew sees any contradiction between dubious means and noble end, nor do they seem particularly concerned with what anybody else thinks. (Sort of like the old Soviets, eager to spread the blessings of Scientific Socialism.) However, as Bacevich pounts out, there's a practical problem here the crew is very alert to. Policing the world means building up the institutions of the military and providing a covering mystique to keep John Q. Public supportive, especially with tax dollars and blood supply. In short, the mission requires sanitizing the cops on the beat and all that goes into keeping them there. It also means overcoming a long American tradition of minding-one's-own-business and letting the virtues of democratic self-governance speak for themselves. But then, that was an older, less "responsible" America.

Bacevich's remedies harken back to those older, quieter traditions -- citizen soldiers, a real Department of Defense, a revived Department of State, and a much more modest role in international affairs.With this book, Bacevich proves to be one of the few genuine conservatives around, (a breed disappearing even faster than the ranks of genuine liberals). Much as I like the book, especially the thoughtful Preface, I wish the author had dealt more with the economic aspects of build-up and conquest. But then that might require a whole other volume, as globalization and the number of billion-dollar servicing industries expands daily. At day's end, however, someone needs to inform a CNN- enthralled public that the military express lacks one essential feature. With all its hypnotizing bells and whistles, history shows the momentum has no brakes. Lessons from the past indicate that, despite the many seductions, aggressive empires make for some very unexpected and fast-moving train wrecks. Somebody needs to raise the alarm. Thanks Mr. Bacevich for doing your part.

Still his critique of neocons is a class of its own has value in itself as it comes from professional military officer. Professor Bacevich argues  that the US new militarism which emerged after the dissolution of the USSR is the result of a convergence of actions by a number of different groups including our professional military, neoconservative intellectuals and publicists, evangelical Christians, resurgent Republican party activists, and so-called defense intellectuals (see New American Militarism).

Andrew Bacevich has a wonderful essay, in the form of an open letter to Paul Wolfowitz, in the current Harper's. You have to subscribe to read it -- but, hey, you should be subscribing to any publication whose work you value. This essay isolates the particular role Wolfowitz had in the cast of characters that led us to war. As a reminder, they included:

But Paul Wolfowitz was in a category of his own because he was the one who provided the highest-concept rationale for the war. As James Galbraith of the University of Texas has put it, "Wolfowitz is the real-life version of Halberstam's caricature of McNamara" [in The Best and the Brightest].

Bacevich's version of this assessment is to lay out as respectfully as possible the strategic duty that Wolfowitz thought the U.S. would fulfill by invading Iraq. Back before the war began, I did a much more limited version of this assessment as an Atlantic article. As Bacevich puts it now, Wolfowitz was extending precepts from his one-time mentor, Albert Wohlstetter, toward a model of how the United States could maximize stability for itself and others.

As with the best argumentative essays, Bacevich takes on Wolfowitz in a strong rather than an oversimplified version of his world-view. You have to read the whole thing to get the effect, but here is a brief sample (within fair-use limits):

With the passing of the Cold War, global hegemony seemed America's for the taking. What others saw as an option you, Paul, saw as something much more: an obligation that the nation needed to seize, for its own good as well as for the world's....

Although none of the hijackers were Iraqi, within days of 9/11 you were promoting military action against Iraq. Critics have chalked this up to your supposed obsession with Saddam. The criticism is misplaced. The scale of your ambitions was vastly greater.

In an instant, you grasped that the attacks provided a fresh opportunity to implement Wohlstetter's Precepts, and Iraq offered a made-to-order venue....In Iraq the United States would demonstrate the efficacy of preventive war.... The urgency of invading Iraq stemmed from the need to validate that doctrine before the window of opportunity closed.

Bacevich explains much more about the Wohlstetter / Wolfowitz grand view. And then he poses the challenge that he says Wolfowitz should now meet:
One of the questions emerging from the Iraq debacle must be this one: Why did liberation at gunpoint yield results that differed so radically from what the war's advocates had expected? Or, to sharpen the point, How did preventive war undertaken by ostensibly the strongest military in history produce a cataclysm?
 

Not one of your colleagues from the Bush Administration possesses the necessary combination of honesty, courage, and wit to answer these questions. If you don't believe me, please sample the tediously self-exculpatory memoirs penned by (or on behalf of) Bush himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Bremer, Feith, and a small squad of eminently forgettable generals...

What would Albert [Wohlstetter] do? I never met the man (he died in 1997), but my guess is that he wouldn't flinch from taking on these questions, even if the answers threatened to contradict his own long-held beliefs. Neither should you, Paul. To be sure, whatever you might choose to say, you'll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilified when he broke his long silence and admitted that he'd been "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there. Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.
 

Anyone who knows Andrew Bacevich's story will understand the edge behind his final sentence. But you don't have to know that to respect the challenge he lays down. I hope Paul Wolfowitz will at some point rise to it.

For another very valuable assessment of who was right and wrong, when, please see John Judis's piece in The New Republic.

The disastrous period on neocon domination in Bush II administration was not accidental

The disastrous period on neocon domination in Bush II administration was not accidental . It was a natural development of previous trends. But this was the first time when the USA foreign policy decisions were dominated by a small clique of mostly Jewish "defense intellectuals". James Mann called this new breed of super aggressive and reckless  "defense intellectuals" "Vulcans" and allied with them figures like Colin Power and Condoleezza Rice by deceit dragged the USA into Iraq war which brought a disastrous consequences for the USA. Consequences that we are feeling right now.

Neocon's worldview can be summed up as the following four themes (Rise of the Vulcans by James Mann Political Books)

  1. The belief in the centrality and efficacy of American Military power.
  2. The belief in America as a force for good around the globe.
  3. The unfettered optimism of American capabilities and the rejection of American decline.
  4. The reluctance to enter into agreements or accommodations with other countries.

 Here is a short overview of the book Rise of the Vulcans by James Mann Political Books that covers the same theme as Bacevich's books:

Realize: When George W. Bush was elected as President he had no prior foreign policy experience and frequently bumbled on naming other foreign leaders.  Not only did Bush have no experience, he also did not have a basic rudimentary conception about America’s role in the world or specific foreign policy other than his campaign platitudes against “nation building.”  To strengthen that weakness, Bush sought to surround himself with a cabinet team of experienced and trusted members that he could ultimately rely on to help him forge a path.  Enter the Vulcans.  Author James Mann puts together an enthralling account of the rise of the Bush cabinet and their place in the last 30 to 40 years in contemporary history with his book Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet.

Broadly, the book is the mini biographies of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleeza Rice.  However, by detailing the careers of these people Mann also gives the reader great insight into modern foreign policy, from the Nixon era to Bush II.  The book was published in 2004 so it lacks the hindsight that we now have 6 years later with regards to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, yet this detracts not at all from the book.  Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet, I have no doubt, will become a central reference point to any future inquisitor looking into American policy from the 1970’s on.

Many may be tempted to classify all of the subjects as neoconservatives, however one of the driving themes of the book is the role of the foreign policy realists versus the idealists (neo-cons).  Yet this was not just a battle that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union as some may have asserted.  Even in the midst of the Cold War, there was definite conservative in-fighting between the pragmatists, led by the Kissinger camp, and the neo-cons, who believed that America’s military might must be unchallenged.  Rumsfeld opposed Kissinger’s policy of détente and played an active role in the Ford Administration in decreasing the power and influence that Kissinger once had.

While Rumsfeld and Cheney believed mightily in American military might and hegemony, it might be hard to classify them as idealists of spreading democracy throughout the world.  However, Paul Wolfowitz meets the classic definition of neoconservative which spread from the Dixie Democrats who left the Democratic Party to join the Republicans in the Reagan Revolution.  Wolfowitz was an academic greatly admired for his intelligence.  He was highly influenced by the ideology of Leo Strauss and was also mentored by Scoop Jackson, US Senator from Washington.  Wolfowitz spent his whole career in the Defense Department and focused on policies that opposed the ideas of moral relativity or balance of power.  Instead Wolfowitz operated from a stance that Democracy and justice were grand ideas that should be spread throughout the world through the might and force of the US military.  It should also be noted that Wolfowitz had been focused on Iraq as a threat to Middle East stability long before the Middle East was on anybody’s map.

Powell and Armitage were often the counter balance to the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Cheney forces, not only in Bush II but also Bush I.  Powell was also a dynamic political figure who ascended Washington’s power structure with amazing speed and was always an admired figure.  Both Powell and Armitage believed in a strong American military and were proponents of a hefty defense budget.  However, where they differed from the other cabinet members was in how the use of force should be applied.  Powell believed that if force was to be applied it must be done with the support of the public, with overwhelming force, and with a clear, communicable goal in mind.  This mindset, shared by Armitage, became known as the Powell Doctrine and was shaped by the experience of Vietnam.  The Vietnam experience made Powell and Armitage suspicious of the civilian leaders like Rumsfeld and Cheney who may recklessly damage the military and American power by engaging long term commitments with no exit plans.

Condoleeza Rice was mentored in the camp of Brent Scowcroft who was a realist.  Rice, a specialist in Russia, came to government in the first Bush Administration and made a lasting impression on everyone she worked for.  When George W. Bush was putting together a foreign policy team during his campaign, he instantly connected with Rice on a personal level and made her a central part of putting together his foreign policy.  Mann portrays Rice as somewhat amorphous, her ideas and beliefs are seemingly tied to the politics and she oftens acts as a sounding board to Bush II.  Instead of becoming a proponent of her realist background, she instead starts to reflect the President and his beliefs which were largely shaped by the dominant members of his cabinet.  In other words, Rice aimed to please, it seems, more than to persuade.

The book culminates with the decision to invade Iraq and Mann sums up that decision as a reflection of the Vulcan’s world view with four themes:

  1. The belief in the centrality and efficacy of American Military power.
  2. The belief in America as a force for good around the globe.
  3. The unfettered optimism of American capabilities and the rejection of American decline.
  4. The reluctance to enter into agreements or accommodations with other countries.

Mann makes an understated point that most historians make a clear distinction, a line in the sand, marking the end of the Cold War as the distinctive point where American foreign policy changed.  Yet, it started to occur much earlier than that with the rise of these Vulcan’s and their world view.  The end of the Cold War was merely a middle point in the chapter.  The fact that the US has mostly had Republican Presidents in the last 40 years the Vulcans have remained in power and shaped the events of modern history and to understand that story you have to understand their story.  James Mann gives a clearly written and highly detailed account of some of the most influential actors in American politics.  Rise Of The Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet is an utterly fascinating account and should be read by anyone seeking answers on the role of America in the world today.

Militarization of science

The militarization of science, particularly at physics, biology and medicine (anthrax research, experiments on humans in Guatemala, etc)  is widespread trend at the University level. Unfortunately it should be called not an aberration, but a a feature of US academic science. Recently social sciences such as psychology and anthropology were also put into service of MIC (The Militarization of Social Science CIFAS)

One of the most notable was COIN system:

 Human Terrain System, a COIN application, was conceived as a means to employ social science as a force multiplier in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq: embedded with combat patrols, anthropologists would map the human terrain across the full spectrum of conflict, and recommend to commanders methods by which they could more effectively achieve strategic goals by engaging “the people” as “the center of gravity” in their operations. The “social science” evolved into a major focus on “social networks,” which, once described, could be analyzed to reveal such critical features as “key informants,” “influencers,” and “centers of influence,” and how, for example, information may travel among participants in the network. It was believed that such analyses could offer important insights on how insurgent sympathies originate, are diffused, mobilize adherents, and are then translated into the organization and commission of hostile actions that threaten ISAF forces; or conversely, how they could be prevented or stopped. More specifically, individuals could be targeted, and then either rewarded or eliminated. Pioneered by anthropologists, such as Julian Barnes, Elizabeth Bott, Clyde Mitchell, Jeremy Boissevain, Fredrik Barth, Joan Vincent, and others, who used them to study kinship, ethnic and political organization, and agricultural production, trade, and markets, among other topics, the study of social networks and social networks analysis have become a staple of ethnographic fieldwork.

For example, I made extensive use of them studying the production, distribution, use, and misuse of illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, in low-income neighborhoods of New York City and several Caribbean islands, which I reported in The Ganja Complex: Rastafari and Marijuana (Lexington Books 2000). Let me tell you about them, as you may then appreciate how valuable a tool they have been in traditional, or academic, anthropology and social science.

Armed with Expertise, The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon launched a controversial counterinsurgency program called the Human Terrain System. The program embedded social scientists within military units to provide commanders with information about the cultures and grievances of local populations. Yet the controversy it inspired was not new. Decades earlier, similar national security concerns brought the Department of Defense and American social scientists together in the search for intellectual weapons that could combat the spread of communism during the Cold War. In Armed with Expertise, Joy Rohde traces the optimistic rise, anguished fall, and surprising rebirth of Cold War–era military-sponsored social research.

Seeking expert knowledge that would enable the United States to contain communism, the Pentagon turned to social scientists. Beginning in the 1950s, political scientists, social psychologists, and anthropologists optimistically applied their expertise to military problems, convinced that their work would enhance democracy around the world. As Rohde shows, by the late 1960s, a growing number of scholars and activists condemned Pentagon-funded social scientists as handmaidens of a technocratic warfare state and sought to eliminate military-sponsored research from American intellectual life.

But the Pentagon's social research projects had remarkable institutional momentum and intellectual flexibility. Instead of severing their ties to the military, the Pentagon’s experts relocated to a burgeoning network of private consulting agencies and for-profit research offices. Now shielded from public scrutiny, they continued to influence national security affairs. They also diversified their portfolios to include the study of domestic problems, including urban violence and racial conflict. In examining the controversies over Cold War social science, Rohde reveals the persistent militarization of American political and intellectual life, a phenomenon that continues to raise grave questions about the relationship between expert knowledge and American democracy.

In his article The Militarization of American Life  Justin Raimondo notes

March 27, 2013 | Antiwar.com

It isn’t just them, however: militarism is a disease that spreads without effort, once it’s implanted in the body politic. It quite naturally infects the sciences, what with the diversion of scientific and technical talent that might have gone into productive civilian projects, and I’m not just talking about the hard sciences. Witness the co-opting of the "soft" science of anthropology by the same people who brought us the war in Afghanistan and the "COIN" strategy that was supposed to give us victory. These folks have created the so-called Human Terrain System, which seeks to utilize anthropology as a weapon in counterinsurgency warfare. Billions are being poured into "scientific research" on how best to subdue recalcitrant natives out in the colonies: when you’re talking about the military-industrial complex, it isn’t just Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.

The marriage of science and militarism is nothing new, but there are some resistors. As Inside Higher Education reports:

"The eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins resigned from the National Academy of Sciences on Friday, citing his objections to its military partnerships and to its electing as a member Napoleon Chagnon, a long-controversial anthropologist who is back in the news thanks to the publication of his new book, Noble Savages." [Hat tip: Jordan Bloom at The American Conservative]

You don’t have to be an anthropologist to get in on the action: yes, you too can access via live webcast the April 3 Pentagon/NAS "workshop," "New Directions in Assessing Individuals and Groups,"and hear the keynote address by Frederick Vollrath, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management. I’ll bet those anthropologists are making out like bandits!

As for Napoleon Chagnon – could a novelist have gotten away with such a name? – he is an extremely dubious character who apparently believes violence is not only genetically encoded in humans, but that there is an evolutionary bias in favor of homicidal homo sapiens. Instead of an atavistic trait surviving from pre-civilized man, wars of aggression – according to the Chagnonite version of biological determinism – are the mark of high civilization. It is a Bizarro World perspective on the nature of human progress, one that owes much to that great anthropologist, the Marquis de Sade.

Chagnon dismisses his critics as "left-wing anthropologists" and "anti-Darwinian romantics": he and his claque present themselves as true "scientists," and treat the study of anthropology – that is, of human nature – as if it were one of the "hard" sciences, like chemistry. Armed with "scientific" certitude, their one-dimensional view of life – "impoverished," as one critic remarked – is the perfect instrument of the modern Warfare State: bloodless, dogmatic, and cruel. Chagnon’s elevation to the NAS – which used to be a prestigious organization – is an absolute disgrace, and Prof. Sahlins was right to render his resignation in protest.

Citing his own objections to Chagnon’s research methods – see here – Sahlins went on to explain the core reason for his resignation. Because of "the toll" that military action overseas "has taken on the blood, treasure, and happiness of American people, and the suffering it has imposed on other peoples,” Sahlins said, “the NAS, if it involves itself at all in related research, should be studying how to promote peace, not how to make war."

In this age of Empire, militarism pervades American culture like a poisonous fog, hypnotizing a complacent population with narratives that valorize and justify a foreign policy of perpetual war. It reaches into every corner of everyday life, from the war propaganda spewed forth by the "mainstream" media to the movies we watch and what we learn in "science" class. Once this kind of cultural rot sets in, it is hard to root out: this is the true meaning of decadence, of a society suffering the latter stages of a fatal hubris.

Yet root it out we must. The battle for peace must be waged on the cultural and scientific front, as well as in the day to day world of the pundits and the Washington policy wonks. Indeed, victory on the battlefield of the culture necessarily precedes success on the political front, as we should have learned back in the 1960s.

In best traditions of Third Reich psychologists participated in the design of torture methods in Guatanamo.

Militarization of cyberspace


"In 1990, only a quarter of a million people used the Internet; today a third of the world population is connected and the growth is exponential. Our understanding of the implications for international relations struggles to keep up." -- Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University; author of The Future of Power

Innovative weapons were always in the focus of military and intelligence agencies planners. And Cyberspace is not an exception. First of all it proved to be a tremendous resource for SIGINT. Not accidentally, on June 23, 2009 Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a memorandum  which established the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). The order specifies that the new office will be a "subordinate unified command" under U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM). According to the memorandum, CYBERCOM "will reach initial operating capability not later than October 2009 and full operating capability not later than October 2010." Lt. General Keith Alexander, the  Director of National Security Agency (NSA) was assigned to lead this new intelligence unit that reside at Fort Meade, Maryland, the NSA headquarters.

But even earlier that that, around 1996, the US military became interesting in usage of malware and established research programs which at the end of the day proceed several weaponazed malware packages used to attack Iranian uranium enrichment facilities and collect intelligence information from computer of researchers involved in this project.

During the occupation on Iraq the USA (which first established full control over Iraq cellular networks) launched comprehensive metadata collection which allow them to identify "suspicious persons" without analyzing content of the communication, just based on pattern of connection of their cell phones.  Those efforts were later transferred and implemented within the USA and were subject of so called "Snowden revelations" in which it became clear the NSA blatantly overstepped all legal boundaries and essentially treated the US population as "enemy combatants". 

Technological supremacy of the USA allow not only dominate cyberspace intelligence activities, but also created preconditions for future attacks via set of backdoor in equipment and software produced by US companies. After Stixnet, the equipment from leading US companies such as Dell, Cisco and HP as well as software companies such as Microsoft is now reasonably suspected of having backdoor that allow NSA access to the data/traffic. Even if there is no such backdoors US produced equipment is now tainted from the security standpoint and there will be conscious efforts to limit its use in government and military of other countries. That especially badly hurt CISCO and Microsoft.  

And it is now government not some hacker groups who use sophisticated malicious code and hacking platforms to compromise computer networks worldwide. Private companies, government entities, critical infrastructure and citizens are all potential targets.

The overall activities of government entities in cyberspace are generally described as the “militarization of the cyberspace.” Governments are investing significant resources to improve their cyber capabilities, creating ‘cyberarmies’ to defend attacks from cyber space.

Smart phones, which initially were productivity enhancing device, now more and more are viewed by individuals as "eyes and ears" of the government. With predictable results on more security conscious individuals withdrawing from this market (which does not ends interception of all their call and collection of metadata as those activities does not depend on the type of the phone used (although geo-location is more difficult with regular phone -- you need to record the tower with which the phone is communicating)   

See also:

Establishment of regime of total survellance:
Against whom total surveillance is directed

The basic principle underlying Neoliberalism, which is a dominant social system in the USA and most other countries  is “to make rich people happy and make everybody else frightened.” The MIC has used a succession of bogeymen—the Soviets, Communist insurgents around the world, and now global terrorism—to scare taxpayers into supporting core defense programs whose technologies ultimately spin off into private hands

Total surveillance is not about terrorism. It's about population control. Terrorism is a false pretext -- a smoke screen, if you like. Let's state clearly -- the main goal of total surveillance was the same since it was introduced in Nazi Germany. it's the same as in former German Democratic Republic (with its famous STASI). In all cases it is to prevent any challenge to the ruling elite or in US-speak "regime change".   In other words total surveillance is part and parcel of the totalitarian state even if it more reserved as for violence form called inverted totalitarism.

State actors and well funded terrorist organization are a difficult nut to clack. that have access to technology and know how. that means that NSA has great difficulties intercepting and decoding traffic that is intended to be hidden. But for "open" traffic the situation is completely different. Here they are king of the hill.  Of cause correlation of open traffic can reveal some hidden information, but this is a pretty expensive undertaking.

The term "Deep state" as synonym of MIC dominance with a special emphasis on the role of intelligence agencies

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as

“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”

The term means an association of elements of government. security services, selected top-level figures of financial oligarchy and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process. Assassination of JFK was probably a pivotal moment in the US history, the historical moment when "deep state" really came to power. In this sense Patriot Act was just an icing on the cake: like "nomenklatura"  rule in the USSR the system actually stands above the law.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

As for aggressive foreign policy there is one important difference between "predator states" and fascist regimes: extreme, rabid nationalism is typical only for fascist regimes, but is not a defining feature of "predator states". But aggressive foreign policy is and that's why the term invented by Jamie Galbraith ( “the predator state”) in his book bearing that title aptly reflect the defining feature of such states. In other words aggressive foreign policy is an immanent feature of the regime -- such regimes are almost always are engaged in some kind of war. Related, but more narrow term is "disaster capitalism" introduced by Naomi Klein which explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Her Shock Doctrine book is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies were pushed through the throat of states in trouble, and prevailed through the brutal exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

US armament industry implementation of the slogan War is peace, freedom is slavery

Since WWII there were very few years when the USA was not fighting some local war or two or even three. This is a powerful testament of MIC dominance in society and, especially, the power of lobby of major arms manufactures.

Of course, both the American society and the U.S. armaments industry today are different then it was when Dwight Eisenhower made his farewell speech. See also The Farewell Address 50 Years Later. The USA now is the world's greatest producer and exporter of arms on the planet. It is spending more on armed equipment and research than all other nations combined -- while converting all American citizens into "debt slaves" to do so.

It also stations over 500,000 troops, and untold number of spies, contractors, consultants, etc. on more than 737 bases around the world in 130 countries (even this is not a complete count) at a cost of near 100 billions a year. The 2008 Pentagon inventory includes 190,000 troops in 46 nations and territories, and 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. In just Japan, we have almost hundred thousand people who are either members of US forces or are closely connected to US. The explicit purpose is to provide control over as many nations as possible. Funny, but among other items Pentagon also maintains 234 golf courses around the world, 70 Lear Jet airplanes for generals and admirals (to make it more convenient to fly there), and a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps.

Statistics compiled by the Federation of American Scientists analyzed by Gore Vidal show 201 military operations initiated by the U.S. against others between the end of WWII and 9/11 - none of which directly resulted in the creation of a democracy. These included Iran (1953, 1979), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959-present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961-73), Laos (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-73), Greece (1967-73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-present), El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua (1980s), Iraq (1991-present), Panama (1989), Grenada (1983). (The Korean War is a notable positive exception.)

Per Johnson, Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA director Gates made it clear that U.S. aid to the mujaheddin began six months prior to the Soviet invasion, and helped to provoke it (with the direct goal of seeking Vietnam for Soviet troops). So the USA by-and-large created, organized and financed global Islamic fundamentalist forces, which at some point became less controllable from the former center.

A recent 'Newsweek' article also pointed out waste in the Pentagon - Secretary Gates estimates there are 30 levels between himself and line officers, and expects by 2020 for the U.S. to have 'only' 20X China's number of advanced stealth fighters; other researchers recently found 530 deputy assistant secretaries of defense, compared to 78 in 1960. See also Dismantling the Empire .

Despite the economic decline, of may be because of it, New Militarism is now pandemic, supported by both parties and aggressively used by Republican Party to maintain the unity of fragile coalition of rag tag groups (see Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians). Neo-conservative ideology still dominates foreign policy and its essence (spread of "liberal democracy" with a shadow goal of defending/promoting own geo-strategical interests and first of all access to cheap oil) is not that different from the old Soviets militarism, eager to spread or "defend" the blessings of "Scientific Socialism (Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Poles remember those attempts all too well).

While far from historic high (reached during World War II, when it represented 20% of the civilian workforce) US military still employs 2.2 million people, or about 2% of the civilian workforce. So they represent a society within a society. If we add Department of Energy and military contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, United Technologies. L-3 Communications, etc as well as servicing firms such as Halliburton/KBR/Blackwater/DynCorp we can add to this figure another million people. That means that all-in all at least three million US citizen directly or indirectly works for military-industrial complex.

There are also around five million (five million !!!) people in the USA with security clearance. Of them about three million has top security clearance.

But what is more important that military-industrial complex spends up to 50% of all taxes:

In Fiscal Year 1999 the Department of Defense awarded $118 billion to contractors for goods and services. The "Big Three" in the defense industry -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon -- alone accounted for 26% of all defense contracts in FY'99.

In fiscal year 2003 the United States Government will spend on the military more than all the rest of the countries on Earth combined. Current expenditures are 437 billion and our past obligations are 339 billion, this equals 776 billion. 46% of our Taxes go to the Military Industrial Complex: http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm.This figure doesn't even begin to account for all of the off-budget, black projects, homeland security nor the 40+ billion the United States Government will spend on intelligence in 2003. -- Mark Elsis Lovearth, Jan. 8, 2002

Pentagon's Anual Top Ten Defense Contractors

Lockheed Martin Corp. $17.0 billion
Boeing Co. $16.6 billion
Northrop Grumman Corp. $8.7 billion
Raytheon Co. $7.0 billion
General Dynamics Corp. $7.0 billion
United Technologies Corp. $3.6 billion
Science Applications International Corp. $2.1 billion
TRW Inc. $2.0 billion
Health Net, Inc. $1.7 billion
L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. $1.7 billion

Sheldon Wolin's  concept of "inverted totalitarism" as the USA specific form of MIC dominance

Arrival on political scene of military industrial complex inevitably lead to its political dominance and establishing of some variant of National Security State with managed democracy which is promoted by subservient, corrupt and totally controlled media. But this new regime, called by Sheldon Wolin "Inverted totalitalism"  is different from such classic "National Security State" as Third Reich.

Sheldon Wolin, who taught the history of political philosophy from Plato to the present in Berkeley and Princeton, introduced the term "inverted totalitarism", which probably can be better called neo-bolshevism. This is an interesting, uniquely American variant of National Security State. He thinks that the latter is based on two forces:

See an excellent review of his book at AlterNet:

"Among the factors that have promoted inverted totalitarianism are the practice and psychology of advertising and the rule of "market forces" in many other contexts than markets, continuous technological advances that encourage elaborate fantasies (computer games, virtual avatars, space travel), the penetration of mass media communication and propaganda into every household in the country, and the total co-optation of the universities. Among the commonplace fables of our society are hero worship and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through surgery, action measured in nanoseconds, and a dream-laden culture of ever-expanding control and possibility, whose adepts are prone to fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific knowledge.

Masters of this world are masters of images and their manipulation.

Wolin reminds us that the image of Adolf Hitler flying to Nuremberg in 1934 that opens Leni Riefenstahl's classic film "Triumph of the Will" was repeated on May 1, 2003, with President George Bush's apparent landing of a Navy warplane on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to proclaim "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq."

It a way it is so similar to the brand of totalitarism practiced in the late USSR that some call the USA USSA. It has the same strong "total surveillance" tendencies. It looks exactly like Bolshevism minus:

As Oscar Wilde's once noted: "The truth is seldom pure and never simple". Here is a relevant quote:

Wolin writes, "Our thesis is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively 'strong democracy' instead of a 'failed' one." His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. "Democracy," he writes, "is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs." It depends on the existence of a demos -- "a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office." Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.

"No working man or ordinary farmer or shopkeeper," Wolin points out, "helped to write the Constitution." He argues, "The American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy. It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has been and continues to be ordered." Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a true demos prevailed.

To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for something new under the sun: "inverted totalitarianism," a form every bit as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion, police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest percentage of its citizens in prison -- 751 per 100,000 people -- of any nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has "emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation's political traditions."

The genius of our inverted totalitarian system "lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual. A demotion in the status and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable abroad. The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed."

Uniqueness of the "power agencies" elite and militarism as the business model of this part of the USA elite

MIC elite is uniquw in a sense that it closely resembled the Politburo of CPSU. What distinguishes the “power agencies elite” (Russians use the term "siloviki" when talking about those agencies and their elite)  from other elite groups in American society such as closely related to them financial oligarchy, is that this is thier elite position is not based solely on the ownership of property. Like CEO of large corporation they are in a position to rip benefits from advancement of thier corporation. And that, unfortunately, means that for them militarism is a way of advancement of thier own business interests.  The MIC elite’s goal is not to protect the nation from emerging threats, but “to appropriate the lion’s share of existing wealth for the military establishment”  If necessary by creation of new threats (like Islamic fundamentalism which was organized, financed and molded into formidable political force by the USA MIC). In other words like financial oligarchy they are predatory/parasitic in relation to the "host nation" and as such they represent serious threat for the civil society. 

... the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending.

 This line of thinking is well illustrated by the paper of Aminata M. Kone The Military-Industrial Complex in the United States Evolution and Expansion from World War II to the War on Terror   which we will reproduce  in full: 

Student Pulse 2013, Vol. 5 No. 08

After World War II, the United States military gradually came into a position of overwhelming dominance in the world. Military spending in the United States far outpaces that of other countries, with their world share of military expenditures at 41% in 2011, followed by Russia and China with only eight and four percent respectively (SIPRI 2012). This has been the case since the Second World War and has been justified in different ways over time. The arguments for continued military dominance have ranged from “long-term economic gains” at the start of the war (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45) to Soviet containment during the Cold War, “a broader responsibility of global militarism” since the 1980s (Ryan 1991, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 73), and most recently the need to protect citizens against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, there has been consistent concern that powerful groups in military, political, and corporate positions, profiteering from conflict and sharing interests in intensifying defense expenditure, have become the primary actors for making and administering U.S. foreign policy. Today the scope of the defense industry is now much bigger than legitimate security needs justify (see, for example, Moskos 1974, Mintz 1985, Waddell 2001 and Hossein-zadeh 2006).

This analysis argues that expansion of the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending. This essay is divided into two sections: the first focuses on the origins of America’s military-industrial complex, beginning with a definition of the elite group that the complex comprises. Next, by focusing on the period in which the foundation for the complex was laid – the Second World War – it is argued that the complex arose unintentionally in some ways, although important characteristics of it were visible from the start. Third, military Keynesianism, often used to defend high military budgets once the complex was in place, will be discussed and refuted. The second section focuses on the most important argument in favor of high military budgets today: the need to protect American citizens from the global threat of terrorism. It is argued that public perceptions of the causes of terrorism are incorrect, yet have been gladly utilized and fostered by the American military-industrial complex to justify an ineffective global war.

The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States

What distinguishes the “power elite” that constitutes the military-industrial complex from other powerful groups in American society who also seek advancement of their own interests, is that this is not a ruling class based solely on the ownership of property (Mills 1956, cited in Moskos 1974: 499-500). Rather, it is a coalition of civilian agencies that formally shape military policy (such as the Senate and the CIA), military institutions, private firms, research institutions and think tanks – all centered on and linked to the Pentagon (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 13). As a result of power arising from the occupancy in top bureaucratic positions as well as from capital ownership, the interests of the ruling elite go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and include desires to maintain themselves in power and to press for specific forms of public policy. Their most important common interest is intensifying defense expenditure. War profiteering in itself is not new – wars have always been fought at least in part for economic gains. Today’s military-industrial complex is different in that it treats war as a business: the ruling elite’s goal of having a large military establishment is not to expand the nation’s wealth, but “to appropriate the lion’s share of existing wealth for the military establishment” (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 90). As a consequence, decisions on defense allocation, arms production and military operations are motivated by desires for profit and personal power, not necessarily by security requirements.

This is not to say that expansion of the military budget has always been an ‘end’ for a powerful group of elites, but in fact was initially a means to serve other ends. The first big expansion of the military establishment took place in the early years of the Second World War, when the U.S. had legitimate concerns for its own national security due to such events as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared the war would negatively impact foreign trade. Military expansion is a logical result of the former concern, as it is a means to preserve physical security. However, it is closely linked to the latter concern, too. The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the nation’s most influential think foreign policy think-tanks, advised the U.S. government that it needed free access to markets and raw materials in all regions outside of continental Europe for economic self-sufficiency. To this end, the U.S. advocated globalization and open economic cooperation through multilateralism. At the time, the crisis of the ‘30s and the war had made the concept of the free market highly unpopular. This made “military supremacy for the U.S. within the non-German world” a complementary requirement to ensure all countries within the “U.S.-led, non-German Grand Area,” including Japan, would accept American conditions (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45). In short, military spending was not yet an end in itself, it was the combined result of needing to increase power in the face of security challenges and wanting to restore trust in and stabilize the global capitalist system.

Key characteristics of the current military-industrial complex, however, were already present when the objectives of U.S. foreign policy during World War II were drafted. As Hossein-zadeh points out, a brief look at the social status and class composition of the Council on Foreign Relations, which consisted of wealthy, influential people with ties to major industrial corporations and politicians, shows that a ruling class shaped major government policies “operating through the institutional umbrella of the Council, and providing intellectual justification for major foreign policy overhauls” (2006: 41). The military-industrial complex in its present form might not have been in place then or have been created intentionally, but clearly there already was a power elite based on more than capital ownership, and strong ties between the military, political, and corporate spheres.

After World War II, the Cold War stabilized U.S. foreign policy for over forty years1. With its demise, a “vacuum in the organizing principles of national government” had emerged (Waddell 2001: 133). Even if unintended, the military-industrial complex was well in place by now, and suggestions to curtail the military budget were met with fierce opposition. However, cutting back on non-military public expenditures while an expensive military establishment is preserved proved harder to justify with the loss of the perceived Soviet threat. An argument in favor of military spending that has been used consistently is that it boosts economic growth (Dreze 2000: 180). Mintz, for instance, notes that the military-industrial complex is seen by many to have “considerable influence on levels of employment, … the profitability of arms manufacture and the scope of exports” (1983: 124).

The view that large military spending is an effective means of demand stimulation and job creation, and hence of economic growth, is called military Keynesianism. Keynes’ (non-military) theory holds that in times of inadequate purchasing power, the (non-military) private sector becomes wary of expansion, and so the government should spend money in order to boost the stagnant economy by stimulating demand. Since expansion of the military industry is a government investment, it could have the desired economic effects in times of recession. However, it is important to keep in mind that Keynes argues for little government spending in times of high employment and sufficient demand. Military Keynesianists seem to ignore this fact completely and have argued for high government expenditures even during the Golden Age after World War II – and in no other sector than the military-industrial one. This can only be explained by the fact that it is a constantly shrinking number of people experiencing the economic benefits of high military spending (Waddell 2001: 135). The same people tend to switch positions between the Pentagon, its prime contractors and lobbying think tanks supporting those contractors, meaning that military spending is no longer an economic stimulus for the entire nation. Instead, it has become a redistributive mechanism of national resources in favor of the wealthy (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 226).

Cashing In on the War on Terror

What gets lots in the debate over the economic consequences of military spending is the effect it has on international stability. An old principle asserts that military threats are essential in preventing wars from occurring (Dreze 2000: 1178), but an overly extended military establishment means actual military operations are necessary from time to time to ‘prove’ the necessity of the army. And indeed, militarists have found that the most effective manner of convincing the American public of the need of a large military establishment is the constant ‘discovery’ of external threats. The threat currently most emphasized by the U.S. is global terrorism. We argue that while some fears of Islamic fundamentalism are justified, most are not; and that the threat of terrorism is not logically followed by higher military investment.

The U.S. is not being fair in its assessment of the Arab threat. Public discourse today implies that Islam is inherently more rigid and anti-modern than other religions. Huntington famously predicted that most major conflicts would be between Muslims and non-Muslims, as “Islam has bloody borders” (1993: 12). In 1990, historian Bernard Lewis described a “surge of hatred” rising from the Islamic world that “becomes a rejection of Western civilisation as such” (cited in Coll 2012). Richard Perle, American neoconservative militarist and advisor to Israel’s Likud Party, proposes a strategy of “de-contextualization” to explain acts of terrorism and violent resistance to occupation, arguing that we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to fundamentalism; instead, reasons for the violence of such groups must be sought in the Islamic way of thinking (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101).

Religious fundamentalism, however, is universal: it arises in response to modernity and secularism, both of which tend to weaken or threaten religious traditions. John Voll points out that by the early 1990s, “violent militancy was clearly manifest among Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and others elsewhere” (1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 110-11). As one scholar points out, if the Bosnians, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris are asked about their borders they would say that, respectively, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are the ones that have bloody borders (Ahmed 2002: 29). Yet statements like the ones by Huntington, Lewis and Perle cited above single out Islam as the most dangerous potential enemy of the West. They all interpret the militancy of Islamic fundamentalism as being somehow directly caused by distinctive Islamic doctrines and traditions (Voll 1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 111) and attribute terrorist attacks to “pathological problems of the Muslim mind” (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101). In doing so, they posit a characteristic supposedly shared by Muslims from Indonesia through Iran to Senegal, that makes conflict with the West inevitable.

An incorrect assessment of the roots of terrorism does not justify the extent to which the U.S. expanded its military activity after 2001; nor does it explain why it continues to fight an ineffective war. As Peña points out, a larger military would not have prevented the tragedy of 9/11, and it will not prevent future terrorist actions (2001, cited in Snider 2004). Terrorism, much like the war that is fought against it, is a means of pursuing objectives, not an actor. It cannot be stopped by military action as fighting does nothing to address the issues that terrorists feel can only be resolved violently; if anything, this is more likely to lead to a vicious cycle of constantly growing military budgets and an ever higher number of terrorist attacks. As one author put it: “the moral crusade to end terrorism can only begin with a realistic assessment of its cause” (Snider 2004). So far, the global war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism.

On the contrary, it seems the threat of an attack is now bigger: the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has increased from just over 1800 in 2001, to a staggering five-thousand ten years later (START 2012). The question that arises, then, is why successive U.S. administrations have found it so difficult to accept that perhaps their assessment of the causes of terrorism is incorrect; that perhaps, the policies built on their premises are not effective, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a vicious cycle of constantly expanding military activities and an increasing number of individuals who believe their grievances cannot be settled non-violently. This has everything to do with the never-ending need for militarism: 9/11 was approached by the U.S. as an opportunity for aggression. The attacks, however heinous, were approached by the government not as crimes (which would require criminal prosecution and law enforcement), but as a personal attack against Americans (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 91). With the views expressed by Huntington, Lewis and Perle widespread among the American public already, pre-emptive war and military expansion was easily justifiable to Americans. After all, how would dialogue help if the Muslim mind is pathologically troubled? An American citizen might cringe at the idea, but it is true: the 9/11 tragedy “came from heaven to an administration determined to ramp up military budgets” (Johnson 2004: 64).

Conclusion

This essay has sought to argue that the U.S. military-industrial complex was the unintentional result of both a desire to stabilize the global capitalist system and to protect national security interests, but that military spending is now closely linked to the personal interests of a small, influential group of elites. In the first section, it was illustrated that the context of the Second World War made increased military expenditures a necessary means to other ends, although the power elite that would eventually come to benefit from these expenditures was already in place. Once in place, this power elite has constantly needed to justify the disproportionate allocation of national resources to the military establishment. Emphasizing the economic benefits of military investment by drawing on Keynesian theory is a way of doing so, but military Keynesianists seem to give a one-sided account of the theory, one that suits their interests.

The second section focused on the global war on terror, arguing that the U.S. is capitalizing on public fears which are based on an incorrect assessment of the causes of terrorism. The war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism, but as long as the public continues believing it is a necessary war, the U.S. military-industrial complex will continue using it as an opportunity to keep military budgets high.


References

Ahmed, A. (2002) ‘Ibn Khaldun’s understanding of civilizations and the dilemmas of Islam and the West today’, Middle East Journal, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 20-45

Coll, S. (2012) ‘Days of Rage’, The New Yorker, 1 October. [Online] Available at http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/10/01/121001taco_talk_coll (accessed 7 January 2013)

Dreze, J. (2000) ‘Militarism, development and democracy’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 35, No. 14, pp. 1171-1183

Hossein-zadeh, I. (2006). The political economy of U.S. militarism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Huntington, S. P. (1993) ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’ in The Council on Foreign Relations, ed. 1996, Samuel P. Huntington’s the clash of civilizations: the debate, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, pp. 1-26

Johnson, C. (2004) The sorrows of empire: militarism, secrecy, and the end of the republic. New York: Henry Holt and Company

Mintz, A. (1985) ‘The military-industrial complex: American concepts and Israeli realities’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 623-639

Moskos, C. (1974) ‘The concept of the military-industrial complex: radical critique or liberal bogey?’, Social Problems, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 498-512

SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) (2012) Military spending and armament: the 15 major spender countries in 2011 (table). Solna: SIPRI. Available at http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/milex_15 (accessed 4 January 2013)

Snider, B. (2004) ‘Manufacturing terrorism’, antiwar.com, 14 June. [Online] Available at http://antiwar.com/blog/2004/06/14/manufacturing-terrorism/ (accessed 6 January 2013)

START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism). (2012) Incidents over time. Maryland: Global Terrorism Database. [Data file] Available at http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?region= (accessed 7 January 2013)

Waddell, B. (2001) ‘Limiting national interventionism in the United States: the warfare-welfare state as a restrictive government paradigm’, Capital and class, Vol. 74, pp. 109-140


1.) The U.S. did have to rethink the expenses of their policies during the crisis of the ‘70s, when expanding on both warfare and welfare became too expensive. Allocating taxpayers’ money to the military had become harder to justify for several reasons; by this time, however, the military-industrial complex was well in place. Beneficiaries of militarism succeeded in maintaining high military budgets, mainly by exaggerating the ‘Soviet threat’ (such as in the now-discredited Team B report by the Committee on the Present Danger). This was clearly a way of defining the elite group’s interests in terms of national interests and is relevant to the topic, but it is not within the scope of the essay to discuss this in detail.

 


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"All democracies turn into dictatorships - but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea... That's the issue that I've been exploring: How did the Republic turn into the Empire ... and how does a democracy become a dictatorship? "

Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas

[Aug 29, 2015] So Wrong for So Long

"...For starters, neoconservatives think balance-of-power politics doesn't really work in international affairs and that states are strongly inclined to "bandwagon" instead. In other words, they think weaker states are easy to bully and never stand up to powerful adversaries. Their faulty logic follows that other states will do whatever Washington dictates provided we demonstrate how strong and tough we are. This belief led them to conclude that toppling Saddam would send a powerful message and cause other states in the Middle East to kowtow to us. If we kept up the pressure, our vast military power would quickly transform the region into a sea of docile pro-American democracies."
.
"...Moreover, neocons believe military force is a supple tool that can be turned on and off like a spigot. If the United States uses force and things go badly, they seem to think the nation can just pull out quickly and live to fight another day. But that's not how things work in the real world of politics: Once forces are committed, the military brass will demand the chance to win a clear victory, and politicians will worry about the nation's prestige and their own political fortunes. The conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia should remind us that it's a lot easier to get into wars than it is to get out of them, but that lesson has been lost on most neoconservatives."
.
"...They claim their main goal is spreading freedom and democracy (except for Palestinians, of course), but they have no theory to explain how this will happen or how toppling a foreign government with military force will magically cause democracy to emerge. Instead, they believe the desire to live in freedom is hardwired into human DNA, and all one has to do is remove the bad guys at the top. Once they are gone, the now-liberated population will forget past grievances, form political parties, embrace tolerance, line up for orderly elections, accept the resulting outcomes willingly, and offer grateful thanks to Uncle Sam."
Aug 21, 2015 | Foreign Policy

Over the past few weeks, proponents of the nuclear deal with Iran — from President Barack Obama on down — have marshaled a powerful attack on some of the deal's most prominent opponents. Specifically, they've been pointing out an indisputable fact: Many of the individuals and organizations that are most actively lobbying and speaking out against the deal helped dream up the idea of invading Iraq or worked hard to convince Congress and the American people to go along with the idea. The logic of the pro-deal camp is simple: Given that the opponents were so catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War, no one should listen to their advice today.

I agree with this basic argument, of course, but opponents of the deal do have one line of defense against the "Wrong on Iraq, Wrong on Iran" meme. It is possible someone could have been dead wrong about the wisdom of invading Iraq in 2003, but nonetheless be correct to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran today. None of us is infallible, and it is at least conceivable that Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, James Woolsey, Fred Hiatt, Max Boot, et al. could have blown it big-time in 2002 — but be absolutely right this time around.

Conceivable, I suppose, but highly unlikely. Why? Because their views in 2002 aren't independent from the views they're expressing today. On the contrary, their earlier support for the Iraq War and their opposition to the Iran deal stem from the basic neoconservative worldview that informs their entire approach to foreign policy.

To be more specific, the problem isn't that these people just happened to be embarrassingly wrong about Iraq. After all, plenty of other people were equally misguided back then, including many people who now support the deal today. Nor is the problem the neocons' stubborn and morally dubious refusal to admit they were wrong and take responsibility for the lives and money they squandered.

No, the real problem is that the neoconservative worldview — one that still informs the thinking of many of the groups and individuals who are most vocal in opposing the Iran deal — is fundamentally flawed. Getting Iraq wrong wasn't just an unfortunate miscalculation, it happened because their theories of world politics were dubious and their understanding of how the world works was goofy.

When your strategic software is riddled with bugs, you should expect a lot of error messages.

What are the main flaws that consistently lead neoconservatives astray?

  1. For starters, neoconservatives think balance-of-power politics doesn't really work in international affairs and that states are strongly inclined to "bandwagon" instead. In other words, they think weaker states are easy to bully and never stand up to powerful adversaries. Their faulty logic follows that other states will do whatever Washington dictates provided we demonstrate how strong and tough we are. This belief led them to conclude that toppling Saddam would send a powerful message and cause other states in the Middle East to kowtow to us. If we kept up the pressure, our vast military power would quickly transform the region into a sea of docile pro-American democracies.

    What happened, alas, was that the various states we were threatening didn't jump on our bandwagon. Instead, they balanced and then took steps to make sure we faced significant and growing resistance. In particular, Syria and Iran (the next two states on the neocons' target list), cooperated even further with each other and helped aid the anti-American insurgency in Iraq itself. Neocons were outraged by this behavior, but it shouldn't have surprised anyone who understood Realism 101. At the same time, long-standing U.S. allies were upset by our actions and distanced themselves from us or else they took advantage of our excesses and free-rode at our expense. In short, the neoconservatives' belief that the United States could browbeat and intimidate others into doing our bidding was dead wrong.

    Today, of course, opposition to the Iran deal reflects a similar belief that forceful resolve would enable Washington to dictate whatever terms it wants. As I've written before, this idea is the myth of a "better deal." Because neocons assume states are attracted to strength and easy to intimidate, they think rejecting the deal, ratcheting up sanctions, and threatening war will cause Iran's government to finally cave in and dismantle its entire enrichment program. On the contrary, walking away from the deal will stiffen Iran's resolve, strengthen its hard-liners, increase its interest in perhaps actually acquiring a nuclear weapon someday, and cause the other members of the P5+1 to part company with the United States.

  2. The neoconservative worldview also exaggerates the efficacy of military force and downplays the value of diplomacy. Military force is an essential component of national power, of course, but neocons tend to see it as a magical tool that can accomplish all sorts of wonderful things (such as the creation of workable democracies) for which it is not really designed. In reality, military force is a crude instrument whose effects are hard to foresee and one which almost always produces unintended consequences (see under: Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, etc.). So it was in Iraq, and the results of a direct military conflict with Iran would be equally unpredictable.

    Moreover, neocons believe military force is a supple tool that can be turned on and off like a spigot. If the United States uses force and things go badly, they seem to think the nation can just pull out quickly and live to fight another day. But that's not how things work in the real world of politics: Once forces are committed, the military brass will demand the chance to win a clear victory, and politicians will worry about the nation's prestige and their own political fortunes. The conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia should remind us that it's a lot easier to get into wars than it is to get out of them, but that lesson has been lost on most neoconservatives.

  3. Third, the neoconservatives have a simplistic and ahistorical view of democracy itself. They claim their main goal is spreading freedom and democracy (except for Palestinians, of course), but they have no theory to explain how this will happen or how toppling a foreign government with military force will magically cause democracy to emerge. Instead, they believe the desire to live in freedom is hardwired into human DNA, and all one has to do is remove the bad guys at the top. Once they are gone, the now-liberated population will forget past grievances, form political parties, embrace tolerance, line up for orderly elections, accept the resulting outcomes willingly, and offer grateful thanks to Uncle Sam.

    It would be nice if that Pollyannaish scenario were accurate, but such views betray near-total ignorance of the prerequisites for meaningful democracy and the actual history of democratic growth in the West itself. In fact, the development of liberal democracy was a long, contentious, imperfect, and often violent process in Western Europe and North America, and anyone familiar with that history would have known the neocons' formula for democratic change was doomed from the start.

  4. Fourth, as befits a group of armchair ideologues whose primary goal has been winning power inside the Beltway, neoconservatives are often surprisingly ignorant about the actual conditions of the countries whose politics and society they want to transform. Hardly any neoconservatives knew very much about Iraq before the United States invaded — if they had, they might have reconsidered the whole scheme — and their characterizations of Iran today consist of scary caricatures bearing little resemblance to Iran's complicated political and social reality. In addition to flawed theories, in short, the neoconservative worldview also depends on an inaccurate reading of the facts on the ground.

  5. Last but not least, the neoconservatives' prescriptions for U.S. foreign policy are perennially distorted by a strong attachment to Israel, which Max Boot (and others) have described as a "key tenet" of the entire movement. There's nothing wrong with such attachments per se, of course, but it has crippled their ability to give sensible policy advice to U.S. politicians. In particular, neoconservatives tend to believe that what's good for Israel is good for the United States — and vice versa — which is why they see no conflict between their attachment to Israel and their loyalty to the United States. But no two states have identical interests all the time, and when the interests of two countries conflict, people who feel strongly about both are forced to decide which of these feelings is going to take priority.

Over the past few weeks, some proponents of the deal have pointed out — correctly — that some opponents don't like the deal because they think it is bad for Israel and because the Netanyahu government is dead set against it. As one might expect, pointing out these obvious facts has led some opponents of the deal to accuse proponents (including President Obama) of anti-Semitism. But as Lara Friedman, J.J. Goldberg, and Peter Beinart have made clear, this charge is absurd, even laughable. Among other things, it appears a majority of American Jews support the deal — and so do plenty of distinguished figures in Israel's own national security establishment. If anything, it is Netanyahu's efforts to persuade American Jews that it is their duty to support him, rather than their own president, that echoes those hateful anti-Semitic canards about "dual loyalty."

Instead of being a serious criticism, this familiar smear is really just a way to change the subject and to put proponents of the deal on the defensive for pointing out the obvious. Fortunately, in this case the charge just doesn't seem to be sticking, and its appearance is just another sign that opponents don't have rational arguments or solid evidence to justify their opposition.

The bottom line: The fact that the neoconservatives, AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, and other groups in the Israel lobby were wrong about the Iraq War does not by itself mean that they are necessarily wrong about the Iran deal. But when you examine their basic views on world politics and their consistent approach to U.S. Middle East policy, it becomes clear this is not a coincidence at all. Support for the Iraq War and opposition to the Iran deal flow from the same flawed premises, and that's why following their advice today would be as foolish as it was back in 2003.

Choices2014

I take a much narrower view as to what motivates neocons-it definitely is not ideology. They have infiltrated most of the "think" tanks, they have infiltrated many of the cabinet level departments, and have infiltrated all levels of political activity. To me, that indicates a hunger for power and money and it has been very successful. Huge sums of money support these people and their constant push for war. Finally, it is all orchestrated my Netanyahu and the Likuds. The neocons and their AIPAC, WaPo, et al take their script from Netanyahu and because of the money and their positioning in the Foreign Policy establishment, it seems impossible to counteract. Indeed, depressing and tragic for the United States.
Lost in america
I think it is a mistake to throw all of these positions and policies altogether. Actually, opposition to the treaty may seem bipolar because of the political marketing by the Administration. But there are varied rationales: Some people are against the deal deal because they do not trust Iran under any circumstances. Some are against the deal because we could have negotiated a better deal. Some want more compensation for past Iranian transgressions. Some believe that the treaty is too open ended and allows nuclear development too soon. Some Americans do not believe that you should make a treaty with a nation unless they release your hostages. Some see that Iran has problems and we should not let them off the hook so easily. The best argument for the treaty is that sanctions are weakening anyway. To believe that the treaty will make Iran a better citizen is similar to the belief if you make Iraq a democracy, this will lead to a better world. The Neocons are similar to the people who support the treaty. They are idealistic and probably making the world worse.
exMod 27
Why does everyone expect the US to carry the weight? What is in our National Interest? Israel and the Sunni Arab/Turks want a weaker Persia/Shia/Iran so they can dominate the region. A weak Iran means a weak Syria and a weaker Shia presence in the region. (looking at you Hizbollah). That is why a good number of Arabs and Jews oppose the deal. They don't want ANY deal that lifts sanctions on Iran. So, where does that leave the US? 10 years ago, with oil prices sky high, we would have to back the Sauds. 30 years ago, with the Great Bear still running around, we would have to backed the Israelis. Today? Oil is flowing and Putin is driving Russia into a ditch. What is in our National Interest? Commerce. I don't understand today's Republican party. Led by fools.
WilliamSantiago
BDL2010 is correct: "You could say the same thing about liberals." My bet is that Prof Walt would have supported any deal coming out the Obama Administration. So I challenge him to state exactly what the minimum deal with Iran would have been that he would find unacceptable.

I note 2 points of logic: (i) The notion of "the myth of a better deal" is a contrary-to-fact conditional. There is no way to know if Prof. Walt is correct especially has he has provided no evidence that a better deal could not have been or could not be forthcoming. (ii) It's simply name calling to label an opposing point of view a "myth," then define what strawman necons believe as that myth, then knock down the strawman (with little evidence even for this poor task).

Further, I note an interesting aspect of the deal that even the most neophyte negotiator would have avoided. We gave away for certain the only lever we had (the sanctions) in return for a promise to be fulfilled in the future. And we found out this week that a major portion of the promise will be verified by our opponent in the negotiation. "This used car is in fine shape. Buy it now and I'll come over tomorrow and verify that there isn't sawdust in the transmission."

Prof. Walt is entitled to his opinion. But intellectual honesty requires that he pressure test his opinion by finding the best, not the worst or vaguest arguments against his conclusion instead of setting up strawmen and knocking them down. Unfortunately, setting up strawmen is a favorite tactic of our commander in chief.

bdl2010
More political BS. You could say the same thing about liberals. Case in point, how is Libya going? How about Syria? Right now there is a major refugee crisis due to instability in both of these nations. In one we took action and in the other we failed to. So if you want to pen an article about how neo-cons are always wrong then you need to follow it up with how liberals are not always right either. I'd hope that at some point in the future we would start to realize that we need a foreign policy that transcends political parties. When other nations look at our policies they see that it is America that is enacting it. They do not see Republicans or Democrats to blame. It's due time for us all to grow the hell up and get our act together.
samamerco
I disagree in one main point. While most politicians consider the results of the war in Iraq to be negative, neocons see the same results as positive. It removed a major threat to Israel (Saddam) and caused unending social upheaval in the countries surrounding it that continues today. The neocons also see a similar result of war with Iran as positive from the Israeli point view. Who really cares about the interests of the United States?
Xenophon
@samamerco Well stated and right on the mark.
Mark Thomason
This is a wonderfully clear explanation of a very complex subject, a real tour de force.

I'd add two smaller points.

One, it is hard to get out once we start a war, even when we win. WW2 was as overwhelming a win, unconditional surrender, as one could ever hope to get. Yet after all these years, we are still in Germany, Italy, and Japan, and we are in them because of WW2 and how we ended it. Once in, we couldn't get out even by total victory.

Two, while come neocons may believe in spreading democracy, they did not act as if that was their goal when they had the chance. They imposed government, and supervised the "election" of puppets. It was more like lip service cover for another goal we know was close to the heart of the leaders: make the Middle East safe for Israel no matter what it does, even for continued expansion and a Greater Israel. American power was misused to do that, and it failed as completely as did the excuse of bringing democracy.

Jinzo
Most people that oppose this deal have legitimate reasons for doing so, obviously there are some that just don't want a deal full stop for selfish reasons. Obama and Kerry have not come even close at all to a deal of any resemblance to what they initially set out to achieve for the American people. Despite Obamas rhetoric about "its this deal or war", I doubt anyone can seriously contemplate Obama of all people starting a war with Iran and the next president will be faced with the fact that Iran is no feable Iraq, not that Iraq itself have been a walk in the park. The talk that "if this deal is rejected that our European allies will ease sanctions unilaterally" totally overlooks the fact they these same allies applied sanctions on Russia which is much more costly to them then the Iran sanctions are. Lifting the UN restrictions on military equipment and missile technology has to be changed, this should only happen if Iran proves it has stopped their state sponsorship of terrorism, also Iran been allowed to provide their own samples to the international inspectors to verify that they haven't been cheating in the past is just unbelievable, mind boggling, how could anyone think this is acceptable? Imagine an athlete that was suspended for taking drugs being allowed to provide his own urine samples to the sports league. Imagine a criminal in the court of law being the only person to submit evidence of his own guilt or innocence. Imagine if the police pullied over a intoxicated driver, only to let him go cause he said "he hadn't been drinking", but you don't have to imagine something so ridiculous cause this kind of circus act is exactly what's now playing out between Iran and the IAEA. There has to be a better deal then this poor excuse of a 'deal'.
Mark Thomason
@Jinzo "Most people that oppose this deal have legitimate reasons for doing so"

No, they don't.

Negotiators rarely get all of their initial demands. Anyway, "what they set out to achieve" is here defined as what Netanyahu dreamed of getting, not Obama's real goals.

Toot Sweet
They are wrong so often because they are ideologues. And like all ideologues, they are dogmatic and care little for facts, criticism, or compromise. For them, the ends justify the means which explains why they distort and dissemble with great ease, and never apologize.
Anise
So, neo-cons are ignorant bullies who are killing the rest of us. How do we stop them?
Ggee
This piece is just like the neo-cons: sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

In the end, though, it always comes down to straining for the opportunity to lambaste Israel. Even when the President flips out and attacks his detractors as war-mongers in league with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; when hordes of pro-deal lobbyists representing every P5+1nation descend on Capital Hill (as is their right); when virtually every western nation already has sent representatives in the last few weeks to negotiate commercial deals with Tehran even before the mullahs have demonstrated good faith; even as morally neutered "realist" academics spout off while drenched with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Syrian and other innocents but continue to sit in judgment of their inferiors -- even with all that and so much more, it's always the right time to attack Israel.

The writer is always very busy telling us not only that Israel is a big drag on the U.S., but now offers psychological analysis that Israel's supporters are clinically incapable of having well considered opinions that differ from his own, notwithstanding abundant proof of his own impenetrable bias. Which is to say, what a load of crap.

bpuharic -> Ggee
You didn't read the article. What he said was the right has a power fetish. That's why neocons get it wrong
ozziem
@Ggee

RE:

In the end, though, it always comes down to straining for the opportunity to lambaste Israel.

It seems abundantly obvious that your are among the people who places Israel's interests ahead of those of the United States. Why don't you just move there?

Chris F

"The logic of the pro-deal camp is simple: Given that the opponents were so catastrophically wrong about the Iraq War, no one should listen to their advice today." Mr. Walt, this is a logical fallacy and you should have been done with it when you admitted so. Though you acknowledge the fallacy, you still go on to defend it. You never got specific on how "these people just happened to be embarrassingly wrong about Iraq" but I guess you mean the WMD. True, no nukes were found, but lots and lots of other weapons, including chemical weapons, were found. The New York Times did a huge report on this.

So, your assertion that we shouldn't listen to opponents of the deal because they were wrong on Iraq is highly debatable, and if that's what support for the Iran deal rests on, the case is very weak indeed.

As for the neo-con worldview question, occupation has worked pretty well in Japan, South Korea, Germany and others in the long run, so one could be forgiven for looking at the long line of overall successes and thinking it would work in Iraq if we were honest and clear about what we were going to do with Iraq - that is undertake a multi-generational transformation of Iraqi society through occupation. It should also be remembered that there was a lot of support for the US enforcing UN resolutions as part of the Iraq invasion. If the neo-cons were so wrong and we can't listen to them now, then ditto for the Democrats who supported the war and the countries in the UN who also supported it.

"This belief led them to conclude that toppling Saddam would send a powerful message and cause other states in the Middle East to kowtow to us." Also debatable. Qaddafi saw what happened in Iraq and gave up his weapons program. Even Kim Jong Il was reportedly freaked out as he watched the invasion. We'll never know how things could have been shaped if the US was consistent in its mission.

"Among other things, it appears a majority of American Jews support the deal — and so do plenty of distinguished figures in Israel's own national security establishment." Of course, there will be some people on both sides. But this is a rare moment when the Israeli left and right, Jew and Arab, are in overwhelming agreement over how bad the deal is. That is no small feat. As for American Jews, I was at the well attended anti-deal rally in Los Angeles last month and judging by how many different groups showed up, your assertion here is also incorrect. Jews, Arabs, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, Palestinians, Israelis and gay activists all showed up and all were against the deal. This is LA, the biggest home of liberal Jews outside of NYC.

I also saw Ted Cruz speak at one of the largest Persian Jewish synagogues in LA (maybe the country) last month. The place was over capacity and the fire marshal showed up. The subject was the Iran deal and Cruz got multiple standing ovations. Again, we're talking about liberal Jewish LA. So, you may have read a few articles by Jews who support the deal, but I have seen up close thousands of American Jews in liberal LA, many of them Iranian, who are disgusted with this deal.

[Aug 23, 2015]Carter, Reagan, and Machiavelli - The New York Times

Rex Nutting has a very nice article about the reality of Jimmy Carter's presidency, which has been distorted out of recognition by the myth of Saint Reagan. As he points out, Carter presided over faster average job growth and lower unemployment than Reagan; unfortunately for Carter, his timing was bad, with vigorous growth for most of his presidency but a recession at the end.

Or to be more specific: the Federal Reserve put the US economy through the wringer from 1979 to 1982 in order to bring inflation down. Carter presided over the first part of that double-dip recession, and got wrongly blamed for it; Reagan presided over the second part, and wrongly got credit for the later recovery.

What you see in all this is the remarkable political dominance of recent rates of change over even medium-term comparisons. The chart shows real median family income, which rose a lot through 1979, and was still far from having returned to that peak by the end of Reagan's first term. Nonetheless, Carter was booted from office amid derision — "are you better off now than you were four years ago?" (actually yes), while Reagan won a landslide as a triumphant economic savior.

But Machiavelli knew all about this:

Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily.

Make sure that the bad stuff happens early in your rule; then you can claim credit when things get better, even if you leave the nation in a worse condition than it was when you arrived.

John is a trusted commenter Hartford

Carter does get something of a bum rap from the Stalinist history re-writers of the Republican party who have made the most absurd claims for Reagan (of which the attempts to elevate him to the same status as FDR is only the most ridiculous). That said there was undoubtedly a malaise in the air in late 1980 and there was little doubt Carter was doomed because of it. He had several considerable achievements including Camp David and the appointment of Volcker (who was ultimately dropped by Reagan in favor of Easy Al) but in truth, although he wasn't Hoover, he was at best an average president as indeed was Reagan despite the efforts to beatify him. Carter was probably done in by the quality of his team and something of a penchant for micro management. He certainly didn't commit any crimes while he was president as Reagan did, nor triple the debt, and he's probably one of the most decent people to occupy the office in US history. The fundamental problem is that the qualities of St Francis of Assisi are not ideally suited to the practice of politics while principles of government outlined by Machiavelli are.
John Lentini Big Pine Key, FL
One more helicopter on the hostage rescue mission might have saved us the ravages of Reagan.

Spencer England Woburn, MA 01801

Do not forget that Carter started a lot of the deregulation, airlines and trucking, for example, that tht Republicans try to take credit for. Especially those trying to make Ronnie into a saint.

John Foelster, Philadelphia, PA 14 hours ago

My impression of Reagan and Carter is that they are the 20th Centurys Andrew Johnson and Grant.

Johnson was controversial during his term of office but came to be admired enormously by the Lost Cause school of Historiography for opposing Reconstruction and the Radical Republicans, for their horrible presumption in trying to treat the Freedman like human beings. Hes now generally recognized as a racist incompetent.

Grant was a fundamentally decent human being who had a terrible reputation for circumstances largely outside of his control, whose Presidency is no longer thought of as being as bad as Early 20th Century Historians thought.

Hopefully the reputations of Reagan and Carter will be transformed by the historians of coming decades.

Side note, why am I forbidden from using apostrophes?

Rakesh, Fl

Of all the presidents I have lived under Carter was the best president. He did more solid economic reforms(deregulation etc), recognized the problems with an imported oil dependency, saw the benefits of harnessing solar energy. He was left with wringing out the ill effects of stagflation, he rebuilt the military that was run down, he gave some meaning to American moral power. He, not Reagan convinced the Germans to upgrade the US missiles in Europe. His big mistake was putting Brzezinski in charge of Foreign policy. He is the only ex president not to become a money grubbing salesman.

Stephen, RI

Or, you know, you could consider the obvious reason: Americans are pretty stupid. A majority still believe humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Almost 2/3rds can't name two of the three branches of government.

Americans overwhelmingly wanted to bomb Ukraine more the less well they could locate it on a map. They elected Reagan, a B list movie star who costarred with a chimpanzee, who went on to illegally sell arms to Iran, fund South American death squads, arm the Taliban, and shoot down a civilian airliner killing everyone on board. They elected George W. Bush, a man who said he wanted OBGYNs to be able to practice their love of women, said that "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?", who blatantly lied us into a four trillion dollar decade long war, increased the deficit 1.8 trillion dollars, oversaw the worst disaster response in U.S. history, and who sat idly by during the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

They almost elected Sarah Palin, a woman who couldn't name a single newspaper she reads. They elected Michelle Bachmann, who thinks mass transit is a liberal plot, Ted Cruz, who thinks the U.N. is trying to steal U.S. golf courses, and James Inhofe, who thinks that snowballs disprove climate science. Ben Carson thinks affordable healthcare is worse than slavery. Huckabee thinks taxing pimps is our way to prosperity. Jeb Bush forced women to publish their sexual histories ahead of adoption, even if they were raped.

Pick up a newspaper.

Tim, Sutherlin 1 day ago

Didn't Carter put Volker in the Chairmanship of Fed? So.....

jmc, Stamford 1 day ago

Politifact of Wisconsin has done a reprise http://bit.ly/1PqO16w of just of few the "mostly false" claims by Paul Ryan about almost anything you can think of from Social Security to budget cuts to Medicare.

The truth is not in these people. heir followers are ignorant or worse.

I remember eight years of crazy before Carter.

Richard Nixon, Treasonous dealings with Vietnam during election. Watergate, Six years and many thousands of dead in Vietnam. A president and vice president forced to resign for official corruption. A criminal conspiracy that included Watergate, the Saturday Night Massacre, , 69 administration officials charged and 48 convicted, most sent to jail. Economic disaster, Secret bombings of Cambodia. Actively subverting governments in Portugal, Chile, Mozambique, Angola and more. Student Killings. Henry Kissinger, war criminal. Wage and Price Controls. 0verheated economy, inflation, stagflation. Patty Hearst.

Uniformed snipers all around the White House and rooftops Helicopters ferrying secret visitors. Air conditioning up, fireplaces lit. Paranoia ruled.

Hapless Jerry Ford. Nixon Pardon. Grand jury felony indictments avoided. "Whip Inflation Now," the infamous WIN button. Leave inflation and recession to someone else.

LBJ mixed triumph with Vietnam. Nixon began 8 years of uncharted hell, a harbinger of today's vicious and vindictive GOP.

Jimmy Carter was a cool drink of water on a hot day after all that.

Win no matter how began.

nastyboy, california 1 day ago

"Rex Nutting has a very nice article about the reality of Jimmy Carter's presidency, which has been distorted out of recognition by the myth of Saint Reagan."

morally, carter was/is far more saintly than reagan or any other president in the past 80 years or so. in this sense reagan doesn't even come close to carter. jimmy had some issues of continuing u.s. support for some brutal, genocidal governments but was one of our least violent presidents ever. morally and ethically he was out of his element as president.

Mark Shapiro, Chicago

Another reason that Reagan is so overrated and Carter so underrated:

the continuous operation of a huge conservative PR machine. The plutocracy has always had -- and will always have -- powerful PR operatives, but the Lewis Powell memo of 1971 really got it revved up. Now they have many think tanks, publications, talk radio, all of faux news, many Koch foundations and the tea party, big chunks of mainstream reporting, and now unlimited campaign funding.

The list keeps growing.

They have the means, motive, and opportunity to lionize plutocracy.

James Lee, Arlington, Texas

Carter also never received proper credit for his foreign policy achievements because of the failure to rescue the hostages. That humiliation displaced, in the public mind, the memory of the Camp David Accords and the agreement ceding control of the Panama Canal to its rightful owners. While the second achievement was not particularly popular at the time, it avoided a serious breech of relations between the U.S. and Panama. The first agreement ended hostility between Israel and Egypt, a significant step toward at least the possibility of peace in the Middle East.

Va Dawg, Virginia 1 day ago

Even more infuriating: Carter - in appointing Volcker - ought to get more credit than Reagan for taming inflation. And Carter wasn't a chickenhawk.

craig geary, redlands, fl 1 day ago
The day that Reagan took office the total US debt, accumulated from George Washing thru Jimmy Carter was $1 trillion. 17 debt ceiling increases and 96 months later the US debt was $2.9 trillion, a 190% increase.

Eureka College guy cheerleader, WW II dodger , Reagan found it necessary to: Arm the Afghan fundamentalists who changed their name to Taliban, arm Saddam Hussein, shoot down Iran Air 655, fund death squads in El Salvador, genocide in Guatemala, arm and fund the Contra terrorists, invade Grenada, refurbish WW II battleships, at $300M a pop, and "invest" hundreds of billions in a chimera know as Star Wars.

The republican saint, in his own words, "I don't worry about the federal debt. It's big enough to take care of itself."

Ronald Reagan

The Athenian, Athens, Oh 3 hours ago

Recall, also, selling arms to Iran to get off-the-books cash to fund the Contras.

larry, U.S.

You make a good point that economic circumstances favored Reagan getting the credit for things he didn't achieve, and Carter failing to get credit for what he did. But I think the myth of Saint Reagan has had an even larger effect. Repeat something over & over enough times on a media channel watched as much as Fox, or a radio channel listened to as much as Clear Channel, and people think it's Gospel-- even if they are not Christian Right people. Progressives need something just as large, as consistently progressive, as expert in messaging & as well financed, to get our views heard just as clearly as the Right's views.

Spencer England, Woburn, MA 01801

But Reagan also negotiated with Iran to release the hostages immediately after he took office.

Within three months large scale shipments of US military equipment started to flow. Of course the two were not connected, right?

Bob Dobbs, Santa Cruz, CA

I remember how eager George W. Bush's administration was to declare recession early in its first term when there wasn't one: fake crises are the easiest to solve. And of course gave political cover for their plans to "grow the economy"/hand Wall Street everything it wanted.

Jim Hansen, is a trusted commenter California

Carter's problem was that he was not Machiavellian enough. He was much too honest, much too sincere, and he was always trying to do the right thing...how silly.

Carter was too good of a man to be president...and he should have sent more helicopters.

Noni Mausa, Hennepin County, MN

Another advantage of doing all the bad stuff at once, is that those who would oppose you will have their energies divided and thus reduced, their complaints and injuries will compete with each other for attention and redress, and confusion among the general public will allow the injuries to become "old news" in a surprisingly short span of time.

Here in Canada, Harper is a master of this approach. He's only been PM for eight years, only had a majority since 2011, yet tore down a surprising number of national institutions with not a trace of shame. There are times when cleverness in our "princes" is a serious flaw.

[Aug 23, 2015] Netanyahu pressed for Iran attacks, but was denied: ex-defense chief

Looks like Bibi is a certified warmonger. Something like George Bush of Israel
Aug 23, 2015 | Reuters
... ... ..

In interviews to his biographers aired late on Friday by Israel's Channel Two, Barak said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted military operations against Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

... ... ...

Netanyahu's spokesman could not be reached for comment.

[Aug 22, 2015]How Complex Systems Fail

"...This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes)."
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"...It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order."
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"...The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function."
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".... . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety."
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"...Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law..."
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"...Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise"."
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"...Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do""
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"...The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems."
Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism
August 21, 2015 by Yves Smith

Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part reoptimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

So many ideas….
Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted… But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces…

MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience — not the early stages of systemwide failure.

Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

…it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

I tend to agree with your point of view.

The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on…and on.
Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market"….god help us….

Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters… The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

No system is ever 'the'.

Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

If, of course, bigger is better.

Facts not in evidence.

Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

"But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Yves,

Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

Thanks for the post!!!!!

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy… In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

abynormal
August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

oink oink is the sound of system fail

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

A very important principle:

All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

. . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary — there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify — just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

thanks for that, I think…

Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize…Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification…)

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

And the new points of failure will be what?

susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades… right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there… just a thought.

America still has a frontier ethos… how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

The work is organized around aphorisms — Systems tend to oppose their own proper function — The real world is what it is reported to the system — but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole — instead of that I'll quote a poem.

" Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

-Yates, "The Second Coming"

flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

erm… make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

– Swift

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so, ad infinitum.

Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
And little fleas have lesser fleas
And so ad infinitum!

Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

The order Siphonoptera….

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

Human error was the final cause in both cases.

Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

"Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

" capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

You hint at a couple fallacies.

1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Very good.

It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

  1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
  2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
  3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
  4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
  5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Three quite different thoughts:

First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Really?

"equilibrium…from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

There is another definition from physics.

When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

This is only a subset.

Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Thank you for this.

I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right — long enough — to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

[Aug 22, 2015] The Riddle of Obama's Foreign Policy by Robert Parry

his vision is more ideological than strategic
"...My view of Obama is somewhat different. It strikes me that Obama is what you might call a "closet realist." He understands the limits of American power and wants to avoid costly military entanglements. But he also doesn't want to challenge the neocon/liberal-hawk dominance of Official Washington.
In other words, he's a timid opportunist when it comes to reshaping the parameters of the prevailing "group think." He's afraid of being cast as the "outsider," so he only occasionally tests the limits of what the neocon/liberal-hawk "big thinkers" will permit, as with Cuba and Iran."
"...An elitist would keep the public in the dark while letting the hasty initial judgments stand, which is what Obama has done."
"...Kissinger: "To me, yes. It means that breaking Russia has become an objective; the long-range purpose should be to integrate it.""
"...But Obama the Timid Soul – afraid of being ostracized by all the well-connected neocons and liberal hawks of Official Washington – doesn't dare challenge the "group think," what everybody knows to be true even if he knows it to be false. In the end, Obama the Elitist won't trust the American people with the facts, so these international crises will continue drifting toward a potential Armageddon."
August 22, 2015 | therealnews.com | 0 Comments

By Robert Parry. This article was first published on Consortium News.

For nearly seven years of his presidency, Barack Obama has zigzagged from military interventionist to pragmatic negotiator, leaving little sense of what he truly believes. Yet, there may be some consistent threads to his inconsistencies, writes Robert Parry.

Nearing the last year of his presidency, Barack Obama and his foreign policy remain an enigma. At times, he seems to be the "realist," working constructively with other nations to achieve positive solutions, as with the Iran nuclear deal and his rapprochement with Cuba. Other times, he slides into line with the neocons and liberal hawks, provoking ugly crises, such as his "regime change" tactics in Honduras (2009), Libya (2011), Syria (over several years) and Ukraine (2014).

Yet, even in some of those "regime change" scenarios, Obama pulls back from the crazier "tough guy/gal" ideas and recognizes the catastrophes such schemes could create. In 2013, he called off a planned bombing campaign against the Syrian military (which could have led to a victory for Al Qaeda or the Islamic State), and in 2014, he resisted a full-scale escalation of Ukraine's war against ethnic Russian rebels resisting the new U.S.-backed political order in Kiev (which could have pushed the world to the brink of a nuclear war).

Yet, Obama also won't stand up to the neocons and liberal hawks by sharing crucial information with the American people that could undermine pro-intervention narratives.

For instance, Obama has held back the latest U.S. intelligence analysis describing who was responsible for the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack that almost precipitated the U.S. war on the Syrian military, and he won't release the intelligence assessment on who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014, the tragedy which ratcheted up the crisis with Russia over Ukraine.

In both cases, I'm told U.S. intelligence analysts have backed off early rushes to judgment blaming the Syrian government for the sarin attack, which killed hundreds, and the Russian-backed eastern Ukrainian rebels for the MH-17 crash, which killed 298 people. But Obama has left standing the earlier propaganda themes blaming the Syrian and Russian governments, all the better to apply American "soft power" pressure against Damascus and Moscow.

Thus, Obama's foreign policy has a decidedly zigzag nature to it. Or as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recently described Obama: "On the prudential level he's a realist. But his vision is more ideological than strategic," a typically cryptic Kissingerian phrasing that I interpret to mean that Obama is a prudent realist when it comes to major military actions but – short of all-out war – ideologically embraces neocon/liberal-hawk interventionism.

My view of Obama is somewhat different. It strikes me that Obama is what you might call a "closet realist." He understands the limits of American power and wants to avoid costly military entanglements. But he also doesn't want to challenge the neocon/liberal-hawk dominance of Official Washington.

In other words, he's a timid opportunist when it comes to reshaping the parameters of the prevailing "group think." He's afraid of being cast as the "outsider," so he only occasionally tests the limits of what the neocon/liberal-hawk "big thinkers" will permit, as with Cuba and Iran.

Obama is also fundamentally an elitist who believes more in manipulating the American people than in leveling with them. For instance, a leader who truly trusted in democracy would order the maximum declassification of what the U.S. intelligence community knows about the pivotal events in Syria and Ukraine, including the sarin attack and the MH-17 shoot-down.

An elitist would keep the public in the dark while letting the hasty initial judgments stand, which is what Obama has done.

Redirecting Conventional Wisdom

Obama never trusts the people to help him rewrite the narratives of these crises, which could create more space for reasonable compromises and solutions. Instead, he leaves the American public ignorant, which empowers his fellow "smart people" of Official Washington to manage national perceptions, all aided and abetted by the complicit mainstream U.S. media which simply reinforces the misguided "conventional wisdom."

Despite his power to do so, Obama won't shatter the frame of Official Washington's fun-house mirror of reality. That's why his attempt to invoke the memory of President John F. Kennedy's famous "we all inhabit this small planet" speech at American University in 1963 fell so flat earlier this month when Obama went to AU and offered a pedestrian, point-by-point defense of the Iran nuclear deal without any of Kennedy's soaring, universal rhetoric.

Presumably Obama feared that he would be cast as a starry-eyed idealist if he explained to the American people the potential for using the Iran agreement as a way to begin constructing a more peaceful Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Obama's Pragmatic Appeal for Iran Peace."]

These limitations in Obama's personality and world view have probably doomed his legacy to be viewed as an overall failure to reshape America's approach to the world, away from a costly and confrontational strategy of seeking endless dominance to one favoring a more respectful and pragmatic approach toward the sensitivities and needs of other nations.

I realize some Obama critics feel that he is simply a tool of American imperialism putting a slightly less offensive face on the same interventionist policies. And no doubt he has served that role in many instances. He even boasted during his Iran speech that "I've ordered military action in seven countries." If some other world leader – say, Russian President Vladimir Putin – had made that claim, we would be hearing demands that he be dragged before the World Court as a war criminal.

But there is also the Obama whom Kissinger described as "on the prudential level he's a realist." And there is significant value in sidestepping the maximalist catastrophes that would be caused by policies favored by the neocons and liberal hawks, such as U.S. bombing to destroy the Syrian military (and open the gates of Damascus to a reign of Sunni terrorism) or a U.S. military escalation of the Ukraine crisis (to the point of a nuclear showdown with Russia).

While Obama's modicum of "realism" may seem like a modest thing, it isn't when you recognize that Official Washington's favored choices could contribute to the mass executions of Syria's Christians, Shiites, Alawites and other minorities under the swords of the Islamic State or could provoke a thermonuclear war with Russia that could end all life on the planet.

That acknowledgement aside, however, Obama has fallen far short of any profile in courage as he's allowed dangerously false narratives to develop around these and other international conflicts. The most hazardous of all is the Putin-bashing storyline about Ukraine, which holds that the entire ugly civil war was part of some nefarious scheme cooked up in the Kremlin to recreate the Russian Empire.

Though this notion that the Ukraine crisis was simply a case of "Russian aggression" is held by virtually every important person in Washington's current power circles, it was never true. The crisis was provoked by a U.S.-backed coup on Feb. 22, 2014, which overthrew Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych. Putin reacted to that provocation; he didn't instigate it.

Kissinger's Take on Ukraine

And if you don't believe me, perhaps you might listen to Henry Kissinger who explained the reality in a July interview with National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn, who noted: "we have witnessed a return, at least in Washington, DC, of neoconservatives and liberal hawks who are determined to break the back of the Russian government."

Kissinger: "Until they face the consequences. The trouble with America's wars since the end of the Second World War has been the failure to relate strategy to what is possible domestically. The five wars we've fought since the end of World War II were all started with great enthusiasm. But the hawks did not prevail at the end. At the end, they were in a minority. We should not engage in international conflicts if, at the beginning, we cannot describe an end, and if we're not willing to sustain the effort needed to achieve that end. …"

Heilbrunn: "How do you think the United States can extricate itself from the Ukraine impasse — the United States and Europe, obviously?"

Kissinger: "The issue is not to extricate the United States from the Ukrainian impasse but to solve it in a way conducive to international order. A number of things need to be recognized. One, the relationship between Ukraine and Russia will always have a special character in the Russian mind. It can never be limited to a relationship of two traditional sovereign states, not from the Russian point of view, maybe not even from Ukraine's.

"So, what happens in Ukraine cannot be put into a simple formula of applying principles that worked in Western Europe, not that close to Stalingrad and Moscow. In that context, one has to analyze how the Ukraine crisis occurred. It is not conceivable that Putin spends 60 billion euros on turning a summer resort into a winter Olympic village in order to start a military crisis the week after a concluding ceremony that depicted Russia as a part of Western civilization.

"So then, one has to ask: How did that happen? I saw Putin at the end of November 2013. He raised a lot of issues; Ukraine he listed at the end as an economic problem that Russia would handle via tariffs and oil prices.

"The first mistake was the inadvertent conduct of the European Union. They did not understand the implications of some of their own conditions. Ukrainian domestic politics made it look impossible for Yanukovych to accept the EU terms [for an association agreement] and be reelected or for Russia to view them as purely economic. …

"Each side acted sort of rationally based on its misconception of the other, while Ukraine slid into the Maidan uprising right in the middle of what Putin had spent ten years building as a recognition of Russia's status. No doubt in Moscow this looked as if the West was exploiting what had been conceived as a Russian festival to move Ukraine out of the Russian orbit. …

"If we treat Russia seriously as a great power, we need at an early stage to determine whether their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities. We should explore the possibilities of a status of nonmilitary grouping on the territory between Russia and the existing frontiers of NATO.

"The West hesitates to take on the economic recovery of Greece; it's surely not going to take on Ukraine as a unilateral project. So one should at least examine the possibility of some cooperation between the West and Russia in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis is turning into a tragedy because it is confusing the long-range interests of global order with the immediate need of restoring Ukrainian identity. …

"When you read now that Muslim units are fighting on behalf of Ukraine, then the sense of proportion has been lost." [For more on this reference, see Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists."]

Heilbrunn: "That's a disaster, obviously."

Kissinger: "To me, yes. It means that breaking Russia has become an objective; the long-range purpose should be to integrate it."

When Kissinger Makes Sense

It may be a little scary when Henry Kissinger makes relative sense, but that's only in contrast to the current dominant neocon/liberal-hawk "big thinkers" of Official Washington.

For Obama the Realist, the most practical way to begin moving toward a pragmatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis would be to stop the endless propaganda emanating from the U.S. State Department and repeated by the mainstream media and start telling the public the full truth – how the crisis really began, why the mantra "Russian aggression" is false, what on earth the U.S. government thinks it's doing collaborating with neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists in killing thousands of ethnic Russian Ukrainians, and who was responsible for the key escalating moment, the shoot-down of MH-17.

But Obama the Timid Soul – afraid of being ostracized by all the well-connected neocons and liberal hawks of Official Washington – doesn't dare challenge the "group think," what everybody knows to be true even if he knows it to be false. In the end, Obama the Elitist won't trust the American people with the facts, so these international crises will continue drifting toward a potential Armageddon.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

[Aug 21, 2015] Redneck Engineering at its finest

OldPhart
TM31-200-1 Department of the Army Technical Manual, Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques, References

Redneck Engineering at its finest.

http://www.amazon.com/Unconventional-Warfare-Techniques-References-31-200-1/dp/0975900978

Jorgen

It's available for free at these links:

http://www.ganino.com/military_manuals

or

https://archive.org/details/military-manuals?&sort=-downloads&page=1

[Aug 16, 2015] Lawrence Wilkerson Travails of Empire - Oil, Debt, Gold and the Imperial Dollar

"...This includes the observation that "gold is being moved in sort of unique ways, concentrated in secret in unique ways, and capitals are slowly but surely divesting themselves of US Treasuries. So what you are seeing right now in the supposed strengthening of the dollar is a false impression."... "
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"...The BRICS want to use oil to "force the US to lose its incredibly powerful role in owning the world's transactional reserve currency." It gives the US a great deal of power of empire that it would not ordinarily have, since the ability to add debt without consequence enables the expenditures to sustain it."
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"...Later, after listening to this again, the thought crossed my mind that this advisor might be a double agent using the paranoia of the military to achieve the ends of another. Not for the BRICS, but for the Banks. The greatest beneficiary of a strong dollar, which is a terrible burden to the real economy, is the financial sector. This is why most countries seek to weaken or devalue their currencies to improve their domestic economies as a primary objective. This is not so far-fetched as military efforts to provoke 'regime change' have too often been undertaken to support powerful commercial interests."
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"...A typical observation is that the US did indeed overthrow the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in 1953 in Iran. But 'the British needed the money' from the Anglo-Iranian oil company in order to rebuild after WW II. Truman had rejected the notion, but Eisenhower the military veteran and Republic agreed to it. Wilkerson says specifically that Ike was 'the last expert' to hold the office of the Presidency. "
August 15, 2015 | Jesse's Café Américain
"We are imperial, and we are in decline... People are losing confidence in the Empire."
This is the key theme of Larry Wilkerson's presentation. He never really questions whether empire is good or bad, sustainable or not, and at what costs. At least he does not so in the same manner as that great analyst of empire Chalmers Johnson.

It is important to understand what people who are in and near positions of power are thinking if you wish to understand what they are doing, and what they are likely to do. What ought to be done is another matter.

Wilkerson is a Republican establishment insider who has served for many years in the military and the State Department. Here he is giving about a 40 minute presentation to the Centre For International Governance in Canada in 2014.

I find his point of view of things interesting and revealing, even on those points where I may not agree with his perspective. There also seem to be some internal inconsistencies in this thinking.

But what makes his perspective important is that it represents a mainstream view of many professional politicians and 'the Establishment' in America. Not the hard right of the Republican party, but much of what constitutes the recurring political establishment of the US.

As I have discussed here before, I do not particularly care so much if a trading indicator has a fundamental basis in reality, as long as enough people believe in and act on it. Then it is worth watching as self-fulfilling prophecy. And the same can be said of political and economic memes.

At minute 48:00 Wilkerson gives a response to a question about the growing US debt and of the role of the petrodollar in the Empire, and the efforts by others to 'undermine it' by replacing it. This is his 'greatest fear.'

He speaks about 'a principal advisor to the CIA Futures project' and the National Intelligence Council (NIC), whose views and veracity of claims are being examined closely by sophisticated assets. He believes that both Beijing and Moscow are complicit in an attempt to weaken the dollar.

This includes the observation that "gold is being moved in sort of unique ways, concentrated in secret in unique ways, and capitals are slowly but surely divesting themselves of US Treasuries. So what you are seeing right now in the supposed strengthening of the dollar is a false impression."

The BRICS want to use oil to "force the US to lose its incredibly powerful role in owning the world's transactional reserve currency." It gives the US a great deal of power of empire that it would not ordinarily have, since the ability to add debt without consequence enables the expenditures to sustain it.

Later, after listening to this again, the thought crossed my mind that this advisor might be a double agent using the paranoia of the military to achieve the ends of another. Not for the BRICS, but for the Banks. The greatest beneficiary of a strong dollar, which is a terrible burden to the real economy, is the financial sector. This is why most countries seek to weaken or devalue their currencies to improve their domestic economies as a primary objective. This is not so far-fetched as military efforts to provoke 'regime change' have too often been undertaken to support powerful commercial interests.

Here is just that particular excerpt of the Q&A and the question of increasing US debt.

I am not sure how much the policy makers and strategists agree with this theory about gold. But there is no doubt in my mind that they believe and are acting on the theory that oil, and the dollar control of oil, the so-called petrodollar, is the key to maintaining the empire.

Wilkerson reminds me very much of a political theoretician who I knew at Georgetown University. He talks about strategic necessities, the many occasions in which the US has used its imperial power covertly to overthrow or attempt to overthrow governments in Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and the Ukraine. He tends to ascribe all these actions to selflessness, and American service to the world in maintaining a balance of power where 'all we ask is a plot of ground to bury our dead.'

A typical observation is that the US did indeed overthrow the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in 1953 in Iran. But 'the British needed the money' from the Anglo-Iranian oil company in order to rebuild after WW II. Truman had rejected the notion, but Eisenhower the military veteran and Republic agreed to it. Wilkerson says specifically that Ike was 'the last expert' to hold the office of the Presidency.

This is what is meant by realpolitik. It is all about organizing the world under a 'balance of power' that is favorable to the Empire and the corporations that have sprung up around it.

As someone with a long background and interest in strategy I am not completely unsympathetic to these lines of thinking. But like most broadly developed human beings and students of history and philosophy one can see that the allure of such thinking, without recourse to questions of restraint and morality and the fig leaf of exceptionalist thinking, is a terrible trap, a Faustian bargain. It is the rationalization of every nascent tyranny. It is the precursor to the will to pure power for its own sake.

The challenges of empire now according to Wilkerson are:

  1. Disequilibrium of wealth - 1/1000th of the US owns 50% of its total wealth. The current economic system implies long term stagnation (I would say stagflation. The situation in the US is 1929, and in France, 1789. All the gains are going to the top.
  2. BRIC nations are rising and the Empire is in decline, largely because of US strategic miscalculations. The US is therefore pressing harder towards war in its desperation and desire to maintain the status quo. And it is dragging a lot of good and honest people into it with our NATO allies who are dependent on the US for their defense.
  3. There is a strong push towards regional government in the US that may intensify as global warming and economic developments present new challenges to specific areas. For example, the water has left the Southwest, and it will not be coming back anytime soon.
This presentation ends about minute 40, and then it is open to questions which is also very interesting.
Lawrence Wilkerson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William Mary, and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Related: Chalmers Johnson: Decline of Empire and the Signs of Decay

[Aug 16, 2015] The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Republicans Cant Face the Truth About Iraq

"...For Cheney and his oil pals, conquering Iraq would secure the Arab world's biggest oil reserves for Uncle Sam and offer a central military base in the region. For Washington's bloodthirsty neocons, pulverizing Iraq would remove one of Israel's most determined enemies, crush the only Arab nation that might challenge Israel's nuclear monopoly, and cost Israel nothing. Invading Iraq produced the slow disintegration of the Mideast so long sought by militant Zionists."
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"...It all worked brilliantly, at least from Israel's viewpoint. Not, however for the US. Bush's invasion shattered Iraq, led to al-Qaida and ISIS, and left Washington saddled with a $1 trillion-dollar bill instead of the $60 million cost estimated by Wolfowitz. The Mideast is in a tailspin, Palestinians are totally isolated, and Egypt, the region's key nation, is run by an Arab-fascist military dictatorship."
August 15, 2015 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Gov. Jeb Bush repeated one of the biggest falsehoods of our time during the recent presidential candidate debate: "we were misled (into the Iraq War) by faulty intelligence."

US intelligence was not "misled." It was ordered by the real, de facto president, Dick Cheney, to provide excuses for a war of aggression against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

PM Tony Blair, forced British intelligence services to "sex up" reports that Iraq had nuclear weapons; he purged the government and the venerable broadcaster BBC of journalists who failed to amplify Blair's lies. Bush and Blair reportedly discussed painting a US Air Force plane in UN colors and getting it to buzz Iraqi anti-aircraft sites in hope the Iraqis would fire on it. Bush told Blair that after conquering Iraq, he intended to invade Iran, Syria, Libya and Pakistan.

In fact, Iraq had no "weapons of mass destruction," save some rusty barrels of mustard and nerve gas that had been supplied by the US and Britain for use against Iran. I broke this story from Baghdad back in late 1990.

Tyler Drumheller, who died last week, was the former chief of CIA's European division. He was the highest-ranking intelligence officer to go public and accuse the Bush administration of hyping fabricated evidence to justify invading Iraq.

Drumheller was particularly forceful in denouncing the Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball," whose ludicrous claims about mobile Iraqi germ laboratories were trumpeted before the UN by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Curveball's" claims were outright lies and Powell, whose career was ruined by parroting these absurd allegations, should have known better.

"Curveball" was an 'agent provocateur' clearly sent by a neighbor of Iraq to help promote a US attack on that nation. Whether it was Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Israel that sent Curveball," we still don't know. All three fabricated "evidence" against Iraq and passed it to Washington. That is where US intelligence was indeed misled. But that's only a minor part of the story.

A Washington cabal of pro-Israel neocons, oil men, and old-fashioned imperialists joined to promote a grossly illegal invasion of oil-rich Iraq. One of its senior members, former Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz, admitted that weapons of mass destruction was chosen as the most convenient and emotive pretext for war. Orders went out to CIA and NSA to find information linking Iraq to 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction.

Some of the worst torture inflicted on suspects kidnapped by CIA's action teams was designed to make them admit to a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. There was, of course, none. But administration officials, like the odious Condoleeza Rice, kept broadly hinting at a nuclear threat to America.

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, polls showed a majority of Americans believed Iraq was threatening the US with nuclear attack and was behind 9/11. Amazingly, a poll taken of self-professed evangelical Christians just before the US attacked Iraq showed that over 80% supported war against Iraq. So much for turning the other cheek.

Most of the US media, notably the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, amplified the lies of the Bush administration. TV networks were ordered never to show American military casualties or civilian dead. Those, like this writer, who questioned the rational for war, or who wouldn't go along with the party line, were blanked out from print and TV.

For example, I was immediately dropped from a major TV network after daring mention that Israel supported the 2003 Iraq war and would benefit from it. I was blacklisted by another major US TV network at the direct demand of the Bush White House for repeatedly insisting that Iraq had no nuclear capability.

Very few analysts, journalists, or politicians took time to ask: even if Iraq had nuclear weapons, how could they be delivered to North America? Iraq had no long-range bombers and no missiles with range greater than 100kms. Perhaps by FedEx? No one asked, why would Iraq invite national suicide by trying to hit the US with a nuclear weapon?

The most original answer came from George W. Bush: nefarious Iraqi freighters were lurking in the North Atlantic carrying "drones of death" that would attack sleeping America. This hallucination was based on a single report that the bumbling Iraqis were working a children's model airplane that, in the end, broke and never flew. What inspired such a phantasmagoria? Pot, too much bourbon, LSD, or thundering orders from Dick Cheney to find a damned good excuse for invading Iraq.

For Cheney and his oil pals, conquering Iraq would secure the Arab world's biggest oil reserves for Uncle Sam and offer a central military base in the region. For Washington's bloodthirsty neocons, pulverizing Iraq would remove one of Israel's most determined enemies, crush the only Arab nation that might challenge Israel's nuclear monopoly, and cost Israel nothing. Invading Iraq produced the slow disintegration of the Mideast so long sought by militant Zionists.

It all worked brilliantly, at least from Israel's viewpoint. Not, however for the US. Bush's invasion shattered Iraq, led to al-Qaida and ISIS, and left Washington saddled with a $1 trillion-dollar bill instead of the $60 million cost estimated by Wolfowitz. The Mideast is in a tailspin, Palestinians are totally isolated, and Egypt, the region's key nation, is run by an Arab-fascist military dictatorship.

Tyler Drumheller was the only senior CIA officer to stand up and tell Americans they were lied into an unnecessary, illegal war. Today, we have Iraqi déjà vu anew as the lie factories and fear mongers work overtime to promote war with Iran.

Reprinted with permission from EricMargolis.com.

[Aug 10, 2015]Naryshkin: the US wants to grab the natural resources of other countries

For this purpose, according to the speaker, America and leads the sanctions against Russia. The United States plans not only to maintain the dollar as the sole world currency, but I want to get as close to the economic resources of other countries in the world, according to the Chairman of the state Duma Sergey Naryshkin.

"Actually, because of that, the U.S. has now published a new list of Russian organizations and individuals, giving instructions to their banks (and with them European) to work with our structures and look for any and all reasons," he said in his article published in "Rossiyskaya Gazeta".

Naryshkin believes that America "stops to help even the existence of global "printing press". "Do not save and complete control over NATO, wiretapping and blackmail "League" of European Union. The colonizers "model of the XXI century" - all this is not enough. The main goal is to assign to American jurisdiction global monopolies, and to maintain his influence on the financial system of the world, to stay here the only Potentate," said Naryshkin.

[Aug 08, 2015]About the value of top secret documents

Yves Smith

No, you are wrong on this. It's more complicated than you think. Henry Kissinger sought out Daniel Ellsberg as one of his top priority meetings as a new government official . Ellsberg was highly respected as a world-reknown decision theorist, and as one of the most insightful people on Vietnam, having spend substantial time on the ground (as opposed to cloistered in Saigon) on behalf of the DoD and State. Ellsberg's description of that encounter from his book Secrets:

"Henry, there's something I would like to tell you, for what it's worth, something I wish I had been told years ago. You've been a consultant for a long time, and you've dealt a great deal with top secret information. But you're about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret.

"I've had a number of these myself, and I've known other people who have just acquired them, and I have a pretty good sense of what the effects of receiving these clearances are on a person who didn't previously know they even existed. And the effects of reading the information that they will make available to you.

"First, you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all — so much! incredible! — suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn't, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn't even guess. In particular, you'll feel foolish for having literally rubbed shoulders for over a decade with some officials and consultants who did have access to all this information you didn't know about and didn't know they had, and you'll be stunned that they kept that secret from you so well.

"You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks. Then, after you've started reading all this daily intelligence input and become used to using what amounts to whole libraries of hidden information, which is much more closely held than mere top secret data, you will forget there ever was a time when you didn't have it, and you'll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don't….and that all those other people are fools.

"Over a longer period of time — not too long, but a matter of two or three years — you'll eventually become aware of the limitations of this information. There is a great deal that it doesn't tell you, it's often inaccurate, and it can lead you astray just as much as the New York Times can. But that takes a while to learn.

"In the meantime it will have become very hard for you to learn from anybody who doesn't have these clearances. Because you'll be thinking as you listen to them: 'What would this man be telling me if he knew what I know? Would he be giving me the same advice, or would it totally change his predictions and recommendations?' And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I've seen this with my superiors, my colleagues….and with myself.

"You will deal with a person who doesn't have those clearances only from the point of view of what you want him to believe and what impression you want him to go away with, since you'll have to lie carefully to him about what you know. In effect, you will have to manipulate him. You'll give up trying to assess what he has to say. The danger is, you'll become something like a moron. You'll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they may have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours."

Kurt Sperry

That doesn't really read to me as any sort of refutation of my skeptical assessment. This above top secret stuff is in Ellsberg's words "often inaccurate" and can thus lead or be used to lead the target away from more correct analyses by its inflated putative authority. As the sources for this in all likelihood cannot be fact checked or held accountable in any immediate way, it will tend to become an ad hoc vector for the deliberate injection of misinformation or highly biased analyses into the highest levels of policy decision making processes that can be used to influence policy outcomes in a completely opaque and unaccountable way. To cite the most obvious example, the entire Iraq War II was built around a false set of these "above top secret" assertions of fact that were fed to the highest levels of the executive, and in hindsight these could have been pretty easily debunked entirely using open sources. This "above top secret" intelligence turned out to be complete garbage and a major war was launched based on this garbage, which clearly says to me that "The stuff the spooks/deep staters/whatever tell the POTUS is probably in large measure just scaremongering bullshit tailored to elicit or lead the target towards a self serving set of policy choices."

Given this, it just feels "foily" to me to uncritically accept that there is a large body of highly secret and objective facts that top level decision makers have access to. If that stuff went through any real vetting or rigorous fact checking processes, Iraq War II would never have even happened. History says clearly and unambiguously that a system to do that fact checking isn't in place and thus the notion of a 'large body of highly secret and objective facts' is at best a distortion and probably often a complete fiction.

/neocons. /media_military /nulandgate. Fighting_russo*/ Neolib*/ Neocolon*/ /color_revolutions. /deep_state. /predator_state.

[Aug 08, 2015] Tyler Drumheller, CIA officer who exposed U.S. reliance on discredited Iraq source 'Curveball,' dies at 63

Aug 06, 2015 | The Washington Pos

Tyler S. Drumheller, a high-level CIA officer who publicly battled agency leaders over one of the most outlandish claims in the U.S. case for war with Iraq, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Fairfax County. He was 63.

The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Linda Drumheller.

Mr. Drumheller held posts in Africa and Europe over a 26-year career during which the CIA's focus shifted from the Cold War to terrorist threats. He rose to prominent positions at CIA headquarters, serving as chief of the European division at a time when the agency was abducting al-Qaeda suspects on the continent and U.S. allies there faced a wave of terrorist plots.

But he was best known publicly for his role in exposing the extent to which a key part of the administration's case for war with Iraq had been built on the claims of an Iraqi defector and serial fabricator with the fitting code name "Curveball."

In contrast to Hollywood's depiction of spies as impossibly elegant and acrobatic, Mr. Drumheller was a bulky, rumpled figure who often seemed oblivious to the tufts of dog hair on his clothes.


"I always thought of him as an overfed George Smiley," said Bill Murray, a former CIA colleague, referring to the character in John le Carré spy novels known for his espionage acumen but unassuming appearance.

Mr. Drumheller spent the bulk of his career as an undercover officer seeking to avoid public attention. But after retiring in 2005, he emerged as a vocal critic of the George W. Bush administration's use of deeply flawed intelligence to build support for its decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Curveball, who had defected to Germany in the late 1990s, was the primary source behind the administration's assertions that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq had developed biological weapons laboratories — lethal germ factories supposedly built on wheels or rails to evade detection.

The claim was included in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech as well as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations designed to marshal international support for intervention in Iraq.

"We had failed," he wrote. "It was bad enough that we had not prevented the Sept. 11 attacks and we were being blamed for that. Now the nation was about to embark on a war based on intelligence I knew was false, and we would surely be blamed for that, too."

A scathing 2005 report on the intelligence failures in Iraq did not mention Mr. Drumheller by name but concluded that officials in the agency's European division had "expressed serious concerns about Curveball's reliability to senior officials at the CIA," and that the warnings were inexplicably dismissed.

The allegation touched off a bitter feud. When then-CIA Director George J. Tenet denied that he had ever been warned about Curveball, Mr. Drumheller fought back in public, saying that "everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening."

Mr. Drumheller was widely quoted in news accounts and appeared on the CBS program "60 Minutes."

No mobile germ warfare labs were found, and the defector, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, has since admitted that the story was a fiction he fed to German intelligence while seeking asylum.

The blow-up over Curveball coincided with Mr. Drumheller's retirement from the CIA. "I think he was really proud of standing up against the war," Linda Drumheller said in an interview. "That was his personal greatest achievement."

The son of an Air Force chaplain, Tyler Scott Drumheller was born in Biloxi, Miss., on April 12, 1952. He spent part of his childhood in Germany before attending the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1974 with a history degree and did postgraduate work in Chinese at Georgetown University before being hired by the CIA in 1979.

He met Linda Blocher while she was working at the spy agency as a secretary in the Africa division, and proposed to her in a stairwell at CIA headquarters after learning that he would soon be sent to Zambia. It was the first in a series of stops for the couple that would also include South Africa, Portugal, Germany and Austria. Two and sometimes three pet dogs accompanied every move.

Besides his wife, of Vienna, Va., survivors include a daughter, Livia Phillips of Great Falls, Va.; a sister, Alecia Ball of Chester, Va.; and a grandson.

Mr. Drumheller's affable manner made it easy for him to form lasting connections with people throughout his career, Linda Drumheller said. He also had a prodigious memory, she said, that enabled him to keep track of cryptonyms, children's birthdays and Detroit Tigers statistics.

Mr. Drumheller "understood human nature," Murray said. "Beneath that pleasant and fun kind of personality, he understood exactly what people were and what he was dealing with. Good or bad."

Mr. Drumheller had retained a young CIA recruit's enthusiasm for much of his career. But he seemed to grow tired of the internal conflicts after the Sept. 11 attacks. In his memoir, he wrote that in retirement he asked to have his Distinguished Career Intelligence medal delivered by mail rather than returning to headquarters for a ceremony.

When the envelope arrived, he wrote, "I opened it up and fell into a bit of a reverie, reflecting on my career and the years past, the successes and the friends gained, the colleagues lost and the mistakes made."

Juceam, 5:10 PM EDT

Drumheller's preoccupation with Curveball apparently did not allow him to uncover the real motivator for the Bush decision to invade Iraq.

The US invaded Iraq for Israeli national security interests, not those of the US. Iraq with WMD posed no threat to the US. They posed a potential threat to Israel.

In their book, The Israel Lobby, John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt argue that among the more important impetuses for George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the Israel lobby. Important evidence for this allegation was the central role played in propagandizing for the war by Israel lobby Neoconservative figures such as:

Richard Perle—was chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board.
Paul Wolfowitz —Deputy Defense Secretary, and member of Perle's Defense Policy Board.
Douglas Feith—Under Secretary of Defense and Policy Advisor.
David Wurmser—Special Assistant to the under-secretary for arms control and international security.
Lewis (Scooter) Libby -Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff.
John Hannah- National Security aide to Dick Cheney.
Douglas Feith established in the Pentagon the Office of Special Projects (OSP).

The OSP forged close ties to an ad hoc intelligence unit within Ariel Sharon's office in Israel. The purpose of the unit was to provide key people in the Bush administration "with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorize." Thus, the OSP was getting cooked intelligence not only from its own intelligence unit, but also from an Israeli cell.

the3sattlers, 8/7/2015 10:24 AM EDT

"Sidney Blumenthal, a confidant who was paid by the Clinton Foundation, told the Select Committee on Benghazi Tuesday that the information he supplied the sitting Secretary of State came from a "respected former high-ranking CIA official," ...Sources close to the Benghazi investigation identified the official as Tyler Drumheller, a 25-year veteran of the CIA who retired from the agency in 2005 and has since worked in private consulting." Was it purposeful by WAPO to ignore this? Unimportant? Better to remember Iraq than more recent events? Tyler Drumheller RIP.

Even WAPO obits are biased and disgraceful. Great work, Miller.

jfschumaker, 8/6/2015 8:53 PM EDT

It's a great pity that Mr. Drumheller's doubts about "Curveball" were not more widely shared. It might have saved the country from a disastrous mistake, the invasion of Iraq.

That said, it's pretty clear that the political decision to launch the war was already made, and the intelligence was just gathered up to provide support for the idea, not to vet it.

It's also interesting that the Washington Post obit does not contain any information on Mr. Drumheller's most recent claim to fame, that he was reportedly Sidney Blumenthal's source for information provided to Secretary Clinton on Libya. I'm sure there must be a reason for that, but it escapes me. Washington is, after all, still "This Town." http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/tyler-drumheller-ma...


[Aug 08, 2015]Keeping Ukraine whole

"...It does make a lot of sense from a psychopathic point of view. Psychopaths do not suffer from the effects of cognitive dissonance that we do. When faced with contradictions, hypocrisy and lies, we normal human beings suffer physiological discomfort and mental confusion. Psychopaths know that it weakens us and use the reversal of reality (if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one) as a weapon against us. "
marknesop, August 6, 2015 at 9:51 am
I see. No goal should be so sacred as the one of "keeping Ukraine whole". But in dozens upon dozens of other examples, the USA has been enthusiastically behind the breakup of countries which resulted in the carving out of pro-western enclaves, and in fact hopes for Russia that it will be broken up into ethnic states. Yep, I believe that.

And I actually would have expected better from Nancy Pelosi – just as Kirill suggested, she is propagating the myth that Russia vetoing the tribunal means there will not be an investigation that leads to the truth. I personally think that is hopeless now anyway, the west is determined to whitewash Ukraine's role in it, but such investigations as there are going to be are proceeding unimpeded. How could anyone say anything so blatantly stupid in public? Russia simply refused to agree to accept the UN's verdict and the UN's awarding of punishment for it. After being told by the UN to quit whining after the attack on its Embassy in Kiev by Ukrainians, I think Russia is quite realistic on the issue of what it might expect in the way of fair treatment from the UN.

yalensis, August 6, 2015 at 3:16 pm
This doesn't make any sense!
American State Department accuses Russia of not doing enough to help them (='Muricans) fight Islamic state (IGIL=ISIS=ISIL=whatever).
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who looks like a barely-resuscitated zombie IMHO, chides Russia for not being engaged enough in the struggle against Islamic extremism.

[yalensis: If I was Russian government, I would respond thusly: "Jesus H. Christ what do you want from me? You want me to fight YOU? What is this, the fight club? I should fight YOU and bleed so that YOU can get your rocks off? You creepy zombie-looking fellow…. and by the way, this is highly illogical….."]

james@wpc, August 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm
It does make a lot of sense from a psychopathic point of view. Psychopaths do not suffer from the effects of cognitive dissonance that we do. When faced with contradictions, hypocrisy and lies, we normal human beings suffer physiological discomfort and mental confusion. Psychopaths know that it weakens us and use the reversal of reality (if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one) as a weapon against us.

This is especially effective when they know that we know that they are lying. When they can get a response like Yalensis' above, they laugh because they have direct evidence that they are causing internal distress. Mission Accomplished.

To observe this in action, watch RT's Crosstalk when Peter Lavelle has a neocon think tank representative on. He (and it is usually a 'he') will reverse the truth without batting an eyelid. This then sends Peter and the other guests into animated protests. Meanwhile, the neocon sits there placidly and you may even detect a little smile – read smirk – on his face, confident that the others do not understand how he is controlling them.

Of course, once you see that the 'big lie' and the hypocrisy are signs of psychopathy and you know what psychopathy involves, they can no longer control you.

marknesop, August 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm
Incredible. The USA assumes unto itself the freedom to break any law so long as doing so allows it to achieve its objective. Having been frustrated in its desire to simply go in and bomb Syria until Assad submitted, it created an armed opposition to the armed opposition it had already created against Assad, then announced smugly that it would defend the opposition from the opposition, and if government forces got in the way, well, that'd just be too bad for them. Pilots do not know shit about what's going on on the ground, they just bomb targets they are told to bomb, so the people who always wanted to get Assad and remove him are in charge of assigning bombing targets in Syria. How is this in any way legal? It's not, is the short answer, but the USA has gone completely rogue and recognizes no authority but its own needs and desires.

Russia should announce that it will be delivering the S-400 system to Syria so that Syria can "defend itself", and that anyone who fires upon those delivering the systems will receive return fire, while once the system is in place, anyone who attacks government forces may be shot down. Assad has a marked advantage in this conflict, in that everybody is the enemy. He doesn't have any identification problems.

[Aug 08, 2015] What language are these people speaking?

"...One of the first thoughts that struck me when I listened to the infamous Nuland/Pyatt tape (Vicky's f**k the EU moment) was 'what language are these people speaking?' There was barely a coherent utterance from either party. Reading the comments above from Marc Veasey and Nancy Pelosi, it seems the US Congress must select its Ukraine 'specialists' by excluding anyone who can form sentences. "
yalensis, August 6, 2015 at 2:50 am
Members of U.S. Congress in Kiev today, expressing their fervent support for the Kiev junta, while not forgetting to mix metaphors as much as humanly possible.

Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee:

Congressman Veasey.

Well, obviously, we want to see Ukraine push back the separatists. We believe that we want them to be successful in Crimea obviously and want to be supportive as much as we possibly can. On this trip we met with officials here in our U.S. Embassy. We also met with government officials and it's very important to us. We want to see Ukraine whole.

Q: What are the next steps to support Ukraine for the International Tribunal, [MH]17 air crash investigation?

[Demoratic Party] Leader [Nancy] Pelosi. Well, I think it was said very well when they said – when Russia vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution that it was – that would make one suspicious or ask the question 'why?' Why would there not be the interest of everyone on an organization called the Security Council of the United Nations to have an investigation that would lead to the truth? And that's what people need to hear: the truth. And that's what's so important – taking us back to here. This is about shedding light about the angels, the heroes and the Heavenly Hundred – identified in so many ways for their courage to shed light on the need for more transparency and more light here.

Fern, August 6, 2015 at 6:01 am
One of the first thoughts that struck me when I listened to the infamous Nuland/Pyatt tape (Vicky's f**k the EU moment) was 'what language are these people speaking?' There was barely a coherent utterance from either party. Reading the comments above from Marc Veasey and Nancy Pelosi, it seems the US Congress must select its Ukraine 'specialists' by excluding anyone who can form sentences.

[Aug 08, 2015]Can the United States Stop a War With Russia?

"...America is heading for war with Russia. Some call the current situation "an increase of hostility" or "Cold War II." There are two sides to this story. I believe that American journalists from all political persuasions are not offering critical analysis. Understanding the Russian side and taking their arguments seriously can help prevent serious consequences."
.
"...Russia sees the US as the aggressor, surrounding Russia with military bases in Eastern Europe at every opportunity since the collapse of the Soviet Union."
observer.com

America is heading for war with Russia. Some call the current situation "an increase of hostility" or "Cold War II." There are two sides to this story. I believe that American journalists from all political persuasions are not offering critical analysis. Understanding the Russian side and taking their arguments seriously can help prevent serious consequences.

Americans believe that Russians are fed propaganda by the state-controlled media. If Russians only could hear the truth, the thinking goes, they would welcome the US position. This is not so. There are more than 300 TV stations available in Moscow. Only 6 are state-controlled. The truth is that Russians prefer hearing the news from the state rather than the Internet or other sources. This is different from almost any other country. It is not North Korea where the news is censored. Each night during the Crimea crisis, anyone could watch CNN or the BBC bash Russia.

With regard to Ukraine, Russia has drawn a red line: It will never allow Ukraine to be part of NATO. Russia sees the US as the aggressor, surrounding Russia with military bases in Eastern Europe at every opportunity since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US sees Russia as the aggressor against its neighbors. A small misstep could lead to war. This time the war will not be "over there." The Russian bombers flying off the California coast on July 4th clearly demonstrate this point. Russians understand that the US has not fought a war on its soil since the civil war. If new hostilities start, Russia will not let the war be a proxy war where the US supplies weapons and advisors and lets others do the "boots on the ground" combat. Russia will take the war to the US. How did we reach this critical point in such a short time?

Russia sees the US as the aggressor, surrounding Russia with military bases in Eastern Europe at every opportunity since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US sees Russia as the aggressor against its neighbors.

First, some background. I moved to Moscow two and a half years ago. I went to Russia to build a non-government funded news channel with editorial views consistent with the Russian Orthodox Church. I have completed that task and returned to the west. I see both sides of this escalating conflict and unless there is a change in thinking, the result will be catastrophic. When I first arrived, the relationship between the US and Russia seemed normal. As an American, my ideas were welcomed, even sought after. At the time, Mr. Obama planned to attack Assad's army in Syria for crossing the "red line" for a chemical weapon attack. Russia intervened and persuaded Syria to destroy its chemical weapons. Mr. Putin had helped Mr. Obama save face and not make a major blunder in Syria. Shortly after, Mr. Putin wrote an editorial published in the New York Times, which was generally well-received. Relations appeared to be on the right course. There was cooperation in the Middle East and Russia phobia was easing.

Then Russia passed a law that prevented sexual propaganda to minors. This was the start of tensions. The LGBT lobby in the West saw this law as anti-gay. I did not. The law was a direct copy of English law and was intended to prevent pedophilia, not consenting relationships between adults. Gay relations in Russia are not illegal (although not accepted by the majority of the public). Regarding gay protests, they were restricted from view of children. I saw this in the same way that we in America restrict children from seeing "R" rated films. The punishment for breaking this law is a fine of less than $100. Double-parking a car in Moscow carries a heavier fine of $150. Nonetheless the reaction was overwhelming against Russia.

The boycott of the Sochi Olympics was the West's way of discrediting Russia. Russia saw this boycott as an aggressive act by the West to interfere with its internal politics and to embarrass Russia. Sochi was for Russians a great source of national pride and had nothing to do with politics. For the West, this was the first step in creating the narrative that Russia was the old repressive Soviet Union and Russia must be stopped.

Then came the color revolution in the Ukraine. When the president of Ukraine was overthrown, from a Russian viewpoint this was a Western organized coup. The overthrow of a democratically elected president signaled that the West was interested in an expansion of power, not democratic values. The leaked recorded conversations of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt suggested that the US was actively involved in regime change in the Ukraine. For Russia, the Ukrainians are their brothers, much more than any other group. The languages are similar; they are linked culturally and religiously. Kiev played a central role in the Christianization of Russia. Many Russians have family members in Ukraine. For Russians, this special relationship was destroyed by outside forces. Imagine if Canada suddenly aligned itself with Russia or China. The US would surely see that as a threat on its border and act decisively.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, from an American viewpoint, the borders of Eastern Europe were frozen. However in the late 1990s, the borders of Yugoslavia changed, breaking that country apart. Russians had accepted Kiev's rule of Crimea since 1954 as a trusted brother might watch a family property. But when that brother no longer is a part of the family, Russia wanted Crimea back. Crimea also wanted Russia back. Crimeans speak Russian and are closely tied to their 300-year Russian heritage. From the Russian point of view, this was a family matter and of no concern to the West, The sanctions imposed were seen as aggression by the West to keep Russia in its place.

Sanctions are driving Russia away from the West and toward China. Chinese tourism in Russia is at record levels. More transactions are now settled directly between Rubles and Yuan, with the US dollar's role as middleman being limited. Although the dollar remains strong now, this is deceptive. China has created the AIIB bank to directly compete against the IMF for world banking power and the US is having trouble preventing its allies from joining. This is the first crack in US financial domination as a direct result of sanctions.

We are moving closer and closer to a real war. Republicans and Democrats talk tough on foreign policy towards Russia. When all politicians are in agreement, there is no discussion of alternative approaches. Any alternative to complete isolation of Russia and a NATO build up on Russia's borders is a sign of weakness. Any alternative to this military build up is criticized as "appeasement," likened to the failed foreign policy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain toward Nazi Germany between 1937 and 1939.

Liberal Democrats historically are anti-war, but not this time. In the Czech Republic, there was the start of an anti-war movement when NATO paraded its military along its borders. "Tanks but no thanks" became a rallying cry. Czechs became uncomfortable with a muscle flexing approach to the standoff. Only a lone libertarian, Ron Paul raises a critique of the wisdom of this military build up.

The mistake that will cost America dearly is the assumption that Russia has the same ambitions as the Soviet Union. The cold war strategy used against the Soviet Union cannot be repeated with the same result. The Soviet Union was communist and atheistic. Modern Russia has returned to its Christian roots. There is a revival in Russian Orthodoxy with over 25,000 new churches built in Russia after the fall of Communism. On any Sunday, the churches are packed. Over 70% of the population identifies themselves as Orthodox Christians. Combine this religious revival with renewed Nationalism and Russia is growing in self-confidence.

A war with Russia cannot be won economically. Russia has oil and an abundance of natural resources. It occupies the largest landmass in the world.

The Marxist ideology followed by the Soviet Union was evangelistic. Only when the whole world became communist will Marxist principles be realized. When collective farms missed their goals, it was because the whole world wasn't communist yet, not because the ideology destroyed individual initiative. For this reason, the Soviet Union needed to dominate the whole world. For modern Russia, world domination is not its goal. Russia wants to keep its Russian identity and not lose it to outside forces.

Russian history is filled with invaders trying to conquer Russia. Napoléon and Hitler are only the latest examples. Russia has always prevailed. Driving in from the airport, you can see exactly how close Hitler came to Moscow. You are also reminded that it was here that he was stopped. Russia is sure that they will repel the newest invader NATO.

A war with Russia cannot be won economically. Russia has oil and an abundance of natural resources. It occupies the largest landmass in the world. It is growing in its ability to replace goods restricted from the west. A proxy war using the Ukrainian army will not solve the problem.

There is still time to make a deal. More sanctions, and more isolation from the West are not the way to resolve differences. The US flexing its military muscle will not solve the problems. War is not the answer but too often in history becomes the only solution when two sides refuse to see the other's point of view.

Jack Hanick recently completed the development of a state of the art television network in Moscow, built without government funding. Its evening news program broadcasts to 65 million homes in Russia across eight time zones. Previously Jack was a TV director, where he won the New York Emmy in 1994 for best director. His biography of Desmond Tutu also won a New York Emmy. Currently Jack is Chairman of the Board of HellasNet, a group of TV stations in Greece.

[Aug 07, 2015]What Lindsey Graham Fails to Understand About a War Against Iran

Earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican from South Carolina, used a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to stage a theatrical display of his disdain for the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.

The most telling part of his time in the spotlight came when he pressed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to declare who would win if the United States and Iran fought a war:

Here's a transcript of the relevant part:

Graham: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?

Carter: No. The United States.

Graham: We. Win.

Little more than a decade ago, when Senator Graham urged the invasion of Iraq, he may well have asked a general, "Could we win a war against Saddam Hussein? Who wins?" The answer would've been the same: "The United States." And the U.S. did rout Hussein's army. It drove the dictator into a hole, and he was executed by the government that the United States installed. And yet, the fact that the Iraqi government of 2002 lost the Iraq War didn't turn out to mean that the U.S. won it. It incurred trillions in costs; thousands of dead Americans; thousands more with missing limbs and post-traumatic stress disorder and years of deployments away from spouses and children; and in the end, a broken Iraq with large swaths of its territory controlled by ISIS, a force the Iraqis cannot seem to defeat. That's what happened last time a Lindsey Graham-backed war was waged.

Recommended: What ISIS Really Wants

But one needn't be an opponent of the Iraq war to glean its basic lessons.

Hawkish pols have a tendency to harken back to the late 1930s exclusively, but one need only look to the eve of World War I (to the Czar in Russia and the German Kaiser, say) to see that two countries can and do fight wars that both end up losing.

A war against the U.S. would likely be a disaster for Iran. And rigorous attempts to game out such a conflict suggest that it could be very bad for the U.S. as well.

My colleague Peter Beinart has written about this:

Robert Gates, who led the CIA under George H.W. Bush before becoming George W. Bush and Barack Obama's defense secretary, has said bombing Iran could prove a "catastrophe," and that Iran's "capacity to wage a series of terror attacks across the Middle East aimed at us and our friends, and dramatically worsen the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere is hard to overestimate."

Meir Dagan, who led Israel's external spy service, the Mossad, from 2002 to 2011, has warned that an attack on Iran "would mean regional war, and in that case you would have given Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program." In the aftermath of a military strike, he added, "The regional challenge that Israel would face would be impossible."

Says Jeffrey Goldberg, another colleague, "War against Iran over its nuclear program would not guarantee that Iran is kept forever away from a bomb. It would pretty much guarantee that Iran unleashes its terrorist armies against American targets."

In 2004, my colleague James Fallows observed an Iran war game led by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who spent more than two decades conducting war games at the National War College and other military institutions––and whose prescience about aspects of the Iraq War, derived from simulations, came far closer to what happened than anything Senator Graham predicted.

Recommended: The Case for Reparations

Said Fallows:

The most important hidden problem, exposed in the war-game discussions, was that a full assault would require such drawn-out preparations that the Iranian government would know months in advance what was coming. Its leaders would have every incentive to strike pre-emptively in their own defense. Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests.

Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States. It could work with other oil producers to punish America economically. It could, as Hammes warned, apply the logic of "asymmetric," or "fourth-generation," warfare, in which a superficially weak adversary avoids a direct challenge to U.S. military power and instead strikes the most vulnerable points in American civilian society, as al-Qaeda did on 9/11. If it thought that the U.S. goal was to install a wholly new regime rather than to change the current regime's behavior, it would have no incentive for restraint.

What about a pre-emptive strike of our own, like the Osirak raid? The problem is that Iran's nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq's was at the time of the raid. Already the U.S. government has no way of knowing exactly how many sites Iran has, or how many it would be able to destroy, or how much time it would buy in doing so. Worse, it would have no way of predicting the long-term strategic impact of such a strike. A strike might delay by three years Iran's attainment of its goal—but at the cost of further embittering the regime and its people. Iran's intentions when it did get the bomb would be all the more hostile.

Here the United States faces what the military refers to as a "branches and sequels" decision—that is, an assessment of best and second-best outcomes. It would prefer that Iran never obtain nuclear weapons. But if Iran does, America would like Iran to see itself more or less as India does—as a regional power whose nuclear status symbolizes its strength relative to regional rivals, but whose very attainment of this position makes it more committed to defending the status quo. The United States would prefer, of course, that Iran not reach a new level of power with a vendetta against America. One of our panelists thought that a strike would help the United States, simply by buying time. The rest disagreed.

Iran would rebuild after a strike, and from that point on it would be much more reluctant to be talked or bargained out of pursuing its goals—and it would have far more reason, once armed, to use nuclear weapons to America's detriment.

Lindsey Graham's notion that the question of war between America and Iran is coherently reducible to "we win" or "they win" is facile, dangerous, and especially galling from a man who ought to have learned better from the last war he urged. Even the most severe Iranian losses would not necessarily mean that "we win."

This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/what-lindsey-graham-elides-about-a-war-against-iran/400148/?UTM_SOURCE=yahoo

Read more from The Atlantic

An Introverted Writer's Lament

My Outrage Is Better Than Your Outrage

Si

One thing these war mongers do not realize is; by America getting involved in these small regional fights all around the world is making us weaker not stronger. An old bear who fights multiple fights with small bears, receives multiple scars and finally is overtaken by competing bears. Russia and China are just waiting on side lines for this opportunity. Let's not foreign entities, like AIPAC get us involved in these local wars. America's interest should be set at higher and moral goals.

Ronald Mayle

For one. If we were not war mongers we would be speaking German or French right now. We would still be kissing the rear end of a queen. Russian banks are failing and China's economy is tied into ours. We fight that is who we are

Elizabeth A

Many Americans were speaking German before the world wars. It's time to quit the Chamberlain, Pearl Harbor, Holocaust, deranged John Wayne Brain Cold Warrior nonsense! Germany could not handle an invasion across the English Channel, 20 miles and not the 3,500 across the Atlantic Ocean. Germany was roughly the size of Ohio. Japan was roughly the size of California. Neither had the population or production or ability to invade, beat or defeat us over here or over there. So, save it because we are no longer scared! Are the commies gonna still get us too?

thomas

Si, you are absolutely correct. We are squandering our resources all around the globe fighting bush wars on behalf of others while the two nations that are actual existential threats to the US build their military assets for the confrontation both have openly acknowledged that they foresee coming down the road. Both Great Britain and Rome in their empire days fell for this trap of over extension and military exhaustion.

TruTH

If victory is defined as who can kill more opposing soldiers, then the US has won all the wars its been part of since WWII.
However, if we look at the objective of any war being completed then we've lost all the wars since WWII (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq).
So to answer Lindsey Graham - we will win by killing more opposing soldiers but lose because our objectives would not be completed.

Brad

My political beliefs, ideas, and my opinion on this deal put aside... that was just absolutely ridiculous. To talk about War, middle east politics and lives and future of millions of people as if we are talking about a UFC fight ( who would win? IDK, who won the Iraq war? what about the Afghanistan war? or Vietnam? or Korean war? can we honestly say that we "won" those wars? what did we win exactly?) that is just absolutely infuriating!! I tell you who would win a war with Iran, NOBODY WINS ANYTHING! WE ALL LOSE!

Sam Spade

The Iranians do not understand the nature of Satan's brothel. It is all about the money honey! Senator Lindsey Graham, like most American politicians, sides with those who bribe him. Sweet nothings whispered in the ear are not enough! You got to shell out some of them shekels to get some of that orgasmic bliss. The Iranians should get smart and start showering our political prostitutes with gold and silver. If they shell out love gifts, they will surely get some of that passionate love and affection (multiple ovations and ejaculations) which are now exclusively reserved for those handsome circumcised dashing gentlemen at AIPAC/Zionist/Israel.

Rudy t. Miller

Bernie Sanders: "While much more work remains to be done this framework is an important step forward. It is imperative that Iran not get a nuclear weapon. It also is imperative that we do everything we can to reach a diplomatic solution and avoid never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to examining the details of this agreement and making sure that it is effective ‎and strong."

Sanders vehemently OPPOSED the war in Iraq, one of the few in Congress who did. NO MORE CLINTONS OR BUSHES IN THE WHITE HOUSE!
Bernie Sanders for President, 2016!

[Aug 01, 2015] Ron Paul: All Wars Are Paid For Thr ough Debasing The Currency

Zero Hedge
Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,

And at some point, all empires crumble on their own excess, stretched to the breaking point by over-extending a military industrial complex with sophisticated equipment, hundreds of bases in as many countries, and never-ending wars that wrack up mind boggling levels of debt. This cost has been magnified by the relationship it shares with the money system, who have common owners and shareholders behind the scenes.

As the hidden costs of war and the enormity of the black budget swell to record levels, the true total of its price comes in the form of the distortion it has caused in other dimensions of life; the numbers have been so thoroughly fudged for so long now, as Wall Street banks offset laundering activities and indulge in derivatives and quasi-official market rigging, the Federal Reserve policy holds the noble lie together.

Ron Paul told RT

Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.

The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:

Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.

"Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency," he said, adding that this has been going on "for hundreds, if not thousands of years."

"I don't know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war."

As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn't factor into government reports, can't match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.

Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in:

They're going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it's admitted that it doesn't work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable."

Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he's run out over a cliff.

[Jul 24, 2015] Ron Paul Iran Agreement Boosts Peace, Defeats Neocons

"...I was so impressed when travel personality Rick Steves traveled to Iran in 2009 to show that the US media and government demonization of Iranians was a lie, and that travel and human contact can help defeat the warmongers because it humanizes those who are supposed to be dehumanized."
Jul 20, 2015 | ronpaul.com

The agreement has reduced the chance of a US attack on Iran, which is a great development. But the interventionists will not give up so easily. Already they are organizing media and lobbying efforts to defeat the agreement in Congress. Will they have enough votes to over-ride a presidential veto of their rejection of the deal? It is unlikely, but at this point if the neocons can force the US out of the deal it may not make much difference. Which of our allies, who are now facing the prospect of mutually-beneficial trade with Iran, will be enthusiastic about going back to the days of a trade embargo? Which will support an attack on an Iran that has proven to be an important trading partner and has also proven reasonable in allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear energy program?

However, what is most important about this agreement is not that US government officials have conducted talks with Iranian government officials. It is that the elimination of sanctions, which are an act of war, will open up opportunities for trade with Iran. Government-to-government relations are one thing, but real diplomacy is people-to-people: business ventures, tourism, and student exchanges.

I was so impressed when travel personality Rick Steves traveled to Iran in 2009 to show that the US media and government demonization of Iranians was a lie, and that travel and human contact can help defeat the warmongers because it humanizes those who are supposed to be dehumanized.

As I write in my new book, Swords into Plowshares:

Our unwise policy with Iran is a perfect example of what the interventionists have given us—60 years of needless conflict and fear for no justifiable reason. This obsession with Iran is bewildering. If the people knew the truth, they would strongly favor a different way to interact with Iran.

Let's not forget that the Iran crisis started not 31 years ago when the Iran Sanctions Act was signed into law, not 35 years ago when Iranians overthrew the US-installed Shah, but rather 52 years ago when the US CIA overthrew the democratically-elected Iranian leader Mossadegh and put a brutal dictator into power. Our relations with the Iranians are marked by nearly six decades of blowback.

When the Cold War was winding down and the military-industrial complex needed a new enemy to justify enormous military spending, it was decided that Iran should be the latest "threat" to the US. That's when sanctions really picked up steam. But as we know from our own CIA National Intelligence Estimate of 2007, the stories about Iran building a nuclear weapon were all lies. Though those lies continue to be repeated to this day.

It is unfortunate that Iran was forced to give up some of its sovereignty to allow restrictions on a nuclear energy program that was never found to be in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But if the net result is the end of sanctions and at least a temporary reprieve from the constant neocon demands for attack, there is much to cheer in the agreement. Peace and prosperity arise from friendly relations and trade – and especially when governments get out of the way.

This column was published by the Ron Paul Institute.

[Jul 23, 2015]First Thoughts About The Iran Deal

"...BUT, since when has American opinion against war ever mattered? 1848? 1898? 1916-17? 1938-1941? 2001 and subsequently? When our oligarchs want war, we end up with a black flag, or backdoor to war ... and always go blindly off to war. And, it is always the 'exceptional/indispensable' us against the evil them!"
.
"...Diplomats also came up with unusual procedure to "snap back" the sanctions against Iran if an eight-member panel determines that Tehran is violating the nuclear provisions. The members of the panel are Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, the European Union and Iran itself. A majority vote is required, meaning that Russia, China and Iran could not collectively block action."
.
"...The Iran deal will allow oil to flow to Europe. It is a temporary measure to try and keep Russia out of business with the EU. The ultimate fear of the Atlanticists is collaboration between Russia and Germany."
Jul 14, 2015 | M of A

The deal itself is a major infringement on Iran's sovereignty extorted though a manufactured crisis about an Iranian nuclear weapons program that does not and did not ever exist. To see the hypocrisy of it just count the nukes:

... ... ...

The U.S. has a bad record of sticking to international deals it made. North Korea was promised two civil nuclear electricity plants to be build by the United States for stopping its nuclear activities. None was build and North Korea restarted its weapon program. Libya agreed to give up the tiny preliminary nuclear program it had and the U.S. destroyed the state.

Netanyahoo's puppets in the U.S. congress will do their best to blockade the current deal. Should they not be able to do so attempts will be made to press the next U.S. president into breaking the agreement.

Iran must now be very careful to not get trapped into more concessions or even a war.

Tom Murphy | Jul 14, 2015 7:14:13 AM | 1

But recall how ruthless the actions against Iran have been.
See video mentioning terrorist attacks against Iran: Iran Deal Reached on Peaceful Nuclear Program

okie farmer | Jul 14, 2015 9:59:25 AM | 5

I wonder how many nukes are aimed right at Iran

None. Why bother, everyone knows Iran has NO nukes. This is all about Israel's hegemony in the region which includes their best ally KSA.

harry law | Jul 14, 2015 10:45:31 AM | 8

In some respects the Iranians can claim a victory [of sorts] since they never intended to produce a nuclear weapon in the first place, all the concessions made by them only put them into the same position as before. They can still enrich uranium, as much as they need to fuel their reactors and for medical isotopes, and, in theory, can look to grow rich by selling its vast reserves of oil and gas to the West and open up its lucrative home market to investors from all over the world. Possibly a win win for Iran, to the consternation of Israel and the Saudi perverts. As our host rightly say's the devil is in the detail, and many people will try and distort the interpretation of the text. The bottom line in my opinion is the US electorate do not want another war in the middle east. That much was made clear when the warmongers received condemnation from ordinary Americans when strikes against Syria were proposed. Now the Iranians can concentrate on helping Syria and Hezbollah eliminate the anti-human Jihadis.

DamascusFalling | Jul 14, 2015 11:19:18 AM | 10

The bottom line in my opinion is the US electorate do not want another war in the middle east. That much was made clear when the warmongers received condemnation from ordinary Americans when strikes against Syria were proposed. Now the Iranians can concentrate on helping Syria and Hezbollah eliminate the anti-human Jihadis.
-----------------------
Public opinion clearly means little, voting might account for even less. We'll soon have a new presidential regime that can decide whatever they want to do, and the public will just follow along, or at least the media substitutes that represent the 'national discussion' will anyway

okie farmer | Jul 14, 2015 12:57:12 PM | 16

http://tass.ru/en/world/808492
Moscow expects Washington to drop missile defense shield plans

Lavrov stressed that Russia expects Washington's move towards giving up plans on creating the missile defense shield in Europe after the deal on Iran's nuclear program has been reached.

Speaking on the deal in a "broader context," Lavrov reminded that US President Barack Obama said in 2009 in Prague that there would be no more need to create a European segment of the missile shield should a solution be found to Iran's nuclear issue.
"That's why we drew the attention of our American colleagues to this fact today and we will expect a reaction," Lavrov stressed.

ToivoS | Jul 14, 2015 1:28:04 PM | 17

In general this looks like a very good deal for the Iranians. It is also a good deal for the US since it will reduce the chances of war. There a two points that are problematical however.

One is that the arms embargo will continue for 5 years. Iran is still threatened by an air attack by Israel. Does this mean Russia will not be able to deliver the S-300 antiaircraft missiles they already ordered and paid for? This sounds like a major concession.

Two concerns the inspection of Iran's conventional military sites. Iran rejected the demand for "unfettered" access to their military sites. However they agreed to this:

Iran will allow UN inspectors to enter sites, including military sites, when the inspectors have grounds to believe undeclared nuclear activity is being carried out there. It can object but a multinational commission can override any objections by majority vote. After that Iran will have three days to comply. Inspectors will only come from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran, so no Americans.

"Inspectors have ground to believe" leaves many opportunities for Israel to fabricate some documents and send them to the "inspectors" which I presume will be IAEC personnel. Under Amano the IAEC has been a tool of the US. Israel has been sending fabricated documents to that agency for some time.

Mike Maloney | Jul 14, 2015 4:01:45 PM | 28

Virgile @ 25 says, with some understatement that "One of their [KSA's] option left is to weaken Iran by creating troubles in countries where Iran has influence: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen. Yet until now this strategy has shown to be inefficient and dangerous."

The Kingdom will not change its strategy. Its takfiri proxies have been very successful so far. The blowback is going to be a shattered EU, as more displaced persons arrive on Greek beaches. Member states will fight among each other. Greece is already on its way to being another Serbia. Marine Le Pen should do quite well. A Brexit will probably make a lot of sense to the English in another two years.

okie farmer | Jul 14, 2015 5:50:33 PM | 33

TRNN
Col Wilkerson on the Iran deal
https://youtu.be/uOfr9OuCv6E

Rg an LG | Jul 15, 2015 1:38:26 AM | 35

The alleged 'deal' is way over my head. So, no comment ...

BUT, since when has American opinion against war ever mattered? 1848? 1898? 1916-17? 1938-1941? 2001 and subsequently?

When our oligarchs want war, we end up with a black flag, or backdoor to war ... and always go blindly off to war. And, it is always the 'exceptional/indispensable' us against the evil them!

Does that mean war with Iran? I have no idea, but if our owners want the US at war, we will find a way ... no matter who the enemy might be. Living near Texas, maybe even the 7 states of Jade Helm 15?

Do have a day ... whatever flavor it may be.

Harry | Jul 15, 2015 3:16:31 AM | 36

The deal is a bit better than I expected, Iran did an amazing job of withstanding an insane pressure from the West. Iran had to make some big concessions, but they are non-essential. Countries' economy will boom and Iran would become a legit region superpower, this naturally created a hysteria in Israel and Saudi.

The main problem, US has reneged on every single agreement with Iran before, and they can easily do it with current deal. Consider two points:

"Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency had "entered into an agreement to address all questions" about Iran's past actions within three months, and that completing this task was "fundamental for sanctions relief.""

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-deal-is-reached-after-long-negotiations.html

Amano will do as US says, and if US wants for IAEA to not give a green light, thats what he'll do. Amano has been doing it for years.

Diplomats also came up with unusual procedure to "snap back" the sanctions against Iran if an eight-member panel determines that Tehran is violating the nuclear provisions. The members of the panel are Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, the European Union and Iran itself. A majority vote is required, meaning that Russia, China and Iran could not collectively block action.

So if anyone says "Obama wont allow this deal to be tanked", so what? Next president will be able to, at will. Under any bogus pretext of Iran's non-compliance, US with its minions will be able to re-start sanctions and there is nothing Iran, Russia or China can do about that.

Granted, EU by that time will have invested tens of billions in Iran, mass flowing of goods, and more importantly - EU is desperate for alternative to Russia's oil/gas, and Iran is a perfect choice. Therefore if US wants to sanction Iran again, it will face serious intransigence from EU, nonetheless US is still superpower with a lot of clout over minions, so they'll have to comply. Just like EU doesnt want to pay for US proxy-war in Ukraine, but are forced to. Just like they were forced to even initiate sanctions on Iran before and lose hundreds of billions in the process.

zingaro | Jul 15, 2015 5:12:35 AM | 38

"US will face serious intransigence from EU"...

huh, EU from which planet ? last time I checked they pretty much all insisted on committing suicide on US-demanded sanctions (while US laughed and evaded pretty much these same sanctions at will)...

dahoit | Jul 15, 2015 1:06:24 PM | 55

I forgot;The Zionist neocon warmongers at the NYTS and Wapo, of course, say Iran is untrustworthy.
The ultimate pot kettle remark.

linda amick | Jul 15, 2015 2:13:32 PM | 56

The Iran deal will allow oil to flow to Europe. It is a temporary measure to try and keep Russia out of business with the EU. The ultimate fear of the Atlanticists is collaboration between Russia and Germany.

Johnboy | Jul 15, 2015 11:06:56 PM | 66

@36 "Amano will do as US says, and if US wants for IAEA to not give a green light, thats what he'll do."

Absolutely. The IAEA will be *the* litmus test for how genuine the USA is regarding this agreement, precisely because Amano does as he is told.

So if he reports that the Iranians have answered all questions regarding "PMD" to the IAEA's satisfaction then, well, heck, everyone can conclude that Obama really is serious about this agreement, because Amano would have been told by the USA to reach that conclusion.

Alternatively, if Amano can't be satisfied No Matter What then you know for a certainty that he is being obstinate on the orders of Obama. Which means that the USA has no intention of ever allowing Iran to re-engage with the rest of the world.

Amano's inability to act independently makes him the perfect yardstick for judging the USA's real intentions.

We could spend years dissecting *this* statement or *that* complaint from various Notable Americans. We can then argue for/against where that official's true loyalties are, and it's all totally unnecessary.

Just keep your eye on the puppet over at the IAEA, because it is abundantly clear that
(a) he doesn't think for himself, and
(b) he answers to only one master.

So what he says on any issue will be a true, unadulterated representation of what the USA really, truly, means, precisely because he will mouth words without any considerations of petty politics or the need to jerk off the critics.


[Jul 23, 2015]Iran Deal Heads Toward Showdown With Adelson's GOP

Jul 15, 2015 | LobeLog

The Iran nuclear deal announced in Vienna yesterday means that the tough international negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran are finally over. But now attention shifts to the 60-day period during which Congress has the option of voting to approve or disapprove the agreement or doing nothing at all. A resolution of disapproval, as Obama most recently warned yesterday, will provoke a presidential veto. At that point, the question will be whether the opponents can muster the necessary two-thirds of members in both chambers of Congress to override, effectively killing by far the most promising development in U.S.-Iranian relations since the 1979 revolution.

This process not only represents a key test of Obama's ability to deliver his most significant foreign-policy achievement to date. It also sets up a major showdown between the GOP's single biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, and the president of the United States.

Adelson is a big supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and finances Israel's largest-circulation newspaper, Israel Hayom, often referred to as "Bibiton," or Bibi's paper. He makes no secret either of his hawkish views toward Iran or his animosity toward the Obama administration. Adelson has proposed launching a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran as a negotiating tactic and was treated as a guest of honor during Netanyahu's controversial speech before Congress last March. (A number of pundits speculated about Adelson's role in securing Netanyahu's invitation from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).)

Adelson and the Republicans

The casino magnate, whose net wealth is estimated by Forbes at $29.4 billion, and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam Adelson, are heavily invested in the current GOP members of the House and Senate.

In the 2014 election cycle, Adelson was the biggest single donor to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC closely tied to Boehner and dedicated to electing Republicans to the House, according to public filings. He contributed $5 million—or nearly 40%–of the Fund's $12.6 million in total contributions. Boehner's Super PAC's second largest contributor, and only other seven-figure donor, was Chevron. It contributed a mere $1 million.

The loyalty of Republican senators to the Las Vegas-based multi-billionaire may run even deeper. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson reportedly contributed up to $100 million to help the GOP retake the Senate last year.

Adelson's close relationship with Netanyahu is well documented, but his influence in Congress will soon be tested.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) already pledged to Netanyahu that he would "follow your lead" before a January vote on the Kirk-Menendez sanctions legislation. Graham joked about having the "first all-Jewish Cabinet in America [if elected president] because of the pro-Israel funding," an apparent reference to the critical role played by campaign contributions by Adelson and other wealthy supporters of Israel—a number of whom are on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition—in making or breaking Republican presidential candidacies. (The Adelsons' generosity in 2012 virtually singlehandedly kept alive the presidential candidacy of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who told NBC that Israel's survival was "the central value of [Adelson's] life.")

Yesterday, Graham declared that the Iran deal was "akin to declaring war on Israel and the Sunni Arabs." Not to be outdone, other GOP candidates, most of whom, no doubt, are also seeking Adelson's endorsement and financial support, slammed the deal.

Jeb Bush, for instance, denounced the agreement as "appeasement." Having received a bitter complaint from Adelson, Bush had earlier distanced himself from his father's secretary of state after James Baker publicly criticized Netanyahu at a J Street conference earlier this year. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), reportedly an Adelson favorite, blasted the accord as "undermin[ing] our national security," while Gov. Scott Walker characterized it as "one of the biggest disasters of the Obama-Clinton doctrine." And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) described it as "a fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States and of our closest allies, first and foremost Israel."

All of these candidates may, of course, truly believe what they are saying (no doubt having personally studied the 100-plus-page agreement in detail). But Adelson's largesse may also have played a role in their summary rejections of a deal that has been negotiated over more than three years and that has been endorsed by Washington's most important NATO allies, not to mention the overwhelming majority of recognized U.S. non-proliferation, nuclear policy, Iran, and national security experts.

GOP Reservations about Adelson

But other Republicans, including those who don't necessarily harbor the national ambitions that require raising tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors, may feel some reservations about the growing influence Adelson exercises over their party's leadership. Indeed, a closer look at Adelson, beginning with the way his gambling interests may not precisely align with the values of the party's social conservatives, suggests a degree of disconnect between the man and a core Republican constituency.

Adelson's interests in China, which many Republicans believe poses the greatest long-term threat to U.S. national security, may also be cause for concern. After all, in order to run his highly profitable Macau-based casinos, Adelson would presumably require some friendly relations, or guanxi, with the Communist government in Beijing. Indeed, reports that Adelson played a key role—at the personal behest of Beijing's mayor—in scuttling a proposed House resolution opposing China's bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics on human-rights grounds should give pause to some elements in the party, including both China hawks and neoconservatives who profess a devotion to democracy. The fact that Adelson also faces accusations of ties to Chinese organized crime groups at his Macau properties and that a former Sands executive charged him with personally approving a "prostitution strategy" at his properties should raise a few questions in the minds of some Republicans. Adelson has rejected all these charges, which may soon be tested in court.

And despite having personally promoted the use of U.S. military (and nuclear) forces against Iran and funded a number of hawkish groups, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that have similarly advocated the threat or use of U.S. military force, Adelson appears at least ambivalent about his own service in the U.S. armed forces.

Speaking to a group in Israel, in July 2010, Adelson said:

I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he'll come back– his hobby is shooting — and he'll come back and be a sniper for the IDF. … All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.

With a deal now reached in Vienna, Adelson is undoubtedly placing calls to the GOP leadership in Congress urging them to vote down a nuclear accord supported by an overwhelming number of experts in the relevant fields, as well as a majority of Americans, according to the latest polls. How they respond will tell us a great deal not only about Adelson's influence in the Republican party, but also about the impact of enormously wealthy, highly focused, one-issue donors on U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Image: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

[Jul 20, 2015] The Dangerously Vague Romance of War by Shane Smith

July 20, 2015 | original.antiwar.com
Which sounds better, to "die for your government", or "give your life for your country"? The first could be interpreted, after a mountain of bodies pile up, as a mistake. As something that would seem to require scrutiny, admissions of having been wrong, of blame to be placed. Dying for a government, or more precisely, dying for a select group of political figures at a certain moment in time for very specific reasons, doesn't hide behind a fluttering flag quite as well as "dying for country". Which is why we never hear it. War, in the mind of the Middle America that still thinks on it, is shrouded in a sepia-toned composite of images and sounds, stories of soldiers, duty to country, service, songs, movies, and myth that give politicians far more leverage than they would otherwise have, when executing another war. No, "service to country" is the emotional and moral narcotic we administer to ourselves, almost automatically, at the inception of a new war. War is all wrapped up in our American Mythos so tight that it seems astonishing that we haven't descended utterly into a pure American-style fascism. Maybe a few more 9/11-style attacks and the transformation would be complete. 9/11 was an unparalleled opportunity for the explosion of government growth, and as much as "war is the health of the State", so are foreign attacks on the home State, attacks that can be perfectly molded so as to stoke the maximum amount of nationalist rage from the citizens. Those attacks were a godsend for a government that had been starved of an actual threat for far too long. And they took full advantage of the opportunity. Fourteen years later, the Warfare State is petering out from the evaporating fumes of 9/11, and their looking for a new fix.

But what of those who lied the country into igniting a regional dumpster fire after 9/11? Once the war hysteria evaporates, where are What would it really take to hold any one politician for a military disaster halfway around the world? It is blindingly obvious that there will never be a reckoning for those who hustled us into the Iraq war. What about Libya? Syria? How bad does it have to get for there to be something resembling accountability? War atrocities seem to have become less of a chance for justice and lessons learned than as a new precedent that the progenitors of the next war can point to when their war goes bad. And creators of war did learn a few things from Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned that flag-draped coffins do focus the attention of the citizenry. And drone strikes don't, really.

That hazy collage of feel-good nationalism is trotted out every election year, and every candidate engages in it to one degree or another. Peace is a hard sell next to the belligerent effusions of a Donald Trump. His crazed rantings against immigrants, his bizarre fantasies as to how he would handle world leaders via telephone call, as well as his boorishness in general, has thousands flocking to hear him speak. But what they're cheering is an avatar of a blood-soaked ideology, one that cloaks itself in the native symbols and culture, breeding hate and intolerance, until the bilious nationalism reaches just the right temperature and then boils over into lawless fascism. As Jeffrey Tucker points out, Trump is nothing new. The graveyard of twentieth century tyrannies is a testament to just how much death and destruction can be induced by a charismatic parasite bellowing the tenets of a flag-wrapped tyranny. Most of what we hear coming from leaders today is fascism to a greater or lesser extent. If what we mean by fascism to be a Religion of the State, a militant nationalism taken to its logical conclusion, then every leader engages in it, because it ignites something primitive and sinister in the minds of voters.

We understand war theoretically, and distantly, but what of those who are forced to carry out the fever dreams of politicians? Blindly thanking veterans for their service, we feel a sense of duty discharged, and never think to look more deeply into their traumas, or the scheme they were tricked into executing. Military recruiters, the unscrupulous peddlers of military slavery, are treated as a benign influence on young people today. Their pushy, overindulgent attitude toward our 18-year olds should piss us off more than it does, since what they are conning the young into is becoming the expendable plaything for the whims of the current Administration.

War is the pith of total government. The source of all its power, war and the threat of war provide the excuse for every injustice, every outrage, every restriction of liberty or further bilking of the citizen-hosts. As the Warfare State trots out the familiar sermons of threats from abroad, potential greatness at home, and wars to be fought, one would do well to reflect that war enriches the State at the expense of the rest of us. It consumes our lives, our liberty, our wallets, and the future of our children and grandchildren. The current crop of candidates who peddle military greatness are the enemy of peace and prosperity, and when they so openly declaim their lust for war, we should frankly believe what they say. And after hearing them, we should recognize the would-be tyrant in our midst, hawking hyper-militarism under the guise of national greatness, and treat them like the vermin they clearly are.

Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.

Read more by Shane Smith

[Jul 13, 2015]International Court Judge Dick Cheney Will Face Trial for War Crimes

Sputnik International
A former judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said former US Vice President Dick Cheney should – and eventually will – stand trial for war crimes for his role in the Iraq War.

"Some of us have long thought that Cheney and a number of CIA agents who did what they did in those so-called black holes should appear before the" International Criminal Court (ICC), Thomas Buergenthal said in an interview with Newsweek.

Buergenthal, 81, served as a judge at the ICJ – the main judicial arm of the United Nations – for 10 years before retiring in 2010.

The ICJ, unlike the ICC, has no jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity. As the ICJ is not a criminal court, it does not have a prosecutor able to initiate such proceedings.

Buergenthal was born in the former Czechoslovakia and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp as a boy. He is now a US citizen and a professor of law at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

"We (in the United States) could have tried them ourselves," Buergenthal said of Cheney and others. "I voted for Obama, but I think he made a great mistake when he decided not to instigate legal proceedings against some of these people. I think – yes – that it will happen."

As for Cheney's superior for eight years, Buergenthal dismissed former president George W. Bush as "an ignorant person who wanted to show his mother he could do things his father couldn't."

Buergenthal said Richard Nixon, whose administration Cheney served in during the 1970s, was "more intelligent. I don't think Nixon would have got involved in Iraq."

Federal Court: Top Bush-Era Officials Can be Sued for Post-9/11 Detentions

[Jul 12, 2015] 'One of the largest human experiments in history' was conducted on unsuspecting residents of San Francisco by

Jul. 9, 2015 | Business Insider

San Francisco's fog is famous, especially in the summer, when weather conditions combine to create the characteristic cooling blanket that sits over the Bay Area.

But one fact many may not know about San Francisco's fog is that in 1950, the US military conducted a test to see whether it could be used to help spread a biological weapon in a "simulated germ-warfare attack." This was just the start of many such tests around the country that would go on in secret for years.

The test was a success, as Rebecca Kreston explains over at Discover Magazine, and "one of the largest human experiments in history."

But, as she writes, it was also "one of the largest offenses of the Nuremberg Code since its inception."

The code stipulates that "voluntary, informed consent" is required for research participants, and that experiments that might lead to death or disabling injury are unacceptable.

The unsuspecting residents of San Francisco certainly could not consent to the military's germ-warfare test, and there's good evidence that it could have caused the death of at least one resident of the city, Edward Nevin, and hospitalized 10 others.

This is a crazy story; one that seems like it must be a conspiracy theory. An internet search will reveal plenty of misinformation and unbelievable conjecture about these experiments. But the core of this incredible tale is documented and true.

'A successful biological warfare attack'

It all began in late September 1950, when over a few days, a Navy vessel used giant hoses to spray a fog of two kinds of bacteria, Serratia marcescens and Bacillus globigii — both believed at the time to be harmless — out into the fog, where they disappeared and spread over the city.

"It was noted that a successful BW [biological warfare] attack on this area can be launched from the sea, and that effective dosages can be produced over relatively large areas," concluded a later-declassified military report, cited by the Wall Street Journal.

Successful indeed, according to Leonard Cole, the director of the Terror Medicine and Security Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His book, "Clouds of Secrecy," documents the military's secret bioweapon tests over populated areas. Cole wrote:

Nearly all of San Francisco received 500 particle minutes per liter. In other words, nearly every one of the 800,000 people in San Francisco exposed to the cloud at normal breathing rate (10 liters per minute) inhaled 5,000 or more particles per minute during the several hours that they remained airborne.

This was among the first but far from the last of these sorts of tests.

Tests included the large-scale releases of bacteria in the New York City subway system, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and in National Airport.

Over the next 20 years, the military would conduct 239 "germ-warfare" tests over populated areas, according to news reports from the 1970s (after the secret tests had been revealed) in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, and other publications (via Lexis-Nexis), and also detailed in congressional testimony from the 1970s.

These tests included the large-scale releases of bacteria in the New York City subway system, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and in National Airport just outside Washington, DC.

In a 1994 congressional testimony, Cole said that none of this had been revealed to the public until a 1976 newspaper story revealed the story of a few of the first experiments — though at least a Senate subcommittee had heard testimony about experiments in New York City in 1975, according to a 1995 Newsday report.

[Jul 10, 2015] US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 collusion

"...Fascism is well understood, its not just a perjorative buzzword. I think its definition is a bit out of date -- instead of a nationalist, militaristic political ideology mobilizing corporations and the population as an expression of national will it looks more like corporatism enlisting the trappings of extreme nationalism and militarism to further its agenda."
Jul 10, 2015 | The Guardian

Littlemissv -> norecovery 10 Jul 2015 18:51

Here is a comment from JCDavis with some important information:

Russ Tice revealed that the NSA was spying on Obama as early as 2004 at the behest of Dick Cheney, who had already convinced the NSA's director Hayden to break the law and spy on everyone with power.

It can't be any coincidence that President Obama went (or was sent) to Bill "Cheney is the best Republican" Kristol to get his foreign policy validated, and Kristol congratulated him on it, calling him a "born-again neocon."

And it is no coincidence that Obama has the Cheney protegee Victoria Nuland in his administration, right in the center of his new cold war with Russia. And no coincidence that she is the wife of neocon Robert Kagan, who with Bill Kristol founded PNAC. PNAC counts neocon Paul Wolfowitz as a member, who saw Russia as our main obstacle to world empire.

It's a nest of neocons running Obama as a puppet and pushing us into a confrontation with Russia while smashing all the Russian allies according to the Wolfowitz doctrine.

norecovery 10 Jul 2015 17:34

Many of the Neocon criminals that promoted and started that awful war are still in power behind the scenes in the Obama administration, and they are still doing their dirty deeds throughout the MENA and in Ukraine.


martinusher TickleMyFancy 10 Jul 2015 17:20

Fascism is well understood, its not just a perjorative buzzword. I think its definition is a bit out of date -- instead of a nationalist, militaristic political ideology mobilizing corporations and the population as an expression of national will it looks more like corporatism enlisting the trappings of extreme nationalism and militarism to further its agenda.

(The distinction is a bit subtle, come to think of it. Maybe its easier to just stick to slinging names about....)


reptile0000 Cornelis Davids 10 Jul 2015 16:50

Yeh thats what i said American war is Global. Their leaders repeatedly say it over and over again. Nothings surprising about their doctors torturing people kidnapped from all over the world. Brutal empire that's what it is for many around the world


[Jul 08, 2015]Are we the fascists now?

Jul 03, 2015 | OffGuardian
thanks-4-kit-mum

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

To initiate a war of aggression…," said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, "is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Libya

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 "strike sorties" against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that "most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten".

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a "rebel" bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: "We came, we saw, he died." His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning "genocide" against his own people. "We knew… that if we waited one more day," said President Obama, "Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be "a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda". Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato's inferno, described by David Cameron as a "humanitarian intervention".

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the "rebels" would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, David Cameron and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi's true crime was Libya's economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa's greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to "enter" Africa and bribe African governments with military "partnerships".

Following Nato's attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu…

confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency".

The Balkans

The "humanitarian war" against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing "genocide" against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The West's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia's infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines". A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA.

There was no genocide. The "holocaust" was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its "natural market" in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo "peace" conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer's duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia – a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation – and the implementation of a "free-market economy" and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America's modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as "sanctions". The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

Afghanistan

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over."

These were opening words of Obama's 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. "The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records.

The majority have been killed – civilians and soldiers – during Obama's time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book 'The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives', Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because "the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion… Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation." He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter's National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan's first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan's doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. "Every girl," recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, "could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported."

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, "there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]". Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the "threat of a promising example".

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal "fundamentalist" groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan's first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that "the United States' larger interests… would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan." The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar's specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a "freedom fighter".

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and "destabilise" the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, "a few stirred up Muslims". His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called "Operation Cyclone". Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah – who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help – was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The "blowback" of Operation Cyclone and its "few stirred up Muslims" was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the "war on terror", in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer's message was and remains: "You are with us or against us."

The common thread is mass murder

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its "free fire zones", "body counts" and "collateral damage". In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians ("gooks") were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world's greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama's victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA "kill list" presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each "hit" is registered on a faraway console screen as a "bugsplat".

"For goose-steppers," wrote the historian Norman Pollack, "substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while."

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception." This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the "tragedy" of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places – just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood's violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, 'American Sniper', which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a "patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days".

There are no heroic movies about America's embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens – as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the "father" of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

Ukraine

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its "new wave" hailed by the enforcer as "nationalists".

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia" and "other scum", including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get "the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry". If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe – with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as "the minister for defeatism". It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading "neo-con" luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland's coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia's historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea – illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 – voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleansing. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping "the violence" caused by the "Russian invasion". The Nato commander, General Breedlove – whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove – announced that 40,000 Russian troops were "massing". In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country's ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not "separatists" but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous "states" are a reaction to Kiev's attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as "another bright day in our national history". In the American and British media, this was reported as a "murky tragedy" resulting from "clashes" between "nationalists" (neo-Nazis) and "separatists" (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington's new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – "Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says". Obama congratulated the junta for its "restraint".

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained "pariah" role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine's top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: "The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army". There were "individual citizens" who were members of "illegal armed groups", but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev's Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for "full scale war" with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell's fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America's most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, "No European government, since Adolf Hitler's Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West's media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established… If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason."

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: "The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack… In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons." In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. "Putin must be stopped," said the headline. "And sometimes only guns can stop guns." He conceded that the threat of war might "nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement"; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that "America has the best kit".

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, "has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones." He lauded Blair as a "Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist". In 2006, he wrote, "Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran."

The outbursts – or as Garton-Ash prefers, his "tortured liberal ambivalence" – are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash's piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: "The F-35. GREAT For Britain". This American "kit" will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev's new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas "investment". She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden's son is on the board of Ukraine's biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine's rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine's mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia's long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country's economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

[Jul 08, 2015] Government Warmongering Criminals Where Are They Now

"...The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths because they wanted to believe the fiction they were being spoon fed by the White House, but is there a whole lot of difference between what the US government did against Iraq in 2003 and what Hitler's government did in 1939 when it falsely claimed that Polish troops had attacked Germany? Was subsequent torture by the Gestapo any different than torture by a contractor working for Washington?"
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"...A friend of mine recently commented that honest men who were formerly part of the United States government do not subsequently get hired by lobbying firms or obtain television contracts and "teaching" positions at prestigious universities. "
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"...Does anyone remember the ancient Roman symbol of republican virtue Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who left his farm after being named Dictator in order to defeat Rome's enemies? He then handed power back to the Senate before returning to his plowing after the job was done. The historian Livy summed up the significance of his act, writing "It is worthwhile for those who disdain all human things for money, and who suppose that there is no room either for great honor or virtue, except where wealth is found, to listen to his story.""
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"...senior government officials and politicians routinely expect to be generously rewarded for their service and never held accountable for their failures and misdeeds "
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"...One thing for sure about the Washington elite, you never have to say you're sorry."
Jul 08, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

Government Warmongering Criminals Where Are They Now

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

[Jul 05, 2015] Patriotism Begins With Localism

Jul 05, 2015 | The American Conservative

Responses to Patriotism Begins With Localism


Apolitical, July 3, 2015 at 9:50 am

Dulce et decorum est … to stop believing the "old lie" that appears so promiscuously on Union and Confederate war memorials. If men on all sides always die for country, who puts them up to it?

JonF, July 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

Re: But it is also, crucially, a matter of shared bloodlines, language, history, literature, and cuisine, things that originated long before the time of Rousseau and Voltaire.

At yet France is a glued-together-at-the-seams country too. The whole South of France once spoke a different language, in which the troubadours sang, and which still survives in the local dialects of the inhabitants. Burgundy was once a sovereign and very wealthy duchy whose duke controlled almost the entire Rhineland all the way to the Netherlands. Brittany too was its own nation, albeit torn between France and England. And the English ruled Gascony for 300 years, and were preferred as rulers to the Valois kings so that the Gascons promptly revolted when the French took the land back. The Pope ruled (and for a time dwelt) in Avignon. The Provence was a county of the Holy Roman Empire. Louis XIV knit these disparate lands together by corralling their nobility into velvet captivity at Versailles. The Revolutionaries added an ideology and a national anthem (and spilled the blood of the dissenters) and Napoleon gave the mix a mythology of glory. But the seams are still there under the surface. And indeed, you can find similar fissures in many other European countries too.

Connecticut Farmer, July 3, 2015 at 10:47 am

The concept of a country linked together by a common set of laws was never intended by our revered Founders to be anything more or less than an experiment. An experiment that had never been tried before. Arguably the United States Constitution that was drafted during the height of the Enlightenment and, together with the America's so-called "birth certificate", Jefferson's Declaration, may be considered that era's greatest accomplishment…a little Locke here, a dash of Montesquieu there and…Voila! In that respect "United" States are in no way "united", in the strictest sense of the word, except through the Constitution. And I suspect that is about all the Founders could have hoped for. From the beginning America was– and remains– a culturally Balkanized and, now more than ever, polyglot landmass more reminiscent of pre-World War One Austria-Hungary.

The late Speaker of The House, Tip O'Neill—a Boston Irishman I might add–is reputed to have once said "All politics is local." He got it half right. What he should have said is "All LOYALTY is local". I am also reminded of a line in The Godfather when Sonny Cordleone says to his brother Fredo "Your country ain't your blood".

Patriotism indeed begins on the local level, whether geographical, cultural, familial–or some combination thereof. The author is spot-on.

Gregory, July 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm

That line in Wilfred Owen's poem is supposed to be ironic…

TB, July 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm

"Patriotism Begins With Localism"
_________

I think the last refuge of the scoundrel begins with tribalism fear which, is the cultural anthropologist's way of saying "localism".

Fran Macadam, July 3, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Well written, but full of unexamined assumptions that are more comforting myth than truth.

Like the girls who didn't stay thin, exactly.

"I'd wager that all of us on the roof that night were grateful to live in a place where we can vote, start a business, and express ourselves freely, and grateful towards the ungodly number of young men shot and shredded and killed in our name."

Yet voting's never meant less as policies are completely untethered from public opinion, except as it can be manufactured through what crony capitalism calls PR, more honest oligarchies call propaganda. And participation in voting is a minority activity, meaning real democracy's already given the process a vote of no confidence.

We can express ourselves freely, if we're not among those with proscribed views, but those in charge aren't interested in what we have to say. The main corporate media, the gateways through which most people get their filtered news, prints all the news that fits their status quo interests. No genuinely alternative political opinions that challenge the duopoly establishment are able to be considered, though the corporate donorist class has no solutions to the ill which ail us, except for mendacity. Certainly there have been an ungodly number of young men killed in our name, and an even more ungodly number of foreign civilians of all ages and sexes whom they have killed, also in our name. But truth be told, our name being invoked was our only connection to the purpose of the wars, which wasn't for our interests at all; none of the foreign wars of choice have secured our liberties, only debased them – and violated those of others. Far from making us secure, our very democracy has been endangered by their unaccountable and unconstitutional means, perhaps fatally. Perhaps only the young now can be so deceived, without experience, with heavy student debt focusing their thoughts on more immediate personal concerns, with their docile, untenured instructors carrying their own debt loads, unwilling to intellectually challenge the status quo.

What business will you be grateful to start? In the post-industrial economic desert of America that the donorist elites leveled to keep more of business' rewards for themselves, it's unlikely to be able to provide the stable, well-paying work that manufacturing used to.

I suggest getting another advisor and thesis.

Suggested topic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_totalitarianism

JEinCA, July 4, 2015 at 3:16 am

I think Pat Buchanan said it best. We're no longer a nation in any traditional sense of the word. We are an economy. The best definition of a nation would be Michael Savage's definition of borders, language and culture but more important than all of this would be religion. Unless a nation has a commonly shared faith it can never truly be one. The Russians know this and that is why the Kremlin has thrown its support behind the Russian Orthodox Church. The West used to know this and that is why Europe was up until this last century identifiably Christian civilization with the biggest differances largely arising from the Catholic-Protestant divide.

For awhile America reflected Christian Europe but now we reflect Babylon and our elites are largely cynical atheists who look down on people of faith. Such a house could have never withstood a Great Depression let alone a Soviet style collapse.

[Jul 03, 2015] Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners

"...So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. "
"...Debt and war are constant partners."
"...And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

omewhere in a Greek jail, the former defence minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, watches the financial crisis unfold. I wonder how partly responsible he feels? In 2013, Akis (as he is popularly known) went down for 20 years, finally succumbing to the waves of financial scandal to which his name had long been associated. For alongside the lavish spending, the houses and the dodgy tax returns, there was bribery, and it was the €8m appreciation he received from the German arms dealer, Ferrostaal, for the Greek government's purchase of Type 214 submarines, that sent him to prison.

There is this idea that the Greeks got themselves into this current mess because they paid themselves too much for doing too little. Well, maybe. But it's not the complete picture. For the Greeks also got themselves into debt for the oldest reason in the book – one might even argue, for the very reason that public debt itself was first invented – to raise and support an army. The state's need for quick money to raise an army is how industrial-scale money lending comes into business (in the face of the church's historic opposition to usury). Indeed, in the west, one might even stretch to say that large-scale public debt began as a way to finance military intervention in the Middle East – ie the crusades. And just as rescuing Jerusalem from the Turks was the justification for massive military spending in the middle ages, so the fear of Turkey has been the reason given for recent Greek spending. Along with German subs, the Greeks have bought French frigates, US F16s and German Leopard 2 tanks. In the 1980s, for example, the Greeks spent an average of 6.2% of their GDP on defence compared with a European average of 2.9%. In the years following their EU entry, the Greeks were the world's fourth-highest spenders on conventional weaponry.

So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. Is this an unfair characterisation? A bit. It wasn't just Germany. And there were many other factors at play in the escalation of Greek debt. But the postwar difference between the Germans and the Greeks is not the tired stereotype that the former are hardworking and the latter are lazy, but rather that, among other things, the Germans have, for obvious reasons, been restricted in their military spending. And they have benefited massively from that.

Debt and war are constant partners. "The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war," wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculating the cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, pre-financial crash, to have been $3tn. Indeed, it was only this year, back in March, that the UK taxpayer finally paid off the money we borrowed to fight the first world war. "This is a moment for Britain to be proud of," said George Osborne, as he paid the final instalment of £1.9bn. Really?

The phrase "military-industrial complex" is one of those cliches of 70s leftwing radicalism, but it was Dwight D Eisenhower, a five-star general no less, who warned against its creeping power in his final speech as president. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government … we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." Ike was right.

This week, Church House, C of E HQ, hosted a conference sponsored by the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and MBDA Missile Systems. We preach about turning swords into ploughs yet help normalise an industry that turns them back again. The archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty solid on Wonga and trying to put legal loan sharks out of business. Now the church needs to take this up a level. For the debts that cripple entire countries come mostly from spending on war, not on pensions. And we don't say this nearly enough.
@giles_fraser

marsCubed,

Syriza's position has been stated in this Huffington Post article.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Yiannis Bournous, the head of international affairs for Greece's ruling Syriza party, heartily endorsed defense cuts as a way to meet the fiscal targets of Greece's international creditors.

"We already proposed a 200 million euro cut in the defense budget," Bournous said at an event hosted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, referring to cuts in Syriza's most recent proposal to its creditors. "We are willing to make it even bigger -- it is a pleasure for us."

Europe Offered Greece A Deal To Meet Its Obligations By Cutting Military Spending. The IMF Said No Way.

If the report is correct, ideology is playing just as much of a role as arithmetic in preventing a resolution. The IMF's refusal to consider a plan that would lessen pension cuts is consistent with itshistorically neoliberal political philosophy.


Giftedbutlazee 3 Jul 2015 11:52

we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.

Still as relevant now, 54 years after Eisenhower said it.


BritCol 3 Jul 2015 11:39

And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England.

The moral? War makes money for profiteers, and puts those of us not killed or displaced in debt for generations. Yet we morons keep waving flags every time a prime minister wants to send us into another conflict.


barry1947brewster 3 Jul 2015 11:39

28 May 2014 The Royal United Services Institute estimated that since the Berlin Wall fell the UK has spent £35 billion on wars. Now it is suggested that we bomb IS in Syria. Instead of printing "Paid for by the Taxpayer" on medicines provided by the NHS we should have a daily costing of our expenditure on bombs etc used in anger.


real tic 3 Jul 2015 11:23

Finally someone at Graun looks at this obvious contradiction present in the Greek governments opposition to cut in defense spending (when they apparently accept cuts to pensions, healthcare and other social services)! Well done Giles, but what's wrong with your colleagues in CIF, or even in the glass bubbled editorial offices? Why has it taken so long to examine this aspect of Greek debt?

Defense expenditure is also one reason some actors in creditor nations are content to keep Greece in debt, even as far as to see its debts deepen, as long as it keeps on buying. while within Greece, nationalism within the military has long been a way of containing far right tendencies.

It is notable but unsurprising that the current Minister of Defense in Greece is a far right politician, allied to Tsipiras in the Syriza coalition.


Pollik 3 Jul 2015 11:03

"Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners"

...and someone always makes a profit.

[Jul 03, 2015] Europe's leaders must end this reckless standoff with Greece   by Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium

"...Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?"
"...When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading. It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought. All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done."
 "...You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much. Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity."
"...That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

The possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone has never been more likely. We shouldn't be under any illusions – this would be a catastrophe for Greece's eurozone creditors, the Greek state and the European Union.

Like it or not, we are all in this together. If we continue on our current trajectory, everyone stands to lose from what now resembles a reckless, self-destructive standoff. The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again. We must remember that Germany has lent approximately €80bn. This is an astonishing figure, close to a quarter of Greece's budget for 2016. Yet the sad irony is, the longer the current impasse continues, the greater pressure Angela Merkel will face within her own party to reject any solution that is accepted by the Greek government.

But much more is at stake than euros. The world will consider a "Grexit" as a devastating blow for EU monetary cooperation and the European project. A destabilising Grexit will only be welcomed by the likes of China, Russia and those who are most threatened by a strong, united European Union. If Greece is to stay within the eurozone, we need to secure a massive de-escalation of the tensions, rhetoric and threats from both sides – and fast. It is time for Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the political leaders of the eurozone to come to their senses and bring this crisis back from the brink.


Prodisestab ->  HolyInsurgent 3 Jul 2015 18:26

Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?
 

 
Panagiotis Theodoropoulos Gjenganger 3 Jul 2015 19:20

Agreed to a good extent. However, when the discussions broke off Friday night, the two sides were very close regarding the measures that were needed. I believe that they were off by 60 million euros only. Their differences were mostly about the types of measures to be taken with the Greek government wanting more taxes on businesses and the creditors wanting more to be paid by ordinary people. The problem that I have and that a lot of observers have with that is the fact that the Greek government did compromize quite a lot while the creditors refused to budge from their inflexible position despite the fact that implementation of their policies during the last five years has put the country into a depression. A basic premise of "negotiation" is that both sides make compromises in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. In this case the creditors demonstrated total lack of flexibility, which clearly indicates alterior motives at least on the part of some of the creditors. In Germany they have fed their people with all the hate against "lazy Greeks" etc that clearly shows up in these messages and in that sense they have themselves created a very negative environment. I believe that about 90% or so of all the loans that have been given to Greece went back to the creditors. Greece is not looking for handouts here. This must be understood.

This is a debt crisis that has been mishandled and that has span out of control as a result. Economic terrorism is not justified under any conditions and particularly within the EZ.

LiveitOut 3 Jul 2015 21:45

When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading.

It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought.

All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done.


How odd all this stuff about hardworking families when we are all being screwed to kingdom come by hard whoring banking gangsters who have never done a second of useful work in their effing lives !
 

Optymystic, 3 Jul 2015 12:55

The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

The debt has been known to be unpayable for a long time. It has nothing to do with current events in Greece. It should have been written off.

No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore, and this is why a yes vote on Sunday is crucial. But it's also clear eurozone leaders have made mistakes with Greece.

But despite their nonsenses the latter group somehow, mysteriously, retain credibility. It was not the antics of Tsiparis that brought about this mess but the behaviour of his 'credible' opponents.

Greece and its creditors agree a three-month window to develop a long-term reform programme combined with an investment package to turn Greece's ailing economy around.

Now you are getting close to the Syriza position.

Let us use this crisis to deliver real, sustainable change by drawing up a settlement in the next three months in which the Greek state, its government and its administration are paying back the debts, instead of forcing hard-working citizens to pay the bill.

Is that before or after the twenty-year moratorium on debt implied by the IMF?

From the burning embers of two world wars, we have created a single market with free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

And the freedom to avoid taxes.

PaleMan -> jonbryce 3 Jul 2015 12:59

You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much.

Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity.

Danny Sheahan 3 Jul 2015 12:59

No one believes the ECB or the EU leadership anymore.

If they were serious about the Euro as a strong functional currency this mess would not be so big.

They would not have had to flush out private German and French bad debt in the 2nd bailout by putting it on the tax payer, or those countries would have had to step in to hep their banks and political careers would have been over.

The ECB has become a political football and it cannot maintain stability in its currency region. It is a failed central bank.

Vilos_Cohaagen 3 Jul 2015 12:58

"The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again."

The problem is that there's no scenario where the creditors do get paid back. So, why (for a start) "lend" them 60 billion more Euros? Wiping the debt completely out just means that the Greeks can start accumulating new "debt" they'll have no intention to re-pay and will be defaulting on a few years down the line.

BusinessWriter 3 Jul 2015 12:52

it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

Crazy - this Guy actually thinks the creditors have any chance of seeing their money again - what planet is he on.
As for his idea that the Greek state (or any state for that matter that doesn't control its own currency) can pay of its debt independent of the taxpaying public - it's deluded nonsense.

Where is the Greek state supposed to get the billions of euro from? The only source of revenue it has is taxes or selling assets that it holds on behalf of the citizens of Greece.

Equally, the idea that the clientelist state is somehow a separate thing to the majority of the Greek people is nonsense. So many of them are either employed by the state or in professions protected from competition by the state or in companies that only serve the state. Identifying anyone who doesn't benefit in some way from the current clientelist state would be like looking for an ATM in Athens with cash in it on Monday morning.

This Guy is just another symptom of the problem - he offers no sustainable solution - and what he does offer is incoherent and too late.

fullgrill -> elliot2511 3 Jul 2015 12:51

That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc.

whichone 3 Jul 2015 12:50

"Syriza's game is up. No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore"

well 1) it looks like 50% of the Greeks believe him

2) The IMF (and Merkel in leaked notes) have acknowledged that the debt is unsustainable even if Greece accept all conditions imposed by the Troika.

Varoufakis has been saying this since the start. So lets no longer pretend that this is all about getting the money back or that Greece wants to avoid its responsibility to its creditors : again will say Varoufakis has said the Greek government does not want to do this. The point is he and many other knowledgeable people (not politicians) know that it can not be paid back , but with the conditions in place to allow the economy to start to grow then Greece has a chance to pay some of it back. This is about bringing a Government to heel. I wish the Guardian , having continually reported on this crisis and knows what has been said allows a contributor to use the paper as propaganda.

And I hope that all those people who purposely said that a 'NO' vote means a no to Greece in the Euro and EU after a 'NO' result and surprise surprise Greece is still in the Euro, get thrown to the Wolves.

The same is goes with the comments about Varoufakis playing Game theory. He denied this basically saying that those who say this obviously don't know the first thing about Game Theory.

badluc TheSighingDutchman 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Genuine question: correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the electorates of Germany, Netherlands, Finland etc been consistently fed by most of their politicians (and newspapers) a completely mistaken "morality tale" about what the root causes of the problems are, blaming inefficient and corrupt governments who borrowed too much, without mentioning either the reckless lenders (mainly German, French, Dutch etc banks), were silent about the shifting of the burden of bad lending from the banks to the EU taxpayers (did they ever acknowledge that clearly?!?), describing the solution as a punitive austerity which would somehow bring moribund economies back from the abyss, etc? Politicians have a duty to be frank and sincere with their electorate, sharing with them all the relevant data they have on a given problem. If they have been feeding them misguided rhetoric, they have only themselves to blame if the chickens now come home to roost. In other words, if the electorate would now revolt against the inevitable, don't the politicians of those countries who have most strongly supported and advocated austerity have only themselves to blame?

SouthSeas 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Germany has lent 80bn to Greece to pay back loans from German banks

RudolphS 3 Jul 2015 12:47

While Verhofstadt calls for a cooling-off period he at the same time claims 'Syriza's game is up' and is urging the Greek people to vote 'yes' next sunday. With the latter he shows his true colours as just another Brussels eurocrat, and is only fuelling debate instead of cooling-off.

Dear Mr. Verhofstadt, why the hell do you think the Greek voted en masse for a party like Syriza? Because they are sick and tired of people like you.

And yes, there much more at stake than a debt. Putin must be watching this whole spectacle with total bewilderment how the EU is crippling itself from the inside.


Rainborough 3 Jul 2015 12:47

Anyone who is in danger of being impressed by conservative politician Guy Verhofstadt's perspective on Greek problems might like to bear in mknd that among his numerous other highly lucrative financial interests is his position on the board of the multi-billion Belgian investment company Sofina, whose interests include a stake in the highly controversial planned privatization of the Thessaloniki water utility.


hatewarmongers OscarD 3 Jul 2015 12:46

The neoliberal elite don't


SHappens 3 Jul 2015 12:17

In a democracy people can chose their fate by voting or through referendum. That's the way it goes but not in Europe where referendum are seen as a danger to the establishment. Tsipras, as soon as he came to power through a democratic vote was seen as a danger. He was ostracized and considered a pariah, Greece became a pariah state and they can as well die from hunger.

The EU, and institutions have behaved like the little bullies they are, just like they did with Switzerland after the vote on immigration, they threat, blackmail everyone who dare think different.

For the sake of democracy, the Greeks have to vote no, there is no other decent alternatives especially after all the bashing and disrespect they have been under. Nobody in EU and US (since they have their say in european affairs) want to see Greece walking away, nor Russia or China for that matter. But Tsipras had the opportunity to see where his real allies stand, and it is not within Europe. He might not forget this in the future.


mfederighi 3 Jul 2015 12:09

You are entirely right in suggesting that the only sustainable solution is a far-reaching reform programme for the Greek state and the reek economy. However, when you say that:

Greece's people must be at the centre of such a settlement. They did not cause this crisis and remain the victims of successive Greek governments, who have protected vested interests and the Greek clientelist system at their expense.

You seem to think that vested interest and the reek clientelist system are distinct from the Greek people. There is, I am afraid, a substantial overlap - that is, quite a few people benefit from clientelism and are part of vested interests. Not recognising this is disingenuous.

After all, corrupt and inefficient governments have been elected again and again - by whom?

jimmywalter 3 Jul 2015 12:06

The Banks solution is no solution - it means poverty and no taxes to pay to repay. The Banks want a Treaty of Versailles. We all know of a certain Austrian that rose up to end the German economic collapse. We all know how that ended. I don't want that again. People revolt over economics. Spain, Italy, and Greece have huge numbers of unemployeed who did nothing to create this crisis. The Banks did. Who should pay? Anyway, leave the Euro, stay in the EU!

[Jul 02, 2015]Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400

"...As U.S.-operated drones rain down Hellfire (missiles) on brown-skinned folks not named Smith, Jones or Thomas, you have to grasp that this too will change. How long can that technology remain under the exclusive control and purview of the US military "intelligence"?! Maybe a decade, at most? Then what shall those military death figures look like?
.
During the post-Berlin Wall "peace dividend" era, our country has spent infinitely more blood, treasure and prestige on advancing our ability to kill, destroy and incarcerate lives than we have in saving and improving lives. IMHO, it is nearly inevitable that this misspent era will come home to roost in unpredictable ways over the next 20-30 years. We can always pivot and change course, but that may have little or no bearing on what others will do."
June 30, 2015 | ritholtz.com

Source: Our World In Data

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

9 Responses to "Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400"

CD4P says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Saw much of the "Apocalypse WWI" show on The American Heroes Channel recently. 10 million soldiers killed, 20 million wounded. And then there was the major flu influenza which killed another 30 million in 1918 around the world.

RiverboatGambler says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

The most interesting thing here is not that we are on all time lows but rather the length of the current downtrend.

We are now going on 70 years of downtrend post WWII. The next closest looks like about 40 years from 1640 – 1680.

What has fundamentally changed that could make this not be an outlier? Lifespan?

Very interesting in the context of cycle theories like The Fourth Turning.

kaleberg says:

formerlawyer says:

bear_in_mind says:

Lyle says:

June 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Note that the web site that this chart comes from has many other interesting charts Here is a link to the root of the site: http://ourworldindata.org/ It provides the charts bundled into a set of presentations. Including ones looking at longer term issues of violet death rates and the like.

Whammer says:

July 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

Interesting how the civilian death rate has dropped to the point where it is minimal compared to the military death rate.

NoKidding says:

July 1, 2015 at 8:51 am

Nuclear weapons, the easy way to destroy far away enemies, has been avoided because the various costs are so very high.

Large scale conventional bombing suffers from inefficiency and bad optics.

Targeted drone assualts make killing foreigners efficient and inexpensive. For example, one human in the Western world kills one or more specific humans in the not-Western world from across the globe using radio controlled weapons. No radiation, no flattened obstetricians, increasing efficiency, and falling cost of technology.

In combination with recent federalization of decision making power, particularly domestic spying and the non-criminalization of the US government killing its own wayward overseas citizens, I see a wonderous new era on the horizon.

bear_in_mind says:

[Jul 01, 2015] A Short History: The Neocon Clean Break Grand Design The Regime Change Disasters It Has Fostered

zerohedge.com

Submitted by Dan Sanchez via AntiWar.com,

To understand today's crises in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere, one must grasp their shared Lebanese connection. This assertion may seem odd. After all, what is the big deal about Lebanon? That little country hasn't had top headlines since Israel deigned to bomb and invade it in 2006. Yet, to a large extent, the roots of the bloody tangle now enmeshing the Middle East lie in Lebanon: or to be more precise, in the Lebanon policy of Israel.

Rewind to the era before the War on Terror. In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's "dovish" Prime Minister, was assassinated by a right-wing zealot. This precipitated an early election in which Rabin's Labor Party was defeated by the ultra-hawkish Likud, lifting hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu to his first Premiership in 1996.

That year, an elite study group produced a policy document for the incipient administration titled, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." The membership of the Clean Break study group is highly significant, as it included American neoconservatives who would later hold high offices in the Bush Administration and play driving roles in its Middle East policy.

"A Clean Break" advised that the new Likud administration adopt a "shake it off" attitude toward the policy of the old Labor administration which, as the authors claimed, assumed national "exhaustion" and allowed national "retreat." This was the "clean break" from the past that "A Clean Break" envisioned. Regarding Israel's international policy, this meant:

"…a clean break from the slogan, 'comprehensive peace' to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power."

Pursuit of comprehensive peace with all of Israel's neighbors was to be abandoned for selective peace with some neighbors (namely Jordan and Turkey) and implacable antagonism toward others (namely Iraq, Syria, and Iran). The weight of its strategic allies would tip the balance of power in favor of Israel, which could then use that leverage to topple the regimes of its strategic adversaries by using covertly managed "proxy forces" and "the principle of preemption." Through such a "redrawing of the map of the Middle East," Israel will "shape the regional environment," and thus, "Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them."

"A Clean Break" was to Israel (and ultimately to the US) what Otto von Bismarck's "Blood and Iron" speech was to Germany. As he set the German Empire on a warpath that would ultimately set Europe ablaze, Bismarck said:

"Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided?—?that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849?—?but by iron and blood."

Before setting Israel and the US on a warpath that would ultimately set the Middle East ablaze, the Clean Break authors were basically saying: Not through peace accords will the great questions of the day be decided?—?that was the great mistake of 1978 (at Camp David) and 1993 (at Oslo)?—?but by "divide and conquer" and regime change. By wars both aggressive ("preemptive") and "dirty" (covert and proxy).


"A Clean Break" slated Saddam Hussein's Iraq as first up for regime change. This is highly significant, especially since several members of the Clean Break study group played decisive roles in steering and deceiving the United States into invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam seven years later.

Perle-Richard-AEI

The Clean Break study group's leader, Richard Perle, led the call for Iraqi regime change beginning in the 90s from his perch at the Project for a New American Century and other neocon think tanks. And while serving as chairman of a high level Pentagon advisory committee, Perle helped coordinate the neoconservative takeover of foreign policy in the Bush administration and the final push for war in Iraq.

douglas_feith

Another Clean Breaker, Douglas Feith, was a Perle protege and a key player in that neocon coup. After 9/11, as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Feith created two secret Pentagon offices tasked with cherry-picking, distorting, and repackaging CIA and Pentagon intelligence to help make the case for war.

Feith's "Office of Special Plans" manipulated intelligence to promote the falsehood that Saddam had a secret weapons of mass destruction program that posed an imminent chemical, biological, and even nuclear threat. This lie was the main justification used by the Bush administration for the Iraq War.

Feith's "Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group" trawled through the CIA's intelligence trash to stitch together far-fetched conspiracy theories linking Saddam Hussein's Iraq with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, among other bizarre pairings. Perle put the Group into contact with Ahmed Chalabi, a dodgy anti-Saddam Iraqi exile who would spin even more yarn of this sort.

news-graphics-2007-_647148a

Much of the Group's grunt work was performed by David Wurmser, another Perle protege and the primary author of "A Clean Break." Wurmser would go on to serve as an advisor to two key Iraq War proponents in the Bush administration: John Bolton at the State Department and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The foregone conclusions generated by these Clean Breaker-led projects faced angry but ineffectual resistance from the Intelligence Community, and are now widely considered scandalously discredited. But they succeeded in helping, perhaps decisively, to overcome both bureaucratic and public resistance to the march to war.

On the second night of war against Iraq, bombs fall on government buildings located in the heart of Baghdad along the Tigris River.  Multiple bombs left several buildings in flames and others completely destroyed.

The Iraq War that followed put the Clean Break into action by grafting it onto America. The War accomplished the Clean Break objective of regime change in Iraq, thus beginning the "redrawing of the map of the Middle East." And the attendant "Bush Doctrine" of preemptive war accomplished the Clean Break objective of "reestablishing the principle of preemption"


But why did the Netanyahu/Bush Clean Breakers want to regime change Iraq in the first place? While reference is often made to "A Clean Break" as a prologue to the Iraq War, it is often forgotten that the document proposed regime change in Iraq primarily as a "means" of "weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria." Overthrowing Saddam in Iraq was merely a stepping stone to "foiling" and ultimately overthrowing Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria. As Pat Buchanan put it:

"In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel's enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad."

Exactly how this was to work is baffling. As the document admitted, although both were Baathist regimes, Assad and Saddam were far more enemies than allies. "A Clean Break" floated a convoluted pipe dream involving a restored Hashemite monarchy in Iraq (the same US-backed, pro-Israel dynasty that rules Jordan) using its sway over an Iraqi cleric to turn his co-religionists in Syria against Assad. Instead, the neocons ended up settling for a different pipe(line) dream, sold to them by that con-man Chalabi, involving a pro-Israel, Chalabi-dominated Iraq building a pipeline from Mosul to Haifa. One only wonders why he didn't sweeten the deal by including the Brooklyn Bridge in the sale.

As incoherent as it may have been, getting at Syria through Iraq is what the neocons wanted. And this is also highly significant for us today, because the US has now fully embraced the objective of regime change in Syria, even with Barack Obama inhabiting the White House instead of George W. Bush.

Washington is pursuing that objective by partnering with Turkey, Jordan, and the Gulf States in supporting the anti-Assad insurgency in Syria's bloody civil war, and thereby majorly abetting the bin Ladenites (Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS) leading that insurgency. Obama has virtually become an honorary Clean Breaker by pursuing a Clean Break objective ("rolling back Syria") using Clean Break strategy ("balance of power" alliances with select Muslim states) and Clean Break tactics (a covert and proxy "dirty war"). Of course the neocons are the loudest voices calling for the continuance and escalation of this policy. And Israel is even directly involving itself by providing medical assistance to Syrian insurgents, including Al Qaeda fighters.


Another target identified by "A Clean Break" was Iran. This is highly significant, since while the neocons were still riding high in the Bush administration's saddle, they came within an inch of launching a US war on Iran over yet another manufactured and phony WMD crisis. While the Obama administration seems on the verge of finalizing a nuclear/peace deal with the Iranian government in Tehran, the neocons and Netanyahu himself (now Prime Minister once again) have pulled out all the stops to scupper it and put the US and Iran back on a collision course.

The neocons are also championing ongoing American support for Saudi Arabia's brutal war in Yemen to restore that country's US-backed former dictator. Simply because the "Houthi" rebels that overthrew him and took the capital city of Sanaa are Shiites, they are assumed to be a proxy of the Shiite Iranians, and so this is seen by neocons and Saudi theocons alike as a war against Iranian expansion.

Baghdad is a pit stop on the road to Damascus, and Sanaa is a pit stop on the road to Tehran. But, according to the Clean Breakers, Damascus and Tehran are themselves merely pit stops on the road to Beirut.

According to "A Clean Break," Israel's main beef with Assad is that:

"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil."

And its great grief with the Ayatollah is that Iran, like Syria, is one of the:

"…principal agents of aggression in Lebanon…"


All regime change roads lead to Lebanon, it would seem. So this brings us back to our original question. What is the big deal about Lebanon?

The answer to this question goes back to Israel's very beginnings. Its Zionist founding fathers established the bulk of Israel's territory by dispossessing and ethnically cleansing three-quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of these were driven (sometimes literally in trucks, sometimes force marched with gunshots fired over their heads) into Lebanon, where they were gathered in miserable refugee camps.

In Lebanon the Palestinians who had fled suffered an apartheid state almost as rigid as the one Israel imposed on those who stayed behind, because the dominant Maronite Christians there were so protective of their political and economic privileges in Lebanon's confessional system.

In a 1967 war of aggression, Israel conquered the rest of formerly-British Palestine, annexing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and placing the Palestinians there (many of whom fled there seeking refuge after their homes were taken by the Israelis in 1948) under a brutal, permanent military occupation characterized by continuing dispossession and punctuated by paroxysms of mass murder.

This compounding of their tragedy drove the Palestinians to despair and radicalization, and they subsequently lifted Yasser Arafat and his fedayeen (guerrilla) movement to the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), then headquartered in Jordan.

When the king of Jordan massacred and drove out the PLO, Arafat and the remaining members relocated to Lebanon. There they waged cross-border guerrilla warfare to try to drive Israel out of the occupied territories. The PLO drew heavily from the refugee camps in Lebanon for recruits.

This drew Israel deeply into Lebanese affairs. In 1976, Israel started militarily supporting the Maronite Christians, helping to fuel a sectarian civil war that had recently begun and would rage until 1990. That same year, Syrian forces entered Lebanon, partook in the war, and began a military occupation of the country.

In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon to drive the PLO back and to recruit a proxy army called the "South Lebanon Army" (SLA).

1101820816_400

In 1982 Israel launched a full scale war in Lebanon, fighting both Syria and the PLO. Osama bin Laden later claimed that it was seeing the wreckage of tall buildings in Beirut toppled by Israel's "total war" tactics that inspired him to destroy American buildings like the Twin Towers.

In this war, Israel tried to install a group of Christian Fascists called the Phalange in power over Lebanon. This failed when the new Phalangist ruler was assassinated. As a reprisal, the Phalange perpetrated, with Israeli connivance, the massacre of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shiites. (See Murray Rothbard's moving contemporary coverage of the atrocity.)

60

Israel's 1982 war succeeded in driving the PLO out of Lebanon, although not in destroying it. And of course hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees still linger in Lebanon's camps, yearning for their right of return: a fact that cannot have escaped Israel's notice.

The Lebanese Shiites were either ambivalent or welcoming toward being rid of the PLO. But Israel rapidly squandered whatever patience the Shiites had for it by brutally occupying southern Lebanon for years. This led to the creation of Hezbollah, a Shiite militia not particularly concerned with the plight of the Sunni Palestinian refugees, but staunchly dedicated to driving Israel and its proxies (the SLA) completely out of Lebanon.

Aided by Syria and Iran, though not nearly to the extent Israel would have us believe, Hezbollah became the chief defensive force directly frustrating Israel's efforts to dominate and exploit its northern neighbor. In 1993 and again in 1996 (the year of "A Clean Break"), Israel launched still more major military operations in Lebanon, chiefly against Hezbollah, but also bombing Lebanon's general population and infrastructure, trying to use terrorism to motivate the people and the central government to crack down on Hezbollah.

This is the context of "A Clean Break": Israel's obsession with crushing Hezbollah and dominating Lebanon, even if it means turning most of the Middle East upside down (regime changing Syria, Iran, and Iraq) to do it.


9/11 paved the way for realizing the Clean Break, using the United States as a gigantic proxy, thanks to the Israel Lobby's massive influence in Congress and the neocons' newly won dominance in the Bush Administration.

Much to their chagrin, however, its first phase (the Iraq War) did not turn out so well for the Clean Breakers. The blundering American grunts ended up installing the most vehemently pro-Iran Shiite faction in power in Baghdad, and now Iranian troops are even stationed and fighting inside Iraq. Oops. And as it turns out, Chalabi may have been an Iranian agent all along. (But don't worry, Mr. Perle, I'm sure he'll eventually come through with that pipeline.)

This disastrous outcome has given both Israel and Saudi Arabia nightmares about an emerging "Shia Crescent" arcing from Iran through Iraq into Syria. And now the new Shiite "star" in Yemen completes this menacing "Star and Crescent" picture. The fears of the Sunni Saudis are partially based on sectarianism. But what Israel sees in this picture is a huge potential regional support network for its nemesis Hezbollah.

060731_DOMCNNL1R1

Israel would have none of it. In 2006, it launched its second full scale war in Lebanon, only to be driven back once again by that damned Hezbollah. It was time to start thinking big and regional again. As mentioned above, the Bush war on Iran didn't pan out. (This was largely because the CIA got its revenge on the neocons by releasing a report stating plainly that Iran was not anything close to a nuclear threat.) So instead the neocons and the Saudis drew the US into what Seymour Hersh called "the Redirection" in 2007, which involved clandestine "dirty war" support for Sunni jihadists to counter Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

When the 2011 Arab Spring wave of popular uprisings spread to Syria, the Redirection was put into overdrive. The subsequent US-led dirty war discussed above had the added bonus of drawing Hezbollah into the bloody quagmire to try to save Assad, whose regime now finally seems on the verge of collapse.

The Clean Break is back, baby! Assad is going, Saddam is gone, and who knows: the Ayatollah may never get his nuclear deal anyway. But most importantly for "securing the realm," Hezbollah is on the ropes.

shocking-images-iraq-war-001 3.23.13

And so what if the Clean Break was rather messy and broke so many bodies and buildings along the way? Maybe it's like what Lenin said about omelets and eggs: you just can't make a Clean Break without breaking a few million Arabs and a few thousand Americans. And what about all those fanatics now running rampant throughout large swaths of the world thanks to the Clean Break wars, mass-executing Muslim "apostates" and Christian "infidels" and carrying out terrorist attacks on westerners? Again, the Clean Breakers must remind themselves, keep your eye on the omelet and forget the eggs.

Well, dear reader, you and I are the eggs. And if we don't want to see our world broken any further by the imperial clique of murderers in Washington for the sake of the petty regional ambitions of a tiny clique of murderers in Tel Aviv, we must insist on American politics making a clean break from the neocons, and US foreign policy making a clean break from Israel.

[Jun 29, 2015]Could Armenia Be The Next Ukraine

Jun 29, 2015 | finance.yahoo.com

...As in other former Soviet countries, the energy behemoth ENA remains a heavily mismanaged enterprise. This was confirmed by a recent probe, in which the energy regulator has found that suppliers and traders often use shady intermediaries to push energy managers to inflate procurement costs or steal electricity. This has led to more than EUR 70 million in losses for the company in just the last three years, according to the energy ministry.

The company's overall debt has reached $250 million. Initially, ENA has suggested a 40 percent increase in electricity tariffs in order to cover its obligations. The government of the pro-Russian president Serge Sargsyan and the quasi-independent energy regulator initially refused but ultimately had to accept a 16.7 percent rise after a series of high-level visits from Moscow. Although the government has confirmed the results of the regulator's investigation, it has decided to look the other way.

Even after the hike, power tariffs would still be just EUR 0.11 cents/kWh, or about half of what average EU households pay. At purchasing power parity, though, their impact on household budgets is much greater. According to a World Bank study, Armenians spend around 8% of their income on energy use, while consuming three times less energy per capita than people in Central and Eastern Europe, also a region where energy poverty is a widespread phenomenon.

In addition, if accepted, this would be the third consecutive power price hike in two years at a time when the economy is facing slow growth and high unemployment rate. The Armenian economy, which is heavily dependent on Russia, has faced a major downturn since the start of economic troubles for its powerful neighbor to the north. Russia is the key destination for labor migrants, who contributed more than 20% of the national income in the form of remittances in 2013 and 11 percent in 2014. In the first five months of 2015, cash transfers have halved.

The economic link with Russia is most profound in the energy sector. Apart from ENA, the Russian state, through Gazprom, owns 100 percent of the country's wholesale gas supplying company. The bulk of FDI inflows also have Russian origin, and 40 percent of them are targeting the energy sector.

In addition, Armenia imports almost all of its gas from Russia and natural gas imports comprise around 80 percent of all energy imports. Furthermore, 60 percent of the country's total primary energy supply is derived from natural gas, which is responsible for the majority of residential energy use, especially in big cities.

However, the increase in gas import prices in 2010 and the subsequent 40 percent hike in household gas tariffs pushed some urban residents to switch from natural gas to electricity for heating, which became comparatively cheaper (about one-fifth of Armenia's electricity is generated from natural gas, with the rest supplied by a number of hydro power plants and a nuclear power plant, which is currently being modernized). Hence, when power prices began to increase, the outrage in the capital, Yerevan, was easy to understand.

According to the protest leaders, the rallies are not anti-Russian in nature and the main demand of the people is a reversal to the government's power price decision. President Sargsyan seemed have backed down after he told senior officials on 26 June that the government will cover the difference between the old and the new price with budget subsidies until the end of a comprehensive audit of the ENA's activities.

Protesters, however, seem determined to stay on the streets. Deep-seated mistrust in the government's ability to implement reforms could trigger an impulse for a regime change. This is the biggest fear in Moscow, which sees the current Armenian government as an important ally in its natural backyard. Russia has been able to preserve its influence in the small Caucasian state by expanding its control over key economic sectors. This was done by recruiting senior government officials, who used Russia's influence to limit outside competition and preserve the dominant position of Russian companies in the energy sector.

If there is a change of guard in Yerevan, the established connections that have served Moscow so well, could crumble. Not surprisingly, similar to the aftermath of Ukraine's Maidan rally in early 2014, Moscow's propaganda has presented the street protests in Yerevan as a Western plot to contain Russia's influence.

In a sign of full support, Moscow provided the government with $200 million in military aid on 26 June. Armenia relies for its security on the 3,000 Russian troops stationed in the country, which have so far deterred efforts by Azerbaijan to try to reclaim the separatist republic of Nagorno Karabakh, occupied by Armenia during a bloody five-year war in the early 1990s.

Paradoxically, Russia's attempts to secure its influence and, more importantly, its energy interests in the neighborhood could backfire. While Armenian demonstrators have largely limited, domestic aims, the Russian insistence on turning the protests into an East-West clash could incite protesters to demand that the Armenian government take a sharp turn away from Moscow.

Faced with such a choice, president Sargsyan might have to abandon his close ties with Kremlin in an attempt to stay in power. This is likely to lead to economic retaliation from Russia such as gas supply cuts. The alternative, though, may be to follow the path of Ukraine's former president, Victor Yanukovych.

By Martin Vladimirov for Oilprice.com

[Jun 28, 2015] US Department of Imperial Expansion

Deeper down the rabbit hole of US-backed color revolutions.
by Tony Cartalucci

Believe it or not, the US State Department's mission statement actually says the following:

"Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."

A far and treasonous cry from the original purpose of the State Department - which was to maintain communications and formal relations with foreign countries - and a radical departure from historical norms that have defined foreign ministries throughout the world, it could just as well now be called the "Department of Imperial Expansion." Because indeed, that is its primary purpose now, the expansion of Anglo-American corporate hegemony worldwide under the guise of "democracy" and "human rights."

That a US government department should state its goal as to build a world of "well-governed states" within the "international system" betrays not only America's sovereignty but the sovereignty of all nations entangled by this offensive mission statement and its execution.

Image: While the US State Department's mission statement sounds benign or even progressive, when the term "international system" or "world order" is used, it is referring to a concept commonly referred to by the actual policy makers that hand politicians their talking points, that involves modern day empire. Kagan's quote came from a 1997 policy paper describing a policy to contain China with.

....


The illegitimacy of the current US State Department fits in well with the overall Constitution-circumventing empire that the American Republic has degenerated into. The current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gives a daily affirmation of this illegitimacy every time she bellies up to the podium to make a statement.

Recently she issued a dangerously irresponsible "warning" to Venezuela and Bolivia regarding their stately relations with Iran. While America has the right to mediate its own associations with foreign nations, one is confounded trying to understand what gives America the right to dictate such associations to other sovereign nations. Of course, the self-declared imperial mandate the US State Department bestowed upon itself brings such "warnings" into perspective with the realization that the globalists view no nation as sovereign and all nations beholden to their unipolar "international system."

It's hard to deny the US State Department is not behind the
"color revolutions" sweeping the world when the Secretary of
State herself phones in during the youth movement confabs
her department sponsors on a yearly basis.

If only the US State Department's meddling was confined to hubris-filled statements given behind podiums attempting to fulfill outlandish mission statements, we could all rest easier. However, the US State Department actively bolsters its meddling rhetoric with very real measures. The centerpiece of this meddling is the vast and ever-expanding network being built to recruit, train, and support various "color revolutions" worldwide. While the corporate owned media attempts to portray the various revolutions consuming Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and now Northern Africa and the Middle East as indigenous, spontaneous, and organic, the reality is that these protesters represent what may be considered a "fifth-branch" of US power projection.

CANVAS: Freedom House, IRI, Soros funded Serbian color revolution
college behind the Orange, Rose, Tunisian, Burmese, and Egyptian protests
and has trained protesters from 50 other countries.


As with the army and CIA that fulfilled this role before, the US State Department's "fifth-branch" runs a recruiting and coordinating center known as the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM). Hardly a secretive operation, its website, Movements.org proudly lists the details of its annual summits which began in 2008 and featured astro-turf cannon fodder from Venezuela to Iran, and even the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt. The summits, activities, and coordination AYM provides is but a nexus. Other training arms include the US created and funded CANVAS of Serbia, which in turn trained color-coup leaders from the Ukraine and Georgia, to Tunisia and Egypt, including the previously mentioned April 6 Movement. There is also the Albert Einstein Institute which produced the very curriculum and techniques employed by CANVAS.

2008 New York City Summit (included Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement)
2009 Mexico City Summit
2010 London Summit

As previously noted, these organizations are now retroactively trying to obfuscate their connections to the State Department and the Fortune 500 corporations that use them to achieve their goals of expansion overseas. CANVAS has renamed and moved their list of supporters and partners while AYM has oafishly changed their "partnerships" to "past partnerships."

Before & After: Oafish attempts to downplay US State Department's extra-legal
meddling and subterfuge in foreign affairs. Other attempts are covered here.

Funding all of this is the tax payers' money funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House. George Soros' Open Society foundation also promotes various NGOs which in turn support the revolutionary rabble on the ground. In Egypt, after the State Department's youth brigades played their role, Soros and NED funded NGOs began work on drafting Egypt's new constitution.

It should be noted that while George Soros is portrayed as being "left," and the overall function of these pro-democracy, pro-human rights organizations appears to be "left-leaning," a vast number of notorious "Neo-Cons" also constitute the commanding ranks and determine the overall agenda of this color revolution army.

Then there are legislative acts of Congress that overtly fund the subversive objectives of the US State Department. In support of regime change in Iran, the Iran Freedom and Support Act was passed in 2006. More recently in 2011, to see the US-staged color revolution in Egypt through to the end, money was appropriated to "support" favored Egyptian opposition groups ahead of national elections.

Then of course there is the State Department's propaganda machines. While organizations like NED and Freedom House produce volumes of talking points in support for their various on-going operations, the specific outlets currently used by the State Department fall under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio Sawa. Interestingly enough, the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits on the board of governors herself, along side a shameful collection of representatives from the Fortune 500, the corporate owned media, and various agencies within the US government.

Hillary Clinton: color revolutionary field marshal & propagandist,
two current roles that defy her duties as Secretary of State in any
rational sense or interpretation.


Judging from Radio Free Europe's latest headlines, such as "Lieberman: The West's Policy Toward Belarus Has 'Failed Miserably' " and "Azerbaijani Youth Activist 'Jailed For One Month,'" it appears that hope is still pinned on inciting color revolutions in Belarus and Azerbaijan to continue on with NATO's creep and the encirclement of Russia. Belarus in particular was recently one of the subjects covered at the Globsec 2011 conference, where it was considered a threat to both the EU and NATO, having turned down NATO in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton's illegitimate threat regarding Venezuela's associations with Iran, no one should be surprised to find out an extensive effort to foment a color revolution to oust Hugo Chavez has been long underway by AYM, Freedom House, NED, and the rest of this "fifth-branch" of globalist power projection. In fact, Hugo Chavez had already weathered an attempted military coup overtly orchestrated by the United States under Bush in 2002.

Upon digging into the characters behind Chavez' ousting in 2002, it
appears that this documentary sorely understates US involvement.

The same forces of corporatism, privatization, and free-trade that led the 2002 coup against Chavez are trying to gain ground once again. Under the leadership of Harvard trained globalist minion Leopoldo Lopez, witless youth are taking the place of 2002's generals and tank columns in an attempt to match globalist minion Mohamed ElBaradei's success in Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, the US State Department's AYM is pro-Venezuelan opposition, and describes in great detail their campaign to "educate" the youth and get them politically active. Dismayed by Chavez' moves to consolidate his power and strangely repulsed by his "rule by decree," -something that Washington itself has set the standard for- AYM laments over the difficulties their meddling "civil society" faces.

Chavez' government recognized the US State Department's meddling recently in regards to a student hunger strike and the US's insistence that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission be allowed to "inspect" alleged violations under the Chavez government. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro even went as far as saying, "It looks like they (U.S.) want to start a virtual Egypt."

The "Fifth-Branch" Invasion: Click for larger image.


Understanding this "fifth-branch" invasion of astro-turf cannon fodder and the role it is playing in overturning foreign governments and despoiling nation sovereignty on a global scale is an essential step in ceasing the Anglo-American imperial machine. And of course, as always, boycotting and replacing the corporations behind the creation and expansion of these color-revolutions hinders not only the spread of their empire overseas, but releases the stranglehold of dominion they possess at home in the United States. Perhaps then the US State Department can once again go back to representing the American Republic and its people to the rest of the world as a responsible nation that respects real human rights and sovereignty both at home and abroad.

Editor's Note: This article has been edited and updated October 26, 2012.

[Jun 28, 2015] John McCain The Russia-Ukraine cease-fire is a fiction

Looks like there was no US war or color revolution Senator McCain did not like. Doe he tries to position himself to the right of Dick Cheney ;-), I like his statement that "might does not make right":
"...We face the reality of a challenge that many assumed was resigned to the history books: a strong, militarily capable state that is hostile to our interests and our values and seeks to overturn the rules-based international order that American leaders of both parties have sought to maintain since World War II. Among the core principles of that order is the conviction that might does not make right, that the strong should not be allowed to dominate the weak and that wars of aggression should be relegated to the bloody past. "
What a bloody hypocrite he is... He probably forgot Vietnam, Chili, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria military adventures due to old age senility. And it was actually State Department and personally Victoria Nuland of "nulnadgate (aka F*ck EU") fame, who was the key instigator of civil war in Ukraine.  So  this is a classic "The pot calling the kettle black" situation.
Jun 28, 2015 | The Washington Post

Last weekend, I traveled with Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to eastern Ukraine to meet with the courageous men and women fighting there for their country's freedom and future. I arrived on a solemn day as Ukrainian volunteers grieved the loss of two young comrades killed by Russian artillery the day before. They had lost another comrade a few days before that, and four more the previous week. Their message to me was clear: The cease-fire with Russia is fiction, and U.S. assistance is vital to deterring further Russian aggression.

Along the front lines, separatist forces backed by Russia violate the cease-fire every day with heavy artillery barrages and tank attacks. Gunbattles are a daily routine, and communities at the front bear the brunt of constant sniper fire and nightly skirmishes.

Yet while these low-level cease-fire violations have occurred regularly since the Minsk agreement was signed in February, Ukrainian battalion commanders said the number of Grad rocket strikes and incidents of intense artillery shelling are increasing. Their reports suggest that the separatists have moved their heavy weapons and equipment back to the front lines hoping to escalate the situation. So far, Ukrainian armed forces supported by volunteer battalions have been able to hold their ground, and they have done so largely without the support of Ukrainian artillery and tanks that have been pulled back from the front as stipulated by the Minsk agreement. How long can we expect these brave Ukrainians to abide by an agreement that Russia has clearly ignored?

It is time that the United States and our European allies recognize the failure of the Minsk agreement and respond with more than empty rhetoric. Ukraine's leaders describe Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy as a game of "Pac-Man" — taking bite after bite out of Ukraine in small enough portions that it does not trigger a large-scale international response. But at this point it should be clear to all that Putin does not want a diplomatic solution to the conflict. He wants to dominate Ukraine, along with Russia's other neighbors.

No one in the West wants a return to the Cold War. But we must recognize that we are confronting a Russian ruler who seeks exactly that. It is time for U.S. strategy to adjust to the reality of a revanchist Russia with a modernized military that is willing to use force not as a last resort, but as a primary tool to achieve its neo-imperial objectives. We must do more to deter Russia by increasing the military costs of its aggression, starting with the immediate provision of the defensive weapons and other assistance the Ukrainians desperately need.

President Obama has wrongly argued that providing Ukraine with the assistance and equipment it needs to defend itself would only provoke Russia. Putin needed no provocation to invade Ukraine and annex Crimea. Rather, it is the weakness of the collective U.S. and European response that provokes the very aggression we seek to avoid. Of course, there is no military solution in Ukraine, but there is a clear military dimension to achieving a political solution. If Ukrainians are given the assistance they need and the military cost is raised for the Russian forces that have invaded their country, Putin will be forced to determine how long he can sustain a war he tells his people is not happening.

I urge anyone who sees Ukraine's fight against a more advanced Russian military as hopeless to travel to meet those fighting and dying to protect their homeland. These men and women have not backed down, and they will continue to fight for their country with or without the U.S. support they need and deserve.

During my trip, the Ukrainians never asked for the United States to send troops to do their fighting. Ukrainians only hope that the United States will once again open the arsenal of democracy that has allowed free people to defend themselves so many times before.

How we respond to Putin's brazen aggression will have repercussions far beyond Ukraine. We face the reality of a challenge that many assumed was resigned to the history books: a strong, militarily capable state that is hostile to our interests and our values and seeks to overturn the rules-based international order that American leaders of both parties have sought to maintain since World War II. Among the core principles of that order is the conviction that might does not make right, that the strong should not be allowed to dominate the weak and that wars of aggression should be relegated to the bloody past.

Around the world, friend and foe alike are watching to see whether the United States will once again summon its power and influence to defend the international system that has kept the peace for decades. We must not fail this test.

[Jun 28, 2015] Fuck the US Imperialism -- Top German Politician Blasts Nuland Carter

Jun 28, 2015 | Zero Hedge

With intra-Europe relations hitting a new all-time low; and, having already been busted spying on Merkel, Obama got caught with his hand in Hollande's cookie jar this week, the following exultation from one of Germany's top politicians will hardly help Washington-Brussells relations. As Russia Insider notes, Oskar Lafontaine is a major force in German politics so it caught people's attention when he excoriated Ash Carter and Victoria Nuland on his Facebook page yesterday... "Nuland says 'F*ck the EU'. We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism... F*ck US imperialism!"

Here is the Facebook post (in German):

Lafontaine has been an outsized figure in German politics since the mid-70s. He was chairman of the SPD (one of Germany's two main parties) for four years, the SPD's candidate for chancellor in 1990, minister of finance for two years, and then chairman of the Left party in the 2000s. He is married to Sarah Wagenknecht, political heavyweight, who is currently co-chairman of Left party.

Lafontaine's outburst came a day after his wife, Sarah Wagenknecht, blasted Merkel's Russia policy in an interview on RT.

Here is the full translation of the post:

"The US 'Defense' secretary, i.e., war minister is in Berlin. He called on Europe to counter Russian 'aggression'. But in fact, it is US aggression which Europeans should be opposing.

"The Grandmaster of US diplomacy, George Kennan described the eastward expansion of NATO as the biggest US foreign policy mistake since WW2, because it will lead to a new cold war.

"The US diplomat Victoria Nuland said we have spent $5 billion to destabilize the Ukraine. They stoke the flames ever higher, and Europe pays for it with lower trade and lost jobs.

"Nuland says 'F*ck the EU'. We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism.

"F*ck US imperialism!"

* * *

When he comes out swinging this way, you know something is changing.

* * *

America - making friends and influencing people for 238 years...

remain calm

I see the CIA creating a little muslim terrorism in Europe to teach them the meaning of respect.

BlowsAgainstthe...

"But in fact, it is US aggression which Europeans should be opposing."

So good, it should be required reading . . .

"Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault

The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin"

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2014-08-18/why-ukrain...

Latina Lover

To date, the USSA adventurism in the Ukraine has hurt Germany financially and politically, with more losses to follow.

Instead of integrating more closely with Russia, and becoming a key part of the New Silk Road, Germany is blocked by the USSA, against her better interests. The USSA is creating a new berlin style wall of lies and propaganda between Russia and Germany claiming that Russia plans to invade the baltics, poland, moldova, blah, blah, blah.

Fortunately, most Germans are not anti intellectuals, and see through the lies, unlike the average american shlub (30% of whom cannot name the current VP but know all of the names of the Kardashians). Eventually, Merkel will get the boot, and be replaced by a more businesslike leader.

Not Too Important

30% is pretty generous, don't you think? More like 3%.

Even an aborigine in the middle of Africa with a cell phone knows more about the world than 97% of Americans.

Tall Tom

Fuck American Imperialism?

Actually it is GERMAN Imperialism over the nation states of Europe, using the European Union as a subterfuge, is that which needs be quashed.

Fuck GERMAN Imperialism and the European Union as it serves as a tool for the advancement of Germany's Imperialistic ambitions..

saveandsound

Oscar Lafontaine is member of the party "The Left". He used to be member of the "Social Democratic Party of Germany".

Both parties are of rather marginal significance, since Merkel's CDU rules them all. ;-)

Anyway, "the Left" has been opposing US Imperialism ever since, so there is not much new to see here.

datura

that won't help and no more false flags will help either. The latest poll showed that only 19% of Germans would fight Russians in case Russia attacked any NATO country. I repeat: if Russia attacked first. You can wonder, what would be the percentage of them willing to fight Russia just for the sake of Ukraine. Close to zero, I think. The USA overstepped all boundaries, when it began pushing EU countries into a military conflict with Russia. Continental Europeans are not Anglo-Saxons, they think differently. They will bow down to any USA pressure, except for a military conflict with Russia! Thats a big no no. Many of them still remember (especially Germans), what it was like to fight wild-spirited Russians, who never surrender no matter what. These constant talks about "Russian agression" by the USA politicians make Germans feel like a cornered animal with nothing to loose. Such animal cannot be subdued anymore, when your existence and life is so directly threatened, you bite. Or another example: try to force your slave to step on a rattlesnake. He may be forced to do many things, but this time he will turn against you. I already said it before: no war against Russia and Europe is possible, because even if the USA somehow forces us to any such war, huge amounts of people will be so angry that they will flee to the side of Russia. We are already discussing this openly. This is already happening in Ukraine. Already 10 000 Ukranian soldiers defected to the other side (to fight Kiev), plus one Ukrainian general, some members of the Ukranian intelligence service and about one and half million Ukrainians fled to Russia to avoid draft. I saw a video where three entire units of soldiers sent from Kiev to Donetsk (with tanks) changed side, threw out Ukrainian flags and put on Russian flags on their tanks under loud cheers from the brave people of Donbass. There are certain very natural limits to what you can force people to do, which bankers do not seem to understand. Yes, you can send many people to war, but they simply will not fight, unless you give them something to fight for. For example Hitler gave people something to fight for. But all bankers give us is chaos, no strong leader, no ideology strong enough....I think they hoped that Putin would invade Ukraine and that would be the reason for war (they provoked Hitler in a similar way). However, Putin is no Hitler, he is way too intelligent to play these silly games. And it is impossible to repeat exactly what was once so successful, because times change, people are different....you cant win with using old outdated strategies over and over. That is why all empires fall in the end. They get stuck in using the same tricks over and over, until they stop working. Even the old color revolutions are not as efficient now as they were in the past and the same goes for those silly false flags.

cherry picker

He is absolutely correct. US is surrounded by two oceans and the North and South neighbor have no intentions of invading the USA, so can anyone explain this war time nuclear, wmd, too many carriers and so forth military and paranoia.

Can't uncle Sam keep his huge nose out of everyone's business?

Can't America just enjoy what is theirs and leave others alone?

Who needs a CIA except for Nazi types.

Fuck Nuland is a good start.

Albertarocks

And the neighbors to the north and south are non-too-pleased with the USA either. We know WTF the USA is doing, although more and more are waking up to the fact that the USA is only being used as the war branch of the banking mafia. Because of this we hold nothing against American people.

In fact, up north we now probably feel more kinship with "the people" of the USA more than ever before. Because we are learning how all this works. It is the global banking monsters and the fascist corporations, the military industrial complex that is in bed with the fucking bankers. It is those assholes who are causing every damned war in the world... not "the USA" as such. Putin is a saint by comparison... not to mention the only sane leader of a superpower left on earth. He is admirable, even from this side of the pond.

Mexicans might present a problem, I don't know. Mexicans never bother Canadians so we just don't seem to have an opinion. Canadians are pretty calm, but fuck when we get mad there can be one hell of a bar fight. I don't know how all this works out but it isn't going in the right direction. I think 98% of Canadians would agree with Mr. Lafontaine. US Imperialism has got to come to an end. Or the world will. And by "US", I mean "banker".

BI2

If only our politicians could understand what that man is really saying. It is for our own good.

https://biblicisminstitute.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/warmongering-vs-econ...

Dodgy Geezer

We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism... F*ck US imperialism!"

You know what the problem is?

It's not particularly the US, though they are the biggest players at the moment. It's the result of the end of the Cold War.

Ever since WW2 the power blocs both had a big military and supporting intelligence service. When the Berlin Wall came down, the Russians collapsed theirs. The West did not. And ever since then it has been looking for a job. That's the reason we have had so much disruption. When your major arm of government is a multi-trillion dollar armed forces, every problem looks like an excuse for a war.

The Delicate Genius

It is not US imperialism

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/09/anglozionist-short-primer-for-...

It is the imperialism of the Anglo-Zionist cabal which has hijacked the American treasury and military.

Neocons, Interventionist "realists" and other assorted militarist scum.

Their control of the MSM is sound {they even acquired VICE News as that got too popular, and Orwellized it, beginning with the Zionist sent to fake stories out of Ukraine}...

but not the internet. As younger people grow up, post comments and articles, this cleft between the pre-internet and internet informed grows more and more obvious.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that expects aggressive moves against intent content.

We've seen some attacks on free speech already in the Fast Track bill - but it will take time to really see how bad the TPP itself is in practice.

But it does seem clear that .gov is hoping to make an end run around various Constitutional niceties by "treaty."

and no - treaties do not and can not over-ride the Constitution. Only amendment, not treaty, can change the constitution.

PrayingMantis

... US imperialism plus US exceptionalism is analogous to this >>> http://rt.com/usa/270268-falcon-launch-space-fail/

... and while the US forces the other NATO members to apply more sanctions to Russia, US hypocrisy rears its ugly head by 'allowing' products from sanctioned Russia that would benefit them ... check this out

>>> http://rt.com/usa/270220-us-space-russian-engine/

pupdog1

Gotta love a guy who knows how to define a problem.

Fuck Noodleberg.

HTZMR

As someone who actually lives in Germany i can tell you that Lafontaine is an absolute has-been and he plays no role in German politics, nor has he for years. His influence came to an end when Schroeder kicked him out of his government over 15 years ago. To claim he is a heavyweight is simply dead wrong.

Wagenknecht does play a certain role, but the Left is a pure protest party full of fundamentalist hardline social democrats and former East German communists. The Left has no say on federal government matters such as foreign policy. This post is pure alarmism.

Wild E Coyote

Actually US and Soviet Union both went bankrupt by Cold War.
Soviet Union accepted their fate.
USA still refuse to accept theirs.

Renfield

Upvoted, but I think technically it was Vietnam that bankrupted the US.

Then again, you could argue that it was the First World War, or the 1929 market crash -- although its bankruptcy wasn't admitted until 1933.

[Jun 28, 2015] Tactless courtship—NSA's espionage in France by Anhvinh Doanvo

"...This sort of espionage is just as counterproductive as denials of its existence. While the briefings may provide a modicum of context on the allies' diplomatic positions, this context is wiped away as soon as the spying activities are revealed. The intrusion on the domestic political sphere of our allies will serve only to rattle our relations with them.
In a world where the power of the US is declining relative to the much faster growth of other developing nations, the credibility of relationships between the US and its allies is critical to the power hegemony our country holds as a moral force. But without some semblance of transparency and Wilsonian trust between our countries, we cannot hope to hold onto the power of goodwill from our allies."
"...Even if some additional context is provided for our allies' diplomatic positions by these intelligence reports, the costs are likely to outweigh the benefits so long as the NSA brazenly fails to address our allies' concerns."

TheHill
On June 23rd, WikiLeaks unveiled a number of documents from the National Security Agency's "Espionnage Elysée" program, that demonstrated the NSA's targeted espionage against high level French government officials, including ministers and three presidents of the French Republic. This espionage against U.S. allies is tactless and is likely to fray relations with U.S. allies and must be reformed.

This event has proven to be all too similar to revelations on the NSA's spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for all the wrong reasons. In both cases, the NSA targeted the few individuals likely to condemn surveillance should they be targeted: heads of state and the highest levels of government.

Just after Edward Snowden began releasing documents on the NSA's program, Chancellor Merkel praised the U.S. for being the "truest ally throughout the decades," until it was revealed that Merkel herself was targeted. Soon afterwards, she compared the NSA to Stasi, the Soviet Union's intelligence agency in East Germany.

Revelations on the NSA's targeting of President Francois Hollande, and his predecessors, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, have similarly led to Hollande's emergency meeting with France's defense council on the 24th. The only targeted head of state that has backed away from condemning U.S. espionage, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, has done so only in a state of political weakness with Brazil's corruption scandal, and unsurprisingly following Brazilian legislation directly targeting the NSA's internet data collection.

According to the documents leaked, this spying has already been a previously noted "sticking point" in other negotiations as early as March 2010, when then French President Sarkozy was negotiating a bilateral intelligence agreement with the U.S. The documents were also said to have revealed few useful state secrets aside from the U.S.'s own intelligence mishap. Subjects discussed were hardly national security matters—they included France's concerns with Greece in the Eurozone crisis, a UN Secretary General appointment, UN resolutions on Palestinian statehood, and ironically, French complaints of NSA spying.

The Foreign Policy magazine has noted that in spite of the USA Freedom Act, Washington has failed to publicly mention any changes to espionage practices against foreign allies. Most U.S. statements have only been statements of denial, as in both Germany and now France. Such statements will prove to be counterproductive as the NSA continues to throw away its credibility with media reports continually contradicting its narrative.

"This sort of espionage is just as counterproductive as denials of its existence. While the briefings may provide a modicum of context on the allies' diplomatic positions, this context is wiped away as soon as the spying activities are revealed. The intrusion on the domestic political sphere of our allies will serve only to rattle our relations with them.

In a world where the power of the US is declining relative to the much faster growth of other developing nations, the credibility of relationships between the US and its allies is critical to the power hegemony our country holds as a moral force. But without some semblance of transparency and Wilsonian trust between our countries, we cannot hope to hold onto the power of goodwill from our allies.

Even if some additional context is provided for our allies' diplomatic positions by these intelligence reports, the costs are likely to outweigh the benefits so long as the NSA brazenly fails to address our allies' concerns. And though espionage against foreign citizens may be necessary, restraint placed on espionage against allied heads of state could have greatly reduced the outrage by politicians and media organizations given the patterns reactions of Brazil, Germany, and now France.

It is not in our interest to make enemies from friends and give political cannon fodder to our enemies through these spying programs. It's time the NSA acknowledged that the opinions our allies' leaders matter, for should they turn sour in our time of need, our challenges might become all too dire for any backstabbing realpolitik espionage program to remedy."

Doanvo is research assistant for the Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict.

[Jun 28, 2015] Thousands in Armenia protest steep hikes in electricity rates

WaPo reported initial events using standard "color revolution" template used in Ukraine.
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"..."The society is very polarized. The power is very weak, in terms of its legitimacy. And a significant number of people are not satisfied with the political system," said Alexander Iskandaryan, a political expert and director of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan. "They are expressing their dissatisfaction, making statements against the president, against the police, against the ruling Republican Party. But in general, this entire complex reveals the total lack of trust in the political system.""
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"...Some Armenian opposition politicians supported the protesters Tuesday. Activists in Russia and Ukraine also cheered the rallies via social media, lauding them as the next generation of demonstrators against Russian President Vladimir Putin's post­-Soviet order. Some Russian media reports seemed to support that view, citing experts warning that the "hands of the USA" were behind the Armenian protests, which had the makings of a "color revolution." "
June 23, 2015 | The Washington Post

Thousands of protesters returned to a main thoroughfare of downtown Yerevan, Armenia, on Tuesday evening, facing down riot police to protest steep electricity price increases planned in the economically strapped country.

Protesters in the capital city marched toward the presidential palace on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue just hours after police had unleashed water cannons to disperse a peaceful overnight sit-in that had taken place in the same spot earlier in the day, detaining more than 230 demonstrators and journalists in the process. The protests, which have been growing over several days, are the most widespread public demonstrations in the Armenian capital since opposition activists rallied thousands against President Serzh Sargsyan's reelection in 2013.

The demonstrations against electricity prices are less structured than the post-election protests, but they still could resonate widely in the current political climate.

Armenia's unrest comes as the country is reeling from the protracted effects of the economic crisis that has gripped Russia's economy over the past year — and, in turn, affected the economies of former Soviet states that depend on Russian markets and the value of the ruble. Russia's economic troubles were complicated by pressure from Western sanctions imposed in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and involvement in eastern Ukraine, punitive measures that the European Union voted Monday to extend for six months.

Armenia receives more than 20 percent of its national income from Russian remittances and joined the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union earlier this year. It is especially dependent on the ebbs and flows of the Russian economy, and its currency, the dram, has suffered for it.

The Russia connection is even more acute in the energy sector.

Armenia's power grid is controlled by the Armenian Electricity Network, a subsidiary of the Russian company Inter RAO UES, whose major shareholders include Russian state-controlled entities. Last month, the Armenian subsidiary announced plans to raise the price of electricity by more than 16 percent beginning in August. The move was described as necessary because of the depreciation of the national currency, but protesters say the increase would be too much for regular people to afford.

"Spread the word, fill the streets and don't pay your electric bill," one organizer told the crowd gathered in Yerevan's Liberty Square on Tuesday. "If we all don't pay our electric bills, they can't do anything about it."

But the protests may not have gathered strength absent general dissatisfaction with the economic and political situation in the country.

"The society is very polarized. The power is very weak, in terms of its legitimacy. And a significant number of people are not satisfied with the political system," said Alexander Iskandaryan, a political expert and director of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan. "They are expressing their dissatisfaction, making statements against the president, against the police, against the ruling Republican Party. But in general, this entire complex reveals the total lack of trust in the political system."

Tuesday's protesters were mostly young adults, and word of the demonstrations spread through social media instead of through the political opposition parties. The main group behind the past several days of protests is a civic group called No to Plunder.

Iskandaryan said it is difficult to predict how the protests will develop, given how relatively decentralized and underfunded they are. The demonstrations could continue, they could fizzle or the government could meet the demonstrators' demands.

"But whatever scenario will come to be, it will not solve the main problem. The main problems will remain," Iskandaryan said. "And then it will be possible to find another excuse for another rally."

How the Yerevan protests proceed depends in part on the state's response. Foreign diplomats expressed concern over how police detained journalists Tuesday morning, while angry protesters were likely galvanized by the use of violence and water cannons to quell and disperse the crowd.

Yerevan police seemed to be restraining themselves Tuesday night. Deputy police chief Valery Osipyan frequently warned protesters to control potential "provocateurs" who might start a confrontation, but he never called out the water cannons.

What happens next will depend on whether interest groups seize the moment created by the demonstrations.

Some Armenian opposition politicians supported the protesters Tuesday. Activists in Russia and Ukraine also cheered the rallies via social media, lauding them as the next generation of demonstrators against Russian President Vladimir Putin's post­-Soviet order.

Some Russian media reports seemed to support that view, citing experts warning that the "hands of the USA" were behind the Armenian protests, which had the makings of a "color revolution."

But the demonstrations largely avoided any overt political message about aligning with the East vs. the West, and most anti-Russian vitriol was reserved for Yevgeny Bibin, the chief executive of the electricity company instituting the price increases

Johnny Canuck, 6/25/2015 4:27 PM EDT

Take at look inside the real Russia outside the Kremlin region. This is what you will find.

The Kremlin needs money so they, like the USSR they will use whatever means are available to get funds into the Kremlin's Treasury.

According to data gathered by Bloomberg, the Kremlin has sufficient funds to keep the government budget and financial system relatively stable through 2015. However disagreements over future government spending will continue to divide Russia's elite.

This year Moscow will have to pay $52.9 billion to the Pension Fund of Russia to cover the shortfall.

Evidence shows that the government has taken $12.5 billion from the fund, using it for projects such as the construction of the Yamal liquefied natural gas facility and for economic development of Crimea.

Rosneft, has proposed that the government use the fund to extend credit to replace the company's Western financing, most of which has been cut off because of sanctions.

Throughout 2015 the Russian Government had numerous discussions, as Russia needs to resolve strong disagreements within its political elite over issues affecting important areas, such as pensions, raising the retirement age from 55 to 65, the defense sector, large firms and regional government spending on medical care, education and infrastructure.

Russia can draw from the total $508 billion in Reserves, that according to the IMF it stockpiled since 2000. So far this year it had drawn down $100 billion from its Reserve Fund.

Johnny Canuck, 6/25/2015 4:25 PM EDT

In the opinion many insiders, the current Kremlin debates have intensified over specific government spending on issues such as taxes, pension, retirement age, defense spending and medical and education expenses. Like most political disagreements between insiders over the divisions of budgets on spending – Putin and his loyal buddies, financial experts and the Federal Security Service – can switch their loyalties in response to both political and economic circumstances.

Russia's total spending on its military budgets, which includes not only Interior Military Forces but also all military spending, which is more that 45% of its GDP. The Kremlin must now face cuts in spending for the new T-14 Armata tank, defense spending on military exercises along its borders and naval shipbuilding and its space program.

Russia's regional governments are demanding that more regional revenues stay in the regions. Only 37 percent of the income generated in any given region is required to stay in each region, with the rest going to the federal budget. However the central government never returns more than 20 percent. Over the past 25 years these shortfalls have accumulated into 100 trillion rubbles, which negatively impacted regional health care, education and infrastructure needs. Low wages have forced households into more barter trading for survival.

The Kremlin knows that regional stability is crucial to the stability of the federal government and the Russian Federation as a whole. The last thing that the Federal Government needs is regional insurrections. This has many Putin supporters worried.

Axel Rea, 6/25/2015 9:30 AM EDT

hey washington post why you start the article with the word "Moscow", this is about the Armenia. If you do not have the sufficient knowledge please do not write the article. Armenia is a sovereign country, it dose not even have any border with russia.

LeonVav, 6/24/2015 6:03 AM EDT

A group of people on capital's street and THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS UNSTABLE NOW. That's silly. Maybe they're unsatisfied with what their politicians do, but why to tack Russia on this? It's Putin who refuses to give them free electricity? He is guilty again?

nanari123, 6/23/2015 9:39 PM EDT

I just don't like it when western media looks at everything wearing this black and white glasses. This is really not about Russia vs US or EU, Armenia's foreign policy has always been the most balanced in the entire post soviet region. Officially it is against the electricity price hike, but in reality, people are trying to show their dissatisfaction with politicians and especially the ruling republican party which has failed to fix the economy as a result of mismanagement and corruption. People there really don't give a hoot about Putin or Obama.

ANTIPINDOS, 6/23/2015 8:58 PM EDT

Armenians what are you doing?
Doesn't allow to manipulate itself
You want to repeat a mistake of Ukraine?
The USA prepare orange revolution against you

[Jun 28, 2015]Signs of color revolution observed in Armenia's unrest

Jun 28, 2015 | en.trend.az

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the international committee of the Federation Council of Russia, considers the unrest in Armenia as the signs of "color revolution", RIA Novosti reported.

"At present, the external situation resembles as a conflict of people dissatisfied with their socio-economic well-being," Kosachev said June 24.

"But there is no need to delude ourselves," he said. "All "color revolutions" developed according to the same scenario. And Armenia is not insured against this."

The rally began in the Liberty Square in Yerevan June 19. It turned into a procession to the presidential residence June 22 evening. The police dispersed the demonstrators with rubber truncheons and water cannons June 23 morning.

Almost 240 people, including journalists, were taken to the police stations. The medical assistance was rendered to 25 people.

The deputy head of Yerevan's police said that all detained protesters have been already released.

On June 23, the Armenian police broke up a rally in the center of the country's capital. The rally was held in protest against increased electricity tariffs. The protests in the streets resulted in use of water cannons against people. Over 230 people were arrested as a result of violent crackdown, including journalists of Gala TV, the Radio Liberty's Armenian office, the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper, the Hetq, News.am, Panarmenian.net news agencies.

On June 17, Armenia's Public Services Regulatory Commission, considering a request from the distribution company, Electric Networks of Armenia, which is a subsidiary of the Inter RAO UES, raised the electricity tariffs by 6.93 Armenian drams (about $0.015). This caused discontent among the population that believes the rise in the cost of electricity will lead to higher prices for essential goods and many services.

[Jun 28, 2015] Is a "color revolution" underway in Armenia

"Electric Yerevan" is Sliding Out of Control

by Andrew Korybko for Sputink

Armenians have taken to the streets to protest a planned 17-22% increase in their utility bills, initiated by the Armenian Electricity Network due to the Armenian dram's dramatic depreciation over the past year (about equal in percentage to the price hike itself). While it's understandable that some in the economically struggling country would be upset by the $85 or so cumulative increase in payments each year, many find it troubling that some individuals have resorted to arming themselves and aggressively attacking the police, and it's confusing that the participants would reject government appeals to negotiate if all they were really after was to repeal the electricity rate increase. After hundreds of arrests over the past few days for hooligan activity, groups of individuals are now blockading the capital's main avenue and have threatened to march on the Presidential Palace, eerily following in the footsteps of their EuroMaidan predecessors. More and more, what may have begun as a legitimate protest movement appears to have been hijacked into a Color Revolution attempt.

The Situation So Far

Opposition to the electricity rate increase had been brewing since May, but it was only on Monday that the "No to Plunder" initiative was able to bring thousands to the streets in protest. They gathered on Freedom Square, in the city's center, and demanded that the hike be reversed. President Serzh Sargsyan suggested that they choose five representatives to speak to him about it, but the mob refused. Later that night, internal provocateurs pushed the crowd into marching on the Presidential Palace, and when they refused law enforcement's repeated pleas to disperse their illegal manifestation, the riot police were forced to resort to water cannons and mass arrests to restore public order. The resulting tumult injured 11 police officers and 7 protesters, and some of the 237 who were arrested were reported to have been equipped with knives, knuckle dusters, batons, and metal rods.

The protests swelled the next day to 15,000 people, and the mob once more rejected President Sargsyan second request to negotiate. They may have felt emboldened by the US' official statement on the matter, which in a style reminiscent of its early response to EuroMaidan, stated that:

"…we are concerned about reports of excessive police use of force to disperse the crowd on the morning of June 23, as well as several reports of abuse while in police custody. In addition, we are troubled by reports that journalists and their equipment were specifically targeted during the operation. It is imperative that the Government conduct a full and transparent investigation of reports of the excessive use of force by the police to the full extent of Armenian law."

Just like in Ukraine, when the US supports an anti-government movement (which is what has essentially formed in Armenia), it completely opposes any attempt by the authorities to assert law and order in responding to their proxies' illegal provocations. The implicit statement of support for the disorderly activity was a signal to the Yerevan organizers to stage an occupation movement on Baghramyan Avenue, the central street leading to the Presidential Palace, and block it with a combination of garbage cans and a "living wall" on Wednesday. The Minister of Education and a few opposition MPs physically partook in this activity, indicating an emerging split within the government. The individuals behind the destabilization have since branded their movement 'Electric Yerevan', and this was a sign for their affiliated anti-government cells all across the country to simultaneously 'come out' and transform the capital's protests into a nationwide rebellion……

……Like all Color Revolutions, the backers of 'Electric Yerevan' are motivated by concrete geopolitical interests. They want to install an anti-Russian government that would withdraw Armenia from the Eurasian Economic Union and break the historical friendship between both states, following the model spearheaded by EuroMaidan's post-coup authorities. Pashinyan is highly critical of all aspects of Armenia's special relationship with Russia and has experience with anti-government organizing, hence his present designation as de-facto leader of the Color Revolution. The US also wants to drag Russia into a renewed military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, using post-coup newly installed nationalists like Pashinyan to aggravate the situation with Azerbaijan to the point of open warfare, which Russia, with its Collective Security Treaty Organization obligations to Armenia and its 102nd military base in Gyumri, would inevitably be sucked into. The US failed to coax a disastrous Afghan-esque military intervention out of Russia in Ukraine after the EuroMaidan events, but it doesn't mean that it won't try to do the same thing in the Caucasus after a potentially successful 'Electric Yerevan'.

http://rt.com/politics/269392-russian-senator-armenia-unrest/

"So far the situation appears to be developing as a conflict among people who are unhappy with their socio-economic well-being. But we should not deceive ourselves, all color revolutions developed in similar scenarios. Armenia is not guaranteed from such outcome," Kosachev said in comments with RIA Novosti.

The senior Russian senator also drew the reporters attention to the fact that about a hundred of various non-government groups were working with Armenian public opinion trying to incline it towards the pro-Western way of development. He noted that the very suggestion of a choice between East and West was an imposed move that could only lead to conflict.

"This is an absolutely artificial choice, a dishonest and unappealing political gamble," he noted.

Russia currently lists color revolution as a major threat to the national stability and international peace. In March this year the chairman of the Security Council and a former head of the Federal Security Service, Nikolai Patrushev, said that this body would develop a detailed plan aimed at preventing color revolutions or any other attempts of forceful change of lawfully elected authorities through mass street protest.

[Jun 28, 2015] The USA tries to stage a color revolution in Armenia

Jun 28, 2015 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Fern, June 27, 2015 at 8:22 pm

A very interesting article on the situation in Armenia. I don't agree with everything the writer says but much of it is spot-on:

Novices to political science and political activism may be lured by the spectre and spectacle of the Color Revolution method that has characterized ostensible movements for radical social change in the last generation. The symbols have become iconic and clichéd: the tent city, the die-in, the girl placing flowers in the gendarme's gun barrels, water cannons and tear-gas, the fist flag.

What is missing of course from this view is an understanding of the real social forces in a society, class and economic forces. For forty years, genuine activism, labor union militancy, has been marginalized. In place of direct action against the ruling class at the very places that make their wealth, is a strange simulation of late 1960's student activism; shown to us on a never-ending film reel loop.

http://fortruss.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/electric-yerevan-and-lessons-on-color.html

Many of the analysts I've read on Armenia – including those quoted above – seem to think it unlikely that this new Maidan will succeed. I'm not so sure. Once it has its hooks into a country, the US is loathe to let go.

marknesop, June 27, 2015 at 8:32 pm
Like sanctions, the colour revolutions depend on momentum – getting it, and maintaining it by incremental pressure until the government folds up like a lawn chair. Governments have learned from the Orange Revolution not to let a revolutionary camp get established, and as soon as they see tents they get torn down; if people do not have shelter in which to sleep so they can stay on location, they quickly fragment and drift away.

But no colour revolution ever again reached the intensity of the Orange Revolution. It was up to the western media to create the appearance of momentum by injecting fake news about the government meeting with rebel leaders and filming the crowds from angles and frames which suggest they were much bigger than they actually are.

Yanukovych at Maidan is probably the worst possible example, and it gave the west unfounded confidence, because he capitulated in whole in less time than it takes to say it, folding like a steamed tortilla and giving the self-appointed leaders everything they asked for without even putting up a fight.

In retrospect, they probably could have sent Tetyana Chornovol in alone to beat him up until he wept for mercy and saved a great deal of effort and expense. But other leaders are tougher and smarter than Yanukovych, and are expecting to be colour-revolutioned. The secret is not to lose your head and start bargaining, because that's what the model is calculated to make you do.

ucgsblog. June 27, 2015 at 11:22 pm
There's also Russia releasing all of the tactics used in the Orange Revolution for every country's government to study. I doubt that they're will be a repeat, especially in Armenia.
yalensis , June 28, 2015 at 3:43 am
The Flores piece that Fern posted makes a really good point, about the difference between REAL activism (e.g., trade union strikes) and fake activism (e.g., student protests, hippie flower children, etc.)

When a trade union wins a bitter strike and gets a measly raise of, say, $.50 per hour, it is still a significant victory, because the money comes directly out (and in place of) of the capitalist's profits. As Flores notes, this is "direct action" at the very fountain of where wealth is created. As opposed to student protests, which do nothing to change anything at the base of the economic system.

But it IS notable that the current bunch of goons in charge of the U.S. government – people like Clinton, Nuland, etc., spent some of their student years in the 1960's doing various hippie-dippie protests, and the like. So, they are familiar with this method of protest, and use it as a cover for the actual big-power subversion, which they are doing behind the scenes. Subconsciously, they might even believe that "it's all good", because they have such fond memories of their own student years spent supporting various "good causes".

Oh, and another reason these "hippie-dippie" type protests are popular with a certain type of gilded youth, is because it allows them to indulge in their own physical narcisissm:
They get to paint their faces, wear funny costumes, show of their "creativity", preen in front of cameras, etc.
The sort of thing that many teenagers enjoy doing, but especially the more narcissistic types.

Fern, June 28, 2015 at 4:56 am
yalensis, yes, I think that's a really key point – the difference between activism that fundamentally changes or challenges economic relationships in a society and these so-called 'revolutions' which is nearly every state have led to the embrace of neo-liberal policies and worsening of the economic situation of many of its citizens. And, of course, it's a point that's completely missing from any western MSM analysis of what's taken place in Ukraine, Georgia and all the other places with colour or flower 'revolutions'. No questioning at all of why, exactly, the leaders of western countries such as the US or UK are so enthusiastic in supporting these movements abroad when they have done everything possible to destroy or marginalise agents for real change at home.
yalensis , June 28, 2015 at 3:31 am
It makes sense that U.S. is targeting Armenian government with color revolution.
Probably to punish Armenia for joining Eurasian Economic Union.
Jen, June 28, 2015 at 5:20 am
There could be many reasons and Armenia's entry into the Eurasian Union could be one of them. The US wouldn't initiate a colour revolution unless it presents an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone. A colour revolution leading to instability or an extremely nationalist government that reignites the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Azerbaijan would (supposedly) draw in Russia, to supply Armenia with aid or weapons, and that would open the door to greater US military investment in Azerbaijan on the pretext that Azerbaijan is being threatened. This gives the US an opportunity to go to the next step which would be to plan an invasion of or another Green revolution in Iran next door, or start colour revolutions in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Also 2016 is the start of a new election cycle in the US and Washington probably needs to get some action going against Russia and/or Iran to defect public attention away from an uninspiring field of presidential candidates and their lack of meaningful policies.

yalensis, June 28, 2015 at 4:34 am
As per the Gene Sharp handbook, Armenian demonstrators are starting to hint at violence, in the next phase or protests. Armenian media caughts shots of some demonstrators starting to wave wooden clubs.

Yerevan police chief Valery Osipian communicated, that the police have pictures of the people with the wooden clubs, and intend to find them, as this is illegal.

Osipian also communicated, that the protesters attempts to set up tents and food service have been thwarted. Setting up food and cooking, in particular, requires permits.

Is perfectly clear that Armenian authorities know exactly what is happening, and what is going to happen next. Probably the next phase is violence. There were some reports of Ukrainian neo-Nazis being flown in, but possibly there are also violent groups within Armenia who could be used as the shock troops.

But police seem to be savvy, and know what to do. Ukrainian police (=Berkut) were defeated only, because Yanukovych lost his nerve and would not allow them to win.

Jen , June 28, 2015 at 5:49 am
Perhaps if the Armenian government declared that anyone attending the demonstrations would not receive any results from end-of-term or end-of-year exams at school or college, and threaten to order educational authorities to withhold school or university graduation certificates and ceremonies as well, the protests might shrink to just the ringleaders and their more fanatical followers.

The reason that the Umbrella Revolution faltered in Hong Kong last year was that universities had just reopened after term break and exams were about to start, and the Hong Kong authorities only had to wait out the protests.

likbez , June 28, 2015 at 7:30 am
Don't be naïve. As Euromaidan had shown University professors, deans, etc themselves are an important part of fifth column supporting the protests. Departments of Economics and similar "social" departments are especially easy and cheap to seduce by grants, foreign trips, etc. and they have natural neoliberal leanings. In case of Euromaidan it was they who, if not asked students to go to the street, at least granted them "amnesty" from missing the classes. And they operated within the larger framework of staging color revolution, being just one element of complex infrastructure. The same was true in Hong Cong: certain professors actively encouraged the events and served as catalyst for students.

The start of color revolution means just a switch to active stage of of multifaceted, well prepared ongoing intelligence operation using the accumulated in embassies cash and well organized assets in the country such as NGO, journalists, fifth column within the government, etc. Operation which was prepared for long time..

Those extras that show up on the streets are mostly a stage for public consumption. Real events of infiltration that make color revolution possible happen on higher level and are hidden from the view. The goal is always to paralyze and neutralize both government and law enforcement by finding people who can be bought, coerced into supporting the coup d'état or at least profess neutrality. And without "breakthrough" in this direction the active stage on which protesters suddenly and en mass appear of the streets is never started.

Nuland and company probably made serious progress in creating the "color revolution infrastructure" and fifth column within the county elite. They probably are now keeping of short leash some corrupt officials both in law enforcement and government. Cash is now dispensed continuously to grease the wheels. "Militant protestor" in Kiev got around $30- $35 a night. Of course some radical nationalist elements participated "for free" but a lot of extras were paid.

So start of active phase first of all means the level of maturity and readiness of already formed fifth column within the government to topple the current government. In case of Ukraine it was Lyovochkin and elements within SBU and police (remnants from Yushchenko government), Also Nuland kept Yanukovich by the balls be threating to confiscate his assets in the West. I suspect that in some form this is also true the case in Armenia.

In other words the key feature of color revolution is the "elite betrayal" component. That's why often the actions of the government in "self-defense" are contradictory and inefficient..

[Jun 27, 2015] Americas Deadliest Export Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

Amazon.com

Gary Corseri

William Blum's "Cri de Coeur", February 9, 2013

William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)

(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.

Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

[Jun 25, 2015] Russia experience in 1991 and Armenian color revolution

Russian neoliberal revolution of 1991 was possible because the current system "of developed socialism" was rotten to the core and elite of the country decided switched sides to find an exist from the dismal  economic situation. Moreover communism as an ideology became dead after the WWII and existed in zombie state since then: even "poor" Western countries manage to provide higher standard of living for thier people then Central European countries which were at approximately the same starting level of economic development. Completion in technology was irrevocable lost. Science in the USSR fossilized with real scientists displaced by 'scientific bureaucrats" and ruthless careerists, despite some bright sport (mainly connected with military industrial complex). Backwardness in computer technology was noticeable to everybody. The same with software.   Power of the West played the role (drop of oil priced was engineered by Reagan administration; also the USSR got into Afghanistan trap with gentle encouragement of Kissinger and friends)  Without that all those attempts by CIA and other Western three letter agencies to distribute money and form fifth column  would end with "dissidents" exited and money confiscated. So it was conscious decision of KGB brass that the current system has no chances and the country need to adopt neoliberal model instead. That advantages of socialism over capitalism as an economic system are a myth.

Many complaining about Yerevan color revolution do not understand that we ourselves live in the country of victorious neoliberal color revolution on 1991?

Which day in the media and blogs - the perplexity and dissatisfaction of the Maidan in Armenia. People are annoyed: Why the Armenians do not see that they are manipulated? Then dubious persond like in Kiev are handing out cookies/lovasik. They just sweep the area. Read the Sharp's book( p. 33): "In places of demonstrations you should behave complementary to local residents to be careful and smiling". And the same attempt to play thr dystnfsr color revolution card : "children beaten by police" (as in the photo of the girl from Yerevan).

Still. Some Armenians became blind. Even the local scientist told me that in Yerevan there are hundreds of American NGOs, now blinkered: "That's the people's protest." No American influence, no?.

And were we not eaully blong in 1991? Aren't we now spitting at our own mirror? How many people understand that we live in a country of victorious neoliberal color revolution of 1991?

Then also everything was staged exactly like prescribed in Sharp textbook. Five-year plan the preparation of public consciousness (1985-1991), the decomposition and bribering with hard currency of the ruling class rod (In the USSR "everything is rotten" memo became popular), then a reason. In Armenia the reason could be the increase of tariffs and poverty; in Ukraine - cancel signing something with the EU and instillation of hatred for Russia (instillation of hatred for Russia was their key method of preparation of the public consciousness, the decomposition of will to resist to color revolution)... And in Moscow the was infamous putsch.

Pitiful attempt of the old regime to stop already speeding the train of the collapse of the USSR.

Vasya, you need to strike first

Instantly out of nowhere, "peaceful" barricades near the White house, and grandmothers wore tea, Yes, and machines with pies, and the drugs, and the flowers on the tanks (love bombing, sectarian trick: make friends with the men of law, then they couldn't batons you , plus work on the photo, the frame of Western agencies, textbook Sharpe, p. 56).

And sacred lamps: three boys who perished under the tank tracks....

And gynatic tricolor flags with the length in Manezhnaya square, which were carried at their funeral? Well, nobody asked the question where it came from. Of course, this symbolism was not prepared in advance for us by our forends from the USa State Department.

We chanted: "RA-si-ya! RA-si-ya!", - and let's monument to Dzerzhinsky fell. And Ukrainians are such fools. Those fools tried to push Lenin statues from the postaments. We were smarter then them ;-).

And then American advisers sat on the sixth floor of the Ministry of Finance, and the budget was approved at the IMF. And then agreements on division of production for multinations, when our natural resources were simply given as a present to forein multinatins. And lice started crawling in the grandmother of Yeltsin home, in the village Booth, and all of grandmother's family eat on one grandma's pension, and Yeltsin was shaking hands with the incarnation of Christ Myung moon in the Kremlin, and of the sects became proligic in the the country without any control: "Jesus-us! Appeared to me-e!" (said in a singsong voice, twitching on the stage, the microphone and with an American accent).

Oh... And books with Nazi crosses was freely displayed on the stalls in the center of Moscow, and strormtroopers of RNE were wandering along the streets. Yes exactly like in Ukraine. Please give me pop-corn. Ukraine is just re-incarnation of our ghosts of 90th...

As it is obvious that all color revolution are done with huge support from the foreign powers. Let's remember Lenin in the sealed train... Looks like marriages are made in heaven, but color revolutions are made from the outside. Amen.

...Then, of course, the USA burned with Napalm most of Russian industry in 90s. And only then started forming new anti-Us vertical of power, and the rebuilding of order and the country started in full force, and even later started the defense of our interests in the international arena. which in understanding of puppeteers of color revolutions was counterrevolution. anti-Maydan.

But, frankly, we manage to correct and eliminated not everything that foreign power brought into the country in and stuck us in 1991. "Liberators" managed to burn our territory with the democracy to the extent that it will take for us a half a century or more to recover. Such is the power of one successful color revolution. after one such fire, nothing grows on the ground for a long, long time.

MEANWHILE

Rebels in Yerevan to the correspondent of "KP": "Please say to the Russians that we are not against them"

Yeah they us got! Just got! Raised again the price of electricity - that why people rebelled! 'says the taxi driver who takes me from the airport to the street of Marshal Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan, where already the fourth day of rioting crowd of about five thousand people. Officially - against rising electricity tariffs. "There's the street blocked off, there you should go (details)

SEE ALSO

When the "electroMaydan" wins, Yerevan will host Makarevich

Our columnist tries to understand the causes of the riots in Armenia (details)

AND HERE WAS A CASE

Paul Craig Roberts: "If Victoria Nuland visited Armenia, then Armenia will have a coup!"

This is how this winter warned the Armenian American journalist, economist, one of the principal architects of the "Reagan economic miracle" (details)

Guest No. 5057, 26.06.2015, 7:01

Well, I remember that articles about how good is that fact that the Soros Foundation reached out and provides the aid to Russia. And how that ended with promotion of prostitution among young girls and lads for boys. In Russian Newspapers by Russian journalists! It is interesting to me still, is they have any moral consciences and is not what they did bothering any of the those Newspapers presstitutes fed by Soros money for feeding people with all this sh**t on the silver spoon?

[Jun 25, 2015]Europe's Enlightened Order

"...The central insight that animated the Congress of Vienna is that order, like liberty, is fragile. It is contingent on political institutions and social norms and cultural prejudices and a hundred other variables that, if undermined, lead to chaos. Order is easy to break, yet hard to build. But if peace depends on it, then a politics grounded in prudence, caution, and realism is necessary. To live through the traumatic experience of state failure—as all of the Congress's authors did, and as many in the Middle East and North Africa do today—is to recognize that, in comparison to the anarchy and chaos of a civil war, order is an enlightened principle too."
Jun 25, 2015 | The American Conservative

...The Congress of Vienna reminds us that not one but two traditions of cosmopolitan thought trace their roots back to the 18th-century Enlightenment. One is a moralizing, militant worldview that seeks peace by toppling despotic regimes in the name of liberty. It supposes that a new world order, underwritten by an enlightened hegemon, can be crafted in the wake of these conquests. This was the dream of the French revolutionaries, of Napoleon, of Woodrow Wilson. And to a large extent, it remains the dream of today's foreign-policy establishment in Washington. In the past few decades America has "liberated," in Napoleon's sense of the term, countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. Whether through the hard power of military force (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) or the soft power of moral cajoling and economic pressure (Egypt, Syria, Ukraine), our hope has been that regime change will produce stable liberal democracies and lead to peace. But as the litany of failed states in our wake suggests, this approach tends to undermine the very order it seeks to moralize.

The second legacy of Enlightenment, the one witnessed in 1815, is more promising. It recognizes that if peace depends on order and order on stability, then the moralizing power of a hegemon will not of itself lead to a peaceful world. The central insight that animated the Congress of Vienna is that order, like liberty, is fragile. It is contingent on political institutions and social norms and cultural prejudices and a hundred other variables that, if undermined, lead to chaos. Order is easy to break, yet hard to build. But if peace depends on it, then a politics grounded in prudence, caution, and realism is necessary. To live through the traumatic experience of state failure—as all of the Congress's authors did, and as many in the Middle East and North Africa do today—is to recognize that, in comparison to the anarchy and chaos of a civil war, order is an enlightened principle too.

Jonathan Green is a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge.

[Jun 25, 2015]The American Century' Has Plunged the World Into Crisis. What Happens Now?  By Conn Hallinan and Leon Wofsy

Authors outlined important reasons of the inevitability of the dominance of chicken hawks and jingoistic foreign policy in the USA political establishment:
.
"...Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and our infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional."
.
"...leading presidential candidates are tapping neoconservatives like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem to forget that following this lot's advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned."
.
"...A "war first" policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. "
.
"...But challenging the "exceptionalism" myth courts the danger of being labeled "unpatriotic" and "un-American," two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning voices."
.
"...The United States did not simply support Kosovo's independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force in regions thousands of miles from its borders."
.
"...The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at its height in 1895.
.
The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were quick "smash and grabs" like Panama and Grenada. Others are "shadow wars" waged by Special Forces, armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term "war" as the application of organized violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945."
.
"...The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to levels that many dictators would envy. The Senate torture report, most of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus that runs the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised."
.
"...the U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 "Carter Doctrine" — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:"
.
"...In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans agreed that "over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism." Only 37 percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State began, those numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.
.
It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war, a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.
"
June 22, 2015 | fpif.org

U.S. foreign policy is dangerous, undemocratic, and deeply out of sync with real global challenges. Is continuous war inevitable, or can we change course?

There's something fundamentally wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

Despite glimmers of hope — a tentative nuclear agreement with Iran, for one, and a long-overdue thaw with Cuba — we're locked into seemingly irresolvable conflicts in most regions of the world. They range from tensions with nuclear-armed powers like Russia and China to actual combat operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

Why? Has a state of perpetual warfare and conflict become inescapable? Or are we in a self-replicating cycle that reflects an inability — or unwillingness — to see the world as it actually is?

The United States is undergoing a historic transition in our relationship to the rest of the world, but this is neither acknowledged nor reflected in U.S. foreign policy. We still act as if our enormous military power, imperial alliances, and self-perceived moral superiority empower us to set the terms of "world order."

While this illusion goes back to the end of World War II, it was the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union that signaled the beginning of a self-proclaimed "American Century." The idea that the United States had "won" the Cold War and now — as the world's lone superpower — had the right or responsibility to order the world's affairs led to a series of military adventures. It started with President Bill Clinton's intervention in the Yugoslav civil war, continued on with George W. Bush's disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and can still be seen in the Obama administration's own misadventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.

In each case, Washington chose war as the answer to enormously complex issues, ignoring the profound consequences for both foreign and domestic policy. Yet the world is very different from the assumptions that drive this impulsive interventionism.

It's this disconnect that defines the current crisis.

Acknowledging New Realities

So what is it about the world that requires a change in our outlook? A few observations come to mind.

  1. First, our preoccupation with conflicts in the Middle East — and to a significant extent, our tensions with Russia in Eastern Europe and with China in East Asia — distract us from the most compelling crises that threaten the future of humanity. Climate change and environmental perils have to be dealt with now and demand an unprecedented level of international collective action. That also holds for the resurgent danger of nuclear war.
  2. Second, superpower military interventionism and far-flung acts of war have only intensified conflict, terror, and human suffering. There's no short-term solution — especially by force — to the deep-seated problems that cause chaos, violence, and misery through much of the world.
  3. Third, while any hope of curbing violence and mitigating the most urgent problems depends on international cooperation, old and disastrous intrigues over spheres of influence dominate the behavior of the major powers. Our own relentless pursuit of military advantage on every continent, including through alliances and proxies like NATO, divides the world into "friend" and "foe" according to our perceived interests. That inevitably inflames aggressive imperial rivalries and overrides common interests in the 21st century.
  4. Fourth, while the United States remains a great economic power, economic and political influence is shifting and giving rise to national and regional centers no longer controlled by U.S.-dominated global financial structures. Away from Washington, London, and Berlin, alternative centers of economic power are taking hold in Beijing, New Delhi, Cape Town, and Brasilia. Independent formations and alliances are springing up: organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (representing 2.8 billion people); the Union of South American Nations; the Latin American trade bloc, Mercosur; and others.

Beyond the problems our delusions of grandeur have caused in the wider world, there are enormous domestic consequences of prolonged war and interventionism. We shell out over $1 trillion a year in military-related expenses even as our social safety net frays and our infrastructure crumbles. Democracy itself has become virtually dysfunctional.

Short Memories and Persistent Delusions

But instead of letting these changing circumstances and our repeated military failures give us pause, our government continues to act as if the United States has the power to dominate and dictate to the rest of the world.

The responsibility of those who set us on this course fades into background. Indeed, in light of the ongoing meltdown in the Middle East, leading presidential candidates are tapping neoconservatives like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz — who still think the answer to any foreign policy quandary is military power — for advice. Our leaders seem to forget that following this lot's advice was exactly what caused the meltdown in the first place. War still excites them, risks and consequences be damned.

While the Obama administration has sought, with limited success, to end the major wars it inherited, our government makes wide use of killer drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and has put troops back into Iraq to confront the religious fanaticism and brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) — itself a direct consequence of the last U.S. invasion of Iraq. Reluctant to find common ground in the fight against ISIS with designated "foes" like Iran and Syria, Washington clings to allies like Saudi Arabia, whose leaders are fueling the crisis of religious fanaticism and internecine barbarity. Elsewhere, the U.S. also continues to give massive support to the Israeli government, despite its expanding occupation of the West Bank and its horrific recurring assaults on Gaza.

A "war first" policy in places like Iran and Syria is being strongly pushed by neoconservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. Though it's attempted to distance itself from the neocons, the Obama administration adds to tensions with planned military realignments like the "Asia pivot" aimed at building up U.S. military forces in Asia to confront China. It's also taken a more aggressive position than even other NATO partners in fostering a new cold war with Russia.

We seem to have missed the point: There is no such thing as an "American Century." International order cannot be enforced by a superpower alone. But never mind centuries — if we don't learn to take our common interests more seriously than those that divide nations and breed the chronic danger of war, there may well be no tomorrows.

Unexceptionalism

There's a powerful ideological delusion that any movement seeking to change U.S. foreign policy must confront: that U.S. culture is superior to anything else on the planet. Generally going by the name of "American exceptionalism," it's the deeply held belief that American politics (and medicine, technology, education, and so on) are better than those in other countries. Implicit in the belief is an evangelical urge to impose American ways of doing things on the rest of the world.

Americans, for instance, believe they have the best education system in the world, when in fact they've dropped from 1st place to 14th place in the number of college graduates. We've made students of higher education the most indebted section of our population, while falling to 17th place in international education ratings. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the average American pays more than twice as much for his or her education than those in the rest of the world.

Health care is an equally compelling example. In the World Health Organization's ranking of health care systems in 2000, the United States was ranked 37th. In a more recent Institute of Medicine report in 2013, the U.S. was ranked the lowest among 17 developed nations studied.

The old anti-war slogan, "It will be a good day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier" is as appropriate today as it was in the 1960s. We prioritize corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive military budgets over education. The result is that Americans are no longer among the most educated in the world.

But challenging the "exceptionalism" myth courts the danger of being labeled "unpatriotic" and "un-American," two powerful ideological sanctions that can effectively silence critical or questioning voices.

The fact that Americans consider their culture or ideology "superior" is hardly unique. But no other country in the world has the same level of economic and military power to enforce its worldview on others.

The United States did not simply support Kosovo's independence, for example. It bombed Serbia into de facto acceptance. When the U.S. decided to remove the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Gaddafi from power, it just did so. No other country is capable of projecting that kind of force in regions thousands of miles from its borders.

The U.S. currently accounts for anywhere from 45 to 50 percent of the world's military spending. It has hundreds of overseas bases, ranging from huge sprawling affairs like Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo and unsinkable aircraft carriers around the islands of Okinawa, Wake, Diego Garcia, and Guam to tiny bases called "lily pads" of pre-positioned military supplies. The late political scientist Chalmers Johnson estimated that the U.S. has some 800 bases worldwide, about the same as the British Empire had at its height in 1895.

The United States has long relied on a military arrow in its diplomatic quiver, and Americans have been at war almost continuously since the end of World War II. Some of these wars were major undertakings: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Libya. Some were quick "smash and grabs" like Panama and Grenada. Others are "shadow wars" waged by Special Forces, armed drones, and local proxies. If one defines the term "war" as the application of organized violence, the U.S. has engaged in close to 80 wars since 1945.

The Home Front

The coin of empire comes dear, as the old expression goes.

According Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, the final butcher bill for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars — including the long-term health problems of veterans — will cost U.S. taxpayers around $6 trillion. One can add to that the over $1 trillion the U.S. spends each year on defense-related items. The "official" defense budget of some half a trillion dollars doesn't include such items as nuclear weapons, veterans' benefits or retirement, the CIA and Homeland Security, nor the billions a year in interest we'll be paying on the debt from the Afghan-Iraq wars. By 2013 the U.S. had already paid out $316 billion in interest.

The domestic collateral damage from that set of priorities is numbing.

We spend more on our "official" military budget than we do on Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development combined. Since 9/11, we've spent $70 million an hour on "security" compared to $62 million an hour on all domestic programs.

As military expenditures dwarf funding for deteriorating social programs, they drive economic inequality. The poor and working millions are left further and further behind. Meanwhile the chronic problems highlighted at Ferguson, and reflected nationwide, are a horrific reminder of how deeply racism — the unequal economic and social divide and systemic abuse of black and Latino youth — continues to plague our homeland.

The state of ceaseless war has deeply damaged our democracy, bringing our surveillance and security state to levels that many dictators would envy. The Senate torture report, most of it still classified, shatters the trust we are asked to place in the secret, unaccountable apparatus that runs the most extensive Big Brother spy system ever devised.

Bombs and Business

President Calvin Coolidge was said to have remarked that "the business of America is business." Unsurprisingly, U.S. corporate interests play a major role in American foreign policy.

Out of the top 10 international arms producers, eight are American. The arms industry spends millions lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and it defends its turf with an efficiency and vigor that its products don't always emulate on the battlefield. The F-35 fighter-bomber, for example — the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history — will cost $1.5 trillion and doesn't work. It's over budget, dangerous to fly, and riddled with defects. And yet few lawmakers dare challenge the powerful corporations who have shoved this lemon down our throats.

Corporate interests are woven into the fabric of long-term U.S. strategic interests and goals. Both combine to try to control energy supplies, command strategic choke points through which oil and gas supplies transit, and ensure access to markets.

Many of these goals can be achieved with standard diplomacy or economic pressure, but the U.S. always reserves the right to use military force. The 1979 "Carter Doctrine" — a document that mirrors the 1823 Monroe Doctrine about American interests in Latin America — put that strategy in blunt terms vis-à-vis the Middle East:

"An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

It's no less true in East Asia. The U.S. will certainly engage in peaceful economic competition with China. But if push comes to shove, the Third, Fifth, and Seventh fleets will back up the interests of Washington and its allies — Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.

Trying to change the course of American foreign policy is not only essential for reducing international tensions. It's critically important to shift the enormous wealth we expend in war and weapons toward alleviating growing inequality and social crises at home.

As long as competition for markets and accumulation of capital characterize modern society, nations will vie for spheres of influence, and antagonistic interests will be a fundamental feature of international relations. Chauvinist reaction to incursions real or imagined — and the impulse to respond by military means — is characteristic to some degree of every significant nation-state. Yet the more that some governments, including our own, become subordinate to oligarchic control, the greater is the peril.

Finding the Common Interest

These, however, are not the only factors that will shape the future.

There is nothing inevitable that rules out a significant change of direction, even if the demise or transformation of a capitalistic system of greed and exploitation is not at hand. The potential for change, especially in U.S. foreign policy, resides in how social movements here and abroad respond to the undeniable reality of: 1) the chronic failure, massive costs, and danger inherent in "American Century" exceptionalism; and 2) the urgency of international efforts to respond to climate change.

There is, as well, the necessity to respond to health and natural disasters aggravated by poverty, to rising messianic violence, and above all, to prevent a descent into war. This includes not only the danger of a clash between the major nuclear powers, but between regional powers. A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, for example, would affect the whole world.

Without underestimating the self-interest of forces that thrive on gambling with the future of humanity, historic experience and current reality elevate a powerful common interest in peace and survival. The need to change course is not something that can be recognized on only one side of an ideological divide. Nor does that recognition depend on national, ethnic, or religious identity. Rather, it demands acknowledging the enormous cost of plunging ahead as everything falls apart around us.

After the latest U.S. midterm elections, the political outlook is certainly bleak. But experience shows that elections, important as they are, are not necessarily indicators of when and how significant change can come about in matters of policy. On issues of civil rights and social equality, advances have occurred because a dedicated and persistent minority movement helped change public opinion in a way the political establishment could not defy.

The Vietnam War, for example, came to an end, despite the stubbornness of Democratic and Republican administrations, when a stalemate on the battlefield and growing international and domestic opposition could no longer be denied. Significant changes can come about even as the basic character of society is retained. Massive resistance and rejection of colonialism caused the British Empire and other colonial powers to adjust to a new reality after World War II. McCarthyism was eventually defeated in the United States. President Nixon was forced to resign. The use of landmines and cluster bombs has been greatly restricted because of the opposition of a small band of activists whose initial efforts were labeled "quixotic."

There are diverse and growing political currents in our country that see the folly and danger of the course we're on. Many Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians — and much of the public — are beginning to say "enough" to war and military intervention all over the globe, and the folly of basing foreign policy on dividing countries into "friend or foe."

This is not to be Pollyannaish about anti-war sentiment, or how quickly people can be stampeded into supporting the use of force. In early 2014, some 57 percent of Americans agreed that "over-reliance on military force creates more hatred leading to increased terrorism." Only 37 percent believed military force was the way to go. But once the hysteria around the Islamic State began, those numbers shifted to pretty much an even split: 47 percent supported the use of military force, 46 percent opposed it.

It will always be necessary in each new crisis to counter those who mislead and browbeat the public into acceptance of another military intervention. But in spite of the current hysterics about ISIS, disillusionment in war as an answer is probably greater now among Americans and worldwide than it has ever been. That sentiment may prove strong enough to produce a shift away from perpetual war, a shift toward some modesty and common-sense realism in U.S. foreign policy.

Making Space for the Unexpected

Given that there is a need for a new approach, how can American foreign policy be changed?

Foremost, there is the need for a real debate on the thrust of a U.S. foreign policy that chooses negotiation, diplomacy, and international cooperation over the use of force.

However, as we approach another presidential election, there is as yet no strong voice among the candidates to challenge U.S. foreign policy. Fear and questionable political calculation keep even most progressive politicians from daring to dissent as the crisis of foreign policy lurches further into perpetual militarism and war. That silence of political acquiescence has to be broken.

Nor is it a matter of concern only on the left. There are many Americans — right, left, or neither — who sense the futility of the course we're on. These voices have to be represented or the election process will be even more of a sham than we've recently experienced.

One can't predict just what initiatives may take hold, but the recent U.S.-China climate agreement suggests that necessity can override significant obstacles. That accord is an important step forward, although a limited bilateral pact cannot substitute for an essential international climate treaty. There is a glimmer of hope also in the U.S.-Russian joint action that removed chemical weapons from Syria, and in negotiations with Iran, which continue despite fierce opposition from U.S. hawks and the Israeli government. More recently, there is Obama's bold move — long overdue — to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Despite shifts in political fortunes, the unexpected can happen if there is a need and strong enough pressure to create an opportunity.

We do not claim to have ready-made solutions to the worsening crisis in international relations. We are certain that there is much we've missed or underestimated. But if readers agree that U.S. foreign policy has a national and global impact, and that it is not carried out in the interests of the majority of the world's people, including our own, then we ask you to join this conversation.

If we are to expand the ability of the people to influence foreign policy, we need to defend democracy, and encourage dissent and alternative ideas. The threats to the world and to ourselves are so great that finding common ground trumps any particular interest. We also know that we won't all agree with each other, and we believe that is as it should be. There are multiple paths to the future. No coalition around changing foreign policy will be successful if it tells people to conform to any one pattern of political action.

So how does the call for changing course translate to something politically viable, and how do we consider the problem of power?

The power to make significant changes in policy ranges from the persistence of peace activists to the potential influence of the general public. In some circumstances, it becomes possible — as well as necessary — to make significant changes in the power structure itself.

Greece comes to mind. Greek left organizations came together to form Syriza, the political party that was successfully elected to power on a platform of ending austerity. Spain's anti-austerity Podemos Party — now the number-two party in the country — came out of massive demonstrations in 2011 and was organized from the grassroots up. We do not argue one approach over the over, but the experiences in both countries demonstrate that there are multiple paths to generating change.

Certainly progressives and leftists grapple with the problems of power. But progress on issues, particularly in matters like war and peace and climate change, shouldn't be conceived of as dependent on first achieving general solutions to the problems of society, however desirable.

... ... ...

Conn Hallinan is a journalist and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. His writings appear online at Dispatches From the Edge. Leon Wofsy is a retired biology professor and long-time political activist. His comments on current affairs appear online at Leon's OpEd.

[Jun 24, 2015] So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

"...Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape."
.
"...'The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.' Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses. "
.
"...It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.
.
To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions."
.
"...In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls. "
moonofalabama.org

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

Colinjames | Jun 22, 2015 12:08:02 PM | 1

Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape.

Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 12:31:07 PM | 2

Fortunately, much of what they do is so ham-fisted and amateurish that only the gullible are gulled (which pretty much explains why ALL of the patsies convicted in ter'rism frame-ups are dimwits or cretins). Those pathetic cut & paste YouTube clips of NATO's "rebels" in Syria, swinging briefly from behind some cover and firing (in a frenzy) at unseen targets or empty streets are beyond ludicrous on many levels.

I'm unaware of any school of firearms use and techniques which encourages the firing of a weapon merely because the bearer has plenty of spare ammo.

Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 12:58:23 PM | 3

@b

The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses.

Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 1:23:26 PM | 4

And don't forget that US/UK/NATO's Imperial Ambitions are rooted in greed and cowardice. Cowards can never successfully project courage and resolve. Their over-compensation for ingrained cultural short-comings always shows through.

NATO, for example, has yet to appoint a "Leader" whose demeanor doesn't resemble the un-charismatic behaviour of a 6th Form Prefect at a Girl's College.

Watching these sissies strutting around their (private) stage, pretending to be Tough Guys is funnier than Laurel & Hardy + the Three Stooges.
And the sincerity ... Tony Bliar where are you?

harry law | Jun 22, 2015 1:25:40 PM | 5

I still think it is possible to have online discussions, I agree with Hoarsewhisperer thinking political types cannot be influenced [to any significant degree] by trolls. The only way they can win is if you forget this golden rule "Never argue with stupid people trolls, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."
― Mark Twain

Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 4:59:18 PM | 12

And talking about hasbara, there is a petition requesting a billion dollars for "putting lipstick on the pig" as a poster accurately described it above. No matter how much money zionazis allow for hasbara trolls, a zionazi pig will always be a zionazi pig (my apologies to the animal kingdom for the comparison.)

To PM Netanyahu: We demand that you vastly increase Israel's hasbara budget.

(...)Readers will recall that I have criticized the abysmal performance of Israeli public diplomacy (PD) and its failure to present its case assertively and articulately to the world.

To recap briefly

I likened the effects of this failure to those of the HIV virus that destroys the nation's immune system, leaving it unable to resist any outside pressures no matter how outlandish or outrageous. Given the gravity of the threat, I prescribed that, as prime minister, my first order of business would be to assign adequate resources to address the dangers precipitated by this failure.

To this end I stipulated that up to $1 billion should be allotted for the war on the PD front, and demonstrated that this sum was eminently within Israel's ability to raise, comprising less than 0.5 percent of GDP and under 1 percent of the state budget(...)

jfl | Jun 22, 2015 6:23:56 PM | 15

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" communications on the internet is the cyber equivalent of the US/UK's 'real world' policy of death, devastation and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen and 'austerity' at home in the US/UK/EU.

The 5-eyes and their European vassals, under control of the 5-eyed 5th column comprising the government of the EU, are the largest single source of negativity on earth.

And their fantastically expensive pursuit of all these openly negative outcomes has come at the cost of actually addressing any of our world's myriad real problems. Grillions in defense of the perceived interests of the 1%, not a cent for the interests of the planet and humanity.

Anonymous | Jun 22, 2015 6:44:36 PM | 16

Wow! It's as if no one ever heard of psyops before, not to mention Cointelpro. The only new wrinkle, though certainly worth noting, is that computers are now targeted. But seriously, who really believed the imperialists would *not* be doing shit like this?

ToivoS | Jun 23, 2015 1:50:22 AM | 21

Possibly relevant to b's current topic is the comments sections at Russia Today. Those comments have always looked to me as a real snake pit. There has always been some very ugly antisemitic comments there. I noticed in the last week that their stories on crime in America have been deluged with some of the worst white racist- antiblack comments. I kept wondering -- why would stories in the Russian press attract such virulent anti (American) black comments? It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

Almand | Jun 23, 2015 2:04:04 AM | 22

@TovioS

To be fair, a lot of real American nutjobs do frequent the RT comment section, since in the good old USA, RT is treated as an "alternative" news source akin to Alex Jones' "Prison Planet". And there is still a ton of ugly, virulent racism in the comments section of the New York Times, WaPo, Fox News (especially)... they just seem to have bigger vocabularies.

Harry | Jun 23, 2015 2:16:31 AM | 23

@ ToivoS | 20

It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

You got it. While this topic is about UK and their spies trying to disrupt, deceive, discredit, etc. etc., but US and Israel are doing it for longer and on much greater scale. They took manipulation of masses to such level (mass and social media, (mis)education, misusing science, etc), that even Goebbels could only have dreamed about it.

Speaking of social media, there were reports in recent years of US having ten of thousands employees focusing exclusively on social media. Each using software which helps to maintain x10 unique poster profiles. I think b' wrote about it as well. Therefore just US has 100.000+ of daily "posters" all around the World, trying to push US agenda. Who knows what is total number of Western propaganda trolls, and I bet the number is ever increasing.

bassalt | Jun 23, 2015 7:21:01 AM | 31

more from Greenwald- a psychologist on Board at GCHQ to make sure their 'work' is effective.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/document/2015/06/22/behavioural-science-support-jtrig/

Surprised not to see mention made here of the new 2,000 strong 'Chindit brigade' tasked with pretty much the same duties

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade

This is surely going to render a lot of the new media ineffective in terms of obtaining fast and accurate information. How the hell are we going to stop these bastards?

lysias | Jun 23, 2015 11:03:31 AM | 33

Let us remember that it was Obama staffer and adviser Cass Sunstein (Samantha Power's husband) who advised "cognitive infiltration" of the Internet by the government.

Wayoutwest | Jun 23, 2015 11:50:46 AM | 35

In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls.

I've witnessed a number of apparent operatives exposed on other blogs and they are usually easy to identify but some are clever and they rarely return once they see people are watching and know the difference between disagreement and deception.

Noirette | Jun 23, 2015 3:51:43 PM | 38

Some signs of the paid troll:

Inconsistency. This may seem counter-intuitive, but they argue in the here-and-now, against some other, usually only one, fact(s) / opinion / general trend from the past half hour. In this way they sometimes contradict themselves or mix things up, or use arguments that couldn't co-exist.

Impersonality. One more, counter-intuitive (specially as a common tactic is ad hominems, insults, etc. to disrupt no matter what.) They are not involved in the discussion and probably doing something else at the same time. This also means they don't answer questions (or only rarely), don't quote sources (much), never agree with any another poster, and never raise issues or ask genuine questions. (Any questions usually contain a pre-supposition, such as 'did the captain beat his wife today?')

Persistence. An ordinary person appalled and frightened by crazed conspiracy theorists tends to check out quickly.

Ad hominems bis. Brow-beating, authority card (sometimes some fake expertise is pulled in, like being a pilot, worked in finance), because there is nothing other left to do…

Posting during the same time each day, posting a similar amount of posts / words. Acceptable sentence structure and OK spelling with a flat, pedestrian, vocabulary. It is paid work, after all, quite similar to 'customer service for the complaints'…(and note the cuteness of all words beginning with D…lame…)

Being male and aged around 20+ - 36, maybe 40, that is presenting a persona in that age range. Men are still much more respected than women on the intertubes, and afaik women are asked to adopt a male persona and be 'aggressive' (Paul pilot, not Paula florist..)

I don't think all this is too effective, except in the sense of polarisation, getting ppl to hysterically takes sides, create divisions, and so on. As a propaganda tool it is pretty much a failure. The pay is low (no nos. does anyone know?)… For now there is no Union of 'trolls', as they are supposed to act sub rosa.

:) They should get together (from all sides) and set up a troll Union as 'propaganda agents' and apply for membership in the ITUC!

>

[Jun 24, 2015] M of A - So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

[Jun 22, 2015] The Boomerang Effect: Sanctions on Russia Hit German Economy Hard

Moscow Exile, June 22, 2015 at 10:36 am
Hasn't even registered on European economies.

Können Sie Deutsch?

Sanktionen kosten Europa bis zu 100 Milliarden Euro, Freitag, 19.06.2015, 10:09

Russlands Wirtschaftskrise hat verheerende Folgen für Europa. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt eine Studie aus Österreich. Besonders betroffen ist Deutschland. Die Krise könnte das Land mittelfristig eine halbe Million Arbeitsplätze und Milliarden Euro an Wertschöpfung kosten.
Die Wirtschaftskrise in Russland hat weitaus schlimmere Konsequenzen für die Länder der Europäischen Union (EU) und die Schweiz als bislang erwartet. Nach einer Berechnung des Österreichischen Instituts für Wirtschaftsforschung (Wifo), die der europäischen Zeitungsallianz "Lena" exklusiv vorliegt, sind europaweit weit mehr als zwei Millionen Arbeitsplätze und rund 100 Milliarden Euro an Wertschöpfung in Gefahr.

Moscow Exile, June 22, 2015 at 10:44 am
The Boomerang Effect: Sanctions on Russia Hit German Economy Hard – Der Spiegel, July 21, 2014
Moscow Exile, June 22, 2015 at 11:32 am
No, it's not what I maintain, it's what these people report is happening:

German businesses suffer fallout as Russia sanctions bite (Financial Times)

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/9a620f0c-73fc-11e4-82a6-00144feabdc0.img

German Businesses Urge Halt on Sanctions Against Russia – Wall Street Journal

In most countries, it would be highly unusual for corporate executives to inject themselves into geopolitics and matters of national security with the forcefulness that a number of German business leaders have. But many of Germany's largest companies have substantial Russian operations, built in some cases over decades, and worry that tough economic sanctions would rob them of a key growth market when their home market—Europe—is stagnant.

Germany's economy hit by trade sanctions on Russia – FT

The sanctions being placed on Russia by Europe are having a negative impact on the bloc, experts have said.

European countries have implemented a series of trade embargoes as a punishment for Russia's moves to annex Crimea and for its ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Rowan Dartington Signature's Guy Stephens said the eurozone had been "rife" with weak economic data and one of the biggest concerns was Germany because of its relationship with Russia.

"Sanctions against key trading partner Russia, coupled with declining demand from China, have begun to take their toll on Europe's largest economy," he said.

"Business confidence is also waning and GDP growth for next year has been downgraded to just 0.8 per cent, well below the government's forecast of 1.3 per cent. All in all, the decline of Europe's powerhouse could just turn out to be the ammunition that European Central Bank president Mario Draghi needs to begin a prolonged quantitative-easing campaign."

Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said Europe's share of global profits had "collapsed".

"And complicating the immediate path of liquidity and corporate earnings in Europe is the ongoing collapse in the Russian rouble," he said.

[Jun 22, 2015] Pope Francis says those in weapons industry cant call themselves Christian

Jun 22, 2015 | theguardian.com

At rally of young people in Turin, Francis issues his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry, criticizing investors as well as workers

People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

Duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another

Pope Francis

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

"If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long commentary about war, trust and politics, after putting aside his prepared address.

"It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."

Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars. He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah", using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

"The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"

Discussing the first world war, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia", but did not use the word "genocide". Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April, calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century", prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

[Jun 20, 2015] Andrew Bacevich Washington in Wonderland, Down the Iraq Rabbit Hole(Again)

Jun 20, 2015 | naked capitalism

digi_owl

The big F fascism of the 1930s may be "gone", but its basic tenets live on.

hell, i'll claim right here and now that USA is potentially a single leadership change away from going overtly fascist.

And its foreign policy is backing many potential fascists as well.

participant-observer-observed

"single leadership change away"

No change needed: dear leader fast track defender and exporter of "American corporate interests" [which latter now write the laws elected reps used to write] is now an un-elected entity and knows no term limits.

Your day has arrived, friend.

NotTimothyGeithner

*American style fascism. Spain and Italy still had a royal family under Franco and Mussilini, and in much the same way, the U.S. will always have elections. The national pride aspects will still reflect the host country at a level.

Take the "Pussy Riot" outrage. Yes, we ignore our pals in Riyadh, but DC rallied to the side of a group that trespassed and damaged a state museum. Freedom of speech was the rallying cry, and of course, "Pussy Riot" disappeared from the National discussion when the elites saw the actual video. The propaganda has to focus around American values.

There isn't a full blown aspect to fascism.

Gio Bruno

…or that Russian culture (Orthodox Church) is deeply embedded in its relatively conservative population. (Most Russians were outraged at the desecration.) That's why Putin came down hard on the P-Riot. (Just like US courts come down hard on Terrists.)

I have Russian emigre' friends (Millienials) who think P-Riot is off the deep end.

Otter

Russians were outraged. But, came down hard?

Pussy Rioters served less time than US Terrists serve waiting to be dismissed without charge.

Nick

On the other hand…. The Kurds (purported good guys – secular, progressive, inclusive, oil rich) are growing stronger every day. ISIS continues weakening the Assad regime (which is still supported by Russia and Iran at great cost) – but now controls little more than a cluster of towns near the coast and could lose Damascus altogether in the coming months. Iran is a wild card, do they double-down in Iraq/Syria, or make a nuclear deal to reap billions on oil exports?

Regardless, US anti-ISIS operations in Iraq/Syria amount to around $30 million a day, a tiny fraction of the several hundred million daily cost of the decade long occupation of Iraq. Until a united Iraqi political structure solidifies, the US is well positioned to continue grinding away at the ISIS threat for the foreseeable future.

Occupation was a $2 trillion disaster…but the long game is stability and access to $20-30 trillion in oil, gas, and development. Obama has been consistent in his views that American 'ownership' of the Iraqi problem is a red-herring. Iraqis must rule themselves, and nothing forces divisive political groups together faster than the prospect of mutual annihilation. This will entail hard choices by all sides, border may be redrawn. However, Obama could yet pull a rabbit out of this hat.

James Levy

Couple of problems: 1) what evidence do you have that Iraq can be salvaged as a unified state? 2) why, given the reality of global climate change, would we ever want that oil and gas extracted? 3) please provide a map of this shrunken territory you claim is all that ISIS controls today–have they lost Ramadi yet? 4) ISIS is a creature of the Saudis and the Turks–how do they fit in all this? 5) Why are the Israelis so conspicuously leaving ISIS alone while continuing intermittent attacks against the duly constituted government of Syria?

Nick

Well, no one probably knows what's going to happen in Iraq, so many pieces are in play. What is known, Assad is growing weaker, Syria is disintegrating, huge parts of Iraq are lawless without governance. So much depends on a nuclear deal with Iran, political consensus among Iraqi political groups ect… the next 6 months will point to which direction things will move.

lolcar

One more Friedman Unit, huh. That'll be about 19 FUs since we first heard that the next six months would be critical.

NotTimothyGeithner

I checked. There have been 18 Friedman units since the term was used, so I guess this is the 19th. Friedman has been using "six month" intervals since November 03.

lolcar

You're right. The term was coined in '06 but it was '03 that Friedman actually first said the next six months were critical and it makes more sense to count from there. So 11 and a half years or 23 FUs.

sufferinsuccotash

Your second point is the real kicker. The overriding US (and Western) policy regarding the Middle East should be: Keep The Fossil Fuels In The Ground.

DJG

Has anyone yet been able to substantiate the gazillions that Iran is supposedly spending on a campaign to destabilize Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq? {Hey, and why not throw in destabilizing Greece, too?}

How long have you been on the White House staff?

sleepy

The US supports various "moderate" jihadi groups in Syria fighting against the Syrian government which, of course, is the main opponent of ISIS in Syria.

How on earth does wearing down the Syrian government and effectively helping ISIS in Syria translate to "grinding down" ISIS in Iraq? Seems to me, if defeating ISIS is the main goal, supporting Syria would be the response.

I'm not sure at all that Russia and Iran are anywhere close to giving up on Syria either, particularly Russia with its Syrian naval base.

Pepsi

There are several problems with your information.

1. The kurds are not a monolith. There is the secular progressive marxist YPG in Syria, and then the Barzani one clan state of Kurdistan. The YPG have been baring the brunt of the fighting against daaesh.

2. The islamist advances in syria only come because of the supply of thousands of anti tank weapons from the us and saudi. Along with air cover and artillery screens on the israeli border and turkish border. If this support would cut off, they would again fail.

3. The us wrote the iraqi constitution to split it into ethnic statelets. The us set up the iraqi military to be ineffectual. Everything here is going according to plan.

The neocon reapproachment with saudi arabia was the first part of this sunni islamist attack on every other faith of the native people of the me. A human presence in washington could end this very quickly.

Doug

There are at least two additional elements to the deeper consensus being affirmed by the speakers. In addition to (1) ISIS is existential threat to US; (2) US must 'own' the problem; and, (3) 'ownership/leadership' must build around military might is this pair:

A. Profits accruing to private sector military contractors are both sacrosanct and justified in light of free market superiority; and,

B. The government/military/political establishment (e.g. these three speakers) cannot afford democratic practices such as critical thinking and debates across all three of Hallin's spheres (instead of just conventional wisdom) because that would undermine — be 'inefficient' – respecting the other elements of this consensus.

Carla

I would love to know what Andrew Bacevitch thinks of Michael Glennon's little book "National Security and Double Government."

Mbuna

I would say that defense industry sales and profits trump everything else- in a corporatocracy nothing else could be as important.

If destroying the world means record profits, well then it is their fiduciary duty to do so.

Raj

I would put oil/gas right beside the defense industry in this case…the U.S. isn't pushing all of its chips into the overthrow of the Assad regime for nothing…Israel (and its U.S.-based partner, Noble Energy) needs to get the natural gas from the Levantine Basin to the Europe market somehow, and the ideal solution is to construct a pipeline across Syria…but that can't happen until Assad is out and a "friendly" regime is put in place.

Larry Headlund

If only Iraq had strong leadership that could maintain order; leadership hostile both to Islamic fundamentalism and to Iran.

short memory

I was under the impression that Saddam Hussein fit that bill rather nicely. Whatever happened to him?

ambrit

We all know that this is not going to end well for the Middle East, and for America.

A hidden point: The American Imperial system is creating it's own enemies as it goes. When will it create an enemy who is a serious threat, say, someone who can shut down or take over The Kingdom and it's resources?

There's the real danger. We are forcing an evolution of Islamist militancy. Each time, the survivors of the current battle get more efficient.

MikeNY

Andrew Bacevich for President, or Czar, or at least Secretary of Defense.

Right now, the lunatics in DC are running the asylum.

RUKidding

Good post with good info. All I can say is: eh? what else is new? Sending tanks to Iraq, are we now (again)? CHA CHING!!!!! What's good for the MIC is good for the crooks, thieves and liars in Washington DC.

Why if ISIS didn't exist, it's almost like the CIA would have to recruit, arm, train and fund a similar group. Oh wait….

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