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Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neoconservatism National Socialism and Military Keysianism American Exceptionalism Andrew Bacevich on the New American Militarism Ethno-lingustic Nationalism Nation under attack meme
Corporatism War is racket Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few US and British media are servants of security apparatus War is a Racket - Incredible Essay by General Smedley Butler Economics of Peak Energy
National Security State / Surveillance State Big Uncle is Watching You Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Is Google evil ? Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Military Bureaucracy and Military Incompetence Bureaucratic Collectivism
Color revolutions Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Nulandgate Sanctions against Russia Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? The Far Right Forces in Ukraine Russian Ukrainian Gas wars
Understanding Mayberry Machiavellis  Ron Paul War and Peace Quotes Corporatism quotes Politically Incorrect Humor Humor Etc


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:

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.


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.


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.


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 -

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 ( 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.


===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

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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 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 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.


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 |

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: 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).


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.


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 (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 (accessed 4 January 2013)

Snider, B. (2004) ‘Manufacturing terrorism’,, 14 June. [Online] Available at (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 (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

[Oct 07, 2015] US Ruling Circles Split On Use of Jihadists in Syria

Oct 07, 2015 |
BALL: So what is going on here? It almost sounds like a neo-Cold War indirect conflict of superpowers vying for colonial control over their property, or a fight over whose anti-Assad allies should be supported. What is going on?

FORD: Well, the United States and its allies are speaking gobbledygook, and Russia is speaking straight up plain international law truth. They've come to the aid of the recognized government of Syria, which is being attacked by proxies of other countries, the U.S., the Saudis, other Gulf states, and Turkey, in violation of international law. And the Russians say that they are not just defending the government that they have had relations with for decades. They are defending principles of international law. And the U.S. and its allies are violating international law, and the U.S. and its allies cannot draw some kind of red line around ISIS, the wayward jihadists that don't want to take orders, and expect the Russians to only discipline their little bad boys and leave the other jihadists alone. That only makes sense to idiots like the New York Times and CNN and the rest.

BALL: But again, for those of us who have varying understandings of what's happening here, it would seem like the U.S. would not have a problem with Assad's territory being bombed, given that the U.S. and Obama's administration in particular is no fan of Bashar al-Assad and his leadership there in Syria. Why then are they having a problem with what Russia's doing, and to what extent are the problems that are claimed to be addressed there actually caused in their origin by the United States and its policies?

FORD: Well, the United States has, and Obama knows the United States has, problems that go beyond the Russian intervention. They have problems with their own policy, which has brought them to this state of affairs. And in a way the Russian military intervention against the jihadists in Syria has given the Obama administration another chance to back off of that decades-long policy of using Islamic jihadists as footsoldiers for imperialism in the Muslim world.

And the reason that I say another chance is because it was the Russians back in 2012 who gave President Obama a similar opportunity to re-think that jihadist 35-year-old policy when they proposed that the international community supervise the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. That was back in 2012. And that allowed President Obama to back off from his threat to attack Syria, to bomb the Syrian government. I think that President Obama backed off on that threat not because of domestic or international opposition. The United States acts unilaterally all the time, I think he could have gotten away with it. I think that Obama was genuinely afraid of what would happen if the Syrian government collapsed. And make no mistake about it, if the United States had attacked the Syrian government directly the dynamic of the situation would have compelled the United States to keep on attacking until that government was totally destroyed, just like they did to Col. Gaddafi's government in Libya only one year before.

But it is very clear, now quite clear in hindsight but I think it was visible back then, that there was a growing split in the U.S. government in ruling circles, in the intelligence agencies, even three years ago. And there was a fear that the jihadists would have, were developing their own kind of agenda. And there's nothing that U.S. imperialists dislike more than people who have their own agenda. And we know now that in August of 2012, we know this because of a memo that came to light this year, that analysts for the Defense and Intelligence Agency were warning that the jihadists, the people who would become the Islamic State, were likely to declare their own caliphate. And that would mean that they would have their own policies and they would fight their own war, not the war that the United States wanted them to fight.

And although that warning didn't cause the U.S. to reverse its long policy of supporting jihadists, it did I think make Obama much more cautious, and I think that's why he backed off from bombing Syria that same year. The same Defense Intelligence Agency analysts are now screaming that the top Pentagon brass are lying about the kinds of reports that they've been given, reports about the growing strength of ISIS. And that argument in itself is signs of a real split in the intelligence agencies, a split in the U.S. military, a split in the Obama administration itself. A split that was evident when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

So the Russian intervention is now forcing Obama's hand. He's going to have to decide if he's going to continue this policy with the jihadists, or if he's going to go for some kind of containment or stabilization of the battle lines in Syria. We know it's quite obvious that Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states wanted an all-out offensive to take out the Assad government once and for all, but that has been checked definitively by the Russians. And that gives Obama another chance to cooperate with the people in the region, with Syria and with Iran, and with the government of Iraq, as well as with the Russians. He has that chance again, if he takes it.

[Sep 28, 2015] Origins of ISIS – Special Coverage

Mar 5, 2015 | YouTube

In a special report, RT America examines the origins, power and expansion of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS). RT's Ben Swann delves into the roots of the organization while Ameera David explains how the group amasses the millions of dollars it requires to operate. Finally, Manuel Rapalo explores how the Iraqi army fell apart despite benefiting from billions of dollars of US money – and military hardware – meant to ensure security.

Camilo Garcia Benitez

ISIS Mercenaries were pay to fight in Libia to overthrown Gadhafi.
The weapons from Libia, were taken in NATO Ships to Turkey and in to Syria and Iraq.
ISIS were heavily armed, plus many Mercenaries officers from UK and USA controlling it all.
ISIS is a Needed Evil to the USA and NATO, to create and maintain tensions in the areaThe owner of the dog, is responsible of the Dogs doings.


George W. Bush and Dick Cheney created ISIS... and some reports suggest their profits came close to forty billion dollars. This is why Jeb Bush must never become President.


Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, US, UK, France, Sweden, Canada, fund support ISIS to destroy Russia's allies in the Middle East. Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad's Shia Alawites in Syria, Southern Iraq's Shia majority and the Shia government of Iran.

Ansar al-salami

Origins of ISIS? Sunnis that got their asses kicked in Iraq by the Americans, with nowhere to go until Assad started bombing his own people. Then al-Baghdadi found Raqqa, a place that the Assads didn't want to defend. So the Iraqi Sunnis found a home. The rest is history...........


How do the most technologically, advanced military and intelligence apparatus on the planet get stumped by untrained (or little trained) militia forces in 3rd world countries?!?!?!? THEY DON'T!!!!!!! All the world's a stage and the general population is stupid beyond belief! This is an orchestrated crock of shit!

Follow The Sun

The whole mess is a god dam direct result of US military backing the Corporations like Exxon and BP. If the profits of corporations were to be affected then the US would go back and clean up the mess but since the Corps are not affected the war will rage on and refugees will be pouring into Europe and wrecking havoc there. It's a mess alright, one created by greed and it will continue until the state is separated from the corporation.

John Byrne

What has happened in Iraq was very predictable, so predictable in fact even I saw it coming. Sectarian violence was always going to be the long term outcome of unseating Hussein, and the Americans knew that. Maybe the American people didn't and the soldiers didn't, but the strategists did, because that was the strategy.

If you have the temerity to assert your nation's right to self determination in the face of the hegemon, the hegemon will crush you and turn your country to shit. It's not a mistake or an error of judgement. It's quite deliberate. The Military Industrial Complex lap it up. The banksters love it most of all because the United States hegemony is above all a banking one. Why? Because power equals wealth. If you're not a client state, a vassal, you're a potential rival in the making, just as Saddam and Ghaddafi were.

The marine interviewed is wrong to characterise the last 12 years of US foreign policy as a mistake or error of judgement. Chaos and perpetual war were but two of the goals.

Khalid Kana'an 10 hours ago (edited)

The USA can end those mofos in 10 days and they don't even need to put the life of any soldier in danger, they can use satellites and drones to Determines their location, then target them with stealth jets.

But why would they do such a thing, why would they destroy the Israeli secret intelligence service --> (I.S.I.S) that's serving them, they don't need drones, satellites or stealth jets they don't even need to worry about this war, they can just let those retard fucks kill and end one another then make Israel expand it's territory and invade more land.

Brane Storm

Man, this ISIS is a pretty organized group for appearing to be nothing more than a rag tag outfit at best. They can make elaborate blue screened video's and now they can fill up tanker trucks with Oil and ship them to some "mystery buyer" for cash? What would ISIS do with "cash" in desert warfare? Go to the local "Bombs 'R Us, or "Warmart" for a fun day of shopping?

Almost every surrounding Country are against ISIS, so who is "buying" this Oil? I wonder where those trucks are going...probably North into the Oil Fields controlled by Exxon or BP in exchange for weapons to fight Assad. Those weapons are then classified as the "weaponry left behind" so they can cover up more lies on who really funds ISIS.

Robert Dahlgren

It is important to understand that the so called "american war machine" is not run by some idiots who keeps making the same "misstakes"... All this is done on purpose! They have a plan with all this. They want to destabilize the middle east, and with that follows mass immigration to Europe (mainly) which in time will profoundly change european society.

Out of chaos comes order, THEIR order, the New World Order... and that's a whole new chapter, but I tell you, it's not pretty. What we see now in the middle east is just the beginning, if you are not happy with this, stop voting for ANYONE! It doesn't matter who you vote for, anyone who comes to power in Europe and US will push the NWO agenda. Wake up!!!


This RT story is inaccurate about the origin of ISIS. It started with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (later Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad) in 1999. Al-Zarqawi and his group's first goal was to overthrow the kingdom of Jordan and may have assassinated the American ambassador to Jordan in 2002. He also planned (along with bin Laden and Al Qaeda) the Millenium plots of January 1, 2000, where he planned to bomb four sites in Jordan, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and the USS The Sullivans. Their plan failed.

He apparently moved to Iraq in 2001, after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. In 2003 his group became officially affiliated with Al-Qaeda (although Al-Zarqawi met with Osama bin-Laden in 1999 and told him how he wanted to kill all Jews and Shiites) and moved to northern Iraq where it started doing what it does best, atrocities. Al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and it got new leadership and renamed itself Islamic State in Iraq.

In 2011 it moved into Syria to take part in its civil war against Assad and renamed itself again, as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant then Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Syria), later it just became the Islamic State and named Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as its caliph. So it started before Bush invaded Iraq, and started its bomb attacks there in August 2003, five months after the invasion.

Juan Olivier

ISIS is a USA puppet to take down Assad.

The Terminator

ISIS is a Saudi Arabian invention. The Saudis hate the Assad government and are funding ISIS with oil and money.

Oliver Green

So America is all about "maintaining stability" yet its their unwavering support for Saudi Arabia and its refusal to condemn any of its attacks and policies on its neighbours in the Arab world that allows these atrocities -like most recently the 27 day non stop bombing of Yemen killing 2500 + and surpassing Israels most recent war on Gazas ( also supported by USA) deaths of civilians -to happen. One of our original guises of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan was most notably weapons of mass destruction and retaliation for "911" but also more morally important was our humanitarian intervention against taliban / all quaeda ( created by USA to fight Russia's Afghanistan invasion) in Afghan and against Saddam's treatment of non shias and other minorities.

how hypocritical is it for us to not just stand by and fund sunni extemist rebels in Syria to topple Assad but also to stand by for 13 days of bombardment on mostly shia- civilians consisting of ancient tribes by Saudi Arabia and on top of that " topping" the Saudi regimes military capabilities in Yemen with radar and satellite over guidance and technical support, why are we supporting sectarian warfare in the middle east when it was our publicly identified motivation of going over there in the first place? Something is wrong with USA moral compass.

John Somebody

Who trained ISIS fighters in the use of those vast supplies of U.S. weapons ?

Luigi Capoti

power always have use regular and iregular armys to achieve its ends.

before hitler, SS; before ISIS Al Qaeda in afganistan Yugoslavia libia,.. even narco can be included (remember Iran-Contras)

Guardias blancas or Autodefensas in Colombia, etc they acomplish with justification to aid or attack governments. maybe the term mercenary fit in general, but the difference is that they don't need to be conscious who create and uses them.

Larry-three "Larry-3"

Summary: ISIL was created in 2003 in Iraq, but at that time they were nobodies. They eventually moved into Syria to recruit and steal weapons. As soon as that happened, they became a worldwide threat.

ISIL has murdered Christians and caused pain to many souls. I want the U.S. to strangle them until their whole faction destabilizes and ceases to exist.

Bruce Campbell

Great show. US imperialism is like all bullying, it has consequences. Isis is a good distraction to take attention from the war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. Why isn't Israel afraid? Maybe because ISIS arose out of the concerted effort to destabilize President Assad.. Syria has the misfortune of being next door to expansionist Israel. Zionism is so served by the power vacuum and chaos.

Currently the USA is also allied with Saudi interests. Saudi Arabia, the bombers of 9/11 are currently waging an aggressive campaign in Yemen. Imperialism and Zionism are cults of death. Wahhabi Islam is little different. I pray for the dead and those who will die. Likely ISIS is the authority in that religion of the world we will have to deal with them in the future. Or we can keep supporting our military and intelligence infrastructure which took us from surplus to debt and created other Frankenstein monsters

[Sep 27, 2015] US On The Ropes China To Join Russian Military In Syria While Iraq Strikes Intel Deal With Moscow, Tehran

Sep 27, 2015 | Zero Hedge
What appears to have happened here is this: Vladimir Putin has exploited both the fight against ISIS and Iran's need to preserve the regional balance of power on the way to enhancing Russia's influence over Mid-East affairs which in turn helps to ensure that Gazprom's interests are protected going forward.

Thanks to the awkward position the US has gotten itself in by covertly allying itself with various Sunni extremist groups, Washington is for all intents and purposes powerless to stop Putin lest the public should suddenly get wise to the fact that combating Russia's resurgence and preventing Iran from expanding its interests are more important than fighting terror.

In short, Washington gambled on a dangerous game of geopolitical chess, lost, and now faces two rather terrifyingly disastrous outcomes: 1) China establishing a presence in the Mid-East in concert with Russia and Iran, and 2) seeing Iraq effectively ceded to the Quds Force and ultimately, to the Russian army.

[Sep 24, 2015] Corbyn Says ISIS Partly Created by Western Interven4tion

September 23, 2015 |
Michaela Whitton

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Jeremy Corbyn delivered his uncompromising stance on Western warmongering from the back of a London taxi last week. As the cab raced through the streets of the capital, the new Labour leader revealed his vision for an ethical foreign policy in his 17-minute interview with Middle East Eye.

Asked how he would deal with ISIS, the anti-war campaigner was uncompromising. "ISIS didn't come from nowhere, they've got a lot of money that's come from somewhere. They have a huge supply of arms that have come from somewhere and they are, not in total but in part, a creation of western interventions in the region," he said.

According to Corbyn, he would deal with the terror group by economically isolating its members. He says he would attempt to unite other groups in the region and stressed the importance of supporting autonomy for Kurdish groups. On the rise of ISIS, he pointed to the vast amount of arms that Britain sells, particularly to Saudi Arabia, declaring they must have ended up somewhere and are now being used.

Corbyn was vehemently opposed to the 2013 Parliamentary vote on military intervention in Syria and remains adamant that bombing the country now would create more mayhem. He told Middle East Eye it would be very unclear who the alliances would be with.

On the region in general, he referred to Israel and Palestine as a massive issue. Unlike his British counterparts, he expressed grave concern at the illegal Israeli settlements, military occupation of the West Bank, and lack of reconstruction in Gaza.

Praising the recent agreement with Iran, he said he wished it had included the issue of human rights, and when asked if he would have invited Egyptian leader Abdel al-Sisi to the U.K., he was clear:

"No, I would not, because of my concerns over the use of the death penalty in Egypt, the treatment of people who were part of the former government, and the continued imprisonment of President Morsi." He went on to clarify that his statement wasn't passing judgement on different parties, but on the meaning of democracy.

On Britain's relationship with Saudi Arabia, Corbyn expressed concern on what he referred to as a "huge number of issues," naming the treatment of women, the frequent use of the death penalty — including public beheadings — and the treatment of migrant workers.

At a recent Parliamentary debate, Corbyn raised the question of whether British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are more important than genuine concerns about human rights. Most of us already know the answer to this question.

"We need to be a constant irritant on human rights," he said.

Asked how Britain can make itself safer, both at home and abroad, Corbyn was frank:

"We make ourselves safer by not being part of U.S. foreign policy at every single turn. And we become a force for human rights rather than military intervention."

Asked why he has such good judgement compared with other MPs, Corbyn admitted that he reads a lot, travels a lot, and learns from people wherever he goes. "The issue is the ability to listen to people," he said.

Describing what an ethical foreign policy under a Corbyn-lead British government would look like, he said, "My basis would be that I want to see the protection and preservation of human rights around the world, deal with issues of global hunger and global inequality, and the environmental disaster that is facing this planet."

He added, "I think that should be the basis rather than what it is at the moment which seems to be to see what the White House wants, and how we can deliver it for them."

This article (Corbyn Says ISIS Partly Created by Western Intervention) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

[Sep 21, 2015] Blame America ?  No, Blame Neocons!

"... If aggressive US policy in the Middle East – for example in Iraq – results in the creation of terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda in Iraq, is pointing out the unintended consequences of bad policy blaming America? Is it "blaming America" to point out that blowback – like we saw on 9/11 – can be the result of unwise US foreign policy actions like stationing US troops in Saudi Arabia? ..."
"... the current refugee crisis is largely caused by bad US foreign policy actions. The US government decides on regime change for a particular country – in this case, Syria – destabilizes the government, causes social chaos, and destroys the economy, and we are supposed to be surprised that so many people are desperate to leave? Is pointing this out blaming America, or is it blaming that part of the US government that makes such foolish policies? ..."
"... they never explain why the troops were removed from Iraq: the US demanded complete immunity for troops and contractors and the Iraqi government refused. ..."
"... As soon as the US stopped paying the Sunnis not to attack the Iraqi government, they started attacking the Iraqi government. Why? Because the US attack on Iraq led to a government that was closely allied to Iran and the Sunnis could not live with that! ..."
"... The same is true with US regime change policy toward Syria. How many Syrians were streaming out of Syria before US support for Islamist rebels there made the country unlivable? ..."
"... I don't blame America. I am America, you are America. I don't blame you. I blame bad policy. I blame the interventionists. I blame the neoconservatives who preach this stuff, who believe in it like a religion — that they have to promote American goodness even if you have to bomb and kill people. ..."
"... In short, I don't blame America; I blame neocons. ..."
Sep 21, 2015 |
Sep 20, 2015 | Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
Is the current refugee crisis gripping the European Union "all America's fault"? That is how my critique of US foreign policy was characterized in a recent interview on the Fox Business Channel. I do not blame the host for making this claim, but I think it is important to clarify the point.

It has become common to discount any criticism of US foreign policy as "blaming America first." It is a convenient way of avoiding a real discussion. If aggressive US policy in the Middle East – for example in Iraq – results in the creation of terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda in Iraq, is pointing out the unintended consequences of bad policy blaming America? Is it "blaming America" to point out that blowback – like we saw on 9/11 – can be the result of unwise US foreign policy actions like stationing US troops in Saudi Arabia?

In the Fox interview I pointed out that the current refugee crisis is largely caused by bad US foreign policy actions. The US government decides on regime change for a particular country – in this case, Syria – destabilizes the government, causes social chaos, and destroys the economy, and we are supposed to be surprised that so many people are desperate to leave? Is pointing this out blaming America, or is it blaming that part of the US government that makes such foolish policies?

Accusing those who criticize US foreign policy of "blaming America" is pretty selective, however. Such accusations are never leveled at those who criticize a US pullback. For example, most neocons argue that the current crisis in Iraq is all Obama's fault for pulling US troops out of the country. Are they "blaming America first" for the mess? No one ever says that. Just like they never explain why the troops were removed from Iraq: the US demanded complete immunity for troops and contractors and the Iraqi government refused.

Iraq was not a stable country when the US withdrew its troops anyway. As soon as the US stopped paying the Sunnis not to attack the Iraqi government, they started attacking the Iraqi government. Why? Because the US attack on Iraq led to a government that was closely allied to Iran and the Sunnis could not live with that! It was not the US withdrawal from Iraq that created the current instability but the invasion. The same is true with US regime change policy toward Syria. How many Syrians were streaming out of Syria before US support for Islamist rebels there made the country unlivable? Is pointing out this consequence of bad US policy also blaming America first?

Last year I was asked by another Fox program whether I was not "blaming America" when I criticized the increasingly confrontational US stand toward Russia. Here's how I put it then:

I don't blame America. I am America, you are America. I don't blame you. I blame bad policy. I blame the interventionists. I blame the neoconservatives who preach this stuff, who believe in it like a religion — that they have to promote American goodness even if you have to bomb and kill people.

In short, I don't blame America; I blame neocons.

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity

[Sep 19, 2015] The US decision to send weapons to Syria repeats a historical mistake

"...Sorry but you're wrong. The funding a training of rebel forces by the west has done exactly what is was intended to do, mainly destabilise an entire region, sell billions in extra arms, introduce extra anti-terrorism laws in the west, create more fear and panic, then destabilise Europe through the mass-migration. This was the plan and it worked!"
"...To the great disappointment of those of us who voted for Obama, the first time out of hope for change, and the second time out of fear for someone even worse, he is a weak and chameleonic leader whose policies are determined by the strongest willed person in the room. Recall that he was also "talked into" bombing Libya!"
"...The real net effect of US intervention in the Middle East has been to destabilize Europe."
"...I would agree but, as a former intelligence professional, I'd remind you that there's always a story behind the story. Not that it's a "good" story! But more must be going on there..."
"...Bush reached the Oval Office not because he was bright, for indeed he was not, he reached the Oval Office because he was dumb enough not to realise he was clearly easily manipulated, believed in neoliberalism and was rich and rich backers and a rich Dad."
"...Well of course ISIS were miffed that the U.S. was paying lip service to not arming ISIS. If you think there was ever any serious difference between the FSA and ISIS then I hear that the Queen having to sell Buckingham palace due to losses gambling on corgi races and I can get you a good deal for a cash sale"
"...Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect better results the next time? surely at some point people have to realise that chaos is the result the US is looking for. "
"...The use of religion(Islam specifically) in politics was first employed by the British in the Middle East in the early parts of the 20th century. In Iran, we have a saying which says; take off a Mullah's turban and you will find the words "Made in England" stamped on his head."
"...ISIS/ISIL is a creation of the US in an attempt to remove Assad. The long-term goal being to isolate Iran before going in there for the natural resources. "
"...The CIA has probably been the greatest destabalising force in the world since the second world war and seem like more a subsidiary of the weapons trade than a government department."
Sep 19, 2015 | The Guardian
Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect better results the next time?

As pretty much everyone who was paying attention predicted, the $500m program to train and arm "moderate" Syrian rebels is an unmitigated, Bay of Pigs-style disaster, with the head of US central command admitting to Congress this week that the year-old program now only has "four or five" rebels fighting inside Syria, with dozens more killed or captured.

Even more bizarre, the White House is claiming little to do with it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest attempted to distance Obama from the program, claiming that it was actually the president's "critics" who "were wrong." The New York Times reported, "In effect, Mr Obama is arguing that he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment."

This bizarre "I was peer pressured into sending more weapons into the Middle East" argument by the president is possibly the most blatant example of blame shifting in recent memory, since he had every opportunity to speak out against it, or veto the bill. Instead, this is what Obama said at the time: "I am pleased that Congress...have now voted to support a key element of our strategy: our plan to train and equip the opposition in Syria."

But besides the fact that he clearly did support the policy at the time, it's ridiculous for another reason: years before Congress approved the $500m program to arm the Syrian rebels, the CIA had been running its own separate Syrian rebel-arming program since at least 2012. It was reported prominently by the New York Times at the time and approved by the president.

In fact, just before Congress voted, Senator Tom Udall told Secretary of State John Kerry, who was testifying in front of the foreign relations committee, "Everybody's well aware there's been a covert operation, operating in the region to train forces, moderate forces, to go into Syria and to be out there, that we've been doing this the last two years." In true Orwellian fashion, Kerry responded at the time: "I hate to do this. But I can't confirm or deny whatever that's been written about and I can't really go into any kind of possible program."

Also conveniently ignored by Congress and those advocating for arming the rebels was a classified study the CIA did at the time showing that arming rebel factions against sitting governments almost always ends in disaster or tragedy.

You'd think whether or not the current weapons-running program was effective – or whether any similar program ever was – would have been a key factor in the debate. But alas, the CIA program is never mentioned, not by politicians, and not by journalists. It's just been conveniently forgotten.

It is true that perhaps the best advocate for why we never should've armed the Syrian rebels to begin with came from President Obama himself. He told the New Yorker in early 2014 that "you have an opposition that is disorganized, ill-equipped, ill-trained and is self-divided. All of that is on top of some of the sectarian divisions." Critically, he cited that same above-mentioned classified study:

Very early in this process, I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn't come up with much.

He didn't mention the CIA's already-active weapons-running program. Why he didn't stick to his guns since he supposedly was weary of getting the US military involved in yet another quagmire it could not get out of is beyond anyone's comprehension. Instead, he supported Congress's measure to create yet another program that sent even more weapons to the war-torn region.

Per usual, Republicans are taking the entirely wrong lessons from this disaster, arguing that if only there was more force then everything would've worked out. Marco Rubio exclaimed during the GOP presidential debate on Wednesday that if we armed the rebels earlier – like he allegedly wanted, before voting against arming them when he had the chance – then the program would've worked out. Like seemingly everyone else in this debate, Rubio has decided to ignore the actual facts.

Sadly, instead of a debate about whether we should continue sending weapons to the Middle East at all, we'll probably hear arguments that we should double down in Syria in the coming days and get US troops more cemented into a war we can call our own (that still to this day has not been authorized by Congress). There are already reports that there are US special operations forces on the ground in Syria now, assisting Kurdish forces who are also fighting Isis.

When the vicious and tragic cycle will end is anyone's guess. But all signs point to: not anytime soon.

Oliver2014 19 Sep 2015 21:27

" Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect better results the next time? "

Because the US doesn't understand the culture of the people it meddles with.

The US goes in with a messianic belief in the righteousness of its objective. This objective is framed in naive terms to convince itself and the people that it's motives are benevolent - such as "we must fight communism" or "we will bring democracy to Iraq" or "Saddam Hussein is an evil man who uses chemical weapons on his own people and hence must be ousted" or "Assad is an evil man who is fighting a civil war with his own people".

As a superpower it feels compelled to interfere in conflicts lest it be seen as impotent. When it does not interfere, as in WW2, things do indeed get out of control. So it's damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.

The CIA did not understand Afghan history of fighting off invaders when it was arming the Mujaheddin and that after the Soviets were defeated it would perceive the Americans as invaders and not as liberators who were there to bring them democracy and teach them that growing poppy was bad. (Like alcohol in the 1930s, a national addiction problem cannot be solved on the supply side - as the CIA and DEA learnt in South America.)

Bush Sr. was right when he left Saddam alone after bloodying his nose for invading Kuwait because he understood that Saddam was playing a vital Tito-esque role in keeping his country and the neighborhood in check. He had no WMDs but wanted his adversaries in the region to believe otherwise. If Saddam were alive today we wouldn't have an Iraq problem, an ISIS problem, an Iran problem and a Syria problem.

Smedley Butler 19 Sep 2015 21:12

"Why he didn't stick to his guns since he supposedly was weary of getting the US military involved in yet another quagmire it could not get out of is beyond anyone's comprehension."

Maybe it's because he hasn't stuck to his guns on anything during the entire time he's been President. He always takes the path of least resistance, the easy way out, and a "conservative-lite" position that tries to satisfy everyone and actually satisfies no one.

What an utter disappointment.

DavidEG 19 Sep 2015 20:01

The Machiavellian machinations of the empire become less relevant with every passing day. It's Europeans now who are eating sweet fruits of "mission accomplished". And they may rebel, and kick out last remnants of their "unity", and sacred NATO alliance alongside.

PamelaKatz AndyMcCarthy 19 Sep 2015 18:33

Obama said the US would take 10,000 Syrian refugees. When I heard this, I thought surely a zero must be missing from this figure. And what no one has publicly mentioned is the immigration process for these few will require at least a year of investigative background checks.

PamelaKatz jvillain 19 Sep 2015 18:15

The largest manufacturers and global distributors of weaponry are the US, the UK, France, Russia and China, in that order....... also known as the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. One should read the UN Charter, which states the purpose and parameters for forming this international organization. The word 'irony' comes to mind.

ID108738 19 Sep 2015 17:36

Saddam Hussein was a friend while he gassed the Iranians, then he invaded Kuwait; as long as Bin Laden fought the Russians, he was tolerated and funded; now there's Syria. The only thing needed to take the strategy to new levels of idiocy was a compliant nincompoop as prime minister in Britain. Will they ever learn?

Toi Jon 19 Sep 2015 17:27

The US understands how to create a market for their military hardware industry but has never understood how their interference in the Middle East creates mass human misery.

Samantha Stevens 19 Sep 2015 17:09

Quite simply the US is breaking international law by doing this. Every time they do it the world ends up with another shit storm. If they cannot behave responsibly they should be removed from the security council of the UN. Same goes for the Russians and any other power abusing their position.
Syria may not have been the epitome of humanity before being destabilised but it is certainly worse now. The same is true of Iraq. In fact have the US successfully overturned any government they deem un-American (LOL) without it leading to a civil war?

Andy Freeman 19 Sep 2015 17:06

Sorry but you're wrong. The funding a training of rebel forces by the west has done exactly what is was intended to do, mainly destabilise an entire region, sell billions in extra arms, introduce extra anti-terrorism laws in the west, create more fear and panic, then destabilise Europe through the mass-migration. This was the plan and it worked!

People will call for a solution, the solution will be tighter integration in Europe, the abolition of national governments, the removal of cash to stop payments to "terrorists", more draconian spying laws, less from and eventually compulsory registration and ID for all Europeans.

Meanwhile, we'll have a few more false flag attacks supposedly caused by the refugees and more fear in the news. Open your eyes

Laurie Calhoun 19 Sep 2015 16:49

"Why he didn't stick to his guns..." Not the most felicitous metaphor in this case, but here is the answer to your question:

To the great disappointment of those of us who voted for Obama, the first time out of hope for change, and the second time out of fear for someone even worse, he is a weak and chameleonic leader whose policies are determined by the strongest willed person in the room. Recall that he was also "talked into" bombing Libya!

Sad but true. For more details on how this works, read Daniel Klaidman's book Kill or Capture: The war on terror and the soul of the Obama presidency.

littlewoodenblock geniusofmozart 19 Sep 2015 16:39

turkey should be thrown out of NATO immediately!

littlewoodenblock 19 Sep 2015 16:36

after the libya disaster the US should have abandoned plans for regim change in syria.

and the US missed a golden opportunity to recitfy what had already become a syria disaster by allowing turkey and the ludicrous SNC to so thoroughly undermine the Geneva talks.

nnedjo -> Havingalavrov , 19 Sep 2015 15:40

The U.S and U.K's commitment should be to those in Iraq. Secure, rebuild and invest in helping that Nation come with the best solution to a, rid itself of ISIS, b, be able to stay that way, c have a government that is inclusive to the needs of the Sunni's, Shia's and Kurds

Just as I thought that you can not surpass yourself in writing stupid comments, and you are immediately reassured me.
Thus, the US and the UK spent nearly ten years in Iraq and failed to make any of this what you write, but but the whole mess practically they themselves have created. And now you're saying that if the US and UK troops returned again to Iraq they will be able to fix everything that they had previously screwed and to create an "inclusive society" of Iraq. So, if the US and UK troops set foot again on the soil of Iraq, it will be the strongest reason for Iraqi Sunnis to reject the inclusion in the Iraqi society. Iraqi officials themselves are aware of this very well, and for that reason they are the first to oppose such an intervention.
Iraq's prime minister says no to foreign troops

BAGHDAD - Iraq's prime minister strongly rejected the idea of the U.S. or other nations sending ground forces to his country to help fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, saying Wednesday that foreign troops are "out of the question."...
Al-Abadi, a Shiite lawmaker who faces the enormous task of trying to hold Iraq together as a vast array of forces threaten to rip it apart, welcomed the emerging international effort, but stressed that he sees no need for other nations to send troops to help fight ISIS.

"Not only is it not necessary," he said, "We don't want them. We won't allow them. Full stop."
"The only contribution the American forces or the international coalition is going to help us with is from the sky," al-Abadi said. "We are not giving any blank check to the international coalition to hit any target in Iraq."
He said that the Iraqi military will choose and approve targets, and that the U.S. will not take action without consulting with Baghdad first. Failure to do so, he warned, risks causing civilian casualties like in Pakistan and Yemen, where the U.S. has conducted drone strikes for years.

Well, Well, whether i notice here distrust even of Iraqi Shiites toward the US Air Force. On the other hand, they want to strengthen friendship with neighboring governments in Syria and Iran: ;

Al-Abadi, however, said that Iraq doesn't have the luxury of testy relations with Damascus, and instead pushed for some sort of coordination.

"We cannot afford to fight our neighbor, even if we disagree on many things," al-Abadi said. "We don't want to enter into problems with them. For us sovereignty of Syria is very important." The two countries, both of which are allies of Iran, appear to already be coordinating on some level, and Iraq's national security adviser met Tuesday with Assad in the Syrian capital, where the two agreed to strengthen cooperation in fighting "terrorism," according to Syria's state news agency.

The U.S. hopes to pull together a broad coalition to help defeat the extremist group, but has ruled out cooperating with neighboring Iran or Syria, both of which also view ISIS as a threat. Both countries were excluded from a conference this week in Paris that brought the U.S., France and other allies together to discuss how to address the militant threat.

Al-Abadi said that excluding Damascus and Tehran was counterproductive.

So, it is obvious that the Iraqi government is not against inclusion, but they're for such inclusion, which will exclude the US and UK of interfering in their internal affairs. I think it is a good step towards reconciliation with their Sunni brothers because they also seem to support such a thing. And if they managed to do it, maybe Ukrainians will also draw some lesson from it and be able to reconcile with their brothers Russians.

Ieuan ytrewq 19 Sep 2015 14:04

ytrewq said: "USSR and China supplied a lot of support and material to N. Vietnam."

Very true.

However the Viet Minh were formed and initially supplied by OSS (later called the CIA) forces from the US. In fact Ho Chi Min had a naive hope that the US would support him in his struggle against foreign occupation of the country after the war (French colonialism) and made several appeals to President Truman for help (all of which were ignored).

Instead of which, the US supported the French, so Ho asked around and got help from the Russians and Chinese. The rest we know.

marginline AndyMcCarthy 19 Sep 2015 13:54

The UK and France [...], they destroyed Libya.

The causality of which led to an Islamic terror attack on June 26th, 2015 ten kilometers north of the city of Sousse, Tunisia, where thirty-eight people; thirty of whom were British - were murdered.

sashasmirnoff JoJo McJoJo 19 Sep 2015 13:40

The US is always wrong, and always responsible for every bad thing that happens on Earth.

They are always wrong, and are indeed responsible for almost every geopolitical disaster, usually a result of overthrowing governments and installing their own tyrant, or else leaving a vacuum that Islamists fill.

Zaarth 19 Sep 2015 13:34

This $500m program cost less than 0.1% of the US annual defense budget. When you're dealing with sums of money as obscenely large as the US spends on its military, its inevitable that huge quantities will be wasted because you've passed the point where there's worthwhile things to spend it on. This isn't Bay of Pigs; its a bloated military trying to figure out what to do with its extra cash. Financially, it doesn't matter if the program is a failure. The cost is minuscule for the budget they have.

In recent years the right has been very concerned with balancing the national budget and shrinking debt. They're willing to cut spending for social programs and research, but god forbid you take money away from the military. It just wouldn't be patriotic.

marginline -> GeneralMittens 19 Sep 2015 13:14

Great summary GeneralMittens. You have expressed in layman's terms the facts eluded to by journalist Mehdi Hasan when he quantified the depth of the strategic disaster the Iraq war actually was – or, as the Conservative minister Kenneth Clarke put it back in a 2013 BBC radio discussion...

the most disastrous foreign policy decision of my lifetime […] worse than Suez

The invasion and occupation of Iraq undermined the moral standing of the western powers; empowered Iran and its proxies; heightened the threat from al-Qaeda at home and abroad; and sent a clear signal to 'rogue' regimes that the best (the only?) means of deterring a preemptive, US-led attack was to acquire weapons of mass destruction. […] Iraq has been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives, as the direct result of an unnecessary, unprovoked war that, according to the former chief justice Lord Bingham, was a...

serious violation of international law

This leads me to the conclusion and I apologies for flogging this dead horse yet again BUT...why are Bush and Bliar not being detained at The Hague?

Ieuan 19 Sep 2015 12:45

" I actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well."

Well, they (the OSS at the time) supplied arms and training to the Viet Minh. When they were fighting the Japanese. Which worked out well, when they were only fighting the Japanese.

But when they used their expertise (and the arms they had left over) to carry on fighting the French, and later the Americans themselves, it worked out very well for the Viet Minh, not so well for the French and Americans.

GangZhouEsq 19 Sep 2015 12:27

The first President Bush, who decided not to topple President Saddam Hussein after routing his military forces out of Kuwait, and instead to leave him in power for the sake of the Middle East stability is, in retrospect, probably the wisest foreign policy decision ever made by the 41st President, thanks not only to his own personal judgment but also to his foreign policy aides' wisdom. Though it is now too late for the son to learn from his father, it is still not too late for the present administration to learn a thing or two from the former senior President Bush.

twoheadednightingale 19 Sep 2015 12:25

Nice to read an article coming at the war from this angle, seems like people are finally starting to question the effectiveness US foreign policy - ie bombing for peace. However the article is fairly nieve in places - like who actually believes the president of the US has control over all its intelligence agencies? JFK told the world in april '61, not long after the CIA had set him up over the bay of pigs and months before being assassinated exactly that. So enough of the 'blame the president' bullshit, it doesn't get to the root of the problem

GangZhouEsq 19 Sep 2015 12:17

The last major armament, including heavy guns, tanks and armored personnel carriers, as sent by the United States to the now notoriously incompetent Iraqi military forces is now reportedly in the hands of ISIS after these US-trained Iraqi military personnel simply abandoned their posts of defense and deserted for their own dear lives, thus leaving the centuries-old, formerly safe haven of Mosul for Iraqi Christians to the mercy of ISIS. See "60 Minutes", Sunday, September 13, 2015, "Iraq's Christians", at

pfox33 19 Sep 2015 12:04

The fact that Putin is coming to Assad's aid is a game-changer that the US was unprepared for. For one thing, it's highlighted how inconsequential US efforts to bolster "moderate" rebels and degrade ISIS capabilities have been.

From the time it was reported that the Russians were upgrading an airbase at Latakia to the time that it was reported that they had dispatched helicopters and jets and that the Syrians had started to take the fight to ISIS in Raqqah and Palmyra was only a matter of weeks. The CIA's program, after a year, had produced five soldiers at a cost of 500 million.

Previously the US had free reign over Syrian skies as did Israel who would bomb what they deemed to be convoys of military supplies for Hezbollah. Things aren't so free and easy now with the Russians in town. And both the Americans and Israelis now realize they have to check in with them before them they make sorties over northern Syria.

It's fairly obvious, to me anyway, that the US and Israel's only endgame was the fall of Assad and that ISIS had their tacit approval. Assad's good relations with Iran and Hezbollah meant he was a marked man. Putin, as is his wont, has complicated their plans and the results are yet to be seen.

BradfordChild TastySalmon 19 Sep 2015 11:58

"Iraq, Libya, Syria. What do/did these countries have in common? Unfriendly leaders who want nothing to do with the US."

Actually, Gaddafi had shown an interest in engaging with the West-- happened under Bush, but was never really followed up on. Still, it was headed in a more positive direction until Obama rather arbitrarily decided that Gaddafi had to go.

The real net effect of US intervention in the Middle East has been to destabilize Europe.

Tony Page bravo7490 19 Sep 2015 11:32

I would agree but, as a former intelligence professional, I'd remind you that there's always a story behind the story. Not that it's a "good" story! But more must be going on there...

ByThePeople 19 Sep 2015 11:12

"Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect better results the next time?"

It depends on how you define better. To think that these ops take place with the intent to solve an issue is naive, they don't. You state yourself that the CIA freely admits it's never worked.

The reason the United States funds and arms groups in the Middle East is that 9 times out of 10, these same groups are then later labeled 'terrorists' and a new US war campaign is justified.

It's not about solving problems - unless the problem being solved is: How do we create more opportunities to half-ass justify engaging in another war effort so the US coffers can be continuously raped.

Iraq is the perfect example of succeeding in achieving this goal. Years before the Iraq war ever began, US war planners knew that a power vacuum, attracting the likes of Al-Qaeda and or ISIS would subsequently result. Thus, providing a for a second war, derived from the first seemingly pointless invasion. The Iraq plan worked fabulously as not only did the newly created enemy materialize, they also became a much more formidable enemy once they conveniently came into possession of all the military equipment we let behind.

Point is, they wouldn't continue implementing all these operations if the goal wasn't being achieved.

I will add too - McCain and Co. clamored so hard to arm the al-Assad opposition McCain might as well have claimed that if we did not, then America would be blown up in its entirety in 48 hours the same as all the other fear mongering done in a effort to continue the war efforts. Who knows, maybe he did, I try not to listen to him anymore - he needs to be put out to pasture.

TastySalmon 19 Sep 2015 11:10

Iraq, Libya, Syria. What do/did these countries have in common? Unfriendly leaders who want nothing to do with the US.

To suggest that funding radicals to overthrow these governments is a "whoops" or something that will never work is completely wrong. The plan has worked exactly as planned: destabilize the region by promoting dissent, covertly arm and fund "rebels" through back-channels (Saudi, UAE, Turkey, etc.), create a new boogeyman (ISIS), and reforge alliances with enemies (AQ) who will then turn on us again in the future.

The goal is to flatten Syria, and it seems to be working out very well. When you consider what the ultimate outcome will be, it starts becoming fairly clear: push Russia into a corner militarily and economically, open new LNG pipelines, appease allied caliphates, and put billions of dollars into the pockets of the wealthiest people.

LeftOrRightSameShite -> teaandchocolate 19 Sep 2015 10:51

Their policy is chaotic and consists of repeating the same thing over and over again hoping to get different results, which is, as we all know, the definition of madness.

I think the problem may well be the bloated MIC in the US. Too many strategic game plans for to many, often contradictory ends.

There are no doubt there are intelligence analysts in the US MIC who have a genuine interest in collecting actual information and present it honestly. The numerous leaks show us this.

The problem is, this often good information, once it's been spun through political/economic vested interests, think tanks, cold war jar head imperialists and so forth, it (foreign policy) ends up complete fubar.

To the point where, as you rightly say imo, their foreign policy looks like nothing more than "malicious wily manipulators, deliberately buggering up the world to make money out of the consequences."

david wright 19 Sep 2015 10:49

For a full century now, from the Balfour Declaration and the secret Sykes-Picot arrangement, the currently-top 'Western' dog (UK; then US) has been meddling and futzing around in the Middle East, notionally in someone's 'National Interest.'

Oil, access to Empire (route to India etc) and 'national prestige' have been the usual excuses. The result has been unmitigated disaster.

Ignoring everything up to Gulf 1 (1991) we've a quarter century century of determined scoring of own-goals. This shows no sign of changing. This is a helter-skelter race to destruction, greatly presently aided and abetted by Asad. So far, it's lasted two-and-a-half times longer than the combined lengths of both World Wars.

One conclusion is that by any rational assessment, we don't deserve to 'win', whatever that would constitute, any more than did one side or the other in the 16th -17th century's European religious wars. An equally rational assessment is that we neither have, nor can. The final rational conclusion, that we find a way to disengage - remarkably simply, by stopping doing all the things we have been - is a fence refused by the relevant horses - again, mainly US and (as very eager, jr partner indeed) UK.All apart from the monstrous outcomes for the people in the region, we destabilize our own security then make things worse by tightening our own internal 'security' at the expense of civil liberties. This gives away, at no gain, the slow and scrabbling accretion of these, over centuries. And Cameron and co remain sufficiently delusional to want to keep on bombing, but whatever toys they have, whatever seems a good idea on the day. How can we win? the war isn't on 'terror', but ion logic. Ours. |Neither the US nor UK governments have ever shown much interest in the fates of the millions of people their casual actions have ended, or made hell. Of the multiple ironies (shall I count the ways?) attending all this is that Saddam, while a murderous thug, and no friend to his own people, was doing for us, for free, what we've been unable to do for ourselves - keep Iraq al-Quaida free. AS to his murderous propensities, clearly far fewer of his people (alone) would have been killed had we not intervened, than we have directly or indirectly killed. Much of this stems from the fact that during the same recent period (1991 on) there has been no effective counter to Western power and inclination, which has simply projectile-vomited its baneful influence. Ironic too that the reason we armed and greatly helped create al-Quaida was to destabilize Russia by getting it bogged down in Afghanistan. Thus the only real fear which limited US action, was removed when that policy was successful. We removed the brakes as the train was beginning to accelerate down the incline. Wheeee!

teaandchocolate smifee 19 Sep 2015 10:47

Bush reached the Oval Office not because he was bright, for indeed he was not, he reached the Oval Office because he was dumb enough not to realise he was clearly easily manipulated, believed in neoliberalism and was rich and rich backers and a rich Dad.

As to "not having a serious mark against his name", forgive me if I laugh hysterically while crying with pain.

The least said about the moron Reagan and his jolly pal Thatcher the better. Oh how well their unregulated market shenanigans have turned out.

Crackpots the lot of them.

LethShibbo AndyMcCarthy 19 Sep 2015 10:35

Doing nothing and minding your own business is kinda the same thing.

And the civil war in Syria isn't purely a result of what happened in neighbouring Iraq.

What you're essentially saying is 'America, you've started this fire. Now let it burn.'

pansapians DrDrug 19 Sep 2015 10:28

Well of course ISIS were miffed that the U.S. was paying lip service to not arming ISIS. If you think there was ever any serious difference between the FSA and ISIS then I hear that the Queen having to sell Buckingham palace due to losses gambling on corgi races and I can get you a good deal for a cash sale

IrateHarry Havingalavrov 19 Sep 2015 10:17

Make Iraq work first..


Iraq has been so thoroughly screwed over by the UKUSA clusterfuck, there is no chance of it working ever again.

AndyMcCarthy LethShibbo 19 Sep 2015 10:12

Sorry, the US doesn't HAVE to make a choice, do nothing or bomb. All the US needs to do is mind it's own business.

We wouldn't be having this refugee crises if the US hadn't invaded Iraq.

Tomasgolfer 19 Sep 2015 10:10

For a little insight, see "The Red Line and the Rat Line", by Seymour M. Hersh. Published in the
London Review of Books

LeftOrRightSameShite contextandreality 19 Sep 2015 10:01

you write a article on myth that US armed rebels

The US (and the UK and France for that matter) has been openly arming and training the "rebels". The US had a vote in congress to openly do just that last year. Covertly, they've been doing it since 2012, again this has been well reported and admitted to.

The problem for the US is their so called "moderates" don't exist. They either switch allegiance once back in Syria or end up captured or killed just as quickly.
Your user name seems somewhat of a parody.

ArtofLies richardoxford 19 Sep 2015 10:00

How does that compute ?

it computes once one answers this slightly naive question from the article

Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East, make things even more chaotic than they were before and expect better results the next time?

surely at some point people have to realise that chaos is the result the US is looking for.

IrateHarry 19 Sep 2015 09:56

Why does the US continually send deadly weapons to the Middle East

Because that is the backbone business of America - making and selling deadly weapons. Deadlier the better, and no matter whom they are supplied to. If foreign governments don't buy, does not matter, just supply it to "rebels", and they will be paid for by the tax payers across the west (not just the American ones, NATO has been set up as the mechanism to tap into European tax payers as well).

The rest of the bullshit like democracy, freedom, etc are marketeers' crap.

LeftOrRightSameShite -> geedeesee 19 Sep 2015 09:53

No wonder there's only "four to five" left. This is one big fustercluck!

There was a report in the NY Times last year by a reporter who was kidnapped by the FSA (his mission was to find them and find out who they were) and handed straight over to Al-Nusra. Twice. He was imprisoned and tortured by them.

In his revealing report, talking of the couple of days he spent back with the "FSA", his release having been negotiated by the west, he asked the "FSA" fighters about the training they received from the US in Jordan. The reporter put it to the fighters that the training was to fight AN/IS. Their response? "We lied to the Americans about that".
The WSJ also recently reported that the CIA mission to arm/train "moderates/FSA" had gone totally tits up. Most of them reported as defecting to one of the number of more extreme groups, some having been captured or killed.

It's been clear for about 2 years now that these so called "moderates" only exist in the deluded minds of western policy makers.

JacobHowarth MushyP8 19 Sep 2015 09:51

ISIS do not control that large a number of people. Many Kurds are fleeing because of IS, that's true, but for the most part the civil war is a horror show from both sides and Syrians are - rightly - getting the hell out of there.

Or are all of those 'taking advantage of the opportunity to move to Europeans [sic] countries' proposing to do so by going to Lebanon and Jordan?

Quadspect -> kingcreosote 19 Sep 2015 09:22

The suspiciously unasked questions as to motives of all parties at Benghazi, by all twelve (12) members of the Select Committee, suggests collaboration to question Hillary Clinton to make her appear responsible only for bungling security and rescue, for the sole purpose of diverting attention from Hillary Clinton's role in the CIA and the CIA operative Ambassador Stevens' arming of terrorists. The obvious question to ask would have gone to motives: "What activities were Stevens and the CIA engaged in, when they were attacked at Benghazi?"

GreenRevolution 19 Sep 2015 09:10

The use of religion(Islam specifically) in politics was first employed by the British in the Middle East in the early parts of the 20th century. In Iran, we have a saying which says; take off a Mullah's turban and you will find the words "Made in England" stamped on his head.

nnedjo 19 Sep 2015 09:09

Even more bizarre, the White House is claiming little to do with it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest attempted to distance Obama from the program, claiming that it was actually the president's "critics" who "were wrong."

Yes, it seems that it has become a tradition of US presidents to boast with the fact that "they do not interfere much in their own job".

For example, in the last campaign for the GOP candidate for the US president, Jeb Bush defended his brother George for a false pretext for war in Iraq in the form of non-existent WMD, claiming that everyone else would bring the same decision on the start of the war, if the same false intelligence would be presented to him.

Thus, the president of the United States can not be held accountable for its decisions if the CIA deliver him false intelligence, or deliberately conceal the true intelligence. On the other hand, since no one has heard of any person from the CIA which is held responsible for the wrong war in Iraq, it turns out that nobody is responsible for this war.

And, to us, mere mortals, it remains only to conclude that the most powerful war machine in the world moves "without a driver", or maybe it is "driven by some automatic pilot".

So, how tragic it is, and yet we can not help laughing. :-)

mikiencolor 19 Sep 2015 09:06

It was obvious to anyone with a modicum of sense from the beginning that the "moderate" rebel training programme would be an utter disaster. But if the lessons you are taking is that nothing should be done at all, I'd submit you are taking the wrong lessons from the debacle. Doing nothing at all would have condemned tens of thousands more to genocide. Doing something saved thousands of Yezidi and saved Rojava.

Wherever the Kurds have been supported they have proved capable, trustworthy and have created functional civil societies. To broadly and undiscerningly dismiss "sending weapons to the Middle East" is disingenuous. Something must be done, and things can be done to help rather than harm if there is a sensible policy maker, and doing nothing certainly can be more immoral and evil than doing something - as I thought we'd learned from Nazi Germany.

The reality is one that neither right wing nor left wing hardliners are willing to face: the Sunni Arab jihadis are the source of most of the problems and the reason is entirely to do with their noxious genocidal and imperialistic ideology and culture. They are a source of instability, enmity and fear, and not just in the Middle East either. And they are being supported and bankrolled by Western allies in the Gulf. The world is a big place with many peoples and ways of thought, and many disagreements - but we nearly all of us seem able to find a way to coexist in this new globalised technological human civilisation. The jihadis are a barbarian throwback, a movement of violent primitivists. There is no place for jihadism in the future and they are a threat to everyone in the world.

ID0020237 -> teaandchocolate 19 Sep 2015 09:01

Insanity I believe, not madness, but what's the difference. The CIA may get it right, but after political interference and manipulation, they change their conclusions. We've seen this with the Iraq debacle and elsewhere. Just as political interference in military operations, Viet Nam for example, causes imminent failure, so it is with intelligence ignored.

GeneralMittens 19 Sep 2015 09:01

So basically America invades and bombs the shit out of everywhere and the europeans have to clean up the mess and deal with the resulting refugee crisis?

At some point America should be held accountable for their actions in the middle east. Whether thats taking their fair share of refugees from syria or footing the bill for this clusterfuck.

At the very least, other countries should stop enabling their warmongering.

LittleGhost 19 Sep 2015 08:58

US foreign policy in the ME proves Einstein's maxim

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

GreenRevolution 19 Sep 2015 08:57

It has been 14 years since 911 and Bush's so called "war on terror". Not only barbaric wahabi terror has not been defeated it has grown its barbarism to magnitudes unimaginable previously. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been allowed to arm them to the teeth by the very states who claim to be waging "war on terror". Since Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are close allies of the west and one is a member of NATO, it follows that the west is in fact arming the wahabi terrorists who have turned the Middle East into a wasteland murdering and looting at will. Millions are now refugees, countries laid to waste and yet Mr Kerry and Hammond talk as if they have done such magnificent jobs and Russian involvement would only "complicate" things.

teaandchocolate 19 Sep 2015 08:56

I don't think they have the brightest people working in the CIA and the military in the USA. They are probably bullies, relics from the Cold War, jar-heads, devout 6000-year-old-world Christians, neocons and fruitcakes. Their policy is chaotic and consists of repeating the same thing over and over again hoping to get different results, which is, as we all know, the definition of madness.

smifee 19 Sep 2015 08:52

To be honest, I don't see any confusion.

Obama comes across as a (comparatively) humane person, and I am sure that his personal preference would be for there to be no violence in the middle east. As President of the USA, however, he has to set aside his personal preferences and act in the wider interests of his country.

The US set out to realign the political make up of the middle east. No doubt, they want to make sure Islam will never again be able attack US interests.

Successive Administrations have controlled the funding and arming of various factions within the Middle East to ensure that Muslims kill each other and weaken social structures. The US will fill the ensuing political vacuum and economic waste-land with local leaders loyal to 'freedom, democracy and the American Way'. The next Administration will continue to stoke up the violence, and the one after, and the one after that until the US is satisfied it has achieved its objective.

It seems almost all of us have to contain our personal views if we want to succeed in our place of work. Even the P of the USA.

GoldMoney -> celloswiss 19 Sep 2015 08:51

True, in a democracy, moderates don't need bombs and assault weapons.

Consider this - how would you feel if foreign governments were arming and funding the IRA in Northern Ireland?

What if foreign governments recognised the IRA as a legitimate opposition to the Belfast government and gave them bombs to take over the country?

MichaelGuess 19 Sep 2015 08:46

Who are the real terrorists, the group that bombs indiscriminately, the group that sells arms to both sides, the group that's lies to its "coalition" partners, the group that spies on all its friends, the group that is happy to be starting wars everywhere and then blame other parties for their lack of support.
These are the real terrorists.

MushyP8 19 Sep 2015 08:46

ISIS/ISIL is a creation of the US in an attempt to remove Assad. The long-term goal being to isolate Iran before going in there for the natural resources.

Assad won 89% of the vote in a 74% turnout, how many world leaders have 65% of the population supporting them, hence why Assad hasn't fallen. Naturally the US refuted this alongside its lapdogs, the EU and the UK, as it disproves all the propaganda they've been feeding the west. RT news did an interview with Assad which was very insightful.

Putin seems to be the only one who's got his head screwed on in this situation, which is of course leading to hissy fits by the US because he's proving a stumbling block. More nations need to get behind Putin and Assad, although of course the US wont.

GoldMoney DrDrug 19 Sep 2015 07:52

Moderates do, when the simple act of protesting against the mutilation of children detained by the states secret police are met with a volley of snipers.

No such evidence has been bought to the UN security council.

Even the chemical attack that the media claimed from day one was Assad's forces doing turned out to be IS rebels actions.

The two human rights groups operating in Syria are western funded NGO's - hardly a neutral point of view given the US's long stated aim of removing Assad (even before 2011).

geedeesee 19 Sep 2015 07:25

This $500 million from June 2014 was for recruiting Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad - not to fight iSIS.

The White House said at the time:

"This funding request would build on the administration's longstanding efforts to empower the moderate Syrian opposition, both civilian and armed, and will enable the Department of Defense to increase our support to vetted elements of the armed opposition."

The White House statement specifically refers to the "Syrian opposition". That's the term we use to describe anti-government forces. This recruitment and training programme has gone awry because the people originally recruited would have been anti-Assad. Now the Obama administration has tried to change the same people to fighting to ISIS instead. No wonder there's only "four to five" left. This is one big fustercluck!

kingcreosote 19 Sep 2015 07:12

The CIA has probably been the greatest destabalising force in the world since the second world war and seem like more a subsidiary of the weapons trade than a government department.

[Sep 19, 2015] Clock Ticks On US Syria Strategy As Assad Pounds ISIS Targets, Russia Sends Fighter Jets

Suddenly the hypocrite-fiends of Western Europe wanted the conflict in Syria over.
"...Putin had literally called Washington's bluff, forcing The White House to either admit that this isn't about ISIS at all, or else join Russia in fighting them. "
"... Economic destruction followed by political stability exploited for regime change. The most damaging of those sanctions (and the easiest for the U.S. financial bully to enforce) are banking sanctions. Those are also easiest to ram through the tratiorous little bitches in congress with the least amount of hand-wringing and public outcry. No bad PR from Twitter pictures of dead babies or mutilated kids and destroyed homes, but destruction of the 'target' just the same."
"...Yet another neocon fiasco. Uncounted billions gone, Syriah shattered forever, oh, and our dearest allies in Europe overrun with filthy penniless refugees. Way to go Team America!"
Sep 19, 2015 | Zero Hedge

Note that this is a bitter defeat for Washington. Moscow, realizing that instead of undertaking an earnest effort to fight terror in Syria, the US had simply adopted a containment strategy for ISIS while holding the group up to the public as the boogeyman par excellence, publicly invited Washington to join Russia in a once-and-for-all push to wipe Islamic State from the face of the earth. Of course The Kremlin knew the US wanted no such thing until Assad was gone, but by extending the invitation, Putin had literally called Washington's bluff, forcing The White House to either admit that this isn't about ISIS at all, or else join Russia in fighting them.

... ... ...

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the man some suspect of masterminding the entire effort to restore the Assad regime, Quds commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, seems to understand the US strategy all too well - we close with the following from Iran's PressTV:

Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani said Wednesday that the policy of the US with regards to Daesh and other Takfiri groups operating in the region is to only have them under control and not eliminate them.


don't forget who's creating this so called "terrorists"?


It's entirely possible to forget though, since there's so many.

There's Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, London, the USA, France, Australia, and NATO. I'm probably still missing some.


Assad is still stuck with the same big problem. He does not have the infantry numbers to defeat ISIS.

You can see prime example of this on YouTube clips of Syrian T-72 tanks doing close quarters street fighting and getting taken out by RPG's because they have no supporting infantry to sweep out the enemy infantry. Heavy tactical equipment like artillary, tanks and fighter aircraft is fine, but at the end of the day you have to be able to sweep through with enough boots to control the area.

At best Assad can wage a holding stalemate until the Russians actually deploy 10's of thousands of ground troops.

Latina Lover

Not true. Cut off the supply lines and cash funnel, and ISIS will fall apart. When the USSA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia figure out the game is over, they will cut off money.

Money Counterfeiter

Someone needs to tell Putin Israel is right next door to the south. Why let a crisis go o waste?


Now that the Rooskies have changed the battlescape from US State's obsession to displace secular Assad with some Muslim Arab terrorist pipeline puppet to solving the US/Saudi/NATO/ISIS chaos problem, maybe the ISIS terror mercenaries will finally get a taste of their own medicine.

Everyday Europeans should be rooting for Russia and Assad if they want to solve the root cause of their Islamic invasion problem.


Those ISIS shills really had it made for a while.. like, where else could you get money, training, military bases, unused armor and weapons parachute delivered to your doorstep?

sun tzu

Yes, against that vaunted American ISIS mercenary fighting force that is known for its military prowess LOL. Your fearsome ISIS with full US military training, weapons, and air support can't even defeat Assad's little military force with 40 year old tanks.

They're good at chopping off heads of unarmed people and that's about it. Most are foreign jihadist idiots born and raised in Western nations under rap and hiphop MTV music. Unlike the Taliban and in Iraq, they are not fighting for their homeland. The western mercs leading the ISIS forces are also a bunch of cowards. Once they face death from air attacks, the paycheck no longer means anything. Those mercs are good at overthrowing third world countries. They didn't sign up to be attacked by cruise missiles.


I remember when George Bush said, "God talked to him."


You would a thought Americans would have wised up at least after THAT!

The Indelicate Genius

ISIS Leader Admits to Being Funded by the US

Now, who knows how reliable that site it - but who still thinks that whatever makes it into the NY Times is reliable?

two hoots


Kerry in UK to push for end to Syrian conflict:


Kerry in UK to push for end to Syrian embarrassment:


Clearly the US could wipe ISIS if they wanted to, but since ISIS is a USA asset, used to destabilize the region so "democracy" can be forced once "humanitarian problems arise", it will be kept until no longer useful.

The origins of ISIS are quite interesting. The flow of supplies are rather obvious. .GOV is the worlds largest terrorist if you follow the dots.

After being caught red-handed shipping USA vehicles for ISIS militants, .gov has come out saying that the image was doctored. LMFAO!!!! The propaganda is mind blowing.

This photo, taken from a propaganda video, shows a near identical scene featuring a different truck, raising questions as to the authenticity of the photo featuring Mr Oberholtzer's truck

"Raising questions....". From whom?

Fascism. It's obvious.


Wait until ISIS has some Truly Nolan trucks...

trulz4lulz's picture

How anyone could down vote that is beyond me, but one thing is for certain, Murikistan still wouldnt be able to find them with their hundreds of billions of dollars worth of satelites raoming the lower atmosphere of Earth.

Fractal Parasite

Kerry in UK to push for end to Syrian calamity.

Oh, now that the State Dept's takfiris are getting their asses whipped, suddenly Horse Face wants a negotiated peace.

Mr al-Assad has been offering talks for four years.


Just like the Ukraine. The NovoRussians (DPR and LPR) get the Ukie Army in a cauldron (surrounded) and we have Minsk 1 then they get surrounded again and Minsk 2. There were probably mercs and Spec Ops in those cauldrons. they sue for peace when they are losing.

Kudos to the Ukie soldiers who quit and surrendered knowing they were being used by Kiev and kudos for the NovoRussians for treating the Ukies humanely when they surrendered.

PM Zakarchenko of DPR has said there will be no Minsk 3.


BigK spot on. And once they are bottled up there, it becomes a Saudi problem again. Because what is left of the "rebels" in Syria will be ashes and incinerated bodies. The Syrian AF is doing this without the Russian AF; wait until the Russians start dropping their bombs at altitude and square blocks of terrorists begin to get vaporized.

Zero Point

A bit like how they pushed the Mujahadeen out of Afghanistan? Wait... what?


"We are only going to arm the moderate rebels."

From the second that phrase came out of .gov's piehole I know this was going to turn into a cluster fuck of epic proportions. What a fucking joke...


"moderate rebels"

But first we are going to round up some Unicorns for transportation.

"Christmas Greetings to the Fatherland from your brave and successful army in Stalingrad."

The Indelicate ...

The Jesuits are about 2500 old men. Apart from a few colleges and on campus mansions with well-stocked bars - they don't control dick.

I see this notion all over CNN and youtube comments, like it is an organized effort.

Lots of valid criticisms to offer about the RCC - but controlling the world smacks of obvious gatekeeping for the usual suspects

... ... ...


Good interview: al-Assad and Russian media.

President al-Assad to Russian media outlets.. We cannot implement anything unless we defeat the terrorism.. The army is the most important symbol for any society.


Here's Putin paying homage to the Pope and Vatican.

When will you stupid fucks figure this out??


No. He chose to kiss the book and NOT the Pope's ring because Orthodox Christian's do not believe the Pope should be venerated or exalted as Christ. It is very telling that he chose to kiss the Bible instead.

Fractal Parasite

Here it is on youtube. All in English (mostly dubbed).

40-minute RT interview with Bashar al-Assad by a Russian delegation in Damascus.


Re comment by Publicus:

"Russia is showing the world the correct way to deal with terrorists. EXTERMINATION."

BUT Russia is not doing any fighting. None. Putin still has not fired a shot.

What has happened is that Syria now has some accurate weapons. Finally! Which begs the question.

Why was Syria not supplied accurate weapons before now. They have been fighting and losing and dieing for several years. Much of Syria is destroyed, cities destroyed and the people killed or refugees in other countries. And it appears Putin was not suppling Russia's better quality weapons. I am not even talking about suppling the S-300, as was contracted for in 2007, but rocket launchers, decent air to ground missiles for air strikes and accurate artillery. What kind of support is it when you refuse to sell those types of weapons to an "allie' who is under attack?

Putin/Russia has not fired a shot, flown a mission or put people in the field. Russia has finally supplied some weapons that might help Assad punish the insurgents who hold much of northern Syria. If the west ups the stakes in their support will Russia finally take a direct role in flying missions or launching real missiles?

And why is Putin trying to negotiate a political agreement that includes the removal of Assad? How is that being supportive or is that just being opportunistic to do regime change using a new Russian puppet?

Fractal Parasite

Reasonable questions. Re-read the article for the answers. It explains how Emperor Washington & co have been exposed as without clothes after a year of off-target "air strikes against ISIS in Syria" while Russia steps in and gets the job done in a week.

Pity ¼ millions Syrians got killed before then, but who did that?

The claim that Putin is negotiating Assad's removal is bullcrap.


You need to re read the article. Russia did not fly any missions or fire a single shot. Nothing.

Also, read who got killed. Seems most were civilians. But those here seem to think it is ok when their side kills the innocent.

Putin held negotiations with the leaders of the insurgents and even hosted them as his guests recently in Russia. Why do you think he flew them to Russia, to drink vodka? It was reported that Putin wanted some figure head role for Assad and the insurgents want him dead.

Lurk Skywatcher

Where does that BBC article say "civilians"?

You have as much evidence for them being civilians as I do for them being US/UK handlers and "trainers".

Why hasn't he supported Assad until now? Why did he fly insurgent leaders to Russia for talks? Why are you confused and critical of everything he has done?

Because constantly you try to squeeze Putins opaque actions into your own flawed concept of statesmanship, and assume to understand completely what is happening. Constantly you read things into events that suit your own bias.

He knows what he is doing - twice in as many years he has deftly avoided a trap set to mire Russia in war.

If he had acted as you critisize him for not acting, he would have been long caught in the first one.

And that shows exactly how worthless and wrong your opinion is.

Crash Overide

There are a lot of people that should be in jail... start 1, 2, 3 wars! no problem, get promoted.

Being a veteran that fought in so called wars and smokes pot for PTSD, you will be shot in your own home and arrested.


General Wesley Clark:

Because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, "Sir, you've got to come in and talk to me a second." I said, "Well, you're too busy." He said, "No, no." He says, "We've made the decision we're going to war with Iraq." This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, "We're going to war with Iraq? Why?" He said, "I don't know." He said, "I guess they don't know what else to do." So I said, "Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?" He said, "No, no." He says, "There's nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq." He said, "I guess it's like we don't know what to do about terrorists, but we've got a good military and we can take down governments." And he said, "I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail."

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it's worse than that." He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, "I just got this down from upstairs" — meaning the Secretary of Defense's office — "today." And he said, "This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." I said, "Is it classified?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "Well, don't show it to me." And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, "You remember that?" He said, "Sir, I didn't show you that memo! I didn't show it to you!"


I know the puppet masters are very good but sorry, I think Putin is the real deal. I think the puppet masters are NOT in total control of the world and Russia and China are really not going for the murder criminal cabal that does control the West.


"Russia and the US serve the same master"

Boris Yeltsin ain't President anymore


It's a proxy war. For at least the last three years Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting each other tooth and nail all over the Middle East. Sauid Arabia through their Islamist irregulars and Iran through their regular army (though in the case of Yemen the roles are reversed), brough in by Iraq and Syria to fight them off.

But now that the U.S. and her allies have openly entered the proxy war (remember, the U.S. has been bombing Syria for a couple of weeks now) it released Russia to do the same.

The proxy is a whole lot more direct now, and it looks like the U.S. will blink first. She doesn't like being met by capable oponents that she has to confront directly - despite all the military spending.


Look at all the fools here, thinking Russia is actually against the US.

Russia has a central bank, therefore it attends the BIS meetings in Switzerland and is a major part of the globalist agenda.


There is a break in the force. Putin may break away this year from The London based Rothschild central bank system. He needs and now has a reason (need) to do so:

Fractal Parasite

Russia's central bank was established under Yeltsin, the drunkard puppet who 'invited' advisors from Washington to write Russia's laws after the USSR was surrendered dismembered to the victorious hegemon in 1991.

As soon as the pathetic legislating cretins in the Duma grow a pair and take some action to reform the Central Bank Law and undo the subordination to BIS, then the people can have their country back.

Paveway IV

"...It's a proxy war. For at least the last three years Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting each other tooth and nail all over the Middle East...."

I agree in part, Motasaurus. This is a huge part of what's happening that's often relegated to a footnote of 'causes'. But the situation is far more complex. Years of European and American empire-building, Oil interests, ZATO's Russian 'containment' attempt, religious extremism, Israel land-grabbing and Turkish criminal clownfuckery are all rolled into one here. Every one is needed to trace the path that ended us up here.

"...Sauid Arabia through their Islamist irregulars and Iran through their regular army (though in the case of Yemen the roles are reversed), brough in by Iraq and Syria to fight them off."

That's a part of it, but I will offer an alternative: this is a banker war between Saudi Arabia/Qatar and Iran/Iraq/Syria, with the U.S. squarely backing the Saudi Arabia/Qatar side, cheered on by Israel and ZATO.

The neocon/Kagan/ISW noise about armed intervention is kind of the after-show for Syria. How did all their wars start? Iraq started with sanctions. Iran started with sanctions. Syria started with sanctions. Economic destruction followed by political stability exploited for regime change. The most damaging of those sanctions (and the easiest for the U.S. financial bully to enforce) are banking sanctions. Those are also easiest to ram through the tratiorous little bitches in congress with the least amount of hand-wringing and public outcry. No bad PR from Twitter pictures of dead babies or mutilated kids and destroyed homes, but destruction of the 'target' just the same.

Case in point [from Kenneth Rijock's Financial Crime Blog]:

Adam Szubin, formerly the Director of OFAC, and now the Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, at his confirmation hearing, asserted that, should any Iranian bank, released from sanctions, due to the comprehensive nuclear agreement, re-offend, meaning conducting any transactions with Hezbollah or the IRGC Quds Force, American sanctions will be reimposed forthwith.

So if this guy is going to be the Terrorism and Financial Crimes guy, why was he silent about the same sanction threat for Saudi Arabia and Qatar? They regularly use the banking system to move massive amounts of money to finance their terrorist war in both Syria and Iraq. Where's the outrage there? How many Americans have already died (and will die) because dual-citizen israeli-firster Szubin (his two predecessors in the job were the same) pees his pants about any Iranian funds going to 'enemies of Israel' but he - just like his predecessors - will completely ignore ANY of the widely-known money transfer mechanisms the Saudis and Qatar use to fund terrorists?

The joke in all this is that the U.S. is the first to employ sanctions when it suits Israel's whims, but refuses to even acknowledge the river of money flowing to ISIS, al Nusra and the dozens of other head-chopper clans that the Saudis and Qatar fund. Why? Because to Israel (and their little bitches in the U.S. congress) any dime spent on terrorists that oppose Iran or any of their allies is not terrorist funding - it's democracy building. Ever heard of a Saudi or Qatar bank sanctioned? Ever hear of a U.S. or European bank sanctioned for moving terrorist payrolls every week to ISIS? ISIS steals and extorts a lot of money from it's imprisoned populations, but they hardly have the financial wherewithal to fund a damn global war. ISIS isn't running a cash war with suitcases of fiat - they have to use banks like everyone else for the big stuff.

Russia knows this. It wasn't going to feed it's soldiers into a meatgrinder again (like Afghanistan) funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.. Putin supports Assad, but would not take Russia down merely to defend Syria. All Putin had to do was wait until enough corruption and theft corroded the terrorism financing pipeline. Now it doesn't matter how much money goes in - very little gets to the terrorists on the front lines. The head-choppers are starving. Let's just say Putin has some experience on both sides of the fence dealing with corrupt psychopaths and their criminal regimes' amazing ability to self-destruct from rot.

Turkey got greedy and took too much skim from the terrorist logistics network. The jihadis themselves have been robbing ISIS and al Nusra blind of everything - weapons, radios, cash. Mostly to support their two biggest habits: food and ampehtamines. Although they continue to fund the terrorists, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have to be convinced by now that it's like storing water in a sieve (but maybe I give them too much credit here).

ISIS and al Nusra are on their financial death-bed from corruption. Good at head-chopping, not so good handling money. Putin merely has to get Assad to kick a few pegs out from under them to hasten the collapse. There will be no mass influx of Russian troops because it's unnecessary. Russia is not trying to annihilate ISIS in a war of attrition - they're letting it rot on the hoof, and giving it an occasional well-placed kick. Back-door Turkish-ISIS deals for oil? Bomb the f'king oil wells - no more oil sales. U.S.-ZATO intelligence via scrambled SATCOM links? Take out the ground stations - six months to get the new crap there which Russia will direct Assad to take out again. Takfiri payday? Smoke the al Raqqa branch of the ISIS/ZATO central bank. Next up: main branch in Mosul.

Russia has no desire, and Putin just has enough common sense not to fight ZATO terrorists on their (or the Kagan's) terms: rivers of blood and money. Russia has neither to waste and has demonstrated over and over again that they won't fall for ZATO's usual tricks. They let the ZATO terrorists in Syria bleed out by self-inflicted cuts, and will merely direct Assad where to inflict the final set of wounds to finish them off.

In the mean time, ISW and the Kagans are still trying to decide if there's some other way they can get the sieve to hold water. As of late, the strategy seems to be to send Kerry to negotiate something based on the premise that the sieve is still holding water. It's kind of pathetic when you think about it.


I'd like to see a stinging rebuke that causes the Murikans to reel in their policy of maliciously fucking with everybody's shit all over the world. The trouble is, in order to preserve the petro dollar and reserve status the military must maintain it's aura of invincibility because everything else is coming into question.

Therefore it seems likely they'll do something very stupid to antagonize nuclear armed Russia. Unlike China or other countries, Russian nukes are not in the experimental phase of development and every ICBM they launch is likely to perform flawlessly.


U.S. leadership abdicated and let Bibi and Nuland take the Syria fight to Russia's door, using the cousins...nearly everyone in Israel still has a cousin in Ukraine. Russia was not supposed to respond like this was a existential threat, but they did. First he locked down the Crimea. Despite hardship, the country is rallying behind Putin. You won't starve on red beets and chicken, in fact you'll be pretty healthy...that is, the Russians can outlast the French and Italian farmers who have lost their market. And the Russians understand that the same Chechen mercs who blow up their trains and schools....and are on the Saudi payroll.....are running training camps now in Syria.

There might be a deeper "game." It is highly plausible that the City of London looked around twenty years ago for someone competent, not a klepto and backed the Putin horse to protect their investments in Russia. Not a bad choice. The British foreign service is so much more competent than ours. And they have just reopened their embassy in Teheran, having turned Basra over to the Iranians before they pulled troops out. USA is so badly served.

The definitive book on Russian & Jewish relations was written by Solzynitzin. It's called "200 Years Together" and it has not been translated/published in English. You can't buy it at Amazon. THINK about that.

But that isn't so important right now. At the level of families living or dying, 2000-year old Christian treasures being obliterated by ISIS Bolsheviks, he is the only thing that stands up to Bibi's lunacy. The Germans seem to be making the same calculus. They think the US has lost the plot.

Remember Bibi is expendable. All it takes is a vote of no-confidence by the military. Livni could step up. BHO isn't going to reach out ot help a 'friend' because...well...


The people of Crimea voted on a referendum to join Russia and 95+% voted in favor of doing so. Other than that nice post @@

My Days Are Getting Fewer

Excellent summary here:

Read the last sentence...

godiva chocolate

The US is neither free nor a democracy itself. How dare it spread its oligarchy onto other countries.


The USA in 2015 is the end result of a "Free Market" is what happens when the concentration of wealth/power goes unchecked...even ecouraged....Corporate Crony Capitalism...where the bulk of the "profits" fall into the hands of th e few...That is America today.

Show me someone that thinks "Socialism" has brought us to this point, and I'll show you a complete fucken Rightwing moron.


The killing fields. Putin helping EU to stop the mass exodus as well


But they will blame him nonetheless.


They always doooooooo............

world map of US military installations........


It's Russian payback time for Afghanistan.

It's not that I'm rooting for the Russians and Syrians. I don't give a shit who stuffs the USSA, NATO and Israel, as long as it's done.


may have turned the tide in the country's four-year civil war.

This is a propaganda marker. Syria is not having a "civil" war. They are under attack by the USA CIA and Israel Mossad.


I have always wondered how ISIS continues to operate tanks and Humvees across open desert without any coalition air strikes. They have training camps and barracks and offices without worrying about air strikes. They have parades and convoys of vehicles without fear. They operate oilfields and refineries at will, and transport and sell the output. The U.S. is allowing this. Putin will not.

The U.S. wants to track my $10,000 withdrawal, freeze Iranian money, seize Russian billionaire's funds, peek into Swiss bank accounts -- yet cannot track ISIS oil revenues and huge financial transactions?

But at least we will have an openly gay Secretary of the Army!


Also seems a little strange that ISIS can openly recruit people through Twitter and Facebook. Would anything remotely similar ever be permitted on any other site?

Keep an eye on the Joshua Goldberg story; I bet the CIA offers him a job after he is debriefed by the FBI.


You, ZeroHedgers, never seem to learn from history: "checkmate, courtesy of The Kremlin. " - SERIOUSLY?

35 years ago the CIA lured USSR into Afghanistan, and when the oil prices dropped in the mid-1980s, the USSR was no more.

Oil prices are already down (son to go down even more thanks to Iran.) The Chinese already refuse to pay prices they agreed to just 8 months ago, and Gazprom is offering Ukraine 50% discounts!), Russia is already is involved in Ukraine, and now it's getting itself stuck in the sandbox in Syria.

How is it different from Afghanistan in 1980s? And while the USSR could hide the dead in 60000 zinc coffins, do you think in the age of Twitter and Facebook they'll be able to do that? You think that Russian people are sheepple just like the americans?

Seems to me it's checkmate to Putin, courtesy of the CIA and the Saudis.

P.S. When evryone keeps telling a dictator how great and brilliant he is, he starts believing that shit. Even as state revenues drop by 50%, even as his newest missiles explode at launch and the only target they hit are passenger jets. His pride takes over and he sends his best forces into the "sandbox" to defend his ally, a palce where every great army has been defeated. Checkmate, indeed.

P.P.S. Since the reports of Russians in Syria has surfaced, there's unusual "quietness" in Eastern Ukraine. Could it be that Russia cannot conduct war on 2 fronts? I can't wait until the CIA tests that theory, gives Ukes some of the new weaponry to "probe" russkies closer to thir homeland.


Jaw-dropping inanity.

"35 years ago the CIA lured USSR into Afghanistan, and when the oil prices dropped in the mid-1980s, the USSR was no more."

Yes, the brilliant CIA created the TALIBAN, which WE just spent 12 years fighting with 4 TRILLION$ and thousands DEAD, maimed. WAY TO FUCKING GO USA! OH, and now our home-grown USA SHALE OIL 'MIRACLE' has been destroyed by said engineered low oil prices. DUH. Blowback's a bitch.


USA is still here, where's USSR?

USA (or USSA) is in deep sh*t, but Russia is waaaayyyy deeper.

Indeed, CIA was brilliant in using the Taliban to defeat USSR. It was Dick 'the Dick" Cheney who caused 12 years of fighting and spent $4T.

Just let the CIA do their thing and in no time China and USA will be dividing siberian oil amoung themselves, with Putin looking through jail window.


"How is it different from Afghanistan in 1980s? "

In 1980 the usa debt was 980 billion. Today the ussa debt is 18 trillion dollars (what they admit to) and growing exponentially.

In 1980 the usa was a manufacturing giant of quality merchandise. Now all the ussa produces is fiat and the tools of war.

In 1980 the usa had robust economy with much opportunity. Today the ussa has no work, no economy and no opportunity unless you call playing in the stock casino's opportunity.

In 1980 the usa had individual privacy and still could depend on the constitution. Today the ussa spies on everyone, and has totally eviscerated the constitution.

In 1980 the usa was at war with no one, for a change. Today the ussa is at war with half the world.

In 1980 the usa had a space program. Today the ussa depends on China and Russia to get people into space.

In 1980 the usa had a president. Today the ussa has a dictatorial executive.

In 1980 Afghanistan was eradicating the opium crop. Today the ussa armed forces guards and ships the bumper crops.

Comparing 1980 to now is like comparing Day to Night. On September 11, 2001 a darkness descended on the usa which gave birth to the ussa


This has nothing to due with Afghanistan. As for the US economy in '80, it was pretty crappy and the only reason we weren't officially at war was because of Carter in the White House. Plenty on the Hill and in the DOD were pushing for a fight in Central America, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

I would agree though on several point and since 9-11 we have been a scared, scitterish, anxiety-ridden mess on the whole.


Terrific article. Superb narrative. Essentially Obama can no longer bleed Assad through ISIS. And he will have to coordinate with Putin or it looks mightily suspicious to Europe overwhelmed by refugees

And this aggressive Syrian air force display makes a No Fly Zone moot

Obama and Kerry come off as sore losers. Give Hezbollah all the small arms they need and tell Netanyahoo to gack to murdering Gazan children which is all he is good at

Admittedly, I am a Putin supprter, but he just caught Obama with his pants down.

Wait till Putin's speech before the UN General Assembly. America will go apoplectic over being on the brunt end of a scolding

I had been impatient with Putin over Syria. I should have had faith that he would not fold

Obama by telling Carter to callShoigu means he lost his nerve


Yet another neocon fiasco. Uncounted billions gone, Syriah shattered forever, oh, and our dearest allies in Europe overrun with filthy penniless refugees. Way to go Team America!

falak pema

the russian axis now in place.

Obama cedes Syria to Putin and thus allows an Iranian initiative also which will have repercussions in Lebanon (Hezbollah), in Yemen (Houthi) and Palestine (Hamas).

A major shift in the ME power structure now seems in the making as the Lausanne Deal between US/IRan has changed the game.

What will Saud do now?

And watch the French and Germans try and win some contracts both in Iran and in Saud...when alliances fold new ambitions are born.

Pax Americana...wither now?


Like the Americans in control say.........."American Interests" are what the Military fight for....Right or wrong, Obama said.....We have No Friends, only Opportunities".

That being said, and the dumbed down General American Population with an Army pumped on Roids think thier shit doesn't stink. Wrap the stars and stripes around you and die for your freedom......Well now, How did that work out?

The Congress is bought, the army is Mercinary and the financial system controls. The Biggest lobby group is Israel...who profits from this? Not mainsteet. They own you. If you don't have a problem with that.....Carry On .

[Sep 18, 2015] They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars: The Untold Story

At 73, having spent years focusing on the civilian toll from Washington's Afghan War, Ann Jones embedded on an American forward operating base to experience what that war was like for the U.S. troops in the field. The next year, she began following grievously wounded American soldiers from the moment they came off the battlefield all the way back home. Her journey proved to be nothing short of an odyssey. Despite all the talk in this country about our "wounded warriors," no other book gives us a more powerful sense of the genuine cost of war to Americans.

[Sep 18, 2015] The Russians are Coming! by Graham E. Fuller

"...A remarkably sound analysis by Graham Fuller on Russia and Syria:
Despite his CIA pedigree and the Tsarnaev connection, Fuller has moments of lucidity occasionally – he published a book in the 1990s arguing that Iran under the ayatollahs was nowhere near as totalitarian as the Western groupthink suggested, and in some ways outpaced Israel, 'the-only-democracy-in-the-midlle-east', in terms of societal openness."
"...The overthrow of Asad seemed a simple task in 2011 as the Arab Spring sparked early uprisings against him. The US readily supported that goal, as did Turkey along with Saudi Arabia and others. As the Asad regime began to demonstrate serious signs of resilience, however, the US and Turkey stepped up support to nominally moderate and secular armed opposition against Damascus, thereby extending the brutal civil war."
"...For similar reasons Iran's long-time open challenge against American ability act with impunity in the Middle East has always constituted a deep source of American strategic anger—viscerally surpassing the more Israel-driven nuclear issue."
"...In my view, the fall of Asad will not bring peace but will instead guarantee deadly massive long-term civil conflict in Syria among contending successors in which radical jihadi forces are likely to predominate—unless the west commits major ground forces to impose and supervise a peace. We've been there once before in the Iraq scenario. A replay of Iraq surely is not what the West wants."
"...What Russia will not accept in the Middle East is another unilateral US (or "NATO") fait accompli in "regime change" that does not carry full UN support. (China's interests are identical to Russia's in most respects here.)"
"...It is essential that the US not extend its new Cold War with Russia into the Middle East where shared interests are fairly broad — unless one rejects that very supposition on ideological grounds. The same goes for Iran."
September 14, 2015 |

Washington has been wrapped in confusion and indecision for years now in trying to sort out just what its real objectives are in Syria. Its obsessive, and ultimately failed goal of denying Iran influence in the Middle East has notably receded with Obama's admirable success in reaching a deal with Iran on the nuclear issue and gradual normalization of Iran's place in the world.

But while the Israel lobby and its Republican allies failed to block Obama's painstaking work in reaching that agreement, they now seem determined to hobble its implementation in any way possible. This is utterly self-defeating: unable to block Iran's re-emergence they seem determined to deny themselves any of the key payoffs of the agreement—the chance to work with Iran selectively on several important common strategic goals: the isolation and defeat of ISIS, a settlement in Syria that denies a jihadi takeover, the rollback of sectarianism as a driving force in the region, a peaceful settlement in Iran's neighbor Afghanistan, and the freeing up of energy/pipeline options across Asia.

But let's address this Syrian issue. There's a new development here—stepped up Russian involvement—that poses new challenge to the American neocon strategic vision. So here is where Washington needs to sort out what it really wants in Syria. Is the main goal still to erode Iranian influence in the region by taking out Iran's ally in Damascus? Or does it want to check Russian influence in the Middle East wherever possible in order to maintain America's (fast becoming illusory) dominant influence? These two goals had seemed to weigh more heavily in Washington's calculus than Syrian domestic considerations. In other words, Asad is a proxy target.

There are two major countries in the world at this point capable of exerting serious influence over Damascus—Russia and Iran. Not surprisingly, they possess that influence precisely because they both enjoy long-time good ties with Damascus; Asad obviously is far more likely to listen to tested allies than heed the plans of enemies dedicated to his overthrow.

The overthrow of Asad seemed a simple task in 2011 as the Arab Spring sparked early uprisings against him. The US readily supported that goal, as did Turkey along with Saudi Arabia and others. As the Asad regime began to demonstrate serious signs of resilience, however, the US and Turkey stepped up support to nominally moderate and secular armed opposition against Damascus, thereby extending the brutal civil war.

That calculus began to change when radical jihadi groups linked either to al-Qaeda or to ISIS (the "Islamic State") began to overshadow moderate opposition forces. As ruthless as Asad had been in crushing domestic opposition, it became clear that any likely successor government would almost surely be dominated by such radical jihadi forces—who simply fight more effectively than the West's preferred moderate and secular groups who never got their act together.

Enter Russia. Moscow had already intervened swiftly and effectively in 2013 to head off a planned US airstrike on Damascus to take out chemical weapons by convincing Damascus to freely yield up its chemical weapons; the plan actually succeeded. This event helped overcome at least Obama's earlier reluctance to recognize the potential benefits of Russian influence in the Middle East to positively serve broader western interests in the region as well.

Russia is of course no late-comer to the region: Russian tsars long acted as the protector of Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Middle East in the nineteenth century; the Russians had been diplomatic players in the geopolitical game in the region long before the creation of the Soviet Union. During the West's Cold War with the Soviet Union the two camps often strategically supported opposite sides of regional conflicts: Moscow supported revolutionary Arab dictators while the West supported pro-western dictators. Russia has had dominant military influence in Syria for over five decades through weapons sales, diplomatic support, and its naval base in Tartus.

With the collapse of the USSR in 1991 Russian influence in the area sharply declined for the first time as the new Russia sorted itself out. America then began declaring itself the "world's sole superpower," allegedly now free to shape the world strategically as it saw fit. And the significant neoconservative and liberal interventionist factions in Washington still nourish the same mentality today—predicated on the belief that the US can continue to maintain primacy around the world—economic, military, and diplomatic. In this sense, any acknowledgment of Russian influence in the Middle East (or elsewhere) represents an affront, even "a threat" to US dominance and prestige.

For similar reasons Iran's long-time open challenge against American ability act with impunity in the Middle East has always constituted a deep source of American strategic anger—viscerally surpassing the more Israel-driven nuclear issue.

Today the combination of Russia and Iran (whose interests do not fully coincide either) exert major influence over the weakening Asad regime.

If we are truly concerned about ISIS we must recognize that restoration of a modicum of peace in Syria and Iraq are essential prerequisites to the ultimate elimination of ISIS that feeds off of the chaos.

Russia appears now to be unilaterally introducing new military forces, stepped up weapons deliveries, and possibly including limited troop numbers into Syria specifically to back the Asad regime's staying power. Washington appears dismayed at this turn of events, and has yet to make up its mind whether it would rather get rid of Asad, or get rid of ISIS. It is folly to think that both goals can be achieved militarily.

In my view, the fall of Asad will not bring peace but will instead guarantee deadly massive long-term civil conflict in Syria among contending successors in which radical jihadi forces are likely to predominate—unless the west commits major ground forces to impose and supervise a peace. We've been there once before in the Iraq scenario. A replay of Iraq surely is not what the West wants.

So just how much of a "threat" is an enhanced Russian military presence in Syria? It is simplistic to view this as some zero-sum game in which any Russian gain is an American loss. The West lived with a Soviet naval base in Syria for many decades; meanwhile the US itself has dozens of military bases in the Middle East. (To many observers, these may indeed represent part of the problem.)

Even were Syria to become completely subservient to Russia, US general interests in the region would not seriously suffer (unless one considers maintenance of unchallenged unilateral power to be the main US interest there. I don't.) The West has lived with such a Syrian regime before. Russia, with its large and restive Muslim population and especially Chechens, is more fearful of jihadi Islam than is even the US. If Russia were to end up putting combat troops on the ground against ISIS (unlikely) it would represent a net gain for the West. Russia is far less hated by populations in the Middle East than is the US (although Moscow is quite hated by many Muslims of the former Soviet Union.) Russia is likely to be able to undertake military operations against jihadis from bases within Syria. Indeed, it will certainly shore up Damascus militarily—rather than allowing Syria to collapse into warring jihadi factions.

What Russia will not accept in the Middle East is another unilateral US (or "NATO") fait accompli in "regime change" that does not carry full UN support. (China's interests are identical to Russia's in most respects here.)

We are entering a new era in which the US is increasingly no longer able to call the shots in shaping the international order. Surely it is in the (enlightened) self-interest of the US to see an end to the conflict in Syria with all its cross-border sectarian viciousness in Iraq. Russia is probably better positioned than any other world player to exert influence over Asad. The US should be able to comfortably live even with a Russian-dominated Syria if it can bring an end to the conflict—especially when Washington meanwhile is allied with virtually every one of Syria's neighbors. (How long Asad himself stays would be subject to negotiation; his personal presence is not essential to 'Alawi power in Syria.)

What can Russia do to the West from its long-term dominant position in Syria? Take Syria's (virtually non-existent) oil? Draw on the wealth of this impoverished country? Increase arms sales to the region (no match for US arms sales)? Threaten Israel? Russia already has close ties with Israel and probably up to a quarter of Israel's population are Russian Jews.

Bottom line: Washington does not have the luxury of playing dog in the manger in "managing" the Middle East, especially after two decades or more of massive and destructive policy failure on virtually all fronts.

It is essential that the US not extend its new Cold War with Russia into the Middle East where shared interests are fairly broad—unless one rejects that very supposition on ideological grounds. The same goes for Iran.

We have to start someplace.

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is "Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American's crisis of conscience in Pakistan." (Amazon, Kindle)

[Sep 16, 2015] U.S. Rejected Offers by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to Surrender … and Proceeded to Wage War

"...There's no money in PEACE.."
Sep 16, 2015 | Zero Hedge

Submitted by George Washington on 09/16/2015 00:42 -0400

The Daily Mail reported last year:

A self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that [Gaddafi offered to abdicate as leader of Libya.]

'Gaddafi wasn't a good guy, but he was being marginalized,' [Retired Rear Admiral Chuck ] Kubic recalled. 'Gaddafi actually offered to abdicate' shortly after the beginning of a 2011 rebellion.

'But the U.S. ignored his calls for a truce,' the commission wrote, ultimately backing the horse that would later help kill a U.S. ambassador.

Kubic said that the effort at truce talks fell apart when the White House declined to let the Pentagon pursue it seriously.

'We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,' Kubic said, 'but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.'

The Washington Times wrote in January:

"I have been contacted by an intermediary in Libya who has indicated that President Muammar Gadhafi is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict under conditions which would seem to favor Administration policy," [former U.S. Congressman Dennis] Kucinich wrote on Aug. 24.


Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi's son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal.

A day later, on March 18, Gadhafi called for a cease-fire, another action the administration dismissed.


"Everything I am getting from the State Department is that they do not care about being part of this. Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all," the Pentagon intelligence asset told Seif Gadhafi and his adviser on the recordings.

Communication was so torn between the Libyan regime and the State Department that they had no point of contact within the department to even communicate whether they were willing to accept the U.N.'s mandates, former Libyan officials said.


"The decision to invade [Libya] had already been made, so everything coming out of the State Department at that time was to reinforce that decision," the official explained, speaking only on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.


"The Libyans would stop all combat operations and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of the cities and assume a defensive posture. Then to insure the credibility with the international community, the Libyans would accept recipients from the African Union to make sure the truce was honored," Mr. Kubic said, describing the offers.

"[Gadhafi] came back and said he was willing to step down and permit a transition government, but he had two conditions," Mr. Kubic said. "First was to insure there was a military force left over after he left Libya capable to go after al Qaeda. Secondly, he wanted to have the sanctions against him and his family and those loyal to him lifted and free passage. At that point in time, everybody thought that was reasonable."

But not the State Department.

Gen. Ham was ordered to stand down two days after the negotiation began, Mr. Kubic said. The orders were given at the behest of the State Department, according to those familiar with the plan in the Pentagon. Gen. Ham declined to comment when questioned by The Times.

"If their goal was to get Gadhafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try?" Mr. Kubic asked. "It wasn't enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead."

Similarly, Saddam Hussein allegedly offered to let weapons inspectors in the country and to hold new elections. As the Guardian reported in 2003:

In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq's Ba'athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks.

Moreover, Saddam allegedly offered to leave Iraq:

"Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion)".

"The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President's Texas ranch."

"The White House refused to comment on the report last night. But, if verified, it is certain to raise questions in Washington and London over whether the costly four-year war could have been averted."

According to the tapes, Bush told Aznar that whether Saddam was still in Iraq or not, "We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March." See also this and this.

Susan Lindauer (after reading an earlier version of this essay by Washington's Blog) wrote:

That's absolutely true about Saddam's frantic officers to retire to a Villa in Tikrit before the invasion. Except he never demanded $1 BILLION (or $500 MILLION). He only asked for a private brigade of the Iraqi National Guard, which he compared to President Clinton's Secret Service detail for life throughout retirement. I know that for a fact, because I myself was the back channel to the Iraqi Embassy at the U.N. in New York, who carried the message to Washington AND the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. Kofi Annan was very much aware of it. So was Spain's President Asnar. Those historical details were redacted from the history books when George Bush ordered my arrest on the Patriot Act as an "Iraqi Agent"– a political farce with no supporting evidence, except my passionate anti-war activism and urgent warnings that War in Iraq would uncover no WMDs, would fire up a violent and bloody counter-insurgency, and would result in Iran's rise as a regional power. In 2007, the Senate Intelligence Committee hailed my warnings in Jan. 2003 (as the Chief Human Intelligence covering Iraq at the U.N.) to be one of the only bright spots in Pre-War Intelligence. Nevertheless, in 2005 and again in 2008, I was declared "incompetent to stand trial," and threatened with "indefinite detention up to 10 years" on Carswell Air Force Base, in order to protect the cover up of Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence.

(The New York Times has covered Lindauer at least 5 times, including here and here.)

On October 14, 2001, the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country if the US halted bombing if the Taliban were given evidence of Bin Laden's involvement in 9/11.

Specifically, the Guardian noted in 2001:

Returning to the White House after a weekend at Camp David, the president said the bombing would not stop, unless the ruling Taliban "turn [bin Laden] over, turn his cohorts over, turn any hostages they hold over." He added, "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty" …

Afghanistan's deputy prime minister, Haji Abdul Kabir, told reporters that the Taliban would require evidence that Bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

"If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved" and the bombing campaign stopped, "we would be ready to hand him over to a third country", Mr Kabir added.

However, as the Guardian subsequently pointed out:

A senior Taliban minister has offered a last-minute deal to hand over Osama bin Laden during a secret visit to Islamabad, senior sources in Pakistan told the Guardian last night.

For the first time, the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden for trial in a country other than the US without asking to see evidence first in return for a halt to the bombing, a source close to Pakistan's military leadership said.

And the Guardian reports today:

Russia proposed more than three years ago that Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, could step down as part of a peace deal, according to a senior negotiator involved in back-channel discussions at the time.

Former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari said western powers failed to seize on the proposal. Since it was made, in 2012, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions uprooted, causing the world's gravest refugee crisis since the second world war.

Ahtisaari held talks with envoys from the five permanent members of the UN security council in February 2012. He said that during those discussions, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, laid out a three-point plan, which included a proposal for Assad to cede power at some point after peace talks had started between the regime and the opposition.

But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.


"There was no question because I went back and asked him a second time," he said, noting that Churkin had just returned from a trip to Moscow and there seemed little doubt he was raising the proposal on behalf of the Kremlin.

Ahtisaari said he passed on the message to the American, British and French missions at the UN, but he said: "Nothing happened because I think all these, and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything."

Similarly, Bloomberg reported in 2012:

As Syria slides toward civil war, Russia is signaling that it no longer views President Bashar al-Assad's position as tenable and is working with the U.S. to seek an orderly transition.


After meeting with French President Francois Hollande, among the most adamant of Western leaders demanding Assad's departure, Putin said Russia was not invested in Assad staying.


"We aren't for Assad or for his opponents," Putin told reporters in Paris on June 1. "We want to achieve a situation in which violence ends and a full-scale civil war is avoided."

And yet, as with Gaddaffi, Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden, the U.S. turned down the offer and has instead prosecuted war. See this and this.

Postscript: An offer by Russia for Assad to leave is not the same as an offer by Assad himself. However, because the Syrian government would have long ago fallen without Russia's help, the distinction is not really that meaningful.


What the USSA is doing is pure evil. At least Germany had a logical reason for aggressions. The treaty of Versailles unfairly took German lands. Germany wanted them back. It wasn't till Poland resisted that Germany let loose.

The USSA destroys leaders seeking a truce and does so in the name of peace. Then it rams its immoral, family destroying sterilizing geo-political socio economic system down traditional pious soverigns throats.


so this make us what? the evil emipire? officially the bad guys?


I don't call them the predators-that-be for nothing.

Sudden Debt

Why did we go to war in the first place?

War industry, they run shit.

And sure they did it so they could steal all the money in the world.

That's why we're broke and half the world is at war.

That can never be ended.


This is far from a new phenomena, we did the same against Spain until we took the Philippines, Wilson and House were against a settlement of the then still European War until the US had shed its blood on European soil, which clearly would have resulted in a pre-hostilities border settlement and maintained political structures instead of unconditional surrender.

All the blood, misery and human carnage that could have been subsequently avoided had we just stuck to the principles of the nations founders.

But capital requires war, war for profits, war to cull excess supply of capital, war to rebuild and war to dominate.

Power and money forged with American myth has been a potent mixture that directly and indirectly has murdered 100's of millions of innocent lives. And we are to destroy the cultural heritage of nations because one boy died on the beaches escaping a war that we initiated and fostered?


"War is Peace", why do you think they didn't negotiate?

Turdy Brown

Admiral Kubic is a good friend of mine. I was in Libya and Afghanistan with him. He is one of the smartest, bravest men that I have ever met.

In fact a quick story about him. We were both working on a project at the US Embassy in Kabul in 2011. I had just landed in the morning and as soon as I got to the Embassy, a group of Taliban started lobbing rocket towards the Embassy. Anyhow, it was a 24 hour ordeal but Kubic was the only person that I saw that grabbed an AK from a Ghurka guard (btw Ghurkas are cowards!), and rushed towards the attackers! Most people, including security personell were running away from the fire. Not Kubic: he was charging the Taliban! Never seen anything like it in my life!

I also have personal knowledge of what he has said in this article. ALL TRUE!


wouldn't be the first time...

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet stated in a public address given at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945:

The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war. (See p. 329, Chapter 26) . . . [Nimitz also stated: "The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. . . ."]

somewhat different than the widely accepted official narrative.


Saddam Hussein switched from using the US dollar to the euro in selling Iraqi oil. The same with Libya, they were friends with the USA until plans were established to set up a currency (Dinar) backed by gold .for the USA's economy to survive, it MUST maintain world currency reserve status !

ANYTHING that threatens this position WILL be neutralized, irregardless of what it takes ! When Iraq started selling oil using the euro, Saddam Hussein signed his death warrant, as did Libya ! The true reason for all this conflict is to maintain & support the US dollar & economy, namely all the wealthy of Wall Street & Washington DC .

But for some weird reason ALOT of people here seem to think Israel is responsible for everything bad that has or will ever happen !

Sad how in 2015 , people are still so racist ! How far humanity has advanced in technology but how primitive an foolish the human race still is in MANY ways !


There is glory in military victories. Exceptional trained sheeple die for that glory. Does the sheeple's god reward them for their stupidity? Do the gods praise as exceptional those whom they'll destroy?


Wall Street controls Washington.

Who controls Wall Street?

(if you don't know, I'm sure someone here could help you find out)


London controls Wall Street. And Riyadh. And Tel-Aviv. Not England, London. And the Bankers who control that city, control the world.


Yep, sounds just like ethno-oligarch subverted Western nations, nothing has changed.

What the World Rejected

Hitler's Peace Offers, 1933- 1939


There's no money in PEACE..

Max Steel

Why is the West reporting this NOW? It is a negotiating ploy. They know they have lost. Now they are trying to see if this old offer could still be put on the table.


No, the US leadership is a bunch of sore losers. That's what US voters wanted, prayed for, hoped for, and then mandated with an election. US leaders can't admit defeat, so next is probably a nuclear escalation, because they've convinced themselves that they have dug their protection deep enough into a number of mountains at taxpayer expense so that they will win and then survive.

In Russia, they built billions of dollars worth of fallout shelters over the last 20 years for the ordinary Russian. Every citizen in Moscow is within three minutes of a fallout shelter. The Russian leadership knows the US leadership better than the US voters do. In the US, they haven't built anything at all to protect the general population, and apparently consider everyone expendable.

This way, if the US calls it all wrong and totally screws it up, they won't have to answer to anyone who voted for them when they walk out of their fallout shelters a year after it's all over.


Do not confuse America with its leadership.


So long as the leadership remains in power and not dangling by their necks from the White House balcony, America and the leadership are the same.


The US didn't want an election, Kaddaffi would have won, he was loved by his people, Libyans wouldn't vote for their own liquidation, Libya had the highest living standards in Africa, Libyan citizenship was a valuable commodity -- like US citizenship.

Libya was looted in an international war crime.

To Hell In A Handbasket

Looted is the understatement of the year.

The narrative by the MSM was Gaddaffi is a dictator and the people need freedom and democracy. What the MSM ommitted was a background history of the country, Libya's achievments under Gaddaffi vs the total plunder of Libya under our puppet leader King Idris(who was overthrown by Gaddaffi), who were the Libyian National Transitional Council (NTC), what was the price of French(NATO) intervention for the treasonous (NTC)? (Mining rights to 35% of Libya's hydro carbons)

On 3 April a letter was sent by Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) to a coalition partner, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, which mentioned that France would take "35 percent of crude exchange for its total and permanent support" of the NTC. France's Liberation daily reported on Thursday that it had a copy of the letter, which stated that the NTC's Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam, would negotiate the deal with France. In 2010 France was the second purchaser of Libyan oil after Italy, with over 15 percent of its "oil" imported from Tripoli.

But that's not all as we must apply logic. Who was the first country to recognise the NTC? Which was the only country Gaddaffi broke off diplomatic ties? Which country was the first to bomb? The answer is France, to all 3 of those questions, but there is more the MSM avoided talking about and the biggest mystery is WHERE IS LIBYA'S 148 METRIC TONNS OF GOLD? Western leaders are not interested in peace, but in conquest and plunder for their paymasters.. Even the doubters who believed in freedom and humanitarian intervention, had to sit up, pause and think, when the NTC before they had even reached Trippoli and was losing the ground offensive, created their own central bank that was recognised by the NATO coalition inside of 2 days.. Case closed.


Gaddafi had loaned Unicredito multiple billions in 2009 and they didn't feel like paying it back. Follow the money.

Bankster Kibble

We don't trust elections in our client states. When the Iraqis had their first election after the fall of Saddam, they elected some mullah we didn't like so we made them hold another election. "Do it again until you do it right!"


There's no profit in peace. Or not nearly as much I should say. A little dribble just won't cut it, steal the whole fucking enchilada at once. Get to test weapons. Get to play with cool toys like drones. See people get blown to pieces for the sick-minded. Move closer to world domination, etc. All ideas of crazy people. The only problem is, since this is human nature, if the US wasn't doing it or preventing others, would others step in with the same crazy ass plan? I would venture to guess yes.


Whatever is of benefit to peaceful citizens is not profitable to the financial sociopaths. Hence, fighting increases. Your real enemy hides in financial institutions, surrounded by minions and voracious lawyers.


Do you think the white collar crime of Wall Steet and the Federal Reserve is bad ?

For more crimes against humanity go to and see Free Document page and click link A Crime Against Humanity

The very gov agencies that are supposed to be protecting the public from dangers of fire and hazardous products, CPSC and NFPA as well as the non gov testing facility UL which often tests products on the governments behalf, have been covering up a deadly conspiracy to commit fraud that has resulted in the deaths of 10's of 1000's and horrible, often times, disfiguring injuries of 100's of 1000's of unsuspecting consumers over last 5 decades.

These agencies have all been in the back pocket of ionized alarm manufactures for over 50 years , which was exposed back in 1976 by a Fire Protection Engineer, Richard Patton. Mr. Patton revealed that the government funded Dunes Test which tested smoke alarms, was not only rigged so ionized alarms would pass the smoldering smoke stage of test but the data was falsified so that ionized detectors could keep the UL stamp of approval, while the superior, safer and more reliable heat detector technologies were deliberately set up to fail the tests.

With each day that passes and the CSPC fails to make a mandatory recall of ion alarms , many more victims will either be killed and or suffer serious injuries as the ionized alarm manufactures flooded the market with ion alarms and it is estimated that over 90% of all homes and habitable structures have these deadly devices, providing the public with a false sense of security.

Buyer beware ! These deaths and injuries have been and are preventable, as the safer more reliable photoelectric / heat smoke alarms have been available for over 40 years. The ion manufactures are fully aware of the problem and have been sued multiple times and paid $10's of millions in damages and the UL has been sued as well. Manufactures, in one lawsuit back in 2001 were ordered to provide disclosure on ion alarm packaging which ended up being a watered down disclosure / recommendation to use both photoelectric and ionized alarms. Being ion alarms are less expensive and majority of consumers do not read fine print on packaging which omits the actual dangers / death / injury factors, consumers assume a smoke detector is a smoke detector, and most people still opt to buy the less expensive and dangerous ion alarms.

Most everyone you know is at risk and should be made aware of these deadly devices as the government agencies will continue to cover up the fraud from the public until such a time a civil lawsuit and verdict is reached to force CPSC to execute a mandatory recall which could take several years. Please post this message on your facebook and twitter sites and forward to as many others as possible. More information and 60 minutes segment / news videos that have covered this issue can be found on


and in Ukraine,

Poroshenko (the elected guy who didn't want the IMF-NATO offer for Ukraine),

had agreed in a EU brokered deal to hold early elections and step down.

Guess who said "Fuck the EU" and instead backed a coup by jackbooted jingoists?


nor should we forget the US-led attack on Yugoslavia, in complete violation of the UN charter, a devastating bombing campaign destroying the civilian infrastructure, done with the hypocritical alleged motive to prevent "human rights violations".

In that case, Yugoslavia's refusal to accept a non-negotiable ultimatum to surrender sovereignty of its territory (Kosovo) to the Mafia-run KLA was falsely depicted as Yugoslavia's refusal to negotiate.


Now Turkey destabilises Western Europe by funnelling refugees into the EU in an invasion force. Germany takes in 1,000,000 in 2015 which exceeds its own birth rate. Won't be long before Europe disintegrates into civil war and regional conflicts like so much of its history. Soon the US will have created global chaos and it will not be able to restore order anywhere because it dare not put "boots on the ground" and it will need 4-5 million soldiers to restore order the way things are going.

When the Ukrainian refugees start towards Western Europe it should be clear the EU has destroyed peace in Europe for generations


It seems that the US "leaders" have made it a game to violate every law of the Geneva conventions.

A. Bean-Counter

All those kids who were taking, like, loads of drugs in the '70's, those kids are now running US foreign policy - and still taking the drugs.


the "kids" who Turned On went into music, computing, design, family, travel, and more ...

but yeah, those alcoholic kids did go on to run foreign policy, i give you that ...


...coke heads too, but less likely the potheads...


Global Geopolitical Chessboard:
Psychopathic Players and Cynical Moves
Guarantee a Future of Perpetual War "From the Black Sea to the Baltic"

Explosive Presentation Hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Reveals

What No Government Official, No Political Representative, No NGO Executive

and No Think Tank Director Has Ever Said Before in Public


When will the American people demand that Cheney, Bush Hillary and Obama face justice for war crimes committed against humanity. Hopefully in 2016 Americans remember the crimes these people have committed and vote for somehing with not such a past.

Pancho de Villa

Are you Dreaming Amigo? Los Gringos will Never admit what they Refuse to Believe! Bush and Cheney will go to their graves as Heroes in their eyes! Otherwise Intelligent Peoples Refuse to Entertain what They Consider to be "Treasonous" Notions. I have Three Brother-in-Laws that work in Govt Related Fields. I get along with them all just fine now that I have learned what Topics to Avoid in Conversation!

Buen Suenos, Amigo


With the discovery of oil in Libya in 1959, a very poor desert country became a very rich little western protectorate. US and European companies had huge stakes in the extremely lucrative petroleum and banking sectors, but these were soon nationalized by Gaddafi. Thus Libya overnightjoined the list of US 'enemy' or 'rogue' states that sought autonomy and self-determination outside the expanding sphere of western Empire. Further cementing western hatred of the new regime, Libya played a leading role of the 1973 oil embargo against the US and maintained cooperative relations with the Soviet Union. Gaddafi also reportedly channeled early oil wealth into national free health care and education.

Life in Libya with Leader Gaddafi:

1. Electricity for household use is free,

2. interest-free loans

3. during the study, government give to every student 2 300 dolars/month

4. receives the average salary for this profession if you do not find a job after graduation,

5. the state has paid for to work in the profession,

6. every unemployed person receives social assistance 15,000 $/year,

7. for marriage state pays first apartment or house (150m2),

8. buying cars at factory prices,

9. LIBYA not owe anyone a cent,

10. free higher education abroad,

11. 25% of highly educated,

12. 40 loaves of bread costs $ 0.15,

13. water in the middle of the desert, drinking water,

14. 8 dinars per liter of oil (0.08 EUR),

15. 6% poor people,

16. for each infant, the couple received $ 5,000 for their needs.



"9. LIBYA not owe anyone a cent,"

That's the problem right there...


and i didn't see any mention of the golden Squid in the article, so more obfuscation still ....


Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, and Condoleeza Rice among many others all need to spend a better portion of their earthly existence in an 8x8 cell watching the rest of us enjoying their sudden departure.


That's a rather incomplete list, but it's a start.


Don't forget Blair...


What's that? The UK and their US and NATO puppets weren't at all interested in peaceful solutions to the middle-east conflicts? It's almost exactly like the way Israel targetted assasinations against the moderate Palistinian politicians for the express purpose of making the radicals powerful, meaning that no peace would be possible.

One would think that the aim has been to kill as many people as possible, and not regime change at all.


Yes that and in many of these countries in the end its all about the physical gold they hold, a new leader doesn't matter we need to go there kill whoever and take their shit.

Saddam had lots and lots of gold, I think Ghadaffi had more.

Many of these places we end up going had loads of gold all of which now belongs to us aka the west aka the bankers aka the tribe. So in the end maybe we are all doing gods work just by being part of that system.


We also had to get the results of the effects of nukes on undamaged cities and their inhabitants - a magnificently evil medical experiment.

[Sep 14, 2015] Putin shifts fronts in Syria and Ukraine

Neocon Diehl has the audacity to use WashPost editorial page to attacks Secretary of State John Kerry. Promoting what is essentially Nuland's jingoistic policies... so despite blunder after blunder neocons are not yet done.
"...Diehl seems to think that the US has or should have a free hand to do what it wants wherever and whenever it wants, and gets all twitchy when he discovers that the 'end of history' hasn't arrived just yet. He forgets that Russia was in Crimea and Syria long before the US showed up with its solutions in hand."
"...Or best idea yet -- Send these WaPo neocons (Diehl and Hiatt) packing. "
Sep 14, 2015 | The Washington Post

Over the summer, while Washington was preoccupied with the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. and European diplomats quietly leaned on the democratically elected, pro-Western Ukrainian government of Petro Poroshenko. In Sochi, Kerry had offered full-throated U.S. support for the implementation of an accord known as Minsk 2 — a deal hastily brokered by Germany and France in February, at a moment when regular Russian troops were cutting the Ukrainian army to ribbons. The bargain is a terrible one for Kiev: It stipulates that Ukraine must adopt a constitutional reform granting extraordinary powers to the Russian-occupied regions, and that the reforms must satisfy Moscow's proxies. That gives Putin a de facto veto over Ukraine's governing structure.

Dryly 41

First, the instability in the Middle East is a direct result of the disaster caused the Bush II-Cheney administration's war against Iraq to fine Weapons of Mass Destruction. There were none. Any normal person would conclude that it would have been much cheaper and saner to have let the United Nations Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission inspectors continue their inspections and find there were no WMD than to start a Pre-emptive War. Jackson is not a normal person as he supported the Bush II-Cheney war.

Second, Bush II-Cheney administration's war against Iraq at a time Iraq posed no military threat to the U.S. or any other nation did enormous damage to the standing, stature and prestige of the United States of America. How can the United States argue that it is fine for the us to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq if we want to but Russia cannot invade Ukraine?


Putin is extremely articulate on the subject of international ethics and law. Sure, he's corrupt as the day is long, but he seems to believe in certain basic Judeo-Christian-based tenets of international conduct. The West seems tied to Islamic jihad tenets, so the United States and its allies don't believe in the most basic rules. Thus, the moral high ground goes to Putin.


Diehl wants us to tie up our military assets trying to take down Hezbollah and Iran, while China is free to consolidate in the South China Sea


Iran is unlikely to be a Russian client, but strategic cooperation is likely.
Diehl and the Neocons over reached in trying to pry Ukraine out of Russians orbit before the time was right, and also massive fail in Syria A naive and stupid strategy.

Luke W

Putin has a right to conduct a foreign policy without the permission of the United States.

American statecraft and military performance in the region as been abysmal and is the font for much of the chaos now evident in Iraq and Syria thus, its credibility is in tatters.

Russia can certainly do no worse than what we have accomplish.


Please, let us do all we can to entangle Russia into Syria's civil war. Let them bleed slowly their national treasure and the blood of their soliders. Let it become their NEXT Afghanistan. And while they're at it, please allow them to incite Muslims across the Middle East because they are helping the Butcher Assad.

You don't think they're Muslims in Russia who would like to strike back at Putin for this?

Obama, playing the long game, is going to give just enough rope to let the Russians hang themselves.


Let Russia be the magnet for Islamic terror instead of us? That's a concept.


Russia just wants its naval base and its hand on the valves of new Friendship pipeline that will cross Syria from Iran's Pars fields. Putin doesn't care if it Is Assad or some other stooge.


Who is in whose face depends on which side of the border one sits. Diehl seems to think that the US has or should have a free hand to do what it wants wherever and whenever it wants, and gets all twitchy when he discovers that the 'end of history' hasn't arrived just yet. He forgets that Russia was in Crimea and Syria long before the US showed up with its solutions in hand.


"Putin is meddling in the Middle East out of desperation because his bid for Ukraine has failed."

Putin's "bid for Ukraine"? His bid is not for all of Ukraine, as this statement implies; it is to keep Crimea within the orbit of Russia, since the great majority of its denizens are Russian by choice, history and culture. The word "Crimea" is not once mentioned.

Then there's this: "Putin has an agenda as clear as it is noxious. He wants to block any attempt by the West and its allies to engineer the removal of Bashar al-Assad ..."

Noxious? What's noxious is the West's and Israel's unfounded claim on Assad's regime.


It take a real Putin boot-licker to defend Bashir Assad. Congratulations.

And if Putin is only concerned with Crimea, then why are his forces in southeastern Ukraine?

Oh yeah, that's right ... They really aren't. Got it.


An international code of conduct must be maintained. It cannot be broken by engineering coups and installing unelected leaders, as was done in Ukraine. The same applies In Syria. You simply cannot take over a sovereign country simply because you can. There are rules that even the U.S. -- "exceptional" though it claims to be -- must abide by.


Syria will [be] Russia's second Afghanistan.


Do we get to arm the Islamists again?


Why? did you stop it already? When?


Where's Reagan when we need him?
Didn't he build Al Quaida?

Michael DeStefano

We can dress Yatsenyuk up like Osama. His days in Ukraine are numbered anyway and he's about the right height. Not quite as handsome but the beard will cover most of that.


The flood of refugees into Europe will continue until somebody stops the source of the flood. Does anybody really care who's fingers are in the dike? The only way to end the refugee crisis is to end the civil war(s) and insurgencies in the region. A cooperative effort among Europe, Russia, and Iran with the assistance of the US is preferable to the status quo. Ports, pipelines, and political ideologies are incidental issues.


So Russia and Iran are moving to crush ISIS and restore stability in Syria, which will ease the refugee crisis. And Diehl is unhappy? Syria has been a client of Russia's for a half century. Ending that relationship is a neocon goal, but does it even make sense now? Worth the price?

Forest Webb

What's the big deal? the editor makes this sound if this is some brilliant strategy on the part of Putin. If the Russians want to throw away their sons in the Mid-east quagmire let them.

It's a complicated stew and Putin has easier choices in the arena than the U.S. For Putin he simply supports Assad.

For the U.S. we want Assad out, so we cannot support him. We cannot support ISIL, half or the other opposition is supported by al Qaeda, the Kurds would just as soon fight the Turks our erstwhile Nato ally rather than fight the Assad regime. A complicated messy stew, we should try to keep our spoons out of.

Let Putin send his Russian boys to Syria, and let's count how many weeks pass before the terrorists take the war to Russian soil.

Michael Cook

Putin won in Ukraine. He has the Crimea back and has secured an overland gas pipeline corridor from Mother Russia to the peninsula, which was his objective. All it really cost him was dozens of scoldings from Obama.

Obama already scolds and threatens Vladimir Putin about Syria. The problem is that Moscow is absolutely right---if someone does not step in and rescue Syria RIGHT NOW the country will fall to ISIS before the end of the year. Assad's forces are exhausted.

Iran, of course, besides Russia is Bashar al Assad's other ally. The interesting point about that is that neither Russia nor Iran had much money available to make war.

Until last week. Now that Obama is freeing up frozen Iranian funds ($50-150 Billion!) suddenly the militant mullahs in Tehran have plenty of money for war making.

Can anyone smell a win-win for Putin? He gets to be the only leader of a major nation around to have the guts and intelligence to realize that allowing Syria to fall to ISIS would be a global catastrophe of the first magnitude. Better yet, Putin gets to sell lots and lots of Russian weapons, which helps his own struggling economy! Has Putin studied "The Art of the Deal?"

SELL weapons for cash money! Courtesy of Obama! Now that is worth putting up with more of these tiresome tongue-lashings that POTUS likes to dole out when he is clueless about what is going on. Since Obama is clueless all the time, Putin just has to put up with the noise.

Michael DeStefano

Putin's objective was to secure a gas pipeline corridor across the Kerch Strait?

So he could what, erect one of those ancient Greek fire breathing dragon flame throwers on the Crimean coast?

Not everything's about gas, Mr. Cook.


Russian airstrike in Syria won't perform better than the US (with a more advanced technology) against the Islamic state.

Can Putin engage a ground assault in Syria with regular/irregular troops the way he did in Ukraine ?

He can try but the result won't be the same, there's some wealthy countries supporting the Islamic State and they will provide them a lot of money, weapons and soldiers coming from everywhere to beat the Russian army, Putin will be unable to veto this support to the Islamic state, and it will restart what the US army experienced in Iraq, with permanent IED and kamikazes, while there will be no target for planes and drones....


How many countries should be invaded and ravaged before USA became appeased?


Nice try, no cigar....The US invasion of Iraq was a grave mistake, BUT it does not justify Putin's naked aggression in Georgia, in Ukraine or now in Syria in any way.


Iraq is all you know about? Right now you involved in seven wars. And you never stop to invade all the last century. With all your history USA have only 21 year of peace, all the time invading, conquering, overthrowing legal governments to replace it with puppets. As it YOU made in Georgia, and Ukraine, and try to in Syria.


Putin is like a shark in the water, detecting blood around him. With the appeasers in our current administration, he has nothing to be worried about. He knows that Obama will do nothing but fire more drones and try to find some targets for bombs, as long is no non-combat person is in the area.

Michael DeStefano

If Putin's like a shark in water, McCain and Nudelman were like hyenas going after Ukraine's carcass,


Refugees from Syria are a welcome relief to the Assad regime. It's hundreds of thousands of people who they need no longer worry about. Good riddance is Assad's feeling on the matter. Same holds for those from Iraq and Afghanistan. Rebels and those opposed to the government are leaving in droves and the regime couldn't be happier.

Russian troops in Syria? Russian warplanes and drones? They're going to be busom-buddies with the Iranian Quds Force which has been there for years, alongside Hezbollah fighters who are there to ensure the supply lines from Teheran remain open and aid, money and weapons continue to flow into the Bekaa Valley.

The Fall of Assad would be a cataclysm to Iranian hopes and dreams for the Middle East. They will not give up without a serious fight. Russia is there now, like in Vietnam 50 years ago, to "advise" and "train" local "militias" to "resist aggression".


And if Putin's plan is to make himself look significant by "confronting" the U.S., he has succeeded, at least with Jackson Diehl. The question isn't whether Russia is pushing the U.S. around, it's whether U.S. national interests are involved. The U.S. has lived with the Assad regime for 45 years. Is it really so crucial that we get rid of it now? Ukraine is hardly a linchpin of Europe. Sure, it would be nice if it were free and western. But it has historic ties to Russia, is more important to Russia than to us, and has not shown laser-like focus on becoming a serious western democracy. Meanwhile Putin presides over an economy that's shrinking 5% a year, with a population that's also shrinking. And he made the choice to keep power for himself and his cronies rather than modernize. No matter what he does abroad, Russia itself is on a decline that he will only exacerbate. He's dangerous, not because he's strong, but because he's weak. We should not let his actions fool us into losing sight of where our core interests lie.


While world sleeps, Putin moves stars with his finger, to disrupt NATO's operations and disturb dreams.


Right. Because NATO is operating in Syria?


NATO is a theatre of one actor. And this multifaced actor is operating in Syria, arming terrorists.


If anything, Russian aid to Assad should be encouraged. We may find Assad too repulsive to aid, but given a choice between Assad and ISIS, he is definitely the lesser of two evils. It's time to dispense with a notion of a "moderate pro-Western rebel force", it was always wishful thinking.


There's this little thing called "human rights" and another little thing called "the Leahy Ammendment" that prevent us from providing aid to terrorists like Assad or even giving a nod to Putin to do so.

Michael DeStefano

But you seem to be all hunky dory with Poroshenko and our Saudi and Israeli allies bombing civilians into oblivion. Funny how that 'human rights' business pops up and down on demand.

Slava Besser

So Assad is a terrorist, but Poroshenko is allowed to bomb Donetsk at willSmile Saudi Arabia is allowed to bomb Yemen with cluster munitions we provide because they don't like the revolution there, but Russia should not provide aid to Donetsk despite the fact that people that came to power in Ukraine illegally and are blatantly anti-Russian are using air-force, tanks and artillery against civilian population that happens to have pro-Russian views?

Michael Cook

Spot On! Assad's forces are exhausted and extremely weak. If Russia doesn't come in and save the day, Syria will fall to ISIS with all the slaughter of minorities and hate crimes against archeology that entails.

I can't believe that the Obama administration is playing this like it is more important to uphold fictional political straw men than to actually stop ISIS from scoring their most important strategic victory ever!


Iran is deeply involved in propping up Assad. It is through Syria that Iranian supplies reach their proxy lap-dog Hezbollah. Without that vital lifeline open, Hezbollah is cut off from their patron, and cannot be used against Iranian enemies (i.e. Israel). The Iranian Quds Force is in Syria now doing front-line fighting. Hezbollah too is deeply engaged. Without that level of aid, Assad's control would shrink dramatically, if not topple over altogether.


News of the day. Iranian special forces moved into Syria to help Russians. Source - Israeli intelligence.

Slava Besser

I'm a Jew, are you implying that it is better for Israel if ISIS comes to power in Syria?


I would respectfully suggest that Russia's participation in the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts are different means to accomplish the identical objective, the undermining, if not outright dismemberment, of the EU and NATO.

While the Ukrainian gambit failed, taking the Russian economy with it, the "Syrian play" shows far more promise in its early stages and at the very least is likely to erode the unanimous support required for an extension of the EU's economic sanctions against Russia.

Merkel's misguided response to the initial flood of Syrian refugees has transformed the matter into an existential crisis in the minds of many Europeans and "right wing" parties throughout the continent.

There has been a notably unified and pronounced response from the Slavic Eastern European states in particular. Slovakia has declared it will accept only Christian refugees, Hungary has erected a fence along its southern border with Serbia and Bulgaria has done the same along its border with Turkey. Poland has agreed to take only 2000 Christian refugees rather than the 12,000 requested by the EU and in the Baltics protests have arisen over projected Syrian resettlement figures numbered in the hundreds.
Russia's military support will not only breathe new life into the Assad regime it will assure a continuing flood of migrants from Syria, into Europe, which will serve as a catalyst to create a "Pan-Slavic Europe" with a political, religious and cultural unity that could well transcend Eastern Europeans view of themselves as "European".

Michael DeStefano

Jeez, what a nefarious plot. Flood Europe with immigrants until it bursts at the seams. I knew that Putin was no good. What a Svengali-Machiavelli hybrid.

Why just today I heard on Meet the Press that they're all running from Assad and really upset that he's just being really mean with ISIS and not letting them distribute food and chocolates to the masses.


Look at the map of "Arab spring". These lands make a belt from Atlantica to Indian Ocean, blocking Eurasia from Africa. It is clearly the geopolitical project of the power, which wins situation, while EU, Russia, China loose. Who is greatest and faithfull supporter of chaos in Middle East? USA.

Assad is unimportant. No matter who rule there, Syria is the target. If you destroy Syria - lots of military staff and arms will be left abandoned, and go to search new destiny. How ISIS was created? Jobless soldiers, cheap weapons. That's the target. Putin, Assad, just a decorations. You are blind, if unable to see it, or you do it consciously, as the autor of article. He is not as stupid, as try hard to look.

Michael DeStefano

Well it looks like, if Russia is 'pivoting' to Syria, then Germany has just decided to pivot with them. They didn't exactly call our approach feckless and wrongheaded but I suspect they may have had something along those lines in mind.

Syrien Deutschland bricht aus US-Allianz gegen Russland aus Nachrichten – DEUTSCHE WIRTSCHAFTS NACHRICHTEN

Germany surprisingly left the alliance formed together with the United States which intended to block Russia's entry into the Syrian conflict.

Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen told Der Spiegel that she welcomed president Putin's intentions of joining the fight against the extremist organization "Islamic State". It would be a matter of mutual interests, she said.

A speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added, Germany would welcome additional efforts of Russia in the fight against IS. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even announced the starting of a joint venture between him, Russian foreign minister Lavrov and their French colleague Laurent Fabius with the aim of bringing the Syrian civil war to an end. Lavrov and Fabius are expected to arrive in Berlin this Saturday.


BIll Maher said it this weekend: There are five million troops in the Gulf States vs some 30,000 ISIS fighters... Where are they? Why don't the ME nations take in any refugees? (Of course, who would want to live in any of them given a choice?)

Taking out Saddam and Gaddafi worked so well, so of course we need to repeat the procedure in Syria!

Forget about the assurances we gave Russia that the West would leave a buffer between it and Russia. So what if we renege on our agreements, it's all for a good cause, right? After all, look how Bush stood up to them in Georgia. (He didn't.)

Or best idea yet -- Send these WaPo neocons (Diehl and Hiatt) packing.


There is a Syria peace deal in the works. naturally, NeoCons are gonna hate it. I wonder if Syria will get the Golan Heights back.


It is always a pleasure to receive the NeanderCon musings and misdirection of Jackson Diehl.

Rootin' Tootin' Putin and his hand puppet, Bashar al-Assad, are trying to run out the clock before their nations implode even further --- taking each down with them.

[Sep 14, 2015] US War Theories Target Dissenters

Information Clearing House - ICH
... ... ...

Dissent as Treason

Since the Vietnam War, the belief that the media and other critics of government policies act as fifth columnists has become commonplace in military-oriented journals and with the American authoritarian-oriented political class, expressed in articles such as William Bradford's attack on "treasonous professors."

To the question "how a scholar pushing these ideas" did not raise a red flag, that might best be asked of the National Security Law Journal's previous editorial board. It is worth noting however that the editors who chose to publish Bradford's article are not neophytes in national security issues or strangers to the military or government.

As described on the NSLJ website, the Editor-in-Chief from 2014-2015 has broad experience in homeland and national security programs from work at both the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security and currently serves (at the time of publication of Bradford's article) as the Deputy Director for the Office of Preparedness Integration and Coordination at FEMA. A U.S. government official in other words.

The "Articles Selection Editor" is described as "a family physician with thirty years of experience in the foreign affairs and intelligence communities." Websites online suggest his experience may have been acquired as a CIA employee. The executive editor appears to be a serving Marine Corps officer who attended law school as a military-funded student.

Significantly; Bradford was articulating precepts of the "U.S. common law of war" promoted by Chief Prosecutor Mark Martins because nothing Bradford advocated was inconsistent with William Whiting's guidance to Union Generals. Except Whiting went even further and advised that judges in the Union states who "impeded" the military in any way by challenging their detentions were even greater "public enemies" than Confederate soldiers were.

This "U.S. common law of war" is a prosecution fabrication created by legal expediency in the absence of legitimate legal precedent for what the United States was doing with prisoners captured globally after 9/11. This legal invention came about when military commission prosecutors failed to prove that the offense of Material Support for Terrorism was an international law of war crime. So prosecutors dreamed up a "domestic common law of war." This in fact is simply following the pattern of totalitarian states of the Twentieth Century.


The logic of Bradford's argument is the same as that of the Defense Department in declaring that journalists may be deemed "unprivileged belligerents." As quoted above, George H. Aldrich had observed that in Vietnam, both sides had as their goal "the destruction of the will to continue the struggle."

Bradford argued that Islamists must overcome Americans' support for the current war to prevail, and "it is the 'informational dimension' which is their main combat effort because it is U.S. political will which must be destroyed for them to win." But he says Islamists lack skill "to navigate the information battlespace, employ PSYOPs, and beguile Americans into hostile judgments regarding the legitimacy of their cause."

Therefore, according to Bradford, Islamists have identified "force multipliers with cultural knowledge of, social proximity to, and institutional capacity to attrit American political will. These critical nodes form an interconnected 'government-media-academic complex' ('GMAC') of public officials, media, and academics who mould mass opinion on legal and security issues . . . ."

Consequently, Bradford argues, within this triumvirate, "it is the wielders of combat power within these nodes — journalists, officials, and law professors — who possess the ideological power to defend or destroy American political will."

While Bradford reserves special vituperation for his one-time fellow law professors, he states the "most transparent example of this power to shape popular opinion as to the legitimacy of U.S. participation in wars is the media."

As proof, Bradford explained how this "disloyalty" of the media worked during the Vietnam War. He wrote: "During the Vietnam War, despite an unbroken series of U.S. battlefield victories, the media first surrendered itself over to a foreign enemy for use as a psychological weapon against Americans, not only expressing criticism of U.S. purpose and conduct but adopting an 'antagonistic attitude toward everything America was and represented' and 'spinning' U.S. military success to convince Americans that they were losing, and should quit, the war. Journalistic alchemists converted victory into defeat simply by pronouncing it."

Space does not permit showing in how many ways this "stab in the back" myth is false. But this belief in the disloyalty of the media in Bradford's view remains today. He wrote: "Defeatism, instinctive antipathy to war, and empathy for American adversaries persist within media."

Targeting Journalists

The right-wing militarist Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), with mostly retired U.S. military officers serving as advisers, has advocated targeting journalists with military attacks. Writing in The Journal of International Security Affairs in 2009, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters wrote:

"Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight, but one which we not only refrain from attacking but are hesitant to annoy: the media . . . . Future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media." (Emphasis in original.)

The rationale for that deranged thinking was first propounded by Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp and other authoritarian-minded officers after the Vietnam War. Sharp explained, our "will" was eroded because "we were subjected to a skillfully waged subversive propaganda campaign, aided and abetted by the media's bombardment of sensationalism, rumors and half-truths about the Vietnam affair — a campaign that destroyed our national unity." William C. Bradford apparently adopted and internalized this belief, as have many other military officers.

That "stab in the back" myth was propagated by a number of U.S. military officers as well as President Richard Nixon (as explained here). It was more comfortable to believe that than that the military architects of the war did not understand what they were doing. So they shifted blame onto members of the media who were astute enough to recognize and report on the military's failure and war crimes, such as My Lai.

But those "critical" journalists, along with critics at home, were only recognizing what smarter Generals such as General Frederick Weyand recognized from the beginning. That is, the war was unwinnable by the U.S. because it was maintaining in power its despotic corrupt ally, the South Vietnamese government, against its own people. Whether or not what came later was worse for the Vietnamese people was unforeseeable by the majority of the people. What was in front of their eyes was the military oppression of American and South Vietnamese forces and secret police.

Information Warfare Today

In 1999, the Rand Corporation published a collection of articles in Strategic Appraisal: The Changing Role of Information in Warfare. The volume was edited by Zalmay Khalilzad, the alleged author of the Defense Department's 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, which was drafted when Dick Cheney was Defense Secretary and Paul Wolfowitz was Under Secretary of Defense – and promulgated a theory of permanent U.S. global dominance.

One chapter of Rand's Strategic Appraisal was written by Jeremy Shapiro, now a special adviser at the U.S. State Department, according to Wikipedia. Shapiro wrote that the inability to control information flows was widely cited as playing an essential role in the downfall of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

He stated that perception management was "the vogue term for psychological operations or propaganda directed at the public." As he expressed it, many observers worried that potential foes could use techniques of perception management with asymmetric strategies with their effect on public opinion to "destroy the will of the United States to wage war."

Consequently, "Warfare in this new political environment consists largely of the battle to shape the political context of the war and the meaning of victory."

Another chapter on Ethics and Information Warfare by John Arquilla makes clear that information warfare must be understood as "a true form of war." The range of information warfare operations, according to Arquilla, extends "from the battlefield to the enemy home front." Information warfare is designed "to strike directly at the will and logistical support of an opponent."

This notion of information warfare, that it can be pursued without a need to defeat an adversary's armed forces, is an area of particular interest, according to Arquilla. What he means is that it necessitates counter measures when it is seen as directed at the U.S. as now provided for in the new LOW Manual.

Important to note, according to Arquilla, is that there is an inherent blurriness with defining "combatants" and "acts of war." Equating information warfare to guerrilla warfare in which civilians often engage in the fighting, Arquilla states "in information warfare, almost anyone can engage in the fighting."

Consequently, the ability to engage in this form of conflict is now in the hands of small groups and individuals, offering up "the prospect of potentially quite large numbers of information warfare-capable combatants emerging, often pursuing their own, as opposed to some state's policies," Arquilla wrote.

Therefore, a "concern" for information warfare at the time of the Rand study in 1999 was the problem of maintaining "noncombatant immunity." That's because the "civilian-oriented target set is huge and likely to be more vulnerable than the related set of military infrastructures . . . . Since a significant aspect of information warfare is aimed at civilian and civilian-oriented targets, despite its negligible lethality, it nonetheless violates the principle of noncombatant immunity, given that civilian economic or other assets are deliberately targeted."

What Arquillo is saying is that civilians who are alleged to engage in information warfare, such as professors and journalists, lose their "noncombatant immunity" and can be attacked. The "blurriness" of defining "combatants" and "acts of war" was removed after 9/11 with the invention of the "unlawful combatant" designation, later renamed "unprivileged belligerent" to mimic language in the Geneva Conventions.

Then it was just a matter of adding the similarly invented "U.S. domestic common law of war" with its martial law precedents and a framework has been built for seeing critical journalists and law professors as "unprivileged belligerents," as Bradford indiscreetly wrote.

Arquilla claims that information warfare operations extend to the "home front" and are designed "to strike directly at the will and logistical support of an opponent." That is to equate what is deemed information warfare to sabotage of the population's psychological will to fight a war, and dissidents to saboteurs.

Perpetual War

But this is a perpetual war driven by U.S. operations, according to a chapter written by Stephen T. Hosmer on psychological effects of information warfare. Here, it is stated that "the expanding options for reaching audiences in countries and groups that could become future U.S. adversaries make it important that the United States begin its psychological conditioning in peacetime." Thus, it is necessary "to begin to soften the fighting will of the potential adversary's armed forces in the event conflict does occur."

As information warfare is held to be "true war," this means that the U.S. is perpetually committing acts of war against those deemed "potential" adversaries. Little wonder that Vladimir Putin sees Russia as under assault by the United States and attempts to counter U.S. information warfare.

This same logic is applied to counter-insurgency. The 2014 COIN Manual, FM 3-24, defines "Information Operations" as information-related capabilities "to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decisionmaking of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own."

Those we "protect ourselves from" can logically be seen as the internal enemy, as William Bradford saw it, such as critical law professors and journalists, just as Augusto Pinochet did in Chile with dissidents.

With the totalitarian logic of information-warfare theorists, internalized now throughout much of the U.S. government counter-terrorism community, it should be apparent to all but the most obtuse why the DOD deems a journalist who writes critically of U.S. government war policy an "unprivileged belligerent," an enemy, as in the Law of War manual. William C. Bradford obviously absorbed this doctrine but was indiscreet enough to articulate it fully.

It Has Happened Here!

That's the only conclusion one can draw from reading the transcript of the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit. In that lawsuit, plaintiffs, including journalists and political activists, challenged the authority provided under Sec. 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization for removal out from under the protection of the Constitution of those deemed unprivileged belligerents. That is, civilians suspected of lending any "support" to anyone whom the U.S. government might deem as having something to do with terrorism.

"Support" can be as William Whiting described it in 1862 and as what is seen as "information warfare" by the U.S. military today: a sentiment of hostility to the government "to undermine confidence in its capacity or its integrity, to diminish, demoralize . . . its armies, to break down confidence in those who are intrusted with its military operations in the field."

Reminiscent of the Sinclair Lewis novel It Can't Happen Here where those accused of crimes against the government are tried by military judges as in the U.S. Military Commissions, a Justice Department attorney arguing on behalf of the United States epitomized the legal reasoning that one would see in a totalitarian state in arguing why the draconian "Law of War" is a substitute for the Constitution.

The Court asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance if he would agree, "as a principled matter, that the President can't, in the name of the national security of the United States, just decide to detain whomever he believes it is important to detain or necessary to detain to prevent a terrorist act within the United States?"

Rather than giving a straight affirmative answer to a fundamental principle of the U.S. Constitution, Torrance dissembled, only agreeing that that description would seem "quite broad," especially if citizens. But he added disingenuously that it was the practice of the government "not to keep people apprehended in the U.S."

Which is true, it is known that people detained by the U.S. military and CIA have been placed everywhere but in the U.S. so that Constitutional rights could not attach. Under Section 1021, that "inconvenience" to the government would not be necessary.

When asked by the Court if he, the Justice Department attorney, would agree that a different administration could change its mind with respect to whether or not Sec. 1021 would be applied in any way to American citizens, he dissembled again, answering: "Is that possible? Yes, but it is speculative and conjecture and that cannot be the basis for an injury in fact."

So U.S. citizens or anyone else are left to understand that they have no rights remaining under the Constitution. If a supposed "right" is contingent upon who is President, it is not a right and the U.S. is no longer under the rule of law.

In discussing whether activist and journalist Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a citizen of Iceland, could be subject to U.S. military detention or trial by military commission, Assistant U.S. Attorney Torrance would only disingenuously answer that "her activities as she alleges them, do not implicate this." Disingenuous because he knew based upon the answer he previously gave that the law of war is arbitrary and its interpretation contingent upon a military commander, whoever that may be, at present or in the future.

What could happen to Ms. Jónsdóttir would be completely out of her control should the U.S. government decide to deem her an "unprivileged belligerent," regardless of whether her expressive activities changed positively or negatively, or remained the same. Her risk of detention per the Justice Department is entirely at the sufferance of whatever administration may be in place at any given moment.

Any doubt that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, along with Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, is believed by the U.S. Executive Branch to give it the untrammeled power that Article 48 of the Weimar Germany constitution gave to the German President in 1933 was settled by the arguments made by the Justice Department attorney in Hedges v. Obama.

Setting First Amendment Aside

One does not need to speculate that the U.S. government no longer sees First Amendment activities as protected. Government arguments, which were made in the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit, revealed that the Justice Department, speaking for the Executive Branch, considers protection of the Bill of Rights subordinate to the claim of "war powers" by the Executive. One can only be willfully blind to fail to see this.

By the Justice Department's court arguments and filings, the protections afforded by the U.S. Bill of Rights are no more secure today than they were to Japanese-Americans when Western District military commander General DeWitt decided to remove them from their homes on the West Coast and intern them in what were initially called, "concentration camps."

The American Bar Association Journal reported in 2014 that Justice Antonin Scalia told students in Hawaii that "the Supreme Court's Korematsu decision upholding the internment of Japanese Americans was wrong, but it could happen again in war time." But contrary to Scalia stating that Korematsu had been repudiated, Korematsu has never been overruled.

The court could get a chance to do so, the ABA article stated, in the Hedges v. Obama case "involving the military detention without trial of people accused of aiding terrorism." But that opportunity has passed.

A U.S. District Court issued a permanent injunction blocking the law's indefinite detention powers but that ruling was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asked the justices to overturn Sec. 1021, the federal law authorizing such detentions and stated the justices should consider overruling Korematsu. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2014, leaving the Appeals Court's ruling intact.

The Supreme Court's decision to not overturn Korematsu allows General DeWitt's World War II decision to intern Japanese-Americans in concentration camps to stand as a shining example of what Brig. General Marks Martins proudly holds up to the world as the "U.S. domestic common law of war."

Todd E. Pierce retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions. In the course of that assignment, he researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

[Sep 13, 2015] The workings of the Bush administration by Professor David Gries

"By their deeds shall you know them."


I am concerned with the way this administration operates. I am not talking about policy —whether we should be at war, or who is right about the economy. Instead, the focus is on what the administration does and how it does it.

The actions of this administration have run counter to Bush's statements of April 2000 and have divided this country as no other administration has done in recent memory.

"I will set a different tone. I will restore civility and respect to our national politics. ... I will work with Republicans and reach out to Democrats ... I will treat the other party with respect, and when we make progress, I will share the credit. ... I will unite our nation, not divide it. I will bring Americans together." George Bush, April 2000

In August 2004, I created the website , describing the Bush Administration as I saw it, hoping that enough people would read the website and not vote for Bush again. I was alarmed at what the Bush administration had done in 2001 to 2004, and I was even more alarmed at what another 4 years of Bush would do to the US and the world. I did my best, through this website, to help. But not enough people looked at it to make any difference. Perhaps I should have blogged, or something like that.

(You can see the original website on the Wayback machine.)

My worst fears have been realized. Four more years of this administration has ruined the economy not only of the US but of the world. This administration has taken steps to harm, rather than help, the environment. Through its bullying tactics and its actual approval of torture, the US has lost any of its moral authority, and we have lost the US the respect of the world. Its lack of respect for our Constitution, its suppression of and manipulation of information, its lies, its incompetence in handling the Iraq war, its complete lack of planning for the Iraw war and the aftermath --all of these have hurt the United States tremendously. And we, the people, are now paying for it.

This website is the original website, with a few minor changes. It will remain as long as I have a website. I don't want people to forget how bad this administration has been.

I have had to change some links because, over the years, some links have been broken. In order to compensate for further loss of links, on most articles, I have copied the original webpage onto this website, and it appears as a "local version".

Read this site and weep at the fact that the American People knew what this administration was like four years ago but still allowed him to take over the Presidency a second time. We have ourselves to blame.

I am concerned with the administration's:

  1. Lack of honesty, which has brought about lack of trust.
  2. Manipulation of information to further its goals.
  3. Secrecy, which has kept the American public and Congress from making sound judgements.
  4. Conflict of interest.
  5. Lack of respect for others.
  6. Lack of reasoning and compromise —the administration's way of responding to differing views seems to be to ridicule rather than reason.
  7. Belligerent and arrogant attitude and mode of operation, which has cost our country the respect and compassion of the rest of the world.

I do want an administration that is forceful and strong. But that strong administration has to be:

  1. Honest, trustworthy, ethical.
  2. Respectful of all people and all nations.
  3. Able to engage in dialogue and make decisions based on reason.
  4. Without conflict of interest.
  5. A Uniting force, rather than one that divides.

Everyone — Democrat, Republican, Green, independent, etc. — should be alarmed at what this administration has done and what it may do in the future, if re-elected. A resounding defeat in November is the only way to let the world know that the United States people do not tolerate such an administration.

The links in the left column are to short discussions that back up my opinions. Again, remember that it is not the policies and programs that are at issue here, although I have problems with some of them. Rather, the issue is the way this government has operated, in a self-serving, untrustworthy, unethical, disrespectful, and even nasty, manner.

United we stand. If we stay as divided as we have been divided by this administration, we fall.

If an administration has integrity, ethics, and character, then policies will fall into place, for the administration will be guided by the good of the country and will engage in open, honest, and meaningful dialogue with the whole nation. If an administration has no integrity, ethics, and character, then the nation better beware.

Ethics and family values

The actions of this administration display a disregard for the values which Bush speaks of. Its actions have lost the administration the respect and trust of half the nation. The world is even less trustful and respectful. Below, I give some examples of this. "These are universal values, values we share in all our diversity: Respect, tolerance, responsibility, honesty, self-restraint, family commitment, civic duty, fairness and compassion." George Bush. White House Conference on Character and Community, June 2002.

1. The administration lied to us about the need for going to war in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and there was no link between Al Quaeda and Iraq. Iraq simply was not the terrorist country that we were told it was. I discuss it here.

The issue is not the war itself; it is the way the administration misled and lied to Congress and the people about why we should be in the war.

2. The Bush campaigns have repeatedly resorted to slander and inuendo. I discuss it here.

3. The Bush-Cheney campaign in Pennsylvania asked their volunteers to obtain the names and addresses of the members of their churches. This is not only unethical; a church involved in such an action would be in danger of losing their status as a tax-exempt religious organization. Some conservative church leaders have denounced this action, but the Bush-Cheney campaign defended it. I discuss it here.

4. The administration withheld information or doctored information in order to sway people and the Congress to their side. Click on "Secrecy" and "Wide-spread misuse of science" in the left column for some examples.

I cannot vote for an administration that has such disdain for ethics and values, that has so little respect for the people that it is supposed to be representing. I would feel better if more people felt this way, for the character of an administration is of utmost importance.

Lies about the need for war

The issue at hand is not whether we should be at war or not. It is the behavior of the administration in getting us into war —the lies that got us into the war and lost us the respect and trust of the world. "Some people think it's inappropriate to draw a moral line. Not me. For our children to have the lives we want for them, they must learn to say yes to responsibility . . . yes to honesty." George W. Bush, June 12, 1999

The administration got us into war with Iraq for three reasons, they say:

  1. To eliminate Saddam Hussein's WMD. It is clear that he had no WMD, and it is also clear that the administration knew it. In fact, in 2001, both Powell and Condoleezza Rice stated publicly that there were no WMD; two years later, they and the administration told a different story.
  2. To diminish the threat of international terrorism. There was no such threat. It was known that there were no connections between Hussein and Al Qaeda.
  3. To promote democracy in Iraq and surrounding areas. This is hypocrisy. In the 1980s, members of the administration, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, were quite happy to embrace Hussein and Iraq. At that time, even though they knew that Iraq was using chemical weapons against its own people, Cheney and Rumsfeld did not speak out or suggest that the U.S. discontinue its support of Hussein. Instead, they embraced Hussein and Iraq.

Rep. Henry Waxman has released a report of the U.S. House of Representatives (16 March 2004) that identifies 237 misleading statements about Iraq made by President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 125 public appearances. How can you trust the administration? . Here is the report (pdf file). This webpage contains a search engine that allows you to view all the misleading statements (and see why it is misleading). These are official items from the U.S. House of Representatives.

This website (here it is as text only) shows ten lies made by the administration regarding why we went to war. With each statement, facts are given to prove that it was a lie. You can find hundreds of websites with the same theme.

Whether we should be at war now is a complex issue, and I don't address it. For me, what matters is that the administration lied to get its way. Such behaviour in such a serious context means that the administration cannot be trusted, and an administration that cannot be trusted is a danger to us all.

Dishonest politics

One expects the administration to be honest and open in dealing with Congress and in presenting its case to the people, and Bush said he would be.

But the behavior of this administration has been just the opposite. Besides its misrepresentations and lies about Iraq, here are some examples.

"And together we will create and America that is open .... I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. ... Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect. I will be guided by President Jefferson's sense of purpose, to stand for principle, to be reasonable in manner, and above all, to do great good for the cause of freedom and harmony." George Bush, Acceptance Speech, 13 Dec 2000
  1. The Medicare bill. In November 2003, the House of Representatives passed a medical bill. Because of the rising deficit, they were worried about cost. Bush promised that it would cost $395 billion in the first 10 years. But the administration's own analysis in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had told the administration that it would cost over $550 billion. The bill would not have passed had the truth been known. Chief actuary Richard S. Foster was told he would be fired if he revealed the figures to lawmakers. Read about it here. Public Citizen has information on how drug companies and HMOs led an army of nearly 1,000 lobbyists to promote this misguided legislation, spending almost $141 million.
  2. Misuse of science. Click on the link on misuse of science on the left to see just how much this administration has attempted to use politics, hiding of facts, and misrepresentation of facts for its political gain.
  3. Hiding poverty numbers. The number of people living in poverty rose by 1.3 million in 2003. The Census Bureau Report on such things comes out in September. But the Bush administration had it appear in August instead, well before the Republican Convention and when people generally take vacations. Read about it here (here is a local version)
  4. Leaking news. Bush promised to do everything he could to fight the war on terror. Yet, in August, for their own political gain, the administration leaked the fact that alleged terrorist Kahn had been apprehended. Kahn was a key intelligence source, and the leak allowed several terrorists to escape. Read about it here (here is a local version).
  5. Ashcroft repeatedly lied to Congress about the administration's counter-terrorism effort. He told them terrorism had been his number 1 priority before 9/11; records show that he did not include it as one of the department's 7 goals, putting it as a subgoal beneath gun violence and drugs. He said that his predecessor's (Reno) plan did not mention counterterrorism, which was false. He lied about the amount of money that the FBI requested and that the administration gave the FBI. Read about it here (here is a local version).
  6. Condoleezza Rice repeatedly lied to 9/11 Commission. She made over ten false claims. For example, she said that the Bush Administration has been committed to the "transformation of the FBI into an agency dedicated to fighting terror." The truth is that before 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft de-emphasized counterterrorism at the FBI. Moreover, in the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI. Read about it here (here is a local version).

Suppression of rights

Bush says he is for freedom and democracy, but his administration has not acted that way. The administration has held secret --and illegal-- deportation hearings. People have been hindered --sometimes illegally-- from voicing quiet protests at Bush appearances. And others have been investigated for no valid reason --partly because of the Patriot Act.

Many people in the US are really afraid of the suppressive tone of this administration.

"Not the violent conflict between parts of the truth, but the quiet suppression of half of it, is the formidable evil. There is always hope when people are forced to listen to both sides." John Stuart Mill.

"Restriction on free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." William O. Douglas.

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."
Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

Secret courts suppression of protesters Unwarranted investigations
Search the internet and you can find many more examples of unwarranted investigations and suppression of protestors.

1. Secret Visa courts are illegal. (Article ( local version) in Guardian Newspapers, 27 Aug 2002). The Bush administration held hundreds of deportation proceedings in secret. A federal appeal court found them to be illegal. Judge Damon Keith wrote in his ruling that, "Democracies die behind closed doors." The ruling describes the secrecy surrounding the government's response as "profoundly undemocratic". The ruling concludes that, "The executive branch seeks to uproot people's lives outside the public eye and behind a closed door."

2. Suppression of protest at Bush appearances. A number of people have been hindered or stopped from appearing at Bush evenets, even when these appearances were on public grounds. Some people have been arrested, with the case thrown out of court later. Others have not been allowed into Bush events, even though they were doing nothing wrong. In several situations, dissenters are expected to stay in a restricted zone, away from Bush or his motorcade, while non-dissenters are allowed to approach much more closeley. This kind of suppressionof free speech is frightening. Here are just a few examples, some of which go back to 2002.

Nicole and Jeff Rank (local version) were arrested in Charleston; the judge threw out the charges. Nicole was immediately fired from her job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but later reinstated with an apology. The City of Charleston said they should not have been arrested.

Daniel Finsel (local version) was arrested simply for carrying a sign at a Bush event.

Nelson (local version), an elected County supervisor in Wisconsin, was kicked out of Bush event for wearing a hidden Kerry shirt (the shirt was not showing, but someone had seen him in it earlier).

20 of 37 members (local version) of a Peace Action group were not allowed to fly from Milwaulkee to a protest in Washington because there names were on a "No fly" list. No one will say how their names got on it.

Anti-Bush students (local version) were completely silenced at their Ohio State Graduation when Bush came to speak.

Bill Neel (local version) was arrested in Butler, Pennsylvania; the district Justice threw the case out and returned his protest sign to him.

Jan Lentz, Sonja Haught, and Mauricio Rosas (local version) two grandmothers and a gay activist, were arrested for displaying dissenting opinions; others with pro-Bush signs were not. All charges were dropped.

3. Unwarranted investigations. Some people have been detained or investigated simply because they spoke out. Others, for what seems to be no reason at all. Here are some examples.

The Kjars were visited by the US Secret Service because they had a bumper sticker "KING GEORGE—Off With His Head".

Barry Reingold (local version) was visited by the FBI for speaking his mind about Bush, terrorism, and Afghanistan at a gymn.

Daniel Muller (local version) asked for 4,000 stamps without the American Flag on them. The police were called, and Muller was interrogated. He didn't get the stamps until the next day, and only after an interrogation by a federal postal inspector.


Suppression of dissent by the Bush administration is mentioned in several places of this website. Judging by what I read about the Iraq war, I conclude that the administration's lack of desire to listen seriously to dissenting opinions —basically their suppression of them— is responsible for his incompetence in leading the war. "I'm the Commander, see ... I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President... [I] don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." George Bush. See "Bush at War", by Bob Woodward

Yes, I mean incompetence. Although the troops have performed admirably, this war has not been led well. Bush may boast loudly about his war on terror, but his actions show incompetence. Do you remember 1 May 2003 (local version; the event used to be mentioned on the WhiteHouse website but was removed) when Bush flew onto the carrier, with a giant sign "Mission Accomplished" on it, and told us that "major combat operations have ended" and that we have prevailed --implying the war was won? Did that show any understanding of the situation? (Six months later, Bush disavowed any connection with that sign, but the White House later said that the White House asked a private vendor to produce it. See this article (local version)) And two weeks before, on 16 April 2003, Gen. Tommy Franks was telling commanders in Baghdad that it was time to make plans to pull forces out of Iraq. They simply did not understand the situation. (See this article (local version).)

Below are some points about the war. Some of them show that the Bush administration did not listen to advice. Others show that the Bush administration did not care about important issues and that they simply did not plan properly.

No plans for rebuilding Iraq Warnings about preventing looting ignored Inadequate planning, wrong expectations
Disbanding the Iraqi army the worst mistake Inadequate troop support Rumsfeld doesn't act on advice
Abu Ghraib fiasco 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives missing since April 2003 Washington Post cites Bush's failure to follow advice
Republican and Democrat Senators accuse Bush administration of incompetence in rebuilding Iraq

1. No plan for rebuilding Iraq. This article (local version)says that post-war planning was non-existent. It talks about a meeting of war planners and intelligence planners in March 2003 (the month the Iraq war started) in which a lieutenant colonol who was giving a briefing on the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war could say only, "To Be Provided".

A veteran State Department officer involved directly in Iraq policy said, "We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory." The report was, "based on official documents and on interviews with more than three dozen current and former civilian and military officials who participated directly in planning for the war and its aftermath." Search the web, and you will find many articles reporting that there was no plan for rebuilding Iraq. To top of page

2. Warnings about preventing looting ignored. After the US troops took Baghdad, the looting began (local version). Hospitals, schools, university buildings, and more were targets. The worst looting was at the Iraq Museum, which contained the largest collection of Near East artifacts in the world. For two days, the looting went on, with no one trying to stop them. Not only the collection but computers, furniture supplies —everything was taken. This looting of so many places showed complete lack of planning by the Bush administration.

The Bush administration was warned about looting! This site (local version)says that archeologists and others spoke repeatedly to the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Pentagon about the need to protect musuems. Further, the U.S. is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which makes clear that the protection of mseums, hospitals, etc., are the responsibility of the occupying force.

This website (local version) says that the only sites that the US Forces guarded were the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Interior, and oil fields. The Bush administration respected and protected oil, but not the Geneva Convention or the people of Iraq. To top of page

3. Inadequate planning, wrong expectations. The administration did not expect the Iraq war to last this long. Remember when Bush landed on a carrier and declared victory, saying, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."? (From his speech on 2 May 2003) Paul Bremer said (local version), "There was planning, but planning for a situation that didn't arise." The Bush administration simply did not forsee what would happen.

On 1 April 2003, Rumsfeld sharply rebuked (local version) a senior battlefield commander for telling reporters that Pentagon planners failed to anticipate the fierce level of Iraqi resistance, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers complained that remarks by retired generals on TV was not helpful. These people were voicing rational but dissenting opinions, which the Bush administration did not want to hear.

In November 2003, John McCain criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the war and challenged Rumfeld's assertion that the 132,000 American troops in Iraq can defeat the insurgency in Iraq. "The simple truth is that we do not have sufficient forces in Iraq to meet our military objectives," said McCain.

An article in the Antagonist says that, "Prior to the war, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, said publicly that he thought the invasion plan lacked sufficient manpower, and he was slapped down by the Pentagon's civilian leadership for saying so," and that "During the war, concerns about troop strength expressed by retired generals also provoked angry denunciations by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government, has also said that there were not enough troops in May 2003.

The above paragraphs reinforce my opinion that this administration does not take criticism of its views easily and is swayed more by their ideology than by reason. To top of page

4. Disbanding the Iraqi army the worst mistake. In May 2003, a month or so into the war, Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army. The order was reversed a month later, but then it was too late. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni called the move the Bush administration's "worst mistake" in postwar Iraq. This mistake left a vaccuum. It left hundreds of soldiers with no work. This article looks at the poor planning and follow-through that caused this mistake. To top of page

5. Inadequate troop support. An article in says that Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez wrote to the pentagon in winter 2004 that "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low." He complained about lack of spare parts for helicopters and tanks. Also, "his soldiers still needed protective inserts to upgrade 36,000 sets of body armor but that their delivery had been postponed twice in the month before he was writing."

This comes on the heels of reports that a group of soldiers refused to go on a mission because their vehicles were dangerously out of repair and didn't have proper armour on them.

On 1 October 2004, Bush said (local version), "When America puts our troops in harm's way, I believe they deserve the best training, the best equipment, and the whole-hearted support of our government. " His actions are not consistent with his words. To top of page

6. Rumsfeld doesn't act on advice. This 30 September 2004 (local version) says that a study commisioned by Rumsfeld says that "the military doesn't have enough people for its current pace of missions." But Rumsfeld is not acting on the commissions recommendations. What is more important, having enough troops to carry out all missions or postponing any such actions until after the election? To top of page

7. The Abu Graib fiasco. We have all seen horrible pictures of Abu Graib, and we know that prisoners were tortured and humiliated. I don't know whether officers were involved or whether orders came from the top to torture in this manner. But at the least, this fiasco shows incompetence at all levels. We storm Iraq as "liberators"; why weren't there procedures in place to ensure that prisoners would be treated properly, so that the Iraqis would see us as friends and not enemies? Why weren't all soldiers and civilians told to respect all Iraqis and their customs, even prisoners? How do you expect to be viewed as friendly liberators if you don't treat people respectfully?

The blame for this fiasco, in my mind, falls squarely on the Bush administration for not preparing soldiers and civilians properly.

See this article (local version) for a good discussion of this issue. To top of page

8. 380 tons of explosives missing. We are just learning (late October 2004) that 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives have been missing since April 2003, after the U.S. invaded Iraq. A NY Times article (local version) of 25 October 2004 says that the facility was supposed to be under U.S. military control but is now a no-man's land. The U.S. was warned about this stockpile of explosives before the war. Only incompetent planning could have led to such a fiasco, which puts the whole world in danger. To top of page

9. Washington Post cites Bush's failure to listen to advice. On 24 October, the Washington Post Editorial (local version) endorsed Kerry for President. The Editorial found good and bad things to say about both Bush and Kerry. But the Editorial says essentially the same thing I do: Bush's character and ethics did not let him listen to advice, in particular, in planning for postwar reconstruction. The Editorial, says that, "the damage caused by that willful indifference is incalculable." The Editorial also says that "the administration repeatedly rebuffed advice to commit sufficient troops. Its disregard for the Geneva Conventions led to a prison-torture scandal ...."

Bush talks a good game; he has everyone believing that only he can handle the terrorists. However, the facts say that he has been incompetent in leading the war effort.

10. Republican and Democrat Senators accuse Bush administration of incompetence. An article in USA Today (local version), 16 Sept. 2004, says that several Senators, including the two top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, accuse the Bush administration of incompetence in its efforts to rebuild Iraq. Of $13 billion pledged by other countries to rebuild Iraq, only $1.2 billion had been spent. The article goes into more details.

Transferring full sovereignty. On 24May 2004, Bush said that (local version), "The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens ...." It was a lie, and everyone knew it. He knew he could not transfer full sovereignty, and he has not done so. Why does he lie so purposely? And it was not an error, for he repeated it at least in one other instance.

Flaunting and tampering with the regulatory process

Agencies issue rules and regulations to flesh out and implement laws passed by Congress. Agencies must go through an open and transparent process in making regulations, including obtaining comments from the public and justifying what they do in a written record.

The Bush administration has tampered with this process, sometimes illegally, and has made widespread misuse of this process. In many cases, its use of the regulatory process has not been in the interests of the public.

"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix." Harry S. Truman

"I'm the Commander, see ... I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President... [I] don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." George Bush. See "Bush at War", by Bob Woodward

Below, we outline some of the things this administration has done to the regulatory process and give you details on some specific cases. Some of this material (but not all) is culled from a Report by OMB Watch (pdf file), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy center founded in 1983 that "promotes an open, accountable government responsive to community needs". We urge you to read it to see the extent of what this administration is doing. Many of these points can be found in other places on the internet.

1. Illegally freezing the regulatory process 2. Postponing regulations until after the election 3. Forbidding public release of data
4. Tuberculosis testing: an example of increasing secrecy 5. Protecting coal workers 6. Subtle changes

1. Freezing the regulatory process. On inauguration day 2001, the Bush administration issued a directive to stop the processing of all regulations until it had reviewed them. Some of these regulations had already been published and were to go into affect some time later, and their postponement was illegal. Under governing law, an agency may not adopt a proposal to change a rule's effective date, but the directive suggested that agencies not seek public comment. This one directive illustrates the lack of respect this administration would have for the public throughout its tenure.

Hundreds of regulations, some of which had been in the process of development for years and years were stopped in their tracks. No other administration had ever issued such a blanket statement.

A report of the Majority Staff of the U.S. Senate (pdf file), ordered by Senator Lieberman, discusses this freezing. This report also goes into detail on three regulations that had already been issued and whose suspension was done without the required justification: (1) A rule concerning roadless forests. (2) A rule regulating hardrock mining on public lands. (3) A rule to lower allowable arsenic content in water. Two of these regulations were significantly weakened; the third was adopted only after a long struggle, mainly because the Bush administration could not find the scientific data to back up its case. To top of page

2. Postponing rules until after the election. A NY Times article on 27 September 2004 reports that the administration is postponing the adoption of regulations because of heavy lobbying by industry. One regulation would sharply restict what can be in cattle feed. The article says that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association broke its nonpartisan tradition and endorsed President Bush for re-election after the postponement. Other postponements have to do with prescription coverage under Medicare, healthcare, the environment, and telecommunication. The message is that big business takes preference over the needs and safety of the public. To top of page

3. Forbidding public release of data and other business-pleasing changes. A NY Times article from 27 August 2004 says that a new regulation forbids public release of data relating to unsafe motor vehicles. The article goes on to say that the adminsitration has been quietly changing health rules, environmental initiatives, and safety standards in ways that please business but dismay interest groups that represent the public.

4. Tuberculosis testing: an example of increasing secrecy. This item is from an article in Since 1993, regulations for dealing with tuberculosis prevention have been under developed. The Bush administration stopped the process when it ame into office. Then, on 31 December 2003, it canceled the process completely.

The article says that this is just one of many example of how the Bush administration ahs been using the regulatory process to redirect government out of the public eye. Bush has canceled more regulatory processes that he inherited than he has completed, and many of them have been canceled after years and years of work. The regulatory process has been changed profoundly, and it is has been at the expense of openness and public scrutiny. top of page

5. Protecting coal workers. An article in the NY Times on 9 August 2004 discusses how the administration is weakening and removing safety regulations for mining coal. One proposal to update technology to better protect workers in two-story-high trucks was scrapped in 2001; since then, 16 miners have been killed in hauling accidents. To top of page

6. Subtle changes. An article in from 17 August 2004 discusses subtle, almost unnoticed changes in regulations that have profound effects. With regard to mountain-top removal to get at coal, a change reclassifying the debris from objectionable "waste" to legally acceptable "fill" makes it easier to dump mining debris into explicitly protected streambeds. One proposal would scale back the federal government's legal obligation to police state mining agencie, by reclassifying certain duties from "nondiscretionary" to "discretionary".

The Haliburton affair: conflict of interest at its worst

The issue of the company Haliburton represents the worst, in terms of conflict of interest and even corruption. It shows how much people in this government can do for their own self-interest and the interest of their friends if not held in check. "There is a fundamental difference of opinion in Washington, and it starts with folks in Washington forgetting whose money we're spending. All that money is not the government's money; it's the working people's money." George Bush, 3 September 2001

The White House would rather you not know about the Haliburton affair. Even though Cheney was CEO of Haliburton for five years before becoming Vice President, this is not mentioned in the White House biography of Cheney (as of 7 August 2004) --see (In case the White House changes this page, here is what it looked like, without the images, on 7 August 2004).

Below, we give a brief history of Haliburton. But first we note that Haliburton favoritism has been going on (local version) in spite of the Corps of Engineers' chief contracting officer objecting to it. She refused to sign the contract. Her signature is required, but they let it go through with her assistant's signature. She was threatened with demotion after raising the issue. This information has just come to light in the last few weeks. See also this article (local version).

Brief history of Haliburton:

1. Early 1990s. Cheney, as Secretary of Defense, gives contracts to Halliburton to rebuild facilities in Kuwait that had been destroyed in the first Persian Gulf war.

2. Early 1990 to 1993. Cheney, as Secretary of Defense, commissions Halliburton to do a classified (secret) study concerning replacing the U.S. military's logistics by work done by private companies. Halliburton says, yes, a company can do the work. In August 1992, with essentially no bidding, Halliburton is selected by the US Army Corps of Engineers to do all work needed to support the military for the next five years! Thereafter, Halliburton (or its subsidiary KBR) and its military logistics business escalated rapidly. In the ten years thereafter revenues totaled $2.5 billion.

3. 1995-2000. Cheney is CEO of Halliburton. Under Cheney, Halliburton increases its offshore tax havens from 9 to 44, cutting its taxes from $302 million in 1998 to an $85 million refund in 1999. That's almost $400 million they took from taxpayers in one year.

4. During Cheney's tenure at Haliburton, Halliburton did business with countries like Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Iran, and Nigeria even though the US had imposed strict sanctions on them. They skirted sanctions, and they lobbied against sanctions. Some of this business was illegal, and Halliburton was fined for it.

5. Spring 2000. Cheney heads Bush's Vice-Presidential Search committee --while continuing as CEO of Halliburton. He ends up picking himself as Vice President.

6. July 2000. Cheney is asked whether Halliburton or its subsidaries were trying to do business with Iraq. He says no; he had a firm policy that they wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even if it was legal. This was a blatant lie: subsidiaries sold over $73 million in oil-production parts to Iraq.

7. 2000. As CEO of Halliburton, Cheney clears $20 million in one year, after taxes.

8. July 2000. Cheney's severance package from Halliburton (as CEO) is far and above what other company officers got when they left --some say it is as high as $62 million in stocks and stock options.

9. December 2001. KBR (Halliburton subsidiary) is granted an open-ended contract for Army troops supply and Navy construction, wherever U.S. troops go, for the next 10 years (so far, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Yemen, Iraq). This unique contract has no ceiling on cost. KBR is reimbursed for every dollar spent plus a base fee of 1 percent, which guarantees profit. Plus, they can get a bonus as a percentage of company costs.

10. January 2003. Bush sends a letter to Congress exercising his authority, as president, to waive section 9007, thus removing sanctions and allowing assistance to oil-rich Azerbaijan (see point 4). This administration invites the head of Azerbaijan to the White House, even though this person was the main reason for earlier sanctions against Azerbaijan. Reason? Azerbaijan has oil.

11. September 2003. Cheney states that when he became Vice President, he severed all ties with Halliburton, as required by law. This was a lie. Government accounting offices said that the compensation he continues to receive is a conflict of interest.

12. Dec 2003. Halliburton, without competitive bidding, is given a contract to restore the Iraqi oil sector. It is billed initially as a contract for putting out oil-well fires, something in which Halliburton has little expertise. It turns out that the contract is really for the full restoration of the oil business in Iraq. It is kept secret because of the "emergency conditions". It is one of the highest military logistics contracts in history.

13. June 2004. Cheney has said all along that he had no contact with government officials who coordinated Halliburtons many contracts with the military. A March 2003 Pentagon email refutes this claim. It says that action on a no-bid Halliburton contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. This has to do with a no-bid contract given to Halliburton for rebuilding Iraq.

14. August 2004. The SEC (Security Exchange Comission) levies a fine of $7.5 million on Halliburton for illegal accounting changes in 1998, when Cheney was CEO of Halliburton. Some people think that politics may have shielded Cheney and others from being held more accountable.

Serious doubts remain about whether a company with a record like Halliburton's should even be eligible to receive government contracts in the first place. This company has been accused of cost overruns, tax avoidance, and cooking the books and has a history of doing business in government-sanctioned countries like Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Many of Halliburton's no-bid contracts are allowed because of waivers by the Bush administration that allow government agencies to handpick companies for Iraqi

World opinion

We live in an increasingly smaller —and dangerous— world, and all countries must work together to solve all the problems. The United States, as the one remaining "superpower", bears a special responsibility to use its strength for the good of the world. This requires a president who has the trust and respect of leaders around the world. We had that with Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

"But in the international online media, the vast majority of commentators are harshly critical of President George W. Bush. On every continent pundits are faulting Bush for his persona as well as his policies. Most dislike his conduct of the war in Iraq. Many say his attitude toward the rest of the world is contemptuous, misinformed and dangerous." Jefferson Morley, WashingtonPost .com (local version), 30 Aug 2004.

But, through his belligerent, arrogant, uncompromising, extremist attitude, Bush has lost all trust and respect. The message that this administration has sent to the world is (to quote Carl Bernstein), "the imperialist states can do what they want; the semi-colonial states must do what they are told." The support after 9/11 has given way to the vision of the United States as an imperial power of the worst kind. We are now simply an arrogant bully.

Condoleezza Rice sends the message when she defends the administration's refusal to join with all other countries in supporting an international war crimes court. She said, "The United States is special because it is a bigger target with forces all over the world. So maybe there is some difference in interests there." So, we are special. You little guys go work together; we'll save the world on our own.

Jimmy Carter, at the Democratic Convention in summer 2004, said, "Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism." In just 34 months, he said, "all the goodwill [after 9/11] was squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and calculations."

Being strong does not mean you have to lose respect. John Kennedy was strong, but he had everyone's respect.

To see the opinion the world has, type in "opinion bush world" into the search engine google and read the articles that are found. The bottom of this page contains links to a few such articles.

The administration shows no sign of changing its operations and attitudes toward the rest of the world. Re-election would be a disaster.

Some facts

  1. The table on the left is from a newly released poll (9 September 2004) (local version) taken over the summer.
  2. An opinion poll (local version) by (4 March 2004) reported these percentages of people who had a negative view of Bush: Britain, 66%; Canada, 66%; Spain, 75%; France, 80%; Germany, 80%, Mexico, over 50%, Italy, over 50%.
  3. In June 2003 (local version), a poll showed that nearly 2/3 of the British had an unfavourable opinion of Bush. Asked who is more dangerous to world peace and stability, United States was rated higher than al-Qaeda by respondents in both Jordan (71%) and Indonesia (66%). The US was rated more dangerous than Iran by people in Jordan, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, and Brazil and more dangerous than Syria by respondents all the countries polled, except for Australia, Israel, and the United States.
  4. This page (local version) contains information on a number of polls like the ones mentioned above.

Do these polls matter? A leader leads with trust and respect. It is obvious that the Bush administration can no longer lead the world.

The isolationist, extremist attitude of the administration

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor, said in June 2004, "It is not only the Iraq policy of the Bush administration that has caused this [the opinion of the world to turn against the United States]. The Bush administration is the first administration since the onset of the Cold War 50 years ago not to place itself in the political mainstream, not to reflect moderation, not to practice at least de facto bipartisanship, but to embrace extremist principles. Inevitably, extremism produces recklessness." The administration has become increasingly isolated from the world, due to its attitudes and its refusal to engage with other countries.

Below is a list of examples. Taken one at a time, one might find valid reasons for it. Taken together, one gets the feeling that this administration feels that it can do everything by itself. It is not leading, it is bullying.

  1. Started the War on Iraq without UN sanction for it.
  2. Refused to join with other countries in the international war crimes court.
  3. Refused to sign agreement on limiting the transfer of small weapons.
  4. Walked out of a biological weapons convention agreed to by 143 nations.
  5. Refused to sign treaty barring anti-personnel land mines.
  6. Withdrew from anti-ballistic missile treaty.
  7. Refused to sign the Kyoto agreement.

Links to a few articles

1. World opinion moves against Bush. Article (local version) by Simon Tisdall in the Guardian unlimited, 23 January 2003.

2. Bush withdraws from the world. Article (local version) by Ronald Asmus in The Age, 21 August 2004.

3. Foreign views of US darken after Sept 11. Article (local version) in the NY Times.

4. Bush turns Europe's consensus on its head. Article (no longer available; obtained from Wayback machine) in the Telegraph [UK], 20 September 2003.

5. Billionaire Soros blasts Bush, calls on President to honor world opinion. article (local version) in, 28 February 2003.

6. Mr. Bush is abusing both the UN and international law. Article (local version) by Jonathan Power in New War on Terror, 14 October 2001.

7. World opinion is more hostile to America than at any time in our history. Article (local version) in NPQ by Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1 June 2004.

8. History lesson: GOP must stop Bush. Article (local version) by Carl Bernstein in USA Today, 23 May 2004.

9. Bush demeanor fuels dissent. Article (local version) by Vijay Ramanavarapu in The Lantern, 10 March 2003.

10. Bush at the UN: Washington's war ultimatum to the world. Article (local version) by Editorial board, World Socialist Web Site, 13 September 2002.

11. Bush's unilateralism aggravates world's problems. Article (local version) by Robert F. Drinan, National Catholic Reporter, 10 January 2003.

12. BBC News: World wants Kerry as President, 9/7/2004. Article. (Here's a local, text copy)


The Bush administration would have you believe that it is a government for the people and by the people. The way the government operates suggests just the opposite. It is secretive and manipulative, attempting to show us only what it wants us to see. Below are examples. For more, see this website (local version). "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix." Harry S. Truman

"I'm the Commander, see ... I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President... [I] don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." George Bush. See "Bush at War", by Bob Woodward

1. Undermining laws that promote public access 2. Curtailing freedom of information 3. Dept. of Justice hides its skeletons
4. Hiding presidential papers 5. Hiding energy task force info 6. Altering an EPA report
7. Blocking an EPA warning 8. Hiding cuts in National Park Services 9. Altering 9/11 facts
10. Opposing the 9/11 commission 11. Censoring the Supreme Court 12. Ending the viewing of coffins
13. Suppressing info on snowmobiles 14. Auto safety info no longer public 15. No protection for federal whistleblowers

1. The Henry Waxman report. An extensive report released by Rep. Henry Waxman shows that the Bush administration has consistently undermined the laws that promote public access to government records while systematically expanding the laws that authorize secret government operations. Here is an official report (pdf file) of the U.S. House of Representatives. Below, I show just a few of the items that I collected before finding this report. To top of page

2. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). When the FOIA was enacted in 1966, President Johnson said, "No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions that can be revealed without injury to the public interest." The Clinton memorandum (pdf file) told his government about the importance of the FOIA and instructed them to follow it in letter and spirit. The Ashcroft memorandum (pdf file) does the opposite: it expressly encourages agencies to look for reason to deny access to information. To top of page

3. The U.S. Dept. of Justice. After disregarding requests for more than a year for a consultant's study about the department's efforts to ensure diversity, the department released the 186-page document—with many lines and pages blacked out. It took more effort to get the whole document. It looks like the administration's policies on FOIA (see pt. 1) were being followed. Here are some of the sentences that had been blacked out:

  1. Minorities are substantially more likely to leave the Department than whites.
  2. Minorities are significantly under-represented in management ranks.
  3. Minorities perceive unfairness in a number of human resources practices, such as hiring and promotion.

Here is the blacked-out report (pdf file) and the real report (pdf file). Read about it here (local version). To top of page

4. Presidential papers and executive privilege. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 makes presidential records public property and requires that the records be made public 12 years after a presidency has ended. Therefore, the Reagan-Bush papers should have been made public when Bush, Jr. became president. But Bush immediately signed an excutive order keeping them hidden, and potentially indefinitely. What doesn't Bush want you to see? A coalition has filed suit in federal court, but the case has not yet been settled. Read about it here (local version). To top of page

5. Who was on the energy task force? In January 2001, Bush created an energy task force, under the direction of Cheney. This task force met and submitted recommendations to Congress. Congress asked to see the list of task-force members. The Bush administration refused, and the case is now in the courts. Why shouldn't we all be able to know who was on the committee? Wouldn't you like to know who is making energy policy for the nation? Why the secrecy? To top of page

6. Altering an EPA Report. The White House forced (local version) the Environmental Protection Agency to remove from its 2003 report on the state of the environment large sections that talked about the risks of global warming. For more examples of such actions, click on "Widespread misuse of science" in the left column. To top of page

7. Blocking an EPA Warning. The White House blocked a nationwide alert by the EPA about the danger of a certain kind of insulation that contained a dangerous asbestos for over a year. St. Louis Dispatch, December 29, 2003. (pdf file) To top of page

8. Hiding cuts in National Parks Services. In Spring 2004, the Interior Department was criticized for making cuts in visitors services and then trying to hide the cuts from the public. According to the memo, "the majority of Northeast Region Parks are beginning this fiscal year with fewer operating dollars than in FY03. Additionally, the absorption of pay costs, necessary assessments and other rising, fixed costs have further eroded operating dollars." The memo suggested using the term "service level adjustment" instead of "cut". The memo also said,

We will need to be sure that adjustments are taken from as many areas as is possible so that it won't cause public or political controversy. ...


A statement about cutting 10 seasonal positions does tells us how that affects the visitor so you must put it into words that describe service level adjustments to visitors, resource protection, facility operations, etc.

Here is the memo (pdf file). Here is an article about it (local version). To top of page

9. Altering facts during 9/11. Directly after 9/11, the White House forced (local version) the EPA to change its statements about public health risks in NY to make them sound less alarming. To top of page

10. The 9/11 Commission. Bush opposed the creation of the 9/11 commission, whose purpose (local version) was to find out how the goverment dealt with terror that morning. He gave in to pressure, and it was created. The administration stalled (local version) in letting the Commission read crucial documents, and the Commission had to ask for an extension of time as well as more funds. These were given only after pressure from Congress and the press. The administration tried to place (article no longer accessible) all sorts of restrictions on who could read certain documents and what they could do with them. To top of page

The administration refused to let anyone from the administration testify before the Commission. Again, only after pressure, did Bush himself and Condoleezza Rice testify, and only under certain conditions. This website (local pdf version) outlines how the administration sought to obstruct and discredit the 9/11 investigation. To top of page

11. Censoring the Supreme Court. In documentation for a case concerning the ACLU and the Patriot Act, the Justice Department blacked out passages that it felt should not be publically released, ostensibly for national security reasons. Here is one passage that was blacked out—not for security reasons but in order to stifle dissent:

"The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent."

As the webpage (local version) from which we got this says, this is a blatant misuse of power. To top of page

12. Ending media coverage of returning coffins. The administration banned the filming of coffins with killed soldiers arriving from Iraq. The reason, most people admit, is that it hurt the administration's image. Here's an article on it (local version). To top of page

13. Snowmobiles in Yellowstone. The administration touted the use of "quieter" snowmobiles in Yellowstone, even though they knew months earlier that the new snowmobiles were actually much louder. They simply suppressed the information (local version). To top of page

14. Auto safety data no longer public. A two-paragraph decision buried deep in the Federal Register makes previously public information relating to unsafe automobiles or defective parts unavailable to the public. Few people knew about this act, but awareness is growing. Here's a blog on it (local version) from 18 August 2004. To top of page

15. Bush administration doesn't want whistleblowers. (Article (local version) in the NY Times, 3 Oct 2004.) Whistleblowers are people who report fraud, waste, or wrongdoing when their employers dismiss their concerns. Whistleblowers are acting in the interests of the public, and they need protection. A bill before Congress would increase the very poor protections for federal employees, but the Bush administration doesn't want the new law.

On 15 March 2004 (pdf file), four Congressmen wrote to Bush, asking him and his administration not to retaliate against a Medicare official who came out with the fact that administration officials told him he would be severely reprimanded if he gave certain information to Congress. They cited two recent cases where the Whitehouse had tried to discredit whistleblowers.

Here are examples of what has happened to federal worker whistleblowers under this administration:

  • Two Border Patrol agents, Mark Hall and Robert Lindemann, were disciplined after they disclosed weaknesses in security along the Canadian border.
  • Teresa C. Chambers was dismissed from her job as chief of the US Park Police after she said the agency did not have enough money or personnel to protect parks and monuments in the Washington area.
  • The top Medicare official threatened to fire Richard S. Foster, the chief Medicare actuary, if he provided data to Congress showing the cost of the new Medicare law, which exceeded White House estimates.
  • Airport baggage screeners say they have been penalized for raising concerns about aviation security. But in August, an independent federal agency, the Merit Systems Protection Board, ruled that they had none of the whistleblower rights available to other federal employees. The government, it said, can "hire, discipline and terminate screeners without regard to any other law.''
  • Bunny Greenhouse, the chief contracting officer of the Corps of Engineers, refused to sign a Haliburton contract, citing violations. She was threatened with demotion. See this website (local version). To top of page
Misuse of science
The Union of Concerned Scientists investigated the misuse of science by the Bush administration. So far, over 5300 scientists have signed a statement supporting the resulting report (March 2004), including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors, and university chairs and presidents. "Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance." President George H.W. Bush, 1990

Here are the findings of the investigation:

1. There is a well-established pattern of suppression and distortion of scientific findings by high-ranking Bush administration political appointees across numerous federal agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public safety, and community well-being.

2. There is strong documentation of a wide-ranging effort to manipulate the government's scientific advisory system to prevent the appearance of advice that might run counter to the administration's political agenda.

3. There is evidence that the administration often imposes restrictions on what government scientists can say or write about "sensitive" topics.

4. There is significant evidence that the scope and scale of the manipulation, suppression, and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration are unprecedented.

The investigation found not one or two incidences but a widespread practice of abuse, ranging from deleting material in reports to undermining the quality and integrity of the appointment process. The report says that,

This behavior by the administration violates the central premise of the scientific method, and is therefore of particularly grave concern to the scientific community. But it should also concern the American public, which has every right to expect its government to formulate policy on the basis of objective scientific knowledge in policies that affect the health, well-being and safety of its citizens.

Here is the executive summary (as a pdf file), and here is the full report (as a pdf file). If you are a scientist, please take the time to read the discussion and the report and, if you are so inclined, sign the statement of support.

What they do counts, not what they say

If the administration has integrity, ethics, and character, then policies will fall into place,
for the administration will be guided by the good of the country, and
it will engage in open, honest, and meaningful dialog with the whole nation.

If an administration has no integrity, ethics, and character, then the nation better beware.

Politicians may promise something but don't always deliver. They may say one thing but do another.

We tend to get our information from TV, in small messages, political ads, and speeches that are designed to sway us rather than to give us information. In this sense, TV has been the worst thing for politics, for it emphasizes show and entertainment rather than content.

Today, it is best to go by what people do rather than what they say.

"This television image can have its disadvantages. One of the most prevalent drawbacks is that it shifts the electorate's - and the candidate's - attention from his policy to his image. People will judge the candidate on looks rather than ideas." John Gans

"Television inherently simplifies complex ideas into emotional, self-oriented moral and political impulses." Jeffrey Scheur

"His [Kerry's] very skill in oratory may be his undoing, because in the political arena, the era of oratory is over. We live in the moment of the sound bite." Allan Metcalf

I suggest:

  1. Don't be swayed by political ads and speeches.
  2. Use discrimination, and compare what people say with what they do.

We can only estimate what a Kerry administration will do because he has not been president. But he has been a Senator for 20 years, and we can go look at his record there. There have been some issues of his honesty in campaigning again Weld in 1996, and there is talk of his and his wife's money, but I do not find the large patterns of secrecy, lies, abuse of power, and conflict of interest that I see with the Bush administration.

Consequently, I would expect a Kerry presidency to exhibit far more integrity, honesty, and openness —qualities that the Bush administration has lacked. For me, the character of the administration is far more important than its policies. With a good character, the policies will take care of themselves. This administration, through its actions, as discussed in the links to the left, have shown a complete lack of character and integrity.

If you are a scientist (or engineer) and you support the investigative report of the Union of Concerned Scientists, then please sign the statement of support.

And, if you agree in general with this website, tell your friends about it.


  • A project of Public Citizen, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1971 to to represent consumer interests (that means your interests) in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.
  • Center for American Progress. Contains articles on all sorts of topics, e.g. Environment to the Iraq War to the Bush Administration's conflict with the 9/11 Commission.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Helps Americans use the justice system to shine a light on those who betray public trust.
  • Common Cause. Founded in 1970 by John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. A non-partisan citizen's lobbying group.
  • MoveOn PAC. MoveOnPAC's campaign contributions provide financial support to congressional candidates who embrace moderate to progressive principles of national government.
  • People for the American Way. "An energetic advocate for the values and institutions that sustain a diverse democratic society"..

This website is not written lightly. I am a computer scientist. I have been teaching and researching for over 35 years. I generally have little to do with politics, and I do not belong to a political party. No one is paying me to do this. I have no agenda except to see the people of the U.S. work together, in harmony and peace, for the good of everyone in the country and the world.

I believe that the statements in this website are based on facts.

[Sep 09, 2015] They don't call it the Empire of Chaos for nothing

"...My impression is that the West is content with creating chaos if it can not readily control a country – they don't call it the Empire of Chaos for nothing. By that measure, Libya was a smashing success and Iraq is getting there."
"...But really it is just self serving BS where the western crusaders are always morally superior and justified in their imperial adventures while the barbarians are inferior in every way and need to be pacified. This syndrome has been afflicting the west for more than 1000 years and shows no evidence of going away in spite of all the cultural progress."
"...True. But at least it affirms that, when Russia "invades", or intervenes, it puts in place an alternative to the chaos so typical of western intervention. The West has to learn that when you trash a country, the West's rivals and enemies are just as likely to benefit as any of our friends."
Jeremn, September 8, 2015 at 7:42 am
Interesting analysis of Russian strategy in Ukraine, and beyond. Concludes the strategy is "low cost" and effective, at least compared to recent US adventures:

"What most discussions of a possible Russian invasion of the Baltics share in common is their inability to explain what is in it for the Russians. Exactly why Russia would risk war against the most powerful military alliance in the world led by the United States in order to seize something in the Baltics remains an analytical quandary. Russia's cautious and measured approach against a relatively weak, incapable, and non-aligned Ukraine offers little support to the notion that it would risk war with NATO."

marknesop, September 8, 2015 at 8:16 am
The trouble is, it assumes – as does every western assessment, without exception – that Russia is engaging in "limited conventional war" in Ukraine; that is, Russia is present in a state military capacity, uniformed soldiers, organized military formations, the lot. And nobody has been able to provide any proof of that at all. It is inconceivable that could be going on in one of the most heavy-surveillance areas on the globe and nobody would see it. You know the USA would provide proof if they actually had it – that "we have plenty of evidence" line is just bunk.
Jeremn, September 8, 2015 at 8:23 am
True. But at least it affirms that, when Russia "invades", or intervenes, it puts in place an alternative to the chaos so typical of western intervention. The West has to learn that when you trash a country, the West's rivals and enemies are just as likely to benefit as any of our friends.

As per Iran, and how after we defeated Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's two major competitors, we were magically presented with a more powerful Iran – which seemed to appear out of nowhere.

marknesop, September 8, 2015 at 9:31 am

Yes, that's an excellent point. It still irks me, however, that the general public in the Anglosphere is so accepting of major allegations – Russia has battalions of soldiers and heavy armor in Ukraine, but you can't see them although it is largely open fields; Russia shot down MH-17 – without any demonstrated evidence at all. It's as if anything we'd like to believe is no longer off limits just because there's no evidence it is true.

kirill, September 8, 2015 at 12:23 pm

What has disappeared from the NATO propaganda wankfest if it ever even existed is any consideration for motive. Why would Russia deliberately shoot down MH-17? To prove how evil it is? This is beyond ridiculous and points to serious collective cognitive deficiency in NATO mainstream thought. But really it is just self serving BS where the western crusaders are always morally superior and justified in their imperial adventures while the barbarians are inferior in every way and need to be pacified. This syndrome has been afflicting the west for more than 1000 years and shows no evidence of going away in spite of all the cultural progress.

Patient Observer, September 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm

My impression is that the West is content with creating chaos if it can not readily control a country – they don't call it the Empire of Chaos for nothing. By that measure, Libya was a smashing success and Iraq is getting there.

[Sep 08, 2015] Empire Files with Abby Martin Launches First Show

In teleSUR's new show, Abby Martin traces the history of the U.S. empire and the growing presence of military bases around the globe - September 5, 2015


General Butler's " War is a Racket " is available free online. A great read which should be mandatory reading in high school.

Bruce DeLaney > markodochartaigh

Count on it, no school teacher is going to bring up Butler's name in a classroom. Hell, most high school teachers don't even know who he was.

markodochartaigh > Bruce DeLaney

If an instructor did assign the book in class almost certainly some brainwashed little student would report it to his equally brainwashed parents and the instructor would never work again.

[Sep 04, 2015] Narrative And Reality Of The U.S. War On Syria

"...The US media knows nothing and cares less, it is anything goes, they just sell media consumption / clicks on the intertubes / TV watching, etc. / advertising / Gvmt. propanganda, all of which which changes day by day… the more ppl are confused, the better"
"...The sophisticated propaganda apparatus that we enjoy (NOT!) today is a mix of half-truths, false narratives and (falser) counter-narratives. (Some counter-narratives, I think, are from well-meaning people who distrust government and are trying to interpret what is really happening thru the lens of their own (often limited) experience.)"
"...Interesting too, that the Ukraine situation is hotting up. Maybe the thinking is that Putin could not handle multiple crises? "
"...Bhadrakumar is always the best. But, I think it's realistic to take a step further Flynn's admission about the US "knowing about ISIL" (but not knowing its name) back in 2012. Wouldn't it be more realistic to guess that the US also knew about Saudi defense/intelligence ministry plans to create and fund 'ISIL' from the beginning? Does anyone here think _anything_ going on at a high level in Saudi escapes US intelligence?
And then, a step further, you would think US experts would be helpfully guiding the Saudis as to where best to insert ISIL forces, how best to fund/supply them, and so on. Saudi royal family cronies are not the most competent or hardworking administrators, and they're not privy to the intel and experience the US has in the 'our terrorism' specialty, and so it's natural to expect they'd ask for and receive US help with this stuff."
Aug 14, 2015 | M of A

The Washington Post "It Never Happened" piece on Syria documented yesterday is far from the only one that avoids to mention the intimate U.S. involvement in waging war on Syria.

A New York Times piece today falsely claims:

The United States avoided intervening in the civil war between rebels and the government of Mr. Assad until the jihadist group took advantage of the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq.

McClatchy, which is usual better, currently has two pieces by Hannah Allam looking into U.S. involvement in the war on Syria. Unfortunately these are also full of false narratives and unchecked administration propaganda. Obama administration still predicts 'Assad's days are numbered' is a take of what administration officials now claim about their early believes of the war on Syria. It also includes this whoopers:

The Americans were determined to keep the United States out of an armed conflict in Syria, but turned a blind eye as Persian Gulf allies sent weapons to hardline factions with ties to al Qaida.

Years ago the NYT and several other outlets reported that the CIA was the entity which organized the weapon transfers, thousands of tons, for the Saudis and other Gulf countries. The U.S. did not turn a blind eye. It was actively organizing the whole war from the very beginning.

In The 'magic words:' How a simple phrase enmeshed the U.S. in Syria's crisis Hannah Allam lets the former ambassador to Syria Ford claim that the administration never really wanted to ouster Assad but was pressed into it:

Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria at the time, said he initially opposed calling for Assad's ouster for two reasons: it was clear to him that sanctions were the only punishment the White House was willing to use, and that such a call would kill his efforts to start a dialogue with the regime.

Ford said he was up against the same outside pressures other officials listed – influential Republicans, a few senior Democrats, the "very loud" Syrian-American community and foreign governments – but he added one force that's often overlooked.

"To be very frank, the press, the media, was baiting us. It's not like the media was impartial in this," Ford said. "Because once the Republicans started saying he has no legitimacy, the question then became at press conferences every day: Do you think he has legitimacy? What are we supposed to say? Yes, he does?"

Hogwash. Ford was one of the first to press for the ouster of Assad. He even organized the early demonstration and the media training for the "peaceful demonstrators" who were early on killing policemen and soldiers. One of the "revolutionaries" reacts to Ford's claims:

The 47th
Out of all ppl, Robert Ford is talking about Syrians being mislead by the magic words? Ford "promised" us Syrians full support in 2011.

The 47th
In private meetings In damascus, Robert Ford promised his syrian oppo friends full U.S. Support and encouraged Syrians to go on.

The 47th
He even went to fucking Hama, during the biggest protest in Syria's modern history

The 47th
I wdnt talk abt ppl misinterpreting U.S public statements, U were ur Admin's amb, say the truth: u promised Syrians the moon, gave them shit

All these media pieces, yesterday's WaPo piece, today's false NYT claims, the McClatchy pieces, are part of the Obama strategy to play as if it was/is doing "nothing" or "just something" while at the time time running a full fledged proxy war against the Syrian government.

Joel Veldkamp lays out and analyses that strategy:

Why does the U.S. only have sixty fighters to show for its $500 million, year-old training program? Because it reinforces the narrative – nurtured by a raft of previous hopelessly inadequate, publicly-announced and -debated programs to support the opposition – of the U.S. as a helpless bystander to the killing in Syria, and of President Obama as a prudent statesman reluctant to get involved. While the Senate berates the Pentagon chief over the program's poor results, the U.S. is meanwhile outsourcing the real fight in Syria to allies with no qualms about supporting al Qaeda against their geopolitical opponents – unless the U.S. is, as before, cooperating directly or indirectly in that support.

Once it is recognized that the "helpless bystander" narrative is false, and that the U.S. has been deeply involved in the armed conflict almost from the start, it becomes both possible and necessary to question that involvement.

What I find astonishing is that the U.S. media are able to have it both ways on Syria. Every other day there is a piece with the false narrative that the U.S. is not and has not been involved in Syria while at the same time the very same media, NYT, WaPo, McClatchy, publish other pieces about the massive "secret" military effort with thousands of tons of weapon shipments and billions of dollars the Obama administration pushes into Syria to wage war against the Syrian people.

The media know that the "helpless bystander" narrative is false. But Joel Veldkamp's hope that this would make it "possible and necessary to question that involvement" is not coming true. Besides in fringe blogs like this one there is no such public discussion at all.

Noirette | Aug 14, 2015 1:19:32 PM | 2

Re. Syria (others...) the US is divided.

Perpetual violent war-mongers (McCain, his acolytes, neo-cons, neo-libs) facing a more 'realistic' foreign policy - Obama and Kerry, see Iran deal.

These parties are fighting amongst each other and pursuing different agendas. Ex.: Ukraine, where the ones are gingerly, half-heartedly, supporting the Minsk 2 agreement and want to get rid of the 'distraction' and leave it for now to the EU and/or Russia to pay for the mess.

The other camp, going for all out-war against Russia, with boots on the ground / powerful arms / bombing / other, in Ukr., attacking Russia through a proxy. — Ukr. can't manage on its own as has now been conclusively demonstrated.

Now that might be good cop-bad cop routine, but overall it explains the 'frozen-for-now conflict' (deathly as it is and not frozen) in Ukraine. Along with the fact that Putin wants nothing to do with this mess and imho? stops the separatists from conquering more territory.

Failed states, characteristics.

... Being open to outside soft take-over and influence. The PTB hob-nob, submit to outsiders (who have some sorta power), and make contradictory alliances in function of interest groups. A failed state cannot truly defend itself, so it deploys what might it can to intimidate, always with allies, proxies, buddies, etc. It agresses militarily only the weak and easily vanquished (nobody objects to that) but gains no advantages from it. On it goes, squandering its ressources.

The destruction of Syria has worked fine. But Assad can't be removed. Now the plan is he is to stay but be 'wound down' or whatever.

The US media knows nothing and cares less, it is anything goes, they just sell media consumption / clicks on the intertubes / TV watching, etc. / advertising / Gvmt. propanganda, all of which which changes day by day… the more ppl are confused, the better!

Jackrabbit | Aug 14, 2015 3:05:34 PM | 6

As b points out, the cat is out of the bag. So this is not about plausible deniability.

The sophisticated propaganda apparatus that we enjoy (NOT!) today is a mix of half-truths, false narratives and (falser) counter-narratives. (Some counter-narratives, I think, are from well-meaning people who distrust government and are trying to interpret what is really happening thru the lens of their own (often limited) experience.)

The "helpless bystander" narrative is complemented by the "ruthless tyrant" narrative. A recent CBS news segment about the demise of the small American armed and trained anti-ISIL force related how hundreds of potential fighters had dropped out. Why? Because they thought *ASSAD* was a worse problem than ISIL!

The propaganda push, coming after recent developments like USA saying it will attack any force that attacks USA-supported militants, leads me to wonder if we're being prepared for a surprise! that forces USA involvement.

Interesting too, that the Ukraine situation is hotting up. Maybe the thinking is that Putin could not handle multiple crises?

Mina | Aug 14, 2015 1:54:29 PM | 5

harry law | Aug 14, 2015 3:49:52 PM | 8

Putin is well aware of US duplicity, and the West promises to protect the Libya minority, which morphed into Regime change. Iran is even more aware of the US game in Syria, it is for that reason both countries be on their guard in the event that the US, or their proxies, intervene in Syria, which I am sure they would like to do.

I hope it is the case that Assad has things in hand, and that he does not need the help of Iran's military manpower, in the event that he did, I am sure the military alliance between the two would provide such assistance if called for by Assad, this would be entirely within International law, after all the Saudis and Turks have been facilitating the influx of thousands of head chopping fanatics into Syria in breach of International law in their attempt to topple the legitimate Syrian Government.

Joe Tedesky | Aug 14, 2015 11:58:56 PM | 17

Someone please give Zbigniew a call, and ask him how to spin the narrative on Syria. This whole mess the U.S. is squirming around in is a result of it's own doing. For a long time the U.S. has attempted to live two lives. One life as a democracy warrior, the other as a master of deception. Brzezinski went big back in the seventies, when he convinced Jimmy Carter to back the Mujaheddin against Russia.

Smart move, except now every Gulf nation has their personal mercenaries at their disposal. This is going on at the same time that every Joe-Bob in America thinks it's those crazy Muslims. So savage mercenaries they are not, but savage Muslims they must be.

So finally now when people in the White House wake up to the fact that this isn't 1978 they are struck with an epiphany to suddenly change their tune. This shouldn't surprise anyone. This is what they do. No one ever said they do it well. Well, maybe some will say that, but then again this is how it gets done. My one hope is that all people, whether Syrian, Iraqi, Ukrainian, or just down right anyone may live in peace. Why, is this so hard?

plantman | Aug 15, 2015 12:50:20 AM | 18

This is from the WSWS: developments on the ground (in Syria) are underscoring that any diplomatic settlement over Syria will be implemented through a militarized carve-up of the country, spearheaded by the Pentagon and its regional partners and proxy forces.

As part of a deal reached in July between Ankara and Washington, Turkish President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) government leader Erdogan gained US backing for the imposition of a militarized "buffer zone" encompassing hundreds of square miles in northern Syria. The new zone would be occupied by Syrian opposition fighters and reinforced by the US and Turkish air forces, with US forces having been cleared to operate from Turkish bases as part of the agreement.

Once established, the military zone would serve as a staging area for US-backed rebel forces fighting against the Assad government.

Despite their public confidence in Putin's readiness to accept a deal, the Turkish government is clearly preparing its own large-scale military intervention into areas of northern Syria."

Yes, Putin wants a deal, so Turkey and Jordan are positioning themselves to steal parts of Syria before the agreement is made.

But what about the US? The US won't want the Russian deal because they won't be able to install their own stooge in Damascus. So the fighting goes on, Iran gets more involved, and Putin has to decide whether to send troops to avoid another Libya.

What a mess!

fairleft | Aug 15, 2015 4:14:03 AM | 19

Mina @5

Thanks. Bhadrakumar is always the best.

But, I think it's realistic to take a step further Flynn's admission about the US "knowing about ISIL" (but not knowing its name) back in 2012. Wouldn't it be more realistic to guess that the US also knew about Saudi defense/intelligence ministry plans to create and fund 'ISIL' from the beginning? Does anyone here think _anything_ going on at a high level in Saudi escapes US intelligence?

And then, a step further, you would think US experts would be helpfully guiding the Saudis as to where best to insert ISIL forces, how best to fund/supply them, and so on. Saudi royal family cronies are not the most competent or hardworking administrators, and they're not privy to the intel and experience the US has in the 'our terrorism' specialty, and so it's natural to expect they'd ask for and receive US help with this stuff.

fairleft | Aug 15, 2015 5:07:16 AM | 21

Bhadrakumar's piece ends very strong, especially the final paragraph:

The specious plea being advanced by Washington currently is that the US wants to turn Afghanistan into a regional hub to wage a war against the IS — a war by the US and its partners, which, in the opinion of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could last not less than a generation.

This Dempsey guy is a smart general, isn't it? It was under his watch that the IS was finessed and deployed as the instrument of US regional policy to overthrow the established government in Syria and to force Baghdad to allow the return of American troops to Iraq – and now he pops up in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office in Kabul one fine day two weeks ago to make the proposition that Washington might need an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan for another 15-20 years to wage the global war against the IS.

It will take another Gen Flynn to tell us another time circa 2025 that the IS that subsequently overthrew the established governments in Central Asia, bled white the regions of Xinjiang and North Caucasus and Kashmir, destroyed the Pakistani state and led to that country's disintegration, and kept Iran bogged down in the sheer preservation of its plural society (which is an ethnic mosaic) was actually incubated in the American military bases in Afghanistan.

El Sid | Aug 15, 2015 9:12:34 AM | 23

part 1 of 2
Polar Reorientation In the Mideast (US-Iran)?
Fri, Aug 14, 2015

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 15, 2015 7:22:04 AM | 22

El Sid | Aug 15, 2015 9:12:34 AM | 23

The Saker has a great interview with Gnl Amine Htaite of the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Good to get an Orientalist point of view these days.

jfl | Aug 15, 2015 9:34:27 AM | 24


Turkish nationalists reject minority government in blow to Erdogan

Hard to tell if the good guys are going to increase their representation or the bad guys ... but I hope to see the hind side of this particular turkey. Looks like the Turks of every species are grousing at Erdogan at every opportunity.


' This Dempsey guy is a smart general, isn't it? It was under his watch that the IS was finessed and deployed as the instrument of US regional policy to overthrow the established government in Syria and to force Baghdad to allow the return of American troops to Iraq – and now he pops up in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office in Kabul one fine day two weeks ago to make the proposition that Washington might need an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan for another 15-20 years to wage the global war against the IS. '

Dempsey is getting ready for his personal revolution ... through the revolving door to the pot of gold as the end of the rainbow. The US armed forces are now committing to losing wars for ... as long as they can. Afghanistan is one of their major profit centers.

rufus magister | Aug 15, 2015 10:12:34 AM | 26

Plantman at 18 --

You're right to call it a hot mess. The Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and More! Collect and trade them all! Everyone will want a complete set of the "Most Wanted" cards, naturally.

Mike Whitney at Counterpunch is always a good read on the economy. He turns his talents here to Syria, asking the musical question, Is Putin Planning to Sell-Out Assad? He doesn't think so.

Forget about ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al Assad for a minute and, instead, focus on the terms "autonomous zones", "creation of …sanctuaries", "safe zones" and "a confederal Syria."

All of these strongly suggest that the primary aim of US policy is to break Syria up into smaller units that pose no threat to US-Israeli regional hegemony. This is the US gameplan in a nutshell.

In contrast, Russia does not want a divided Syria. Aside from the fact that Moscow and Damascus are long-term allies (and Russia has a critical naval facility in Tartus, Syria), a balkanized Syria poses serious threats for Russia...."

Amongst them, "the probable emergence of a jihadi base of operations" with some of those ops targeting the Russian Federation, and a legitimizing a whole array of bad practices in international relations.

The under-reported diplomacy by Putin, Whitney writes, is aimed at implementation of the Geneva accord of 2012.

Geneva does not resolve the central issue, which is: "Does Assad stay or go?" That question is not answered definitively. It all depends of composition of the "transitional governing body" and the outcome of future elections....

Here's how Lavrov summed it up two days ago:

"I have already said, Russia and Saudi Arabia support all principles of the June 30, 2012 Geneva communique, in particular, the need to preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army. I believe its participation in the effective struggle against terrorists is truly essential."

Whitney allows, "Some will... say that Putin is 'selling out a friend and ally', but that's not entirely true. He's trying to balance two opposing things at the same time." Keep the back of an ally, but get Saudi help to end the jihadi war in Syria.

And even if Assad is removed, the process (Geneva) is such that the next president is not going to be a hand-picked US stooge, but someone who is supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Needless to say, Washington doesn't like that idea.

Some "moderate jihadi" riding in on a Humvee is more to DC's taste.

In as much as Assad the Younger, former London optometrist, is more of a figurehead and less an autocrat than his late father, Ba'ath Party institutions should prove suitably robust and cohesive to have a significant impact on any future government.

Whitney points to the Turkmen militias earlier under discussion [see the "Turkey Invades" thread] and concludes, time is short for Putin to pull off another diplomatic victory and prevent America from crossing another "red line" in its efforts to destroy Syria.

jfl at 24

I'd like to see Erdogan out, but I would note he's survived numerous rounds of substantial discontent. See the links in my nr. 84 in Turkey Invades if you're curious about his political calculations; sadly, he may be correct. He will not see this rejection as a blow, but will welcome it.

And to all you Barflies, I keep saying -- it's not about ISIS, or even Assad. It's all about the PKK and the Kurds. That's the real story, not the official narrative.

Noirette | Aug 15, 2015 11:12:00 AM | 30

As Narrative is in the title….When the protests in Syria broke out, and war began, I awarded the label 'genuine' to some of the early protests, which nobody agreed with iirc. I related these protests to catastrophic drought (which is well documented, > goog) and the unwillingness / incapacity / blindness of the Assad Gvmt in addressing the matter in any way at all.

One major problem was that the drought coincided with liberal moves by Assad - cutting bread subsidies (2008! - food prices R O S E by astonishing %), fuel subsididies for farmers (others too), opening up the banking sector, and totally mismanaging water -> …all done to please the W and 'modernise'.

Which lead to massive destruction of the farming community (very consequent at the time) and ppl flocking to the towns where they could not earn a living. The MSM has recently (March 2015) discovered this, e.g. the NYT - - which states that 1.5 million ppl moved to cities (idk about that no., seems low, but more were displaced and fell into poverty in other ways. Or fled, leading to further disorganisation and damage. At some point a threshold or tipping point is reached.) The article also mentions refugees from Iraq - a separate issue.

It is natural to be polarised on human decisions, influence, plots, but I really think one should take climate change into account. Note the 'liberalisation moves' were the usual, and Assad agreed but took it very slow - he faced opposition from various quarters, incl. his minister of Economy. Now we see similar but far more radical measures imposed on Greece, Ukraine, like a speeded-up movie.

academic paper, cautious and wordy. mentions the diff. topics

news from 2010, 2-3 million ppl thrown into extreme poverty in Syria

Oui | Aug 17, 2015 12:21:18 PM | 49

Erdogan preempted the snap elactions by a snap diktat ...

Erdoğan's declaration of 'system change' outrages Turkey's opposition | Hürriyet Daily News |

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's declaration of a de facto shift in Turkey's administrative system to a presidential system has infuriated opposition leaders, who say the declaration indicates "rule by diktat."

In remarks delivered in his hometown, the Black Sea province of Rize, on Aug. 14, Erdoğan said Turkey had witnessed a change in the president's new role and asked for the constitution to be updated to recognize his de facto deployment of enhanced powers.

"There is a president with de facto power in the country, not a symbolic one. The president should conduct his duties for the nation directly, but within his authority. Whether one accepts it or not, Turkey's administrative system has changed. Now, what should be done is to update this de facto situation in the legal framework of the constitution," he said.

Posted to my diary - Israel Ready to Join the Sunni Alliance Against Assad, Syria.

guest77 | Aug 17, 2015 10:49:49 PM | 51

There is only one history of the Syrian War so far as I am concerned, and the is b's:

I would suggest that you keep that post updated as we go, though of course maybe it isn't your blogging style. But it's a brilliant piece.

[Sep 03, 2015] Sorry, General, but the title greatest "purveyors of radical Islam" does not belong to the Iranians. Not even close. That belongs to our putative ally Saudi Arabia. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said... Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia
NYT - Thomas L. Friedman - Sep 2

The Washington Post ran a story last week about some 200 retired generals and admirals who sent a letter to Congress "urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they say threatens national security." There are legitimate arguments for and against this deal, but there was one argument expressed in this story that was so dangerously wrongheaded about the real threats to America from the Middle East, it needs to be called out.

Retired generals and admirals urge Congress to
reject Iran nuclear deal
Washington Post - August 26

That argument was from Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, the retired former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, who said of the nuclear accord: "What I don't like about this is, the number one leading radical Islamic group in the world is the Iranians. They are purveyors of radical Islam throughout the region and throughout the world. And we are going to enable them to get nuclear weapons."

Sorry, General, but the title greatest "purveyors of radical Islam" does not belong to the Iranians. Not even close. That belongs to our putative ally Saudi Arabia. ...

[Sep 03, 2015] The Inevitability of a War President by Lucy Steigerwald by Lucy Steigerwald

Sep 03, 2015 |
In April, former president George W. Bush told a group of supporters that he wanted to sit out of his brother's campaign because voters have an aversion to the Oval Office becoming a family affair. On September 10, W. will be the man in charge at a fundraiser for Jeb in New York City.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush being assisted by George W. Bush is just one sign that the new class of would-be presidents is shamelessly, painfully close to what we have seen before. And this includes their stance on keeping American empire strong.

Indeed, there's a reason the Bushes have done so well in politics. Back in 2013, Barbara Bush said that she didn't want to see another member of the clan as president. The country, she said, had had enough Bushes. Back then, this seemed like a refreshing acceptance that yes, maybe a father and son should be the limit, and we didn't need to add a brother with the same damned name to the Oval Office. But Mrs. Bush backed off these comments two years later – presumably once she got the memo that Jeb was serious.

Never mind that. The novelty of Bushes paying lip service to the danger of dynasty is long gone. Bush W. and Jeb have managed to sound nuanced and even self-deprecating when they talk about their family's hunger for power. A flicker of self-awareness means only more savvy campaigning. Oh, I know you're all sick of Bushes! This isn't a dynasty! But gosh, I just have so many swell ideas, how could I not run?!

That same name is bad enough. But Bush palling around with his brother's foreign policy buddies – including none other than Paul Wolfowitz – is enough to make him a truly frightening candidate. And no, being browbeaten into admitting the War in Iraq was not wise does not count as knowing such an endeavor was inherently disastrous. This progress is particularly underwhelming when you consider the fact that W. is also one of Jeb's foreign policy advisers.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to her exceedingly arguable credit, doesn't pull that card of shucks, I know you don't want another Clinton, but…. Nor do her supporters. For them it is "her turn" and her family tie to a former president is nothing but a win. Her warmongering bonafides are already well-established, however that does not matter to her fans. Anyone dying for a Hillary Clinton presidency is a straw liberal who cares about power quotas for oppressed minorities such as rich, well-educated, white American women. Never mind the real oppressed minorities being bombed abroad, it's time for a woman president!

In the face of a potential choice between a Bush and a Clinton, no wonder the lunatic, xenophobic populist train of Donald Trump's candidacy has pulled out of the station and is chugging along so fiercely. In an alternate universe, Trump is a ballsy businessman who never supported the war in Iraq, and wants to have a powerful military that is never used. In reality, he's a principle-less, self-aggrandizing cipher who clearly says whatever comes to mind. No matter his occasional flashes of what appears to be sense, is there anyone who believes President Trump would be restrained, and would stress diplomacy over war? The man thinks absurd, walrus-faced hawk John Bolton, the former UN ambassador, is a good foreign policy adviser.

Rounding out the GOP class are happy interventionists such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Scott Walker, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Many of these candidates have no chance, but regardless of differences in focus, all of them are painfully pro-Israel, and all are willing to use military force against ISIS. No Republican candidate is for the deal with Iran. Almost none of them have expressed the slightest desire to have a less aggressive foreign policy. Rand Paul is the obvious exception there, and he still seems a bit less gung-ho about war-making than the rest of them. Still, he's gone appallingly hawkish during the last few months. Besides, enthusiastic or "regretful" war-making is most often just an aesthetic choice. Are you going to make sad faces after bombing, or are you going to act like a cowboy? It may not matter so much in the end, not unless a president – and a Congress, and a country – is truly dead set on avoiding war.

(Oddly, the completely ignored, polling at less-than-one-percent Lincoln Chafee has the positive legacy of being the only Republican senator to vote against the war in Iraq. His campaign website even says he "will end drone strikes, torture of prisoners, and warrantless wiretaps." He switched parties, however, making him even more of a dub to partisans.)

Now, Bernie Sanders is one feasible candidate who has a promising, if slightly underwhelming anti-interventionist history. He does not, however, seem terribly interested in making anti-interventionism a prominent point of his campaign. When I asked former Rep. Ron Paul about this in an interview which went up on the site last week, Paul qualified some of Sanders' antiwar bonafides, but admitted that the man had some good principles. Unfortunately for folks such as Ron Paul, Sanders is a democratic socialist who has subsequently alarming policy goals to anyone interested in a smaller government all around.

So, those are our choices if we're looking for even a scrap of antiwar feeling. A demagogue with nightmare hair who claims he won't use the military much, but changes his mind on issues every other day (except for xenophobia). A socialist who also hates open borders. A chip off the old block but not enough, who seems to have taken a neocon turn. The third Bush in 30 years, who can be successfully pushed into halfway admitting that his brother made a mistake when he began a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and destabilized an entire region. An antiwar Democrat with no chance in hell. It's going to be a long election.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for and a columnist for She previously worked as an Associate Editor for Reason magazine. She is most angry about police, prisons, and wars. Steigerwald blogs at

[Sep 03, 2015] Who Is Listening to Dick Cheney by Lucy Steigerwald

"...So yes, Cheney should be mocked, disrespected, and condemned for now. His ideas should be ripped to pieces. But it isn't entirely about him, or whether any of the 2016 GOPers want to explicitly tout his ideas for the world. Cheney is not subtle. Republicans and Democrats today, at this moment, have to be more coy about their imperial ambitions. Often, the only real difference is the honesty. Forget this dangerous notion that warmongering is so last decade. It is part of our daily life. Forget the idea that since we all boo and hiss when Cheney's name appears in a byline, the threat of him is long gone. It isn't. When the leading candidate with antiwar credentials says he supports a limited drone war, you can be assured that the problem is bigger than Cheney, and bigger than the neocons. "

Who Is Listening to Dick Cheney?

by Lucy Steigerwald, September 03, 2015

Print This | Share This

Dick Cheney is a former vice president who had an enormous effect on public policy, and therefore on history. He should be interviewed by media outlets. He should be asked tough questions about every single aspect of his tenure in the White House. We cannot pretend that Cheney does not belong in history books, or that he will vanish if we just wish hard enough.

But the line should be firmly drawn. Cheney is part of history, and there he should stay. But not so much that we pretend he is toothless and apolitical. He should not be steered out as a fun toy, the way Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright and other, shall we say, controversial politicians have been on stunt-cast on shows ranging from Gilmore Girls to The Colbert Report.

Most importantly, Dick Cheney's new attention-grabbing attempts should be ignored. The man was given a much longer leash than most VPs to wreck the world. He's done. Unfortunately, Dick doesn't think so himself.

George W. Bush has been unfairly praised for mostly keeping his nose out of President Obama's business. But Obama has had his own wars in Libya, and all over the MIddle East via drone. He doesn't really need the advice of any warmongers beyond his own cabinet.

The question now is who among the 2016 contenders might be the most eager to learn from Cheney. Because Cheney and his daughter Liz do have lots of opinions to share. A whole book of them, in fact. It is called Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America. Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt.

It seems Cheney and Lil Cheney know that it's "more than likely" a nuclear weapon will be not just acquired by Iran, but that someone will use one due to catastrophic effects of the Iran deal.

Forget Obama's claim on the word. Audacity thy name is Cheney. Not only is he shamelessly happy to defend the war he started, he is also ready to tell the whole world how America should act. Best of all, he is ready to predict the long-term effects of foreign policy decisions. He is practically a seer, as long as you ignore his incessant refrain that Saddam Hussein was tied in some way to 9/11.

Government is magic like that. But few people are quite as bold as Cheney when it comes to defending a 1.7 trillion-dollar boondoggle that killed hundreds of thousands.

Some people aren't worried about this nostalgia for 2003. The Washington Post's Paul Waldman look at CheneySquared's bid for attention and remained unperturbed. Waldman seems to think that the class of 2016 is not going to give the Cheney spirit attention, so why worry? After all, nearly every candidate – including Jeb Bush! – has suggested that the Iraq war was a mistake as it was fought. Cheney stands almost entirely alone as a national politician in his conviction that it was a good war.

So what?

Pardon my pessimism, but the price of allowing Dick Cheney's freedom is eternal vigilance. His special brand of warmongering may not be in fashion at this precise moment, and neither is the 2003 war he championed, but it can always return in force. Just about every GOP candidate for the nomination has suggested or implied that Obama is a foreign policy wuss. That is, we need a more aggressive policy than the one practiced by the man who claims the right to assassinate anyone – including American citizens – and has waged a robotic, undeclared war that has left thousands of casualties.

It feels so easy now to assume the neocons are ancient history. W. left office with historically low approval ratings. We've heard and made ten thousand jokes about supervillain Cheney. His heart is weak, and he's out of power. In short, we're all superior to our 2003 selves, and would never again tolerate such an aggressive, arrogant war.

We would, if we were pushed. The American people have a low stamina for long wars, but a strong appetite for starting a new one when they are told it is essential. The idea that the official summary of the Iraq war as a "mistake" means we can relax is a dangerous one. Nobody running with a shot in hell believes that in any substantial way. They believe they have to say it was a mistake, because the popular winds now blow that way. Their war, if they felt they needed to fight one, would be different. Your war is always different.

If the hawks are smart, they will keep going to war by fits and starts. Then they can remake the world the way they wish to. Drone wars are "better" than boots on the ground in Iraq, so not Obama or Bernie Sanders can say anything about them. The cheaper drones get, the easier it will be to keep a constant, psychologically traumatizing presence in countries with which we cannot even be bothered to declare war.

Perhaps ISIS will be met with full military force, perhaps the Iran-hawks will gain an upper hand, but not necessarily. It's easier to just send a few more advisers and troops back into Iraq. Make your allies bomb instead. Regardless, as The Nation noted this week, the civilian casualties that result from these engagements will remain minor news. Civilian casualties are boring. Keep that war on the backburner, and after a few more years, 2003 will be a thousand years ago, and then maybe the Cheney crowd will come back.

So yes, Cheney should be mocked, disrespected, and condemned for now. His ideas should be ripped to pieces. But it isn't entirely about him, or whether any of the 2016 GOPers want to explicitly tout his ideas for the world. Cheney is not subtle. Republicans and Democrats today, at this moment, have to be more coy about their imperial ambitions. Often, the only real difference is the honesty.

Forget this dangerous notion that warmongering is so last decade. It is part of our daily life. Forget the idea that since we all boo and hiss when Cheney's name appears in a byline, the threat of him is long gone. It isn't. When the leading candidate with antiwar credentials says he supports a limited drone war, you can be assured that the problem is bigger than Cheney, and bigger than the neocons.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for and a columnist for She previously worked as an Associate Editor for Reason magazine. She is most angry about police, prisons, and wars. Steigerwald blogs at

[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.


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.
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.

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.
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?
@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.

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.
So, neo-cons are ignorant bullies who are killing the rest of us. How do we stop them?
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


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 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 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.

... ... ...

  • In 2010, the Israeli leadership wanted an attack but the military said it did not have "operational capability," said Barak, defense minister between 2007 and 2013, and prime minister in 1999-2001.
  • In 2011, two ministers in a top security forum convened to discuss an attack changed their mind and decided against it, Barak said.
  • In 2012 the timing coincided with a joint military exercise with the United States. "We intended to carry it out," Barak said, but going ahead with an attack on Iran while U.S. forces were conducting the exercise would have been bad timing. "You're asking and demanding America to respect your sovereignty when making a decision to do it even if America objects and it's against her interests, you can't go in the opposite direction and force America in when they're here on a drill that was known ahead of time," Barak said.

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)."
"...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."
"...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."
".... . .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."
"...Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law..."
"...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"."
"...Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do""
"...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). 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


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


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

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.

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

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 . 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.

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


"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 | | 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'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'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 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

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

Redneck Engineering at its finest.


It's available for free at these links:


[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."... "
"...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."
"...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."
"...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 |

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

[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."

[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."

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

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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?


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.


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.


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,

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